Clues on generating muscles

first_imgHarvard stem cell scientists have discovered that the same chemicals that stimulate muscle development in zebrafish can be used to differentiate human stem cells into muscle cells in the laboratory — and overcoming that historically challenging task has made muscle cell therapy a more realistic clinical possibility.The work, published in the journal Cell, began with a discovery by Children’s Hospital Boston researchers led by Leonard Zon and graduate student Cong (Tony) Xu, who tested 2,400 chemicals in cultures of zebrafish embryo cells to determine if any could increase the numbers of muscle cells formed. Using fluorescent reporter fish in which muscle cells were visible during their creation, the researchers found six chemicals that were very effective at promoting muscle formation.Zon, a professor with the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), chair of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute executive committee, and director of the stem cell program at Children’s, shared his results with HSCRB Professor Amy Wagers and Mohammadsharif Tabebordbar, a graduate student in her laboratory, who tested the six chemicals in mice. One of the six, called forskolin, was found to increase the numbers of muscle stem cells from mice that could be obtained when these cells were grown in laboratory dishes. Moreover, the cultured cells successfully integrated into muscle when transplanted back into mice.Inspired by the successful application of these chemicals in mice, Salvatore Iovino, a joint postdoctoral fellow in the Wagers lab and the lab of C. Ronald Kahn at the Joslin Diabetes Center, investigated whether the chemicals would also affect human cells.  He found that a combination of three chemicals, including forskolin, could induce differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, made by reprogramming skin cells.Exposing the iPS cells to these chemicals converted them into skeletal muscle, an outcome the Wagers and Kahn labs had been striving to achieve for years using conventional methods. When transplanted into a mouse, the human iPS-derived muscle cells also contributed to muscle repair, offering early promise that this protocol could provide a route to muscle stem cell therapy in humans.The interdisciplinary, cross-laboratory collaboration among Zon, Wagers, and Kahn highlights the advantage of open exchange for researchers. “If we had done this screen directly on human iPS cells, it would have taken at least 10 times as long and cost 100 times as much,” said Wagers. “The zebrafish gave us a big advantage here because it has a fast generation time, rapid development, and can be easily and relatively cheaply screened in a culture dish.”“This research demonstrates that over 300 million years of evolution, the pathways used in the fish are conserved through vertebrates all the way up to the human,” said Zon. “We can now make enough human muscle progenitors in a dish to allow us to model diseases of the muscle lineage, like Duchenne muscular dystrophy, conduct drug screens to find chemicals that correct those diseases, and, in the long term, efficiently transplant muscle stem cells into a patient.”In a similar biomedical application, Kahn, who is chief academic officer at the Joslin, plans to apply the new ability to rapid production of muscle stem cells for diabetes research. His lab will generate iPS-derived muscle cells from people who are at risk for diabetes and people who have diabetes to identify alterations that lead to insulin resistance in the muscle.Going forward, Zon plans to apply this platform of cross-species discovery to other stem cell lines, including those involved in blood and eye development. “We have a new system to use to study tissue development, and it’s not just muscle that can be studied. Every single organ can be studied in the zebrafish system,” he said.The research was funded by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Center, and the Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center.last_img read more

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For the Ones Who Dreamed Big For Us All

first_imgHuman potential is limitless when we tap into the power of diverse perspectives. For me, that’s what Black History Month is all about.Technologists, scientists, artists, leaders of social change and allies – many of the figures we recognize during Black History Month are well known changemakers. We also reflect on the contributions of those with untold stories, who have also inspired human progress. I invite you to see just a handful of the leaders we’re celebrating at Dell Technologies in the video below.Personally, I’m inspired by the countless Black innovators who dreamed big enough for all of us.Frank Greene was a prolific innovator whose stories you may have heard if you’re a technologist, like me. His contributions paved the way for many people to succeed and achieve their maximum potential. As the first African American cadet to graduate the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, he opened up career paths in the military for the Black community. A pioneer of supercomputing, he patented an integrated circuit that made his employer at the time, Fairchild Semiconductor, a leader in their industry. And later on, he founded a venture capital firm that launched numerous start-up companies with women and minority founders – including my own.I will never forget the day Frank agreed to invest in one of my first companies. Because of him, I became one of the few Black CEOs in tech, which manifested my belief in the power of diverse talent and passion for technology into my current position as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.At Dell, we often say diversity is who we are, and it’s how we win. Diverse perspectives help us supercharge innovation as well as the impact we can have on our customers, team members and the world.Our Black Networking Alliance (BNA) employee resource group is no exception. They are partnering with our Tech Pro Bono program to pair skilled team members with 28 nonprofits – all dedicated to social justice, future skills development and racial equity. Together we’ll help these non-profits digitally transform by tackling projects like data management, product development and web development.We are thrilled to spend February celebrating the achievements and contributions of generations of Black people who have made a positive impact on our company and on our society. I am especially looking forward to hearing from A’Lelia Bundles – the great-great granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker, whose life was depicted in the recent Netflix series Self Made. She’ll join our Dell Technologies team later this month to share stories of Walker’s legacy and how it has driven human progress in our society today.To Mr. Greene, Mrs. Walker and all those who dreamed big without holding back, and to those celebrating their impact – Happy Black History Month.last_img read more

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Student awarded scholarship to study in Cambridge

first_imgSenior John Huber, applied and computational mathematics and statistics major, received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, according to a press release.Huber’s research has focused on constructing mathematical models for the transmission of mosquito-borne pathogens, including malaria and dengue.Huber will pursue a master’s degree in veterinary science in the Department of Veterinary Medicine. A native of Gainesville, Florida, Huber has researched infectious disease, which he considers the intersection of his interests in global health, mathematics and social justice.“At a time when drug resistance is rapidly outpacing the discovery of new antibiotics, I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the body of research on such a time-sensitive matter,” Huber said in the release. “I feel honored to join the Gates Cambridge community and look forward to an enriching year at Cambridge in the Department of Veterinary Medicine.”According to the release, Huber will complete an M.D.-Ph.D. program and pursue a career in academic medicine.“I am interested in serving as a clinician and conducting epidemiological research in the field of infectious diseases, where I would make clinically relevant contributions in the interest of global health,” he said in the release. “Further, I aim to teach at the graduate of postgraduate level to educate the next generation of physician-scientists.”Huber is one of 36 American students out of 800 applicants to receive the scholarship, which fully funds postgraduate study and research in any subject at Cambridge, according to the release.This postgraduate scholarship program was established through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in 2000. According to the release, this donation is the largest to a U.K. university.This scholarship emphasizes social leadership in its selection process, and the mission of the program is to create a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.Tags: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, University of Cambridgelast_img read more

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SCOP brings controversial panelists to campus to discuss transgender medicine

first_imgWhile Cretella has not been a practicing physician since 2012, she is now the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, a group that has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a “fringe anti-LGBT hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBT junk science.”During the panel, both Hruz and Cretella advocated against the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatments in individuals under the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria “involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.” While individuals with gender dysphoria may want to socially transition, cross-dress or medically transition with sex-change surgery and/or hormone treatment, gender dysphoria is distinct from being transgender.The American Psychiatric Association defines transgender as an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the sex or gender to which they were assigned at birth. Experts have determined that not all transgender people have gender dysphoria.Before the lecture, junior Ellie Gardey, the co-president of SCOP, said she submitted an Observer letter to the editor because she knew the panelists would address “an admittedly controversial topic.”“We have no intention of inflicting any anxiety on any member of the Notre Dame community,” Gardey said. “We believe it’s an important topic to have so that we can have policies that are in the best interest of children.”Gardey said she didn’t agree with the SPLC’s classification of the American College of Pediatricians.“We believe they do not hate people,” she said. “The SPLC has expressed hatred towards certain groups in the past, but the American College of Pediatricians has not.”The Observer interviewed both parties — protesters who attended the panel and Gardey — and researched the two panelists. In a previous interview, Cretella referred to transgender children as “mentally ill,” asserting that “no one is born in the wrong body.” She said she believed transgender ideology is “cognitive and psychological abuse” on children. Gardey acknowledged Cretella’s past claims that puberty blockers and hormones used to treat gender dysphoria for children can be considered “child abuse.”“We’ve brought in Dr. Cretella for her world-renowned expertise on pediatric gender-affirming therapy,” Gardey said. “Dr. Cretella says it is child abuse, and we believe that people have the best interest at heart when they give children these gender-affirming therapies, so they’re not trying to hurt the child. But we believe that they inadvertently are hurting the child.”When the Gender Studies Triota Honors Society read about SCOP’s event in the Week@ND email, the group’s students applied for a permit to set up an information table in the library with their own “Transgender Medicine and Children: What ARE the facts?” pamphlet among other printed peer-reviewed research articles.Pamela Butler, associate director and director of undergraduate studies in the Gender Studies Program, said she was disappointed with the limited representation on the panel.“It was disappointing to me that their perspectives would be brought here and elevated as if they speak with scientific authority,” Butler said. “When really they’ve been discredited and debunked widely by every legitimate medical organization that’s ever responded to their claims. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a representative of mainstream evidence based medical treatment or a clinician who actually works with transgender youth representative on this panel.”During her portion of the panel, Cretella cited a number of psychological conditions that may predispose children to gender dysphoria including attachment disorders, severe depression, ADD/ADHD, PTSD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as discussing environmental influences.“[There’s] the issue of social contagion. We are seeing whole peer groups in schools around the nation that are coming out,” Cretella said.While Cretella focused on the causes of gender dysphoria, Hruz urged the audience to consider the scientific evidence he presented to empirically determine the best way to treat individuals with gender dysphoria.“These are real difficulties that these individuals experience, and they’re crying out for help,” Hruz said. “The question that we need to ask ourselves this evening is if the help that we’re offering to these individuals is truly in their best interest to help them.”When asked whether they had any experience treating patients with gender dysphoria or if they had conducted any peer-reviewed research on the subject, Hruz said he just published a paper in the Linacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association. Cretella said she had never treated an adolescent with gender dysphoria.  SCOP picked the two panelists after consulting with professors in science, technology, engineering and math at Notre Dame, Gardey said. Gardey declined to name the professors the group contacted.Members of the Gender Relations Center asked SCOP to include a transgender specialist, but Gardey said since they asked only a week prior to the event, they were unable to accomodate their request. When asked if they looked into panelists with opposing viewpoints to Cretella and Hruz or a panelist with experience treating transgender patients, Gardey said SCOP believed the speakers on the panel were the correct choices for this event.“Our purpose is to educate the public about this issue,” Gardey said. “And this particular panel is what we believe is best for the current moment, but we will be open to a debate in the future.”Tags: #SCOP, gender dysphoria, Transgender Serena Zacharias | The Observer Panelists Paul Hruz and Michelle Cretella define gender dysphoria. The panel explored topics pertaining to the medical treatment of transgender youths. The Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP) hosted two panelists on campus Thursday for a lecture titled “Transgender Medicine and Children: What are the facts?”The event’s panelists included two medical doctors — Paul Hruz, a professor of pediatrics and endocrinology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Michelle Cretella, a general pediatrician and the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians.last_img read more

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Learn the Extraordinary True Story of The Elephant Man

first_imgMerrick became an obsessionYears later, at the Actors Studio Drama School, Cooper discovered Pomerance’s play. He performed The Elephant Man for his master’s thesis—against his advisers’ counsel. To prepare, Cooper traveled to London after buying a plane ticket from his earnings working the graveyard shift at Morgans Hotel, notes The New York Times. Among Cooper’s stops: the hospital where Merrick was treated and the store where he was exhibited. A bittersweet endAs the hospital staff got to know Merrick, they discovered that he was a kind, sensitive young man, and began to treat him less like a patient and more like a friend. Thanks to his benefactors, Merrick also checked two items off his bucket list: Attending the theater and vacationing in the country. But Merrick’s facial deformities worsened; the size of his head increased and fatigue left him bedridden. Merrick was only 27 when he was found dead on April 11, 1890. It’s likely the massive weight of his head led to death by spinal dislocation or asphyxiation. The Elephant Man is back on Broadway, and no one could be more thrilled than the revival’s leading man, Bradley Cooper. The screen star has been enthralled with the true story of Joseph Merrick for decades, and after years of dreaming, he’s officially taking center stage December 7 at the Booth Theatre. How did the story of a man with a mysterious illness become the basis for a Tony-winning play? Let’s take a look back at the true story of The Elephant Man. Back home on BroadwayAlessandro Nivola (Treves) and Patricia Clarkson (high-society admirer Mrs. Kendal) joined Cooper to headline a production of The Elephant Man at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer of 2012. Now, the stars are reprising their roles on Broadway at the Booth Theatre, the same stage where it first opened in 1979. “If you asked me what would be the one character and the one play I’d love to do on Broadway, it would be this play,” Cooper told Broadway.com. Adds Clarkson, “You see Bradley become the Elephant Man in front of your eyes.” See the transformation for yourself at the Booth Theatre! View Comments The Elephant Man evolved onstageDirector Roland Rees, who ran a theater company called Foco Novo with Pomerance, needed something for their fall tour. But first, the original title, Deformed—which Rees believed would isolate audiences and producers—was out. They also decided that the actor who played Merrick would not wear makeup. Instead, photos of the real Merrick would be displayed. “They allowed the actor to transform themselves from an ordinary body into a facsimile of Merrick,” Rees told Unfinished Histories. The story piqued a playwright’s interestBernard Pomerance, an American playwright living in England, first learned about Merrick from his brother Michael, who sent him photocopies of Treves’ memoir and a copy of Montagu’s The Elephant Man: A Story in Human Dignity. Pomerance wrote a play in response to Treves’ memoir, referring to Merrick as John, just as the doctor had. The working title? Deformed. Shunned by societyAs a teenager, Merrick tried to work as a door-to-door salesman for his haberdasher father, but customers were either scared by Merrick’s appearance or couldn’t understand his speech. Merrick’s father responded by beating his underperforming son, who decided to leave home at age 17. After four awful years at the Leicester Union Workhouse, Merrick joined the human oddities circuit as “Half-a-Man and Half-an-Elephant.” In 1884, Merrick was displayed at a shop across from London Hospital. The birth of “The Elephant Man”Born in Leicester, England in 1862, Joseph Carey Merrick’s disfigurements first surfaced in early childhood—notably “lumpy, grayish skin” and “a bony lump on the forehead,” according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. At the time, Merrick’s condition was rumored to have been caused when his mother was knocked over by a circus elephant during her pregnancy. He is now thought to have had Proteus Syndrome, in which a mutant gene causes atypical growths on the body. (Illustration by Paul Mellor)center_img Stardust, Skywalker & more took a turnThe juicy role of John Merrick quickly became a magnet for big-name stars: David Bowie (left) and Mark Hamill, at the height of his Luke Skywalker-inspired fame, were among the leads in The Elephant Man’s two-year run on Broadway. Billy Crudup (right) garnered a Tony nomination in the short-lived 2002 revival. “This character is one of the most hopeful characters I’ve played in a long time,” Crudup told the Associated Press. Broadway beckonedThe Elephant Man opened at the Hampstead Theatre in London in 1977, where it was both a popular and critical success. Of course, Broadway was the next logical destination. After a short off-Broadway run, it bowed at the Booth Theatre on April 22, 1979, starring Philip Anglim. The New York Times called it “an enthralling and luminous play,” while Time raved that it “nests in the human heart.” The show nabbed the Tony for Best Play, and in 1984, a TV movie based on the drama aired on ABC, with Anglim reprising his role. Books made Merrick a legendMerrick’s brief, memorable life is the subject of several books, including The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by Treves, who somehow mistakenly refers to his own patient as “John” Merrick. John, however, was the name of Merrick’s younger brother, and according to Ashley Montagu’s The Elephant Man: A Story in Human Dignity, Treves accidentally confused the two and the name stuck. Bradley Cooper found inspirationThe future Silver Linings Playbook star was 12 years old when he was first introduced to Merrick via the 1980 film. “Lynch created a character with John Hurt that was sort of innocent and beautiful and effortlessly benevolent, and there was something so moving about him, given all of his adversity, that just crushed me as a kid,” he told The New York Times. “I just felt so akin to him.” Merrick became a Hollywood starDavid Lynch’s 1980 movie The Elephant Man is not based on Pomerance’s play, but on Montagu and Treves’ books. Unlike the play, John Hurt, who played Merrick, was covered in detailed makeup. “We were working 20 hours a day,” Hurt explained in The Terrible Elephant Man Revealed—it took 12 hours to create the finished look. The hard work paid off: The film, produced by Mel Brooks, garnered eight Oscar nods and introduced the iconic phrase “I am not an animal!” into the pop-culture mainstream. Saved by a business cardDoctors flocked to take a gander, including Frederick Treves, who examined the young man and presented him to the Pathological Society of London, which Merrick hated—he said it made him feel like “an animal in a cattle market.” Treves redeemed himself: In 1886, when Merrick, unable to communicate and in failing health, was picked up by London police, the cops contacted Treves after finding his business card in Merrick’s pocket. Treves took Merrick back to London Hospital. Friends in high placesAfter London Hospital declined to admit the “incurable” Merrick, chairman Francis Carr-Gomm rallied on the young man’s behalf. He outlined Merrick’s case in a letter to The Times of London, arguing, “He has the greatest horror of the [Leicester Union] workhouse, nor is it possible, indeed, to send him into any place where he could not insure privacy, since his appearance is such that all shrink from him.” Support and donations snowballed, granting Merrick a permanent residence at London Hospital.last_img read more

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Indiana business group rejects coal lobbying to stop state utilities’ renewable energy plans

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:The leading business lobby group in Indiana on Monday rejected a plea from former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt to back legislation that would keep aging coal-fired power plants online because it would raise electricity rates for local businesses and homeowners.The Indiana Chamber of Commerce took the unusual step of calling out Pruitt and Rail Point – a coal company with whom he has registered as a lobbyist – for pressuring local lawmakers to block utilities Vectren Corp and the Northern Indiana Public Service Co (NIPSCO) from shutting their remaining coal plants and replacing their generation capacity with natural gas and renewables.The Chamber’s 50-member energy committee unanimously rejected Pruitt’s campaign.  “Not one person we’ve talked to or heard from – except for Scott Pruitt and Rail Point – thinks the moratorium will benefit ratepayers,” said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.“The … explanation provided by Pruitt did not sway our energy policy committee (comprised of representatives of member companies from around the state) or our thinking that the moratorium is simply a bad idea.”Pruitt and his client Hallador argued that Vectren and NIPSCO’s decision to close their coal plants were driven by the Obama-era power plant rules that the Trump administration is in the process of unwinding.Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce said the utilities had already undergone significant planning and gained preliminary approvals, and that upending those plans would hurt Indiana’s electric power consumers. The state House already rejected an attempt to pass a moratorium in a water utility bill earlier this month.More: Indiana chamber rejects ex-EPA chief Pruitt effort to keep coal-fired plants online Indiana business group rejects coal lobbying to stop state utilities’ renewable energy planslast_img read more

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Guatemalan gangs use violence and fraud to steal homes and properties

first_img False contracts Los Topacio A security success Eight of the suspects are either attorneys or notaries, said Claudia Paz y Paz, the Attorney General in the MP’s office. These suspects allegedly defrauded victims not by threatening them with guns, but by tricking them with fake paperwork, authorities said. For example, gang members used invalid contracts with forged signatures, counterfeit tax stamps, and fake identifications to obtain some properties, Hernández said. Between January and November 2013, four gangs which engage in property theft are suspected of killing 114 people who resisted selling their home or land, Property Registrar (RGP) Anabella de León, reported. Criminals use “violence, intimidation, and threats to steal property,” she said. Gang members have wasted no time in turning a profit on the properties, Paz y Paz said. “This criminal organization sold the properties at low prices and performed various transactions in a single day,” the prosecutor said. One of the Los Topacio operatives arrested Dec. 5, Rosario Floridalma Mijangos García, confessed to security officials that the gang sold stolen properties for 10 percent of their value. Lawyers who are part of the gang were paid about $4,000 (USD) to provide false sales contracts, the gang member said. . Guatemalan police have made a number of significant arrests of real estate scammers. In August 2013, police officers coordinated by prosecutors of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) arrested 13 people, including three minors, in separate operations in Villa Nueva, San Miguel and Amatitlán. The 13 were suspected of stealing homes and vehicles. Security agents confiscated four firearms from the suspect. In May 2012, security forces in n Zone 14 arrested Liliana Rodríguez Paiz, the leader of a gang which steals property and sells drugs at the retail level. Rodríguez is also known as “La Tarántula;” she was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. Organized crime groups “should be afraid” of the Public Prosecutor’s office, Paz y Paz said. By Dialogo December 23, 2013 Los Topacio gang has been operating since 2000, prosecutors said. The gang has nearly 50 members, authorities said. Seven of the 17 suspects who were captured on Dec. 5 have been previously arrested, authorities said. Members of the gang are suspected of carrying out the killing of a labor judge, Flor de María Gil Ovalles, and her son Héctor Homer Juárez Gil, according to Paz y Paz. Organized crime operatives shot the lawyer to death in August 2009, in a sector of Zone 9, south of the Guatemalan capital, after the judge denounced the theft of four buildings. Los Topacio operates primarily in Guatemala City, Sacatepéquez and Izabal. Security forces have now arrested about 40 percent of its members, but the gang remains active, prosecutors said. Security forces captured the longtime leader of Los Topacio, Mynor Giovanni Álvarez Jacobo, in February 2011. He is also known as “Topacio.” The gang leaders is serving a sentence of 16 years in prison for property theft and money laundering. Organized crime groups typically steal properties in border areas, authorities said. Gangs and transnational drug cartels target properties in border regions because they can use stolen homes as a base of operations for drug trafficking, firearms smuggling, or human trafficking, authorities said. Organized crime operatives can also use stolen homes as lookout posts, to watch drug cartel or gang rivals. In the department of Petén, in northern Guatemala, the Sinaloa Cartel has reportedly stolen a number of homes, Hernández said. The transnational criminal organization, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has alliances with gangs which operate in Guatemala, including Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and Barrio 18, or 18th Street. A growing problem Gangs seek properties in border regions The capture of 17 Los Topacio suspects is an important success for security forces, Hernández said. “This gang is probably one of the largest operating in the country,” Hernández said. “However, there are other gangs that also steal property.” In addition to investigating and capturing gang members who steal properties, the Guatemalan government is working hard to prevent such cimes. For example, in 2011 the government launched a Property Registry, which improves security for property owners. Of the five million properties registered in Guatemala, only 5,000 use the service so far, authorities said. Also in 2011, the government took an important step toward improving security for property owners by changing the law regarding notarizations, which record property sales and transfers, Hernández said. Under the new law, lawyers much submit to the government a list of notarized documents every month. The incidence of property theft has grown because some lawyers are dishonest, Hernández said. “This criminal activity seems like an urban legend, because people lose their homes overnight. Unfortunately, there is corruption behind the legal profession in Guatemala,” Hernández said. I didn’t like this page at all. The problem is much bigger. Because a great number of these victims live in foreign countries. They pay and entrust legal services to lots of thieves and don’t realize their property has been stolen until it’s too late. Violence and fraud . Guatemalan security forces recently dealt a major blow to an organized crime group which was stealing properties from victims and then re-selling them, sometimes on the same day. Some of the victims were elderly people who had little money and nowhere else to live. On Dec. 5, 2013, National Civil Police (PNC) agents, in coordination with the Public Prosecutor’s office (MP), arrested 17 alleged members of the Los Topacio gang. The gang members allegedly defrauded people of their homes by using a variety of tactics, said Iduvina Hernández, director of Security in Democracy (SEMEM), a civil society organization which is based in Guatemala. The number of reported cases of property theft in Guatemala have increased dramatically since 2012, authorities said. From January through early December 2013, 1,400 cases of property theft were reported in Guatemala, law enforcement officials said. In all of 2012, about 1,000 such cases were reported, authorities said. “Property theft has increased dramatically in Guatemala as members of organized gangs and drug cartels use violence, kidnapping, extortion, murder and fraud to steal property,” Hernández said. Gang members often target victims after obtaining information about specific uninhabited properties or properties that are for sale, de León said. Thirty percent of the stolen properties belong to Guatemalans who live abroad, she said. Gang members target people they believe are most vulnerable, de León said. “Those most affected are elderly Guatemalans living in the United States or other countries, immigrants, and owners of property located in dangerous areas.” The highest incidence of thefts occurred in the western region of Guatemala, de León said. last_img read more

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Foundation pushes plate

first_img Foundation pushes plate Local bars can win grants by selling the license tag In an effort to support children’s legal services, the Kids Deserve Justice specialty license plate was created by the Florida Legislature in 2004. Now The Florida Bar Foundation has put up $100,000 in “prize” grants for the voluntary bar associations that sell the most Kids Deserve Justice plates.Prize winners will be required to submit administration of justice grant applications for charitable activities which meet the Foundation’s administration of justice grant funding criteria.The Kids Deserve Justice specialty license plate became available for sale in April of last year, with all proceeds going to fund free legal services to low-income Florida children, including services for abused and neglected children, children in foster care, and those who need special education testing and services, or access to health care.In order to maintain the specialty license plate program, 8,000 Kids Deserve Justice tags must be sold before April 2010.The contest officially began January 1 and ends December 31. For more information about the contest, call Jane Curran, the Foundation’s executive director, (800) 541-2195 or e-mail JCurran@ flabarfndn.org. February 1, 2006 Regular News Foundation pushes platelast_img read more

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Parkway Fatal Hit-and-run Driver Sought

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York New York State police are looking for a hit-and-run suspect that was involved in a crash that killed another driver on the Southern State Parkway on Friday morning.The suspect’s vehicle was described as a light-colored SUV, possibly gray, with tinted windows, significant front-end damage and a possible partial NY license plate of GHJ, police said.The suspect was involved in a collision with another vehicle while driving eastbound on the parkway west of Route 110 at 6:30 a.m., police said.The driver of the second vehicle crashed and died. The victim’s identity was not immediately available.The suspect’s SUV was last seen heading southbound on Route 110, heading toward Amityville.Troopers ask anyone with information on this case to call them at 631-756-3300.last_img read more

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Liberals won’t be boyotting Big Game

first_imgRe Jan. 25 letter, “Wonder if liberals will boycott Super Bowl,” by Bob Mangino: Sorry Bob, all us so called “liberals” will not be boycotting the Super Bowl. We are true Americans and more importantly we’re adults. I can guarantee that the first hint of a player planning to take a knee during the national anthem will have you and your right-wing broflakes being the first to call for a boycott. Josh HermanceRotterdam More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesRotterdam convenience store operator feels results of having Stewart’s as new neighborCar hits garage in Rotterdam Sunday morning; Garage, car burnFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinionlast_img read more

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