Monday, October 31, 2016

High quality evidence suggests vitamin D can reduce asthma attacks

Public Release: 27-Oct-2016
High quality evidence suggests vitamin D can reduce asthma attacks

A recent Cochrane Review has found evidence from randomised trials, that taking an oral vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma medication is likely to reduce severe asthma attacks.

Asthma is a common chronic disease affecting about 300 million people worldwide. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Low blood levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased risk of asthma attacks in children and adults with asthma. There has been a growing interest in the potential role of vitamin D in asthma management because it might help to reduce upper respiratory infections, (such as the common cold) that can lead to exacerbations of asthma. Several clinical trials have tested whether taking vitamin D as a supplement has an effect on asthma attacks, symptoms and lung function in children and adults with asthma.


The researchers found that giving an oral vitamin D supplement reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring hospital admission or emergency department attendance from 6% to around 3%.They also found that vitamin D supplementation reduced the rate of asthma attacks needing treatment with steroid tablets. These results are based largely on trials in adults. They also found that vitamin D did not improve lung function or day-to-day asthma symptoms, and that it did not increase the risk of side effects at the doses that were tested.


He added, "This is an exciting result, but some caution is warranted. First, the findings relating to severe asthma attacks come from just three trials: most of the patients enrolled in these studies were adults with mild or moderate asthma. Further vitamin D trials in children and in adults with severe asthma are needed to find out whether these patient groups will also benefit. Second, it is not yet clear whether vitamin D supplements can reduce risk of severe asthma attacks in all patients, or whether this effect is just seen in those who have low vitamin D levels to start with. Further analyses to investigate this questions are on-going, and results should be available in the next few months."

Always-deadly measles complication more common than believed

Public Release: 28-Oct-2016
Always-deadly measles complication more common than believed
Herd-immunity by vaccination protects infants too young to be immunized
Infectious Diseases Society of America

A complication of measles that kills children years after they have the infection is more common than thought, according to a study being presented at IDWeek 2016™. The research underscores the vital importance of herd immunity by vaccination: All who are eligible should be vaccinated to protect those who can't be immunized, including infants.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a neurological disorder that is 100 percent fatal. Infants younger than 12 months, who are too young to receive measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, can get infected with measles and later develop SSPE, which may lay dormant for years. While it was once thought the risk of post-measles SSPE was one in 100,000, recent research identified a rate as low as 1 in 1,700 in Germany among children infected with measles before they were 5 years old, and the new study found it is about one in 600 for those who get measles as infants before being vaccinated.

There is no cure for SSPE and the only way to prevent it is to vaccinate everyone against measles.


Researchers identified 17 cases of SSPE in California between 1998 and 2016, all of whom had measles prior to being vaccinated. Although all got measles as children, SSPE did not develop right away: The average age at diagnosis was 12, but the range was from 3 to 35 years old. In a subanalysis of California children who got measles while living in the United States, 1 in 1,387 who got it younger than 5 years and 1 in 609 who got it younger than 12 months developed SSPE. Many of these patients had ongoing cognitive or movement problems before they were definitively diagnosed. A majority of the children (67 percent) were living in the United States when they got measles.

Measles infection causes fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, sore throat and rash. The virus spreads throughout the body and is cleared within 14 days. In rare cases the virus spreads to the brain, but then becomes dormant. Eventually it can lead to SSPE, resulting in deterioration and death. Researchers don't know what causes the virus to reactivate.

Vaccinating a very high portion of the population ensures herd immunity, meaning even those who can't be vaccinated are protected because the disease is less likely to spread. The MMR vaccine isn't recommended until infants are 12 months old because they retain some of their mother's antibodies until that age, making the vaccine less effective, but leaving them vulnerable to measles. Others who can't get vaccinated include those with immune system disorders.

The first dose of MMR is given between 12 and 15 months old. Because there is a 5 percent vaccination failure rate, a second dose is given to children before they begin school. Measles is so contagious that 95 percent of people need to be vaccinated with two doses to protect those who aren't, said Dr. Cherry. Therefore, all who are eligible - including adults who had not previously been vaccinated - should receive two doses of the vaccine. Nearly 92 percent of U.S. children 19-35 months old have received the MMR vaccine, according to the CDC.

"Parents of infants who have not yet been vaccinated should avoid putting their children at risk," said Dr. Cherry. "For example, they should postpone trips overseas - including to Europe - where measles is endemic and epidemic until after their baby has been vaccinated with two doses. It's just not worth the risk."

Some herbal and dietary supplements can be toxic to the liver

Public Release: 28-Oct-2016
Some herbal and dietary supplements can be toxic to the liver

A recent review based on a research symposium sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the National Institutes of Health highlights the potentially damaging effects of herbal and dietary supplements (HDSs) on the liver.

HDS-induced liver injury now accounts for 20% of cases of liver toxicity in the United States Drug Induced Liver Injury Network, a research network that has been funded to study drug and supplement toxicity since 2003. The major implicated agents include products used for performance enhancement, bodybuilding, and weight loss. The injurious components of multi-ingredient nutritional supplements that are responsible for liver toxicity often can only be suspected.


Study finds that sleep apnea therapy has positive impact on hypertensive patients

Public Release: 28-Oct-2016
Study finds that sleep apnea therapy has positive impact on hypertensive patients
Patients reported improved daytime sleepiness, depressive symptoms and fatigue
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

A new study shows that positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy for sleep apnea may have a positive impact on sleep-related functional outcomes among patients who also suffer from hypertension. The findings suggest that untreated sleep apnea may explain the quality of life impairments reported by many patients with high blood pressure.

Results show consistent improvement of patient-reported outcomes in response to PAP therapy for sleep apnea in hypertensive patients. The study found significant improvement in daytime sleepiness, depressive symptoms and fatigue severity within a year following treatment initiation. Results were significant even in patients with resistant hypertension.

"We found that consistently and notably there was no difference in patient-reported outcomes between resistant hypertension and non-resistant hypertension groups," said lead author Harneet Walia, MD, assistant professor of family medicine in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. "What we found was that the improvement in the patient-reported outcomes was more pronounced in those with objective adherence to PAP therapy."


See how Arctic sea ice is losing its bulwark against warming summers

Public Release: 28-Oct-2016
See how Arctic sea ice is losing its bulwark against warming summers
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Arctic sea ice, the vast sheath of frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, has been hit with a double whammy over the past decades: as its extent shrunk, the oldest and thickest ice has either thinned or melted away, leaving the sea ice cap more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere.

"What we've seen over the years is that the older ice is disappearing," said Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can't completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there's less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be."


Recreational, commuter biking linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk

Of course, it is not safe to commute by bicycle in many areas.

Public Release: 31-Oct-2016
Recreational, commuter biking linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk
American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report
American Heart Association

People who bike regularly, either for pleasure or as a way to commute, appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to two separate studies published simultaneously in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation and Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA/ASA's Open Access Journal.

While structured cycling as part of a formal workout routine is already known to guard against cardiovascular illness, little is known about the effects of habitual biking done for leisure or as a way to commute. Together, the findings from the newly published studies suggest that leisure and commuter biking may be an important public health strategy in large-scale efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk.


First study to link antibiotic resistance with exposure to the disinfectant chlorhexidine

Public Release: 31-Oct-2016
First study to link antibiotic resistance with exposure to the disinfectant chlorhexidine
American Society for Microbiology

Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria exposed to chlorhexidine-containing disinfectants can become resistant to colistin, a last resort antibiotic often used against multidrug resistant pathogens. This is the first study to link exposure to chlorhexidine with resistance to colistin in this clinically important pathogen. The research is published this week in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.


Raising 'good cholesterol' not as effective as lowering 'bad cholesterol'

Public Release: 31-Oct-2016
Raising 'good cholesterol' not as effective as lowering 'bad cholesterol'
Low, very high HDL levels associated with death; HDL not independent heart disease risk factor
American College of Cardiology

Low and very high levels of HDL, or "good cholesterol" are associated with a higher risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other causes, according to a study today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The findings from the first of its kind study suggest that a low level of good cholesterol may not be a heart disease risk factor on its own and that raising HDL does not likely reduce a person's risk of heart disease.

To reduce risk of suffering a cardiac episode, many patients are treated to lower their LDL, or "bad cholesterol," with statins--a medication used to block the enzyme needed in the body to produce cholesterol. However, some people don't respond to this treatment, so researchers have been studying HDL and whether raising levels of "good cholesterol" could have the same benefits as lowering "bad cholesterol."


However, even when adjusting for lifestyle factors, lower HDL levels were still associated with increased risk of both cardiovascular death and non-cardiovascular related death, such as death from cancer. Individuals with very high HDL levels had an increased risk of non-cardiovascular related death.


Researchers said they are unsure why very high levels of HDL increased levels of non-cardiovascular related death, but other studies have suggested this could be related to increased alcohol intake.


"The link between good cholesterol and heart disease is complex, but it seems certain that there is a connection between people with low good cholesterol levels and other well-known risk factors for heart disease such as poor diet and exercise habits and other medical conditions," said Dennis T. Ko, M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the study and an associate professor at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto. "Focusing on raising HDL is likely not going to help these patients, but these findings show that one of the best interventions in treating and preventing heart disease continues to be lifestyle changes."


The plague of fake news is getting worse -- here's how to protect yourself

Note there is a hoax ABC news site. The real one is

The plague of fake news is getting worse -- here's how to protect yourself
by Brian Stelter @brianstelter October 31, 2016

It's time for a new rule on the web: Double, no, triple check before you share. Especially if it seems too good to be true.

Why? Look no further than Donald Trump's Twitter account. Trump claimed Sunday morning that "Twitter, Google and Facebook are burying the FBI criminal investigation of Clinton."

Not only was there no proof of this, but it was pretty easy to disprove. The FBI email inquiry was at the top of Google News; FBI director James Comey's name was at the top of Facebook's "trending" box; and Twitter's "moments" section had a prominent story about the controversy.

Nevertheless, Trump's wrong-headed "burying" claim was his most popular tweet of the day. About 25,000 accounts retweeted it and almost 50,000 "liked" it, helping the falsehood spread far and wide.

The rise of social media has had many upsides, but one downside has been the spread of misinformation. Fake news has become a plague on the Web, especially on social networks like Facebook. As I said on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" on CNN, unreliable sources about this election have become too numerous to count.

So that's what I recommended a "triple check before you share" rule.

New web sites designed to trick and mislead people seem to pop up every single day. For their creators, the incentives are clear: more social shares mean more page views mean more ad dollars.

But the B.S. stories hurt the people who read and share them over and over again. Many of these fakes reinforce the views of conservative or liberal voters and insulate them from the truth. The stories prey on people who want to believe the worst about the opposition.

A recent BuzzFeed study of "hyperpartisan Facebook pages" found that these pages "are consistently feeding their millions of followers false or misleading information."

The less truthful the content, the more frequently it was shared -- which does not bode well for the nation's news literacy during a long, bitter election season.

"Right-wing pages were more prone to sharing false or misleading information than left-wing pages," the BuzzFeed reporting team said.


Donald Trump’s Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders

If an ordinary citizen had behaved this way, we would have ended up in jail for contempt of court, and for perjury.

This issue should be at the book store now.

By Kurt Eichenwald On 10/31/16 at 7:00 AM

Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.


Trump’s use of deception and untruthful affidavits, as well as the hiding or improper destruction of documents, dates back to at least 1973, when the Republican nominee, his father and their real estate company battled the federal government over civil charges that they refused to rent apartments to African-Americans. The Trump strategy was simple: deny, impede and delay, while destroying documents the court had ordered them to hand over.


Six months after the original filing, the case was nowhere because the Trumps had repeatedly ignored the deadlines to produce records and answers to questions, known as interrogatories. When a government attorney finally telephoned a Trump lawyer to find out why, he was told the Trumps had not even begun preparing their answers and had no plans to do so. The Trumps also postponed and blocked depositions, refused to provide a description of their records, as required, and would not turn over any documents.


Finally, under subpoena, Trump appeared for a short deposition. When asked about the missing documents, he made a shocking admission: The Trumps had been destroying their corporate records for the previous six months and had no document-retention program. They had conducted no inspections to determine which files might have been sought in the discovery requests or might otherwise be related to the case. Instead, in order to “save space,” Trump testified, officials with his company had been tossing documents into the shredder and garbage.


FBI's Comey opposed naming Russians, citing election timing

FBI's Comey opposed naming Russians, citing election timing: Source
Eamon Javers
Oct. 31, 20016

FBI Director James Comey argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI's name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out, a former bureau official tells CNBC.

The official said some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the Huma Abedin email discovery disclosure he made Friday.

In the end, the Department of Homeland Security and The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued the statement on Oct. 7, saying: "The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. ... These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process."


According to the former official, Comey agreed with the conclusion the intelligence community came to: "A foreign power was trying to undermine the election. He believed it to be true, but was against putting it out before the election." Comey's position, this official said, was "if it is said, it shouldn't come from the FBI, which as you'll recall it did not."

Comey took a different approach toward releasing information about the discovery of emails on a laptop that was used by former congressman Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, the official said.
[It was Anthony's computer, only conjecture that it was used by his wife.]


Donald Trump is refusing to pay his campaign pollster what he owes

I guess he didn't get the results Trump wanted. Or given Trump's track record, maybe he just didn't want to pay.

Matea Gold
Oct. 31, 2016

Donald Trump's hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation.

But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign's latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio's firm says it is still owed for polling.

Trump campaign officials declined to provide details about the reason the campaign has declined to pay the sum to Fabrizio Lee, the pollster's Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based firm.


Trump has repeatedly been accused of failing to pay vendors and contractors hired by his real estate empire, including painters, dish washers, real estate brokers and a music store that provided pianos for his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. The billionaire has said he pays fairly and that he has withheld payments only when he was dissatisfied with someone's services.

Fabrizio was an ally of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who persuaded a skeptical Trump in the spring that he needed a professional pollster. The abrupt departure of Manafort in August and Trump's hiring of pollster Kellyanne Conway to be his campaign manager raised questions about whether Fabrizio would stay on. There have also been multiple reports that Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have rejected Fabrizio's advice.

Even though he was hired in May, the campaign did not make any payments to Fabrizio until September, when his firm received nearly $624,000, federal filings show. Trump's finance reports show that the campaign owes the firm an additional $55,300 on top of the $766,756.67 in debt that it is contesting.

Fabrizio’s polling firm has also been paid by the Committee on Arrangements for the 2016 Republican National Convention, which gave it $273,378 in July, federal filings show.


The Persuasive Power of Repeated Falsehoods

by Tom Jacobs
Sept. 17, 2015


Psychological studies have consistently shown that oft-repeated statements are more likely to be perceived as true, regardless of their actual veracity.

Since this “Illusory Truth Effect” was first noted in the late 1970s, it has been widely assumed that this ploy is effective only on people unfamiliar with the issue in question. Knowledge of the subject matter will lead people to dismiss the lie and distrust the liar, one might assume.

But a newly published study reports that’s not necessarily true: Even those of us with a solid grasp of the issue at hand are susceptible to this sort of misinformation.
“Reading a statement like ‘A sari is the name of the short plaid skirt worn by Scots’ increased participants’ later belief that it was true.”

“The results of two experiments suggest that people sometimes fail to bring their knowledge to bear” when evaluating a statement, a research team led by Vanderbilt University psychologist Lisa Fazio writes in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Rather, we rely on “fluency” — the ease or difficulty of comprehending a piece of information.

Statements you’ve heard many times are easier to process, and this ease leads people “to the sometimes false conclusion that they are more truthful,” the researchers write. Their key — and disheartening — revelation is that they found examples of this unfortunate dynamic “even when participants knew better.”


Repeating a falsehood won’t make it true, but it may make you think it is true.

tags: repeating lies

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Emails: The Real Reason the FBI Is Reviewing More of Them

NPR is trying to connect this to Hillary.

By Kurt Eichenwald On 10/28/16

The disclosure by the Federal Bureau of Investigation late on Friday, October 28 that it had discovered potential new evidence in its inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s handling of her personal email when she was Secretary of State has virtually nothing to do with any actions taken by the Democratic nominee, according to government records and an official with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke to Newsweek on condition of anonymity.

The revelation that the FBI has discovered additional emails convulsed the political world, and led to widespread (and erroneous) claims and speculation.


The truth is much less explosive. There is no indication the emails in question were withheld by Clinton during the investigation, the law enforcement official told Newsweek, nor does the discovery suggest she did anything illegal. Also, none of the emails were to or from Clinton, the official said. Moreover, despite the widespread claims in the media that this development had prompted the FBI to “reopen” of the case, it did not; such investigations are never actually closed, and it is common for law enforcement to discover new information that needs to be examined.


Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems

By David A. Fahrenthold
Sept. 20, 2016

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.

In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the height of a flagpole.

In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.


[See the article at the link above for other such actions.]


“I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen,” said Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington. After The Washington Post described the details of these Trump Foundation gifts, Tenenbaum described them as “really shocking.”

“If he’s using other people’s money — run through his foundation — to satisfy his personal obligations, then that’s about as blatant an example of self-dealing [as] I’ve seen in awhile,” Tenenbaum said.


Melting Ice Raised Sea Levels More Than Previously Thought, Study Says

By Bob Berwyn
Oct 27, 2016

Readings from coastal tide gauges around the world—the most reliable historical water-level records—have underestimated 20th century sea level rise caused by various melting ice caps and glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere by between 5 and 28 percent, said a new study published in the journal Geographical Research Letters.

Using historical tide gauge observations as well as climate models, the researchers found that the least amount of global sea level rise that could have occurred last century is about 5.5 inches.

"The most likely amount," the study concluded, "is closer to 6.7 inches," with implications for the hundreds of millions of people who live along the world's coasts.

The readings come mainly from 15 gauges in North America and Europe, where sea level rise has likely been slower than the global average, skewing earlier estimates. The study shows that melting ice raises sea level faster than the global average in areas farthest from the melt sources, like the southern Pacific Ocean and equatorial regions.

Sea level rise due to the Greenland ice melt, for instance, has been underestimated by 28 percent, the study said, while the sea level drop from the melting Alps was underestimated by 5 percent.

"If you want to understand the future, you have to understand how much sea level rise was caused by past warming," said lead author Philip Thompson, associate director of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center.


Total global ice melt since 1900 is about equal to the amount of water in Lake Superior, about 2 quadrillion gallons, which is enough to cover North and South America in a foot of water. It's pouring into the oceans at a steady, gradually increasing rate, but it's not as simple as filling a bathtub. Propelled by the spin of the Earth, shifting gravitational fields, seasonal changes and wind, all that water sloshes around in a pattern that satellites can see.


The researchers used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, satellites that show how melting ice caps change the Earth's gravitational field. NASA scientists Surendra Adhikari developed a new climate model to blend ice, ocean, atmosphere and solid earth data to create a global picture of how ocean mass is redistributed due to ice melting.


While the regional variations may be small and subtle, they are important from an impact point of view, he said. "It's the changing of extremes we're worried about. Much smaller storm surges give same flooding with higher sea level."

Even without storm surges, places like Miami are currently experiencing so-called sunny day, or nuisance flooding, during high tides.

"A hundred years ago, there was no sunny day flooding in Miami. Twenty millimeters of sea level rise makes all the difference," he said.

In the past 15 years, sea level has been rising by about 0.11 inches per year, already double the average rate of the 20th century, and in some areas, it's much more than that. In the South China Sea and around Indonesia, the rate has been about 0.4 inches annually for the past two decades, projected to increase to three times that much by 2100, Haigh said.

Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills

At the end of the article at this link, there are several others about other aspects of Trump's unethical and/or incompetent doings.

Steve Reilly , USA TODAY
Contributing: John Kelly, Nick Penzenstadler, Karen Yi, David McKay Wilson

Among those who say billionaire didn't pay: dishwashers, painters, waiters

During the Atlantic City casino boom in the 1980s, Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. landed a $400,000 contract to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah's at Trump Plaza.

The family cabinetry business, founded in the 1940s by Edward’s father, finished its work in 1984 and submitted its final bill to the general contractor for the Trump Organization, the resort’s builder.

Edward’s son, Paul, who was the firm’s accountant, still remembers the amount of that bill more than 30 years later: $83,600. The reason: the money never came. “That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company… which has been around since my grandfather,” he said.

Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.


At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.

In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.

The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether.


However, the consistent circumstances laid out in those lawsuits and other non-payment claims raise questions about Trump’s judgment as a businessman, and as a potential commander- in- chief. The number of companies and others alleging he hasn’t paid suggests that either his companies have a poor track record hiring workers and assessing contractors, or that Trump businesses renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt to change payment terms after work is complete as is alleged in dozens of court cases.

In the interview, Trump repeatedly said the cases were “a long time ago.” However, even as he campaigns for the presidency, new cases are continuing. Just last month, Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 servers at his Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a special event. The settlements averaged about $800 for each worker and as high as $3,000 for one, according to court records. Some workers put in 20-hour days over the 10-day Passover event at Trump National Doral Miami, the lawsuit contends. Trump’s team initially argued a contractor hired the workers, and he wasn’t responsible, and counter-sued the contractor demanding payment.

“Trump could have settled it right off the bat, but they wanted to fight it out, that’s their M.O.” said Rod Hannah, of Plantation, Fla., the lawyer who represented the workers, who he said are forbidden from talking about the case in public. “They’re known for their aggressiveness, and if you have the money, why not?”

Similar cases have cropped up with Trump’s facilities in California and New York, where hourly workers, bartenders and wait staff have sued with a range of allegations from not letting workers take breaks to not passing along tips to servers. Trump's company settled the California case, and the New York case is pending.


[Read the article at the link above for many other examples, including recent ones.]


Despite the Trumps’ assertion that his their companies only refuse payment to contractors “when somebody does a bad job,” he has sometimes offered to hire those same contractors again. It’s a puzzling turn of events, since most people who have a poor experience with a contractor, and who refuse to pay and even fight the contractor in court, aren’t likely to offer to rehire them.

Nevertheless, such was the case for the Friels. After submitting the final bill for the Plaza casino cabinet-building in 1984, Paul Friel said he got a call asking that his father, Edward, come to the Trump family’s offices at the casino for a meeting. There Edward, and some other contractors, were called in one by one to meet with Donald Trump and his brother, Robert Trump.

“He sat in a room with nine guys,” Paul Friel said. “We found out some of them were carpet guys. Some of them were glass guys. Plumbers. You name it.”

In the meeting, Donald Trump told his father that the company’s work was inferior, Friel said, even though the general contractor on the casino had approved it. The bottom line, Trump told Edward Friel, was the company wouldn't get the final payment. Then, Friel said Trump added something that struck the family as bizarre. Trump told his dad that he could work on other Trump projects in the future.

“Wait a minute,” Paul Friel said, recalling his family's reaction to his dad’s account of the meeting. “Why would the Trump family want a company who they say their work is inferior to work for them in the future?”


The analysis of Trump lawsuits also found that professionals, such as real estate agents and lawyers, say he's refused to pay them sizable sums of money. Those cases show that even some loyal employees, those selling his properties and fighting for him in court, are only with him until they’re not.


Even Trump’s own attorneys, on several occasions, sued him over claims of unpaid bills.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Climate change and the cost of inaction

Ric Colacito, Bridget Hoffmann, Toan Phan
28 October 2016


To date, much of the research on the impact of rising temperature on economic activity concerns only developed, rather than developing countries (Dell et al. 2012). Also, it has examined the small fraction of economic activities that are naturally exposed to outdoor weather conditions, such as agriculture (Nordhaus 2014). Our research provides direct evidence of a strong negative effect from rising summer temperatures on a wider range of US economic activity (Colacito et al. 2016).

We combined our estimated impact coefficient with projections of the expected temperature increases under different emissions scenarios provided by climatologists. Our analysis ignores the potential effects of new technologies to cope with rising temperatures, but it measures the cost of inaction.

We calculated that the cost of climate change could be as large as one-third of the growth rate of US GDP over the next 100 years.


Our analysis quantified the effect of rising temperatures across sectors of the US economy. We find that an increase in average summer temperature has a pervasive effect on all industries, not just the sectors that are traditionally assumed to be vulnerable to climate change. Figure 1 shows that, in the most recent part of our sample, an increase in the average summer temperature has a negative effect on the growth rate of output of many industries, including finance, services, retail, wholesale, and construction that represent more than a third of gross domestic product (GDP). Only a few sectors such as utilities (1.8% of GDP) benefit from an increase in the average summer temperature.


The size of this impact on growth depends on the time horizon. When comparing one year to the next, the net effect of temperature is small. According to our estimates, a 1°C increase in the average summer temperature is associated with a reduction in the annual GSP growth rate of 0.086 percentage points, and a 1°C increase in the average fall temperature is associated with an increase in the annual GSP growth rate of 0.057 percentage points. Therefore, a uniform warming of 1°C across both seasons reduces economic growth by about 0.03 percentage points. The aggregate effect in one year appears too small to influence political debate.

The cumulative effect over longer horizons, such as those of the Paris Agreement, is significantly greater.


Figure 2 shows that, in the most conservative scenario (B1), the projected trend is expected to reduce the growth rate of US output by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points by the end of the century. At the historical growth rate of US GDP of 4% per year, this would correspond to a reduction of up to 10%. The results are even more dramatic in the high emissions scenario (A2). Here, the reduction of economic growth could reach 1.2 percentage points, corresponding to roughly one-third of the historical annual growth rate of the US economy.


Do Trump & NPR condemn children who sell Girl Scout cookies & band candy to their parents?

It is really warped to criticize the Clintons for getting some donations for their charity from people who paid Bill Clinton for speeches, esp. for Trump to do so. The fact that they used their contacts to get some donations for their charity shows that they were not only out for what they could get for themselves, unlike Trump. NPR repeated Trumps statements yesterday and today. Who knows how many days they will keep it up. But they don't point out that the money in the Clintons' charity goes to help poor people. They don't mention that Trump has used much of the money from his supposed charity for his personal use, and lied about where the money went. NPR said Bill Clinton gave speeches to "get rich". I have never heard them criticize Trump for wanting to be rich. They didn't mention that all presidents get paid for making speeches. They don't mention the huge debts the Clintons occurred by Republicans trying to sue and impeach them. They didn't mention that Trump has threatened to sue them after the election. They don't mention that some Republicans have already threatened to try to impeach Hillary if she is elected.

Do Trump & NPR condemn children who sell band candy & Girl Scout cookies to their parents? Their parents who sell these things at work, for their kids? Stores that allow people to add on to their bill to donate for a worthy cause?

WikiLeaks continues firing blanks: Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation charity come up clean
By Thom Palmer | October 27, 2016

This article tackles the Wikileaks problem, followed by details on Clinton Foundation, which everyone should read up on. If you’re worried about today’s Wikileaks dump, it might be a good idea to fight back, but not worry too much. ALL Presidents make money on speeches and serve on boards of directors after they leave office. Money that Bill Clinton earned separate from the Clinton Foundation is not illegal or even unethical. If his relationships with these companies helped the Clinton Foundation raise money to help treat AIDS victims and fix a lot of other problems around the globe, then good for him.

Secondly, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is any connection between Bill’s paid speeches, etc and Hillary Clinton with regard to the State Department. Media cannot conflate the two and skew the story to make it look like a quid pro quo, or corrupt in any manner with a straight face. It’s all about raising their ratings, thereby improving their media profits. They DID NOT LIKE the fact that Hillary was running away with it, and viewers stopped watching in suspense. So in an effort to improve ratings, they’re insinuating that something wrong happened, which in turn gives Trump surrogates ammunition, which in turn tightens the race.


The fact: Clinton Foundation spends 89% on charity. Receives an “A” rating.

The Clinton Foundation is an aggressive program to tackle some of the worlds most pressing issues. These are issues that Americans are generally disconnected from. We feel bad, but have done little about it year after year, decade after decade. They work diligently toward the betterment of humanity, even in the face of constant scrutiny and lies. To be the subject of thirty years of abuse by a political party hell bent on destroying you, your spouse, and your family for political gain, yet still have it in your heart to fight on. It is truly inspirational. Below you’ll find highlights, along with some links which support this article for those who wish to look into it further. I’ll just keep saying it. 1990’s Republican hit man David Brock admitted that all these conspiracy theories are lies. He calls it a “right-wing factory of misinformation designed to destroy Bill Clinton’s Presidency and Hillary’s future political career”. When so many of these are proven fake you simply have a responsibility to ignore the flood of new fake scandals. They are all generated from the same factory of misinformation. The scandal and the conspiracy is the misinformation itself, generated by Republicans, not the Clinton family. Note: David Brock is now a Hillary Clinton supporter and fights the lies.


One of the greatest things about being an Ex-President is that you have an opportunity to do great things outside of the White House that you are unable to do while serving in the White House. Jimmy Carter has Habitat for Humanity, helping needy families build affordable homes for their families. The Reagan Research Institute works on Alzheimer’s research. The most extensive charitable organization by any President in history is the the Clinton Foundation. So much good is done here that adding the Foundation to the right-wing witch hunt against Hillary Clinton is downright evil.


[See link above for the many good things the Clinton Foundation is accomplishing.]


As James Carville stated recently “Media and Republicans will probably shut down the Clinton Foundation for political gain and advertising profits, and a lot of people will die that could have been saved. Someone’s going to hell over this crap.”

Teal pumpkins make Halloween happy for kids with food allergies

Oct. 28, 2016

The Teal Pumpkin Project, now in its third year, is helping kids like 6-year-old Lukas Mazur and millions of other children who feel left out.

Lukas loves sweets but he has a severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. It’s turned Halloween into a drag, he told CBS News.

“Your friends can have all of these great treats, but you have a nut allergy, so you can’t eat all that stuff,” he said.

But this year, Lukas can’t wait to put on his costume. He showed CBS News’ Kenneth Craig the teal-painted pumpkin on his front step — a welcome sign for trick-or-treaters like him with food allergies. It’s a signal that a home is handing out non-food treats, such as stickers, light sticks, and brightly colored bracelets.

The campaign was initiated by the non-profit organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

“With one in 13 kids having a food allergy here in the U.S., chances are that one of these kids lives right down your block,” said FARE’s Nancy Gregory.


Mom: Principal forced my son to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

Oct. 28, 2016

A Mississippi mother says her son’s principal forced him to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, threatening him with punishment if he didn’t comply.

The Sun Herald reports the ninth-grader’s mother says West Harrison High School principal Dana Trochessett threatened her son with demerits and suspension if he didn’t stand for the pledge in Gulfport. She says Trochessett also questioned the boy about being a Jehovah’s Witness.

The mother says her son hasn’t stood for the pledge since fourth grade. She met Monday with the Harrison County School Board.

Superintendent Roy Gill says the district doesn’t have any policy that forces a student to stand during the pledge. He says the matter was resolved and school officials could have done a better job handling the situation.

Vampire Clan

The following is a link to a video of me singing this to the tune I wrote, in case you would like to hear how it sounds. I'm not embedding it because it doesn't sound too great. I'm not a great singer to start with, and I had planned on singing a different song that night and picked up the wrong music! When I have a better one, I'll replace it.

I fell in love with this poem at a poetry reading some years ago, and set it to music.
The author has given me written permission to use it as I see fit.
I hope to get it recorded some day.

Vampire Clan
copyright Louise Bennett Hardin 1995

We are a vampire clan,
sucking blood from the earth,
as if the earth could plan
for infinite vampire births.

Sucking blood from the earth,
some say the land will die,
for infinite vampire births
cannot sustain themselves. Why?

Some say the land will die,
the children have nothing,
and cannot sustain them selves. Why?
Should we take a stand?

The children have nothing,
we take more than we replace.
Should we take a stand,
are we not a human race?

We take more than we replace
as if the earth could plan.
Are we not a human race?
We are a vampire clan

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

World on path to lose two-thirds of wildlife populations in one lifetime

Canada NewsWire
TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2016 /CNW/ -

Global wildlife populations face a plunge of more than two thirds during the 50-year period ending in 2020 as a result of human activities, according to WWF's Living Planet Report 2016 released today. The report, produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, shows how people are overpowering the planet for the first time in Earth's history, and highlights the changes needed in the way society is fed, fuelled and financed.

According to the report, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have already declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012, the most recent year with available data. At this trajectory, the decline could reach 67 per cent by 2020.


Key findings

Wildlife are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, with:

  • A 38 per cent decline in land-based populations.
  • A 36 per cent decline in ocean-based populations.
  • An 81 per cent decline in freshwater populations.

The biggest threats to species are:

  • Loss and degradation of habitat (through agriculture and logging, and man-made changes to freshwater systems).
  • Overexploitation (through overfishing, hunting and poaching).
  • Invasive species and disease.
  • Pollution.
  • Growing climate change impact.

Humans are exceeding planetary boundaries:

  • The resources of 1.6 planets each year are used to provide the goods and services consumed annually. The bigger the ecological footprint, the greater the pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity, and the greater the risk of biodiversity loss.
  • The Earth is being pushed into uncharted territory, with humanity now violating planetary boundaries that act as safe thresholds for nine critical system processes that maintain life on Earth. Those already pushed past safe limits include climate, biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows (nitrogen and phosphorous) and land-system change (such as conversion of forests to agricultural land). Some assessments suggest freshwater use has also passed a safe threshold.

To protect biodiversity, the Living Planet Report 2016 identified the following critical changes as needed:

  • A transition to 100 per cent sustainable and renewable energy sources; speed is a key factor for determining our future.
  • Business models that incorporate the true costs of environmental damage into decision making.
  • A food system with less waste along the food chain, fewer chemical and fossil inputs, significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a shift to less animal protein.

Natural ecosystems keep the air breathable, the water drinkable and provide nutritious food. But their complexity, diversity and resilience are rapidly falling due to human activities. This threatens all species, including people, unless we act now.


Easing labor pain may help reduce postpartum depression in some women, early research suggests

Pain causes an increase in stress hormones, which can affect the brain.

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Easing labor pain may help reduce postpartum depression in some women, early research suggests
American Society of Anesthesiologists

Epidural anesthesia may do more than relieve pain during labor; in some women it may decrease the likelihood of postpartum depression, suggests a preliminary study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2016 annual meeting.

"Labor pain matters more than just for the birth experience. It may be psychologically harmful for some women and play a significant role in the development of postpartum depression," said Grace Lim, M.D., director of obstetric anesthesiology at Magee Women's Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and lead investigator on the study. "We found that certain women who experience good pain relief from epidural analgesia are less likely to exhibit depressive symptoms in the postpartum period."


"Although we found an association between women who experience less pain during labor and lower risk for postpartum depression, we do not know if effective pain control with epidural analgesia will assure avoidance of the condition," said Dr. Lim. "Postpartum depression can develop from a number of things including hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, social support, and a history of psychiatric disorders."

Labor pain may be more problematic for some women than others, the authors note. Additional research is needed to identify which women are more likely to experience severe labor pain and who would benefit the most from effective labor pain-control strategies to help reduce the risk and affect of pain on postpartum recovery.

Vitamin E can modify the risk of pneumonia in some older men depending on their lifestyle

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Vitamin E can modify the risk of pneumonia in some older men depending on their lifestyle
University of Helsinki

Many people have been advised to take vitamin supplements to boost their immune systems. However, a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that taking vitamin E supplements led to an increased risk of pneumonia for more than one in four older men (28%) who smoked and did not exercise. However, the opposite effect was true for older men who exercised and did not smoke - in that vitamin E actually decreased their risk of contracting pneumonia.

The findings of this study - which focused on men aged 50 to 69 years old at the baseline of the trial- are particularly striking because analyses in nutritional epidemiology usually assume a uniform effect of a nutrient. However, the author of the study - Dr. Harri Hemilä of the University of Helsinki, Finland - found that the effect of vitamin E on health outcomes may depend on various characteristics of people and their lifestyles. Therefore, a single universal estimate of the vitamin E effect might be substantially misleading for some population groups.


Drawing on the I2 statistic for the first time for this type of analysis, Dr. Hemilä concluded that nearly all variation in the vitamin E effect on pneumonia risk over five subgroups was explained by true differences in the vitamin E effect rather than by chance variation.

Vitamin E increased pneumonia risk by 68% among men who had the highest exposure to smoking and who did not exercise (22% of the ATBC participants), while vitamin E actually decreased pneumonia risk by 69% among participants who had the least exposure to smoking and who exercised during their leisure time (7·6% of the ATBC participants). The author claims that these findings refute there being a uniform effect of vitamin E supplementation on the risk of pneumonia.


Given the current limited understanding about who might benefit, Dr. Hemilä recommends that vitamin E should not be suggested for the general population for improving the immune system. The author concludes that there is a need for further research on vitamin E for non-smoking elderly men who exercise in their leisure time.

Cut exposure to synthetic chemicals to ward off 150,000+ European diabetes cases

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Cut exposure to synthetic chemicals to ward off 150,000+ European diabetes cases
...And save billions of euros in associated costs every year, estimate researchers
BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal)

Cutting exposure to common environmental synthetic chemicals by 25 per cent might ward off more than 150,000 cases of diabetes in Europe and save €4.5 billion every year, suggest estimates published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

A mounting body of evidence suggests that environmental 'pollutants,' such as phthalates (plasticisers), pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs for short (used in coolant fluids in fridges and other electrical apparatus) contribute to metabolic disorders--particularly obesity and diabetes--by disrupting the production and regulation of hormones in the body.


Iron supplements in the fight against lead

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Iron supplements in the fight against lead
ETH Zurich

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that was added to petrol for use in cars until as recently as 25 years ago. It is particularly harmful to the developing brains of infants, children and teenagers, and the damage it does is irreversible.

The situation becomes significantly worse if people are exposed to a high level of lead at the same time as they are suffering from iron deficiency. In the small intestine, lead and iron bind to the same transport protein, which absorbs the metals into the bloodstream. If someone consumes too little iron with their food, the transporter increases its activity, and can carry lead into the bloodstream instead, leading to increased levels of the toxic heavy metal in the body and brain.

A team of researchers led by ETH professor Michael B. Zimmermann from the Laboratory of Human Nutrition have now shown in a study that fortifying food with iron produces a striking reduction in blood lead concentration in children exposed to high levels of the metal.

This is the result of a trial involving over 450 children carried out by Zimmermann's former doctoral student Raschida Bouhouch and colleagues in southern Morocco. It is the first controlled prospective study to investigate the connection between iron deficiency and lead poisoning and to demonstrate that iron fortification can reduce blood lead levels. The study came about within the framework of a North-South project conducted by ETH Zurich and the University and University Hospital of Marrakesh.

Mining in the surrounding area meant that children of preschool and school age were exposed to an increased quantity of lead. At the same time, the level of iron in their blood was relatively low, placing them in a high-risk group.


Before the study began, the children's blood contained on average 4.3 micrograms of lead per decilitre. Biscuits with added sodium iron EDTA facilitated a reduction in blood lead concentration to 2.9 micrograms per decilitre. The biscuits also brought about an improvement in the children's iron status. On the other hand, the reduction in lead concentration had no effect on cognitive performance, as the researchers discovered during the corresponding tests.

Nevertheless, Zimmermann is very happy with the study's results: "The finding - that you can reduce blood lead concentration in exposed individuals with just a short intervention - is hugely significant for public health services," says the ETH professor.


Zimmermann attributes the lack of improvement in cognitive performance to the fact that lead leaves behind lasting damage that cannot be reversed by administering iron. "Nevertheless, it definitely makes sense to use iron fortification to prevent brain damage in exposed sectors of the population," says the nutrition specialist. Iron supplementation may even provides foetuses in the womb with effective protection against subsequent brain damage.


Lead contamination of food and water is still a serious problem in mining and heavy industry areas in Africa, India and China, but the issue is not yet resolved even in industrialised Western countries.


Reading the right sexual cues

ublic Release: 26-Oct-2016
Reading the right sexual cues
Improving cue reading could help college students get the dating game right

Both college men and women focus primarily on a photographed woman's nonverbal emotional cues when making snap decisions about whether she is expressing sexual interest at a particular moment in time. But their judgments also are based to a large degree on how attractive she is and the provocativeness of her attire. Physical attractiveness plays a much larger role in how college men than women make these quick judgments. Female students in turn tend to pick up more than men on clothing style and the woman's emotional cues. This is according to a study1 in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, published by Springer. Around 500 students were asked to give their first impressions about the current sexual interest of women in a series of photographs.


The findings looked different among students who held more rape-supportive attitudes (as determined by their results from the assessment). These attitudes are hostile to rape victims, including false beliefs about rape and rapists, for example women enjoy sexual violence. Both males and females in this group, relative to their peers, relied less on the photographed women's emotional cues and more on their attire and their attractiveness. This is problematic because appearance-related cues such as clothing and physical beauty are less accurate nonverbal signals of a woman's current (or momentary) sexual interest in a particular man than the woman's nonverbal emotional cues.

It was found that the students who received instruction on non-verbal cues before assessing the photographs were more likely to note emotional cues than aspects such as clothing and physical beauty when making their judgments. Receiving such guidelines also shifted the focus of students who held more supportive attitudes towards rape.


Climate change: Voters will be hot under the collar by 2099

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Climate change: Voters will be hot under the collar by 2099
Harvard study of 1.5 billion votes is the first to project how climate change will impact democratic elections

By 2099 the nature of democratic politics could change in costly ways for politicians because of climate change, says Nick Obradovich of Harvard University in a paper in Springer's journal Climatic Change. Leveraging a century's worth of political science research, he predicts that voters' disgruntlement about the societal effects of climatic extremes and weather-related disasters they experience will translate into more frequent turnover of political parties elected in and out of office, and will keep politicians of especially warmer, poorer countries more on their toes than is currently the case.


According to Obradovich, turnover directly related to politician performance is vital to a well-functioning democracy. He notes, however, that findings from the study indicate that democratic turnover might increase as a result of climatic events that are outside the control of individual politicians.

"Such exogenously driven political turnover may shorten democratic time horizons, inducing parties and their politicians to focus on short-run policies at the expense of important longer-run strategies," he warns. "Such altered political time horizons may have a particularly deleterious impact on climate mitigation, as the long-run benefits of mitigation are unlikely to be observed from one election to the next."


Indirect effects of rising CO2 levels on ecosystems more important than previously thought

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Indirect effects of rising CO2 levels on ecosystems more important than previously thought
University of Southampton

The indirect effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, such as changes in soil moisture and plant structure, can have a bigger impact on ecosystems than previously thought.


A study, involving researchers from the University of Southampton, found that water-limited ecosystems in arid and semi-arid regions, such as The Great Plains and South-West United States and some in Australia and Mediterranean Europe, were particularly impacted by these indirect effects. For those ecosystems, the importance of the indirect effects was as much as or in some cases, greater than, the direct effects.


Skin patch to treat peanut allergy shows benefit in children

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Skin patch to treat peanut allergy shows benefit in children
NIH-funded study suggests patch is safe, convenient mode of treatment
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

A wearable patch that delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin shows promise for treating children and young adults with peanut allergy, with greater benefits for younger children, according to one-year results from an ongoing clinical trial. The treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy or EPIT, was safe and well-tolerated, and nearly all participants used the skin patch daily as directed.

The ongoing trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by the NIAID-funded Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), which is led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.


Bitter political climate chills some scientific pursuits

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Bitter political climate chills some scientific pursuits
American Chemical Society

The House of Representatives Science, Space & Technology Committee has been operating in lockstep with the combative political climate this election season. Since last year, the committee chair has issued more than 25 subpoenas to investigate science agencies and others. But rather than bring misdeeds to light, some scientists say the efforts are having a chilling effect, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Jeff Johnson, a special correspondent to C&EN, reports that Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and the chair of the House science committee, has unilaterally launched the probes over the vehement objections of committee Democrats. The subjects of the probes include the peer-review process at the National Science Foundation, climate change research at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, and security at the National Institute of Standards & Technology. Most recently, Smith has also been trying to obtain correspondence between eight environmental advocacy groups and state attorneys general in connection to a science-based fraud investigation of ExxonMobil.

In response to the latest investigation, more than 2,000 scientists signed a letter to Smith urging him to end the probe, which they perceive as an effort to protect oil companies and suppress science. One signer says the hostile climate is indeed having a harmful side effect: Some scientists are shying away from conducting research that could draw unwanted political ire. A former Republican chair of the committee, Sherwood Boehlert, laments the current infighting, but says he's hopeful that the upcoming election will help Congress get back on a more productive and collegial track.

School principals shape students' values via school climate

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
School pincipals shape students' values via school climate
Association for Psychological Science

Over time, students' personal values become more similar to those of their school principal, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Associational for Psychological Science. The findings indicate that principals' values are linked with aspects of school climate which are, in turn, linked with students' own values.

"Given the vast amount of time children spend in school, it is important to assess the impact that schools have on children, beyond their impact on children's academic skills," say researchers Yair Berson (New York University and Bar-Ilan University) and Shaul Oreg (Cornell University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem). "Our findings show that schools contribute to the formation of children's values."


The researchers found that students' values became more similar to those of their principal over the two-year study period.

"Principals' personal outlook on life is reflected in the overall school atmosphere, which over time becomes reflected in schoolchildren's personal outlook and eventual behavior," Berson and Oreg explain in their paper.

This pattern was consistent for all of the values except for one: conservation values.

"Values that have to do with maintaining the status quo -- emphasizing tradition, conformity and security - showed a different pattern, whereby principals' values are associated with children's values, but without the mediating role of the school climate," say Berson and Oreg.

The researchers speculate that unstudied mechanisms - such as principals' selection of teachers - might explain this exception.


Extreme cold winters fueled by jet stream and climate change

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Extreme cold winters fueled by jet stream and climate change
University of Sheffield


Scientists have agreed for the first time that recent severe cold winter weather in the UK and US may have been influenced by climate change in the Arctic, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by an international team of scientists including the University of Sheffield, has found that warming in the Arctic may be intensifying the effects of the jet stream's position, which in the winter can cause extreme cold weather, such as the winter of 2014/15 which saw record snowfall levels in New York.


The researchers have found that the recent pattern of cold winters is primarily caused by natural changes to the jet stream's position; however, the warming of the Arctic appears to be exerting an influence on cold spells, but the location of these can vary from year to year.

Previous studies have shown that when the jet stream is wavy there are more episodes of severe cold weather plunging south from the Arctic into the mid-latitudes, which persist for weeks at a time. But when the jet stream is flowing strongly from west to east and not very wavy, we tend to see more normal winter weather in countries within the mid-latitudes.

"We've always had years with wavy and not so wavy jet stream winds, but in the last one to two decades the warming Arctic could well have been amplifying the effects of the wavy patterns," Professor Hanna said. He added: "This may have contributed to some recent extreme cold winter spells along the eastern seaboard of the United States, in eastern Asia, and at times over the UK (e.g. 2009/10 and 2010/11).


New evidence that politics, not economics, drives inequality

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
New evidence that politics, not economics, drives inequality
Study included data sensitive to rise of the '1 percent'
Ohio State University

One of the biggest surprises about rising income inequality in the United States may be that economic factors aren't the biggest cause, a new study suggests.

Sociologists at The Ohio State University found that political factors, along with increases in college-educated adults, provided the best explanations for the rise in income inequality in the United States between 1978 and 2011.

But even higher education levels became less important after the 1980s, said David Jacobs, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State.

The study found that presidential administrations that were sympathetic to employers but unfavorable to labor drove up levels of income inequality.


The study used a variety of sources to analyze political and economic factors that could be tied to inequality at the state level for each of the 33 years in the study. "Statistics work better with more cases. With 49 states and 33 years to work with, we had 1,615 cases," Jacobs said.

Jacobs said one strength of this study is that it used IRS data on incomes, which is extremely sensitive to changes in the economic well-being of the top 1 percent in the United States.

"The gap between the top earners and the rest of Americans has really been growing and our study was able to capture that change," Jacobs said.

The study found that the presidential administration in power was far and away the biggest political factor linked to economic inequality in each year of the study.

The importance of the presidential administration remained even after the researchers took into account more than 20 other possible explanatory variables, such as stock market values, poverty levels, the number of people employed in finance careers, and the number of people employed in rural occupations. Many of these factors, among others controlled for in this study, have been cited by economists in the past as possible causes of growing inequality, Jacobs said.

After all these and other factors are held constant, the Reagan administration's policies led to an 18 percent increase in inequality, the study found.

Other than the presidential administration, the remaining parts of government had little or no effect on inequality, the study showed. The U.S. Congress had no effect and neither did state governors. State legislatures had a very small effect.

Jacobs said the study was not able to isolate the exact policies that led to increases in inequality, although he had some ideas. The Reagan administration made tax codes more favorable to the affluent, deregulated many industries including finance, weakened unions and reduced spending on programs for the poor.

"I believe it was a lot of policies that each contributed a little bit to growing inequality, and when you added them all up the results were large," Jacobs said.

While presidential administrations and higher education levels through the 1980s had the largest effects on inequality, Jacobs said two other factors also played smaller but significant roles. Manufacturing employment had a fairly strong relationship with income inequality, with researchers finding that a 10 decrease in this employment would produce about a 3.1 percent increase in inequality.

The researchers also found that growth in minority populations was linked to increases in inequality.


School environment key to retaining teachers, promoting student achievement, study finds

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
School environment key to retaining teachers, promoting student achievement, study finds
New research identifies four organizational and administrative factors that can decrease teacher turnover and lift student test scores in math
Brown University

A school is more likely to retain effective teachers, a new study reports, if it is led by a principal who promotes professional development for teachers, is characterized by collaborative relationships among teachers, has a safe and orderly learning environment and sets high expectations for academic achievement among students, a new study reports.


The authors also found evidence that improving a school's climate may help promote gains in students' academic achievement. Improvements in two dimensions -- school safety and academic expectations -- predicted faster growth in math test scores, according to Kraft.

"The degree to which students and teachers feel their school is a safe, orderly learning environment is of central importance for student achievement in the New York City middle schools we studied," the authors wrote.

These findings "replicate and extend previous research findings that schools with higher-quality school contexts have students who experience larger achievement gains," the researchers wrote. They also noted that organizational improvements that take place over time correspond with increases in student achievement gains.


Integrated neighborhoods more common across the US, study finds

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Integrated neighborhoods more common across the US, study finds
New research tracking population shifts over 30 years shows that increasing neighborhood-level diversity is a near-universal trend in urban areas
Brown University

In all parts of the United States, the number of neighborhoods that sustain a mix of black, white, Asian and Hispanic residents over time is growing quickly, a new study finds.

"It is striking that while the all-white neighborhood is disappearing, its main replacement is the most diverse kind, which includes substantial shares of whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians," said the study's coauthor John Logan, professor of sociology at Brown University. "Given the persistence of residential segregation and the deep divide that still separates whites from other groups, it is reassuring to see this one sign of progress."


Logan pointed out that the news is not all good, however. While the number of global neighborhoods is on the rise, the study also found increasing numbers of all-minority neighborhoods caused by white residents moving out of previously mixed areas -- close to a 50 percent increase over the 30-year period.

The poorest neighborhoods, Logan said, are mostly black, mostly Hispanic, or a combination of these two groups. Despite the publicity devoted to urban gentrification, he added, the study found that it is very rare for whites to move into these areas.

"Overall change in segregation has been modest because the trend toward global neighborhoods is partly counteracted by growing all-minority neighborhoods," Logan said. "But prior to 1980, change was always toward greater racial separation."

Logan said that in his view, "it would be too much to expect that decades of growing separation would be suddenly reversed. The upside is that now we can see how positive change can occur and hope that it will continue."


Money can buy happiness but it's costly to bank on that without measuring debt

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Prof: Money can buy happiness but it's costly to bank on that without measuring debt
Purdue University

Yes, money can lead to happiness, but how much debt one has should also be considered in the money-happiness equation, according to a new a study from Purdue University.

"There has been a lot of research looking at whether and how income makes people happy in life, but few studies have examined whether debt can detract from happiness. We found that carrying student loan debt is almost as important as income in predicting financial worry and life satisfaction," said Louis Tay, an assistant professor of psychological sciences, who studies the effects of income and money on happiness.

The study's results are published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. The survey results are from the Gallup-Purdue Index, which provides a measure of how college graduates are doing on five key dimensions of well-being: purpose, social, physical, financial and community. Tay also is member of the committee evaluating results of the ongoing survey.


Pollution exposure is higher in city kids who are active, finds study

Public Release: 26-Oct-2016
Pollution exposure is higher in city kids who are active, finds study
Increased exposure to pollutants may offset health benefits of regular exercise
Columbia University Medical Center

Children from urban areas of New York City who engaged in vigorous daily exercise had greater exposure to black carbon, a traffic-related pollutant, than children who were less active, according to a study by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons and Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health.

The researchers also found that while physically active children had reduced airway inflammation compared to less active children, this association that was offset by having high black carbon exposure.

Findings from the study were published recently online in the journal Environmental Research.

Black carbon, a pollutant that is also an indicator of diesel exhaust exposure, is known to have an adverse impact on health. However, little research has examined whether children living in urban areas receive a higher dose of the pollutant when they engage in regular physical activity.


The study revealed that the active children were exposed to 25 percent greater concentration of black carbon compared to non-active children. Daily physical activity was associated with reduced airway inflammation, but that effect primarily occurred among the children who were exposed to lower concentrations of black carbon. Exercise had no effect on airway inflammation among children exposed to the highest concentrations of black carbon.


UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica

See the article at the link below for how the shape of the underlying bedrock affects the rate of melting.

Public Release: 25-Oct-2016
UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
Study findings will help improve predictions about global sea level rise
University of California - Irvine

Two new studies by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA have found the fastest ongoing rates of glacier retreat ever observed in West Antarctica and offer an unprecedented look at ice melting on the floating undersides of glaciers. The results highlight how the interaction between ocean conditions and the bedrock beneath a glacier can influence the frozen mass, helping scientists better predict future Antarctica ice loss and global sea level rise.


"Our primary question is how the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica will contribute to sea level rise in the future, particularly following our observations of massive changes in the area over the last two decades," said UCI's Bernd Scheuchl, lead author on the first of the two studies, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in August.

"Using satellite data, we continue to measure the evolution of the grounding line of these glaciers, which helps us determine their stability and how much mass the glacier is gaining or losing," said the Earth system scientist. "Our results show that the observed glaciers continue to lose mass and thus contribute to global sea level rise."


Previous studies using other techniques estimated the average melting rates at the bottom of the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves to be about 40 feet (12 meters) per year. Khazendar and his team, analyzing their direct radar measurements, found stunning rates of ice loss from the glaciers' undersides on the ocean sides of their grounding lines. The fastest-melting glacier, Smith, lost between 984 and 1,607 feet (300 and 490 meters) in thickness between 2002 and 2009 near its grounding line, or up to 230 feet (70 meters) per year.


Clinton Voters Aren’t Just Voting Against Trump

By Harry Enten
Oct. 25, 2016

A simpler method for determining positive or negative support is to ask people whether their vote is affirmatively for one candidate or in protest against the other. The latest ABC News survey reveals that, in fact, Clinton’s voters feel about as positively about their candidate as any candidate’s supporters have felt about their own preferred candidate since 1980. Trump voters are less enthusiastic about him: Since 1980, no group of supporters has been less affirmative in its support for its candidate.

Right now, 56 percent of Clinton voters say they are mainly for her compared with just 42 percent of the same voters who say they are voting against Trump. This 56 percent is the highest it’s been all year in the ABC News poll, and it’s been steadily climbing for Clinton since July. In the same survey, only 41 percent of Trump supporters say they are voting for him, while 54 percent say they are mostly voting against Clinton. Those numbers are about the same as they’ve been all year.

That 56 percent of Clinton’s voters are affirmatively supporting her may not seem like a lot, but it’s about average for a presidential candidate. That’s clear from the chart below, which plots the final live-interview poll to ask this type of question in every election since 1980.


The most interesting thing about these numbers is how few of Trump’s supporters are his fans. No candidate since 1980 has had a lower percentage of voters say they plan to cast a vote for their candidate. That includes candidates whose campaigns were viewed as disastrous, including Jimmy Carter in 1980, Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Bob Dole in 1996. (The Republican party basically gave up on Dole in the final month of the 1996 election.)


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mom's powerful message after 12-year-old daughter dies from flu

By Jennifer Earl CBS News October 25, 2016, 3:03 PM

On the way to the hospital, Pegy Lowery tried to keep her 12-year-old daughter, Piper, talking.

She knew Piper was sick with the flu, but she had no idea how serious it was until her daughter collapsed into her arms in the parking lot of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.

She sobbed, “Oh, mama,” as Lowery stood there holding her, screaming for help.

A couple of strangers heard her cries and picked Piper up, rushing her through the hospital door.

Three hours later, on Jan. 16, Lowery had to say goodbye to her little girl forever.

“For us, it’s been really hard,” Lowery said. “All I have now is pictures, an urn sitting on the mantle – and you know, she was just my best buddy.”

Lowery said her daughter had been seen by a doctor three times in the span of four days. She was given antibiotics. But something happened inside her daughter’s body that no one saw.
[Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, which are what cause flu.]

The H1N1 flu attacked her kidneys.

She was in renal failure the day before Lowery took her to the hospital, but no one realized it.

Now the mom is making it her mission to share Piper’s story, and encouraging others to do something her family didn’t that year: get a flu shot.


Though the mom isn’t sure whether the shot would have made a difference for her daughter, she does know that it significantly reduces the chance of getting the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 2014 study showed that the flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74 percent during flu seasons from 2010-2012.

“The chances are that you have a better fighting chance to win the battle,” Lowery said of getting the flu shot.

Since Piper was afraid of needles, Lowery never pushed her to get the shot. She didn’t think it was necessary.

But this incident opened up her eyes, and she hopes it opens up the eyes of others as well.

“There are so many stigmas about the flu shot that people are either not educated or there’s this fear factor that people put into them,” Lowery said. “But H1N1, the flu, is very deadly. I want to spread this information so people can read it. It really does save lives.”

An open letter from educators on the ‘Trump Effect’: Stop the bullying

Increasingly, educators across the country are reporting that the divisive and hostile rhetoric used by you this presidential campaign is seeping into classrooms and schools. As educators, we know that learning cannot take place when students are anxious or afraid.

Some examples of how students have been affected by what has come to be known as the Trump Effect include:

In Indiana, students holding Trump signs chanted “Build the Wall!” while at a high school basketball game.
In Virginia, two elementary school students taunted their immigrant classmates by saying they would be deported when Trump became president.
After fellow students in Washington had repeatedly shouted slurs from their cars at one Muslim teenager, her teacher reported the girl expressed suicidal thoughts.
A Tennessee kindergarten teacher said a Latino pupil, told by classmates he will be deported and trapped behind a wall, every day asks: “Is the wall here yet?”
An elementary school teacher in Berkeley, Calif., reported one student telling another, “You were born in a Taco Bell.”

As educators, we know we are role models for our students and want them to grow up to be kind, generous and thoughtful. But you have been anything but a role model. You have called women fat pigs, attacked the Gold Star family of a fallen American soldier, want to ban Muslims from coming to our country, and made fun of people with disabilities.

Increased fear and anxiety and inflamed racial and ethnic tensions among students is not the right track for America. That is why we are calling on you to apologize to America’s students and rethink your language and the effect it has on our students, our schools, our families and our communities.