It’s Happening: British Man Has Uniquely Resistant Strain of Gonorrhea

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It’s not a great feeling to know that you scared your doctors. Unfortunately for a man in the U.K, he recently did so: he displayed a case of gonorrhea that so dramatically resisted treatment that it chilled his physicians.

That’s partially because gonorrhea isn’t the best thing to leave untreated. But another reason: this case is a harbinger of a looming crisis.

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by a bacteria. Usually antibiotics can kill it. But after some time, the bacteria evolves to become resistant to that treatment. It also happens to be one of the world’s most common STDs, with 78 million new cases every year. 30 percent of all gonorrhea infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We’ve known this was coming. In 2017, the WHO raised a worldwide alarm about the rising spread of resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics. Some countries with better monitoring systems, the UN agency said in a statement, found cases of resistance to all known antibiotics.

This case is one of the first of its kind. The man is reported to have visited a clinic earlier this year, and was given a combination of two antibiotics, azithromycin and ceftriaxone, that was known to be effective in getting rid of the disease. After the cocktail failed to wipe out the infection, the patient is now being treated with injections of a stronger antibiotic called ertapenem and will be tested again next month, PHE said in a report.

As reported by The Guardian, the U.K. government agency Public Health England (PHE) revealed that the patient who caught the highly resistant strain had a female partner in the country, but might have been infected during a trip in Southeast Asia. Authorities are tracking down the man’s partners to try and contain the spread of the disease.

“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhea is actually more common,” said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction expert with WHO, in a 2017 press release.

New antibiotics are hard to come by. They are expensive to produce, and resistance evolves fast, thanks to their extensive use in agriculture and farming.

And we’re already feeling the effects. Superbugs claim the lives of up to 50,000 people every year in Europe and the U.S. alone, according to the U.K.’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Globally, drug resistant infections kill at least 700,000 people every year.

Those deaths are mostly due to resistance to cheap, widely-available antibiotics. What makes this gonorrhea case notable? So far it has resisted treatments previously considered very effective. Doctors are treating the patient with more powerful antibiotics in the hope they might finally work.

Until we have more effective treatments for gonorrhea and other antibiotic-resistant infections, the only way to avoid catching a potentially untreatable STI is the same that prevents a treatable one: protected sex.

So if you needed an extra reminder to stay safe in the boudoir, well, here you go.

The post It’s Happening: British Man Has Uniquely Resistant Strain of Gonorrhea appeared first on Futurism.


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Data From British Porn Viewers Might Be In The Hands of One Company

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Back in the old days, keeping pornography away from children was a lot easier. You had your magazines. You had your  closet with a high shelf. Boom — your porn collection was child-proofed.

The internet has complicated things. Now, every teen with a smartphone has more pornographic content at their fingertips than in all the issues of Playboy and Hustler combined.

In an effort to keep explicit material away from prying young eyes, British lawmakers mandated in 2017 that all pornographic websites must verify the age of their visitors. However, in doing so, they may have inadvertently created a new data-mining monster à la Facebook. Only this one collects information that’s far more sensitive.

“They’re going to be able to track every time you log in to anything.”

The U.K.’s Digital Economy Act 2017 requires all porn sites to verify the age of their visitors. If the sites don’t comply, the country could fine them upwards of $ 329,000, or block them altogether.

MindGeek, the company that runs sites like Pornhub, YouPorn, and Redtube, created a tool to comply with the law. Earlier this month, MindGeek officially launched AgeID, its age verification platform.

AgeID users will need to use something official to verify their age (a drivers license or passport). On the upside, that’s not too easy to fake. Once a user verifies his or her age on one AgeID-protected site, they can then visit any AgeID-protected site without verifying their age a second time.

“Our product fully supports the U.K. adult industry and enables those of legal age to securely and privately access adult websites through a one-time verification process, while protecting children from stumbling across age inappropriate content,” James Clark, a spokesperson for AgeID, said in a press release.

But here’s the catch: MindGeek is the world’s biggest publisher of pornography. Its sites boast 100 million daily visitors, and it is among the 10 sites that use the most bandwidth in the world (or, at least they were in 2014, according to Slate).

In the U.K., any user who wants to access any of MindGeek’s sites will have to use AgeID. Right there, MindGeek is getting that sensitive information. In the process it creates one central database for would-be hackers to access, since MindGeek owns pretty much every major porn site.

Then there’s the kind of data MindGeek collects. MindGeek may say it’s not keeping track of how users spend time on its sites — which sites they visit, which videos they watch when they get there, or even other activity on users’ computers.But there’s not really anything in the language of the British law to outright prevent that (they already do this, of course, to get a sense of which videos are popular, but they previously haven’t been able to connect that data to a user’s specific identity).

It’s conceivable, then, that Mindgeek could sell that info to someone. And a leak of it could ruin lives on a much grander scale than the Ashley Madison hack from 2015.

“You can imagine how much data that is going to give MindGeek, if they’re going to have stats on what people click on, what porn sites people click on, what they pay for,” feminist porn producer Pandora Blake told an Open Rights Group meeting in London last month. “Once you’ve got a MindGeek login, you’re going to be giving them your entire web browsing history, because they’re going to be able to track every time you log in to anything.”

Originally, the U.K. planned to begin enforcing the policy in April 2018, but decided to delay that until later this year, possibly because concerns about who is collecting data on porn users.

Opponents of the U.K. policy as it currently stands argue it does too little to ensure all this data will remain private. They also criticize the government for not being more involved in implementing age-verification systems.

“Basically, they are washing their hands and hoping the market will sort it out,” Jim Killock, the executive director of the campaign body Open Rights Group, told The Guardian. “They even said they hope the market will provide, but that’s not how digital markets work. Digital markets work as a monopoly, like Facebook, like Twitter.”

For now, the U.K. will take some time to revisit its plans to keep porn away from children. Hopefully, the system they come up with also protects the private data of adult online porn users, because, really, who wants to go back to magazines?

The post Data From British Porn Viewers Might Be In The Hands of One Company appeared first on Futurism.


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British Airways expands its biometric boarding gate trials in the US

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British Airways is expanding its biometric boarding gate tests in the US. Last November, it began testing self-service boarding gates in Los Angeles Airport that don't require customers to produce either their boarding pass or their passport. Instead…
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Why Are British Beaches Littered With Dying Marine Life? 3 Things You Need to Know.

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“There are places where you are ankle-deep, or calf-deep, in animals.” Those words, said by Bex Lynam of the marine conservation charity Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to BuzzFeed News, describe an apocalyptic-looking scenario currently found in the United Kingdom. All across the UK’s east coast, marine life like lobsters, starfish, fish and birds have been washing ashore, often injured, dead, or dying.

Rodney Forster, a marine biologist at the University of Hull in the UK, reported to Buzzfeed News that so far a total of 24 species have been found along the coast.

While species are being identified, the number of animals found is so overwhelming that Lynam said, “It’s really hard to quantify the numbers, to be honest.”

Let’s explore the reasons behind this grisly scene, and what this might mean for the future of marine life on the UK’s coastline.

Why is This Happening?

According to Buzzfeed, experts have not confirmed the exact cause of this massacre, but many are looking to the recent “Beast from the East” storm as a cause of this apocalyptic scene.

During this storm, a bout of extreme cold and snow fell over the region. Ocean temperatures dropped from 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) to a frigid 2 degrees Celsius (about 35 degrees Fahrenheit) in under a week. This swing in temperature is extreme for this area in the UK.

This drastic temperature drop was also accompanied by strong wind gusts. High winds cause large waves to form, disturbing animals on the seabed and even smothering animals with sediments carried by the waves. These disturbances can also pull marine life up onto shore, as many are observing on the coast. Spring low tides that coincided with this beastly storm worsened these effects.

The combination of the sudden drop in temperature, the extreme winds, and coincidentally low tides seemingly combined into the “perfect” killing agent in this scenario.

Low temperatures can make marine life lethargic; once stranded on shore by low tides and barreling winds, both the lack of water and the extreme cold of the air posed yet another deadly threat. Though the stranding has mostly involved invertebrates, like starfish, crustaceans and shellfish, Forster told Buzzfeed that they could potentially see more large animals, like seals, dolphins, and whales wash ashore if a large portion of their food was relocated or killed.

Could This Happen Again?

While the low tides that coincided with the Beast from the East won’t always occur at the same time as a freezing storm, storms like this are not entirely uncommon. Indeed, the “Beast” is not predicted to be the last storm of the late winter/early spring season.

Additionally, this storm’s intense cold came from a “polar vortex” event currently settled over Europe. While the polar vortex itself is a normal climate feature, its unusual severity and length has been linked to climate change. These connections are still poorly understood and contentious. But some scientists have connected the unusually cold weather in Europe with the freakish warmth currently seen in the Arctic, which appears to be one of the most conspicuous signs yet of a warming planet.

Even if the Beast doesn’t make a yearly appearance, scientists also believe climate change will make intense storms more commonplace and more extreme. As such, this may not be the last time the coastline is littered with marine bodies.

What Might This Mean for the Future of the UK Coastline?

So far, it looks like a series of environmental factors and unlucky circumstances were behind these deaths, all of which could potentially happen again. But, in terms of the event itself — will it affect the coastline permanently? For now, probably not.

Since many of the species washed up on shore have not yet been identified, it’s difficult to say whether any threatened groups may have been impacted by the storm. Yet given that they are mostly invertebrates, many of these species are abundant enough that they shouldn’t be impacted in the long term; The Conversation noted that starfish, one of most-impacted groups, are widespread throughout the Atlantic and highly resilient. Even so, teams of volunteers have been scanning the coast for any survivors, filling truck beds with lobsters to return to the sea once the weather improves. Lynam told The Guardian that given the importance of fishing and shellfishing in the area, “It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed.”

Lissa Batey, senior living seas officer of the Wildlife Trusts, added: “We can’t prevent natural disasters like this. But we can mitigate against declining marine life and the problems that humans cause.” She noted that one way humans can do this is by creating marine protected areas, and “by ensuring that these sites are large enough and close enough to offer fish, crustaceans, dolphins and other marine life the protection they require to withstand natural events such as this.”

It is important to remember that while this event might not have lasting effects, increases in extreme weather events caused by climate change could continue to threaten these and other species. Given that marine animals already face myriad human impacts, from choking plastic to ocean dead zones to mass extinctions, that’s not great news. This marine apocalypse, it seems, could serve as a reminder of how far the effects of human action could extend.

The post Why Are British Beaches Littered With Dying Marine Life? 3 Things You Need to Know. appeared first on Futurism.


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Currency Symbols: How to Type the British Pound Symbol on Your iPhone

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “How do I use the pound symbol on my phone?” Britain’s Pound Sterling is the fourth most traded currency in the world at the moment, and 3.2 million people traveled to Great Britain last year for vacations or business—that’s a lot of people needing to change their money to pounds! Let’s get started learning how to type the pound symbol on your iPhone’s keypad so that you can communicate easily and effectively about Britain’s currency wherever you are in the world.

Related: How to Enable the One-Handed Keyboard in iOS 11 on iPhone

If your iPhone is currently set to the English keyboard, you have seven different currency symbols, including the pound, available to you. To access the currency symbols first open an application that requires typing, such as Messages.

  • With the keyboard on screen, tap the 123 button in the lower left corner.

  • Tap and hold your finger on the dollar sign, your other currency options will pop up.

pound currency symbol iphonehow to type pound symbol iphone

  •  Keeping contact with the screen, slide your finger up and over to the pound symbol.
  • Now lift your finger up, and the pound sign will appear in your message.

pound symbol iphone keypadcurrency symbols

There’s one more place to find the pound sign on your keyboard.

  • Tap on 123.
  • Tap on #+=.

currency symbols iphoneiphone pound symbol

  • Tap on the pound sign in the keyboard.

where is the pound symbol on iphone



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