Sunday, August 17, 2025


Blogger said I need to post a notice about cookies if theirs doesn't show up, to satisfy European laws. I don't see theirs on my page, maybe because of something to do with my page setup.
So here it is.
Blogger keeps cookies.
I might have apps that keep cookies, I don't know.
I do not personally keep cookies.

Monday, November 04, 2024

The structure of this blog

I have several blog posts that are at the top of my blog for extended periods of time, because I believe they are of continuing usefulness. So when you look at my blog, the fact that the first few are the same doesn't mean I haven't updated the blog recently.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Study links abnormally high blood sugar with higher risk of death in COVID-19 patients not previously diagnosed with diabetes

News Release 10-Jul-2020

New research from Wuhan, China shows that, in patients with COVID-19 but without a previous diagnosis of diabetes, abnormally high blood sugar is associated with more than double the risk of death and also an increased risk of severe complications.


Previous studies have established that hyperglycaemia (abnormally high blood sugar) is associated with an elevated risk of mortality in community-acquired pneumonia, stroke, heart attacks, trauma and surgery, among other conditions. A number of studies have also shown links between diabetes and poor outcomes in COVID-19 patients.


Global COVID-19 registry finds strokes associated with COVID-19 are more severe, have worse outcomes and higher mortality

News Release 10-Jul-2020
American Heart Association

Acute ischemic strokes (AIS) associated with COVID-19 are more severe, lead to worse functional outcomes and are associated with higher mortality , according to new research published yesterday in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.


New research suggests failure to retrieve relevant details from memory may underlie face blindness

I have this problem. Very embarrassing when someone recognizes you at the grocery store and you have no idea that they are someone you see every day at work.

News Release 10-Jul-2020
Harvard Medical School

The ability to recognize faces is a complex neurocognitive skill with important social implications. The disorder, which, according to some estimates, affects more than 2 percent of the population, can lead to isolation and anxiety and impair personal and work relationships.

The traditional view of face blindness--prosopagnosia in scientific parlance--has held that the disorder arises from deficits in visual perception. Under that view, individuals with face blindness are unable to visually distinguish the features of faces presented side by side and unable to determine whether the faces are the same or not.

Now a new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the VA Boston Healthcare System shows that face blindness may arise from deficits beyond visual perception and appears to involve glitches in retrieving various contextual cues from memory.

The results, published July 5 ahead of print in the journal Cortex, suggest that the traditional view of face blindness as a purely visual perceptual disorder may be reductive, the researchers said. Further, they reveal that successful facial recognition requires recollection, or the recall of relevant contextual details about a person, such as their name or profession.


NOAA Officials Feared Firings After Trump’s Hurricane Claims, Inspector General Says

By Christopher Flavelle and Lisa Friedman
July 9, 2020

The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration felt that his job and the jobs of others would be in jeopardy if the agency did not rebuke forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s inaccurate claim last year about the path of Hurricane Dorian, a government report found.


Nearly 1 in 4 US teachers at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if infected with coronavirus

Muri Assunção
,NY Daily News•July 11, 2020

About one in four teachers in the U.S. are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they get infected with the new coronavirus, according to a report released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.


The analysis found that about 1.47 million teachers and instructors in the country — nearly 24% of the entire workforce — have a condition that will put them at higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus.

According to the CDC, that means that “they may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die.”


Caribbean countries are selling citizenship for as low as $100,000 — here's how the ultra-wealthy are cashing in to avoid pandemic travel restrictions

Graham Rapier)
,Business Insider•July 12, 2020

Caribbean island countries have long offered passports to wealthy foreigners in exchange for a — sometimes steep — monetary investment, but facing a cash crunch and a surge in interest, there are deals to be had.


The Caribbean country's passport ranks roughly in line with Mexico's, according to the world Passport Index. And, perhaps more intriguing for Americans currently barred from Europe, the passport's good for visa-less travel to the European Union and the UK, among others.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

New York City reports zero COVID-19 deaths for first time since pandemic hit

By Rebecca Klar - 07/12/20 08:29 PM EDT

New York City on Sunday reported zero new coronavirus deaths for the first time since early March, a milestone that comes as the virus spikes in other parts of the country.

Preliminary health data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showed that no one died from the coronavirus in New York City on Saturday, the first time zero new deaths have been reported there since March 13, according to multiple reports.

Officials recorded no confirmed death the day before, too, but did report two probable deaths, according to NBC4.


As New York and other parts of the Northeast make progress on containing the outbreak, the virus has surged in other parts of the U.S., mainly in the South and West.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned on Friday that the spikes in other parts of the country could lead to the virus once again increasing in New York.


Competing priorities

July 12, 2020

Finally heard on NPR a problem I have been meaning to mention. When people have been talking about the health needs of older people vs. the various needs of children, who usually don't get severe cases of Covid-19, they have been ignoring the fact that many children are being raised by their grandparents. Other families depend on the grandparents to take care of children while the parents are working. NPR had an interview today with a couple who are raising their grandchildren. As they said, they care about the children's welfare, but they also have to take care of their own health.

Indiana mother shot and killed following argument over Black Lives Matter, family says

by Emma Colton
July 12, 2020 11:18 AM

An Indiana mother was fatally shot following an argument with a group of people over the Black Lives Matter movement, according to her family.

Jessica Doty Whitaker of Indianapolis was killed while walking with her fiance, Jose Ramirez, on July 5. The fatal shooting occurred after 3 a.m. local time when the couple encountered a group of four men and a woman with whom they got into an argument over the Black Lives Matter movement and its messaging.

Whitaker had said "All lives matter" in response to a comment on the Black Lives Matter movement, according to her family.

One man in the group allegedly pulled a gun during the argument but walked away from the couple before using it.

“It was squashed, and they went up the hill and left, we thought, but they were sitting on St. Claire waiting for us to come under the bridge, and that’s when she got shot,” Ramirez said. “She shouldn’t have lost her life. She’s got a 3-year-old son she loved dearly.”

Ramirez said that he was also carrying a gun and shot back at the suspect. He did not hit or injure anyone, however, according to reports.


Coronavirus: Florida sets new state daily case record of 15,299

July 12, 2020

Florida has registered a state record of 15,299 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours - around a quarter of all of the United States' daily infections.

The state, with just 7% of the US population, surpassed the previous daily record held by California.

Florida, which began lifting coronavirus restrictions in May, has proved vulnerable due to tourism and an elderly population.

Its figures eclipse the worst daily rates seen in New York in April.

Florida also registered an additional 45 deaths.

The state would rank fourth in the world for new cases if it were a country, according to a Reuters analysis. More than 40 hospitals in Florida say their intensive care facilities are at full capacity.


The top adviser on the White House coronavirus taskforce, Dr Anthony Fauci, had criticised lockdown easing in the state, saying the data on infections did not support the move. Mr DeSantis has also declined to make mask-wearing obligatory.


The United States overall has been exceeding new daily totals of 60,000 cases for the past few days. Other states including Arizona, California and Texas continue to see a rising cases.

Since the pandemic hit the US, more than 134,000 people there have died with Covid-19.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

30-year-old dies after Texas 'COVID party,' thought coronavirus was a hoax

How sad. The blood is on the hands of people like Trump.

Saturday, July 11, 2020 5:57PM

A San Antonio doctor said one of her hospital's patients, a 30-year-old man, died after attending a so-called "COVID party" -- a bizarre trend where young people intentionally get together with someone who's infected.

Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children's Hospital, said the patient thought the coronavirus pandemic was a hoax.

"He thought he was young and he was invincible and wouldn't get affected ... One of the things that was heart-wrenching that he said to his nurse was, 'I think I made a mistake,'" she said.


FDA expands list of hand sanitizers to avoid due to methanol risk with more being recommended for recall

Kelly Tyko
July 11, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the number of hand sanitizers to avoid because they may contain methanol, a toxic substance when absorbed through skin or ingested.

The FDA now lists on a chart 59 varieties of hand sanitizer that should be avoided, some which have already been recalled, and other products being recommended for recalls as they may contain the potentially fatal ingredient.

All of the products in the FDA's latest methanol update appear to have been produced in Mexico.

The FDA says it has "seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination."


Methanol is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide and alternative fuel source, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exposure to it can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system and death.


The CDC says hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to clean your hands, but when that's not an option, the agency recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.


Thursday, July 09, 2020

Daytime aardvark sightings are a sign of troubled times

News Release 9-Jul-2020
University of the Witwatersrand

Aardvarks occur across most of sub-Saharan Africa, but very few people have seen one, because they are solitary, mostly active at night, and live in burrows. They use their spade-like claws to build these burrows and to dig up ants and termites on which they feed. However, seeing aardvarks feeding in the day is becoming more common in the drier parts of southern Africa. While catching sight of an aardvark is a delight for many a wildlife enthusiast, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Physiology laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) warn that seeing aardvarks in the daytime does not bode well for this secretive animal.


Weyer's research confirmed earlier findings by the team that there are times when the aardvarks switched their feeding to the day, and showed, for the first time, that drought caused that switch. "We suspected that it was drought," says co-worker Dr Robyn Hetem, "but we needed a long-term, comprehensive data set to confirm that it really was drought causing this unusual behaviour."

The Kalahari is arid at the best of times, but drought killed the vegetation that fed the ants and termites. Most of the ants and termites disappeared, leaving the aardvarks starving. "It was heart-breaking to watch our aardvarks waste away as they starved," says Weyer.

By shifting their activity from the cold nights to the warm days during dry winter months, aardvarks can save some of the energy needed to keep their body temperatures up. But those energy savings were not enough to see the aardvarks through a particularly bad drought in which many aardvarks died.

"Aardvarks have coped with the Kalahari's harsh environment in the past, but it is getting hotter and drier, and the current and future changes to our climate might be too much for the aardvarks to bear," says Weyer. "Because the Kalahari is such a unique and potentially vulnerable ecosystem, we need to better understand whether its animals can cope with the increasingly dry conditions," says Professor Andrea Fuller, co-worker and project leader of the Kalahari Endangered Ecosystem Project (KEEP).

Disappearance of aardvarks from the Kalahari would be devastating for many other animals in this ecosystem. The large burrows which aardvarks build provide important shelters for many other species that cannot dig their own burrows, earning the aardvark the title of 'ecosystem engineer'.


Climate Denial Spreads on Facebook as Scientists Face Restrictions

This is very disturbing. Hayhoe is a respected scientist.
In the past, I have been reluctant to move from Facebook to some alternate social media site, because of the hassle, but this has made me much more open to doing so.

The company recently overruled its scientific fact-checking group, which had flagged information as misleading

By Scott Waldman, E&E News on July 6, 2020

A climate scientist says Facebook is restricting her ability to share research and fact-check posts containing climate misinformation.

Those constraints are occuring as groups that reject climate science increasingly use the platform to promote misleading theories about global warming.

The groups are using Facebook to mischaracterize mainstream research by claiming that reduced consumption of fossil fuels won’t help address climate change. Some say the planet and people are benefitting from the rising volume of carbon dioxide that’s being released into the atmosphere.


Now, Facebook appears to be weakening a firewall it has built to fact-check such climate denialism. The company recently overruled a fact-check from a group of climate scientists, in a move that concerns researchers about a potentially new precedent by the platform that permits inaccurate claims to be promoted if they’re labeled as opinions.

At the same time, Facebook has placed restrictions on one of the country’s most visible climate scientists, Katharine Hayhoe, of Texas Tech University and a lead author of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. She has been blocked from promoting videos related to climate research, a move that has limited her efforts to refute false claims.

Facebook has previously identified Hayhoe’s educational climate videos as “political.” As a result, they are categorized by the platform as a social issue that requires Hayhoe to register them by in part providing personal information that she fears could expose her to personal attacks.


E&E News previously reported that Facebook intervened to reverse a fact-check that prevented a group—which claims that human-caused carbon dioxide is beneficial—from advertising on the site. By labeling the false claim as “opinion," Facebook permitted the group, named the CO2 Coalition, to resume promoting misinformation (Climatewire, June 23).


In response, a group of scientists with Climate Feedback—a part of Facebook’s approved fact-checking network—evaluated the post and found that it relied on “cherry-picked” evidence and was misleading. It was marked as “false.”

But weeks later that label was quietly removed. Officials with the CO2 Coalition said they were helped by a “conservative contact” at Facebook whose intervention resulted in getting the decision reversed.


Facebook revised its policy and considers climate change to be in the “environmental politics” advertising category. Users who want to pay to promote their pages, so they are seen by larger audiences, are no longer required to register as a political organization. But they must register using their legal name, social security number, and other information from their passport or driver’s license.

That could expose scientists, especially women, to harassment, said Hayhoe, who has been threatened online. One critic recently sent her pornographic videos.

Hayhoe has declined to comply with Facebook’s requirements for promoting her posts. She says the platform created inappropriate burdens for scientists who want to share objective information about climate change.

“These are the facts,” she said. “These videos have been peer-reviewed, and I still can’t boost them on Facebook.”

Intense Arctic Wildfires Set a Pollution Record

By Somini Sengupta
July 7, 2020

Intense wildfires in the Arctic in June released more polluting gases into the Earth’s atmosphere than in any other month in 18 years of data collection, European scientists said in a report Tuesday.

These fires offer a stark portrait of planetary warming trends.

The Arctic is warming at least two and a half times faster than the global average rate. Soils in the region are drier than before. Wildfires are spreading across a large swath. In June, fires released 59 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide, greater than all the carbon emissions produced by Norway, an oil-producing country, in a year.

The last time fires in the Arctic were this intense or released such a large volume of emissions was last year, which itself set a record.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

CO2 in Earth's atmosphere nearing levels of 15m years ago

Jonathan Watts Global environment editor
Thu 9 Jul 2020 05.50 EDT

The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is approaching a level not seen in 15m years and perhaps never previously experienced by a hominoid, according to the authors of a study.

At pre-lockdown rates of increase, within five years atmospheric CO2 will pass 427 parts per million, which was the probable peak of the mid-Pliocene warming period 3.3m years ago, when temperatures were 3C to 4C hotter and sea levels were 20 metres higher than today.

But it seems we must now go much further back to see what’s ahead.

Some time around 2025, the Earth is likely to have CO2 conditions not experienced since the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum 15m years ago, around the time our ancestors are thought to have diverged from orangutans and become recognisably hominoid.


“A striking result we’ve found is that the warmest part of the Pliocene had between 380 and 420 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere,” one of the co-authors Thomas Chalk, said. “This is similar to today’s value of around 415 parts per million, showing that we are already at levels that in the past were associated with temperature and sea-level significantly higher than today.”


American Doctors and Nurses Are Fast Running Out of Masks and Gowns Yet Again

Jamie Ross
Updated Jul. 09, 2020 6:35AM ET /
Published Jul. 09, 2020 4:54AM ET

It was bad enough the first time round—but now there’s really no excuse. U.S. doctors and nurses say they’re running low on masks, gowns, and gloves yet again, some five months after the coronavirus pandemic reached America. The Washington Post reports that, as the nation sees record numbers of new infections, nurses are being forced to reuse N95 masks for weeks at a time and doctors say their offices are staying shut because they don’t have the equipment they need to keep their staff safe from infection. “A lot people thought once the alarm was sounded back in March surely the federal government would fix this, but that hasn’t happened,” said Deborah Burger, a California nurse and president of National Nurses United. White House officials reportedly dismissed concerns over PPE shortages, saying manufacturing and stockpiles of the equipment have drastically improved since the first months of the pandemic.


Read it at The Washington Post

Tropical storm Edouard is fifth named storm of 2020, earliest such Atlantic storm on record

And today a weather system off the East coast developed into tropical storm Fay, making it the 6th named storm of 2020.

Edouard didn't get much notice in the U.S., because it headed east, away from the U.S and toward the British Isles

By Jeff Masters, Ph.D. | Monday, July 6, 2020

Mother Nature put on her own modest Fourth of July fireworks over the weekend, when Tropical Depression 5 formed near Bermuda on July 4. Despite marginal conditions for development – sea surface temperatures (SSTs) near 25 degrees Celsius (77°F), moderate wind shear, and dry air – TD 5 managed to intensify into Tropical Storm Edouard at 11 p.m. EDT July 5. By 11 a.m. EDT July 6, Edouard had intensified to 45 mph winds as it sped northeast at 37 mph over the open Atlantic.


Edouard passed very close to Bermuda as a tropical depression on the morning of July 5, bringing moderate rains and gusty winds. The Bermuda airport recorded peak sustained winds of 25 mph at 7:09 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time July 5. No other land areas will be affected by Edouard, which is expected to be destroyed by cold waters, strong wind shear, and a frontal zone that will absorb it on Tuesday. Edouard is the type of weak and short-lived storm that might have not been named before the satellite era.


A small area of low pressure that formed on July 5 along an old cold front along the Florida Panhandle coast moved inland to the northeast on the morning of July 6. This low, designated 98L by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, is expected to grow in size and possibly emerge off the coast of North Carolina by mid-week. The system is expected to move north to northeast and hug the mid-Atlantic coast late in the week.
And we now know it did develop into tropical storm Fay.


Storm Edouard tracker and map: Where is it now?

Dan Keane
9 Jul 2020, 7:28Updated: 9 Jul 2020, 9:21

THE UK is set for windy and heavy rain as the remnants of Storm Edouard leave a trail of miserable weather across the country.

The tropical cyclone, which originated in the US, is making its way across the Atlantic Ocean towards the British Isles - but where is it now?

Storm Edouard is currently nearing the Irish coastline, after originating in a cluster of storms in the Tennessee Valley in the south of the US on July 1.

Tracker Accuweather estimates that the storm is now around 335 miles west of Limerick, a city on the western coast of Ireland.

The remnants of the storm are expected to be seen on Thursday (July 9), with heavy rain expected across the UK.

Storm Edouard was downgraded on Monday, July 6, to a tropical cyclone as it moved away from the east coast of the US.


tags: severe weather

US sunbelt states see record rises in Covid-19 fatalities

Trump claims the spike in cases is from increased testing, but that can't explain the increase in deaths and hospitalizations.

Matthew Rocco and Peter Wells
Financial Times
July 9, 2020

The three most populous states in the US sunbelt have recorded their largest single-day increases in coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, an alarming indication that the latest outbreak could lead to another surge in fatalities.

The 120 deaths reported by Florida on Thursday was more than double the 48 recorded the day before and California recorded 149 fatalities, up from 119 on Wednesday. Texas had 105, the third day in a row of a record-setting increase.


But nationwide, coronavirus-related deaths have risen to more than 800 a day for the past three days after averaging fewer than 500 per day last week. On Thursday, there were 867 fatalities nationwide, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The total number of infections in the US increased by 58,836 cases, the second-largest one-day increase on record.


With single-day case record, US COVID-19 total tops 3 million

Trump claims the surge in Covid-19 cases is only because of increased testing. But increased testing does not explain the increase in spike in the number of deaths and hospitalizations.

Stephanie Soucheray
| News Reporter | CIDRAP News | University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
| Jul 08, 2020

Once again, the United States saw its highest daily total of COVID-19 cases yesterday, with 60,000 new cases recorded and more than 3 million total on the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker.

The previous record was more than 50,000 cases, which was set last week. The country now has 3,035,231 COVID-19 cases, including 132,041 deaths.
Three hard-hit states

This rise in cases began at the end of May, following the reopening of most states' local economies. Florida, Texas, and Arizona continue to harbor some of the largest outbreaks.

In Texas yesterday, officials tallied more 10,000 new cases, a state record. Texas is the third state to report a single-day increase of more than 10,000 cases, after New York and Florida. As of yesterday, 9,200 Texans were hospitalized for the virus. Two counties, Hidalgo and Starr, have reported that hospitals are now at capacity.

In total, Texas has 210,585 cases of COVID-19, including 2,715 fatalities.

In Florida, 84% of the state's intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied, as 1 in 100 residents are now infected with the novel virus. Out of the state's 5,023 ICU beds, only 962 are still available.


US notes 62,000 COVID cases in another record-breaking day

Stephanie Soucheray | News Reporter | CIDRAP News
| Jul 09, 2020

Caution urged

Yesterday US officials reported 62,751 new cases of COVID-19, setting yet another record in a summertime surge that has swept across much of the South and West.

Though Florida, Arizona, and Texas still lead in the number of new cases, Oklahoma and Louisiana are reporting spikes. And according to the Washington Post five states—Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, Montana and Wisconsin—hit daily records today.

In total, the country has 3,088,913 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 132,934 deaths, by far the most infections and fatalities of any country.

Today on a podcast produced by the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks states seeing a spike in cases should consider shutting down local economies.

"Be mindful of what happens when you open up and throw caution to the wind," Fauci said.

In Tulsa, health officials said the increase in cases is likely at least partially tied to a Jun 20 campaign rally for President Trump and accompanying protests. The rally was held indoors with no enforced social distancing or mask use.

"In the past few days, we've seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots," Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart, MD, said yesterday.

Houston sees increase in at-home deaths

Houston has seen an increase in the number of people dying at home, ProPublica reports, which could be an indicator that these deaths are caused by untested COVD-19 infections.

The uptick in the number of people dying before they can even reach a hospital in Houston parallels what happened in New York City in March and April.

Data collected by ProPublica from the Houston Fire Department show a 45% jump since February in the number of cardiac arrest calls that ended with paramedics declaring people dead upon arrival. In June, dead-on-arrival calls grew to nearly 300, more than 75 in excess of either of the previous two Junes.

Yesterday Texas reported 9,979 new cases of COVID-19, and said a record number of people were hospitalized: 9,610. Harris County, which includes most of Houston, has 39,311 cases and 407 deaths.


Cases of broken heart syndrome have ticked upwards since pandemic began, study finds

July 9, 2020, 2:10 PM EDT
By Kelsie Sandoval

The COVID-19 pandemic may be taking a toll on Americans’ heart health, even if they’re not infected with the virus: According to research published Thursday in JAMA Open Network, cases of broken heart syndrome are on the rise among people without the illness.

The condition, which is distinct from a heart attack, goes by several names, including stress cardiomyopathy or takotsubo syndrome. It occurs when a part of the heart becomes enlarged and is unable to pump blood effectively. Unlike a heart attack, which is caused by clogged arteries, broken heart syndrome is preceded by intense emotional or physical stress.


“This is not the health hazard from the virus” itself, said Kalra, who is also the section head for cardiovascular research at the Cleveland Clinic Akron General. “This is a new health hazard which the pandemic has caused because of other stressors that the pandemic has caused.”


UChicago study shows 'Bystander Effect' not exclusive to humans

Interesting article.

News Release 8-Jul-2020
University of Chicago Medical Center

A rat is less likely to help a trapped companion if it is with other rats that aren't helping, according to new research from the University of Chicago that showed the social psychological theory of the "bystander effect" in humans is present in these long-tailed rodents.

The study, titled "The Bystander Effect in Rats," also demonstrated that in the presence of other potential helper rats, rats are more, rather than less, likely to help. Whether helping is facilitated or suppressed depends on the circumstances rather than on personal temperament or morals, a finding with implications for human society. The research, published in the July 8 issue of Science Advances, builds off previous research on rat empathy.


Healthier school food and physical activity environments matter for childhood obesity

News Release 8-Jul-2020
Rutgers University

Students at elementary and secondary schools that offer healthier food offerings and more opportunities for physical activities have a healthier body mass index, according to Rutgers researchers.

The study, published in Preventive Medicine Reports, uses professional measures of students' height and weight - the gold standard for studying childhood obesity - in a study on the effects of a school's food offerings and physical activity environment.

Almost one in five children and adolescents in the United States are obese. Since children eat up to two meals per day and can get 40 percent of their daily physical activity at schools, schools play a major role in obesity-related behaviors. Although recent policies and programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, have focused on promoting healthier school environments, there is little evidence of the consequences for children's weight.


Researchers found that healthier food offerings and a greater number of physical activity facilities were associated with lower body mass index, on average, for students. Schools that offered an additional unhealthy item in vending machines were associated with higher student weight and those that had an additional outdoor physical activity facility correlated with lower student weight.


"Protect 30% of the planet for nature," scientists urge in new report

News Release 8-Jul-2020
Arizona State University

In an independent report published today, an analysis from over 100 experts finds the benefits of protecting 30% of the planet outweigh the costs by a factor of at least 5:1. The report entitled, "Protecting 30% of the planet for nature: costs, benefits, and economic implications," represents the first multi-sector analysis that assesses the global impacts of terrestrial and marine protected areas across the nature conservation, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors. It is the most comprehensive global assessment of the financial and economic impacts of protected areas ever completed.

The report's main finding is that protecting at least 30% of the world's land and ocean provides greater benefits than the status quo, both in terms of financial outcomes and key non-monetary benefits including ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation, flood protection, clean water provision, and soil conservation. 30% protection generates economic benefits from these "public goods" averaging $350 billion annually and leads to increased economic output averaging $260 billion annually by 2050. Encouragingly, this protection would require just 0.16% of the global GDP, which is less than one-third of the government subsidies currently directed to activities that destroy nature.

"There's a misconception that we either can protect our planet or we can have economic growth, but in fact, it's not an 'and/or' dichotomy.


Police Discover 'Underworld Prison With Torture Chamber' in Dutch Town

Storyful•July 8, 2020

Six men were arrested after police discovered what they described as an “underworld prison and torture chamber” in a warehouse in Wouwse Plantage in Noord-Brabant on June 22.

Dutch Police said they found “seven shipping containers converted into cells and torture chambers.”

Inside were a dentist chair and handcuffs, as well as a chemical toilet, police clothing, and bags of items “believed to be used to torture or at least pressure victims.”

Police also said cells had a camera mounted in the corner to “keep a clear view of the situation.”


The suspects were arrested following a Franco-Dutch operation, which allowed police to read “more than 20 million chat messages from criminals.”


Cancel culture

I don't know anybody who is perfect, but I see a lot of people who love to criticize others for not being perfect.

BBC•July 8, 2020


Last October, former President Barack Obama challenged cancel culture and the idea of being "woke" - a term describing being alert to injustices and what's going on in the community - saying change was complex.

"I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people," Mr Obama said.

"The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws."


African American Studies Senior Lecturer Jason Nichols of the University of Maryland says deciding which monuments ought to go should depend on the reason the person is memorialised.

"Statues and monuments are supposed to show where we want to be - the people in the past who have shown us a path to a better and unified nation, the people who represent the ideals that the nation aspires to," Mr Nichols told the BBC.

"We have to talk about the Confederacy, we just don't have to praise it in public."

He says that ideally, all statues belong in museums that can provide context and there is never a reason to bury history, adding: "I do think that some people do try to take this moral indignation a little too far and extend it beyond these Confederate monuments."

"The key difference is we praise Lincoln for what he did right, not what he did wrong," Mr Nichols says, noting that while people like Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders and did not outright condemn slavery, they still put forth important principles that were positive in the long-run.

"That is the major nuance with Confederate statues - we're praising them for tearing our country apart."


Illinois whistleblower police officer placed on leave

By Aris Folley - 07/08/20 01:13 PM EDT

A police officer in Illinois has reportedly been placed on leave and lost his badge after he told local media about his department’s alleged attempts to conceal footage of the arrest of Eric Lurry, a Black man who died in police custody earlier this year.

According to CBS Chicago, Sgt. Javier Esqueda, an officer for the Joliet Police Department, lost his badge and has since been place on leave pending what Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner called a “criminal and an internal investigation.”


Roechner also said Sgt. Doug May, the officer who recorded holding his hand on Lurry’s nose in the newly-uncovered footage, has also since been placed on leave and is under investigation as well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Former Marine who played wide receiver in college catches a three-year-old boy thrown from burning building

James Crump
,The Independent•July 8, 2020

A former Marine and wide receiver in college American football caught a three-year-old boy who was thrown from a burning building by his mother.

Phillip Blanks was filmed catching Jameson Long on 3 July in Phoenix, Arizona, after he heard the child’s mother, Rachel Long, call for help from inside the building.


Mr Blanks who played as a wide receiver for Saddleback College in California, said the training during his playing days helped him save the child.

“I know how to catch,” he said. “I’ve learned how to catch a football. So I’ll give some credit to football.”

He also credited his time in the US Marines, and added: “I can definitely credit to the Marine Corps for instilling this good training in me to save a life. I don’t see myself as a hero. A person trained to do my job is trained to protect people.”

Although Mr Blanks was able to save the son in the fire, the mother died as she was not able to get out of the building herself after throwing her child to safety.

“She’s the real hero of the story,” Mr Blanks said. “Because she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children.”

Navy SEAL who oversaw bin Laden raid says America's biggest national security issue is the K-12 education system

David Choi
,Business Insider•July 8, 2020

Retired Adm. William McRaven, a former US Navy SEAL commander and head of US Special Operations Command, says K-12 education is vital to US national security.

"Unless we are giving opportunity and a quality education to the young men and women in the United States, then we won't have the right people to be able to make the right decisions about our national security," McRaven said.

McRaven said the US needed to develop a "culture of education" within communities, particularly those where residents think they can't afford it or that their children aren't "smart enough."


CDC says guidelines for reopening schools are 'not requirements' after Trump calls them 'impractical'

Dylan Stableford and Alexander Nazaryan
,Yahoo News•July 8, 2020

After President Trump on Tuesday lashed out at what he called “impractical” and “expensive” guidelines for reopening schools published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency’s director emphasized that they were meant as recommendations, not mandatory standards, and “should not be used as a rationale to keep schools closed.”

“Remember it’s guidance, it’s not requirements,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said during a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force. “And its purpose is to facilitate the reopening and keeping open the schools in this country.”

His comments came hours after Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines and threatened to withhold federal funds from school districts that don’t reopen fully and on schedule for in-person classes, and a day after a White House conference on school reopenings at which first lady Melania Trump made a rare public statement.


Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy, plans to close dozens of stores

By Jacob Bogage and Abha Bhattarai,
The Washington Post
July 8, 2020 | 2:36 PM

The coronavirus recession has done in one of the nation’s oldest and best known retailers: Brooks Brothers.

The 202-year brand that claims to have dressed all but four U.S. presidents and legions of business executives in its sharp Oxfords, classic suits and polos for casual Friday, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday in Delaware as it continues its search for a buyer, according to a company spokesperson.

The company is set to close 51 of its 250 North American stores and will halt production at its factories in Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York in mid-August, which produce less than 7% of its finished goods. Remaining stores will reopen in compliance with local public health orders tied to pandemic-related closures.


Bed Bath & Beyond to close 200 stores over 2 years as sales fall almost 50% during pandemic

Lauren Thomas
Published Wed, Jul 8 20204:30 PM EDT

Bed Bath & Beyond said Wednesday its sales tumbled nearly 50% during its latest quarter, even as online sales surged more than 100% during April and May, with consumers stocking up on cleaning supplies and home decor.

The company said it plans to permanently close roughly 200 of its namesake stores over the next two years, starting later in 2020, as it works toward getting back to profitability against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. As of May 30, it operated a total of 1,478 stores, including 955 Bed Bath & Beyond shops.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro vetoes Covid-19 protections for indigenous people

By Rodrigo Pedroso and Zamira Rahim
Updated 5:27 PM ET, Wed July 8, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has vetoed several points of a law aimed at protecting indigenous communities against Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to the government's official journal.

The proposed legislation establishes an emergency plan to combat the pandemic in indigenous territories and classifies indigenous people and other traditional communities as "groups in situations of extreme vulnerability." Under the law, the groups would also considered at high risk for public health emergencies.

Bolsonaro vetoed points which assured access to drinking water, free distribution of hygiene products and the distribution of cleaning and disinfection materials to indigenous communities. He also vetoed a proposal ensuring mandatory emergency funds for indigenous people's healthcare.

He additionally vetoed the emergency provision of more hospital beds and intensive care units (ICUs) for indigenous people. Parts of the law allowing for the acquisition of ventilators and blood oxygenation machines were also rejected.

But the vetoes are not final. The law's text, which has already been approved by the country's Congress and Senate, must now be voted upon again. If a majority in both houses vote against the President's vetoes, the law will be approved in its entirety. Otherwise, the law will move forward without the vetoed parts.


CIA Kept Giving Intel to Russia, Got Nothing Back

Spencer Ackerman
Updated Jul. 08, 2020 7:17PM ET / Published Jul. 08, 2020 7:02PM ET


Russian security officials had arrested people on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks on St. Petersburg sites that included the majestic Kazan Cathedral. Intelligence warning of the allegedly imminent assault attacks came not from Russian sources, but from Langley. “The information received from the CIA was sufficient to search for and detain criminals,” the Kremlin announced. Putin asked President Trump to convey “words of thanks to the director of the CIA,” at the time Mike Pompeo, now the secretary of state.

That information reached Russia in response to an administration directive that troubled many in the intelligence community, according to a former senior CIA official. They didn’t have a problem with preventing innocent Russians from possibly dying. Instead, their problem was that the Trump administration, like several of its predecessors, had pushed the agency into a counterterrorism relationship that was nowhere near reciprocal.

According to Marc Polymeropoulos, who until July 2019 oversaw clandestine operations in Europe and Eurasia, the White House instructed a skeptical intelligence community to share counterterrorism intelligence with Russia, in pursuit of a great-power rapprochement that its predecessors in the Bush and Obama administrations had similarly tried. The effort began at the dawn of the administration.

“As expected, the U.S. got absolutely nothing in return,” said Polymeropoulos, who first discussed the channel on Wednesday with Ryan Goodman of Just Security. “But there was a lot of focus on this from the White House and it came to naught.”

It is not unusual for the agency to share intelligence, particularly intelligence on imminent threats, even with hostile intelligence agencies. Intelligence agencies maintain liaison relationships in part to ensure their operations don’t escalate into open conflict. Pompeo, as well as his predecessor in the Obama administration, John Brennan, have both acknowledged working with Russia on shared counterterrorism goals.

But after the Russians’ 2016 election interference, and then the 2018 Sergei Skripal poisoning, the counterterrorism-sharing effort appeared egregious to some in the intelligence community. That’s a renewed concern given recent and unconfirmed intelligence that the Russians paid Taliban elements to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.


Coronavirus Surge in Tulsa ‘More Than Likely’ Linked to Trump Rally

By Maggie Astor and Noah Weiland
July 8, 2020, 7:27 p.m. ET

A surge in coronavirus cases in and around Tulsa, Okla., is probably connected to the campaign rally President Trump held there last month, the city’s top health official said on Wednesday.

Tulsa County reported 206 new confirmed cases on Tuesday and 261 — a record high — on Monday, and Dr. Bruce Dart, the director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a news conference that it was reasonable to link the spike to the rally and related events.

“The past two days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right,” Dr. Dart said. “So I guess we just connect the dots.”

The county has more infections right now than any other in Oklahoma, and “we’ve had some significant events in the past few weeks that more than likely contributed to that,” he added.


A few days before the event, Dr. Dart urged the president to cancel, calling the rally a “perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission.”

When he said that, Tulsa County had just recorded 89 new cases in a day, a record high at the time. This week, the daily totals have been more than twice that.

DeVos 'very seriously' considering withholding funding from schools that don't reopen

Since local schools depend for 90% of their funding from local sources, schools in poor areas get less funding, even thought their children might need more. This contributes to increased inequality.

By J. Edward Moreno - 07/08/20 03:07 PM EDT

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that she is “very seriously” considering withholding federal funding from schools that don’t reopen in the fall.

"We are looking at this very seriously. This is a very serious issue across the country," DeVos told Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

DeVos recently told state leaders on a conference call that plans to allow in-person activities only a few days a week were unacceptable, arguing that another semester of remote learning would hurt students.

She told Carlson on Tuesday that fears of coronavirus transmission from public health officials was an example of “fearmongering.”


President Trump on Wednesday also threatened to cut off federal funding for schools if they do not resume in-person learning this fall and criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for being too tough with its guidelines to aid that process.

The existing CDC guidance, which is voluntary, emphasizes opening safely and that schools should dismiss classes for longer than two weeks only if there is “substantial” COVID-19 spread in their communities.


According to the Congressional Research Service, public schools rely on local taxes for 90 percent of their funding. However, the Department of Education would be able to withhold the billions of dollars in stimulus funding allocated by Congress.

The American Federation of Teachers launched an ad this week saying they require more funding in order to reopen schools safely.

Probiotics alone or combined with prebiotics may help ease depression

News Release 6-Jul-2020

Probiotics either taken by themselves or when combined with prebiotics, may help to ease depression, suggests a review of the available evidence, published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

But as to whether they might help to lessen anxiety isn't yet clear, say the researchers.

Foods that broaden the profile of helpful bacteria in the gut are collectively known as probiotics, while prebiotics are compounds that help these bacteria to flourish.


Asthma does not seem to increase the severity of COVID-19

News Release 6-Jul-2020
Rutgers University

Asthma does not appear to increase the risk for a person contracting COVID-19 or influence its severity, according to a team of Rutgers researchers.

"Older age and conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity are reported risk factors for the development and progression of COVID-19," said Reynold A. Panettieri Jr., a pulmonary critical care physician and director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science and co-author of a paper published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. "However, people with asthma -- even those with diminished lung function who are being treated to manage asthmatic inflammation -- seem to be no worse affected by SARS-CoV-2 than a non-asthmatic person. There is limited data as to why this is the case -- if it is physiological or a result of the treatment to manage the inflammation."


Child mortality lower when women hold office in Brazil

News Release 7-Jul-2020
Health Affairs

Philipp Hessel from the Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government at the University of the Andes and coauthors analyzed the association between woman political empowerment and child mortality rates in Brazil for 2000-15, finding that higher representation of women at local, state, and federal levels of decision making leads to reductions in child mortality.


This research suggests that electing female leaders decreases under-five mortality--a key focus of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals--by emphasizing social service offerings and increasing enrollment in existing governmental public health efforts.

Microplastic pollution harms lobster larvae, study finds

News Release 7-Jul-2020
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Microplastic fiber pollution in the ocean impacts larval lobsters at each stage of their development, according to new research. A study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin reports that the fibers affect the animals' feeding and respiration, and they could even prevent some larvae from reaching adulthood.


Targeted taxes and school lunch policies benefit low-income populations

News Release 7-Jul-2020
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Targeted taxes on sweetened beverages and policies that strengthen nutritional standards for meals and beverages at schools may be effective tools for decreasing the purchase of sweetened drinks and reducing obesity among children living in poverty, according to two studies led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The studies will be published online July 7, 2020 in Health Affairs.


Desk-based jobs may offer protection against poor cognition in later life

News Release 7-Jul-2020
University of Cambridge

People who work in jobs that require less physical activity - typically office and desk-based jobs - are at a lower risk of subsequent poor cognition than those whose work is more physically active, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.

Lack of physical activity and exercise are known risk factors for major health conditions, including cognitive impairments such as memory and concentration problems. However, evidence as to whether physical activity actually protects against cognitive decline has often been mixed and inconclusive.


"Our analysis shows that the relationship between physical activity and cognitive is not straightforward," explained Hayat. "While regular physical activity has considerable benefits for protection against many chronic diseases, other factors may influence its effect on future poor cognition.

"People who have less active jobs - typically office-based, desk jobs - performed better at cognitive tests regardless of their education. This suggests that because desk jobs tend to be more mentally challenging than manual occupations, they may offer protection against cognitive decline."


Hearing and visual impairments linked to elevated dementia risk

News Release 8-Jul-2020

Older adults with both hearing and visual impairments--or dual sensory impairment--had a significantly higher risk for dementia in a recent study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

In the study of 2,051 older adults (22.8% with hearing or visual impairment and 5.1% with both impairments) who were followed over eight years, dual sensory impairment was associated with an 86% higher risk for dementia compared with having no sensory impairments. During follow-up, dementia developed in 14.3% in those with no sensory impairments, 16.9% in those with one sensory impairment, and 28.8% in those with dual sensory impairment.

Participants with dual sensory impairment were also twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (the most common form of dementia) than those without sensory impairments.


The complex relationship between deforestation and diet diversity in the Amazon

News Release 7-Jul-2020
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Ten years ago, non-indigenous households from three communities in the Ucayali region in Peru regularly ate fish, wild fruits and other products collected from the Amazon forest. Combined with whatever they grew and harvested on their lands, this contributed to a relatively diverse diet. Today, the same households have changed their production strategy and how they get food on the table. Agricultural production, complemented by hunter-gatherer activities, aimed to satisfy both household consumption and income generation. However, this has been largely replaced by commercial agriculture such as palm oil and cocoa. This shift in agricultural production objectives has affected the sources of food for local communities and appears to be associated with relatively less diverse diets, according to a new study authored, among others, by CIAT (now the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT) scientists.


The marked rise in obesity in rural areas of Peru reflects a worldwide trend. While the study only looked at the diversity of household diets and not the nutritional value, the increased consumption of foods high in saturated fats and ultra-processed foods demands the attention of local policy makers.


Certain jobs linked to higher risk of knee osteoarthritis

News Release 8-Jul-2020

Workers in jobs that typically involve heavy lifting, frequent climbing, prolonged kneeling, squatting, and standing face an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. That's the conclusion of a new analysis published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Knee osteoarthritis is a highly prevalent, chronic condition and one of the leading contributors to loss of work and disability.


Increase in delirium, rare brain inflammation and stroke linked to COVID-19

News Release 7-Jul-2020
University College London

Neurological complications of Covid-19 can include delirium, brain inflammation, stroke and nerve damage, finds a new UCL and UCLH-led study.

Published in the journal Brain, the research team identified one rare and sometimes fatal inflammatory condition, known as ADEM, which appears to be increasing in prevalence due to the pandemic.

Some patients in the study did not experience severe respiratory symptoms, and the neurological disorder was the first and main presentation of Covid-19.

Joint senior author Dr Michael Zandi (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) said: "We identified a higher than expected number of people with neurological conditions such as brain inflammation, which did not always correlate with the severity of respiratory symptoms.

"We should be vigilant and look out for these complications in people who have had Covid-19. Whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic - perhaps similar to the encephalitis lethargica outbreak in the 1920s and 1930s after the 1918 influenza pandemic - remains to be seen."


Dozens of Florida hospitals out of available ICU beds, state data shows

Maria Caspani and Gabriella Borter
,Reuters•July 7, 2020

More than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units (ICUs) have reached full capacity on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases surge in the state and throughout the country.

Hospital ICUs were full at 54 hospitals across 25 of Florida's 67 counties, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state's Agency for Health Care Administration. More than 300 hospitals were included in the report, but not all had adult ICUs.