Herbal Viagra actually contains the real thing



































IF IT looks too good to be true, it probably is. Several "herbal remedies" for erectile dysfunction sold online actually contain the active ingredient from Viagra.












Michael Lamb at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and colleagues purchased 10 popular "natural" uplifting remedies on the internet and tested them for the presence of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. They found the compound, or a similar synthetic drug, in seven of the 10 products – cause for concern because it can be dangerous for people with some medical conditions.












Lamb's work was presented last week at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in Washington DC.












This article appeared in print under the headline "Herbal Viagra gets a synthetic boost"


















































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Syrian shells hit Israeli-occupied Golan: army






JERUSALEM: Mortar rounds believed to be have been fired from Syria hit the southern Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday without causing damage or casualties, the army said.

"Several shells landed and were found in an open area in the southern Golan Heights, most likely due to the fighting in Syria," a spokesman told AFP.

"No injuries or damages were caused. The incident was reported to the United Nations forces, and IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) soldiers continued searching the area," he said.

On Wednesday, a mortar shell struck the central Golan Heights, causing no injuries or damage, after nearly three months of no spillover from the fighting in Syria.

The same day, six Syrians were discharged from an Israeli hospital and returned to Syria, with a seventh staying behind for further treatment.

They were wounded in the fighting over the border and allowed on February 16 to cross into Israel, where they received treatment at Ziv hospital in the northern Galilee town of Safed.

Such incidents have been sporadic but have increased over the past six months as violence from the civil war in Syria seeped across the ceasefire line.

In recent months, there have been several instances of gunfire or mortar shells hitting the Israeli side of the plateau. In November, troops responded with artillery in the first such instance of Israeli fire at the Syrian military since the 1973 war.

Israel seized the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.

It is currently upgrading its security fence along its armistice line with the work expected to be finished by the end of the year.

- AFP/xq



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Man slain on way to dialysis treatment: police
















South Side shooting


Police at the scene of a fatal shooting early Saturday at Homicide at Eberhart and 95th Streets.
(Peter Nickeas / Chicago Tribune / March 2, 2013)



























































A 72-year-old man was shot and killed in his gangway on the Far South Side early Saturday morning as he left a home for dialysis treatment. 

The man's grandson was inside and heard the shots that killed his grandfather.

The man was shot about 3:30 a.m. and pronounced dead about 4 a.m., according to authorities.

The motive appears to be robbery, police said, but detectives are still investigating. 

Detectives remained at the scene, across from Chicago State University, into the morning.  

Police taped off the northeast corner of 95th Street and Eberhart Avenue, surrounding the two houses between which the man was killed. 

Check back for more information. 

pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas 




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Black Hole Spins at Nearly the Speed of Light


A superfast black hole nearly 60 million light-years away appears to be pushing the ultimate speed limit of the universe, a new study says.

For the first time, astronomers have managed to measure the rate of spin of a supermassive black hole—and it's been clocked at 84 percent of the speed of light, or the maximum allowed by the law of physics.

"The most exciting part of this finding is the ability to test the theory of general relativity in such an extreme regime, where the gravitational field is huge, and the properties of space-time around it are completely different from the standard Newtonian case," said lead author Guido Risaliti, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and INAF-Arcetri Observatory in Italy. (Related: "Speedy Star Found Near Black Hole May Test Einstein Theory.")

Notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, supermassive black holes live at the center of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way. (See black hole pictures.)

They can pack the gravitational punch of many million or even billions of suns—distorting space-time in the region around them, not even letting light to escape their clutches.

Galactic Monster

The predatory monster that lurks at the core of the relatively nearby spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is estimated to weigh in at about two million times the mass of the sun, and stretches some 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) across-more than eight times the distance between Earth and the moon, Risaliti said. (Also see "Black Hole Blast Biggest Ever Recorded.")

Risaliti and colleagues' unprecedented discovery was made possible thanks to the combined observations from NASA's high-energy x-ray detectors on its Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) probe and the European Space Agency's low-energy, x-ray-detecting XMM-Newton space observatory.

Astronomers detected x-ray particle remnants of stars circling in a pancake-shaped accretion disk surrounding the black hole, and used this data to help determine its rate of spin.

By getting a fix on this spin speed, astronomers now hope to better understand what happens inside giant black holes as they gravitationally warp space-time around themselves.

Even more intriguing to the research team is that this discovery will shed clues to black hole's past, and the evolution of its surrounding galaxy.

Tracking the Universe's Evolution

Supermassive black holes have a large impact in the evolution of their host galaxy, where a self-regulating process occurs between the two structures.

"When more stars are formed, they throw gas into the black hole, increasing its mass, but the radiation produced by this accretion warms up the gas in the galaxy, preventing more star formation," said Risaliti.

"So the two events—black hole accretion and formation of new stars—interact with each other."

Knowing how fast black holes spin may also help shed light how the entire universe evolved. (Learn more about the origin of the universe.)

"With a knowledge of the average spin of galaxies at different ages of the universe," Risaliti said, "we could track their evolution much more precisely than we can do today."


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Sequester: What Will Happen, What Won't Happen












When it comes to critical elements of the sequester timeline, not much is known -- because federal agencies have been tight lipped.


Asked when specific effects will be felt, officials at three federal departments declined to discuss the timing of sequester cuts and their consequences. Some departments were waiting for President Obama's Friday night sequester order and subsequent guidance they expected to receive from the Office of Management and Budget before talking about what would and wouldn't happen and when.


Read more: 57 Terrible Consequences of the Sequester


"There's no calendar of dates for specific actions or cuts on specific dates," Department of Health and Human Services public affairs officer Bill Hall told ABC News. "Again, these cuts need to be applied equally across all agency programs, activities and projects. There will be wide variation on when impacts will occur depending on a given program."


Some cuts won't be felt for a while because they have to do with government layoffs, which require 30 days notice, in most cases.


For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration won't begin layoffs until at least April 7, one FAA official estimated.


But some cuts don't involve furloughs, and could conceivably be felt immediately.


The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the timeline of layoffs to cybersecurity contractors and first responders funded through states, as well as limited Coast Guard operations and cuts to FEMA disaster relief.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development said it could not comment on cuts to housing vouchers, rent assistance for AIDS patients, maintenance for housing projects.






Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Imag











Sequestration Deadline: Obama Meets With Leaders Watch Video











Sequester Countdown: The Reality of Budget Cuts Watch Video





The Department of Health and Human Services declined to discuss the specific timing of cuts to Head Start services, low-income mental-health services, AIDS/HIV testing, and inpatient substance-abuse treatment.


Read More: Automatic Cuts Could Hurt on Local Level


So even as the sequester hits, we still don't know when some of its worst effects will be felt.


Here's what we do know:


What Will Happen Saturday


      Air Force Training. At a briefing Friday, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned that "effective immediately, Air Force flying hours will be cut back."


More from Carter, via ABC News' Luis Martinez: "What does that mean for national security? What it means is that as the year goes on, apart from Afghanistan, apart from nuclear deterrence through two missions we are strictly protecting, the readiness of the other units to respond to other contingencies will gradually decline. That's not safe. And that we're trying to minimize that in every way we possibly can."


      Closed Doors at the Capitol. ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports that Capitol Police issued a memo announcing it would have to close some entrances to the Capitol, writing: "At this time it is anticipated that the U.S. Capitol Police will be required to close some entrance doors and exterior checkpoints, and either suspend or modify the hours of operation for some of the U.S. Capitol Complex posts located inside and outside of the CVC and Office Buildings."


      Capitol Janitor Furloughs. After President Obama warned that janitors at the Capitol will be furloughed, ABC News' Sunlen Miller reported that was not entirely true: The Senate sergeant at arms, Terrance Gainer, told ABC News that no full-time salaried Capitol Police officers would face furloughs or layoffs at this time. They will, however, see a "substantial reduction in overtime," Gainer told ABC News.


      Delayed Deployment for USS Truman Aircraft Carrier. This has already happened, the Associated Press reported Friday morning: "One of the Navy's premiere warships, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, sits pier-side in Norfolk, Va., its tour of duty delayed. The carrier and its 5,000-person crew were to leave for the Persian Gulf on Feb. 8, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg."






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Smartphone projector breathes life into storybooks



Hal Hodson, technology reporter



Remember your favourite storybook from childhood? Now imagine that the characters that graced its pages didn't only appear in print, but acted out scenes right in front of you, à la magic Harry Potter paintings.


HideOut, a smartphone projector system developed by Karl Willis at Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, does exactly that by using invisible-ink markers to guide the projected characters of a storybook through an entire other layer of activities.






The projector also lets the user move a digital, animated character over surfaces in the real world. By passing the camera over another of the hidden patterns - which are visible only in infrared - the character can even seem to interact with physical obstacles, as in the video above.


In a paper describing the system, presented this month at the Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction conference in Barcelona, Spain, Willis laid out how projection will move past games and playing to become an important computer-human interaction technology, freeing digital content from the screens.


Willis writes that future smartphones with embedded projectors will be used to browse digital files projected on any wall or table, to augment theme parks with digital characters, or to make digital board games that jump out of the table. "Enabling projected content to be mapped onto everyday surfaces from mobile devices is an important step towards seamless interaction between the digital and physical worlds."




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Motor Racing: Button sets pace on second day of testing in Barcelona

 





BARCELONA: Britain's Jenson Button, of McLaren, was quickest on a wet second morning of the final pre-season testing of the winter in Barcelona on Friday.

Button, the 2009 world champion, was 0.216 seconds quicker than Germany's Adrian Sutil, driving for Force India in conditions that started off very wet before beginning to dry up.

Sutil's impressive performance came a day after he was confirmed as the Force India team's second driver for 2013 after a 12-month absence.

His compatriot Niko Huelkenberg, in a Sauber, was third, while world champion Sebastian Vettel was tenth in his Red Bull, for whom Mark Webber had set the quickest pace on Thursday.

Leading times

1. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:25.936 (33 laps),
2. Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes) 1:26.152 (42),
3. Nico Huelkenberg (GER/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:27.246 (36),
4. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:27.672 (50),
5. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault) 1:27.757 (52),
6. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) 1:27.878 (52),
7. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault) 1:29.132 (35),
8. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:29.682 (40),
9. Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia-Cosworth) 1:29.772 (39),
10. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault) 1:31.159 (26),
11. Giedo van der Garde (NED/Caterham-Renault) 1:39.036 (29)

- AFP/xq




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Washington stares down start of sequester cuts









NEW YORK, March 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. government hurtled today toward making deep spending cuts that threaten to hinder the nation's economic recovery, after Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on an alternative deficit-reduction plan.


The $85 billion in across-the-board “sequestration” cuts were expected to cause airport delays, disrupt public services and result in lower pay or layoffs for millions of government workers.


Locked in during a bout of deficit-reduction fever in 2011, the time-released cuts can only be halted by agreement between Republican lawmakers and the White House.

That has proved elusive so far.

Both sides still hope the other will either be blamed by voters for the cuts or cave in before the worst effects - like air traffic chaos or furloughs for tens of thousands of federal employees - start to bite in the coming weeks.

Barring any breakthroughs in the next few hours, the cuts will begin to come into force at some time before midnight on Friday night. The full brunt of the belt tightening, known in Washington as “sequestration,” will take effect over seven months so it is not clear if there will be an immediate disruption to public services.

President Barack Obama meets top leaders of Congress at the White House at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) to explore ways to avoid the unprecedented, across-the-board cuts totaling $85 billion.

But expectations were low for a deal when the Democratic president huddles with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats insist tax increases be part of a solution to ending the automatic cuts, an idea Republicans reject.

“We should work together to reduce our deficit in a balanced way - by making smart spending cuts and closing special interest tax loopholes,” Obama said on Thursday.

Congress can stop the cuts at any time after they start on Friday if the parties agree to that. In the absence of any deal at all, the Pentagon will be forced to slice 13 percent of its budget between now and Sept. 30. Most non-defense programs, from NASA space exploration to federally backed education and law enforcement, face a 9 percent reduction.

The International Monetary Fund warns that the cutbacks could knock at least 0.5 percentage point off U.S. economic growth this year and slow the global economy.

The prospect of weaker growth and a jump in unemployment caused by the cuts was being seen by some in the markets as making it more likely the U.S. Federal Reserve will need to maintain its ultra lose monetary policy for longer.

“The market is of the view that if there's a fiscal tightening which causes a significant negative impact on economic prospects and the labor market, then the Fed will have to respond,” said Ian Stannard, head of European FX strategy at Morgan Stanley.

Financial markets have also had a long time to assess the potential impact of the cuts on growth and believe it is not tantamount to a recession trigger.

“There is no immediate and visible impact to the economy so markets are not seeing it as a tail risk,” said Ayako Sera, a market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.








DISEASE RESEARCH, WEAPONS HIT


If the cuts were to stay in place through September, the administration predicts significant air travel delays due to layoffs of airport security workers and air traffic controllers.


Some Pentagon weapons production could grind to a halt and the budget cuts would ripple through the sprawling defense contracting industry.


Meat inspections could get hung up, medical research projects on cancer and Alzheimer's disease canceled or curtailed and thousands of teachers laid off.


Instead of these indiscriminate cuts, Obama and Democrats in Congress urge a mix of targeted spending cuts and tax increases on the rich to help tame the growth of a $16.6 trillion national debt.


Republicans instead want to cut the cost of huge social safety nets, including Social Security and Medicare, that are becoming more expensive in a country with an aging population.


Meantime, Obama is edging closer to having to enforce the meat-axe approach.


By midnight, he is required to issue an order to federal agencies to reduce their budgets and the White House budget office must send a report to Congress detailing the spending cuts. In coming days, federal agencies are likely to issue 30-day notices to workers who will be laid off.



STILL TIME ON THE CLOCK

The question now appears to be how long the budget cuts will be allowed to happen. If budget cuts last only a few weeks, it is plausible they could have a marginal impact on growth and on employment. This is because some budget cuts won't translate into immediate spending cuts.

The Defense Department, for example, will probably not begin furloughing some 800,000 civilian workers until late April, after which these workers will work one day less per week. Budget cuts for capital spending could also be delayed.

The CBO estimates that only about half of the $85 billion in budget cuts planned from March through September would translate into lower spending during that period.

Once the furloughs and other spending cuts take hold, though, workers will feel the pinch, especially the 2.8 million people employed by the federal government.


Despite warnings that it had little flexibility on executing the cuts, White House budget office controller Danny Werfel outlined some steps that could come before major program cuts are instituted.

Federal travel, conferences and training classes could first be canceled, he said, as could worker bonuses and new hiring. Agencies have also been instructed to identify contracts and grants that could be canceled or delayed.

Even so, the process has already generated uncertainty among businesses that work with the federal government, as well as throughout the agencies that run Washington.

Referring to the partisan battles that have dominated budget fights for two years, Republican Representative Scott Rigell told Reuters: “This reminds me of a couple of crocodiles in a death grip underwater and they're running out of oxygen and we're all going down” with them.





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Scarred Duckbill Dinosaur Escaped T. Rex Attack


A scar on the face of a duckbill dinosaur received after a close encounter with a Tyrannosaurus rex is the first clear case of a healed dinosaur wound, scientists say.

The finding, detailed in the current issue of the journal Cretaceous Research, also reveals that the healing properties of dinosaur skin were likely very similar to that of modern reptiles.

The lucky dinosaur was an adult Edmontosaurus annectens, a species of duckbill dinosaur that lived in what is today the Hell Creek region of South Dakota about 65 to 67 million years ago. (Explore a prehistoric time line.)

A teardrop-shaped patch of fossilized skin about 5 by 5 inches (12 by 14 centimeters) that was discovered with the creature's bones and is thought to have come from above its right eye, includes an oval-shaped section that is incongruous with the surrounding skin. (Related: "'Dinosaur Mummy' Found; Have Intact Skin, Tissue.")

Bruce Rothschild, a professor of medicine at the University of Kansas and Northeast Ohio Medical University, said the first time he laid eyes on it, it was "quite clear" to him that he was looking at an old wound.

"That was unequivocal," said Rothschild, who is a co-author of the new study.

A Terrible Attacker

The skull of the scarred Edmontosaurus also showed signs of trauma, and from the size and shape of the marks on the bone, Rothschild and fellow co-author Robert DePalma, a paleontologist at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History in Florida, speculate the creature was attacked by a T. rex.

It's likely, though still unproven, that both the skin wound and the skull injury were sustained during the same attack, the scientists say. The wound "was large enough to have been a claw or a tooth," Rothschild said.

Rothschild and DePalma also compared the dinosaur wound to healed wounds on modern reptiles, including iguanas, and found the scar patterns to be nearly identical.

It isn't surprising that the wounds would be similar, said paleontologist David Burnham of the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, since dinosaurs and lizards are distant cousins.

"That's kind of what we would expect," said Burnham, who was not involved in the study. "It's what makes evolution work—that we can depend on this."

Dog-Eat-Dog

Phil Bell, a paleontologist with the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative in Canada who also was not involved in the research, called the Edmontosaurus fossil "a really nicely preserved animal with a very obvious scar."

He's not convinced, however, that it was caused by a predator attack. The size of the scar is relatively small, Bell said, and would also be consistent with the skin being pierced in some other accident such as a fall.

"But certainly the marks that you see on the skull, those are [more consistent] with Tyrannosaur-bitten bones," he added.

Prior to the discovery, scientists knew of one other case of a dinosaur wound. But in that instance, it was an unhealed wound that scientists think was inflicted by scavengers after the creature was already dead.

It's very likely that this particular Edmontosaurus wasn't the only dinosaur to sport scars, whether from battle wounds or accidents, Bell added.

"I would imagine just about every dinosaur walking around had similar scars," he said. (Read about "Extreme Dinosaurs" in National Geographic magazine.)

"Tigers and lions have scarred noses, and great white sharks have got dings on their noses and nips taken out of their fins. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and [Edmontosaurus was] unfortunately in the line of fire from some pretty big and nasty predators ... This one was just lucky to get away."

Mysterious Escape

Just how Edmontosaurus survived a T. rex attack is still unclear. "Escape from a T. rex is something that we wouldn't think would happen," Burnham said.

Duckbill dinosaurs, also known as Hadrosaurs, were not without defenses. Edmontosaurus, for example, grew up to 30 feet (9 meters) in length, and could swipe its hefty tail or kick its legs to fell predators.

Furthermore, they were fast. "Hadrosaurs like Edmontosaurus had very powerful [running] muscles, which would have made them difficult to catch once they'd taken flight," Bell said.

Duckbills were also herd animals, so maybe this one escaped with help from neighbors. Or perhaps the T. rex that attacked it was young. "There's something surrounding this case that we don't know yet," Burnham said.

Figuring out the details of the story is part of what makes paleontology exciting, he added. "We construct past lives. We can go back into a day in the life of this animal and talk about an attack and [about] it getting away. That's pretty cool."


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Sequester Set to Trigger Billions in Cuts












Nobody likes the sequester.


Even the word is enough to send shivers of fiscal panic, or sheer political malaise, down the spines of seasoned politicians and news reporters. And today, the sequester will almost certainly happen, a year and a half after its inception as an intentionally unpalatable event amid the stalemate of the debt-limit crisis in 2011.


Automatic budget cuts will be triggered across federal agencies, as President Obama will be required to order sequestration into effect before midnight Friday night. The federal bureaucracy will implement its various plans to save the money it's required to save.


Now that the sequester will probably happen, here are some questions and answers about it:


1. HOW BIG IS IT?


The cuts were originally slated for $109 billion this year, but after the fiscal-cliff deal postponed the sequester for two months by finding alternate savings, the sequester will amount to $85 billion over the remainder of the year. Over the rest of the year, nondefense programs will be cut by nine percent, and defense programs will be cut by 13 percent.


If carried out over 10 years (as designed), the sequester will amount to $1.2 trillion in total.


2. WHAT WILL BE CUT, SPARED?


Most government programs will be cut, including both defense and nondefense spending, with the cuts distributed evenly (by dollar amount) over those two categories.






Some vital domestic entitlements, however, will be spared. Social Security checks won't shrink; nor will Veterans Administration programs. Medicare benefits won't get cut, but payments to providers will shrink by two percent. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), food stamps, Pell grants, and Medicaid will all be shielded from the sequester.


But lots of things will get cut. The Obama administration has warned that a host of calamities will befall vulnerable segments of the population.


3. WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO BAD?


Questions persist over whether or not it really does.


The sequester will mean such awful things because it forces agencies to cut things indiscriminately, instead of simply stripping money from their overall budgets.


But some Republicans, including Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, have suggested that federal agencies have plenty of flexibility to implement these cuts while avoiding the worst of the purported consequences. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama of trying to "distort" the severity of the sequester. The federal government will still spend more money than it did last year, GOP critics of sequester alarmism have pointed out.


The White House tells a different story.


According to the Office of Management and Budget, the sequestration law forces agency heads to cut the same percentage from each program. If that program is for TSA agents checking people in at airports, the sequester law doesn't care, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano can't do anything about it.


Agency heads do have some authority to "reprogram" funds, rearranging their money to circumvent the bad effects. But an OMB official told ABC News that "these flexibilities are limited and do not provide significant relief due to the rigid nature of the way in which sequestration is required by law to be implemented."


4. WHEN WILL THE WORST OF IT START?


Not until April -- but some of the cuts could be felt before then.






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