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Mercedes-Benz Vans launched its new mid-size van—the Vito—at the Chengdu Motor Show in China on Friday. The first batch of the new Vito rolled off the production line at Daimler’s local joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (FBAC) in Fuzhou in August. The new Vito will be ready for delivery to dealers at the end of September. In an event to be held this Wednesday at its “Van Innovation Campus” in Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz Vans will unveil its vision of the van of the future: connected and electrically powered. (In July, Daimler Trucks unveiled the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, an all-electric, short-radius distribution heavy-duty truck, based on a three-axle truck from Mercedes-Benz. Earlier post.) With the launch of the new Vito in China, we completed the roll-out of our highly successful mid-size segment in this growing market. This is another milestone of our ‘Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global’ growth strategy. We have successfully entered numerous markets with the new Vito since its launch in 2014—over 65 in total—and we have significantly increased unit sales ever since. We are convinced it will be as compelling to customers in China, too. In March, Mercedes-Benz Vans successfully launched its mid-size multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) V-Class in China. With the Vito and V-Class, Mercedes-Benz Vans has turned its mid-size segment offering into a strong second pillar of its product portfolio in addition to the large van Sprinter. In the first half of 2016, Vito and V-Class continued to be the strongest sales drivers. Mercedes-Benz Vans delivered approximately 46,000 Vito models to customers (plus 40%) and 23,300 V-Class models (plus 66%). Total sales of Mercedes-Benz Vans increased by 21% to approximately 176,200 vehicles—a new record. China was the strongest growth market for Mercedes-Benz Vans with an increase in sales of 104% to approximately 5,700 units. In the second quarter of 2016, Mercedes-Benz Vans achieved its best ever quarterly EBIT of €401 million (US$447 million) (previous year: €234 million, plus 71%) and its best ever quarterly RoS of 11.7% (previous year: 8.3%t, plus 41%). It also achieved second quarter record sales of 99,600 units (previous year: 81,600, plus 22%) and revenues of €3,441 million (US$3,835 million) (previous year 2,829 million Euros, plus 22%). The highly versatile new Vito is a practical premium mid-size van that offers both space and value. Its adaptability makes it ideal for China’s rapidly growing small- and medium-sized enterprises. It is the only vehicle in its segment offering AGILITY CONTROL suspension with frequency-selective damping. Alongside the Sprinter, the Vito is now Mercedes-Benz Vans’ second “world van”. Following its introduction in Europe and in other global markets in 2014, the Vito has been available in Latin America, the USA and Canada—in both North American markets it is known as the Metris—since 2015. The introduction in China completes its global launch. With its attractive design and wide choice of variants, the new vehicle sets the standard in its segment. Fujian Benz Automotive invested around €200 million (US$223 million) in China (1.4 billion RMB) for the production of the new mid-size models Vito and V-Class. In addition to increasing the localization of components and features for these new models, the investment improved the preparation and modernization of the body shell and assembly, as well as providing for the qualification of staff in the company’s Fuzhou plant. All global mid-size production sites of Mercedes-Benz Vans—in the USA and Argentina, in addition to China—cooperate closely with the specialists at the plant in Vitoria, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ global competence center for mid-size vehicles in Spain. The plant in Vitoria, with very high capacity utilization, supplies all other global markets with the V-Class and—together with the plants in Argentina and the US—all other global markets with the Vito. Numerous employees from China have undergone intensive training in Vitoria, while the experts from Spain were on hand to assist their Chinese colleagues with the ramp-up of production on-site. Mercedes-Benz Vans expanded its plant in Fuzhou in the south-east of China with its first research and development center outside Germany in 2013. The center focuses on models that are locally produced and marketed. In the development process of the new Vito it was thus possible to take full account of the market and requirements in China.

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Site: news.yahoo.com

A 13,800-year-old engraving of seven semi-circular dome-like structures may be the oldest known representation of human dwellings. More The world's oldest depiction of a campsite may have been unearthed outside a cave in Spain. Newfound etchings, discovered near the Molí del Salt rock shelter in northeastern Spain, show primitive huts drawn by hunter-gatherers about 13,800 years ago. The findings suggest that the ancient people may have lived in dwellings similar to those of modern-day hunter-gatherers, and could shed light on the lifestyle of these elusive people. [See Images of Amazing Art Found in El Castillo Cave in Spain] From about 15,000 to 9,000 years ago, ancient nomadic people kept returning to the Molí del Salt rock shelter. "This site was fully incorporated in the annual cycle of these nomadic societies. During this time, the Paleolithic human groups produced instruments for hunting and for work on the skin, dismembered animals to consume meat, cooked food and possibly they slept in that space," said study co-author Manuel Vaquero, an art historian at the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution in Tarragona, Spain. Ample evidence points to human occupation of the site. But scientists haven't known exactly what those Paleo villages looked like, because drawings or other representations of human dwellings have not been found from this time. However, postholes from ancient settlements around Europe suggest hunter-gatherers used huts made with wood for framing and with an oval floorplan. And debris from a 19,400-year-old human settlement in what is now Israel, called Ohalo II, suggests the walls were made of plant material. The new drawings provide the missing piece to the puzzle over how these people lived. Vaquero and his colleagues first uncovered the etchings in 2013, while excavating at Molí del Salt. The slab showed a row of seven semicircular shapes, with parallel lines within each. The ancient etchings wouldn't win any art awards: To the naked (and novice) eye, the etchings look like a 4-year-old's crude line drawing of a tent. But the team decided to take a closer look under a microscope, where they analyzed the depth and shape of the lines. The etchings were made by the same technique in a short period of time, the researchers reported today (Dec. 2) in the journal PLOS ONE. The team also analyzed the dimensions of the etched domes and found they matched those commonly found in domes or semicircular huts used by modern hunter-gatherer societies, such as the wigwams historically used by many Native American tribes. Assuming people lived four or five to a hut, as modern people do, each hunter-gatherer enclave would have included at least 28 to 35 people, said study co-author Marcos García Diez, an archaeologist at the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria, Spain. The art's subject matter is also unusual for its time, Diez said. "We think that the Molí del Salt engraving supports the hypothesis that there was a secular art in the Paleolithic, devoid of spiritual or religious meaning. Due to its singularity, we think that it was the expression of the individual feeling of someone who departed from the conventions that ruled Paleolithic art," Diez told Live Science. Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lima-Leopoldo A.P.,Federal University of Espirito Santo | Leopoldo A.S.,Federal University of Espirito Santo | Sugizaki M.M.,Federal University of Mato Grosso | Bruno A.,Vitoria | And 6 more authors.
Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia | Year: 2011

Background: Several mechanisms have been proposed to contribute to cardiac dysfunction in obesity models, such as alterations in calcium (Ca 2+) handling proteins and β-adrenergic receptors. Nevertheless, the role of these factors in the development of myocardial dysfunction induced by obesity is still not clear. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether obesity induced by hypercaloric diets results in cardiac dysfunction. Furthermore, it was evaluated whether this functional abnormality in obese rats is related to abnormal Ca 2+ handling and the β-adrenoceptor system. Methods: Male 30-day-old Wistar rats were fed with standard food (C) and a cycle of five hypercaloric diets (Ob) for 15 weeks. Obesity was defined as increases in body fat percentage in rats. Cardiac function was evaluated by isolated analysis of the left ventricle papillary muscle under basal conditions and after inotropic and lusitropic maneuvers. Results: Compared with the control group, the obese rats had increased body fat and glucose intolerance. The muscles of obese rats developed similar baseline data, but the myocardial responsiveness to post-rest contraction stimulus and increased extracellular Ca 2+ were compromised. There were no changes in cardiac function between groups after β-adrenergic stimulation. Conclusion: Obesity promotes cardiac dysfunction related to changes in intracellular Ca 2+ handling. This functional damage is probably caused by reduced cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca 2+ ATPase (SERCA2) activation via Ca 2+ calmodulin kinase.

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Site: phys.org

Nowadays it is the Brazilian navy that patrols the seas off the country's eastern coast to protect its oil platforms and mineral reserves in a region teeming with turtles and whales. And hundreds of miles over the water on the small island of Trindade, naturalists are working to recover a paradise that was ruined by British settlers in the 18th century. The Brazilian navy patrol ship APA sets sail from Rio de Janeiro for Trindade, which lies 1,167 kilometers from Vitoria in southeastern Brazil. Dozens of fixed and floating oil platforms line the horizon. Brazil drills 90 percent of its oil from beneath the sea bed in this ocean region of 3.6 million square kilometers. But the waters also conceal other seabed resources: gold, phosphorous, manganese and lime deposits which have numerous uses in construction and agriculture. Among the organisms in the ocean are "calcareous algae", useful to farmers, says Cesar de Melo, an agronomist at Lavras Federal University. He says that Brazil imports 80 percent of its fertilizer, while one of nature's best fertilizers is teeming in the nearby ocean. De Melo has spent 20 years studying its benefits. Using the algae as fertilizer, he said, "adds minerals to the land and makes it sustainable, increasing crop production and quality and resistance to pests and plant diseases." On the way back from Trindade the ship will patrol the oil-drilling areas, expelling any unauthorized vessels that stray into the security zone. But first it must take supplies and personnel to Trindade, home to a few scientists and about 30 navy personnel. When the British astronomer Edmond Halley stepped off his boat here in 1700 with a herd of sheep and goats, he set Trindade on the path to devastation. The animals bred uncontrollably, eating away the island's vegetation and the eggs of the island's green turtles and disrupting its water courses. Brazil won control of the island in the late 19th century. A strategic spot in the mid-Atlantic, it was the scene of a sea battle between British and German ships at the outbreak of World War I. In the 1990s, Brazil finally decided to cull hundreds of rampant goats, sheep and pigs to save the island's native species. The last goat was shot down in 2005. Now little by little, scientists say, the rocky island is regaining its natural diversity. No tourists come to the island and inhabitants are banned from bathing in the sea on most of the beaches or even walking on them alone because of fierce tidal waves that crash onto the shores. "On my first mission here in 1994, I found the island devastated," said Ruy Valka Alves, a botanist from Brazil's National Museum, who has visited Trindade about 20 times. "Today I believe the vegetation is clearly regenerating. We have tested it through field work and satellite images," he added. "The water has risen in some of the streams. If we let nature run its course, we are having notable results, even without intervening further." The island's shores abound in coral, fish, turtles and an endangered species of crab. Various species of seabird are coming to breed again on Trindade as the trees grow back. "The island is enormously rich. There are more species to be discovered," said Anabele Stefania Gomes, a botanist who is studying plants on the island. "There are species that had been extinct here and are now managing to return." Explore further: New species of labrisomidae fish discovered in Brazil

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