Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Brain stimulation may reduce symptoms and improve decision-making in people with anorexia


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Brain stimulation may reduce symptoms and improve decision-making in people with anorexia
King's College London

Core symptoms of anorexia nervosa, including the urge to restrict food intake and feeling fat, are reduced after just one session of a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, according to King's College London research published today in PLOS ONE.


Up to 20 per cent of people with anorexia die prematurely from the disorder and treatments in adults are moderately effective, with only 20-30 per cent of people recovering from the best available talking therapies.


Dr Jessica McClelland, Post-doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London, and first author of the study, said: 'With rTMS we targeted the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain thought to be involved in some of the self-regulation difficulties associated with anorexia. This technique alters neural activity by delivering magnetic pulses to specific regions of the brain, which feels like a gentle tapping sensation on the side of the head.

'We found that one session of rTMS reduced the urge to restrict food intake, levels of feeling full and levels of feeling fat, as well as encouraging more prudent decision-making. Taken together, these findings suggest that brain stimulation may reduce symptoms of anorexia by improving cognitive control over compulsive features of the disorder.'


Compared to the placebo group, they found that participants who had real rTMS showed a tendency for more prudent decision-making - that is, they waited for larger, later rewards (i.e. delayed gratification), rather than choosing the more impulsive smaller, sooner option.

The study authors point out that although these findings were only a statistical trend, there is a clear improvement in symptoms and decision-making abilities following just one session of rTMS. It is likely that with a larger sample and multiple sessions of rTMS these effects would be even stronger.


The tougher men think they are, the less likely they are to be honest with doctors


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
The tougher men think they are, the less likely they are to be honest with doctors
Men, who die on average five years earlier than women, prefer male doctors, but are more honest with female doctors
Rutgers University

Men are less likely than women to go to the doctor, more likely to choose a male doctor when they do go, but less likely to be honest with that doctor about their symptoms, Rutgers psychologists have found. The researchers believe this may contribute to men's dying earlier than women.


Himmelstein and Sanchez found that men who held traditional beliefs about masculinity - that men should be tough, brave, self-reliant and restrained in their expression of emotion - were more likely to ignore medical problems, or at least put off dealing with them, than women or than men with less traditional beliefs. They were more likely to choose a male doctor, based on the belief that male doctors were more competent than female doctors. Paradoxically, however, the researchers discovered that men, having chosen a male doctor, were less likely to be open with that doctor about their symptoms.

"That's because they don't want to show weakness or dependence to another man, including a male doctor," Sanchez says.

Ironically, the researchers found, men tend to be more honest about their medical symptoms with female doctors, because, Sanchez theorizes, to be honest about vulnerabilities causes them no loss of status with women.


However, they also discovered that women who thought they should be brave and self-reliant - according to their responses on questionnaires -- were less likely to seek treatment, more likely to put off seeking medical help and less likely to be forthcoming with their doctors than women who did not hold bravery, toughness and self-reliance as core values.

Self-reliance, therefore, seems to be dangerous to one's health, regardless of gender.

"It's worse for men, however," Himmelstein says. "Men have a cultural script that tells them they should be brave, self-reliant and tough. Women don't have that script, so there isn't any cultural message telling them that, to be real women, they should not make too much of illnesses and symptoms."

The conflict between science and religion lies in our brains

People can be both. Others have noted that I am both highly analytical and highly empathic.

I have known plenty of mean-spirited religious people who are lacking in empathy.

Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
The conflict between science and religion lies in our brains
Case Western Reserve University

The conflict between science and religion may have its origins in the structure of our brains, researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Babson College have found.

Clashes between the use of faith vs. scientific evidence to explain the world around us dates back centuries and is perhaps most visible today in the arguments between evolution and creationism.

To believe in a supernatural god or universal spirit, people appear to suppress the brain network used for analytical thinking and engage the empathetic network, the scientists say. When thinking analytically about the physical world, people appear to do the opposite.

"When there's a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd," said Tony Jack, who led the research. "But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight."


"A stream of research in cognitive psychology has shown and claims that people who have faith (i.e., are religious or spiritual) are not as smart as others. They actually might claim they are less intelligent.," said Richard Boyatzis, distinguished university professor and professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve, and a member of Jack's team.

"Our studies confirmed that statistical relationship, but at the same time showed that people with faith are more prosocial and empathic," he said.

In a series of eight experiments, the researchers found the more empathetic the person, the more likely he or she is religious.

That finding offers a new explanation for past research showing women tend to hold more religious or spiritual worldviews than men. The gap may be because women have a stronger tendency toward empathetic concern than men.


The research is based on the hypothesis that the human brain has two opposing domains in constant tension. In earlier research, Jack 's Brain, Mind & Consciousness lab used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show the brain has an analytical network of neurons that enables us to think critically and a social network that enables us to empathize. When presented with a physics problem or ethical dilemma, a healthy brain fires up the appropriate network while suppressing the other.


Friedman said, "Having empathy doesn't mean you necessarily have anti-scientific beliefs. Instead, our results suggest that if we only emphasize analytic reasoning and scientific beliefs, as the New Atheist movement suggests, then we are compromising our ability to cultivate a different type of thinking, namely social/moral insight."


Like other studies, these experiments showed that analytic thinking discourages acceptance of spiritual or religious beliefs. But the statistical analysis of data pooled from all eight experiments indicates empathy is more important to religious belief than analytic thinking is for disbelief.


The researchers say humans are built to engage and explore using both networks.

"Far from always conflicting with science, under the right circumstances religious belief may positively promote scientific creativity and insight," Jack said. "Many of history's most famous scientists were spiritual or religious. Those noted individuals were intellectually sophisticated enough to see that there is no need for religion and science to come into conflict."

They refer to Baruch Aba Shalev's book 100 years of Nobel Prizes, which found that, from 1901 to 2000, 654 Nobel laureates, or nearly 90 percent, belonged to one of 28 religions. The remaining 10.5 percent were atheists, agnostics or freethinkers.

"You can be religious and be a very good scientist," Jack said.

The researchers agree with the New Atheists that suspension of analytical thinking--at the wrong time--can be dangerous, and point to the historical use of religious differences to persecute or fight wars.

"Although it is simply a distortion of history to pin all conflict on religion," Jack said. "Non-religious political movements, such as fascism and communism, and quasi-scientific movements, such as eugenics, have also done great harm."

The researchers suggest, however, that taking a carefully considered leap of religious faith appears be an effective route to promoting emotional insight. Theirs and other studies find that, overall, religious belief is associated with greater compassion, greater social inclusiveness and greater motivation to engage in pro-social actions. [I see plenty of exceptions in real life.]

Jack said the conflict can be avoided by remembering simple rules: "Religion has no place telling us about the physical structure of the world; that's the business of science. Science should inform our ethical reasoning, but it cannot determine what is ethical or tell us how we should construct meaning and purpose in our lives."


Many women not properly informed of heart risk by their doctors


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Many women not properly informed of heart risk by their doctors
Survey shows women are less likely to get recommended monitoring, often told to lose weight
American College of Cardiology

Although nearly three-quarters of women taking a recent survey had one or more risk factors for heart disease, a startlingly small proportion--just 16 percent--had actually been told by their doctors that these factors put them at risk for heart disease, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 65th Annual Scientific Session.

Medical guidelines recommend anyone with a heart disease risk factor should receive regular blood pressure and blood cholesterol checks, as well as counseling on smoking and heart-healthy lifestyle changes. The survey revealed many women were not given proper follow-up care and that many were simply told to lose weight.

In addition, nearly half of the survey participants admitted to canceling or postponing a health appointment until they could lose weight, suggesting a focus on weight management could present a significant barrier to receiving proper health care.


Increased vitamin C in the diet could help protect against cataracts


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Increased vitamin C in the diet could help protect against cataracts
King's College London

Higher dietary intake of vitamin C has been found to have a potentially preventative effect on cataract progression in the first twin study of cataracts to examine to what degree genetic and environmental factors influence their progression with age.

Cataract is a common condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy as a result of oxidation over time. Whilst this is a natural part of ageing for many, for others it is more severe and causes blurred vision, glare and dazzle that cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses.


They found that those participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33 per cent risk reduction of cataract progression and had 'clearer' lenses after the 10 years than those who had consumed less vitamin C as part of their diet.

The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Guide Dogs for the Blind, also found that environmental factors (including diet) influenced cataract more than genetic factors, which only explained a third of the change in lens opacity.

The fluid in the eye that bathes the lens is high in vitamin C, which helps to stop the lens from oxidising and protects it from becoming cloudy. It is thought that increased intake of vitamin C has a protective effect on cataract progression by increasing the vitamin C available in the eye fluid.

Professor Chris Hammond, consultant eye surgeon and lead author of the study from the Division of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences, said: 'The findings of this study could have significant impact, particularly for the ageing population globally by suggesting that simple dietary changes such as increased intake of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthier diet could help protect them from cataracts.

'While we cannot avoid getting older, diabetes and smoking are also risk factors for this type of cataract, and so a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle generally should reduce the risk of needing a cataract operation.'

Kate Yonova-Doing, the study's first author said: 'The human body cannot manufacture vitamin C, so we depend on vitamins in the food we eat. We did not find a significantly reduced risk in people who took vitamin tablets, so it seems that a healthy diet is better than supplements.'


Missed opportunities to avoid painful shocks at the end of life


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Missed opportunities to avoid painful shocks at the end of life
Many patients unaware of benefits of deactivating implantable cardioverter defibrillator
American College of Cardiology

Many patients who have a common medical device known as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) are unaware that the device can be deactivated to prevent painful shocks in their final days of life, according to two studies scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 65th Annual Scientific Session.

The Heart Rhythm Society and the European Society of Cardiology have issued recommendations encouraging physicians to inform patients about the benefits of deactivating an ICD when death is near, yet recent studies show that up to 31 percent of people with an ICD receive shocks in their last day of life. Two new studies add further evidence that doctors are not consistently implementing these recommendations, which the authors said may reflect a reticence to engage in difficult discussions about end-of-life decisions.

"When you reach the stage of palliative care, sometimes the ICD doesn't have a role in caregiving anymore," said Dilek Yilmaz, M.D., a Ph.D. fellow in cardiology at the Heart and Lung Center of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands and lead author of one of the studies. "If a person is dying of a terminal cancer, for example, the ICD is not going to prolong their life, but it is fairly likely to cause pain in their last hours and prevent them from having a peaceful death."


ICDs are battery-powered, surgically implanted devices used to prevent sudden death in people with certain conditions, such as sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, that put them at risk for life-threatening heart rhythms. If the device detects a dangerous heart rhythm, it issues a shock to restore a normal heartbeat. ICDs are extremely common, with 10,000 implanted each month in the United States alone, according to the American Heart Association.

The device can be deactivated using a computer in any cardiologist's office, with no need for additional surgical intervention. Because ICDs do not maintain the heart rhythm on an ongoing basis like a pacemaker does, deactivating the device does not actively hasten death. However, if a patient experiences a dangerous heart rhythm--a common occurrence during the natural course of death from any cause--a deactivated ICD will not intervene to rescue the patient.

"These shocks are often much more frequent on the patient's last day than any other day of their life," said Silvia del Castillo, M.D., a cardiologist at Hospital Universitario de Fuenlabrada in Madrid and lead author of the second study. "I think it's cruel in many cases to leave the ICD on until the very end, and when doctors don't provide enough information about deactivation or delay that conversation until the final hours, it undercuts the patient's right to make their own decisions."


Treating withdrawal symptoms could help cannabis users quit, study finds

The article refers to marijuana withdrawal symptoms as being "psychological" vs. physical symptoms, which can be seen in drugs like alcohol. But these "psychological" symptoms are due to changes in brain activity, and the brain is a physical organ.


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Treating withdrawal symptoms could help cannabis users quit, study finds
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Heavy users of cannabis who experience withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness and cravings when they quit are likely to use again sooner than their peers, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Illinois found that 85 percent of people who met the criteria for a diagnosis of cannabis withdrawal during their intake assessment for treatment lapsed and used cannabis again within about 16 days, while other individuals stayed abstinent about 24 days before using again, said lead author Jordan P. Davis, a doctoral student in the School of Social Work.

The 110 young adults in the study sample were near-daily users who consumed cannabis on average about 70 of the 90 days prior to entering drug treatment. Participants who experienced withdrawal symptoms reported an average of two symptoms, such as mood disturbances (48 percent), difficulty sleeping (40 percent) and restlessness (33 percent), according to Davis and co-author Douglas C. Smith.


Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within one to two days after a heavy user abruptly stops, and a patient must report experiencing at least three symptoms to be diagnosed with cannabis withdrawal under the DSM-5's criteria, Smith said.

A major implication from this study is that reducing the waiting time between users' initial assessment and the start of treatment could be highly beneficial for cannabis users who are experiencing withdrawal, Davis said. Immediate treatment that helps former users cope with withdrawal symptoms could help extend the period that they stay off marijuana.

"For people to be included in the study sample, they had to be using at least 45 days out of 90 days prior to entering treatment and had to have made an attempt during the preceding week to quit or cut down," Davis said. "So they are what we would consider a pretty severe population. However, we excluded people who used other illicit drugs or who were binge drinkers, to ensure that any withdrawal symptoms reported by our participants could be attributed to cannabis and not to other substances."

More than half -- 53 percent -- of the participants had been diagnosed with lifetime cannabis use disorder, indicating that they had incurred serious social and medical consequences from using the drug, including intense cravings and increased tolerance for it, Smith said.

"Prior studies have found that it's very rare for marijuana users to have physiological withdrawal symptoms, such as the muscle aches or delirium tremens" that severe alcoholics or heroin users experience when they quit, Davis said. "With cannabis, we know that the symptoms are mainly psychological and very short-lived, typically lasting from two to seven days."

"Marijuana is tricky because it stays in your body so long," Smith said. "Highly addictive substances such as heroin have short half-lives and leave the body quickly, whereas marijuana is stored in the fat cells and can be excreted in a person's urine for up to a month -- or even longer if you're a heavy user."


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Heavy, persistent pot use linked to economic and social problems at midlife


ublic Release: 23-Mar-2016
Heavy, persistent pot use linked to economic and social problems at midlife
Study finds marijuana not 'safer' than alcohol
University of California - Davis Health System

A research study that followed children from birth up to age 38 has found that people who smoked cannabis four or more days of the week over many years ended up in a lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular cannabis smokers. These regular and persistent users also experienced more financial, work-related and relationship difficulties, which worsened as the number of years of regular cannabis use progressed.


"Our study found that regular cannabis users experienced downward social mobility and more financial problems such as troubles with debt and cash flow than those who did not report such persistent use," she said. "Regular long-term users also had more antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, and experienced more relationship problems, such as intimate partner violence and controlling abuse."


Economic and social problems persisted in long-term, regular users of pot even after the authors accounted for other potential differences between regular cannabis users and other study participants, including socioeconomic problems in childhood, lower IQ, antisocial behavior and depression in adolescence, higher levels of impulsivity, lower motivation to achieve, criminal conviction of cannabis users, and abuse of alcohol and hard drugs.

"These findings did not arise because cannabis users were prosecuted and had a criminal record," said Caspi, a psychologist with dual appointments at Duke University and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. "Even among cannabis users who were never convicted for a cannabis offense, we found that persistent and regular cannabis use was linked to economic and social problems."

While both heavy alcohol and cannabis use were similarly associated with declines in social class, antisocial behaviors in the work place and relationship problems, the authors found that those dependent on cannabis experienced more financial difficulties, such as paying for basic living expenses and food, than those who were alcohol dependent.

"Cannabis may be safer than alcohol for your health, but not for your finances," said Moffitt, a psychologist with dual appointments at Duke University and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London.

The study only addressed the economic and social consequences of cannabis use. In this domain, they found that cannabis did not appear to be safe and may be just as harmful as alcohol.

"Alcohol is still a bigger problem than cannabis because alcohol use is more prevalent than cannabis use," Cerdá said. "But, as the legalization of cannabis increases around the world, the economic and social burden posed by regular cannabis use could increase as well."


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Warning: High-intensity training could hurt you if you're not an athlete

Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Warning: High-intensity training could hurt you if you're not an athlete
University of British Columbia

High-intensity 'sprint training' may be gaining popularity at gyms, but if you're new to this form of exercise, the workout could do more harm than good.

A study by Canadian and European researchers found signs of stress in the muscle tissues of their non-athlete, untrained subjects after ultra-intense leg and arm cycling exercises. Perhaps more concerning, researchers reported the untrained subjects had a weakened ability to fight off free radicals, molecules that can alter DNA and harm healthy cells.

"Our study raises questions about what the right dose and intensity of exercise for the average person really is," said Robert Boushel, the study's senior author and director of the University of British Columbia's School of Kinesiology. "We need to be cautious about supporting sprint training in the general population."

The researchers analyzed tissue samples from their test subjects and found that their mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells, were only firing at half-power post-training, reducing their capacity to consume oxygen and their ability to fight off damage from free radicals. High levels of free radicals in the body have been linked to a number of medical conditions, including cancer, premature aging and organ damage.


Seasoned athletes and those who are well trained have built up antioxidant enzymes in their bodies to protect against free radicals, said Boushel. He recommended beginners start slowly and gradually increase intensity over time, under the supervision of a trained professional or kinesiologist.


Does a common parasite play a role in rage disorder?


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Does a common parasite play a role in rage disorder?
Study finds link between rage disorder and exposure to a common parasite
University of Maryland School of Medicine
In recent years, a common parasitic infection - as many as a third of the world's population may have it - has been linked to a range of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as behavioral dysregulation such as suicide attempts and car accidents. Now a new study has linked it to repeated bouts of rage, a disorder known as intermittent explosive disorder (IED).

The study, released March 23 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that people with IED are more than twice as likely to have been exposed to a common parasite than healthy individuals with no psychiatric diagnosis.

"This is the first time we've confirmed this idea in humans," said Teodor Postolache, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the last author of the study. "It indicates that this parasite could be having significant effects on anger-related emotions and behavior in people with mental illness."


The study looked at 358 adults, and found that chronic latent infection with T. gondii is associated with intermittent explosive disorder and increased aggression.

Those with IED have recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression that are disproportionate to the situations that trigger them. It affects as many as 16 million Americans.

Transmitted through the feces of infected cats, undercooked meat or contaminated water, chronic toxoplasmosis is typically latent and harmless for healthy adults. However, Toxoplasma it is known to reside in slow growing forms in brain tissue, and has the potential to intermittently reactivate.


The study found that the IED group was more than twice as likely to test positive for toxoplasmosis, compared to the healthy control group. Around 16 percent of the psychiatric control group tested positive for toxoplasmosis, but had similar aggression and impulsivity scores to the healthy control group. IED-diagnosed subjects scored much higher on both measures than either control group.

Coccaro and Postolache caution that the study results do not address whether Toxoplasma infection actually cause increased aggression or IED.


Tooth loss increases the risk of diminished cognitive function


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Tooth loss increases the risk of diminished cognitive function
JDR CTR publishes systematic review that shows an association between tooth loss and reduced cognitive function in adults
International & American Associations for Dental Research

The International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) have published an article titled "Tooth Loss Increases the Risk of Diminished Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis" in the OnlineFirst portion of the JDR Clinical & Translational Research. In it, Cerutti-Kopplin et al systematically assessed the association between oral health and cognitive function in adult populations.


the results of this study show that the risk for cognitive impairment and dementia increases with loss of teeth.


A lot of sugar in children's fruit drinks


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
How much sugar is in your child's fruit drink?
University of Liverpool

Researchers from the University of Liverpool and colleagues from Action on Sugar have assessed the sugar content of over 200 fruit drinks marketed at children and have found them to be "unacceptably high".


'Free' sugars refer to sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, and table sugar, which are added by the manufacturer, and naturally occurring sugars in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates, but not the naturally occurring sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables, which the body metabolises differently and which act to curb energy intake.

The results highlighted wide variations in the amount of free sugars between different types of drink and within the same type of product.

Almost half the products assessed contained at least a child's entire daily recommended maximum sugar intake of 19g or five teaspoons, show the findings.


As a result of the findings, the researchers make several recommendations:

Fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies should not count as one of the UK government's '5 a day' recommendations, as is currently the case
Fruit should preferably be eaten WHOLE, not as juice
Parents should DILUTE fruit juice with water or opt for unsweetened juices, and only serve these drinks during meals
Portion sizes should be limited to 150 ml/day (not the current 200ml)

Professor Capewell adds: "Manufacturers should stop adding unnecessary amounts of sugars, and therefore calories, to their fruit drink/juice/smoothie products. Our kids are being harmed for the sake of industry profits. If companies can't slash sugar voluntarily, the government should step in with statutory regulations."


Exercise may slow brain aging by 10 years for older people


Public Release: 23-Mar-2016
Exercise may slow brain aging by 10 years for older people
American Academy of Neurology

Exercise in older people is associated with a slower rate of decline in thinking skills that occurs with aging. People who reported light to no exercise experienced a decline equal to 10 more years of aging as compared to people who reported moderate to intense exercise, according to a population-based observational study published in the March 23, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


When looking at people who had no signs of memory and thinking problems at the start of the study, researchers found that those reporting low activity levels showed a greater decline over five years compared to those with high activity levels on tests of how fast they could perform simple tasks and how many words they could remember from a list. The difference was equal to that of 10 years of aging. The difference also remained after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain health, such as smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and body mass index.


NPR gives free publicity to Trump

May 31, 2016

NPR had a long piece this morning on how Trump has done so well w/o spending a lot of money on campaign ads. They talked about how there was so much about him on social media. I didn't hear anything about how the media has given him so much free publicity, including themselves, such as that very article.

Senior pass for federal parks and forests



What is the Senior Pass?

A $10.00 lifetime pass that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services.


Who qualifies for the Senior Pass?

U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 years or older. (You must have turned 62 before you can buy the pass).

NOTE: Owning property or paying taxes in the U.S. does not automatically qualify you for a Senior Pass. You must be a permanent U.S. resident, or a U.S. citizen with identification such as U.S. Driver's License, Green Card or U.S. Passport.
Are Golden Age Passports still valid?

Yes, Golden Age Passports are valid for a lifetime.


Where can I use my Senior Pass?

Please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees.

The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USACE, and Bureau of Reclamation honor the Senior Pass at sites where Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee(s) (Day use fees) are charged.

Bureau of Land Management http://www.blm.gov
Bureau of Reclamation http://www.usbr.gov
Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov
USDA Forest Service http://www.fs.fed.us
National Park Service http://www.nps.gov
US Army Corps of Engineers http://www.usace.army.mil

In addition, the Tennessee Valley Authority may honor the Senior Pass for entrance or camping discounts.


Can I use my Senior Pass at state parks or local city/county recreation sites?

No. The Senior Pass is valid only at participating Federal recreation sites. Visit http://www.recreation.gov for information about Federal recreation sites.


Monday, May 30, 2016

El Nino ends as tropical Pacific Ocean returns to neutral

May 24, 2016

The tropical Pacific Ocean has returned to a neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) state. Sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific have cooled to neutral levels over the past fortnight, supported by much cooler-than-average waters beneath the surface.

In the atmosphere, indicators such as the trade winds, cloudiness near the Date Line, and the Southern Oscillation Index have also returned to neutral levels.

Outlooks suggest little chance of returning to El Niño levels, in which case mid-May will mark the end of the 2015–16 El Niño. International climate models indicate the tropical Pacific Ocean will continue to cool, with six of eight models suggesting La Niña is likely to form during the austral winter (June–August).

However, individual model outlooks show a large spread between neutral and La Niña scenarios. Changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, combined with current climate model outlooks, suggest the likelihood of La Niña forming later in 2016 is around 50%, meaning the Bureau's ENSO Outlook remains at La Niña WATCH.


'Burnt Hot Dog' sea cucumbers raise red flags for threatened global fisheries


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
'Burnt Hot Dog' sea cucumbers raise red flags for threatened global fisheries
Sea cucumbers -- the floppy cousins of starfish and sea urchins -- are particularly vulnerable to pollution and overfishing; scientists say this is bad news for ocean ecosystems worldwide
California Academy of Sciences

Holothuria edulis -- a type of slow-moving sea cucumber about the size of a classroom ruler -- boasts an important ocean role despite its uncanny resemblance to an overcooked sausage. This "Burnt Hot Dog" sea cucumber takes center stage in a new genetic study that digs into the animal's valued spot in marine ecosystems across Japan's Okinawa Island as well as its extreme vulnerability to environmental stress and overfishing. A team of researchers, including an expert from the California Academy of Sciences, says their study's findings are an urgent call for increased fisheries management and protections for ecologically important sea cucumbers, sometimes called the "vacuum cleaners of the ocean," worldwide. The study was recently published in the journal Conservation Genetics.

Sea cucumbers, the often-overlooked cousins of starfish and sea urchins, are soft-bodied marine invertebrates that appear in myriad sizes, shapes, and thrilling colors in every ocean on Earth. More than 1,500 species -- including pleasingly-named "Sea Apples," "Strawberries," and "Sea Pigs" -- inhabit global oceans from the shallows to the mysterious deep seafloor.


"It's easy to underestimate the sea cucumber," says Dr. Iria Fernandez-Silva, an Academy postdoctoral research fellow. "Sea cucumbers look goofy, move slowly, and barf up their guts when startled, but these invertebrates are superstar ocean cleaners that are hugely important to marine ecosystems.


Like other sea cucumbers, nocturnal H. edulis use their guts to help clean seafloors and coral reefs. These Burnt Hot Dog invertebrates take shelter during daylight hours before emerging at night to inch along the sandy seafloor in search of food. Feeding tentacles help the animal shove sand and rubble through its digestive system as it moves, absorbing nutrients from detritus (dead plant and animal matter) and expelling cleaner, oxygenated sand in its wake. Healthy marine ecosystems rely on animals that provide these types of frequent cleaning services; without them, an abundance of detritus can impact plant and animal health, which in turn decreases the health of the ecosystem as a whole.

A rapid rise in East Asia's consumer demand for sea cucumbers for both food and medicine has increased fishing pressures in many parts of the world. Overfishing can spell extinction for species of sea cucumber that already face serious pollution and habitat destruction threats worldwide. For example, populations of Holothuria whitmaei and H. scabra -- once common in the entire Indian and Pacific oceans -- have recently declined 60 to 90 percent in most of their traditional ranges. Today, at least 16 species of sea cucumber are considered threatened with extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, a global authority on the conservation status of plants and animals.


When caught in Okinawa, Japan, H. edulis is prepared and dried for food, medicine, or export overseas. A recent uptick in commercial demand for H. edulis -- a species that hasn't historically been targeted by fishing interests -- could be an indicator that more desirable sea cucumber species are becoming difficult to find in oceans worldwide.


Hawaii provides a heartening example of environmental stewardship in the South Pacific. In June of 2015, Hawaii's State Board of Land and Natural Resources passed an emergency ban on the taking and selling of sea cucumber species in state waters, which appeared to be experiencing "imminent peril" due to overfishing for export overseas. Earlier this year, Governor David Ige signed a more detailed, large-scale ban on commercial sea cucumber take that outlined a preliminary plan for more sustainable fisheries along Hawaii's shores. Fernandez-Silva and her colleagues hope that Japan and other global entities will follow suit, protecting ecologically important -- and threatened -- marine species before they are lost forever.


Half of parents of uninsured minority children unaware they are Medicaid eligible

What about uninsured non-minority children? They are children too.

Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Study: Half of parents of uninsured minority children unaware they are Medicaid eligible
Study also reveals substantial heath and healthcare issues for uninsured children and financial burden on families.
Medica Research Institute

Study also reveals substantial heath and healthcare issues for uninsured children and financial burden on families.

Half of parents of uninsured minority children are unaware that their children are Medicaid/CHIP-eligible, according to a new study. These uninsured children have suboptimal health, impaired access to care, and major unmet needs. The child's health issues can cause considerable financial burden for the family.

"Our findings indicate an urgent need for better parental education about Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)," says Glenn Flores, MD, Distinguished Chair of Health Policy Research for the Medica Research Institute and study author. "The findings also indicate a need to improve Medicaid/CHIP outreach and enrollment."

Minority children in the United States have the highest uninsurance rates. Latino and African-American children account for 53 percent of uninsured American children (2.4 million), despite comprising only 48 percent of the total U.S. child population. [So children who are not Latino or African-American account for 47% of uninsured American children, almost half.]


Key findings:

Only 49% of parents were aware that their uninsured child was Medicaid/CHIP eligible.

The most common reason for insurance loss was expired and never reapplied (30%).

The most common reason for never being insured was high insurance costs.

38% of children had suboptimal health, and 66% had special healthcare needs.

64% had no primary-care provider.

The mean uninsured time for the participants was 14 months.

5% had never been insured.

83% of parents worry about their child's health more than others.

Unmet healthcare needs included: healthcare, 73%; mental healthcare, 70%; mobility aids/devices, 67%; dental, 61%; specialty care, 57%; and vision, 46%.

Due to the child's health, 35% of parents had financial problems, 23% cut work hours, and 10% ceased work.

The study identified special challenges for uninsured Latino children, including parental worry about children's health and out-of-pocket costs, and children having no primary-care provider, regular source of preventive care, or 24-hour phone sick-care coverage.

Noteworthy challenges identified for uninsured African-American children include higher rates of asthma and ADHD, access to same-day sick visits without appointments, unmet acute-care and prescription needs, phone advice from a healthcare provider, high rates of emergency-department visits, providers' lack of understanding of parental preferences for raising children, and additional income needs for children's medical expenses. The findings suggest that enhancing awareness and outreach will be crucial to insuring more uninsured children.


Chemical exposure linked to 1.4 billion euros in women's health care costs


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Chemical exposure linked to 1.4 billion euros in women's health care costs
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may raise risk of developing endometriosis, uterine fibroids
The Endocrine Society

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may contribute to reproductive health problems experienced by hundreds of thousands of women, costing European Union an estimated €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) a year in health care expenditures and lost earning potential, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study examined rates of uterine fibroids -- benign tumors on the uterus that can contribute to infertility and other health problems -- and an often painful condition called endometriosis where the tissue that normally lines the uterus develops elsewhere in the body. The two conditions are common, with as many as 70 percent of women affected by at least one of the disorders.

Research has linked the development of uterine fibroids and endometriosis to chemicals found in pesticides, cosmetics, toys and food containers. Past studies suggest a byproduct of the pesticide DDT, a chemical known as DDE, can raise the risk of developing uterine fibroids. Another group of chemicals called phthalates, which are found in plastic products and cosmetics, have been tied to growing risk of endometriosis.

DDT and phthalates are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs can contribute to health problems by mimicking, blocking or otherwise interfering with the body's hormones - the signaling system the body uses to determine how cells develop and grow. Unborn children are particularly vulnerable because exposure during key points in development can raise the risk of health problems later in life.

"The data shows that protecting women from exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals could substantially reduce rates of disease and lower health care and other social costs of these conditions," said Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine & Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.


Researchers only considered endometriosis and uterine fibroids in the analysis because there is robust data on their incidence and association with endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure. The researchers estimated that 145,000 cases of endometriosis and 56,700 cases of uterine fibroids in Europe could be attributed to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

"Although these two gynecological conditions affect millions of women worldwide, we recognize that this analysis only reflects the tip of the iceberg," Trasande said. "A growing body of evidence suggests EDC exposure is linked to a broader range of female reproductive problems, including polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility and pregnancy complications. These disorders also place a significant cost burden on women, their families and society as a whole."


Use of mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic low back pain


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Use of mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic low back pain
The JAMA Network Journals

Among adults with chronic low back pain, both mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] resulted in greater improvement in back pain and functional limitations when compared with usual care, according to a study appearing in the March 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Low back pain is a leading cause of disability in the United States. There is need for treatments with demonstrated effectiveness that are low risk and have potential for widespread availability. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) focuses on increasing awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences including physical discomfort and difficult emotions. Only 1 large randomized clinical trial has evaluated MBSR for chronic low back pain, and that trial was limited to older adults.


The researchers found that at 26 weeks, the percentage of participants with clinically meaningful improvement on a measure of functional limitations was higher for those who received MBSR (61 percent) and CBT (58 percent) than for usual care (44 percent). The percentage of participants with clinically meaningful improvement in pain bothersomeness at 26 weeks was 44 percent in the MBSR group and 45 percent in the CBT group, vs 27 percent in the usual care group. Findings for MBSR persisted with little change at 52 weeks for both primary outcomes.

"The effects were moderate in size, which has been typical of evidence-based treatments recommended for chronic low back pain. These benefits are remarkable given that only 51 percent of those randomized to receive MBSR and 57 percent of those randomized to receive CBT attended at least 6 of the 8 sessions," the authors write.

"These findings suggest that MBSR may be an effective treatment option for patients with chronic low back pain."


Since when are humans intelligent & rational?

No country or religion has is devoid of total stupidity & jerkiness.

Turkey is being inundated with refugees, partly the result of civil unrest caused by global warming causing food shortages in the area. If Erdogan's urging is followed, Turkey would have many more refugees crowding int it, the world, including Muslims, would have many more people dying from floods, heat, and starvation.

I am really mad that some of my tax dollars go to help Turkey.


May 30, 2016

Devout Muslim families ought to thrive without considering population planning and birth control, says Turkey’s president. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is known for previously equating birth control to treason and harshly opposing gender equality.

“We will multiply our descendants. They talk about population planning, birth control. No Muslim family can have such an approach,” Reuters cited Erdogan as saying in a live-broadcast speech in Istanbul on Monday. “Nobody can interfere in God's work. The first duty here belongs to mothers.”

On the International Women’s Day, March 8, the president said he believes that “a woman is above all else a mother,” stressing that women cannot be freed “by destroying the notion of family,” in a speech full of quotes from Koran on the virtues of motherhood.


While urging his compatriots to protect the family, the president also insisted that “women are not equal to men.”

“Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood,” the Guardian cited Erdogan as saying at a summit on justice for women in Istanbul.


Women and men are not equal “because it goes against the laws of nature” and differences in their “characters, habits and physiques,” believes the Turkish leader.


Erdogan’s stance found the full support of then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said that gender equality in developed countries leads to higher suicide rates.


Life expectancy

Rank State/territory Overall Male Female

43 United States 78.88 76.47 81.25

78 Turkey 74.84 71.53 78.12



As part of the cooperative effort to further Turkish economic and military self-reliance, the United States has loaned and granted Turkey more than $12.5 billion in economic aid and more than $14 billion in military assistance.

European data suggests the gig economy helped create Trump, Sanders


May 17, 2016

Politicians and pundits in America wonder where the rip-roaring popularity of protest candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders originated. The answer may lie in Europe.

Trump and Sanders, in defying conventional political expectations, follow a long list of European populist leaders. Over the last two decades, the continent has seen the rise of Marine le Pen in France; Geert Wilders in Holland; Silvio Berlusconi and his successors in Italy; the People’s Party in Switzerland; the Freedom Party in Austria; the Progress Party in Norway; the Alternative for Germany. The list goes on.

Regarding the rise of Trump and Sanders as extraordinary events risks mystifying them. It also fails to acknowledge the powerful forces these politicians thrive on. Looking more closely at the rise of populism in Europe over the past two decades gives us a better understanding of today’s American politics and the forces driving protest politics' success.

In recent research with Michèle Lamont at Harvard University and Elyas Bakhtiari at Boston University, my coauthors and I link the success of Trump’s kind of politics to the worldwide adoption of neoliberal economic policies.

Neoliberal policies are government measures that shift control from the state to the market. Examples are the privatization of health care, the gig economy and the deregulation of the energy market. Our research describes how like the U.S., European countries rolled out many such neoliberal policies in the 1990s and 2000s.


Pushing education, health care, transportation and security into the market has introduced global economic forces into everyday life. People today work for companies owned by foreign investors. They drive on roads that are in foreign hands. They compete with workers from abroad or face unemployment because their jobs have been outsourced to a low-wage country. These changes force citizens to realign politically and reconsider their solidarity with others as traditional values and expectations fall apart.

Citizens’ diminishing solidarity with the poor, the rise of anti-immigrant sentiments and the growing populist vote are different aspects of social exclusion. We link these to the adoption of neoliberal policies across Europe.


Citizens in those countries most affected by neoliberalist policy reform have come to draw strong exclusionary lines between themselves and people at society’s margins, specifically Muslim immigrants and the poor. They express animosity toward unemployed “freeriders” and concern about how (Muslim) immigrants are changing their country. Citizens most resistant to change make scapegoats of newcomers or of traditionally marginalized groups in society.


In Central and Eastern Europe, the adoption of neoliberalism goes together with more acceptance of ethnic and religious others, but with stronger animosity toward the poor. These countries’ citizens increasingly perceive the poor as lazy and undeserving of government help.

Conversely, in Western Europe, we find less exclusion of the poor, but more animosity toward ethnic and religious others. Citizens increasingly do not want Muslims as their neighbors.


Neoliberalism privatizes risk and emphasizes personal responsibility, which leads to more narrow views on what it means to be a valuable member of society. People unable to work or unsuccessful in finding employment are not considered equal citizens.


Neoliberalist policies favor increased competition, which increases tensions between groups, undermines solidarity and triggers resentment projected at perceived newcomers: the Muslim immigrant today is the Jew of yesterday.

Trump’s populism, in particular, is fueled by a fear of Islam and other perceived threats to liberty and security. The rise of left-wing populism of the kind that Sanders represents can, in turn, be seen as a response to the economic fears of poor and working-class citizens feeling marginalized by international market forces.


India’s roads melt in record-breaking heat wave

If Mulims follow Turkey's President Erdogan advice to avoid birth control and multiply greatly, he is calling for more of problems like this.

For the news article dates, note that
Indian Standard Time is 9 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Eastern Time
10:55 PM Monday, Indian Standard Time (IST) is
1:25 PM Monday, Eastern Time (ET)


Alexandra Sims
Monday 23 May 2016

India’s on-going heat wave, which set a new record for the country’s highest-ever recorded temperature last week, is melting tarmac on the roads of some of India's busiest cities.

Residents in the city of Valsad, Gujarat, had to fight melting tar while crossing the road as temperatures rose to 36C [97F}.

Video footage from NDTV shows people becoming trapped on a melting road surface as their shoes stick in the softening tarmac.

Abandoned sandals are seen strewn across the sticky roadway and a woman falls over as she attempts to carry a heavy bag over the road.

Temperatures in parts of western India exceeded 50C [122F] on Friday. The record – a scorching 51C [124] – was set in the city of Phalodi, in the western state of Rajasthan. The previous high was 50.6C in 1956 in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan.

Indian weather officials have warned of more frequent heat waves as the scorching temperatures cause an increase in dehydration and heatstroke cases, as well as triggering widespread power cuts as surging demand overwhelms supply grids.

Hundreds of people have died as crops have withered in the fields in more than 13 states, forcing tens of thousands of small farmers to abandon their land and move into the cities. Others have killed themselves rather than go to live in urban shanty towns.


May and June are typically India’s hottest months and temperatures regularly exceed 40C [104F] in the run-up to the monsoon rains, but the severity of this year’s heat had been unprecedented.



Posted at: May 30, 2016, 12:59 AM; last updated: May 30, 2016, 12:59 AM (IST)

REPORTS of abnormal temperature are received from all quarters. A Bombay message says that at Ahmedabad the weather continues to be abnormally hot; the maximum temperature in shade on Friday and Saturday recorded was 114 degrees and minimum 83 degrees. As a result, Mr. Kharsetji Wadia, late Government Pleader of Ahmedabad, and Dr. Byramshaw, a Railway Medical Officer, died of heat apoplexy. Reports from Bengal say that the sources of drinking water are affected by the heat wave and cholera has appeared.
[Obviously the temperatures are in F]



India’s Pollution Problem May Be ‘Hiding’ Extreme Heat Spikes
By Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Andrew King and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh on 30/05/2016 May 30, 2016

Although India is no stranger to extreme heat at this time of year, the smog has kept record-breaking high temperatures at bay – until now.

On May 19, India’s all-time temperature record was smashed in the northern city of Phalodi in the state of Rajasthan. Temperatures soared to 51℃ [123.8], beating the previous record set in 1956 by 0.4℃ [0.72F].


Much of India is in the grip of a massive drought. Water resources are scarce across the country. Dry conditions exacerbate extreme temperatures because the heat energy usually taken up by evaporation heats the air instead.


India’s drought was a possible factor in the earlier heatwaves in April over central and southern India. However, Rajasthan, where 51℃ was recorded, is always bone-dry in May. So the drought made no difference to the record temperature.


We have also experienced one of the strongest El Niño events on record. While the current event has recently ceased, its sting is certainly still being felt.

El Niño episodes are associated with higher-than-average global temperatures and have also been a factor in some of India’s past heatwaves. However, there is no direct connection to El Niño in Rajasthan, because its climate at this time of year is so dry anyway.

India also has an extreme air pollution problem. Caused largely by domestic fuel and wood burning, it kills up to 400,000 people every year. This pollution, made up of fine particles called aerosols, also has the effect of cooling the local climate by reflecting or absorbing sunlight before it reaches the ground, thus reducing the likelihood of the most extreme high temperatures.

So although India is no stranger to extreme heat at this time of year, the smog has kept record-breaking high temperatures at bay – until now. This is what makes the record in Phalodi remarkable.


A study published in 2013 analysed annual trends in extremes and found no significant change in the intensity of extreme Indian temperatures between 1951 and 2010. The high levels of local air pollution were probably behind the lack of change.

However, the study found a significant increase in the frequency of extreme temperatures and a remarkable trend in the duration of warm spells in India, as the map below shows. Warm spells, defined as at least six days of extreme temperatures relative to the location and time of year, increased by at least three days per decade over 1951-2010 – the largest trend recorded globally.


Most climate models do not do a great job of capturing observed trends in heatwaves over India, because large-scale models struggle to accurately represent the localised effect of aerosols.

It is therefore difficult to use them in great detail for future projections, particularly if pollution levels continue or even increase. However, if air pollution is reduced, temperatures will rise with a vengeance. We know this from experience over Europe, where summer temperature trends were virtually zero up to the 1980s and very strong afterwards, once air pollution was controlled.

Even though this is the hottest time of the year for the region, the recent weather should not be dismissed as regular. It is feasible that India’s pollution problem has been “hiding” extreme heat spikes.

While any clean-up activities will have many positive local health impacts, these are likely to cause more intense heatwaves in future. This will be amplified by background warming due to climate change, which is also likely to drive increases in the frequency of temperature extremes.

Last year India and neighbouring Pakistan suffered similarly atrocious conditions, killing thousands of people. This year’s death toll is already over 1,000, with numbers sure to rise further.


Thoughts on Trump

wonder if Trump is one of those people I have met, including a relative, who stated that if they can persuade another person to believe a lie, it makes them feel superior.

Of course, this is very compatible with the diagnosis of narcissism and/or sociopathy.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

BPA substitute can trigger fat cell formation


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
BPA substitute can trigger fat cell formation
Chemical used in BPA-free products exhibits similar endocrine-disrupting effects
The Endocrine Society

Exposure to a substitute chemical often used to replace bisphenol A in plastics can encourage the formation of fat cells, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's journal Endocrinology.

The replacement chemical, bisphenol S, has a slightly different chemical structure than bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor.


Concerns about BPA's health effects have encouraged some consumers to purchase food containers labeled "BPA-free". BPA-free products often contain bisphenol S (BPS) or other substitutes, but researchers have raised concerns that these replacements also interfere with the body's hormones and may pose similar threats to public health.

"Our research indicates BPS and BPA have comparable effects on fat cells and their metabolism," said the study's senior author, Ella Atlas, PhD, of Health Canada, the federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. "The study is the first to show that BPS exposure can induce the formation of human fat cells."


Researchers found that the cells exposed to the smallest amounts of BPS as well as the cells exposed to the highest concentrations exhibited the largest accumulation of lipids, while moderate amounts had a smaller effect. Exposure to even tiny amounts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals can interfere with the functioning of hormones, since small changes in hormone levels are designed to trigger adjustments in metabolism, respiration, heart rate and other bodily functions.

"Since BPS is one of the replacement chemicals used in consumer products that are marketed as BPA-free, it is important to examine whether BPS acts as an endocrine-disrupting chemical," Atlas said. "This study shows that BPS and BPA have similar effects on fat cell formation, lipid accumulation and expression of genes important for lipid metabolism."


Adherence to nutrition recommendations and use of supplements essential for vegans


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Adherence to nutrition recommendations and use of supplements essential for vegans
University of Eastern Finland

Vegans adhere to nutrition recommendations in varying degrees, according to a new Finnish study. Some vegans who participated in the study followed a balanced diet, while others had dietary deficiencies. Typical deficiencies were an unbalanced use of protein sources, a low intake of berries, fruits and nuts, as well as failure to use nutrient fortified food products. The majority, however, used vitamin B12 and D supplements and calcium-fortified drinks as recommended. The findings were published in PLOS ONE.

The serum vitamin D concentrations were below the reference values in 24% of the vegan group. They also had lower concentrations of beta-carotene, selenium, iodine and essential fatty acids than the control group following a non-vegetarian diet.

According to the researchers, the findings highlight the need of vegans to get nutrition guidance and to use the recommended nutrient supplements. Moreover, closer attention should be paid to the intake of vitamin D and iodine among vegans.


According to nutrition recommendations, a vegan diet should involve a balanced, daily intake of whole grain products, legumes, seeds and nuts as sources of protein, as well as vegetables, fruits, berries and unsaturated fats. In addition, vegans should consume calcium-fortified drinks and use vitamin B12, vitamin D and iodine supplements to complement their diet.


Is moderate drinking really good for you?


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Is moderate drinking really good for you?
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

Many people believe a glass of wine with dinner will help them live longer and healthier--but the scientific evidence is shaky at best, according to a new research analysis. The findings, published in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, may sound surprising: Countless news stories have reported on research tying moderate drinking to a range of health benefits--including a lower heart disease risk and a longer life.

But the new analysis took a deeper look at those studies, 87 in all. And it found that many were flawed, with designs suggesting benefits where there were likely none.

A key issue is how studies have defined "abstainers," explained Tim Stockwell, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the analysis and director of the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia, Canada.

Most often, studies have compared moderate drinkers (people who have up to two drinks per day) with "current" abstainers. The problem is that this abstainer group can include people in poor health who've cut out alcohol.

"A fundamental question is, who are these moderate drinkers being compared against?" Stockwell said.

When his team corrected for those abstainer "biases" and certain other study-design issues, moderate drinkers no longer showed a longevity advantage. Further, only 13 of the 87 studies avoided biasing the abstainer comparison group--and these showed no health benefits.

What's more, Stockwell said, before those corrections were made, it was actually "occasional" drinkers--people who had less than one drink per week--who lived the longest. And it's unlikely that such an infrequent drinking would be the reason for their longevity.

"Those people would be getting a biologically insignificant dose of alcohol," Stockwell said.


"There's a general idea out there that alcohol is good for us, because that's what you hear reported all the time," Stockwell said. "But there are many reasons to be skeptical."

More ancient viruses lurk in our DNA than we thought


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
More ancient viruses lurk in our DNA than we thought
One whole endogenous retrovirus genome -- and bits of 17 others -- were spotted in a study of 2,500 human genomes
University of Michigan Health System

Think your DNA is all human? Think again. And a new discovery suggests it's even less human than scientists previously thought.

Nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA -- left by viruses that first infected our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago -- have just been found, lurking between our own genes.

And one stretch of newfound DNA, found in about 50 of the 2,500 people studied, contains an intact, full genetic recipe for an entire virus, say the scientists who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Whether or not it can replicate, or reproduce, it isn't yet known. But other studies of ancient virus DNA have shown it can affect the humans who carry it.

In addition to finding these new stretches, the scientists also confirmed 17 other pieces of virus DNA found in human genomes by other scientists in recent years.


In fact, about 8 percent of what we think of as our "human" DNA actually came from viruses. In some cases, HERV sequences have been adopted by the human body to serve a useful purpose, such as one that helps pregnant women's bodies build a cell layer around a developing fetus to protect it from toxins in the mother's blood.


Infrequent home computer use may be indicative of early cognitive decline


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Infrequent home computer use may be indicative of early cognitive decline
According to new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
IOS Press

A new study sheds light on a powerful tool that may detect signs of Alzheimer's disease before patients show any symptoms of cognitive decline: the home computer.

An early online version of this paper detailing the findings has been published and is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (volume 52, issue 2).

OHSU researchers have found a significant correlation between infrequent daily computer use and brain imaging signs commonly seen in early-stage Alzheimer's patients.

Using an MRI scan, the researchers measured the volume of the hippocampus -- a brain region integral to memory function -- in adults aged 65 years and older who were cognitively intact and dementia-free.

Diminished hippocampal volume is a well-known sign, or biomarker, of Alzheimer's disease and the eventual development of dementia.

The study, led by Lisa Silbert, M.D., with the OHSU Layton Center for Aging & Alzheimer's Disease, found that an additional hour of computer use a day was associated with a .025 percent larger hippocampal volume. A smaller hippocampal volume is an indicator of increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. The researchers will continue to follow these participants to see if their smaller hippocampal volume and decreased computer use predict future cognitive decline.

Silbert and colleagues hypothesize that the reason that patients with smaller hippocampal volumes may spend less time using their home computer is it requires the use of multiple cognitive domains, including executive function, attention and memory.


Why do sunbathers in Sweden live longer than those who avoid the sun?

Of course, Sweden is at a high latitude, so they don't get as much sun exposure.


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Why do sunbathers live longer than those who avoid the sun?

New research looks into the paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

An analysis of information on 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years revealed that longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and noncancer/non-heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase.

Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to UV radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted.

"We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking," said Dr. Pelle Lindqvist, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine study. "Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health."

Drug combination reduces polyps for patients with high risk for colorectal cancer


Public Release: 22-Mar-2016
Drug combination reduces polyps for patients with high risk for colorectal cancer

In a study appearing in the March 22/29 issue of JAMA, Deborah W. Neklason, Ph.D., N. Jewel Samadder, M.D., M.S., of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and colleagues randomly assigned 92 patients with familial adenomatous polyposis to the drugs sulindac twice daily and erlotinib daily (n = 46) or placebo (n = 46) for 6 months.

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an inherited disorder, and patients with FAP are at markedly increased risk for duodenal (part of the small intestine) polyps and cancer. Surgical and endoscopic management of duodenal neoplasia is difficult and chemoprevention has not been successful.

The researchers found that sulindac in combination with erlotinib effectively reduced the total duodenal polyp burden and polyp number in participants with FAP compared with placebo. This effect was significant after 6 months of therapy.
The JAMA Network Journals

Grade 1 and 2 adverse events were more common in the sulindac-erlotinib group, with an acne-like rash observed in 87 percent of participants receiving treatment and 20 percent of participants receiving placebo. "Adverse events may limit the use of these medications at the doses used in this study," the authors write.

"Further research is necessary to evaluate these preliminary findings in a larger study population with longer follow-up to determine whether the observed effects will result in improved clinical outcomes."

Storms in a Warming Climate


15 August, 2014 by Richard Davies


The intensity of extreme precipitation seen in the USA this week is exactly how the National Climate Assessment had predicted.

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) report of May this year said:

Heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades. Largest increases are in the Midwest and Northeast. Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions.

The report goes on to demonstrate that rainfall totals in the heaviest rain events in the Northeast have increased by 71% since 1958.


The NCA report is in no doubt that the increase in rainfall intensity is down to a changing climate.

Warmer air can contain more water vapor than cooler air. Global analyses show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has in fact increased over both land and oceans. Climate change also alters dynamical characteristics of the atmosphere that in turn affect weather patterns and storms. In the mid-latitudes, where most of the continental U.S. is located, there is an upward trend in extreme precipitation in the vicinity of fronts associated with mid-latitude storms. Locally, natural variations can also be important.


tags: extreme weather

Floods in Texas, Kansas, Europe


At Least 6 Dead, 2 Missing After Floods in Texas, Kansas

By Michael Graczyk, associated press
HOUSTON — May 29, 2016, 5:46 PM ET

Authorities in central Texas found two more bodies along flooded streams Sunday, bringing the death toll from flooding the state to six.

It's unclear whether a body found in Travis County near Austin is one of the two people still missing in Texas. An 11-year-old boy is still missing in central Kansas, too


Torrential rains caused heavy flash flooding in some parts of the U.S. over the last few days



Thousands flee their homes as floods hit Germany

May 29, 2016

Record floods engulfed the historic eastern German city of Dresden today, swamping its Baroque architecture and driving thousands from their homes.

A tide of debris-laden brown water also submerged other towns on the River Elbe, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands while volunteers battled to save the centre of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, 120 miles south of Berlin.

Floods have killed at least 89 people in Germany, Russia, Austria and the Czech Republic over the last week, after torrential rains sent a huge surge of water through river systems. At least 10 died in Saxony.

In Germany, the surging waters continued to rise.

Officials feared more of the architectural gems of Dresden would be submerged.

The Elbe rose from a normal summer level of about two metres to 9.16 metres, well surpassing the 8.77 metre record of 1845.

The last four bridges open in Dresden were closed.

"The flood waters are still rising and at the moment it's impossible to say exactly how far it will go," said Dresden Mayor Ingolf Rossberg. He said experts were predicting the Elbe would peak at about 9.6 metres early on Saturday.



There have been floods in many parts of the world recently.

tags: extreme weather

French minister warns of mass climate change migration if world doesn't act


Adam Vaughan
May 26, 2016

Global warming will create hundreds of millions of climate change migrants by the end of the century if governments do not act, France’s environment minister has warned.

Ségolène Royal told ministers from 170 countries at the UN environment assembly in Nairobi that climate change was linked to conflicts, which in turned caused migration.

“Climate change issues lead to conflict, and when we analyse wars and conflicts that have taken place over the last few years we see some are linked to an extent to climate change, drought is linked to food security crises,” she said.

“The difficulty of having access to food resources leads to massive migration, south-south migration [migration within developing countries]. The African continent is particularly hit by this south-south migration.

“If nothing is done to combat the negative impact of climate change, we will have hundreds of millions of climate change migrants by the end of the century.”


Royal is not the first high profile public figure to link conflict, migration and climate change. Ahead of the Paris climate summit last year, Prince Charles said that drought exacerbated by climate change had played a role in Syria’s civil war, a claim supported by some researchers.


Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan president, said that Kenya was already tackling emissions through a renewable energy push that includes wind, geothermal, hydro and, in the future, solar power. But he warned: “We have to be ready and willing to make selfless sacrifices today if we want to leave our children and grandchildren a viable and better world tomorrow.”


Morocco faced a danger of internal migration because of rising temperatures in its deserts, he said, and its desert peoples should be treated as though they were at the same risk as those on small island states threatened by sea level rises. “There is a risk of displacement of those people in the desert,” he said.

That internal movement of people would be on top of the existing migration from sub-Saharan countries, he said. “You can see migrants in all Morocco cities right now, and it has a social and economic impact. The government is trying to integrate them, but it’s not easy.”

Morocco has ambitious wind and solar power plans, and in February switched on the first phase of what will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power when complete, capable of providing power for 1.1m people.


What paying fast food workers a living wage would do to the price of a Big Mac


By Roberto A. Ferdman July 30, 2015

Would you pay 17 extra cents for a Big Mac if it meant the person who prepared it could earn a living wage? What about an extra 30 cents each time you ate out at any fast food restaurant?

These are the small prices we would have to pay on average to ensure that fast food workers around the country earned an hourly-wage of $15, according to a new study by researchers at Purdue University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

"It would vary a bit, depending on where you live, but that gives you a sense," said Richard Ghiselli, who is the Head of the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Purdue University, and lead author of the study.


At the moment, more than 1.5 million Americans working in food preparation and other related service jobs subsist on wages that are at or below the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fast food industry alone employs roughly half of all Americans who persist on that kind of pay.

These jobs are also among the most grueling — or at least poorest paying — since operating without table service means earning money without tips.

If an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac is too much to ask, maybe people will consider accepting a slightly smaller hamburger. Ghiselli also estimated how much fast food restaurants would need to downsize their food if they wanted to keep prices the same. The answer? About 12 percent. [Since almost all Americans are overweight, downsizing the portions of the mostly high-fat food would be healthier.]


This serpent-like malware lies dormant until you access your bank account


Jennifer Schlesinger
May 28, 2016

If you think you can rely solely on your bank’s internet security to protect you, think again. Researchers at IBM Security have uncovered new malware that targets consumers in order to steal money from their accounts.

“We already know of $4 million that was stolen by this malware,” said Etay Maor, an executive advisor with IBM Security. The worst part: It's still out there.

Maor led the Israel-based team that discovered the malware, which has already been used against undisclosed banks in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

The virus, known as GozNym, is a combination of two pieces of malware — one that infects the computer and the other that waits silently like a serpent until the user visits the website of a financial institution.


Consumers' computers typically get infected with GozNym by clicking on links in emails. (Right now, the virus appears to be limited to PCs.) The email might be a message about a security solution or update. If you click the link — you might think nothing happened, but from that point on you are exposed.

Maor and his team believe the hackers behind the new virus are located somewhere in Eastern Europe.

“Don’t get this wrong, we are up against professional programmers … not kids," he said.


Just last year, 20 million financial records were stolen by malware, Maor said. While exact losses are hard to tally, by some estimates it could run into the billions of dollars.

To guard yourself from GozNym and other viruses, do not click on links in any suspicious emails.

Also, keep your operating system and anti-virus software up-to-date. Software providers are in the process of releasing updates that hopefully will disable GozNym.

Another best practice is to avoid reusing passwords as this can let hackers into multiple accounts.

You should also have two ways to check your account balances, such as using paper statements, ATM receipts or a mobile app in addition to online banking.

The criminals behind GozNym are so sophisticated they can change online banking websites to show full balances even after funds have been transferred out.


Hillary Clinton did not break law with e-mail server


Domenico Montanaro
April 2, 2016


Addressing the Federal Records Act, NPR's Scott Horsley reported last month on the question of whether Clinton's exclusive reliance on a private email account violated it. Here's some of what he reported:

"A State Department spokeswoman says Hillary Clinton did not break any rules by relying solely on her personal email account. Federal law allows government officials to use personal email so long as relevant documents are preserved for history."

The law was amended in late 2014 to require that personal emails be transferred to government servers within 20 days. But that was after Clinton left office.


State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said last month, "For some historical context, Secretary Kerry is the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a state.gov email account." [Kerry was sworn in as Secretary of State on Feb. 1, 2013, after Clinton.]


World could warm by massive 10C if all fossil fuels are burned


Damian Carrington
May 23, 2016

The planet would warm by searing 10C (18F) if all fossil fuels are burned, according to a new study, leaving some regions uninhabitable and wreaking profound damage on human health, food supplies and the global economy.

The Arctic, already warming fast today, would heat up even more – 20C (36F) by 2300 – the new research into the extreme scenario found.


The carbon already emitted by burning fossil fuels has driven significant global warming, with 2016 near certain to succeed 2015 as the hottest year ever recorded, which itself beat a record year in 2014. Other recent studies have shown that extreme heatwaves could push the climate beyond human endurance in parts of the world such as the Gulf, making them uninhabitable.


The new work, published in Nature Climate Change, considers the impact of emitting 5tn tonnes of carbon emissions. This is the lower-end estimate of burning all fossil fuels currently known about, though not including future finds or those made available by new extraction technologies.

The researchers used a series of sophisticated climate models and found this rise in CO2 would lead to surface temperatures rising by an average of 8C across the world by 2300. When the effect of other greenhouse gases is added, the rise climbs to 10C.

The heating predicted by the models was not uniform across the globe. In the Arctic, the higher CO2 levels led to 17C of warming, with another 3C from other greenhouse gases, across the year. These rises are higher than indicated by previous, less comprehensive models, which are less accurate at modelling how the oceans takes up heat. In February, parts of the Arctic had already recorded temperatures 16C above normal.

The warming caused by burning all fossil fuels would also have enormous impact on rainfall. The new research shows rainfall falling by two-thirds over parts of central America and north Africa and by half over parts of Australia, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and the Amazon.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats linked to slowing diabetes progress for some


Public Release: 21-Mar-2016
Eating polyunsaturated fats linked to slowing diabetes progress for some
King's College London

Research led by a dietitian at King's College London has found that replacing saturated fat in the diet with polyunsaturated fat, found in foods such as vegetable oils or nuts, is linked to slower progress of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes whose muscles do not take up glucose properly.

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Previous evidence has shown that prediabetes can be split into two distinct conditions, one in which the liver produces too much glucose and one in which glucose is not taken up properly by the muscles.

The study, published today in PLOS ONE, is the first to consider the differing effects of dietary fats on prediabetes as two separate conditions, although previous studies have shown that dietary fats have an effect on insulin sensitivity.


Currently, weight loss is regarded as the most effective way to prevent the progression of diabetes in patients with prediabetes but researchers examined whether a targeted dietary intervention could have additional impact for patients alongside a weight loss programme.


They found that, in the condition where glucose uptake into muscles is impaired, replacing saturated fats in the diet with polyunsaturated fats had a beneficial effect in slowing the development of diabetes. It is thought that this is because polyunsaturated fats promote uptake of glucose by the insulin receptors in the muscles.

In people whose livers were producing too much glucose, reducing saturated fat was found to be linked to slower progress of diabetes but replacing it with polyunsaturated fat was found to have no effect.


Human carbon release rate is unprecedented in the past 66 million years of Earth's history


Public Release: 21-Mar-2016
Human carbon release rate is unprecedented in the past 66 million years of Earth's history
University of Hawaii at Manoa

The earliest instrumental records of Earth's climate, as measured by thermometers and other tools, start in the 1850s. To look further back in time, scientists investigate air bubbles trapped in ice cores, which expands the window to less than a million years. But to study Earth's history over tens to hundreds of millions of years, researchers examine the chemical and biological signatures of deep sea sediment archives.

New research published today in Nature Geoscience by Richard Zeebe, professor at the University of Hawai'i - Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and colleagues looks at changes of Earth's temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) since the end of the age of the dinosaurs. Their findings suggest humans are releasing carbon about 10 times faster than during any event in the past 66 million years.

The research team developed a new approach and was able to determine the duration of the onset of an important past climate event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM for short, 56 million years ago.

"As far as we know, the PETM has the largest carbon release during the past 66 million years," said Zeebe.


The rate of carbon release during the PETM was determined to be much smaller than the current input of carbon to the atmosphere from human activities. Carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2. The researchers estimated the maximum sustained carbon release rate during the PETM had to be less than 4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year - about one-tenth the current rate.

"Because our carbon release rate is unprecedented over such a long time period in Earth's history, it also means that we have effectively entered a 'no-analogue' state. This represents a big challenge for projecting future climate changes because we have no good comparison from the past," said Zeebe.

Whereas large climate transitions in the past may have been relatively smooth, there is no guarantee for the future. The climate system is non-linear, which means its response to a forcing (such as our CO2 emissions) is a complex process involving a whole suite of components.

"If you kick a system very fast, it usually responds differently than if you nudge it slowly but steadily", said Zeebe. "Also, it is rather likely that future disruptions of ecosystems will exceed the relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM," Zeebe added.


Scientists like Zeebe also study the PETM to better understand long-term changes in Earth's future climate. Most of the current climate debate concentrates only on this century but the PETM suggests that the consequences of our massive fossil fuel burning will have a much, much longer tail.

"Everyone is focused on what happens by 2100. But that's only two generations from today. It's like: If the world ends in 2100 we're probably OK!" said Zeebe. "But it's very clear that over a longer timescale there will be much bigger changes."