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Edge fires drive the shape and stability of tropical forests

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Abstract In tropical regions, fires propagate readily in grasslands but typically consume only edges of forest patches. Thus, forest patches grow due to tree propagation and shrink by fires in surrounding grasslands. The interplay between these competing edge effects is unknown, but critical in determining the shape and stability of individual forest patches, as well the landscape‐level spatial distribution and stability of forests. We analyze high‐resolution remote‐sensing data from protected Brazilian Cerrado areas and find that forest shapes obey a robust perimeter–area scaling relation across climatic zones. We explain this scaling by introducing a heterogeneous fire propagation model of tropical forest‐grassland ecotones. Deviations from this perimeter–area relation determine the stability of individual forest patches. At a larger scale, our model predicts that the relative rates of tree growth due to propagative expansion and long‐distance seed dispersal determine whether collapse of regional‐scale tree cover is continuous or discontinuous as fire frequency changes.
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sarcozona
2 days ago
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Expect to see some natural experiments testing this in the coming decades as many forests hit or get closer to the transition threshold to grassland.
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FDA Wants Medical Devices to Have Mandatory Built-In Update Mechanisms

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The US Food & Drug Administration plans to ask Congress for more funding and regulatory powers to improve its approach towards medical device safety, including on the cybersecurity front. [...]
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satadru
3 days ago
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Finally.
New York, NY
sarcozona
2 days ago
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B.C. LNG framework high on tax breaks, low on climate action (media release)

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Questions remain regarding how the carbon pollution associated with proposed LNG projects will fit within the province’s carbon budget.

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sarcozona
4 days ago
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Facebook removes 1.5 billion users from protection of EU privacy law

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Facebook has quietly altered its terms of service, making stricter Irish data protection laws no longer binding on the vast majority of its users. The revision was first reported Wednesday by

Reuters

.

Now, Facebook’s headquarters in California will be responsible for processing any relevant legal claims, and American law will be binding for those outside the EU.

Previously, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said Facebook would implement new EU rules "everywhere." While Facebook may claim that it is offering EU-style control globally, removing this provision in its own terms of service suggests that the company is trying to mitigate its potential legal liability.

"We want to be clear that there is nothing different about the controls and protections we offer around the world," the company wrote in a public blog post on Tuesday. However, this doesn't appear to apply to the specific legal terms, but it is limited, instead, to the features in Facebook itself.

Prior to the change, Facebook users not only in the European Union, but worldwide—outside of the United States and Canada—were subject to Irish laws as they had signed a contract with Facebook Ireland Limited.

Irish data laws will now only apply strictly to EU users. By eliminating the link to Irish data-protection law, Facebook is removing 1.5 billion users from the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect next month.

The United States, for example, does not enshrine an affirmative right of individuals to access data held by private companies.

By comparison, according to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner: "Under Section 3 of the Data Protection Acts, you have a right to find out, free of charge, if a person (an individual or an organization) holds information about you. You also have a right to be given a description of the information and to be told the purpose(s) for holding your information."

The EU's official GDPR site notes several differences in the new law, including, notably: "In general, consent needs to be explicit, opt-in, and freely given. This means popular opt-out-based consent of today will no longer be acceptable."

Among other changes in EU law, violations of the GDPR also provide stiff

penalties

for breaches of European rules: up to four percent of worldwide revenue, or €20 million, whichever is higher for large companies like Facebook.

Facebook Ireland Limited in Dublin is believed to have been created largely for tax minimization reasons.

"If you are a resident of or have your principal place of business in the US or Canada, this Statement is an agreement between you and Facebook, Inc. Otherwise, this Statement is an agreement between you and Facebook Ireland Limited," the terms had previously stated.

Now, the relevant language has been changed to: "These Terms (formerly known as the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities) make up the entire agreement between you and Facebook, Inc. regarding your use of our Products. They supersede any prior agreements."

Facebook, which declined to respond to Ars' questions on the record, said that the change had been made in the name of the companies' business interests. The company declined to elaborate further.

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sarcozona
4 days ago
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satadru
5 days ago
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New York, NY
reconbot
2 hours ago
Sorry to hijack this random article but I figured you'd be able to explain this. https://evolutionnews.org/2015/08/the_octopus_gen/ do we know more yet? This is crazy!
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Opinion | The Problem With Miracle Cancer Cures

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I frequently care for patients with advanced cancer. A majority have already tried some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Many have landed back in the hospital because the cancer has returned or spread widely, and left them in intractable pain or struggling to breathe.

The hospital stay is often a time when patients decide to stop aggressively fighting their cancer, and instead to focus on palliative care and achieving a measure of comfort and grace at the end of life. The moment of transition can be subtle. It’s sometimes signaled by a sweet look from a husband to a wife, a gentle touch of the patient’s hand by an adult child, or two simple words: “It’s time.”

Over the past 20 years, evidence has demonstrated that palliative care decreases pain, improves comfort, and even, in some cases, prolongs life by a few months. In my experience, conversations about turning to it often begin with patients recognizing that curing their cancer is impossible. Patients sometimes ask for my opinion on this. While the conversation is often heartbreaking, it has rarely been a hard call.

But now it is. And that has thrown a wrench into the way we treat patients with advanced cancer.

The reason is a new generation of cancer treatments that have become available in the last few years. Some, called immunotherapy, harness the patient’s own immune system to battle the tumor. Others, known as targeted therapies, block certain molecules that cancers depend on to grow and spread. The medical literature — usually circumspect when it comes to cancer, in light of many overhyped treatments in the past — now fairly gushes with terms like “revolutionary” and “cure.” In this case, the hype feels mostly justified.

Much has been written about the promise of these treatments, as well as their staggering costs — many cost several hundred thousand dollars a year. But what strikes me most about them is that, by blurring the line between cure and comfort — and between hope and hopelessness — they have disrupted the fragile equilibrium that we doctors have long taken for granted.

I recently cared for a woman in her 80s, clearly dying of lung cancer. Or so I thought. “But what about immunotherapy?” her family wondered. When I reluctantly asked our oncologist about this, he didn’t scoff. “It could work,” he said quietly, as if not quite believing what he was saying.

Oncologists are seeing patients whose cases they once would have pronounced hopeless experience Lazarus-like responses to these new therapies. One of my hospital’s specialists in multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer with a previously dismal prognosis, recently told me that he had treated a patient with a new kind of immunotherapy. “I think I cured my first case of myeloma,” he said. His voice was filled with awe.

This, of course, sounds like wonderful news for patients and their loved ones. And if these new treatments worked most of the time, this would be an unambiguously happy story. But they don’t.

A recent analysis estimated that about 15 percent of patients with advanced cancer might benefit from immunotherapy — and it’s all but impossible to determine which patients will be the lucky ones. Just last week, a study of lung cancer patients demonstrated the overall benefits of combining immunotherapy with traditional chemotherapy. But here, too, the researchers noted that most patients will not respond to the new treatments, and it is not yet possible to predict who will benefit. And in some cases, the side effects are terrible — different from those of chemotherapy but often just as dire.

With patients and family members primed to hold onto every reed of hope, even a small chance of cure or prolonged remission will cause the majority to stick with their pugilistic approach to cancer. In our dichotomous system — one that forces patients to choose between the goal of comfort or cure — this means that most of them will forgo palliative care. We already know that despite the unquestioned value of hospice, many patients with end-stage cancer don’t take advantage of it, or do so with only a few days left in their life, having needlessly suffered for weeks or months. Our new uncertainty will probably make this worse.

What can we do to alleviate this? First, it turns out that many patients can benefit from palliative approaches even as they continue aggressive treatment for their cancer. In 2016 the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended that concurrent care — palliative and active cancer care delivered at the same time — be made available to patients with advanced cancer. Rules that force patients to choose one approach or another, particularly those that tie insurance coverage of palliative care or hospice to stopping active cancer treatments, should be scrapped.

Second, physicians need more training in how to have these hard conversations with patients in light of the new cancer treatments. Doctors will need to become more at ease with the prognostic ambiguity, and better versed in the possible benefits and harms of the new therapies.

Finally, through the federal Cancer Moonshot program, the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to study immunotherapy and other emerging treatment options for cancer. The sooner we can work out which patients will — and just as important, won’t — benefit from these approaches, the better.

Sadly, for some patients, a cure will prove elusive. As we continue to chase progress in cancer, let’s be sure that we don’t rob dying patients of a smaller, more subtle miracle: a death with dignity and grace, relatively free from pain and discomfort.

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sarcozona
4 days ago
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" In 2016 the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended that concurrent care — palliative and active cancer care delivered at the same time — be made available to patients with advanced cancer. Rules that force patients to choose one approach or another, particularly those that tie insurance coverage of palliative care or hospice to stopping active cancer treatments, should be scrapped." Forcing patients to make this choice is torture. That is not a metaphor.
satadru
6 days ago
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New York, NY
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ICE agents remove legal foreign worker from farm, threaten farmer when questioned about having a warrant

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I don't want to alarm anyone, but it sounds like maybe some ICE agents are, I dunno, a shower of bastards.

According to Syracuse.com, New York state dairy farmer John Collins was doing his thing when he heard screaming. When he ran out to see what was happening, he found that his hired hand, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, was being pinned to the side of his farm's milk house by armed men. Aguilar is from Guatemala, and had all of the paperwork required to work in the United States. He'd been employed by Collins for just under a year.

When Collins confronted the armed men about what they were doing with his employee, they stated that they were ICE agents. As the goons slapped a set of handcuffs on Aguilar, Collins demanded to see the warrant that allowed ICE to come on to his property. You'll be shocked to know, I'm sure, that the agents stated that they had none.

It gets better. As the agents dragged Aguilar across the road to their waiting vehicle, Collins continued to demand that they produce paperwork on why they were taking his employee or show the authority that allowed them onto his land. As he did so, he began filming the exchange with his smartphone. Collins alleges that, at this point, one the agents grabbed the phone out of his hand, handcuffed him and threatened to arrest him for hindering a federal investigation. In the end, Collins was released, but Aguilar was carted away.

Oh, did I mention that Aguilar's kids saw the whole damn thing? Because they totally did – the Aguilar's family was living in a house on Collins' spread as a partial payment for his gig.

From Syracuse.com:

Aguilar's wife, Virginia, and the couple's four children were not in the U.S. until recently. She was caught crossing the border, illegally, with the children. Collins said she has been meeting with ICE officers since she arrived, and is seeking asylum for herself and the children because of the violence in Guatemala. Collins said Virginia met with ICE officers as recently as last week, and has another meeting scheduled for this Friday. At times, Aguilar has accompanied his wife, who is pregnant, to some of the meetings, Collins said.

So, instead of going through the proper channels to obtain a warrant, or nothing to go after individuals, per their mandate, that are actually in the country illegally, the two uniformed ass clowns opted to grab the first brown fella that they saw on the farm. Outstanding work. So what's the lesson here? Don't attend meetings surrounding the asylum process? Warrants and the rule of law don't matter under the current administration? Jackboots are a state of mind? I dunno.

Apparently ICE will be looking into the incident. I bet they'll send a real crackerjack investigator to hunt down the truth on this one.

Image: Police - Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, Link

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sarcozona
4 days ago
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satadru
5 days ago
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New York, NY
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