Thursday, April 24, 2014

Increasing daily coffee consumption may reduce type 2 diabetes risk

I can't stand coffee, so I'll just have to depend on a healthy diet & weight.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/hsop-idc042214.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Apr-2014

Contact: Marge Dwyer
Harvard School of Public Health

Increasing daily coffee consumption may reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Boston, MA — People who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a four-year period had a 11% lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes to their coffee consumption, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. In addition, the study found that those who decreased their coffee consumption by more than a cup per day increased their type 2 diabetes risk by 17%.

"Our findings confirm those of previous studies that showed that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk," said Shilpa Bhupathiraju, lead author and research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH. "Most importantly, they provide new evidence that changes in coffee consumption habit can affect type 2 diabetes risk in a relatively short period of time."

The study appears online Thursday, April 24, 2014 in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).

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Results showed that participants who increased their coffee consumption by more than one cup per day (median change=1.69 cups/day) over a four-year period had a 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent four years compared to those who made no changes in consumption. (A cup of coffee was defined as eight ounces, black, or with a small amount of milk and/or sugar.) Those who lowered their daily coffee consumption by more than one cup (median change=2 cups/day) had a 17% higher risk for diabetes. Changes in decaffeinated coffee consumption and caffeinated tea consumption were not associated with changes in risk for type 2 diabetes.

"These findings further demonstrate that, for most people, coffee may have health benefits," said Frank Hu, senior author and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH. "But coffee is only one of many factors that influence diabetes risk. More importantly, individuals should watch their weight and be physically active."

Children living with a lone parent are as happy as those with 2

A previous study I read found that children who are very happy in childhood tend to be less happy than others in adulthood. I guess because they didn't learn to cope with challenges.

Of course, too much unhappiness is definitely harmful.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/bsa-clw042414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Apr-2014

Contact: Tony Trueman
British Sociological Association

Children living with a lone parent are as happy as those with 2

Children living with a step-parent or a lone parent are as happy as those living with two biological parents, the British Sociological Association's annual conference in Leeds heard today [Thursday 24 April].

In a major UK study on wellbeing, researchers from NatCen Social Research analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study on 12,877 children aged seven in 2008 and found no significant difference in happiness.

Whether the children lived with two biological parents, a step-parent and biological parent, or in a single parent family, made no difference to how they rated their happiness: 64% said they were happy 'sometimes or never', and 36% said they were 'happy all the time'.

Even when the researchers statistically removed the effects of other factors such as parental social class so that the effects of family type were isolated, the results showed no significant differences.

Jenny Chanfreau, Senior Researcher at NatCen, told the conference that, in contrast, relationships with parents and other children were strongly linked with how likely the seven-year-olds were to be happy. For instance, factors such as getting on well with siblings and not being bullied at school were associated with being happy all the time.

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Ms Chanfreau told the conference: "We found that the family type had no significant effect on the happiness of the seven-year-olds or the 11-15 year olds.

"It's the quality of the relationships in the home that matters – not the family composition. Getting on well with siblings, having fun with the family at weekends, and having a parent who reported rarely or never shouting when the child was naughty, were all linked with a higher likelihood of being happy all the time among seven-year olds.

"Pupil relations at school are also important – being bullied at school or being 'horrible' to others was strongly associated with lower happiness in the seven-year-olds, for instance."

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Taking a walk may lead to more creativity than sitting, study finds

I have done a lot of my song-writing while hiking in the woods. On the other hand, I have also done a fair amount on long commutes, when I had a car whose radio didn't work.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/apa-taw042414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Apr-2014

Contact: Lisa Bowen
American Psychological Association

Taking a walk may lead to more creativity than sitting, study finds

Free-flowing thought more likely while walking indoors or outdoors, research reveals

WASHINGTON -- When the task at hand requires some imagination, taking a walk may lead to more creative thinking than sitting, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

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While at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education, Oppezzo and colleague Daniel L. Schwartz, PhD, conducted studies involving 176 people, mostly college students. They found that those who walked instead of sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair consistently gave more creative responses on tests commonly used to measure creative thinking, such as thinking of alternate uses for common objects and coming up with original analogies to capture complex ideas. When asked to solve problems with a single answer, however, the walkers fell slightly behind those who responded while sitting, according to the study published in APA's Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

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To see if walking was the source of creative inspiration rather than being outdoors, another experiment with 40 participants compared responses of students walking outside or inside on a treadmill with the responses of students being pushed in a wheelchair outside and sitting inside. Again, the students who walked, whether indoors or outside, came up with more creative responses than those either sitting inside or being pushed in a wheelchair outdoors. "While being outdoors has many cognitive benefits, walking appears to have a very specific benefit of improving creativity," said Oppezzo.

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Altruistic adolescents less likely to become depressed

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/uoia-saa042414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Apr-2014

Contact: Diana Yates
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Study: Altruistic adolescents less likely to become depressed

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It is better to give than to receive – at least if you're an adolescent and you enjoy giving, a new study suggests.

The study found that 15- and 16-year-olds who find pleasure in pro-social activities, such as giving their money to family members, are less likely to become depressed than those who get a bigger thrill from taking risks or keeping the money for themselves.

The researchers detail their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study focused on the ventral striatum, a brain region that regulates feelings of pleasure in response to rewards. Previous research has shown that ventral striatum activity tends to be more pronounced in adolescence, suggesting that people at this age experience the pleasure of rewards more intensely than younger children or adults.

Adolescence also is a time of heightened risk-taking, which may be related to young people's increased sensitivity to rewards, said University of Illinois psychology professor Eva Telzer, who led the research.

"There's this trend where from childhood to adolescence, morbidity and mortality rates increase 200 to 300 percent, and it's almost entirely due to these preventable risk-taking behaviors," she said.

Depressive symptoms also tend to increase during this time, she said.

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The researchers found that activity in the ventral striatum in response to different rewards predicted whether the subjects' depressive symptoms would worsen – or lessen – over time.

"If they show higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they show increases in depressive symptoms over time," said Telzer, who also is a professor in the Beckman Institute at Illinois. "And if they show higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they show declines in depression.

"This study suggests that if we can somehow redirect adolescents away from risk-taking or self-centered rewards and toward engaging in these more pro-social behaviors, then perhaps that can have a positive impact on their well-being over time," she said.

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Study finds accelerated soil carbon loss, increasing the rate of climate change

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/nau-sfa042414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Apr-2014

Contact: Bruce Hungate
Northern Arizona University

Study finds accelerated soil carbon loss, increasing the rate of climate change

Research published in Science today found that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change.

Two Northern Arizona University researchers led the study, which challenges previous understanding about how carbon accumulates in soil. Increased levels of CO2 accelerate plant growth, which causes more absorption of CO2 through photosynthesis.

Until now, the accepted belief was that carbon is then stored in wood and soil for a long time, slowing climate change. Yet this new research suggests that the extra carbon provides fuel to microorganisms in the soil whose byproducts (such as CO2) are released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

"Our findings mean that nature is not as efficient in slowing global warming as we previously thought," said Kees Jan van Groenigen, research fellow at the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at NAU and lead author of the study. "By overlooking this effect of increased CO2 on soil microbes, models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may have overestimated the potential of soil to store carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect."

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Oregon Panel Recommends Switch to Federal Health Exchange

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/25/us/politics/oregon-considers-handing-troubled-insurance-exchange-to-us.html?partner=MYWAY&ei=5065&_r=0

By ROBERT PEAR and KIRK JOHNSONAPRIL 24, 2014

With encouragement from the Obama administration, an Oregon panel recommended Thursday that the state scrap the website for its beleaguered health insurance exchange and use the federal marketplace instead.

State officials concluded that it would be much less expensive to use the federal site, HealthCare.gov, than to repair the one built specially for the state, Cover Oregon. The first option would cost $4 million to $6 million, while the second would cost $78 million, state officials said.

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Taxpayers Hit Twice by Fast-Food Pay Practices

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2014/04/22/Taxpayers-Hit-Twice-Fast-Food-Restaurant-Pay-Practices-Report

April 22, 2014
By Suzanne McGee,The Fiscal Times

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In a scathing analysis, the progressive Institute for Policy Studies has calculated that a law allowing corporations to deduct executives’ stock options and other so-called “performance pay” from their income taxes, without limits, costs taxpayers some $232 million in the last two years — based on just 20 large companies in the restaurant industry.

At the same time, the new report notes, large restaurant chains often pay their low-level workers "so little that many of them must rely on Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs." The Institute for Policy Studies says the 20 companies in its report are all members of the National Restaurant Association, which is fighting efforts to raise the minimum wage.

What the Institute for Policy Studies calls a “loophole” actually stems from changes to the tax code dating back to 1993. Congress, seeking to rein in executive pay, capped tax deductibility of cash payments at $1 million — but allowed for unlimited deductions for performance-based pay. That's opened the door to the explosion in use of stock option grants as the main source of executive compensation in the 1990s.

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Starbucks and CEO Howard Schultz benefited far more, though. Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz received $236 million in exercised stock options and other kinds of performance pay in the two-year period that the Institute for Policy Studies surveyed. That enabled Starbucks to cut its IRS bill by $82 million — "enough to raise the pay for 30,507 baristas to $10.10 per hour for a year of full-time work," the report says.

How Income Inequality Can Hurt the Economy

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/04/22/How-Income-Inequality-Can-Hurt-Economy

April 22, 2014
By Rob Garver,The Fiscal Times

Given that the adjectives most used in describing the economy’s recovery from the great recession include “sluggish” and “disappointing” it may come as a surprise to some that average household income in the U.S. is higher, in nominal terms, than it was in 2008.

Not only that, it passed the 2008 average as long ago as 2012. So, if income has recovered, the stock market is at record highs, and corporate earnings are way up, how come it doesn’t feel like there’s been much of a recovery?

An analysis released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a useful illustration of at least one thing that is unquestionably holding our economy back: income inequality.

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The key here, though, is to remember that the study measured “average” household income when it found a return to pre-recession levels. The headline number on the day the story was released was that 82 percent of the income gains went to the top 20 percent of households measured by income. That top quintile saw its nominal income increase on average by $8,358 per year, while the bottom quintile saw income decline by $275 in the same time period.

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What many people don’t grasp is that when high income households see their income increase, they generally don’t spend it. Cobet found that the top quintile increased spending by only $2,365 per year, meaning they spent about 29 percent of the extra income they received.

The next quintile down, which saw an annual increase in income of $1,862, spent an extra $1,348, or about 72 percent of the additional income.

But it’s in the three lowest quintiles where the story really gets interesting. For the second and third-lowest quintiles, total household spending increased by far more than income.

Households in the middle quintile earned only $69 more per year, but spent an additional $345, meaning that they increased their spending by 500 percent of their income gain. The next lowest quintile saw income increase by $143, but increased spending by $881 – 616 percent of their income gain.

Cobet, the study’s author and a senior economist at BLS said that there is no way of explaining the spending patterns except to assume that families “are using either savings and some version of credit card and other debt.”

For the first quintile, for whom income fell by $275, spending actually decreased. But the decrease -- $150 -- was not enough to offset the decline in income, meaning that they, too spent savings or borrowed.

What this means is that in total, household income in 2012 was, on average, $10,157 higher than in 2008. But average spending only increased by $4,789 – and even getting spending to that level required households in the bottom three quintiles to go into debt.

To economists, this shows the damage that income inequality can do to the economy as a whole. If the three lowest quartiles in income distribution had shared more equally in the increase in average income, they most certainly would have spent most or all of that increase. But as it is, $5,993 of the average increase of $10,157 – more than half – went into the savings of the highest quartile instead of being used for the purchase of goods and services, which boosts economic growth.

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The concentration of income growth at the top, he said, “has surely hurt consumption. Interestingly, it hasn’t helped investment much either, despite the higher savings rates of those at the top of the scale, since investment capital’s largely been hanging out on the sidelines given weak demand.”
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

States with the Most Federal Disaster Aid Sent Climate-Science Deniers to Congress

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/report/2013/09/12/73895/states-of-denial-states-with-the-most-federal-disaster-aid-sent-climate-science-deniers-to-congress-2/

By Daniel J. Weiss, Jackie Weidman, and Stephanie Pinkalla | September 12, 2013

The United States suffered from numerous extreme weather events in 2011 and 2012. In fact, there were 25 severe storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires that each caused more than $1 billion in economic damages, with a total price tag of $188 billion. To help communities recover from these violent weather events, the federal government spent nearly $62 billion for disaster relief in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. These federal funds only cover a portion of recovery costs; private insurance and individuals harmed by the events also spent billions of dollars.

There is recent evidence that climate change played a role in the extreme weather events of 2012.

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Interestingly, many of the states that received the most federal recovery aid to cope with climate-linked extreme weather have federal legislators who are climate-science deniers. The 10 states that received the most federal recovery aid in FY 2011 and 2012 elected 47 climate-science deniers to the Senate and the House. Nearly two-thirds of the senators from these top 10 recipient states voted against granting federal emergency aid to New Jersey and New York after Superstorm Sandy.

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As the following map shows, the 10 states that received the most federal disaster relief are primarily farm states in the plains and the Midwest. These states suffered billions of dollars of crop losses due to prolonged drought in 2011 and 2012. This necessitated an estimated $28 billion in crop insurance expenditures in FY 2011 and 2012, which comprised a majority of the spending for disaster programs where we could identify state-by-state expenditures.

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Two Colorado fourth graders busted for selling marijuana

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/04/colorado-fourth-graders-busted-for-selling-pot/

April 23, 2014
By Clayton Sandell

Two Colorado fourth graders were busted for selling marijuana at their elementary school, prompting officials today to urge adults to keep their weed locked away from kids.

School officials said a 10-year-old fourth grade boy brought a small quantity of leafy marijuana to Monfort Elementary School in Greeley, Colorado, on Monday.

“He sold it to three other fourth graders on the school playground, which resulted in a profit to the young man of $11,” John Gates, director of safety and security for the Greeley-Evans School District, told ABC News.

The next day, Gates said one of the three young buyers brought a marijuana edible to school and gave it to the boy who sold the pot on Monday. That boy took a bite, but did not suffer any ill effects, Gates said.

Both boys apparently got the weed from relatives, according to Gates.

“Both of these kids took the marijuana without the consent of their grandparents,” said Gates.

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Adults 21 and older have been able to buy recreational marijuana legally in Colorado since Jan. 1.

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The side effects of edible marijuana – which can be far more potent than smoking a joint – have been raising new concerns after two recent deaths in Colorado. In one, a 19-year old college student died when he jumped off a hotel balcony after eating a marijuana-laced cookie. In the second, Richard Kirk, 47, was charged with shooting and killing his wife while she called 9-1-1, telling police her husband had consumed pot-infused candy.

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Midlife occupational and leisure-time physical activity limits mobility in old age

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/aof-moa042314.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Professor Taina Rantanen
Academy of Finland

Midlife occupational and leisure-time physical activity limits mobility in old age

Inverse Effects of Midlife Occupational and Leisure Time Physical Activity on Mobility Limitation in Old Age

Strenuous occupational physical activity in midlife increases the risk of mobility limitation in old age, whereas leisure-time physical activity decreases the risk. This is found in a study which followed up 5,200 public sector employees for 28 years. The study was conducted at the Gerontology Research Center in Finland and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Heavy physical labor is often repetitive, wears the body and lasts for several hours a day. On the contrast, leisure-time physical activity is designed to improve fitness and provide recreation and a typical exercise session lasts for one or two hours. Even though both are based on muscle activity and result in energy expenditure, their long-term consequences are different.

"A person doing heavy manual work may compensate for its detrimental effects by participating in brisk leisure-time physical activity," says professor Taina Rantanen, the leader of the research group.

"Mobility limitation is an important determinant of a person's possibilities to participate in the society and to utilize community amenities. Current policy emphasizes the importance of promoting independent living among older people," Rantanen adds.

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In long follow-up studies of older people it is necessary to take into account that some of the participants may die before the study ends. Only the healthiest and strongest participants are available for the follow-up assessments, which may lead to the underestimation of the age-related changes," says Professor Rantanen.

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Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/aha-mum041814.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Karen Astle
American Heart Association

Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults

American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report

Marijuana use may result in cardiovascular-related complications — even death — among young and middle-aged adults, according to a French study reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

"In prior research, we identified several remarkable cases of cardiovascular complications as the reasons for hospital admission of young marijuana users," said Émilie Jouanjus, Pharm.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a medical faculty member at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in Toulouse, France. "This unexpected finding deserved to be further analyzed, especially given that the medicinal use of marijuana has become more prevalent and some governments are legalizing its use."

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Exercise Keeps Hippocampus Healthy in People at Risk for Alzheimer's

http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/exercise-keeps-hippocampus-healthy-people-risk-alzheimers

April 23, 2014
Contacts: Kelly Blake

A study of older adults at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease shows that moderate physical activity may protect brain health and stave off shrinkage of the hippocampus – the brain region responsible for memory and spatial orientation that is attacked first in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. J. Carson Smith, a kinesiology researcher in the University of Maryland School of Public Health who conducted the study, says that while all of us will lose some brain volume as we age, those with an increased genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease typically show greater hippocampal atrophy over time. The findings are published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

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Of all four groups studied, only those at high genetic risk for Alzheimer's who did not exercise experienced a decrease in hippocampal volume (3 percent) over the 18-month period. All other groups, including those at high risk for Alzheimer's but who were physically active, maintained the volume of their hippocampus.

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Dr. Smith has previously shown that a walking exercise intervention for patients with mild cognitive decline improved cognitive function by improving the efficiency of brain activity associated with memory.

Biting into Whole Foods can Make Children Rowdy

I wonder if it is the act of eating their food with their fingers which causes this, maybe causing them to feel more like younger children?

http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/OP/bite_vs_chew

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A new Cornell study published in Eating Behaviors, found that when 6-10 year old children ate foods they had to bite with their front teeth— such as drumsticks, whole apples, or corn on the cob— they were rowdier than when these foods had been cut. "They were twice as likely to disobey adults and twice as aggressive toward other kids," said Brian Wansink, Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

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Iron consumption can increase risk for heart disease

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/iu-sic042314.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Tracy James
Indiana University

Study: Iron consumption can increase risk for heart disease

A new study from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has bolstered the link between red meat consumption and heart disease by finding a strong association between heme iron, found only in meat, and potentially deadly coronary heart disease.

The study found that heme iron consumption increased the risk for coronary heart disease by 57 percent, while no association was found between nonheme iron, which is in plant and other non-meat sources, and coronary heart disease.

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The body treats the two kinds of iron differently. It can better control absorption of iron from vegetable sources, including iron supplements, but not so with iron from meat sources.

"The observed positive association between heme iron and risk of CHD may be explained by the high bioavailability of heme iron and its role as the primary source of iron in iron-replete participants," the researchers wrote in the journal article. "Heme iron is absorbed at a much greater rate in comparison to nonheme iron (37 percent vs. 5 percent). Once absorbed, it may contribute as a catalyst in the oxidation of LDLs, causing tissue-damaging inflammation, which is a potential risk factor for CHD."

Iron stores in the body increase over time. The only way to reduce iron in the body is by bleeding, donating blood or menstruation. Some dietary choices, such as coffee and tea, also can inhibit iron absorption.

In lab tests, the antimicrobial ingredient triclosan spurs growth of breast cancer cells



PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

In lab tests, the antimicrobial ingredient triclosan spurs growth of breast cancer cells

Some manufacturers are turning away from using triclosan as an antimicrobial ingredient in soaps, toothpastes and other products over health concerns. And now scientists are reporting new evidence that appears to support these worries. Their study, published in the ACS journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that triclosan, as well as another commercial substance called octylphenol, promoted the growth of human breast cancer cells in lab dishes and breast cancer tumors in mice.

Kyung-Chul Choi and colleagues note that hormonal imbalances seem to play a role in the development of breast cancer. Given that link, researchers are investigating whether endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are compounds that act like hormones, might spur cancer cell growth. EDCs have become ubiquitous in products, in the environment and even in our bodies. Research has found that two EDCs — triclosan, an antimicrobial ingredient in many products, including soaps, cosmetics and cutting boards; and octylphenol, which is in some paints, pesticides and plastics — have accumulated in the environment. Additionally, triclosan is reportedly in the urine of an estimated 75 percent of Americans. Choi's team wanted to see what effect the two compounds have on breast cancer cells.

In tests on human breast cancer cells and in special immunodeficient mice with tissue grafts, the scientists found that both agents interfered with genes involved with breast cancer cell growth, resulting in more cancer cells. Mice that were exposed to the two compounds had larger and denser breast cancer tumors than the control group. "Although the doses of EDCs were somewhat high, we did this to simulate their effects of daily exposure, as well as body accumulation due to long-term exposure, simultaneously in animal experiments," said Choi. "Thus, exposure to EDCs may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer development and adversely affect human health," the researchers state in the paper.

The authors cite funding from the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Rural Development Administration of Korea.

More Americans in their golden years are going hungry

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/uoic-ma042314.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Debra Levey Larson
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

More Americans in their golden years are going hungry

URBANA, Ill. - In a country as wealthy as the United States, it may come as a surprise that one in 12 seniors do not have access to adequate food due to lack of money or other financial resources. They are food insecure.

Recent research at the University of Illinois using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) revealed that the seniors who are dealing with hunger are also facing negative health and nutrition consequences.

"In 2011, 8.35 percent of Americans over age 60 faced the threat of hunger—that translates to 4.8 million people," said Craig Gundersen, University of Illinois soybean industry endowed professor in agricultural strategy in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and executive director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory who led the data analysis on the study.

Hand-in-hand with hunger goes a lower intake of calories, vitamins, and other nutrients, which puts them at risk for a wide variety of ailments.

"Seniors who are food insecure reported higher incidence of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, gum disease, and a host of other health problems than adults their age who are food secure," Gundersen said. "In addition, food-insecure seniors have worse general health outcomes, more daily activity limitations, and are more likely to suffer from depression.

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Higher education associated with better recovery from traumatic brain injury

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/jhm-hea042314.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Stephanie Desmon
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Higher education associated with better recovery from traumatic brain injury

Better-educated people appear to be significantly more likely to recover from a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), suggesting that a brain's "cognitive reserve" may play a role in helping people get back to their previous lives, new Johns Hopkins research shows.

The researchers, reporting in the journal Neurology, found that those with the equivalent of at least a college education are seven times more likely than those who didn't finish high school to be disability-free one year after a TBI serious enough to warrant inpatient time in a hospital and rehabilitation facility.

The findings, while new among TBI investigators, mirror those in Alzheimer's disease research, in which higher educational attainment — believed to be an indicator of a more active, or more effective, use of the brain's "muscles" and therefore its cognitive reserve — has been linked to slower progression of dementia.

"After this type of brain injury, some patients experience lifelong disability, while others with very similar damage achieve a full recovery," says study leader Eric B. Schneider, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research. "Our work suggests that cognitive reserve ¬— the brain's ability to be resilient in the face of insult or injury — could account for the difference."

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Too many chefs: Smaller groups exhibit more accurate decision-making

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/pu-tmc042314.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 23-Apr-2014

Contact: Morgan Kelly
Princeton University

Too many chefs: Smaller groups exhibit more accurate decision-making

The trope that the likelihood of an accurate group decision increases with the abundance of brains involved might not hold up when a collective faces a variety of factors — as often happens in life and nature. Instead, Princeton University researchers report that smaller groups actually tend to make more accurate decisions while larger assemblies may become excessively focused on only certain pieces of information.

The findings present a significant caveat to what is known about collective intelligence, or the "wisdom of crowds," wherein individual observations — even if imperfect — coalesces into a single, accurate group decision.

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But collective decision-making has rarely been tested under complex, "realistic" circumstances where information comes from multiple sources, the Princeton researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In these scenarios, crowd wisdom peaks early then becomes less accurate as more individuals become involved, explained senior author Iain Couzin, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

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Arctic sea ice falls to 5th lowest March extent on record

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2669

Arctic sea ice extent during March was 5th lowest in the 36-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The winter maximum extent of Arctic sea ice came on March 21, and was the 5th lowest such peak on record. Temperatures in the Arctic were 2 - 6°C (4 -11°F) above average during the last half of the month, but a late-season surge in ice extent came as the Arctic Oscillation turned strongly positive the second week of March, with unusually low sea level pressure in the eastern Arctic and the northern North Atlantic. The associated pattern of surface winds helped to spread out the ice pack, keeping ice extent greater than it would have been. There was a modest increase in thick, multi-year ice over the winter, and the Arctic is in better shape to resist a record summer melt season this year than it was in 2013.

World’s Top Serial Bird Killers Put Infamous Windmills to Shame

Golly, who would have a stake in propagating false information on alternatives to fossil fuels?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-21/beware-the-blades-of-death-world-s-top-serial-bird-killers-.html

By Tom Randall Apr 21, 2014

Pity the birds.

As if cats weren’t bad enough, humans have invented all sorts of torture devices for our winged friends. We’ve paved over their nesting sites to make room for Olive Gardens and have broken up their skyscapes with glass buildings and radio towers.

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Windmills aren’t the biggest serial killer, but are instead the smallest threat to birds worthy of mention, on par with airplanes. Turbines are responsible for as little as one percent of the deaths caused by the next smallest killer, communications towers.

You would hardly know this by reading Twitter or scanning the comments on any news article about wind power.

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No matter whose estimates you use, deaths by turbine don’t compare to cats, cars, power lines or buildings. It’s almost as if there’s been a concerted effort to make people think wind turbines are more menacing than they actually are.

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It’s nice for wind-farm planners to take migration patterns and endangered habitats into account. But even if wind turbines were to double in size and provide 100 percent of our energy needs (both of which defy the laws of physics as we currently understand them), they still wouldn’t compare to the modern scourges of high-tension power lines or buildings with glass windows. Not even close.

The alternative to renewable energy sources like wind and solar is to burn ever more fossil fuels. Animals are threatened by those, too, including North America’s most common hairless mammal: the human. Roughly 20,000 of these moderately-intelligent animals die prematurely each year from air pollution from coal and oil, according to a study ordered by Congress.


After Some Counties In Texas Released Air Pollution Data, A State Agency Cut Their Funding

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/23/3430014/texas-pollution-data-release-funding-cut/

By Jeff Sprosson April 23, 2014

Earlier this month, a coalition of county governments in Texas posted a study that air pollution would increase significantly by 2018 thanks to a local drilling boom. One week later, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality slashed the coalition’s budget for air quality planning.

The study in question was an inventory of emissions from the Eagle Ford shale, which, with the advent of hydraulic fracturing, has seen a boom in natural gas and oil drilling over the past few years. The analysis was put together at the behest of the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), a coalition that oversees thirteen counties in and around San Antonio. An initial draft of the study came out in November of last year, and the final version was completed on April 4.

About a week later, the Center for Public Integrity reports, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), slashed AACOG’s air-quality planning budget by 25 percent.

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Since 2012, San Antonio’s monitors have already recorded air pollution levels as high as 87 parts per billion — while the federal standard is 75 parts per billion.

Earlier this year, an eight-month investigation by InsideClimate News and the Center for Public Integrity found that Texas officials were failing to adequately monitor air pollution from the Eagle Ford shale, or to engage in any serious regulatory enforcement.

"Bionic eye" restores sight to blind man

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bionic-eye-retina-implant-surgery-restores-sight-to-michigan-man/

April 23, 2014

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Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," he's regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.

"It's awesome. It's exciting - seeing something new every day," Pontz said during a recent appointment at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. The 55-year-old former competitive weightlifter and factory worker is one of four people in the U.S. to receive an artificial retina since the Food and Drug Administration signed off on its use last year.

The facility in Ann Arbor has been the site of all four such surgeries since FDA approval. A fifth is scheduled for next month.

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Not all of the 100,000 or so people in the U.S. with retinitis pigmentosa can benefit from the bionic eye. An estimated 10,000 have vision low enough, said Dr. Brian Mech, an executive with Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the Sylmar, Calif.-based company that makes the device. Of those, about 7,500 are eligible for the surgery.

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The artificial retina procedure has been performed several-dozen times over the past few years in Europe, and the expectation is that it will find similar success in the U.S., where the University of Michigan is one of 12 centers accepting consultations for patients.

Candidates for the retinal prosthesis must be 25 or older with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa that has progressed to the point of having "bare light" or no light perception in both eyes.

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Silicon Valley workers accuse tech giants of collusion

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/silicon-valley-software-engineers-accuse-google-apple-intel-adobe-of-collusion/

April 22, 2014

With its lavish perks and sprawling campuses, Silicon Valley has at times been the envy of many in corporate America, but nearly 65,000 software engineers claim they were unable to jump companies for higher pay because of a series of deals allegedly made by their bosses -- bosses like Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt of Google and Apple's Steve Jobs.

"These were non-solicitation agreements whereby all of these companies agreed secretly not to poach or cold-call each other's workers," said Mark Ames, senior editor of PandoDaily.

A probe by the U.S. Justice Department in 2010 revealed that several companies agreed to keep do-not-call lists and shared confidential salary information to prevent bidding wars, reports CBS News' Carter Evans. They settled the anti-trust complaint, but now Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel are the target of a civil lawsuit by employees seeking $3 billion in damages.

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"Undoubtedly the biggest villain is Steve Jobs," Ames said. "Without Steve Jobs' force and bullying, I doubt this would have gone off the ground. I mean it becomes clear with just about everybody involved, every CEO who agrees with this arrangement. They understand it's illegal and they're generally scared of Steve Jobs, and he's not scared of anyone or anything."

However, Jobs failed to get Facebook to bite the apple. Executive Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly refused to join the non-poaching agreements.

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Why the U.S. middle class is falling behind Canada’s

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-the-us-middle-class-is-falling-behind-canadas/

By/Aimee Picchi/MoneyWatch/April 23, 2014

The economic backbone of the U.S. -- its middle class -- has lost ground over the past decade, thanks to wage stagnation and a greater distribution of wealth going to top earners.

An analysis of data by The New York Times finds that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada have pulled ahead of American middle-class earners. On top of that, the poor in some European countries actually earn more than the poor in America.

While the report confirms what many Americans feel every day when they check their bank accounts -- that they're barely treading water -- the eye-opener is how far the U.S. consumer has fallen when compared with other countries. Median per capital income in the U.S. has barely budged since 2000, while Canadians have seen their median income jump 20 percent

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So how did Canada surpass the U.S. middle class? For one, younger Americans are losing ground in educational attainment when compared with their peers in Canada and other countries, the study found.

But America's growing income inequality is also posing a problem for the middle class. While it's difficult to find recent comparisons across countries for CEO-to-worker pay ratios, the ratio in America is at least double that of other countries, Mishel notes. The disparity between the average U.S. worker's income and CEO pay has also been growing wider, with CEOs pulling in a 331-to-1 ratio in 2013, up from a 46-to-1 ratio in 1983.

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America's poor are also dragging behind other the poor of other countries. People at the 20th percentile in Netherlands and Canada earned 15 percent more income than someone in the same percentile in the U.S., The New York Times found.

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Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/kcl-ioc041614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 17-Apr-2014

Contact: Seil Collins
King's College London

Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

Negative impact of bullying was found to be persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood

The negative social, physical and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident nearly 40 years later, according to new research by King's College London. The study is the first to look at the effects of bullying beyond early adulthood, and is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Dr Ryu Takizawa, lead author of the paper from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, says: "Our study shows that the effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood."

Just over a quarter of children in the study (28%) had been bullied occasionally, and 15% bullied frequently – similar to rates in the UK today.

Individuals who were bullied in childhood were more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive functioning at age 50. Individuals who were frequently bullied in childhood were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts.

Individuals who were bullied in childhood were also more likely to have lower educational levels, with men who were bullied more likely to be unemployed and earn less. Social relationships and well-being were also affected. Individuals who had been bullied were less likely to be in a relationship, to have good social support, and were more likely to report lower quality of life and life satisfaction.

Professor Louise Arseneault, senior author, also from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's adds: "We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing-up. Teachers, parents and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children. Programmes to stop bullying are extremely important, but we also need to focus our efforts on early intervention to prevent potential problems persisting into adolescence and adulthood."

Bullying is characterized by repeated hurtful actions by children of a similar age, where the victim finds it difficult to defend themselves. The harmful effect of bullying remained even when other factors including childhood IQ, emotional and behavioural problems, parents' socioeconomic status and low parental involvement, were taken into account.

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New evidence of suicide epidemic among India’s ‘marginalised’ farmers

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/new-evidence-of-suicide-epidemic-among-indias-marginalised-farmers

17 Apr 2014

A new study has found that India’s shocking rates of suicide are highest in areas with the most debt-ridden farmers who are clinging to tiny smallholdings – less than one hectare – and trying to grow ‘cash crops’, such as cotton and coffee, that are highly susceptible to global price fluctuations.

The research supports a range of previous case studies that point to a crisis in key areas of India’s agriculture sector following the ‘liberalisation’ of the nation’s economy during the 1990s. Researchers say that policy intervention to stabilise the price of cash crops and relieve indebted farmers may help stem the tide of suicide that has swept the Indian countryside.

This latest work follows on from a recent Lancet study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which showed Indian suicide rates to be among the highest in the world – with suicide the second leading cause of death among young adults in India.

In 2010, 187,000 Indians killed themselves – one fifth of all global suicides.

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The shame and stress of no longer being able to provide for their families has resulted in hundreds of thousands of male farmers, and in many cases their wives too, taking their own lives by drinking the modern pesticides designed to provide them with bountiful harvests – a truly horrific end as the chemicals cause swift muscle and breathing paralysis.

Added Kennedy: “The liberalisation of the Indian economy is most often associated with near-double digit growth, the rise of India as an economic powerhouse, and the emergence of wealthy urban middle classes. But it is often forgotten that over 833 million people – almost 70% of the Indian population – still live in rural areas.

“A large proportion of these rural inhabitants have not benefited from the economic growth of the past twenty years. In fact, liberalisation has brought about a crisis in the agricultural sector that has pushed many small-scale cash crops farmers into debt and in some cases to suicide.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Food shortages could be most critical world issue by mid-century

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/taac-fsc041714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 17-Apr-2014

Contact: Kathleen Phillips
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

Food shortages could be most critical world issue by mid-century

The world is less than 40 years away from a food shortage that will have serious implications for people and governments, according to a top scientist at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

"For the first time in human history, food production will be limited on a global scale by the availability of land, water and energy," said Dr. Fred Davies, senior science advisor for the agency's bureau of food security. "Food issues could become as politically destabilizing by 2050 as energy issues are today."

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He said the world population will increase 30 percent to 9 billion people by mid-century. That would call for a 70 percent increase in food to meet demand.

"But resource limitations will constrain global food systems," Davies added. "The increases currently projected for crop production from biotechnology, genetics, agronomics and horticulture will not be sufficient to meet food demand." Davies said the ability to discover ways to keep pace with food demand have been curtailed by cutbacks in spending on research.

"The U.S. agricultural productivity has averaged less than 1.2 percent per year between 1990 and 2007," he said.

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One in eight people worldwide, he added, already suffers from chronic undernourishment, and 75 percent of the world's chronically poor are in the mid-income nations such as China, India, Brazil and the Philippines.

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Internet Use May Cut Retirees’ Depression

http://www.geron.org/About%20Us/press-room/Archived%20Press%20Releases/84-2014-press-releases/2009-internet-use-may-cut-retirees-depression

April 17, 2014
Gerontological Society of America

Spending time online has the potential to ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to research published online in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. In the article “Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis,” the authors report that Internet use reduced the probability of a depressed state by 33 percent among their study sample.

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Fish consumption advisories fail to cover all types of contaminants

http://ose.utsc.utoronto.ca/ose/story.php?id=6055§id=1

Mar 31, 2014 | Don Campbell
University of Toronto, Scarborough

A new study suggests that fish consumption advisories for expecting mothers are ineffective in reducing infant exposure to long-lived contaminants like persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

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Their model estimates that women who stop eating fish shortly before or during their pregnancy may only lower their child’s exposure to POPs by 10 to 15 per cent.

“We have to be careful in saying fish advisories don’t work at all because they can work very well for reducing exposure to quickly eliminated contaminants, such as mercury,” says Binnington. “But for POPs we found that they are not very effective.”

POPs are compounds that take a long time to break down and as a result can persist in the environment and begin to accumulate in humans by way of the food chain. While many POPs such as DDT and PCBs have long been banned from production, they still exist in the environment. Fish advisories have been developed for these chemicals because they are easily passed from mothers to their children during pregnancy and nursing, potentially impacting healthy infant neurodevelopment.

Binnington says consumption advisories for many POPs are ineffective because they can remain in the body for years or even decades due to properties that make it difficult for the human body to eliminate them. The same is not true for mercury-based advisories, as the time it remains in the body is much shorter compared to POPs.

“Something like mercury stays in the body for only a few months and by temporarily adjusting your diet you can reduce exposure,” says Binnington.

The limitation with consumption advisories is that while they inform people what not to eat, they do not offer much in the way of healthy alternatives, says Wania. In fact, substituting fish with meat such as beef may even end up doing more harm.

“Substituting fish with beef may actually result in higher exposure to other contaminants,” he says, adding there is also a loss of nutritional benefits by not eating fish.

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More, bigger wildfires burning western U.S., study shows

http://news.agu.org/press-release/more-bigger-wildfires-burning-western-u-s-study-shows/

17 April 2014
American Geophysical Union

Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become more severe in the coming decades, according to new research.

The number of wildfires over 1,000 acres in size in the region stretching from Nebraska to California increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011, according to a new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.

The total area these fires burned increased at a rate of nearly 90,000 acres a year – an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the study. Individually, the largest wildfires grew at a rate of 350 acres a year, the new research says.

“We looked at the probability that increases of this magnitude could be random, and in each case it was less than one percent,” said Philip Dennison, an associate professor of geography at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and lead author of the paper.

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The ilk of human kindness

Older women more compassionate than "other older adults". Tactful way to put it.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/uoc--tio041714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 17-Apr-2014

Contact: Scott Lafee
University of California - San Diego

The ilk of human kindness

Older women with gumption score high on compassion

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that older women, plucky individuals and those who have suffered a recent major loss are more likely to be compassionate toward strangers than other older adults.

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"We are interested in anything that can help older people age more successfully," said Lisa Eyler, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and co-author. "We know that social connections are important to health and well-being, and we know that people who want to be kind to others garner greater social support. If we can foster compassion in people, we can improve their health and well-being, and maybe even longevity."

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Women, independent of their age, income, education, race, marital status or mental health status, scored higher on the compassion test, on average, than men. Higher levels of compassion were also observed among both men and women who had "walked a mile in another person's shoes" and experienced a personal loss, such as a death in the family or illness, in the last year.

Those who reported higher confidence in their ability to bounce back from hard times also reported more empathy toward strangers and joy from helping those in need.

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Vitamin B3 Might Have Been Made in Space, Delivered to Earth by Meteorites

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/vitamin-b3-might-have-been-made-in-space-delivered-to-earth-by-meteorites/

April 17, 2014
NASA

Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis by NASA-funded researchers. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.

"It is always difficult to put a value on the connection between meteorites and the origin of life; for example, earlier work has shown that vitamin B3 could have been produced non-biologically on ancient Earth, but it's possible that an added source of vitamin B3 could have been helpful," said Karen Smith of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa. "Vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, is a precursor to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is essential to metabolism and likely very ancient in origin." Smith is lead author of a paper on this research, along with co-authors from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., now available online in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

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The team doubts the vitamin B3 and other molecules found in their meteorites came from terrestrial life for two reasons. First, the vitamin B3 was found along with its structural isomers – related molecules that have the same chemical formula but whose atoms are attached in a different order. These other molecules aren't used by life. Non-biological chemistry tends to produce a wide variety of molecules -- basically everything permitted by the materials and conditions present -- but life makes only the molecules it needs. If contamination from terrestrial life was the source of the vitamin B3 in the meteorites, then only the vitamin should have been found, not the other, related molecules.

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Counterfeit contraceptives found in South America

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/giot-ccf041714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 18-Apr-2014

Contact: Brett Israel
Georgia Institute of Technology

Counterfeit contraceptives found in South America

More than a quarter of emergency contraceptives were falsified or substandard

A survey of emergency contraceptive pills in Peru found that 28 percent of the batches studied were either of substandard quality or falsified. Many pills released the active ingredient too slowly. Others had the wrong active ingredient. One batch had no active ingredient at all.

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Drugs are considered fake or falsified when someone makes a pirate copy of copies a patented drug, with criminal intent. Recent research has found that falsified drugs are a major problem in developing countries. Falsified emergency contraceptives have been reported in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Angola, South America and even the United States. Fake drug manufacturers will copy everything from the pill to the package.

Just as concerning as counterfeit medications are other poor quality medications, such as degraded or substandard drugs. Degraded drugs were once good quality, but lost their efficacy over time, for example after prolonged exposure to the sun in an open air market. Substandard drugs are made by an approved factory, but they don't contain the right active ingredient, contain less active ingredient than they should, or might not dissolve properly. These pills either result from factory error or negligence.

Falsified drugs are the most worrisome, because they may not contain the expected active ingredient, or they may contain the wrong ingredients, including toxic compounds.

In the survey of emergency contraceptives from Peru, the researchers found that seven of the 25 batches analyzed had inadequate release of the active ingredient (levonorgestrel). One batch had no detectable level of the active ingredient.

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"Many fakes are very sophisticated. They have the right active ingredient and they may even have the right amount, but the excipients or coatings may not be the right ones," Fernandez said.

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Study Shows Financial Incentives Help Economically-Disadvantaged Pregnant Smokers Quit

http://www.uvm.edu/medicine/?Page=news&storyID=18327&category=comresne

04-19-2014
By Jennifer Nachbur
The University of Vermont

Smoking during pregnancy – particularly among economically-disadvantaged women – leads to a host of poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, preterm birth, SIDS, and additional adverse effects later in life. Without a formal treatment intervention, women in this population continue to smoke, and their babies suffer. Vermont Center on Behavior and Health Director Stephen Higgins, Ph.D., and colleagues, have developed an effective behavioral economic approach that offers women financial incentives for quitting.

The groups’ most recent findings, published online this month in Preventive Medicine, demonstrated that providing incentives more than doubled smoking abstinence rates during pregnancy and increased fetal growth. They also examined whether altering the way the incentives were offered might get still more women to quit, without increasing costs, but that strategy was not successful.

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“More than 40 percent of women with a high school GED report regular smoking versus eight percent of college graduates and six percent of those with graduate degrees,” Higgins says. While about 20 percent of smokers quit without formal treatment soon after learning of a pregnancy, the vast majority of the largest segment of this group smoke through the pregnancy if there is no formal intervention.

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Study of gut microbes, antibiotics: Clues to improving immunity in premature infants

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/chop-sog041714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 20-Apr-2014

Contact: Alison Fraser
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Study of gut microbes, antibiotics: Clues to improving immunity in premature infants

CHOP researchers' animal study suggests that improving newborns' bacterial environment could fend off infections

Mothers give a newborn baby a gift of germs—germs that help to kick-start the infant's immune system. But antibiotics, used to fend off infection, may paradoxically interrupt a newborn's own immune responses, leaving already-vulnerable premature babies more susceptible to dangerous pathogens.

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New approach may help manage the most troubling symptoms of dementia, lessen use of drugs

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/uomh-nam042114.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 21-Apr-2014

Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

New approach may help manage the most troubling symptoms of dementia, lessen use of drugs

Technique called DICE empowers caregivers, patients and health providers to work together to reduce behavioral problems

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A new approach to handling agitation, aggression and other unwanted behaviors by people with dementia may help reduce the use of antipsychotics and other psychiatric drugs in this population, and make life easier for them and their caregivers, a team of experts says.

Publishing their recommendations under the easy-to-remember acronym of "DICE", the panel of specialists in senior mental health hope to spark better teamwork among those who care for dementia patients at home, in residential facilities and in hospitals and clinics.

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Most people with Alzheimer's disease and other memory-affecting conditions also get aggressive, agitated, depressed, anxious, or delusional from time to time, says senior author Helen C. Kales, M.D., head of the U-M Program for Positive Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System and investigator at the VA Center for Clinical Management Research. Or, they might have delusions, hallucinations, or lose inhibitions.

"Often more than memory loss, behavioral symptoms of dementia are among the most difficult aspects of caring for people with dementia. These symptoms are experienced almost universally, across dementia stages and causes," she says. "Sadly, these symptoms are often associated with poor outcomes including early nursing home placement, hospital stays, caregiver stress and depression, and reduced caregiver employment."

Doctors often prescribe these patients medications often used in patients with mental health disorders, despite little hard evidence that they work well and despite the risks they can pose -- including hastening death. Meanwhile, studies have shown promise from non-medication approaches to changing dementia patients' behavior and reducing triggers for behavioral issues in their environment and daily life. But too few health teams are trained in their use.

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Dubbed "DICE" for Describe, Investigate, Evaluate, and Create, it details key patient, caregiver and environmental considerations with each step of the approach and describes the "go-to" behavioral and environmental interventions that should be considered.

Briefly described, the components are:

•D: Describe - Asking the caregiver, and the patient if possible, to describe the "who, what, when and where" of situations where problem behaviors occur and the physical and social context for them. Caregivers could take notes about the situations that led to behavior issues, to share with health professionals during visits.

•I: Investigate – Having the health provider look into all the aspects of the patient's health, dementia symptoms, current medications and sleep habits, that might be combining with physical, social and caregiver-related factors to produce the behavior.

•C: Create – Working together, the patient's caregiver and health providers develop a plan to prevent and respond to behavioral issues in the patient, including everything from changing the patient's activities and environment, to educating and supporting the caregiver.

•E: Evaluate – Giving the provider responsibility for assessing how well the plan is being followed and how it's working, or what might need to be changed.

The authors say that doctors should prescribe psychotropic drugs only after they and the patient and caregiver have made significant efforts to change dementia patients' behavior through environmental modifications and other interventions, with three exceptions related to severe depression, psychosis or aggression that present risk to the patient or others.

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People Selectively Remember the Details of Atrocities That Absolve In-Group Members

No surprise. People selectively remember everything.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/people-selectively-remember-the-details-of-atrocities-that-absolve-in-group-members.html?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_medium=eureka&utm_campaign=justifyingatrocities

April 21, 2014

Conversations about wartime atrocities often omit certain details. According to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, these omissions can lead people to have different memories for the event depending on social group membership.

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The results showed that participants were more likely to forget justifications for the atrocities committed by Afghan soldiers that had been recounted in the videos compared to justifications for the atrocities that hadn’t been recounted. The results indicate that hearing the stories repeated without the original justifications led participants to forget those justifications, just as the researchers expected.

But participants showed no memory impairment for unrepeated justifications when the perpetrator was American. That is, in-group membership made participants more likely to remember the reasons why the soldier committed the act, even though they had not been reminded of those reasons in the video.

“What we learn from this research is that moral disengagement strategies are fundamentally altering our memories,” explains Coman. “More specifically, these strategies affect the degree to which our memories are influenced by the conversations we have with one another.”

These findings are important, the researchers argue, because the ways in which people recall justifications could “influence attitudes and beliefs, the willingness to pay reparations, and the level of aggression toward out-groups.”

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/apa-t042114.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 21-Apr-2014

Contact: APA Public Affairs
American Psychological Association

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

Students not threatened by bad consequences of failing perform better on tests

WASHINGTON -- As the school year winds down and final exams loom, teachers may want to avoid reminding students of the bad consequences of failing a test because doing so could lead to lower scores, according to new research published by APA.

"Teachers are desperately keen to motivate their students in the best possible way but may not be aware of how messages they communicate to students around the importance of performing well in exams can be interpreted in different ways," said lead author David Putwain, PhD, of Edge Hill University in Lancashire, England.

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Students who said they felt threatened by their teachers' messages that frequently focused on failure reported feeling less motivated and scored worse on the exam than students who said their teacher used fewer fear tactics that they considered less threatening, the study found.

A message such as, "If you fail the exam, you will never be able to get a good job or go to college. You need to work hard in order to avoid failure," was an example of attempting to motivate by fear. Messages focusing on success might include, "The exam is really important as most jobs that pay well require that you pass and if you want to go to college you will also need to pass the exam," according to the study.

"Both messages highlight to students the importance of effort and provide a reason for striving," said Putwain. "Where these messages differ is some focus on the possibility of success while others stress the need to avoid failure."

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Almost one-third of Canadian adults have experienced child abuse

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/cmaj-aoo041514.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 22-Apr-2014

Contact: Kim Barnhardt
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Almost one-third of Canadian adults have experienced child abuse

Increased link to mental disorders, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts

Almost one-third of adults in Canada have experienced child abuse — physical abuse, sexual abuse or exposure to intimate partner (parents, step-parents or guardians) violence in their home. As well, child abuse is linked to mental disorders and suicidal ideation (thoughts) or suicide attempts, found an article published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

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People between 35 and 64 years of age were more likely than those aged 18 to 34 years to report having been abused as a child.

"All 3 types of child abuse were associated with all types of interview-diagnosed mental disorders, self-reported mental conditions, suicide ideation [thoughts of suicide] and suicide attempts in models adjusting for sociodemographic variables," write the authors.

Drug abuse or dependence, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts remained associated with all types of child abuse even in the most adjusted models. The least severe type of physical abuse (being slapped on the face, head or ears or hit or spanked with something hard) showed a strong association with all mental conditions in models adjusting for sociodemographic variables. Exposure to more than one type of abuse increased the odds of having a mental condition.

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Lower birth weight, less breastfeeding linked to adult inflammation and disease

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/nu-lbw041814.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 22-Apr-2014

Contact: Hilary Hurd Anyaso
Northwestern University

Lower birth weight, less breastfeeding linked to adult inflammation and disease

Public awareness, interventions could help erode intractable disparities in health

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Individuals born at lower birth weights as well as those breastfed less than three months or not at all are more likely as young adults to have higher levels of chronic inflammation that contributes to cardiovascular disease, according to a new Northwestern University study.

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Child's autism risk rises with increasing age of parents

http://drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/April/Autism-Risk-Older-Parents/

April 22, 2014
Drexel University School of Public Health

Older parents are more likely to have a child who develops an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than are younger parents. A recent study from researchers from the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and Karolinska Institute in Sweden provides more insight into how the risk associated with parental age varies between mothers’ and fathers’ ages, and found that the risk of having a child with both ASD and intellectual disability is larger for older parents. - See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/April/Autism-Risk-Older-Parents/#sthash.Jb4bievK.dpuf

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The risk of having a child with ASD had a more complicated relationship to age in women than in men – whose risk of fathering a child with ASD increased linearly with age across their lifespan. Among women giving birth before the age of 30, the risk of ASD in the child showed no association with age -- it was simply very low. But for babies born to mothers aged 30 and older, the chance of developing ASD rose rapidly with the mother's age. - See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/April/Autism-Risk-Older-Parents/#sthash.Jb4bievK.dpuf

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Multiple mechanisms could be in play to account for the different patterns of risk, including environmental risk factors occurring in women after age 30. Factors such as complications in pregnancy could also underlie the effect of mothers’ ages on a child’s ASD risk but not a paternal age effect. The linear, steady increase in risk associated with fathers’ ages is consistent with the hypothesis of increased genomic alterations over the father’s lifespan that can increase risk of ASD, Lee said. - See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/April/Autism-Risk-Older-Parents/#sthash.Jb4bievK.dpuf

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Speed-Reading Apps May Impair Reading Comprehension by Limiting Ability to Backtrack

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/speed-reading-apps-may-impair-reading-comprehension-by-limiting-ability-to-backtrack.html?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_medium=eureka&utm_campaign=speedreading

April 22, 2012

To address the fact that many of us are on the go and pressed for time, app developers have devised speed-reading software that eliminates the time we supposedly waste by moving our eyes as we read. But don’t throw away your books, papers, and e-readers just yet — research suggests that the eye movements we make during reading actually play a critical role in our ability to understand what we’ve just read.

Life Stressors Trigger Neurological Disorders, Researchers Find

http://childrensnational.org/pressroom/NewsReleases/life-stressors-trigger-neurological-disorders-researchers-find.aspx

When mothers are exposed to trauma, illness, alcohol or other drug abuse, these stressors may activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that can go awry and activate conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and some forms of autism.

Until now, it has been unclear how much these stressors have impacted the cells of a developing brain. Past studies have shown that when an expectant mother exposes herself to alcohol or drug abuse or she experiences some trauma or illness, her baby may later develop a psychiatric disorder, including some forms of autism or post-traumatic stress disorder, later in life.

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Newly-Approved Brain Stimulator Offers Hope for Individuals With Uncontrolled Epilepsy

http://www.rush.edu/webapps/MEDREL/servlet/NewsRelease?id=1758

April 21, 2014

Rush University Medical Center is the first in the country to use the device along with a unique electrode placement planning system

A recently FDA-approved device has been shown to reduce seizures in patients with medication-resistant epilepsy by as much as 50 percent. When coupled with an innovative electrode placement planning system developed by physicians at Rush, the device facilitated the complete elimination of seizures in nearly half of the implanted Rush patients enrolled in the decade-long clinical trials.

That’s good news for a large portion of the nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. living with epilepsy whose seizures can’t be controlled with medications and who are not candidates for brain surgery.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, epilepsy affected approximately 2.3 million adults in the U.S. and 467,711 children under the age of 17.

Happy Earth Day!

See the link below for photos of our lovely home:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2668

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 11:50 AM GMT on April 22, 2014

Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate the beauty of the atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere of the planet that sustains us. As is my tradition on Earth Day, I present my favorite wunderphotos uploaded to our web site over the past year.

March 2014 was 4th Warmest March Globally

And we are still at points in several weather cycles that normally bring cooler than average temps. One of these might change in the next few month, as an El Nino may be developing, so we might have record high temps this year or next.

Looking at the maps at the following link, which show the departure from average for areas around the world, the Eastern half of the U.S. is an obvious exception.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=267

By: Christopher C. Burt , 6:59 PM GMT on April 22, 2014

NOAA released its global March 2014 summary today (April 22nd) which stated that it was the 4th warmest March on record over global land and ocean surfaces since 1880. The global average temperature for the month was 12.3°C (54.1°F) which was 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kentucky Inmate Starves to Death

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ap-exclusive-kentucky-inmate-starves-death-23408005?singlePage=true

April 21, 2014
By BRETT BARROUQUERE Associated Press

A prison doctor has been fired and two other staffers are in the midst of being dismissed after an inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary starved himself to death, a case that has exposed lapses in medical treatment and in how hunger strikes are handled at the facility. Prison officials have asked prosecutors to investigate after The Associated Press began asking questions about the inmate's death.

James Kenneth Embry, 57 and with just three years left on a nine-year sentence for drug offenses, began to spiral out of control in the spring of 2013 after he stopped taking anti-anxiety medication. Seven months later, in December, after weeks of erratic behavior — from telling prison staff he felt anxious and paranoid to banging his head on his cell door — Embry eventually refused most of his meals. By the time of his death in January of this year, he had shed more than 30 pounds on his 6-foot frame and died weighing just 138 pounds, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

An internal investigation determined that medical personnel failed to provide him anti-anxiety medication that may have kept his suicidal thoughts at bay and didn't take steps to check on him as his condition worsened. The internal review of Embry's death also exposed broader problems involving the treatment of inmates — including a failure to regularly check inmates on medical rounds and communication lapses among medical staff.

The AP, tipped off to Embry's death, obtained scores of documents under Kentucky's Open Records Act, including a report detailing the investigation into Embry's death, an autopsy report and personnel files. Along with interviews with corrections officials and correspondence with inmates, the documents describe Embry's increasingly paranoid behavior until his death and the numerous opportunities for various prison staff to have intervened.

"It's just very, very, very disturbing," said Greg Belzley, a Louisville, Ky.-based attorney who specializes in inmate rights litigation and reviewed some of the documents obtained by the AP. "How do you just watch a man starve to death?"

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A nurse checked on Embry on Jan. 4, finding him weak and shaky, and advised him to resume eating. Embry responded that it had been too long for him to start taking food again. Nine days later, on the very day he died, an advanced practice registered nurse named Bob Wilkinson refused a request from other medical staffers to move him to the infirmary at 11:51 a.m. and said the inmate should be taken off a hunger strike watch, according to the internal investigative report. Guards found Embry unresponsive in his cell hours later, his head slumped to the side. He was pronounced dead at 5:29 p.m.

Lyon County Coroner Ronnie Patton classified Embry's death as a suicide and listed dehydration as the primary cause of death, with starvation and several other medical ailments as secondary

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The internal investigation found that Hiland and Wilkinson didn't check on inmates as they should have during routine visits. The report also documented multiple communication problems among medical staff and allegations that other nurses were intimidated by Wilkinson, a contract staffer who works for Nashville, Tenn.-based Correct Care Solutions.

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Top court declines Exxon's appeal in water pollution case

An example of how the media can distort the news while reporting it. The Reuters article points out that this poisonous additive was not required by the law, and that Exxon Mobile knew it was poisonous before they decided to use it. The business-oriented Bloomberg News leaves out this information, and makes it sound like Exxon Mobile was just obeying the law.

For the current supreme court, with a majority of justices having been chosen by Republican presidents, and being partial to big business & the very rich, to uphold this judgement seems especially significant to me, how indefensible Exxon Mobile's decision to use this chemical was.

Neither the Bloomberg nor the Reuters article about the supreme court decision talked about why Exxon Mobile chose to use this chemical instead of safer ones. Anybody who's followed such things for a few years would expect it was the cheapest alternative. And I found that this was indeed at least part of the reason.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/21/us-usa-court-environment-idUSBREA3K0L720140421

By Lawrence Hurley
Apr 21, 2014

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a ruling against Exxon Mobil Corp that ordered the company to pay $105 million in damages for polluting New York City's groundwater with a toxic gasoline additive.

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In 2009, a jury concluded that Exxon contaminated water supply wells when the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), leaked from its underground storage tanks in the borough of Queens.

The appeals court rejected Exxon's arguments that it was required to use the additive under the federal Clean Air Act. An oxygen-containing substance that is added to gasoline to promote more complete combustion and reduce air pollution, MTBE was one of several additives recommended by regulators to reduce emissions.

It has now largely been phased out of the U.S. fuel supply because of its danger to groundwater.

New York City claimed Exxon went ahead and used the chemical in the 1980s through the first half of the 2000s despite warnings from its own scientists and engineers that it could be harmful in areas that relied on groundwater for drinking.

MTBE has been identified as an animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen and causes water to smell foul and taste bad.


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http://insideepa.com/201307292442283/EPA-Daily-News/Daily-News/2nd-circuit-rejects-exxons-bid-to-use-air-law-mandate-as-mtbe-defense/menu-id-986.html

Posted: July 29, 2013
Chris Knight

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has upheld a $105 million jury verdict that found Exxon Mobil Corp. responsible for contaminating New York City groundwater with the gasoline oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), rejecting Exxon's claim that Clean Air Act mandates to use MTBE are a defense against the suit.

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The Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 required the use of oxygenated gasoline in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, but did not specifically require MTBE, according to EPA's website. "Most refiners have chosen to use MTBE over other oxygenates primarily for its blending characteristics and for economic reasons," EPA adds.

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Even if MTBE was the only safe, feasible oxygenate, the opinion says that of the four claims for which the jury awarded damages, "mere use of MTBE" would not have caused groundwater contamination, but also required additional conduct, such as failure to use reasonable care when storing gasoline with MTBE.

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If you refer to the article on this from the business-oriented Bloomberg news, it does not mention that there are other methods to comply with the law that are not so toxic.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-21/exxon-rejected-by-court-on-105-million-new-york-award.html

By Greg Stohr Apr 21, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s appeal of a $105 million jury verdict it was ordered to pay for contaminating underground water in New York City with a gasoline additive.

The Irving, Texas-based oil and gas company argued unsuccessfully that any award was premature because the city isn’t planning to use the disputed wells in southeastern Queens for another 15 to 20 years.

Exxon used the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether, to comply with a 1990 federal law that required an increase in the oxygen content of gasoline in the smoggiest parts of the country. New York later banned MTBE, as the additive is known, because of contamination concerns.New York sued Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in 2003, alleging that they knew MTBE would pollute groundwater. A New York-based federal appeals court last year upheld the 2009 jury verdict against the company.

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http://www.salon.com/2013/04/09/exxon_mobil_must_pay_236m_in_nh_pollution_case/

Exxon Mobil must pay $236M in NH pollution case

Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013
Lynne Tuohy, Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A jury in New Hampshire has ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $236 million in damages after finding the oil giant liable in a long-running lawsuit over groundwater contamination by the gasoline additive MTBE.

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http://www.salon.com/2013/04/08/nhs_236m_suit_against_exxon_mobil_to_go_to_jury/

NH’s $236M suit against Exxon Mobil to go to jury

Monday, Apr 8, 2013
Lynne Tuohy, Associated Press

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Attorney Jessica Grant for the state said Exxon Mobil should pay $236 million to offset the state’s cost to monitor and treat wells contaminated with MTBE. She said the oil giant ignored its own internal memos dating back to 1984 that raised ethical and environmental concerns about MTBE’s ability to contaminate faster and further than non-treated gasoline.

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Grant said Exxon Mobil put MTBE in gasoline five years before the government mandate in 1990 that the company use one of seven oxygenators available, including ethanol. She argued Exxon’s decision to keep using MTBE — even in the face of growing evidence of environmental liabilities — was motivated by profit.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

In West Bank, teen offenders face different fates

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20140420/DAD9VBMG1.html

Apr 20, 12:29 PM
By DANIEL ESTRIN and JOSEF FEDERMAN

BEIT UMAR, West Bank (AP) - The boys were both 15, with the crackly voices and awkward peach fuzz of adolescence. They lived just a few minutes away from one another in the West Bank. And both were accused of throwing stones at vehicles, one day after the other.

But there was a crucial difference that helped to shape each boy's fate: One was Israeli, and the other Palestinian.

The tale of the two teens provides a stark example of the vast disparities of Israel's justice system in the West Bank, a contested area at the heart of the elusive search for a lasting peace.

While Israeli settlers in the West Bank fall mostly under civilian rule, Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law. Israeli and Palestinian youths face inequities at every stage in the path of justice, from arrests to convictions and sentencing, according to police statistics obtained by The Associated Press through multiple requests under Israel's freedom of information law.

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Only 53 Israeli settler youths were arrested for stone-throwing over the past six years, the data shows, and 89 percent were released without charge. Six were indicted. Four of those were found "guilty without conviction," a common sentence for Israeli juveniles that aims not to stain their record. One was cleared. The sixth case was still in court as of October, the most recent information available.

By contrast, 1,142 Palestinian youths were arrested by police over the same period for throwing stones, and 528 were indicted. All were convicted. Lawyers say the penalty is typically three to eight months in military prison.

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On Feb. 20, 2012, the Israeli boy joined a group of youths pelting a bus with rocks at the entrance to Bat Ayin, according to police reports. The settlement, located in the southern West Bank between Jerusalem and the biblical city of Hebron, is known for its hardline population.

Police said they targeted the bus because the driver was Arab. The rocks damaged the bus but did not harm the driver.

The boy, whose name cannot be published under local law because he is a minor, was brought to the Hebron region police station at 9 p.m., with his father by his side. In his interrogation, the boy invoked his right to remain silent. He spent a night in the station and four days under house arrest. Then he was freed without charge.

The following day, according to police reports, the Palestinian boy lobbed rocks at Israeli cars zipping past his hometown of Beit Umar, a farming town of 14,000 people perched near an Israeli military tower. Police said he and others wanted to show solidarity with a high-profile Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail.

The rocks shattered the front windshield of a white Mazda and damaged three other vehicles on a busy highway. There were no injuries. The incident was caught on tape and broadcast on Israeli evening news.

Two weeks later, at 3:30 a.m., Israeli soldiers kicked down the door to the Palestinian boy's bedroom, carried him to a jeep, blindfolded him and tied his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, he said. He was slapped by soldiers, kept awake all night and placed in a military jail cell with 10 other Palestinian youths, he said.

It would be more than nine months before he could go free.

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