41 research outputs found

    China’s approach to international law and the Belt and Road Initiative - perspectives from international investment law

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    This dissertation examines China’s approach to international law. In order to do so, it compares the country’s stance on international dispute resolution in past and present times. After a first historical chapter outlining China’s changeable relationship with international adjudication, the thesis subsequently focuses on contemporary developments. The emphasis here is on international instruments and mechanisms that China uses to protect investments within the Belt and Road Initiative. This dissertation combines doctrinal analysis with concrete case studies and applies deductive as well as inductive methods. The study of the legal dimension of the initiative leads to the basic assumption that two coexisting regulatory complexes provide investment protection within the initiative. Accordingly, as a first complex, the dissertation analyses China’s design of investment protection treaties and China’s stance in the reform debate on the future of in-vestment arbitration. As an outcome, the analysis claims that even though the first complex does not relate specifically to the Belt and Road Initiative, this complex nevertheless has inextricable links to China’s approach in the initiative’s context. Soft law documents, which China has concluded with both state and non-state actors, and informal mechanisms of dispute resolution form the second regulatory complex. The study investigates their functions for investment protection in the Belt and Road Initiative. In an overall view of the two regulatory complexes, this dissertation finds that China uses strictly legal and rather political methods for investment protection. In the synopsis of this result with the findings obtained from the historical part, the study concludes that China follows a realist approach to international law

    Moderate hypoxia influences excitability and blocks dendrotoxin sensitive K(+ )currents in rat primary sensory neurones

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    Hypoxia alters neuronal function and can lead to neuronal injury or death especially in the central nervous system. But little is known about the effects of hypoxia in neurones of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which survive longer hypoxic periods. Additionally, people have experienced unpleasant sensations during ischemia which are dedicated to changes in conduction properties or changes in excitability in the PNS. However, the underlying ionic conductances in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurones have not been investigated in detail. Therefore we investigated the influence of moderate hypoxia (27.0 ± 1.5 mmHg) on action potentials, excitability and ionic conductances of small neurones in a slice preparation of DRGs of young rats. The neurones responded within a few minutes non-uniformly to moderate hypoxia: changes of excitability could be assigned to decreased outward currents in most of the neurones (77%) whereas a smaller group (23%) displayed increased outward currents in Ringer solution. We were able to attribute most of the reduction in outward-current to a voltage-gated K(+ )current which activated at potentials positive to -50 mV and was sensitive to 50 nM α-dendrotoxin (DTX). Other toxins that inhibit subtypes of voltage gated K(+ )channels, such as margatoxin (MgTX), dendrotoxin-K (DTX-K), r-tityustoxin Kα (TsTX-K) and r-agitoxin (AgTX-2) failed to prevent the hypoxia induced reduction. Therefore we could not assign the hypoxia sensitive K(+ )current to one homomeric K(V )channel type in sensory neurones. Functionally this K(+ )current blockade might underlie the increased action potential (AP) duration in these neurones. Altogether these results, might explain the functional impairment of peripheral neurones under moderate hypoxia

    Crossing the Brown Dwarf Desert Using Adaptive Optics: A Very Close L-Dwarf Companion to the Nearby Solar Analog HR 7672

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    We have found a very faint companion to the active solar analog HR 7672 (HD 190406; GJ 779; 15 Sge). Three epochs of high resolution imaging using adaptive optics (AO) at the Gemini-North and Keck II Telescopes demonstrate that HR 7672B is a common proper motion companion, with a separation of 0.79" (14 AU) and a 2.16 um flux ratio of 8.6 mags. Using follow-up K-band spectroscopy from Keck AO+NIRSPEC, we measure a spectral type of L4.5+/-1.5. This is the closest ultracool companion around a main sequence star found to date by direct imaging. We estimate the primary has an age of 1-3 Gyr. Assuming coevality, the companion is most likely substellar, with a mass of 55-78 Mjup based on theoretical models. The primary star shows a long-term radial velocity trend, and we combine the radial velocity data and AO imaging to set a firm (model-independent) lower limit of 48 Mjup. In contrast to the paucity of brown dwarf companions at <~4 AU around FGK dwarfs, HR 7672B implies that brown dwarf companions do exist at separations comparable to those of the giant planets in our own solar system. Its presence is at variance with scenarios where brown dwarfs form as ejected stellar embryos. Moreover, since HR 7672B is likely too massive to have formed in a circumstellar disk as planets are believed to, its discovery suggests that a diversity of physical processes act to populate the outer regions of exoplanetary systems.Comment: Astrophysical Journal, in pres

    Einfluss von Temperatur und Nutzung auf die floristische Artenvielfalt in Getreideanbaugebieten Europas

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    Die Segetalflora der Getreideanbaugebiete Europas bildet auf Grund der landwirtschaftlichen Kulturgeschichte sowie der Größe der Anbaufläche einen wichtigen Bestandteil der Biodiversität. Um den Einfluss der Klimabedingungen in Verbindung mit bestehenden Nutzungsformen auf die Artenvielfalt der Segetalflora in den Getreideanbaugebieten zu prüfen, wurden Modellrechnungen basierend auf mehrjährigen Felduntersuchungen und europaweiten Klimadaten durchgeführt. Die verwendeten Modelleingangsdaten basieren auf mehrjährigen Felduntersuchungen zur Artenvielfalt der Segetalflora in Getreideanbaugebieten mit 3,5 °C bis 16,4 °C Jahresmittel der Lufttemperaturen. Die ermittelte räumliche Verteilung der Artenvielfalt zeigt europaweit große Unterschiede. Höchste Artenzahlen, die Hot-spots der Segetalflora, befinden sich in den mediterranen Getreideanbaugebieten mit bis über 410 Arten je berechneter Gitterbox von 25 km x 25 km. In ausschließlich intensiv, mit Herbizideinsatz bewirtschafteten Getreideanbaugebieten reduziert sich die floristische Artenvielfalt etwa um den Faktor 3 in den mediterranen und um 1,5 bis 2 in den gemäßigten bis kühlen Klimagebieten.Für die Sicherung der Biodiversität in Ackerbaugebieten sind aus floristischer Sicht größere Flächenanteile mit extensiven Nutzungen ohne Einsatz von Herbiziden sowie selbstbegrünte, ein- bis zweijährige Ackerbrachen erforderlich. Dadurch könnte einer durch intensive Nutzungen starken Verarmung sowie Uniformierung der Artenvielfalt in den Ackerbaugebieten Europas entgegen gewirkt werden.Stichwörter: Europa, Klima, Temperaturen, Segetalflora, Getreideanbau, Nutzungsintensitäten, räumliche Verteilung ArtenvielfaltEffects of temperature and land use on the floristic species diversity in grain field areas of EuropeSummaryThe weeds (segetalflora) in European grain-growing regions is due to the agricultural and cultural history and due to the size of the cultivated area an important component of biodiversity. Model calculations were preformed to investigate the influence of climatie conditons in conjunction with different of agricultural uses on the biodiversity of the segetalflora. As input data the model uses datasets on European climate and from field studies. These are based on several years of field studies on the biodiversity of segetalflora in grainproducing regions within a mean annual air temperature range from 3.5 °C to 16.4 °C.The calculated spatial distribution of biodiversity in Europe shows great variation. The highest number of species, considered as hot-spots of segetalflora are located in the Mediterranean grain-growing regions with over 410 species for each calculated grid (25*25km). In intensively used grain-growing regions with herbicide applications the floristic diversity is reduced by a factor of 3 in the Mediterranean and by 1.5 to 2 in temperate to cool climates.From floristic point of view large extensively used fields without herbicide applications and self greened 1-2 year old fallow fields are necessary/suitable to protect the biodiversity in agricultural areas. The implementation of such structures could counteract impoverishment and uniformity of biodiversity in intensively used agricultural areas in Europe.Keywords: Europe, climate, temperatures, weeds, segetalflora, grain field areas, land use intensity, spatial distribution of species diversit


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    We present new evidence for a problem with cooling rates predicted by substellar evolutionary models that implies model-derived masses in the literature for brown dwarfs and directly imaged planets may be too high. Based on our dynamical mass for Gl 417BC (L4.5+L6) and a gyrochronology system age from its young, solar-type host star, commonly used models predict luminosities 0.2−-0.4 dex lower than we observe. This corroborates a similar luminosity−-age discrepancy identified in our previous work on the L4+L4 binary HD 130948BC, which coincidentally has nearly identical component masses (≈\approx50−-55 MJupM_{\rm Jup}) and age (≈\approx800 Myr) as Gl 417BC. Such a luminosity offset would cause systematic errors of 15%−-25% in model-derived masses at this age. After comparing different models, including cloudless models that should not be appropriate for mid-L dwarfs like Gl 417BC and HD 130948BC but actually match their luminosities better, we speculate the observed over-luminosity could be caused by opacity holes (i.e., patchy clouds) in these objects. Moreover, from hybrid substellar evolutionary models that account for cloud disappearance we infer the corresponding phase of over-luminosity may extend from a few hundred Myr up to a few Gyr and cause masses to to be over-estimated by up to 25%, even well after clouds disappear from view entirely. Thus, the range of of ages and spectral types affected by this potential systematic shift in luminosity evolution would encompass most known directly imaged gas-giants and field brown dwarfs.Comment: accepted to Ap

    Genome-wide association analysis of genetic generalized epilepsies implicates susceptibility loci at 1q43, 2p16.1, 2q22.3 and 17q21.32

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    Genetic generalized epilepsies (GGEs) have a lifetime prevalence of 0.3% and account for 20-30% of all epilepsies. Despite their high heritability of 80%, the genetic factors predisposing to GGEs remain elusive. To identify susceptibility variants shared across common GGE syndromes, we carried out a two-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) including 3020 patients with GGEs and 3954 controls of European ancestry. To dissect out syndrome-related variants, we also explored two distinct GGE subgroups comprising 1434 patients with genetic absence epilepsies (GAEs) and 1134 patients with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME). Joint Stage-1 and 2 analyses revealed genome-wide significant associations for GGEs at 2p16.1 (rs13026414, Pmeta = 2.5 × 10−9, OR[T] = 0.81) and 17q21.32 (rs72823592, Pmeta = 9.3 × 10−9, OR[A] = 0.77). The search for syndrome-related susceptibility alleles identified significant associations for GAEs at 2q22.3 (rs10496964, Pmeta = 9.1 × 10−9, OR[T] = 0.68) and at 1q43 for JME (rs12059546, Pmeta = 4.1 × 10−8, OR[G] = 1.42). Suggestive evidence for an association with GGEs was found in the region 2q24.3 (rs11890028, Pmeta = 4.0 × 10−6) nearby the SCN1A gene, which is currently the gene with the largest number of known epilepsy-related mutations. The associated regions harbor high-ranking candidate genes: CHRM3 at 1q43, VRK2 at 2p16.1, ZEB2 at 2q22.3, SCN1A at 2q24.3 and PNPO at 17q21.32. Further replication efforts are necessary to elucidate whether these positional candidate genes contribute to the heritability of the common GGE syndrome

    Distinguishing the Impacts of Inadequate Prey and Vessel Traffic on an Endangered Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population

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    Managing endangered species often involves evaluating the relative impacts of multiple anthropogenic and ecological pressures. This challenge is particularly formidable for cetaceans, which spend the majority of their time underwater. Noninvasive physiological approaches can be especially informative in this regard. We used a combination of fecal thyroid (T3) and glucocorticoid (GC) hormone measures to assess two threats influencing the endangered southern resident killer whales (SRKW; Orcinus orca) that frequent the inland waters of British Columbia, Canada and Washington, U.S.A. Glucocorticoids increase in response to nutritional and psychological stress, whereas thyroid hormone declines in response to nutritional stress but is unaffected by psychological stress. The inadequate prey hypothesis argues that the killer whales have become prey limited due to reductions of their dominant prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). The vessel impact hypothesis argues that high numbers of vessels in close proximity to the whales cause disturbance via psychological stress and/or impaired foraging ability. The GC and T3 measures supported the inadequate prey hypothesis. In particular, GC concentrations were negatively correlated with short-term changes in prey availability. Whereas, T3 concentrations varied by date and year in a manner that corresponded with more long-term prey availability. Physiological correlations with prey overshadowed any impacts of vessels since GCs were lowest during the peak in vessel abundance, which also coincided with the peak in salmon availability. Our results suggest that identification and recovery of strategic salmon populations in the SRKW diet are important to effectively promote SRKW recovery

    Malaria Pigment Crystals: The Achilles′ Heel of the Malaria Parasite

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    The biogenic formation of hemozoin crystals, a crucial process in heme detoxification by the malaria parasite, is reviewed as an antimalarial drug target. We first focus on the in-vivo formation of hemozoin. A model is presented, based on native-contrast 3D imaging obtained by X-ray and electron microscopy, that hemozoin nucleates at the inner membrane leaflet of the parasitic digestive vacuole, and grows in the adjacent aqueous medium. Having observed quantities of hemoglobin and hemozoin in the digestive vacuole, we present a model that heme liberation from hemoglobin and hemozoin formation is an assembly-line process. The crystallization is preceded by reaction between heme monomers yielding hematin dimers involving fewer types of isomers than in synthetic hemozoin; this is indicative of protein-induced dimerization. Models of antimalarial drugs binding onto hemozoin surfaces are reviewed. This is followed by a description of bromoquine, a chloroquine drug analogue, capping a significant fraction of hemozoin surfaces within the digestive vacuole and accumulation of the drug, presumably a bromoquine–hematin complex, at the vacuole's membrane