Daily Archives: March 27, 2020

Eerily on the mark, a gene detective’s coronavirus findings raise hope and fear in equal measure – Economic Times

Posted: March 27, 2020 at 8:46 am

By Robert Langreth

In a few short weeks, Seattle-based biologist Trevor Bedford, 38, has emerged as one of the most famous epidemiologists in the world. His frequent tweets are seized upon by many of the globes top scientists and health policy makers. So far he has more than 170,000 Twitter followers, with thousands more joining every day.

But, unlike traditional epidemiologists, this disease detective working from his lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, doesn't do field work to track down Covid-19 patients contacts. Instead, Bedford and a handful of colleagues spanning the globe from Seattle to Basel, Switzerland, and Wanaka, New Zealand analyse hundreds of virus genomes from patient samples to trace where outbreaks came from, how they spread from one corner of the Earth to the next and, most important, detecting early signs of infection clusters.

The teams analytic approach relies on tracking how viruses mutate over time as they spread from person to person. In the case of the coronavirus, whose RNA consists of about 30,000 genetic bases or letters, it mutates about twice a month. These minor mutations tend not to change the potency of the virus. But they provide clues for genetic detectives to chart how they shift subtly over time, allowing them to create sprawling family trees, or phylogenies, that show how the coronavirus has spread from one part of the world or country to the next.

So far Bedfords findings, which he summarizes promptly on Twitter, have been eerily on the mark, fueling his sudden celebrity status among fellow scientists and public health experts.

Trevor Bedford offered some of the most careful analysis of this pandemic from the very beginning, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a March 14 tweet. His estimates on the emerging epidemic in U.S. should be taken very seriously.

Three weeks ago, when U.S. authorities still thought they might have the coronavirus somewhat under control, Bedford was among the first to argue that it had already been circulating undetected in the Seattle area for weeks. Virus-genome analyses suggested to Bedford that the very first patient in Washington in January, a 35-year-old man who had recently visited Wuhan, China, somehow infected someone else, allowing the disease to spread undetected for all that time around the Seattle area.

There are some enormous implications here, Bedford said in a nine-part Twitter thread on February 29 that has since been retweeted thousands of times. I believe we're facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China.

This genome work differs markedly from traditional epidemiology that focuses heavily on identifying infected patients and tracking all their contacts. Instead of talking to people about who they have been in contact with and shoe-leather epidemiology, we use the genetics of pathogens to see how they are spreading and how they are transmitting around the world, says Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel who works closely with Bedford.

Genome sequencing has gradually become a more and more powerful tool over for tracking diseases. In the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, genome analyses helped trace the origin to a transmission strain that had been missed, allowing the disease to spread quietly for months in Sierra Leone. But that work took months to perform. Recently, genome sequencing has become a standard tool for tracing the source of bacteria-tainted produce.

Twitter has also become a crucial tool. Bedford says he has long written Twitter threads to accompany his scientific papers. But the coronavirus has moved so swiftly he hasn't had time for scientific papers lately. Once the first genome came out in January, I basically started doing science over Twitter, he says.

Along with the science sometimes comes an inspirational call to arms. We can bring this epidemic under control, he wrote in a thread that was retweeted 5,000 times. This is the Apollo program of our times. Let's get to it.

In his 19-part March 18 Twitter thread, Bedford offers way to do just that. One path out of the crisis, he says, could be via a massive effort to roll out in-home testing kits and drive-through sites to spot cases early on and then combine those with cellphone location data to trace all the previous movements of those who test positive.

He says he finds his newfound Twitter fame a bit bewildering. This has been very, very surreal, says Bedford, who's been working 16-hour days since the outbreak started. I am getting all this attention for doing this, and meanwhile everyone else's lives are being upended in terrible ways.

One of his key collaborators, Richard Neher, is a computational biologist at the University of Basel. Neher says the two scientists hit upon the idea of tracking virus evolution in real time using an interactive website after meeting at a conference at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2014. Their original idea was focused on influenza evolution, with the goal of helping vaccine makers predict which strains are likely to spread around the world in the next flu season. But over time their website, Nextstrain.org, evolved to include data from multiple outbreaks including Zika, Enterovirus D68 and Ebola.

When the coronavirus hit, Bedford and Neher had customized software ready to roll for rapidly analyzing hundreds of virus genomes. We hit the ground running here because all of this basic infrastructure was in place, Neher says.

Since then, Nextstrain has become a 24/7 operation, staffed with researchers at Bedfords and Nehers labs in Seattle and Basel, along with another scientist in New Zealand. With global coverage, someone is always on call to start analyzing data as soon as a new viral genome is released to gisaid.org, a website where scientists are posting the information. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to analyze a new viral genome, allowing the website to be updated frequently.

Bedford sees his work as expanding, not replacing, the utility of existing virus-tracing methods, providing new data streams to complement traditional epidemiology. And while the evidence he gathers stops short of proving a chain of transmission, my suspicion is almost everything we have seen in the Seattle area is part of the same transmission chain, he says.

He started analyzing coronavirus genomes from China as soon as they began to flow into public databases on January 10th. At the time, health authorities were claiming that the virus had limited ability to spread between people. But Bedford found something alarming: The viral genomes were too similar to derive from viruses from different animals infecting people on multiple occasions. Instead, the genome data suggested that someone had acquired it from a single infected animal around early December and it had been spreading from person to person ever since.

This genomic data represented one of the first and strongest indications of sustained epidemic spread, Bedford said in a Jan. 31 blog post. I spent the week of Jan 20 alerting every public health official I know.

Bedford and Neher are limited by the amount of genome data that is available. So far almost 1,000 patients have had their viral genomes analyzed, out of more than 350,000 people who have been infected. There are few virus genome sequences from New York, which has surpassed Washington as the hardest-hit state in the country. Overwhelmed testing centers often don't have manpower to spare to do genome analysis when so many people are having trouble getting test results.

Even so, a basic picture is emerging: Most of the coronavirus clusters now spiraling out of control in Europe and the United States likely date back to community spread that had been quietly percolating for many weeks.

We were thinking , Neher says, it was all in China and China's problem, but that was not true."

Eerily on the mark, a gene detective's coronavirus findings raise hope and fear in equal measure - Economic Times

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Researchers Look At How The Coronavirus Is Mutating And Possible Consequences : Goats and Soda – NPR

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A colorized image of cells from a patient infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The virus particles are colored pink. The image was captured from a scanning electron micrograph. NIAID/Flickr hide caption

A colorized image of cells from a patient infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The virus particles are colored pink. The image was captured from a scanning electron micrograph.

As the new coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, researchers say the virus is changing its genetic makeup slightly. But does that mean it is becoming more dangerous to humans? And what would the impact be on any future vaccines?

"In the literal sense of 'is it changing genetically,' the answer is absolutely yes," says Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard University. "What is in question is whether there's been any change that's important to the course of disease or the transmissibility or other things that we as humans care about."

So far, "there is no credible evidence of a change in the biology of the virus either for better or for worse," says Lipsitch.

Coronaviruses like all viruses change small parts of their genetic code all the time.

"Viruses mutate naturally as part of their life cycle," says Ewan Harrison, scientific project manager for the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, a new project that tracks the virus in the United Kingdom.

Like flu and measles, the coronavirus is an RNA virus. It's a microscopic package of genetic instructions bundled in a protein shell. When a virus infects a person, the string of genetic instructions enables the virus to spread by telling it how to replicate once it enters a cell. The virus makes copies of itself and pushes them out to other cells in the body. Infectious doses of the virus can be coughed out in droplets and inhaled by others.

Inevitably, viruses "make mistakes in their genomes" as they copy themselves, says Harrison. Those changes can accumulate and carry over to future copies of the virus. Researchers are using these small, cumulative changes to trace the pathway of the virus through groups of people.

So far, researchers who are tracking the genetic changes in SARS-CoV-2 the official name for the coronavirus say it seems relatively stable. It acquires about two mutations a month during this process of spread, Harrison says about one-third to one-half the rate of the flu.

Coronaviruses differ from flu viruses in another key way that reduces the number of mutations. They proofread their own genomes when they copy themselves, cutting out things that don't seem right. "They maintain this ability to keep their genome pretty much intact," says Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch. "The mutations that they incorporate are relatively rare."

This added proofreading function means that coronaviruses are also one of the largest RNA viruses. They're about 30,000 nucleotides long double the size of flu viruses. But at 125 nanometers wide, they're still microscopic; 800 of them could fit in the width of a human hair.

Nonetheless, their relatively larger size means "they have a lot more tools in their tool belt" compared with other RNA viruses, says Menachery in other words, more capability of fighting off a host's immune system and making copies of themselves.

Researchers are on alert for changes that might affect how the coronavirus behaves in humans. For instance, if the coronavirus developed ways to block parts of our immune system, it could hide out in our bodies and establish itself better. If it evolved to bind more strongly to human cells, it could enter them more efficiently and replicate more quickly.

But it's not as if the coronavirus needs to become more potent to survive and thrive. It's already replicating itself around the world very successfully, says Justin Bahl, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Georgia. "The viruses themselves are not actually under much pressure to change."

Selective pressures could come from introducing treatments and vaccines that are effective against a narrow group of coronavirus strains. If that happens, strains that aren't targeted by these measures would likely proliferate.

The small genetic changes that researchers have observed so far don't appear to be changing the function of the virus. "I don't think we're going to see major new traits, but I do think that we're going to see different variants emerge in the population," says Bahl.

And that slower rate of change is potentially good news for treatments and vaccines. Researchers think that once a person gains immunity against SARS-CoV-2, either by recovering from an infection or by getting a future vaccine, they will likely be protected against the strains in circulation for "years rather than months," predicts Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in an assessment shared on Twitter.

Projects such as the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium will use these genetic drifts to track the path of the virus and figure out if there are hospitals or community hubs that are hot spots for contagion, according to Harrison. This will give public health officials a sense of where and how the virus is being transmitted now.

Will the coronavirus surge when schools reopen? Will new strains emerge that develop resistance to drugs or vaccines that are introduced? To answer such questions, Harrison says, the long-term plan is to track the virus in real time and see how it changes as it spreads.

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Researchers Look At How The Coronavirus Is Mutating And Possible Consequences : Goats and Soda - NPR

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IntegraGen Announces Leading U.S. Cancer Center to Use MERCURY Cloud-based Tool for Oncology Sequencing Data Interpretation and Reporting – Yahoo…

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Regulatory News:

IntegraGen (Paris:ALINT), a company specializing in the transformation of data from biological samples into genomic information and diagnostic tools for oncology, today announced Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will utilize the companys MERCURY cloud-based software as part of their analysis and reporting process for sequencing data obtained from tumors of cancer patients. Dana-Farber plans to utilize MERCURY to assist in the analysis of sequencing data obtained from small and large targeted gene sequencing panels as well as data derived from whole exome and genome sequencing.

"Genomic profiling of tumors can assist in the identification of pathogenic molecular alterations which drive a patients cancer and enable the implementation of precision medicine-based approaches to treatment," stated Annette S. Kim M.D., Ph.D., Co-Director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institutes new Interpretive Genomics Program within the Department of Oncologic Pathology. The program is Co-Directed by Keith L. Ligon, MD PhD, Director of the Dana-Farber Center for Patient Derived Models. "MERCURY provides us with a tool to rapidly interpret large scale and complex genomic sequencing data with the added ability of customization to meet our specific analysis and reporting needs to support clinical research and clinical trials."

"IntegraGen is excited about Dana-Fabers decision to utilize MERCURY and look forward to interacting with another world leader in cancer care related to the utilization of our cloud-based bioinformatic tools," said Larry Yost, General Manager of IntegraGen, Inc. "We are convinced that the use of MERCURY will aid in the better understanding of the etiology of a patients cancer and assist with the realization of the benefits of precision medicine by transforming large-scale sequencing data into actionable results. We are also looking forward to continuing the development and expansion of our genomic interpretation software tools in North America."

MERCURY is a user-friendly genomic interpretation tool for oncology designed to assist pathologists and oncologists to rapidly transform raw data obtained via high-throughput sequencing into a clinical molecular report for clinical and research use. The cloud-based tool minimizes the complexity, time and cost associated with the clinical interpretation and identification of variants that may be of interest in the therapeutic management of patients. MERCURY utilizes the Google Cloud technology to ensure a secure environment for data analysis and storage which is compliant with the latest information security requirements.

About IntegraGen

IntegraGen is a company specializing in the analysis of the human genome and performs adaptive and quickly interpretable analyses for academic and private laboratories. For the management of cancers, which are characterized by a genetic disruption of cells, IntegraGen provides researchers and doctors with universal and individualized therapeutic guidance tools allowing them to adapt the treatment to the patient's genetic profile.

IntegraGen has forty-six employees and generated revenue of 8.3 million in 2019. Based in the Gnopole d'Evry, IntegraGen is also located in the United States in Cambridge, MA. IntegraGen is listed on Euronext Growth in Paris (ISIN: FR0010908723 - Mnemo: ALINT - Eligible PEA-PME).

For more information, visit http://www.integragen.com

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200326005546/en/


Contacts IntegraGen Bernard COURTIEUPresident and CEO

Laurence RIOT LAMOTTEChief Financial Officercontact@integragen.com Tel: +33 (0)1 60 91 09 00

NewCap Investor and Media RelationsLouis-Victor DELOUVRIERintegragen@newcap.eu Tel: +33 (0)1 44 71 98 53

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IntegraGen Announces Leading U.S. Cancer Center to Use MERCURY Cloud-based Tool for Oncology Sequencing Data Interpretation and Reporting - Yahoo...

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University of Birmingham joins COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium – insideHPC

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The UK government has backed their leading clinicians and scientists this week with new resources to map how COVID-19 spreads and evolves using whole-genome sequencing. Through a 20 million investment, the consortium will look for breakthroughs that help the UK respond to this and future pandemics, and save lives.

The COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium COG-UK comprised of the NHS, Public Health Agencies and academic institutions including the University of Birmingham will deliver large scale, rapid sequencing of the cause of the disease and share intelligence with hospitals, regional NHS centres and the Government.

Samples from patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be sent to a network of sequencing centres which currently includes Birmingham, Belfast, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institutewill provide large-scale sequencing capacity and additional support.

The University of Birmingham, led byNick Loman, Professor of Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics in theInstitute of Microbiology and Infection, have deployed a real-time genome sequencing facility established at the University capable of sequencing genomes of the virus causing COVID-19 from patients in the West Midlands in less than 24 hours.

Professor Loman says: This is a remarkable collaboration which brings together Birmingham and the UKs incredible depth of expertise and knowledge in viral sequencing and genomics. An open and distributed model of sequencing involving both academia, the NHS and our public health bodies is the right way to ensure results are delivered quickly to decision-makers. We are now well positioned to return deep insights into understanding the rapidly-accelerating pandemic of COVID-19, easily the most pressing infectious disease emergency we have faced in two generations in the UK.

The governments investment is well-timed to accelerate the pace of viral genome sequence production and ensure this information is openly available to epidemiologists and virologists worldwide. This will provide an unprecedented real-time view of COVID-19 virus evolution.

Understanding viral evolution is important for understanding how the virus is spreading in local, national and international settings. It provides valuable epidemiological information revealing the chains of transmission that must be stopped in order to stop this outbreak.

We also stand to observe how the virus adapts to a human host over time, and how human interventions including drug treatments and eventually vaccines, exert pressure on the virus.

The consortium benefits from two major initiatives in which the University of Birmingham has played a pivotal role: ARTIC and CLIMB.The CLIMB project,which recently secured funding for a further five years with the CLIMB-BIG-DATA project, will provide the data analysis pipelines, computing and storage capacity required to analyse the large genome datasets produced by the consortium, as well as facilitating national and international research capabilities.

The ARTIC project,funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award, is a collaborative project to put genomics at the heart of outbreak response. Dr Josh Quick, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection rapidly developed a method for sequencing coronavirus, released to researchers back in January, and which has already been widely adopted across the world. This method builds on work previously successfully used to trace epidemics of Ebola virus and Zika virus.

Dr Quick says: Based on previous experiences with Ebola and Zika virus we were able to rapidly develop an approach to sequencing the COVID-19 virus rapidly using a targeted method. The importance of this method is that it works well even when only miniscule amounts of virus are present in the sample, something we commonly see. It has been used to generate the first genomes from countries including Brazil, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with nanopore sequencing and we have helped over 50 groups in over 20 countries establish genome sequencing capabilities in their own labs.

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The Prophet’s Golden Rule: Ethics of Reciprocity in Islam – MuslimMatters

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In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

The ethics of reciprocity, known as the golden rule, is any moral dictum that encourages people to treat others the way they would like to be treated. Although the term was originally coined by Anglican ministers such as George Boraston, the principle can be found in the sacred texts of the worlds great religions, as well as the writings of secular philosophers. Due to its ubiquity in many contexts, it has become an important focal point for interfaith dialogue and the development of international human rights norms.

The rule often appears as a summarizing principle of good conduct, the supreme moral principle of right action between human beings. Though not always understood literally, as it is often qualified by competing moral imperatives, it generally functions as an intuitive method of moral reasoning. Despite the different formulations, wordings, and contexts in which the rule appears across religions and traditions, Jeffery Wattles argues that there is enough continuity in meaning and application to justify describing the ethics of reciprocity as the golden rule.

Some philosophers have scoffed at the rule, noting that a crude, literal adherence to the outward phrasing can lead to moral absurdities. Harry J. Gensler reponds to this criticism by formulating the rule in these terms: Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation. Context matters in the process of moral reasoning; what the rule demands is not rudimentary application as much as it is ethical consistency vis--vis human beings, as the first principle from which the morality of an action is analyzed. It is the locus of ones conscience, a guide for everyday behavior.

Moreover, application of the rule ought to be informed by a balanced collection of principles and values that manifest the rule in action. For this reason, writers throughout history have used the rule as a hub around which to gather great themes. Notions of justice, love, compassion, and other virtues have all been related to the rule by various religious traditions. Accounting for all of these considerations and responding to common objections, both Wattles and Gensler have convincingly defended the golden rule from its detractors and have presented it as a viable principle for a modern moral philosophy.

Islam, as a world religion with over one billion followers, has an important role to play in facilitating dialogue and cooperation with other groups in the modern world. The golden rule in Islamic traditions has been explicitly invoked by numerous Muslim leaders and organizations towards this end. Recently, hundreds of Muslim scholars and leaders have signed the A Common Word interfaith letter, asserting that the Abrahamic faiths share the twin golden commandments of the paramount importance of loving God and loving ones neighbor. The initiative grew into several publications and conferences, including the important and high-profile Marrakesh Declaration in early 2016, which cited A Common Word in its text as evidence of the compatibility between Islamic tradition and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Quran ascribes a number of beautiful names (asma al-husna) to God conveying virtues that Muslims, by implication, should practice, The most excellent names belong to Him. Among the relevant names of God are Al-Rahman (the Merciful), Al-Wadud (the Loving), Al-Ghafur (the Forgiving), Al-Rauf (the Kind), Al-Adl (the Just), Al-Karim (the Generous), and so on. Embedded in this description of God are many of the moral themes traditionally associated with the golden rule.

The distinguished Muslim scholar and mystic, Ab mid al-Ghazzl (d.1111), locates the golden rule within Gods loving nature as expressed in the verses, My Lord is merciful and most loving, and again, He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Loving. He authored a treatise on the names of God in Islamic tradition, discussing their theological meanings and his understanding of the proper way in which Muslims should enact those names. God, in his view, benefits all creatures without desiring any advantage or benefit in return:

Al-Wadud The Loving-kind is one who wishes all creatures well and accordingly favors them and praises them. In fact, love and mercy are only intended for the benefit and advantage of those who receive mercy or are loved; they do not find their cause in the sensitivities or natural inclination of the Loving-kind One. For anothers benefit is the heart and soul of mercy and love and that is how the case of God may He be praised and exalted is to be conceived: absent those features which human experience associates with mercy and love, yet which do not contribute to the benefit they bring.

In other words, God should be understood as entirely and selflessly benevolent towards His creatures, without any need or desire for repayment. God does not benefit from the worship of His servants, nor does He take pleasure in punishing the wicked. Rather, God only prescribes worship and righteous deeds for the benefit of believers. By reflecting this divine nature in action, believers should unconditionally want for others the same as they want for themselves:

One is loving-kind among Gods servants who desires for Gods creatures whatever he desires for himself; and whoever prefers them to himself is even higher than that. Like one of them who said, I would like to be a bridge over the fire [of hell] so that creatures might pass over me and not be harmed by it. The perfection of that virtue occurs when not even anger, hatred, and the harm he might receive can keep him from altruism and goodness.

Commentators of the Quran often found the rule implied in several verses. When righteousness (taqw) is first mentioned in Quran (when reading cover-to-cover), classical exegetes typically define it by appealing to traditional wisdom-sayings. Abu Ishaq al-Thalabi (d. 1035) narrates several exegetical traditions to define and explicate the meaning of righteousness. The early authorities Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 778) and Al-Fudayl ibn Iyad (d. 803) say that the righteous man (al-muttaqi) is he who loves for people what he loves for himself. Al-Junayd ibn Muhammad (d. 910), on the other hand, disagreed with them and took it a step further, The righteous man is not he who loves for people what he loves for himself. Rather, the righteous man is only he who loves for people greater than he loves for himself. In Al-Junayds telling, true righteousness is not simply the equality implied in the golden rule, but rather a definite preference to benefit others that amounts to altruism (al-ithar).

In contrast, the Quran severely rebukes cheaters in weights and measurements, Woe to those who give short measure, who demand of other people full measure for themselves, but give less than they should when it is they who weigh or measure for others! That is, they demand full payment for themselves while they give short-change to others. The golden rule was understood by Fakhr al-Dn al-Razi (d. 1209) to be the clear implication of this passage, as he reports the saying of the early authority Qatadah, Fulfil the measure, O son of Adam, as you would love it fulfilled for yourself, and be just as you would love justice for yourself.

Most of the explicit golden rule statements in Islamic tradition are found in the Hadith corpus, the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muammad . According to Anas ibn Mlik (d. 712), the Prophet said:

This is the most prominent golden rule statement in the Hadith corpus. The two leading Sunni Hadith scholars, Muhammad ibn Isml al-Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim ibn al-ajjj (d. 875), both placed this tradition in their book of faith, near the introductions of their respective collections. The implication is that the lesson in the tradition is essential to true faith itself, not simply a recommended or value-added practice.

Commentators sometimes mention that all good manners are derived from this tradition and three others, Whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him speak goodness or be silent, and, It is from a mans excellence in Islam that he leaves what does not concern him, and, Do not be angry. Like many religious writers and philosophers, Muslim scholars took note of the summarizing function of the golden rule as a broad principle for good conduct.

A key question for the commentators was the meaning of brother in the tradition of Anas . It is generally agreed upon that brother refers to Muslims, but several commentators expanded the meaning to include non-Muslims or unbelievers. Prolific author and Shafii jurist, Muy al-Dn al-Nawaw (d. 1277), explained the tradition this way:

Firstly, that [tradition] is interpreted as general brotherhood, such that it includes the unbeliever and the Muslim. Thus, he loves for his brother the unbeliever what he loves for himself of embracing Islam, as he would love for his brother Muslim to always remain upon Islam. For this reason, to pray for guidance for the unbeliever is recommended The meaning of love is to intend good and benefit, hence, the meaning is religious love and not human love.

Al-Nawaws concept of religious love (al-mahabbat al-diniyah) parallels the distinction Christian writers made between agape () and eros (). The highest form of love, according to him, is that which is purely benevolent for Gods sake, in opposition to sinful passions, caprice, or ordinary types of love.

Although inclusion of non-Muslims in a broader brotherhood of humanity was not universally accepted, proponents of this interpretation found a strong case for their position in all of the permutations of the golden rule in the Hadith corpus. Even from the traditions of Anas alone, inclusive language was used by the Prophet often enough to justify a universal golden rule:

None of you has faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself, and only until he loves a person for the sake of God, the Great and Almighty.

The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself of the good.

In particular, a variant in Sahih Muslim reads, until he loves for his brother or he said his neighbour what he loves for himself. In this version, Anas is unsure if the Prophet said brother or neighbor. If neighbors are included, the term would certainly apply to non-Muslims as well.

Muammad ibn Isml al-ann (d. 1768), a Yemeni reformer in the Salafi tradition, includes in his legal commentary a chapter on the rights of the neighbor, in which he employs some of the broadest language of the late classical to early modern period. Based upon the word neighbor in the version of Sahih Muslim, he concludes:

The narration of the neighbor is general for the Muslim, the unbeliever, and the sinner, the friend and the enemy, the relative and the foreigner, the near neighbour and the far neighbour. Whoever acquires in this regard the obligatory attributes of loving good for him, he is at the highest of levels.

Perhaps most significant is Al-anns inclusion of enemies (al-aduw) in the list of people covered by the golden rule. In this case, the rule has at least some kind of application to every single human being.

Abd Allh ibn Amr (d. 685), who is said to have been one of the first to write down the statements of the Prophet , narrates his version of the golden rule, Whoever would love to be delivered from Hell and admitted into Paradise, let him meet his end believing in God and the Last Day, and let him treat people as he would love to be treated. The rule here is a means of salvation and is expressed in terms of good behavior, rather than religious love.

Ab Hurayrah (d. 679), the most prolific narrator of Hadith, also shares what he heard from the Prophet , Love for people what you love for yourself, you will be a believer. Be good to your neighbour, you will be a Muslim. Like the tradition of Anas, the rule is associated with both true faith and good treatment of neighbors.

Sometimes Hadith traditions do not explicitly state the golden rule, but it is drawn out by the commentators. Tamim al-Dari (d. 661) reports that the Prophet said three times, Religion is sincerity. The companions said, To whom? The Prophet replied, To God, to His book, to His messenger, and to the leader of the Muslims and their commoners. Ibn Daqq al-d (d. 1302) explains at length the meaning of sincerity or good will (naah) in each context. As it relates to common people, he writes that sincerity is to take care of them with beautiful preaching, to abandon ill will and envy for them, and to love for them what he loves for himself of good and to hate for them what he hates for himself of evil.

Al-Numn ibn Bashr (d. 684) relates the Prophets parable of the faith community as a single body, You see the believers in their mercy, affection, and compassion for one another as if they were a body. When a limb aches, the rest of the body responds with sleeplessness and fever. A variant of this tradition reads, The Muslims are like a single man. If the eye is afflicted, the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, the whole body is afflicted. The idea is that Muslims should have empathy for one another by sharing the burden of each others pain, as stated in another tradition, The believer feels pain for the people of faith, just as the body feels pain in its head. Abu Abd Allh al-Halm (d. 1012) inferred the golden rule from this parable:

They should be like that, as one hand would not love but what the other loves, and one eye or one leg or one ear would not love but what the other loves. Likewise, he should not love for his Muslim brother but what he loves for himself.

Later commentators would develop this idea further. Ibn Daqq draws upon the parable of the faith community in his commentary on the tradition of Anas, writing, Some scholars said in this tradition is the understanding that the believer is with another believer like a single soul. Thus, he should love for him what he loves for himself, as if they were a single soul. Ibn ajar al-Haytham (d. 1567) makes the same connection, saying that to love one another means that he will be with him as one soul (al-nafs al-wahidah).

Yazid ibn Asad, another one of the Prophets companions, recalls that he said to him, O Yazid ibn Asad! Love for people what you love for yourself! In a variant of this tradition, the Prophet (s) asks him, Do you love Paradise? Yazid says yes, so the Prophet replies, Then love for your brother what you love for yourself. In yet another variant, Yazids grandson quotes the sermon of Prophet upon the pulpit, Do not treat people but in the way you would love to be treated by them.

Failure to live up to the golden rule could result in dreadful consequences in the Hereafter, especially for Imams and authorities. Maqil ibn Yasr, while on his deathbed, recounted what he learned from the Prophet , No one is appointed over the affairs of the Muslims and then he does not strive for them or show them good will but that he will never enter Paradise with them. In another wording, the Prophet said, He does not protect them as he would protect himself and his family but that Allah will cast him into the fire of Hell. In this regard, a Muslim leader must necessarily treat their followers as they would treat themselves and their own families, if such a terrible fate is to be avoided.

Ab Ummah al-Bhil (d. 705) tells the story of a young man who came to the Prophet (s) to ask for permission to indulge in adulterous intercourse. The Prophet engages him in an imaginative role-reversal, asking a series of Socratic questions and appealing to the young mans conscience to convince him against it, Would you like that for your mother? Would you like that for your sister? The young man, naturally, expresses his disapproval had someone else committed adultery with the women of his household. The logical conclusion, as stated by the Prophet, is to consider the golden rule, Then hate what God has hated, and love for your brother what you love for yourself.

Hatred for the sake of God is a fine line to walk, between righteous indignation and unjustified malice. At least some of the earliest Muslims adopted the familiar refrain: love the sinner, hate the sin. According to Mudh ibn Anas, this is how the Prophet defined hatred for the sake of God, The best faith is to love for the sake of God, to hate for the sake of God, and to work your tongue in the remembrance of God. Mudh said, How is it done, O Messenger of God? The Prophet said, That you love for people what you love for yourself, hate for them what you hate for yourself, and to speak goodness or be silent. The noble form of hatred is simply the inverse of the golden rule; if one sees another sinning, hatred should be for the evil deed because it harms its doer. At the same time, one loves good for the sinner by hoping for their repentance and divine forgiveness.

Ibrahim Adham (d. 782) remembers during his travels that he overheard a pair of Muslim ascetics discussing the love of God amongst themselves. Intrigued, he interjects himself into the conversation to ask, How can anyone have compassion for people who contradict their Beloved [God]?

The unnamed ascetic turns to him, saying:

They abhor their sinful deeds and have compassion for them, [pray] that by preaching to them they might leave their deeds. They feel pity that their bodies might be burned in hellfire. The believer is not truly a believer until he is pleased for people to have what is pleasing to himself.

The commentator Abd al-Ramn ibn Rajab (d. 1393) corroborates this interpretation, which he ascribes to the righteous predecessors (al-salaf al-li). Hence, it not correct for a Muslim to carry malicious hatred in the sense of desiring to harm others. A believer ought to love for sinners to repent, to be guided, and to be forgiven. In this regard, the Prophet admonished us, Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of God as brothers.

The irreversible march of globalization is producing an urgent need for people of different backgrounds and beliefs to find common ground. As the world grows closer together, with it grows the imperative to recognize each other as members of one human family. The ethics of reciprocity the golden rule is the best conceptual vehicle to advance this necessary intercultural dialogue and cooperation.

Islam is one of the worlds great religions, with over one billion followers living on every continent and speaking hundreds of languages. If peace on earth is to be actualized, Islam and Muslims must be a partner in it. Muslims need an entry point for understanding non-Muslims, just as non-Muslims need a way to begin understanding Muslims. Islams golden rule can provide a bridge between these worlds.

It is not reasonable to expect that the golden rule by itself can solve all the conflicts of the modern world, but what it can do is activate the innate conscience of human beings in a process of collective, intercultural moral reasoning. By accepting at the outset the premise of human equality and the obligation of moral consistency, we can work together to develop the mutual understanding and respect needed for people of different beliefs to live together in harmony. The golden rule itself is not the answer per se, rather it is the right question at the start; it is the first step in a journey we must take together, the first conversation in a dialogue we must have.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

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How to report fraud related to the coronavirus – WBRZ

Posted: at 8:45 am

BATON ROUGE - Scammers might see a time like the coronavirus crisis as a prime opportunity to prey on people. The United States Department of Justice announced Monday it's making it a top priority to crack down on scams related to the coronavirus.

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Brandon Fremin says innocent people have already become victims.

"We expect the worst of the worst to show themselves and take advantage of vulnerable populations, and we've already seen it," he said.

Criminals are attempting to exploit COVID-19 through a variety of scams, which come in many forms. They include phone calls, text messages, websites, and phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or CDC. Other forms include ads or downloadable apps that appear to share downloadable information that can gain access to your devices or non-existent charities seeking donations.

"What we've been seeing so far is fake testing kits, attempting sale and sale of fake cures. And we expect to see some health care fraud," Fremin said.

The golden rule stands true here, if it's too good to be true then it probably isn't.

The attorney general announced that the Department of Justice is going to prioritize any fraudulent criminal behavior related to the coronavirus. Steps have been made to ensure it's a priority here in Louisiana.

The complaints made to the National Center for Disaster Fraud are forwarded to the most appropriate investigating agencies. Please report those scams or fraud to 866-720-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov.

You can learn more here.

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Postscripts: Venture to honor anti-nuclear legacy runs aground on coronavirus fears – The Westerly Sun

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For years, several rather conventional, if not pleasant, acrylic paintings of sailboats on loan from Mystic Seaport Museum were displayed among the heroic studies of clipper ships hanging on the walls in the palatial marble lobby of what long was the Savings Bank of New London and in more recent years the Citizens Bank on Eugene ONeill Drive in downtown New London.

The artist was Albert Smith Bigelow. His name lives on, though Citizens Bank, like its predecessor, no longer occupies the building. Presumably the paintings are back in the confines of the Seaports vast collection. A sailor and marine painter since his 20s, Bigelow, in 1965, executed the seascapes. That same year, he gave eight paintings to Mystic Seaport, expressing, in a letter, a great fondness for the Seaport. He also complained that hed received only a form letter of thanks, not a personal note. The Seaport loaned three of the paintings to the bank.

Bigelow did not make his name as painter, but rather a confrontational pacifist protesting nuclear proliferation after World War II and as a Freedom Rider in the Civil Rights years. Unfortunately, he was known, as well, as the betrayed husband in a scandal that captured New York and Boston headlines in late 1929.

In June 1929, the weekend of the annual Harvard-Yale Regatta on the Thames River, Bigelow, a graduate of Harvard and scion of a Boston Brahmin family, married Josephine Noyes Rotch, also of Boston and Bryn Mawr, in a grand ceremony attended by 400 at the Congregational Church in Old Lyme.

Some six months later, Josephine, just 21, was found dead beside her lover, the poet Harry Crosby, a nephew of financier J. P. Morgan, in the Hotel des Artistes in New York. It was deemed a murder-suicide. Crosby shot Josephine and, hours later, killed himself. Society in New York and Boston was properly shocked, though the Boston papers, in deference to the patrician families, made less of the sensational details. Josephines tombstone, in Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme, bears the curious epitaph: In Death Is Victory.

Bigelow, who studied architecture at MIT after Harvard, moved on. He joined a New York architectural firm and helped design buildings for the 1939 Worlds Fair. During World War II, he served in the Navy aboard submarine-chasers and later as a lieutenant commander on destroyer escorts in the Atlantic and Pacific.

The war transformed Bigelow. As he wrote in his book, Voyage of the Golden Rule: An Experiment with Truth, published by Doubleday in 1959, the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945: forced me to see that I had no choice but to make the commitment to live, as best I could, a life of nonviolence.

He married again. His second wife, Sylvia Weld, belonged to another patrician family in Boston. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of the plays Ethan Frome and American Landscape, and later became a nurse.

In the 1950s, the Bigelows, living in Greenwich, Conn., became active in the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Bigelows religious convictions led him to participate in a 1954 protest of chemical weapons at Fort Dietrich, Md., and later to take in, with his wife, two women known as Hiroshima Maidens who survived the 1945 atomic bombings and came to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery.

In February 1958, Bigelow and three other men attempted to sail Bigelows 30-foot ketch, the Golden Rule, into the Eniwetok Proving Grounds, a U.S. nuclear test site in the Marshall Islands. Their boat was detained by court order in Honolulu before they could sail in defiance of the Atomic Energy Commission. They tried again, but were arrested and jailed for 60 days.

Bigelow was a Freedom Rider alongside John Lewis, today the esteemed congressman from Georgia, in the early days of the civil rights movement, beaten with chains at a bus stop in Rock Hill, S.C. The bus Bigelow was on was bombed in Anniston, Ala., in May 1961.

He died in 1993 at age 87 in Walpole, Mass.

Since his death, Veterans for Peace, a national organization with a membership of some 8,000 spanning World War II through the Korean and Vietnam wars and current conflicts, has continued Bigelows protest of nuclear proliferation and U.S. military interventions.

The group also found Bigelows ketch Golden Rule derelict in a California marina, raised funds to restore it and now sails it as a symbol of the organizations convictions. A crew intended to make its way aboard the Golden Rule across the Pacific to be in Japan from July through late August or September to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the civilians in those cities. However, the global coronavirus outbreak has forced the crew to postpone departing Hawaii until November or December.

The Golden Rule itinerary still includes the Marshall Islands, Guam, the Marianas and Okinawa.

Hawaii was the first stop on our Peace in the Pacific mission to stop the possibility of nuclear war, the group says. We are also bringing attention to the environmental and human cost of nuclear and military activity on Pacific Islands, as well as how Island communities are challenging nuclear madness and militarism.

Steven Slosberg lives in Stonington and was a longtime reporter and columnist. He may be reached at maayan72@aol.com.

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Arsenal: The golden rule of transfer recruitment – Pain In The Arsenal

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Arsenal are set to embark recruiting new players for head coach Mikel Arteta. But given the makeup of the squad, there is a golden rule they must not break.

Mikel Arteta has made a very positive start to life as Arsenal head coach. He has proven his coaching skill, implemented a well-defined and concise system that has improved individual and collective performances, and displayed enough progress that suggests he can build a competitive team.

The next step along the Arteta rebuild is recruitment. While positive steps have been made to bed tactical processes and systems into the players, ultimately, there is only so much a coach can do. You need the players to execute your gameplans, and at present, Arteta is working with blunt tools.

The upcoming summer transfer window, then, will be critical for the future Arsenal football club. And for the Arteta project especially. If the former Manchester City assistant is to make true progress at the helm of the team, he must be given new and improved players over what he is currently hamstring with. Centre-back, central midfield, and attacking midfield are all positions that are in need of investment, and that is without considering the potential departures of players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

However, while there are plenty of positions in need of lavish spending, given the current make-up of the squad, there is one golden rule that the club must not break if they want to have a successful recruitment strategy: quality, not quantity.

Without any players bought or sold and assuming full fitness, this is the expected starting XI next season:

Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz; William Saliba, Kieran Tierney; Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil; Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette

And this leaves the following for the reserve XI:

Emiliano Martinez; Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock; Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah

And all this is to not include Rob Holding, Sokratis, Emile Smith Rowe, as well as Cedric, Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari, all of which could be signed at the expiration of their respective deals at the end of the season.

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You can quibble about the names here and there, but the point is this: the Arsenal squad is deep, varied, plentiful and young. They do not need to add numbers at any position other than perhaps attacking midfield, and that is not the case if Arteta believes in Smith Rowe as some others do.

You will notice that the difference between the starting XI and second XI is not that great, especially in defence and midfield. And in the front three, Nelson, Martinelli and Nketiah are all taking giant leaps forward every time they take to the pitch. There are two simultaneous reasons for this: the starting XI is not very good and the second XI is pretty decent.

Where Arteta needs help is in finding truly elite players. He needs a world-class centre-half, a Premier League-leading defensive midfielder, and a replacement for Ozil. He only needs one of each and signing any old name is not helpful. He needs elite, elite quality. Anything less is not worth the investment.

So, when Arsenal come to the summer transfer window and look to provide Arteta with the squad he requires, they must not break the golden rule: quality, not quantity.

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Hate Networking? Change Your Inner-Monologue And Get The Results You Really Want – Forbes

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Networking works best when you emphasize the "give" part of the equation.

Quick question: Would you rather get a root canal than schmooze with a roomful of strangers?

If you hesitated for even a second in considering that choice, you must not enjoy networking.

Join the crowd.

Networking may be one of your least favorite activities. But getting past your apprehensions and doing it right can work wonders for your business and for your career.

And its not about collecting contacts. Its about planting relationships.

No one understands this better than Devora Zack. Shes author ofNetworking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected.

Devoras clients include Deloitte, Delta Airlines, the FDA and other high-profile organizations.

An avowed introvert herself, she says traditional networking rules dont apply to everyone. In fact, the very traits that make many people abhor networking can be harnessed as strengths.

Listen in on this conversation to glean some tips for your own networking.

Rodger Dean Duncan:Introversion and extroversion are both widely misunderstood. What are some common misconceptions that youve observed?

Devora Zack

Devora Zack:There are so many! Allow me to share some of the most popular. And please note thatnone of these are true!

Extroverts are more confident. Introverts are slower paced. Extroverts are self-engrossed. Introverts are insecure. Extroverts are better public speakers. Introverts are stand-offish. I could go on all day.

Introversion and Extroversion have no relationship to success, Type A or B personalities, or energy level.Stereotypes abound.

In reality, there are three foundational distinctions between these personality types

Remembermost of us have elements of both.

Duncan:Why do so many peoplewhether introverts or extrovertsseem to resist networking?

Zack:People misunderstand networking. The thought of working a room or shameless self-promotion is unappealing to most. True networking, however, requires neither. Real networking is the art of building mutually beneficial, meaningful connections one person at a time.

Duncan:You suggest that peoples views on networking are correlated with their inner monologues. How can reframing such monologues lead to different networking behaviors and results?

Zack:Going back to those Big Three, an introvert could say to herself, I energize along and think to talkI could never thrive at a networking event! She could reframe her self-talk to embrace and accept her natural predisposition. The new inner monologue could begin with, Okay, I think to talkThat means Ill do best by preparing in advance some interesting questions and plan responses to questions Im likely to be asked.

Generosity is the currency of effective networking.

Duncan:Generally speaking, what advantages might an introvert bring to a networking opportunity? And what about an extrovert?

Zack:Theres lots! Introverts tend to be natural listeners, and being a good listener makes a better impression on others than self-promotion. Extroverts are great connecters, so they bring together disparate people.

Duncan:You differentiate between the Golden Rule (Treat others as you want to be treated) and the Platinum Rule (Treat others astheywant to be treated). What role does that difference play in your advice on networking?

Zack:Its inaccurate to presume everyone wants to be treated identically. For example, introverts consider many more topics private than extroverts. Therefore, when meeting someone new, begin with broader, open-ended questions, allowing others to decide how specific and personal they wish to be in their responses.

Duncan:What are the most important things a person can do to derive maximum benefit from a networking event?

Zack:Be authentic. Youll never thrive attempting to be someone youre not. The idea is not for introverts to try to be extroverts. Work with rather than fight against your true nature. Introverts do not need to be fixed!

Duncan:What is the most important determinate of successful networking?

Zack:Follow up. If youre not following up, youre not networking.

Extroverts are apt to tell me, Im a great networker. I can talk to anyone about anything.While thats a lovely ability, it does not correlate with lasting networking. Far more significant is what happens the next day. If you make a single meaningful connection that evolves into a lasting, positive relationship, that is quality networking.

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Five Things To Know About Daniil Medvedev – ATP Tour

Posted: at 8:45 am

Daniil Medvedev is the No. 5 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings, and he has won seven ATP Tour titles, lifting each of those trophies since the beginning of 2018.

ATPTour.com looks at five things you should know about the 24-year-old.

1) 2019 Was The Best Season Of His CareerDaniil Medvedev won the first three ATP Tour titles of his career in 2018. But the Russian didnt slow his momentum, ascending into the Top 10 and the Top 5 in 2019.

Medvedev became the fifth active player joining Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to reach six consecutive tour-level finals, achieving the feat at Washington, Montreal, Cincinnati, the US Open, St. Petersburg and Shanghai. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor reached more finals last season, with nine, than anyone on the ATP Tour.

Before 2019, Medvedev was only 8-14 at ATP Masters 1000 events. But he reached his first final at that level in Montreal and won his first two Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai. Medvedev used those efforts to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, just two years on from finishing year-end World No. 65 in 2018.

2) Medvedevs Switch: Fewer Croissants, More PorridgeMedvedev never shied away from admitting that before his rise, he did not do everything as professionally as possible. He competed hard and did his work on the practice court, but his diet and recovery routines were not as sharp as he knew they could be.

Sweets and even croissants were not off limits. If a long match went late, he would skip the ice bath.

I thought it was going to be the best rest, to just lay on the bed and watch some TV. And in fact, it's not, Medvedev said.

But Medvedev slowly began trading some of those croissants for porridge, and giving everything he had in all facets of his career. That paid dividends.

Medvedev's New Plan: Fewer Croissants, More Porridge

3) He Has A Golden RuleMedvedev remembers the coach he had from ages six to 10, who taught him to, "fight like crazy".

Her Golden Rule was, The one who wins the match is the one who made more balls over the net, which is easy to understand, Medvedev said last year.

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The 66 Russian moves well for his size, and he precisely manouevres his flat groundstrokes seemingly anywhere on the court he desires while making few errors, frustrating opponents.

4) Medvedev Speaks Fluent French, Resides In Monte-CarloMedvedev moved to Cannes, France as a teen, looking for high-quality coaching and facilities. He chose Cannes, since his sister lived there. Gilles Cervara, the Coach Of The Year in the 2019 ATP Awards, was not his full-time coach at first, but he accompanied Medvedev to Marseille in 2015 and a handful of events the following year, becoming the Russians permanent coach in late 2017.

Its normal to hear the duo conversing in French. Medvedev, who also speaks Russian and English, now resides in nearby Monte-Carlo.

5) He Loves Video Games, But Doesn't Bring Them To TournamentsMedvedev has long enjoyed video games, and he enjoys thinking back to the times he has beaten his coach, Cervara, at them.

"It was in Basel, they had PlayStations there. I'm quite good in FIFA, so when you have a different level in the game, it's not funny," Medvedev recalled in Cincinnati last year. "NHL we never played in our life. So we started playing. I beat him silly because I'm good at games. And then he was practising all the week, and after I lost to Roger, [I was] 2-0 down [against my coach], and I won in overtime."

As much as Medvedev has fun playing video games, he doesn't let them take away from his focus on court.

"I love video games, and I basically don't take them to the tournaments because I know otherwise I wouldn't be having all these results, because I go crazy and I play too much," Medvedev said. "But when I'm at home, don't take my PlayStation. It's not going to end well."

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