Monday, December 31, 2012

The world welcomes 2013 in splendor and beauty

Major celebrations to welcome the new year have taken place in some of the world's most iconic locations throughout today.
Lavish and expensive fireworks lit up skylines in Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai and even the once-isolated country of Myanmar - also known as Burma - joined the countdown party for the first time in decades.
Much of Europe joined in the celebrations with revellers taking to the streets for fireworks in Athens, Berlin, Warsaw, and Rome.
Celebrations have been planned for around the world, including the traditional crystal ball drop in New York City's Times Square, where 1 million people are expected to cram into the surrounding streets.
Daily Mail brings the excitement and color from different parts of the world.

Check it out: 

Rise of online sperm donor

Increasing numbers of women are turning to internet sperm donors to become mothers after failing to find the man of their dreams.
Scores of women in their early twenties are logging on to websites such as and to find fathers for their children.
Many women, some of whom are as young as 18 or 19, say they are frustrated with relationships and have decided to face the challenge of parenthood alone.

According to The Sunday Times of UK, women under 25 make up a quarter of women registering on some sites, where they post pictures or themselves, as well as private information allowing potential donors to get in touch.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A fatal gap between science and policy

A little more than 30 years ago, a major UN conference on science and technology for development held in Vienna, Austria, ended on an upbeat note with an agreement in principle to set up a US$250-million fund to finance capacity-building projects.

Sadly, the heady optimism among delegates, which I remember vividly, was short lived. No major donations were received and science slipped off the international aid agenda for the next two decades, during which time the gap in scientific capacity between rich and poor nations grew larger.
Is the same happening with climate change?
Science communicators in general — and science journalists in particular — have a key role in bridging this gap. We must present scientific evidence to politicians and the public in a way that means such evidence becomes the basis for sound decisions.
The latest negotiations, COP 18, ended in Doha, Qatar, earlier this month with a similar agreement to establish a mechanism to transfer money from rich to poor nations to compensate for the "loss and damage" caused by rich countries' addiction to carbon-based fuels.
Judging from media reports, this decision was met with an enthusiasm similar to that at the 1979 Vienna conference.
But there is no binding commitment, and the possibility of significant money becoming available looks remote given that rich nations have so far failed to act on the 2010 promise to raise US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations cope with climate change.

Study links milk-producing protein to aggressive breast cancer

The discovery that a protein which triggers milk production in women may also be responsible for making breast cancers aggressive could open up new opportunities for treatment of the most common and deadliest form of cancer among women.
Found in all breast cells, the protein ELF5 tries to activate milk production even in breast cancer cells, which does not work and then makes the cancer more aggressive, according to scientists in Australia and Britain.
"The discovery opens up new avenues for therapy and for designing new markers that can predict response to therapy," said lead author Professor Chris Ormandy from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blackberrry usage in US plummet as it leads in Africa

Blackberry sales in the United States continues to plummet even as its makers, Research in Motion (RIM) explore new markets and expand reach in countries like Nigeria.  Nigeria
"Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry smartphones are still used by millions of people in the United States, but the smartphone market grew so quickly over the past year that RIM’s usage share has dwindled to almost nothing," writes Zach Epstein, an industry analyst.
An Ad firm, Chitika, recently conducted an 11-month study of RIM’s usage in the US.  Its findings suggest that mobile traffic from BlackBerry devices across its network plummeted 25% between September 2011 and July 2012. RIM’s smartphones and PlayBook tablet combined to account for as much as 5% of all mobile usage in the U.S. late last year but as of last month, that figure sank to just over 1%.
Writes Adams Thierer, a Forbes magazine contributor, in an article (Bye bye BlackBerry) on the dwindling fortunes of Blackberry in the US:
Just five years ago, “BlackBerry” was virtually synonymous with “smartphones.” It was well on its way to becoming a generic trademark, like Kleenex or Band-Aid, that would seemingly forever be associated with its entire sector. “For many, the Blackberry is a must-have gadget, a wireless hand-held computer that can send e-mail and make phone calls,” noted a 2005 NPR story on the “CrackBerry,” as some BlackBerry addicts referred to the device.
Today, however, Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, is a financial basket case that has come to symbolize just how turbulent life in the modern digital economy can be. 
Many Nigerians today like the blackberry because of such apps as the BB chat through which you can chat once have shared pin with the other person.  This enhances their capacity to communicate without necessarily being on the internet.
BB remains the choice phone for most young and middle class Africans. "Give me your BB pin" is often the first request after a new friendship has been struck in cities like Lagos, Abuja or Accra.
But I believe the excitement of BB will be short-lived once the android system gains ground in Nigeria.

Study suggests sperm numbers are falling in rich countries

As health scares go, the idea that sperm counts are plummeting across the industrialised world, probably as a result of chemical pollution that has an adverse hormonal effect, takes some beating. In 1992 a meta-analysis of 61 papers, published in the British Medical Journal, suggested they had fallen by half in the preceding half-century, from 113m per millilitre of semen to 66m. Since then, the decline has apparently continued. The most recent paper, just published in Human Reproduction, by Joëlle le Moal, Matthieu Rolland and their colleagues at France’s Institute for Public Health Surveillance, is also one of the most comprehensive yet.
Despite the apparent drop in sperm counts they found, there was no increase in the number of infertile men during the period of their study
Its conclusions are stark. The sperm count of the average Frenchman, say the researchers, fell by 32.2% between 1989 and 2005. At the same time, the proportion of properly formed sperm also fell, from 60.9% to 52.8%.

CFR launches Nigeria Security Tracker

New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an independent non-profit think tank has launched its Nigeria Security Tracker, an online project that documents and maps violence across Nigeria that are motivated by "political, economic, or social grievances.
"Different groups in Nigeria resort to violence. The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones," the group notes.
The project uses tableau to visually present statistics of the killings in the country by the Boko Haram sect and other militias.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Apps to help achieve New Year's resolutions

Whether it is improving health or managing finances better, about 87 per cent of Americans will make resolutions for next year and there are plenty of apps to help them achieve their goals.
Nearly half of New Year's resolutions are about setting health-related goals, which is the most popular category, according to a recent survey by online broker TD Ameritrade.
Rather than jumping into a rigorous fitness routine, a new app called 5K Runner suggests it might be better to ease into things slowly and focus on building sustainable habits. The iPhone app helps couch potatoes ramp up their running distance to 5 kilometres over the course of eight weeks.
"You're slowly building this routine into your daily life with a lot of success and after eight weeks you're literally running 5K, which is pretty big if (initially) you're not running at all," said Mr David-Michel Davies, the executive director of The Webby Awards, an annual ceremony honouring Internet companies.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trojan-horse therapy 'completely eliminates' cancer in mice

A hollow Trojan horse filled with soldiers was
supposedly used to enter Troy      (c)

An experimental "Trojan-horse" cancer therapy has completely eliminated prostate cancer in experiments on mice, according to UK researchers.
The team hid cancer killing viruses inside the immune system in order to sneak them into a tumour.
Once inside, a study in the journal Cancer Research showed, tens of thousands of viruses were released to kill the cancerous cells.
Experts labelled the study "exciting," but human tests are still needed.
Using viruses to destroy rapidly growing tumours is an emerging field in cancer therapy, however one of the challenges is getting the viruses deep inside the tumour where they can do the damage.
"There's a problem with getting enough virus into the tumour," Prof Claire Lewis from the University of Sheffield told the BBC.

She leads a team which uses white blood cells as 'Trojan horses' to deliver the viral punch.

Mayan Apocalypse: The world didn't end after all

 Thousands of people around the world anxiously awaiting the end of the world on Friday have seen the predicted time of the world's end come and go without incident.
The end of the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar on December 21st was thought by many to herald the apocalypse, with the end expected by many at 11.11 GMT. The date marks the end of an era that lasted over 5,000 years, or 13 "bak'tuns", according to the calendar.
Fears of mass suicides, power cuts, a magnetic shift in the poles, and a collision with a previously unsighted planet hurtling toward Earth circulated on the Internet in the run up to the day.
Events around the world to mark the date included gatherings at Mayan ruins, holy sites in southern Mexico, a sacred mountain in France, Stalin's bunker in Moscow, and Bugarach in the French Pyrenees, where doomsday believers waited for aliens to whisk them to safety.
But dawn broke in Mexico and the morning passed peacefully in France, where journalists outnumbered those seeking salvation and a party atmosphere prevailed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nutrition watchdog urges Beyoncé to drop $50m Pepsi deal

...Or donate proceeds to treat diabetes, obesity

A nutrition watchdog has urged Beyoncé Knowles to rethink her $50 million deal with Pepsi as the soft drink's "brand ambassador."
In a letter to the pop star, the Center for Science in the Public Interest told Beyoncé that by lending her name and image to the product, she is linking her "positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans" and is associated with weight gain, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
"I imagine that it must be hard for anyone to turn away $50 million. But this endorsement deal strikes me as particularly inappropriate considering your popularity with America's young people and the extent to which Pepsi and other sugar drinks promote disease" 
Along with offering Beyoncé a raft of statistics linking sugary drinks to disease, the CSPI also made the argument that almost all of obesity-related health problems have a disproportionate impact on low-income, African-American and Hispanic communities.
If Beyoncé goes ahead with the deal (it is after all, a nice chunk of change), then Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director, suggested that she "consider donating your proceeds to a hospital, diabetes organization or another reputable charity involved in the prevention or treatment of soda-related diseases.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who regulates the internet - the $100bn question

Hamadoun Touré is secretary-general of the ITU

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has always prided itself on being one of the most pragmatic organisations of the United Nations. Engineers, after all, speak a similar language, regardless where they come from. Even during the cold war they managed to overcome their differences and negotiate the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR), a binding global treaty that even today governs telecommunications between countries.
But the internet seems to be an even more divisive than cold-war ideology. The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, where the ITU met to renegotiate the ITR, ended in failure in the early hours of December 14th. After a majority of countries approved the new treaty, Terry Kramer, the head of the American delegation, announced that his country is “not able to sign the document in its current form.” Shortly thereafter, at least a dozen countries—including Britain, Sweden and Japan—signalled that they would not support the new treaty either. Of the 144 countries which had the right to sign the new treaty in Dubai, only 89 have done so.
America’s willingness to stand up for the internet should be welcomed. But it has to be said that in doing so it also defended its interests: no other country benefits as much from the status quo in the online world.

Adam Lanza: The medicalisation of evil

Lindsey Fitzharris, a medical historian at Queen Mary, University of London, did a very interesting article on the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.  Fitzharris worries why "we are so quick to assume that to commit such a crime Lanza must be 'sick'?"
Fitzharris' perspective is as thought-provoking as the blog posted recently by Liza Long, a mother of a mentally ill child in Idaho who recently wrote the article 'I am Adam Lanza's mother'.  Interestingly too it presents the other side in the debate.
"Anyone who has been watching the news over the past few days will have heard the gunman, Adam Lanza, described as "sick," "disturbed" and "defective". The perpetrator may indeed have suffered from mental conditions that led to his homicidal attack, but even before anything was known about Lanza (including his name), many people in the media assumed a crime of this magnitude could only be committed by a mentally unstable individual. Very little discussion – if any – was given to the role of personal responsibility in this tragic event. 
             Our concepts of deviant behaviour have changed over time, first being seen as a sin, then a crime and now a medical problem
It is an age-old question: what is evil? The answer, of course, is subjective. Many scholars have argued that our concepts of deviant behaviour have changed over time, first being seen as a sin, then a crime and now a medical problem.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Al-Shabaab fires recruiter over internet videos

Al-Shabaab fighters                                       (c) AFP

It turns out al Qaeda has the same problem as ordinary companies with employees who spout off on the Internet, making their bosses look bad.
Al-Shabaab, the Somali branch of al Qaeda, booted Abu Mansour al-Amriki out of the group after he posted video messages contrary to the terrorist organization's teachings.
Al-Amriki, who was born Omar Hammami in a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, had become a highly visible member of the group that once dominated central and southern Somalia.
For a time, al-Amriki was a key recruiter for the group, attracting Americans of Somali heritage to the country to fight for the terrorist group.
But things changed in March when al-Amriki posted a video saying he felt like he was at risk. "I feel that my life may be endangered by Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahideen due to some differences that occurred between us regarding matters of the sharia and matters of strategy."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Regular tea can lower odds of ovarian cancer

Drinking tea seems to lower odds of ovarian cancer, Australian research involving 1,000 women says.
Dada Su from Curtin University co-authored the study in China, involving 500 patients of ovarian carcinoma and the other half being unaffected, who completed a questionnaire about tea consumption. They drank a mixture of green, black and oolong tea.
"It's not just the duration of tea drinking but also quantity of tea and the frequency of intake as well"
Andy Lee, professor at the Curtin School of Public Health, who led the study, said a dose-response relationship has also been established.
It is not just the green tea but also the oolong and black tea drinking, which has a similar effect

Obesity killing three times as many as malnutrition

With the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, eating too much is now a more serious risk to the health of populations than eating poorly, found the Global Burden of Disease study, published in a special edition of The Lancet.
Across the world, there has been significant success in tackling malnutrition, with deaths down two-thirds since 1990 to less than a million by 2010.
"We have gone from a world 20 years ago where people weren’t getting enough to eat to a world now where too much food and unhealthy food – even in developing countries – is making us sick"
But increasing prosperity has led to expanding waistlines in countries from Colombia to Kazakhstan, as people eat more and get less everyday exercise.
Dr Majid Ezzati, chair of global environmental health at Imperial College London, and one of the lead authors of the report, said: “We have gone from a world 20 years ago where people weren’t getting enough to eat to a world now where too much food and unhealthy food – even in developing countries – is making us sick.”
Between 1990 and 2010 overall global life expectancy at birth rose by about five years. The ‘average’ boy born in 2010 can expect expect to live to 67.5 and the ‘average’ girl to 73.3.

Americans living longer, but not healthier - study

Americans have longer, but not necessarily healthier, lives due to high rates of preventable chronic disease, according to an annual report on the nation's health released on Tuesday.
Gains in life expectancy contrast with Americans' unhealthy behaviors, which have led to a 28 percent adult obesity rate, a diabetes rate of nearly 10 percent and a high blood pressure rate of more than 30 percent, according to United Health Foundation's 2012 America's Health Rankings.
All three conditions are considered risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
"As a nation, we've made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health"
Since 1990, premature deaths have declined by 18 percent, cardiovascular deaths have fallen 35 percent, and cancer deaths have slipped by 8 percent, the report said.
Americans' life expectancy was 78.5 years in 2009, 1.7 years above the level in 2000, the report said.
"As a nation, we've made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health," said Dr. Reed Tuckson, a medical adviser at the United Health Foundation and chief of medical affairs at the UnitedHealth Group.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

World end by Dec 21, SA man says "establish Dept of Esoteric Sciences"

It's another doomsday prediction in South Africa.
The country's Constitutional Court has received an “extremely urgent court application” for the appointment of an “investigative task team” to prepare for the end of the world on December 2, according to a SAPA report.

Robert Sefatsa, 38, a Soweto resident, also stated in papers handed in at court that the government needed to form a new department to prepare for judgment day next Friday.
He suggested that the new state department should be called the “department of paranormal and esoteric sciences”.
Sebatsa pointed out that according to the Mayan calendar, judgment day would be on December 21, and it was therefore a matter of extreme urgency that South Africa and other countries make their preparations for the apocalypse.
A commission of inquiry should include geologists, statisticians, astronomists, economists and extra-terrestrial technologists, and should be competent to cope with evacuation procedures, sea and air logistics, and resettlement, he said.

FBI arrest Facebook 'cybercrime ring' after they 'stole £525m'

Facebook has helped the FBI to bust an international hacking ring that stole more than £525million from unsuspecting computer users.
The gang are said to have infected 11million computers with spyware that stole credit card numbers and bank details to net one of the largest cybercrime hauls in history.
They used 'Yahos' malicious software to steal the financial details and other personal information.
Ten suspects have been arrested by FBI agents in connection with the hacking.
One of the people in custody lives in Molesey, in Surrey.
The social networking site's security team helped the agents snare the gang after 'Yahos' targeted its users between 2010 and October 2012, the agency said in a statement.

Doctors defeat leukemia with modified HIV

US doctors say they have saved a 7-year-old girl who was close to dying from leukemia by pioneering the use of an unlikely ally: a modified form of the HIV virus.

After fighting her disease with chemotherapy for almost two years and suffering two relapses, the young girl "faced grim prospects," doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said.
So in February this year they agreed to take her on in an experimental program that fought fire with fire.
Helped by a genetically altered HIV virus -- stripped of its devastating properties that cause AIDS -- doctors turned the girl's own immune cells into a superior force able to rout the "aggressive" leukemia.
Emily Whitehead was the first child and is one of only a handful of people in total to be given what's officially known as CTL019 therapy. The hospital stressed this could not yet be called "a magic bullet."
However in her case at least the success was dramatic.

Pope Benedict sends first tweet to over 1m followers

The Catholic pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI sent his first tweet today signaling one of the most high profile endorsement of the social media revolution in recent times.
According to Guardian of UK, "future generations of theologians will look back on today with a mixture of awe and reverence. For on the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year of the millennium, Pope Benedict XVI made his foray on to Twitter."
Although the pope may not send out each tweet -- an assistant will do it for him -- the Vatican insists that these "sparks of truth" will all have his input and approval. The pope is expected to tweet weekly and during papal ceremonies and feast days.
The pope's first @Pontifex tweet -- which was typed by an assistant but sent by Benedict -- already has nearly 35,000 retweets. According to the Vatican, papal tweets will from here on out be typed and sent by assistants, but written with Benedict's guidance.

Egypt court jails blogger for blasphemy

Alber Saber

Associated Press reports that a Cairo court today convicted Alber Saber, a Coptic Christian blogger who shared an 'anti-Islam' film on social networking sites and sentenced him to three years in prison for blasphemy and contempt of religion.
The case of Saber is one of several seen by rights advocates as a campaign led by Egypt's ultraconservative Islamists to curb free expression. 
Many of those targeted in the campaign are Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 85 million.
Saber was arrested Sept. 13, after neighbors complained he had shared on Facebook the amateur film made in the United States that sparked protests across the Muslim world. His arrest came during a wave of public outrage over the film, produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.
At the time, an angry mob surrounded Saber's house, calling for his death and accusing him of heresy, atheism and of promoting the "Innocence of Muslims" – the short film that portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

Ghana solar energy plant set to be Africa's largest

A UK firm has announced plans to build what it claims is the biggest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Africa.
The Nzema project, based in Ghana, will be able to provide electricity to more than 100,000 homes.
Construction work on the $400m (£248m) plant is due to start within 12 months.
The developers say that they are optimistic that finance for the project will be confirmed within six months.
Fully cooked
The initiative is being developed by Blue Energy, a UK-based renewable energy investment company.

Dozens of solar projects have been announced across Africa in recent years but few have been on this ambitious scale says industry analyst Ash Sharma at IMS Research. He says the 155 megawatt plant will increase Ghana's generating capacity by 6%.
"It is the biggest single project that's going ahead at the moment," he told BBC News.
"It is not the biggest in the world, but if it goes ahead it will be the biggest in Africa."
He says that a key element in helping the project go ahead has been Ghana's renewable energy law under which the plant has been awarded a feed-in tariff for 20 years. These are premium prices, guaranteed for the working life of the site.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Groups want Boko Haram designated FTO

A coalition of civil society organizations and christian groups are putting pressure on the US Department of State to designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization as the Islamic fundamentalist group continues to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians.
Those who wantonly commit genocide against Christians solely because of their faith should not be tolerated when available steps can be taken to thwart this kind of terror
 "Boko Haram is responsible for killing an estimated 3,000 Nigerians and citizens of 11 other countries—primarily Christians—in the last three years and has acknowledged it has ties to Somalian terrorist groups and Al Qaeda," the coalition noted in a release.
“Those who wantonly commit genocide against Christians solely because of their faith should not be tolerated when available steps can be taken to thwart this kind of terror,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. “Few organizations are as qualified to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization as Boko Haram is, and we encourage the State Department to make that designation as quickly as possible.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Boko Haram grows more deadly

The radical Islamist fighters gather around piles of weapons and ammunition they've stolen and shout praises to God as they shoot into the expanse of the African desert.
Those depicted in this video don't come from long-lawless Somalia, nor from al-Qaida North Africa branch. These extremists are from Boko Haram, the Islamist group in Nigeria that turned to wide-scale violence in 2009 over local grievances and largely focused their assaults in Maiduguri, the city where the sect started.
Now, Boko Haram seems to be growing more violent with a record number of people killed this year and slowly internationalizing its stance, a possible danger for the rest of West Africa.
More than 770 people have been killed in Boko Haram attacks so far this year making 2012 the worst year of violence attributed to the group.
"Weak border security as well as corruption — and even membership of immigration officials in Boko Haram — could facilitate the travel of militants between northern Mali and Nigeria," warned analyst Jacob Zenn in an October publication by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "The insurgency is likely to become more diverse and complex over time, which will limit the efficacy of negotiations."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy 20th birthday, text message

It was 20 years ago today that the first text message was sent. It was Dec. 3, 1992, and Neil Papworth, an engineer working in the UK, sent the world's first short message service or SMS. It read "Merry Christmas."
But while most are entering their prime at age 20, the text message might just be past its glory years.

The History -- In More Than 160 Characters 
Papworth, however, was in his prime when he hit the send button on that first text. At the age of 22, Papworth was working for a company called Semea Group Telecoms, which had been working on a mobile messaging project for Vodafone, a European cellular carrier.

"It happened that day that Vodafone wanted to try sending a message to Richard Jarvis, one of the directors there, who was at a Christmas party. So we sat at the computer and typed him a message and then sent him the message 'Merry Christmas,'" Papworth told ABC News. "For me it was just another day's testing, it didn't seem to be anything big at the time."

News Corps to stop iPad only publication The Daily

 The Daily, News Corp.’s attempt to create a newspaper for the iPad era, is shutting down after less than two years. The media giant said it will “cease standalone publication” of the app on Dec. 15.
It says that “technology and other assets from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into” News Corp.’s New York Post tabloid.
The app/newspaper has approximately 120 employees.
News Corp. made the announcement in the midst of other organizational changes in advance of the company’s upcoming breakup, which will spin off the company’s publishing assets into a new, separately traded company. Here’s Murdoch’s take on The Daily, via a press release:
From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term. Therefore we will take the very best of what we have learned at The Daily and apply it to all our properties. Under the editorial leadership of Editor-in-Chief Col Allan and the business and digital leadership of Jesse, I know The New York Post will continue to grow and become stronger on the web, on mobile, and not least, the paper itself. I want to thank all of the journalists, digital and business professionals for the hard work they put into The Daily.
Jesse Angelo, The Daily’s editor-in-chief, will become publisher of the Post; Daily publisher Greg Clayman will get a job heading up digital at the new publishing company. Earlier this year, The Daily cut a third of its staff.