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  • Faces of Africa 11/20/2016 Haile Selassie: The pillar of a modern Ethiopia part 1

    Faces of Africa 11/20/2016 Haile Selassie: The pillar of a modern Ethiopia part 1

    July 1892 Emperor Haile Selassie, the last emperor in the Ethiopian monarchy, was born in Harar city in eastern Ethiopia. As a child he was known as Lij Tafari Makonnen. Lij means a ‘child’ and Tafari means ‘one who is respected or feared’.  Born in line of royalty, Haile Selassie rose to the highest ranks for the four decades that he was the Imperial Emperor of Ethiopia. His father Ras Makonnen was the provincial governor of Harar and he served as a General in the first Italo - Ethiopian war.

    Young Haile Selassie with his father Ras Makonnen.

    Young Haile Selassie with his father Ras Makonnen.

    Haile Selassie died in August 28th 1975 a year after he was overthrown by the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1974.

    Haile Selassie’s father died in 1906 and in 1907, Haile Selassie took over the governorship from his fallen brother who had taken over from his father.  When Menelik II died, Haile Selassie took over the Imperial leadership. He thereby shifted from Harar to Addis Ababa the capital city of the country. Ethiopia has eighty three tribes and those close to Haile Selassie consist of only three; Amhara, Oromo, Burage or Silte. Hence to unite all Ethiopians he sort support from the church. He needed the support of the powerful mainstream church, Orthodox Church. Upon his coronation in 1930 he was called Haile Selassie which in Amharic means ‘power of the trinity’. Even though he had shifted to Addis Ababa his love for Harar did not vanish.

    Emperor Haile Selassie (waving) after he launched the Ethiopian airlines.

    Emperor Haile Selassie (waving) after he launched the Ethiopian airlines.

    “Emperor Haile Selassie had a special connection to Harar and he invented in coffee plantations, he was very shrewd financially but he was very politically astute,” tells Jeff Pearce – Canadian author. One of the major desires of Emperor Haile Selassie was to see his nation with scholars in areas of aviation, tourism, law, and engineering and even in theatre. He supported many young intelligent students in getting scholarships. “Haile Selassie was highly interested in having many modern scholars in Ethiopia to bring fundamental change in terms of civilization and development as well,” recalls Getenet Teshome – Religious Scholar.

    Emperor Haile Selassie I. His name Haile Selassie means

    Emperor Haile Selassie I. His name Haile Selassie means 'power of the trinity'. He died in 1975.

    But his efforts were always shaken by the defensive conservatives of the feudal system who did not want their children going to school and get ‘contaminated by the western culture’ but Haile Selassie did not relent. He ensured that even the servants’ children were sent to school. In 1923, he signed Ethiopia into the League of Nations, now known as the United Nations. He is popularly known for his brave plea that he made to the League of Nations, pleading for their support towards stopping the Italians from attacking Ethiopia.

    Ethiopians bowing before Emperor Haile Selassie. He was much revered and considered a god by the Ethiopians.

    Ethiopians bowing before Emperor Haile Selassie. He was much revered and considered a god by the Ethiopians.

    “I decided to come myself, to defend the cause of my people before the council of the League of Nations. I hope that the council will be good enough to excuse me from reading the whole of my declaration,” Haile Selassie’s statement in 1936. 

    But he never got any assistance. Italians attacked hard and Haile Selassie went into exile in Britain. But the harsh and cold weather did not go well with him and after five years he returned to Ethiopia. At the time, the freedom fighters in the country had pushed the Italians out of the country. 

    In 1955 Haile Selassie launched the country

    In 1955 Haile Selassie launched the country's first constitution.

    When he got back to his country, he managed to gain his ruler-ship back and he propelled the country into modernization, initiating a new constitution in 1955, founded the Ethiopian airlines and he undertook anti-colonialism across Africa whereby he helped African states gain independence from colonialism.

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  • High Tech China's second aircraft carrier to be launched soon

    China's domestically-made aircraft carrier is currently being fitted out and will soon be launched, according to a spokesperson from China's Ministry of National Defense, who gave no further details.

    The spokesperson, Wu Qian, made the response at a regular news briefing on Thursday in Beijing.

    Earlier reports suggested that the carrier might be launched on April 23, when China celebrates the founding day of the Chinese navy.

    The Chinese defense ministry announced plans to construct the new aircraft carrier, built by China itself, in late December 2015.

    China's one active carrier, the Liaoning, was converted from a Soviet era aircraft cruiser, the Varyag, about 15 years ago, with its first sea trial taking place in 2011.

    In September 2012, the Liaoning was commissioned into the Chinese navy and was declared ready for combat last November.

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  • China vows to advance military ties with Cuba

    BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) -- China is ready to work with Cuba to advance military ties so as to further enrich bilateral relations, said top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Thursday.

    Zhang Dejiang (R, front), chairman of the National People

    Zhang Dejiang (R, front), chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, meets with Cuban Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Leopoldo Cintra Frias (L, front) in Beijing, capital of China, March 30, 2017. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

    Zhang, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, made the remarks when meeting with Cuban Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Leopoldo Cintra Frias at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

    Hailing the sound development of bilateral ties forged more than 50 years ago, Zhang called on both countries to implement the consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cuban President Raul Castro during Xi's Cuba visit in 2014.

    Both countries need to enhance exchanges between the two militaries and parliaments to push bilateral ties forward, said Zhang.

    Cintra said Cuba treasures its friendship with China and appreciates China's help and support over the years. He expects to deepen bilateral military cooperation.

     

     

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  • Information warfare: Is Russia really interfering in European states?

    Russia has been accused of trying to interfere in the US presidential election, through hacked Democrat emails and social media.

    And in a big year of European elections, political leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere are looking over their shoulders too.

    Across the continent the hand of the Russian state has been perceived in an array of cyber attacks on government and state institutions, in the phenomenon of "fake news" and disinformation, and in the targeted funding of opposition groups.

    So how real is the threat and what form does it take? And is an explanation to be found in the words of Russia's chief of the general staff, Gen Valery Gerasimov, who wrote in a military newspaper in 2013 that "the very rules of war have changed"?

     
     

    The role of non-military means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and in many cases they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness"

    Gen Valery Gerasimov, 27 Feb 2013
    Getty Images

    What's so new about information warfare?

    Attempting to control information has long been part of the weaponry of many powerful states.

    But Russia's concerted effort to cultivate techniques of information warfare and non-military intervention over recent years is something new, says Keir Giles of the Conflict Studies Research Centre.

    "At various stages in the first and second Chechen wars, the war with Georgia in 2008, Russia found it was not able to influence global opinion or the opinion of its adversaries at an operational or strategic level, and made significant changes to its information warfare apparatus as a result," he says.

    A Georgian woman carries humanitarian relief bread past a Russian checkpoint on 17 August 2008 in Gori, GeorgiaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionRussia learned lessons from its 2008 campaign in Georgia

    "In the Georgia war, they found that to influence world public opinion and to properly exploit the connectivity of the internet they needed to start a massive recruitment campaign to bring in linguists, journalists, anybody who could talk directly to populations in foreign countries en masse".

    What techniques are available?

    HACKING

    Numerous cyber attacks in Europe have been blamed on Russian-linked groups - many of them spectacular.

    In 2015 France's TV5Monde broadcaster was taken off air and its systems nearly entirely destroyed.

    The same year Russia's APT28 hacking group was accused of a massive data hack of deputies in Germany's lower house of parliament involving the loss of 16 gigabytes of data. Germany's head of domestic intelligence has since spoken of a "hybrid" Russian threat to the September 2017 elections in which Angela Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office.

    TV5 Monde logoImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionTV5Monde was taken off air in April 2015

    Another cyber attack, on Bulgaria in October 2016, was described by its president as the heaviest and most intense to be conducted in south-eastern Europe.

    These types of attack date back 10 years, when Estonia, a cyber pioneer and former Soviet state, was hit by a massive denial-of-service attack rendering websites inaccessible with a barrage of requests.

    The potential power of attacking a country's internet infrastructure suddenly became clear, with an Estonian defence spokesman comparing the attacks to those launched against the US on 11 September 2001.

    Hacking is not just an issue in cyber-space, it can have enormous consequences far beyond. An attack on a Ukrainian power plant in 2015 led to days of blackout.

    Read moreBears with keyboards - Russian hackers snoop on West

    BOOSTING OPPOSITION PARTIES

    Senior Russian political figures have long cultivated relationships with nationalist and often anti-EU parties in Europe.

    French presidential candidate and far-right Front National political partys leader Marine Le Pen (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R)Image copyrightEPAImage captionPresident Putin denied trying to influence events in other countries' elections

    In France, Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front received a €9m loan from a Russian bank in 2014 (then £7m; $11m). On 24 March, with the French election only a month away and a chance of victory in the race, she met President Putinduring a trip to Moscow.

    In February, the leader of right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), Frauke Petry, held talks in Moscow with MPs close to President Putin and with Russian ultranationalists.

    And in Austria, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria denied claims it had received money from Moscow after signing a co-operation agreement with Mr Putin's United Russia party.

    Apparently it is not just the right. In France and Germany, leading far-left groups also have key links to the Russian state, according to this study by the Atlantic Council.

    FAKE NEWS AND DISINFORMATION

    There is nothing new about disinformation - intentionally spreading false facts.

    Now there is "fake news" too - false or misleading reporting often originating from little-known fringe websites that claim they are providing an alternative to the "lying" mainstream media.

    The US presidential election was notoriously hit by it and many European countries have been too.

    When Russian forces invaded Crimea in 2014, the leaders that took over from Ukraine's deposed leader were painted as fascists, justifying their intervention. The story contained enough of a kernel of truth to be persuasive. The leadership was neither a "fascist junta" nor "completely fascist-free", as the BBC's David Stern said at the time.

    Weeks before an Italian referendum that brought down Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in December 2016, Kremlin-funded TV Russia Today broadcast a rally on Facebook Live from Rome's Piazza del Populo.

    "Protests against Italian PM hit Rome," it announced to hundreds of thousands of viewers. In reality, it was a rally backing Mr Renzi.

    Merchandise with the inscription 'I say No' before the last campaign meeting of the Five Star Movement (M5S) upon a referendum on constitutional reforms, on 2 December 2016 in Piazza San Carlo in Turin, ItalyImage copyrightAFPImage captionDid disinformation help the No vote win in Italy's referendum?

    In Germany, a 13-year-old girl, "Lisa", told police she had been raped by people of "Mediterranean appearance" in January 2016. Russian state TV seized on the story, reporting it intensively and triggering anti-migrant protests against Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    It was later established the story was false, and Berlin hit out at Moscow for making political capital out of the case.

    Pressing Moscow's case are Russian-backed news organisations such as RT and Sputnik. and, on social media, an army of "internet trolls".

    The EU is so worried that it has established a unit of experts explicitly tasked with tackling "Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns".

    Can we be sure Russia is behind all this?

    Russia denies it. President Vladimir Putin says US intelligence claims of interference are absurd and irresponsible. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has even accused the CIA of masquerading as Russian hackers.

    But, according to Keir Giles, Russia "is becoming less and less interested in covering its tracks". Its interference in the US election was more or less overt, he argues, and it was happy to permit dozens of Western journalists to visit a notorious St Petersburg troll farm.

    That is, he says, "partly because of a sense of urgency that the next conflict is coming".

    An EU official told the BBC that disinformation campaigns were not always top-down. "It's not like every single piece of it is orchestrated by the Kremlin," the official said.

    "It's about creating this ecosystem that works in significant parts almost independently", with actors working for financial motives such as clicks or funding from Russian organisations.

    Demonstrators outside the German chancellery in Berlin (23 January 2016)Image copyrightEPAImage captionThousands of Russian-speakers in Germany took to the streets in response to false Russian TV reports of a rape

    In the case of the "Lisa" rape case in Germany, the story originated on a small blog, not in Moscow.

    But it is telling, says the official, that journalists behind the propaganda are decorated with state medals - including 300 journalists covering Russia's annexation of Crimea and 60 pushing a pro-Kremlin narrative on Syria.

    What is Russia trying to achieve?

    For some critics, the answer is simply power.

    President Putin and his allies have created "an image of the external enemy from the West… this demand was dormant, Putin awakened it," says Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

    "His goal is to be a world leader, but on his own terms."

    Others are more nuanced.

    For Maria Lipman, while anti-Western sentiment in Russia has been nurtured by the state, the mindset of a fortress under siege "is not necessarily unfounded". She points to the sanctions imposed by the US and EU "couched in the language of punishing Russia to hurt its economy".

    Many chart the decline of Russian relations with Europe from Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004-5, seen in Moscow as "regime change", through Russia's gas wars with Ukraine, its 2008 conflict with Georgia to the crisis and conflict in Ukraine. It was the 2014 annexation of Crimea that led to the sanctions.

    For Gonzalo Pozo Martin of Stockholm University, the pain of those sanctions has been felt most intensely in Russia and has coincided with falling oil prices.

    He argues that Russia's "cosying up" to the hard right in Europe is a form of leverage over the sanctions and deadlock in eastern Ukraine. But he also believes the Kremlin is investing long term in a more amenable, less Atlanticist EU.

    Not only would that boost Russian influence, it "might afford Russia a freer hand over its former-Soviet neighbours", he suggests.

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  • Samsung Galaxy S8 hides home button and gains Bixby AI

    Samsung's latest flagship phones have ditched the physical home button found in their predecessors and introduced a new virtual assistant.

    The screens of the Galaxy S8 and bigger S8+ are also larger despite the devices being about the same size as last year's S7 and S7 Edge.

    This time, both models feature displays that curve round the phones' sides.

    The launch follows Samsung's botched release of the Note 7, which was recalled twice after fires.

    The South Korean firm blamed the problem on battery faults and said it had since put in additional safety measures, including X-ray scans of batteries.

    The company has also become mired in a corruption scandal in its home country.

    Samsung phonesImage copyrightSAMSUNGImage captionSamsung hosted launches for the handsets in New York and London

    "The Galaxy S8 is arguably the most important launch of the last 10 years for Samsung and every aspect will be under the microscope following the Note 7 recall," commented Ben Wood from the CCS tech consultancy.

    "The S8 is a unquestionably a strong product but Samsung must now deliver a faultless launch to move on from its earlier difficulties. If this happens it will emerge in an even stronger position."

    The new devices will be released on 21 April.

    The S8 is priced at £690 and the S8+ at £780 - a jump on last year's entry prices of £569 for the S7 and £639 for the S7 Edge.

    Samsung was the bestselling handset manufacturer for 2016 as a whole, according to market research firm IDC.

    However, Apple overtook it in the final three months.

    Manufacturer2016 handset shipmentsYear-on-year changeMarket share
    Samsung 311.4 million -3% 21%
    Apple 215.4 million -7% 15%
    Huawei 139.3 million 30% 9%
    Oppo 99.8 million 134% 7%
    Vivo 77.3 million 103% 5%
    LG 55.3 million -7% 4%

    Source: IDC

    Longer screens

    The displays of the S8 and S8+, measuring 5.8in (14.7cm) and 6.2in (15.7cm) respectively, mean a more stretched aspect ratio than before, pushing the screens closer to the top and bottom of the handsets.

    Galaxy S8+Image captionThe Galaxy S8+ has a longer screen than last year's S7 Edge

    As a consequence, Samsung's logo no longer features on the front, and the physical home button is replaced with an on-screen icon - in a similar manner to rival Android phones from Huawei and LG.

    A pressure sensor and vibration module have, however, been built into the space behind the new virtual button to provide feedback.

    Samsung suggests the displays' 18.5:9 ratio makes them better suited to running two apps side by side. For example, there is now space to watch a video, use a chat app and still have room for a full touch-keyboard.

    Home buttonImage captionThe new home button appears as an icon on the screen but has a pressure sensor behind it

    The screens are the same resolution as before but are now brighter, supporting high dynamic range (HDR) playback of videos for extra clarity.

    The S8's body is a little narrower than that of the S7, while the S8+'s is a bit wider than the S7 Edge but lighter - Samsung says both new devices can still be used one-handed.

    Hello Bixby

    The phones also introduce Bixby - a virtual assistant based on technology acquired from some of the original developers' of Apple's Siri.

    BixbyImage copyrightSAMSUNGImage captionSamsung intends to expand Bixby's capabilities over time

    The helper is activated by a dedicated side-button and allows 10 built-in apps - including a photo gallery, messages and weather - to be controlled by voice.

    It is "context-aware", meaning users can ask follow-up questions and assume it is aware of what is currently displayed.

    Samsung said it expected owners to mix together voice commands and physical controls - for example asking to see all the photos taken today, then tapping the ones they want, before verbally requesting they be messaged to a friend.

    The software can also be used to recognise objects seen via the phone's camera. This can be used to identify a landmark, for example, or tell the owner how much a product would cost to buy online.

    BixbyImage copyrightSAMSUNGImage captionBixby can be used to recognise nearby objects and show where they are on sale

    Bixby works with Google Play Music, and Samsung intends to open it up to other third-party apps in the future but has not said when.

    At launch, it is only designed to recognise US and Korean voices.

    "If what Samsung demoed works well in practice, Bixby will be interesting because it offers features absent from Siri and Google Assistant," commented Francisco Jeronimo from IDC.

    "The race is on to have the best digital assistant, since that will drive hardware sales.

    "But in the past, some of Samsung's features have looked great in presentations, but when you use them on a daily basis they have not been as good."

    While Bixby offers new ways to control a phone, it lacks Google Assistant's pre-emptive smarts - it does not interject in chats to suggest places to visit, for example.

    However, the search giant's rival artificial intelligence can still be summoned via the home button.

    Enhanced cameras

    Multi-frame processorImage copyrightSAMSUNGImage captionThe rear camera combines data from several frames to enhance detail

    Other improvements over last year's models include:

    • a more detailed eight megapixel front-camera with faster autofocus
    • the rear camera remains 12MP but promises to take photos with improved sharpness and contrast by snapping additional frames from which extra data is extracted
    • new processors - the central processing unit (CPU) is said to be 10% more powerful and the graphics processing unit (GPU) 21%. A shift to 10 nanometre-chip technology should also make them more energy efficient
    • an iris scanner, allowing "eye-prints" to be used as an ID alternative to fingerprints
    • a new Samsung Connect app that can be used to control smart home appliances

    Samsung also has a range of accessories including a revamped virtual reality headset that is now accompanied by its own motion-sensing controller, and a second-generation 360-degree camera capable of more detailed images than before.

    DeX dockImage captionThe new phones can be used as a PC if added to an optional DeX dock

    It also offers a new dock that connects the phones to a monitor, keyboard and wireless mouse, allowing them to act as a kind of Android-powered PC.

    "Although Microsoft has done this in the past, the performance of the S8 makes it a very compelling experience," commented Mr Wood.

    "But while I'm impressed with the dock from a technology perspective, the practicality of it for consumers is questionable."


    Analysis: Zoe Kleinman, technology reporter

    BixbyImage captionBixby can recognise objects shown to its camera

    I'm not sure I share Samsung's bold declaration that the S8 is "a work of art" - but the slimmer handset definitely sits more easily in one hand than its predecessor.

    And once you see the surface, which is nearly all-screen, you wonder why you ever needed a physical home button or any other furniture around it.

    The tech giant has high hopes for its digital assistant Bixby. What I tried was a limited demo model, which only seemed to understand a few predetermined cues such as searching photos and telling you the weather.

    The idea of using the camera as Bixby's "eyes" is neat - but is it enough to draw people away from the more familiar Google Assistant, which will also be preinstalled, as it is on other Android devices?

    I'd like to be able to tell you more about the battery life of what I imagine is a power-hungry little device - but Samsung was coy about that. Batteries are still a sensitive subject.

     

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  • Brexit: EU's Tusk to issue negotiation guidelines

    European Council President Donald Tusk is due to issue draft guidelines on how the EU intends to negotiate the UK's departure from the bloc.

    The proposals will be sent to the governments of 27 EU members.

    They will help set the tone for two years of tough negotiations and efforts to finalise a deal.

    EU leaders say the UK must first agree its exit terms before talks can move on to future ties. London is calling for simultaneous talks.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the Brexit process on Wednesday, by sending the Article 50 notification to Mr Tusk.

    Mr Tusk - who is currently in Malta at a meeting of EU centre-right leaders - is expected to send the draft guidelines to the 27 EU members on Friday morning.

    The European Council had intended to publish the guidelines on its website straight away, but the BBC understands that two EU member states objected.


    Analysis: BBC's Chris Morris in Malta

    The draft negotiating guidelines will set the tone for two years of tough talks to come.

    My understanding is that Donald Tusk was still working on the final details of the document late into Thursday evening here in Malta - but it is expected to be six or seven pages long and will focus in particular on the sequence of negotiations.

    The terms of transition will be difficult to agree because they will involve topics of huge controversy in the UK - including freedom of movement of people and the role of the European Court of Justice.


    The guidelines will contain a general statement of principles, and go into some detail about how the EU intends the negotiations to be structured.

    That means:

    • Initial talks for several months on the divorce - a broad agreement on the terms of separation
    • Then several months of negotiation on the shape of a future trade partnership
    • Finally - possibly the toughest phase of all - talks about the transition between full membership now and a totally new relationship in the future.

    €60bn 'divorce' bill

    On Thursday, French President Francois Hollande told Mrs May the withdrawal agreement should come first, a common line among European leaders who say they will not allow "cherry-picking".

     

    Media captionGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in Malta

    Meeting in Malta, members of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the largest group in the European parliament, said they would focus on:

    • Ensuring that the rights of EU citizens in the UK continue
    • Avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
    • Settling the UK financial bills with the bloc, estimated to be as much as €60bn (£51bn; $64bn)

    Speaking at the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not mention Brexit directly, but said the EU must guarantee the prosperity and security of its citizens or risk them turning away.

    More European reaction

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  • How Uncontrolled Diabetes Damages Your Heart, Eyes, Kidneys, Nerves, Teeth and More

    Diabetes is a cluster of disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels that persist over a long period. It is one of the most common disorders of our time.

    According to the International Diabetes Federation, 387 million people worldwide were living with diabetes by the year 2014.

    In the U.S. alone, 29.1 million people have diabetes, out of which 8.1 million remain undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

     

    Understanding How Your Body Works

    Glucose is a type of simple sugar found in food. It is a major source of energy and is used by every living organism.

    When you eat food, your digestive system breaks it down into glucose in the blood so your cells can extract energy from it and recharge themselves. At this point, the glucose is also called blood sugar.

    Every cell of every organ in your body, be it the muscles, kidneys or the brain, relies on energy from glucose to perform its functions.

    type 2 diabetes

    But how does this glucose reach the cells?

    Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that performs the crucial task of delivering glucose to the different cells.

    So, how does all this relate to diabetes?

    Understanding Diabetes

    There are two major types of diabetes.

    Type 1 Diabetes

    • In Type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas responsible for making insulin either fail to do so or create very little.
    • This keeps the glucose unused in the blood, and can ultimately cause an overload of blood sugar.
    • It is mostly diagnosed in young adults and children.

    Type 2 Diabetes

     
    • This is the most common type of diabetes. Ninety percent of the adults suffering from diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.
    • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas produces the insulin, but your cells are unable to use it properly. In medical terminology, this is called insulin resistance.
    • Initially, the pancreas responds by making more insulin to try to get the cells to use it properly. However, over time, the pancreas fails to keep up. This may ultimately cause excess blood sugar.

    Excess blood sugar due to either type of diabetes is a major cause for concern. Uncontrolled diabetes can allow the sugar to remain in the blood for too long and damage other organs.

    how uncontrolled diabetes affects your health

    Here is how uncontrolled diabetes can damage your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, teeth and more.

    Heart

    diabetes and heart disease

    Diabetes causes a 2- to 4-fold increase in a person’s risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery disease (artery blockage) and death, according to a 2011 study published in Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine.

    People with diabetes are likely to have a heart attack or heart failure at a younger age, the study also notes.

    High blood sugar levels in the heart for a prolonged period can irritate and damage the insides of the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to heart.

    This triggers an accumulation of cholesterol and fat deposits in the arteries, eventually narrowing them and obstructing blood flow.

    This is called coronary artery disease (CAD). It can develop for multiple reasons other than diabetes. However, it develops much faster in diabetic patients.

    Over time, the arteries may become completely blocked and deprive the heart of oxygen, causing a heart attack.

    While diabetes itself is a risk factor for heart disease, other diabetes-associated symptoms could also cause heart disease:

    • High LDL cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Diabetes usually accompanies a case of heightened LDL cholesterol in the body that settles in the arteries and causes CAD.
    • Abdominal obesity: Fat accumulated around the abdomen also increases the production of bad cholesterol, causing CAD.
    • High blood pressure: Pressure in the blood vessels going through the heart causes a strain and damages the vessels, increasing the risk of CAD and a heart attack.

    Kidneys

    diabetic kidney failure nephropathy

    Kidneys contain tiny filters that capture waste material from the blood and discharge it from the body through urine.

    The blood that comes for filtration also contains important substances like proteins and red blood cells. Since the kidneys’ filters are so minuscule in size, they do not filter these useful substances and they remain in the blood and benefit the body.

    However, diabetes damages the filters over time, causing a complete failure of the filtration process. This, in turn, allows the proteins in the blood to escape to the urine.

    Albumin is one such protein that passes through to the urine. A dangerous excess of the same is called microalbuminuria.

    Microalbuminuria could indicate an early stage of kidney failure. Diabetic nephropathy (diabetes-induced kidney disease) is the most prevalent cause of end stage kidney disease, according to a 2001 study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. This is when your kidneys fail completely and are no longer able to support you.

    It could take years for kidney damage to occur in diabetic patients. High blood pressure, another symptom of diabetes, contributes significantly to the progression of kidney failure.

    Nerves

    peripheral neuropathy

    Nerves transmit messages from the brain to the different organs in our bodies, allowing us to move, see, hear, breathe and feel.

    Almost half the people with diabetes are likely to suffer nerve damage at some point, and it is usually diagnosed late in Type 1 patients and early in Type 2 patients, according to a 2005 study published in American Family Physician.

    High blood sugar levels in diabetic patients interfere with the nerves’ ability to transmit signals to the different organs.

    Persistent high blood sugar also irritates the walls of the blood capillaries carrying blood to the different organs. Eventually, this starves the nerves of oxygen and nutrients, and damages them severely.

    Because nerves run throughout the body, nerve damage can have a variety of symptoms depending on the area of the body that has been affected. This may include your legs, hands, gastrointestinal tract as well as your reproductive organs.

    There are two common types of diabetic nerve damage.

    • Sensory-motor or peripheral: Symptoms include tingling, burning, excessive sensitivity to touch, numbness, cramps, shooting pain, muscle weakening, loss of coordination and balance.
    • Autonomic nerve damage: Symptoms include bladder problems, gastrointestinal problems (like constipation), erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, rapid heart rate, problems with the eyes adjusting from light to dark, dizziness and fainting.

      Brain

      brain stroke

      The white matter is the area of the brain responsible for information processing and memory. A loss of white matter can severely undermine a person’s cognitive functions and cause mental decline.

      In a 2007 study published in Diabetologia, patients who had Type 1 diabetes underwent a neuropsychological check-up and their brain tissues were taken for examination.

      They showed reduced white matter in the brain and performed poorly on design/drawing tests, as well as processed information more slowly.

       

      Type 2 diabetes also affects the person’s mental abilities severely and may hamper their ability to perform cognitive functions. It may cause cerebrovascular disease and vascular cognitive impairment over time.

      Cerebrovascular disease obstructs blood flow to the brain. Persistent high blood pressure damages and narrows the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain over time, causing this disease.

      When high blood pressure narrows the vessels, it could also cause a mini-stroke or a major stroke. High blood pressure can also rupture the blood vessels, causing a brain hemorrhage.

      Vascular cognitive impairment is an Alzheimer’s-like condition that greatly undermines memory, problem solving, and information processing and retention abilities.

      Teeth

      development of periodontitis

      High blood sugar also takes a toll on your oral health. Diabetes reduces the person’s ability to fight infections, exposing them to a horde of mouth disorders.

      People with diabetes are at a high risk of the following:

      • Tooth decay and cavities: The mouth is a bacterial hub, which interacts with the high blood sugar to form plaque (a yellow coating on the teeth). Plaque erodes the enamel (protective layer) of the teeth, leading to decay and cavities.
      • Gingivitis (early gum disease): Diabetes undermines the body’s ability to ward off bacteria. This, combined with poor oral hygiene, allows the plaque to persist and eventually harden. This irritates the gingival (gum-area beneath the bottom of the teeth) and may lead to swelling and bleeding.
      • Periodontitis: This is the advanced form of gingivitis. It damages the bone and tissue that support the teeth, causing them to fall out.

      Diabetics may also develop burning mouth syndrome and oral thrush (white patches on the tongue).

      Eyes

      eye complication diabetes

      The eyes are one of the most sensitive organs of your body.

      People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes face a high risk of contracting blindness, according to a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal.

       

      Diabetes can cause several eye disorders that can have debilitating and irreversible repercussions.

      • Diabetic retinopathy: High blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, a tissue that is located at the back of the eye. This can cause vision damage, vision loss and blindness.
      • Diabetic macular edema: This usually occurs after retinopathy and is the most common cause of vision loss. In macular edema, a fluid fills up in a part of the retina called the macula that enables straight-vision crucial to reading, writing, driving and identifying faces.
      • Cataracts: In this disorder, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It is the most common cause of blindness, and usually occurs in people 40 years of age and above. People with diabetes are at a 2 to 4 times higher risk of developing cataracts than those without the underlying disorder.
      • Glaucoma: This disorder is characterized by a pressure buildup on the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain, which eventually damages it. It can destroy vision permanently.

      Resources:

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  • Risky surgery separates 10-month-old from parasitic twin

    (CNN)It was late January when Nancy Swabb found herself wanting to help a family across the Atlantic Ocean, in Cote d'Ivoire -- all because of a photo.

    A friend had shared a post on Facebook about the need for a host family for a 9-month-old girl for two months while she received medical care in Park Ridge, Illinois. The post came from Children's Medical Mission West, a nonprofit that helps transport children around the world to receive free medical care for rare conditions and issues.
    Swabb saw a photo of baby Dominique on her mother's lap. "That photo really captured my heart," Swabb said. "She looked so sweet."
     
     
    The nonprofit has asked CNN not to include Dominique's last name for privacy reasons.
    Dominique and her birth mother.
     
    Dominique had a twin, but she never fully developed, instead fusing with her in the womb. She was born with what is known as a parasitic twin, where the underdeveloped twin formed incompletely and was entirely dependent on Dominique's body.
    She was born with her parasitic twin's waist, legs and feet growing out of her back. Dominique was also born with two spines that were closely connected. Cases of parasitic twins are so rare that most of them are known by the names of the patients.
    Dr. John Ruge examines Dominique's extra limbs.
     
    Without surgery to remove the parasitic twin, Dominique's life would not be a very long one. Her tiny heart and lungs were working to support the equivalent of two bodies. The mass of kicking legs attached to her neck and back would continue to grow, causing deformity, abnormal forces on the spine and a life of pain, doctors said.
    But the complicated surgery would have to be done at a hospital equipped to handle the risks, and Dominique would need a foster family to help her get through it.

    A part of the family

    Swabb, a native Chicagoan, realized that the Park Ridge, Illinois address belonged to Advocate Children's Hospital, only about 7 miles from her family's home. She and her husband, Tim, knew they could help and reached out.
    They went through a vetting process and confirmed that they would be able to take Dominique to all of her appointments at the hospital, which had been scheduled through the organization.
    Children's Medical Mission West had raised funds for Dominique's flight, in which she would be escorted by a flight attendant who donated her time.
    But the family, which has two adopted daughters -- Lena, 15, and Mara, 9 -- realized they still needed to make ready for Dominique's arrival.
    Swabb, a special events coordinator, asked her neighbors in the family-filled Edgebrook community whether they could borrow anything for the baby they would be fostering. Within two days, a pile taller than Swabb herself filled the house. Neighbors eagerly donated packages of diapers, formula, wipes, clothes, a stroller, a car seat and a playpen. Mara and her friends organized all of the items in the family's basement to make them easily accessible.
    Nancy's 9-year-old daughter, Mara, bonded with Dominique almost instantly.
     
    Baby Dominique arrived to a warm reception three days later, on February 5.
    Swabb's daughters were thrilled to have a new baby in the house. Mara seemed to bond with Dominique almost instantly, and they enjoyed making each other laugh.
    "Baby Dominique is so affectionate and receives love so well, so we knew right away that she comes from a loving family," Swabb said. "She's bubbly, funny, spirited, full of smiles, and has the brightest, happy eyes."
    Swabb's daily walks with Dominique in the stroller stretched to an hour as neighbors stopped to greet the baby they had helped welcome.
    The neighbors offered to watch her so Swabb could get things done around the house. Their home became open to visitors. Even her cousin's teenage sons enjoyed playing peekaboo and making silly faces just to make Dominique laugh.
    "She has become the community baby, and everyone has been really interested in her story," Swabb said.
    Baby Dominique in the hospital.
     

    A complex surgery

    Even before her surgery on March 8, baby Dominique spent hours in the hospital, undergoing tests and preparation. Doctors at Advocate Children's Hospital ordered an MRI, an MRA, a CAT scan, X-rays and a CT myelogram to analyze the anatomy of the the parasitic twin and how it connected.
    Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. John Ruge examines Baby Dominique prior to surgery
     
    They used the scans and imaging to create a 3-D model of Dominique's two spines. They also discovered a second bladder behind the extra limbs that would need to be removed.
    Dr. John Ruge, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Advocate, had worked with Children's Medical Missions West before. He constructed a team of five surgeons and more than 50 physicians spanning specialties across the hospital to remove the excess limbs.
    Pediatric plastic/reconstructive surgeon Dr. Frank Vicari shows the operating room team the model of Dominque's spine created for this complicated procedure.
     
    "It allowed us to come up with a plan of attack how we could safely and effectively remove this very complex part attached to this little baby's spine and end up with a healthy and happy child at the end of the day," said Dr. Frank Vicari, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Adovcate who has operated with Ruge for years.
    The team staged a mock operation to figure out who would be doing what at specific parts of the procedure.
    On March 8, the team worked for six hours to remove the entirety of the parasitic twin. They had to be careful to disconnect any nerves and blood vessels so that Dominique wouldn't sustain damage, numbness or paralysis.
    Through extensive planning, they were even able to remove it all in one piece. She is now 2 pounds lighter.
    Post-surgery, Dominique experiences swelling that will dissipate over time. She was discharged from the hospital only five days after surgery.
     
    All that remains is part of an abnormal bone that stabilizes Dominique's spinal column. They used soft tissue from the twin's thigh to cover the area.
    Baby Dominique exceeded their expectations at every turn. She recovered so well that she was sitting up the next day and sticking her tongue out. She went home in five days, and the doctors do not foresee any complications or need for followup surgery.
    Dominique still has two spines. They are hers alone. They are so intertwined that the doctors aren't entirely sure which spine her structural support and bodily functions rely on. To look at an X-ray, Dominique has one brain connected to one spinal cord that diverges into two, each going into a spinal column.
    The doctors were not able to find a comparable case to Dominique. She is unique, they said.
    They don't anticipate that having the two spines will affect her.
    "Like any child, she needs to be cared for and watched for developmental issues," Ruge said. "She has slightly more risk because she is built slightly more different than other children. But she looks great. We had 100 worries before surgery, and risks were high, so we're pleased with how she's doing."
    The team at Advocate Children's Hospital combined neurosurgeons, plastic and craniofacial surgeons, pediatric orthopedics, anesthesiologists, nephrologists, radiologists, the Pediatic Intensive Care Unit, physician assistants, nursing staff, therapists and many others to make baby Dominique's surgery a success -- with no surprises.
    Foster mom Nancy Swabb, visits with Dominique after her surgery.
     
    "One of the joys of being a physicians is taking a challenging case, working with a team of talented people where each of us contributes something and having that be better than any one individual can do," Ruge said. "Everyone had their whole heart in this."
    Swabb's family will continue to foster Dominique until mid-April, when she can be medically cleared to reunite with her birth family in Cote d'Ivoire. In the meantime, Swabb has been sharing photos and updates with Children's Medical Missions West, which translates them into French to communicate with her family across the ocean.
    Swabb hopes the two families can meet one day. She already feels a bond with Dominique's birth mother, created by the trust she was willing to place in a stranger to care for her baby.
    In the time Dominique has been with the Swabbs, her first two teeth have come in, she saw snow for the first time, and she started eating solid food and sleeps through the night. Swabb can't wait for her to experience more firsts with her family in Cote d'Ivoire.
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    "I can't wait for her parents to see her," Swabb said. "To give love for a certain amount of time and have a connection with a family you've never met is so amazing. You have that trust in each other and do the best you can to give love and care and bring her back healthy and ready for a new life."
    Five days after surgery, Dominique smiles as she prepares to leave the hospital.
     
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  • US and UK laptop bans on some Middle East flights come into effect

    A ban on laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on flights from Turkey and some countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the US and UK has come into effect.

    Officials say devices "larger than a smartphone" must travel in the hold because of an increased risk that they could contain explosives.

    At least one airline is allowing devices to be used up until boarding.

    The US ban covers eight countries, while the UK restrictions apply to six.

    Nine airlines from eight countries - Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - are affected by the US ban. They operate about 50 flights a day to the US.

    Laptop ban: What about the parents?

    Will new US and UK flight rules affect me?

    Somali plane bomb: What happened?

    UAE airline Emirates is offering complimentary packing and shipping services at gates to enable passengers to use their electronic devices after check-in and until boarding.

    That also means passengers flying on two-leg trips from other countries to the US through Dubai can use their laptops on the first leg of their flights.

    Map of affected countriesImage captionThe UK ban applies to direct inbound flights from six countries; the US ban lists eight countries

    The UK ban meanwhile affects all flights out of Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.

    The British ban applies to any device, including smartphones, larger than 16cm (6.3in) long, 9.3cm (3.7in) wide or 1.5cm (0.6in) deep. However, most phones will be smaller than the limit.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the US and UK to lift the bans as soon as possible.

    The US Department for Homeland Security has cited attacks on planes and airports over the past two years as the reason for the ban,

    Bombs, it said, had been hidden in such items as a soft drink can, used in the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt in October 2015 with the loss of 224 lives, and the laptop used in the unsuccessful Somali attack last year.

    European security experts are to meet next week to discuss the US and UK bans, the Guardian newspaper reported.

    Royal Jordanian Airlines has tweeted suggestions of things to do during a long flight instead of using an electronic device.

    tweetImage copyright@ROYALJORDANIAN

    It followed up with another tweet suggesting that passengers "do what we Jordanians do best - stare at each other!"

    Aviation experts say the ban could hit airline profits as risks include a fall in passenger numbers, decreasing customer satisfaction and higher costs linked to screening baggage.

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  • Ukraine munitions blasts prompt mass evacuations

    Some 20,000 people are being evacuated after a series of explosions at a massive arms depot in eastern Ukraine described by officials as sabotage.

    The base in Balakliya, near Kharkiv, is around 100km (60 miles) from fighting against Russian-backed separatists.

    The dump is used to store thousands of tonnes of ammunition including missiles and artillery weapons.

    Rescue teams are overseeing a huge evacuation effort for people living in the city and nearby villages.

    The total area of the dump spans more than 350 hectares, the military says.

    Everyone within a 10km (6 miles) radius of the dump is being evacuated, the Interfax news agency quoted an aide to President Petro Poroshenko as saying.

    Munitions from the depot are used to supply military units in the conflict zone in nearby Luhansk and Donetsk, reports say.

    A huge cloud of smoke billows above the ammunition depot of the Ukrainian armed forces, near the city of Balakliya, (23 March 2017)Image copyrightEPAImage captionA huge cloud of smoke could be seen billowing above the ammunition depot of the Ukrainian armed forces on ThursdaySmoke from munitions dump in BalakliyaImage copyrightDSNSImage captionBy daylight smoke billowed across the sky in Balakliya

    The authorities are investigating various ways the explosions may have been caused, Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said, including the possibility of an explosive device being dropped from a drone.

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    Light shone on Ukrainian tragedy

    A drone was reported to have been used an earlier attempt to set the facility on fire in December 2015.

    Mr Poltorak said that there were no reports that civilians or serviceman had been killed or injured in the latest incident and that airspace had been closed within a 50km (31 miles) radius of Balakliya.

    More than 9,700 people have died in the conflict which erupted in 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine's southern Crimea peninsula. Pro-Russian rebels later launched an insurgency in the east.

    Map

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