Sunday October 22, 2017

Game “Pokemon Go” to have added 2.83 million years of Life Expectancy by getting people off Couch to Hunt for Virtual Monster

When totalled, researchers said cumulatively, the roughly 25 million Pokemon Go-playing Americans took 144 billion more steps or the equivalent of 143 round trips to the moon

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FILE - A Pokemon Go player consults his phone while walking through the Boston Common outside the Massachusetts Statehouse. The game has introduced players to some aspects of history they otherwise might have missed. VOA

Forget fitness trackers and fitness apps.

Researchers say the augmented reality game Pokemon Go could have added 2.83 million years of life expectancy by simply getting people off the couch to hunt for virtual monsters.

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The study was done by Microsoft Research and found that Pokemon Go players, on average, increased the number of steps they took by 26 percent, with the most sedentary benefiting the most. Looked at another way, that’s 194 more steps per day taken, or roughly 160 meters.

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When totalled, researchers said cumulatively, the roughly 25 million Pokemon Go-playing Americans took 144 billion more steps or the equivalent of 143 round trips to the moon.

Activity increases were seen among genders, ages, weight and general levels of health.

The researchers say that since activity lowers mortality, all the extra activity from Pokemon Go could mean 2.83 million more years of life expectancy. Players who take 1,000 steps per day could lengthen their lives by 41.4 days.

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The one downside of the study is that interest in the game appeared to have peaked in the summer. Less interest and colder weather could reduce the number of players sharply.

The study was posted in the Cornell University Library. (VOA)

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Beware! Tobacco, Poor Diet, and Mental Disorders are Leading Causes of Poor Health and you may be at Risk too!

According to a new study, deaths from noncommunicable, or chronic, diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes have caused 72 percent of all deaths worldwide

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A heavyset man rests on a bench in Jackson, Miss. (VOA)

London, September 15, 2017 : Heart disease and tobacco ranked with conflict and violence among the world’s leading cause of poor health and the biggest killers in 2016, while poor diets and mental disorders caused people the greatest poor health, a large international study has found.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, published in The Lancet medical journal, found that while life expectancy is increasing, so too are the years people live in poor health. The proportion of life spent being ill is higher in poor countries than in wealthy ones.

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“Death is a powerful motivator, both for individuals and for countries, to address diseases that have been killing us at high rates. But we’ve been much less motivated to address issues leading to illnesses,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, which led the study.

He said a “triad of troubles” — obesity, conflict and mental illness — is emerging as a “stubborn and persistent barrier to active and vigorous lifestyles.”

Diet critical

The IHME-led study, involving more than 2,500 researchers in about 130 countries, found that in 2016, poor diet was associated with nearly one in five deaths worldwide. Tobacco smoking killed 7.1 million people.

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Diets low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish oils and high in salt were the most common risk factors, contributing to cases of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

The study found that deaths from firearms, conflict and terrorism have increased globally, and that noncommunicable, or chronic, diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes caused 72 percent of all deaths worldwide.

Heart disease was the leading cause of premature death in most regions and killed 9.48 million people globally in 2016.

ALSO READ Eat According to Your Blood Type and See the Benefits Yourself!

Mental illness was found to take a heavy toll on individuals and societies, with 1.1 billion people living with psychological or psychiatric disorders and substance abuse problems in 2016.

Major depressive disorders ranked in the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four countries worldwide.

The GBD is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation global health charity and gives data estimates on 330 diseases, causes of death and injuries in 195 countries and territories. (VOA)

 

 

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“Museum of Yesterday” : New App Reveals Little-known History of Rio de Janeiro Port

A new app, Inspired by Pokemon Go seeks to educate visitors about Rio de Janeiro port area's role in Brazilian history, from colonization and the arrival of slave ships to recent cases of corruption

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The "Museum of Yesterday" app is seen on a cell phone showing an old photograph of the port area before it was renovated, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 6, 2017. VOA
  • A new app seeks to educate visitors about the area’s role in Brazilian history, from colonization and the arrival of slave ships to recent cases of corruption
  • Inspired by Pokemon Go, the app detects users’ geo-location and only reveals the stories once users arrive at the location where the story took place
  • The area is home to attractions that include two museums and an aquarium, its rich history remains unknown to most locals and tourists

Rio de Janeiro, July 21, 2017: Rio de Janeiro’s port area may be one of the city’s most inviting spots since being renovated for the Olympic Games last year. But while the area is home to attractions that include two museums and an aquarium, its rich history remains unknown to most locals and tourists.

A new app seeks to educate visitors about the area’s role in Brazilian history, from colonization and the arrival of slave ships to recent cases of corruption.

Launched in late June by the nonprofit investigative journalism agency Agencia Publica, the app called “Museum of Yesterday” offers tours of the port in Portuguese and English.

But there’s a catch. Inspired by Pokemon Go, the app detects users’ geo-location and only reveals the stories once users arrive at the location where the story took place.

With over 160 points of interest, the app offers five options. The terror tour explores slavery, colonization and the country’s military dictatorship, along with other incidents like the 1993 Candelaria massacre in which eight people — many of them teenagers — were killed while sleeping on the steps of the Candelaria church. The corruption tour investigates bribery from the time of King John VI of Portugal to recent kickback schemes. The samba tour explores the roots of Rio’s traditional Carnival music. Finally, the tour of ghosts explores important historical figures that are sometimes forgotten.

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“Rio’s port carries a lot of the history of Brazil,” said Gabriele Roza, a journalist at Agencia Publica who contributed to the stories in the app. “What we realized was that these stories are not present here.”

Indeed during the Rio Olympic Games, local authorities emphatically promoted the port’s new attractions such as the futuristic looking Museum of Tomorrow designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that cost $55 million, and a new boulevard decorated by internationally acclaimed street artists.

But the city neglects other historical attractions located a few blocks away such as the Valongo Wharf, an archaeological site where hundreds of thousands of slaves debarked after their harrowing journey across the Atlantic.

Francesca Declich, an Italian anthropologist visiting the Valongo Wharf on July 9, the day it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, complained that the wharf was hard to find and that there was only basic information available on a three-paragraph-long plaque next to the pit.

The port is also connected to the present-day Car Wash corruption investigation. For example, Eduardo Cunha, who led Brazil’s impeachment effort against former President Dilma Rousseff, is now being investigated over allegations that he received $16 million in kickbacks related to the port renovation, which cost the city of Rio over $4 billion.

Rio’s former mayor Eduardo Paes is also being investigated for taking bribes in the port renovation. Despite the scandal, the revitalized area is considered one of the few positive legacies from the Rio Olympics.

The app, which has been downloaded over 2,000 times so far, tells these and other stories through text but also through illustrations, photographs, audio, videos and a map from the 1830s when most of today’s port was still ocean.

“As you start walking along the port area you can actually capture the stories from Rio’s past and put them in a vault,” explained Mariana Simoes, another journalist from Agencia Publica who was part of the team that developed the app.

“You are actually being encouraged to walk and discover the area, discover these elements of our past as you walk through them.” (VOA)


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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)