Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Down the drain: Here's why we should use rainwater to flush toilets

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/du-dtd030716.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Down the drain: Here's why we should use rainwater to flush toilets
Drexel research looks at feasibility of rainwater recycling in 4 major US cities
Drexel University

If you live in one of four major U.S. cities chances are you're letting the benefits of a ubiquitous natural resource go right down the drain -- when it could be used to cut down your water bill. Research by a team of Drexel University environmental engineers indicates that it rains enough in Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Chicago that if homeowners had a way to collect and store even just the rain falling on their roofs, they could flush their toilets often without having to use a drop of municipal water.

Toilet flushing is the biggest use of water in households in the United States and the United Kingdom, accounting for nearly one-third of potable water use. But there is no reason that clean, treated, municipal water needs to be used to flush a toilet -- rainwater could do the job just as well.

•••••

"When the natural landscape is replaced by a building, rain can no longer infiltrate into the ground," Montalto said. "It runs off, is captured in drains, where it can cause downstream flooding, carry pollutants that settle out of the air into local water bodies or -- in the case of a city like Philadelphia or New York -- cause the sewer to overflow, which leads to a discharge of untreated wastewater into local streams and rivers. So capturing rainwater can help to reduce the demands on the water treatment system and ensure that it will still function properly even during heavy rainfall events."

Taking into consideration the cities' annual rainfall patterns, residential population and roof areas, the team calculated that, with enough water storage capacity -- a little more than a standard 1,000-gallon home storage tank -- a three person family in a home with the city's average roof size would have enough water to cover over 80 percent of its flushes throughout the year simply by diverting their downspouts to collect stormwater.

This would reduce overall household potable water demand by approximately 25 percent, which could mean slashing the municipal water bill for an average-sized home by as much as one-fourth. But even without installing a storage tank capable of holding a year's worth of flushing water, a scaled-back version would still help chip away at the water bill.

•••••

"Think of it this way. Before the building was on the site, the rain was intercepted by vegetation canopies, and/or infiltrated into natural soils. Either way, the rain ended up replenishing soil moisture, allowing the plants to grow, and recharging the local groundwater aquifer," Montalto said. "The more buildings that go up, the more we need to consider how to manage the water that would have landed in the drainage area they're displacing."

Overconfidence linked to one's view of intelligence

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/wsu-olt030416.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Overconfidence linked to one's view of intelligence
Those who think intelligence is fixed have confidence exceeding their ability
Washington State University

Washington State University researcher Joyce Ehrlinger has found that a person's tendency to be overconfident increases if he or she thinks intelligence is fixed and unchangeable.

Such people tend to maintain their overconfidence by concentrating on the easy parts of tasks while spending as little time as possible on the hard parts of tasks, said Ehrlinger, a WSU assistant professor of psychology. But people who hold a growth mindset--meaning they think intelligence is a changeable quality--spend more time on the challenging parts of tasks, she said. Consequently, their levels of confidence are more in line with their abilities.

•••••

"A little bit of overconfidence can be helpful," said Ehrlinger, "but larger amounts of overconfidence can lead people to make bad decisions and to miss out on opportunities to learn." The researchers note that overconfidence is a documented problem for drivers, motorcyclists, bungee jumpers, doctors and lawyers.

•••••

"We know that students' beliefs about intelligence are very consequential in the classroom and that interventions that teach students a growth mindset lead to improvements in their grades," said Ehrlinger. "We also know that being overconfident keeps people from learning. You have to understand and acknowledge what you don't yet know in order to truly learn. This research suggests that part of why growth mindsets improve learning might be because they lead people to better understand what they do and what they do not know."

"Education is perhaps the best way to advance opportunity," she said, "and emerging evidence suggests that the benefits of teaching a growth mindset for improving grades are particularly strong for students in stigmatized groups based on race or gender."

Teen girls see big drop in chemical exposure with switch in cosmetics

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoc--tgs030416.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Teen girls see big drop in chemical exposure with switch in cosmetics
University of California - Berkeley
A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas demonstrates how even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions can lead to a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body.

•••••

Researchers provided teen study participants with personal care products labeled free of chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone. Such chemicals are widely used in personal care products, including cosmetics, fragrance, hair products, soaps and sunscreens, and have been shown in animal studies to interfere with the body's endocrine system.

"Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals," said study lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health. "Teen girls may be at particular risk since it's a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman."

Analysis of urine samples before and after a three-day trial in which the participants used the lower- chemical products found significant drops in levels of these chemicals in the body. Metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in fragrances, decreased 27 percent by the end of the trial period. Methyl and propyl parabens, used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44 and 45 percent respectively. Both triclosan, found in antibacterial soaps and some brands of toothpaste, and benzophenone-3 (BP-3), found in some sunscreens under the name oxybenzone, fell 36 percent.

Surprisingly, there was a small increase in concentrations in two less common parabens. Those levels were small and could have been caused by accidental contamination or a substitution not listed on the labels, the study authors said.

•••••

"We know enough to be concerned about teen girls' exposure to these chemicals. Sometimes it's worth taking a precautionary approach, especially if there are easy changes people can make in the products they buy," said Harley.

Cárdenas said the research findings have already influenced the products she buys for herself.

"Personally, since the study, I've tried to use more organic products," she said. "It's hard, especially as a college student who doesn't have a lot of money. You tend to just get what's on sale. But I've decided to splurge more on products with fewer chemicals because of the effect in the future. And if you can't make the best choice when you're buying because of cost, you can at least try to limit the use of the products you do buy."

New study finds troubling health care outcomes for US workers without paid sick leave

If you take off when you're sick you're criticized, if you come to work sick you're criticized.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/fau-nsf030316.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
New study finds troubling health care outcomes for US workers without paid sick leave
Similar results for all workers without paid sick leave regardless of income, race, age, health insurance or occupation
Florida Atlantic University

•••••

regardless of income, age, race, occupation, full-time or part-time work status, health status or health insurance coverage, workers without paid sick leave were three times more likely to delay medical care than were workers with paid sick leave. They also were three times more likely to forgo needed medical care altogether. Furthermore, families of workers without paid sick leave were two times more likely to delay medical care and 1.6 times more likely to forgo needed medical care. The lowest-income group of workers without paid sick leave were at the highest risk of delaying and forgoing medical care for themselves and their family members -- making the most financially vulnerable workers the least likely to be able to address health care concerns in a timely manner.

The researchers also found that working adults with paid sick leave benefits missed one-and-a-half days more of work because of an illness or injury compared to workers without paid sick leave, indicating that they were more likely to take time off work to care for themselves or family when needed.

•••••

DeRigne further underscores the importance of paid sick leave. "During the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people infected stay home. Yet, estimates suggest that employees who did not stay home infected an additional 7 million people, and that lack of paid sick leave resulted in about 1,500 additional deaths during this outbreak."

Stoddard-Dare observes, "Workers who come to work when ill are also more prone to injuries and mistakes; therefore, offering paid sick leave may make good business sense."

Thinking and feeling

Cognitive empathy is not what I would consider empathy. How is being able to predict how someone will react that depends only on observation different from being able to predict when the tides will turn based on observation? But we wouldn't say it means we have empathy with the tides.



Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
'Thinking and feeling'
UC Santa Barbara researchers studying empathy in relationships find that in the absence of caring, understanding alone doesn't cut it when stressful situations arise
University of California - Santa Barbara

•••••

When stress sets in, many of us turn to a partner to help us manage by being a sounding board or shoulder to cry on. Your odds of actually feeling better are much improved if they're both those things.

New research by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara reveals that simply understanding your partner's suffering isn't sufficient to be helpful in a stressful situation; you've got to actually care that they're suffering in the first place.

The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, provide the first evidence that cognitive and affective forms of empathy work together to facilitate responsive behavior.

"When people were empathically accurate -- when they had an accurate understanding of their partner's thoughts and feelings -- they were more responsive only when they also felt more empathic concern, more compassion and motivation to attend to their partner's needs," explained lead author Lauren Winczewski, a graduate student in UCSB's Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. "People might assume that accurate understanding is all it takes to be responsive, but understanding a partner's thoughts and feelings was helpful only when listeners were also feeling more compassionate and sympathetic toward their partner. When listeners had accurate knowledge but did not feel compassionate, they tended to be less supportive and responsive."

•••••

"You can know very well what your partner is thinking and feeling -- maybe you've heard this story 17 times, the fight with the boss and so on -- but if you don't care?" said Winczewski. "Having accurate knowledge in the absence of compassionate feelings may even undermine responsiveness."

•••••

Global warming increases flash flooding in world's driest areas

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uons-gwi030716.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Global warming increases rain in world's driest areas
Not only does the wet get wetter over land, but the driest areas get wetter too
University of New South Wales

Global warming will increase rainfall in some of the world's driest areas over land, with not only the wet getting wetter but the dry getting wetter as well.

New research published today in Nature Climate Change has revealed that in the Earth's dry regions, global warming will bring an overall increase in rainfall and in extreme precipitation events that could lead to flash flooding becoming a more regular event.

"We found a strong relationship between global warming and an increase in rainfall, particularly in areas outside of the tropics," said lead author Dr Markus Donat from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

•••••

Unfortunately for societies, businesses and agricultural activities that exist in arid regions, the expected increase in rainfall over dry areas does not necessarily mean that more water will become available according to the researchers. The additional heat caused by global warming will likely lead to increased evaporation. This means that while there may be more extreme flooding events it may have little impact on overall water storage rates.

"The concern with an increased frequency and in particular intensity of extreme precipitation events in areas that are normally dry is that there may not be infrastructure in place to cope with extreme flooding events," said Dr Donat.

"Importantly, this research suggests we will see these extreme rainfall events increase at regional levels in dry areas, not just as an average across the globe."

•••••

tags: extreme weather

Healthy lifestyle advice provides long-term benefits

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/w-hla030716.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Healthy lifestyle advice provides long-term benefits
Wiley

In a recently published study, providing advice over a 5-year period about leading a healthy lifestyle reduced the risk of heart-related deaths over the next 40 years.

Participants were advised to decrease the intake of saturated fats and increase fish and vegetable products. In addition, overweight individuals were advised to reduce their weight and smokers were advised to stop smoking.

Those who received the advice showed a sustained 29% reduced risk of death at first heart attack compared with individuals who did not receive the advice, for up to 40 years. Death from any cause decreased in the period 8 to 20 years after randomization, but not thereafter.

•••••

Neighborhood features associated with decreased odds of homicide in adolescents

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/tjnj-nfa030316.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Neighborhood features associated with decreased odds of homicide in adolescents
The JAMA Network Journals

Neighborhood features including street lighting, parks, public transportation and maintained vacant lots were associated with lower odds of homicide among young people ages 13 to 20, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

•••••

Study results indicate lower odds of adolescent homicide were associated with street lighting, illuminated walk/don't walk signs, painted marked crosswalks, public transportation, parks and maintained vacant lots.

The odds of adolescent homicide were higher in places with stop signs, houses with security bars/gratings and private bushes or plantings.
[Houses with security bars/gratings might be a result of increased violence.]\

•••••

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy may increase risk of MS in children

The risk of MS increases the farther one lives from the equator, which is consistent with these findings, since vitamin D can be created in the skin when exposed to sunlight.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/tjnj-vdd030316.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy may increase risk of MS in children
The JAMA Network Journals

Children of mothers with vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy appeared to be at greater risk for multiple sclerosis (MS) in adulthood, according to an article published online by JAMA Neurology.

While elevated levels of vitamin D have been associated with a decreased risk of MS in adulthood, some previous research also has suggested that vitamin D exposure in utero may be a risk factor for MS in later life.

•••••

The risk of MS as an adult was 90 percent higher in children of mothers who were vitamin-D deficient (25(OH)D levels less than 12.02 ng/mL) compared with the children of mothers who were not vitamin D deficient, according to the results.

•••••

People often over-claim their own contributions to the team

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoc--ilt030716.php

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
I'd like to thank...myself
People often over-claim their own contributions to the team
University of California - Berkeley Haas School of Business

When Leonardo DiCaprio accepted his Oscar for Best Actor in "The Revenant" this year, he acknowledged the hard work of the movie's entire team. But such generosity isn't always the case. On large teams--such as big film production crews--size can lead people to inflate their own contributions while diminishing their team members' work.

A new study finds that the bigger the teams, the more individual members of a team "over-claim" their contributions. It's not that people intend to take more credit than due. Instead, people inadvertently fail to account for everyone's contributions because they are naturally egocentric. It is harder to consider everyone's contributions when groups are larger.

"People were surprised about the extent that over-claiming occurs. They think their reporting is accurate," says Juliana Schroeder, an assistant professor of management at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

•••••

Schroeder suggests ways to reduce over-claiming. "When you have large groups, you might want to consider breaking down the group into smaller teams," says Schroeder. "It is also important to make the workflow very clear. If assignments are clearly divided, it's easier for people to remember who is doing what."

While the participants of the study's four surveys were anonymous, what happens when group members in the real world learn that their colleagues are over-claiming their contribution to the team? Schroeder says asking people to report others' contributions before their own tends to force people to be more accurate about self-reporting and ultimately, not "thank" themselves too much.

Latin dancing may have health benefits for older adults

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/aha-ldm022416.php

Public Release: 4-Mar-2016
Latin dancing may have health benefits for older adults
American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstract P246
American Heart Association

A four-month dance program helped older Latino adults walk faster and improved their physical fitness, which may reduce their risk for heart disease, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions.

•••••

Can social support be a bad thing for older adults?

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/dms-css030416.php

Public Release: 4-Mar-2016
Can social support be a bad thing for older adults?
Duke-NUS Medical School

A recent study conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) researchers suggests that social support from family and friends does not have an entirely positive effect on mental health but is instead a 'mixed blessing'. This is the first study that demonstrates the simultaneous negative and positive effects of social support among Singaporean older adults and has implications for policy makers.

•••••

A study recently published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, by Assistant Professor Rahul Malhotra and Shannon Ang from the Centre for Ageing Research and Education (CARE) at Duke-NUS, analysed data collected from surveys administered to 2766 older adults aged 62 to 97 who are a part of the Panel of Health and Aging in Singaporean Elderly (PHASE). It found that receipt of social support, such as receiving money, food, clothing and housework help, reduced depressive symptoms among older individuals but at the same time made them feel like they had lost their control over their lives. This loss of control in turn increased their depressive symptoms, counteracting the positive effect of receiving social support. The study also found that the reduction in one's sense of control over their life was larger for women than in men.

•••••

"Our findings have implications for policy-makers because it points toward the importance of crafting policies and encouraging ways to provide support to older persons that can help them maintain their sense of control over their own lives," emphasised senior author Asst Prof Malhotra, Head of Research at CARE. "We need to think of ways in which we can help older adults without increasing their sense of dependence."

•••••

Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy even with later abstinence

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/kcl-epi030316.php

Public Release: 4-Mar-2016
Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy even with later abstinence
King's College London

The early introduction of peanut to the diets of infants at high-risk of developing peanut allergy significantly reduces the risk of peanut allergy until 6 years of age, even if they stop eating peanut around the age of five, according to a new study led by King's College London.

Published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the LEAP-On study followed on from the LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) study, both led by Professor Gideon Lack at King's, which found that the majority of infants at high-risk of developing peanut allergy are protected from peanut allergy at age 5 years if they eat peanut frequently, starting within the first 11 months of life.

LEAP-On asked whether those infants who had consumed peanut in the LEAP study would remain protected against peanut allergy if they then stopped eating peanut for 12 months. The study findings conclude that the early introduction of peanut protects against the development of peanut allergy, and such protection is sustained even when peanut is no longer consumed for 12 months.

•••••

New research uncovers the 'myths' behind aviation's climate change crisis

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uos-nru030416.php

Public Release: 4-Mar-2016
New research uncovers the 'myths' behind aviation's climate change crisis
Reliance on technological solutions in cutting emissions are 'myths' propagating inaction by industry and government
University of Surrey

A new study published in the journal Transportation Research Part D has explored the ways in which new technologies have been 'hyped' by the aviation industry and media as the key to sustainable air travel, perpetuating a culture of non-accountability for increased emissions and subsequent environmental damage.

Researchers from the University of Surrey, in collaboration with NHTV Breda, Netherlands and the University of Otago, New Zealand, explored how new technologies such as alternative fuels, solar flight and a range of aircraft design options are presented by industry and media, alongside the subsequent level of success in practically applying these technologies. The researchers argue that discussion around these technologies creates 'myths' of zero-emission flight, shielding the aviation industry from closer scrutiny of its sustainability policies.

"Air travel has experienced substantial growth over the last 40 years. By 2050 energy use in aviation will have tripled, accounting for 19% of all transport energy use in 2050, compared to 11% in 2006," Dr Scott Cohen, of the University of Surrey explained.

"This is in sharp contrast to pledges by industry to reduce flight emissions through technology, aiming for 'zero emission flight' through overly hyped developments such as solar planes and hydrogen fuels."

"The way in which new technologies are presented constitutes a 'myth', a form of propaganda which denies the truth that progress in climate policy for aviation has stalled. The use of these technology myths by industry and government relieves anxiety that nothing is being done, by pointing to future 'miracle' solutions, which in reality are unfeasible."

•••••

"While these inventions are fascinating from a research perspective, they won't act as a panacea for the harmful, climate damaging emissions that the aviation industry is increasingly releasing into our atmosphere. Industry will always wish to present an optimistic view of their role in this issue, but our research has also shown that some politicians are complicit in propagating these myths and need to stop relying on rhetoric and start referring to facts."

Poor helmet fit associated with concussion severity in high school football players

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/aaoo-phf030316.php

Public Release: 4-Mar-2016
Poor helmet fit associated with concussion severity in high school football players
Coaches, trainers and physicians need to supervise helmet checks throughout the sports season
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

High school football players with ill-fitting helmets are at greater risk for more severe concussions, according to a study presented today at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

•••••

Athletes who suffered concussions due to improper fitting helmets had higher rates of drowsiness, hyperexcitability and sensitivity to noise. Many of these athletes experienced more than one of the 13 concussive symptoms reviewed retrospectively in the study. In addition, athletes wearing helmets lined with air bladders suffered concussions that lasted longer.

"Correct helmet fit varies with helmet design, and players are encouraged to fit their equipment according to manufacturers' instructions," said study co-author Dustin Greenhill, MD, an orthopaedic surgery resident at Temple.

Dr. Greenhill explained that when helmets don't fit correctly, an athlete's cervical muscles in their neck and head may not be able to reduce the force of impact on the brain, especially when parts of the body rotate during high-speed hits. Helmet fit can change and evolve during the season and games, due to sweat, hair style, rain, cold weather clothing, and other factors.

•••••

Oestrogen in birth control pills has a negative impact on fish

Spelled "estrogen" in the U.S.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/lu-oib030416.php

Public Release: 4-Mar-2016
Oestrogen in birth control pills has a negative impact on fish
Lund University

A new doctoral thesis from Lund University in Sweden shows that hormones found in birth control pills alter the genes in fish, which can cause changes in their behaviour. The thesis also shows that nurse midwives, who are the main prescribers in Sweden, lack information about the environmental impact of hormonal birth control methods, which may affect the advice they provide.

The hormone ethinyl-estradiol (EE2) is an active substance in many birth control pills which affects aquatic organisms when released as waste into the water. In her thesis, Lina Nikoleris studies how fish are affected by EE2.

"Even low concentrations of EE2 have an impact on fish - both their behaviour and their genetics. We have seen a change in the genetic balance in fish, and that they have a harder time catching food. Previous studies have shown that the fish also develop problems with procreation. This can lead to the complete disappearance of an entire fish population, and consequences for entire ecosystems", says Lina Nikoleris.

Fish have more oestrogen receptors than humans, which makes them especially vulnerable to oestrogen in water.

•••••

Brutal Heat Intensifies Across India

https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/brutal-heat-intensifies-across-india-generous-monsoon-on-the-way

By: Bob Henson , 3:24 PM GMT on May 04, 2016

There are encouraging signs of a wetter-than-average monsoon in the cards for India this year--but until it arrives, millions of residents will have to deal with torrid pre-monsoon heat assaulting South and Southeast Asia this spring. More than 300 fatalities have been reported in the east-central Indian states of Odisha and Telangana. On May 1 and 2, at least 12 Indian locations broke or tied their all-time highest May temperatures. Accentuating the premature nature of this year’s heat, most of the prior records had been set during the last week of May.

•••••

Extra weeks of heat stress are an ominous portent in this highly vulnerable nation. Some 2500 people were killed in 2015 by India’s second-deadliest pre-monsoonal heat wave on record, close behind 1998 (2541 deaths).

The pre-monsoon season is naturally a hot period in India: it’s the increasing contrast between land and sea that eventually brings the heat-quenching, life-giving summer monsoon. Yet even by pre-monsoonal standards, April was extraordinarily hot across the region, as reported by WU weather historian Christopher Burt. On April 24, it hit 48.5°C [119.3°F] in the east-central town of Titilagarh--the highest temperature ever reliably measured in India during April. “You can say there is an undeclared curfew in Titlagarh after 10 am. If you go out, you are either a very brave person or you are an outsider,” local Congress member Upendra Bag told the Hindustan Times.

•••••

Man Convicted of Brooklyn Murder Exonerated After 52 Years

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-convicted-brooklyn-murder-exonerated-after-52-years-n566076

by Dan Slepian and Corky Siemaszko
May 2, 2016

Come November, 81-year-old Paul Gatling will get to do something that many Americans take for granted —he'll get to vote for a presidential candidate.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson vacated Gatling's 1964 murder conviction on Monday and restored his rights, including his right to vote.

"I want my name cleared," Gatling told NBC News before Thompson made it official. "Most of all, I just want to vote before I die."

•••••

Thompson said full justice for Gatling was a long time coming.

"Paul Gatling repeatedly proclaimed his innocence even as he faced the death penalty back in the 60s," the DA said in a statement. "He was pressured to plead guilty and, sadly, did not receive a fair trial. Today, 52 years later, he will be given back his good name and receive justice here in Brooklyn, where he once called home."

•••••

tags: exonerated

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Why people defend corporal punishment

http://www.unicef.org/violencestudy/pdf/Hitting-wrong.pdf

Save the Children organization
Hitting people is wrong - and children are people too

•••••

Corporal punishment of children is a very personal issue:
most people were hit as children; most parents have hit their children. We do not like to think badly of our parents or our parenting. This gets in the way of compassionate and logical consideration of the arguments.

Challenging parents’, other carers’ and teachers’ rights to hit children often provokes emotional reactions. That is not surprising: corporal punishment is in most countries still a deeply embedded traditional practice, a habit passed down from one generation to another as part of the child- rearing culture, and in some cases supported by religious belief.

•••••

Children need discipline, and particularly need to learn self-discipline. But corporal punishment is a very ineffective form of discipline. Research has consistently shown that it rarely motivates children to act differently, because it does not bring an understanding of what they ought to be doing nor does it offer any kind of reward for being good. The fact that parents, teachers and others often have to repeat corporal punishment for the same misbehaviour by the same child testifies to its ineffectiveness.

Smacking, spanking and beating are a poor substitute for positive forms of discipline which, far from spoiling children, ensure that they learn to think about others and about the consequences of their actions.

•••••

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/good-thinking/201409/is-what-happens-when-you-hit-your-kids

This is What Happens When You Hit Your Kids

Denise Cummins Ph.D.
Sept. 19, 2014

•••••

1. Honoring your parents doesn't mean doing exactly what they did.

Our parents and grandparents accepted many things that we no longer find acceptable today: Jim Crow laws, smoking and drinking when pregnant, advertising jobs as "Help wanted: Male; Help wanted: Female", and so on. We've come to see that many of these traditions and beliefs were wrong, and we quite reasonably reject them. It is possible to love your parents and reject their traditions or beliefs. It is possible to accept that they were doing what they believed to be right at the time while simultaneously choosing not to do or believe those things.

•••••

A rational person changes his or her beliefs when reality turns out to contradict those beliefs.

The data show that punishment must be age-appropriate, and must be used when appropriate. Mild spanks may be acceptable for children aged 2-6, older children should be disciplined in non-violent ways, and parents with anger issues or abusive tendencies should avoid physical discipline entirely.

•••••

Even when using physical punishment on a young child, you must be sure punishment is really called for in the circumstances. I once saw a father and young son (about age five) bicycling along a busy road, the father following the son. The father was beside himself with rage because his son simply would not keep his mind on the road. Everything seemed to distract him. The father finally lost it, pulled his son off his bicycle, and swatted him hard on the bottom. "What you're doing is dangerous", he yelled, "You could be killed! You have to pay attention!" What the father failed to understand is that his young son was not capable of ignoring all of those distractions. His son was getting punished for failing to do something he was incapable of doing. A child that age is more capable of following someone on a bicycle than leading. The reason for this is biological: Self-control and focus is the function of the brain's frontal lobes, and the frontal lobes are not fully developed or fully connected to the rest of the brain until early adulthood.

•••••

tags: child abuse, corporal punishment

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Risks of harm from spanking confirmed by analysis of 5 decades of research

This matches my own experience from babysitting when I was in high school and college, and other observations of families I have known.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425143106.htm


Date: April 25, 2016
Source: University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking.

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.

•••••

"Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. "We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents' intended outcomes when they discipline their children."

Gershoff and co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, found that spanking (defined as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities) was significantly linked with 13 of the 17 outcomes they examined, all in the direction of detrimental outcomes.

•••••

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs.

•••••

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

"We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors," she says. "Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree."

•••••

tags: child abuse

Our culture of attack



Liberals can be as disgusting as conservatives. The popularity of Trump has shocked David Brook into a recognition of his insulation from the real world of those less privileged, and wants to correct this. I am happy he has been able to grow and learn, although of course I would have been happy if he had not required such a strong lesson. But it is normal to be resistant to changing our opinions. But what I see in liberal commentary is ugly put-downs of him. This just helps to perpetuate a culture of attack, and seeing life as a war of us against them.

Death toll mounts following flash flooding in Texas

Global warming has caused an increase in the amount of moisture in the air, leading to an increase in the number of severe precipitation events. Whether or not this storm would have happened with or w/o global warming, the added moisture would add to the amount of rainfall during it.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-floods-death-toll-mounts/

May 1, 2016

PALESTINE, Texas -- Authorities have found a sixth body following flash flooding in East Texas that also killed a woman and her four great-grandchildren.

•••••

More than 7 inches of rain fell in less than an hour late Friday evening, swamping a neighborhood and forcing some people onto their roofs.

•••••

Palestine [Texas] Mayor Bob Herrington signed an emergency declaration on Saturday, saying that he had not seen so much water rise so fast in the 59 years he'd lived there.

•••••

https://weather.com/storms/tornado/news/severe-weather-late-week-storms-tornado-late-april-2016

•••••

Sunday morning, heavy rain caused significant flooding in southern Louisiana, including reports of cars submerged on Interstate 49 north of Lafayette and reports of water entering some homes. Rainfall totals of 6 to 9 inches had been reported from Sunday midnight through Sunday late morning.

•••••

tags: severe weather

Using empathy to use people

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/moral-universe/using-empathy-to-use-people-emotional-intelligence-and-manipulation/

Using empathy to use people: Emotional intelligence and manipulation
By Jamil Zaki on November 7, 2013

•••••

But empathy is not always used in the service of good. Two papers last month highlight this idea through evidence that people use empathy to use other people, manipulating them through a savvy understanding of emotions.

•••••

These studies highlight at least two things. First, the “pieces” that make up empathy don’t always go together. In many cases, understanding someone’s emotions (so-called “cognitive empathy”) and sharing those emotions (so-called “emotional empathy”) can split apart. Further, understanding without sharing is a dangerous pattern, which likely underlies intimidation, used car sales tactics, and all sorts of other manipulation. Of course in many—and perhaps most—cases, we use our understanding of others to help them. This highlights the second point these papers make. Empathic ability is value neutral, sometimes helping and other times hurting people. As are so many features of our minds.

•••••

Researchers overturn landmark study on the replicability of psychological science


http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/hu-rol022916.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Researchers overturn landmark study on the replicability of psychological science
Harvard University

According to two Harvard professors and their collaborators, a 2015 landmark study showing that more than half of all psychology studies cannot be replicated is actually wrong.

•••••

But an in-depth examination of the data by Daniel Gilbert (Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University), Gary King (Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University), Stephen Pettigrew (doctoral student in the Department of Government at Harvard University), and Timothy Wilson (Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia) has revealed that the OSC made some serious mistakes that make this pessimistic conclusion completely unwarranted:

The methods of many of the replication studies turn out to be remarkably different from the originals and, according to Gilbert, King, Pettigrew, and Wilson, these "infidelities" had two important consequences.

First, they introduced statistical error into the data which led the OSC to significantly underestimate how many of their replications should have failed by chance alone. When this error is taken into account, the number of failures in their data is no greater than one would expect if all 100 of the original findings had been true.

Second, Gilbert, King, Pettigrew, and Wilson discovered that the low-fidelity studies were four times more likely to fail than were the high-fidelity studies, suggesting that when replicators strayed from the original methods, they caused their own studies to fail.

Finally, the OSC used a "low powered" design. When Gilbert, King, Pettigrew, and Wilson applied this design to a published data set that was known to have a high replication rate, it too showed a low replication rate, suggesting that the OSC's design was destined from the start to underestimate the replicability of psychological science.

•••••

Tiny island deer in Panama hunted to extinction thousands of years ago

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/stri-tid030316.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Tiny island deer in Panama hunted to extinction thousands of years ago
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

As polar ice caps melted at the end of the last Ice Age about 8,500 years ago, the global sea level rose and Panama's Pearl Islands were isolated from the mainland. A new archaeological study by a team including a Smithsonian scientist shows that several thousand years later pre-Columbian colonists hunted a dwarf deer to extinction on an island called Pedro González.

The settlers arrived on the 14-hectare island by sea 6,200 years ago and stayed for a maximum of eight centuries, farming maize and roots, fishing, gathering palm fruits and shellfish and hunting deer, opossums, agoutis, iguanas and large snakes--the major predators.

•••••

What influences 11-year-olds to drink?

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/bc-wi1030116.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
What influences 11-year-olds to drink?
BioMed Central

Around one in seven 11 years olds in the UK have had at least one drink of alcohol, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, which analyzed data from 10,498 children aged 11.

•••••

The researchers found that nearly 14% of 11 year olds had drunk more than a few sips of alcohol at least once. It is not possible to make statements regarding cause and effect with this sort of study, but the numbers do show a strong association between 11 year olds drinking and their friends' and mothers' behavior. Children whose mothers drank heavily were 80% more likely to drink than children whose mothers did not drink and boys were more likely to report drinking than girls. Children whose friends drank were five times more likely to drink than those whose friends did not drink. It was also found that friends' drinking had a stronger association with children's alcohol consumption than parents' drinking. Other factors associated with drinking were having started puberty, being a second or later born child, having socioemotional difficulties (e.g. sustaining positive relationships, experiencing, managing or expressing emotions) and antisocial behaviors.

Positive perceptions of alcohol were associated with increased odds of a child drinking. These include perceptions that alcohol makes people feel better about themselves or that it makes it easier to make friends. Other factors associated with increased odds of a child drinking were a lack of parental supervision on weekends and weekdays, and not being happy with family relationships.

Children were less likely to drink if they had heightened perceptions of the harms of drinking and negative expectations towards alcohol, such as that it makes it hard to get along with friends or that it impacts school work.

•••••

Long-term aspirin use linked to lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancers

When I was taking time-release aspirin at night for back pain, I started getting sick a lot. I learned that aspirin decreases the immune system.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/tjnj-lau030116.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Long-term aspirin use linked to lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancers
The JAMA Network Journals

Regular low doses of aspirin for at least six years was associated with a modestly reduced overall risk for cancer, primarily due to a lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancer, especially colorectal cancers, according to an article published online by JAMA Oncology.

•••••

Regular use of aspirin two times or more per week was associated with a 3 percent lower risk for overall cancers, which was mostly due to a 15 percent lower risk for gastrointestinal tract cancers and a 19 percent lower risk for cancers of the colon and rectum, according to the results.

However, regular use of aspirin was not associated with a lower risk for other major cancers, such as breast, prostate or lung, the authors report.

•••••

Study shows broccoli may offer protection against liver cancer

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoic-ssb030316.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Study shows broccoli may offer protection against liver cancer
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Consumption of broccoli has increased in the United States over the last few decades as scientists have reported that eating the vegetable three to five times per week can lower the risk of many types of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

A new study from the University of Illinois reports that including broccoli in the diet may also protect against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which can cause malfunction of the liver and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer with a high mortality rate.

•••••

effery says that the majority of the U.S. population eats a diet high in saturated fats and added sugars. However, both of these are stored in the liver and can be converted to body fat. Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet and having excess body fat is linked with the development of NAFLD, which can lead to diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

"We called this a Westernized-style diet in the study because we wanted to model how so many of us are eating today," Jeffery says.

•••••

The study shows that in mice on the Westernized diet both the number of cancer nodules and the size of the cancer nodules increased in the liver. But when broccoli was added to the diet, the number of nodules decreased. Size was not affected.

"That was what we really set out to show," Jeffery says. "But on top of that we were looking at the liver health. There are actually two ways of getting fatty liver; one, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet and the other by drinking too much alcohol. In this case, it is called non-alcoholic fatty liver, because we didn't use the alcohol. And it is something that is becoming prevalent among Americans. This disease means you are no longer controlling the amount of fat that is accumulating in your liver."

With NAFLD, lipid globules form on the liver. During the study, the researchers observed these globules in the livers of the mice on the Westernized diet.

"We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it. Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver," she says.

Jeffery notes that adding broccoli to the diet of the mice did not make them "thin," or affect their body weight, but it did bring the liver under control, ultimately making them healthier. "This is one of the things that makes this very exciting for us," she says.

•••••

Violence linked to early signs of blood vessel disease in women

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/aha-vlt022416.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Violence linked to early signs of blood vessel disease in women
American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstract P202
American Heart Association

Experiencing physical violence in adulthood may increase the risk of women developing heart and blood-vessel disease, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions.

•••••

Worldwide, violence against women is a critical problem. It is established that experiencing violence can cause depression, substance abuse and other disorders in women, its possible effects on heart and blood vessel disease are a new area of research.

In this study from Mexico, researchers found that women who had experienced physical violence as adults were more than one and a half times more likely to have narrowing of the main blood vessels in the neck that carry blood to the brain, compared to women who had not experienced violence. This narrowing is an early sign of increased risk for stroke. A leading cause of death and disability, a stroke occurs when the blood vessels to the brain either become blocked by fatty substances or burst, preventing blood flow to the brain.

•••••

New study finds elders living alone with abuser more likely to endure severe mistreatment

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uot-nsf030316.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
New study finds elders living alone with abuser more likely to endure severe mistreatment
Other findings: Non-perpetrators in the home act as a buffer and 'youngest old' experience most severe forms of abuse
University of Toronto

A new study examining elder abuse--released today by researchers at the University of Toronto, Cornell University, and Weill-Cornell Medical College--has found that older adult victims living alone with their abuser were up to four times more likely to endure more severe levels of mistreatment. The study suggests that the addition of non-perpetrators also living in the home played a protective function to buffer severity.

•••••

Research on older adults tends to categorize subjects according to different age groups, including the 'youngest old' (ages 60 to 74) and the 'oldest old' (ages 85 and up). One surprising finding was that across each type of elder abuse, it was the 'youngest old' who experienced the most severe forms of mistreatment.

•••••

"Previous studies on elder abuse have found that approximately one in ten older adults experience some form of elder abuse," says lead author Dr. David Burnes, an assistant professor with the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. "As the population of older adults in North America nearly doubles over the next 25 years, this problem will just get bigger. Older adults who are abused have shorter lifespans, and are more likely to be hospitalized and experience mental health issues."

Previous studies have largely explored elder abuse in general yes/no terms, but this study examined different forms of elder abuse along a continuum of severity. "We know that the yes/no characterization of elder abuse does not capture the complex, lived reality of mistreatment or align with the way clinicians examine and intervene on the problem," says the University of Toronto's Dr. David Burnes.

•••••

Improved lifestyle led to decreased cholesterol and less cardiac death in Sweden

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uu-ill030116.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Improved lifestyle led to decreased cholesterol and less cardiac death
Umea University

Cholesterol levels - the most common risk factor for heart attacks - have decreased in northern Sweden over the last 20 years. Since medical drugs only account for a third of the decrease, the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease is greatly thanks to a change in lifestyle. This according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers at Umeå University and Sunderby Hospital in Luleå, both in northern Sweden, have found a general decrease in cholesterol levels, which was more pronounced in older people, women without university education and in people with high risk of cardiovascular disease.

"The most important reason for the decreased cholesterol in the population of Norrbotten and Västerbotten counties in northern Sweden is most likely a change in lifestyle, such as a reduced intake of fat, together with an increased intake of fibre from fruit, vegetables and grains," according to Mats Eliasson, professor at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine as well as doctor at Sunderby Hospital in Luleå.

•••••

Even if the risk of cardiovascular disease has been heavily reduced in the last 10-20 years, it is still the most common cause of death in Sweden, especially when it comes to heart attacks. High cholesterol levels is the most important cause of disease followed by smoking and high blood pressure.

Bromances may be good for men's health

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoc--bmb030316.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Bromances may be good for men's health
Moderate stress encourages male bonding, and prosocial behavior makes them more resilient to stress
University of California - Berkeley

Male friendships, portrayed and often winked at in bromance movies, could have healthful effects similar to those seen in romantic relationships, especially when dealing with stress, according to a new study of male rats by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Human studies show that social interactions increase the level of the hormone oxytocin in the brain, and that oxytocin helps people bond and socialize more, increasing their resilience in the face of stress and leading to longer, healthier lives. Studies of male-female rat pairs and other rodents, such as monogamous prairie voles, confirm these findings.

The new study extends these studies to male rats housed in the same cage, and demonstrates that mild stress can actually make male rats more social and cooperative than they are in an unstressed environment, much as humans come together after non-life-threatening events such as a national tragedy. After a mild stress, the rats showed increased brain levels of oxytocin and its receptor and huddled and touched more.

•••••

"Having friends is not un-masculine," she added. "These rats are using their rat friendships to recover from what would otherwise be a negative experience. If rats can do it, men can do it too. And they definitely are, they just don't get as much credit in the research for that."

•••••

The research also has implications for post-traumatic stress disorder, said senior author Daniela Kaufer, a UC Berkeley associate professor of integrative biology and member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.

After severe, potentially life-threatening stress, the male rat cagemates became withdrawn and antisocial, often sitting alone in a corner, and more aggressive, not unlike people who suffer from PTSD or illnesses such as depression or severe anxiety. The researchers found that oxytocin receptor levels in the brain actually decreased after severe stress, which would make the brain less responsive to whatever hormone is there.

"Social interactions can buffer you against stress, but if a trauma is just too much and there is PTSD, you actually withdraw from social interactions that can be supportive for you," Kaufer said. "This research suggests that this might be happening through changes in oxytocin; that in the context of life-threatening stress, you lose its effect and you see less prosocial behavior. This really aligns well with what you see with pathological effects of stress on humans."

•••••

Male rats housed together, Kirby said, sometimes display aggression toward one another, such as fighting over water and food. But after a mild stress - in this experiment, restraining them for a few hours - they tended to cooperate more, despite or because of an even stronger dominance hierarchy between the rats.

"If you repeatedly take away and return their water, normal rats become very aggressive, pushing and shoving at the water fountain like a bunch of thirsty 7-year-olds who don't know how to stand in line yet," Kirby said. "The cagemates who had the mild stressor did not show this behavior at all. After taking away their water and bringing it back, they shared it very evenly and without any pushing and shoving. It was very civil."

•••••

The researchers found that this was accompanied by increased hypothalamic oxytocin levels.

On the other hand, a severe stressor - in this case, adding the smell of fox urine while they were restrained - had the opposite effect.

"If you are a rat and you smell a predator, the likelihood that you are going to get eaten soon is pretty high," Kirby said. "In that case, the oxytocin bump that would come with a less threatening stressor is suppressed, and oxytocin receptor levels decrease Then, you don't see social bonding anymore. You don't see the rodent cuddling, you don't see them showing increased prosocial behaviors."

This is akin to PTSD after a battle experience or a car accident, she said. "People stop talking to their friends, they stop engaging in their social networks the way they used to."

•••••

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Parasites help brine shrimp cope with arsenic habitat contamination

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/p-phb022516.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Parasites help brine shrimp cope with arsenic habitat contamination
PLOS

Artemia (the scientific name of the small crustacean that is also commonly known as 'sea monkey') is famous for being able to live in extreme environments and has become a model organism used to test the toxicity of chemicals in water. In addition, Artemia can produce dormant eggs, known as cysts, that can be stored for long periods and hatched on demand to provide a convenient form of live feed for the seafood industry, and 2000 tonnes of Artemia cysts per year are sold worldwide.

Marta Sánchez and Andy Green, both from the Estación Biológica de Doñana in Seville, Spain, and colleagues are interested in environmental parasitology, i.e., the study of interactions between parasites and pollution or climate change. Artemia is an intermediate host for tapeworms that eventually infect water birds such as flamingos and grebes, and the researchers had previously shown that tapeworm infection can change the shrimps' physiology and behavior.

•••••

Both samples were used for toxicity testing with arsenic, a pollutant that is commonly found in concentrations considered harmful in the estuaries where the shrimp came from. To their surprise, the researchers found that infected shrimp were consistently more resistant to arsenic than uninfected ones. This was true not only at 25 degrees Celsius (the temperature under which both samples were tested), but also at 29 degrees (tested on some of the shrimp from the larger May sample). Overall, the 4-degree increase--consistent with current climate-change predictions for the change in mean temperature--made the shrimp more vulnerable to arsenic toxicity.

•••••

High daily coffee consumption may lower MS risk

I have wondered if humans have been consuming caffeine long enough to have adapted to it, and thus need it for optimal health? Like we and other animals are healthier and have fewer allergies and autoimmune disease when we have a certain level of exposure to microbes and parasites.

I can't stand the taste of coffee, and six cups of coffee would send me up the wall, I hope that eating well otherwise, and drinking green tea & yerba mate, which contain caffeine, will have a beneficial effect.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/b-hdc030116.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
High daily coffee consumption may lower MS risk
Caffeine's neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties may explain link
BMJ

Drinking a lot of coffee every day--more than 900 ml (30 fluid ounces) or around six cups--is linked to a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), finds research published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant, has neuroprotective properties and can suppress the production of chemicals involved in the inflammatory response, which may explain the association found, suggest the researchers.

While it remains to be seen whether coffee drinking could ward off the development of MS, cautions a linked editorial, the findings add to the growing body of evidence indicating that coffee may be good for our health, it suggests.

•••••

The results showed that the risk of MS was consistently higher among those drinking fewer cups of coffee every day in both studies, even after taking account of potentially important influential factors, such as smoking, and weight during the teenage years.

In the Swedish study, coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of MS both at the start of symptoms and 5 and 10 years beforehand, with a 28-30% lower risk among those drinking more than six cups (900 ml +) every day.

Similar results were found in the US study, with a 26-31% lower risk among those drinking more than 948 ml daily at least five years beforehand and at the start of symptoms compared with those who never drank coffee.

The higher the quantity of coffee drunk, the lower the risk of MS, the results showed.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which changes in coffee consumption between an MS diagnosis and data collection could have influenced the results, while inaccurate recall of coffee consumption can't be ruled out, say the researchers.

•••••

Cannabis use in psychotic patients linked to 50 percent higher hospital admission risk

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/b-cui030116.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Cannabis use in psychotic patients linked to 50 percent higher hospital admission risk
And may contribute to antipsychotic drug treatment failure, suggest researchers
BMJ

Cannabis use among people experiencing a first episode of psychotic illness is linked to a 50 per cent heightened risk of hospital admission--including compulsory detention (sectioning)--as well as longer inpatient stay, reveals the largest study of its kind, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Cannabis use was also linked to higher numbers of prescriptions for different antipsychotic drugs, the findings show, suggesting that it may contribute to treatment failure, say the researchers.

Cannabis use has been linked to an increased risk of psychotic episodes before, particularly if used during the teen years, but it is not clear if it has any impact on relapse risk in those with long term psychosis.

The researchers therefore mined the anonymised electronic health records of 2026 people treated for a first episode of psychosis at one of the largest providers of mental health services in Europe between 2006 and 2013.

•••••

Use of the drug was associated with a 50% increase in the frequency of hospital admissions, with an average of 1.8 admissions up to five years after the first service visit, compared with non-users who averaged 1.2 admissions over the same period.

And it was associated with an increase in the risk of compulsory detention in hospital under the Mental Health Act--45% of those who used cannabis compared to 34% of those who didn't.

Use of the drug was also associated with a significantly longer hospital stay, particularly once two years of the monitoring period had elapsed. Length of stay progressively increased from an average of 21 extra days within three years, to 35 additional days within five years among cannabis users.

Furthermore, cannabis use was associated with a greater likelihood of being treated with clozapine, an antipsychotic used for schizophrenia that is difficult to treat, and a higher number of prescriptions (up to 11) for different antipsychotics.

The electronic records data did not provide enough information to be able to tell whether the number of different prescriptions was prompted by poor treatment response, poor compliance, unpleasant side effects, or admission to hospital following a relapse, say the researchers.

But many different antipsychotic prescriptions are indicative of treatment failure they suggest, and point towards an association between cannabis use and increased risk of hospital admission linked to treatment failure.

This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the researchers were not able to determine the amount or frequency of cannabis use among mental health service users from their electronic health records.

Nevertheless, they conclude that their findings "highlight the importance of ascertaining cannabis use in people receiving care for psychotic disorders and prompt further study to investigate the mechanisms underlying poor clinical outcomes in people who use cannabis, and strategies to reduce associated harms."


tags: drug use, drug abuse

ADHD medications associated with diminished bone health in kids

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/aaoo-ama030216.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
ADHD medications associated with diminished bone health in kids
Physicians should address risk, preventative strategies to avoid long-term consequences of low-bone density
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Children and adolescents who take medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show decreased bone density, according to a large cross-sectional study presented today at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

•••••

Dr. Rivera added that a definite link has not been established between osteopenia in childhood and osteoporosis later in life, which increases the risk of brittle and porous bones, and ultimately, fracture risk. However, low-bone density in children theoretically could have long-term implications and lead to poor bone health in adulthood because childhood and adolescence is when growing bones accrue mass and strength.

Medications used by patients in the study were: methylphenidate (Ritalin), dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), atomoxetine (Strattera) and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse). These medications can cause gastrointestinal problems such as decreased appetite and stomach upset, which may result in poor nutrition and reduced calcium intake. The drugs also may diminish bone density because they alter the sympathetic nervous system, which plays an important role in bone remodeling, or regeneration.

Dr. Rivera said that because most skeletal growth occurs by ages 18-20, physicians should realize the potential threat that ADHD medications pose to maturing bones and consider nutritional counseling and other preventative measures.

Some birds are just as smart as apes

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/rb-sba030316.php

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Some birds are just as smart as apes
Researchers figure out similarities in brain architecture
Ruhr-University Bochum

At first glance, the brains of birds and mammals show many significant differences. In spite of that, the cognitive skills of some groups of birds match those of apes.

•••••

"The mental abilities of corvids and parrots are as sophisticated and diverse as those of apes," says Onur Güntürkün, Head of the Department for Biopsychology in Bochum. Among other things, they are capable of thinking logically, of recognising themselves in the mirror and of empathy.

•••••

"What is clear is that the multi-layered mammalian cortex is not required for complex cognition," concludes Güntürkün. "The absolute brain weight is not relevant for mental abilities, either." While ape brains weigh 275 to 500 gram on average, birds, who are just as skilful despite lacking a cortex, only manage 5 to 20 gram.

Georgia Gov. Deal signs bill making it easier to cloak possible conflicts of interest

The bill came from the mostly Republican Georgia state legislature.



Apr. 27, 2016

Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation into law that critics say will make it harder for the public to find out if state lawmakers have possible conflicts of interest.

Senate Bill 199 was amended late in the 2016 legislative session and was approved after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Georgia News Lab reported that House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington, failed to properly disclose at least $120,000 in state agency payments to his private business.

•••••

Tucked into SB 199 is a sentence that says lawmakers and other state officials do not have to report payments from the state on both personal financial disclosure reports and business transaction reports.

Another sentence would ensure that non-statewide officials, such as Burns and other legislators, do not have to disclose payments from political subdivisions of the state, like school districts.

•••••

A new climate reality threatens the Atlanta area and its most vulnerable populations

http://clatl.com/atlanta/earth-to-atlanta/Content?oid=17156418

By Paul DeMerritt
April 21, 2016

On Sept. 21, 2002, an unprecedented level of rain surged through Vine City. The gush of water overwhelmed Atlanta's dated sewer systems and caused severe flooding, with the water reaching 6 feet deep in areas. Some residents swam through sewage to reach safety. Then-Mayor Shirley Franklin declared a state of emergency after the flooding destroyed nearly 70 homes.

Families were displaced. Bulldozers demolished many of the affected properties. A 16-acre patch of overgrown grass remains where the houses once stood. The emptiness serves as a reminder of the devastation extreme weather can inflict on a city unprepared for its consequences.

Local environmental activist and English Avenue resident Tony Torrence sees a pattern in the heavy rains that continue to overwhelm the neighborhoods in his community.

•••••

Torrence recognizes the way climate change plays out in people's daily lives, particularly in metro Atlanta where increased precipitation, severe heat waves, and droughts are becoming the norm.

•••••

"Climate vulnerability is not just driven by the weather event itself, it's driven by a combination of that plus the socioeconomic status, plus whether communities live in an urban environment that is likely to flood, so it's a multi-pronged look at vulnerability," Shepherd says.

•••••

Coastal towns, communities reliant on agriculture, and metro Atlanta were found to be particularly vulnerable, but often for different reasons. While Savannah faces the threat of rising sea levels, Atlanta must adapt to an array of impacts threatening major urban areas across the globe, including heavy rains and high temperatures.

In metro Atlanta, as in many cities, climate change aggravates longtime racial and class inequalities. Lack of greenspace, increased incidences of asthma, unequal access to resources, and lower incomes disproportionately impact African-American, Latino, and elderly populations.

•••••

"[Vulnerability] really comes down to income gap," Shepherd says. "With some of these populations, it's not just race, it's that people are disadvantaged in many ways, such as those who need air conditioning, or those who are more likely not to have health insurance. It continues to amplify this notion that the most disadvantaged are the most likely to bear the brunt of climate change."

•••••

WARMER TEMPERATURES also present a significant danger. Georgia follows a trend consistent with the rest of the world as annual global temperatures continue to shatter previous records. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 15 hottest years worldwide since recording started in 1880 have occurred in the 21st century. Average annual temperatures in the Southeast have increased by roughly two degrees Fahrenheit since 1970 with an expected increase of four to eight degrees by the end of the century.

Metro Atlanta, with its many parking lots, roadways, and sprawling blacktops, is especially susceptible to the urban heat island effect in which buildings and asphalt capture heat and drive up temperatures.

Isolated centers of severe heat pop up throughout metro Atlanta, especially around areas deprived of greenspace. Low-income populations face increased risk because these communities tend to have fewer trees, which provide protection from the sun, help filter out air pollutants, and cool the air by releasing moisture. A more upscale area like Midtown benefits from the cool shade of Piedmont Park, while greenery is scarce and empty parking lots soak up heat in lower-income areas such as Lakewood Heights.

Heat waves — abnormally hot weather lasting at least two days — have proliferated throughout metro Atlanta. According to the UGA study, these heat events occurred roughly every other year from 1984 through 2007 with an average length of two weeks.

"The heat impacts put people without air conditioning at risk, and elderly citizens in the urban centers in Atlanta are particularly vulnerable to increases in heat due to climate change," says state Sen. Vincent Fort, whose district includes parts of Atlanta, East Point, College Park, and Union City.

•••••

"Increased asthma from heat and pollution is one of the most obvious impacts in places like Atlanta," Fort says. "Climate change increases asthma especially in African-American children, which is one of the greatest reasons for children missing school in Atlanta."

Shepherd stresses that while everyone is equally exposed to the dangers of heat waves and flooding, vulnerability hinges on whether people can access the economic necessities required to withstand the health and financial consequences.


•••••

GEORGIA'S ATTITUDE TOWARD climate change is dangerously outdated. Gov. Nathan Deal, during his re-election run against Democratic challenger Jason Carter, said, "[Global warming] is an argument and a debate that will continue in this country and I have no reason to become engaged in it other than to say I'm the governor of this state."

This attitude of casual deniability stalls the potential of fragile communities from rural South Georgia to St. Simons Island to adapt to severe weather. In contrast, the city of Atlanta is being proactive in its attempts to improve climate resiliency. Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta's Director of Sustainability Stephanie Benfield attended December's UN COP 21 talks in Paris, where leaders from around the world agreed on the most comprehensive climate change plan in history.

•••••

Last year, the city of Atlanta released a climate action plan designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions, spur job growth, and improve air quality. The plan zeroed in on a number of focus areas from increased greenspace to adding a fleet of electric city vehicles to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by transportation 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030. The city also plans to cut consumption in commercial and residential buildings 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030.

•••••

Your modern lifestyle is made possible by creating tons of waste

No surprise.

Your modern lifestyle is made possible by creating tons of waste

Public Release: 3-Mar-2016
Your modern lifestyle is made possible by creating tons of waste, new book reveals
Binghamton University

Josh Reno, assistant professor of anthropology at Binghamton University, spent a year working as a paper picker at a large mega-landfill on the outskirts of Detroit, M.I., to explore the relationship North Americans have with garbage. His two big takeaways: a) People don't think twice about what happens to the garbage they throw out and b) the American dream of two cars, a house and perfect commodities is made possible by creating tons of waste.

•••••

Reno delivers the nitty-gritty details of his job and the impact of waste management on society in Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill, a new book published by the University of California Press.

"When we think of the disposal of a good, rather than its production, we are more often encouraged to imagine ourselves in a relationship with 'Nature,' in the abstract, and forget the many people and communities who take our waste away, and work and live with the consequences," said Reno. "This partly has to do with mega-landfills, like the one I studied, because they are designed to disappear into the landscape and be forgotten. By making the things we dispose of swiftly vanish, they distort our relationship to the things we keep (which appear to transcend process and time) and to one another."

According to Reno, people have gotten used to the idea that things just disappear. For example, for a consumer to get a bottle of Coke that is identical to every bottle of Coke he or she has had before and every bottle of Coke that will be produced in the future, that requires waste.

•••••

We're so used to it that for everything that we come to think of as modern, civilized, what every American deserves...all of those things are made possible by creating lots of waste. And if we're going to have those values, have those beliefs in the home, and the two cars and the perfect commodities, then we have to acknowledge that is a waste-making form of life.

Public Release: 2-Mar-2016 Nurse staffing levels key to keeping rehospitalizations down for hip/knee surgery patients The cross-sectional study analyzed data from 112,000 Medicare patients in nearly 500 US hospitals University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uops-nsl030216.php

Public Release: 2-Mar-2016
Nurse staffing levels key to keeping rehospitalizations down for hip/knee surgery patients
The cross-sectional study analyzed data from 112,000 Medicare patients in nearly 500 US hospitals
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research (CHOPR) shows that patients, who undergo elective hip and knee surgery in hospitals with inadequate nurse staffing and poor nurse work environments, are more likely to require re-hospitalization.

•••••

Food System Shock: Climate Change's Greatest Threat to Civilization

https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/food-system-shock-climate-changes-greatest-threat-to-civilization

By: Jeff Masters , 4:00 PM GMT on April 29, 2016

The greatest threat of climate change to civilization over the next 40 years is likely to be climate change-amplified extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major global grain-producing "breadbaskets" simultaneously. A "Food System Shock" report issued in 2015 by insurance giant Lloyd’s of London outlined a plausible extreme shock to global food production that could cause rioting, terrorist attacks, civil war, mass starvation and severe losses to the global economy. Their scenario, which Lloyd's gave uncomfortably high odds of occurring--significantly higher than 0.5% per year, which works out to at least an 18% chance of occurrence in the next 40 years--goes like this:

•••••

The extreme weather of the year 2010--which I speculated was Earth’s most extreme weather year since the famed “Year Without a Summer” in 1816-- showed us that multiple extreme weather events in major grain-producing areas can indeed cause dangerous shocks to the global food system. This was unexpected at the beginning of 2010, when in its January World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted higher global wheat production and lower prices for 2010 - 2011. But extreme weather began an dramatic assault on the world's grain-producing nations in the spring of 2010, ... [Read the full article at the link above for a list of conditions around the world that caused decreased food production.]

•••••

As a result of the global extreme weather during 2010, the price of wheat more than doubled from approximately $4 per bushel in July 2010 to $8.50 - $9 in February 2011. These price increases hit the nations of the Middle East and North Africa particularly hard, since they import more food per capita than any other region of the world, due to their scarce water supplies and lack of farmable land. According to a 2013 report, "The Arab Spring and Climate Change"--issued by the Center for American Progress, the Stimson Center, and The Center for Climate and Security--the top nine importers of wheat are all in the Middle East; seven had political protests resulting in civilian deaths in 2011, and the food price increases were identified as a major contributing cause of the societal unrest.

•••••

Unfortunately, a serious shock to the global food system will grow increasingly likely in the next few decades. According to an independent 2015 food shock study by the UK-US Task Force on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience, the odds of an extreme weather food shock capable of reducing the production of corn, soybean, wheat and rice by 5-7% will grow from 1% per year to over 3% per year by 2040. The increased vulnerability will occur due to climate change, population growth, decreasing water availability, the alarming reduction in plant-pollinating insects like bees, loss of topsoil and a shift towards more meat consumption globally. About 805 million people worldwide are undernourished, according to the United Nations, and this number will grow as the population increases from 7.3 billion now to a projected 9.6 billion by 2050--mostly in Africa and other developing regions.

•••••

If it seems like the weather in recent years has gotten crazier than you remember from 20+ years ago, you are right. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, "Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?", research published by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of these extreme patterns occurred in the summer of 2010, leading to Russian drought that triggered the steep rise in food prices implicated in the “Arab Spring” uprisings. When the jet stream goes into one of these extreme configurations, it freezes in its tracks for weeks, resulting in an extended period of extreme heat or flooding, depending upon where the high-amplitude part of the jet stream lies. The scientists found that because human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic to heat up more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, a unique resonance pattern capable of causing this behavior was resulting. This sort of jet stream behavior makes a serious extreme weather food shock event much more likely to occur, since extreme weather events affect multiple areas of the planet simultaneously for long periods of time.

•••••

There is hope that we will overcome, though. The global agriculture system has shown impressive resiliency in more than meeting the demands of a growing population over the last 50 years. The December 2015 Paris Accord--the commitment by the world's nations to de-carbonize our economies--should result in long-term changes to the global food system that should make the Lloyd's scenario less likely to occur. According to an October 2015 report by the World Bank, Future of Food: Shaping A Climate-Smart Global Food System, a growing and diverse spectrum of practices called "Climate Smart Agriculture" are showing it is possible to simultaneously deliver higher agricultural productivity, greater climate resilience, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

tags: extreme weather

Millionaires Would Gain Trillions Under Trump and Cruz Tax Plans

http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/millionaires-would-gain-trillions-under-trump-and-cruz-tax-plans

April 28, 2016
by Isaac Shapiro

At a time of exceptionally wide levels of income inequality, the tax-cut proposals from Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would produce extremely large and unprecedented tax-cut windfalls for people with incomes exceeding $1 million a year, almost certainly at the expense of low- and middle-income households once budget cuts to pay for the tax cuts are taken into account. Both tax plans would ultimately increase the already substantial incomes of people who make over $1 million a year by about 20 percent, with the revenues lost due to the tax cuts for millionaires exceeding $3 trillion over the coming decade.

•••••

TPC also examined the tax cuts that would be given to the richest 0.1 percent of the population, those with annual incomes exceeding $5.2 million (in today’s dollars). The data show that in 2025:

These households would receive tax cuts averaging $1.4 million under Trump and $1.8 million under Cruz. Under both plans, this segment of the population would receive significantly larger percentage increases in after-tax income (18 percent and 23 percent, respectively) than any other group.

•••••

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Food limitation linked to record California sea lion pup strandings

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/nfwc-fll030216.php

Public Release: 2-Mar-2016
Food limitation linked to record California sea lion pup strandings
New research shows a decade-long decline of sardines and anchovy associated with poor condition of sea lion pups
NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region

Large numbers of California sea lion pups have flooded animal rescue centers in Southern California in the past few years. Now, as part of an ongoing investigation into the Unusual Mortality Event of California sea lions by a team of NOAA scientists and private partners, researchers may have an explanation.

Booming sea lion numbers combined with declines in the highest-calorie prey around the Channel Islands breeding rookeries have left nursing females struggling to support the nutritional needs of their pups, according to a new study published today in Royal Society Open Science.

The study by NOAA Fisheries scientists is the first to analyze changes in fish populations sea lions prey on for clues as to what is causing the record strandings. Scientists examined changes in the abundance of four of the main prey species: sardine, anchovy, rockfish and market squid over the 2004-2014 time period. They found that that high-calorie sardines and anchovies, both rich in fat that is vital to the growth of young sea lions, have declined since the mid-2000s in the areas around the Channel Islands where the females forage. That has forced the female sea lions to prey instead on market squid and rockfish, which contain far less fat and fewer calories.

•••••

How diet influences colon cancer

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/miot-hdi030116.php

Public Release: 2-Mar-2016
How diet influences colon cancer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Over the past decade, studies have found that obesity and eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet are significant risk factors for many types of cancer. Now, a new study from MIT reveals how a high-fat diet makes the cells of the intestinal lining more likely to become cancerous.

The study of mice suggests that a high-fat diet drives a population boom of intestinal stem cells and also generates a pool of other cells that behave like stem cells -- that is, they can reproduce themselves indefinitely and differentiate into other cell types. These stem cells and "stem-like" cells are more likely to give rise to intestinal tumors, says Omer Yilmaz, an MIT assistant professor of biology and leader of the research team.

"Not only does the high-fat diet change the biology of stem cells, it also changes the biology of non-stem-cell populations, which collectively leads to an increase in tumor formation," says Yilmaz, who is a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and a gastrointestinal pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

•••••

Processed meat may increase the risk of breast cancer for Latinas, USC study finds

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uosc-pmm030216.php

Public Release: 2-Mar-2016
Processed meat may increase the risk of breast cancer for Latinas, USC study finds
Tuna has similar impact on white women, research suggests
University of Southern California

Latinas who eat processed meats such as bacon and sausage may have an increased risk for breast cancer, according to a new study that did not find the same association among white women.

The study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer Causes & Control, suggests that race, ethnicity, genetics, culture and lifestyle choices could all affect cancer risk, said Mariana Stern, senior author and director of graduate programs in molecular epidemiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

•••••

The findings came months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared processed meat a carcinogen that increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

•••••

In the study, Latinas who consumed about 20 grams of processed meat per day (the equivalent of a strip of bacon) were 42 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer compared to Latinas who ate little or no processed meats, said Andre Kim, lead author and a USC molecular epidemiology doctoral student.

"We're not entirely sure why processed meat association was restricted to Hispanics, especially since we know processed meats are carcinogens," Kim said.

Researchers also looked at consumption of red meats, poultry, all fish and just tuna. White women who ate an average of 14 grams of tuna daily (roughly the size of a thimble) were 25 percent more likely to have breast cancer than those who did not. The association for tuna on Latinas was comparable but not statistically significant.

While many fish contain omega-3 and other fatty acids, many also contain contaminant metals such as mercury and cadmium. Tuna has been reported to have a higher proportion of these contaminants, which may activate estrogen receptors and increase breast cancer risk, Stern said.

As a caveat, the authors noted the association between increased breast cancer risk and tuna could have been driven by chance because the two data sets researchers used had different ways of collecting tuna intake information.

•••••