Thursday, 6 February 2014
Thursday, 17 October 2013
Towards ending the ongoing ASUU strike, the Federal
Government has committed to spending N200 billion in the
2014 budget on the universities as well as on each of the
next three-four years until the universities are brought to
world-class standard. This is in addition to the N100 billion
dedicated and already made available for 2013.
The government has also increased to N40 billion as a first
installment, funds for the payment of earned allowances to
the striking lecturers, an improvement from the N30 billion
This information is contained in an internal Federal
University of Otuoke statement by Professor Bolaji Aluko, its
Vice-Chancellor, seen on Wednesday night by
On the earned allowances, he explained, “Government will
top it up with further releases once universities are through
with the disbursement of this new figure of N40 million, so
Vice-Chancellors are urged to expedite this disbursement
within the shortest possible time using guiding templates that
have been sent by the CVC,” the circular said.
Professor Aluko said the development followed meetings on
September 19 and Oct 11 of representatives of the
Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, led
by CVC Chairman, Prof. Hamisu of ATBU and ASUU
Representatives led by its President, Dr. N. Fagge with the
Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Arc.
Namadi. Sambo, Minister of Education Barr. N. Wike and
Of great interest to stakeholders, Vice-President Sambo,
appealing to ASUU to call off the strike, apologized for the
"take-it-or-leave-it" comments credited to the Minister of
Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the onset of the strike.
The Minister did not seem to have been involved in either
meeting, perhaps as the government’s way of soothing the
feelings of the university teachers.
Other points of agreement at the meetings include the
Project Prioritization: Universities will now be allowed to
determine their priorities and not be “rail-roaded” into
implementing a pre-determined set of projects with respect
to the NEEDS assessment. Decisions are not to be
TETFund Intervention: Government assured that the
operations of the TETFund will not be impaired, and that the
regular TETFund intervention disbursement to Universities
will continue, unaffected. So the NEEDS assessment capital
outlays are in addition to regular TETFund intervention.
Project Monitoring: A new Implementation Monitoring
Committee (IMC) for the NEEDS Assessment intervention for
universities has been set up to take over from the Suswan
Committee. The new one is under the Federal Ministry of
Education and chaired by the Honorable Minister of
Education. In addition, to build confidence and ensure faithful
implementation and prevent any relapse as before, the Vice
President will meet quarterly with the IMC to monitor
Blueprint: ASUU was mandated to submit a blue print for
revitalizing the Universities to the Vice President.
Prof. Aluko further stated that a signed document will soon
be issued to itemize the full issues on which the consensus
he had outlined here, as brokered by AVCNU, was reached.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
10 Most Interesting Facts About HIV/AIDS
10 Where it Came From
There are two strains of HIV; HIV-1 (which has been traced back to chimpanzees), and HIV-2 (which came from a small African monkey). Within those stains, there are also several sub-strains. By far, the most deadly version is HIV-1. Precisely when HIV-1 made the leap to humans may never be known; most scientists agree that it was shortly before 1931 and likely a consequence of the tribal taste for chimp or “bushmeat”.
Viruses are not alive in the traditional sense, and they often defy our understanding of how organisms behave and evolve. It is believed that the earliest strains of HIV to infect humans were milder and sometimes stopped by the immune system. Over the years, the virus grew hardier, mutated, and recombined. By the early 80′s, when it was first identified, it had practically become a death sentence.
The earliest confirmed case of AIDS in humans comes from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was identified from a preserved tissue sample from 1959. The disease had jumped the Atlantic by the next decade; the first known American, a Missouri teenager named Robert Rayford, died of AIDS in 1969. Doctors believe Rayford was probably a male prostitute. By 1977, AIDS had begun taking lives in Europe. Norwegian sailor Arvid Noe was the first known victim.
There is some evidence that AIDS made the rounds in Europe following World War II, predicated on a wave of children dying from PCP, a disease which only afflicts those with weakened immune systems. Its presence is almost a sure sign that the patient has AIDS. A Dutch researcher traced the epidemic to the Baltic port city of Danzig, then found it spread throughout the continent. It is believed that the disease spread by the then relatively common practice of reusing needles. Surprisingly, approximately only one-third of the children died, suggesting the virus they contracted had not yet changed into the fully lethal version we recognize today.
8 Patient Zero
French-Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas is frequently vilified as the “Typhoid Mary”, or “Patient Zero” of AIDS in America. This is a controversial stance since Dugas was certainly not the first person to be infected with AIDS, or even the first North America. The first known American was a teenager from Missouri, and succumbed in 1969. It is, however, very possible that Dugas’s promiscuity caused the disease to become widespread. A great many of the early cases diagnosed in the United States were eventually directly traced back to Dugas. His career as a flight attendant allowed him to move easily between major cities, and his habit of frequenting gay bathhouses put him in contact with hundreds of other men, who in turn likely entertained several partners. This led to an exponential spread of the disease, which occurred throughout the 1980s. Gaëtan Dugas himself died in 1984 from kidney failure caused by the infection.
HIV/AIDS is so much more frightening than other diseases due to its ability to bypass the immune system and then destroy it. When the virus enters the system, it is cloaked in carbohydrate sugar molecules that cling to its surface, “fooling” our bodies into thinking the virus is a nutrient. However, research suggests that we may be able to use this adaptation against HIV. The sugar molecules it utilizes are slightly different from those normally found in the human body–enough so that it could be possible to synthesize a vaccine to help our bodies recognize the virus and force the immune system to attack.
Plenty of famous people have succumbed to AIDS, with personalities as diverse as tennis star Arthur Ashe to Queen frontman Freddy Mercury. It is important to note that many of these people (along with many in the general population), contracted the disease from simple blood transfusions, rather than indulging in risky behavior. Such was the fate of prolific science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who’d come down with the disease after receiving tainted blood during a bypass surgery. Perhaps the most famous case of a celebrity with HIV is Magic Johnson, who regularly appears on television sports panel shows, looking healthy despite living with HIV for over twenty years. There are some who claim that his wealth allows him to afford experimental drugs.
5 Intentional Infection
Biological warfare has been known since ancient times: invaders slinging plague corpses over battlement wall and blankets steeped in smallpox virions, amongst other methods. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that HIV/AIDS is sometimes used as a weapon, but the reality is still chilling. In the South African prison system, the dreaded “Numbers Gang” uses rape by AIDS infected inmates as punishment. The victim is cut to ensure transmission in a horrifying process they call the “slow puncture”.
Other cases, such as New York’s Nushawn Williams, are right in our backyard. Williams had sex with dozens–perhaps even hundreds–of women, after learning he was HIV positive. He infected at least 14 women, and two of his children were born with the virus, but the actual number may be far higher. Although Williams’ prison sentence was up in 2010, the state has kept him behind bars as a danger to society, a trial is currently attempting to sentence him to indefinite confinement.
Not every superhero resonates with audiences; for every Batman or Wolverine, there is an Aquaman. But just what the creative team that unveiled “Hemo-Goblin” was thinking is beyond comprehension. Featured in the DC Comic “The New Guardians” in 1988 (when the understanding of AIDS was in its infancy), Hemo-Goblin was an HIV positive vampire used by a white supremacist group to infect minorities with the disease. He manages to transmit HIV to the ambiguously gay superhero Extrano before dying of AIDS himself, mercifully within a single issue of the comic.
While it’s likely that no one is truly “immune” from HIV/AIDS, there are some people that exhibit a strong resistance. Scientists have discovered at least two different adaptations, one which repels the infection in the first place and another which keeps HIV from developing into AIDS. The former is a genetic mutation found primarily in Scandinavians. The mutation, called CCR5-delta 32, prevents the virus from entering the cells. Research indicates this mutation may have come from Europe’s history of weathering deadly plagues.
Once most people become HIV positive, unless they take a heavy payload of drugs, it’s only a matter of time before they succumb to the disease. However, there are a few (about 1 in 300) whose immune systems manage to suppress the disease. Called “HIV controllers”, they seem to possess slightly different proteins in their blood that keep the virus at bay. Studies are ongoing as to how this difference in the genome might halt the progression of HIV in less fortunate individuals.
2 The Geoffrey Bowers Case
In 1984, young lawyer Geoffrey Bowers found a job with Baker & McKenzie, one of the largest firms in the world. Soon afterward, he began showing symptoms of AIDS, including Kaposi’s sarcoma. Despite receiving satisfactory reviews from his bosses, Bowers was dismissed, and the firm failed to follow the typical termination processes. Bowers appealed to the New York State Division of Human Rights. His case would go on to be one of the first AIDS discrimination cases in legal history. The trial began on July 14, 1987. Unfortunately, Bowers would only survive two more months. The case dragged on another six years, with the firm ultimately being fined $500,000 in damages plus any back pay Bowers would have earned if he had not been wrongfully fired. The suit was ultimately settled out of court, and the firm paying off the Bowers family.
Geoffrey Bowers’ story would eventually go on to form the basis for the Tom Hanks film “Philadelphia”, taken from interviews with his family held the year after Geoffrey’s death. Producers promised the family compensation when the movie was released, but the rights to the film were sold to another studio. Bowers’ family sued, and again settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. “Philadelphia” went on to win several awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor for Hanks.
1 Search For a Cure
In recent months, the news has been rife with stories of impending AIDS cures on the horizon, exciting new research, and miracle tales of survival. The story of Timothy Brown is particularly hopeful; Brown had lived with HIV for over a decade. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, doctors gave him a bone marrow transplant, wiping out his full supply and then using marrow from a donor with the AIDS fighting mutation. Today, Brown appears free of HIV. Any trace of the disease he might have cannot infect his cells. Unfortunately, the process of wiping bone marrow is extremely risky in and of itself–a 40% risk of death. Clearly, much progress needs to be made before this can be considered practical treatment.
In Mississippi, a baby born to a mother with HIV was apparently cured after being aggressively treated with antiretroviral drugs shortly after birth. The child is now nearly three years old, with no signs of infection. Of course, these cases are a rarity, and doctors warn against complacency. Early detection is still the key factor in living a long life after contracting HIV. It would seem that any cure for the virus is still a long way off.
If you’re wondering why we can’t find the memories we want when we need them, the reason is that the memory is there, but we lack the knowledge of how to recall it. The reason for this is that whenever you memorize something, your brain creates retrieval cues based on concurrent events. This means the retrieval cues might not make much sense whatsoever in relation to the memory. While this sounds quite inconvenient, there are several strategies to train your brain to quickly access whatever memories you need.
This strategy involves your working memory, the part of your brain you use to do things like add up numbers in your head. Scientists researched how long something would stay in your working memory before it started to decay and found that the memory is all but gone after about 18 seconds. Some participants were able to remember as much as 10 percent of the information after 18 seconds, but that isn’t going to do much good if you need to remember a phone number. The trick here is simple but highly effective. If you are trying to remember an address or something similar until you can get a chance to write it down, instead of repeating it over and over, just rehearse it every 15 seconds or so for a few minutes to avoid decay (start before 18 seconds because much of the information will have decayed by then).
The human body peg system is one of the most bizarre memory recall methods, but it works well for many people and researchers have confirmed that it is an effective way to store and recall important information. The idea is that you imagine parts of the human body itself, and use them as pegs to store information. These pegs contain some sort of exaggerated picture in your mind that relates to the item you are trying to remember. One textbook example is to use the system to memorize all of the different parts of the human eye. If you wanted to remember the pupil, you would use the forehead as a peg and imagine an exaggerated picture of a student, or hang a picture of corn on the cob on your imagined nose to represent the cornea. This simple association method is a great way to memorize small related groups of information.
While this one may seem like a no-brainer, many students tend to listen to music, or watch television while studying and don’t think it really impairs their ability to learn. However, researchers studied this behavior and found out that it significantly impairs the ability to memorize information. As Listverse has mentioned before, true multi-tasking is impossible. While your brain does some tasks (like breathing) while doing other things, those aren’t conscious processes most of the time. You can’t really watch television and study at the same time; instead your brain will jump back and forth between the two forms of sensory input. One of the researchers described the memory of multi-taskers as “sloppy” and stated that “they look where they shouldn’t”. The takeaway here is to remove extraneous sensory input to effectively memorize information.
Another useful method is to link several items together in a list. This is most useful if you are trying to remember things that are completely unrelated to each other, such as a shopping list. One of the most popular forms of this is the linking story method, where you create a story that includes the items to help you remember them better. An example would be if you had a grocery list of jam, detergent, icing, and ice cream. You could create a story to remember it such as: Dan Detergent was taking a stroll through the park when he jammed his foot on a rock, later on he met his friend Emma Icing and they ate ice cream on a bench. Researchers have found this method to be highly effective.
It does have one drawback, however. Because it is basically a linked list, it means you can’t get to an item at the end without going through the whole story. However, if the list you are memorizing is short this is not much of an inconvenience. Alternatively, you could use several short stories to memorize different parts of your list.
The keyword method is an extremely useful trick when memorizing vocabulary words in a foreign language. This method has been researched in the classroom and was found to be quite effective. To use the method, take a sound that you recognize from a new word and use it as a keyword to relate visually to the new word you are learning. A textbook example would be if you are trying to remember the Russian word for building, which is pronounced zdawn yeh. We can easily pick out a word that is quite familiar, dawn. The idea is to then take that word and imagine it in relation to what you are trying to memorize. In this case the word you are memorizing means building, so you might imagine looking at the first light of dawn through the windows of a large building.
5Method of Loci
The method of loci has more than one name or shape: it has been called the Journey Method and the Roman Room Method and was likely first invented by the Romans. However, all forms of this mnemonic device operate under the same general principles. Basically, you mentally walk through an area—it could be your house or some other route you know well—and store memories along the way in different rooms or landmarks. Then, when you need to recall the memory, you walk through the area again in your mind and retrieve the proper information. This is one of the oldest memory techniques, and science has recently confirmed that it is indeed extremely effective for both young and old people.
Exhaustive research has found that the amount of items you can hold in your working memory at any given time is a range of five to nine (seven on average). This may not seem to make sense at first—after all, telephone numbers are 10 digits and we can hold them in our working memory for a while. The reason we can handle phone numbers however, is because they are divided up into chunks of information. So a 10-digit phone number is only really three pieces of information to hold in your working memory at any given time. This can be used to much more dramatic effect, however.
Chess grandmasters have long entertained people by playing simultaneous games, sometimes blindfolded, and still winning. Researchers believe that these experts have unknowingly memorized large chunks of moves and possibilities in the form of mental patterns that they can easily retrieve with minimal cues, making it easy for them to perform mental feats that seem frankly impossible.
When you were a kid and forgot or lost something, your mother probably told you to go back to the last place you remember having it. Well, according to scientific research it turns out our mothers were right all along. This is a phenomenon called context-dependent memory. Basically because your memory retrieval cues are built around the sensory input you are experiencing at the time—the better you can reconstruct the exact set of cues, the more chance you have of complete recall.
Some scientists with a skeptical eye toward this theory actually confirmed it with their own test, finding that when test participants learned something underwater, they were better able to recall it again underwater than above it. Not only that but some studies suggest that this state-dependent memory can include mental state as well, they believe that something memorized while drunk, will be better recalled while in a similar intoxicated state. An effective way to use this method would be to recreate the setting of the exam you’re studying for, etc.
One of the more difficult things to remember are long strings of text, but fear not—research has shown that putting the text to music is an effective way to bolster recall. Many of us may be familiar with this mnemonic from the alphabet song, but there is a much more complicated and advanced way to use this technique. One of the most difficult things for any high school student to learn is the periodic table of elements.
Luckily, the periodic table was put to song back in the 1950s by a math teacher named Tom Lehrer. The periodic table was paired with a Gilbert and Sullivan tune and is increasingly used in classrooms to help high school students learn about the elements. This is just one example of the use of music in memory however, and you could easily use the technique to memorize whatever you need. Just take the text you are memorizing and put it to a song you are familiar with.
Smell is believed by researchers to be the most powerful memory recall device possible, especially when trying to dig up deeply hidden memories. The reason for this is that while most of the senses need to go through other parts of the brain before reaching the memory, the nose is able to bypass this and go directly to the memory center, making it extremely useful for recall. A simple but effective way to use this method would be if you are studying for a test. You could use a strongly scented lip balm while studying, and then bring the same lip balm along with you for the exam. With these techniques, you can turn your brain into a well-organized database.
Monday, 17 June 2013
A good number of them still dress in the manner of, the Biblical Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — stark Unclad — with fresh leaves for a little covering. You are welcome to the top of the Gerinjina mountain in Gashaka Local Government area of Taraba State.
It was like a story from Mars when a casual talk to the hearing of this reporter indicated that there was a community up the mountain that lived worse than those of the Koma people who were discovered in the mid-1980s by a group of National youth corps members in the then Gongola State, now split into Adamawa and Taraba states. While the Koma community resides in Adamawa State, the new Stone Age people are in Taraba State.
Just like any other group of human beings, the Jibu people have their ways of life. These include collective circumcision of boys born within the same age group, a ceremony performed with the use sharp objects.
It is considered a test of strength and character for their boys not to cry during the ceremony. The circumcised are kept on bamboo beds and covered with fresh leaves that are gathered and burnt after the wound has healed.
For a young Jibu man to get a wife, he must serve the family of his bride for five years. Nonetheless, the marriage is determined by the capacity of the woman to conceive. This is measured by a dried long firewood that is set on fire for at least three months, within which if the woman does not become pregnant, the simple communication is the gods do not want the marriage.
Pregnant women work on the farms to the day of their delivery.
They have a communal life and are ruled by the Waziri Garinjina, Tann Shidin Zunbi, who confirmed in an interview with the Nigerian Compass on Saturday that maternal and child mortality rates are high among them.
The Jibu people are neither Christians nor Muslims. Rather, they believe in their own gods and the ancestors.
In an event of violation of their natural laws by any individual, animals are slaughtered to appease the land. It is also a similar story during every cropping season. The harvests are brought before the Waziri for sacrifice to the gods, after which their brand of liquor is prepared for everybody to drink in merriment. Incidentally too, the Jibu people believe that some gods are not friendly with women. Thus, throughout the period of ritual preparations, women remain indoors to avoid being exposed to the gods who could be harmful to them.
When our correspondent visited Gerinjina, their condition of living was worse than that of the much-talked about Koma people. There is no access road. They drink water with animals from the same rivers. In their scattered settlement system, there is no school around except for some missionaries who have a thatched space for that purpose but is yet to have any student. After a day’s job on the farm, their women still have the task of grinding raw corn with heavy stones before food is ready for their male counterparts.