Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

Thursday, May 03, 2012

15 million of world's babies are born prematurely

beautiful babies photos
A mother carrying her unnamed twin baby, 11 days old, in a Care center
WASHINGTON (AP) -- About 15 million premature babies are born every year - more than 1 in 10 of the world's births and a bigger problem than previously believed, according to the first country-by-country estimates of this obstetric epidemic.

The startling toll: 1.1 million of these fragile newborns die as a result, and even those who survive can suffer lifelong disabilities.

Most of the world's preemies are born in Africa and Asia, says the report released Wednesday.

It's a problem for the U.S., too, where half a million babies are born too soon. That's about 1 in 8 U.S. births, a higher rate than in Europe, Canada, Australia or Japan - and even worse than rates in a number of less developed countries, too, the report found.

But the starkest difference between rich and poorer countries: Survival.

"Being born too soon is an unrecognized killer," said Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children, who co-authored the report with the March of Dimes, World Health Organization and a coalition of international health experts. "And it's unrecognized in the countries where you could have a massive effect in reducing these deaths."

Sophisticated and expensive intensive care saves the majority of preterm babies in the U.S. and other developed nations, even the tiniest, most premature ones. The risk of death from prematurity is at least 12 times higher for an African newborn than for a European baby, the report found.

Globally, prematurity is not only the leading killer of newborns but the second-leading cause of death in children under 5.

"These facts should be a call to action," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in an introduction to the report.

Three-quarters of the deaths could be prevented by spreading some simple, inexpensive treatments to the neediest countries, the report concludes. For example, providing $1 steroid shots during preterm labor hastens development of immature fetal lungs. They're standard in developed countries; wider use in low-income countries could save nearly 400,000 babies a year.

Even more lives could be saved by teaching "kangaroo care," in which moms carry their tiny babies nestled skin-to-skin on their bare chests for warmth when there are no incubators.

"To see babies who are 900 grams (about 2 pounds) survive without any technology, it's fantastic," says Lawn, who has watched kangaroo care save lives in countries like Malawi, with the highest preterm birth rate - 18.1 percent.

Also needed: Antibiotics to fight the infections that often kill newborns, and antiseptic cream to prevent umbilical cord infection.

Survival isn't the only hurdle. No one knows how many preemies suffer disabilities including cerebral palsy, blindness or learning disorders.

That's why preventing preterm births in the first place is the ultimate goal, one reason for comparing countries - to learn why some do better and some worse. Previously, the groups had estimated that 13 million babies were born prematurely each year, based on regional data.

About 12 percent of U.S. births are preterm, about the same as Wednesday's report estimates in Thailand, Turkey and Somalia. In contrast, just 5.9 percent of births in Japan and Sweden are premature.

Experts can't fully explain why the U.S. preemie rate is so much worse than similar high-income countries. But part of the reason must be poorer access to prenatal care for uninsured U.S. women, especially minority mothers-to-be, said March of Dimes epidemiologist Christopher Howson. African-American women are nearly twice as likely as white women to receive late or no prenatal care, and they have higher rates of preterm birth as well, he said.

More disturbing, the report ranks the U.S. with a worse preterm birth rate than 58 of the 65 countries that best track the problem, including much of Latin America. Add dozens of poor countries where the counts are less certain, and the report estimates that 127 other nations may have lower rates.

Whatever the precise numbers, "we have a shared problem among all countries and we need a shared solution," Howson said.

One key: Not just early prenatal care but more preconception care, he said. Given that in the U.S. alone, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned, health providers should use any encounter with a woman of childbearing age to check for factors that could imperil a pregnancy.

"Ensure that mom goes into her pregnancy as healthy as possible," Howson said.

Scientists don't know what causes all preterm birth, and having one preemie greatly increases the risk for another. But among the risk factors:

-Diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and smoking.

-Being underweight or overweight, and spacing pregnancies less than two years apart.

-Pregnancy before age 17 or over 40.

-Carrying twins or more.

-In wealthier countries, early elective inductions and C-sections.

"A healthy baby is worth the wait," Howson said, noting that being even a few weeks early can increase the risk of respiratory problems, jaundice, even death.

The WHO defines a preterm birth as before completion of the 37th week of pregnancy. Most preemies fall in the "late preterm" category, born between 32 and 37 weeks. Extreme preemies are born before 28 weeks. So-called "very preterm" babies fall in between.

Lawn's biggest frustration is how often later preemies die in low-income countries because even the health providers may not know simple steps that might save them - and the fatalism around those deaths.

"If you're in the States and have a preterm baby now, even at 25 weeks you've got a 50 percent chance of survival and people expect that. Whereas in Ghana, if a baby's born 2 months early, people kind of expect the baby to die," she said.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

2 students from China fatally shot near Los Angeles campus

2 Chinese student shot in Los Angeles
Students bring flowers to the site of the slayings of their friends in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES –  Gunfire shattered the window of the BMW near the University of Southern California campus just after midnight, striking two Chinese graduate students inside.

The driver was able to make it from the car, through the rain, to a house where he pounded on the door pleading for help.

Ying Wu and Ming Qu, who police say were believed to have been dating, were dead by the time they got to the hospital Wednesday morning as police spread out looking for a killer suspected of bungling a carjacking.

The slayings shook the campus, which has a large international student population, and laid bare a parent's worst nightmare: having their child harmed in a faraway place.

Hundreds gathered Wednesday night on campus for a candlelight vigil in memory of Wu and Qu.

"The hearts of the Trojan family are broken," said Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni who opened the ceremony.

Votive candles in the shape of a heart and white roses and lilies sat at the foot of the Tommy Trojan statue, the university's collegiate symbol, where grieving students dressed mainly in black and faculty gathered for the vigil.

Clay Dube, executive director of the USC-China Institute told the crowd that Wu and Qu were brave, serious and diligent and they had traveled a long way to study here.

"The families have invested so much in these children, so much love, so much hope, and the children know that. They know the expectation is they will come here and succeed," Dube said.

At USC, the international student presence is enormous -- it has the largest number of any university in the U.S. Roughly 19 percent of the school's 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China.

And some students said the shooting could be a cautionary tale for others who want to study overseas.

"If parents hear about this in China, it might affect their decision," said Chrissy Yao, a Chinese-American who moved to the U.S. when she was 10 and is a senior engineering student. "Since two lives were lost, I think concerns will remain for quite a while."

Police said the shooting occurred around 1 a.m. and may have been a robbery or a carjacking attempt. Witnesses said the car was in the roadway, not at the curb, at the time of the shooting.

Later Wednesday, bouquets of roses, daisies, gladiolas and calla lilies sat next to a small table on the walkway of the home to which Qu ran for help. On the table was a remembrance book with a sign that read: "We will give this book to the parents of Ying Wu and Ming Qu. Write here in English or Chinese if you would like to share your thoughts with them."

Gloria Tigolo lives on the tree-lined street of two-story homes and apartment buildings and said she heard a gunshot. She said she went downstairs but didn't go outside because it was raining.

Investigators said earlier that several shots were fired at the couple.

Four people have been killed this year in the area, police said, but violent crime in the area is down 20 percent this year. Neighborhood watch signs are posted along the street and police were trying to determine if there are any surveillance cameras in the area.

Tigolo said she would often see Wu, 23, in the neighborhood, wearing dark sunglasses but rarely saw her drive.

Qu managed to get out of the car and run to a nearby home, where he pounded on the door, police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. It wasn't known if anyone answered the door before the man collapsed. Qu would have celebrated his 24th birthday on Thursday.

The gunman fled on foot, and no description has been yet released by authorities.

Jiewen Zhu, a 24-year-old financial engineering graduate student from northern China, said she called her mother after hearing the news of the shooting.

"I just left a message to tell her I am fine, I'm OK -- I just don't want them to worry," she said. "This is really bad that it happened to us and our students, but I didn't feel so threatened."

Jessie Cai, 21, is an undergraduate student in electrical engineering and an international student from China who lives in the West Adams neighborhood. Cai said she is shaken over the shooting and is thinking of moving out of the area as a result.

"I do worry because we get a lot of crime alerts but we never actually catch the criminals," she said. She said she hasn't told her parents about the shooting yet, but she is sure "they will be freaking out" about it.

USC is in an urban center within a mile of gang-infested neighborhoods that have been plagued by high crime. The last time a USC student was killed was in September 2008 when Bryan Frost, 23, of Eagle, Idaho, was fatally stabbed by a former usher at USC football games.

Travion Ford was sentenced to 16 years to life after being convicted of second-degree murder. The two men were involved in an off-campus altercation.

Nearly 35 percent of the school's 7,226 international students are Chinese, according to the university's 2011 figures. In addition to China, 17.5 percent of USC's international students are from India, 10 percent from South Korea, 5.5 percent from Taiwan, 4.4 percent from Canada, 2.3 percent from Iran and just above 2 percent each from Hong Kong and Indonesia.

Just as Chinese students are the largest segment at USC, they comprise nearly one-fourth of the nearly 724,000 international students attending colleges and universities in the U.S.

In recent years, they have helped fuel record international student enrollment on U.S. campuses.

The types of students who come from abroad tend to skew wealthier because they often have less access to financial aid and must foot more of the bill themselves. With China's economic boom, more families can now afford to send their children overseas.

Both victims were graduate students studying electrical engineering. Their hometowns were not immediately released and messages left for the Chinese consulate were not immediately returned.

Yao, the senior engineering student, said she hopes that campus police could expand their patrol areas near the campus to provide better safety for students.

The West Adams district, where the shooting took place, has seen some revitalization.

Beatriz Moreno, who lives across the street with her family from where the shooting occurred, said the neighborhood has been cleaned up. She said the last shooting she could remember on her street was in 2003.

"We used to see this every day," she said. "There are mostly families here. This is not normal."

News by FoxNews

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Diamonds not forever: Rio Tinto may sell business

(Reuters) - Rio Tinto (RIO.AX), the world's third-largest miner, effectively invited bids on Tuesday for its diamonds business, on its books at $1.2 billion, and joined rival BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) in backing away from a business that has lost its sparkle.

Rio Tinto (RIO.L), which runs three mines in Australia, Canada and Africa, said it was reviewing its diamond business and would consider selling it, as it focuses on expanding in more profitable commodities such as iron ore, copper and uranium.

Its diamond business - the 100 percent-owned Argyle mine in Australia, famous for its pink diamonds, as well as 60 percent-owned Diavik mine in Canada and 78 percent-owned Murowa mine in Zimbabwe - could come on the market at the same time as BHP Billiton (BLT.L) tries to sell its Ekati diamond mine in Canada.

"We have a valuable, high quality diamonds business, but given its scale we are reviewing whether we can create more value through a different ownership structure," Rio Tinto's diamonds and minerals CEO Harry Kenyon-Slaney said in a statement.

Rio Tinto's diamonds business could fetch around $2 billion, estimated one industry analyst, who declined to be named as he is not the lead analyst on the company.

It could attract the same bidders in the running for BHP's Ekati diamond mine stake, including private equity firm KKR (KKR.N) and luxury jeweler Harry Winston (HW.TO), which already has a 40 percent stake in Rio's Diavik mine.

A drop in diamond prices since July, knocked by Europe's downturn, has hit sentiment towards the sector, but the longer-term dynamics for the industry are looking up, with India and China expected to drive longer-term growth in demand.


Rio mined 11.7 million carats of diamonds last year, about a third of the amount dug up by each of the world's top two producers, Russia's state-owned Alrosa and De Beers.

Alrosa produces 24 percent of the world's diamonds, De Beers 21 percent, and Rio and BHP about 7 percent each.

Rio and BHP's exit from diamonds is unlikely to resurrect the diamond cartel they broke up a decade ago when they refused to sell their diamonds through De Beers, as the South African giant is now owned by global miner Anglo American (AAL.L).

"I'm not sure that's a way De Beers wants to go, or they are the right buyer to snap it up," said David Lennox, an analyst with broker Fat Prophets in Sydney.

Rio's diamonds assets would not be big enough anyway to enable De Beers to rebuild its cartel.

"Besides, if that appeared to be De Beers intention, I'd expect to see flags go up from anti-competition regulators," said Lennox.

For Rio, the business last year accounted for less than 0.1 percent of group net earnings, slumping 86 percent to just $10 million on revenue of $727 million.

The open-pit Argyle mine, undergoing a $2.1 billion expansion underground, is the largest diamond producer in the world by volume and the largest source for pink diamonds, though only 0.1 percent are actually considered pink.

News by Reuters

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where are they now? The Vancouver riot Kissing Couple

kissing picture
Kissing Couple
On June 15, 2011, Vancouver burned. The riots that followed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final turned parts of the British Columbia city into chaotic scenes of looting, arson, violence and clashes with overwhelmed police.

It was there, amidst the anarchy, Alex Thomas fell to the ground and was too frightened to move. It was there that Scott Jones, her Australian-born boyfriend of six months, climbed on top of her and kissed her to comfort her as riot police marched around them.

Photographer Richard Lam preserved that moment in the most iconic image from the riots, one that became an instant sensation around the world and was recently named Esquire magazine's Photo of the Year.

It was a singular, beautiful moment — which is something Jones has had to explain to the couple's fans since they became The Kissing Couple of the Vancouver Riot.

"Just about everyone has asked us to recreate the photo," said Jones, speaking from Australia this week to Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy. "It was just in the moment. It would be just so cheesy for us to do it again. Why couldn't someone else do it again in all the riots going on around the world?"

Today, Jones and Thomas share a flat in Melbourne, having relocated there during the summer. "We had always planned to move," he said. "The picture was taken about three days before we planned to leave Vancouver. We were going to holiday in California for three weeks and then leave for Australia."

It was in California that they began to reclaim their anonymity, following a whirlwind of media attention after their identities were revealed. The photo ended up on Jones' Facebook page, after a friend recognized him and tagged him in the image. His sister saw the connection and contacted the media. Jones' father, a motivational speaker, publicized that his son was indeed part of the "kissing couple."

At first, Jones and Thomas were reluctant to say anything about the moment. "We weren't sure if we should say anything," he said.

The couple spoke with Lam before going public; finally, they decided to meet the press to clear up some of the misconceptions being passed around about them and their kiss.

"All of these stories started coming out … people were just making stuff up. Like I wasn't really her boyfriend, stuff like that," Jones said.

There were also claims that they had staged the kiss. "I know where that came from, because apparently there had been another photo that was staged," said Jones. "But once we came out with the story, and there was video footage … it was a little hard to fake. But people were so adamant."

They did a slew of print, radio and television appearances, including a satellite linkup with the "Today" show on NBC. They were instant celebrities, hiring a manager named Max Markson to handle media requests and explore any financial windfall from their accidental fame.

"Then we went to California. And we were anonymous again," said Jones.

After California, the couple moved to Australia, where they were met with more media attention. "Everybody who knew us had seen the picture and recognized me," recalled Jones. "We didn't know if it was going to carry on, or if Max had anything in store for us."

The local fame lasted only a few weeks; today, Scott Jones and Alex Thomas are random citizens, albeit ones with an extraordinary tale. The couple plans to return to North America at some point, as Jones would love to visit New York City and Thomas has family back in Canada.

Thomas, who graduated with a degree in environmental engineering from the University of Guelph in Ontario, is doing water management work for Yarra Valley Water. Jones said he's managing a bar called The Green Room located in Back of Chapel. He's yet to have a patron stagger up to him and give him grief for the kissing photo. In fact, it rarely happened this year.

"We had one random guy who came up to us in San Diego who saw us on TV. And then a lady in the airport," he said.

His standup comedy career is dormant at the moment, although he shares some comedic thoughts, videos and images on his Facebook page — where he jokingly refers to himself as the "Riot Romeo."

Didn't their surreal adventure last summer provide ample material?

"I think looking back on it, it might be a funny situation. But it wasn't a particularly funny moment," he said.

Jones, who said he and Thomas don't have wedding plans yet, hopes the moment is a lasting one.

"It would be good if it's a photo everyone talks about. If the photo carries on. That would be quite special," he said.

"To me it's very hard to judge. There's nothing else really to compare it to. The photo means something different to everybody, so it's hard to say if it'll mean something in time."

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