Glasgow revels in Bolt buzz and warm glow

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games proved to be much more than just 'Friendly' as Scottish culture, sport and six-times Olympic champion Usain Bolt combined to create a memorable 11-day event.

The success of the Games was assured with the golden seal of approval from Bolt, the world's most recognisable athlete, whose cameo in Jamaica's sprint relay triumph lit up Scotland's biggest city.

Inevitably, Bolt stole the show, providing one of the images of the "Friendly Games" as he returned home with a gold medal from his maiden Commonwealth appearance.

The Games provided few truly jaw-dropping sporting moments, but they will be remembered for the spirit in which athletes and visitors from the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories were greeted by crowds determined to enjoy the party.

"In my view, they are the standout Games in the history of the movement," Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said.

"The way in which the people of Scotland and Glasgow have embraced the Games right from the get-go has been incredible."

With England's double Olympic champion Mo Farah pulling out, it was left to the world's fastest man Bolt to provide the glamour and boost TV ratings but there was no shortage of quality on show, from the netball courts, to the judo mats, the swimming pool and the velodrome.

After reportedly making disparaging remarks about the Games, eight-times world champion Bolt did not disappoint when he finally arrived at the Hampden Park track to rapturous cheers from a capacity crowd.

"It's always great to have fun with the fans. They made the Games what it was. They are so warm, even when I was cold they were always warm," Bolt, the 100 and 200 metres world record holder, said of his time in Glasgow.

Having anchored Jamaica to victory in the 4x100 relay to give the crowd the result they craved, Bolt continued his Scottish charm offensive by donning a tartan hat and scarf while performing his 'lightning bolt' celebration and posing for selfies with ticket holders.

"I'm happy for the fans and I'm happy to get my Commonwealth gold medal. It (the Commonwealth Games) was always on my to-do list," Bolt said. "Other than the weather it's been brilliant."

There were few incidents to mar the feast of sporting action but two failed drugs tests did cast a shadow.

Nigeria's 16-year-old weightlifter Chika Amalaha was stripped of her gold medal after failing a doping test and Botswana's former 400m world champion Amantle Montsho also tested positive for a banned substance.

HEART-WARMING STORIES

But among the 6,500 athletes representing 71 mostly former British colonies, there were many heart-warming stories.

Kiribati celebrated its first Commonwealth medal after guitar-strumming David Katoatau won weightlifting gold while compatriot Taoriba Biniati fought another woman for the first time as women's boxing made its Games debut.

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Cyclist Muhammad I’maadi Abd Aziz, Brunei's only athlete at the Games, enjoyed his lonely ride and the balti boys, Muzahir Shan and Mohammed Qureshi, co-owners of a curry house in Glasgow, formed part of Pakistan's first lawn bowls team.

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At the other end of the scale, Olympic champion Chad le Clos of South Africa secured the biggest individual medal haul of the Games with seven podium finishes in the pool, including two golds. For Australia's Sally Pearson, the Games offered a chance of redemption.

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Vilified by Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth for her decision to miss a pre-tournament training camp with her team mates in Glasgow, Pearson stormed to gold in the women's 100m hurdles to defend the title she won in Delhi four years ago.

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The Australian swimming team dominated, winning 57 of 133 medals on offer at the Tollcross Swimming Centre, and breaking the only world record during the Games in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay, beating a time set by the Netherlands in the now-banned bodysuits in 2009.

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The Australian team could not stop England topping the medals table with 58 golds, surpassing their arch-rivals for the first time since 1986 when the Games were last held in Scotland.

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Among the gold rush for England was three-times world champion Nick Matthew, who resorted to 'caveman' tactics to retain his squash title in an epic final against compatriot James Wilstrop and secure the highest honour in a sport still excluded from the Olympic programme.

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Diver Tom Daley successfully defended his 10m platform title with a stunning performance, combining power and finesse to add to the silver he won in the synchronised event.

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At the Chris Hoy velodrome, Olympic cycling champion Laura Trott overcame a kidney infection to win the women's 25km points race, but it was not all good news for England as 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins had to settle for silver on his return to the track in the team pursuit.

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Cycling ended on the rainy streets of Glasgow on Sunday in the road race, where Welshman Geraint Thomas overcame a late puncture in treacherous conditions to claim gold and provide late drama on the last day of the Games.gl

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Australia's Gold Coast will host the Commonwealth Games in 2018. The south-eastern Queensland city has a lot to live up to.

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(Editing by Ed Osmond and Martyn Herman)

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U.S. CDC says it 'may never know' how bird flu mishap occurred

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "may never know" how a fairly harmless form of bird flu was cross-contaminated with a dangerous bird flu strain before it was sent to a laboratory outside of the CDC, an agency spokesman said on Monday.

That's because most of the materials used in the experiment to culture the virus were discarded shortly after they were used by the scientists performing the work, which occurred in March, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters.

The CDC disclosed the bird flu incident as part of an internal investigation into the agency's mishandling of live anthrax in June, potentially exposing dozens of its own lab workers to the pathogen.

While no humans fell ill as a result of the bird flu breach, CDC Director Dr Thomas Frieden has called it “the most distressing" in a series of safety breaches at the agency because of the public risk posed by the virus.

Researchers at a high-security CDC influenza lab learned of their mistake in May. The contaminated bird flu samples had been sent to poultry researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who noticed their chickens all died.

It took another six weeks before the incident was reported to top brass at the CDC in early July, triggering an outside inspection of CDC labs that concluded on Friday.

Federal investigators are trying to piece together how it was that the laboratory never reported the incident up the chain of command.

Skinner said a key regulatory violation occurred when the CDC failed to properly document what it sent to the high-security biocontainment lab at the USDA.

"We thought we were sending H9N2," a far less dangerous form of bird flu, Skinner said. "We didn't know it was cross-contaminated."

Skinner said cross-contamination often can occur if improperly disinfected instruments come in contact with a growth medium, the material used to grow up the organisms, or if infected growth medium is inadvertently used.

"The mediums and all of the materials that were used to grow up this particular virus - all of that material likely has been discarded. We may never know exactly how cross contamination occurred," he said.

Skinner said outside investigators from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) concluded its investigation into the bird flu mishap on Friday.

Frieden has pledged to make sweeping changes to improve safety measures at CDC labs handling dangerous bacteria and viruses. It has shut down the two labs involved in the anthrax and bird flu incidents and has suspended the transfer of samples from high-security labs until their safety procedures are reviewed.

The agency is also assembling a group of outside experts to advise on biosafety. That panel could be announced later this week, Skinner said.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Diane Craft)

Hacking experts build device to protect cars from cyber attacks

Two security experts who a year ago exposed methods for hacking the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape say they have developed technology that would keep automobiles safe from cyber attacks.

At last summer's Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, the two researchers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, described ways to launch dangerous attacks, including manipulating the brakes of the moving Prius and the Ford Escape.

Valasek, director of vehicle security research at the consulting firm IOActive, told Reuters on Tuesday that he and Miller will show off a prototype vehicle "intrusion prevention device" at next month's Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas.

They built the device with about $150 in electronics parts, though the real "secret sauce" is a set of computer algorithms that listen to traffic in a car's network to understand how things are supposed to work. When an attack occurs, the device identifies traffic anomalies and blocks rogue activity, Valasek said.

The two well-known computer experts decided to pursue the project because they wanted to help automakers identify ways to defend against security vulnerabilities in their products.

"I really don't care if you hack my browser and steal my credit card," Valasek said. "But crashing a car is life or death. It is dramatic. We wanted to be part of the solution."

The research the two have released on the Ford and Toyota cars, as well as work by other experts on different types of vehicles, has raised concerns that somebody might one day try to replicate their work to launch a real-life attack.

Yet the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement on Tuesday that it is not aware of any incidents of consumer vehicle control systems having been hacked.

The auto industry has beefed up efforts to identify and mitigate potential cyber security risks over the past few years.

“Cyber security is a global concern and it is a growing threat for all industries, including the automotive," said Jack Pokrzywa, manager of global ground vehicle standards with SAE International, a group that represents industry engineers.

Pokrzywa declined to comment on the specifics of the new technology from Valasek and Miller, though he said "Any viable solution reducing cyber threats is a step in the right direction.”

A representative for Ford said she had no immediate comment on the device. Officials with Toyota could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Dan Grebler)

U.S. scientists to map interior of Mount St. Helens volcano

A series of explosions set off by a team of scientists were expected to rattle Washington state's Mount St. Helens on Wednesday as researchers map the interior of the volcano, whose 1980 eruption was the deadliest in U.S. history.

Mount St. Helens, about 95 miles (150 km) south of Seattle and 50 miles (80 km) north of Portland, erupted in an explosion of hot ash in May 1980, spewing debris over a wide area, killing 57 people and causing more than a billion dollars in damage.

Scientists from across the United States are trying to get a better handle on the magma stores and internal workings of the 8,300-foot (2,530-meter) volcano to improve warning systems prior to eruption.

"Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes in the Cascade Range threaten urban centers from Vancouver to Portland," lead scientist Alan Levander of Rice University in Houston said in a statement.

"We'd like to better understand their inner workings in order to better predict when they may erupt and how severe those eruptions are likely to be," he said.

On Wednesday, geophysicists from across the United States were to begin running seismic waves through the volcano's interior by firing "shots" at the mountain to install mapping instruments deep underground.

The instruments will help create a sort of CAT scan on the interior and will "illuminate the architecture of the greater Mount St. Helens magmatic system from slab to surface," according to researchers from the project, called Imaging Magma Under St. Helens, or iMUSH (imush.org/)

A total of 23 boreholes 80 feet (24 meters) deep were to be installed by July 31, said researcher Steve Malone.

"These shots are done at night to give the best chance of recording good signals without other vibrations being present such as from wind or vehicle traffic," Malone said.

Residents living near Mount St. Helens were unlikely to feel the shots because of their depth, but their insertion approximates a magnitude 2 earthquake, scientists said.

In May, the U.S. Geological Survey said that magma levels were slowly rebuilding inside Mount St. Helens, but there was no sign of an impending eruption.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

Paracetamol no better than placebo for low back pain, study finds

Paracetamol, a painkiller universally recommended to treat people with acute low back pain, does not speed recovery or reduce pain from the condition, according to the results of a large trial published on Thursday.

A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that the popular pain medicine was no better than placebo, or dummy pills, for hastening recovery from acute bouts of low back pain or easing pain levels, function, sleep or quality of life.

Researchers said the findings challenge the universal endorsement of paracetamol as the first choice painkiller for lower back pain.

"We need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol as a first-line treatment," said Christopher Williams, who led the study at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States alone, costs relating to the condition are estimated to be more than $100 billion a year.

Currently, every back pain treatment guideline in the world recommends paracetamol as the first-line analgesic and Williams said this was despite the fact that no previous studies have provided robust evidence that it works in this condition.

In his trial, 1,652 people from Sydney with acute low back pain were randomly assigned to receive up to four weeks of paracetamol, either in regular doses three times a day, or as needed, or to receive placebos. All those involved received advice and reassurance and were followed up for three months.

The results showed no difference in the number of days to recovery between the treatment groups - with the average time to recovery coming out at 17 days for each of the groups given paracetamol, and at 16 days for the placebo group.

Paracetamol had no effect on short-term pain levels, disability, function, sleep quality, or quality of life, the researchers said, and the number of patients reporting negative side effects was similar in all groups.

Christine Lin, an associate professor at the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney who also worked on the study, said the reasons for paracetamol failing to work for lower back pain were not well understood.

"While we have shown that paracetamol does not speed recovery from acute back pain, there is evidence that paracetamol works to relieve pain for a range of other conditions, such as headaches, some acute musculoskeletal conditions, tooth ache and for pain straight after surgery," she said in a statement about the findings.

"What this study indicates is that the mechanisms of back pain are likely to be different from other pain conditions, and this is an area that we need to study more."

Experts who were not directly involved praised the study but cautioned that guidelines should nevertheless not be changed on the basis of a single piece of research.

"More robust and consistent evidence, including verification of the results in other populations, is needed," Bart Koes and Wendy Enthoven from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands wrote in a Lancet commentary.

They also called for more studies on whether other simple analgesics could add extra benefits on top of giving advice and reassurance to patients.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

NASA puts out call for satellite communication services – on Mars


Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy: U.S. study

Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.

Dogs are capable of feeling a basic form of jealousy, according to a study published in the PLOS ONE scientific journal.

The research, said to be the first experiment on canine jealousy, could redefine the view that the complex emotion of envy is a human construct, said Christine Harris, University of California, San Diego psychologist and an author of the study.

The owners of 36 small dogs were asked to do three things in the test - shower affection on a plush animatronic dog, shower affection on a plastic jack-o-lantern pail and read a children's book aloud - while ignoring their pet.

Researchers then watched how the dogs reacted.

Roughly 80 percent of the dogs pushed or touched their owner when they were coddling the toy, almost twice as often as when the owner played with the pail and about four times as often as when the owner was reading.

A quarter of the dogs even snapped at the toy, which barked, whined and wagged its tail, while the owner was playing with it. Only one dog snapped at the pail and the book.

"We can't really speak to the dog's subjective experiences, of course, but it looks as though they were motivated to protect an important social relationship," Harris said in a statement accompanying the study.

The research, based on a similar study to gauge jealousy in infants, suggests dogs and possibly other animals exhibit a primordial form of the emotion, the study said.

Researchers said jealousy may have evolved as a way for paired animals to protect their sexual relationships or for baby animals to compete for food and affection from their parents.

They said it also may have developed in dogs during their long domestication by humans.

"Humans, after all, have been rich resource providers over our coevolution," they wrote in the study.

Understanding jealousy is an important scientific task, they wrote, noting that jealousy is often considered a cause of homicides across cultures.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Sandra Maler)