Executions are currently carried out without notice once all appeals have been exhausted. Local media said the new rules were designed to make executions “more humane”.Lin Hsin-yi, executive director of Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, urged the government of President Tsai Ing-wen to make good a promise to abolish capital punishment.”There is no humane way to carry out the death penalty. It shouldn’t be carried out anymore,” she said. Taiwan is one of Asia’s most progressive democracies but has drawn criticism from the international community for enforcing the death sentence.The island is divided on the issue, with the majority of public supporting it, but rights groups and some political elites calling for it to end.Taiwan resumed capital punishment in 2010 after a five-year hiatus and there are currently 39 prisoners on death row. Taiwan has released new procedures for carrying out capital punishment — including preventing the condemned from seeing their executioner — but rights activists said Thursday the move merely whitewashes a barbaric practice.The island has carried out 35 executions since a moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in 2010 — with the last being in April of a 53-year-old man convicted of killing his parents. In Taiwan, the death penalty is carried out by gunshot. “The death penalty is a brutal and inhumane method of punishment… it’s absurd to discuss how to enforce it in more humane ways,” said Chiu E-ling, director of Amnesty International Taiwan. Media reports say the condemned are first given a powerful sedative before being laid face-down and shot in the heart through the back.Under measures passed by the cabinet this week, the condemned must now be hooded during the process.They will also be allowed to hold final religious rituals as well as leave a farewell voice or video message for their families. Topics :
A recent article from the USC News website highlighted a nonprofit mentorship program entitled Teens Exploring Technology, which is making great strides in inspiring young minority males to pursue careers in technology. It has technology and coding programs, some of which meet at USC over the summer, which aim to teach young men the leadership, professional and interpersonal skills needed to succeed as adults.What is so incredible about a program like this is that it is the notable absence of minorities in STEM fields. The STEM field is made up of a disproportionate amount of white and Asian males compared to minority males and women of all races. Women make up nearly half the workforce, but have just 26 percent of science, technology, engineering or math jobs, according to the Census Bureau. Furthermore, African Americans make up 11 percent of the workforce, but just 6 percent of such jobs, and Hispanics make up nearly 15 percent of the workforce, but hold 7 percent of those positions. One possible reason for this huge gender and racial gap in technology and engineering fields is the harsh stereotypes that prevent minorities and women from wanting to enter the field, as well as having access to an education that would provide them with the skills necessary to do so. Even those who are able to enter the field lack the proper mentorship and role models to look up to, which results in many choosing to leave the profession more often than their white and Asian male counterparts. One of the challenges faced by many lower-income African Americans and Hispanics is their limited access to a good education. A recent study showed that over half of Hispanic 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any preschool classes. While more than 60 percent of black 4-year-olds are enrolled, most of them are in programs of low quality. Some of this limited access to a quality education stems from entrenched stereotypes about who does well in science and math in classrooms. Too many teachers give up too easily on them simply because they are not expected to do as well as white students. Moreover, boys are more likely to spend more time in the community, with their peers, which leaves them more open to involvement in things like gang violence, another hindrance to education. Despite those challenges, many minorities still enroll in science and math programs in college, but fewer of them earn a degree in those programs within five years — 22.1 percent for Hispanics and 18.4 percent for blacks — than whites (33 percent) and Asians (42 percent), according to a study by researchers at UCLA. Many of those who leave are simply ill-prepared for the rigors of college-level math and science. Others feel socially unwelcome because they make up a tiny minority in largely white and Asian science and engineering departments. These negative stereotypes not only affect minorities’ entrance into the STEM field, but women’s as well. According to Ariane Hegewisch, a director for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, young girls do not get as much of an opportunity to use computers as boys do in elementary schools. When making choices about their majors and careers, many young women rule out engineering and computer science partly because they are uninterested, feel ill-prepared for them or because society tends to identify the STEM field as male-dominated. Women who pursue careers in the STEM field are much more likely to leave the profession than men. Furthermore, the women who graduate with degrees in engineering and computer science are less likely to be employed than men.In many cases, women seem to have internalized society’s belief that they are incapable of mastering these fields as well as men. Psychologists from Stanford University, among other scholars, have found that female students who are made to believe that math ability is innate have lower scores and are less likely to study math than girls who believe that math skills can be acquired through hard work. Another study showed that “female college students got more questions right on math tests when they were told beforehand that ‘college students are good at math’ than when they were told ‘women are bad at math,’” which suggests stereotypes undermine women’s performance.The lack of minorities and women in the STEM field is largely due to negative stereotypes that discourage these populations from entering technology and engineering professions. These stereotypes inhibit students’ academic achievements and educational opportunities to succeed.Improving the representation of women and minorities would enrich American scientific research and development, because they will add a different perspective to workplaces currently dominated by white and Asian men.Julia Lawler is a senior majoring in history and social science education. Her column, “Get Schooled,” runs Fridays.
Source:https://www.ninds.nih.gov/News-Events/News-and-Press-Releases/Press-Releases/Self-tuning-brain-implant-could-help-treat May 30 2018Deep brain stimulation has been used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms for 25 years, but limitations have led researchers to look for ways to improve the technique. This study describes the first fully implanted DBS system that uses feedback from the brain itself to fine-tune its signaling. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Technologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).”The novel approach taken in this small-scale feasibility study may be an important first step in developing a more refined or personalized way for doctors to reduce the problems patients with Parkinson’s disease face every day,” said Nick B. Langhals, Ph.D., program director at NINDS and team lead for the BRAIN Initiative.Deep brain stimulation is a method of managing Parkinson’s disease symptoms by surgically implanting an electrode, a thin wire, into the brain. Traditional deep brain stimulation delivers constant stimulation to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia to help treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. However, this approach can lead to unwanted side effects, requiring reprogramming by a trained clinician. The new method described in this study is adaptive, so that the stimulation delivered is responsive in real time to signals received from the patient’s brain.”This is the first time a fully implanted device has been used for closed-loop, adaptive deep brain stimulation in human Parkinson’s disease patients,” said Philip Starr, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery, University of California, San Francisco, and senior author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.In a short-term feasibility trial, two patients with Parkinson’s received a fully implanted, adaptive deep brain stimulation device. The device differs from traditional ones in that it can both monitor and modulate brain activity. In this work, sensing was done from an electrode implanted over the primary motor cortex, a part of the brain critical for normal movement. Signals from this electrode are then fed into a computer program embedded in the device, which determines whether to stimulate the brain. For this study the researchers taught the program to recognize a pattern of brain activity associated with dyskinesia, or uncontrolled movements that are a side effect of deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease, as a guide to tailor stimulation. Stimulation was reduced when it identified dyskinesia-related brain activity and increased when brain sensing indicated no dyskinesia to minimize deep brain stimulation-related side effects.Related StoriesMercy Medical Center adds O-arm imaging system to improve spinal surgery resultsResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionGut infection can lead to a pathology resembling Parkinson’s diseaseResults of initial, short-term studies aimed at demonstrating feasibility and effectiveness of using adaptive deep brain stimulation to overcome the impediment to movement of Parkinson’s suggested that this adaptive approach was equally effective at controlling symptoms as traditional deep brain stimulation. Doctors saw and patients noticed no differences in the improvement in movement under adaptive stimulation versus constant, open loop stimulation set manually by the researchers. Because adaptive deep brain stimulation did not continuously stimulate the brain, the system saved about 40 percent of the device’s battery energy used during traditional stimulation. The short time periods over which movement was assessed did not permit comparison of the two deep brain stimulation paradigms relative to incidence of dyskinesia, but it is hoped that the variable stimulation will also translate into a reduction in adverse effects when tested over longer time periods.”Other adaptive deep brain stimulation designs record brain activity from an area adjacent to where the stimulation occurs, in the basal ganglia, which is susceptible to interference from stimulation current” said Dr. Starr. “Instead, our device receives feedback from the motor cortex, far from the stimulation source, providing a more reliable signal.”Many patients with Parkinson’s disease who would benefit from deep brain stimulation are difficult to treat because too much stimulation can cause dyskinesia. Thus, finding the correct level of stimulation is like trying to hit a constantly moving target. An adaptive system like the one being tested here could offer an effective alternative and may also limit adverse effects of traditional deep brain stimulation, but considerable testing remains to be done.”Here we have demonstrated the feasibility of adaptive deep brain stimulation,” said Dr. Starr. “We are now planning larger, longer-term trials to determine how effective this system is in managing the symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease.”