BlackBerry Mobile on Monday launched the BlackBerry KEY2 in India via Optiemus Infracom. Priced at Rs 42,990, the BlackBerry KEY2 brings the iconic QWERTY keypad along with a dual camera setup and Android 8.1 Oreo, among other things. At this price point, the KEY2 will be going up against the likes of the OnePlus 6, which is one of the most premium affordable Android flagships in the market right now.It’s hard to say that BlackBerry competes with typical Android OEMs today. This is because while companies like OnePlus keep with today’s smartphone trends, BlackBerry phones continue to targeted a very specific segment of the market that still prefers the old ways. Phones like the KEYone and the KEY2 are for traditionalists who still believe in the old QWERTY keypad phones. This is why comparing the BlackBerry KEY2 with the OnePlus 6 is not as black and white as you would expect.BlackBerry has, of course, evolved a little by adopting Android since 2015, but its philosophy is still the same as before – to offer a physical keyboard along with an emphasis on a safe and secure software and that nostalgia factor. That’s what the BlackBerry KEY2 offers in addition to certain features like a dual camera system that makes it feel like it belongs in 2018.However, the smartphone world is evolving a little too fast for BlackBerry to catch up. We have phones today that are pushing the limits on how much screen can be offered in a phone that fits in the palm of your hands as well as offering a premium design at an affordable price point. One of these phones is the OnePlus 6, which is the current flagship Android smartphone from OnePlus and is priced starting at Rs 34,999 going up to Rs 43,999 for the high-end variant. The KEY2 and OnePlus 6 are two very different phones at a similar price point and here’s a look at what they offer.advertisementBlackBerry KEY2 vs OnePlus 6 design and specificationsThe BlackBerry KEY2 is part touchscreen and part physical keyboard. The top half of the phones has the display which is 4.5-inch in size with a 1080p resolution. The rest of the phone sports a full-scale physical QWERTY keyboard, a metal frame and a textured diamond grip back. So what you get is a very traditional-looking BlackBerry phone, which will work for anyone still holding on to that design. But Android phones today are offering full-screen touch displays with barely any bezels and the KEY2 looks quite out of place in that crowd. Anyone used to a 5.5-inch or a tall 6-inch display will find the 4.5-inch screen on the KEY2 a little hard to get used to.We reviewed the KEY2 and found it pretty obvious that the display is not suited for multimedia consumption and if that is one of the priorities while buying a phone then we suggest giving the KEY2 a miss. As for the hardware, the KEY2 does not come with flagship-level internals. The device is powered by a 2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor clubbed with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage which is further expandable by up to 256GB via a hybrid micro-SD card slot. This will work fine if all you need is a phone that works like a phone and not a device that is a gaming and multimedia powerhouse.Perhaps the biggest strength of the KEY2 is its software. The device runs a near stock Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box with only a few BlackBerry-specific apps and the company’s own launcher. Additionally, the software gets some added protection thanks to BlackBerry’s suit of security and productivity applications. This means that the KEY2 comes with security from the ground up and a promise from BlackBerry of fast, timely security patches.The other big highlight of the BlackBerry KEY2 is its 3,500mAh battery which will offer a good one and a half day of battery life thanks to a power efficient processor.On the other hand, we have the OnePlus 6 which offers an all-glass design, a notched display with a tall 6.28-inch AMOLED screen and a 19:9 aspect ratio, a flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset coupled with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, Android 8.1 Oreo and dual rear cameras, among other things. All of this is offered at a bass price of Rs 34,999, which is much cheaper than the BlackBerry KEY2.The OnePlus 6 is a powerhouse of a phone no matter what you use it for. Whether it is for your day-to-day activities like browsing through social media apps and messaging, or playing multimedia content and gaming, the OnePlus 6 will deliver a consistently smooth performance. Since the OnePlus offers a full-screen display with minimal bezels, you will get a large, immersive and vivid AMOLED display.advertisementLike the KEY2, the OnePlus 6 also comes with ear stock Android Oreo with a promise of timely updates from OnePlus. However, security wise the KEY2 will probably get the edge here. The OnePlus 6 also offers a battery life that matches the KEY2. Lastly, Cameras on the OnePlus 6 are definitely going to offer you sharper, more detailed results compared to the BlackBerry KEY2. The KEY2 offers average cameras for its price, but they are an improvement over the KEYone.Which one should you buyThe BlackBerry KEY2 is for a very specific type of consumer that wants a phone that only works as a phone and nothing more. It’s for those who want a secure, up-to-date Android software and that traditional BlackBerry feel. In that aspect, the KEY2 is currently the best BlackBerry phone in the market.But for consumers who want more out of their smartphones, like say consuming media or playing graphic intensive games on the go, the OnePlus 6 offers that immersive and powerful experience that the KEY2 cannot. With cameras also becoming an integral part of a smartphone today, the OnePlus 6 offers a more complete package for a lot less compared to the KEY2 and is perhaps the one to go for unless you miss that QWERTY touch.ALSO READ: BlackBerry Key2 review: The best BlackBerry you can buy right now
Lottery players in the state might be thinking about having two tickets to paradise.Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots have both climbed above the 300-million dollar mark for the first time ever.Audio Playerhttp://kscj.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/BIG1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.OC….RATCHET UP :13The Powberball jackpot is an estimated 356 million dollars, while the Mega Millions is estimated at 382 million.Neubauer says it’s causing a lot of people to ask if they could win the Mega Millions drawing tonight (Friday) and double down with the Powerball win on Saturday.Audio Playerhttp://kscj.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/BIG2.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.OC….HAPPENING :06The two jackpots are providing a little more excitement around the Iowa Lottery office as summer can be a slower month.Audio Playerhttp://kscj.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/BIG3.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.OC….BACK UP :21Wednesday’s Powerball saw two tickets in Iowa coming within one number each of hitting Powerball jackpot.A ticket purchased in Avoca in western Iowa won a one million dollar prize, while a ticket purchased in Colfax in central Iowa won a 50-thousand dollar prize.
Bill Blankenship and Mike Gundy are 2 of the 17 NCAA coaches currently coaching at their alma maters.What I’m excited for:It’ll be good just to see this team get back on the field. It’s only been 9 days but it feels about 9 weeks since the Arizona rout. Tulsa should be a good warmup for College Station next weekend, unless you throw a few picks early, fumble the ball around, and let them hang around into the 3rd quarter… OSU will win if:They turn the ball over fewer than 5 times.How worried I am (out of 10): Uniform prediction: Teams: #7 Oklahoma State 2-0 (0-0) vs. Tulsa 1-1 (1-0)Time: 9:10 PM CSTTV: FSN (Cox: 37/722 | UVerse: 753/1753 | DirecTV: 676/679 | Dish Network: 416)On the call: Ron Thulin, J.C. Pearson and Jeremy Bloom (God help us all)For entertainment purposes:Spread: OSU -13.5Over/Under: 67.5Tulsa put up 14 on OU in Norman so you have to think they’re going to probably double that at home against an improving (but still not as good as OU’s defense) OSU defense. OSU should be in the 40s (at least). You have to bang the over here, don’t you? Of course as Amilian pointed out the other day, this OSU team could be playing at Indiana in mid-December in a driving snowstorm and the o/u could be 88.5 and I’d take the over. That’s how rational I am about these things.Also, why is the Tulsa spread the same as the Arizona spread?What you need to know about Tulsa:After they play at Boise next weekend, Tulsa will have faced three of the top seven teams in the country in the first four weeks. Somebody should be fired for that.They’re the smallest D-1 school in the country but have amassed double-digit wins in three of the last four years. GJ Kinne is the only QB in school history to throw for 6,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in his career. Last year he threw for 3,650 and 31 (the great Nick Foles went 3,191 and 20 for reference). He has a QB rating of 152.4, Weeden’s is 152.7.They lost their Justin Blackmon earlier this year after he pulled a Peter Warrick at a Tulsa Macy’s which obviously stings as he averaged 15 yards a catch and 10 yards a rush last season. Player to watch on Tulsa:Junior h-back Willie Carter had 135 yards against OU in the opener (although 44 came in the 4th quarter). He averages 6.8 rushing yards and 15.8 yards per reception for his career (even though he hasn’t seen a ton of playing time). Not somebody OSU wants to let get going early.Last year:Last year I remember being worried that OSU was going to lose at home to a pretty good Tulsa team that ended up winning 10 games. Then Brandon Weeden went for 409 and 6, the school yards record fell, and the Cowboys never looked back.Before you pile on me for hating, remember this was before OSU really emerged as a powerhouse in the Big 12. They had thumped Washington State and squeaked by Troy and none of us really knew what was coming.Video to get you excited: A few stats you should know:OSU is 3-5 in its last 8 games at TU. (h/t Oklahoman) If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!
Opposition Spokesperson on Finance and Planning, Mark Golding, says the private sector should get more involved in the design and execution of vocational training programmes.Making his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 12, Mr. Golding cited as an example, the Associate Degree in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Management that was introduced by ItelBPO at the Trench Town Polytechnic College in 2018.The college commenced the training in early September as part of their Associate Degree programme, in partnership with the Montego Bay-based ItelBPO Smart Solutions, which is the largest home-grown BPO entity in the region.Mr. Golding said this type of collaboration will more effectively prepare students for the world of work in the kind of jobs that the Jamaican economy is producing, and on better terms of employment.Meanwhile, he recommended that more attention be given to rural development, driven by a national policy for the development of agriculture.“Jamaica has a competitive advantage in several agricultural products. Our coffee, cocoa, ginger and Sea Island cotton are rated among the best in the world,” he added.Mr. Golding suggested that estates and traditional crop lands, which are no longer viable, should be redirected into areas where Jamaica enjoys significant competitive advantage. Opposition Spokesperson on Finance and Planning, Mark Golding, says the private sector should get more involved in the design and execution of vocational training programmes. The college commenced the training in early September as part of their Associate Degree programme, in partnership with the Montego Bay-based ItelBPO Smart Solutions, which is the largest home-grown BPO entity in the region. Story Highlights Making his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 12, Mr. Golding cited as an example, the Associate Degree in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Management that was introduced by ItelBPO at the Trench Town Polytechnic College in 2018.
zoom Although the container shipping market remains fundamentally imbalanced, the new year brings with it fresh hopes for a recovery, according to Alphaliner.2016 saw a number of records, most of them marking new lows for a container shipping market that continues to suffer from excess capacity, with the weakness expected to persist for at least one more year.The global containership fleet recorded the lowest annual growth rate ever in the industry’s history as it increased by only 1.5% to reach 20.27 million TEU at the end of 2016, Alphaliner informed.Growth was kept low by the a record number of ships scrapped, with a total of 192 containership for 654,900 TEU demolished in 2016. The total capacity of containerships deleted reached 200 units for 664,300 TEU after adding a handful of de-celled ships and two casualties.New containership deliveries fell to 934,500 TEU in 2016, down 46% compared the year before. Very weak employment prospects prompted owners to delay the deliveries of some 60 ships with a total capacity of 400,000 TEU, while 18 ships with a total capacity of 57,000 TEU are believed to have been cancelled.Despite the low supply growth, the idle containership fleet surged to a record high of 1.59 million TEU in October before ending the year at 1.42 million TEU.“The surplus capacity overhang remains the industry’s biggest headache, especially with some 1.7 million TEU of new capacity due in 2017,” Alphaliner said.
The province and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union announced today, April 5, they have reached a tentative contract agreement. “We have reached an agreement that is in the best interests of students and public education,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex. “I want to thank the negotiators for their hard work.” “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the province,” said NSTU president Shelley Morse. “Our provincial executive met today and voted to present the deal to the membership. It is now up to public school teachers to ratify the agreement.” The last provincial agreement with teachers expired July 31, 2012. Regional meetings with teachers around the province are scheduled for April 9 and April 10. A ratification vote is scheduled for April 18. Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until it is ratified by union members. The NSTU represents about 9,000 public school teachers in Nova Scotia.
Kingston: West Indies coach Floyd Reifer was left crestfallen after another batting collapse saw the hosts struggle to 87 for seven on the second day of the second Test against India here. In a lethal opening spell on Saturday, Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah (6/16) rattled the West Indies by picking up the first five wickets, three of which came in successive balls in the ninth over. “Our batting was disappointing again as we did not leave a lot of balls early in the innings. When the ball is moving, you have to play the ball as late as possible. We have to work on our batting,” Reifer said. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhWest Indies bowlers were also made to toil hard by overnight batsman Hanuma Vihari (111), who scored his maiden century and added 112 runs with Ishant Sharma (57) after India were reduced to 302 for seven at one stage. The duo’s effort helped India post 416 in their first innings. “Tough day today, the way we started we aimed to bowl out India early. Our bowlers bowled a pretty good line and lengths, we maintained a good scoring rate in terms of keeping India under three per over,” Reifer said. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterFor the West Indies, skipper Jason Holder was the most successful bowler as he returned a five-wicket haul, while debutant Rahkeem Cornwall picked up three. Kemar Roach scalped one wicket. “Roach, Holder, and Cornwall had good spells. It’s a matter of us, not seizing the key moments of the game. We gonna take our chances especially on the flat wickets like these. When the chances come opportunities come and you have to capitalize on it,” Reifer said.
WASAGAMACK, Man. – The Red Cross is working to carry out the evacuation of three northern Manitoba communities threatened by nearby forest fires.The fire is closest to the Wasagamack First Nation and on Tuesday afternoon the entire community of about 2,000 was ordered out.A spokesman for the Red Cross tells CTV Winnipeg there is no air strip in the community so residents are heading by boat to St. Theresa Point and flying out from there.The Red Cross also says another 800 people from St. Theresa Point First Nation and 800 from Garden Hill First Nation will be relocated over health concerns from smoke.The evacuees are being taken to Winnipeg and Brandon, Man.The affected communities are part of the province’s Island Lake region, located about 600 kilometres north of Winnipeg.Sheila North Wilson, the grand chief who represents First Nations in northern Manitoba, says there are currently 143 fires burning in the area.“My thoughts and prayers with all the people in Island Lake,” she tweeted on Tuesday. (CTV Winnipeg)
Britons are being urged to check their fivers after a rare £5 note discovered in a man’s change fetched more than £60,000 on eBay.The new polymer note – with one of the earliest serial numbers starting AA01, which is desirable to collectors – was sold on the internet auction site on Sunday morning.Seller Piotr Sobczuk, from Telford, Shropshire, listed the note on eBay after finding it in his change.He researched serial numbers before realising that his note, which featured the number AA01 444444, was potentially worth thousands of pounds.It has now been sold for more than 12,000 times its street value after attracting 136 bids from 21 different bidders. The note has been sold for more than 12,000 times its street valueCredit:Caters The note, with serial number AA01 000017, was the lowest number offered to the public.The lowest numbered note, AA01 000001, was given as a gift to the Queen. The eBay seller did not wish to comment. The seller is expected to post the valuable note by first class standard delivery, having listed postage for just 64p.The auction site will also take over £250 in fees, according to eBay’s fee calculator.At a Bank of England charity auction in October, one new fiver sold for £4,150. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
More than 40 years ago TAKRAF supplied the first F60 conveyor bridges. In order to ensure operational reliability and stability for a further long-term use of the conveyor bridges, the company says it has now developed several modernisation and refurbishment schemes. On the basis of comprehensive structural analyses made during recent years, TAKRAF proposes to replace the large equaliser, roller table, ball and socket joint of Ø 1,250 mm and vertical rail of the 60 m/33 overburden conveyor bridge. Another aspect of the proposed modernization program is the replacement of the tie rod heads.The systematical refurbishment of load bearing areas is part of a comprehensive program to increase machine safety for the conveying bridges. The program is developed on the basis of a close cooperation of equipment operator, equipment supplier and governmental mining supervision authorities. The most challenging issue in this program is to divert the enormous supporting forces of the 3,200 t of the large equaliser and of 2 x 2,100 t of the tie rod heads in such a way that it will be possible to replace the parts.The replacement of the large equaliser and the roller table is planned as follows: the overburden conveyor bridge will be positioned according to the technological requirements at the time planned for the complex repair in such a way that the main bridge on the excavator side is lifted by means of the temporary auxiliary construction (support of bridge cross conveyors, shifting and attaching devices for large equaliser and roller table, auxiliary structure) in order to dismantle the roller table and large equalizer with ball and socket joint of Ø 1,250 mm.The replacement technology not only includes the manufacturing dimensions of the large equaliser and the roller table and the transport roadway from the Lauchhammer factory to the respective mine site, but also the requirements for the installation on site and the transport route in the opencast mine. For the replacement of the tie rod heads TAKRAF has planned a program that the downtime of the conveyor bridge will be in the range of approximately 10 weeks only. The fabrication of the tie rod heads and the load relieving structure will be prefabricated in the Lauchhammer workshop. To achieve the anticipated 10 weeks downtime the onsite works will be performed in a three shift working scheme, during which time period the dismantling and reinstallation will take place.
Velvet Sky Last week’s 4/30 WWE Smackdown on Syfy drew a 1.62 cable rating with 2.34 million viewers. This is down from last week’s 1.92 rating with 2.64 million viewers.Source: Prowrestling.net, TVbythenumbers.comRecommended videosPowered by AnyClipBully Ray Calls Out Ring Of Honor Fan On TwitterVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteDuration 0:30/Current Time 0:01Loaded: 100.00%0:02Remaining Time -0:29 FullscreenUp NextThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Replay the list Google+ Pinterest The Hardy Boyz relinquish the Smackdown Tag Team Championships; Jeff undergoing surgery Now Playing Up Next Joan Jett Set To Perform Ronda Rouseys Entrance At WrestleMania 35 Ronda Rousey On WWE: I Love This Job, But I Dont Need It Now Playing Up Next Bully Ray Calls Out Ring Of Honor Fan On Twitter Twitter WWE Smackdown Ratings: Lowest non-holiday rating since the brand split Now Playing Up Next Videos Articles Now Playing Up Next Now Playing Up Next Seth Rollins Defends WWE On Two Separate Occasions Facebook WhatsApp Adam Martin RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Roman Reigns is in Remission Smackdown Highlights: Kingston and Owens fight, Hardys relinquish titles, Lynch vs. Bayley
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has responded to those who booed him at Wembley during Spain’s 2-1 win against England, stating that “no-one remembers the death threats…”“We’ve started a new era with a Coach who has a lot of experience, and what better way to win than at Wembley?” said the defender after he was targeted for injuring Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah in last season’s Champions League Final, according to Football Italia.“Failure is when the team don’t leave their souls behind, but tonight they gave everything. Being at a good level is the minimum required by Real Madrid and the national team.“I’d have liked another reception at Wembley. They remember an incident in the Final, but no-one remembers the death threats my family and children received.Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.“Only a few players make me as proud as Modric does. I believe he has what it takes to be crowned The Best. I’d be as happy for him as if if they gave it to me.“Pique’s a great centre-back and is a player who makes a difference. He did a splendid job for our national team.“However, we have to look to the future. Nacho had a great game. As for the rules, flexibility will follow. He won before with some rules and now he’s winning with others.”
The Alaska Division of Public Health is investigating salmonella infections in the Bethel area. A team is in Bethel to track down the source of the infection.Listen nowMedical illustration of non-typhoidal salmonella. (Courtesy of the Center for Disease Control)Louisa Castrodale is an epidemiologist with the state’s Public Health division.“It’s not even the end of July and we had gotten about six cases of confirmed salmonella from the Bethel-YK area,” Castrodale said. “That’s a large number of cases for a short amount of time in a smaller location, so we were really concerned there was a common source for these infections.”Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, stomach-ache, vomiting, fever, headache, and dehydration, especially in infants. Symptoms can start showing between six to 72 hours after exposure to salmonella bacteria, and the illness can last four to seven days.Castrodale said a team of three people from the state health department arrived in Bethel Wednesday and will stay until Friday to try and find a possible source for the illnesses.“Could have either a contaminated food product, so a food product that had salmonella in it, or you could have contact with a person that had salmonella,” Castrodale said.Salmonella can also be contracted through touching pets or animals, by not washing one’s hands, by drinking water or milk with the bacteria in it, or by eating foods that don’t have to be cooked, but that came into contact with the bacteria. Salmonella bacteria do not usually affect the taste or smell of foods.Over 50 salmonella cases are confirmed in Alaska each year; the illness is diagnosed by getting a stool sample to identify the bacteria.
Crystal structure and surface characteristics of the human dermcidin channel. (A) X-ray structure of the hexameric DCD channel shown in cartoon representation from the side and top (Middle and Right), and as surface representation (Left). The different orientations of the individual peptides relative to the membrane normal are marked in orange and dark blue, and termini are marked (NT, N terminus; CT, C terminus). Arrows combined with tilt angle and axes give the relative orientation. Residues involved in Zn binding are shown in stick representation and Zn ions are marked in gray. The symmetry axis of the channel is marked with C2 (for the side view) and C3 (for the top view). Two interfaces of different surface area are formed after trimerization and named IF1 and IF2. (B) Close-up into the Zn-binding site S1. Four residues (Glu5 and Asp11 from one peptide and Asp41 and His38 from the second) form each Zn-binding site. The distance between the Zn ions is marked by arrows. (C) Electrostatic surface representation of the channel with two monomers marked in ribbon representation. The channel comprises five alternating patches of elongated negative (red) and ring-like positive (blue) charge. (D) Side view of DCD (hydrophobic residues in magenta). (E) Ribbon model of DCD. The pore diameter is represented by spheres. The lateral entry points are marked with circles. (F) Hydrophilic residues on the trimeric interface (negatively charged residues in red, positively charged residues in blue, polar residues in green). Nonpolar residues are shown in white. (G) The hydrophilic channel interior. For clarity, the front dimer is omitted; colors as in F. (H) Channel radius along the pore axis. Copyright © PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1214739110 Frogs skin gives researchers the hop on bacteria (Phys.org) —While the natural world is replete with compounds that form the basis of many disease-fighting pharmaceuticals, it is also the case that humans and other mammals produce their own host-defense peptide-derived broad-spectrum antibiotics to combat bacterial and fungal infections. By attacking microbial cell membranes, these peptides prevent bacteria from developing rapid antibiotic resistance. While over 1,700 of these peptides are known, the structural and mechanical aspects of their functional activity have remained an unanswered question. Recently, however, scientists at Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, The University of Edinburgh, and other instiutions1 determined the X-ray crystal structure as well as solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, electrophysiology, and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations of human dermcidin (DCD), revealing its mechanism at atomic scale. The researchers conclude that their results may lead to the peptide structure-based design of second-generation antibiotics. PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen , Nature Prof. Kornelius Zeth spoke with Phys.org about the challenges that he, Dr. Ulrich Zachariae, Dr. Chen Song, Dr. Bert de Groot, and his other colleagues encountered in conducted their research. “For crystallography it was very difficult to find a proper peptide source. In fact, we had to use five different peptides from different companies until we found a company, Peptide 2.0 Inc., which produced the peptide in the correct way,” Zeth recalls. “However, I can’t say they’ve modified their process – and luck also a factor, as are and several parameters which are influential aside from the peptide, such as who conducts the robotic screening, local climate and so on.”Moreover, the simulations that revealed the antibiotic mechanism of human dermcidin had their own complications. “Simulations require time and experience in order to capture the correct lipidic environment,” Zeth adds. “Also, the choice of the proper MD method was critical to tracing the mechanism by which ions passed through the channel.” The simulations went on for many months, he illustrates, depending on the system studied, to get a complete picture of the membrane channels. More specifically, Song notes that the production simulations took more than a year – roughly 650 days – in real time using 48 CPUs.”Several consistency checks were carried out to ensure the validity of the MD simulations,” de Groot points out. “First, the simulation parameters and setup were carefully selected to mimic the bacterial conditions as closely as possible. Second, to ensure convergence the simulations were carried out multiple times, from different starting conditions. Third, the conductance derived from the electrophysiology simulations were directly compared to measured values, showing quantitative agreement.”Another challenge, Zeth says, was conducting electrophysiology experiments in which the scientists characterized the activity of dermcidin in membranes under various conditions. “Methods applied to solve this problem are typically based on recent developments in electrophysiology. One general problem of DCD is that the peptide is very soluble in water and does not easily enter artificial membranes.” in fact, this finding has also caused NMR problems when trying to verify the tilting of the channel in membranes as predicted by MD simulations. These studies were hampered by the small portion of the peptide that was observable in an integral membrane conformation. More information: Crystal structure and functional mechanism of a human antimicrobial membrane channel, PNAS March 19, 2013 vol. 110 no. 12 4586-4591, doi:10.1073/pnas.1214739110Related: 1Georg August University – Göttingen, University of Strasbourg, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Freiburg University, University of Basque Country, Spanish Science Research Council 2Editor’s Summary: Trigger for psoriasis, Nature 4 October 2007 Discussing how their findings articulate the comprehensive mechanism for the membrane-disruptive action of this mammalian host-defense peptide at atomistic level, Zeth notes that their findings are based on the combination of several techniques. “Starting from the crystal structure,” he explains, “we modeled the ion flux, later deciding to verify the theoretical calculations and values by experimental data. We’ve also tried to model the tilting behavior seen in MD simulation by solid state NMR techniques, but this approach failed. Nevertheless, the overall picture, while incomplete, leads to many follow-up experiments and stimulates the AMP community regarding the development of new mechanistic views.” As for the conductance calculated by MD, however, researchers we were able to reproduce these values using planar lipid membrane techniques in an error range of only 20%. While their paper states that their results may form a foundation for the structure-based design of peptide antibiotics, Zeth says that this is rather difficult to judge. “In fact, he says, the German company BRAIN is trying to introduce DCD into pharmaceutical studies. However, if you look closer into the general applications of peptides as AMPs, it’s rather frustrating. To my knowledge,” Zeth acknowledges, “there are no AMP peptides sold as pharmaceuticals at the moment, although the general market of peptides – against cancer and other diseases – is still growing. The problem is the size and stability of the peptides if given orally or into the bloodstream as proteases, but. DCD is active on skin – so might be easier if it was to be introduced into creams.”Zeth then described medical properties and potential of host-defense antimicrobial peptides for comparison with traditional small-molecule antibiotics.Specificity: Rather unspecific. Gram-positives and negatives are concerned while with traditional antibiotics either Gram+/Gram- are treated.Efficacy: likely to be more efficient due to inherent molecular antibacterial propertiesSafety: Not yet determined but as these molecules come from humans they should not be toxicPost-xenotransplantation immune response: Currently unknown. The problem with antimicrobial peptides is protease-based instability in the bloodstream and stomach.Autoimmune diseases: Some peptides, such including LL-37, have severe implications in autoimmunity. In fact, the overproduction of these peptides generates a number of skin diseases, such as psoriasis. More specifically, in the case of psoriasis it seems that LL-37 overproduction can cause autoimmune diseases,2 the unresolved issue being whether the peptides are produced inside or outside the cell.In terms of next steps in their research, Zeth mentions studies of mutations in the membrane-exposed side of the channel; changing properties, such as conductivity or membrane integration, inside the membrane to; peptide translocation via membranes; and mentions post-xenotransplantation immune response as “an idea for future applications.”Zeth notes that other areas of research might benefit from their research. “Generally our study will influence the current view of peptide channels in membranes – an important field, in particular for researchers trying to enhance this domain of knowledge to improve current peptide drugs. Also, our channel study benefits MD for further use in a variety of studies on mutations and different approaches to better characterize the channel. The channel is thereby a tool,” Zeth concludes, “for testing methods and answer questions which were, so far, difficult to answer due to missing structural models.” Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Citation: Antibiotics 2.0: The atomic structure and mechanism of mammalian host-defense peptides (2013, April 30) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-04-antibiotics-atomic-mechanism-mammalian-host-defense.html Play Multiion permeation mechanism across DCD driven by transmembrane electric fields present across bacterial membranes. Ions enter sideways into the pore across the lateral openings that occur at the trimeric interfaces. Anion transfer across the inner pore usually involves single ion “hopping” steps. Near the channel exit, anions accumulate to form a cluster of three to four ions. Ions exiting the channel are often observed to be translocated by multiion “knockon” effects, by which anions are transferred to the bulk solution. Copyright © PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1214739110 “Peptide solubility or membrane affinity can be influenced by several parameters, such as mutations or changing membrane systems,” Zeth continues. “For NMR we’ve seen essentially all of the peptide associated with the membrane in a horizontal manner. However, we were more interested in the peptide complex inserted in the membrane, but that only occurred ten percent or less of the time.” Zeth outlines the key insights and discoveries that helped the team address these challenges. “One important factor was that this was the first structure of an anti-microbial peptide in a channel conformation,” he explains. “Another was that this peptide activity seems to be zinc-dependent – although it is not really clear what activity zinc actually causes. Also,” Zeth adds, “our model, based on the molecular dynamics of ion flow through the channel, is new and unexpected, in that lateral pore openings seem to play a more important role than do terminals.”Zeth points out that their study solved the crystal structure of an AMP (antimicrobial peptide) channel for the first time in a putative channel conformation. “This result allowed a number of follow-up experiments, in particular MD simulations without assembling a rather artificial membrane pore,” he explains. “In my opinion, our AMP structure is the first to be assembled on the basis of direct X-ray data. All other AMPs used for MD are assembled based on indirect data, and while these assemblies may be correct, their structural information cannot be compared to the quality of X-ray data. This allowed us to use a system that reflects the closest membrane-bound state.” © 2013 Phys.org. All rights reserved. Explore further Model system used in the MD simulations. (A) The initial simulation system, which contains the X-ray structure of DCD (orange and deep blue cartoon helices), the POPE/POPG (3:1) lipids bilayer (gray sticks), water box (light blue surface), Na+ (blue spheres), and Cl− (red spheres) ions. (B) The MD conformation after 100-ns simulation, which was then duplicated in the membrane normal direction to form the double-patch simulation system for the computational electrophysiology simulations (C). Copyright © PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1214739110 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
On January 28, 1959, ten experienced cross-country skiers set out on a trek across the Ural Mountains. One of them, Yuri Yudin, came down with dysentery and turned back at the last settlement before entering the wilderness. The rest were never seen alive again. Their bodies were found a month later. Despite investigations, the full mystery of their deaths has never yet been solved. The ten skiers, 8 men, and 2 women, were students of the Ural Polytechnic Institute ranging in age from 21 to 37. All were experienced hikers and cross-country skiers attempting to ski-hike to Mount Otorten in the Ural Mountains and back. Somewhat ominously, Otorten means “don’t go there” in the language of the local people, the Mansi, according to Russia Beyond.Location of Dyatlov Pass, Russia. Photo by Uwe Dedering CC BY-SA 3.0The group was expected back on February 12th, but when they failed to return on that day, nothing was done. The group’s leader, Igor Dyatlov, had told Yudin they might need a few extra days in case of inclement weather when Yudin had left the group, according to The Telegraph.However, by February 20, the families of the missing hikers were growing concerned, and the Ural Polytechnic Institute sent volunteers on a search and rescue mission. Later, the police and army would also be sent in.A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on February 26, 1959.Based on photographs and journals left behind by the group, it is known that on the night of February 2nd, they set up camp almost a mile up the slope of a mountain near Mount Otorten called Kholat-Syakhl, which means “mountain of the dead” in Mansi.The reason for camping on the slope of the mountain rather than in the relative protection of the pass less than a mile away is unclear, but it may have been due to being off-course after being caught in a snowstorm the day before.Decision on the termination of the criminal case on the occasion of the “Dyatlov Pass incident.”According to The St. Petersburg Times, Yudin thinks that Dyatlov either did not want to lose their progress up the mountain or decided to practice camping on the slope for extra experience.Very little else is known for sure. When volunteers found the ill-fated camp on February 26th, it was in an incomprehensible state. The tent was half covered in snow and had been slashed open from the inside.The members of the group, in various states of undress, had apparently fled into the night where temperatures were less than -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Most were barefoot or in socks, though a few had managed to put one shoe on; none were appropriately dressed for the conditions.The river Auspiya, along which the tourists treked.The first two bodies were found by the volunteers on February 26th. They were around the remains of a fire and dressed only in their underwear. Branches of a tree near the fire were broken more than 15 feet above the ground, suggesting that one of the group had been looking for something, perhaps the camp, which would have been very difficult to see in the dark.Three more bodies were found between the fire and the tent, frozen in an apparent effort to return to the camp. All five of these were determined to have died of hypothermia.It took two more months for the remaining four bodies to be found, partially covered in over 10 feet of snow in a ravine near the original two bodies by the fire. The mystery only deepened when it was discovered that these bodies had suffered fractures consistent with trauma that could only result from great pressure, but no external injuries or injuries to soft tissue were evident.Furthermore, one of the bodies was missing its tongue and eyes. Their clothes, obviously taken from some of the group members who had already died, contained traces of radiation.Photo of the members of the tour group on the monument. Upper row: Doroshenko, Dubinina, Dyatlov. The middle row: Zolotarev, Kolmogorov, Kolevatov. Lower row: Krivonischenko, Slobodin, Thibault Brignoles.An official investigation concluded that the ski group had died due to an “unknown compelling force” and was soon closed. It was subsequently deemed classified, which was common in the Soviet Union at the time after disasters such as this.The area was then closed to hikers and skiers for three years. However, this explanation did not satisfy Yudin, the families of the skiers, or even some of the volunteers and investigators among others.Dyatlov Pass.Many theories have since been posited to explain what could have compelled the experienced hikers to leave the tent in the middle of the night without adequately clothing themselves. In the 1990s, more information came to light when the lead investigator Lev Ivanov recounted that he’d been ordered to close the investigation quickly by superiors.Furthermore, people remembered seeing “bright flying spheres” in the sky in the area, something that had not come out during the original investigation.Ural mountains, Russia.Ivanov speculated that these spheres could have been bombs of some kind and the force of the explosion would explain the hikers who died due to trauma injuries. Perhaps previous explosions had scared the hikers so much that they had fled the tent in a panic.However, no traces of an explosion were ever found near Mount Kholat-Syakhl. Additionally, there are no records of a missile launch at the time that would have been able to reach that area of the Ural Mountains.Yudin also believes that the military may have found the camp sooner than the volunteers from the official investigation. He had seen papers that suggested a secret investigation had begun on February 6th, almost a week before the hikers were even supposed to return.The original cover of the criminal case on the occasion of the “Dyatlov Pass incident.”Furthermore, he had been asked to identify the owners of the belongings that had been left at the camp, and there were several items he could not account for, including a scrap of cloth that could have belonged to a military uniform. He feels this theory is also supported by the radiation found on their clothes and the extreme secrecy that surrounded the investigation for so long.Another theory is that the hikers might have fled the tent due to an avalanche, but there was no evidence of broken branches or other debris that typically accompany such an event. Furthermore, avalanches almost never occur in that region, and such experienced ski-hikers would never have made camp in an area where an avalanche was likely to occur.Mikhajlov Cemetry in Yekaterinburg. The tomb of the group who had died in mysterious circumstances in the northern Ural Mountains.It was also considered that the local Mansi people might have murdered the group in retaliation for trespassing on their land, but this was quickly discounted as there were only 8 or 9 sets of footprints and no evidence of hand-to-hand combat.In 2008, a conference was organized by the Ural State Technical University (formerly the Ural Polytechnic Institute where the skiers studied), the Dyatlov Foundation (an organization dedicated to finding out the truth about the hikers’ deaths), and several nongovernmental organizations to look for answers as to why the skiers died.They concluded that military tests being carried out in the area had caused the deaths, although inadvertently. However, they do not have hard evidence to support this claim, so they cannot be sure.Read another story from us: Mt Vesuvius Explosion in 79 AD: Exploding Skulls and Boiling BloodThis mystery gripped Russia at the time, and remains fascinating to this day. Several films about or inspired by the expedition have been made, and several books have also been written. The pass near where the group set up their camp was named Dyatlov Pass after the leader of the party but has since come to be known colloquially as Devil’s Pass. It seems unlikely that the mystery will ever be solved, but the Dyatlov Foundation remains committed to learning the truth.
When you encounter a monolithic dome house, you’re not certain whether you’re looking at something very old or very new. But while dome-house enthusiasts claim igloos as inspiration and lay claim to the Hagia Sophia as a classical example, the hundreds of such houses, all of them cast in a one-piece form, are part of a movement that began in America in the 1960s. A perfect example is a dome house that has gone on sale in Arvada, Colorado. A “combination of architectural beauty & energy efficiency,” it’s 3,510 square feet, with three bedrooms and two tile-floor bathrooms, built on three acres of land.The groundsThis particular dome structure, dubbed “spaceship house” by locals, most recently priced at $870,000, was built in the late 1970s. “Motivated by the energy crisis of the 1970s, Clarence and Louise Lederhos were determined to build an energy-efficient abode,” according to 5280 magazine. “After much research, they opted for a monolithic dome structure designed by Boulder architect Jason Elliott Purdy. The resulting shape and materials suit eco-conscious homebuyers—of that era and still today.”AdChoices广告inRead invented by TeadsExterior of the house“For some reason, I always wanted to live in a round house,” said Louise Lederhos in an interview. “But it was the energy efficiency that drew us to this design.”The drivewayThe Lederhoses bought the land in 1974 while they worked with Purdy—already known for his monolithic dome structures and living in one himself—on plans for their house. “Financing the property was a challenge, so the couple paid off the land before embarking on the structure,” according to an article in 5280. “The home itself was constructed in 1978.”Living roomIts eight-foot-high concrete walls was built using concrete pillars before a hot air balloon was brought in to create the dome itself. The inflated balloon was coated with structural foam, gunite (sprayed concrete) with reinforcement mesh, and more layers of foam.Living roomA monolithic dome house are constructed following a method that requires a tough, inflatable Airform, steel-reinforced concrete, and a polyurethane foam insulation. In addition to houses, the domes are used as churches, schools, gyms, arenas, and bulk storage facilities. They use about 50 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a same-size, conventionally constructed building. They are touted as being resistant to tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes.Beautiful windowsThe very first monolithic dome was built in 1963 in Provo, Utah. It started as an ice-skating center, turning into a store, called Ream’s Turtle by locals before being demolished in 2006.Space age comfortIt was a triaxial elliptical dome, 240 feet long, 160 feet wide, and 40 feet high at its center. “We came up with a three-dimensional elliptical structure,” said its creator, Dr. Arnold Wilson, in an interview. “But in those days, we didn’t have computers to analyze the engineering, so we decided to build and test a model in a yard. Using a mound of earth to form its shape, I built the model – a one-twelfth scale model made of reinforced concrete that looked like a giant dollhouse. I load tested it to failure and went back and made changes in the original design that matched the test results.”vintage heatKitchenKitchenBathroomBedroomBedroomAt a cost of about $75,000, Dr. Wilson said that he thinks the Ream’s Turtle was the most economical building of that size ever built. “It was a very good building for a very long time – but that’s progress, I guess,” said Dr. Wilson about the razing.Related Article: Art Deco House with Original Vintage Furnishings For Sale – Take a TourColorado has other striking “futuristic” houses, perhaps the most famous one being “the Sleeper house.” It’s been piquing the interest of westbound I-70 travelers passing through Colorado since 1966. It goes by many names – the spaceship house, I-70 saucer, the Sleeper house – and it’s hard to ignore. Perched high on Genesee Mountain overlooking traffic headed from Denver to Colorado’s biggest ski resorts, it was used by Woody Allen for the film Sleeper.To inquire about this house please contact the real estate agent Vicki Black or visit Engel & Völkers
eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us) Momentum is gathering for a proposed referendum about the issue. The referendum has just been given the backing of one of Taiwan’s leading businessmen.In May last year, the Grand Council of Justices ruled it was unconstitutional that the Civil Code did not allow same-sex couples to marry. The Council gave legislators two years to make marriage equality law.But legislators have been slow to move on the issue, as conservative Christian groups pitch strong efforts to stop it happening.The Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups applied to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to hold a referendum on marriage equality and whether schools should teach LGBTI sex education. The Alliance got more than 3,500 signatures in favor of the referendum. Now it must get 281,745 signatures in order for the referendum to become a reality. Taiwan became the first Asian nation to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, but making it happen has hit massive roadblocks. Referendum gaining momentumTsai Wei-li is the chairman of Nanyang Industries which distributes Hyundai vehicles in Taiwan.He has offered a cash incentive to his staff to help campaign for the referendum against same-sex marriage.Tsai offered to pay staff NT$1,000 (US$33) to cover their expenses while campaigning.In responding to criticism of his initiative, Tsai said it was not compulsory. But he believed that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. He also said that schools should not teach students anything about LGBTI issues.Nanyang’s parent company, the Sanyang Group, distanced itself from Tsai’s comments. It told Apple Daily that Tsai was entitled to his own opinion, but it did not reflect the company’s position. The Sanyang Group also said company policy barred staff from discussing political issues on internal networks.LGBTI groups tired, but preparing for referendumMarriage equality and LGBTI advocates in Taiwan said they were preparing to campaign if the referendum goes ahead.‘Considering the limited resources we have, we have decided to focus on getting more volunteers in each city and providing training for them to prepare the upcoming battle,’ Wayne Lin, a board member of Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association told Gay Star News. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Protest against equal marriage in Taiwan. Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . GAYSTARNEWS- Christian groups one step closer to stopping same-sex marriage in TaiwanTaiwan’s LGBTI activists launch equal marriage referendum campaignReligious groups appeal same-sex marriage ruling in TaiwanRead the full article on Gaystarnews: :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/same-sex-marriage-in-taiwan-looks-to-be-in-real-trouble/
Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… It found only 32% of these employees were out to all of their colleagues at work.It also found not being out at work compromises wellbeing and decreases productivity.Workers who were not out to everyone at work were almost 50% less satisfied with their job compared to colleagues who were out to everyone. They were also twice as likely to be ‘downhearted’ at work.Diversity Council of Australia CEO Lisa Annese believes the results of the report prove being out, proud and open at work is essential.But it starts with LGBTI-inclusive employees.Photo: sasastro / FlickrAnnese said: ‘A large proportion of LGBTIQ+ employees are still not comfortable being themselves at work. And yet hiding who they are can be costly not only to their own wellbeing, but also to the organizations they work for.‘This report comprehensively quantifies the business case for creating LGBTIQ+ inclusive workplaces in Australia.‘I urge employers to take a good look at what they can do to take advantage of the benefits; not only for their LGBTIQ+ employees, but for their organization as a whole,’ she said.LGBTI employeesThe report also found LGBTI employees who are out to everyone at work are: eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us) GAYSTARNEWS- LGBTI employees who aren’t out at work suffer professionally, according to a new report.Produced by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and sponsored by Deloitte, the Out at Work report surveyed 1,600 LGBTI employees. 50% more likely to innovate than workers who are not out to everyone.35% more likely to work highly effectively in their team.28% more likely to provide excellent customer/client service.Lead researcher Dr Raymond Trau believes people should just whether or not to come out on a case by case basis.He said: ‘Many people realize coming out at work is complex but don’t always realize that it’s not a one-off event.‘Even LGBTIQ+ workers who are very comfortable with their identity and have come out many times still need to think twice when they work in a job or occupation that is homophobic, transphobic or not LGBTIQ+ inclusive.‘This explains why our findings still show that coming out remains a problem in the workplace,’ he said.See also:Virgin CEO Richard Branson explains why LGBTI diversity is good for businessEqual in love but not yet equal at work: the next frontier of LGBT rightsInvestment giants urged to do more to support LGBTI staffGot a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . Investment giants urged to do more to support LGBTI staffA third of LGBT teachers stay in the closetUK universities failing LGBTI students mental health – 4 in 5 are strugglingRead the full article on Gaystarnews: :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/lgbti-employees-suffer-professionally/
Air Canada has launched new nonstop flights from Montreal to Lyon, France, delivering Canadian travellers to the foot of the awe-inspiring French Alps.The new routes save travellers transit time in and out of the Paris airport, located about 500 kilometres from Lyon. France’s third largest city is the gateway to the French Alps, home to some of the finest scenery – and skiing – in all of Europe.The French Alps’ breathtaking mountains, crystal-clear lakes, majestic waterfalls and pristine forests have drawn stylish globetrotters for generations. The most famous sight is Mont Blanc, the highest mountain peak in the Alps.Most visitors are drawn by the region’s unparalleled scenery, focusing their visit on activities like hiking, biking and mountain climbing in summer, and skiing and snowboarding in winter. The French Alps are home to famous resorts towns including Chamonix, St. Gervais, Albertville (home of the 1992 Olympic Winter Games), Grenoble and Annecy. Chic spa resorts like Evian-les-Bains and Thonon-les-Bains allow travellers to live life in the true lap of luxury.For nature lovers, the French Alps is the ultimate destination in France, and with Air Canada’s new nonstop service from Montreal to Lyon, travellers can access the region faster and easier. Whether clients are new to skiing or seasoned pros, they’ll find beautiful and exciting ski slopes to suit their skills. Immersing oneself in France’s incredible scenery and culture is one of the true pleasures in life.To learn more or book seats on Air Canada’s new nonstop service please visit aircanada.com/agents. Tags: Air Canada, France Explore the French Alps with nonstop flights to Lyon << Previous PostNext Post >> Michael Smith Posted by Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Share
Related posts:Waging peace in Colombia Colombia is again the world’s top coca producer. Why that’s a blow to the US Cúcuta: Colombia’s city of contraband and a broken Bolivarian dream Colombia’s ‘discriminatory’ military draft under discussion as peace deal comes closer BOMBOLO, Colombia – While Syria’s civil war and political crises in Thailand and Ukraine continue to dominate the headlines, Colombia’s government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) may be about to end the longest and most brutal conflict in Latin America’s history. An agreement would enable Colombia – an important regional ally of the United States – to shift its attention and resources to economic and social development.The latest series of talks – held in Havana, and mediated by Cuba and Norway – was launched in November 2012. Despite some setbacks, the process has raised hope of a permanent end to the 50-year conflict, which has displaced at least five million people and led to more than 200,000 deaths (an estimated 85 percent of them civilians), with 23,161 selective killings, 25,007 forced disappearances, 27,023 kidnappings, and 1,982 massacres.Of course, this is not the parties’ first attempt to forge a peace agreement. In the late 1990’s, President Andrés Pastrana’s government met with the guerrillas – along with representatives from the United Nations and from Cuba, Spain, France, Switzerland, Brazil, and other countries – in a demilitarized area of Colombia to pursue an agreement.But the talks faced considerable headwinds. The United States never believed in the process, and undermined it at every opportunity. Moreover, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who rose to power in 1999, viewed the FARC as a natural partner in an eventual new alliance of left-wing forces in the Andes. With Europe offering only empty promises, and the U.N. unsure of how to catalyze progress on the talks’ ambitious 12-point agenda (which included more than 100 items), the effort collapsed in 2002.Fortunately, much has changed in the last decade. For starters, meeting outside of Colombia has enabled the parties to avoid the pressure and manipulation that contributed to the breakdown of talks the last time.Furthermore, the U.S. – hesitant to face yet another foreign-policy disruption, much less offer assistance or deploy troops, and facing other hotspots where vital national interests are more at stake – has contributed, albeit discreetly, to a negotiated settlement. Likewise, since the final years of Chávez and during Nicolás Maduro’s tenure, Venezuela has played a far more constructive role in promoting peace, recognizing that the hostile neighborhood created by the Colombian conflict is impeding its own progress. (The U.N., the European Union, and the Union of South American Nations, focusing on other priorities, have avoided becoming collectively involved.)Finally, this time, the negotiations are more manageable in scope, focusing on five specific issues: an agrarian-development policy, the FARC’s political participation, ending the conflict (demobilization and transitional justice), reparations for the victims, and curbing the illicit drug trade. Any agreement must cover all five.So far, both sides have been realistic, avoiding ideological or formalist postures – in part, a reflection of the new balance of forces. In the 1990’s, the FARC was on the rise, and presented a maximalist list of demands. Today, the guerrillas are significantly weaker, allowing Santos’ government to offer a minimalist agreement that can satisfy both the Colombian establishment, which backs the process but without much conviction, and a fatigued and mercurial public that wants peace but remains unwilling to accept too many concessions to the FARC.General agreements have already been reached on the first two issues – agrarian development and the FARC’s political participation – though some key details have yet to be settled. To facilitate continued progress, the parties have delayed the more delicate issues – ending the conflict and the question of reparations – while focusing first on halting illegal drug production, an issue on which the two sides’ positions are much closer. Indeed, the FARC’s proposal – centered on protecting the rural farmers who make their living cultivating illicit crops, including by establishing a legal market for such crops – is relatively moderate.In fact, the FARC’s influence on drug trafficking has waned considerably in recent years, as the large cartels that once dominated Colombia’s narcotics industry have given way to numerous smaller criminal organizations, led by warlords associated with far-right political forces. The result has been a sort of pax mafiosa: consolidated, regionally legitimized actors, with drug traffickers, old paramilitary groups, new criminal bands, large landholders, and political caciques reinforcing one another.Barring a major event – say, an assassination of a major figure, a large-scale military attack, or a significant split within the political elite or the FARC leadership – the negotiations are likely to continue. After all, a rupture would be extremely costly to both sides.But there is one potential obstacle that cannot be avoided: the May presidential election. Santos needs to be re-elected in order to sideline former President Álvaro Uribe, who, along with recalcitrant civilian and military elements, is trying to undermine the negotiations. That requires that the talks progress steadily, and that the FARC remains reliable and united. But the FARC will not hand Santos the speedy agreement that would ease his path to victory, and he knows that the flag of peace will not ensure his re-election.In the first round of the 2010 presidential election – in which only 49 percent of the electorate participated – Santos obtained 47 percent of the vote. Today, while Santos is ahead in the polls, a considerable share of voters remains undecided, with low expected turnout further clouding his prospects for re-election.Moreover, the talks’ outstanding issues are intricate, especially the question of compensating the conflict’s victims. There is always the risk that the armed actors, both the guerrillas and the military, could obstruct progress on this crucial matter.Despite these challenges, there is much reason to hope that this time an agreement will be reached. Even a modest and fragile peace would represent a major advance for Colombia’s democracy and economic prospects.Juan Gabriel Tokatlian is Director of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires.© Project Syndicate, 2014www.project-syndicate.org Facebook Comments