Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Skinny Babies Most at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

By Nicole Ostrow

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Babies who weighed less than average at birth were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life than those who were born weighing more, an analysis of previous research found.

A person’s lifetime risk of developing diabetes decreased for each 2.2 pounds they weighed over lower-weight babies, said study author Donald Yarbrough. The report in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association didn’t examine the risk that babies born at the heaviest weights, 8.8 pounds or more, faced for adult diabetes, he said.

About 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. More studies are needed to determine why those born at lower weights have a higher risk of the disease, Yarbrough said.

“Birth weight is a crude marker for something that’s going on,” said Yarbrough, medical director of bariatric surgery at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield, Oregon, in a telephone interview today. “The early inter-uterine environment plays a crucial role in proper development of the organs, which can lead to chronic disease many years later in life.”

Type 2 diabetes, which in adults is linked to obesity, lack of exercise and older age, accounts for as much as 95 percent of diabetes cases in the U.S. Those with the condition don’t produce enough insulin or their cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is needed for the body to use sugar for energy.

What IT jobs?

Study: IT jobs will drop in 2009
Sharp reductions likely in contract staff, professional services and hardware, and almost no investment in cloud computing
By Ephraim Schwartz

July 18, 2008 (InfoWorld) IT staff jobs are at increasing risk -- both for contractors and in-house workers -- according to a survey of top CIOs by Goldman Sachs & Co. released last week. Global services companies will also feel the pinch because of the slowing economy.

A second survey showed that basic PC and network hardware, as well as professional services providers, would bear the largest proportion of spending cuts. It also showed that CIOs planned to emphasize economizing measures over investments in new technologies, with cloud computing emerging as the last item on their priority lists, despite the hype around it.

"Demand for discretionary IT projects dropped to its lowest point" in the 41-study history of the Goldman Sachs staffing survey, which asked 100 managers with strategic decision-making authority (mainly CIOs at multinational Fortune 1,000 companies) about their IT staffing plans for 2009.

The Sachs report states that "in a cost-constrained IT budget scenario, CIOs will most likely look to cut their resources first from lower-value augmented [contract] IT staff." The company also describes its survey as "an early warning flag" for service providers' 2009 bookings of new projects.

These intended cutbacks are a change from last fall. When the managers were asked in October which area of IT service delivery resources they would cut for application-related development or maintenance work, the answer was 0% for in-house employees. However, with a declining economy, 8% of respondents in a February survey said in-house IT programming staffers would be cut. In April, 15% of respondents said in-house staffers would be cut. That dropped to 11% in the June survey (the most recent).

But contract employees fare much worse. In the survey, 48% of the respondents said that those staffers would be cut. And 30% of the responders said on-site third-party service provider staffers would also be cut for application-related development or maintenance work. Twelve percent of the managers said they would cut employees from offshore third-party service providers.

Dog heating pad threatens pulsar research

By Tom Breen
Associated Press updated 12:21 p.m. ET, Wed., Dec. 31, 2008

GREEN BANK, W.Va. - Of all the threats to scientific research Wesley Sizemore has stymied over the years, satellites and cell phone towers don't stick in his memory quite like the possessive old hound and its treasured heating pad.

Sizemore is an interference hunter, vigilantly pursuing stray electromagnetic signals that bedevil researchers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which sits on 13,000 square miles tucked away in the nation's only radio-free quiet zone.

Radio observatories need interference-free zones like optical observatories need clear night skies.
Researchers, mostly looking at pulsar waves that have traveled through space for billions of years, pursue signals so weak they can be easily foiled by anything from power locks on cars to a broken wire inside a heating pad that kept a nearby dog warm in the winter.

"There was enough arcing inside the heating pad that it caught our attention," Sizemore said, again telling what he affectionately calls "that damn dog story."

Over several days, Sizemore — who has a specially equipped truck and gear that can pinpoint an interference source the size of a 50-cent piece — tracked it to a doghouse about 10 miles from the observatory.

He bought a new heating pad and all was resolved, although not necessarily amicably.

"It was a nasty little dog," Sizemore said. "He wasn't real happy with me snooping around his doghouse, put it that way."

Microsoft blames leap year for Zune freeze

By Jasmin Aline Persch updated 1 hour, 1 minute ago

Microsoft said Wednesday that a leap year issue caused problems with the 30-gigabyte versions of its Zune digital music player, following a flood of online customer complaints about the devices freezing up.

( is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

The company issued a statement pinpointing “a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year.”

Microsoft also said that “the issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to Jan. 1, 2009.”

This year, an extra day was tacked on to February, making this a leap year. By international agreement, the world’s timekeepers are also adding a “leap second” tonight to keep Earth apace with very precise clocks.

The internal clocks on what is known as the Zune 30 should reset at noon GMT on Thursday, the company said. After that, 30-gigabyte Zune users should follow these three steps:

* Let the battery die.
* Recharge it.
* Turn the device on.

Zune Pass subscribers may need to sync their devices with their PCs to “refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device,” according to Microsoft’s statement.

Users of the 30GB model began reporting problems on a Microsoft message board early Wednesday (Dec. 31). Customers similarly are saying that their digital music players get stuck on the Zune logo screen as it appears to load, and efforts to unjam the device are mostly fruitless.

Think these 8 foods are healthy? Wrong!

In a 2008 study, researchers linked drinking just one diet soda a day with metabolic syndrome — the collection of symptoms including belly fat that puts you at high risk of heart disease. Researchers aren't sure if it's an ingredient in diet soda or the drinkers' eating habits that caused the association.

Smarter sub: Flavored seltzer water. It has zero calories and is free of artificial sweeteners but provides fizz and flavor. Beware of clear sparkling beverages that look like seltzer yet contain artificial sweeteners — they're no better than diet soda. Or try a sparkling juice; we recommend watering it down with seltzer to stretch your calories even further.

Health bonus: Hydration (without chemicals). Water is essential for nearly every body process.

Try: Your supermarket's low-cost seltzer brand. The taste is the same as the bigger name brands.

Smoking ban leads to big drop in heart attacks

Several years ago, worked as a waitress. The first restaurant I worked at was in a non-smoking county. After 3 years, that restaurant closed, and I was transferred to a restaurant in an adjacent county, which did not have a smoking ban. I started getting chest pains. Then that county passed a no-smoking ban, and my chest pains stopped. I also have asthma, and that is definitely aggravated by second-hand smoke.

Hospitalized cases fell 41 percent after one city’s smoke-free workplace law
Associated Press updated 3:00 p.m. ET, Wed., Dec. 31, 2008

ATLANTA - A smoking ban in one Colorado city led to a dramatic drop in heart attack hospitalizations within three years, a sign of just how serious a health threat secondhand smoke is, government researchers said Wednesday.

The study, the longest-running of its kind, showed the rate of hospitalized cases dropped 41 percent in the three years after the ban of workplace smoking in Pueblo, Colo., took effect. There was no such drop in two neighboring areas, and researchers believe it’s a clear sign the ban was responsible.

The study suggests that secondhand smoke may be a terrible and under-recognized cause of heart attack deaths in this country, said one of its authors, Terry Pechacek of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the new study, researchers reviewed hospital admissions for heart attacks in Pueblo. Patients were classified by ZIP codes. They then looked at the same data for two nearby areas that did not have bans — the area of Pueblo County outside the city and for El Paso County.

In Pueblo, the rate of heart attacks dropped from 257 per 100,000 people before the ban to 152 per 100,000 in the three years afterward. There were no significant changes in the two other areas.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Effect Of Parental Education On Heritability Of Children's Reading Disability

It seems to me that this study should be no surprise to anybody who is scientifically literate. Is the requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 that that all children reach “grade level” performance on reading and other academic skills by 2014" due to ignorance, stupidity, or a desire to destroy public education?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 26, 2008) — Parental education is a strong predictor of socioeconomic status and children’s educational environment. Nevertheless, some children continue to experience reading failure in spite of high parental education and support for learning to read.
Children whose parents had higher levels of education tended to have stronger genetic influence on their reading disability than children whose parents had lower levels of education. The researchers concluded that on average, poor instruction or lack of reading practice may often be the main influence on reading disabilities in families with low socioeconomic status, while genes may be the main influence on reading disability among children in families with high socioeconomic status and educational support.

This study has important implications not only for future genetic research, but for national education policies as well. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that all children reach “grade level” performance on reading and other academic skills by 2014, and assumes that this goal can be met through appropriate education. However, the authors of this study suggest that a more beneficial policy would acknowledge genetic constraints on meeting these standards among some children with reading disability, and honor the functionally important gains they make in reading and other academic skills even if they do not reach grade level.

Vitamin D Deficiency In Infants And Nursing Mothers Carries Long-term Disease Risks

ScienceDaily (Dec. 29, 2008) — Once believed to be important only for bone health, vitamin D is now seen as having a critical function in maintaining the immune system throughout life. The newly recognized disease risks associated with vitamin D deficiency are clearly documented in a new report.

Vitamin D deficiency is common across populations and particularly among people with darker skin. Nutritional rickets among nursing infants whose mothers have insufficient levels of vitamin D is an increasingly common, yet preventable disorder.

Carol Wagner, MD, Sarah Taylor, MD, and Bruce Hollis, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston), emphasize the need for clinical studies to determine the dose of vitamin D needed to achieve adequate vitamin D levels in breastfeeding mothers and their infants without toxicity.

The authors point out that vitamin D is now viewed not simply as a vitamin with a role in promoting bone health, but as a complex hormone that helps to regulate immune system function. Long-term vitamin D deficiency has been linked to immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, and cancer.

"Vitamin D is a hormone not a vitamin and it is not just for kids anymore," writes Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in an accompanying editorial. "Perhaps the most startling information is that adults are commonly deficit in modern society. Vitamin D is now recognized as a pivotal hormone in the human immune system, a role far beyond the prevention of rickets, as pointed out in the article by Wagner et al in this month's issue of Breastfeeding Medicine."

Blood Sugar Linked To Normal Cognitive Aging

Too bad I didn't read this a few minutes ago, before I had two small meringue "cookies". I would say they're really candies. Maybe "cookies" sounds better for you than "candy".

ScienceDaily (Dec. 30, 2008) — Maintaining blood sugar levels, even in the absence of disease, may be an important strategy for preserving cognitive health, suggests a study published by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

Senior moments, also dubbed by New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks as being "hippocampically challenged," are a normal part of aging. Such lapses in memory, according to this new research, could be blamed, at least in part, on rising blood glucose levels as we age. The findings suggest that exercising to improve blood sugar levels could be a way for some people to stave off the normal cognitive decline that comes with age.

"This is news even for people without diabetes since blood glucose levels tend to rise as we grow older. Whether through physical exercise, diet or drugs, our research suggests that improving glucose metabolism could help some of us avert the cognitive slide that occurs in many of us as we age," reported lead investigator Scott A. Small, M.D., associate professor of neurology in the Sergievsky Center and in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center.

Competition, Not Climate Change, Led To Neanderthal Extinction

"Competition", in other words genocide.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 30, 2008) — In a recently conducted study, a multidisciplinary French-American research team with expertise in archaeology, past climates, and ecology reported that Neanderthal extinction was principally a result of competition with Cro-Magnon populations, rather than the consequences of climate change.

Flowering Plants Speed Post-surgery Recovery

ScienceDaily (Dec. 30, 2008) — Contact with nature has long been suspected to increase positive feelings, reduce stress, and provide distraction from the pain associated with recovery from surgery. Now, research has confirmed the beneficial effects of plants and flowers for patients recovering from abdominal surgery.
Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms.

An interesting note to this study—the majority of patients who had plants in their rooms reported that the plants were the most positive qualities of their rooms (93%), whereas patients without plants in their rooms said that watching television was the most favorable aspect of their rooms (91%).

The study suggests that potted plants offer the most benefit, as opposed to cut flowers, because of their longevity. Nursing staff reported that as patients recovered, they began to show interaction with the plants, including watering, pruning, and moving them for a better view or light. A number of studies have also shown that indoor plants make air healthier and provide an optimum indoor environment by increasing humidity, and reducing the quantity of mold spores and airborne germs.

Celestial Show Set for New Year's Eve;_ylt=AhbS1B7CNi1jOPj7q6C29.Ws0NUE

Robert Roy Britt
Editorial Director robert Roy Britt
editorial Director – Tue Dec 30, 11:47 am ET

A delightful display of planets and the moon will occur on New Year's Eve for anyone wishing to step outside and look up just after sunset.

Venus, brighter than all other planets and stars, will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible -- impossible to miss, in fact -- just as the sun goes down, assuming skies are cloud-free.

Soon thereafter, Mercury and Jupiter will show up hugging the south-southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and extremely close to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot; Mercury is faint and harder to see, but it'll be apparent by its location just to the left of Jupiter.

Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun, so timing your viewing just after sunset is crucial. You'll also need a location with a clear view of the western horizon, unobstructed by buildings, trees or mountains.

One World, Many Minds

Anybody who has shared their homes with dogs or cats should already know the idea that humans are unique in the ability to think is ridiculous.

Just a few years ago, an biologist claimed that frogs don't feel pain because they don't have the same biochemical reactions to injury as humans. This shows that having a degree and a jobs as a scientist doesn't mean a person isn't an idiot.

December, 2008 in Environment
One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom
We are used to thinking of humans as occupying the sole pinnacle of evolutionary intelligence. That's where we're wrong
By Paul Patton

One of the most common misconceptions about brain evolution is that it represents a linear process culminating in the amazing cognitive powers of humans, with the brains of other modern species representing previous stages. Such ideas have even influenced the thinking of neuroscientists and psychologists who compare the brains of different species used in biomedical research. Over the past 30 years, however, research in comparative neuroanatomy clearly has shown that complex brains—and sophisticated cognition—have evolved from simpler brains multiple times independently in separate lineages, or evolutionarily related groups: in mollusks such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish; in bony fishes such as goldfish and, separately again, in cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and manta rays; and in reptiles and birds. Nonmammals have demonstrated advanced abilities such as learning by copying the behavior of others, finding their way in complicated spatial environments, manufacturing and using tools, and even conducting mental time travel (remembering specific past episodes or anticipating unique future events). Collectively, these findings are helping scientists to understand how intelligence can arise—and to appreciate the many forms it can take.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Under Bush, OSHA Mired in Inaction

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 29, 2008; Page A01

In early 2001, an epidemiologist at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to publish a special bulletin warning dental technicians that they could be exposed to dangerous beryllium alloys while grinding fillings. Health studies showed that even a single day's exposure at the agency's permitted level could lead to incurable lung disease.

After the bulletin was drafted, political appointees at the agency gave a copy to a lobbying firm hired by the country's principal beryllium manufacturer, according to internal OSHA documents. The epidemiologist, Peter Infante, incorporated what he considered reasonable changes requested by the company and won approval from key directorates, but he bristled when the private firm complained again.

"In my 24 years at the Agency, I have never experienced such indecision and delay," Infante wrote in an e-mail to the agency's director of standards in March 2002. Eventually, top OSHA officials decided, over what Infante described in an e-mail to his boss as opposition from "the entire OSHA staff working on beryllium issues," to publish the bulletin with a footnote challenging a key recommendation the firm opposed.

Current and former career officials at OSHA say that such sagas were a recurrent feature during the Bush administration, as political appointees ordered the withdrawal of dozens of workplace health regulations, slow-rolled others, and altered the reach of its warnings and rules in response to industry pressure.
More than two dozen current and former senior career officials further said in interviews that the agency's strategic choices were frequently made without input from its experienced hands. Political appointees "shut us out," a longtime senior career official said.

Among the regulations proposed by OSHA's staff but scuttled by political appointees was one meant to protect health workers from tuberculosis. Although OSHA concluded in 1997 that the regulation could avert as many as 32,700 infections and 190 deaths annually and save $115 million, it was blocked by opposition from large hospitals.
The agency's first director under Bush, John L. Henshaw, startled career officials by telling them in an early meeting that employers were OSHA's real customers, not the nation's workers. "Everybody was pretty amazed," one of those present recalled. "Our purpose is to ensure employee safety and health. . . . He just looked at things differently."

Welfare Reform Has Led to More Work but Less Education

Welfare reforms have reduced both the probability that women aged 21-49 will attend high school and that those aged 24-49 will attend college, by 20-25 percent.

Over many decades, welfare programs in the United States focused on education and training as a means of developing "human capital"- skills and knowledge that increase the value of labor. The goal was to help those on public assistance become self-sufficient, aiding them in the ascent out of poverty. By the mid-1990s, however, in response to increasing caseload numbers, welfare reformers turned away from the human capital approach in favor of policies requiring welfare recipients to work in order to receive benefits and making benefits time limited.

In Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Acquisition of Young Adult Women (NBER Working Paper No. 14466), co-authors Dhaval Dave, Nancy Reichman, and Hope Corman find that while welfare reform has reduced caseloads and increased employment rates, it "significantly decreased the probability of both high school and college attendance among young adult women-by 20-25 percent." The findings show that "work first" policies not explicitly aimed at education can nevertheless significantly affect educational acquisition.

Welfare reform in the United States began in the early 1990s culminating in the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996. With the goal of moving current and potential welfare recipients into the labor force, the act promoted work over education. The reforms were successful in reducing welfare caseloads from their peak in 1994- about one third of the 50 percent decline can be attributed to welfare reform. Employment rates for low-skilled mothers also increased during the same period, again partially attributable to the reforms. Though these employment effects are well studied, the consequences for adult education had been little examined until now even though education was commonplace among adult welfare recipients prior to welfare reform.

Using data from the Current Population Survey -- a monthly survey of 75,000 households conducted by the Bureau of the Census -- Dave, Reichman, and Corman examined enrollment in high school, college, and other schooling, which includes trade school, GED prep programs, and other training programs. Looking first at high school dropout rates for teenage girls, they find that welfare reform increased the probability of young women staying in high school by 9-13 percent, which is consistent with previous literature. The incentives for teens are very different from those for adults. PRWORA requires teen mothers to attend school in order to receive welfare and does not impose time limits or work requirements if they are full-time students. In addition, the new regime may encourage teenage girls from disadvantaged families, who have traditionally been at risk for welfare receipt, to complete high school in order to reduce their risk of needing cash assistance in the future.

Moving on to their primary focus, adult women, the authors find that welfare reforms have reduced both the probability that women aged 21-49 will attend high school and that those aged 24-49 will attend college, by 20-25 percent. These findings suggest that gains in reducing welfare caseloads have come at a cost of lowering the educational attainment of women at risk for relying on welfare.

Dave, Reichman, and Corman explain their findings as follows: Incentives to stay in school when young may increase the chances that teenage girls finish high school, but linking welfare payments to work requirements and imposing time limits strongly motivate them to get jobs rather than continue their education when they reach majority age.

Because PRWORA granted discretion to states in deciding details, such as eligibility requirements and specific program rules, the authors are able to compare effects across states with different policies. They find that states that support schooling as an alternative to work are able to reduce the negative impact of welfare reform on education. On the other hand, women in states with strong work incentives, such as small welfare benefits and strict work requirements, face more pressure to work at the expense of their education. The authors suggest that since education is associated with higher earnings, lower future unemployment, and better health, the negative effects of welfare reform on educational acquisition of adult women may have negative implications for maternal and child well-being.

-- MacGregor Campbell

Job openings rapidly dwindle as unemployment pushes upward

I am not including this to be depressing, but because some right-wing slimy jerks are trying to say there is really no lack of jobs. Of course, once Obama becomes president, these same people will be saying there is a problem, and blame Obama.

Job openings rapidly dwindle as unemployment pushes upward

by Tobin Marcus

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the October Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, which indicates that there were only 3.1 million job openings in the economy, down nearly 25% from the start of the recession in December 2007.

While that's bad, what makes matters worse is that this rapid decline in job openings has been accompanied by a sharp increase in unemployment. In October 2008 the number of job seekers topped 10 million, more than three times the number of jobs available. The acceleration has been startling: the number of job seekers per opening has skyrocketed from 1.9 at the beginning of this recession to 3.3 less than a year later in October 2008. The rapid increase in this ratio clearly indicates the weakness of the current labor market and the difficulty that workers are having finding jobs. Unfortunately, this ratio will likely continue to worsen for the forseeable future, given that in November unemployment increased by another 250,000 jobs.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Spirit, Draw Near

I hope people celebrating various holidays might enjoy the words to this song.

Spirit, Draw Near
copyright 2006, Patricia M. Shannon
(verse can also be sung to tune of "Gathered Here" by Philip A. Porter)

We are here in the spirit/mystery of the hour,
join us as we come together,
in the love that is the highest power;
Spirit draw near.

Spirit draw near,
Spirit draw near,
in the love that is the highest power;
Spirit draw near.

All the woes of the world we put away,
as we search for higher meaning,
and a path that leads to wiser ways,
Spirit draw near

Spirit draw near,
Spirit draw near,
lead us on a path to wiser ways,
Spirit draw near.

In a world full of wondrous things to know,
we can be forever learning,
when we work together we can grow.
Spirit draw near

Spirit draw near,
Spirit draw near,
when we work together we can grow,
Spirit draw near.

Selflessness -- Core Of All Major World Religions -- Has Neuropsychological Connection

Could this help explain why there is a much lower rate of sociopath in eastern cultures? Could it be used to treat sociopaths?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — All spiritual experiences are based in the brain. That statement is truer than ever before, according to a University of Missouri neuropsychologist. An MU study has data to support a neuropsychological model that proposes spiritual experiences associated with selflessness are related to decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain.
This study, along with other recent neuroradiological studies of Buddhist meditators and Francescan nuns, suggests that all individuals, regardless of cultural background or religion, experience the same neuropsychological functions during spiritual experiences, such as transcendence. Transcendence, feelings of universal unity and decreased sense of self, is a core tenet of all major religions. Meditation and prayer are the primary vehicles by which such spiritual transcendence is achieved.
This link is important, Johnstone said, because it means selflessness can be learned by decreasing activity in that part of the brain. He suggests this can be done through conscious effort, such as meditation or prayer. People with these selfless spiritual experiences also are more psychologically healthy, especially if they have positive beliefs that there is a God or higher power who loves them, Johnstone said.
“The ability to connect with things beyond the self, such as transcendent experiences, seems to occur for people who minimize right parietal functioning. This can be attained through cultural practices, such as intense meditation or prayer

Self-esteem leading to agression

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — Aren't you ashamed of yourself? All these years, you've been trying to build up your child's self-esteem, and now a growing body of research suggests you may be making a big mistake. A study published in the December issue of Child Development finds that early adolescents with high self-esteem are more likely to react aggressively when they feel ashamed than their peers with lower levels of self-esteem.

"Young teens with low self-esteem apparently don't feel the need to protect their punctured egos," said University of Michigan psychologist Brad J. Bushman, a co-author of the study with colleagues from VU University and Utrecht University in The Netherlands.
Narcissism included grandiose views of themselves, inflated feelings of superiority and entitlement, and exploitative interpersonal attitudes
The narcissistic kids were more aggressive than others, but only after they had been shamed. "Narcissists seem highly motivated to create and maintain a grandiose view of self," the researchers wrote. "They tend to interpret social situations in terms of how they reflect on the self, and they engage in self-regulatory strategies to protect self-esteem when they need to. As shameful situations constitute a threat to grandiosity, narcissistic shame-induced aggression can likely be viewed as defensive effort to maintain self-worth."

The researchers found no support for the traditional view that low self-esteem underlies aggression. In fact, they found that high self-esteem increased narcissistic shame-induced aggression.

"It could be that narcissistic kids with high self-esteem are more vulnerable to shameful events than are kids with low self-esteem," said Bushman. "Or, they may differ in the way they deal with those events."

The implications for parents and teachers: Don't shame a child who has a high opinion of himself.
I draw a different conclusion. Don't raise your kids to be narcissistic. I certainly don't advocate psychological abuse, but I also take issue with the popular idea that we should make kids feel good about themselves just because they exist. We should feel good about ourselves because of what we do with what we have. A person who is sadistic should not feel good about themselves.

Remarkably Bright White Light Given Off When Diaper Rash Cream Concoction Is Heated To High Temperature

Here is an article that has both a humorous title, and good news.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — Duke University and United States Army scientists have found that a cheap and nontoxic sunburn and diaper rash preventative can be made to produce brilliant light best suited to the human eye.
A compound that can be used on faces or babies' bottoms also has major safety advantages over fluorescent bulbs, which happen to contain toxic mercury. "If a fluorescent bulb gets broken in the course of battle, it exposes soldiers to that mercury in addition to its shattered glass," Everitt said.

"I think the biggest payoff for the general public will ultimately be in future energy crises we're certainly going to face," Everitt added. "If we can have more efficient lighting it will reduce our energy requirements."
Zinc oxide would be both a less-toxic and cheaper light source than the combinations used in today's commercial LEDs -- gallium nitride and cerium-doped yttrium oxide, they said. Cerium-doped yttrium oxide is also used in today's mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, Everitt added.

Liu's lab originally stumbled on to the light emitting potential of sulfur-doped zinc oxide while studying its electronic conductivity. "We just lit it up with an ultraviolet laser and -- whammo -- there was a lot of white light coming out," Everitt said.

How Certain Vegetables Combat Cancer

ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008) — Women should go for the broccoli when the relish tray comes around during holiday celebrations this season.

While it has been known for some time that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, can help prevent breast cancer,

Treating Gum Disease Linked To Lower Medical Costs For Patients With Diabetes

ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008) — A new report suggests that treating gum disease in patients who have diabetes with procedures such as cleanings and periodontal scaling is linked to 10 to 12 percent lower medical costs per month.

Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates

ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008) — A new study in the journal Personal Relationships reveals that women prefer mates who are recognized by their peers for their skills, abilities, and achievements, while not preferring men who use coercive tactics to subordinate their rivals. Indeed, women found dominance strategies of the latter type to be attractive primarily when men used them in the context of male-male athletic competitions.
Women are sensitive to the context in which men display domineering behaviors when they evaluate men as potential mates. For example, the traits and behaviors that women found attractive in athletic competitions were unattractive to women when men displayed the same traits and behaviors in interpersonal contexts. Notably, when considering prospective partners for long-term relationships, women’s preferences for dominance decrease, and their preferences for prestige increase.

“These findings directly contradict the dating advice of some pop psychologists who advise men to be aggressive in their social interactions. Women most likely avoid dominant men as long-term romantic partners because a dominant man may also be domineering in the household.” the authors conclude.

Are Power And Compassion Mutually Exclusive?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008) — The fact that many cultures emphasize the concept of “noblesse oblige” (the idea that with great power and prestige come responsibilities) suggests that power may diminish a tendency to help others. Psychologist Gerben A. van Kleef (University of Amsterdam) and his colleagues from University of California, Berkeley, examined how power influences emotional reactions to the suffering of others.

A group of undergraduates completed questionnaires about their personal sense of power, which identified them to the researchers as either being high-power or low-power. The students were then randomly paired up and had to tell their partner about an event which had caused them emotional suffering and pain. Their partners then rated their emotions after hearing the story.
The results, reported in the December issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that individuals with a higher sense of power experienced less compassion and distress when confronted with another’s suffering, compared to low-power individuals.
Analysis of the participants’ final surveys (where they rated their thoughts about their partners) revealed that high-power individuals reported a weaker desire to get to know and establish a friendship with their partner. In other words, powerful people were not motivated to establish a relationship with distressed individuals. This idea is supported by the fact that the distressed participants reported less of a social connection with high-power partners compared to low-power partners. The authors suggest that powerful people's tendency to show less compassion and distress towards others reinforces their social power.

These results do not just apply to how powerful people react to strangers; the authors note that this study “suggests that high-power individuals may suffer in interpersonal relationships because of their diminished capacity for compassion and empathy. The many benefits enjoyed by people with power may not translate to the interpersonal realm.”

Green Homes That Withstand Hurricanes Under Development

ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2008) — Home foundations and frames built of a lightweight composite material that may bend - but won’t break - in a hurricane and can simply float on the rising tide of a storm’s coastal surge? Sounds too Sci-Fi? Maybe like something from the distant future?

Well, the technology is closer than you think. A professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is set for six months of overseas research aimed at making it a reality, now.

UAB Associate Professor of Engineering Nasim Uddin, Ph.D., and his collaborators are behind the innovative work. Beginning Nov. 22, Uddin will spend six months in Bangladesh as a visiting lecturer and researcher at the BRAC University. Uddin will work to strengthen the university’s post graduate-program in disaster mitigation while he furthers his ongoing research into natural fiber-based composite technologies for low-cost residential coastal housing, engineered to withstand hurricane strength wind and storm surge damage. The trip is funded by a Fulbright Scholarship grant and is an extension of more than six years worth of UAB based research funded by more than $1 million in National Science Foundation grants.

Probiotics May Help People Taking Antibiotics

Confirmation of something many of us already knew.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2008) — Up to one in five people on antibiotics stop taking their full course of antibiotic therapy due to diarrhea. Physicians could help patients avoid this problem by prescribing probiotics, according to a study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University published in American Family Physician.

Storybooks On Paper Better For Children Than Reading Fiction On Computer Screen

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — Clicking and scrolling interrupt our attentional focus. Turning and touching the pages instead of clicking on the screen influence our ability for experience and attention. The physical manipulations we have to do with a computer, not related to the reading itself, disturb our mental appreciation, says associate professor Anne Mangen at the Center for Reading Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway. She has investigated the pros and cons of new reading devices.

Snails And Humans Use Same Genes To Tell Right From Left

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — Biologists have tracked down genes that control the handedness of snail shells, and they turn out to be similar to the genes used by humans to set up the left and right sides of the body.

The finding, reported online in advance of publication in Nature by University of California, Berkeley, researchers, indicates that the same genes have been responsible for establishing the left-right asymmetry of animals for 500-650 million years, originating in the last common ancestor of all animals with bilateral body organization, creatures that include everything from worms to humans.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Food banks report 30 percent increase in requests for emergency assistance

Reuters updated 2:10 p.m. ET, Tues., Dec. 23, 2008

U.S. food banks have reported a 30 percent rise in requests for emergency food assistance, according to a report issued last week by Feeding America, which supports 63,000 agencies and is the nation's largest hunger relief organization.

The group said the situation is expected to grow worse in 2009 amid rising unemployment, and a consortium of charity groups are calling on Washington for more federal assistance. U.S. employers cut 533,000 jobs in November alone, the highest monthly number in 34 years.

"We're in a crisis. Absolutely," said Feeding America spokeswoman Maura Daly.

Food assistance groups said many families who show up at their doors were recently making it on their own. But two years of rising food and energy costs ate into what little safety net those families had. Now, as jobs losses rise, many who were making ends meet can no longer do so.

Go ahead, sleep in — it’s good for the heart

Reuters updated 2 hours, 19 minutes ago
CHICAGO - Just one extra hour of sleep a day appears to lower the risk of developing calcium deposits in the arteries, a precursor to heart disease, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

The finding adds to a growing list of health consequences — including weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure — linked to getting too little sleep.

"We found that people who on average slept longer were at reduced risk of developing new coronary artery calcifications over five years," said Diane Lauderdale of the University of Chicago Medical Center, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"It was surprisingly strong," Lauderdale said in a telephone interview.

Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries are considered a precursor of future heart disease. "It's a very early marker of future risk," she said.

Unlike other studies looking at the risks of getting too little sleep, which use people's own estimates of their sleep patterns, Lauderdale's team set out to measure actual sleep patterns.

They fitted 495 people aged 35 to 47 with sophisticated wrist bands that tracked subtle body movements. Information from these recorders was fed into a computer program that was able to detect actual sleep patterns.

The team used special computed tomography, or CT, scans to assess the buildup of calcium inside heart arteries, performing one scan at the start of the study and one five years later.

After accounting for other differences such as age, gender, race, education, smoking and risk for sleep apnea, the team found sleep duration appeared to play a significant role in the development of coronary artery calcification.

About 12 percent of the people in the study developed artery calcification during the five-year study period. Among those who had slept less than five hours a night, 27 percent had developed artery calcification.

That dropped to 11 percent among those who slept five to seven hours, and to 6 percent among those who slept more than seven hours a night.

Lauderdale said it is not clear why this difference occurred in people who slept less, but they had some theories. Because blood pressure tends to fall off during sleep, it could be that people who slept longer had lower blood pressure over a 24-hour period.

Or, it could be related to reduced exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, which is decreased during sleep.

Or it may be some unidentified process.

How to measure "unemployment rate"?

First comment at (The Atlanta Fed's macroblog)

A data point on the unemployment measure:

For the fourth quarter of 2004, according to OECD, (source Employment Outlook 2005 ISBN 92-64-01045-9), normalized unemployment for men aged 25 to 54 was 4.6% in the USA and 7.4% in France. At the same time and for the same population the employment rate (number of workers divided by population) was 86.3% in the U.S. and 86.7% in France.

This example shows that the unemployment rate is 60% higher in France than in the USA, yet more people in this demographic are working in France than in the USA.

Do you know of anyone working on this "discrepancy"?

Thanks in advance,


Posted by: Laurent GUERBY | December 22, 2008 at 08:50 AM

Monday, December 22, 2008

Michael Connell Cancelled Two Flights on Suspicion his Plane may be SABOTAGED !!!.

Link to a news video on Michael Connell's plane accident

Connell was apparently told by a close friend not to fly his plane because it might be sabotaged.
And twice in the last two month Connell canceled flights because of suspicious problems with his plane.
Video from the crash scene:

First reports were that he ran out of gas. It seems to me if he had, there wouldn't be such a big fire, and a possibility of "a secondary explosion".
Another video:

Security Expert Warns Of Rigged Election
Jason Lee Miller Staff Writer

Security vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines threaten to skew results in the upcoming national election, says a Republican security expert. Stephen Spoonamore has come forward as a whistleblower willing to testify in an Ohio court case stemming from the 2004 Presidential elections.

Spoonamore, former CEO of Cybrinth, specialist in data management and remote electronic monitoring, and card-carrying member of the GOP, explains in a series of YouTube videos how Diebold e-voting machines can be hacked and manipulated to change vote tallies. The videos were posted by Velvet Revolution, an activist group with the aim of exposing voter fraud and returning to paper ballets.

The voting machines, according to Spoonamore, communicate with central government systems in the same way mobile phones connect with each other. The machine sends a signal to a tower, is filtered through third-party, corporate-owned computers identifying both sender and receiver, and then the votes-which are anonymous and without any type of paper trail-are then forwarded to the government receiver.

The inherent problem is that third party wireless intercept of information. Spoonamore says without a doubt tabulations can be intercepted and changed before they are sent on to officials. More specifically, as was the case in Ohio in 2004, tabulations were funneled through servers in Chattanooga, TN, owned by SmarTech. Coincidentally, the Bush Administration has used these servers for sending and receiving email to avoid public scrutiny.

Spoonamore, who has helped develop security solutions for MasterCard, American Express, Bloomberg, Boeing, NBC, News Corp., the Dept. of Energy, the US Navy, and the Dept. of State, is on record, in a sworn affidavit, explaining how easily these voting machines can be hacked and manipulated.

In that affidavit, dated September 18, 2008, he mentions the involvement of Mike Connell, president of GovTech Solutions and New Media Communications, and a web designer and IT consultant for high-level Republicans. Connell was served with a subpoena on Sept. 22, compelling his testimony about vote-tampering in Ohio in 2004.

That case involves controversial strategist and Bush campaign advisor Karl Rove, who has also been subpoenaed. Why four years later? An Ohio judge finally lifted a stay that was on the case in an effort to avoid litigants' attempts to delay it until after the 2008 elections this November. Spoonamore's testimony was heralded as a catalyst for this event.

Spoonamore can't say Connell was directly involved with vote-tampering, but swears Connell knows who was. Until the subpoena, Connell has refused to testify. Most disturbing about Spoonamore's claims is that there is already a plan in play to swing the Presidential race to John McCain, who he claims will win by 3 electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote. If these claims were made someone less credible, it would be fodder for conspiracy theory.

Why haven't you heard about this all over the news? Good question and not one easily answered. In 2006, former ABC producer and investigative journalist Rebecca Abrahams resorted to a blog post to detail apparent voter fraud in 2004, because ABC lawyers killed the story in fear of lawsuits from Diebold.

Abrahams also posts an interview with a person she calls "Diebthroat," a temporary contractor who worked for Diebold. Diebthroat explains how shortly before a Georgia election in 2002, the president of Diebold instructed him to install a patch in voting machines in specific Georgia counties. Diebthroat said the patches were said to be for fixing the clocks, but the clocks on all machines continued to be broken after the installs. Diebthroat was surprised at the level of access Diebold employees had to the voting machines, before and during Election Day, and at the outcome of the election as traditionally Democrat counties went strongly for Republican candidates.

Diebthroat's story is remarkably similar to former Diebold contractor Chris Hood's, who claims Diebold president Bob Urosevitch himself performed maintenance on the machines. Hood also talks about, in this video posted by Velvet Revolution, being tasked to install broken clock patches on machines shortly before the elections. VR says the video was supposed to air on a major news network two weeks before the 2006 elections, but was pulled.

Sure enough, you won't find another major news outlet anywhere near this story. Searches for his name on Google News, Yahoo News, Ask, and MSN brought back only a handful of Internet sites few have ever heard of.

Spoonamore, whose says his love of American democracy outweighs his loyalty to the Republican party, complains Diebold's machines are not just vulnerable to Diebold employees, but also to foreign agents. Both Hood and Spoonamore say the flaws that existed in the machines before still exist. Hood goes so far as to say they were purposefully left in play.

About the Author:
Jason is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. He covers business, technology, and security issues.

The suspicious, disturbing death of election rigger Michael Connell

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
December 20, 2008

Michael Connell, the crucial techno- lynch pin in the theft of the 2004 election, and much more, is dead at the age of 45. His unnatural, suspicious death raises serious questions about the corruption of the American electoral process that now may never be answered.

Connell died Friday, December 19 when his Piper Saratoga plane crashed near his northern Ohio home. He was flying himself home from the College Park, Maryland airport. An accomplished pilot, flying in unremarkable weather, his death cuts off a critical path to much of what may never be known about how the 2004 election was shifted from John Kerry to George W. Bush in the wee hours of November 2. His plane crashed between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, one vacant, just 2.5 miles from the Akron-Canton airport.

A long-time, outspokenly loyal associate of the Bush family, Connell created the Bush-Cheney website for their 2000 presidential campaign. Connell may have played a role in various computer malfunctions that helped the GOP claim the presidency in 2000. As a chief IT consultant and operative for Karl Rove, Connell was a devout Catholic and the father of four children. In various interviews and a deposition Connell cited his belief that abortion is murder as a primary motivating factor in his work for the Republican Party.

Connell recently wrote the following in his New Media Communications newsletter, regarding Barack Obama's election: "In our 230 year history, our democracy has suffered worse fates. It's just that none come to mind right now." Connell wrote: "This is just a moment in time and this too shall pass. Enduring is the fact that 2000 years ago, a babe was born in Bethlehem. When our Lord God sent his only Son for our salvation,...In spite of the current economic and political conditions, salvation is eternal."

Ohio Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell hired Connell in 2004 to create a real-time computer data compilation for counting Ohio's votes. Under Connell's supervision, Ohio's presidential vote count was transmitted to private, partisan computer servers owned by SmartTech housed in the basement of the Old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Connell's company, New Media Communications worked closely with SmartTech in building Republican and right-wing websites that were hosted on SmartTech servers. Among Connell's clients were the Republican National Committee, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and The SmartTech servers at one point housed Karl Rove's emails. Some of Rove's email files have since mysteriously disappeared despite repeated court-sanctioned attempts to review them.

In 2001, Michael Connell's GovTech Solutions, LLC was selected to reorganize the Capitol Hill IT network, the only private-sector company to gain permission from HIR [House Information Resources] to place its server behind the firewall, he bragged.

At 12:20 am on the night of the 2004 election exit polls and initial vote counts showed John Kerry the clear winner of Ohio's presidential campaign. The Buckeye State's 20 electoral votes would have given Kerry the presidency.

But from then until around 2am, the flow of information mysteriously ceased. After that, the vote count shifted dramatically to George W. Bush, ultimately giving him a second term. In the end there was a 6.7 percent diversion---in Bush's favor---between highly professional, nationally funded exit polls and the final official vote count as tabulated by Blackwell and Connell.

Until his death Connell remained the IT supervisor for six Congressional committees. But on the day before the 2008 election, Connell was deposed by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count, and his continued involvement in IT operations for the GOP, including his access to Rove's e-mail files and the circumstances behind their disappearance.

Various threats have been repeatedly reported involving Connell and other IT experts close to the GOP. On July 24, 2008, Arnebeck emailed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, stating: "We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King-Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio,...."

Connell's death comes at a moment where election protection attorneys and others appeared to be closing in on critical irregularities and illegalities. In his pre-election deposition, Connell was generally evasive, but did disclose key pieces of information that could prove damaging to Karl Rove and the GOP. Examining attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit, stemming from the 2004 election theft, were confident Connell had far more to tell.

There is widespread concern that this may be the reason he is now dead.

Revised December 21, 2008

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including AS GOES OHIO and HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICAS 2004 ELECTION..., available at, where this article first appeared. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King- Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit which subpoenaed and was deposing Michael Connell.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still Another case of innocence finally proved

Every jury in such a case should be educated in the fact that eye witness testimony has been proved to be very, very unreliable.
With so many people who have been proven, because of DNA evidence, to be wrongfully convicted, there must be others in the same situation, but who can't prove it because DNA evidence is lacking.

Man imprisoned for 20 years gets new trial
Walks out of court free; insists he never killed pregnant teen in 1988
Associated Press updated 3:22 p.m. ET, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008

HARTFORD, Conn. - A man who served 20 years in prison for a killing in which another man has now been charged walked out of court free on Friday after a judge granted him a new trial.

Miguel Roman, 52, was released on a promise to appear in court again Feb. 5.
Two weeks ago, authorities charged another man with the 1988 murder of 17-year-old Carmen Lopez, Roman's pregnant girlfriend at the time, and announced that new DNA tests eliminated Roman as a suspect. Pedro Miranda was also charged in the killings of two other Hartford teens in the 1980s, after the new DNA tests linked him to the crimes, police said.

Roman had been serving a 60-year sentence for killing Lopez.

An FBI investigator testified in Roman's trial that tests eliminated him as a suspect, but a jury convicted him on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony, according to the arrest warrant affidavit for Miranda.

Bush does something I approve!

Bush did something I approved of. Regardless of whether GM and Chrysler "deserve" to be helped, this would be a terrible time to let them collapse. Better our tax money go to people who are doing real jobs, and not to bonuses for the financial executives who made what would have been an inevitable economic downturn much worse. I say inevitable because of the stagnation or actual declining of wages (allowing for inflation) and the high levels of debt.

Bailout offers brief reprieve for automakers
Package demands tough concessions from union; prospects uncertain
By Roland Jones
updated 5:50 p.m. ET, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008

U.S. automakers got a $17.4 billion lifeline from the Bush administration Friday, but now comes the hard part: Winning tough concessions from their unions and turning around their ailing businesses.

Declaring that he was unwilling to allow the auto industry to collapse, Bush announced a plan to loan $9.4 billion to General Motors and $4 billion to Chrysler this month. An additional $4 billion would be made available to the industry in February, after President-elect Obama has taken office.

Ford Motor, the other major U.S. automaker, has said it does not need funding in the immediate future.

The terms of the loans to GM and Chrysler require the carmakers and their unions to make significant concessions. (The term sheets have been posted at the Treasury's Web site.)

New World Post-pandemic Reforestation Helped Start Little Ice Age, Say Scientists

ScienceDaily (Dec. 19, 2008) — The power of viruses is well documented in human history. Swarms of little viral Davids have repeatedly laid low the great Goliaths of human civilization, most famously in the devastating pandemics that swept the New World during European conquest and settlement.

In recent years, there has been growing evidence for the hypothesis that the effect of the pandemics in the Americas wasn't confined to killing indigenous peoples. Global climate appears to have been altered as well.

Stanford University researchers have conducted a comprehensive analysis of data detailing the amount of charcoal contained in soils and lake sediments at the sites of both pre-Columbian population centers in the Americas and in sparsely populated surrounding regions. They concluded that reforestation of agricultural lands—abandoned as the population collapsed—pulled so much carbon out of the atmosphere that it helped trigger a period of global cooling, at its most intense from approximately 1500 to 1750, known as the Little Ice Age.
Nevle and Bird don't attribute all of the cooling during the Little Ice Age to reforestation in the Americas.

"There are other causes at play," Nevle said. "But reforestation is certainly a first-order contributor."

Another case of innocence finally proved

Rachel Nickell killing: Met apology a long time coming, says innocent Stagg
Man who was charged and cleared over killing says he has forgiven case detectives but not profiler who accused him
* Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
*, Thursday 18 December 2008 13.34 GMT

Colin Stagg today received the apology from the Metropolitan police that he has waited 16 years to hear.

"It has been a long time coming," the 45-year-old said. "It would have been nicer if the Met could have looked me in the eye while they did it, but I'll take what's on offer."

A letter signed by the Met's assistant commissioner, John Yates, was hand delivered this morning to Stagg's solicitors's office. It said the police would like to make it a matter of public record that Stagg had nothing to do with the murder. "I must offer you an unreserved apology for the proceedings instigated against you in 1994. I acknowledge the huge and most regrettable effect this has had on your life for the past 16 years," Yates wrote.
Stagg said he had forgiven the detectives who implicated him in the murder of Rachel Nickell, and reserved his bitterness for the senior officers and prosecution team who allowed the case to go ahead against him with no evidence. His anger is directed in particular at Paul Britton, the forensic profiler who in 1992 was hailed as the man with the key to unlock tough murder investigations. From Britton he has had no apology.
Stagg was held in prison for 13 months on remand. For four of those months, Robert Napper was held on remand in prison for the murder of Samantha Bissett and her daughter, Jazmine, 12 miles away from Wimbledon Common.

Police sources said officers saw the similarities between the two murders – both were random, motiveless knife attacks on blond women with children present. But the senior officer in the Nickell inquiry decided to let the legal process go ahead despite the questions the Bissett killing had raised.
Stagg left the court a free man but in the 14 years since he continued to be viewed as a man who got away with murder. In August this year, Lord Brennan awarded Stagg £706,000 in compensation for his ordeal. Brennan said the police operation had involved manipulation and deception of a highly reprehensible kind.


Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

The price of tomato products

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Food broker accuses California company of racketeering
By Denny Walsh | Sacramento Bee

Randall Lee Rahal, a New Jersey sales broker, leveled a startling allegation with a guilty plea in Sacramento federal court Tuesday, telling the judge that SK Foods L.P., one of the nation's largest processors of tomato-based products, has been run as a "racketeering enterprise" since 2004.

Rahal admitted that he used SK money to bribe purchasing managers whose list of employers reads like a who's who of food industry giants. In return, he related, the managers bought SK products at inflated prices and supplied SK with competitors' bidding and proprietary information.

He also admitted conspiring with SK to defraud some of its customers by supplying inferior and mislabeled products.

The charges against Rahal are the first to emerge from a nationwide probe of food pricing by federal prosecutors, FBI and IRS agents, and antitrust investigators. The inquiry was sparked by reports of collusion among farmers, processors and retailers that may be helping drive the price of groceries to all-time highs.

Read the complete story at

Rahal, a former member of SK's board of directors, said Tuesday his dirty dealings were carried out with the knowledge, encouragement "and in some instances at the direction of" the company.

The company was founded and is run by Scott Salyer, 52, a member of a legendary farming family, whose grandfather came to California with nothing in the early part of the last century and built an agriculture empire, becoming one of the biggest land barons in the Central Valley.

Money attracts

from a comment on
S Brennan says...

Money attracts the best and the brightest.

Sometimes, sometimes not...

Money attracts the criminal element.

Always true.

Money attracts the sociopaths of the world.

Almost always true. Because of what our society attaches to money, it gives sociopaths all of what they seek.

The elaborate justifications for this high pay have been many. Almost all have been shown in time to be completely false.

Quoting from a book that is lost to me.

"Any businessman will tell you, if your choice is between being a producer of goods and a middle man who takes a percentage, the sure bet is with the percentage. No start-up costs, no production cost, the lowest overhead in the chain to market, your labor is largely unskilled and what skills you need are plentiful"

Q] So why are those who do the least for given society, take the lowest risk, take home the highest pay?

A] Because they have been able through their agents in the media, to convince enough people that they contribute more to society than any other group...and the more they are given, the more they can perpetrate this myth.

A fair tax system addresses unforeseen imbalances that profit those who through whatever means are in the right place at the right time with the right amount of capitol.

Factoid for those who sore elbows patting themselves on the back:

If Bill Gates had been born 20 years earlier...or later, no one would have heard of his name. He came from one of Seattle's wealthiest families and he was able to capitalize on an singular event. Few college dropouts had 100,000 to throw around back then, fewer still had access to large amounts of capitol at the age of 20. Consider, Microsoft [outside of a (previously used) silencing agreement] has never come up wit a single innovation.
December 19, 2008 at 11:05 AM

Earth not center of the universe - NOT a surprise

Even if our solar system turned out to be in a region of space that was not representative of the universe as a whole, it would not indicate that we are "special". If there were millions of large voids, and our galaxy was the only galaxy in any of them, then we would have reason to wonder if we are "special". If millions of people buy tickets in a lottery, someone will win. That doesn't indicate that person is "special". Humans try to hard to "prove" that we are "special"; it's just more of our silliness.

Public release date: 19-Dec-2008
Contact: Jim Zibin
University of British Columbia

Earth not center of the universe, surrounded by 'dark energy': UBC cosmologists

Earth's location in the Universe is utterly unremarkable, despite recent theories that propose toppling a foundation of modern cosmology, according to a team of University of British Columbia researchers.

Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus's 1543 book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, moved Earth from being the centre of the Universe to just another planet orbiting the Sun. Since then, astronomers have extended the idea and formed the Copernican Principle, which says that our place in the Universe as a whole is completely ordinary. Although the Copernican Principle has become a pillar of modern cosmology, finding conclusive evidence that our neighbourhood of the Universe really isn't special has proven difficult.

In 1998, studies of distant explosions called "type Ia supernovae" indicated that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, an observation attributed to the repulsive force of a mysterious "dark energy." However, some scientists put forward an alternate theory: They proposed that the Earth was near the centre of a giant "bubble," or "void," mostly empty of matter, and strongly violating the Copernican Principle. If this were the case, gravity would create the illusion of acceleration, mimicking the effect of dark energy on the supernova observations.

Now some advanced analysis and modeling performed by UBC post-doctoral fellows Jim Zibin and Adam Moss and Astronomy Prof. Douglas Scott is showing that this alternate "void theory" just doesn't add up. Their findings are published today in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More of the same Bush shenanigans

Probe finds politics drove endangered species decisions
By Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Politics corroded Bush administration decisions on protecting endangered species nationwide, federal investigators have concluded in a sweeping new report.

Former Interior Department official Julie MacDonald frequently bullied career scientists to reduce species protections, the Interior Department investigators found. Species from the California tiger salamander to plants and crustaceans found in vernal pools were rendered potentially more vulnerable as a result, environmentalists believe.

Frustrated scientists went so far as to consider artificially inflating the California vernal pool critical habitat by 20 percent to offset MacDonald's anticipated cuts, investigators noted.

"The results of this investigation paint a picture of something akin to a secret society residing within the Interior Department that was colluding to undermine the protection of endangered wildlife and covering for one another's misdeeds," Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., declared Monday.


Bright students, as measured by tests in 8th grade, from poor families are less likely to get thru college than not very bright, bottom quartile, students from high-income families.

Christmas thoughts, from Ghandi

I believe I saw the movie "Ghandi" three times at a movie theater, at least twice on TV. If I ever get around to getting a video player, it is the first video I'll get. Watching it leaves me feel filled up with goodness.

"I do not seek redemption from the consequences of my sin. I seek to be redeemed from sin itself, or rather from the very thought of sin. Until I have attained that end, I shall be content to be restless." (Gandhi’s response after a presentation of the Christian Gospel),

"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

- One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.


What I wonder is where did it all go?

By Josh Fineman and Saijel Kishan

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Clients of Bernard Madoff, the money manager charged with fraud, are still trying to calculate their losses, and Bloomberg’s latest tally of disclosures and news reports shows investors had about $35 billion with his firm.

In some cases, individual investor and bank losses may also be included in the total of reports from funds. Before his arrest last week, Madoff, 70, confessed to employees that his “giant Ponzi scheme” may have cost clients as much as $50 billion, according to an FBI complaint.

Chuckle for the Day

Fed Loans Guided by Raters Grading Subprime Debt AAA
By Alison Fitzgerald

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is basing hundreds of billions in emergency lending on credit ratings from companies that gave AAA grades to toxic securities.

The Fed has purchased $308.5 billion in commercial paper and lent $631.8 billion under eight credit programs, most of which require appraisals of short-term debt and loan collateral by “major nationally recognized statistical ratings organizations.” That, in effect, means Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

It is foolhardy to rely on the three New York-based companies, said Keith Allman, chief executive officer of Enstruct Corp., which trains investors in financial modeling and asset valuation. The major raters issued top marks to $3.2 trillion in subprime mortgage-backed securities at the root of the financial crisis.

“They’re outsourcing the credit assessment to a group of people whose recent performance has been unbelievably bad,” said Allman, the New York-based author of three books on structured finance and a former vice president in Citigroup Inc.’s securitized markets unit. “If their goal is to not take a loss on these assets, they should be hiring independent analysts.”

Rating companies are hired by debt issuers to analyze the quality of securities and the likelihood the borrowings will be repaid. Lenders demand higher interest when a rating is low. If the Fed is relying on unrealistic valuations, it may be charging too little and taking on greater risk than it intends, said Donald van Deventer, CEO of Honolulu-based Kamakura Corp., which provides financial software and consulting.


Some say that an embryo acquires a soul at the moment of fertilization. In the case of a "fetus in fetu", does the partially formed thing have a soul? If not, what happened to it? Is it murder to remove it? It would be under a law that defined a fertilized egg as a human being. Also for tubal pregnancies.;_ylt=AvIX9DEh071innzXRbjD_ums0NUE

Tumor in Colorado newborn's brain contained foot
Thu Dec 18, 5:24 am ET
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A pediatric neurosurgeon says a tumor he removed from the brain of a Colorado Springs infant contained a tiny foot and other partially formed body parts.

Dr. Paul Grabb said he operated on Sam Esquibel at Memorial Hospital for Children after an MRI showed a microscopic tumor on the newborn's brain. Sam was 3 days old and otherwise healthy.

Grabb said that while removing the growth, he discovered it contained a nearly perfect foot and the formation of another foot, a hand and a thigh.
The growth may also have been a case of "fetus in fetu" — in which a fetal twin begins to form within another

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Raping the land

Posted on Tue, Dec. 09, 2008
Commentary: Add poor land stewardship to list of Bush sins
C.W. Gusewelle | The Kansas City Star

last updated: December 09, 2008 07:57:27 AM

One thought occurred immediately when I read about the recent White House approval of a rule to give coal companies greater freedom to shove the tons of rubble from shattered mountaintops into the streams and valleys below.

It was this: President Bush and his administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency ought to be obliged to go to eastern Kentucky and spend time — a good amount of time — in the hamlet called Lookout in a sad little ravine known as Poor Bottom Hollow.

Maybe they would better understand, then, what unspeakable ruin they have just signed off on.

It’s possible — just possible — they might even care.

I write from firsthand experience, because many years ago — in January of 1972 to be exact — I did spend a month in Lookout, living with a disabled coal miner and his wife.

Big corporate underground mines once had been the principal industry of the region. In the 1930s, more than 1,000 men a day went under the mountain at the mine near Lookout.

But in the 1950s, for economic reasons, major workings like that one shut down, the corporations pulled out and the economy of the region effectively collapsed.

Left was an army of the unemployed — many with health broken from breathing mine dust — living on disability checks and welfare, making homes with their kin in the small cottages of what formerly had been company coal camps.

Successors to the big mines were what the locals spoke of as "dog holes" — smaller, worked by only a few men, often of the same family.

I spent time underground in one of those, the little Bartley mine, up the nearby hollow of Lick Branch. I watched them "shooting it from the solid," as miners say — blowing coal from the face of the seam with charges of dynamite, then hauling it to the surface to be trucked and sold.

On a good day, the Bartleys and their co-workers — nine men in all — could load out 200 tons.

By comparison, on that same day a strip mine employing just four men and ripping the top off a mountain with bulldozers and power shovels could send 2,000 tons to the railhead.

Little wonder where the jobs had gone.

One bitter winter afternoon, I rode in his pickup truck with the youngest Bartley, Estil, up a steep and icy track to a promontory that commanded a grand view of that Appalachian landscape.

"Lookit there," he said, braking his truck on the lip of a dizzying ravine and pointing. "They’re tearing that mountain all to pieces!"

It was not a mountain any longer. It was a mesa, with its top and upper third removed. The machinery that had done the work could not be seen at such a distance. Only the results.

And down the side had come the mud — a flow of sterile muck so large that the gullies eroded in it carried foul streams of a size almost to deserve naming — down 1,000 feet or more to the bed of what young Bartley said had been Sycamore Creek. By then, it had vanished under the slide, emerging from the lower side as a snaking, ocher ribbon.

And having by then been transformed from water into some other, nastier substance, it oozed on to mingle eventually with the ruins of other mountainsides in torpid suspension.

Bartley whistled softly to himself, then released the brake, turned and let his truck roll on back down.

That is the sort of violence that already was being done three decades ago to that sector of our eastern mountains, a region of this country whose most singular resource even then was its beauty.

And it is what the Bush administration, in the twilight of its misrule, has decided to promote by further gutting the weak rules that have inadequately governed the disposal of surface-mining waste.

Bipartisan Panel blames Bush officials for detainee abuse

updated 6:31 p.m. ET, Thurs., Dec. 11, 2008

WASHINGTON - The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was the direct result of Bush administration policies and should not be dismissed as the bad work of guards and interrogators, a Senate report concludes.

The Armed Services Committee report concludes that harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies that torture and abuse prisoners. The techniques included forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, and until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

The report is the result of a nearly two-year investigation that directly links President George W. Bush's policies after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, legal memos on torture, and interrogation rule changes with the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq four years ago. Much of the report remains classified. Unclassified portions of the report were released by the committee Thursday.

Administration officials publicly blamed the abuses on low-level soldiers — an assertion the report called "both unconscionable and false."

"The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," the panel concluded. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."

"The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees," said Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

Arizona Republican and former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain said the link between the survival training and U.S. interrogations of detainees was inexcusable.

"These policies are wrong and must never be repeated," the former GOP presidential candidate said in a statement.

63 percent are hurting, think U.S. has entered long-term economic decline

By Michael A. Fletcher and Jon Cohen
Washington Post
updated 2:31 a.m. ET, Wed., Dec. 17, 2008

WASHINGTON - The deepening recession has eroded the financial standing and optimism of a broad swath of Americans, nearly two-thirds of whom say that they have been hurt by the downturn and that the country has slipped into long-term economic decline.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll also found that a rapidly increasing share of Americans -- 66 percent, up from just over half a year ago -- are worried about maintaining their standard of living. Nearly two in 10 said they or someone living in their household had lost a job in the past few months, and more than a quarter said they had their pay or hours reduced. And 15 percent said that at some point in the past year they fell behind on their rent or mortgage.

Cosmic Rays Do Not Explain Global Warming

ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2008) — A new study supports earlier findings by stating that changes in cosmic rays most likely do not contribute to climate change. It is sometimes claimed that changes in radiation from space, so-called galactic cosmic rays, can be one of the causes of global warming. A new study, investigating the effect of cosmic rays on clouds, concludes that the likelihood of this is very small.
This result is in line with most other research in the field. As far as Kristjansson knows, no studies have proved a correlation between reduced cosmic rays and reduced cloud formation.

Kristjansson also points out that most research shows no reduction in cosmic rays during the last decades, and that an astronomic explanation of today’s global warming therefore seems very unlikely.

Did Early Global Warming Divert A New Glacial Age?

So humans might actually be good for something, if only by accident.

Of course, that doesn't mean that continuing as we have is fine. If you have hypothermia, you need to be warmed up; that doesn't mean it is fine to be boiled.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2008) — The common wisdom is that the invention of the steam engine and the advent of the coal-fueled industrial age marked the beginning of human influence on global climate.

But gathering physical evidence, backed by powerful simulations on the world's most advanced computer climate models, is reshaping that view and lending strong support to the radical idea that human-induced climate change began not 200 years ago, but thousands of years ago with the onset of large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe.

What's more, according to the same computer simulations, the cumulative effect of thousands of years of human influence on climate is preventing the world from entering a new glacial age, altering a clockwork rhythm of periodic cooling of the planet that extends back more than a million years.
Addressing scientists on Dec 17 at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Vavrus and colleagues John Kutzbach and GwenaĆ«lle Philippon provided detailed evidence in support of a controversial idea first put forward by climatologist William F. Ruddiman of the University of Virginia. That idea, debated for the past several years by climate scientists, holds that the introduction of large-scale rice agriculture in Asia, coupled with extensive deforestation in Europe began to alter world climate by pumping significant amounts of greenhouse gases — methane from terraced rice paddies and carbon dioxide from burning forests — into the atmosphere. In turn, a warmer atmosphere heated the oceans making them much less efficient storehouses of carbon dioxide and reinforcing global warming.

That one-two punch, say Kutzbach and Vavrus, was enough to set human-induced climate change in motion.

"No one disputes the large rate of increase in greenhouse gases with the Industrial Revolution," Kutzbach notes. "The large-scale burning of coal for industry has swamped everything else" in the record.

But looking farther back in time, using climatic archives such as 850,000-year-old ice core records from Antarctica, scientists are teasing out evidence of past greenhouse gases in the form of fossil air trapped in the ice. That ancient air, say Vavrus and Kutzbach, contains the unmistakable signature of increased levels of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide beginning thousands of years before the industrial age.

"Between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago, both methane and carbon dioxide started an upward trend, unlike during previous interglacial periods," explains Kutzbach. Indeed, Ruddiman has shown that during the latter stages of six previous interglacials, greenhouse gases trended downward, not upward. Thus, the accumulation of greenhouse gases over the past few thousands of years, the Wisconsin-Virginia team argue, is very likely forestalling the onset of a new glacial cycle, such as have occurred at regular 100,000-year intervals during the last million years. Each glacial period has been paced by regular and predictable changes in the orbit of the Earth known as Milankovitch cycles, a mechanism thought to kick start glacial cycles.

"We're at a very favorable state right now for increased glaciation," says Kutzbach. "Nature is favoring it at this time in orbital cycles, and if humans weren't in the picture it would probably be happening today."

Importantly, the new research underscores the key role of greenhouse gases in influencing Earth's climate. Whereas decreasing greenhouse gases in the past helped initiate glaciations, the early agricultural and recent industrial increases in greenhouse gases may be forestalling them, say Kutzbach and Vavrus.

Using three different climate models and removing the amount of greenhouse gases humans have injected into the atmosphere during the past 5,000 to 8,000 years, Vavrus and Kutzbach observed more permanent snow and ice cover in regions of Canada, Siberia, Greenland and the Rocky Mountains, all known to be seed regions for glaciers from previous ice ages. Vavrus notes: "With every feedback we've included, it seems to support the hypothesis (of a forestalled ice age) even more. We keep getting the same answer."

United States Death Map Revealed

ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2008) — A map of natural hazard mortality in the United States has been produced. The map gives a county-level representation of the likelihood of dying as the result of natural events such as floods, earthquakes or extreme weather.

Susan Cutter and Kevin Borden, from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, used nationwide data going back to 1970 to create their map.
Heat/drought ranked highest among the hazard categories, causing 19.6% of total deaths, closely followed by severe summer weather (18.8%) and winter weather (18.1%). Geophysical events (such as earthquakes), wildfires, and hurricanes were responsible for less than 5% of total hazard deaths combined.

NASA reports 2008 is ninth warmest year since 1880

By Renee Schoof | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The year 2008 was the ninth warmest year since instrumental temperature measurements began in 1880, and all of the nine warmest years have occurred in the past 11 years, NASA reported on Tuesday.

The new data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and other government agencies on Tuesday adds to the evidence scientists have been observing about a warming Earth as fossil fuel burning emits heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

NASA also reported that the January to November global temperature was 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the 20th Century.

NASA also noted that the past year was cooler than any since 2000. Scientists note that global warming is a steady trend, but within it there are natural variations.

The NASA report noted that "Eurasia, the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula were exceptionally warm, while much of the Pacific Ocean was cooler than the long-term average." It said the relatively cooler temperature in the tropical Pacific was due to a La Nina, the cool phase of a natural temperature variation.

Britain's Met Office on Tuesday also said that La Nina was part of the reason 2008 was slightly cooler than earlier years this decade. By Britain's accounting, 2008 was the 10th warmest year on record dating back to 1850, and all 10 of the warmest years occurred since 1997.

"Human influence, particularly emission of greenhouse gases, has greatly increased the chance of having such warm years," said Peter Stott of the Met Office in a statement Tuesday.

The Met Office also reported that global temperatures from 2000 to 2008 are nearly 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average for 1990 to 1999.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday summarized these and other trends, including:

* The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season was the third costliest, after 2005 and 2004.

* The U.S. had nearly 1,700 tornadoes from January through November, which ranks second behind 2004 for the most tornadoes in a year since records began in 1953.

* Arctic sea ice in 2008 reached its second lowest level at the end of the melting season in September, following a record low in 2007. In 2008, the ice shrank to 1.74 million square miles, which was 0.86 million square miles below the average annual minimum from 1979 to 2000.

Sea ice loss is important because ice reflects most of the sun's radiation, but open ocean water absorbs most of it, adding to the warming trend both in the ocean and on land.