Friday, 27 May, 2011

Why Mukesh Ambani’s swank home makes Ratan Tata sad

Ratan Tata has, in uncharacteristically candid comments about fellow tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s lifestyle , pointed to the latter’s luxurious 27-storeyed mansion in Mumbai as a glaring sign of income disparity in India – and the stuff that “revolutions are made of.”

“It makes me wonder why someone would do that. That’s what revolutions are made of,” Tata told Damian Whitworth of The Times of London in an interview published on Saturday.

The money quote that is certain to echo in business circles for a long while:

“The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and [asking] can he make a difference. If he is not, then it’s sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have.”

Ambani’s swank residence – the world’s first billion-dollar home – has of course drawn reams of (mostly gushing) media attention. Criticism of its over-the-top opulence has so far come only from commentators like Ramachandra Guha and filmmakers like Prakash Jha. For someone of Tata’s stature to point to the lifestyle of one of India’s richest industrialists as reflecting the larger social inequity is striking.

In the interview to Whitworth, Tata also hints that Noel Tata, his half-brother, may not have what it takes to take over the reins as the head of the Tata empire next year. “I think if he is to run this he should have greater exposure than he has had. Partly his not having it has been his own choice,” Tata noted.

Asked if he regretted he had no children to whom he could pass on the baton, Tata says that if he had had a family, he would probably not have been able to devote as much of his time to the organisation as he had. But he says it would have “bothered” him to think that if he’d had a son, he would automatically have been considered as a natural successor.

“I would have probably done something not to have that happen, and my son would have felt I was prejudiced against him. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be automatic,” Tata said.

Some of the other points that Tata makes in the interview:

The UK and the US have a “work ethics” problem among senior management, which is dragging them down.

“It’s a work ethic issue,” he says. “In my experience, in both Corus and (Jaguar), nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody. I feel if you have come from Bombay to have a meeting and the meeting goes till 6pm, I would expect that you won’t, at 5 o’clock, say, ‘Sorry, I have my train to catch. I have to go home.’ Friday, from 3.30pm, you can’t find anybody in their office.”

He contrasts that with the situation in India, where “if you are in a crisis, if it means working to midnight, you would do it. The worker (at Jaguar) seems to be willing to do that; the management is not.”

by the FB team

Thursday, 26 May, 2011

The Lost Animals of Fukushima

After much hand-wringing, the Japanese government finally created a mandatory evacuation zone around the radiation-spewing Fukushima plant. Humans should be safe now. But the same can't be said of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned of animals left behind.

In the midst of a hurried and uneven evacuation plan, the creatures—both household pets and domesticated farm animals—have been left stranded. According to The Telegraph and ABC News hundreds of thousands of animals are now on their own in the irradiated region—around 3,400 cows, 31,500 pigs and 630,000 chickens. Prof. D.L Brown of Cornell University's Department of Animal Science speculates almost all of these chickens are dead by now, and that the livestock are in rough shape. Whatever livestock is left won't be around for long—the government is killing them all off as a safety precaution.

And then there are the pets. It's estimated that almost 6,000 dogs alone inhabited the radius, though no telling how many of them are still alive. The Japanese government is doing what it can to retrieve stray animal friends, and with the help of nonprofits, trying to care for them or find them new homes. But often, homeowners on government-sanctioned, temporary visits back home are dismayed by what they find. When hazmat suit-wearing 63-year-old Hatsuo Sakamoto came home to quickly check up on his cat for the first time in months, it simply ran away. "The cat must be startled because it has been two months since we last saw it—and because we look like space aliens," lamented his wife. But it's a testament to the love these people had for their pets that they're willing to brave the radiation zone at all—often, just to say goodbye.
This was the case for Shoichi Akimoto, one of Fukushima's evacuated residents who had returned for a brief visit to his house. When he searched for John, his dog, he found the pet had died, still leashed, after digging itself a little hole in the ground to rest. With only 15 minutes left before they would be forced back out of the area, Akimoto and Nobuichi Kobayashi, a local leader, placed incense for the deceased pet beside it, unable to bring his friend back with him. "I will bury his body on my next return," he vowed. Stories like this—likely playing out all over Fukushima—speak to both the psychological turmoil of the disaster, and the tenacity of those affected by it.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2011

STD Test? There's an App for That

British health officials are hard at work on a new app that will allow users to pee into their cell phones and find out within minutes if they have an STD.

Seriously, we could not make this stuff up if we tried.

According to The Guardian, £4 million have been invested in the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, which is creating a smartphone app that will allow users, "to put urine or saliva on to a computer chip about the size of a USB chip, plug it into their phone or computer and receive a diagnosis within minutes."

The techno-savvy approached is aimed at young brits, who apparently are too embarrased to visit the doctor face to face and have been experiencing rising rates of STDs (or STIs if you prefer.)

"Your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor. It diagnoses whether you've got one of a range of STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea and tells you where to go next to get treatment," Dr Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George's, University of London, who is leading the project, told The Guardian.

If it's really that simple, why wait till after the deed is done? Wouldn't it make more sense for prospective partners to swap fluids before hand, get a reading on their cell phones, and then decide whether or not to "finish the download"?

Tuesday, 24 May, 2011

Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal

WASHINGTON — Those who planned the secret mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

The U.S. deliberately hid the operation from Pakistan, and predicted that national outrage over the breach of Pakistani sovereignty would make it impossible to try again if the raid on bin Laden’s suspected redoubt came up dry.

Once the raiders reached their target, things started to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the operation said.

Adding exclusive new details to the account of the assault on bin Laden’s hideout, officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden’s door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze play on bin Laden — simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor.

Instead, they busted into the ground floor and began a floor-by-floor storming of the house, working up to the top level where they had assumed bin Laden — if he was in the house — would be.

They were right.

The raiders came face-to-face with bin Laden in a hallway outside his bedroom, and three of the Americans stormed in after him, U.S. officials briefed on the operation told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a classified operation.

U.S. officials believe Pakistani intelligence continues to support militants who attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and actively undermine U.S. intelligence operations to go after al-Qaida inside Pakistan. The level of distrust is such that keeping Pakistan in the dark was a major factor in planning the raid, and led to using the high-tech but sometimes unpredictable helicopter technology that nearly unhinged the mission.

Pakistan’s government has since condemned the action, and threatened to open fire if U.S. forces enter again.

On Monday, the two partners attempted to patch up relations, agreeing to pursue high-value targets jointly.

The decision to launch on that particular moonless night in May came largely because too many American officials had been briefed on the plan. U.S. officials feared if it leaked to the press, bin Laden would disappear for another decade.

The one-shot deal

U.S. special operations forces have made approximately four forays into Pakistani territory since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, though this one, some 90 miles inside Pakistan, was unlike any other, the officials say.

The job was given to a SEAL Team 6 unit, just back from Afghanistan, one official said. This elite branch of SEALs had been hunting bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan since 2001.

Five aircraft flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with three school-bus-size Chinook helicopters landing in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way to bin Laden’s compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, two of the officials explained.

Aboard two Black Hawk helicopters were 23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo(Navy SEAL dogs are badasses, yes. But did you know some of them have titanium fangs, designed to rip through enemy protective armor?That titanium grill runs $2,000 per tooth. The end result, US military dog trainer Alex Dunbar tells The Daily, is that being bitten is "like being stabbed four times at once with a bone crusher." Hard. Core.). Nineteen SEALs would enter the compound, and three of them would find bin Laden, one official said, providing the exact numbers for the first time.

Aboard the Chinooks were two dozen more SEALs, as backup.

The Black Hawks were specially engineered to muffle the tail rotor and engine sound, two officials said. The added weight of the stealth technology meant cargo was calculated to the ounce, with weather factored in. The night of the mission, it was hotter than expected.

The Black Hawks were to drop the SEALs and depart in less than two minutes, in hopes locals would assume they were Pakistani aircraft visiting the nearby military academy.

One Black Hawk was to hover above the compound, with SEALs sliding down ropes into the open courtyard.

The second was to hover above the roof to drop SEALs there, then land more SEALs outside — plus an interpreter and the dog, who would track anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces.

If troops appeared, the plan was to hunker down in the compound, avoiding armed confrontation with the Pakistanis while officials in Washington negotiated their passage out.

The two SEAL teams inside would work toward each other, in a simultaneous attack from above and below, their weapons silenced, guaranteeing surprise, one of the officials said. They would have stormed the building in a matter of minutes, as they’d done time and again in two training models of the compound.

The plan unraveled as the first helicopter tried to hover over the compound. The Black Hawk skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air, forcing the pilot to land. As he did, the tail and rotor got caught on one of the compound’s 12-foot walls. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft’s nose in the dirt to keep it from tipping over, and the SEALs clambered out into an outer courtyard.

The other aircraft did not even attempt hovering, landing its SEALs outside the compound.

Now, the raiders were outside, and they’d lost the element of surprise.

They had trained for this, and started blowing their way in with explosives, through walls and doors, working their way up the three-level house from the bottom.

They had to blow their way through barriers at each stair landing, firing back, as one of the men in the house fired at them.

They shot three men as well as one woman, whom U.S. officials have said lunged at the SEALs.

Small knots of children were on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden’s room.

As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds.

Back at the White House Situation Room, word was relayed that bin Laden had been found, signaled by the code word “Geronimo.” That was not bin Laden’s code name, but rather a representation of the letter “G.” Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically, and “Geronimo” meant that the raiders had reached step “G,” the killing or capture of bin Laden, two officials said.

As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they’d just run through. Bin Laden hadn’t touched them.

They were among a handful of weapons that were removed to be inventoried.

It took approximately 15 minutes to reach bin Laden, one official said. The next 23 or so were spent blowing up the broken chopper, after rounding up nine women and 18 children to get them out of range of the blast.

One of the waiting Chinooks flew in to pick up bin Laden’s body, the raiders from the broken aircraft and the weapons, documents and other materials seized at the site.

The helicopters flew back to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and the body was flown to a waiting Navy ship for bin Laden’s burial at sea, ensuring no shrine would spring up around his grave.

When the SEAL team met President Obama, he did not ask who shot bin Laden. He simply thanked each member of the team, two officials said.

In a few weeks, the team that killed bin Laden will go back to training, and in a couple months, back to work overseas.

Monday, 23 May, 2011

Ratan Tata is losing patience

Ping! The clarification from Vaishnavi Communications, the Tata group’s communications agency, hit my inbox at 9:25 p.m. on a Saturday evening. Obviously, someone had swung into damage control mode inside Bombay House at that late hour. And I guess they had reason to get a bit rattled by their chairman’s sudden, sharp attack on the declining British work ethic in evidence at Corus and JLR in a candid interview to The Times of London.

The timing of the interview obviously couldn’t be worse. According to The Telegraph in the UK, Tata Steel proposes to close or mothball part of its Scunthorpe plant, putting at risk 1,200 jobs. The plans would also see 300 jobs lost at its Teesside site.

Yet it isn’t often that Indian business leaders publicly attack their own employees—and that too in a foreign country. In 2005, I had done an interview with L&T supremo AM Naik for The Times of India, where he had railed against the engineers inside his own company. “Around 95% of the students passing out of engineering colleges head either to the US or Europe or any other part of the world. The leftovers of the leftovers of the leftover come to join us, only to leave after gaining the platinum touch. So who will build India’s ports, bridges and airports?” he had questioned.

The next day, there was a huge uproar inside L&T as Naik had to placate his engineers and assure them that they weren’t exactly third class citizens as he had described them! Tata may have to do something similar in UK, as is evident from the hurried clarification. (See the clarification.)

To my mind, there’s a clear upshot from this no-holds barred interview: Ratan Tata is finally losing his patience, when it comes to securing the full benefits from his global M&A binge in the last decade. To that extent, this outburst, though somewhat belated, may not have come a day too soon. Let me explain why.

Ever since the Tatas made their big move to buy Corus in 2007 and followed it up with the JLR acquisition in 2008, their post merger integration model had a clear defining theme: it was referred to as light touch. Management consultants McKinsey & Co called it a quintessential Asian approach to M&A. Here’s how they describe it in a 2010 article in the McKinsey Quarterly: When it comes to acquisitions, some Asian companies are forging a novel path through the thicket of postmerger integration: they aren’t doing it. Among Western companies, the process can vary considerably from deal to deal, yet it’s an article of faith that acquirers must integrate quickly. Otherwise, the logic goes, they may lose the momentum of a deal before they can capture the synergies that justified it.

The Tatas epitomized this so-called Asian approach. From the time they made their big move, Ratan Tata chose to leave his crown jewels—Corus and JLR—strictly alone. There were no 100 day integration plans. There were no large armies of senior managers sent from India to indoctrinate their European employees.

A very senior manager from Tata Steel who was sent to push things along in UK returned home completely frustrated by the bureaucracy. None of the British managers would listen to any kind of advice; he confided to a senior executive I knew on a flight way back from UK. And Bombay House was in no hurry to enforce its writ.

The word was out that Corus was perhaps the most bureaucratic organization in Europe, a spaghetti of different cultures slapped together from the erstwhile British Steel and Dutch maker Koninklijke Hoogovens merger in 1999. No one had attempted to fuse the two organisations, and the plants across Euorpe continued to operate as decentralised entities, with enormous operating freedom for its managers. And this created large, bloated bureaucracies that no one had any control over. There was a joke about Corus’ antiquated IT systems—that may have well been true—no one in the central office knew exactly how many workers were employed in each plant. A senior executive at the Tatas once told me that the managers at Corus would do everything possible to thwart any kind of change effort. And the Tatas did nothing to attack this bureaucracy in the initial years, despite the fact that they may have overpaid for the two acquisitions, buying, as they did, at the top of the cycle.

When they bought Corus in 2007, the Tatas allowed the local management to set the agenda. The massive downturn following the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers and the resultant downturn did force the Tatas though to make massive job cuts in the UK and elsewhere. But it wasn’t until September 2010, that Corus became Tata Steel Europe.

Obviously, there may have been valid grounds for the Tatas not to meddle too much at Corus. The Anglo-Dutch steel maker was four times bigger than Tata Steel. Besides, the Tatas themselves did not have a cadre of international managers who were trained to handle such complex post merger integration. So they consciously left it to the existing European managers to lead the charge. It wasn’t until the combative American steel expert Kirby Adams arrived as the new CEO did the process of restructuring and culture change at Corus begin in right earnest. His plan to mothball the Teeside plant made him hugely unpopular with local politicians in the area. In the 14 months that he was there, Adams cut 6,000 jobs across Europe and thereby helped stop some of the bleeding at Corus. Not surprisingly, Adams stepped down in October 2010 and was replaced by his COO Karl-Ulrich Köhler, who had come in from German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.

While he was at the helm, Adams made no efforts to integrate the European operations with the Indian ops. The two entities continued to perform without too much integration. Perhaps Adams was apprehensive that it could destabilise his own power base in Europe. Köhler, on the other hand, has no such compunctions. In the past few months, apparently he has himself realised the inherent fallacy of having two independent entities in India and Europe. He is said to have taken up the challenge of merging the two organisations and deriving greater synergies. And he is also said to have taken on the tough task of dismantling the infamous bureaucracy that Mr Tata ranted about in the interview to The Times.

So, after nearly four years after the Tatas acquired Corus, the gloves may finally be coming off. And it’s about time someone had the courage to call a spade a spade.

by Indrajit Gupta

Sunday, 22 May, 2011

What Is Planking?

Planking is blowing up the news these day. Old people would say it's another instance of why the youth is screwed. Kids would fire back that it's the most fun you can have being still. Who's right? And just what the hell is planking?

It's a stupid internet sensation...

Planking is the act of lying facedown for a photograph. The term planking originated from Australia but is actually just another name for 'the lying down game' (I'm not kidding). The specific instructions: to put your body face down to the ground (or table, or object, or anything) with your arms to the side. Yeah.

...that's really, really stupid...

Again, the act itself is to lie down on the ground. Anybody can do that, right? That's why kids are getting crazier. You get creativity points for planking in odd places like trees branches. Or escalators. Or animals! Or balls. The more wild you get, the 'better' the picture will be.

...but is huge on Facebook.

The Official Planking Facebook page has over 180,000 fans and tons of pictures showcasing the best plankers around the world. Hell, the whole idea about planking is to upload it to your Facebook account so your friends can see it, as planking alone is not planking at all.

Unfortunately, it's not all fun and games...

An Aussie man died for trying to plank on a balcony, plummeting 7 stories to the ground. Police are growing concerned that people are trying to one up each other in their planking. don't go nuts if you plank...

I think a safe policy would be to not plank anywhere you wouldn't sit.

...or really, just don't plank at all.

Come on, people.

Saturday, 21 May, 2011

Apocalypse believers wait vigilantly for the end after months of preparing; skeptics carry on

They spent months warning the world of the apocalypse, some giving away earthly belongings or draining their savings accounts. And so they waited, vigilantly, on Saturday for the appointed hour to arrive.

When 6 p.m. came and went across the United States and various spots around the globe, and no extraordinary cataclysm occurred, some believers expressed confusion, while others reassured each of their faith. Still, some others took it in stride.

Caroline Dennewith, co-owner of Dorky’s Arcade in Tacoma, Wash., poses for a photo, Friday, May 20, 2011 with a poster advertising her business’ ”Rapture Party,” which will be held Saturday, May 21, 2011, the day on which a loosely organized Christian movement believes Jesus will return to Earth to gather the faithful. Dennewith says she has received international media attention and some isolated local criticism for what started out as a low-key party in response to predictions of the rapture.

“I had some skepticism but I was trying to push the skepticism away because I believe in God,” said Keith Bauer — who hopped in his minivan in Maryland and drove his family 3,000 miles to California for the Rapture.

He started his day in the bright morning sun outside the gated Oakland headquarters of Family Radio International, whose founder, Harold Camping, has been broadcasting the apocalyptic prediction for years.

“I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth,” said Bauer, a tractor-trailer driver who began the voyage west last week, figuring that if he “worked last week, I wouldn’t have gotten paid anyway, if the Rapture did happen.”

The May 21 doomsday message was sent far and wide via broadcasts and websites by Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer who has built a multi-million-dollar Christian media empire that publicizes his apocalyptic prediction. According to Camping, the destruction was likely to have begun its worldwide march as it became 6 p.m. in the various time zones, although some believers said Saturday the exact timing was never written in stone.

In New York’s Times Square, Robert Fitzpatrick, of Staten Island, said he was surprised when the six o’clock hour simply came and went. He had spent his own money to put up advertising about the end of the world.

“I can’t tell you what I feel right now,” he said, surrounded by tourists. “Obviously, I haven’t understood it correctly because we’re still here.”

Many followers said the delay was a further test from God to persevere in their faith.

“It’s still May 21 and God’s going to bring it,” said Family Radio’s special projects coordinator Michael Garcia, who spent Saturday morning praying and drinking two last cups of coffee with his wife at home in Alameda. “When you say something and it doesn’t happen, your pride is what’s hurt. But who needs pride? God said he resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.”

The Internet was alive with discussion, humorous or not, about the end of the world and its apparent failure to occur on cue. Many tweets declared Camping’s prediction a dud or shared, tongue-in-cheek, their relief at not having to do weekend chores or take a shower.

The top trends on Twitter at midday included, at No. 1, “endofworldconfessions,” followed by “myraptureplaylist.”

As 6 p.m. approached in California, some 100 people gathered outside Family Radio International headquarters in Oakland, although it appeared none of the believers of the prophecy were among them. Camping’s radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website are controlled from a modest building sandwiched between an auto shop and a palm reader’s business.

Friday, 20 May, 2011

Nanopatch could be new way to repair heart damage

When you suffer a heart attack, a part of your heart dies. In tests, a new nanopatch shows promise in helping bring dead regions of the heart back to life.

“This whole idea is to put something where dead tissue is to help regenerate it, so that you eventually have a healthy heart,” says David Stout, an engineering graduate student at Brown University and lead author of the paper published in Acta Biomaterialia.

The approach, if successful, would help millions of people. In 2009, some 785,000 Americans suffered a new heart attack linked to weakness caused by the scarred cardiac muscle from a previous heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. Just as ominously, statistics show that a third of women and a fifth of men who have experienced a heart attack will have another one within six years.

What is unique about the experiments at Brown and at the India Institute of Technology Kanpur is the engineers employed carbon nanofibers, helical-shaped tubes with diameters between 60 and 200 nanometers. The carbon nanofibers work well because they are excellent conductors of electrons, performing the kind of electrical connections the heart relies upon for keeping a steady beat.
The researchers stitched the nanofibers together using a poly lactic-co-glycolic acid polymer to form a mesh about 22 millimeters long and 15 microns thick and resembling “a black Band Aid,” Stout says. They laid the mesh on a glass substrate to test whether heart tissue cells known as cardiomyocytes would colonize the surface and grow more cells.

In tests with the 200-nanometer-diameter carbon nanofibers seeded with cardiomyocytes, five times as many heart-tissue cells colonized the surface after four hours than with a control sample consisting of the polymer only. After five days, the density of the surface was six times greater than the control sample, the researchers report. Neuron density had also doubled after four days.

The scaffold works because it is elastic and durable, and can thus expand and contract much like heart tissue, says Thomas Webster, associate professor in engineering and orthopaedics at Brown and the corresponding author on the paper. It’s because of these properties and the carbon nanofibers that cardiomyocytes and neurons congregate on the scaffold and spawn new cells, in effect regenerating the area.

The scientists want to tweak the scaffold pattern to better mimic the electrical current of the heart, as well as build an in-vitro model to test how the material reacts to the heart’s voltage and beat regime. They also want to make sure the cardiomyocytes that grow on the scaffolds are endowed with the same abilities as other heart-tissue cells.

The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, the Hermann Foundation, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, the government of India and California State University funded the research.

Thursday, 19 May, 2011

Mother who tried to get pregnant for eight years finally gives birth after she's injected with yolk from CHICKEN EGG

A woman who struggled to fall pregnant for eight years has given birth to a baby boy after she was injected with chicken egg yolk.

Leanne Blackwell, 38, and her plumber husband Andy, 48, had been trying to conceive since 2003 and spent £15,000 of IVF without success.

Then in 2010, Dr George Ndukwe, from Care Fertility in Nottingham discovered the couple had incompatible immune systems.
Leanne's overactive immune system was producing cells that were killing her fertilized eggs before they could develop.

He suggested a novel approach to lower her immune system - by injecting her with protein taken from a chicken egg.

Mrs Blackwell was given an intralipid solution containing a combination of egg extracts and soy oil through a drip, before being inseminated with the couple's fertilised eggs.

Research shows the fatty acids in the egg reduce the number of killer cells in the immune system.

Finally in May 2010 Leanne discovered she was pregnant, and gave birth to baby Martyn weighing 6lbs 13oz in February this year.

Leanne, who is a driving instructor, said: 'Holding Martyn in my arms for the first time was amazing, and the fact we had waited for so long made it all the more powerful'.

'I didn't realise how depressed I was getting about not being able to have a family.

'I couldn't even go to Asda without getting upset. It seemed like pregnant women were everywhere, and it was just a reminder it wasn't happening for us.'

After reading about the possible effects of her immune system on pregnancy, Leanne requested an immunology test.

The Chicago Test, revealed that Leanne body was producing a high number of killer cells which would treat any fertilised embryo as a foreign body.

After two failed IVF attempts, the couple from Grantham, decided to give it one more try using the food supplements.

'We had hit rock bottom. Andy and I had totally expected it to work.

'We talked about adoption. People would say to us: "when you stop trying, that's when it happens", but I didn't want to give up on having a family.'

'We decided to give IVF one more try with these new drugs.

'It's amazing to think that something quite simple has given us our baby.'

Leanne was given two sessions of the intralipid solution, both before and after she became pregnant. It is believed the solution interferes with the signal to the immune system reducing the number of killer cells.

'I had to wait two weeks to take my pregnancy test, I was so excited I got up at 5am to find out the result', says Leanne.

'After so many years of waiting, I couldn't believe it when I finally got a positive result. I just started bawling in the bathroom'.

After discovering she was expecting, it was important to maintain a low functioning immune system while the baby was developing.

As a result she was susceptible to infection and disease, and had to be extra vigilant throughout her pregnancy.

'I got a couple of bouts of food poisoning which wasn't nice. But everything was worth it in the end.

'Having Martyn is awesome, it was all worth it!'

Simon Thornton, Group Medical Director, CARE Fertility said: 'We believe that this treatment is important for women and families because there seems to be a subset of fertility patients who have developed, effectively, over active immune systems and this is contributing to their fertility difficulties.

'This treatment is inexpensive, well tolerated and easy to administer

'We have devoted time to finding answers when nature goes wrong'

Tuesday, 17 May, 2011

Pele fertility doctor 'deceived IVF parents'

A Brazilian fertility expert who helped Pele father twins is suspected of having deceived large numbers of patients into bringing up children that are not genetically theirs.
Roger Abdelmassih is on the run from police after being convicted of sexually assaulting or raping 39 female patients at his clinic.
New evidence gathered by police and public prosecutors suggests that many of the 8,000 babies born after IVF treatment by him and his team may not be the biological children of the couples raising them. There is no suggestion this is the case with Pele.
The authorities believe that Abdelmassih, 67, misled many customers by implanting embryos formed from eggs and sperm of other people to increase his chances of success.
DNA tests have already found at least three cases where children born after IVF treatment at his clinic in Sao Paulo are not the genetic offspring of one of the paying parents.
But according to Epoca, a weekly Brazilian news magazine which has seen evidence collected by the authorities, this could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Abdelmassih treated a string of high-profile clients including Pele who fathered twins with his second wife in 1996 at the age of 55 and after having earlier undergone a vasectomy.
His clinic's IVF success rate hit 47 per cent in recent years compared to an average of around 32 per cent in Latin America and less than 30 per cent in Britain.
Such a high level of success will increase fears that Abdelmassih may have fooled large numbers of patients over a period of two decades.
Abdelmassih was sentenced to 278 years in jail in November last year after he was found guilty of attacking female patients between 1995 and 2007 but went missing after being allowed to remain free pending an appeal.

Monday, 16 May, 2011

Road Rage:)

These photos are from Thursday, Feb. 17 by someone from Centurion in Pilanesberg game reserve, South Africa.

The guy in the white Volkswagen was trying to get past the elephant.

Road rage, it affects us all!

Sunday, 15 May, 2011

Twitter Vigilante Reclaims a Stranger’s Stolen Laptop After Police Refuse to Help

Twitter helps break news and aid in political uprisings, but after one guy helped recover the stolen laptop of a stranger he followed on Twitter, it seems the social network is also going to revive a dying breed: the vigilante.

After Sean Power had his laptop stolen in New York City, he used Prey—the awesome (and FREE) tracking software—located the laptop, obtained the culprit's Skype name and snaped a screenshot of the guy using it. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to file a police report before having to leave NYC for a few days, so when he finally tracked down his computer, the cops more or less refused to help. That's when Power started tweeting.

What ensued was a flurry of tweets from followers who dug up all sorts of info on the accused, while spreading the word. A female friend of Power's was already at the bar where Prey had pinpointed the computer, but was hesitant to try and handle the situation alone.

But a complete stranger, Nick Reese, happened to be in the neighborhood where the laptop was located. After receiving links to the unfolding saga, debating whether or not to help, and having friends prod him, he finally hopped a cab and went down to the bar.

Once there, he casually confronted the thief (who worked—or possibly owned—the bar where he was using the computer), and got the laptop back with little resistance, scoring a victory for Twitter nerds everywhere. There's a whole, chronological twitter stream here, detailing what went down in realtime. And it's a pretty entertaining story to skim through, involving highs, lows, moments of doubt and multiple characters.

And internet, can we keep crowdsourcing all our law enforcement needs? With local police squads going bankrupt all around the country, I'm all about a bunch of shadowy, hockey-masked randoms popping up to save the day.

-Adrian Covert

Saturday, 14 May, 2011

Sheex Performance Bed Sheets

You know those workout shirts that keep you cool and dry? Like from Under Armour and Nike? These Sheex "performance" bedsheets are made out of the same material. And they're pretty much perfect for any type of activity you do in bed.

Holy baby bottoms, these sheets are soft. You definitely feel the roots of performance wear, but the softness is more similar to satin or silk (but obviously more durable). There's a purposeful weight and texture to it, which lets your body breathe while keeping you warm. It's fantastic really—I've slept on many a high thread count and on the cotton of Phaorohs but none were as versatile as Sheex.

The set comes with a fitted sheet, a flat sheet and two pillowcases all made from the same 87% polyester/13% spandex fabric blend. Once you put the Sheex on, your bed becomes one constant cool side of the pillow. For a person like me, who gets hot easily, and lives in a city that stays hot midyear, Sheex is an absolute oasis. Or I guess deodorant if you're a sweaty sleeper. Either way, I've been sleeping wonderfully since I started using Sheex.

But, um, how do 'performance sheets' perform when you perform?

You are who you are, of course, but let's put it this way: Sheex eliminates the messy variables of night time relations. The fitted bed sheet is tight and stretchy so it wraps itself perfectly around the mattress so there's no needless fabric flapping around. This is crucial, as it gives you a blank slate for your penetrative masterpieces: you can spin, tango, and switch gears any which way without ever getting your knees, elbows or any of your other body parts caught in your sheets. Cotton is for virgins, people.

As for those who partake on solo missions, the flat sheet grooves itself onto your body, caressing its polyester around your knees and ankles while giving breathability to your backside. It's as easy as ever to find peace within yourself.

If you have any rough patches on your body (back of your heels, etc), rubbing against the sheets will make your rough skin feel like the carcasses of burnt alligators. It scratches and it's not fun knowing how gross your feet are. Also, because of Sheex's materials, it doesn't retain that 'fresh laundry' scent. And, lastly! The bed sheets might be so awesome that your impromptu one night bed dance partner (what was his/her name?) might want to stay with you through the morning after.

$200 for a Queen Set, Sheex

-Casey Chan