Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Want To Drink But Don't Want To Feel The Effects Of Being Drunk? There's A Pill For That.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – An experimental drug could stop people from getting drunk off alcohol and thus helping heavy drinkers wean off alcohol.

Yale University researchers are hypothesizing that the drug iomazenil, when taken before drinking, can weaken some of the effects of alcohol on the brain. According to a recent pilot study conducted by the researchers, the effects of alcohol on those people who took iomazenil caused people to stay sober for longer.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the researchers hope to develop a “stay-sober” pill from iomazenil.

The project is examining what the effect of the drug is on alcohol intoxication and how volunteer drunk drivers are affected while driving, if they ingest the pill before drinking.

“A medication that has the potential to block alcohol actions in the central nervous system could act as a unique medication in the treatment of alcohol intoxication and alcoholism,” Yale researcher Deepak D’Souza told the Daily Telegraph. “Alcohol is abused commonly but there is no remedy for alcohol intoxication.”
Read More From CBS Connecticut

iPads Help Give Autistic Children A Voice

CNN) -- Sharia stood immobile in front of the television, transfixed by its images, unaware of the world around her. Her family called her name over and over again, but she did not respond. It was that moment when they knew something was wrong.

Initially, they thought it was a hearing problem. When they found nothing wrong, they decided to take 2-year-old Sharia to a specialist at an early detection center in 2009.

"Within five minutes of looking at Sharia, (the specialist) said that she has autism," said Sharia's father, Fawad Siddiqui. "A very clear case of it."

Siddiqui, 38, and his wife, Ayza Sheikh, were under the impression that Sharia was simply a late talker. Originally from Pakistan, the Siddiquis had no relatives to advise them on their first child.
Speech, occupational and behavior therapies helped some. But Sharia still struggled with communication.

Then, in 2010, Apple's iPad was released.

Siddiqui, a Columbia, Maryland, resident who shared his daughter's story on iReport, said that before having the iPad, Sharia's only way of communicating was crying. She was non-verbal and had no way of expressing what she wanted or how she was feeling.

Apple's touchscreen gadget wasn't the first tablet computer and isn't the only one now. But it quickly emerged as the overwhelming market leader, introducing millions of people worldwide to the concept of a computer that dwells somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop and offers a large screen full of images and icons with which the user can interact with a single touch.

"What the iPad has done has given her a sense of control that she never had before," Siddiqui said. "She knows when you touch it, something is supposed to happen. She knows she doesn't need to cry, she needs to point."

At first, Sharia enjoyed watching movies and playing games. However, through therapy and at home, she was introduced to apps such as Proloquo2Go, First Words, ABCs and Me and Puzzle Me, to name a handful. She soon learned to put together short sentences like "I want Dora" to express what she wanted.

A communications revolution
Proloquo2Go was Sharia's first app and the first real augmented communication app, released first for iPhones in 2009.

AAC, or augmentative and alternative communication, is a series of interventions used to help children with severe communication disorders communicate. Many apps are designed based on this method of therapy.

David Niemeijer, founder and CEO of Amsterdam-based AssistiveWare, creator of Proloquo2Go, said that 90% of AAC users use an iPad for communication, and more than 25% use an iPhone or iPod Touch, according to the company's surveys. About half of them reported improved speech abilities.

A search for "autism apps" for the iPad in Apple's App Store brings 764 hits. About 142 were released this year.

Similarly, dozens of assistance and education autism apps have sprung up on tablets and other devices running Google's Android operating system.

The accessibility of online stores as a platform for apps has opened a new avenue for parents. Those with the know-how are able to create apps based on their child's specific needs.

Tricia Estrada of San Diego has developed apps for her son, Evan. The app and website Wonkido has a series of animations, each about four to five minutes in length, depicting various social skills such as "asking to play" and "going potty." By watching, kids acquire a database of episodes to draw from for future social situations, she said.

Estrada said the most appealing facet of the iPad is its mobility. Before, when Evan needed to learn a new concept in the middle of soccer practice or while at a restaurant, she had no way of showing him until the therapist gave him a card or bought a DVD weeks later. With the iPad or iPhone, it's immediate.

"I think (the iPad) is revolutionizing the augmentative communication field," said Dr. Oliver Wendt, assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at Purdue University. "It's a very cost-effective system. Before, we had these expensive, bulky items, which now can be replaced with an iPad."

The equipment that was used previously could cost $9,000 to $15,000.

iPads are now available for as little as $399. A majority of the apps on the iPad are paid apps that cost 99 cents to $299.99. Some of these prices may seem rather expensive for regular iPad users, but autism communities are thrilled.

Hollywood Stars Find Faith In God During Trip To Israel

Jerusalem Post--A group of eight Hollywood TV and film stars completed a week-long tour of Israel Sunday as guests of the Tourism Ministry and the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry.

The star-studded group included Anna Lynne McCord (90210 , Nip & Tuck), Omar Epps (House), Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill), Holly Robinson Peete (21 Jump St., Hanging With Mr. Cooper), Mekhi Phifer (ER, Tuskegee Airmen), Holt McCallany ( Lights Out), Zach Roerig (Vampire Diaries) and Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds).

The group of actors was led by Rabbi Irwin Katsof, the director of America's Voices in Israel (AVI), which is part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Katsof described the celebrity mission as part of an "on-going initiative to expose the Hollywood community to a wide-range of thought-provoking cultural, historical, religious and personal encounters throughout the Holy Land."

And while the participants pointed to many highlights, faith and spirituality played a starring role amongst the stars.

Holt McCanally told Travelujah that he was baptised a Roman Catholic in Ireland but that  issues within the Catholic Church had caused him to view himself as an agnostic.

"Being at the holy places has allowed me to re-familiarize myself with my faith and it has opened certain questions in my mind," he said. " It was a wonderfully transformative experience for me," Holt McCannaly told Travelujah. "I would encourage anyone who hasn't been to Israel to come here," he said.

Zach Roerig commented, "We've been busy seeing this beautiful country. I'm not walking away from Israel with a renewed sense of Christianity, I am walking away with a renewed relationship with God." He thanked Israel and said "I will forever be grateful to your country."

AnnaLynne McCord is the daughter of a Christian pastor and she grew up reading the Bible two hours each day.  McCord was touched to see the sites of Jesus' passion.

McCord told Travelujah that being on the Via Dolorosa was extremely powerful but it wasn't until this morning, when she was alone in her own hotel room, listening to "My Sacred King", by a band called Hillsong, that she began to process the impact, and the tears just flowed.

"The lyrics talked about the scars in his hand and I was imagining Mary, his mother, and today being Mother's Day... and thinking about her and how she walked beside him. ....And I thought about myself. What if I was there? What would I be thinking and doing?.... And then it just washed over me. I realized he did all of this for me, for us."             

For Holly Robinson Peete, the highlight was visiting a family on the Golan Heights and seeing first hand how Israelis deal with autism. "There is a sense of compassion in Israel that doesn't exist in America," she said.

For Omar Epps and Mekhi Phifer spending Friday night with the family of Martin and Rivka Rappaport and their ten children in Jerusalem, and seeing first hand how people are welcomed into homes of strangers for the Shabbat meal created a strong emotional connection to the country and both plan to come back and bring their own children with them to Israel.

 "I was very privileged to be here for Shabbat. It was nice to dance in a circle [at the Western Wall]. My kippa kept falling off. I didn't expect that emotional connection at the Wall", said Phifer.

McCallany commented on the disconnect between the portrayal of Israel and the Middle East in American media and the reality one encounters visiting here. "You only read about the conflicts - with the Palestinians, with Iran, the uprising in Syria. But when you come here and have a chance to meet Israeli people and experience their vibrancy, it makes you an optimist," McCallany said.

Paul Johansson was overwhelmed by his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. "My experience was visceral. I never went to the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles where I live. I was afraid. Coming to Yad Vashem I was floored."

The stars traveled around the country, visiting an IDF base, Caesarea, the Na'Lagaat Theater in Tel Aviv, Safed, the Galilee, Golan Heights, the Dead Sea, and of course, Jerusalem. Along the way they participated in a variety of "meet the people" experiences including Shabbat fellowship at the home of Martin and Rivka Rapaport and their ten children in Jerusalem, and meeting with a family in the Golan Heights where they learned a bit about the unique ways in which Israel educates autistic children.  The group also spent time at a Meir Panim soup kitchen in Tiberias, which operates as a bill-less restaurant.

Read More From Jerusalem Post

Archeologist Find Proof Of Israelite Kingdom Centered On Jerusalem In 1000 B.C

A Hebrew University archeologist says finds at a new dig site near Jerusalem are backing up the biblical narrative of an Israelite kingdom centered on Jerusalem in 1000 BC, around the time of King David and his son, King Solomon.

Professor Yosef Garfinkel has been digging at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh since 2007. Carbon dating of unearthed olive pits has put the period of activity at Khirbet Qeiyafa at 1020 BC - 980 BC, almost exactly the period of time the Bible says David and Solomon were active in the region. The dating, together with the uniqueness of the finds, has made Khirbet Qeiyafa one of the most important biblical archeological digs.

Less than a year after working Khirbet Qeiyafa, Garfinkel unveiled what is believed to be the oldest Hebrew inscription found to date. At the time, Garfinkel said the inscription proved that vibrant, centralized and literate Hebrew kingdom existed in the area 3,000 years ago, just as the Bible says it did.

Last week, Garfinkel shared his latest find - two ancient models of shrines that very closely resemble the biblical description of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. The models would have presumably been used in religious rites.

Garfinkel also says it is now clear that Khirbet Qeiyafa was a walled town, which means it must have been part of a centralized larger kingdom.

Perhaps most importantly, Garfinkel says the site is completely devoid of pagan idols and imagery, and contains no pig bones, despite being well endowed with the bones of sheep, goats and cattle.

Together this means the site must be Israelite remains, as the Israelites were the only local people forbidden from eating swine or engaging in pagan rituals.

All of this evidence combined is important because it counters the claims of some archeologists that the Bible is full of myths, which until now the have based on the lack of evidence for a large and centralized Israelite kingdom around 1000 BC.

"For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible," Garfinkel said in a press release. "Various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong."
Read More From Israel Today