Apple offering a second chance to buy unclaimed WWDC tickets

If you didn’t get selected in last week’s WWDC 2014 lotto, you may still have a shot to get a ticket. Apple is reportedly sending out emails to developers who weren’t selected in the lottery and offering a chance to purchase tickets that were unclaimed.



Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheIphoneBlog/~3/Si7FdjA6clI/story01.htm
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Computers Are Only Great Because of the People Behind Them

Computers Are Only Great Because of the People Behind Them

Next time you’re sat mashing keys, wildly frustrated because something is proving so difficult to get done, remember that the majority of computing tasks are only straightforward because someone already made them easy.

Read more…

    



Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/W-H2atNVe8M/computers-are-only-great-because-of-the-people-behind-t-1555145162
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Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Hadfield, Brandy Clark, Kennedy Conspiracies

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has spent a total of six months in space. In his new book, he writes that getting to space took only “8 minutes and 42 seconds. Give or take a few thousand days of training.”

NASA/Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has spent a total of six months in space. In his new book, he writes that getting to space took only “8 minutes and 42 seconds. Give or take a few thousand days of training.”

NASA/Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth: The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he’s learned in a new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

Brandy Clark Tells The ‘Stories’ That Are Tough To Hear: Ken Tucker calls the country singer-songwriter’s new 12 Stories a “modestly amazing album.” Every song is striking, textured and finely detailed.

Botched Investigation Fuels Kennedy Conspiracy Theories: It’s been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and polls show that a majority of Americans still believe Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, not a lone assassin. Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act, explores what keeps these conspiracy theories alive.

You can listen to the original interviews here:

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NprTopicsInterviews/~3/vRCHF-HXzik/fresh-air-weekend-chris-hadfield-brandy-clark-kennedy-conspiracies
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Well Cow health monitor lives in Bessie’s stomach, measures indigestion

Well Cow monitor lives in Bessie's stomach, measures indigestion

Ever wonder how hot it gets inside of a cow’s stomach? Neither have we, but if we ever had cause to find out, we can thankfully now do so wirelessly. Front and center in ARM’s Internet of Things display at ArmTechCon this week we found Well Cow, a bovine health monitor that bobs around your cattle’s rumen — the largest of a cow’s four stomach compartments. The sensor-laden pill lasts between 80-100 days inside the animal, transmitting pH and temperature data to a Bluetooth collar around the beast’s neck. Data can then be retrieved using either an Android device or the company’s own PC peripheral. We gave the app a quick whirl and were able to quickly discern the room’s temperature and general air acidity with the touch of a button. (There appears to be a no cows rule on the show floor.)

It sounds like an unappetizing ordeal, but the setup actually prevents indigestion. By monitoring a cow’s stomach acidity, farmers can catch digestive problems early, and adjust the animal’s feed or medical needs before it becomes an issue. Micromanaging the animal’s diet could also help maximize milk production. An odd thing to find in ARM’s booth? Absolutely, but it certainly highlights the creative potential of the company’s MBed development platform and what it could bring to the Internet of Cows Things.

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/31/well-cow-stomach-monitor/?ncid=rss_truncated
Tags: jennifer lawrence   nfl standings   iPhone 5S   chargers   leah remini  

Obesity: A new appetite-increasing mechanism discovered

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29-Oct-2013

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Contact: Sergueï Fetissov
serguei.fetissov@univ-rouen.fr
INSERM (Institut national de la sant et de la recherche mdicale)

These results are published in the journal Nature Communications, on 25 October 2013.

Obesity affects more than 15% of adults in France, and its constitutive mechanisms are still not completely explained. Normally, fine control of weight and food intake is coordinated by a specialised part of the brain (the hypothalamus). It adjusts food intake depending on reserves and needs. In this way, after a period of excessive food intake and weight gain, a healthy subject will tend spontaneously to reduce their food intake for a while to return to their previous weight.

In many of the morbidly obese, this mechanism is faulty: despite their efforts, they continue to consume too much food (hyperphagia), contributing to maintaining a higher weight or even increasing it further.

Even so, their brain should take in the information about over-eating and reduce food intake to encourage weight loss. This observation is all the more surprising given that the hunger hormone ghrelin, produced by the stomach and acting on the hypothalamus, is most frequently found at a normal, or even a reduced level in obese patients.

The study conducted by Sergue Fetissov and the team from joint research unit 1073 “Nutrition, inflammation and dysfunction of the gut-brain axis” (Inserm/University of Rouen), directed by Pierre Dchelotte, collaborating with Prof Akio Inui’s team at the University of Kagoshima (Japan), reveals the molecular mechanism of this paradoxical hyperphagia.

The researchers have highlighted the presence of specific antibodies, or immunoglobulins, in the blood of obese patients, antibodies that recognise ghrelin and regulate appetite.

By binding to ghrelin, the immunoglobulins protect the hunger hormone from being broken down rapidly in the bloodstream. The ghrelin can then act on the brain for longer and stimulate appetite.

“The immunoglobulins have different properties in obese patients”, explains Sergue Fetissov, researcher in the Inserm unit in Rouen and main author of the study. “They are more strongly ‘attracted’ to ghrelin than in subjects of normal weight or in anorexic patients. It is this difference in ‘affinity’ that enables the immunoglobulins to transport more ghrelin to the brain and boost its stimulating action on food intake”, he continues.

The research team has confirmed this mechanism by experiments in rodents. When ghrelin was administered in combination with immunoglobulins extracted from the blood of obese patients, or with immunoglobulins derived from genetically-obese mice, they stimulated food intake more strongly. Conversely, when ghrelin only was given, or combined with immunoglobulins from non-obese people or mice, the rodents were better able to regulate their appetite by restricting food intake.

“Our discover open a new opportunity to design treatments acting on the basis of this mechanism to reduce hyperphagia observed in cases of obesity”, emphasises Pierre Dchelotte, Director of the joint Inserm/University of Rouen unit.

This study extends other work by the research team, published in 2011, on the role of immunoglobulins interfering with different hormones acting on appetite, satiety or anxiety in cases of anorexia, bulimia or depression, and on the probable involvement of intestinal flora (microbiotic) in these interactions.

“Our results could also be used to study the opposite phenomenon, loss of appetite, such as observed in cases of anorexia”, concludes Pierre Dchelotte.

###

Sources

Anti-ghrelin immunoglobulins modulate ghrelin stability and its orexigenic effect in obese mice and humans

Kuniko Takagi1,2,3,, Romain Legrand1,2,, Akihiro Asakawa3, Haruka Amitani3, Marie Franois1,2, Naouel Tennoune1,2, Mose Coffier1,2,5, Sophie Claeyssens1,2,5, Jean-Claude do Rego2,4, Pierre Dchelotte1,2,5, Akio Inui3 , Sergue O. Fetissov1,2*

1 Inserm UMR1073, Nutrition, Gut and Brain Laboratory, 76183, Rouen, France;

2Institute for Research and Innovation in Biomedicine (IRIB), Rouen University, Normandy University, 76183, France;

3 Department of Psychosomatic Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Kagoshima, 890-8520, Japan;

4 Animal Behavior Platform (SCAC), IRIB, Rouen, 76183, France;

5 Rouen University Hospital, CHU Charles Nicolle, 76183, Rouen, France.

Nature Communications, 25 octobre 2013 – DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3685



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[ Back to EurekAlert! ]

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

29-Oct-2013

[

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]


Share Share

Contact: Sergueï Fetissov
serguei.fetissov@univ-rouen.fr
INSERM (Institut national de la sant et de la recherche mdicale)

These results are published in the journal Nature Communications, on 25 October 2013.

Obesity affects more than 15% of adults in France, and its constitutive mechanisms are still not completely explained. Normally, fine control of weight and food intake is coordinated by a specialised part of the brain (the hypothalamus). It adjusts food intake depending on reserves and needs. In this way, after a period of excessive food intake and weight gain, a healthy subject will tend spontaneously to reduce their food intake for a while to return to their previous weight.

In many of the morbidly obese, this mechanism is faulty: despite their efforts, they continue to consume too much food (hyperphagia), contributing to maintaining a higher weight or even increasing it further.

Even so, their brain should take in the information about over-eating and reduce food intake to encourage weight loss. This observation is all the more surprising given that the hunger hormone ghrelin, produced by the stomach and acting on the hypothalamus, is most frequently found at a normal, or even a reduced level in obese patients.

The study conducted by Sergue Fetissov and the team from joint research unit 1073 “Nutrition, inflammation and dysfunction of the gut-brain axis” (Inserm/University of Rouen), directed by Pierre Dchelotte, collaborating with Prof Akio Inui’s team at the University of Kagoshima (Japan), reveals the molecular mechanism of this paradoxical hyperphagia.

The researchers have highlighted the presence of specific antibodies, or immunoglobulins, in the blood of obese patients, antibodies that recognise ghrelin and regulate appetite.

By binding to ghrelin, the immunoglobulins protect the hunger hormone from being broken down rapidly in the bloodstream. The ghrelin can then act on the brain for longer and stimulate appetite.

“The immunoglobulins have different properties in obese patients”, explains Sergue Fetissov, researcher in the Inserm unit in Rouen and main author of the study. “They are more strongly ‘attracted’ to ghrelin than in subjects of normal weight or in anorexic patients. It is this difference in ‘affinity’ that enables the immunoglobulins to transport more ghrelin to the brain and boost its stimulating action on food intake”, he continues.

The research team has confirmed this mechanism by experiments in rodents. When ghrelin was administered in combination with immunoglobulins extracted from the blood of obese patients, or with immunoglobulins derived from genetically-obese mice, they stimulated food intake more strongly. Conversely, when ghrelin only was given, or combined with immunoglobulins from non-obese people or mice, the rodents were better able to regulate their appetite by restricting food intake.

“Our discover open a new opportunity to design treatments acting on the basis of this mechanism to reduce hyperphagia observed in cases of obesity”, emphasises Pierre Dchelotte, Director of the joint Inserm/University of Rouen unit.

This study extends other work by the research team, published in 2011, on the role of immunoglobulins interfering with different hormones acting on appetite, satiety or anxiety in cases of anorexia, bulimia or depression, and on the probable involvement of intestinal flora (microbiotic) in these interactions.

“Our results could also be used to study the opposite phenomenon, loss of appetite, such as observed in cases of anorexia”, concludes Pierre Dchelotte.

###

Sources

Anti-ghrelin immunoglobulins modulate ghrelin stability and its orexigenic effect in obese mice and humans

Kuniko Takagi1,2,3,, Romain Legrand1,2,, Akihiro Asakawa3, Haruka Amitani3, Marie Franois1,2, Naouel Tennoune1,2, Mose Coffier1,2,5, Sophie Claeyssens1,2,5, Jean-Claude do Rego2,4, Pierre Dchelotte1,2,5, Akio Inui3 , Sergue O. Fetissov1,2*

1 Inserm UMR1073, Nutrition, Gut and Brain Laboratory, 76183, Rouen, France;

2Institute for Research and Innovation in Biomedicine (IRIB), Rouen University, Normandy University, 76183, France;

3 Department of Psychosomatic Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Kagoshima, 890-8520, Japan;

4 Animal Behavior Platform (SCAC), IRIB, Rouen, 76183, France;

5 Rouen University Hospital, CHU Charles Nicolle, 76183, Rouen, France.

Nature Communications, 25 octobre 2013 – DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3685



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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-10/ind-oan102913.php
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Scientists dig for fossils in LA a century later

(AP) — Surrounded by a gooey graveyard of prehistoric beasts, a small crew diligently wades through a backlog of fossil finds from a century of excavation at the La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles.

Digs over the years have unearthed bones of mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and other unsuspecting Ice Age creatures that became trapped in ponds of sticky asphalt. But it’s the smaller discoveries — plants, insects and rodents — in recent years that are shaping scientists’ views of life in the region 11,000 to 50,000 years ago.

“Earlier excavations really missed a great part of the story,” said John Harris, chief curator at the George C. Page Museum, which oversees the fossil collection. People “were only taking out bones they could see, but it’s the hidden bones that provide clues to the environment.”

The museum on Monday celebrates 100 years of digging, which has recovered some 5.5 million bones representing more than 600 species of animals and plants, the richest cache of Ice Age fossils.

There’s so much left to do that it could easily take another century to complete. On a recent Wednesday, a volunteer in a white lab coat pounded away at a bison skull in the museum’s fishbowl laboratory where visitors can witness paleontology in action. Nearby, two workers hunched over microscopes, sorting bone fragments belonging to extinct creatures.

In the back storage, floor-to-ceiling shelves of wooden crates house bones that need to be cleaned, identified or labeled. The museum estimates it has 100,000 specimens to catalog and another million to scrub.

Long before skyscrapers towered over Wilshire Boulevard, giant beasts ruled the land. Back then, sagebrush scrub covered the basin, home to herds of mammoths, bison, camels and ground sloths. Mastodons hung out in the woodlands. Lurking were meat-eating predators including saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and giant jaguars.

Every so often, creatures would get bogged down in pools of water and asphalt that seeped from underground crude oil deposits, and die of dehydration or starvation. Stranded animals that appeared to be easy prey then became a trap for predators that also got stuck in the ooze.

In 1913, the predecessor to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County launched a two-year project to uncover only the best-preserved mammal bones, largely ignoring everything else. Though the early digs gave scientists a glimpse into the types of animals that roamed, there was still much to be learned.

After the early missteps, scientists in 1969 decided to focus on pulling everything out and revisited a tar pit dubbed Pit 91 to do a more detailed excavation. For nearly 40 years, work at Pit 91 dominated the Page Museum’s efforts as visitors gawked from a viewing platform.

Museum officials temporarily halted digging at Pit 91 several years ago to concentrate on an unexpected trove of Ice Age fossils that was found during the construction of an underground garage next to the tar pits, located some 7 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.

“I can’t think of any other site that is as rich,” said Sarah George, executive director of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Every time a foundation is dug, “more old blocks of tar filled with fossils came out of the ground,” said George, who used to work as a curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Despite a century of digging, scientists still can’t agree on how the Ice Age beasts became extinct. Some suggested that the prehistoric predators may have competed with humans for similar prey and that carnivores ate carcasses out of desperation. But Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University said dental studies of saber-toothed cats and other carnivores suggest they were “living the good life” before they became extinct.

Museum excavators plan to leave some fossils buried — in case better tools are invented to study them in the next century.

___

Follow Alicia Chang at http://twitter.com/SciWriAlicia

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2013-10-27-La%20Brea%20Tar%20Pits/id-772513c9f61047d5b32f1f35ab38e255
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William and Kate name godparents for Prince George

London (AFP) – Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine named the godparents for their baby son Prince George on Wednesday, as they gathered close friends and family for a low-key christening far removed from the global hype surrounding his birth.

The couple broke with tradition by only naming one royal, William’s cousin and champion horse-rider Zara Philips, in the list of seven godparents, with the others being childhood, university and work friends.

Queen Elizabeth II and the couple’s parents and siblings including William’s younger brother Prince Harry were among the total of 22 guests invited to the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace in London, along with seven godparents.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual head of the world’s Anglicans, will perform the baptism, welcoming the three-month-old into the Church of England he is one day destined to lead as King George VII.

The couple — known to want a relatively normal upbringing for the young prince despite the world’s interest — also eschewed tradition by choosing the Chapel Royal rather than Buckingham Palace for the event.

The godparents include Zara Phillips, the daughter of William’s aunt Princess Anne and husband of rugby player Mike Tindall, and William’s childhood friends William van Cutsem and Earl Hugh Grosvenor; Julia Samuel, who was close to William’s his mother Diana; and Emilia Jardine-Paterson, who went to the private Marlborough College with Kate.

Rounding out the list are Oliver Baker, a friend from St Andrew’s University in Scotland, where the royal couple met, and William’s long-time aide Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former soldier in the elite SAS army unit. Despite speculation Prince Harry and Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton were not named as godparents.

A handful of royal fans camped overnight outside the palace hoping for a glimpse of the queen and her three direct heirs — Prince Charles, his son Prince William and baby George, who is third in line to the throne.

“This is a very special moment. We will see three kings in the making,” said John Loughrey, a 58-year-old fan wearing a raincoat bearing the pattern of the Union Jack flag.

He slept out overnight in the rain, but told AFP it did not bother him, adding: “This is a unique, historic moment.”

In the House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron urged lawmakers to “join me in celebrating” the event.

Holy water from the River Jordan

Holy water from the River Jordan

The christening will be held in private, a sharp contrast to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s lavish 2011 wedding, which was broadcast live on televisions across the world.

It is a sign of how closely they guard the privacy of the prince, who has not been seen in public since leaving hospital in the glare of hundreds of cameras after his birth on July 22.

An official photograph by celebrity snapper Jason Bell will be released to the public on Thursday.

The queen, 87, will attend with her 92-year-old husband Prince Philip, Charles and his wife Camilla and Prince Harry.

Kate’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton and her siblings James and Pippa Middleton complete the small party.

During the ceremony, Prince George will wear a lace gown and have holy water from the River Jordan poured on his head in what the Archbishop of Canterbury said was a “hugely important moment”.

The religious service will be followed by a tea at Charles’s official London residence, Clarence House, where guests will be served a portion of William and Kate’s wedding cake.

It is traditional for Christian couples in Britain to save a tier of the cake — normally fruit encased in icing to preserve it — for their first child’s christening.

The official photos taken at Clarence House are expected to gain iconic status, the first time four generations of monarchs have been pictured together since 1894, at the christening of the future king Edward VIII.

The only other photo of Prince George released to the public so far is a shot with William, Kate and the couple’s dog Lupo which Michael Middleton took in his family’s back garden.

Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary, said the christening would send a strong message of the royal family’s durability.

“It shows the continuing survival of the dynasty. It reinforces the public perception that the British royal family is going to be around for a long time to come,” he told AFP.

 

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/william-kate-name-godparents-sons-christening-133353585.html
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Singapore’s Asia TV Forum to Launch Animation Lab

ATF is held annually at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino, hotel and convention complex

This year’s edition of the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) in Singapore will debut a new three-day event dubbed Animation Lab, the event’s organizers announced Monday.

Intended to help promote the region’s burgeoning animation industry, the program will seek to bring together Asian animation producers, who are seeking investment and funding opportunities, with international broadcasters and financiers, who are interested in both the growing animation talent and market opportunity of the region.

STORY: ATF, ScreenSingapore Lock Down Dates for 2013

ATF organizers say the program will be open to all individuals or companies that have new animation projects in the planning or production stage, and will give them a platform to engage in closed-door pitches to various participating international commissioners.

International TV pros signed on to take part include Henrietta Hurford-Jones, director of children’s programming at the BBC Worldwide.

“The aim is always to try and grow the international CBeebies brand as well as our children’s portfolio worldwide,” Hurford-Jones said in a statement. “I would be delighted to find creative partners in Asia to potentially develop exciting new children’s content with.”

Also on hand to take pitches and meetings will be, Barbara Uecker, head of programming and acquisitions for children’s TV at Australia’s ABC TV, and Nicole Keeb, head of international co-productions and acquisitions for children and youth programming at Germany’s ZDF Enterprises GmbH, along with her colleague Arne Lohmann, vice president of ZDFE.junior.

AFT says additional network execs will be added to the Animation Lab roster in the coming weeks.

AFT is Asia’s most established TV and cross-platform content market for buyers and sellers from the region and afar. This year’s event, ATF’s 12th edition, will take place Dec. 3-6 at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino, hotel and convention complex.  

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thr/international/~3/bhr5iVIHEWo/story01.htm
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Cuban entrepreneurs gird for ban on import sales

HAVANA (AP) — You can find just about anything at El Curita marketplace in gritty central Havana.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs hawk all manner of goods at this bustling bazaar, from watches, shampoos and facial creams to neon-colored tube tops and the striped FC Barcelona soccer jerseys that are increasingly a fashion must.

Three years ago, there was nothing quite like it on this Communist-run island known as much for perpetual scarcity as it is for pristine beaches and world class cigars. And three months from now, it could all be over as authorities begin enforcing a new law banning the private sale of imported goods.

Cuba is in the middle of what it calls a significant opening to limited private enterprise — even as it swears it won’t abandon socialism. But for entrepreneurs who have carved out modestly successful livelihoods after investing their life savings to launch import-dependent businesses, the new measure feels like a big step back.

Announced in late September, the law is likely to snuff out some businesses entirely while driving others back underground in a nation where the black market has long flourished. In some markets, crude signs have already started going up advertising “liquidation” sales.

“I never thought that this would happen. I’m desperate,” said Barbara Perez, who sells blouses for $13 and jeans for around $15 from her clothing stall. “I can’t sleep because I’m constantly asking myself, ‘What is going to happen? What am I going to do?’”

Last week, she said, authorities summoned her to hear an explanation of the new rule.

“They treated me well. They read me the new law and they made me sign a paper,” Perez said between sobs. She has until Nov. 30 to sell her remaining inventory, and “after that they can confiscate it.”

Some 436,000 Cubans are running or working for private small businesses under President Raul Castro’s package of social and economic reforms begun in 2010. Among other things, the government has legalized used car and real estate sales and ended the much-detested exit visa required for decades of all islanders seeking to travel overseas.

While critics say the list of nearly 200 approved areas of independent employment is too short, it continues to expand. The same day the ban on selling imports was announced, authorities OKed 18 more professions including blacksmiths, welders and real estate agents.

“Personally, I think the steps so far have been positive,” said Josuan Crespo, who can now work legally as a real estate agent. “With this new regulation we can help people with everything to do with buying and selling property.”

Perez opened shop three years ago with a seamstress’ license, but quickly realized there was no money in making clothing from scratch. For starters, there’s no wholesale market offering raw materials to craft new clothes or shoes. When available, fabric can be of dubious quality. And the real demand is for foreign fashions.

“The first 11 days I didn’t sell anything. They said my clothes were out of fashion and low-quality,” Perez said. “So I decided to sell my sewing machine, my television, my refrigerator, and with the $150 I raised, I bought clothes from a person who brought it from abroad and started selling that.”

She and countless other entrepreneurs continue to rely for supply on so-called mules who fly overseas, returning with duffel bags stuffed with underwear, jewelry, auto parts, appliances.

Authorities began taking aim at that sub-industry last year by dramatically hiking customs duties.

Labor Ministry official Jose Barreiro Alfonso recently told Communist Party newspaper Granma that it’s necessary to “impose order” in the retail sector, and it will be a crime to “obtain merchandise or other objects for the purpose of resale for profit.”

Together, the measures recall previous policies that critics describe as two steps forward, one step back.

In the 1990s, Cubans were allowed to open private restaurants to ease the pain of a severe economic crisis; when the worst had passed, authorities regulated the eateries practically out of existence until they were revived under the recent reforms.

Such policies “create an atmosphere of uncertainty that is not positive, and a level of frustration that will not rise to the level of nationwide protests,” said Frank Mora, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. “But with this, the government is sending a message to the people that it is maintaining control.”

Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburg professor emeritus of economics, interpreted the new law as an attempt to protect the government’s own retail operations.

“It miscalculated” before, Mesa-Lago said. “It thought it could compete with these people who … sell at a reasonable price while (state-run) stores have very high prices.”

After being laid off from his hotel job, Frank Rodriguez, 30, took out a cobbler’s license and began selling imported shoes at El Curita. He intends to recover his $3,000 investment one way or another, by selling “here or elsewhere.”

“We are living days of complete uncertainty,” Rodriguez said. “If they allowed this for three years across the country, why prohibit it now? How, and with what money will I buy food for my daughter?”

Diana Sanchez, who supports herself, her daughter and her retired mother by selling plumbing and household supplies, is considering becoming a manicurist.

“What I sell, I can’t make. So they’re going to shut me down? You can’t do that,” Sanchez said. “They allowed this. We had hope, an illusion that things were really going to change. … We’re going to take a step back instead of moving forward.”

___

Follow Anne-Marie Garcia on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnneMarie279

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/cuban-entrepreneurs-gird-ban-import-sales-040325919.html
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This Isn’t Your Granny Smith’s Harvesting Technology

In West Michigan, it’s apple harvest time. That may conjure up images of picturesque orchards and old-fashioned fun: growers harvesting apples and then selecting them by hand.

Think again.

Robotic arms, computer vision and high-resolution photography are helping Michigan growers wash, sort and package apples at top speeds in the business — think 2,000 apples per minute.

With this modern technology, farmers are expanding production and getting Galas and Ginger Golds from Michigan orchards to grocery stores faster and more cheaply.

That’s especially important during bumper crop years like 2013, when Michigan apple growers are expected to bring in a potentially record-setting 30 million bushels.

Rob Steffens, an apple grower on West Michigan’s fertile “fruit ridge,” has about 280 acres of orchards northwest of Grand Rapids. He packs 800 to a 1,000 apple trees into each acre, which is about three times as many trees as his father grew on the land.

With so many new trees, Steffens and other Michigan growers needed a way to process all those extra apples faster and more cheaply.

So Steffens pooled his resources with six other farmers to build a $7 million apple packing plant. It’s where his apples are sorted, washed, waxed and readied for shipping to grocery stores.

Wooden crates with “Steffens” stamped on them stack up against one wall in the warehouse. A machine picks up the crates and dumps the apples onto a sort of water conveyor belt. The three-foot-wide river of bobbing apples moves quickly, as a machine sorts the fruit.

Then the apples go through a tunnel filled with flashing lights.

“Really, this is the brains of that,” Steffens says, as he points to the tunnel. “This takes a picture of each apple — I think it’s between 25 and 29 times a second.”

The computer then forms a 3D model of each apple so it can figure out the fruit’s size, color and quality. The apples are sorted by weight and color in a fraction of a second. Bruised or misshapen apples are rejected.

“See, and it’s kicking out fruit like this,” Steffens says as he points to a blemish no bigger than a dime on the skin of one of the rejected apples.

The high-tech machine means the growers can process and pack way more fruit with the same amount of workers. On a typical day, the machine can scan almost 2,000 apples a minute.

“It’s processing at an astonishing rate,” says horticulturist Randy Beaudry, at Michigan State University.

But this new technology, he says, is what Michigan apple growers need to compete with other states.

“If, for instance, a large box store says, ‘OK, we want fruit that are between 2.5 and 2.75 inches.’ And they want them 80 percent red with coloration. And they want zero defects — Michigan growers can get that fruit,” he says. “And they can do it within a few hours time.”

Each year, Michigan is typically only behind Washington and New York state in terms of apple bushels. That has a lot to do with good weather and luck. But it’s also because growers have been changing their orchards. Growers have been ripping out older, taller apple trees and replacing them with smaller ones, Beaudry says.

“The trees are shorter. They’re closer together,” he says. “We create what we call fruiting walls. That’s a relatively recent innovation, but it’s part of a long-term trend to reduce the size of apple trees, so that they’re harvested more easily and more efficiently. So we don’t need as much labor.”

More and more technology is needed to move labor-intensive agricultural products like apples efficiently to market, Beaudry says.

Fortunately for us, the end result still tastes like an old-fashioned Michigan apple in October.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/10/14/232235993/this-isnt-your-granny-smiths-harvesting-technology?ft=1&f=1008
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