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Social Democrats in front as Finland heads to the polls

Finlands Social Democrats are in a strong position to take power in Sundays parliamentary election, ..

Finlands Social Democrats are in a strong position to take power in Sundays parliamentary election, after a campaign centered on welfare provision.

The campaign has in many ways been a traditional right-left battle. The Social Democrats have sought to portray themselves as reliable custodians of Finlands extensive welfare state, making clear they are willing to raise taxes to maintain public services.

“We have to ensure that those in the worst situation in society, they are the ones we help first,” party leader Antti Rinne told national broadcaster Yle.

Rinnes fortunes contrast with those of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, whose attempts at cost-cutting and privatization foundered amid a public outcry and stiff opposition in parliament. In March, Sipilä, leader of the Center Party, resigned after abandoning plans for an overhaul of social welfare and health care. He stayed on as PM in a caretaker capacity.

“The social welfare and health care reform was one of our governments most important objectives,” Sipilä said at a press briefing last month. “The snapshot of the situation that I got from the parliament obliged me to examine if there was a possibility of continuing the reform process. There wasnt.”

“Most Finns now seem just to want to be assured that there will be no more significant cuts affecting their everyday lives” — Thomas Karv, political scientist

“My conclusion was that my government had to hand in our note of resignation,” he added. “I take my responsibility.”

Despite having returned the Finnish economy to growth, Sipilä has struggled in opinion polls.

“After a four-year period characterized by very unpopular decisions, including cuts to education and employment benefits, most Finns now seem just to want to be assured that there will be no more significant cuts affecting their everyday lives,” said Thomas Karv, a political scientist at Åbo University.

The Social Democrats are ahead with 19 percent support, a poll by Yle published on Thursday showed, with the Center Party back in fourth on 14.5 percent. The far-right Finns Party were in second with 16.3 percent, and in third was the center-right National Coalition Party (NCP) — the Center Partys junior government partner — on 15.9 percent.

Juha Sipilä, leader of the Center Party | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

If the Social Democrats do win, its not clear whom they would team up with to form a government. The smaller Greens and the Left Party are likely allies, or the Social Democrats could choose either the Center Party or the NCP, according to analysts.

Negotiations with the latter two could be difficult as they have entrenched differences on fiscal policy.

The Finns Party, whose hard line on immigration has proved increasing populRead More – Source

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‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.

The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".

They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.

Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.

How does it work?

The mind-reading technology works in two stages.

First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.

Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.

This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".

Why do it like that?

You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.

However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)

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Health

Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.

It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.

He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".

Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

'Alarming'

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.

Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.

But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.

The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:

  • The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
  • The comparable figure for France was 600,000
  • The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
  • In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine

Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.

It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)

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No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.

Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.

The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.

The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.

The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.

The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.

It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.

As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.

The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.

The advice

For babies: (more…)

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Health

Social Democrats in front as Finland heads to the polls

Finlands Social Democrats are in a strong position to take power in Sundays parliamentary election, ..

Finlands Social Democrats are in a strong position to take power in Sundays parliamentary election, after a campaign centered on welfare provision.

The campaign has in many ways been a traditional right-left battle. The Social Democrats have sought to portray themselves as reliable custodians of Finlands extensive welfare state, making clear they are willing to raise taxes to maintain public services.

“We have to ensure that those in the worst situation in society, they are the ones we help first,” party leader Antti Rinne told national broadcaster Yle.

Rinnes fortunes contrast with those of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, whose attempts at cost-cutting and privatization foundered amid a public outcry and stiff opposition in parliament. In March, Sipilä, leader of the Center Party, resigned after abandoning plans for an overhaul of social welfare and health care. He stayed on as PM in a caretaker capacity.

“The social welfare and health care reform was one of our governments most important objectives,” Sipilä said at a press briefing last month. “The snapshot of the situation that I got from the parliament obliged me to examine if there was a possibility of continuing the reform process. There wasnt.”

“Most Finns now seem just to want to be assured that there will be no more significant cuts affecting their everyday lives” — Thomas Karv, political scientist

“My conclusion was that my government had to hand in our note of resignation,” he added. “I take my responsibility.”

Despite having returned the Finnish economy to growth, Sipilä has struggled in opinion polls.

“After a four-year period characterized by very unpopular decisions, including cuts to education and employment benefits, most Finns now seem just to want to be assured that there will be no more significant cuts affecting their everyday lives,” said Thomas Karv, a political scientist at Åbo University.

The Social Democrats are ahead with 19 percent support, a poll by Yle published on Thursday showed, with the Center Party back in fourth on 14.5 percent. The far-right Finns Party were in second with 16.3 percent, and in third was the center-right National Coalition Party (NCP) — the Center Partys junior government partner — on 15.9 percent. (more…)

Continue Reading

Health

‘Exhilarating’ implant turns thoughts to speech

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts ..

Scientists have developed a brain implant that can read people's minds and turn their thoughts to speech.

The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating".

They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk.

Experts said the findings were compelling and offered hope of restoring speech.

How does it work?

The mind-reading technology works in two stages.

First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that manoeuvre the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw.

Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds.

This results in synthesised speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract".

Why do it like that?

You might think it would be easier to scour the brain for the pattern of electrical signals that code for each word.

However, attempts to do so have only had limited success. (more…)

Continue Reading

Health

Measles: Half a million UK children missed jab

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 20..

More than half a million children in the UK were not given a crucial measles jab between 2010 and 2017, an analysis by children's charity Unicef reveals.

It comes as NHS chief Simon Stevens warned measles cases had almost quadrupled in England in just one year and urged families to get the vaccine.

He said people rejecting vaccines was a "growing public health time bomb".

Globally, the report shows, 169 million children were not given a first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

'Alarming'

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to serious health complications – including infections of the lungs and brain – and is sometimes fatal.

Health experts say children should have two doses of the vaccine to fully protect against the disease.

But, according to Unicef, a mixture of complacency, misinformation, scepticism about immunisations, and a lack of access to jabs has led to inadequate vaccination rates globally.

The report shows that between 2010 and 2017:

  • The US topped the list for the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries, with 2,593,000 missing the first dose of the vaccine
  • The comparable figure for France was 600,000
  • The UK came third, with 527,000 children not getting their first dose of the vaccine over the seven-year period
  • In Nigeria, four million children under one did not get the first dose of the vaccine

Figures for the second dose of the measles vaccine "were even more alarming", Unicef said.

It found 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had not introduced a second dose, putting more than 17 million infants a year at a greater risk of getting measles as a child. (more…)

Continue Reading

Health

No sedentary screen time for babies, WHO says

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new Worl..

Babies and toddlers should not be left to passively watch TV or other screens, according to new World Health Organization guidelines.

Sedentary screen time, including computer games, should not happen before a child is two, the WHO says.

The limit for two- to four-year-olds is an hour a day and less is better.

The UK has no plans to update its own advice on screen use, which sets no time limits, although it says children should avoid screens before bedtime.

The UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health insists there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.

The new WHO advice focuses on passive viewing – youngsters being placed in front of a TV or computer screen or handed a tablet or mobile phone for entertainment – and is aimed at tackling child inactivity, a leading risk factor for global mortality and obesity-related ill health.

It is the first time the WHO has made recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five.

As well as warning against passive screen time, it says babies should not spend longer than an hour at a time strapped into a buggy, car seat or sling.

The guidelines will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow on Sunday.

The advice

For babies: (more…)

Continue Reading

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