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Soul-Revival Singing Powerhouse Sharon Jones of retro-soul Band the Dap-Kings, Dies at 60 in New York

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FILE - Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings performs during the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., June 8, 2012. VOA

Sharon Jones, the stout powerhouse who shepherded a soul revival despite not finding stardom until middle age, has died. She was 60.

Jones’ representative, Judy Miller Silverman, said Jones died Friday at a Cooperstown, New York, hospital after battling pancreatic cancer. Loved ones and members of her retro-soul band, the Dap-Kings, were among those surrounding her, Silverman said.

The story of Jones’ battle with cancer, first diagnosed in 2013, was told in Barbara Kopple’s documentary, “Miss Sharon Jones!” released earlier this year.

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Sharon Jones has triumphantly returned to the stage in 2015 after the cancer went into remission. Click To Tweet

Though she triumphantly returned to the stage in 2015 after the cancer went into remission, Jones late last year announced its return. Still, Jones mounted another comeback with the defiant single “I’m Still Here” and hit the road again this summer with the Dap-Kings even while undergoing chemotherapy.

“You got to be brave,” a debilitated Jones told the Associated Press in July, in between tour stops. “I want to use the time that I have. I don’t want to spend it all laid up, wishing I had done that gig.”

Discovered in midlife

Jones’ death was immediately noted on social media and throughout the music industry.

The British producer Mark Ronson, who brought the Dap-Kings in to play backing band to Amy Winehouse on her breakthrough album, “Back to Black,” said, “Sharon Jones had one of the most magnificent, gut-wrenching voices of anyone in recent time.”

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The youngest of six children, Sharon Lafaye Jones was born May 4, 1956, in Augusta, Georgia. Her family lived in nearby North Augusta, South Carolina, across the Savannah River from the birthplace of James Brown. Jones, who would grow into a dynamic, show-stopping performer, grew up idolizing the Godfather of Soul and would later be frequently tagged as “the female James Brown.”

But for decades, such a fate was unimaginable. On “I’m Still Here,” she sings of being turned down by music executives for being “too short, too fat, too black and too old.”

After growing up in Brooklyn (her mother moved to escape an abusive husband), Jones regularly sang gospel at her church, performed for years in a wedding band and sang back-up for various session bands. To make ends meet, she worked as a corrections officer at the Rikers Island jail complex and was a bank security guard.

Dap-Kings are born

But in one recording session, she caught the attention of Gabriel Roth and Philip Lehman. The two, blown away by Jones’ fiery voice, made her the lead singer of their newly formed Dap-Kings and launched the Bushwick, Brooklyn-based label, Daptone Records, around her unlikely star power.

They debuted with 2002’s “Dap-Dippin’ With Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings,” released when Jones was 46. Three more albums followed in the ensuing decade, and two compilations. Standouts included a soulful rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and the single “100 Days, 100 Nights,” in which she belts: “100 days, 100 nights to know a man’s heart/ And a little more, before, he knows his own.”

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The sound, backed by walls of horns and tightly guided by bandleader Roth, was propelled by Jones’ grit and ferocity. For her, soul and survival went hand in hand. Her torrid performances began, like Brown’s, with a prolonged introduction from her bandmates.

Jones never disparaged the better-selling British soul revival led by Ronson and Winehouse that coincided with her rise. But she wasn’t shy about claiming to be the more genuine article.

“We’ve been there, and we’re still doin’ this,” Jones told New York magazine in 2010. “In another few years, what are they gonna be doin’?”

Six albums, Grammy nomination

Their sixth album, “Give the People What They Want” earned Jones her first Grammy nomination for best R&B album. Their last album, “It’s a Holiday Soul Party,” was released last year.

Kopple witnessed the charismatic Jones light up hospital wards while undergoing chemo.

“When people are around or there’s an audience, that gives her fuel and she forgets her pain,” the director said ahead of the release of “Miss Sharon Jones!”

Even while suffering the effects of her cancer and its treatments, the workmanlike Jones toured relentlessly.

“It’s therapy,” Jones said of performing in July. “I know I need rest and sleep. But I want to work and that is our job.” (VOA)

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Melatonin May Help Treat Blood Cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma, Claims a New Research

The researchers have noted that the anti-cancer actions of melatonin will be helpful in facilitating clinical applications and basic research

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Melatonin produced by a gland in the brain can help treat blood cancers
Melatonin may help treat blood cancers. Pixabay
  • Researchers have discovered that Melatonin may help treat blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma 
  • Melatonin’s involvement in regulation of circadian rhythms may help in coordination and synchronization of internal body functions 
  • Anti-cancer actions of melatonin are expected to be helpful in facilitating basic research 

Washington D.C. [USA], September 3, 2017: Researchers have discovered that blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma may be treated with a hormone produced by a small gland in the brain.

Melatonin, a hormone produced by a small gland in the brain may be able to treat blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, according to the researchers.

The findings suggest that melatonin performs a number of tasks such as boosting the immune response against cancer cells, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and even protecting the healthy cells from chemotherapy’s toxic effects.

Melatonin’s involvement in regulation of circadian rhythms may help in the coordination and synchronization of internal body functions. The timings of he melatonin treatment may be grave in regard to their anti-cancer effects.

Senior author Yang Yang hopes that this information would prove helpful in the design of studies concerned with the therapeutic efficiency of melatonin in blood cancers.

Also read: Arthritis drug could cure blood cancer: Researchers

The researchers have noted that the anti-cancer actions of melatonin will be helpful in facilitating clinical applications and basic research.

The study has appeared in British Journal of Pharmacology.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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How Social Interactions Help Provide Aid to Cancer Patients: Read Here!

Cancer patients are likely to respond better to the treatment when they are socially interactive

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Cancer
Cancer patients are likely to respond better to the treatment when they are socially interactive. Pixabay
  • Research by the National Human Genome Research Institute showed that social interaction between cancer patients may improve their response to treatment
  • Survival chances are likely to be increased by 2 percent when the patients are interactive during chemotherapy
  • People model behavior based on what’s around them

New Delhi, July 27, 2017: The recuperation of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy is affected by their social interaction with other patients during treatment, according to a new study by researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Cancer patients were a little more likely to survive for five years or more after chemotherapy if they interacted during chemotherapy with other patients who also survived for five years or more. The findings were published online July 12, 2017, in the journal Network Science.

[sociallocker][/sociallocker]

“People model behavior based on what’s around them,” Jeff Lienert, lead author in NHGRI’s Social and Behavioral Research Branch and a National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program fellow. “For example, you will often eat more when you’re dining with friends, even if you can’t see what they’re eating. When you’re bicycling, you will often perform better when you’re cycling with others, regardless of their performance.”

Researchers examined the data from electronic medical records from 2000 to 2009 from two major hospitals in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. They also reviewed the room formation to confirm that the patients were positioned to interact.

“We had information on when patients checked in and out of the chemotherapy ward, a small intimate space where people could see and interact for a long period of time,” Lienert said. “We used ‘time spent getting chemotherapy in a room with others as a proxy for social connection.”

According to the ANI report, when patients were around those during chemotherapy who died in less than five years following chemotherapy, they had a 72 percent chance of dying within five years following their chemotherapy. The best outcome was when patients interacted with someone who survived for five years or longer: they had a 68 percent chance of dying within five years. The researchers’ model also predicted that if patients were isolated from other patients, they would have a 69.5 percent chance of dying within five years.

ALSO READ: Social interaction affects cancer patients’ response to treatment

“A two percent difference in survival – between being isolated during treatment and being with other patients – might not sound like a lot, but it’s pretty substantial,” Lienert said. “If you saw 5,000 patients in nine years, that 2 percent improvement would affect 100 people.”

The researchers didn’t study why the difference occurred, but hypothesize that it may be related to stress response. “When you’re stressed, stress hormones such as adrenaline are released, resulting in a fight or flight response,” Lienert said. “If you are then unable to fight or fly, such as in chemotherapy, these hormones can build up.”

While the researchers also didn’t investigate the impact of visitors on cancer patients undergoing therapy, the effect would likely be similar, he said.

“Positive social support during the exact moments of greatest stress is crucial,” Lienert said. “If you have a friend with cancer, keeping him or her company during chemotherapy probably will help reduce their stress. The impact is likely to be as effective, and possibly more effective than cancer patients interacting with other cancer patients.”

The findings are published online in the journal Network Science.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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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.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

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)