A new study suggests you can learn language while you sleep.
Researchers from Switzerland’s University of Bern say they discovered people were able to learn new language words during deep levels of sleep. Results of the study that recently appeared in the publication Current Biology and other studies suggest the same findings.
The research group was led by Katharina Henke, a professor at the University of Bern and founder of the school’s Center for Cognition, Learning and Memory. The group carried out experiments on a group of young German-speaking men and women.
During normal sleep, human brain cells are alternately active and inactive. The Swiss experiments centered on periods of slow-wave peaks or deep sleep called “up-states,” which the researchers say are the best moments for sleep learning.
Researchers observed individuals in a controlled environment and recorded brain activity as pairs of words were played for the study subjects. One word in the pair was a real German word. The other was a made-up foreign word.
Each word pair was played four times with the order changed each time. The goal was to create a lasting memory link between the false word and the German word that individuals could identify when awake.
When the subject woke, they were presented with the false language words – both by sight and sound. They were tested on the false words played during sleep.
During this part of the experiment, some subjects had their brain activity recorded by magnetic imaging technology to measure brain activity when subjects were answering questions.
Results of the study found that a majority of subjects gave more correct answers about the sleep-learned words than would be expected if they had only guessed. Researchers said memory was best for word pairs presented during slow-wave peaks during sleep.
The researchers say more study is needed to support their findings. However, the experiments provide new evidence that memories can be formed and vocabulary learning can take place in both conscious and unconscious states.your ad here
Верховна Рада ухвалила закон 9461-д «Про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України щодо застосування трансплантації анатомічних матеріалів людині». Відповідне рішення підтримав 231 депутат.
Законопроектом передбачається відтермінування введення в дію нового закону про трансплантацію до 1 січня 2020 року, що надасть можливість пролонгувати до 31 грудня 2019 року «Закон про трансплантацію», що діяв раніше. Таким чином, парламент зможе розблокувати припинену наразі трансплантацію органів через неготовність державних реєстрів.
Верховна Рада ухвалила закон про посмертне донорство в травні 2018 року. Документ набрав чинності 1 січня цього року. Але частину норм нового закону, як виявилося, неможливо реалізувати через відсутність належної інформаційної системи трансплантації (реєстру донорів і реципієнтів) та неготовність трансплант-координаторів.
За даними МОЗ, щороку українські лікарі виконують близько 200 операцій з трансплантації, втім цей показник вважають надто малим у межах всієї країни.
Український консул займається питанням українців, які не можуть вилетіти з аеропорту в Делі (Індія), повідомляє Міністерство закордонних справ України.
«У зв’язку із загостренням відносин між Індією й Пакистаном скасовано низку авіарейсів у міжнародному аеропорту імені І.Ганді в Делі. Консул в аеропорту вирішує питання щодо повернення до України групи співвітчизників. Питання – на контролі консульської служби», – йдеться в повідомленні Департаменту консульської служби МЗС України у Twitter.
«І консул, і посол працюють, працюють і з казахстанською стороною. Консул в аеропорту. Працюємо», – сказав у коментарі Радіо Свобода заступник директора департаменту консульської служби Міністерства закордонних справ України Василь Кирилич.
У соцмережах українці, які не змогли вилетіти з аеропорту Делі, пишуть, що компанія Air Astana, квитки якої вони мали, скасувала усі рейси, і просили допомоги.
Раніше посольство України в Індії рекомендувало українцям враховувати, що з 27 лютого Індія тимчасово закрила повітряний простір для пасажирських та комерційних перевезень над штатами Джамму і Кашмір, Хімачал Прадеш, Панджаб та Уттаракханд.
Пакистан у зв’язку з загостренням відносин з Індією також закрив свій повітряний простір. Через це були скасовані численні рейси, і тисячі туристів не можуть вилетіти з азійських міст.your ad here
Національна суспільна телерадіокомпанія України визнає себе винною за ситуацію з «Євробаченням». Про це на прес-конференції в Києві заявив голова правління Суспільного мовника Зураб Аласанія.
«Ми беремо на себе провину за ситуацію з «Євробаченням» і хочемо суспільного діалогу. Також ми наразі не збираємось розривати контракт з СТБ. Ми готові прийняти ще одну порцію хейту під час травневої трансляції через те, що під час трансляції «Євробачення» буде виступ Росії, хоча НСТУ не має права втручатись в саму трансляцію», – зазначив Аласанія.
Він додав також, що, якщо представник Росії переможе на «Євробаченні-2019», Україна не братиме участі у наступному змаганні.
«Євробачення-2019» пройде в Тель-Авіві, столиці Ізраїлю – країни-переможця попереднього конкурсу. Росію там представлятиме співак Сергій Лазарєв.
Національна суспільна телерадіокомпанія і переможниця нацвідбору Maruv відмовилися підписувати контракт про участь на «Євробаченні». На адресу співачки лунала критика через те, що раніше вона їздила виступати до Росії і також має заплановані концерти там у майбутньому.
Після цього НСТУ почала переговори з іншими учасниками відбору. Freedom Jazz та Kazka відмовилися представляти Україну на конкурсі.
28 лютого у НСТУ заявили, що відмовляються від участі в Міжнародному пісенному конкурсі «Євробачення-2019».
The U.S. has counted more measles cases in the first two months of this year than in all of 2017, and part of the rising threat is misinformation that makes some parents balk at a crucial vaccine, federal health officials told Congress Wednesday.
Yet the vaccine is hugely effective and very safe — so the rise of measles cases “is really unacceptable,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.
The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, which means it was not being spread domestically. But cases have been rising in recent years, and 2019 is shaping up to be a bad one.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing bemoaned what’s called “vaccine hesitancy,” meaning when people refuse or delay vaccinations.
“These outbreaks are tragic since they’re completely avoidable,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.
“This is a public health problem for which science has already provided a solution,” agreed Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.
WATCH: Measles on the Rise Around the World
Here are some questions and answers about measles:
Q: How dangerous is measles?
A: Measles typically begins with a high fever, and several days later a characteristic rash appears on the face and then spreads over the body. Among serious complications, 1 in 20 patients get pneumonia, and 1 in 1,000 get brain swelling that can lead to seizures, deafness or intellectual disability.
While it’s rare in the U.S., 1 or 2 of every 1,000 children who get measles dies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q: How does it spread?
A: By coughing or sneezing, and someone can spread the virus for four days before the telltale rash appears, Fauci warned.
The virus can live for up to two hours in the air or on nearby surfaces. Nine of 10 unvaccinated people who come into contact with someone with measles will catch it. Fauci called it “one of the most contagious viruses known to man.”
Q: How widespread is measles?
A: In the U.S., the CDC has confirmed 159 cases so far this year in 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. That compares to 372 cases last year, and 120 in 2017.
But measles is far more common around the world. The World Health Organization said measles claimed 110,000 lives in 2017. The WHO says there’s been a 30 percent increase in measles cases in recent years. Unvaccinated Americans traveling abroad, or foreign visitors here, can easily bring in the virus.
For example, a huge outbreak in Madagascar has caused more than 68,000 illnesses and 900 deaths since September. But you don’t need to go as far as Madagascar, common tourist destinations like England, France, Italy and Greece had measles outbreaks last year, noted CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier. Nearly 83,000 people contracted measles in Europe in 2018, the highest number in a decade.
Q: How many U.S. children are vulnerable?
A: Overall about 92 percent of U.S. children have gotten the combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella, known as the MMR vaccine. Two shots are required, one around the first birthday and a second between age 4 and 6. Full vaccination is 97 percent effective at preventing measles.
But the CDC says 1 child in 12 doesn’t receive the first dose on time, and in some places vaccination rates are far lower than the national average. For example, an outbreak in Washington state is linked to a community where only about 80 percent of children were properly vaccinated.
Q: Is the vaccine safe?
A: Yes, said Fauci and Messonnier, who point to decades of use by millions of children each year — and who made sure their own children were vaccinated.
In the late 1990s, one study linked MMR vaccine to autism but that study was found to be a fraud, and Fauci said later research found no risk of autism from the vaccine.
Still, misinformation about MMR safety is widespread. Fauci said the solution isn’t to criticize people who have no way to know what’s false. Instead, “we need to education them to show them what the evidence is.”
Q: Why isn’t everyone vaccinated?
A: Some people can’t be immunized for medical reasons, including infants and people with weak immune systems, and most states allow religious exemptions. But while vaccination against a list of contagious diseases is required to attend school, 17 states allow some type of non-medical exemption for “personal, moral or other beliefs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Washington state, lawmakers are debating ending that personal or philosophical exemption, as are several other states. California ended a similar exemption in 2015 after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people and spread across the U.S. and into Canada.
Armed assailants attacked an Ebola treatment center in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, setting off a fire and becoming embroiled in an extended gun battle with security forces, health officials said.
The identity and motive of the assailants were unclear. Aid workers have faced mistrust in some areas as they work to contain an Ebola outbreak.
Dozens of armed militia also regularly attack civilians and security forces in eastern Congo’s borderlands with Uganda and Rwanda, which has significantly hampered the response to the disease.
The health ministry said in a statement that 38 suspected Ebola patients and 12 confirmed cases were in the center at the time of the attack. Four of the patients with confirmed cases fled and are being looked for, it said.
None of the patients who have been accounted for were injured, nor were any staff members, the ministry added.
French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which runs the center together with the ministry, condemned the “deplorable attack” and said its efforts were focused on the immediate safety of patients and staff.
The attack in the city of Butembo was the second in Congo’s Ebola-hit east this week. On Sunday unidentified assailants set fire to a treatment center in the nearby town of Katwa, killing a nurse.
The current Ebola outbreak, first declared last August, is the second deadliest of the hemorrhagic fever since it was discovered in Congo in 1976. It is believed to have killed at least 553 people so far and infected over 300 more.
As Walmart moves to phase out its familiar blue-vested “greeters” at 1,000 stores nationwide, disabled workers who fill many of those jobs say they’re being ill-treated by a chain that styles itself as community-minded and inclusive.
Walmart told greeters around the country last week that their positions would be eliminated on April 26 in favor of an expanded, more physically demanding “customer host” role. To qualify, they will need to be able to lift 25-pound (11-kilogram) packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods.
That came as a heavy blow to greeters with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other physical disabilities. For them, a job at Walmart has provided needed income, served as a source of pride and offered a connection to the community.
Now Walmart, America’s largest private employer, is facing a backlash as customers rally around some of the chain’s most highly visible employees.
Walmart says it is striving to place greeters in other jobs at the company, but workers with disabilities are worried.
Donny Fagnano, 56, who has worked at Walmart for more than 21 years, said he cried when a manager at the store in Lewisburg, Pa., called him into the office last week and told him his job was going away.
“I like working,” he said. “It’s better than sitting at home.”
Fagnano, who has spina bifida, said he was offered a severance package. He hopes to stay on at Walmart and clean bathrooms instead.
Walmart greeters have been around for decades, allowing the retail giant to put a friendly face at the front of its stores. Then, in 2016, Walmart began replacing greeters with hosts, adding responsibilities that include helping with returns, checking receipts to deter shoplifters and keeping the front of the store clean. Walmart and other chains have been redefining roles at stores as they compete with Amazon.
The effect of the greeter phase-out on disabled and elderly employees — who have traditionally gravitated toward the role as one they were well-suited to doing — largely escaped public notice until last week, when Walmart launched a second round of cuts.
As word spread, first on social media and then in local and national news outlets, outraged customers began calling Walmart to complain. Tens of thousands of people signed petitions. Facebook groups sprang up with names like “Team Adam” and “Save Lesley.” A second-grade class in California wrote letters to Walmart’s CEO on behalf of Adam Catlin, a disabled greeter in Pennsylvania whose mother had written an impassioned Facebook post about his plight. Walmart said it has offered another job to Catlin.
In Galena, Ill., hundreds of customers plan to attend an “appreciation parade” for Ashley Powell on her last day of work as a greeter.
“I love it, and I think I’ve touched a lot of people,” said Powell, 34, who has an intellectual disability.
‘What am I going to do?’
In Vancouver, Wash., John Combs, 42, who has cerebral palsy, was devastated and then angered by his impending job loss. It had taken his family five years to find him a job he could do, and he loved the work, coming up with nicknames for all his co-workers.
“What am I going to do — just sit here on my butt all day in this house? That’s all I’m going to do?” Combs asked his sister and guardian, Rachel Wasser. “I do my job. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Wasser urged the retailer to “give these people a fair shake. … If you want to make your actions match your words, do it. Don’t be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
With the U.S. unemployment rate for disabled people more than twice that for workers without disabilities, Walmart has long been seen as a destination for people like Combs. Advocacy groups worry the company is backsliding.
“It’s the messaging that concerns me,” said Gabrielle Sedor, chief operations officer at ANCOR, a trade group representing service providers. “Given that Walmart is such an international leader in the retail space, I’m concerned this decision might suggest to some people that the bottom line of the company is more important to the company than inclusive communities. We don’t think those two are mutually exclusive.”
The greeter issue has already prompted at least three complaints to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as a federal lawsuit in Utah alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the federal law, employers must provide “reasonable” accommodations to workers with disabilities.
Walmart did not disclose how many disabled greeters could lose their jobs. The company said that after it made the change at more than 1,000 stores in 2016, 80 percent to 85 percent of all affected greeters found other roles at Walmart. It did not reveal how many of them were disabled.
This time, Walmart initially told greeters they would have 60 days to land other jobs at the company. Amid the uproar, the company has extended the deadline indefinitely for greeters with disabilities.
“We recognize that our associates with physical disabilities face a unique situation,” Walmart spokesman Justin Rushing said in a statement. The extra time, he said, will give Walmart a chance to explore how to accommodate such employees.
Walmart said it has already made offers to some greeters, including those with physical disabilities, and expects to continue doing so in the coming weeks.
But some workers say they have been tacitly discouraged from applying for other jobs.
Mitchell Hartzell, 31, a full-time Walmart greeter in Hazel Green, Ala., said his manager told him “they pretty much didn’t have anything in that store for me to do” after his job winds down in April. He said he persisted, approaching several assistant managers to ask about openings, and found out about a vacant position at self-checkout. But it had already been promised to a greeter who doesn’t use a wheelchair, he said.
“It seems like they don’t want us anymore,” said Hartzell, who has cerebral palsy.
Jay Melton, 40, who has worked as a greeter in Marion, N.C., for nearly 17 years, loves church, Tar Heels basketball and Walmart. His sister-in-law, Jamie Melton, said the job is what gets him out of bed.
“He doesn’t have a lot of things he does himself that bring him joy,” she said. Addressing Walmart, Melton added: “When you cut a huge population of people out, and you have written a policy that declares they are no longer capable of doing what they have been doing, that is discrimination.”
Women around the world are granted only three-quarters of the legal rights enjoyed by men, often preventing them from getting jobs or opening businesses, the World Bank said in study published Wednesday.
“If women have equal opportunities to reach their full potential, the world would not only be fairer, it would be more prosperous as well,” Kristalina Georgieva, the bank’s interim president, said in a statement.
While reforms in many countries are a step in the right direction, “2.7 billion women are still legally barred from having the same choice of jobs as men,” the statement said.
The study included an index measuring gender disparities that was derived from data collected over a decade from 187 countries and using eight indicators to evaluate the balance of rights afforded to men and women.
The report showed progress over the past 10 years, with the index rising to 75 from 70, out of a possible 100, as 131 countries have agreed to enact 274 reforms, adopting laws or regulations allowing greater inclusion of women.
Among the improvements, 35 countries have proposed laws against sexual harassment in the workplace, granting protections to an additional 2 billion women, while 22 nations have abolished restrictions that kept women out of certain industrial sectors.
Six perfect scores
Six nations — Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden — scored a 100, “meaning they give women and men equal legal rights in the measured areas,” the World Bank said.
A decade ago, no economy had achieved a perfect score.
On the other hand, too many women still face discriminatory laws or regulations at every stage of their professional lives: 56 nations made no improvement over the last decade.
South Asia saw the greatest progress, although it still achieved a relatively low score of 58.36. It was followed by Southeast Asia and the Pacific, at 70.73 and 64.80, respectively.
Latin America and the Caribbean recorded the second-highest scores among emerging and developing economies at 79.09.
Conversely, the Middle East and North Africa posted the lowest score for gender equality at 47.37. The World Bank nevertheless pointed to encouraging changes, such as the introduction of laws against domestic violence, in particular in Algeria and Lebanon.
Wednesday marked World Polar Bear Day – an annual opportunity for conservationists to shed light on the status of the largest and most carnivorous member of the bear family. As VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports, climate change is threatening polar bear habitat and the very future of the species in the wild.
The Federal Reserve will stop shrinking its $4 trillion balance sheet later this year, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday, ending a process that investors say works at cross-purposes with the Fed’s current pause on interest rate hikes.
“We’ve worked out, I think, the framework of a plan that we hope to be able to announce soon that will light the way all the way to the end of balance sheet normalization,” Powell told members of the House Financial Services Committee in what were his most detailed remarks to date on the subject.
“We’re going to be in a position … to stop runoff later this year,” he said, adding that doing so would leave the balance sheet at about 16 percent or 17 percent of GDP, up from about 6 percent before the financial crisis about a decade ago.
The U.S. gross domestic product is currently about $20 trillion, suggesting the Fed’s balance sheet would be between $3.2 trillion and $3.4 trillion.
The Fed has been trimming its balance sheet — bulked up by trillions of dollars of bond-buying during the post-crisis years to help keep interest rates low and bolster the economy — by as much as $50 billion a month since October 2017. As recently as a few months ago it had expected to keep shrinking its portfolio for another couple of years.
But in a series of meetings that began in November, the Fed has been devising a new approach. With rising demand for currency around the world, and from U.S. banks for reserves held at the central bank, Fed policymakers now believe a big balance sheet is necessary just to ensure it has proper control over the short-term interest rates it sets to manage the economy.
In addition, Fed policymakers now say balance sheet policy should take financial and economic conditions into account.
Questions about the plan remain, including whether the Fed will adjust the maturities of its Treasury portfolio, and how it will go about shedding the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) it accumulated during its asset-buying days.
Powell said the Fed still has a bunch of decisions ahead of it.
“The one on MBS sales is really closer to the back of the line — really, we have to decide about the maturity composition, things like that, and we’ll be working through that in a very careful way,” Powell said. “Markets are sensitive to this.”
Powell’s remarks on the balance sheet came toward the end of more than two hours of testimony before the Democrat-led House panel that includes several new members, including New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
But the Green New Deal advocate and Bronx populist asked no questions during the debate, and much of what Powell said on Wednesday repeated comments made Tuesday to the Republican-controlled Senate Banking Committee, including that the economy is on solid ground and the Fed would be patient on raising rates.
Inflation goal unchanged
Powell was asked, as he was in the Senate, about the Fed’s plan to rethink its policy framework this year. He assured lawmakers that the Fed is merely trying to refine its approach so it can meet its current 2 percent inflation goal.
“We are not looking at a higher inflation target, full stop,” he said.
Powell also repeated his warnings against a failure by Congress to raise the debt ceiling, saying there would be “bad consequences” should the United States default on its debt payments.
Powell by law appears two times a year before Congress to brief members of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee on monetary policy and the state of the economy.
The top U.S. trade official said Wednesday that a new trade deal with China is not close to being completed.
“Much still needs to be done before an agreement can be reached,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a congressional panel in Washington. “If we can complete this effort, and again I say if, and if we can reach a resolution on the issue of enforceability, we might have an agreement that enables us to turn the corner in our relationship with China.”
The U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest economies, have been negotiating for months on a new agreement, even as they have imposed hefty new tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s exports.
Lighthizer said the countries’ negotiators, who have been meeting in Washington and Beijing, “are making real progress.”
President Donald Trump cited that progress Sunday in postponing what would have been a sharp increase in U.S. duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports that would have taken effect Friday.
The most recent U.S. statistics show China last year had a $382 billion trade surplus in deals with the United States through November. Trump is trying to alter trade terms between the two countries to end what the U.S., Japan and European countries contend are China’s unfair trade practices, including state intervention in markets, subsidies of some industries and theft of foreign technology.
China has offered to increase its purchase of American farm products and energy as part of a new trade pact.
Members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, urged Lighthizer to reach a wide-ranging trade agreement.