Sunday, August 28, 2016

Drug-use may hamper moral judgment

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/s-dmh071316.php

Public Release: 13-Jul-2016
Drug-use may hamper moral judgment
First study to suggest why cocaine, meth users might struggle to discern right from wrong
Springer

Regular cocaine and methamphetamine users can have difficulty choosing between right and wrong, perhaps because the specific parts of their brains used for moral processing and evaluating emotions are damaged by their prolonged drug habits. This is according to a study among prison inmates by Samantha Fede and Dr. Kent Kiehl's laboratory at the University of New Mexico and the nonprofit Mind Research Network. The findings [1] of the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are published in Springer's journal Psychopharmacology.

Research has shown that stimulant users often find it difficult to identify other people's emotions, particularly fear, and to show empathy. These aspects play an important role in moral decision making. Other studies have pointed to structural and functional abnormalities in especially the frontal regions of their brains among stimulant users. These areas are engaged when moral judgments have to be made.

There is strong link between drug use and criminal behavior, and up to 75 percent of inmates in the US have substance abuse problems. It is not known whether the criminal behavior is in part a result of the drugs' effects on brain function.

Kiehl's team is the first to examine how the neural networks and brain functioning of chronic cocaine and methamphetamine users in US jails relate to their ability to evaluate and decide about moral situations or scenarios. Poor judgment about moral situations can lead to poor decision making and subsequent antisocial behavior.

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The research team acknowledges that people who are prone to regular stimulant use might already struggle with moral processing even before they begin to use drugs such as cocaine. The effects found related to use over time in the anterior cingulate cortex and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, another region implicated in moral decision making, however, indicate that methamphetamine and cocaine may have a serious impact on the brain.

tags: drug use, drub abuse

Friday, August 26, 2016

Senators probing EpiPen price hike received donations from Mylan PAC

I notice the author of this article mention Democratic members of the committee two paragraphs before they mention the donation to the committee's chairman, a Republican.

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/26/senators-probing-epipen-price-hike-received-donations-from-mylan-pac.html

Jacob Pramuk
Aug. 26, 2016

A political committee for Mylan has donated to most of the Senate committee that has asked the drugmaker to explain price increases for allergy treatment EpiPen and could grill executives in a hearing on the matter.

The Mylan Inc. PAC has given $13,500 to four current members of the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2014, including $5,000 to ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and $5,000 to the Senate's likely next Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Since 1999, the PAC has donated more than $60,000 to 11 current members of the 20-person judiciary committee. Most of those donations came after 2008.

This illustrates the reach of Mylan's political effort, which extended to candidates and political action committees in 22 states between December, 2014, to the end of 2015. The Mylan PAC had $95,500 in political contributions for that period, while incurring $319,000 in indirect lobbying expenses as part of trade association membership.

The judiciary committee's chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, this week requested more information from Mylan about EpiPen pricing amid furor over the its 400 percent cost increase in recent years. Grassley's campaign committee received a $5,000 donation from the Mylan PAC in 2006, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

In all, the campaigns of Leahy and Schumer have received $15,000 and $9,500 from the PAC, respectively.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch also personally gave $2,700 to Schumer's campaign committee in June. She previously contributed $2,400 and $1,000 to Leahy and Grassley's committees in 2009 and 2006, respectively.

The $60,000 the Mylan PAC gave those senators' campaigns makes up only about 7 percent of the roughly $900,000 in contributions it has given to committees since 1998. It is only a meager sum in the high-spending American political process. In addition, nothing points to those senators doing Mylan favors because of the donations.

Still, it raises questions about Mylan's links to the committee ahead of its possible wider scrutiny of the company's pricing.

A spokeswoman for Grassley said he takes legal contributions that come with no strings attached and do not affect his Senate work.

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Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., judiciary committee members who did not get contributions from the Mylan PAC, received donations from the generic pharmaceutical association PAC. Blumenthal has received $3,000 since 2014, while Flake got $2,500 in 2014.

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The real EpiPen scandal we should be talking about

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/25/the-fda-and-congress-share-the-blame-for-outrageous-epipen-prices-commentary.html

David Martin, founder of M-Cam
Aug. 25, 2016
Commentary by David Martin, the founder of M-Cam, a global firm that advises companies and investors on corporate finance, asset allocation and valuing intellectual property.

Mylan Pharmaceuticals deserves the attention it is getting. Heather Bresch, Mylan's CEO has every reason in the world to have the smug press photos. After all, she's used the mortality of millions who suffer from sudden and acute allergic reactions and heart problems to line her own pockets and those of her investors (while squirreling cash outside the U.S. for tax evasion-like purposes).

Mylan Pharmaceuticals deserves the attention it is getting. Heather Bresch, Mylan's CEO has every reason in the world to have the smug press photos. After all, she's used the mortality of millions who suffer from sudden and acute allergic reactions and heart problems to line her own pockets and those of her investors (while squirreling cash outside the U.S. for tax evasion-like purposes).

Together with Wendy Cameron (Cam Land LLC and Trustee at The Washington Hospital from 2009-2011), The Honorable (retired judge) Robert J. Cindrich (Cindrich Consulting), Robert J. Coury, JoEllen Lyons Dillon (the Chief Legal Officer for the 3-D printing ExOne Company), Neil Dimick (retired EVP at AmerisourceBergen), Melina Higgins (former partner of Goldman Sachs), Douglas J. Leech (Founding Principal of DLJ Advisors), Rajiv Malik, Dr. Joseph C. Maroon (Neurosurgeon at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), Mark W. Parrish (CEO of Trident USA Health Services), Rodney L. Piatt (Horizon Properties Group LLC), and Randall L. Vanderveen, PhD, R.Ph. (University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy) – Mylan's esteemed board of real estate developers, bankers, lawyers, medical educators, and corporate executives – her leadership has steered the company into the maelstrom of public controversy around the insanely expensive EpiPen®.

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Does she really want the public to believe that she's frustrated that the Food & Drug Administration has been propping up her company's monopoly on a technology and drug that's been in the public domain since the 1950s? Does she love to know that her firm is pocketing $1 billion for a technology that was acquired from Merck in 2007? Does the public know that the FDA and Congress have willfully succumbed to the pressure of corporate America by ignoring their own rights to the technology?!

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When George Calkins and Stanley Sarnoff invented the EpiPen forbearer in 1973, they acknowledged that their ideas were improvements upon work commissioned for the U.S. and U.K. military emergency medicine needs in the 1960s! That the U.S. Patent Office granted their patent in 1973 was, at the time, a bit of a stretch as it was more about a mechanical design improvement – not a real invention. This technology, used in the military and in EMS kits around the world was the basis for their company.

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The U.S. government's EpiPens don't cost $608 per unit. Meridian Medical Technologies – the Department of Defense's supplier of the actual EpiPen (owned by Pfizer) – sell the same technology dispensing numerous anaphylaxis drugs to the U.S. government for under $50 a unit.

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Epinephrine, the drug in the EpiPen has been off patent for decades. It's the dispenser — the actual injection pen — that's covered by a patent (U.S. Patent 7,794,432) that Meridian received and then licensed to Mylan (and others).

And let's face it, Congress knows about this. The FDA knows this. And the reason why Mylan gets away with this – just like they get away with incorporating out of the U.S. using the dubious inversion strategy for tax efficiency – is because powers that be love to provide liquidity to their benefactors!

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If we don't want our kids to die from a bee-sting or a peanut, we should demand accountability where it's really due – the Patent Office that granted an unjustified and unpatentable monopoly, the FDA which props up the illusion, and a board of directors at Mylan who don't take the time to inform themselves of their own company's misdeeds.

Is helping those in need corruption?


I think it is warped that if someone you don't like donates to a charity, it means the charity is bad, when there is no evidence the donor influenced the charity or it's founders. This whole thing about donations to the Clintons charity is helping the Clintons personally, who give their own money to the foundation to help others in need, is crazy & warped. If Republican governors donate to the Red Cross, which in turn provides help to their states, among others, is this a sign of corruption?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why we like the music we do

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/miot-wwl071216.php

Public Release: 13-Jul-2016
Why we like the music we do
New study suggests that musical tastes are cultural in origin, not hardwired in the brain
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In Western styles of music, from classical to pop, some combinations of notes are generally considered more pleasant than others. To most of our ears, a chord of C and G, for example, sounds much more agreeable than the grating combination of C and F# (which has historically been known as the "devil in music").

For decades, neuroscientists have pondered whether this preference is somehow hardwired into our brains. A new study from MIT and Brandeis University suggests that the answer is no.

In a study of more than 100 people belonging to a remote Amazonian tribe with little or no exposure to Western music, the researchers found that dissonant chords such as the combination of C and F# were rated just as likeable as "consonant" chords, which feature simple integer ratios between the acoustical frequencies of the two notes.

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In 2010, Godoy, an anthropologist who has been studying an Amazonian tribe known as the Tsimane for many years, asked McDermott to collaborate on a study of how the Tsimane respond to music. Most of the Tsimane, a farming and foraging society of about 12,000 people, have very limited exposure to Western music.

"They vary a lot in how close they live to towns and urban centers," Godoy says. "Among the folks who live very far, several days away, they don't have too much contact with Western music."

The Tsimane's own music features both singing and instrumental performance, but usually by only one person at a time.

•••••

The researchers also performed experiments to make sure that the participants could tell the difference between dissonant and consonant sounds, and found that they could.

The team performed the same tests with a group of Spanish-speaking Bolivians who live in a small town near the Tsimane, and residents of the Bolivian capital, La Paz. They also tested groups of American musicians and nonmusicians.

"What we found is the preference for consonance over dissonance varies dramatically across those five groups," McDermott says. "In the Tsimane it's undetectable, and in the two groups in Bolivia, there's a statistically significant but small preference. In the American groups it's quite a bit larger, and it's bigger in the musicians than in the nonmusicians."

When asked to rate nonmusical sounds such as laughter and gasps, the Tsimane showed similar responses to the other groups. They also showed the same dislike for a musical quality known as acoustic roughness.

Reducing racial bias possible in older children, finds UBC study

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uobc-rrb071316.php

Public Release: 13-Jul-2016
Reducing racial bias possible in older children, finds UBC study
University of British Columbia

Research has shown children have racial biases from an early age, but a new University of British Columbia study has found that it is possible to combat prejudice in older kids.

The study-- the first of its kind to examine developmental differences in the capacity to reduce racial prejudice in children-- found that telling stories that depict black individuals contributing positively to the community successfully reduced implicit, or automatic, race bias in children between the ages of nine and 12.

"Institutional and systematic forms of racism continue to be a pressing social issue, especially with the recent high-profile police shootings of African-Americans," said Antonya Gonzalez, the study's lead author and a graduate student at UBC's department of psychology. "This study suggests that if we want to start having a conversation about reducing implicit racial bias in adults, we need to intervene in the minds of children when prejudice first starts to take root."

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our understanding, actions and decisions. Previous research has shown that implicit racial bias exists in children as young as five.

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The researchers found that implicit racial bias was not reduced in younger children aged five to eight. As a group, younger children continued to make quicker associations between positive words and white people, as well as negative words and black people.

Older children who heard stories with white characters also showed an implicit bias favouring white people over black people. However, older children who heard positive stories depicting black individuals did not exhibit implicit racial bias, and did not have an automatic preference for either racial group.

The findings suggest that it is possible to reduce implicit racial bias in older children by exposing them to stories that positively depict people from historically disadvantaged groups, and that Grades 4 to 6 might be an ideal time for parents and teachers to intervene.

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Students grasp abstract math concepts after they demonstrate them with arm motions

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/smu-sga071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Students grasp abstract math concepts after they demonstrate them with arm motions
Video game that directs students to make arm movements fosters understanding for proving complex geometry theorems
Southern Methodist University

Students who make relevant arm movements while learning can improve their knowledge and retention of math, research has shown.

Now researchers at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a model using geometry proofs that shows potential for wide adoption -- a video game in which students make movements with their arms to learn abstract math concepts.

The research is the first to use widely available technology combined with relevant body gestures and apply it to the learning of complex reasoning in a highly conceptual, pre-college math domain -- geometric proof production.

"When they're doing geometry, students and teachers gesture all the time to show shapes, lines, and relationships, and the research suggests this is very beneficial," said teaching expert Candace Walkington, assistant professor of teaching and learning in SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development.

"Our goal is to create an environment that supports students in making motions that help them understand the math better, Walkington said."

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Emerging research is investigating the theory that our body actions can actually influence our thoughts, in addition to our thoughts driving our actions. Body movement can induce new activity in our neural systems. This activity can create and influence our learning, thinking and mental organization. This mind-body partnership, dubbed "embodied cognition," is driving new approaches to learning subjects such as math.

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Today's teenagers could become prematurely hearing-impaired, study warns

In my neighborhood, it is the immigrant parents who subject their children to continuous VERY LOUD music in their homes & cars.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/fda-ttc071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Today's teenagers could become prematurely hearing-impaired, study warns
Tinnitus, often a symptom of hearing loss, can result from constant use of earphones and frequenting very noisy places
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

Teenagers are increasingly experiencing tinnitus, often a symptom of hearing loss, as a result of using ear buds to listen to music for long periods every day, as well as frequenting very noisy places like nightclubs, discos and rock concerts, according to a study performed in Brazil.

Tinnitus is the medical term for perception of sound that has no external source. Many sufferers describe it as a ringing in the ears, others as whistling, buzzing, chirping or hissing. A paper describing the study has just been published in Scientific Reports, an online journal published by Springer Nature.

"We found a very high prevalence of tinnitus among adolescents, and this should be seen as an early warning that these youngsters run a serious risk of hearing loss. If this teen generation continue to expose themselves to very high noise levels, they'll probably suffer from hearing loss by the time they're 30 or 40," said Tanit Ganz Sanchez, associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of São Paulo's Medical School (FM-USP) and principal investigator for the study.

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"This level of prevalence is alarming," Sanchez said. "There was a notion that tinnitus was a problem of older people, but we're seeing it becoming more prevalent in younger groups, including children and teenagers, because of their increasing exposure to high levels of noise, among other factors."

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"We found that adolescents perceive tinnitus very often but unlike adults don't worry about it and don't complain to parents or teachers, for example. As a result, they aren't seen by a doctor or hearing specialist, and the problem can become chronic," Sanchez said.

The researchers also observed that most of the teenagers who took part in the study reported risky listening habits, such as continuous use of ear buds and exposure to very noisy environments; even so, those who reported experiencing tinnitus displayed less tolerance of loud sounds.

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Tinnitus is caused by temporary or permanent damage to cochlear hair cells. Located in the inner ear (cochlea), these cells stretch and contract repeatedly in response to sound-induced vibrations.

When they are stimulated by very loud noise, such as explosions, fireworks, live pop music, or music listened to through ear buds with the sound turned up, the cochlear hair cells are overloaded and can be temporarily or permanently damaged.

Neighboring regions of the inner ear must work harder and faster to compensate for the loss of function in damaged or dead hair cells, giving rise to tinnitus, Sanchez explained.

The results of recent animal experiments conducted by neuroscientists suggest that tinnitus can also be due to impairment of hair cell synapses (neural pathways) to the cochlear nerve, resulting in reduced neural output from the ear to the brain.

Damage to these synapses due to exposure to high levels of noise can cause not only hearing loss but also neural alterations in auditory pathways that reduce a teenager's sound level tolerance.

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If these teenagers continue to use ear buds frequently and are exposed to very noisy environments until age 20 or 25, for example, the damage to their cochlear hair cell synapses will progress and they may become deaf while still relatively young, according to Sanchez.

As body mass index increases, so does spread of multiple myeloma

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/au-abm071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
As body mass index increases, so does spread of multiple myeloma
American University

In a new study published in Cancer Letters, American University researchers show how, as body mass index increases, so does the growth and spread of the blood cancer multiple myeloma, which accounts for about 10 percent of all blood cancers in patients.

"Once a person with cancer is out of the normal weight category, their BMI is contributing to multiple myeloma growth and progression," said Katie DeCicco-Skinner, associate professor of biology at American University and lead study author.

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Characteristcs leading to academic success



Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Genetics play role in character traits related to academic success, study says
University of Texas at Austin

Character traits, such as grit or desire to learn, have a heavy hand in academic success and are partially rooted in genetics, according to a psychology study at The University of Texas at Austin.

Though academic achievement is dependent on cognitive abilities, such as logic and reasoning, researchers believe certain personality and character traits can motivate and drive learning.

In a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, UT Austin psychology associate professor Elliot Tucker-Drob found that genetic differences among people account for about half of the differences in their character, and that the remaining variation in character was influenced by environmental factors occurring outside of the home and school environments.
[I really doubt that home and school environments have to influence.]
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By comparing siblings, researchers learned that outside of what could be genetically explained, variance in a child's character could be attributed to unshared environmental effects, ruling out experiences shared by siblings such as parenting and attending the same school.
[Siblings do not have the same experiences at home & school.]
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In the study, genetics accounted for 69 percent of a person's general character, with 31 percent of variance accounted for by environmental influences. Furthermore, each character measure was heavily correlated with openness and conscientiousness, which were 48 and 57 percent heritable respectively.

Character measures promoting intellectual curiosity, such as intellectual self-concept, were linked more heavily to openness, which showed sizable associations with academic achievement; those representing work ethic, such as grit, associated more with conscientiousness, which was modestly correlated with academic achievement.

"This may indicate that aspects of character that are associated with interest and desire to learn may be stronger drivers of academic achievement than aspects of character associated with diligence and hard work," said Tucker-Drob, noting that one way genes influence academic achievement is by influencing aspects of character that are relevant for learning.

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New resistance gene found in 'high risk' multidrug-resistant pathogen

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/asfm-nrg071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
New resistance gene found in 'high risk' multidrug-resistant pathogen
American Society for Microbiology

A team of Italian investigators has discovered a new variant of an emerging antibiotic resistance mechanism. The new variant, dubbed mcr-1.2, confers resistance to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens. The research is published July 11, in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

"This is a particularly worrisome development for the future of antimicrobial therapy," said corresponding author Gian Maria Rossolini, M.D., Director of the Clinical Microbiology and Virology Unit, Florence Careggi University Hospital, Florence. More worrying is that the new resistance mechanism was discovered on a multidrug-resistant strain of the pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae, she added. That bacterium was isolated from a rectal swab of a child hospitalized with leukemia.

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Bicycling may help prevent type 2 diabetes



Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Bicycling may help prevent type 2 diabetes
PLOS

Habitual cycling, whether as transportation to work or as a recreational activity, is associated with lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. This cohort study, conducted by Martin Rasmussen of the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues, included 24,623 men and 27,890 women from Denmark, recruited between the ages of 50 and 65, and compared the association between self-reported recreational and commuter cycling habits with T2D incidence measured in the Danish National Diabetes Registry. The authors found that participants who engaged in habitual cycling were less likely to develop T2D, and risk of developing T2D appeared to decrease with longer time spent cycling per week. Five years after they were initially recruited, participants were contacted for follow-up and their cycling habits were re-assessed. People who took up habitual cycling during this period were at 20% lower risk for T2D than non-cyclists.

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While the authors adjusted for potential confounding variables such as diet, alcohol and smoking habits, and physical activity outside of cycling, and also analysed for confounding by waist circumference and body-mass index, there is a chance these results may have been affected by unmeasured confounding, or bias due to patients with missing data, or as a result of self-reported cycling behavior.

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"We find it especially interesting that those who started cycling had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, given that the study population were men and women of middle and old age. This emphasizes that even when entering elderly age, it is not too late to take up cycling to lower one's risk of chronic disease."

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Study identifies 'book deserts' -- poor neighborhoods lacking children's books -- across country

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/nyu-si071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Study identifies 'book deserts' -- poor neighborhoods lacking children's books -- across country
New York University

A study led by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development finds a startling scarcity of children's books in low-income neighborhoods in Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The lack of children's books was even more pronounced in areas with higher concentrations of poverty, according to the findings published online in the journal Urban Education.

"Children's books are hard to come by in high-poverty neighborhoods. These 'book deserts' may seriously constrain young children's opportunities to come to school ready to learn," said Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt and the study's lead author.

Residential segregation has dramatically increased in recent years, with both high- and low-income families becoming increasingly isolated. In their study, the researchers looked at the influence of income segregation on access to children's books, a resource vital to young children's development.

Access to print resources--board books, stories, and informational books--early on has both immediate and long-term effects on children's vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension skills. And while public libraries are critically important in giving families access to books, research has shown that the presence of books in the home is related to children's reading achievement.

However, a 2001 study by Neuman found a sharp contrast between low- and middle-income neighborhoods when it came to being able to buy children's books. In a middle-income community, thanks to plentiful bookstores, 13 books for each child were available. In contrast, there was only one age-appropriate book for every 300 children in a community of concentrated poverty.

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Workplace climate, not women's 'nature,' responsible for gender-based job stress

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/iu-wcn071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Workplace climate, not women's 'nature,' responsible for gender-based job stress
Indiana University

Social scientists have long known that women working in numerically male-dominated occupations like physics and firefighting report experiencing workplace stress, but men who work in numerically female-dominated occupations like nursing and child care do not.

But why? Is it something about women or something about the workplace? A study by an Indiana University sociologist suggests it's the latter.

Cate Taylor, assistant professor of sociology and gender studies at IU Bloomington, designed and carried out an experiment that subjected both men and women to the negative social conditions that many women report experiencing in male-dominated occupations. The result: Men showed the same physiological stress response to the conditions as did women.

"Women are not especially sensitive to negative workplace social conditions," Taylor said. "Rather, both women and men exhibit similar responses to the same types of stressful workplace conditions."

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The results suggest that conditions associated with male-dominated professions are what cause token women to report experiencing high levels of stress in the workplace, Taylor said. The answer isn't to "fix" the women by teaching them to be less sensitive, because when women and men are exposed to the exact same social conditions, they actually have the same stress response. A better answer might be to address the workplace social exclusion faced by minorities in their occupations.

And the findings matter, Taylor said. For one thing, exposure to chronic physiological stress response, indicated by cortisol response, has been found to be associated with negative health effects, including heart disease, digestive problems, weight gain and depression.

For another, both stress and exclusion from important workplace social networks and mentorship may be significant factors in preventing women from getting or keeping jobs in male-dominated occupations. Male-dominated occupations, on average, have higher pay and prestige and better working conditions than mixed-sex or female-dominated occupations. Taylor said the under-representation of women in male-dominated occupations is a significant factor behind the gender wage gap. On average, women earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.

"If the workplace climate were less unfriendly, we might see more women in these male-dominated occupations, and we might see more parity in pay," she said. "That would be good for women and good for families."

Facebook Is Making You Spend More Money Than You Should

I don't think my Facebook friends fit in this category. Except maybe they spend more on going to music events because of what other people post!

https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/08/24/Facebook-Making-You-Spend-More-Money-You-Should

By Beth Braverman
August 24, 2016

Financial planners have always warned that the “lifestyle creep” that comes with the desire to keep up with friends and neighbors can hurt consumers’ ability to meet their long-term financial goals.

As we’ve have expanded our social circles, however, thanks to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, we’re now trying to keep up with even more people. Nearly 40 percent of American adults with social media accounts say that seeing other people’s purchases and vacations on social media have prompted them to look into similar purchases or vacations, and more than 11 percent spent money after seeing someone else’s post, according to a new poll by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Small rise in booze duty could cut British violence-related emergency visits by 6,000 a year

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/cu-sri071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Small rise in booze duty could cut violence-related emergency visits by 6,000 a year
Tax system reforms in England and Wales could be better than minimum unit pricing
Cardiff University

A small rise of 1% in alcohol prices could significantly reduce violence-related injuries in England and Wales, consequently reducing their burden on hard-pressed emergency departments, concludes a study by Cardiff University.

Published in the journal Injury Prevention, the study finds that violence-related emergency department (ED) attendance is greater when alcohol prices are lower and estimates that over 6,000 fewer violence-related ED attendances per year would result from a 1% rise above inflation on alcohol sold through drinking establishments and shops.

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tags: drug abuse, drug use

Stupidity paradox -- why smart people don't think too much at work

One problem is that some bosses feel threatened by intelligent employees.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/lu-sp-070816.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Stupidity paradox -- why smart people don't think too much at work
Lund University

Intelligent people don't often think critically at work, as this is often uncomfortable. When a culture of "functional stupidity" prevails, it leads to a huge waste of resources, says Professor of Business Administration Mats Alvesson at Lund University, Sweden, who has written a book on the phenomenon of functional stupidity.

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"Organisations suffer from a reflection deficit. Questions that are critical are seen as uncomfortable and therefore we assume flexible positions, making an effort to ensure that nobody can criticise us. We then end up in a situation where everyone does the right thing, everyone is positive, and all things seem to be in order when in fact they are not", says Mats Alvesson.

Together with André Spicer from Cass Business School in London, Mats Alvesson shows a variety of examples of what happens when symbolic activities and what we display become more important than what we actually do - and the room for individual thought and responsibility is decreased.

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Scavenger crows provide public service, research shows

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uoe-scp071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Scavenger crows provide public service, research shows
University of Exeter

Crows are performing a useful function and keeping our environment free from rotting carcasses, research carried out at the University of Exeter in Cornwall has discovered.

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The researchers found that most of the carcass removal ecosystem service - which has been well studied in more natural and exotic habitats, such as vultures in Africa - is being carried out by crows, with a little help from foxes, magpies, badgers and herring gulls.

Dr Richard Inger, a researcher attached to the Environmental and Sustainability Institute at Penryn Campus, said: "If you consider all the wildlife that lives in the habitats in our towns and countryside, it might seem odd that we rarely see dead animals, apart from roadkill. This is because other animals act as scavengers and eat them.

"It's a bit grizzly but crows and other scavengers, which are often perceived as pests and generally fairly unloved species, are performing a very valuable service. Without these scavengers dead animals would be scattered around our environment rotting and causing a hygiene hazard."

The researchers observed and filmed 17 vertebrate species eating rat carcasses which they placed at 12 study sites between May and September 2015. Seven species including the Carrion Crow, the Common Buzzard, European Magpie, Herring Gull, Fox and Badger were recorded eating the carcasses, with 98 per cent of the activity carried out by the Crows.

Dr Inger highlighted the importance of the scavenger role and added: "We know what can happen when natural scavengers are removed as this was the case with the vulture populations of India, which plummeted massively in the 1990s. Vultures were fatally poisoned by a veterinary drug given to cattle, meaning that carcasses were not eaten by vultures but instead by feral dogs, which grew in numbers and caused a huge increase in cases of rabies."

•••••

Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights to gain muscle, build strength

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/mu-lwj071216.php

Public Release: 12-Jul-2016
Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights to gain muscle, build strength
McMaster University

New research from McMaster University is challenging traditional workout wisdom, suggesting that lifting lighter weights many times is as efficient as lifting heavy weights for fewer repetitions.

It is the latest in a series of studies that started in 2010, contradicting the decades-old message that the best way to build muscle is to lift heavy weights.

"Fatigue is the great equalizer here," says Stuart Phillips, senior author on the study and professor in the Department of Kinesiology. "Lift to the point of exhaustion and it doesn't matter whether the weights are heavy or light."

•••••

Monkeys in Brazil 'have used stone tools for hundreds of years at least'

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uoo-mib070116.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Monkeys in Brazil 'have used stone tools for hundreds of years at least'
Was early human behavior influenced by their observations of monkeys using stone tools?
University of Oxford

New archaeological evidence suggests that Brazilian capuchins have been using stone tools to crack open cashew nuts for at least 700 years. Researchers say, to date, they have found the earliest archaeological examples of monkey tool use outside of Africa. In their paper, published in Current Biology, they suggest it raises questions about the origins and spread of tool use in New World monkeys and, controversially perhaps, prompts us to look at whether early human behaviour was influenced by their observations of monkeys using stones as tools. The research was led by Dr Michael Haslam of the University of Oxford, who in previous papers presents archaeological evidence showing that wild macaques in coastal Thailand used stone tools for decades at least to open shellfish and nuts.

•••••

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Female physicians at public medical schools paid an average of 8 percent less than males

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/mgh-fpa070716.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Female physicians at public medical schools paid an average of 8 percent less than males
Largest study of gender-based salary disparities uses publicly available databases
Massachusetts General Hospital

In what is probably the largest study of salary differences between male and female medical school faculty members, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) find that - even after adjusting for factors likely to influence income - women physicians earn an average of $20,000 per year less than men. Their study, which analyzed data for physicians employed at 24 public medical schools, is being published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

"More than raising attention to salary sex differences in medicine, our findings highlight the fact that these differences persist even when we account for detailed factors that influence income and reflect academic productivity,"

•••••

Adjusted salary disparities were greatest for orthopedic surgery, obstetrics/gynecology (one of the specialties female physicians were most likely to enter), other surgical subspecialties and cardiology. They were least in family medicine and emergency medicine; and adjusted average salaries for women in radiology were slightly higher than for men. Disparities also varied among medical schools, with adjusted average salaries for male physicians being significantly higher at nine schools - the greatest disparities occurring at schools in the western U.S. - and higher adjusted salaries for female physicians at two schools.

•••••

When kids learn to conserve energy, their behavior also spreads to parents

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/osu-wkl070716.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
When kids learn to conserve energy, their behavior also spreads to parents
Oregon State University

Girl Scouts and their parents reported increases in energy-saving behaviors, such as turning off power strips at night and washing clothes in cold water, after the children participated in an intervention program, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Energy.

The new energy conservation program was developed by researchers from Oregon State University and Stanford University, who designed and tested the program's effectiveness with 30 Girl Scout troops in northern California.

The researchers found that the increased energy-saving behavior, as self-reported by the children, continued for more than seven months after the trial program ended. They also found that the intervention had an effect on parents' energy-saving behavior for more than eight months. The findings suggests that these kinds of educational programs could have a significant and lasting impact on family energy consumption, said Hilary Boudet, an assistant professor of climate change and energy at Oregon State University and lead author of the paper.

•••••

Link found between traumatic brain injury and Parkinson's, but not Alzheimer's

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/tmsh-lfb062716.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Link found between traumatic brain injury and Parkinson's, but not Alzheimer's
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) with a loss of consciousness (LOC) may be associated with later development of Parkinson's disease but not Alzheimer's disease or incident dementia, according to a study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of Washington School of Medicine.

•••••

Paying More for College? Blame Government Cuts

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/05/31/Paying-More-College-Blame-Government-Cuts?utm_campaign=548f5168cb03a93709042da0&utm_source=boomtrain&utm_medium=email&bt_alias=eyJ1c2VySWQiOiIyOWU2MDRjZS1jNmY3LTQzNTYtOTFhOC1mMjU5ZjNmMjAzOWUifQ%3D%3D

By Eric Pianin
May 31, 2016

Amid mounting complaints from parents and students about rising college tuition, staggering student debt and declining quality of education, a new study blames much of the problem on the sharp reduction in state government support for higher education since the 2008 financial crisis and recession.

Nearly eight years of cuts in state funding for public colleges and universities “have driven up tuition and harmed students’ educational experiences by forcing faculty reductions, fewer course offers, and campus closings,” according to a report by the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

These budgetary policy choices have made college far less affordable — and less accessible — for millions of students who need undergraduate and graduate degrees to make it in today’s highly competitive economy, according to the report written by the center’s Michael Mitchell, Michael Leachman and Kathleen Masterson.

State funding for public two- and four-year colleges and universities is now $8.7 billion below pre-recession levels, after adjusting for inflation, according to the new analysis. Of the 45 states that enacted full higher education budgets for the 2015-2016 academic year, all but four — Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming — are spending less money per student than before the recession began, according to the study.

Average state spending per student is $1,525 for the current year, or 17 percent less than the per-student spending before the onset of the Great Recession. The most glaring examples of declining support for public colleges and universities can be found in Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Funding per student in those states is down by more than 30 percent since the start of the recession.

These cuts have had a ripple effect on public colleges and universities. They have forced those schools to substantially raise tuition and cut back on the size of the faculty, course offerings and extra-curricular activities.

•••••

There are many factors that have contributed to this situation. The economic recovery has been uneven throughout the country, and many states had little choice but to cut spending on higher education while addressing shortcomings in state revenues, soaring deficits in state budgets, underfunded public employee pension funds and increased demands for social services and unemployment insurance.

In some cases, however, states opted for major tax cuts for middle and upper-income people to try to stimulate the economy. Those generous tax cuts for the rich had to be offset by reductions in spending on higher education and other important public programs. Those states that cut taxes include Wisconsin, Louisiana, Kansas and Arizona.

•••••

Epi-Pen Maker Enters the Pharmaceutical Industry’s Hall of Shame

https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/08/23/Epi-Pen-Maker-Enters-Pharmaceutical-Industry-s-Hall-Shame

By Eric Pianin
August 23, 2016

For years, EpiPen, a medical injection device that can be easily jabbed into a person’s thigh, has been a lifesaver for hundreds of thousands of young people and adults who suffer life-threatening reactions to cashews and peanuts, shellfish, bee stings and other allergens. The handy EpiPens dispenses epinephrine, a drug that alleviates or reverses the worst of allergic reactions, such as the swelling of legs, necks and chests and the abrupt closing of airways. Parents often purchase multiple sets of EpiPens and keep them available at home, in their cars and at school.

At one time, the retail price in a pharmacy for a two-pen set was less than $100, according to pharmaceutical industry data. But after pharmaceutical company Mylan acquired the rights to the decades-old injectable drug in 2007, the price began to rise exponentially.

Last May, the retail price soared once again, this time to $608 for a two-pen set – a six-fold increase in less than a decade that has seriously driven up wholesale costs of the device and put increased financial pressure on consumers and health insurance providers to adjust to the blatant price gouging. Even the wholesale prices have rocketed during the same period, from just $56.64 to $365 for a two-set packet, according to one industry analysis.

•••••

The petition notes that many families have been forced to turn to manual syringes as a cheaper alternative to the EpiPens, although that makes it harder and more time consuming to get the right dosage.

•••••

As prices of EpiPens went up, so did the company stock, which tripled from $13.29 in 2007 to a high of $47.59 this year, as well as executives’ salaries. NBC reports that Bresh’s compensation jumped from $2,453,456 to $18, 931,068 – a 671 percent increase.

•••••

Mylan asserts that it offers a $100 coupon that allows many consumers to pay very little or nothing for the EpiPens. However, Michael Rea, the chief executive of Rx Savings Solutions in Overland Park, Kansas, told The New York Times that people without health insurance or with high-deductible insurance plans can’t always use the coupons and are paying roughly $640 per set.

Mylan is the latest entry in the pharmaceutical industry price-gouging hall of shame. Gilead Pharmaceutical has long been criticized for its retail pricing of Sovaldi and Harvoni, two biometric drugs for the treatment of the often deadly Hepatitis C virus that cost as much as $1,000 per pill or $100,000 for a full treatment. A top executive of Valeant Pharmaceutical apologized to Congress in April after it purchased the rights to Nitropress and Isuprel, two heart and blood pressure medicines, and then jacked up their prices by 212 percent and 525 percent, respectively.

•••••

Turing Pharmaceuticals, headed at the time by wealthy hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, obtained the manufacturing license for an anti-parasitic drug called Daraprim and then raised the price by 5,556 percent. Shkreli, who was later forced out of the company, became the poster child for corporate greed in the pharmaceutical industry.

Ironically, he condemned Mylan this week during an interview with NBC News. "These guys are really vultures,” he said. “What drives this company's moral compass?"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Health issues due to sea level rise impact communities in South Florida

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uomm-hid071116.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Health issues due to sea level rise impact communities in South Florida
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

The Florida Institute for Health Innovation released a report today on communities from Palm Beach to Key West with the greatest risk for adverse health effects of sea level rise. In conjunction with the South Florida Regional Planning Council and Florida Atlantic University's Center for Environmental Studies, Florida Institute for Health Innovation mapped zones most prone to environmental sea level rise impacts, described associated public health risks and identified the region's socially, economically and medically vulnerable communities most susceptible to sea level rise health effects.

•••••

"Sea level rise represents an unexpected public health concern," said Roderick King, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation. "We normally think of populations with the lowest socio-economic status as being the most vulnerable, due to lack of financial resources to pay for health care. In the case of sea level rise, the most vulnerable turn out to be the wealthier populations who can afford to live close to the ocean. They may also be older, with health issues that require regular treatment, and if they can't access health care because the streets are flooded, it poses a significant problem."

•••••

Newly established vulnerability indicators include flooding risk; educational attainment, income and race; emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and pneumonia, giardiasis, and healthcare access.

•••••

Many drugs can cause or worsen heart failure, cautions new statement

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/aha-mdc070616.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Many drugs can cause or worsen heart failure, cautions new statement
American Heart Association Scientific Statement
American Heart Association

Commonly used medications and nutritional supplements may cause or worsen heart failure, according to the first scientific statement from the American Heart Association to provide guidance on avoiding drug-drug or drug-condition interactions for people with heart failure.

The statement provides comprehensive information about specific drugs and "natural" remedies that may have serious unintended consequences for heart failure patients.

•••••

"Since many of the drugs heart failure patients are taking are prescribed for conditions such as cancer, neurological conditions, or infections, it is crucial but difficult for healthcare providers to reconcile whether a medication is interacting with heart failure drugs or making heart failure worse,"

•••••

In addition to prescription medications, over the counter drugs may also have unintended consequences for heart failure patients. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including commonly used painkillers such as ibuprofen, can trigger or worsen heart failure by causing sodium and fluid retention and making diuretic medications less effective.

Over-the counter heartburn medications and cold remedies may also contain significant amounts of sodium, which is usually restricted in patients with heart failure.

"Patients have been taught to read food labels for sodium content, but they also need to read labels on over-the-counter medications and natural supplements," Page said.

Many supplements used in complementary and alternative medicine can be dangerous for people with heart failure, including products containing ephedra (which raises blood pressure) and others (including St. John's wort, ginseng, hawthorn, danshen, and green tea) that interfere with one or more commonly used heart failure medications. The statement also notes that nutritional supplements, herbs and other "natural" remedies should not be used to treat or manage heart failure symptoms.

"Keep a list of all your medications and doses to show at every medical visit, and inform a healthcare provider treating your heart failure before stopping or starting any medication. Ideally there should be a "captain" who oversees your medications. This person might be a physician, advanced practice nurse, nurse or a pharmacist who is managing your heart failure," Page said.

According to the statement, medications can cause problems in several ways: being toxic to heart muscle cells or changing how the heart muscle contracts; interacting with medications used to treat heart failure so that some of their benefits are lost; and containing more sodium than advised for patients with heart failure.

Common additive may be why you have food allergies

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/msu-cam071116.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Common additive may be why you have food allergies
Michigan State University

A Michigan State University researcher has found that a common food additive may be linked to a rise in food allergies.

Cheryl Rockwell, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the College of Human Medicine, began studying the possible link between the synthetic food additive tert-butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ, nine years ago.

•••••

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1972, tBHQ is a preservative in many foods, such as cooking oil, nuts, crackers, waffles and breads. Often tBHQ is not listed on the label, Rockwell said.

Her research has shown that tBHQ causes T cells, a critical part of the body's immune system, to release a set of proteins that can trigger allergies to such foods as nuts, milk, eggs, wheat and shell fish.

"I think of the immune system as a military force," Rockwell said. "Its job is to protect the body from pathogens, such as viruses. The T cells are the generals."

Normally, the T cells release proteins, known as cytokines, that help fight the invaders, she said, but when tBHQ was introduced in laboratory models, the T cells released a different set of cytokines that are known to trigger allergies to some foods.

Her studies showed that when tBHQ was present, the T cells started behaving differently.

"The T cells stopped acting as soldiers in the defense against pathogens and started causing allergies, Rockwell said. "What we're trying to find out now is why the T cells are behaving this way."

The expanded use of tBHQ, she said, parallels a rise in food allergies and an increase in the severity of some allergic reactions.

•••••

Clouds are moving higher, subtropical dry zones expanding, according to satellite analysis

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uoc--cam070816.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Clouds are moving higher, subtropical dry zones expanding, according to satellite analysis
Scripps-led study confirms computerized climate simulations projecting effects of global warming
University of California - San Diego

A Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego-led research team analyzing satellite cloud records has found that the cloudy storm tracks on Earth are moving toward the poles and subtropical dry zones are expanding. Cloud tops are also moving higher in the atmosphere.

The record confirms computer climate models that have predicted these changes to have taken place during the past several decades as a consequence of the accumulation of societally generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"What this paper brings to the table is the first credible demonstration that the cloud changes we expect from climate models and theory are currently happening," said study lead author Joel Norris, a climate researcher at Scripps.

•••••

Thumb-sucking and nail-biting children show fewer allergies in later life

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uoo-tan070716.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Thumb-sucking and nail-biting children show fewer allergies in later life
University of Otago

Children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails may be less likely to develop allergies, according to a new study from New Zealand's University of Otago.

•••••

The study, which appears in the August issue of the US journal Pediatrics, suggests that childhood exposure to microbial organisms through thumb-sucking and nail-biting reduces the risk of developing allergies.

Study lead author Professor Bob Hancox says that this exposure may alter immune function so that children with these habits become less prone to developing allergy.

•••••

he members were checked at ages 13 and 32 years old for atopic sensitisation, defined as a positive skin prick test to at least one common allergen.

At age 13, the prevalence of sensitisation was lower among children who had sucked their thumbs or bit their nails (38 per cent) compared with those who did not (49 per cent).

Children who both bit their nails and sucked their thumbs had an even lower risk of allergy (31 per cent), Professor Hancox says.

The associations were still present at age 32 years and persisted even with adjustments for confounding factors such as sex, parental history of allergies, pet ownership, breast-feeding and parental smoking.

"The findings support the "hygiene hypothesis", which suggests that being exposed to microbes as a child reduces your risk of developing allergies," he says.

•••••

Ms Stephanie Lynch, a medical student who undertook the study as a summer project, says "although thumb-suckers and nail-biters had fewer allergies on skin testing, we found no difference in their risk for developing allergic diseases such as asthma or hay fever".

Study: Water intake overlooked in obese individuals

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uomh-swi070716.php

Public Release: 11-Jul-2016
Study: Water intake overlooked in obese individuals
There might be something in the water when it comes to the relationship between hydration and body mass index
University of Michigan Health System

Researchers are learning whether a simple part of our diets might be linked to a healthier weight - and it has nothing to do with carbs, fat or protein.

The potential secret weapon? Water.

People who are obese and have a higher body mass index (BMI) are more likely to be inadequately hydrated and vice versa, suggests new research from the University of Michigan published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

•••••

Authors note that because the data is cross-sectional, they cannot say that inadequate hydration causes obesity or the other way around. But their findings highlight an important relationship between the two.

Chang says eating healthy foods high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can improve hydration status though more studies are needed to know whether hydration status can influence weight.

"Hydration may be overlooked in adult weight management strategies," says Chang, who is also a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI).

"Our findings suggest that hydration may deserve more attention when thinking about addressing obesity on a population level. Staying hydrated is good for you no matter what, and our study suggests it may also be linked to maintaining a healthy weight."

Monday, August 22, 2016

Report identifies ways to boost children's quality of life through outdoor learning

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uop-riw070816.php

Public Release: 10-Jul-2016
Report identifies ways to boost children's quality of life through outdoor learning
University of Plymouth

Outdoor learning can have a significant and positive impact on children's quality of life but needs to be introduced more formally into global school curricula in order for its potential benefits to be fully realised, a new report suggests.

Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling has been produced by Plymouth University and Western Sydney University, following a conference organised in collaboration with the University of East London and Natural England, and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

It highlights the many and varied benefits to children of learning in the natural environment, not just from an educational perspective but also in terms of their behaviour, social skills, health and wellbeing, resilience, confidence and sense of place.

But it also says that in an age dominated by a full curriculum, busier family lifestyles and increased fear within society, children are losing the freedom to play, explore and be active in their environment and being denied opportunities that could enhance their long term prospects.

The report, published today, identifies a framework showing how governments could build on existing and current research and introduce outdoor learning as an integral element of national education policies.

•••••

Georgia journalist arrested over open records request related to court

https://cpj.org/2016/07/georgia-journalist-arrested-over-open-records-requ.php

New York, July 6, 2016--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on prosecutors today to drop all charges against Mark Thomason, the publisher of local weekly newspaper Fannin Focus, in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Thomason, who was arrested June 24, faces felony charges including making a false statement in an open records request.

Thomason, who was released on a $10,000 bond June 25, told CPJ he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. As well as being accused of making a false statement, he said he faces additional felony charges of identity fraud and attempted identity fraud in relation to a subpoena for information about court bank accounts.

The open record request and subpoena relate to a legal battle over a previous open records request filed by Thomason when he was investigating allegations that a judge used a racial slur, according to statements by the journalist and court documents reviewed by CPJ. The attorney who helped him file the subpoena, Russell Stookey, also faces charges, according to reports.

•••••

The legal dispute is connected to a defamation case brought against Thomason in 2015 by court reporter Rhonda Stubblefield, who accused the journalist of libel over a story that said her transcripts may be incomplete, according to The Associated Press. Stubblefield sued the journalist after he filed a records request for a court transcript and audio recording, after it was alleged that a judge used a racial slur in court and that not every instance of the slur being used was recorded, according to reports.

The case, in which damages of $1.6 million were sought, was dropped but in April, Stubblefield sued Thomason for $16,000 to cover her attorney costs, the AP reported.

Thomason told CPJ that he and his lawyer subpoenaed checks from two public checking accounts that are used to pay court expenses. He said they believed the accounts, one of which was a courthouse account in the name of Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver, would show that the court had paid the court reporter's legal fees. Thomason also filed an open records request to a bank where the Appalachian judicial circuit operating accounts were allegedly housed, to seek records of checks that the county had written to the judges. In the request, Thomason said that "some checks appear to have not been deposited but cashed illegally," reports said.

Weaver, chief judge of the local superior court, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that she was upset by the subpoena and the records request. Weaver told the newspaper she believed Thomason's reporting was part of a vendetta against her.

According to Gawker, Weaver asked district attorney Alison Sosebee to file the indictments against the journalist.

The indictments for identity fraud relate to the subpoena and claim that Thomason sought the bank information to "unlawfully appropriate resources of [Judge Weaver]." It said that he issued the subpoena "without the consent of Brenda S. Weaver."

•••••

https://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/news/district-attorney-drops-charges-against-jailed-georgia-journalist-at

Luis Ferre Sadurni | Freedom of Information | News | July 7, 2016

Following almost two weeks of pressure from free speech groups and press coverage, a Georgia district attorney moved to drop felony charges against a newspaper publisher and his attorney earlier today.

•••••

On June 13, a judge dismissed Stubblefield’s claim to recoup attorneys’ fees from Thomason. Almost a week later, Thomason and Stookey were indicted and jailed after Weaver contacted district attorney Sosebbee with her fear that the men might steal her personal bank records. They were released on $10,000 bond and, in Thomason’s case, under strict bond conditions, which included drug tests and a bar that impedes him from covering the courthouse for his newspaper.

“I adhered to and followed Georgia law during the entire process,” Thomason said. “The judge has gone on record saying that she takes this personal. It’s not personal. My attorney’s sole intention throughout this was to show that attorney fees had already been paid, which the judge admitted.”

•••••

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-07-07/judge-in-jam-despite-ending-case-against-journalist-who-filed-open-records-request

•••••

Weaver’s conduct now will be reviewed by the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, an independent agency that investigates alleged judicial misconduct and can recommend sanctions including removal from office.

•••••

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/embattled-judge-resigns-from-states-judicial-watch/nsFLM/

Aug. 12, 2016

Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver, under fire for helping obtain an indictment against a local newspaper publisher and his lawyer, has resigned as a member and chair of the state’s judicial watchdog agency.

•••••

Truth is in danger as new techniques used to stop journalists covering the news

In the U.S. the press is affected by owners and advertisers.

I don't have TV service so I can't speak to that, but on-line mainstream "news" sites almost always ignore anything to do with climate disruption. Eg., I could find no mainstream news sites that mentioned that July 2016 was not only the hottest July since records began being kept in 1880, but the hottest month period. A few had articles about it, but no mention on their home page, so you only saw the articles if you already knew about it and did a search. This is habitual behaviour for information about global warming and some other information, eg. in politics.

And there is the recent case of a Georgia judge who had a reporter arrested because she didn't like his freedom of information request.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/s-tii070716.php

Public Release: 10-Jul-2016
Truth is in danger as new techniques used to stop journalists covering the news
SAGE

The truth is being suppressed across the world using a variety of methods, according to a special report in the 250th issue of Index on Censorship magazine.

Physical violence is not the only method being used to stop news being published, says editor Rachael Jolley in the Danger in Truth: Truth in Danger report. As well as kidnapping and murders, financial pressure and defamation legislation is being used, the report reveals.

"In many countries around the world, journalists have lost their status as observers and now come under direct attack."

There's an increasing trend to label journalists as "extremists" or "terrorists" so governments can crackdown on reporting they don't like. According to Index's Mapping Media Freedom project, which tracks attacks on journalists in more than 40 countries, 35 incidents were reported where journalists were being linked to "extremism" to restrict reporting, 11 in Russia and others in Belgium, Hungary, France and Spain.

Veteran journalists say certain countries including Syria are becoming almost impossible to cover. And citizen journalists in Syria say they are under enormous pressure to stop reporting but feel a responsibility to carry on despite the risks, particularly since so few international journalists are left in Syria. "All we can do is persevere, coping with the fear and the risks," one told Index.

Laura Silvia Battaglia, who trains journalists in Iraq says:

"In Iraq providing safety training is not only necessary, it's a duty for international originations who care about journalists and activists in dangerous zones. [...] Local journalism is vital if the Iraqi people are to know what is happening in their country, and to do that journalists need to continue to protect themselves."

•••••

Immunotherapy reduces cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/esoc-irc070516.php

Public Release: 9-Jul-2016
Immunotherapy reduces cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis
Extra-low dose combination of two anticytokines reduces disease activity and cardiovascular events
European Society of Cardiology

Immunotherapy reduces cardiovascular risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, according to research presented today at Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2016 by Professor Aida Babaeva, head of the Department of Internal Medicine, Volgograd State Medical University, Volgograd, Russia.1 The combination of two extra-low dose anticytokine drugs reduced rheumatoid arthritis disease activity and cardiovascular events.

"Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interferon (IFN), which normally protect the body, attack healthy cells," said Professor Babaeva. "Patients have painful and inflamed joints. They are also at increased cardiovascular risk, particularly if their rheumatoid arthritis is not controlled."

Professor Babaeva's previous research showed that treatment with anticytokine drugs can decrease the activity of rheumatoid arthritis. Extra-low dose anti-TNFα reduced levels of inflammatory mediators and cytokines including C-reactive protein (CRP), rheumatoid factor, TNF, interleukin-1 (IL-1), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). The effect was more apparent and developed earlier when patients were treated with a combination of anti-TNFα and anti-IFN?, both at extra-low doses.

The current study investigated the impact of the combination of drugs on cardiovascular events.

•••••

Patients taking the combination of anticytokines had a lower rheumatoid arthritis disease activity score, as measured by the DAS28,2 and more dramatic decreases in IL-1, IL-6 and TNFα than the group on standard therapy alone.

The incidence of cardiovascular events (unstable angina, severe hypertensive crisis, and deterioration of chronic heart failure) was more than double in the group on conventional disease-modifying drugs alone (37%) compared to those also taking the combination of anticytokines (13%).

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She concluded: "We do not think that all patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be treated with this combination. In patients with highly active disease, the standard biologics are better at preventing severe complications such as progressive joint destruction and/or systemic manifestations (vasculitis, uveitis, involvement of internal organs). We recommend this new approach for preventing cardiovascular events in patients with moderate disease activity who are not receiving the standard biologics and who do not have severe complications."

Fruit and veg give you the feel-good factor

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uow-fav070916.php

Public Release: 9-Jul-2016
Fruit and veg give you the feel-good factor
New research suggests up to 8-a-day can make you happier
University of Warwick

COVENTRY, UK - July 2016: University of Warwick research indicates that eating more fruit and vegetables can substantially increase people's later happiness levels.

Published in the prestigious American Journal of Public Health, the study is one of the first major scientific attempts to explore psychological well-being beyond the traditional finding that fruit and vegetables can reduce risk of cancer and heart attacks.

Happiness benefits were detected for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to 8 portions per day.

The researchers concluded that people who changed from almost no fruit and veg to eight portions of fruit and veg a day would experience an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.

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The study followed more than 12,000 randomly selected people. These subjects kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. The authors found large positive psychological benefits within two years of an improved diet.

Professor Andrew Oswald said: "Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health. People's motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later. However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate."

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The authors found that alterations in fruit and vegetable intake were predictive of later alterations in happiness and satisfaction with life. They took into account many other influences, including changes in people's incomes and life circumstances.

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Dam good! Beavers may restore imperiled streams, fish populations

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/usu-dgb070816.php

Public Release: 8-Jul-2016
Dam good! Beavers may restore imperiled streams, fish populations
Utah State, Eco Logical Research, NOAA, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, South Fork Research Publish in Nature's Scientific Reports
Utah State University

Utah State University scientists report a watershed-scale experiment in highly degraded streams within Oregon's John Day Basin demonstrates building beaver dam analogs allows beavers to increase their dam building activities, which benefits a threatened population of steelhead trout.

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When Lewis and Clark made their way through the Pacific Northwest in the early 19th century, the area's streams teemed with steelhead and beaver. But subsequent human activities, including harvesting beaver to near extirpation, led to widespread degradation of fish habitat.

Bouwes says these activities may have also exacerbated stream channel incision, meaning a rapid down-cutting of stream beds, which disconnects a channel from its floodplain and near-stream vegetation from the water table. He notes beavers build dams in the incised trenches, but because of the lack of large, woody material, their dams typically fail within a year.

"It's an ubiquitous environmental problem in the Columbia River Basin and throughout the world." Bouwes says. "It sets a chain of ecological effects in motion that result in habitat destruction, including declines in fish populations and other aquatic organisms."

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When Lewis and Clark made their way through the Pacific Northwest in the early 19th century, the area's streams teemed with steelhead and beaver. But subsequent human activities, including harvesting beaver to near extirpation, led to widespread degradation of fish habitat.

Bouwes says these activities may have also exacerbated stream channel incision, meaning a rapid down-cutting of stream beds, which disconnects a channel from its floodplain and near-stream vegetation from the water table. He notes beavers build dams in the incised trenches, but because of the lack of large, woody material, their dams typically fail within a year.

"It's an ubiquitous environmental problem in the Columbia River Basin and throughout the world." Bouwes says. "It sets a chain of ecological effects in motion that result in habitat destruction, including declines in fish populations and other aquatic organisms."

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Weight loss from bariatric surgery appears to reverse premature aging

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/esoc-wlf070516.php

Public Release: 8-Jul-2016
Weight loss from bariatric surgery appears to reverse premature aging
Patients had longer telomeres and less inflammation two years later
European Society of Cardiology

Weight loss from bariatric surgery appears to reverse the premature aging associated with obesity, according to research presented today at Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2016.1 Patients had longer telomeres and less inflammation two years later.

"Obese people are prematurely old," said lead author Dr Philipp Hohensinner, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria. "They have an increased level of inflammation, with higher levels of inflammatory cytokines (small proteins important in cell signalling) in their fat tissue. Obese people also have shorter telomeres at the end of their chromosomes."

Telomeres are the internal clock of each cell. Telomeres get shorter when a cell divides or when oxidative stress causes them to break. When the telomeres get very short the cell can no longer divide and is replenished or stays in the body as an aged cell. Previous research found that obese women had shorter telomeres compared to women with a healthy weight, which amounted to an added eight years of life.

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Weight loss from bariatric surgery appears to reverse the premature aging associated with obesity, according to research presented today at Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2016.1 Patients had longer telomeres and less inflammation two years later.

"Obese people are prematurely old," said lead author Dr Philipp Hohensinner, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria. "They have an increased level of inflammation, with higher levels of inflammatory cytokines (small proteins important in cell signalling) in their fat tissue. Obese people also have shorter telomeres at the end of their chromosomes."

Telomeres are the internal clock of each cell. Telomeres get shorter when a cell divides or when oxidative stress causes them to break. When the telomeres get very short the cell can no longer divide and is replenished or stays in the body as an aged cell. Previous research found that obese women had shorter telomeres compared to women with a healthy weight, which amounted to an added eight years of life.

Traffic noise increases the risk of heart attack

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/dai-tni070816.php

Public Release: 8-Jul-2016
Traffic noise increases the risk of heart attack
Deutsches Aerzteblatt International

Your risk of heart attack increases with the amount of traffic noise to which you are exposed. The increase in risk - though slight - is greatest with road and rail traffic noise, less with aircraft noise. Such are the conclusions reached by Andreas Seidler and co-authors in the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International after evaluating information from statutory health insurers on over a million Germans over the age of 40 (Dtsch Arztbl Int; 2016; 113: 407-14).

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The authors believe the lower risk from aircraft noise can be explained by the fact that, unlike road and rail traffic noise, aircraft noise never remains continuously above 65 dB. They also see indications from their analysis that exposure to traffic noise influences not just the genesis, but the course of a heart attack.

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Exercise improves memory in breast cancer survivors

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/nu-eim070716.php

Public Release: 8-Jul-2016
Exercise improves memory in breast cancer survivors
Surprising finding: Self-reported memory problems in survivors linked to high stress regardless of treatment
Northwestern University

Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is related to improved subjective memory in breast cancer survivors, who often complain about memory problems, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. It appears the physical activity alleviates stress and benefits women psychologically, which in turn aids their memory.

A surprising finding is memory problems appear to be related to the high stress load cancer survivors experience, and may not be specific to chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

"Our research suggests these self-reported memory problems may be emotionally related," said lead author Siobhan Phillips, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "These women are frightened, stressed, fatigued, tapped out emotionally and have low self-confidence, which can be very mentally taxing and can lead to perceived memory problems."

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Neuroscience researchers caution public about hidden risks of self-administered brain stimulation

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/uops-nrc070716.php

Public Release: 7-Jul-2016
Neuroscience researchers caution public about hidden risks of self-administered brain stimulation
Penn and Harvard researchers lead charge in warning 'Do-it-yourself' users of transcranial direct current stimulation seeking enhanced brain function of potential unintended results
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

The growing trend of "do-it-yourself" transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) poses hidden risks to healthy members of the public who seek to use the technique for cognitive enhancement. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, along with several members of the (cognitive) neuroscience research community warn about such risks involved in home use of tDCS, the application of electrical current to the brain. Their Open Letter will appear in the July 7th issue of Annals of Neurology.

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"Published results of these studies might lead DIY tDCS users to believe that they can achieve the same results if they mimic the way stimulation is delivered in research studies. However, there are many reasons why this simply isn't true," said first author, Rachel Wurzman, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation at Penn. "It is important for people to understand why outcomes of tDCS can be unpredictable, because we know that in some cases, the benefits that are seen after tDCS in certain mental abilities may come at the expense of others."

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First, it is not yet known whether stimulation extends beyond the specific brain regions targeted. These indirect effects may alter unintended brain functions. "We don't know how the stimulation of one brain region affects the surrounding, unstimulated regions," said co-author Roy Hamilton, MD, MS, an assistant professor of Neurology and director of the Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation at Penn. "Stimulating one region could improve one's ability to perform one task but hurt the ability to perform another."

In addition, what a person is doing during tDCS - reading a book, watching TV, sleeping - can change its effects. Which activity is best to achieve a certain change in brain function is not yet known.

Wurzman, Hamilton and colleagues go on to say that they have never performed tDCS at the frequency levels some home users experiment with, such as stimulating daily for months or longer. "We know that stimulation from a few sessions can be quite lasting, but we do not yet know the possible risks of a larger cumulative dose over several years or a lifetime," they wrote.

The authors also suggest that small changes in tDCS settings, including the current's amplitude, stimulation duration and electrode placement, can have large and unexpected effects; more stimulation is not necessarily better.

Finally, the group warns that the effects of tDCS vary across different people. Up to 30 percent of experimental subjects respond with changes in brain excitability in the opposite direction from other subjects using identical tDCS settings. Factors such as gender, handedness, hormones, medication, etc. could impact and potentially reverse a given tDCS effect.

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Boredom can lead to more extreme political views

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/kcl-bcl070716.php

Public Release: 7-Jul-2016
Boredom can lead to more extreme political views
King's College London

Boredom may be contributing to a widening of political views among voters, according to a new study by researchers from King's College London and the University of Limerick.

Published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the findings are based on one experiment and two scientific surveys carried out in the Republic of Ireland.

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The researchers found that liberals in the low boredom group were more moderate in their political orientation, compared to liberals in the high boredom group. A similar trend was found for conservatives, though it was not statistically significant as there were only 26 politically right-wing participants, which reduced the study's statistical power.

The study authors also conducted a survey of 859 people living in Ireland and found that people who were easily bored tended to endorse more extreme political views. Another survey of 300 people found that being prone to boredom was associated with searching for meaning in life, which was in turn associated with political extremism.

Dr Wijnand van Tilburg from King's College London said: 'Boredom puts people on edge - it makes them seek engagements that are challenging, exciting, and that offer a sense of purpose. Political ideologies can aid this existential quest.'

He added: 'Boredom motivates people to alter their situation and fosters the engagement in activities that seem more meaningful than those currently at hand.' The authors suggest that adopting a more extreme political ideology is one way that people re-inject meaningfulness into a boring situation.

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Head Start helped turn farm workers and domestics into teachers, administrators

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/ps-hsh070716.php

Public Release: 7-Jul-2016
Head Start helped turn farm workers and domestics into teachers, administrators
Penn State

A federal preschool program gave a head start to more than just African American children in segregationist-dominated Mississippi, it also offered their parents and other adults a head start into higher paying occupations and new leadership opportunities, according to a Penn State historian.

"The idea behind the Head Start program was that we need to prepare kids from working-class backgrounds who perhaps did not have adequate stimulation at home to be prepared for the first grade, but the idea was also that you can't expect a child from a disadvantaged background to do well if there aren't opportunities for their parents," said Crystal Sanders, an assistant professor of history and African American studies. "You have to improve the community in which the child lives." The Head Start preschool program grew out of a key provision of the federal Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 that required programs to operate with the maximum feasible participation of the poor.

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She added that the new jobs politically empowered blacks in Mississippi by giving them a chance to sidestep several methods that whites used to reinforce black disenfranchisement in Mississippi.

"Head Start created employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of working-class Americans across the country, but these jobs were particularly important in Mississippi because working-class African Americans typically worked in two fields: they were agricultural workers or domestic servants," said Sanders. "So, Head Start provided employment opportunities for them, which is significant because it allowed them to earn higher wages than they ever made before and freed them from the control of white employers, who often controlled their political activities through their jobs."

Managing the program funds also gave African Americans more respect and economic clout as they worked with food and drink vendors and local contractors.

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At the time, public education for black students stopped at the eighth grade in several parts of Mississippi, she added.

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Students also received regular health, vision, and hearing screenings, as well as daily nutritious meals.

"This is huge because many of these students have never been seen by a doctor before and many were children of sharecroppers, which meant that they often received diets that were heavy in starches and not balanced meals," said Sanders.

"The idea is that these students can only achieve academically if they are well."
Head Start was one of several federal anti-poverty programs started under President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty and authorized by Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Title II, a provision in the act, created the Community Action Program that required programs, like Head Start, be operated with "maximum feasible participation" of the poor.

The benefits of exercise during pregnancy

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/tju-tbo070716.php

Public Release: 7-Jul-2016
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to deliver vaginally than those who do not, and show no greater risk of preterm birth.
Thomas Jefferson University

Researchers collected and re-examined clinical trial data on exercise during pregnancy and whether it plays a role in preterm birth, and found that exercise is safe and does not increase the risk of preterm birth. In addition, women who exercised were less likely to have a C-section than those who did not. The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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The researchers found that there was no significant increase in preterm birth, defined as delivery before 37 weeks, in women who exercised than in those who did not. There were, however, a few benefits. Women who exercised were more likely to deliver vaginally - 73 percent of exercising women delivered vaginally whereas 67 percent of non-exercising women delivered vaginally. Likewise, there was a lower incidence of C-section in women who exercised during pregnancy - 17 percent of exercising women had a C-section versus 22 percent in those who did not. There was also lower incidence of gestational diabetes, and lower rates of high blood pressure in the exercising group.

All of the women included in this analysis were carrying a single baby (not twins), had normal weight to start with, and had no health conditions that prevented them from exercising.

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