Tag Archives: Positive News

Historic Bill to Legalize Cannabis Across the US Faces House Vote this Month


ELIAS MARAT
SEP 2, 2020

Historic legislation that would comprehensively put an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis and roll back the damages done by the failed “War on Drugs” will be put to a vote in the U.S. House when it returns from its August recess.

The vote will hit the floor on the week of September 21, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

In November, the House Judiciary passed HR 3884—the M******** Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act or MORE Act – on a bipartisan vote, but it has since been waiting for action by the full House.

The MORE Act, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would lead to the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, where it is currently scheduled as a Class 1 controlled substance. It would drive the final nail into the coffin of prohibition on a national level and allowing states to move forward with their own policies regulating the commerce and consumption of the plant.

Likewise, banks would have the ability to offer credit cards and checking accounts to legal cannabis businesses, and the study of any potential medicinal benefits of the plant would be easier to undertake.

The act also requires federal courts to expunge past cannabis convictions and authorizes the provision of resources, through a tax on cannabis products, toward addressing the needs of communities who have suffered serious negative impacts from prohibition enforcement, especially those communities of color that have suffered disproportionate over-policing and mass incarceration.

The announcement by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., was welcomed by advocates for the legalization of cannabis.

“After many months of hard work and collaboration, we finally have a chance to end the failed policy of prohibition that has resulted in a long and shameful period of selective enforcement against people of color, especially Black men,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

“As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice,” Rep. Blumenauer added.

The MORE Act was initially opposed by Republicans, including many who supported a separate bipartisan cannabis reform bill called the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

However, the MORE Act goes much further than the STATES Act, which lacked the social equity elements and formal removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

“It’s the first-ever comprehensive m*****na legalization bill to ever be considered for a full House floor vote,” said Queen Adesuyi, national affairs policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic would mean that the plant would no longer be defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” in league with LSD and her***.

While five Senate Republicans have co-sponsored the STATES Act, none have added their names to the More Act.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was an original co-sponsor of the More Act and has put forward his own M******** Justice Act.

“This war on pot has not been a war on pot,” Booker said last year. “It has been a war on Black people and brown people and low income people. This is not about legalization of marij*****. That’s too simplistic. This is about restorative justice. It’s about equal justice under the law.”

Ancient 2,000-year-old Redwoods Feared Destroyed in California Wildfires have Amazingly Survived

ELIAS MARAT
August 25th, 2020

When terrifying wildfires ripped through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, one of California’s oldest and most cherished nature reserves, it wasn’t the campgrounds, nature center and other structures that people were mourning.

Instead, wildlife lovers and conservationists were heartbroken and devastated that old-growth redwoods, some as old as 2,000 years old, had been destroyed.

However, it turns out that even the thousands of lightning strikes and staggeringly massive forest fires that laid waste to the Santa Cruz Mountains were unable to destroy some of the oldest and tallest living things on Earth.

“We are devastated to report that Big Basin, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone,” the redwood conservationists at Sempervirens Fund said in a painful statement on Thursday. “Early reports are that the wildfire has consumed much of the park’s historic facilities. We do not yet know the fate of the park’s grandest old trees.”

However, an Associated Press reporter was happy to discover that most of the ancient redwoods feared to have been annihilated by the blaze have been scorched but are still standing tall – including the towering redwood named “Mother of the Forest” which once stood at 329 feet high prior to a recent storm and has a mighty circumference of 70 feet on the ground.

“That is such good news, I can’t tell you how much that gives me peace of mind,” Sempervirens conservation director Laura McLendon told AP.

Forest fires are a natural and regularly-occuring feature of redwood forests, and the bark of redwood trees is extremely fire-resistant – but the tragic announcements that the park had been wiped off the face of the Earth by the fires turned out to be misleading.

California’s venerable Big Basin state park, “home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco,” was founded in 1902 and receives a quarter of a million visitors each year. And while the 18,000-acre park is surely reeling after sustaining massive damage from the raging inferno that tore through it, the park’s infrastructure can certainly be rebuilt.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1296663082878423040&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fthemindunleashed.com%2F2020%2F08%2Fancient-2000-year-old-redwoods-amazingly-survived.html&siteScreenName=UnleashMind&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=500px

“But the forest is not gone … it will regrow,” McLendon said.

Indeed, redwood trees are extremely durable – which is why many of them have histories that date back to before the founding of the Roman Empire. And Big Basin’s redwoods bear the scars of wildfires, windstorm, and lightning strikes of centuries past.

“Every old growth redwood I’ve ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them,” McLendon said. “They’ve been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this.”

It’s part of the majestic redwood forest’s natural process: when trees are seemingly destroyed, new trunks simply sprout up in place of the old growth. Meanwhile, fallen trees become nurse trees upon which new redwoods grow, while banana slugs and insects crucial to the ancient forest’s ecological balance are sustained under the logs.

The reason those trees are so old is because they are really resilient,” said State Parks District Superintendent Chris Spohrer.

Following the fire that ripped through the park, Steller’s jays and woodpeckers returned to the park to scour the forest for insects.

The park had been closed during the COVID-19 lockdown and had only recently reopened following the state’s relaxation of the quarantine. However, the park is now facing indefinite closure, with fallen trees blocking roads, and buildings including the nature museum, ranger’s office, campground bathrooms, and historic park headquarters being utterly wiped out. Several large trees are still burning.

“The historic structures in California’s first state park are almost completely destroyed. It’s awful,” said Sam Hodder, the president of Save the Redwoods League, an environmentalist organization based in San Francisco that was founded in 1918.

“We are grateful that everybody got out and everybody is safe. That’s the most important thing,” Hodder said. “To have lost something that has been transforming people’s lives for more than 110 years, such an iconic place, such a terrific example of what parks mean to communities, it’s heartbreaking.”

But once the campgrounds are rebuilt, trails are cleared, and damaged oaks, firs and madrones are rehabilitated, the park will likely flourish in due time.

“The forest, in some ways, is resetting,” McLendon said.

Face-Masked Batman is ‘The Superhero to the Homeless’, Bringing Food to Them Across Santiago

Judy Cole 
Aug 22, 2020

The streets of Santiago, Chile may be a long way from Gotham City, but among its citizens dwells a true superhero. Far from being a fictional crime-solver, he’s a real-life hunger fighter who distributes food to the city’s homeless population on a regular basis.

With his Batmobile—or in this case, white SUV—fully stocked with a cargo of hot meals, he dons a shiny black costume complete with a cape and two masks (one with pointy comic book ears and eye slots; the other, for COVID-19 protection).

The self-proclaimed “Solidarity Batman” is doing his part to make life during Chile’s months’ long lockdown more bearable for some of those hardest hit by the current pandemic.

But this Batman’s do-good mission is about more than simply delivering food. Knowing that sometimes all it takes to nourish the soul is a little humor or a few kind words, he aims to feed people’s hearts as well as fill their stomachs.

He chose the Batman outfit to cheer people up, and it fosters a feeling of togetherness.

“Look around you, see if you can dedicate a little time, a little food, a little shelter, a word sometimes of encouragement to those who need it,” he told Reuters.

And, like Bruce Wayne, this modest caped-crusader prefers to keep his identity anonymous.

Yet, no matter who the man beneath the mask is by day, the message he delivers along with his meals is clear. As Simon Salvador, one thankful beneficiary of Batman’s compassionate outreach told Reuters, “It is appreciated…from one human to another.”

First Grader Turns Her Dream of Feeding Homeless People Into Reality –By Launching Her Own Foundation

Judy Cole 
Aug 21, 2020

Paris Williams is six years old. Like many of her first-grade peers, she’s adorable, but this little girl is also driven by a mission to help others who are less fortunate. So driven in fact, that she’s launched her own nonprofit foundation, Paris Cares, to feed the homeless in her area.

Paris’s mom, Alicia Marshall, says her daughter’s inspiration to become a hands-on good Samaritan was the title character of Cari Chadwick Deal’s children’s book, “One Boy’s Magic,” who also uses his powers to feed the homeless.

“She was reading books at school about giving and she came home one day, and she was like, ‘I want to give back to the homeless. What can we do to help the homeless?’ Marshall told KTVI FOX 2 News. “We kind of brainstormed some ideas and we came up making care packages.”

“I wanted to give something to the homeless,” Paris explained, “like the boy in the book.”

Paris might not have had a magic wand, but she didn’t let that stop her.

Turning instead to more practical magic and the help of her parents, Paris assembled and delivered (via non-contact drop off) more than 500 care packages containing food and other essentials to downtown St. Louis’s homeless, as well as handing out approximately 250 meals to essential workers.

But Paris wasn’t satisfied to simply donate goods. It was important to her to forge a bond with the people she was trying to help. After filling each package herself, Paris drew a picture or wrote a personal message on each one to create the kind of human connection so many of the homeless sorely lack.

“It makes me really proud because with everything that’s going on in the world this small child who is entering first grade has such a big heart,” Marshall said. “She wants to give. She wants to help others.”

Paris has already accomplished a lot by anyone’s standards, but if she has her way, she’s only just getting started. She’s looking toward holding a Thanksgiving hot-food drive for the homeless and also hopes to start a Christmas toy fund for kids in need.

“I want to inspire people to do good things,” Paris said.

Out of the mouths of babes, it seems, comes not only wisdom and truth, but kindness and generosity as well.

If you’d like to pitch in to help Paris feed the homeless, donations can be made directly to Paris Cares Foundation, or you can purchase Paris Cares masks and T-shirts via her Bonfire Account.

(WATCH Paris’ adorable story below.)

Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Selling Less than a Gram of Marijuana will Finally be Freed

ELIAS MARAT
August 9th, 2020

A U.S. military veteran who was sentenced to life in prison over less than $30 of marijuana is going to be released from prison, his lawyer said.

Derek Harris was arrested in Louisiana back in 2008 for selling undercover officer 0.69 grams of cannabis.

While Harris was initially convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, in 2012 he was resentenced to life in prison under the state’s draconian Habitual Offender Law, which grants judges the freedom to impose far harsher sentences on defendants with prior criminal charges.

However, prosecutors in Vermilion Parish have now agreed to release Harris from prison after he served nine years in prison, after he was granted a new hearing by the Louisiana Supreme Court last month.

The court agreed with arguments presented by Harris’ legal counsel that he had “ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing on post-conviction review.”

Harris’ attorney, Cormac Boyle, said that District Attorney Keith Stutes’ office agreed that his client “received ineffective assistance at sentencing and was entitled to a lesser sentence,” but at the time Harris’ lawyer remained silent when the judge claimed he had no choice but to condemn him to life imprisonment as a habitual offender.

Harris also noted that his previous attorney didn’t even remind the sentencing judge that he had a duty to deliver a less severe prison term if the mandatory minimum sentence “shocks the conscience,” reports NOLA.

Boyle noted that his client’s case isn’t some freak incident but illustrative of Louisiana’s long history with the habitual offender law which disproportionately harms Black defendants in the state.

“It is certainly time for Louisiana to rethink how it uses the habitual offender law,” Boyle said. “While in theory such a law may be fine, in practice it perpetuates and exposes some of the worst aspects of the criminal justice system.”

Harris, who had previous offenses of theft and dealing cocaine, had developed a substance abuse problem following his return from Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. operation launched by the U.S. during the 1990-1991 Gulf War in response to Iraq’s invasion of neighboring Kuwait.

In his opinion, Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John Weimer noted that Harris’ “prior offenses were nonviolent and related to his untreated dependency on drugs.”

Harris was definitely “not a drug kingpin” nor did he fit the profile of “a drug dealer, so far as I can tell,” Weimer added.

It was for those reasons that Harris wasn’t given the maximum 30-year sentence during his initial sentencing, and was only given a life sentence by the trial court after the habitual offender bill had passed.

Harris’ case illustrates the grave plight faced by Louisiana’s roughly 4,700 prisoners serving life without parole, reports Washington Post. However, his recent victory before the Louisiana Supreme Court could see inmates finally being able to challenge their convictions on the grounds of draconian sentencing

Boyle said that Harris will soon be released from state prison and plans to relocate to Kentucky where he can restart his life with a brother and his family.

Re-Designing CommUNITY, The-Co-Creation of The New Earth Village

Collective Evolution
August 13, 2020

In this colourful time where humans are given the choice to evolve or stay the same, I am in humble ceremony and celebration for all that is unfolding. I use it as a stepping stone into TRUTH. I choose to see it as all serving personal and collective ascension, rather than labelling it as chaos, good/bad, right/wrong, and the path to a paralyzing apocalypse. I strive to lead my life with flow, and have been practising non-resistance, non-attachment, and non-judgment when stories and limited belief systems come knocking on my door.

I have held a sacred vision since I was young. A oneness commUNITY of the New Earth. A farm and forest “school” that has returned to the wisdom tradition. A shared living and learning eco-village holding space for both children and adults to connect, be curious, grow with awe, wonder, love and oneness consciousness. I see vast acreage with rolling hills, a farm and a forest, glass domes offering space for workshops, dancing, art creation, singing, gardening, drumming, woodworking, and yoga. Eco-spiritual beekeeping, herbalism, plant and spirit medicine live here. It is a space where children are raised together, a birthing hut is made to free birth in, biodynamic farming thrives, sacred ceremony to honour and celebrate our daughters’ first moon cycle, and space for boys and men to collaborate and share is created. This is a spot to land, where we return hOMe. I am in joy to know that others share the same vision. I am spearheading the gathering of souls who meet weekly to co-create this school and eco-village somewhere surrounding the Greater Toronto Area! I am so thankful and blessed to know and learn from each of these families.

I’m an educator in Ontario, and I’m grateful for my dance with the system. Truthfully, I could never squeeze my square-pegged Self in the system’s round holes, even with all of my teacher training. I have felt the fragmentation over the freedom. My children are age 7 and 2. I always knew that I would homeschool if I chose to be a mother. I feel so guided and blessed to have chosen homeschooling during all of their formative years. Our homeschooling days are comprised of wandering the woods with friends, learning the art of homesteading on our farm, self-sufficiency and minimalist living, reading, singing, dancing together, trusting intuition, growing food and learning to preserve it, studying with elders, making mud cakes, and breathing deeply together.

My offerings to the homeschool community in my seven short years of homeschooling are based on a passion for community development. I’ve hosted a weekly forest playgroup for three years. I’ve facilitated seasonal parent meetings to co-create homeschool cooperatives. It was beautiful to see parents to come together and offer their skills and experience to teach and guide their children, and so awe-inspiring to see sub groups form. I’ve organized adventurous field trips, and invited the remembrance of Self through holding space for women during monthly circles. In all of this, I’ve realized one simple thing. Everyone needs the freedom to play. The chance to connect, to embody love, to be seen, heard, and understood.

I’m hearing about the schools re-opening plan. In addition to polarity and judgment, I’m seeing the confusion and unsettlement on social media. The puzzle pieces are coming together. I see everything outside reflected within me, and I’m invited to transmute lower frequencies and an old way of life to zero point neutrality. We may feel we don’t have a choice, but there are so many pathways Source is offering us at this time to grow and advance. What is the plan for our children this year? Will they flourish in active co-creation of their educational experience, one filled with play, wonder, freedom, and awe? Or will they wilt because of a fear based environment, one that supports an old belief system that we must maximize safety, boundaries, and protection. It isn’t easy for the parent who must work, for the caregiver who chooses the remote school option, for the parent who agrees to homeschool. Out of the options available to everyone, I trust we will make informed choices, choosing that which resonates in our hearts, and not because of fear.

When was school introduced and why? What was the purpose of the institution? Can we carry our school system into the new world? Are we over-schooled and overloaded with unnecessary information? What really matters for humanity’s empowerment and expansion? Do institutions and workplaces embody Unity and Unconditional Love? Do they allow for expression of True Self, alignment with the wisdom tradition of the Universe? If we did away with money, the program that we need to get a job to earn money to survive, be successful, thrive in life, would we still send our children to school? Do we need to play with such systems anymore? How can we adjust the environments in our life to feel more natural?

If we are serious about moving toward a conscious, loving, harmonious, peaceful and ecologically sustainable future, even greater collapse needs to happen and I believe we are on track for that. Our children are not our projects, the cogs in the assembly line. We will clearly see the social experiment that is the classroom, with concrete walls and on concrete playgrounds now with muzzles and shields and tape on the floor that directs us like prisoners. Power. Jurisdiction. Separation. All under the program of perceived safety and protection, belief systems that keep us small and confined.

We’re being ushered into a commUNITY of LOVE and oneness and many don’t even realize they signed up for this because they are still holding onto the OLD. Everyone wants true CHANGE, but have we tapped into the unlimited courage that allows us to be the change agents? We may expand our life experience and open up our potential to freedom and empowerment. And together in global flux, we are invited to be a part of the dismantling to co-create a loving, empowering, and evolving experience. Our world requires active co-creators and leaders who do the inner work and are connected to their True Essence, so that decisions and changes are made from the inside out, all of which uplifts and nurtures our planet.

I’m birthing this beautiful baby right now, choosing not to participate in the mainstream narrative and rule; and so co-creating The New Earth Village is an initiative near and dear to my heart, and one that is so much bigger than I am. It is the creation of a oneness community for us to create flourishing and harmony. The space will be free from hierarchy, competition, fragmentation, and separation. It’s a place full of peace, whereby we care and live and learn together in a loving and equal way, because we recognize we are ONE. Ego is on the back seat, as we lead from HEART-CENTRE.

Our intention is to gain support as we share our visions and initiative. We are passionate about connecting with other souls whose dream is to also create and support a oneness community for the New Earth. If you are interested in offering support and/or collaborating with us on the creation of The New Earth Village, please join us!

Written By Natalie Natasha

Email: thenewearthvillage@gmail.com

Instagram: @thenewearthvillage

Thank you for reading and your support!

About Natalie:

Natalie is a heart-spaced guide, a rebel, and a conscious wild woman. Her journey involves submergence in the realm of energy medicine, surrender, trust, unity, mysticism, ceremony, and celebration. She is a visionary, and her gift is in co-creating from pure source consciousness. Her passion is in community development and connecting like-minded souls. She is the catalyst and portal for spiritual expansion and deep change, and through her words and presence, she activates and awakens others to remember their wholeness, embody their Higher Self, and live out their soul’s purpose. She is here to help dismantle and collapse of all we have been told is right and true, and re-design the way we live and learn offering more freedom, fluidity, and flow. Her presence is her power, and she practises non-resistance, non-attachment, and non-judgment as she re-designs her life. These days you’ll find Natalie in ceremony with the Sun, harvesting her garden with love, curled up with nettle tea writing her book, offering guidance in coaching sessions, and hosting sacred ascension circles. @newearthnatalie

Satellites Reveal There Are 20% More Emperor Penguin Colonies in Antarctica Than Previously Thought

GNN,
Aug 9, 2020

A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are nearly 20% more emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than was previously thought.

Emperor Penguins of Gould Bay
Emperor Penguins of Gould Bay by Christopher Michel, CC license

Researchers reported this week how they used images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission to locate the birds.

They found 11 new breeding colonies, three of which were previously identified but never confirmed. That takes the global census to 61 colonies around the continent.

Emperor penguins need sea ice to breed and are located in areas that are very difficult to study because they are remote and often inaccessible with temperatures as low as -50°C (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).

For the last 10 years, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists have been looking for new colonies by searching for their guano stains on the ice.

“This is an exciting discovery,” says lead author Dr Peter Fretwell, a geographer at BAS. “The new satellite images of Antarctica’s coastline have enabled us to find these new colonies.

The colonies are small but the numbers increase the overall population count by up to 10%—to just over half a million penguins or around 278,500 breeding pairs.

BAS survey image shows colonies in center that look like brown smudges.

Emperor penguins are known to be vulnerable to loss of sea ice, their favorite breeding habitat, so the data provides an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of climate change on the population of this iconic bird. With current projections of environmental changes, this habitat is likely to decline, and penguin populations could be lost “under a business‐as‐usual scenario, with unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions creating warmer temperatures.

The study also found a number of colonies located up to 180 km offshore, situated on sea ice that has formed around icebergs that had grounded in shallow water—which is a surprising new finding in the behavior of this beloved species.

During the coldest part of the year (July–August), breeding emperor penguins return to discrete locations and huddle for protection from the wind and cold, especially during incubation of their eggs, as depicted in the iconic documentary March of the Penguins, narrated by Morgan Freeman.

The research, published in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, was funded by UKRI-NERC as part of the Wildlife from Space project.

You Can Read 570 Digitized Pages From Leonardo Da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks Online for Free

Mayukh Saha
08/07/2020

(Mayukh SahaWhat does the world know about Leonardo da Vinci? He painted the Monalisa, he wrote backwards, and he designed flying machines way before anyone else thought of them. But is that all this absolute genius created? Obviously not! We are mere plebs in the grand scheme of things and are properly uninitiated to the genius that da Vinci truly was. But there’s nothing to fret as the British Library has digitized over 570 pages of Codex Arundel– da Vinci’s personal notes. And let me just say this- you don’t have to be a Renaissance scholar to enjoy it. 

Leonardo da Vinci's work

The Guardian reports that the diaries of da Vinci reflect the universality of his mind. And although he was a certified technophile, he didn’t really do it for the money. Or fame. He simply wanted to discover cool, fancy stuff. 

For centuries Leonardo da Vinci’s genius was kept hidden from the world- mostly as a scientist. His Mona Lisa had acquired fame, but that wasn’t all there was to him. After his death in France, his protege Francesco Melzi brought a lot of his manuscripts back to Italy. Unfortunately, Melzi’s heirs failed to see the brilliance in the manuscripts and disposed of them. Even today, there are a few thousand pages of his books still out there, containing designs for submarines, airplanes, cars, etc. 

LEONARDO DA VINCI AND THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digitized notebooks came into existence in 2007, when the British Library and Microsoft joined forces. Their project was called ‘Turning the Pages 2.0’ wherein one simply turned the page using animation. As far as Leonardo da Vinci goes, you can definitely choose to scan the 500 odd pages of Codex Arundel. Or, if you think so much information might scramble your brains, check their site. The British Library has a miniseries on his life, and works. 

Leonardo da Vinci

The entire digitization of the notebooks is quite ironic, considering da Vinci never wanted it to be seen. But it is high time that people recognize the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. He deserves all the credit that any library or government has to offer. Also, if one is interested, Guardian has a piece on his quirks– from wearing pink tights to shopping lists. Do give it a read.

New Study Says Infrared Lasers Destroy Harmful Plaques in Alzheimer’s Brains

Good News Network 
Aug 4, 2020

A notable characteristic of several well-known neurodegenerative diseases—such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s—is the formation of harmful plaques that contain aggregates of amyloid proteins, also known as fibrils. Unfortunately, even after decades of research, getting rid of these plaques has remained a herculean challenge, so treatments for these patients have not been very effective.

Now, scientists are revealing the results from experiments that show how resonance with an infrared laser, when it is tuned to a specific frequency, actually causes amyloid fibrils to disintegrate from the inside out.

Their findings open doors to new therapeutic possibilities for amyloid plaque-related brain diseases that have thus far been incurable.

In recent years, instead of going down the chemical route using drugs, some scientists have turned to alternative approaches, such as ultrasound, to destroy amyloid fibrils and halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, a research team led by Dr Takayasu Kawasaki (IR-FEL Research Center, Tokyo University of Science, Japan) and Dr Phuong H. Nguyen (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France), including other researchers from the Aichi Synchrotron Radiation Center and the Synchrotron Radiation Research Center, Nagoya University, Japan, has used novel methods to show how infrared-laser irradiation can destroy amyloid fibrils.

In their study, published in Journal of Physical Chemistry B, the scientists present the results of laser experiments and molecular dynamics simulations. This two-pronged attack on the problem was necessary because of the inherent limitations of each approach, as Dr Kawasaki explains:

“While laser experiments coupled with various microscopy methods can provide information about the morphology and structural evolution of amyloid fibrils after laser irradiation, these experiments have limited spatial and temporal resolutions, thus preventing a full understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms. On the other hand, though this information can be obtained from molecular simulations, the laser intensity and irradiation time used in simulations are very different from those used in actual experiments. It is therefore important to determine whether the process of laser-induced fibril dissociation obtained through experiments and simulations is similar.”

The scientists used a portion of a yeast protein that is known to form amyloid fibrils on its own. In their laser experiments, they tuned the frequency of an infrared laser beam to that of the “amide I band” of the fibril, creating resonance. Scanning electron microscopy images confirmed that the amyloid fibrils disassembled upon laser irradiation at the resonance frequency, and a combination of spectroscopy techniques revealed details about the final structure after fibril dissociation.

For the simulations, the researchers employed a technique that a few members of the current team had previously developed, called “nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations.” Its results corroborated those of the experiment and additionally clarified the entire amyloid dissociation process down to very specific details. Through the simulations, the scientists observed that the process begins at the core of the fibril where the resonance breaks intermolecular hydrogen bonds and thus separates the proteins in the aggregate. The disruption to this structure then spreads outward to the extremities of the fibril.

Together, the experiment and simulation make a good case for a novel treatment possibility for neurodegenerative disorders. Dr Kawasaki remarks, “In view of the inability of existing drugs to slow or reverse the cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease, developing non-pharmaceutical approaches is very desirable. The ability to use infrared lasers to dissociate amyloid fibrils opens up a promising approach.”

The team’s long-term goal is to establish a framework combining laser experiments with NEMD simulations to study the process of fibril dissociation in even more detail, and new works are already underway.

All these efforts will hopefully light a beacon of hope for those dealing with Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: Tokyo University of Science (File photo by ThisisEngineering)

COVID Silver Lining: Rhino Poaching Plummets 53% During Lockdowns

Good News Network 
Aug 2, 2020

Rhino poaching in South Africa has decreased by almost 53% in the first six months of 2020, which continued a dramatic downward trend over the last five years.

“After a decade of implementing various strategies… efforts are paying off,” said the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy this week. “We have been able to arrest the escalation of rhino losses.”

The Minister said the nationwide Covid-19 associated law enforcement measures to restrict movement has powered the ongoing decline in rhino poaching compared to the same period last year, calling it ‘striking’.

An astonishing reprieve was celebrated in the Kruger National Park where, during April, no rhinos were killed in the Intensive Protection Zone for the first time in almost ten years.

RELATEDSpecially-Trained Dogs Have Saved 45 Rhinos From Poachers in South Africa—And Counting

Between January and June, 38 suspected rhino poachers have been arrested in the KNP and 23 firearms confiscated, while 57 suspects have been arrested during joint SANParks ECI /SAPS operations outside of the KNP.

The Ministry also reported that, from January to June 2020, the National Prosecuting Authority managed to not only obtain convictions in 15 cases but maintain a remarkable conviction rate of 100%. In addition to these high conviction rates, lengthy sentences were also imposed by the courts.

LOOKOrphan Baby Rhinos Heal With Help of Hand-knit Blankets

In February, the Ministry reported a 23% decline in the number of rhinos lost to poaching in 2019, as well as a 43% decline in elephant poaching.

Rhino family in South Africa – by redcharlie

“A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers,” said the Minister last year.

In celebration of World Ranger Day today, the Minister paid tribute to the men and women whose commitment to protecting the country’s natural heritage, sometimes at the expense of their own safety.

“Our rangers have remained at the forefront of the battle against poaching, despite the National Lockdown, contributing to the decrease in poaching. In this time, rangers have had to face not only the threats posed by poachers, but they, and their families, have also had to deal with the danger of contracting Covid-19,” said the Minister.

ALSOTiger Populations Surging in India and Discovered in Thailand – On World Tiger Day 2020

Their work further strengthens the essential collaboration with the South African Police Service, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (HAWKS), the Department of Justice, and other sectors of the security forces to gather, analyze and share intelligence on wildlife trafficking so that the international syndicate-related crimes can be effectively dealt with.

GNN has been featuring many success stories about rhinos that you browse here.

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