Monday, November 30, 2009

Common Pain Relief Medication May Encourage Cancer Growth

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118143209.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2009) — Although morphine has been the gold-standard treatment for postoperative and chronic cancer pain for two centuries, a growing body of evidence is showing that opiate-based painkillers can stimulate the growth and spread of cancer cells. Two new studies advance that argument and demonstrate how shielding lung cancer cells from opiates reduces cell proliferation, invasion and migration in both cell-culture and mouse models.

The reports--to be presented November 18, 2009, at "Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics," a joint meeting in Boston of the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer--highlight the mu opiate receptor, where morphine works, as a potential therapeutic target.

"If confirmed clinically, this could change how we do surgical anesthesia for our cancer patients," said Patrick A. Singleton, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and principal author of both studies. "It also suggests potential new applications for this novel class of drugs which should be explored."

The proposition that opiates influence cancer recurrence, prompted by several unrelated clinical and laboratory studies, has gradually gained support. It started with a 2002 palliative-care trial in which patients who received spinal rather than systemic pain relief survived longer. Soon after that, Singleton's colleague, anesthesiologist Jonathan Moss, noticed that several cancer patients receiving a selective opiate blocker in a compassionate-use protocol lived longer than expected. Two recent retrospective studies found that breast and prostate cancer patients who received regional rather than general anesthesia had fewer recurrences. In February, 2009, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation highlighted the issue.

Moss's palliative-care patients were taking methylnaltrexone (MNTX), developed in the 1980s for opiate-induced constipation by the late University of Chicago pharmacologist Leon Goldberg. Goldberg modified an established drug that blocks morphine so that it could no longer cross the protective barrier that surrounds the brain. So MNTX blocks morphine's peripheral side effects but does not interfere with its effect on pain, which is centered in the brain. It won FDA approval in 2008.

"These were patients with advanced cancer and a life expectancy of one to two months," Moss recalled, "yet several lived for another five or six. It made us wonder whether this was just a consequence of better GI function or could there possibly be an effect on the tumors."

So Singleton, Moss and colleagues, including Joe G.N. Garcia, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, began a series of studies looking at the many peripheral effects of opiates and the potential benefits of blocking those effects.

In laboratory studies, morphine can directly boost tumor-cell proliferation and inhibit the immune response. The researchers found that opiates also promote angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, and decrease barrier function--effects that may exacerbate diseases involving vascular leakiness including acute lung injury in experimental models. In a surgical setting, decreased barrier function may make it easier for tumors to invade tissue and spread to distant sites. Increased angiogenesis helps cancers thrive in a new site.

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Heavy Criticism from a Parent Can Increase Aggressive Behavior in Children

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119141227.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 20, 2009) — In a study published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry researchers show that over reactive parenting, such as heavy criticism or yelling as a response to a child's negative behavior, can produce higher levels of aggression or rule-breaking in a child who is normally introverted, non-benevolent, non-conscientious, or imaginative.

Children who are extraverted, benevolent, conscientious, or not that imaginative by nature are least adversely affected by this parental response.

The research (taken from 586 families) shows that rule-breaking and aggressive behavior is influenced by the inherent personality traits of a child. The study also shows that aggression-related behavior generally decreases as the children grow but on average the rule-breaking behavior does not change, and both genders exhibit these behaviors between the ages six to fifteen. When examining both personality and gender boys and girls are not different affected by parenting methods.

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Their definition of "adversely affected" seems to be that it causes trouble for the parents. What about effects on the feelings of the child, and effects on the child after they are grown.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Exposures to Metals and Diesel Emissions in Air Linked to Respiratory Symptoms in Children

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123125157.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 25, 2009) — Exposure shortly after birth to ambient metals from residential heating oil combustion and particles from diesel emissions are associated with respiratory symptoms in young inner city children, according to a new study by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. The study is among the first to analyze the effects of exposure to airborne metals in this very young population and the findings could have important public health implications.

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The study compared pollutant levels with respiratory symptoms of children between birth and age two living in Northern Manhattan and in the South Bronx, and found that the airborne metals nickel and vanadium, were risk factors for wheezing in young children. Residual oil combustion for heating is a major source in New York City of these metals. Elemental carbon, an indicator of diesel exhaust, was associated with increased frequency of coughing only during cold and flu season (September through April).

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Reasons for decreased risk of HIV infection in circumcised men

There is an interesting comment on this post.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123212540.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — The decreased risk of HIV infection in circumcised men cannot be explained by a reduction in sores from conditions such as herpes, according to research published in PLoS Medicine.

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The researchers found that reduction in symptomatic genital ulcer disease accounted for only about 10% of the protective effect associated with circumcision, and did not find any consistent role for HSV-2 in counteracting protection. These results indicate that most of the reduction in HIV acquisition provided by male circumcision may be explained by the removal of vulnerable foreskin tissue containing HIV target cells. They also suggest that circumcision reduces genital ulcer disease primarily by reducing the rate of ulceration due to causes other than herpes, including sores caused by mild trauma during intercourse.

Daycare May Double TV Time for Young Children, Study Finds

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123083654.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — In a new study, the amount of television viewed by many young children in child care settings doubles the previous estimates of early childhood screen time, with those in home-based settings watching significantly more on average than those in center-based daycares. This study is the first to examine screen time in child care settings in more than 20 years. The study looked at television use in 168 child care programs in four states, and was guided by lead researcher Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

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The study found that among preschool-aged children, those in home-based daycares watched TV for 2.4 hours per day on average, compared to 0.4 hours in center-based settings. Some home-based programs were closer to the center-based programs in amount of time they used television, particularly those programs in which the staff had college degrees. With the exception of infants, children in home-based child care programs were exposed to significantly more television on an average day than children in center-based programs (infants: 0.2 vs 0 hours; toddlers: 1.6 vs 0.1 hours; preschool-aged children: 2.4 vs 0.4 hours). The greatest increase in screen time occurred in the preschool group, in home-based child care settings.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cutting Greenhouse Pollutants Could Directly Save Millions of Lives Worldwide

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091125081622.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 25, 2009) — Tackling climate change by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions will have major direct health benefits in addition to reducing the risk of climate change, especially in low-income countries, according to a series of six papers appearing on, Nov. 25 in the British journal The Lancet.

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"These papers demonstrate there are clear and substantive improvements for health if we choose the right mitigation strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Birnbaum. "We now have real life examples of how we can save the environment, reduce air pollution and decrease related health effects; it's really a win-win situation for everyone."

A case study led by Smith on the health and climate benefits from a potential 150-million-stove program in India from 2010-2020 gives the largest co-benefit of any examined in the six papers. Smith has shown that providing low-emission stove technologies in poor countries that currently rely on solid fuel household stoves to cook and heat their homes is a very cost-effective climate change linkage. The 10-year program could prevent 2 million premature deaths in India, he said, in addition to reducing greenhouse pollution by hundreds of millions of tons.

The paper coauthored by Jerrett contains analysis of 18 years of data on the long-term health effects of black carbon -- the first study of its kind ever conducted. The study followed 352,000 people in 66 U.S. cities and was conducted by a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers led by Jerrett and Smith. Black carbon is a short-lived greenhouse pollutant which, along with ozone, is responsible for a significant proportion of global warming. Unlike CO2, these short-lived greenhouse pollutants exert significant direct impacts on health. Also, because they are short-lived, emission controls are almost immediately reflected in changes in warming.

"Combustion-related air pollution is estimated to be responsible for nearly 2.5 million premature deaths annually around the world and also for a significant portion of greenhouse warming," said Smith. "These studies provide the kind of concrete information needed to choose actions that efficiently reduce this health burden as well as reduce the threat of climate change."

High Salt Intake Directly Linked to Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091124204324.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — High salt intake is associated with significantly greater risk of both stroke and cardiovascular disease, concludes a study published on the British Medical Journal website.

The link between high salt intake and high blood pressure is well established, and it has been suggested that a population-wide reduction in dietary salt intake has the potential to substantially reduce the levels of cardiovascular disease.

The World Health Organization recommended level of salt consumption is 5 g (about one teaspoon) per day at the population level, yet dietary salt intake in most Western countries is close to 10g per day (and much higher in many Eastern European countries).

Collaborative research conducted by Professor Pasquale Strazzullo at the University of Naples, Italy and Professor Francesco Cappuccio at the University of Warwick, UK analysed the results of 13 published studies involving over 170,000 people that directly assessed the relationship between levels of habitual salt intake and rates of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.

Their analysis shows unequivocally that a difference of 5 g a day in habitual salt intake is associated with a 23% difference in the rate of stroke and a 17% difference in the rate of total cardiovascular disease.

Based on these results, the authors estimate that reducing daily salt intake by 5 g at the population level could avert one and a quarter million deaths from stroke and almost three million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year. Furthermore, because of imprecision in measurement of salt intake, these effect sizes are likely to be underestimated, say the authors.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Global Study of Salmon Shows: 'Sustainable' Food Isn't So Sustainable

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091124152803.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — Popular thinking about how to improve food systems for the better often misses the point, according to the results of a three-year global study of salmon production systems. Rather than pushing for organic or land-based production, or worrying about simple metrics such as "food miles," the study finds that the world can achieve greater environmental benefits by focusing on improvements to key aspects of production and distribution.

For example, what farmed salmon are fed, how wild salmon are caught and the choice to buy frozen over fresh matters more than organic vs. conventional or wild vs. farmed when considering global scale environmental impacts such as climate change, ozone depletion, loss of critical habitat, and ocean acidification.

The study is the world's first comprehensive global-scale look at a major food commodity from a full life cycle perspective, and the researchers examined everything -- how salmon are caught in the wild, what they're fed when farmed, how they're transported, how they're consumed, and how all of this contributes to both environmental degradation and socioeconomic benefits.

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This is a long article, but readable and interesting.

Oceans Absorbing Carbon Dioxide More Slowly, Scientist Finds

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091124140957.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — The world's oceans are absorbing less carbon dioxide (CO2), a Yale geophysicist has found after pooling data taken over the past 50 years. With the oceans currently absorbing over 40 percent of the CO2 emitted by human activity, this could quicken the pace of climate change, according to the study, which appears in the November 25 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

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Anybody wholse taken elementary chemistry should expect this.


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Jeffrey Park, professor of geology and geophysics and director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, used data collected from atmospheric observing stations in Hawaii, Alaska and Antarctica to study the relationship between fluctuations in global temperatures and the global abundance of atmospheric CO2 on interannual (one to 10 years) time scales. A similar study from 20 years ago found a five-month lag between interannual temperature changes and the resulting changes in CO2 levels. Park has now found that this lag has increased from five to at least 15 months.

"No one had updated the analysis from 20 years ago," Park said. "I expected to find some change in the lag time, but the shift was surprisingly large. This is a big change."

With a longer lag time, atmospheric CO2 can no longer adjust fully to cyclical temperature fluctuations before the next cycle begins, suggesting that the oceans have lost some of their ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Weaker CO2 absorption could be caused by a change in ocean circulation or just an overall increase in the surface temperature. "Think of the oceans like soda," Park said. "Warm cola holds less fizz," Park said. "The same thing happens as the oceans warm up."

Increases in CO2 levels have tended to precede increases in temperature over the past century, with the human influence on climate accumulating over many decades of burning fossil fuels and clearing forests. However, this relationship is reversed on interannual time scales, with multiyear temperature cycles leading multiyear cycles in CO2 levels.

Park found particularly strong correlations between sea-surface temperatures and CO2 levels in tropical ocean areas. Conversely, in places with a lot of trees and other biomass to soak up much of the atmospheric CO2, there was little or no correlation between temperature and CO2 on interannual time scales. In those places, such as the vast forests of North America and Eurasia, a large annual CO2 cycle synchronizes with the seasonal growth and decay of plants.

"Researchers have used climate models that suggest the oceans have been absorbing less CO2, but this is the first study to quantify the change directly using observations," Park said. "It strengthens the projection that the oceans will not absorb as much of our future CO2 emissions, and that the pace of future climate change will quicken."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

America's Increasing Food Waste Is Laying Waste to the Environment

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091124204314.htm

Alcohol in Pregnancy Linked to Child Behavior Problems

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123094135.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — A new study from Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found evidence that the amount and timing of alcohol consumption in pregnancy affects child behaviour in different ways.

The study has just been published online in the international journal Addiction.

Lead author Colleen O'Leary said the analysis was drawn from a random sample of more than 2000 mothers who completed a questionnaire three months after the baby's delivery, and were then followed up when the child was 2, 5 and 8 years of age.

“Mothers who reported what we would classify as heavy drinking in the first trimester of pregnancy were nearly three times as likely to report that their child suffered with anxiety and/or depression or somatic complaints,” Ms O'Leary said.

“Those who drank moderately during that first trimester were twice as likely to report those types of behavioural issues for their child.

“Exposure to moderate or heavy levels of alcohol in late pregnancy increased the risk of aggressive types of behaviours in the child.

“This research suggests that both the timing and the intensity of alcohol exposure in the womb affect the type of behaviour problems expressed.”

In this study low levels of alcohol did not increase the risk of harm to the baby. However, the evidence clearly shows that the risk to the baby increases with increasing amounts consumed.

“It should also be noted that in this study moderate exposure is classified as drinking 3-4 standard drinks per occasion- that's about two normal glasses of wine-and no more than a bottle of wine drunk over a week.”

Heavy drinking included women who were drinking the equivalent of more than a bottle of wine per week.

It is important that women who had consumed alcohol while pregnant are not panicked by the findings.

“Not every smoker gets lung cancer despite them being at higher risk - and in this case, not every child will be affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol. However it is important that women have this information about increased risk so that they can make informed decisions to give their child the best start to life,” Ms O'Leary said.

Exposure to Lead, Tobacco Smoke Raises Risk of ADHD

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123083652.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Children exposed prenatally to tobacco smoke and during childhood to lead face a particularly high risk for ADHD, according to research done at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The study estimates that up to 35 percent of ADHD cases in children between the ages of 8 and 15 could be reduced by eliminating both of these environmental exposures. This could translate into up to 800,000 children

"Tobacco and lead exposure each have their own important adverse effect," says Tanya Froehlich, M.D., a physician in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's and the study's lead author. "But if children are exposed to both lead and prenatal tobacco, the combined effect is synergistic."

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Continue Significant Climb

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091124174622.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — The annual rate of increase in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has more than tripled in this decade, compared to the 1990s, reports an international consortium of scientists, who paint a bleak picture of the Earth's future unless "CO2 emissions [are] drastically reduced."

These CO2 emissions increased at a rate of 3.4% per year from 2000 to 2008, in contrast to 1% each year in the previous decade, scientists from the Global Carbon Project report in the current issue of Nature Geoscience. The team comprises some 30 researchers from around the world, including Scott C. Doney, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Richard A. Houghton, senior scientist and acting director of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC).

Since 2000, the scientists documented an overall increase of 29% in global CO2 emissions. They attributed the rise to increasing production and trade of manufactured products, particularly from emerging economies, the gradual shift from oil to coal and the planet's waning capacity to absorb CO2.

Doney led a team that developed ocean-model simulations for estimating the historical variations in air-sea CO2 fluxes.

"Over the last decade, CO2 emissions have continued to climb despite efforts to control emissions," Doney said. "Preliminary evidence suggests that the land and ocean may be becoming less effective at removing CO2 from the atmosphere, which could accelerate future climate change."

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Climate Modeling May Have Missed Something: Aquatic Creatures Mix Ocean Water by Swimming

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122161736.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Understanding mixing in the ocean is of fundamental importance to modeling climate change or predicting the effects of an El Niño on our weather. Modern ocean models primarily incorporate the effects of winds and tides. However, they do not generally take into account the mixing generated by swimming animals.

More than 60 years ago, oceanographers predicted that the effect of swimming animals could be profound. Accounting for this effort has proven difficult, though, so it has not entered into today's models.

Now Kakani Katija and John Dabiri at the California Institute of Technology have developed a way to estimate the extent of "biogenic" mixing. After conducting field measurements on swimming jellyfish, they built models of how animals mix the waters ocean-wide and concluded that the effect may be extensive.

"Swimming animals may contribute to ocean mixing on the same level as winds and tides," says Katija. "This necessitates the inclusion of biogenic mixing sources in ocean circulation and global climate models."

Katija will present these findings this month at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics will take place from November 22-24 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Most of this mixing is due to the displacement created by the movement of animal bodies through the water -- rather than by the turbulence that is stirred up by fish as they swim. This displacement is found to depend primarily on the shape of the animal rather than the dynamics of the animal's swimming motion.

Moreover, says Katija, only a small part of the mixing comes from the mighty creatures that inhabit the deep. Most of it is due to meeker, but much more plentiful, animals -- the tiny krill, copepods, and other small critters that make up the vast majority of organisms swimming in the ocean.

The presentation, "A Darwinian mechanism for biogenic ocean mixing" by Kakani Katija and John Dabiri of the California Institute of Technology is on November 22, 2009.

Children Who Suffer Physical or Emotional Abuse May Be Faced With Accelerated Cellular Aging as Adults

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122095411.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Children who suffer physical or emotional abuse may be faced with accelerated cellular aging as adults, according to new research from Butler Hospital and Brown University.

The findings, which are published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry, draw a direct connection between childhood psychological trauma and accelerated reduction in the size of telomeres, the "caps" on the end of chromosomes that promote cellular stability. Telomeres typically shorten with age.

After measuring DNA extracted from blood samples of 31 adults, researchers found accelerated shortening of telomeres in those who reported suffering maltreatment as children, compared to study participants who did not.

"It tells us something. It gives us a hint that early developmental experiences may have profound effects on biology that can influence cellular mechanisms at a very basic level, said Dr. Audrey Tyrka, the study's lead author. Tyrka is assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and associate chief of the mood disorders program at Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I.

The work of Tyrka and the other authors builds on previous research that established psychological stress and trauma as risk factors for a number of medical and psychiatric illnesses. Other work has linked some of these psychiatric and medical problems with shortened telomere length. This study now establishes a link between early psychosocial stress and shorter telomere length.

Researchers have also found that telomeres shorten at a higher rate when exposed to toxins, such as radiation or cigarette smoke. Other studies have looked at adult female caregivers who are responsible for children with developmental delays, determining a link between accelerated telomere shortening and the higher stress levels the caregivers faced.

This may be the first attempt to look at telomere length in relation to childhood mistreatment.

Researchers said the early findings are compelling, because they looked at adults who were otherwise healthy and had not had any current or past psychiatric disorders. The early data shows strong links between childhood stress and the accelerated shortening of telomeres.

More work is needed, Tyrka said. "We don't know what the full implications of this are yet. Shorter telomere lengths are linked to aging and certain diseases, so it is possible that this is a mechanism of risk for illness following childhood abuse," she said. "But the precise role of telomeres in this process remains to be determined."

Shorter telomere lengths have been linked to a variety of aging-related medical conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

For this study, the scientists looked at 22 women and nine men between ages 18 and 64. Some of the subjects had no history of childhood maltreatment, but others said they had endured either moderate or severe mistreatment as children.

The adults who endured mistreatment as children varied in terms of the type of trauma they reported. They suffered individually from emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Intensive Land Management Leaves Europe Without Carbon Sinks

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123114636.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Of all global carbon dioxide emissions, less than half accumulate in the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming. The remainder is hidden away in oceans and terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, grasslands and peat-lands. Stimulating this "free service" of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems is considered one of the main, immediately available ways of reducing climate change. However, new greenhouse gas bookkeeping has revealed that for the European continent this service isn't free after all.


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These findings were recently published in Nature Geoscience.

Researchers from 17 European countries cooperating in the EU-Integrated Project CarboEurope, led by Detlef Schulze, of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany have compiled the first comprehensive greenhouse gas balance of Europe. They made two independent estimates: one based on what the atmosphere sees and one based on what terrestrial ecosystems see.

The new bookkeeping effort confirmed the existence of a strong carbon sink of -305 Million tonnes of carbon per year in European forests and grasslands. A sink of this magnitude could offset 19% of the emission from fossil fuel burning. However, agricultural land and drained peat-land are emitting CO2, which cancels part of this sink. The resulting net CO2 sink of the European continent is 274 Million tonnes of carbon per year -- only 15% of the emissions from fossil fuel burning. But this balance is still incomplete, because all European ecosystems are managed and as a by-product of land management other powerful greenhouse gases are released -- for example nitrous oxide from fertilizers applied to grassland and crops, and methane from ruminants and from peat-lands. These previously neglected emissions of greenhouse gases from land-use cancel out almost the entire carbon sink, leaving the landscape offsetting only some 2% of the CO2 emissions from households, transport and industry.

Compared to Europe as a whole, the situation is even worse for the 25 states of the European Union. Here, although forests and grasslands can compensate for 13% of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning, emission of powerful greenhouse gases from agricultural emissions and peat mining reduces the effectiveness of the land surface sink to 111 Million tonnes of carbon per year, which is only 11% of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuels. However, since the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide are relatively higher in the European Union the land surface emerges as a greenhouse gas source of 34 Million tonnes of carbon per year. This effectively increases the emissions from fossil fuel burning by another 3%.

Surface Bacteria Maintain Skin's Healthy Balance

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122161742.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — On the skin's surface, bacteria are abundant, diverse and constant, but inflammation is undesirable. Research at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine now shows that the normal bacteria living on the skin surface trigger a pathway that prevents excessive inflammation after injury.

"These germs are actually good for us," said Richard L. Gallo, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pediatrics, chief of UCSD's Division of Dermatology and the Dermatology section of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

The study, to be published in the advance on-line edition of Nature Medicine on November 22, was done in mice and in human cell cultures, primarily performed by post-doctoral fellow Yu Ping Lai .

"The exciting implications of Dr. Lai's work is that it provides a molecular basis to understand the 'hygiene hypothesis' and has uncovered elements of the wound repair response that were previously unknown. This may help us devise new therapeutic approaches for inflammatory skin diseases," said Gallo.

The so-called "hygiene hypothesis," first introduced in the late 1980s, suggests that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents and microorganisms increases an individuals susceptibility to disease by changing how the immune system reacts to such "bacterial invaders." The hypothesis was first developed to explain why allergies like hay fever and eczema were less common in children from large families, who were presumably exposed to more infectious agents than others. It is also used to explain the higher incidence of allergic diseases in industrialized countries.

The skin's normal microflora -- the microscopic and usually harmless bacteria that live on the skin -- includes certain staphylococcal bacterial species that will induce an inflammatory response when they are introduced below the skin's surface, but do not initiate inflammation when present on the epidermis, or outer layer of skin.

In this study, Lai, Gallo and colleagues reveal a previously unknown mechanism by which a product of staphylococci inhibits skin inflammation. Such inhibition is mediated by a molecule called staphylococcal lipoteichoic acid (LTA) which acts on keratinocytes -- the primary cell types found on the epidermis.

The researchers also found that Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) activation is required for normal inflammation after skin injury.

"Keratinocytes require TLR3 to mount a normal inflammatory response to injury, and this response is kept from becoming too aggressive by staphylococcal LTA," said Gallo. "To our knowledge, these findings show for the first time that the skin epithelium requires TLR3 for normal inflammation after wounding and that the microflora helps to modulate this response."

Children Who Lack Continuity With a Regular Health Care Provider Miss Needed Services

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123171414.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Low-income children who don't access health care from the same place or provider over the long term are significantly more likely to have unmet health care needs compared with those do, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

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Previous studies have shown that patients who maintain an ongoing relationship with a primary care facility or provider, also known as a "usual source of care," are more likely to use preventive health care, not use emergency services and have shorter hospital stays. In this study, DeVoe and colleagues expanded on that research by examining whether having a consistent place or person from whom to access regular health care over time affects low-income children's ability to access needed services.

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Based on these responses, the researchers report that 79 percent of the children who lacked a usual source of health care had an unmet need compared with 45 percent who reported having a usual source of care.

The researchers then compared their findings with a comparable national sample and found 67.5 percent of low-income children nationwide who lacked a usual source of care had an unmet need compared with 37 percent who reported having a usual source of care.

"A child without a usual source of care had at least two times the odds of experiencing an unmet need than a child with a usual source of care both in the Oregon population and in the national sample," DeVoe explained.

In addition, the researchers were interested in knowing whether children whose insurance changes had prompted a change in their usual source of care were more vulnerable to experiencing unmet need. They found that an estimated 23 percent of low-income children in Oregon had changed their usual source of care because of insurance reasons. Compared to children with a stable usual source of care, the group that had changed their usual source of care had 2.6 times the odds of experiencing unmet medical care needs.

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Shifting Blame Is Socially Contagious

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119194124.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2009) — Merely observing someone publicly blame an individual in an organization for a problem -- even when the target is innocent -- greatly increases the odds that the practice of blaming others will spread with the tenacity of the H1N1 flu, according to new research from the USC Marshall School of Business and Stanford University.

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Nathanael J. Fast, an assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business and Larissa Tiedens, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, conducted four different experiments and found that publicly blaming others dramatically increases the likelihood that the practice will become viral. The reason: blame spreads quickly because it triggers the perception that one's self-image is under assault and must be protected.

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Health-Care Debate Linked to Risk of Dying in US and Europe

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106145256.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2009) — The current health care debate in the United States is complicated. Trade-offs between heath care expenditures, lifestyle choices and life expectancy have been suggested but seldom clearly demonstrated. The U.S. spends on average more than $45,000 per year on health care for every 80 year old, while the Europeans spend $12,000 for the same age group. U.S. octogenarians have a 20 percent less chance of dying than Europeans in the next year. But, more than 30 percent of the U.S. population is obese, compared to less than 10 percent of Europe's population.

"Many of the lifestyle choices that we make as adults have negative health consequences," said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. "But once we reach retirement age, it appears that differences in the medical systems start to favor the U.S."

The costs of U.S. policy are staggering. If the U.S. had the same per capita health expenditures for retirees as Germany or the United Kingdom, our country's total health care costs for all citizens would be about 40 percent less.

"The differences between U.S. and Europe in health care expenditures could not be starker," Fischbeck said. "Starting at age 65, per capita U.S. expenditures skyrocket, resulting in many hundreds of billions of dollars being spent over our European counterparts after matching population sizes."

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The research shows that prostate cancer, which has few lifestyle risk factors, is a much greater killer in Europe. In 11 European countries (including Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) a man in his 70s has a higher chance of dying from prostate cancer than a man in Mississippi, the U.S. state with the highest risk. When compared to residents of Hawaii, the U.S. state with the lowest prostate cancer risk, Europeans are two to three times more likely to die from prostrate cancer.

======

From what I've read, prostate cancer does have lifestyle risk factors.


====================================

The tables are reversed when comparing the diabetes death risk for men in their 70s, a risk highly related to lifestyle choices and obesity. Fifteen European countries (including Greece, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany and France) have lower risks than Iowa, the U.S. state with the lowest risk. Louisiana, the U.S. state with the highest risk, has a risk that is 10 times greater than Iceland, the lowest risk European country for diabetes.

Similar risk comparisons are possible for women. The risks for breast cancer are lower in the U.S. For 50-, 60- or 70-year-olds, four to eight European countries (including Denmark, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) have a higher risk of dying of breast cancer than either New Jersey or Louisiana, the two U.S. states that tie with the highest risk.

But for lung cancer, the results are opposite. For 80-year-old women, 14 European countries have lower lung cancer death risks than Utah, the U.S. state with the lowest risk, which also has a very low smoking rate. In fact, 42 U.S. states have a higher lung cancer risk than Iceland, the European country with the highest risk. Nevada, the state with the highest lung cancer risk for 80-year-old women is eight times higher than for Spain, the European country with the lowest risk.

Where is it better to live to reach certain milestones? For men and women under 65, the risks of dying before 65 are higher in the U.S. But for men older than 56 and woman older than 75 who want to make it to 85, the U.S. is the better location.

========================

So, the age group in the U.S. that is covered by federal government health insurance is better off.

I also notice they do not mention infant mortality, which is much worse in the U.S. And the U.S. life expectancy is shorter.

===========================

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll be back on-line the Monday after Thanksgiving.
I hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fox issues on-air apology for misleading footage of Palin crowds

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/19/fox-correction-on-air/

Following ThinkProgress’ report yesterday that Fox News had recycled old file footage of Sarah Palin rallies to assert that she is currently getting huge turnouts on her book tour, the network issued an on-air apology this afternoon. Fox’s Happening Now co-host Jane Skinner said it was mistake, but didn’t explain how it happened:

In the tease before the segment — the tease to commercial — we told you how those people were already lining up to meet Palin. The problem is, we didn’t actually show you the video we were referencing. Instead, we mistakenly aired what’s called file tape of Sarah Palin. We didn’t mean to mislead anybody in that tease. It was a mistake. And for that, we apologize.


See the link for a video of the admission.

Mortgage delinquencies hit record high

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34039065/ns/business-real_estate/

updated 11:37 a.m. ET, Thurs., Nov . 19, 2009

WASHINGTON - A rising proportion of fixed-rate home loans made to people with good credit are sinking into foreclosure, adding to concerns about the strength of the economic recovery.

Driven by rising unemployment, such loans accounted for nearly 33 percent of new foreclosures last quarter. That compares with just 21 percent a year ago, when high-risk subprime loans made during the housing boom were the main reason for default.

At the same time, the proportion of homeowners with a mortgage who were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure hit a record-high for the ninth straight quarter.

-----

Lost jobs, rather than the shady loans made during the housing boom, are now the main reason homeowners fall behind on their mortgages.

-----

Strength in numbers

I read awhile back that while a single tiger can beat a single lion, if you have a group of tigers against a group of lions, the lions will win, because tigers don't work together, but lions do. The lions work together to kill one tiger at a time.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34040021/ns/technology_and_science-science/

Lions kill white tiger in Czech zoo
updated 10:53 a.m. ET, Thurs., Nov . 19, 2009

PRAGUE - A zoo official says a rare white tiger has been killed by two lions in a zoo in northern Czech Republic.

Ivan Langr, a spokesman for the Liberec Zoo, says the lions — 14-year-old Sultan and 11-year-old Elsa — managed unexpectedly to enter an open-air area occupied by the 17-year-old tiger, named Isabella.

Langr said authorities were not able to prevent the killing, which took place Thursday morning.

The Liberec Zoo is the only one in the Czech Republic that has white tigers.

White tigers are the result of both parents having a recessive gene for white coloration. They are rare in the wild because standing out in the jungle hinders their efforts to catch prey.

Food banks overwhelmed by high demand

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34048610/ns/us_news-giving/

updated 1 hour, 37 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Soup kitchen workers are seeing new faces in line and charities are taking more calls for help as the recession makes for a less-than-bountiful Thanksgiving.

Hunger-relief advocates came to Congress on Thursday and painted a bleak picture of a country struggling to meet an increased need for food assistance at a time of high unemployment.

"In our 42-year history, we have never witnessed a demand for our services like we are seeing now," said Josh Fogt, public policy manager for Northwest Harvest in Seattle. The organization operates Washington state's largest food bank.

-----

The Northwest Harvest pantry in Seattle gets more than 2,500 visitors on busy days, up from a peak of 1,800 early last year, Fogt told members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

-----

The congressional hearing on food banks followed an Agriculture Department report that more than one in seven households struggled to put enough food on the table in 2008 — the highest rate since the agency began tracking food security in 1995.

That's about 49 million people, or 14.6 percent of U.S. households counted as lacking the food for an active, healthy life.

-----

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fox News displays old campaign footage to claim Palin is getting ‘huge crowds’ at her book signings

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/18/fox-crowd-shot-palin/

Fox News displays old campaign footage to claim Palin is getting ‘huge crowds’ at her book signings.

This afternoon, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett proudly announced that Sarah Palin is “continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand new book. Take a look at — these are some of the pictures just coming into us.” But the pictures that the network chose to display on-air appeared to be old file footage of Palin rallies from the 2008 presidential campaign. Individuals in the crowd are seen holding McCain/Palin signs, and others are holding pom-poms and cheering wildly. “There’s a crowd of folks,” an enthused Jarrett observed, referring to the old footage.

A new record minimum for arctic sea ice

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1385

Posted by: JeffMasters, 3:07 PM GMT on November 18, 2009
Arctic sea ice reached a new record minimum during the first half of November, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (Figure 1). The record low ice extent this month is the first extended period of record minimum arctic sea ice since 2007. The new record minimum suggests that the gains in ice seen over the past two years were probably a temporary fluctuation due to normal year-to-year variability in the weather, and that the long-term arctic sea ice decline observed since the 1970s is continuing.

-----

4 in 10 US families lack money for essential household expenses when unemployed

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-11/bu-fi1111609.php

Public release date: 17-Nov-2009
Contact: Laura Gardner
Brandeis University
4 in 10 US families lack money for essential household expenses when unemployed
With job recovery nowhere in sight, financial assets decline along with economic mobility

Waltham, MA—Today the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University's Heller School released a new research and policy brief which reports that four in ten U.S. families lack sufficient assets to pay for essential expenses in the face of unemployment.

IASP created a new approach to measuring asset poverty that includes unemployment benefits and compares families' asset holding to their ability to pay for essential household expenses and also to invest in future opportunities for mobility, such as a home purchase, business start-up, retraining, or education.

The IASP research and policy brief also shows that less than half of all U.S. families have sufficient savings to address essential expenses and invest in opportunities for mobility when faced with a job loss. Moreover, many more households of color lack the financial assets to meet their expenses during periods of unemployment. Sixty-six percent of African American and Latino households are not asset secure, and only 20 percent of households of color have financial assets to invest in opportunities for mobility. While most American families lack sufficient wealth to invest in education, housing, business ventures, or training for better jobs, the dramatic distance that marks families of color is a reflection of the profound, deep, and systematic racial wealth gap.

"The wealth gains of families of color over the past two decades are being savaged by the Great Recession, illustrating the persistence of the racial wealth gap in the U.S.," said Thomas Shapiro, IASP Director and co-author of the report.

Unemployment rates topping 10 percent are the highest in 26 years. Families are working more hours and taking on more part-time jobs. At the same time, unemployment benefits are running out for many families. Faced with the worst recession since the Great Depression, many U.S. families have no choice but to draw on inadequate savings to pay for essential household expenses. Many of these families are at risk of losing their housing. They may also cut back on food and healthcare to make ends meet.

"This timely and incisive report documents the lack of financial capacity of families to weather tough times. In this financial crisis, millions of American families have used up their nest-eggs, with job and wage recovery nowhere in sight," said Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, a Senior Fellow at Demos, a nonpartisan public policy and advocacy organization, and Author of "Obama's Challenge."

"Now, more than ever, Tom Shapiro, Melvin Oliver and Tatjana Meschede, turn our attention toward what it will take to make America again, the land of opportunity," Said Bob Friedman, Chair, Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).

Toxic toys? Health group finds high lead levels

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34001830/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

updated 6:34 p.m. ET, Tues., Nov . 17, 2009

WASHINGTON - Children's toys carrying the Barbie and Disney logos have turned up with high levels of lead in them, according to a California-based advocacy group — a finding that may give consumers pause as they shop for the holiday season.

The Center for Environmental Health tested about 250 children's products bought at major retailers and found lead levels that exceeded federal limits in seven of them. Lead can cause irreversible brain damage.

Among those with high lead levels: a Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit and a Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace. The group said it also found excessive lead in a Dora the Explorer Activity Tote, two pairs of children's shoes, a boys belt and a kids' poncho.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has sent letters to Target, Wal-Mart and the other retailers who sold the seven products, warning that children's goods on their store shelves were found to contain illegal levels of lead and should be pulled immediately.

The findings released Tuesday come about a year after a product safety law that ushered in strict limits on the amounts of lead and chemicals allowed in products made for children 12 years and younger. Congress passed the law after a slew of recalls of lead-tainted toys in 2007, including several Mattel-related recalls that involved more than 2 million toys.

Mattel said it licensed the Barbie name to Bell Sports for the bike accessory kit found with high lead, but did not make or sell it. Bell said the kit was an older product that passed safety tests in 2007, but the company didn't know it was still on store shelves.

Disney said the Tinkerbell necklace was tested by its licensee, Playmates Toys, before being distributed — and that it complied with all federal and state consumer safety regulations.

The Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif., said the Barbie toy was bought at Tuesday Morning and the Tinkerbell jewelry was purchased at Walgreens. The other products the center said had high lead came from TJ Maxx, Sears, Wal-Mart and Target.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Transcendental Meditation Helped Heart Disease Patients Lower Cardiac Disease Risks by 50 Percent

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116163204.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2009) — Patients with coronary heart disease who practiced the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation® technique had nearly 50 percent lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to nonmeditating controls, according to the results of a first-ever study presented during the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Fla., on Nov.16, 2009.

The nine-year, randomized control trial followed 201African American men and women, average age 59 years, with narrowing of arteries in their hearts who were randomly assigned to either practice the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique or to participate in a control group which received health education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise.

All participants continued standard medications and other usual medical care.

The study found:

* A 47 percent reduction in the combination of death, heart attacks, and strokes in the participants
* Clinically significant (5 mm Hg average) reduction in blood pressure associated with decrease in clinical events
* Significant reductions in psychological stress in the high-stress subgroup

The trial was sponsored by a $3.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and was conducted at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.

According to Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC, lead author and director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, "Previous research on Transcendental Meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity. But this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality."

"This study is an example of the contribution of a lifestyle intervention -- stress management -- to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients," said Theodore Kotchen, M.D., co-author of the study, professor of medicine, and associate dean for clinical research at the Medical College. Other investigators at the Milwaukee site included Drs. Jane Kotchen and Clarence Grim.

Dr. Schneider said that the effect of Transcendental Meditation in the trial was like adding a class of newly discovered medications for the prevention of heart disease. "In this case, the new medications are derived from the body's own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice," he said.

Fast Facts on Coronary Heart Disease

* Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States
* There are nearly 1.5 million heart attacks per year in the US, according to the American Heart Association
* An American will suffer a heart attack every 34 seconds
* Coronary heart disease is also the leading cause of health care costs. More than $475 billion is spent annually on treating CHD, including:
o $100,000 for each coronary bypass surgery
o $50,000 for each angioplasty
o $30,000 for each diagnostic cardiac catheterization
* There are nearly 500,000 coronary artery bypass grafts and 1.3 million angioplasties performed every year
* Stress is thought to contribute to the development of CHD

Uninsured ER patients twice as likely to die

Anybody's who's surprised by this has been living in la-la-land.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33971846/ns/health-health_care/

CHICAGO - Uninsured patients with traumatic injuries, such as car crashes, falls and gunshot wounds, were almost twice as likely to die in the hospital as similarly injured patients with health insurance, according to a troubling new study.

The findings by Harvard University researchers surprised doctors and health experts who have believed emergency room care was equitable.

"This is another drop in a sea of evidence that the uninsured fare much worse in their health in the United States," said senior author Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon and medical journalist.

The study, appearing in the November issue of Archives of Surgery, comes as Congress is debating the expansion of health insurance coverage to millions more Americans. It could add fodder to that debate.

The researchers couldn't pin down the reasons behind the differences they found. The uninsured might experience more delays being transferred from hospital to hospital. Or they might get different care. Or they could have more trouble communicating with doctors.

The hospitals that treat them also could have fewer resources.

"Those hospitals tend to be financially strapped, not have the same level of staffing, not have the same level of surgeons and testing and equipment," Gawande said. "That also is likely a major contributor."

Gawande favors health care reform and has frequently written about the inequities of the current system.

The researchers took into account the severity of the injuries and the patients' race, gender and age. After those adjustments, they still found the uninsured were 80 percent more likely to die than those with insurance — even low-income patients insured by the government's Medicaid program.

"I'm really surprised," said Dr. Eric Lavonas of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a doctor at Denver Health Medical Center. "It's well known that people without health insurance don't get the same quality of health care in this country, but I would have thought that this group of patients would be the least vulnerable."

Some private hospitals are more likely to transfer an uninsured patient than an insured patient, said Lavonas, who wasn't involved in the new research.

"Sometimes we get patients transferred and we suspect they're being transferred because of payment issues," he said. "The transferring physician says, 'We're not able to handle this."'

Federal law requires hospital ERs to treat all patients who are medically unstable. But hospitals can transfer patients, or send them away, once they're stabilized. A transfer could worsen a patient's condition by delaying treatment.

The researchers analyzed data on nearly 690,000 U.S. patients from 2002 through 2006. Burn patients were not included, nor were people who were treated and released, or dead on arrival.

In the study, the overall death rate was 4.7 percent, so most emergency room patients survived their injuries. The commercially insured patients had a death rate of 3.3 percent. The uninsured patients' death rate was 5.7 percent. Those rates were before the adjustments for other risk factors.

The findings are based on an analysis of data from the National Trauma Data Bank, which includes more than 900 U.S. hospitals.

"We have to take the findings very seriously," said lead author Dr. Heather Rosen, a surgery resident at Los Angeles County Hospital, who found similar results when she analyzed children's trauma data for an earlier study. "This affects every person, of every age, of every race."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bach on harmonica!

video

Pseudo-Patriot

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_11/020993.php

November 16, 2009
DR. NO'S DISREGARD FOR WOUNDED VETS.... A Senate measure to help wounded veterans is on the verge of passing, and that's clearly a positive development. There's just one problem.

The urgently needed legislation consolidates more than a dozen improvements in veterans' health care -- most notably a new assistance program for family members who wind up providing lifelong home nursing to severely disabled veterans. These vital caregivers -- who sacrifice careers and put huge strains on their own mental health -- assume an obligation "that ultimately belongs to the government," Senator Daniel Akaka, the bill's chief sponsor, properly notes.

The measure also expands benefits for women veterans who suffered sexual trauma on duty, extends veterans' care in rural areas, tightens quality control at V.A. hospitals, and ensures that catastrophically disabled veterans will not be charged for emergency services in community hospitals.

Sounds great, right? Senators seemed to think so -- it sailed through committee with unanimous support. But it's currently stuck, because right-wing Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma refuses to let it advance. As he sees it, the five-year, $3.7 billion price tag for the veterans' program is too high a price unless is offset by budget cuts elsewhere.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) noted the strange standards Coburn applies to these spending bill -- Coburn doesn't care about paying for the war itself, but he balks when it comes to caring for the vets when they come home. "Where was he when we were spending a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq?" Reid asked. "That wasn't paid for. I didn't hear him stopping the bill from going forward at that time. I think he should become more logical and understand we have people who are suffering."

Or as the NYT editorial put it this morning, "Sheer embarrassment should drive the senator into retreat as he trifles with veterans' needs and burnishes his petty role as Dr. No."

I'm also reminded of something House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said just a year ago, "[T]here is a clear distinction between saying you support the troops and backing up those claims with genuine action."

A variety of veterans' groups have organized an effort to urge Coburn to let the Senate vote on the benefits bill. VoteVets.org has posted an online petition on the effort.

There they go again

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/gop-senator-supports-a-filibuster-for-judicial-nominee/

November 16, 2009, 4:16 pm
G.O.P. Senator Supports a Filibuster for Judicial Nominee
By CHARLIE SAVAGE

Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Monday that he would support a filibuster on Tuesday in an effort to block an up-or-down vote on confirming David F. Hamilton to be a federal appeals court judge.

Mr. Sessions also said that a filibuster attempt is not likely to succeed in blocking a confirmation vote on Mr. Hamilton, who has the support of at least one Republican – Senator Richard Lugar, who is from Mr. Hamilton’s home state of Indiana and planned a floor speech endorsing the nominee Monday afternoon.

But, Mr. Sessions said, he believed that Mr. Hamilton presented “extraordinary circumstances” that made him worthy of a filibuster, citing rulings Mr. Hamilton has made as a district court judge striking down one part of an “informed consent” abortion law and sectarian prayers at the Indiana legislature. A procedural vote could come as early as Tuesday on the judge’s nomination to sit on the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court.

Like many Republicans, Mr. Sessions strongly opposed Democrats’ use of filibusters to block confirmation votes on several of former President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, saying that the Constitution requires only a majority vote – not the 60 votes required to stop a filibuster – to approve judges.

But, Mr. Sessions told reporters on Monday, that principle no longer applies because Democrats altered the Senate’s traditions during the Bush administration.

“I think the rules have changed,” Mr. Sessions said.

Under the new rules, Mr. Sessions said, most of the time if senators do not like a judicial nominee, they should merely vote against confirming the nominee. But if senators think that a nominee presents “extraordinary circumstances,” then it is acceptable for them to try to block a confirmation

==============================

Of course, he conveniently overlooks the fact that the Republicans blocked many of Clinton's appointees.

What is Fair Pay for Executives? An Information Theoretic Analysis of Wage Distributions

http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/11/4/766

Venkat Venkatasubramanian email
Laboratory for Intelligent Process Systems, School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
Received: 31 August 2009 / Accepted: 26 October 2009 / Published: 3 November 2009
This article belongs to the special issue Maximum Entropy

Abstract: The high pay packages of U.S. CEOs have raised serious concerns about what would constitute a fair pay. Since the present economic models do not adequately address this fundamental question, we propose a new theory based on statistical mechanics and information theory. We use the principle of maximum entropy to show that the maximally fair pay distribution is lognormal under ideal conditions. This prediction is in agreement with observed data for the bottom 90%–95% of the working population. The theory estimates that the top 35 U.S. CEOs were overpaid by about 129 times their ideal salaries in 2008. We also provide an insight of entropy as a measure of fairness, which is maximized at equilibrium, in an economic system.

AHA: Cardiologists Face Major Payment Cut But Still Back Reform

http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AHA/17019

By Peggy Peck, Executive Editor, MedPage Today
Published: November 15, 2009

ORLANDO -- In this exclusive MedPage Today InFocus™ video report, the vice president of the American College of Cardiology sounds an alarm about the potentially devastating effects of planned Medicare payment cuts to its cardiologists, but but he says payment concerns are unlikely to weaken the ACC's longstanding support for healthcare reform.

David Holmes, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., talked about healthcare reform and the need to keep the ACC's position on it separate from the College's current battle with Medicare, which has become the ACC's top priority.

The payment problem is especially frustrating because the decision to cut reimbursement to cardiologists was based on bad data, and ACC has been frustrated in its efforts to study those data, Holmes told Peggy Peck, MedPage Today's Executive Editor.

Report: More Americans going hungry

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/16/AR2009111601598.html

By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 16, 2009; 3:14 PM

The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up last year to 49 million, the largest number since the government has been keeping track, according to a federal report released Monday that shows particularly steep increases in food scarcity among families with children.

In 2008, the report found, nearly 17 million children -- more than one in five across the United States -- were living in households in which food at times ran short, up from slightly more than 12 million youngsters the year before. And the number of children who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.

Among people of all ages, nearly 15 percent last year did not consistently have adequate food, compared with about 11 percent in 2007, the greatest deterioration in access to food during a single year in the history of the report.

Taken together, the findings provide the latest glimpse into the toll that the weak economy has taken on the well-being of the nation's residents. The findings are from a snapshot of food in America that the U.S. Agriculture Department has issued every year since 1995, based on Census Bureau surveys. It documents both Americans who are scrounging for adequate food -- people living with some amount of "food insecurity" in the lexicon of experts -- and those whose food shortages are so severe that they are hungry.

-----

Vilsack attributed the marked worsening in Americans' access to food primarily to the rise in unemployment, which now exceeds 10 percent, and in people who are underemployed. "It's no secret. Poverty, unemployment, these are all factors," he said. Vilsack acknowledged that "there could be additional increases" in the 2009 figures, due out a year from now, although he said it is not yet clear how much the problem might be eased by the measures the administration and Congress have taken this year to stimulate the economy.

The report's main author at USDA, Mark Nord, noted that other recent research by the agency has found that most families in which food is scarce contain at least one adult with a full-time job, suggesting that the problem lies at least partly in wages, not just an absence of work.

-----

Food shortages, the report shows, are particularly pronounced among women raising children alone. Last year, more than one in three single mothers reported that they struggled for food and more than one in seven said someone in their home had been hungry -- far eclipsing the food problem in any other kind of household. The report also found that people who are black or Hispanic were more than twice as likely as whites to report that food in their home was scarce.

Poverty and food shortages are linked but are not the same thing, according to the report. Just half the households in which food is scarce have incomes at or below the official poverty level, the data show, while most of the rest live at less than twice the poverty level.

-----

Sunday, November 15, 2009

‘Significant amount’ of water found on moon

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33912611/ns/technology_and_science-space/

By Andrea Thompson
updated 2:43 p.m. ET, Fri., Nov . 13, 2009

It's official: There's water ice on the moon, and lots of it. When melted, the water could potentially be used to drink or to extract hydrogen for rocket fuel.

NASA's LCROSS probe discovered beds of water ice at the lunar south pole when it impacted the moon last month, mission scientists announced Friday. The findings confirm suspicions reported previously, and in a big way.

"Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn't find just a little bit, we found a significant amount," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator from NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Reducing Greenhouse Gases May Not Be Enough To Slow Climate Change

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111083055.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone is publishing a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

-----

"Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases," said Stone. "Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole -- a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs -- like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress -- may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming."

According to Stone's research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.

"Treaty negotiators should formally recognize land use change as a key driver of warming," said Stone. "The role of land use in global warming is the most important climate-related story that has not been widely covered in the media."

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the "green loss effect" through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.

-----

quote for the day

The economy is so bad that: The Mafia is laying off judges.

Atlanta Floods Extremely Rare

I am very grateful that my home was not in an area that flooded. Even more so because I both in pain from a pulled muscle, and sick, and in bed.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106121918.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2009) — The epic flooding that hit the Atlanta area in September was so extremely rare that, six weeks later this event has defied attempts to describe it. Scientists have reviewed the numbers and they are stunning.

"At some sites, the annual chance of a flood of this magnitude was so significantly less than 1 in 500 that, given the relatively short length of streamgauging records (well less than 100 years), the U.S. Geological Survey cannot accurately characterize the probability due to its extreme rarity," said Robert Holmes, USGS National Flood Program Coordinator. "Nationwide, given that our oldest streamgauging records span about 100 years, the USGS does not cite probabilities for floods that are beyond a 0.2 percent (500-year) flood."

"If a 0.2 percent (500-year) flood was a cup of coffee, this one brewed a full pot," said Brian McCallum, Assistant Director for the USGS Georgia Water Science Center in Atlanta. "This flood overtopped 20 USGS streamgauges -- one by 12 feet. The closest numbers we have seen like these in Georgia were from Tropical Storm Alberto in 1994. This flood was off the charts."

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"The flooding in Atlanta is certainly near the top of the list of the worst floods in the United States during the past 100 years," said Holmes. "For comparable drainage areas, the magnitude of this flood was worse than the 1977 Kansas City flood, which caused tremendous destruction and loss of life. It is a testament to the diligence of county officials and emergency management teams that more lives were not lost in Georgia."

Significant property losses, however, were a near certainty from this event. According to the National Weather Service, some locations recorded up to 20 inches of rain from 8:00 pm on Sept. 20 to 8:00 pm the following day. Culverts and sewers are not usually designed for events of this magnitude because they are so rare and it is cost prohibitive.

"Applying rainfall frequency calculations, we have determined that the chance of 10 inches or more occurring at any given point are less than one hundredth of one percent," said Kent Frantz, Senior Service Hydrologist for the National Weather Service at Peachtree City. "This means that the chance of an event like this occurring is 1 in 10,000."

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Cave Study Links Climate Change To California Droughts

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110171741.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2009) — California experienced centuries-long droughts in the past 20,000 years that coincided with the thawing of ice caps in the Arctic, according to a new study by UC Davis doctoral student Jessica Oster and geology professor Isabel Montañez.

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The researchers don't know exactly what connects Arctic temperatures to precipitation over California. However, climate models developed by others suggest that when Arctic sea ice disappears, the jet stream -- high-altitude winds with a profound influence on climate -- shifts north, moving precipitation away from California.

"If there is a connection to Arctic sea ice then there are big implications for us in California," Montañez said. Arctic sea ice has declined by about 3 percent a year over the past three decades, and some forecasts predict an ice-free Arctic ocean as soon as 2020.

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Men Leave: Separation And Divorce Far More Common When The Wife Is The Patient

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110105401.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2009) — A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is the patient, according to a study that examined the role gender played in so-called "partner abandonment." The study also found that the longer the marriage the more likely it would remain intact.

The study confirmed earlier research that put the overall divorce or separation rate among cancer patients at 11.6 percent, similar to the population as a whole. However, researchers were surprised by the difference in separation and divorce rates by gender. The rate when the woman was the patient was 20.8 percent compared to 2.9 percent when the man was the patient.

"Female gender was the strongest predictor of separation or divorce in each of the patient groups we studied," said Marc Chamberlain, M.D., a co-corresponding author and director of the neuro-oncology program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Chamberlain is also a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

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"We believe that our findings apply generally to patients with life-altering medical illness," the authors wrote.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Avatars Can Surreptitiously And Negatively Affect User In Video Games, Virtual Worlds

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110211037.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — Although often seen as an inconsequential feature of digital technologies, one's self-representation, or avatar, in a virtual environment can affect the user's thoughts, according to research by a University of Texas at Austin communication professor.

In the first study to use avatars to prime negative responses in a desktop virtual setting, Jorge Peña, assistant professor in the College of Communication, demonstrated that the subtext of an avatar's appearance can simultaneously prime negative (or anti-social) thoughts and inhibit positive (or pro-social) thoughts inconsistent with the avatar's appearance. All of this while study participants remained unaware they had been primed.

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Workplace BPA Exposure Increases Risk Of Male Sexual Dysfunction

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111083051.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — High levels of workplace exposure to Bisphenol-A may increase the risk of reduced sexual function in men, according to a Kaiser Permanente study appearing in the journal Human Reproduction.

The five-year study examined 634 workers in factories in China, comparing workers in BPA manufacturing facilities with a control group of workers in factories where no BPA was present. The study found that the workers in the BPA facilities had quadruple the risk of erectile dysfunction, and seven times more risk of ejaculation difficulty.

This is the first research study to look at the effect of BPA on the male reproductive system in humans. Previous animal studies have shown that BPA has a detrimental effect on male reproductive system in mice and rats.

Funded by the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, this study adds to the body of evidence questioning the safety of BPA, a chemical made in the production of polycarbonated plastics and epoxy resins found in baby bottles, plastic containers, the lining of cans used for food and beverages, and in dental sealants.

The BPA levels experienced by the exposed factory workers in the study were 50 times higher than what the average American male faces in the United States, the researchers said.

"Because the BPA levels in this study were very high, more research needs to be done to see how low a level of BPA exposure may have effects on our reproductive system," said the study's lead author. De-Kun Li, MD, Ph.D., a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "This study raises the question: Is there a safe level for BPA exposure, and what is that level? More studies like this, which examine the effect of BPA on humans, are critically needed to help establish prevention strategies and regulatory policies."

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The study finding, Dr. Li also points out, may have implications of adverse BPA effects beyond male sexual dysfunction. Male sexual dysfunction could be a more sensitive early indicator for adverse BPA effects than other disease endpoints that are more difficult to study, such as cancer or metabolic diseases.

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Greenland Ice Cap Melting Faster Than Ever

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091112141311.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2009) — Satellite observations and a state-of-the art regional atmospheric model have independently confirmed that the Greenland ice sheet is losing mass at an accelerating rate, reports a new study in Science.

This mass loss is equally distributed between increased iceberg production, driven by acceleration of Greenland's fast-flowing outlet glaciers, and increased meltwater production at the ice sheet surface. Recent warm summers further accelerated the mass loss to 273 Gt per year (1 Gt is the mass of 1 cubic kilometre of water), in the period 2006-2008, which represents 0.75 mm of global sea level rise per year.

Professor Jonathan Bamber from the University of Bristol and an author on the paper said: "It is clear from these results that mass loss from Greenland has been accelerating since the late 1990s and the underlying causes suggest this trend is likely to continue in the near future. We have produced agreement between two totally independent estimates, giving us a lot of confidence in the numbers and our inferences about the processes".

The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to cause a global sea level rise of seven metres. Since 2000, the ice sheet has lost about 1500 Gt in total, representing on average a global sea level rise of about half a millimetre per year, or 5 mm since 2000.

At the same time that surface melting started to increase around 1996, snowfall on the ice sheet also increased at approximately the same rate, masking surface mass losses for nearly a decade. Moreover, a significant part of the additional meltwater refroze in the cold snowpack that covers the ice sheet. Without these moderating effects, post-1996 Greenland mass loss would have been double the amount of mass loss observed now.

Youths See All Parental Control Negatively When There's A Lot Of It

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083305.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2009) — A new study has found that young people feel differently about two types of parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's thought to be better for their development more positively. However, when parents are very controlling, young people no longer make this distinction and view both types of parental control negatively.

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Scholars tell us that parental control falls into two categories: behavioral control (when parents help their children regulate themselves and feel competent by providing supervision, setting limits, and establishing rules) and psychological control (when parents are manipulative in their behavior, often resulting in feelings of guilt, rejection, or not being loved). It's thought that behavioral control is better for youngsters' development.

But the study, which asked 67 American children (7th and 8th graders, as well as 10th and 11th graders) to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving both kinds of control, found that the youths put a negative spin on both types of control when the parents in the scenarios exercised a lot of control. Specifically, when parents showed moderate levels of control, they saw psychological control more negatively than behavioral control, but when parents were very controlling, they viewed both types of control negatively.

Specifically, the youths interpreted high levels of control as intrusive and as indicating that they mattered less as individuals. Intrusiveness is a hallmark of psychological control, according to the researchers, and both high levels of psychological control and feeling that you don't matter have been linked to poorer adjustment.

"Under some conditions, such as when personal choice is restricted, adolescents view behavioral control as negatively as psychological control," according to the researchers. "Such negative interpretations may mean that adolescents would respond as poorly to highly restrictive behavioral control as they do to psychological control."

Too Much Selenium Can Increase Your Cholesterol

As usual, balance is important.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091112103417.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2009) — A new study from the University of Warwick has discovered taking too much of the essential mineral selenium in your diet can increase your cholesterol by almost 10%.

Selenium is a trace essential mineral with anti-oxidant properties. The body naturally absorbs selenium from foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. However, when the balance is altered and the body absorbs too much selenium, such as through taking selenium supplements, it can have adverse affects.

A team led by Dr Saverio Stranges at the University's Warwick Medical School has found high levels of selenium are associated with increased cholesterol, which can cause heart disease.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Jon Stewart's parody of Glenn Beck

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_11/020838.php

Antarctica Glacier Retreat Creates New Carbon Dioxide Store; Has Beneficial Impact On Climate Change

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091109121117.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2009) — Large blooms of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton are flourishing in areas of open water left exposed by the recent and rapid melting of ice shelves and glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula. This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change. As the blooms die back phytoplankton sinks to the sea-bed where it can store carbon for thousands or millions of years.

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Lead author, Professor Lloyd Peck from BAS says, "Although this is a small amount of carbon compared to global emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere it is nevertheless an important discovery. It shows nature's ability to thrive in the face of adversity. We need to factor this natural carbon-absorption into our calculations and models to predict future climate change. So far we don't know if we will see more events like this around the rest of Antarctica's coast but it's something we'll be keeping a close eye on."

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Professor Peck and his colleagues compared records of coastal glacial retreat with records of the amount of chlorophyll (green plant pigment essential for photosynthesis) in the ocean. They found that over the past 50 years, melting ice has opened up at least 24,000 km2 of new open water (an area similar to the size of Wales) -- and this has been colonised by carbon-absorbing phytoplankton. According to the authors this new bloom is the second largest factor acting against climate change so far discovered on Earth (the largest is new forest growth on land in the Arctic).

Professor Peck continues, "Elsewhere in the world human activity is undermining the ability of oceans and marine ecosystems to capture and store carbon. At present, there is little change in ice shelves and coastal glaciers away from the Antarctic Peninsula, but if more Antarctic ice is lost as a result of climate change then these new blooms have the potential to be a significant biological sink for carbon."

Phytoplankton use chlorophyll and other pigments to absorb sunlight for photosynthesis, and when they grow in large numbers, they change the way the ocean surface reflects sunlight. They are eaten by krill and are the foundation of the ocean food web. Animals such as sponges and corals also consume phytoplankton. They can live for decades to hundreds of years and when they die they form mats on the seabed that are buried under sedimentation.

*The 3.5 million tonnes of carbon taken from the ocean and atmosphere is equivalent to 12.8 million tonnes of CO2.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use change reached 8.7 billion tonnes of carbon in 2007.

Sea ice loss and retreat of coastal glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula were studied using historical accounts, aerial photographs and satellite images. This shows that seven of the major ice shelves and 87% of the 244 marine glaciers have retreated over the past 50 years.

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New Evidence That Dark Chocolate Helps Ease Emotional Stress

I'll bet this article has had a lot of people posting it to Facebook :)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111123612.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2009) — The "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research. It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone's favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

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When Preschoolers Ask Questions, They Want Explanations

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083254.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2009) — Curiosity plays a big part in preschoolers' lives. A new study that explored why young children ask so many "why" questions concludes that children are motivated by a desire for explanation.

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"Examining conversational exchanges, and in particular children's reactions to the different types of information they get from adults in response to their own requests, confirms that young children are motivated to actively seek explanations," according to the researchers. "They use specific conversational strategies to obtain that information. When preschoolers ask 'why' questions, they're not merely trying to prolong conversation, they're trying to get to the bottom of things."

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Why Nice Guys Usually Get The Girls

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091105143817.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2009) — Female water striders often reject their most persistent and aggressive suitors and prefer the males who aren't so grabby, according to new research. Water striders are insects commonly seen skittering across the surface of streams.

Groups of low-key male water striders mated with more females than did groups of highly sexually aggressive males, according to a study led by Omar Tonsi Eldakar of the University of Arizona's Arizona Research Laboratories.

The research contradicts previous laboratory studies that found the most sexually aggressive males are the most successful at reproducing, said Eldakar, who conducted the experiments while an instructor at Binghamton University in N.Y. He is now a postdoctoral research associate in UA's Center for Insect Science.

"Nice guys don't always finish last," he said. "In this study we've shown that it's possible for non-aggressive males to have the advantage."

His co-author John W. Pepper said, "If the early laboratory studies were a realistic representation of nature, nature should be overrun by hyperaggressive males -- and it's not. So something was wrong with that idea, and now we know what."

In the previous studies, the females were not able to leave areas populated by sexually aggressive males.

By simulating a more natural situation, the current study showed that female water striders moved away from areas where they were being harassed by males. The females preferred to hang out in locations where the males did not pursue females relentlessly.

The new research explains why hyperaggressive males are a minority in the water strider world, said Pepper, a UA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. The groups of water striders that were composed of females and less aggressive males had more overall mating success.

The finding supports the idea that natural selection simultaneously acts on individuals and on groups of individuals, he said.

"Omar's work says that what happens between groups is important," Pepper said. "Individually, less aggressive males may get a smaller piece of the pie. But a group of less aggressive males has a bigger pie, because the males don't drive away females or harass them so much they don't reproduce."

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Faulty Body Clock May Make Kids Bipolar

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111200213.htm

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2009) — Malfunctioning circadian clock genes may be responsible for bipolar disorder in children. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry found four versions of the regulatory gene RORB that were associated with pediatric bipolar disorder.

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"Bipolar disorder is often characterized by circadian rhythm abnormalities, and this is particularly true among pediatric bipolar patients. Decreased sleep has even been noted as one of the earliest symptoms discriminating children with bipolar disorder from those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It will be necessary to verify our association results in other independent samples, and to continue to study the relationship between RORB, other clock genes, and bipolar disorder".

Pediatric bipolar disorder is a controversial diagnosis characterized by alternating bouts of depression and mania in children, although it does not affect all young people in the same way and the duration and severity of the disorder can vary enormously.