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November 17, 2016

Thais Parked Tractors & Stopped Pesticides: Sarus Cranes Return

By Martha Mendoza

Associated Press

Buriram, Thailand (AP) - A fuzzy-headed baby sarus crane hatched on a rural farm this fall offers a glimmer of hope for wildlife conservationists, organic farming advocates and a nation grieving after the death of their beloved king. That’s because this chubby chick named Rice is the first of its auspicious species to survive after hatching in the wild in Thailand in 50 years.

The tallest flying birds in the world, 70 incubator-hatched, hand-fed sarus cranes have been raised and released over the past five years in Thailand’s farm-rich northeast province of Buriram, whooping their startling two-toned song at dawn.
``The older generations told us about these cranes, they said they bring luck, but when I actually saw one in my field I was so excited,’’ village leader Thongpoon Unjit said.

He and dozens of other farmers stopped using pesticides and parked their noisy tractors to help the birds survive. They hand-harvest for acres and leave large swaths untouched around nests.

A Sarus Crane and its chick

Already the birds have brought good fortune: The farmers’ organic rice sells for a premium at Bangkok supermarkets.

Forty-two of the cranes released in the wild have survived so far, and eight are living in monogamous pairs. But until now none have managed to successfully reproduce. Rice, now about a month old, likely pecked its little sibling to death, but that’s to be expected, say the experts.

``It’s been really fun to watch this family,’’ said visiting ornithologist George Archibald, spying on the yellow-brown hatchling and its magenta-topped parents through a spotting scope. ``I’ve been really touched by the intimacy of the parents to their juvenile. They’re just continually watching that chick.’’

Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, has advised Thai animal scientists throughout their efforts to reintroduce sarus cranes, 6-foot-tall birds listed as vulnerable globally and extinct in Thailand.

``There are many challenges facing these cranes,’’ said Archibald. ``Will the farmers tolerate a little bit of damage in their rice fields? Will there be too many powerlines? Will the cranes fly into them? Will this landscape that has been absolutely transformed by modern man have a place that’s safe for these enormous birds?’’

Thailand’s sarus crane colony disappeared in the 1960s after farms took over their habitat, pesticides wiped out the snakes and crabs they eat and hunters killed them for their bright plumage. To bring them back, scientists borrowed a few sarus cranes from neighboring Cambodia, where a rare flock lives in a refuge. The United Nations Development Program helped pull together more than $1.5 million for sarus cranes and two other endangered species in Thailand.

But raising any type of crane to survive in the wild is a delicate matter, in large part because the birds tend to imprint on humans around them. Wildlife biologists who feed, care for and transport the birds from zoo incubators to temporary outdoor habitats wear fake crane suits to stop the birds from bonding.

A Sarus Crane pair

At the Korat Zoo last week, birdkeeper Sarawut Wongsombat, sweating in his white gown, opened and closed a large sarus crane puppet mouth in his right hand while waving a tiny tilapia in front of the beak of an 8-day-old chick that wobbled on its skinny legs. The little bird refused the fish again and again, shaking its head and hopping away. But when Sarawut took a break, the curious chick gobbled a few mealworms it found in a bowl, followed by some pink vitamin water.


``He did OK for his first meal,’’ said Sarawut, pulling off the costume.

About 100 miles north, two sarus cranes were released just one day earlier, hopping into a wetland from the arms of their ``Mom and Dad,’’ animal scientists Tanat Uttaraviset and Natawut Wanna, wearing gray-white gowns with hoods and fabric flapping wings.

The shaky fledglings, who had spent the past three months in a temporary mesh shelter in the wetland, hopped around and flapped their wings before launching on their first flights.

Standing thigh-high in a bog next to an organic rice paddy, conservationists watched nervously as the birds they’d help raise each flapped a large loop over the field. It’s a dicey moment when a sarus crane first flies: Sometimes they crash into trees. Other times they face plant on touchdown.

On this day both aced their landings.

More of these releases are slated for later this month. Organizers plan a ceremony with the Environmental Ministry to introduce nine adolescent sarus cranes into the wild, honoring King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Oct. 13 at age 88. The birds are considered good luck, and better yet, the number nine honors the king, who was known as Rama IX for his place in the nation’s dynasty.

Bhumibol’s legacy includes his concern for upcountry rice farms, where he introduced sustainable, environmentally friendly methods.

``It will be a great way to honor the king, with these special birds,’’ said Nathanik Klaklangsmorn of the U.N. Development Program.

Prisons Test Use Of Seeming ‘Cure’ For Opioid Addicts

By Carla K Johnson

AP Medical Writer

Sheridan, IL (AP) U.S. prisons are experimenting with a high-priced monthly injection that could help addicted inmates stay off opioids after they are released, but skeptics question its effectiveness and say the manufacturer has aggressively marketed an unproven drug to corrections officials.

A single shot of Vivitrol, given in the buttocks, lasts for four weeks and eliminates the need for the daily doses common with alternatives such as methadone. But each shot costs as much as $1,000, and because the drug has a limited track record, experts do not agree on how well it works.

Proponents say Vivitrol could save money compared with the cost of locking up a drug offender - about $25,000 a year for each inmate at the Sheridan Correctional Center, 70 miles southwest of Chicago.

Dr. Joshua Lee, of New York University’s medical school, said more evidence is needed to determine whether the medication can help substantial numbers of people and whether it’s worth paying for, but the early results are encouraging.
``It sounds good, and for some of us, it feels like the right thing to do,’’ said Lee, a leading researcher on the treatment.
Vivitrol is emerging as the nation searches for ways to ease an opioid epidemic that affects more than 2 million Americans and an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. prison population. Many experts view prisons - where addiction’s human toll can be seen most clearly - as a natural place to discover what works.

Christopher Wolf had already served prison time for nonviolent crimes when he was ordered into treatment for a heroin addiction by a judge who suggested Vivitrol. Three months later, the 36-year-old from Centerville, Ohio, is clean and working full time as a cook.

He now suggests the medication to other addicts.

``I don’t have cravings,’’ Wolf said. ``I see how much better life is. It gets better really fast.’’

Vivitrol targets receptors in the brain’s reward system, blocking the high and extinguishing urges. In some programs, prisoners get an injection before release, then follow-up shots from any clinic.

For decades, researchers have recognized addiction as a relapsing brain disease with medication an important part of therapy. But most jails and prisons reject methadone and buprenorphine, the other government-approved medications for opioid addiction, because they are habit-forming and can be abused.

Just ask Joshua Meador, 28, an inmate at Sheridan who hopes to get into the Vivitrol program before his release in January. Before incarceration, he abused both older treatment drugs. When given take-home doses of methadone for the weekend, he would sell them for heroin.

``When I’m on Vivitrol, I can’t get high,’’ he said. The drug has no street value or abuse potential.

``You couldn’t design something better for the criminal justice system,’’ said David Farabee of the University of California at Los Angeles, who leads a Vivitrol study in a New Mexico jail. ``There’s been pushback with other medications, people saying, `We’re just changing one drug for another.’ That argument goes out the window when you’re talking about a blocker’’ like Vivitrol.

Prison systems in Illinois, Vermont, Wyoming and Wisconsin are trying the drug on a small scale. Michigan is offering Vivitrol to parolees who commit small crimes, if addiction is the reason for their new offense. The federal Bureau of Prisons ran a field trial in Texas and plans to expand the program to the Northeast next year. The drug’s manufacturer hopes prisons will be the gateway to a larger market.

Also known as extended-release naltrexone, the medication won Food and Drug Administration approval for alcohol dependence in 2006 and in 2010 to prevent relapse in post-detox opioid users.

The evidence for giving Vivitrol to inmates is thin but promising.

In the biggest study, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 300 offenders - most of them heroin users on probation or parole - were randomly assigned to receive either Vivitrol or brief counseling and referral to a treatment program.

After six months, the Vivitrol group had a lower rate of relapse, 43 percent compared with 64 percent. A year after treatment stopped, there had been no overdoses in the Vivitrol group and seven overdoses, including three deaths, in the other group. The results, published in March in the New England Journal of Medicine, have been promoted by the drugmaker, Ireland-based Alkermes, as it markets Vivitrol to U.S. correctional systems.

Yet addiction is stubborn. When the injections stopped, many in the study relapsed. A year later, relapse rates looked the same in the two groups.

``It does suggest six months wasn’t enough,’’ said Lee, the lead author.

T.J. Voller was a Vivitrol success story - until he wasn’t. After Vivitrol was approved by the FDA, Voller talked about getting the shot with The Associated Press and Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a CNN segment. The 30-year-old was back at work and seemed proud of his recovery. But after 10 months on Vivitrol, he died of a heroin overdose.

``He was alone for the weekend and picked up that needle one last time,’’ said his mother, Kathi Voller of Raynham, Massachusetts.

Advocates argue that inmates have a constitutional right to all FDA-approved addiction medications throughout their incarceration.

``Treatment should be offered from the moment they are brought into the system,’’ said Sally Friedman, legal director of the New York-based Legal Action Center, which is looking for a test case to bring to court.

Physicians have learned to be cautious about pharmaceutical company marketing, said Andrew Kolodny, senior scientist at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Not so for criminal justice officials, who may be too trusting, Kolodny said.

``When the drug company sends someone in to give them a talk and buy them pizza, they think they’re getting a scientific lecture,’’ he said.

Alkermes spokeswoman Jennifer Snyder said the company’s sales team helps educate corrections staff and community care providers only after they have shown interest in Vivitrol.

There’s widespread agreement that counseling, support groups and treatment for underlying problems such as depression are crucial for Vivitrol patients, said Dr. Joseph Garbely of Pennsylvania-based Caron Treatment Centers, which supports medication-assisted treatment and prefers Vivitrol.

``The disease of addiction is a cunning, baffling and powerful one,’’ Garbely said. ``And you need all hands on deck.’’

It’s Not All In Your Genes: Heart Attack Risk Cut By Healthy Living

By Marilynn Marchione

AP Chief Medical Writer

New Orleasn (AP) - Clean living can slash your risk for heart disease even if your genes are heavily stacked against you. A large study finds that people with the most inherited risk cut their chances of having a heart attack or other heart problems in half if they didn’t smoke, ate well, exercised and stayed slim.

The opposite also is true: You can largely trash the benefit of good genes with unhealthy habits.

``DNA is not destiny, and you have control,’’ said the study leader, Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, genetic research chief at Massachusetts General Hospital. ``Many people assume that if your father had a heart attack, you’re destined to have a problem,’’ but the results show that’s not the case, he said.

The study was discussed Sunday at an American Heart Association conference in New Orleans and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s long been known that genes and lifestyle affect heart risk, but how much influence each one has, and how much one factor can offset the other, are unknown.

Researchers combined information on more than 55,000 people in four studies around the world. One included imaging to check for plaque building up in heart arteries.

Participants were checked for 50 genes related to heart risks and placed in five groups based on how many they had. They also were sorted into three groups by healthy lifestyle factors - not being obese, exercising at least once a week, eating a healthy diet and not smoking. The favorable lifestyle group had at least three of these four factors; the unfavorable group had one or none.

The results: people with the most gene risk had nearly twice the chance of developing heart problems than people in the lowest gene risk group did. Roughly the same was true for those in the unfavorable lifestyle group versus the favorable one.

But the interesting part was the difference in risk when gene and lifestyle factors were combined.

``If you have an unfavorable lifestyle and high gene risk, your risk of having a heart attack over the next 10 years is 10 percent,’’ but with a good lifestyle, it was only 5 percent in one of the groups in the study, Kathiresan said.

When researchers looked at the imaging results, genetic and lifestyle factors matched how much artery plaque was seen. Again, a healthy lifestyle mitigated the damage from flawed genes.

``If genetics has dealt you a bad hand, can you overcome that? The simple answer is yes,’’ Kathieresan said.

Dr. Pamela Morris of the Medical University of South Carolina, who heads the American College of Cardiology’s prevention committee, said some patients with a strong family history of heart problems will say ``I’m doomed. Why should I bother?’’

But this study shows that ``when you do the work, it makes a difference,’’ she said. ``It’s not horribly complicated’’ to do either, she said. People don’t need to run a marathon, be vegans or ``be a twig’’ in terms of weight, she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Bees Are Disappearing, But Gardeners Can Help, Freed After 24 Years In Prison, Man Knows ‘God Has A Plan’, Yeah, It’s True. The Dude Has Had His Own Festival For Years

This Week In The Civil War: Fighting in Arkansas, Most Americans Still Question The Big Bang Theory, ‘What Would Abbie Think?’ Radical’s Presence Felt Today

This Week In The Civil War: Confederates Take Plymouth, Study Reveals Snacks May Help Avoid Marital Arguments, It’s Probably Just A Matter Of Time: 3D-Printed Heart

Descendants Of Civil War Battle Of New Market Sought By VMI, This Week In The Civil War: Raid On Fort Pillow, TN, 1964 World’s Fair Site Will Cost Millions To Restore

This Week In The Civil War: The Red River Campaign, 11 Ancient Burial Boxes Seized From Thieves, Music Program Puts Alzheimer’s Patients Back In Tune For A Bit

Noah, Opening Friday, Swirls Into A Strong Faith Market, Spring Time Is Puppy Time! How To Puppy-ize Your Life, This Week In The Civil War, Historically Vital Photos Of SC Slave Descendants New Home

Ethyl The Grizzly Loves Travel And Apple Orchards

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson’s Latest Is A Hit, This Week In The Civil War: Slaves Freed In Louisiana, Peerless Card Shark & Magician Richard Turner Is Totally Blind, The Debate Continues On Safety & Impact, But Vaping Is Gaining Acceptance & Growing

This Week In The Civil War: U.S. Grant Takes Charge, The Hard Part Is Digging The Hole: Backyard Pond Tips

Researchers Find Mexico’s Endangered ‘Water Monster’, This Week In The Civil War: Confederate Submarine, Bumblebees Are Getting Stung By Honeybee Sickness, New Exhibit Features Telegram From Elvis To His Parents

Hasty Dig At Camp Asylum, SC: The Developer’s Coming!, Backyard Bird Counters Reveal Snowy Owl Migration, Surgeon Who Invented Heimlich Maneuver: Remember It!

Saving The World’s Great Art: The Real Monuments Men, This Week In The Civil War: Sherman In Mississippi, Folkies Recall Opening For The Beatles At Carnegie Hall In ‘64

Hoffman’s Relapse & Death Is A Tragic, Common Outcome, This Week In The Civil War: Fighting At Morton’s Ford, VA, ‘Jar Nut’s’ Collection Of Bottles Is On Display In Spencer, NC

Monuments Men: 1,000 Years Of Culture Saved From Nazis, This Week In The Civil War: The Union Campaign, Film & Museum Reveal More Realistic View Of Bonnie & Clyde, IRS Is Working To Save Tax Payers Money Through EITC

2013 Was 4th Hottest Year On Record, Says NOAA, This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Jan. 26, Germans’ Longing For American West Births Documentary Play, What Do Fish Poo, Fresh Berries & School Kids Have In Common?

Making Of Lone Survivor Challenging & Controversial, This Week In The Civil War: Fighting In Tennessee, Archaeologist Seeks WWII DNA From Pacific Graveyards, Handyman Program’s ‘Angels’ Help Keep Seniors At Home

This Week In The Civil War, Originals Of The Star-Spangled Banner & Flag To Be Displayed, Our Universe At Its Infancy: Images From Hubble Telescope, 100 Years Later, The British Still Debate WWI’s Legacy

Music Therapy Organization Helps Vets Cope With PTSD, This Week In The Civil War: Winter Furloughs, Rare 1886 Michigan Lighthouse For Sale, Concern For Elves Prompts Iceland To Halt Roadway

This Week In The Civil War, New Survey Reveals US Dads Very Involved In Child Rearing, Dolphin Center Offers Course In Marine Mammal Care

Papers Stolen During Civil War Going Home To Virginia, New Vero Beach Dig: Ice Age Humans In North American?

This Week In The Civil War: Lincoln’s Restoration Plan, Oldest DNA By 100,000 Years Throws Science Into A New Era, Bird Lovers Seek Respect For Sweet Birds: Iowa Blue Chickens

Police Still Seeking Clues To TV Star’s 1957 Murder, Scrawny Stray Cat Becomes Media Star: Pete The Cat

Researchers Seek To Teach Computer Common Sense, This Week In The Civil War: Fighting In Tennessee, New Trend For Vets Helps Pets & Owners: Euthanasia At Home, Florida Archaeologists Carefully Ponder & Paw Mystery Site

President Kennedy Is Best Remembered In His Own Words, This Week In The Civil War: The Battle Above The Clouds, German Who Held Nazi-Era Art Trove Wants Collection Back, Fifty Years Ago, A Young Boy Sought To Comfort JFK’s Bugler

This Week In The Civil War: The Gettysburg Address, NC Student, A ‘Modern Hippie,’ Treasures His 1977 VW Bus, 1869 Account Of Yellowstone Was Disbelieved, Nearly Lost, Amazing Story Of 17th Century Gem & Its Princess Savior, BBB: Tips For Donating To Typhoon Haiyan Relief

2013 Meteor Crash In Russia Is More Likely Than Realized, This Week In The Civil War

This Week In The Civil War: Confederates’ Knoxville Move, Was The Exorcist A True Story? The Answer Remains Elusive, OK, Weather Nerds! Here’re Some Weird Sandy Facts, LA’s La Brea Tar Pits Mark 100 Years Of Excavations

Inspired By Hugo’s Wrath, SC Building Arts College Thrives, This Week In The Civil War, Evidence Found Of Yeti: Oxford’s DNA Analysis Irrefutable

Remembering The Civil War, Graves Spanning Decades Of Tragedy Featured On Hike, NC Twins Meet Biological Mother On Their 20th Birthday

In Debate Over Redskins’ Name Whose Opinion Matters Most?, ‘Appearance Isn’t Everything’ & Model Finds Attention ‘Creepy’

Texas Historical Commission Look For Old Socorro Mission, At 86, Man Continues Career As Mason: ‘I love to do it’

Burger King Seeks To Make Fries Less ‘Painful’, Pirate Ship Which Sank In 1717 Yields Valuable, Rare Booty, Miss Piggy Sets Up House With Kermit & Fozzie At Smithsonian

Beep Baseball Helps Blind Players Gain Confidence

Woman Loses 160 lb. In Two Years, Without Suffering, US Wind Farms Responsible For Dozens Of Raptor Deaths

Detroit Asserts Driverless Cars Are Only Eight Years Away, Beloved Irish Poet’s Final Words: “Don’t Be Afraid.”

Report Highlights Importance Of Increasing Fruit And Vegetable Access In North Carolina, Area Of Brain Where ‘Normal’ Memory Loss Occurs Is Found

Life After TV’s Smash Still Busy For Its Songwriters, Free Dogwood Trees For Joining Arbor Day Foundation, August, Back To School Sleep Habits: Tips For Getting Kids In Gear!

NOAA Features Live Ocean‘TV’ Through August 16, Amazing Mayan Frieze Is Found In Guatemala, New Film The Butler Bridges Decades Of Struggle For Blacks

Elvis Week Honored With Release Of Elvis At Stax, Agencies Now Track The Biggest Fish: Whale Sharks, Suburb Seeks To Reduce Deer Population With Birth Control

Tick-Killing Robot May Change The World - And Your Backyard, Research On Monogamy In Animals Yields Varied Results, Back To School Overview Of Cool Stuff For Kids!

Retired Professor Sweeps Village Streets For The Good Of All, Particle Bs Sighting Confirms Clue To Universe’s Origin, Native Artist Seeks To Redefine What It Is To Be An Indian

Chance Meeting At Auschwitz Leads To Understanding, High Point Man Recalls Days On Lone Ranger Radio Show, Monks’ Sand Mandala Tour Spreads Cultural Tolerance

Solar Powered Plane Finishes Historical Journey In NYC, Raising Butterflies Is Spiritual Medicine For SC Man, More People Are Donating Bodies To Science

Teaching Each Other How To Live, Inmates & Dogs Reform, Easy July 4th Dessert! Raspberry Coconut Pie, Freshly Made Lemonade With Fresh Berry Ice Cubes, Utah Man Submits Bigfoot Skull Fossil To Science For Exam

NC WW II Veteran’s Family Receives His Bible, Missing Nearly 70 Years In Europe, Greensboro Science Center Works 24/7 To Save Little Duke

Formerly Obese Man Will Cycle To The South Pole, Site Of Native American Chiefs In Virginia Is Now Protected, Infant Left In Phone Booth Grows Up & Seeks Birth Family, Yummy Hobby! Mushrooms In A Grow-Your-Own Kit

Search For First Web Page Leads To North Carolina, Myspace Is Reinvented (by Justin Timberlake) As A Home For Musicians, Artists & Writers, Keep It Down! New Products Help Soften Noise Sensitivity

Staying At Historic Inns Requires Some Homework - Do It!, Retired From ‘Real Jobs,’ People Embrace New Lives As Artists

Modern Home Classics: Noguchi’s Light Sculptures, Facial Recognition Technology To Stop Crime...Invade Privacy?

At 100, ACS Has Made Huge Strides In Reducing Cancer, Authors Seek To Align Horses With Owners’ Personalities, Honeybees Trained In Croatia To Find Land Mines

Dan Brown’s Very Latest, Inferno, Is An Engrossing Read, Man Hits The Road On Harley To Collect WWII Vets’ Stories, Fitzgerald’s Obscure Grave Garnering More Visitors Now

Sundance Takes A Look At Animal Moms On Mother’s Day, It’s All The Rage: Moms & Dads Taking ‘Stroller Hikes’

Britain’s Pinewood Studios Opens Its Branch In Atlanta, Fido Swallowed A Sock? That’ll Be Expensive And Maybe Fatal, Replica Of 8th Century Buddhist Caves Now On Exhibit

Planets With Life, “Goldilocks Planets,” Are Everywhere

A Place For Artists & Poets, Marked By A Big, Big Head, Woman Gets Book & Movie Deal After Self-Publishing On Amazon

Are You A Lilly Girl? It’s Hard To Resist The Sunny Lilly Lifestyle, NYC Pay Phone Project Features Neighborhoods’ Past

Everything You Need To Know About Backyard Chickens, History Buffs Gather To Mark 80th Anniversary Of Air Disaster, Hurricane Uncovers Sadness Of Unclaimed Patients’ Remains

Love Hummingbirds? Tips For Attracting These Tiny Miracles, Haiti Paints A Slum And Honors Artist Prefete Duffaut

PA Exhibit Features Local Reading Railroad Artifacts, Rite Of Spring Gives Right Of Way To Jersey Salamanders, Restoration Of Last Wooden Whaler Nears Completion

Stonehenge A emetery?, What’s A Rogue Taxidermist?“Cat” Grey Is, For Example

Community Helps Excavate Oldest Street In The US, For Fun & As Collectibles, Retro-Style Toys Remain Popular

Email, Text, Instant Message: Does Lack Of Response Bug You?

Re-enactors Skill At Acting Out History Has Dual Purpose, Team Retraces Shackleton’s Amazing 1916 Rescue, Virginia Volunteers Offer Chocolate & Hugs

Helping Kids & Adults Heal From Trauma: There’s No Clear Path, Cat Stars Of The Internet: How Did This Happen?

Shoah Foundation Produces Holograms Of Nazi Survivors, Museum Mounts Exhibit Of Ice Age Masterpieces, Family Restores Rare Airplane After ‘Coyote Chase’ Crash


 

 

 

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