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24 Hours Across Africa

African Union suspends Sudan from its activities.

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Source: Reuters

The African Union said on Thursday it had suspended Sudan until a civilian government was formed, intensifying international pressure on the country’s new military rulers to give up power.

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The moves take place after security forces cleared protesters from a sit-in camp in central Khartoum on Monday, killing dozens of people in the worst violence since President Omar al-Bashir was removed by the military in April after four months of generally peaceful protests.

The opposition had been in talks with an interim military council over a civilian-led transition to democracy, but the negotiations faltered and this week’s crackdown marked a turning point in the power struggle.The United Nations and several foreign governments have condemned the bloodshed.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council, in a meeting in Addis Ababa on Thursday, decided to suspend Sudan from all AU activities until a civilian government has been formed. Suspension is the African Union’s normal response to any interruption of constitutional rule in one of its members.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was due to visit Khartoum on Friday to try to mediate between the military and an opposition alliance, a diplomatic source at the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum said.

The source told Reuters that Abiy would meet members of the Transitional Military Council and the opposition’s Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces during his one-day visit.

Ethiopia hosts the headquarters of the African Union but it was not clear if Abiy would be acting under AU auspices.

DISPUTED TOLL

The Sudanese Health Ministry said on Thursday that 61 people had been killed in the crackdown but the opposition put the toll at 108.

The action was led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary force, witnesses said. Troops fired on unarmed protesters then mounted a wider operation crackdown in the following days, they said.

The RSF, commanded by the military council’s deputy leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, was built up from militias that fought insurgents in Sudan’s western Darfur region during a civil war that began in 2003.

The militias are accused of involvement of widespread atrocities in Darfur, and Bashir was indicted in 2009 and 2010 by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide – charges he denies. He is now detained in Khartoum.

Amnesty International called for international action against the military rulers and condemned the RPF for its role in the violence.

“The RSF, the special military force which killed, raped and tortured thousands in Darfur, brings its murderous rampage to the capital,” Amnesty said. “Reports that bodies have been dumped in the river demonstrate the utter depravity of these so-called security forces.”

The military council has denied the force was involved in any illegal actions and said it was facing a negative media campaign “from hostile parties”. The raid was targeting criminals in an area adjacent to the camp, it said.

Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, said the military council had launched an investigation into the violence and would punish anyone found guilt of abuses.

CYCLE OF IMPUNITY

The deployment of the RSF suggests that Dagalo, a former Darfur fighter with a fearsome reputation, is calling the shots, at least when it comes to security. He is close to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and has committed Sudanese troops to the military coalition they lead in Yemen’s civil war.

Amnesty said that Sudan’s recent history has been defined by impunity for war crimes and other human rights violations.

“We are urging the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council to break this cycle of impunity and take immediate action to hold the perpetrators of this violence accountable,” the London-based rights humans group said.

Meanwhile, movement began to return to the Sudanese capital on Thursday after some fraught days. Following the raid on the camp, protesters had blocked roads with rocks and burning byres.

Security forces led by RSF units have been trying to open roadblocks. Witnesses said traffic was now flowing again on main roads in Khartoum but many shops remained closed.

Sudan has been rocked by unrest since December, when anger over rising bread prices and cash shortages broke into protests against Bashir that culminated in the military removing him, ending his three decades in office during which the country became a pariah state in Western eyes.

In the wake of Monday’s events, the military council canceled all agreements reached with the opposition on a democratic transition and announced plans to hold elections within nine months. Protesters rejected the plan.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Got Pain? A Virtual Swim With Dolphins May Help Melt It Away

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Source: npr- Virtual reality is not new. But, as people search for alternative ways to manage pain — and reduce reliance on pills — VR is attracting renewed attention.

Imagine, for a moment you’ve been transported to a sunlit lagoon. And, suddenly, it’s as if you’re immersed in the warm water and swimming. That’s what Tom Norris experiences when he straps on his VR headset.

“It’s fantastic, I really feel like I’m there,” says Norris, who is 70 years old, retired from the military, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife. As dolphins frolic and swim by in the virtual scene, “I get a strong feeling of pleasure, relaxation and peace,” he says.

It doesn’t take long to produce that effect — about 10 minutes or so, via the headset.

Norris is no stranger to pain. He’s got chronic pain through his spine, back and hips, from injuries that go back years.

Ever since he was introduced to virtual reality, he’s been hooked. In addition to swimming with dolphins, he’s tried other VR experiences, such as wilderness walks.

Forest Bathing: A Retreat To Nature Can Boost Immunity And Mood

Forest Bathing: A Retreat To Nature Can Boost Immunity And Mood

“I relax. My attention is diverted and it makes the pain more manageable,” he says. Norris was on his deck when we spoke, drinking a morning cup of coffee and watching the hummingbirds. “Pain is part of my life,” he told me.

He uses lots of tools to help him cope, he says, including peer support groups, which he helps lead. But he says he finds VR particularly helpful. For him, the feeling of relaxation and ease that comes from a virtual swim with dolphins tends to linger for several days.

Can You Reshape Your Brain’s

Norris isn’t alone in his positive experience. A study published this month in the journal PLOS ONE is just the latest to document that an immersive, virtual reality experience can be an effective strategy for reducing pain.

VR “changes the way we perceive the pain,” explains study author Brennan Spiegel, a physician and the director of Cedars-Sinai Health Services Research in Los Angeles.

The research was done in a hospital where participants were undergoing treatment for various conditions; some were experiencing pain linked to cancer and others had orthopedic pain. “We divided the patients into two groups,” Spiegel explains.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has been testing the value of virtual reality devices in hospital settings for a number of years.

Courtesy of Cedars-Sinai

One group tried VR. They used Samsung Oculus headsets that were each fitted with a phone that had a VR app. Patients could select from a library of 21 VR experiences available on the app.

They were free to use the VR devices as much as they liked, but were advised to aim for three daily sessions, 10 minutes per session. The other group of patients got to watch a health and wellness channel on TV, as much as they wanted.

“We found that virtual reality reduced pain by about three times as much as watching TV did,” Spiegel says. Using a zero to 10 pain scale, the virtual reality experience led to a 2 point drop in pain, compared to a half-point drop for watching TV.

Spiegel’s study was partly funded by a grant from Applied VR, a company that sells VR software, but the company played no role in the conduct, data collection, data interpretation, or write-up of the study, he says.

It’s not exactly clear how VR works to help reduce pain perception, but pain specialists say there are likely multiple explanations. Distraction in just one element.

“When the mind is deeply engaged in an immersive experience, it becomes difficult to perceive stimuli outside of the field of attention,” Spiegel and his collaborators write in their journal paper. In other words, when something captures our attention and uses all our senses, we focus on it. It’s like a spotlight — and everything else falls into darkness — at last temporarily.

So, a virtual swim with the dolphins can overwhelm our visual, auditory and other senses. “VR is thought to create an immersive distraction that restricts the brain from processing pain,” the authors conclude.

The study adds to other evidence pointing toward potential benefits of VR to manage pain. Going back more than 15 years, studies have shown the technique to be useful in a range of settings — from helping people cope with anxiety to helping reduce acute pain during medical procedures, during physical therapy or during dental procedures. And, there’s some evidence VR can help with chronic pain, too.

Still, there are some unanswered questions, says Zachary Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University who has been involved in research on VR’s effect on pain. “Distraction is helpful for pain,” he says. “That’s an understood phenomenon. … But why should VR be better than any other kind of distraction?” he wonders.

Spiegel’s research “starts to answer this question,” says Rosenthal. “I do think this study moves the needle forward.”

If you’re new to virtual reality, Spiegel has some advice: “It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first, whenever self-treating symptoms. But in general, it is safe to use VR at home,” he says. About 5% to 10% of people who try it get cybersickness, which is basically a feeling of dizziness or vertigo, similar to motion sickness. So, it’s good to be aware of this risk.

“For people who own an Oculus Go or Oculus Quest [headset], I suggest Nature Trek, which is an outstanding set of content that is peaceful and meditative” for the treatment of pain, says Spiegel, who has no financial ties to the company. And there are other companies that make a variety of software specifically aimed at easing pain.

“For cheap and easy access to VR experiences, you can simply visit YouTube and search its massive library of free VR content,” Spiegel says. “If you want a virtual trip to the beach, type ‘VR beach’ into the YouTube search engine. Or ‘VR forest.’ It’s all there for the taking.”

VR is certainly not a panacea, but it can be another tool in the pain management toolkit. Spiegel and his collaborators say there’s still a lot to learn as to which types of VR may be most effective.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Nearly half of people don’t change their Underwear Daily- and some wear same for a week.

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Source: Mirrow- Recently we discovered that a worrying number of people aren’t washing their underwear correctly.

And now to make matters worse, we’ve just found out that there are plenty of people out there who don’t put on a clean pair of underwear everyday.

Yes, really.

According to new research by underwear maker Tommy John, around half of people in the US (45 percent) don’t change their underwear daily – and a disturbing 13 percent of those they spoke to even confessed to wearing the same pair of knickers or pants for an entire week.

Ew!

Men are 2.5 times more likely to wear the same pair of pants for seven or more days (stock photo)

It’s probably time to throw out your old undergarments and buy some new ones (stock photo) (Image: iStockphoto)

Men were found to be the worst for doing this, with the survey of 1,000 Americans showing that males are two-and-a-half times more likely than women to wear the same pants for seven days or longer.

The research also revealed that people felt a strong sense of loyalty for their underwear, with 46 percent of participants admitting that they had owned the same underwear for a year or more.

Around 38 percent also said they’d had their favourite underwear for so long, they couldn’t remember when they bought it.

But this behaviour goes against the company’s recommendations, as they advise their customers to throw out their old underwear and buy new pants every six months to a year.

This is because underwear collects bacteria that can lead to nasty infections in the long run.

And as for bras, Marks and Spencer’s bra fit expert and technical manager Julia Mercer recently spoke to MirrorOnline about when you need to get a new one.

She said: “In my opinion, a bra is at its best in its first year of being worn”.

So there you have it folks, if you’re wearing underwear you’ve had at home for more than a year, it’s probably time to nip to the shops and treat yourself to some fresh new ones.

@ Anttention Fresh,                
We work hard to ensure that any news brought to you is legitimate and valuable so we leave out the noise. This material, and other digital content on this website, may be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part BUT give us credit as your source. 

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