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S: Agriculture

Situation Critical: Canada Loses Jobs, Ag Struggles to Attract Workers

Has anything received more talk and less action than Canada’s chronic farm labour shortage? The figure was a surprise to everyone. Threats to primary production are also threats to processing and competitiveness, especially if we can’t find people who’ll work in jobs that turn raw commodities into value-added products. But the council says despite these efforts, gaps exist and there will still be a large void in the future. Across Canada, the unemployment rate for young people is an embarrassing 13.3 per cent. In Ontario, commodity groups have banded together to try to get stakeholders onside for ag policies and programs that give farmers the latitude they need to produce food. Agriculture has looked after the employment gap to an extent with the temporary foreign worker problem, an admirable supply-and-demand initiative to fill jobs that Canadians don’t — or don’t think — they like to do. And the ag employment problem is critical.

U: Military science

DoD Personnel: Here’s How to Protect Yourself from Zika

By Katie Lange Everyone’s talking about it, and you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is found in tropical climates and is capable of carrying the Zika virus. But in the past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified a neighborhood in Miami where local transmission is occurring – meaning mosquitoes with the virus have officially arrived in the U.S. The CDC hasn’t gotten to test other “natural” products that aren’t registered with the EPA, so it’s unclear how effective they are. If you’re using sunscreen, too, lather that on first. For children: use your hands to apply repellent to their faces. You can also treat your clothing with permethrin, a synthetic chemical that’s used as an insecticide. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, so get rid of any in your yard, near your home or in your home. If you’re a female service member who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, make sure you talk to your health care provider before you leave for that affected area. So check out this page for specifics on what to do for that trip (and while you’re at it, you should also click here and here to see what military athletes will be competing there, so you know who you should cheer on). The CDC is continuing research on the spread of Zika during sex, but like any STD, your best prevention is to either use a condom or don’t have sex at all. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. For other than authorized activities such as…

Z: Books, Libraries, Library Science

Interview with Annie Downey about her new book, Critical Information Literacy

Horton, Freire, and other critical pedaogues encouraged teachers to start where their students were and then help them get where they wanted to be. Starting where the students are in order to make learning meaningful is a major rationale behind student-focused pedagogy. I am the breadwinner for my family of five and I work at an institution where it is much easier for faculty and students to take an ideological stance than for staff, including librarians. He was an educator in the third world, and his efforts to empower students had to do with their situation as members of an oppressed class. In what ways are his ideas about student empowerment and student perspectives relevant when you are talking about students who are privileged, like the students at your institution? When they question authority, is it the same thing? I can't imagine anything bringing home the importance of questioning authority like the current presidential election. It has turned older notions of information literacy on their head. And that is where the importance of talking about power with privileged and oppressed students alike really comes in. Students have to be able to understand and use sources outside of our expensive databases and they need to understand the power structures that put that info behind pay walls to begin with. When I urge students to analyze and question information power structures in my classes, I am also asking students to consider where they are and where others are…

R: Medicine

Stress Shortens Life

For the first time, scientists were able to identify a number of genes that appeared to be linked to mood and stress disorders as well as lifespan. In particular, the expression of a gene called ANK3 appeared to be correlated with our lifespan to some extent. The following downstream analyses of these genes first revealed that their expression changed with age. More intriguingly, for people who had severe mood disorders and/or were subjected to extreme life stressors, there was a marked change in the expression patterns of a series of genes that were also associated with reduced lifespans as well as premature ageing. The top gene from these 134 genes was ANK3, a gene discovered in recent years to be linked to mental disorders. A series of biomarkers were then generated by adding in the other genes that scored almost as high as ANK3, and similar results were obtained, especially in the samples from people who committed suicide. Importantly, mitochondrial dysfunction was found to be significantly linked to the candidate genes for stress and mood-regulated longevity. Notably, some of the genes identified in the described study were changed in an opposite direction in relation to a long lifespan in contrast to previous findings on Alzheimer's disease. Another interesting highlight of this study is that many of the top genes from this study were changed in an opposite direction in longevity when the gene expression patterns were compared with samples from…

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