Delhi – Jaipur Highway To Be Made Electric Highway With Buses And Trucks Powered By Electricity Like Rail Engines – Swarajya

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is in talks with a foreign company to construct an electric highway from Delhi to Jaipur.
While reviewing the Delhi – Mumbai Expressway (DME) at Dausa in Rajasthan, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said that, like electric railway engines, buses and trucks will also be powered by electricity on an electric highway.
“It is my dream to build an electric highway from Delhi to Jaipur. It is still a proposed project. We are in discussion with a foreign company,” he said, reports The Indian Express.
On a two day visit, Nitin Gadkari reviewed work progress on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway at Sohna in Haryana, Dausa and Bundi in Rajasthan, Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh.
Being developed at Rs 98,000 crores, the 1,380 km long Delhi Mumbai expressway will be the longest in India.
The greenfield expressway is expected to halve the commute time between Delhi and Mumbai from nearly 24 hours to 12 hours and shorten the distance by 130 km.
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COVID vaccines and blood clots: what researchers know so far – Nature.com

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A health worker administers the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico City. Some countries have restricted its use.Credit: Leonardo Montecillo/Agencia Press South/Getty
It was when the second person with unusual clots came in that Phillip Nicolson knew something was wrong. Blood clots are uncommon in young people, and it’s even rarer to see a combination of blood clots and alarmingly low levels of platelets — cell fragments that help to form clots.
Yet in the space of one week in March, two young people with this pairing of symptoms had arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK, where Nicolson works as a haematology specialist. And both had recently been given the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Nicolson had been on call at the hospital all weekend, and had been looking forward to a rest on Monday. Instead, he found himself rushing around to get consent to collect samples to study in the laboratory. By the time he arrived at the second patient’s bedside, a third had been admitted.
That week, Nicolson was among the first to witness what researchers now call vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), a life-threatening and mysterious condition that affects a very small number of people who have received the Oxford–AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines. It is now estimated that VITT occurred in about 1 in 50,000 people aged under 50 who received the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine1. This and similar observations in other countries have led some officials to delay and then scale back the deployment of these vaccines.
Despite fervent work by researchers such as Nicolson, the mechanism that links the vaccines and VITT is still uncertain. Establishing a mechanism could reveal ways to prevent and treat the condition, and improve the design of future vaccines. Over the past few months, researchers have gathered clues and developed a host of hypotheses.
Working through these possibilities is a daunting task. “You can have your hypothesis, but how do you find which is the one that caused an event in maybe 1 in 100,000 people?” asks John Kelton, a haematologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. “It’s really, really hard.”
The unusual constellation of symptoms was immediately familiar to some haematologists, particularly those with experience of treating people with a rare reaction to the anti-clotting drug heparin. That syndrome, called HIT, is also characterized by low platelet counts and sometimes the presence of clots.
HIT is caused by heparin, a negatively charged molecule, binding to a positively charged protein called platelet factor 4 (PF4) that is produced by platelets to promote clotting. In some people, the immune system views this complex as foreign, and develops antibodies against it.

COVID vaccines and safety: what the research says
These antibodies can also bind to and activate platelets, priming them to clump together and trigger clotting. The clots can clog up important blood vessels, and the condition can be fatal, although some treatments improve the chances of survival.
Only a handful of labs around the world study HIT, and those that do scrambled to get samples from the few people who had been diagnosed with VITT. When researchers analysed the samples, it was clear that vaccine recipients who had this mysterious clotting reaction were also producing antibodies against their own PF424. But it was anyone’s guess as to what had triggered these antibodies. Kelton, who has been studying HIT for decades, had to wait to get precious specimens from people with VITT, and then his team had to wade through samples of varying quality. Some were contaminated by treatments the people with VITT had received. “Many, many samples were not what I would call pristine,” he says. “These people are as sick as can be, and the physicians throw the book at them. They have every kind of chemical in them.” And about two-thirds of the samples his team received lacked the PF4 antibodies altogether, suggesting that the patients did not have VITT, but instead had developed a clotting disorder that was probably unrelated to their vaccination, Kelton says.
Eventually, his team was able to get five samples taken from people before treatment for VITT. When researchers characterized antibodies in the samples, they found that some were binding to PF4 at the same site as the one used by heparin, and that they were also capable of activating platelets5. The results suggested that the mechanism behind the vaccine-linked syndrome was similar to that of HIT — but the trigger seemed to be the vaccine rather than heparin.
Something in the vaccine or the body’s response to it must be binding to PF4 — but what? VITT has been linked to two COVID-19 vaccines, both of which use disabled adenoviruses as a ‘vector’ to shuttle a gene encoding a coronavirus protein, called spike, into human cells. Once there, the gene is expressed and the protein is made. The immune system detects spike and generates antibodies against it that are crucial for protection against coronavirus infection.
Some researchers have proposed that impurities in the vaccines left over from the manufacturing process — such as snippets of DNA floating around in the solution, or proteins in the broth used to grow the virus — are interacting with PF4 to generate the clumps that are then targeted by antibodies6.
Platelets (white) are fragments of cells that encourage clots to form.Credit: Lennart Nillson, Boehringer Iingelheim International
Others think the culprit could be the adenovirus itself. Previous work has shown that adenoviruses can bind to platelets and trigger their depletion in mice7. It’s conceivable that those mice might also have developed clots if they had been followed for longer, says Maha Othman, who studies blood clotting at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and was lead author of the study.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, adenovirus-based vaccines were being developed against infections such as HIV and Ebola, but had not yet been used in large populations. There have been no reports that these vaccines produced a VITT-like condition; however, they were not tested in nearly as many people as have received the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Haematologist Mitesh Borad at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, and his colleagues have analysed the structure of the chimpanzee adenovirus used in the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine and determined that it has a strong negative charge. Molecular simulations suggest that this charge, combined with aspects of the virus’s shape, could allow it to bind to the positively charged PF4 protein8. If so, it could then set off a cascade much like the rare reaction to heparin, says Borad, although it remains to be seen whether this happens.

How could a COVID vaccine cause blood clots? Scientists race to investigate
Even if the adenovirus is to blame, Borad says he would not advocate that vaccine developers stop using adenoviruses in vaccines. Some adenoviruses could be engineered to reduce their negative charge, he says, and some are less negatively charged than others; the Ad26 adenovirus used in the J&J COVID-19 vaccine does not have as much of a charge as the chimpanzee virus, which might explain why VITT seems to be less common in recipients of the J&J vaccine. And so far, no link to VITT has been reported for the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, which uses both Ad26 and another adenovirus called Ad5 that has still less negative charge, he adds.
Then there’s the spike protein itself. One team of researchers wondered whether the antibodies that bind to PF4 in people with VITT are an unintended by-product of the body’s immune response to spike. But they found that the PF4 antibodies can’t bind to it, suggesting that they are not part of the immune response to the viral protein9.
But cancer researcher Rolf Marschalek at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany and his colleagues have shown that the snippets of RNA that encode spike can be cut apart and stitched back together in different ways in human cells; some of these forms, called splice variants, can generate spike proteins that get into the blood and then bind to the surface of cells that line blood vessels10. There, they cause an inflammatory response that is also seen in some SARS-CoV-2 infections, which in severely affected people can lead to the formation of clots.
And the lower rate of clots in J&J’s vaccine compared with Oxford–AstraZeneca’s could be because the version of spike generated by the J&J vaccine was engineered to remove the sites that allow the RNA to be processed into splice variants, says Marschalek.
Marschalek thinks that if this idea is borne out, then the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine and other adenovirus-based vaccines could be rendered safer if their versions of spike were similarly engineered.
There are reports that the teams behind the Oxford–AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines are working to develop safer adenoviral vectors, and Marschalek says he would be surprised if companies abandoned adenoviral vectors altogether. Others agree. “I think they are very popular and will remain popular,” says Othman, citing the ease with which the vaccines can be produced and manipulated, and the wealth of data suggesting that, for most people, the vaccines are safe. Instead of abandoning them, she says, “we should study more about the immune responses to them.”

Why is it so hard to investigate the rare side effects of COVID vaccines?
One possible factor affecting the safety of adenoviral vaccines is how they are administered. The COVID-19 vaccines are given as injections into muscle, but if the needle happens to puncture a vein, the vaccine could enter the bloodstream directly. Leo Nicolai, a cardiologist at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and his colleagues found in a mouse study that platelets clump together with adenovirus and become activated when the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine is injected into blood vessels, but not when it is injected into muscle11.
It’s possible, says Nicolai, that on rare occasions, a vaccine is inadvertently injected into a vein — as was done in the earlier mouse studies that found that adenovirus could bind to platelets. If so, many cases of VITT might be avoided by asking vaccinators to first draw a small amount of fluid from the injection site with the syringe to check for blood before they actually push the plunger to administer the vaccine. This is already standard practice in some countries, and Denmark has added it to its official guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine administration.
Better treatments are still needed for VITT, which according to a UK study1 killed 49 of the 220 people who were diagnosed with the condition between March and June 2021. Currently, doctors treat VITT by giving anti-clotting treatments other than heparin, and administering high doses of naturally occurring antibodies from blood-plasma donors. The antibodies compete with the anti-PF4 antibodies for binding sites on platelets, and reduce the latter’s ability to promote blood coagulation. “The hope is to try to confuse the body and hide the dangerous antibodies within a huge fog of normal antibodies,” says Kelton. “That’s a very, very blunt tool.”
In Birmingham, Nicolson has been working to develop more-specific approaches. He has tested blood serum from people with VITT to see whether he can repurpose drugs developed for other conditions to treat it. In particular, he is focusing on treatments that interfere with a protein on platelets, to see whether any drugs can prevent platelet activation and the cascade of events that leads to clots in VITT.
But even if he were ready to launch a clinical trial of these therapies, there are few people in whom to test them. Since he saw the first cases in March, the United Kingdom has changed its vaccination policy, and now recommends the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine only for people over 40. VITT is more frequent in younger vaccine recipients, possibly because of their more-robust immune responses.
It is unclear whether other countries will have the same luxury of restricting Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccines to older people, given that it is relatively cheap and widely available compared with the mRNA vaccines, for example. Until now, VITT has primarily been reported in Europe and the United States, but researchers don’t yet know whether this reflects regional differences in susceptibility to VITT, or differences in reporting systems that gather data on potential vaccine side effects. In Thailand, for instance, researchers reported in July that there had been no cases of VITT after 1.7 million doses of the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine were given12.
Nicolson says the number of people referred to his hospital with VITT has declined drastically: “We’re not seeing it any more, it’s almost stopped happening.”
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This Is The Best Feature Of The 1965 Ford Mustang – HotCars

The Ford Mustang wasn’t loved for it’s precision handling, comfortable driving position, or high-quality interiors. Something else stole the show.
The Ford Mustang started breaking records the day it was released, 22,000 orders for the new pony car were put in on the first day. A record that has yet to be broken. The first year of the Mustang, 1965, had one clear goal- to sell to the younger generation. It worked.
The Mustang is still one of the most beloved sports cars (or muscle car, or pony car, whichever you call it) today. According to a Hagerty survey of the most insured classic cars, the 1965 Ford Mustang is the most popular. For the second year in a row, the Mustang is the “world’s best selling sports car,” selling 80,577 ponies around the globe. The Mustang has had several evolutions since its inception yet has always remained a staple in pop culture and motor enthusiasts.
But what makes the 1965 Ford Mustang one of the most iconic cars ever built, and what is it that attracted buyers the most?
To create the ‘next big thing’ for the company, Ford held an intramural contest to produce the design. The winner came from Ford’s own design team, under Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster. The design was dubbed the “Cougar,” a name that was later used for the Mercury Cougar, the more luxurious “Mustang in a tuxedo.”
During a later interview, Oros states that, “I told the team that I wanted the car to appeal to women, but I wanted men to desire it, too. I wanted a Ferrari-like front end, the motif (the iconic Mustang-horse) centered on the front… and I wanted air intakes on the side to cool the rear brakes. I said it should be as sporty as possible and look like it was related to European design.”
Ford had also done their due diligence in researching the youth markets and inserting the Ford Mustang in popular films such as the 1964 James Bond film, “Goldfinger” and the 1965 movie “Thunderball” and “Bullitt.” Ford’s marketing team put the new Mustang name on television commercials, newspaper ads, and print articles to get the name out before it made it’s official debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
The marketing hype and sporty design was a clear success; the Ford Mustang sold 559,500 units within the first year. The Mustang began production in August of 1964, so some may be marked as 1964 or 1964½ , but were all sold by Ford under the 1965 model year. Total number of reported 1965 Ford Mustangs sold is 680,989.
RELATED: Here's Why We Love The '67-'69 Camaro
The starting price for the first ever “pony car” was $2,320, or about $21,000 in today’s money, a price that was attainable for many working Americans. The coupe and the convertible were available upon release and a fastback followed later in 1965. The most popular was the cheapest, the notchback coupe for $2,320. The convertible sold for $2,557 and the fastback was a hair cheaper at $2,553.
Nearly 75% of buyer’s chose a V8 and to avoid the 2.8 L Inline-6 that only made 105 bhp. It was later replaced with a 3.3-liter Inline-6 that made 120 bhp. The initial V8 option was a 4.3-liter (260 cu in) that was rated at 164 bhp. It was soon replaced in the 1965 model year by a 4.7 L (289 cu in) that had two-barrel carb or four-barrel carburetor configurations. The two-barrel made 200 bhp, whereas the four-barrel could be had in a 210-bhp, 225-bhp, or Hi-Po 271-bhp configurations. An alternator also replaced a generator later in the model year, along with the addition of a few interior options and paint colors.
The interior came standard with adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats, an AM-radio and a floor mounted shifter in several color options. A nationwide survey by “Popular Mechanics” found that the least favorite feature of the 1965 Mustang is the lack of legroom. Ford also had optional sun visors, a floor console, a bench seat, and a remote-operated mirror. The later refresh also allowed for an optional under-dash air-conditioning unit.
Boil it all down, and the feature that led to the success of the launch of the Mustang was its beautiful, sporty design. The Ford Mustang wasn’t loved for it’s precision handling, comfortable driving position, or high-quality interiors. Performance was adequate but not worth putting money down at the drag strip. Dodge and Chevy quickly put them behind in the dust when they answered back with the Challenger and Camaro.
The Mustang has remained one of the top-selling cars in America for one dominant reason – it looks damn good. There's a reason the top YouTube complaint about a newly designed sports coupe is, “it looks like a Mustang.” The shape is iconic, and it’s difficult to make a front-engine coupe look much better – for the price, that is. The 1965 Ford Mustang hit the nail on the head with the styling from the start, it’s no surprise they switched back to the retro, fastback styling in 2005.
RELATED: 10 Sports Cars We'd Rather Drive Over The New Mustang GT (And 6 We Wouldn't)
If you’re looking to buy a 1965 Ford Mustang, you’re in luck, they made about 600,000 of them and there are plenty to buy. Prices drastically vary due to the several variations in engine size, trim levels, and modifications done over the years. One can be picked up in a neighbor's backyard for a couple of thousand bucks, or you can find a pristine level Shelby GT350R for $3.85 Million.
On average, the cheapest option is going to the be most popular, the 260 Coupe, which sells for about $23,000 when in #2 conditions. For $70,000 and in like condition, you can get into the bigger-powered GT 289/271. It’ll cost you about 10% more to get into a four-speed manual.
Whether it’s in concours condition or a DIY project car, a 1965 Ford Mustang never goes out of style. It is a staple in American automotive history and culture, setting the path for some of the best sports cars created today.
For many, this coupe variation of the 124 collections became especially full-size given its glossy sports activities styling and inline-six engine.
Evan is a writer, content creator, and nature-enthusiast based out of sunny San Diego, CA. His first car was a 1979 Corvette rebuilt and painted by his father. His career began at a local news station, but a life-long love for cars led him to working for a dealership until becoming an auto journalist.

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5 Athletes to Watch at the 2020 Classic Physique Olympia – BarBend

 
Outside of the Mr. Olympia contest itself, the Classic Physique Olympia may be the most popular division in the IFBB Pro League. It also may be the most unpredictable. The reigning champion, Chris Bumstead, is looking to repeat and the previous champion, Breon Ansley wants the title back. There are also numerous talented contenders there are looking to knock those top dogs out of the way. 
George Peterson finished third in this contest last year, but he moved on to the 212 division. That means someone could seize the opportunity and move up the ranks and face the favorites. Here’s a look at the two favorites going into this contest as well three men who want to join them.
 
 
A post shared by Chris Bumstead (@cbum)

[Related: How Bodybuilding is Judged, Different Divisions, and Scoring]
After wearing a silver medal around his neck in 2017 and 2018, Chris Bumstead finally usurped the title from the two-time Classic Physique champ Breon Ansley in 2019. In preparation for his return to the stage as champ this year, he’s leaving no stone unturned. He has shared insights into his prep on his YouTube channel, including having an inversion table to help him maximize his height. Another area he has emphasized has been his arms, which had been the subject of criticism in the past. He has stated they will be better this year, and yes, he will have his now-signature mustache.
Ansley is a two-time Classic Physique Olympia champion but was knocked off the top spot last year by Bumstead. This is the fourth year in a row that these two are considered the favorites going into the contest. There have been rumors that Ansley plans to change divisions next year. Before he does, he wants to win a third title. He’s been working with trainer and bodybuilding legend Chris Cormier for this prep. One area he has been paying extra attention to is his chest. Based on his social media posts, he feels very confident he will take the title back.
Cambronero is the guy that is considered the one who could spoil the Bumstead-Ansley party. He’s been a popular competitor in the classic division, but he made his biggest splash when he won the Arnold Classic Physique contest in March. That was his first major title, and now he wants the biggest one of all. Cambronero has been working under the tutelage of Neil Hill —who famously trains James “Flex” Lewis — and wants to be the most conditioned athlete onstage.
 
 
A post shared by ALEX CAMBRONERO (@fello_cambronero)

[Related: What You Need to Know About How to Build Muscle]
Franklin won the New York Pro earlier this year, and his presentation there was arguably the best of his career. He started his career in Men’s Physique before moving on to this division. He has held his own on the stages he’s been on so far, but the Olympia is the biggest one of all. If he’s able to bring his best — and the other favorites are off their A-game — then Franklin has a legitimate shot. 
Campbell could be the X-factor competitor of this lineup. That’s because he hasn’t competed in the Olympia before this year. He earned his position this year by winning the Tampa Pro, but the competition he will be facing in Orlando is the best of the best. His back is one area of his physique that stands out because of the width and detail. John Meadows is working as his trainer for this contest.
The 2020 Olympia is set to take place in Orlando, FL from Dec. 17-20, 2020. The bodybuilding shows will be happening from Dec. 18-19, 2020. Check out our article on how to watch the 2020 Olympia or watch the video below.
Also, be sure to stay tuned into BarBend as we’ll be covering all of the action over the weekend. 
Featured Image: @cbum on Instagram

BarBend is an independent website. The views expressed on this site may come from individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the view of BarBend or any other organization. BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting.
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AUKUS Fallout: Angered Over Scrapping Of $90bn Nuclear Submarine Project, France Recalls Its Ambassador To U.S And Australia – Swarajya

Angered over announcement by United States of an agreement to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia that will scrap an existing $90 billion French contract, France on Friday (Sep 17) said that it has recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.
U.S Britain and Australia recently unveiled a new trilateral security pact, named AUKUS, under which U.S will supply Australia with nuclear submarines to be deployed in the Pacific region. The deal incurred the wrath of Paris as it scraps an existing French contract with Australia for conventional submarines.
In 2016, Australia had signed a contract to buy 12 Attack-class submarines from the French shipbuilder Naval Group worth nearly $ 90 billion.
The new trilateral security deal is widely viewed as a strategic moved towards curtailing China, which has recently mounted multiple manoeuvres in the Pacific region, especially in and around the South China Sea, where it has expansive territorial claims.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the decision was made by French President Emmanuel Macron. Drian had called the deal a “stab in the back”.
The French minister also said that his country was not going to let the Australians get away with ditching the contract, which can be expected to lead to some job losses as well.
“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” the foreign minister said. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the decision to scrap the $90 billion submarine project with France in favour of a new alliance with the US and UK to build nuclear powered subs at home was due to national security.
‘Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests,’ she said.
‘Australia values its relationship with France, which is an important partner and a vital contributor to stability, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. This will not change.’ she added

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Pro Bodybuilder and Coach John Meadows Dies at Age 49 – BarBend

 
John “Mountain Dog” Meadows, a professional bodybuilder, trainer, and nutritionist based out of Ohio died at the age of 49 on August 8, 2021. The news was shared on his verified Facebook page in the afternoon on behalf of his wife (Mary) by a person named Brooke Nappo.
“Dear Friends and Family, I am posting this on behalf of Mary. This morning John passed away unexpectedly and peacefully in their home,” the post read. “As you can imagine, this is a complete shock to her and the boys. She will update as soon as she can.”
 
 
A post shared by John Meadows (@mountaindog1)

No cause of death was announced as of this writing. Meadows did have a history of medical issues. In 2005, he was diagnosed with a rare colon disease called Idiopathic Myointimal Hyperplasia of the Mesenteric Veins. He would need to have his colon removed, but he recovered and resumed his then amateur bodybuilding career as well as his coaching business.
In May of 2020, Meadows suffered a heart attack that was caused by blood clots which resulted in a long hospital stay. He eventually recovered, but doctors confirmed that part of his heart wasn’t working properly at that time. He would go on to return to training and coaching. By the end of 2020, he had played a coaching role in the victories of 212 Olympia Champion Shaun Clarida and Fitness Olympia winner Missy Truscott.
Meadows had a love for training and bodybuilding going back to his childhood. He was also involved in powerlifting early on, having trained at the legendary Westside Barbell in Columbus, OH. After his stint at Westside, he pursued his ultimate goal of becoming a professional bodybuilder. That goal was realized at the 2015 NPC Team Universe contest. He immediately began competing on the pro circuit, placing in the top five of his first three contests, and narrowly missed qualifying for the Mr. Olympia that year.
Meadows’ last pro contest was the 2017 Muscle Mayhem Kansas Pro, where he placed 14th. His focus then shifted to coaching fellow pros full-time. Aside from Clarida and Truscott, he had worked with numerous pros in various divisions including Fouad Abiad, Theresa Ivancik, and Ivana Ivusic, to name a few. His last post on Instagram was on August 7, 2021, in recognition of client Brooke Walker, who had won the 2021 Tampa Pro Women’s Physique contest.
 
 
A post shared by John Meadows (@mountaindog1)

His impact on bodybuilding went beyond the stage. The one-arm row exercise with a barbell in a landmine base became known as the Meadows Row. He was also involved with various companies in both bodybuilding and powerlifting including EliteFTS and Iron Rebel. He started his own supplement company, Granite Supplements, in 2016.
Shortly after the news of Meadows’ death broke, coaches and competitors quickly shared their condolences. 
“I was and always will be proud and glad to have been able to call John a friend and a mentor. My heart goes out to his family. I’m grateful for the Thursday nights we got to train together in London (Ohio).” 
“I am at an incredible loss and in complete shock to hear I just lost a very special person in my life. I never would have thought in a million years this would be the last time I would see my coach! John Meadows was a legend in the fitness industry…and not only a coach but a best friend! We have created such a strong bond in such a short period of time. He is and always will be such a huge part of my life. I am so heartbroken to hear we lost one of the best in the industry. Many prayers to his wife, Mary, and the boys, along with friends, family, and everyone he has helped and taught so much knowledge to. You will be incredibly missed but never forgotten!”
“I hate now more than anything that we didn’t get a chance to show the world at Chicago all the work we’ve done but I swear to God I’m gonna show the world next month. The bodybuilding world lost one of its best contributors and role models.”
“With tears rolling down my face I remember you telling me how much family meant and kept reassuring me how much more life there is after the stage when I told you I was retiring. You helped me so much not just in my prep but with life. I was supposed to come out and train with you this year and build some content with you — we had so many plans. I don’t even know what to say but you’ll forever be a legend and such an inspiration to me.” 
Meadows is survived by his wife, Mary, and their twin sons. Everyone at BarBend extends their condolences to Meadows’ family, friends, and supporters.
Featured Images: @mountaindog1 on Instagram 

BarBend is an independent website. The views expressed on this site may come from individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the view of BarBend or any other organization. BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting.
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Simone Biles Stumbled At Tokyo Olympics Because Of The Twisties : Live Updates: The Tokyo Olympics – NPR


U.S. gymnast Simone Biles watches the artistic gymnastics women’s team final during the Tokyo Olympics at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Sunday. Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
U.S. gymnast Simone Biles watches the artistic gymnastics women’s team final during the Tokyo Olympics at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Sunday.
TOKYO — At Thursday’s Summer Olympics, the women’s all-around gymnastics winner was … not Simone Biles.
The title and gold medal went to Sunisa Lee of the U.S.
Biles’ absence hung over one of the most anticipated events at the Games, an event she won at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Biles withdrew after first dropping out of the women’s team finals, while it was underway, earlier this week, citing mental health challenges.
She hasn’t detailed much about what those challenges are.
But she has acknowledged suffering from a phenomenon known as “the twisties.”
In her one, and perhaps only finals performance of these Olympic Games, Biles launched herself into a vault that, once airborne, would require 2 1/2 twists of her body. As she recounted afterward, it didn’t work.
“I was trying a 2 1/2,” Biles said, “and I ended up doing a 1 1/2. Just got a little bit lost in the air.”
An ocean away, in California, former competitive gymnast Catherine Burns watched and winced.
“I know that feeling so deeply in my body,” Burns said, “of being, like, I’m lost, I came out [of the move] too early, where am I? And all of that is happening in the course of split seconds, that recognition of something’s not right and I need to be able to complete the trick without injuring myself.”
Burns competed through high school in gymnastics and diving. She was nowhere near the elite world Biles inhabits. But anyone who has honed their airborne skills in sport can experience the frightening sensation of suddenly being lost in air.
It’s called the twisties.
Simone Biles competes in the vault during the women’s team final on Sunday at the Tokyo Games. She withdrew after this run and hasn’t competed since. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images hide caption
Simone Biles competes in the vault during the women’s team final on Sunday at the Tokyo Games. She withdrew after this run and hasn’t competed since.
“You can get it on twisting moves,” Burns said, “but you can also get it on any kind of rotational move. [And] you can get lost in the air on a really simple trick that you’ve done a thousand times before.”
Burns said gymnasts, especially elite ones, do so much work to be able to gain muscle memory and awareness of knowing where their body is in the air.
“Having that spatial recognition, being able to see yourself doing the trick, it becomes a point where it’s like built into your body,” Burns said, “and you do it sort of without thinking about it cognitively. And then sometimes you get these twisties [and] it’s sort of like a mental block that some people refer to as if you’re starting to cognitively think about [it] again.”
Burns likened it to other things we do over and over, with their execution locked into our muscle memory. Similar to walking down a flight of stairs.
“If you think too hard about picking your feet up at the right rate going down the stairs,” she said, “and you start to get overwhelmed and you’re going to trip over yourself. That’s sort of the feeling of, like, thinking too hard or being too aware of something that you shouldn’t really have to think about anymore.”
After Biles withdrew from the team final on Sunday, she acknowledged to reporters “having a little bit of the twisties.” And she’s had them before. She told Olympics.com that at the beginning of 2019, she forgot how to twist and flip.
A teammate from the 2016 Olympics, Laurie Hernandez, called the twisties painful.
“Hated it, so much,” Hernandez said, adding, “it actively makes you feel like you’re not the caliber of athlete that you are.”
Stress can be a trigger. Biles has talked about having the “weight of the world on her shoulders” when she came into these Games as the preeminent star — someone so dominant that everyone else would be competing for second.
In the aftermath of Biles’ ordeal in Tokyo, Catherine Burns posted a long Twitter thread describing the twisties. It got the predictable trolls calling Biles a quitter and soft.
“I think there’s a lack of understanding of what this sport requires of people,” Burns said. “I think in general these obscure sports [that] people love to watch every four years, they don’t really think about the level of training that goes into it. So this idea of quitting or choking to me is just like setting the expectation of, you’re a product, you perform for us, you are entertainment for me. And if you don’t go out and entertain me, then what’s your value?”
Burns heads an educational nonprofit in Oakland that teaches girls to, in her words, exercise the power of their voice. She said Biles’ withdrawing from the world’s biggest sporting event is an example of that power. And it’s especially significant, she said, after Biles and so many other gymnasts were sexually victimized by the infamous former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Simone Biles cheers during the women’s team final on Sunday. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images hide caption
Simone Biles cheers during the women’s team final on Sunday.
“I really see her as making a statement to other young girls,” Burns said, “especially other young gymnasts who have experienced sometimes these levels of abuse from their coaches and USA Gymnastics, where they can say, ‘no, this doesn’t feel right to me. I know what I need. I know how to advocate for myself. And I want to stand up and represent myself in a way that would make me proud.’ “
Many agree. Biles tweeted Thursday that “the outpouring [of] love and support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”
Will that realization be enough to counteract the twisties and free her up to compete at these Games? Many hope so. But it appears the world will be OK, if it doesn’t.
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Discovery about cells' 'batteries' boosts battle against many diseases – Science Daily

A top exercise researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has revealed how our bodies ensure the proper functioning of the powerhouses of our cells. The findings could open the door to better treatments for many common diseases, including Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
The new research from UVA’s Zhen Yan, PhD, and colleagues reveals how our cells sense problems and perform quality control on cellular “batteries” known as mitochondria. Yan has spent many years seeking to better understand the workings of mitochondria, and he calls the new discovery the most exciting of his career.
“Mitochondria are the center of universe to me since literally all cells in our body rely on mitochondria for energy production and must have a bulletproof system to ensure the powerhouses are functioning properly,” said Yan, the director of the Center for Skeletal Muscle Research at UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center. “Chronic diseases, also known as noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease that catastrophically impact so many individuals, families and the whole society are caused by problems of the mitochondria in the cells.”
Stress Detectors
Yan and his team discovered special sensors on the outer membrane surrounding the mitochondria in various tissues in both mice and humans. These sensors detect “energetic stress,” such as caused by exercise or fasting, and signal for damaged mitochondria to be degraded and removed. This essential cleanup process is known as “mitophagy,” and its existence was first suggested more than 100 years ago. But how it works has never been fully understood. Yan’s new research offers long-sought answers.
Yan and his colleagues found that the mitochondrial sensors, known as “mitoAMPK,” exist in slightly different forms in different tissues. For example, one type seemed particularly active in skeletal muscle. In a new scientific paper outlining their findings, the researchers describe the variety of sensors as “unexpectedly complex.” They go on to outline how these sensors provide a vital damage-control system that safeguards our cellular energy supply.
One finding of the study that Yan finds extremely exciting: Treating mice with metformin, the most effective, first-line anti-diabetes drug, activates mitoAMPK in skeletal muscles without activating AMPK in the other parts of the cells. The finding is the best illustration of the importance of activating mitoAMPK and mitochondrial quality control in treatment of a common chronic disease that is known to be caused by accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria in our body. It also explains why regular exercise is so powerful in preventing and treating such diseases.
The new insights gained into mitochondrial quality control will boost efforts to develop new treatments for non-communicable diseases that have reached pandemic proportions and are estimated to cause 71% of all deaths.
Yan, who is part of UVA’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, says it will be important for doctors to better understand how specific diseases interfere with mitochondrial function. And his new findings set the stage for that.
“We have developed genetic models for pinpointing the key steps of mitoAMPK activation and are on our way to discover the magic molecules that are controlled by mitoAMPK,” Yan said. “The findings taught us a lot about the beauty of the sensor system in our body. Society should definitely take advantage of these findings to promote regular exercise for health and disease prevention and develop effective exercise-mimetic drugs.”
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E-Payments Continue to Drive the Philippine Economy Post-pandemic – OpenGov Asia

The government of the Philippines has made e-commerce and electronic payment methods a priority in efforts to boost both financial and digital inclusion throughout the country. In line with this, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) recently reaffirmed that they will continue to promote the digitalisation of financial products and services in the country even after the restrictions forced by the pandemic are lifted.
Last year, the central bank released the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap (DPTR) for 2020-2023. Under the DPTR, the BSP aims to increase customer preference for digital payments by converting 50% of total retail payments to digital form and increasing the number of financially included Filipino adults to 70% by onboarding them to the formal financial system via payment or transaction accounts.
In an article, OpenGov Asia stated that fintech applications and technologies are constantly evolving, allowing more Filipinos to conduct financial transactions without the need for a bank account. Fintech products, such as e-wallets, allow users to transfer money digitally and build credit, making it easier for them to borrow funds in the future.
Moreover, the proposed framework for open banking by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) aims to benefit MSMEs by encouraging financial inclusion and making the deployment of innovative financial services faster and easier. With the right infrastructure, banks and fintech companies can create more cost-effective, personalised, and seamless solutions for MSMEs, facilitating distribution, data sharing, and payment enablement.
All these initiatives strive to assist BSP-supervised financial institutions’ digital transformation programmes, including fintech players, while also promoting sound risk technology and cyber risk management.
Earlier this year, the central bank and the country’s other financial regulators agreed to develop a unified monitoring and supervision scheme for the local fintech industry that does not stifle these firms’ innovative and creative ideas. To that end, a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a cooperative oversight framework on fintech innovation was signed under the auspices of the multiagency Financial Sector Forum.
The BSP asserted that the roadmap intends to transform the country into a cash-lite society. During the pandemic, the use of digital payments reduced the need for mobility and helped to avoid health risks associated with face-to-face and over-the-counter financial transactions. The BSP stated that in the first seven months of 2021, the value of transactions made through its local E-wallets increased by more than 180%, and another by more than 80%.
Both Philippines’ leading E-wallets are automated clearing houses under the National Retail Payment System. One of the leading E-wallet platforms is a batch electronic fund transfer (EFT) that can be thought of as an electronic alternative to the paper-based check system, whereas the other leading E-wallet is a real-time, low-value EFT for transactions up to P50,000 that is useful for e-commerce.
With the rate of digitisation increasing in the Philippines, e-commerce merchants must capitalise on this shift in consumer attitudes by offering a variety of payment options along with appealing offers to attract the attention of a wide range of users. Offering multiple payment methods, including cash, and collaborating with local partners who have a thorough understanding of the Philippine market (not just retail and payments, but also logistics fulfilment and last-mile deliveries), could assist in transforming the Philippines into an e-commerce territory, opening more opportunities in the rest of Southeast Asia.
State-run carrier Viettel has successfully researched, tested, and established a 5G data transmission speed of more than 4.7Gb per second. This speed is 40 times higher than the 4G speed and more than two times the existing 5G speed, making Viettel one of the fastest 5G telecom networks in Asia.
According to a press release, the result confirms the outstanding capacity of the 5G ultra-short wave (mmWave) technology that Viettel is deploying in Vietnam. A 5G network with super high speeds is the foundation for building smart factories, agriculture, cities, healthcare, and education. To achieve a record data transmission speed, the research team of Viettel and a few other private players used the world’s most advanced E-UTRA New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) technology to increase speed and extend 5G coverage.
In the process of implementing technical solutions at Viettel Innovation Lab, Viettel used private player radio equipment and mobile devices using a state-of-the-art processor. Viettel has been a pioneer in deploying 5G in Vietnam and the only network operator in the world with the capacity to research and develop 5G equipment. The CEO of Viettel Networks stated that this breakthrough in speed helps increase the efficiency of Viettel’s 5G network. The organisation will continue to promote this technology so that people, businesses, governments, and society at large can experience the distinct benefits of 5G in particular and 4.0 technology in general.
An industry expert noted that this is an easy-to-install solution that promises to accelerate widespread 5G deployment in high-density urban areas with many preeminent features, ensuring the best user experience. The results of the trial confirm that Viettel’s 5G infrastructure is ready to deliver outstanding 5G services and experiences and promote the vision of digitising industries in Vietnam. This achievement enables large capacity, multi-Gigabit speeds, and low latency in solutions for individuals and businesses. The country has taken another important step in enabling Vietnamese people to access high-speed 5G equipment anytime, anywhere.
Earlier in July, Hanoi authorities announced a new postal telecommunications infrastructure development plan for 2025 with a vision for 2030. It aims to serve the city’s digital transformation programme. It defines postal infrastructure as an important factor of the digital economy, which contributes to promoting the development of a digital government and digital society.
Under the plan, the city targets 100% of communes to establish a post office with staff; all households register digital addresses; 4G/5G services and smartphones universalised, and fibre-optic broadband covering 80% of local households and every commune. Meanwhile, 80% of local industrial parks, high-tech parks and higher education facilities, hospitals, and public departments will be covered by 5G services. Also, about 95% of total households in Hanoi are expected to own and use at least one smartphone by 2025.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the city will prioritise high-quality broadband telecommunication infrastructure in high-tech parks, concentrated IT parks, industrial parks, export processing zones, R&D and innovation centres, schools, state agencies, hospitals, and tourism sites. Hanoi will also develop free WiFi networks in all tourist sites across the city. Apart from this, the city will speed up activities to promote the universalisation of smartphones and help local residents to access digital services easily. To this end, the municipal People’s Committee is encouraging economic sectors to build postal and telecommunication infrastructure systems and diversify telecommunication services.
Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has released a fully integrated 3D version of OneMap, Singapore’s authoritative national map. The tool is the certified national map of Singapore which contains the latest and most comprehensive information on Singapore’s landscape. A product of a collaboration between several government agencies, the map’s services are free to access.
The application, OneMap3D, was unveiled at the Singapore Geospatial Festival 2021, where SLA also signed separate memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the country’s logistics and real estate agencies to expand the industry’s use of OneMap.
The latest was created by converting the original format to 3D using open-source 3D geospatial technology and 3D city modelling. Initially, OneMap was first released in 2010, followed by an improved version in 2017 in 2D that included features such as real-time traffic data and an Application Programming Interface (API) for app developers.
It is built on our commitment to enhance our country’s geospatial capabilities and to provide new geospatial solutions for businesses, government and the wider public.
– Singapore’s culture, community and youth minister
OneMap is the country’s digital map service, and it is constantly updated with information from government agencies, such as where citizens can pick up a free face mask. Singapore’s Civil Defence Force also used OneMap to create MyResponder, an app that alerts all trained first responders to cardiac arrests in the area. The new OneMap3D upgrade will allow citizens to navigate through a neighbourhood in the first-person view, simulating what a route would look like in person.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Geospatial Technology involves the use of technology for collecting and utilising geographic information. Some of these technologies include Geographic Information System (GIS), GPS, remote sensing, and geofencing.
On the prevalence of the use of geospatial information in Singapore, organisations such as Grab manipulate this data to be able to match drivers with passengers, in real-time. There is already an everyday use of geospatial technology with the likes of GPS for navigating around. It provides location-based services such as:
SLA Chief Executive says the MOUs with the logistics and real estate agencies are part of SLA’s efforts to collaborate with industry leaders to promote growth and opportunities through geospatial solutions.
SLA’s MOU with the property or real estate company in the real estate space will result in the development of new feature data collection and customised Application Programming Interface (API) to improve the property company’s applications and OneMap geospatial information. As per the company’s CEO, the collaboration has the potential to be a “game-changer” in the real estate industry.
In contrast, the parties will collaborate on geospatial co-innovations to improve hyperlocal and granular data at the street level for last-mile delivery under SLA’s MOU with Singapore’s logistics company. “We are delighted to be SLA’s first express logistics partner for GeoWorks,” says the CEO of the logistics firm.
He went on to say that by having the company’s drivers contribute pictorial information to enable OneMap’s accuracy and data volume, the company could potentially set a new industry operational standard by improving the entire last-mile delivery process.
The SLA and homegrown robotics and automation solution company MOU will see the trial of automated data capture with robots, limiting the time and effort from manual data capture, to develop geospatial innovation in the area of robotics and automation solutions. This collaboration will also allow SLA and the company to develop standards for robotics-ready maps and map information interoperability for compatibility across multiple platforms.
Self-driving cars are likely to be the future of transportation, but safety concerns are hurdles that researchers have to overcome to make fully autonomous vehicles become a reality. To accelerate that timeline, U.S. researchers have developed the first set of “certifiable perception” algorithms, which could help protect the next generation of self-driving vehicles — and the vehicles they share the road with. When robots sense their surroundings, they must use algorithms to make estimations about the environment and their location.
These perception algorithms are designed to be fast, with little guarantee of whether the robot has succeeded in gaining a correct understanding of its surroundings. This is one of the biggest existing problems. Our lab is working to design certified algorithms that can tell you if these estimations are correct.
– Lead researcher
Robot perception begins with the robot capturing an image, such as a self-driving car taking a snapshot of an approaching car. The image goes through a machine-learning system called a neural network, which generates key points within the image about the approaching car’s mirrors, wheels, doors.
From there, lines are drawn that seek to trace the detected key points on the 2D car image to the labelled 3D key points in a 3D car model. The researchers must then solve an optimisation problem to rotate and translate the 3D model to align with the key points on the image. This 3D model will help the robot understand the real-world environment.
Each traced line must be analysed to see if it has created a correct match. Since many key points could be matched incorrectly. The team’s algorithm smooths the non-convex problem to become convex and finds successful matches. If the match is not correct, their algorithm will know how to continue trying until it finds the best solution, known as the global minimum. A certificate is given when there are no better solutions.
These certifiable algorithms have a huge potential impact because tools like self-driving cars must be robust and trustworthy. The goal is to make it so a driver will receive an alert to take over the steering wheel if the perception system has failed.
The 3D model gets morphed to match the 2D image by undergoing a linear combination of previously identified vehicles. For example, the model could shift from being an Audi to a Hyundai as it registers the correct build of the actual car. Identifying the approaching car’s dimensions is key to preventing collisions.
The lead researcher stated that to achieve trustworthy autonomy, it is time to embrace a diverse set of tools to design the next generation of safe perception algorithms. There must always be a failsafe since no human-made system can be perfect. The safety precautions for self-driving cars will take the power of both rigorous theory and computation to revolutionise what it can be successfully unveiled to the public.
U.S. researchers have been developing robotic technologies for various purposes, including to help people with disabilities. As reported by OpenGov Asia, U.S. Researchers have now developed an alternative approach that they believe could offer much more precise control of prosthetic limbs. After inserting small magnetic beads into muscle tissue within the amputated residuum, they can precisely measure the length of a muscle as it contracts, and this feedback can be relayed to a bionic prosthesis within milliseconds.
In a new study appearing today in Science Robotics, the researchers tested their new strategy, called magnetomicrometry (MM), and showed that it can provide fast and accurate muscle measurements in animals. They hope to test the approach in people with amputation within the next few years.
Western Australia’s Main Roads has completed the migration of its customer relationship management (CRM) system into the cloud in collaboration with an American multinational technology corporation. The government agency has transitioned CONNECT, a Dynamics-powered CRM suite by the company, to the cloud as part of a nine-month project.
The project, supported by ASG and WithPrecision, is aimed at modernising the legacy system and providing enhanced support for its network operations centre. The new cloud-based CONNECT platform is being integrated with Main Roads’ raft of legacy software, including its Oracle-based road data application and its record-keeping systems.
Main Roads is planning to create an Azure Data Lake to store data from different systems. To enhance its data and analytics capabilities, the agency also plans to make more use of Microsoft’s Power Platform to turn the stored data into actionable insights.
The platform has been customised to support the agency’s 24/7 Customer Information Centre by allowing staff to record calls as a customer activity or convert them into a case or fault report. Activities, cases or fault reports can also be linked to customised Project pages providing a centralised view of all customer interactions related to road projects across WA.
Main Roads CRM System Manager stated that the new platform has been well received by users. He noted that people very quickly could see the advantage of having a centralised customer system and start building a more holistic view of our customers. It gives the team a real-time view of what’s going on within infrastructure delivery projects which they never had before.
OpenGov Asia recently reported that Transport for NSW is hoping that aggregated data collected by a Dutch consumer electronics company and LiDAR systems might provide it with more timely insight into conditions and hazards on the state’s road network. The agency, in collaboration with iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), currently relies on videos taken by crews for safety assessments, from which certain road attributes are extracted.
However, TfNSW wants to speed up the process, and has embarked on a project that will “convert raw data… into an international standard five-star rating system”. The project will deliver 20,000 km of road attributes in NSW using TomTom’s MN-R map data, as well as prove feature extraction techniques and machine learning for LiDAR data.
MN-R is the model that the consumer electronics company uses to keep its mapping data up-to-date. It combines several layers of data collection techniques, including from the use of its navigation systems and from sensors.
In addition to understanding road conditions and hazards, TfNSW hopes the project could also lead to the development of predictive algorithms around injuries and fatalities in the future. The project will feed into a global ‘AiRAP’ initiative from a non-profit roads rating agency, the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP).
TfNSW is also working with the University of Technology Sydney and geospatial data experts an NSW software company on the project. The local company has previously partnered with the consumer electronics company to extract more than 50 road assets and safety features such as road markings, safety barriers and trees from LiDAR data.
The IRAP global innovation manager, who is overseeing the project, said AI had the “potential to reduce costs and increase the frequency and accuracy of data”. She noted that making faster and more affordable data collection possible means that safety assessments can be done on an annual basis across the whole road network.
The global road safety market size was valued at US$2.88 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% from 2021 to 2028. During the COVID-19 pandemic, road fatalities witnessed a sharp decline.
The Ministry of Agriculture signed five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with five tech giants. Under the collaborations, the private players will conduct pilot projects to integrate digital technology and other best practices in the agricultural sector.
According to a news report, these MoUs are a part of the digital agriculture mission that was initiated for 2021-25 by the government to integrate emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, remote sensing and GIS technology and the use of drones and robots, etc. Establishing a digital ecosystem of agriculture needs to take a long-term view of aspects like interoperability, data governance, data quality, data standards, security, and privacy, besides promoting innovation. A significant requirement is the adoption of a decentralised, federated architecture that assures autonomy to the service providers and all other actors and ensures interoperability at the same time.
To support these projects, the ministry is creating a federated farmers database that will be linked to farmers’ land records from across the country and a unique farmer ID will be created. These technologies will support farmers to make informed decisions on suitable crops to grow, types of seeds to use, and the best practices for maximum yields. The agriculture supply chain players can plan their procurement and logistics on precise and timely information. Farmers can make informed decisions about whether to sell or store their produce and when and where and what price to sell, the report said.
Further, under the unified database for all farmers, users can access the information of all benefits and supports of various schemes of the central and state governments. So far, the database is ready with details of around 55 million farmers. Any attempt to transform the agriculture sector needs to imbibe an ecosystem thinking and a digital ecosystem. The agriculture value chain extends from crop selection to crop management and the market; it involves public and private players in agricultural inputs and services and also logistics.
The country has been using technology to improve crop yield and double farmer incomes. In July, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi (IIT-Mandi) and the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) in Shimla developed an AI solution that can detect diseased parts of potato crop using photographs of its leaves. As OpenGov Asia had reported, blight is a common disease of the potato plant. It leads to the rotting of the plant. If left undetected and unchecked, blight could destroy the entire crop within a week under conducive conditions.
IIT-Mandi’s computational tool can detect blight in potato leaf images. The model is built using an AI tool called mask region-based convolutional neural network architecture and can accurately highlight the diseased portions of the leaf amid a complex background of plant and soil matter. In India, as with most developing countries, the detection and identification of blight are performed manually by trained personnel who scout the field and visually inspect potato foliage. This process, as expected, is tedious and often impractical, especially for remote areas, because it requires the expertise of a horticultural specialist who may not be physically accessible.
Automated disease detection can help in this regard and given the extensive proliferation of mobile phones across the country, the smartphone could be a useful tool, according to a researcher on the team. The advanced HD cameras, better computing power, and communication avenues offered by smartphones offer a promising platform for automated disease detection in crops.
The Philippines Space Agency has reported that the Philippines to move forward with more of its establishment of satellites launched to space. According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the MULA (Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment) satellite, which is set to launch in 2023, is on the government’s priority list. With its added jet propulsion system, MULA will stay in space longer and take more images than other Filipino-made satellites that have previously been launched.
“I am looking forward to seeing how MULA’s enhanced imaging capabilities can help improve disaster management, land use and land cover change mapping, crop monitoring and forest monitoring,” he said during a virtual event on the Philippine Space Agency’s (PhilSA) social media page.
The results of our human resource development program are even beyond our expectations considering the difficult working environment where we are in right now. Our country partners like Japan are saying that we are catching up fast. I hope that government budgetary support will be stronger and continuing.
– DOST Secretary
It is said to be twice as heavy and larger than the Diwata-2 microsatellite, with more payloads and spectral bands, allowing it to support more image applications and satellite products. “MULA is very significant to the DOST. Aside from being the biggest Philippine satellite developed, this is the first satellite that the DOST is doing in coordination with PhilSA,” the DOST chief said.
The DOST Secretary is convinced in PhilSA’s ability to oversee the completion and expected launch of MULA, as well as manage and operate the satellite afterwards. “It gives me the pride to see first-hand how the DOST’s early space R&D (research and development) activities have helped capable young Filipino scientists and engineers,” the official said, adding that the MULA team’s dedication inspires him.
Using the satellite, Filipino researchers could use MULA to mitigate challenges such as water quality and marine resource sustainability, among others. The MULA satellite in low earth orbit can circle the globe ten times per day, expanding opportunities for market data or leveraging collaboration with other nations.
Furthermore, the launch of two locally built cube satellites (cubesats) to the International Space Station (ISS) – the Maya-3 and Maya-4 – has been delayed due to inclement weather. According to the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), another attempt will be made. As per PhilSA’s Deputy Director-General, the cubesats will illustrate satellite stabilisation and control in orbit, onboard image processing and classification, as well as the use of solar cells and cubesat antennas, and test sensor and chip functionality.
In an interview, the Secretary of Science and Technology (DOST) asserted, “I am pleased that the country is meeting its targets and timelines in the space technology programme.” “The collaboration between DOST, PhilSA, and the University of the Philippines (UP) – Diliman has been quite effective,” he added.
Both cubesats were created as part of the STAMINA4Space (Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation, and Advancement) Programme, which was funded by the DOST, UP Diliman, PhilSA, and Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology. The cubesats are nearly identical, weighing 1.15 kgs and measuring 10 cm (cm) X 10 cm X 11.35 cm.
Their missions included ground data acquisition demonstrations, image and video capture, detection and protection from single event latch-up due to space radiation, and GPS chip demonstrations, among others. Maya-1 was launched in 2018 and Maya-2 in 2021. Diwata 1 and 2, both microsatellites, were launched in 2016 and 2018, respectively. DOST previously noted that the projects will increase efforts to harness the power of satellite technology for other purposes such as agriculture, forest cover and natural resource inventory, weather forecasting, and disaster damage assessment and monitoring, among others.
The intelligent industry represented by robots is injecting new momentum into high-quality economic development and the global robot ecosystem is constantly improving in China. China also created an open platform to gather innovation resources, introduce new products and facilitate industrial cooperation. The robot industry needs to strengthen basic research and make technical breakthroughs to make more original innovations.
Secretary of China’s Leading Party Members Group called on to put enterprises at the dominant position of innovation and promote the integration of industries, universities and research agencies to better communicate science and create a sound social environment to boost the industry.
Chinese sci-tech and industrial communities should join hands with their global peers to develop intelligent industry and deepen innovative cooperation to make contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
The robot industry is one of the major priorities in Beijing’s accelerating process to become an international sci-tech innovation centre.
– Mayor of Beijing
Beijing will give full play to its sci-tech advantages to provide support for the enterprises to carry out research, facilitate industrialisation and promote the coordinated development of robot enterprises with intelligent manufacturing.
The mayor of Beijing urged to gather all kinds of innovation elements to foster industrial champions and leading-position enterprises, establish joint platforms for innovation, cooperation and product test and verification, empower traditional industries with new modes and build highlands of robot innovation and application.
The Chinese government has attached great importance to boosting the high-quality development of the robot industry. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology must implement the important instructions of the President of China and follow the deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to promote China’s robot industry from 4 perspectives: consolidating the industrial foundation, enhancing product supply, expanding application and optimising industrial ecology.
The exhibition displayed more than 500 new products from more than 110 enterprises and research agencies. The medical treatment robots and the application of brain-computer interface technologies highlighted the exhibition. Relevant experts, scholars and entrepreneurs both at home and abroad, together with representatives of international agencies participated in the event in a combination form of online and on-spot.
According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), China has had the most industrial robots in operation globally since 2016. By 2020, China is expected to produce 150,000 industrial robot units and have 950,300 industrial robots in operation.
China’s robotics industry is large, but still has significant room for development. The Chinese government has recognised as much in its Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) industrial policy, which identifies the robotics industry as a strategically important sector. This designation creates both opportunities and challenges for foreign investors.
MIC 2025 starts by listing the robotics industry, along with artificial intelligence and automation, as one of the priority sectors for high-end development to push forward the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry.
China has been utilising robots in various fields, including healthcare with the development of vascular interventional surgical robots. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Chinese researchers from the Beijing Institute of Technology have cooperated with Beijing Tiantan Hospital and other units to research core technology optimisation and special consumables of vascular interventional surgery robots. The surgery robot has become the interventional robot product with the fastest research and development progress in China.
With the support of the project of the National Key R&D Programme of China “Industrialisation Research and Application of Minimally Invasive Vascular Interventional Surgery Robot”, the development of the robot was fully completed. At present, the surgical robot, after further technological upgrades, has taken the lead in entering the clinical trial stage registered by the NMPA (National Medical Products Administration), and 123 clinical trial cases have been completed.

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Improving human health | UDaily – UDaily

Photo by Evan Krape
University of Delaware materials scientist Xinqiao Jia has received a combined $4.85 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research aimed at improving human health through new approaches in tissue engineering.
Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on developing methods to repair or replace biological tissues that have been damaged or degraded over time. 
Jia and colleagues will explore ways to regenerate salivary glands that have been damaged by radiation therapy for head and neck cancers. She also will focus on understanding what causes damage or scarring to vocal folds, the pliable tissue that enables our ability to talk. 
Vocal folds produce sound by vibrating more than 100 times per second as air from the lungs passes through the paired tissues. In other words, our vocal folds do the heavy lifting when we speak. 
For comparison, this movement is nearly two times faster than the average North American hummingbird, which flaps its wings about 53 times per second in flight.
Each vocal fold consists of a soft connective tissue, known as the lamina propria (LP), sandwiched between a muscle and a flat, protective layer called the epithelium (EP). It’s a delicate structure, and little is known about the molecular and cellular processes that can lead to chronic vocal fold scarring, leaving millions of affected Americans with limited treatment options. 
Armed with $2.49 million in NIH funding, Jia, professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, will spend the next five years working to understand how vocal folds regenerate after damage — or don’t — and why. 
“If you have a scar or scab on your skin, eventually it just falls off. But on a vocal fold this scarring persists and doesn’t go away. With scarred vocal folds, your ability to speak is severely compromised,” she said. 
Jia is particularly interested in whether vocal fold damage results from chemical (i.e., smoking) or mechanical causes to drive development and testing of new treatment options.
Building on previous research, she plans to create a vocal-fold-on-a-chip model with embedded sensor technology to monitor the development of the vocal fold tissue in real time with help from several interdisciplinary colleagues. UD collaborators include Joe Fox, a pioneer in developing highly efficient chemical reactions for making tissue-mimicking hydrogels used to grow the vocal folds, and materials scientist Charles Dhong, who specializes in measuring mechanical forces at biological interfaces. Susan Thiebault, who has expertise in vocal fold physiology and biology at University of Wisconsin, Madison, also will contribute to the project.
The model will include built-in airflow to stimulate speech, allowing the device to reflect the human anatomy and physiology more closely than current models. The researchers also plan to introduce cigarette smoke into the chip model to explore whether smoking plays a role in the damage that can cause vocal-fold tissue to become stiff and fibrotic. 
“Once our model is validated, we can begin testing medications for repairing the tissue,” Jia said.
Meanwhile, in a second project with $2.36 million in NIH funding over five years, Jia and colleagues will investigate methods to restore function in salivary glands that have been damaged by radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.
The human body contains three major salivary glands. When these salivary glands become damaged, they no longer secrete the saliva needed for digestion and for keeping the mouth free of bacteria. This can lead to a condition called dry-mouth syndrome, or xerostomia, a permanent and painful side effect of radiation therapy that affects about 50,000 head and neck cancer patients annually in the United States.
Jia explained that it is acinar cells that are responsible for creating saliva, which is collected in the ducts and channeled to the mouth. While the acinar cells become damaged after radiation treatment, the channels remain largely intact. Interestingly, within these salivary gland channels are progenitor cells that have the potential to become different cell types and restore the salivary gland. 
In previous work, Jia and colleagues including Dr. Robert Witt, director of the head and neck oncology clinic at ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, showed that it was possible to isolate progenitor cells from salivary gland tissue samples taken prior to radiation therapy and grow them in hydrogels in the lab into multicellular structures that mimic the structure of acini that secrete saliva. While this advance is hopeful and exciting, the hard part has been figuring out ways to reintegrate the tissue in the body.
For the new arc of this work, Jia enlisted several researchers with expertise in needed areas to join the team, including Fox and Jason Gleghorn, a biomedical engineer. Gleghorn’s background in the biological processes that cause organs, such as the lungs, to develop a branched architecture and in developing artificial blood vessels will be useful in the context of salivary gland regeneration, Jia said. In the meantime, Fox’s chemistry expertise can help provide the cells with the proper environment so that they organize and orient correctly to do their job. Kenneth Yamada, a biologist with the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research with extensive background in the developmental biology of salivary glands, rounds out the team.
“One thing we’ve learned from literature and our previous study is that the salivary gland doesn’t develop if there is no nerve or blood vessel,” said Jia. “In this new work, we plan to reconstitute blood vessels alongside the growing salivary gland in hopes the vasculature will provide the right signal and architecture to guide the development of the salivary gland. It’s going to be very difficult, but you have to start somewhere.”
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