33132e387558994ab823e90195f8a34c.png

100 Middle Schoolers Refuse Photo-Op With Paul Ryan During D.C. Trip

Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may be the House Speaker and third in line for the presidency, but that reportedly didnt sway roughly 100 middle school students to take a photo with him earlier this week.

The students were visiting Washington, D.C., from New Jerseys South Orange Middle School on Thursday when they were offered the chance to pose with Ryan, according to reports.

Accompanying parents told New Jerseys Village Green that about half of the students opted not to stand beside him.

Its not just a picture, student Matthew Malespina told ABC 7 News of his decision not to join Ryan. Its being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.

Fellow student Wendy Weeks said she also opted to not take a photo, telling the Village Green that to have stood next to Ryan would have given the wrong impression of how she feels about him.

I think that taking the picture represents that you agree with the same political views and I dont agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it, said the eight-grader.

Win McNamee via Getty Images
The House Speaker has earned criticism for his tireless efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Not everyone felt this way or at least chose to pose with Ryan, who has helped repeal and replace former President Barack Obamas Affordable Care Act with the Republican-backedAmerican Health Care Act. Ryan reportedly wasnt even aware of the mass dissent, some students said.

Student Miles Handelman, who was one of those who went to stand with Ryan, said his appreciation rested with it being such a rare opportunity.

I thought it would be very cool just seeing the man who is the third most powerful man in our country. It would be cool, even if you disagree with him, he told ABC News.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/middle-schoolers-snub-paul-ryan_us_592b414ee4b0df57cbfc6c93

498c9311d83acce4413b51717c84485e.jpeg

After beating the worlds elite Go players, Googles AlphaGo AI is retiring

Googles AlphaGo the AI developed to tackle the worlds most demanding strategy game is stepping downfrom competitive matches after defeating the worlds best talent. The latest to succumb isGostop-ranked player,Ke Jie, who lost 3-0 in a series hosted in China this week.

The AI, developedby London-based DeepMind, which wasacquired by Google for around $500 million in 2014,also overcomea team of five top playersduring a week of matches. AlphaGofirst drew headlines last year when it beatformer Go world champion Lee Sedol, and theChina event took things to the next level with matches against19-year-old Jie, and doubles with and against other top Go pros.

Challengers defeated,AlphaGohas cast its last competitive stone, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis explained.

This weeks series of thrilling games with the worlds best players, in the country where Go originated, has been the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program. For that reason, the Future of Go Summit is our final match event with AlphaGo.

The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials.

Go is revered as the planets most demanding strategy game, and thats why it made for an ideal field to both develop AI technology and plot machines against humans. Beyond Google, Tencent is among other tech firmsto have unleashed AIs on the game. While it whips up curiosity and attention,the game simple servesas a stepping stone for future plans which is why DeepMind says it is moving on.

Indeed, the British companyhas already made a foray into more practical everyday solutions. Last year, it agreed to a data-sharing partnership with the UKs National Health Service, however the partnership has been criticized for givinga for-profit company access topersonally identifiable health data of around1.6 million NHS patients.The original arrangement remainsunder investigation by the UKs data protection watchdog, the ICO.

Those snafus arent a reflection on the technology itself, however, andHassabis remains bullishon the impact his firm can make.

If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We cant wait to see what comes next, he said.

While AlphaGo is bowing out at the top, it isnt done with Go altogether. DeepMind is planning to publish a final review paper on how the AI developed since its matches with Lee Sedol last year. It is also developinga teaching tool to help newcomers pick up the ropes of the highlycomplicated game, and to enable more experienced handsto learnthe new and innovative moves that Go has introduced. Top players, even Ke Jie himself, studied up on AlphaGos moves andadded someto their arsenal.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/27/googles-alphago-ai-is-retiring/

9dd7e4e39f687df436120d9126477f28.jpeg

How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has become the meme of the resistance

Image: Christopher Mineses / mashable 

Earlier this week, 18 women dressed up in red cloaks and white bonnets, stood in pairs in the rotunda of the Texas state capitol, and began chanting, “Shame!” in unison. They didn’t stop shouting for eight minutes.

They call themselves the Texas handmaids. You probably first saw them back in March, when images of their original protest in Austin went viral. That’s when they sat silently in the Texas senate gallery, watching as lawmakers debated bills that would make it harder for women to get an abortion.

What you may not know is that their demonstrations, inspired by Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale and Hulu’s vivid TV adaptation, are slowly spreading across the country.

Women are holding sewing parties to turn yards of blood-red fabric into capes. They’re swapping ideas on private Facebook pages about how to stage protests. They’re even planning a coordinated demonstration where dozens of handmaids simultaneously show up at state capitols or in other public places in cities across the country.

If the visually striking meme takes off, it could become one of the most effective acts of protest from the resistance. The sight of even a dozen women wearing the handmaid costume, while staying silent and keeping their heads down, offers a stark contrast to a group of mostly white men deliberating over what happens to their bodies. The imagery is practically made for the digital era.

The point, activists say, is to send a powerful message: We’re closer to a government that strips women of their bodily autonomy than you might think.

“The easiest way we try to explain it is that the handmaids represent a future where women are nothing more than their reproductive capacity,” says Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “Unfortunately, with the laws that are being passed, that future is not so unrealistic and not so distant.”

We’re closer to a government that strips women of their bodily autonomy than you might think.

The idea to enlist Texas women as handmaids started with Busby a few months ago. She happened to see women dressed as the title character from The Handmaid’s Tale at South by Southwest. That was a marketing stunt by Hulu, the streaming entertainment provider that brought Atwood’s novel to the small screen.

But Busby then joked on Facebook about how someone should send the handmaids down to the capitol, where lawmakers had been busy introducing bills that would curtail abortion rights. Soon NARAL Pro-Choice Texas ordered white bonnets from Amazon Prime and a volunteer rented red capes. A small group of volunteers quickly drew up a plan. They liked the element of surprise in showing up at the capitol in costume and wanted to let legislators know that women were watching.

After that yielded local and national press coverage of the legislative agenda in Texas, activists around the country started reaching out to Busby for tips on how to start their own handmaids brigade.

You could argue that all of this is moot, that the United States is nowhere close to becoming the Republic of Gilead, The Handmaid’s Tale‘s totalitarian, theocratic state that freezes women’s bank accounts, forbids them to work, sends them to re-education camps, and forces many of them to bear children for leaders and their wives.

The New York Times‘ conservative columnist Ross Douthat argued this week that liberals are seeing the wrong parallels. On the same day, Times op-ed contributor Mona Eltahawy wrote that the Republic of Gilead already exists in Saudi Arabia, where women can’t drive and may be imprisoned for disobedience. For her part, Atwood has said that nothing in her novel hasn’t already happened before in history.

“I still have a credit card, I still have a nice car, but I can feel the future here.”

For the volunteers who are deep into the work of creating and wearing the costumes in public, it’s not about whether they still have credit cards or the right to get a job. What they see is the federal and state governments largely in the hands of conservative, even authoritarian, men who’ve vowed to defund Planned Parenthood and roll back reproductive health rights like abortion and access to affordable birth control. At the same time, those men plan to funnel money to abstinence-only education and vouchers for “school choice,” which includes religious schools.

The fact that they’re led by Donald Trump terrifies these women.

“We have somebody in the White House who thinks it’s OK to grab women and do whatever he wants, and I’m supposed to sit back and be cool with that?” says Emily Morgan, executive director of Action Together New Hampshire, an activist group that emerged in the wake of Trump’s election.

Earlier this month, Morgan contacted Busby for details on how to create handmaid costumes. But instead of bringing women into the New Hampshire legislative gallery during a debate or hearing, Morgan and her co-organizers asked them to appear at a press conference calling for the resignation of Rep. Robert Fisher, a Republican who The Daily Beast identified in April as the creator and former moderator of Reddit’s popular men’s rights “Red Pill” forum. The message board bills itself as a “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men,” and Fisher regularly questioned whether rape is real, according to The Daily Beast. (Fisher resigned later in the day following the press conference.)

A sexual assault survivor with handmaids demanding Rep. Robert Fisher’s resignation, on May 17, 2017, in Concord, N.H.

Image: Granite State Progress

“Fisher and the Red Pill embody exactly what The Handmaid’s Tale is a foreshadowing of or is a warning against,” Morgan says. “Saying that we’re not there it’s sort of degrading to what’s actually happening to women.”

In the days before the press conference, volunteers made six costumes, but some of the women bowed out after learning the media would be in attendance. Morgan says they feared in-person and online harassment. Nevertheless, she thinks more women will step forward to participate in upcoming demonstrations, particularly since volunteers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are sewing new cloaks so that activists in New England quickly have access to them for future protests.

The time-intensive, costly aspect of buying the bonnets and making the cloaks is one challenge to growing the handmaid ranks. There’s also the danger that different groups will splinter in an effort to launch the first nationwide demonstration. Morgan is moderating a private Facebook page to coordinate a national action. A similar page started by one of the Texas handmaids has close to 300 members.

The handmaids’ signature costumes are also a relatively obscure reference compared to pussyhats, the knit pink caps that have become a symbol of the resistance. But they’re also memorable even if you don’t know the origin.

Ane Crabtree, the costume designer for the Hulu series, says the outfit’s visual power is rooted in both the bright red color, which can signify blood, birth, and passion, and how the cloak conceals women who wear it. The combination tells the viewer what she needs to know about how the body underneath the costume is oppressed.

“It’s an easy form of expression to say that everything’s been taken away and is being taken away, and its a real thing,” says Crabtree, who is encouraged and inspired by people making their own version of the costume.

Deborah Marsh, a 65-year-old retiree who is one of the Texas handmaids, says people who get the reference often approach her on the street or in the capitol’s rotunda to thank her profusely for the act of defiance. Some, however, have seen the symbolism and don’t like it. Marsh says a few people on the street have had “outbursts” or called the women “pathetic.”

Joe Pojman, executive director of the anti-abortion rights nonprofit group Texas Alliance for Life, seemed to criticize the handmaids a few times, focusing on the fact that they’ve used smartphones while silently protesting in the gallery, a silly point that Marsh feels makes their case about men who are obsessed with policing women’s behavior.

What Marsh didn’t expect was how confident she would feel while wearing the costume. “It’s such a bold costume, it’s making such a bold statement,” she says. “And my body is inside that costume, so why wouldnt I feel bold? Why wouldn’t I feel empowered?”

Among reproductive rights activists like Marsh, the Texas legislature is infamous for its anti-abortion legislation. In 2013, the state passed a law that effectively led to the closure of dozens of abortion clinics, which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional last year. The Republican-led legislature recently voted to ban the safest type of second-trimester abortion and require hospitals and abortion clinics to bury fetal remains, including those from miscarriages that happen at home. Texas has already moved to keep Planned Parenthood from state and federal funding.

In other words, as Texas limits access to both abortion and reproductive health care like birth control, it’s easy to imagine a future in which women have little practical control over how and when they have children. That vision shouldn’t be limited to Texas either; other Republican-dominated states are pursuing a similar agenda with regard to limiting access to reproductive health care, as is the Trump administration.

“I still have a credit card, I still have a nice car, but I can feel the future here,” Marsh says. “If [people] aren’t affected by it today, they are going to be affected by it in four yours. Texas is a little bit ahead of the game.”

“Am I going to change someones mind who is pro-life? I dont expect that. Im aiming higher. I want to change the culture.”

Stephanie Martin, a mom from Round Rock, in central Texas, who recently dressed up as a handmaid for the first time, says she’s realistic about who the message is going to reach.

“Am I going to change someone’s mind who is pro-life?” she asks. “I don’t expect that. I’m aiming higher. I want to change the culture.”

It’s still early to gauge exactly how that culture will respond beyond the videos and photos that have gone viral. But the parallel between the male aggression and control that characterizes Gilead feels particularly fresh in a week where a Republican congressional candidate body slammed a reporter for asking a question he didn’t like, and the president appeared to shove aside a European leader to get a better position in a photo-op.

Let’s not forget the complicity of Ivanka Trump, who promotes herself as a champion of gender equality but says nothing critical about healthcare and budget proposals that are arguably hostile to women. Nor can we ignore the benign-looking malevolence of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who couldn’t come up with a single instance of discrimination at publicly funded schools that would give her pause when asked about it at a congressional hearing. In Gilead, after all, the women who are not outrightly oppressed get the privilege of wielding what small power they have against the vulnerable and marginalized.

Morgan admits that some people won’t make connections between what’s happening today and Atwood’s fiction. Yet she urges skeptics to focus less on a dramatic, sweeping end to women’s rights. What’s more important, at this point, is the underlying implication of attitudes and laws that see no harm in making it more difficult or even impossible for women to determine their own fate.

“These are steps on the same path,” she says of the parallels between Gilead and Trump’s America. “You have to start somewhere.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/28/handmaids-tale-protests-costumes/

513290ea24a81c97acb724e5ceb35a5a.jpeg

The vibrators and sex toys for her pleasure

Its no secret that a good bedroom toy is a girls best friend. But if youre a woman browsing the internet for a new self-pleasure device, the wealth of options these days could set your head spinning. And not in the cute, made-my-toes-curl and sent-me-to-another-planet kind of way.

Thats why weve scoured the options to find you the best of the best. Whether you want some light tickling, deep vibrations, or kinky new sensations, here are the best toys for all your pleasure needs.

The best sex toys for women

The Classics

The Hitachi Magic Wand is an old standby that many women still swear by. Its a simple massager that you can use all over and it delivers powerful vibrations. And the price cant be beat. You can snag one on Amazon for about 50 bucks. And if you want to jazz it up, Hitachi offers a variety of attachments.

Magic Wand Massager

Another old favorite is the Rabbit. You know, the one from that Sex and the City episode where Charlotte refuses to leave her apartment because she loves her new toy a little too much. That one. The Rabbit is a terrific toy if you want both clitoral stimulation and dynamic penetration. The original Rabbit Habit toy has a rabbit that stimulates your clitoris while tumbling beads create a motion in your ocean. And at just over $40 on Amazon, its a real bargain.

The Rabbit

If you feel like an update on an old classic, the Lelo Ina Wave reimagines the Rabbit’s style with higher-quality materials and a sleeker design. Its a bit of a splurge at $199, but Lelo frequently offers discounts, and users report that its well worth it.

Lelo The Intent

The Innovators

Its no secret that many women prefer external stimulation when trying to achieve an orgasm. If youre looking for a toy that will give your clitoris all of the attention, then Jimmy Janes Form 2 could be your dream come true. The Form 2 has two flexible ears that you can manipulate to squeeze, tickle, and surround the clitoris with a range of vibrations from soft and gentle to deep and intense. It retails for $149.

Form 2

One of the most exciting options on the market is the Womanizer. The wave of the future might just be the Womanizer, a toy with a rather unfortunate name that uses suction to create indirect clitoral stimulation. Users report intensely satisfying results and orgasms that are a new sensation. Most models will run you about $200, but the Womanizer Pro40 is currently available for $129 (down from $299), and the Womanizer2Go, an adorably discreet mini version that looks like a lipstick, is available for pre-order at $169.

Womanizer Pro40

Fun and Flirty

For all-over play, we love Je Joues Mimi. The versatile, intuitive shape allows you to stimulate the labia and clitoris at the same time, or apply pin-point precision wherever you want it. The Mimi Soft offers users a uniquely pleasing texture and, at $95, just a few bucks more than the regular Mimi ($89), it’s an upgrade you won’t regret.

Je Joue MIMI 5

For a cute vibe that travels well, the brightly colored WeVibe Tango cant be beat. Its lightweight, waterproof, and charges up quickly. We love the flat tip which offers users versatile stimulation. And at just $79, it wont break the bank.

We-Vibe Tango
READ MORE:

Down and Dirty

If youre looking to explore, Lelos Billy is the perfect toy for vaginal or anal stimulation. Lelo markets the Billy ($139)for male prostate stimulation, but its actually a great toy for women and its vibrations are more intense than its female counterparts. The Billy is a comfortable just right size for beginners and experienced users alike, and offers a variety of pulse settings. Its vibrations progress from gentle foreplay to rapid-fire intensity and are sure to leave you satisfied.

LELO BILLY

And lets not forget, toys dont need to vibrate to offer exciting stimulation. The Njoy Pure Wand is perfect for deep penetration and a crowd favorite for G-spot stimulation. Its made of stainless steel, has a sleek and elegant design, and is sure to become a lifelong friend. You can get one for $110.

Njoy Pure Wand

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/best-vibrators-sex-toys-for-women/

5c11f15ff9d9b92fe35be35ba46a89e5.jpeg

Smile pretty:How to whiten teeth without the chemicals

 (iStock)

Theres no denying that teeth whitening has been on the rise for the past decade. This is especially the case among the age group of 40- to 60-year-olds, for whom it is the most requested procedure, according to the American Dental Association. This could be due to the fact that stains from products like red wine, coffee, and tobacco only build up over time, leading to a demand for whiter teeth later in life.

But in-office whitening procedures can be expensive (Americans pay an average of $600 per visit for in-office teeth-whitening procedures), and over-the-counter whitening methods can have ill effects on some people, such as gum irritation, tooth sensitivity, bluish enamel, uneven whiteness, and more. Add to this the fact that no over-the-counter bleaching products have received the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, and are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration. Luckily, there are some great natural teeth whitening methods that you can try. They’re affordable, safe (when done properly), and will leave you with a great, white smile.

Some of the items in our infographic below may even be in your household currently, like bananas! By rubbing a portion of the inside of a ripe banana peel on your teeth, you could help to remove stains. Or, you can create a mixture of baking soda and salt to occasionally brush your teeth with in order to whiten up your smile. Turmeric, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal, and hydrogen peroxide are some other all-natural options that won’t break the bank or harm your teeth or gums.

Read on for more natural whitening tips and options, and be sure to pay attention to how often it is recommended, as some of these can be abrasive if done too often.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/11/27/smile-pretty-how-to-whiten-teeth-without-chemicals.html

ccd1bc8d8368d80a843aa6ae3d1c0f54.jpeg

9 prostate cancer myths, debunked

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates about 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 26,730 men will die from it.

The good news is that survival rates for prostate cancer are high, but experts say there are several myths out there about how its diagnosed and treated, and how it may affect mens health and sex lives.

THE DISEASES YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO GET AS A MAN AND WOMAN

To help you tell fact from fiction, Fox News sifted through the research and talked to some of the top prostate cancer experts to unpack the most common myths about prostate cancer.

1. Its an old mans disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, six in 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men ages 65 and older. Although many men think prostate cancer is something they need to start thinking about in their 60s, men as young as 40 are diagnosed with prostate cancer too.

Whats more, screening all men between ages 45 and 49 for prostate cancer can predict almost half of all deaths several decades later, a 2013 study in the journal BMJ found.

2. There are no symptoms.
Its true that many men with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, even for those who have metastatic disease.

Many symptoms of prostate cancer can also mimic other benign conditions like prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or another type of cancer.

Nevertheless, if you notice urinary frequency, urgency, a slow or weak flow or an obstruction of the flow, blood in your urine or ejaculate, bone pain, or unexpected weight loss, you should see your doctor to be evaluated, Dr. Chung-Han Lee, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Westchester in West Harrison, New York, told Fox News.

HAVING GRAY HAIR MAY INCREASE YOUR RISK OF THIS DISEASE

3. Blood PSA levels are only one way to make a diagnosis.
High blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels usually indicate prostate cancer, but the only definitive way to diagnose it is with a prostate biopsy, Lee said.

4. You must start treatment right away.
If youre diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor will first determine the stage and your risk group low, intermediate or high-risk before deciding on a treatment plan. Hell also take into account other conditions you may have, like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as your smoking history, before deciding on the course of treatment.

If you have other medical problems but a low-grade prostate cancer, for example, your doctor may hold off on treatment. Yet if youre otherwise healthy and have an aggressive form of prostate cancer, treatment may be done earlier.

LOWER YOUR RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND 4 OTHER DISEASES THROUGH DIET

5. Natural remedies can help.
Selenium, alkaline water, high-dose vitamin C, and even a combination of maple syrup and baking soda have been cited as ways to prevent and treat prostate cancer. 

The thinking behind them is, If you alkalize your blood then cancer has a hard time surviving because cancer cells love an acidic environment, Dr. Geo Espinosa, a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor in New York City, and author of, Thrive, Dont Only Survive, told Fox News. Yet experts agree theres no evidence any of these can help.

6. Surgery will end your sex life.
Surgery will likely cause impotence at least initially, but most men will regain the ability to become erect with treatments such as Kegel exercises.

How the surgery will impact your sex life depends on whether or not your doctor has to remove the nerve bundles that run on either side of the prostate. If they can save at least one of them, then they can still have erections, sometimes with assistance, Lee said. Medications like Viagra or injections, or a a penile implant or pump can help. 

ARE PENILE IMPLANTS SAFE?

7. Diet and lifestyle dont matter.
You might think theres no way to reduce your risk for prostate cancer, but diet and lifestyle actually play a significant role.

Diets low in carbohydrates and sugar like the Mediterranean diet, and moderate to vigorous exercise three to four hours a week have been shown to help prevent the disease.

Its also a good idea to get 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure sans sunscreen on 40 percent of your body, or talk to your doctor about a supplement, as low levels of vitamin D may predict aggressive prostate cancer, a 2016 study out of Northwestern Medicine found.

Also, herbs like curcumin and boswellia lower inflammation and reduce biological markers that contribute to cancer, Espinosa said.

12 TIPS FOR MEN TRYING TO CONCEIVE

8. Treatment is a cure.
Within 10 years of prostate cancer treatment, 40 percent of the time PSA levels will start to rise again, Espinosa said. Its also not uncommon to be diagnosed and treated for low-grade prostate cancer and years later be diagnosed again with metastatic prostate cancer.

If youve have prostate cancer, its important to be monitored roughly every three to six months within the first one to two years of treatment, After two years, you should get checked out every six to 12 months. If the PSA is undetectable after five years, you should be monitored every 12 months.

9. Its fatal.
The risk that prostate cancer will be fatal depends on how aggressive it is and the other medical conditions you may have.

The good news is that for all stages of prostate cancer, the survival rates are high: The five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent; the 10-year survival rate is 98 percent; and the 15-year survival rate is 95 percent.

Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/05/22/9-prostate-cancer-myths-debunked.html

b33ddcd36ef6b4563533782f2acb496f.png

These Parents Put Their Baby On A Fad Diet. Weeks Later, He Wad Dead.

In hopes of losing a few extra pounds, many of us turn to fad diets to try and drop the weight in just a few weeks.

And fad dieting has reached critical mass in the age of social media, where trends abound. While these nutrition trends can have some unusual side effects, they are generally safe for otherwise healthy adults to try without any major health risks, but the same cannot be said for small children.

Just about any doctor would tell you that your little one needs all the nutrients they can get, so restrictive dieting just isn’t called for when babies are involved. The consequences of heavily restricting your child’s diet can be deadly. This couple from Belgium knows a thing or two about that.

The parents of seven-month-old baby Lucas diagnosed their son with a gluten intolerance without input from a physician and forced him to eat a restrictive gluten-free diet.

The well-intentioned but ill-informed parents began feeding him alternative milk products such as rice milk and quinoa milk.

Lucas was never diagnosed by a medical doctor, and in the days leading up to his death, the boy began experiencing breathing problems.

Read More: This Poor Boy’s Life Could Have Been Spared But His Parents Refused To Get Him Help

They rushed their son to a homeopathic doctor, who recommended that he be taken to a local hospital.

Once at the hospital, it wasn’t long before Lucas was pronounced dead. An autopsy later revealed that the boy was severely dehydrated when he died and almost no trace of food was found in his stomach or even his intestines.

In court, the couple’s attorney tried to express the idea that they really thought Lucas had a problem tolerating gluten. It remains to be seen how this will play out for the grieving pair.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/fad-diet-mishap/

e74be7d35ef897a0e4388876cff05d52.jpeg

Rare cigarette paintings up for auction – BBC News

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Original artwork of people smoking and children handing out cigarettes, which once hung inside England’s last tobacco factory, are set to go to auction.

About 120 “artefacts” are up for sale following the closure of Imperial Tobacco’s Horizon factory in Nottingham, in March 2016.

The building, known as Players, after founder John Player, had the pictures displayed across five floors.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

The rare paintings, which formed the basis of the company’s advertising campaigns, have never been on public display, the auctioneer said.

The Horizon building, which was built in 1972 at a cost of 14m, was one of the most modern factories of the time.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

The oil and watercolour paintings depicting children playing with cigarettes and women gleefully smoking, were painted before awareness of smoking’s health risks became more widespread in the 1950s.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Robert Opie, director of the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, said: “Before the Second World War, most people were unaware of the dangers of smoking.

“Indeed, the art of smoking had become glamorised by the great film stars of the 1920s and ’30s, and a well-directed cigarette holder could help underline many a dramatic statement.

“In this era of innocence, whether it was the appeal of women (who were still to take up smoking in large numbers), sportsmen, or even children, they were all used to advertise cigarette brands in just the same way that custard, biscuits or toffee would have been promoted.”

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Trevor Palethorpe, from John Pye Auctions, said the “rare paintings” had only been seen by a small number of people and had never been on public display.

He added that the collection included an “eclectic range of pieces that have a strong history attached to them”.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco, which had factory blocks in the Radford area of Nottingham, made more than one million cigarettes a day and employed up to 7,000 people at its height in the 1930s.

It was one of the biggest employers in the city for decades before the Horizon factory closure when about 500 people lost their jobs.

A spokeswoman for John Pye Auctions said there was no figure on the total value or estimated value of the lots.

The public can view the items at the auctioneers’ Marchington site, in Staffordshire, on Monday, and Trent Bridge Cricket Ground on 6 June, before the online auction ends on 14 June.

Image copyright Imperial Tobacco

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-40046132

3c4f511c1942379385240e3c8d6b33b8.jpeg

Anna Joness party recipes for noodle bowls and dumplings | The modern cook

Anna Jones recipes: Its party time, and where theres drink, there should be food which must be friendly, fresh and flavoursome, like these little peanut noodle bowls and mini squash dumplings

I am that person at a party, desperately following the one tray of vegetarian canapes around, trying to sneak a second mouthful before I get noticed. I cant count the number of parties I have left a little bleary because there just wasnt anything to eat. As far as I am concerned, where theres drink, there should be food for everyone. So I have three things I keep in mind when I am making food for a party.

While its hard to cater to all tastes and whims, I cook food that I hope almost everyone can eat. This is a party and no one wants to feel left on the sidelines. Party food should be friendly, not too fussy, casual and convivial. Canapes arent my thing; I prefer something a little more substantial, colourful and full of flavour. One thing I always crave at a party is light, fresh food especially with champagne or anything bubbly. I like a hit of freshness and chilli to pep everyone up, clean flavours that sing. Punchy Asian flavours, like the recipes below, are what I want when Im chatting and sipping a drink.

Little peanut noodle bowls

These little bowls of bun cha a fragrant, delicate rice noodle salad are a take on the original Hanoi recipe. Ive made it my own with chilli-spiked peanut butter tofu. Its half noodles, half salad, all flavour. Here many of my favourite things jump into the same bowl: crispy tofu, bright and zippy vegetables and sprightly herbs. For a quick assembly, have everything prepped and lined up and your bowls in a row so you can quickly drop each element in and move on to the next. If you can get your hands on some Vietnamese basil, mint, coriander and perilla, it would take this bun cha to the next level, but Ive kept it simple with mint and coriander here.

Makes 10 small bowlfuls
For the tofu
400g firm tofu, chopped into 5mm fingers
2 red chillies
2 garlic cloves
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp peanut butter
Coconut oil

For the noodles and veg
250g rice vermicelli
1 small iceberg lettuce
2 large carrots
1 cucumber
4 spring onions
1 ripe avocado
A small bunch of fresh coriander
100g unsalted peanuts
A small bunch of fresh mint or other herbs (see introduction)

For the dressing
A small thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp runny honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp sesame oil
Good dash of chilli sauce

1 Put the tofu into a bowl. Finely chop the chilli, garlic and lemongrass. Set aside half the chilli and garlic and add the rest to the bowl of tofu with all the lemongrass, the soy sauce and half the lime juice. Set aside to marinate.

2 Mix the other half of the lime juice with the peanut butter and a splash of water and set aside.

3 Put the vermicelli into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 3 minutes, or follow the packet instructions.

4 Shred the lettuce. Cut the carrots and cucumber into matchsticks. Finely slice the spring onions. Slice the avocado thinly. Roughly chop the coriander and do the same to the peanuts.

5 Make the dressing by mixing the reserved chilli and garlic with the rest of the dressing ingredients.

6 Heat a pan and add a little coconut oil. Drain the tofu, reserving the marinade. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu to the pan and fry until browned on all sides, then add the peanut butter mixture and the reserved marinade, and toss together to coat. Take it off the heat.

7 Pile the drained noodles into the bowls and top with the vegetables, coriander, peanuts and roughly torn mint (or other herbs if you have them). Put the tofu and any marinade left in the pan on top and pour the dressing over. Each guest can mix up their own bowl.

Anna
Well worth the effort Anna Joness mini squash and chive dumplings. Photograph: Issy Croker for the Guardian


Mini squash and chive dumplings

These take time to put together: I enlist a couple of helpers for gyoza folding. The finished dumplings will be more than worth the effort. They can be made ahead and frozen if you like. You can make gyoza pastry yourself, but I always buy it. Youll find packets of fresh or frozen in most Asian supermarkets (and theyre available online). If you are using frozen gyoza wrappers, make sure they are defrosted before you use them: itll take 30 minutes. Cover them with a slightly damp piece of kitchen paper to stop them drying out.

Makes about 30 dumplings
red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
200g white cabbage, roughly chopped
200g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
tbsp soy sauce
A small bunch of chives, chopped
30 gyoza wrappers
Groundnut or vegetable oil

For the dipping sauce
8 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
8 tbsp brown rice vinegar
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 To make the filling, put the chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped (or pound by hand if you like).

2 Add the cabbage and squash to the food processor bowl, along with the sesame oil and soy, and blitz again until you have a coarse paste (you can finely chop the cabbage and grate the squash if you dont have a food processor). Scrape the mixture into a bowl and mix in the chopped chives.

Assembling
Assembling the squash and chive dumplings. Photograph: Issy Croker for the Guardian

3 To assemble the dumplings, youll need the filling, the gyoza wrappers, a bowl of cold water and a clean tray. Take one of the wrappers from the pile and put it in the palm of your hand: you will need to do this slowly and carefully. Keep the rest of the wrappers covered with damp kitchen paper to stop them from drying out. Spoon a heaped tablespoonful of the filling into the middle of the wrapper dont be tempted to overfill or it will be hard to seal. Use your finger to dampen the edge of the wrapper with a little water. Fold the wrapper in half, pleat the edge and press downto seal completely. Keep going until youve used up all the filling. The dumplings can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a few months.

4 When you are ready to cook the dumplings, make your dipping sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

5 Put a little oil in a nonstick frying pan big enough to hold at least 8 dumplings and put on a medium heat, remembering that you need to cook them in a single layer. As the pan starts to warm, put the dumplings in with their flat bottoms on the base. Fry them until they are golden underneath.

6 As soon as the bottoms are crisp, pour in hot water halfway up the side of the dumplings. Turn the heat up, bring the pan to the boil and cover with a lid. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes.

7 When the dumplings are cooked, remove the lid and turn the heat up to high. The water should have almost evaporated. You now want to cook them for a final minute or so until the bottoms get nice and crisp. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/28/peanut-noodle-bowls-squash-dumplings-recipe-anna-jones-the-modern-cook

a3792a2266143e74cb1d897aa4726a1b.jpeg

Wild Amazon faces destruction as Brazils farmers and loggers target national park

The Sierra Ricardo Franco park was meant to be a conservation area protecting rare wildlife

To understand why the Brazilian government is deliberately losing the battle against deforestation, you need only retrace the bootmarks of the Edwardian explorer Percy Fawcett along the Amazonian border with Bolivia.

During a failed attempt to cross a spectacular tabletop plateau here in 1906, the adventurer nearly died on the first of his many trips to South America. Back then, the area was so far from human habitation, the foliage so dense and the terrain so steep that Fawcett and his party came close to starvation.

He returned home with tales of a towering, inaccessible mesa teeming with wildlife and irrigated by secret waterfalls and crystalline rivers. By some accounts, this was one of the stories that inspired his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World about a fictional plateau jutting high above the jungle that served as a sanctuary for species long since extinct elsewhere.

In their wildest fantasies, however, neither Fawcett nor Conan Doyle are likely to have imagined the modern reality of that plateau, which can no longer be certain of protection from geography, the law or Brazils international commitments.

Today, orange dirt roads, cut into the forest by illegal loggers, lead you to the north-western flank of the elevated hilltop. Now called the Serra Ricardo Franco state park, this is nominally a conservation area set up with support from the World Bank. Instead of forest, however, you find swaths of land invaded by farmers, stripped of trees, and turned over to pasture for 240,000 cows. There are even private airfields inside the parks boundaries, which exist on maps only.

Far from being an isolated area where a wanderer might starve, this is now despite its dubious legal status one of the worlds great centres of food production. In recent months, it has also emerged as a symbol of the resurgent influence of a landowning class in Brazil who, even more than in the US under Donald Trump, are cashing in on the destruction of the wild.

Locals say a member of President Michel Temers cabinet chief of staff Eliseu Padilha owns ranches here on hillsides stripped of forest in a supposedly protected park. The municipal ombudsmen told the Observer the cattle raised here are then sold in contravention of pledges to prosecutors and international consumers to JBS, the worlds biggest meat-packing company, which is at the centre of a huge bribery scandal.

These allegations are denied by farmers but there is no doubt the government is easing controls as it opens up more land for ranches, dams, roads and soy fields to meet the growing appetite of China. Last year, Brazil reported an alarming 29% increase of deforestation, raising doubts that the country will be able to meet its global commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Rather than an aberration, this appears to mark a return to historical norms for a country that has been built on 500 years of land seizures that were later legalised by the politicians who benefited from them.

The concurrent erosion of legal authority and natural habitat can be seen in many Brazilian states: the newest soy frontiers of Maranho, Tocantins and Bahia; the hydropower heartland of Par and the wild west mining and logging regions of Rondnia and Acre. But it is in Mato Grosso that the political forces behind deforestation associated with corruption, violence, weak regulation and deliberate obfuscation of land ownership reveal themselves most clearly.

The
The 158,000-hectare Serra Ricardo Franco state park is supposed to be a conservation area, but farmers and loggers moved in to clear the land. Photograph: Phil Clarke Hill/Corbis via Getty Images

The 158,000-hectare Serra Ricardo Franco state park sits at the intersection of three great biomes; the Amazon rainforest, the Cerrado tropical savanna and the Pantanal wetlands. Its western neighbour, separated only by the narrow Rio Verde, is Bolivias dense Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, which covers an area five times larger. Together, they make up one of the worlds biggest and most biodiverse ecological reserves.

To the east are the light green plains of Mato Grosso a state bigger than the combined area of the UK and France which was named after the once thick bushland that has now mostly been cleared for soy fields and cattle ranches.

The plan to establish a park in this geologically and biologically important landscape was agreed amid the giddy optimism of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which was hailed as a breakthrough for international cooperation on the environment.

Ricardo Franco was one of nine conservation areas promised by the Mato Grosso government in return for a $205m loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The primary source of funds was the World Bank, which noted at the time that the money was to be used for vehicles, staff training and salaries, office construction and research. The envisaged Ricardo Franco park was supposed to cover 400,000 hectares.

The reality was very different. After several years of studies, the park that was eventually established in 1997 was less than half the expected size. At least 20,000 hectares of it had already been cleared by farmers who were supposed to be compensated and removed. This never happened. Nor could the Observer find evidence of fences ever being erected, or administrative centres built either in the park nor the nearest town of Vila Bela da Santssima Trindade.

The only signs and boundary markers are for fazendas (plantations). Although the park is supposed to be publicly owned and used only for ecotourism or scientific research, many areas could only be accessed after paying an entrance fee or requesting a key from the owner of the farm occupying the property.

Serro
Serro Ricardo Franco is in one of the worlds biggest and most diverse ecological reserves. But reality on the ground is different, putting many animals at risk, such as Yacare caiman and giant river otters. Photograph: Angelo Gandolfi/Getty Images/Nature Picture Library

A quarter of the land has been cleared over the past four decades, but there are still areas of immense natural beauty and biodiversity that have changed little since Fawcetts time. Over two half-days, the Observer spotted an armadillo, spider monkeys, capuchins, otters, fish leaping a waterfall, clouds of butterflies, and a hand-sized spider that was slowly succumbing to the sting of a giant vespa wasp. Local guides report sightings of panthers, pumas, anaconda, pink dolphins and six-metre long alligators.

Trails now lead up to the previously undisturbed heights, but they are rarely used. The 5km hiking route to the 248-metre high Jatoba waterfall was deserted, as were the sapphire waters of the Agua Azul canyon. It was not, however, well maintained. Rubbish and used toilet paper littered one area. Another clearing was scarred with the charred remains of a barbecue (likely to be prohibited as a fire hazard in a well-run conservation area). On the banks of the Rio Verde, fishing lines were tangled on the rocks despite signs declaring Strictly no fishing or hunting. But it is undoubtedly the 20,000 to 39,000 hectares of farmland (the size is disputed) that has had the biggest environmental impact.

What is happening in the park is very sad, said a local biologist, who asked for her name to be withheld because she fears repercussions. This area is very important. There are species here not found anywhere else. But its degrading year by year.

Ranchers inside the park disagree. Ademir Talini, the manager of the Fazenda de Serra, boasts of boosting production of soy and beef on what he claims is the third most fertile land in the world.

Our municipality has the biggest abattoir in Brazil, the best beef comes from here and farms here contribute greatly to GDP, he says. He then points toward the nearby border with Bolivia. Over there is the biggest conservation area in the world. So what difference does 39,000 hectares make?

He points out that many of the farms preceded the creation of the park a refrain echoed by other ranchers.

The state government created a virtual park to get money, said Donizete dos Reis Lima, who owns the farm next to the border. Nobody here is against the park. I want a future for my children. But lets have a decent park. If we go, who is going to pay us compensation.

About
About 240,000 cattle graze within the cleared forest in the park. This farm is owned by government chief of staff Eliseu Padilha. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Observer

The issue is not black and white. The burly farmer says he is the legal owner of the land, having arrived in the area long before it was a park. But he also recounts how he opened up the roads to the region as part of his work as a logger. The area he cleared was later regularised by the land agency (Incra).

Then, as now, this process often involved corruption and collusion with the authorities. Elsio Ferreira de Souza, a retired municipal employee, recalls the illegal origins of land clearances in the 1970s. It was done with the connivance of local politicians and only later legalised, he says.

Regiane Soares de Aguiar, the public prosecutor who has filed multiple lawsuits against the farmers, agrees. All of the land was cleared illegally, she says. Even the landowners that were there before the creation of the park would not have had permission to deforest the land. Satellite data shows the problem has since worsened, she said, as more farmers moved inside the park, bringing more cattle that needed more pasture.

This illegal activity has done spectacular damage to forest and water sources. According to the prosecutor, JBS should share the blame because the meat company has bought livestock from inside the park despite a pledge to public prosecutors, foreign buyers and environmental NGOs not to source cattle from illegally cleared land. To get around this, it briefly launders the animals at untainted farms outside the park before taking them to the slaughter.

In a statement to the Observer, JBS said it had blocked sales from farms inside the park after being requested to do so by the prosecutors office. The company said it used data from satellites, the environment agency, ministry of labour and other sources to monitor its 70,000 cattle suppliers. The results, it said, were independently audited.

Since 2013, more than 99.9% of direct suppliers located purchases of cattle in the Amazon region comply with the Public Commitment of Livestock and agreements signed with federal prosecutors, it noted.

But cattle laundering is rife. Regulation is a challenge at the best of times. Even when the authorities impose a penalty for forest clearances or other violations, very few fines are ever paid.

I penalise them, but they challenge me in the courts and justice is so slow, says Laerte Marques, from the State Secretariat for the Environment (Sema). It has been very difficult. There is pressure from all sides. On one side there is the public prosecutor, on the other are the farmers.

The landowners have launched a campaign for the park to be abolished. Prosecutors, however, have urged the conservation area be administered on a more formal footing. Last month, they appeared to have won a victory when the Mato Grosso government announced a two-year study to determine the status of the park and what should become of its farms. But there are fears this will simply shrink the boundaries and allow the farms to be excluded.

Powerful landowners are trying to use this opportunity to reduce the limits of the park, said Aguiar. That would only benefit those who cleared forest. But there is a lot of economic power behind them, she warned.

Near the entrance of the Paredon 1 Fazenda is an overgrown airstrip and a dirt road that cuts through the state park to fields of cattle grazing among tree stumps on an otherwise bare hillside overlooking the Bolivian forest. This is one of several farms in the park owned directly or indirectly by Eliseu Padilha, the chief of staff. Locals in Vila Bela say he is an intimidating presence. He is not the only one. Several of Brazils richest businessmen as well as local politicians own land inside the park.

The forces lined up against conservation have deep roots. The post-colonial history of Brazil is, to a large extent, the history of deforestation. Following the arrival of European ships, settlers carved out roads into the jungle in search of gold. Since then, massive fortunes have been made by the clearance of forest, initially for coffee and rubber plantations and more recently for cattle and soy. Landowners happily backed the 1964-85 military dictatorship, which ensured that campaigners for indigenous rights and agrarian reform did not get in the way of farm and ranch expansions. The return of democracy initially made little difference. The first president under the new constitution was Jos Sarney, an old-school coronel who ruled the northern state of Maranho as if it were his personal fiefdom. Deforestation surged to new peaks at the turn of the 21st century.

The first time the problem came close to being brought under control was during the initial Workers party administration of Luiz Incio Lula da Silva (2003-06). His environment minister at the time, Marina Silva, put in place tougher penalties and a monitoring system that used satellites in the sky and rangers on the ground to identify farmers who burned or cut down forests. This resulted in an impressive slowdown that lasted nearly a decade, winning kudos from the international community and putting Brazil in an influential position in global climate talks.

But the effectiveness of this system weakened under Lulas Workers party successor as president Dilma Rousseff, who was much closer to the ruralista lobby than her predecessor. She had little choice. Increased demand for soy and beef, particularly from China, had made agriculture the main driver for economic growth and a political force to be reckoned with.

With 200 seats, the bancada ruralista had become the most powerful caucus in Congress. To placate them, Rousseff approved a relaxation of the Forest Code, which was the main legal tool against tree felling. It was a disaster for the Amazon.

Before that change in 2012, deforestation rates had been creeping down. After it, rates increased by 75%, according to Paulo Barreto, a senior researcher at Imazon, an independent monitoring organisation. He said this put at risk the commitments Brazil had made in international climate talks to reduce annual clearance to 3,800 square kilometres per year by 2020. At one point, we were on the right path. But last year, 8,000 square kilometres were cleared, double the goal for 2020, he points out. Two-thirds of Brazils carbon emissions come from this source.

Meanwhile, beef and soy barons have strengthened their grip on power. After last years impeachment of Rousseff, her replacement, Michel Temer, appointed several ruralistas to his cabinet and moved to dismantle and dilute the institutions and laws that slowed forest clearance.

His pick as agriculture minister is Blairo Maggi, the owner of the countrys biggest soy producer, Amaggi Group, and a former governor of Mato Grosso, who supported moves to abolish the Ricardo Franco park. The justice minister, Osmar Serraglio, is at the forefront of the beef lobby, which was his main campaign donor, and a fierce opponent of indigenous land demarcation (the most effective method of forest protection).

Under his watch, the National Indian Foundation (Funai) has seen its finances and personnel gutted. The foundations president, Antnio Costa, was sacked earlier this year. In a parting speech, he described Serraglio as a dictator. He is the minister of one cause: agro-business, he warned.

The counterbalance ought to be the environment ministry, which is headed by Jos Sarney Filho, the son of the top landowner in Maranho state. Although his ideals are widely praised by conservationists, his ability to act has been neutered. Last year, the environment budget was cut by 51% (compared to a 31% reduction of the Environmental Protection Agency in the US under Trump).

In March, the ministers weak position was apparent when he issued a grovelling public apology to JBS after inspectors embargoed two meat-processing factories that were alleged to have bought tens of thousands of cattle from illegally deforested areas of the Amazon. Rather than assess the rights and wrongs of the case, the minister said the action was badly timed because it could hurt a major exporter that was already bogged down in scandal.

Almost every week, there is a new roll back of forest protections. Last Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that slashed protected areas in the Amazon by 597,000 hectares (about four times the area of Greater London). The previous week, the lower house of Congress paved the way for the legalisation of land that had been illegally occupied by grileiro a move that is likely to encourage more seizures and forest clearance. Environmental licensing requirements for agriculture have been emasculated.

Temers unhealthily close ties to the agriculture lobby may yet, however, come to be his undoing.

Earlier this month, the attorney-general formally accused the president and his aides of accepting bribes and colluding with top executives from JBS to buy the silence of witnesses in a corruption scandal. Temer has denied all wrongdoing. The evidence was provided in a plea-bargain by the owners of the beef company, which is reportedly looking for a clean bill of legal health so that it can relocate its headquarters to the US. If so, its links to Padilha and the cattle raised inside Ricardo Franco and numerous other conservation areas also deserves more scrutiny, as does the process for deciding whether farms will be excluded from the soon-to-be regularised park.

Foreign adventurers and Brazilian bandeirantes helped to pave the way for this development, even if their intention was to escape fazendas and cities alike. As Fawcett said: Deep down inside me a tiny voice was calling. At first scarcely audible, it persisted until I could no longer ignore it. It was the voice of the wild places, and I knew that it was now part of me forever.

With each day that passes, that voice is becoming harder to hear.

The
The tatu-bola armadillo was last year reclassified as at risk of extinction. Photograph: belizar73/Getty Images/iStockphoto


World Cup mascot is now at risk as forests disappear

The tatu-bola armadillo, the mascot for the 2014 World Cup, is now a symbol for a very different phenomenon in Brazil: the growing impact of deforestation on biodiversity.

The small armoured mammal was chosen to represent the tournament because it rolls up into the shape of a football when threatened, but its ability to protect itself has been undermined by a loss of habitat that is also devastating thousands of other species.

Late last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature raised the alarm by reclassifying the creature also known as the three-banded armadillo from vulnerable to at risk of extinction.

This has prompted the group that led the campaign for its selection as a mascot to launch a crowdfunding drive last month to raise $500,000 to save the animal.

Samuel Portela, co-ordinator of protected areas at the Caatinga Association, estimates the tatu-bola population has declined by 30% in the past decade due to deforestation and hunting.It is fundamental that steps be taken towards the conservation of this species and its habitat, because under the present conditions, the tatu-bola could be extinct in 50 years, he said.

The animal is mainly found in the northeastern Brazil in the caatinga (an indigenous term for white or desert forest) and cerrado tropical savannas. Even more than the Amazon, these two ecosystems have been diminished by the expansion of farmland.

Scientists warn that many other animals face similar or worse threats and the risks are rising along with the pace of land clearance in Brazil, the worlds most biodiverse nation. Last year, the government reported a 29% increase in deforestation the sharpest rise in more than a decade. Forest clearing in Brazil has already condemned at least 20 species of birds, 10 species of mammals and eight of amphibians to regional extinction. Scientists estimate this is just a fifth of those that will die out due to habitat loss. Among the most endangered are giant otters and bare-faced tamarins. A 2015 study predicted half of the 15,000 tree species in the Amazon could be lost if current rates of deforestation continue.

According to the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, the tatu-bola faces a particularly hard struggle to recover its population because of the animals low metabolic rate, small litter size, prolonged parental care and long gestation periods.

WILDLIFE OF THE LOST WORLD

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/27/brazil-wild-amazon-faces-destruction-farmers-loggers-sierra-ricardo-franco-park