Thursday, September 30, 2010

Still Think The Market Is Not Rigged?

Posted by Ags Nightmare
If this article doesn't royally piss you off, you are not breathing. This confirms some of the crap I wrote about in The Fed Will Save Us. Only it's more in your face than I thought.

(Reuters) - To the outside world, the Federal Reserve is an impenetrable fortress. But former employees and big investors are privy to some of its secrets -- and that access can be lucrative.

On August 19, just nine days after the U.S. central bank surprised financial markets by deciding to buy more bonds to support a flagging economy, former Fed governor Larry Meyer sent a note to clients of his consulting firm with a breakdown of the policy-setting meeting.

The minutes from that same gathering of the powerful Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, are made available to the public -- but only after a three-week lag. So Meyer's clients were provided with a glimpse into what the Fed was thinking well ahead of other investors.

But critics question whether it is proper for Fed officials to parcel out details that have the potential to move markets around the world, especially with the government's involvement in the economy being so pronounced.

"It's certainly not what Fed officials should be doing," said Alice Rivlin, a former Fed governor and now a fellow at the Brookings Institute think tank. "The rules when I was there were you don't talk to anybody about anything that could be used for commercial purposes."


Worse yet, Clarance Beeks sold the news for $ 75,000 dollars to the Dukes. Sure it is perfectly legal right? What in the hell is going on? Holy sheet.

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Koch-Funded Book Argues Against Mine Safety Laws In West Virginia

I am trying to find info on how I can boycott these slime.

Paul Nyden, writing in the Charleston Gazetta this Sunday, revealed that Koch Industries — the massive conglomerate of oil, chemical, manufacturing, timber, hedge fund, coal, and shipping interests run by the right-wing ideologues David and Charles Koch — has seeded West Virginia with several conservative front groups. Koch foundations provide the cash for anti-government efforts in the Mountain State, including a right-wing “think tank” called the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia and for free-market faculty members at West Virginia University. Nyden notes that Russell Sobel, a local economist whose research and writing has been underwritten by Koch fronts, argues against the minimum wage and against mine safety laws:

Sobel also works closely with the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia, the Morgantown think tank which published his book, “Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity Stops at the West Virginia Border and How to Fix It,” in 2007. The Sobel book is a collection of 12 essays, arguing that government regulations hurt West Virginia’s economy. One essay questions the value of “mandated” mine safety laws, stating government regulations may increase accident rates.

The Koch-funded think tank recently started a phony news service in West Virginia, called the “West Virginia Watchdog.” Americans for Prosperity, the fake grassroots group founded and financed by David Koch, has been running television ads in West Virginia attacking progressive reforms. David and Charles Koch, each worth $21.5 billion, have postured as great philanthropists, slapping their names on New York opera houses and the private prep school David attended, Deerfield Academy. But much of Koch’s wealth has been quietly spent lobbying against consumer protections, environmental regulations, and other efforts to erode the ability for Americans to provide accountability to powerful corporations. As the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported, Koch lobbied aggressively to prevent the EPA from “classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a ‘known carcinogen‘ in humans.”

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NY Post goal is to "destroy Barack Obama."

The NY Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the FOX network. He bought the Wall Street Journal recently.

First Posted: 09-28-10 12:42 AM | Updated: 09-28-10 12:46 AM

The New York Post suffered a legal setback on Monday as a U.S. District Court judge denied its motion to dismiss a lawsuit from a former employee alleging an unlawful firing from, and embarrassing harassment in, the paper's newsroom.

In Manhattan, Judge Barbara Jones allowed onetime Post editor Sandra Guzman's suit against her former employee to go forward, noting that Guzman had raised sufficient "factual allegations" that her termination from the paper was retaliatory.

At this stage in the litigation, the Court finds that Plaintiff's factual allegations sufficiently "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Plaintiffs have sufficiently put Defendants on notice of the retaliation claims against it by alleging that Plaintiffs' complaints were about the working climate generally at the Post, rather than solely about the content published by the paper.

Guzman filed her suit in December, alleging that she had been fired partly for speaking out against the paper's decision to run a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus as a chimpanzee who had been shot dead.

In her complaint, Guzman leveled several headline-grabbing charges about the Post's working environment. Editor-in-Chief Col Allen was painted as sexist and domineering -- allegedly showing a picture of a "naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis." Guzman said she was subjected to misogynistic taunts, including being called "Cha Cha #1." With respect to the paper's editorial slants, not especially pertinent to her lawsuit, Guzman said the Post's D.C. bureau chief stated that the publication's goal was to "destroy Barack Obama."

The Post had sought to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that First Amendment protections allow it to publish what it wants and that Guzman had never raised concerns about a hostile work environment during her time at the publication.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bizarre polling disconnect of the day

By Greg Sargent | September 27, 2010; 3:26 PM ET

Public opinion is a strange and wonderful thing. CNN has a new poll out that finds a plurality thinks Congressional Republicans, not Dems, are the ones with solutions to our economic mess:

Whose economic policies are more likely to improve economic conditions -- the Democrats in Congress or the Republicans in Congress?

Democrats in Congress 41%

Republicans in Congress 47%

But when you dig into the poll's internals, you find that more respondents blame those same Congressional Republicans for our economic mess:

Who do you think is more responsible for the country's current economic problems -- the Democrats in Congress or the Republicans in Congress?

Democrats in Congress 35%

Republicans in Congress 41%

This disconnect is even more pronounced with independents: They blame the Congressional GOP for our current mess by a five point margin, but they prefer the GOP by a 13 point margin when asked which party is best likely to fix that same mess.

If I had to hazard an explanation for this, I'd say it's further proof that the current GOP has succeeded in achieving separation from the party of Bush. And that the public isn't listening to the Dem message that a vote for today's GOP is a return to the Bush policies that ran the economy into the ground. People are willing to blame previous GOP policies for the current crisis but are not willing to use that as the basis for their conclusions about the consequences of returing the GOP to power.

Or maybe this just shows that public opinion is very confused and volatile right now, and that we have no idea what voters are really thinking.

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Trickle-up economics

From what I've seen elsewhere, this is even more dramatic if you consider the top 0.1%

Has link to following:

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As I’ve noted before, over the last three decades a stunning shift in income has taken place in this country, from the middle class to those few at the very top of the income scale. Back in 1979, the middle 20 percent of Americans had more than twice as large a share of the nation’s total after-tax income as the top 1 percent. But by 2007, the top 1 percent’s slice of the economic pie had more than doubled and in fact exceeded the middle class’s slice, which had shrunk.

This great income shift means the average middle-income American family had about $9,000 less after-tax income in 2007, and an average household in the top 1 percent had $741,000 more, than they would have had if the 1979 income distribution had remained. Here’s how this looks in graph and table form:

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Higher Than Predicted Human Exposure to the Toxic Chemical Bisphenol A or BPA

ScienceDaily (Sep. 21, 2010) — Researchers have discovered that women, female monkeys and female mice have major similarities when it comes to how bisphenol A (BPA) is metabolized, and they have renewed their call for governmental regulation when it comes to the estrogen-like chemical found in many everyday products.

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"This study provides convincing evidence that BPA is dangerous to our health at current levels of human exposure," said Fredrick vom Saal, Curators' professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. "The new results clearly demonstrate that rodent data on the health effects of BPA are relevant to predictions regarding the health effects of human exposure to BPA. Further evidence of human harm should not be required for regulatory action to reduce human exposure to BPA."

BPA is one of the world's highest production-volume chemicals, with more than 8 billion pounds made per year. It can be found in a wide variety of consumer products, including hard plastic items such as baby bottles and food-storage containers, the plastic lining of food and beverage cans, thermal paper used for receipts, and dental sealants. The findings in the current study suggest that human exposure to BPA is much higher than some prior estimates and is likely to be from many still-unknown sources, indicating the need for governmental agencies to require the chemical industry to identify all products that contain BPA.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Flooding hits 3 states

More flooding, as predicted at least 20 years ago by climate scientists.

NBC News and news services
updated 2 hours 51 minutes ago

PORTAGE, Wis. — Residents in three states on Monday were dealing with flooding that swamped homes and in one area weakened a levee system to near collapse.

In South Dakota, water levels in the storm-bloated Big Sioux River were stable Monday after up to 4 inches of rain last week pushed the waterway over its banks along a 50-mile stretch from Brookings to Sioux Falls.

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Separately, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Monday he plans to call legislators to a special one-day session next month to approve relief money for people affected by floods in that state.

Heavy rain last week caused serious flooding in parts of southern Minnesota. The small towns of Zumbro Falls and Hammond were among the hardest hit.

In Zumbro Falls, floodwaters destroyed 58 homes and 20 businesses, NBC station KARE reported.

In Wisconsin, some residents in Portage fled their homes after a levee started to fail, sending water from the rain-swollen Wisconsin River onto a major roadway in one neighborhood and threatening to leave some people stranded in their houses.

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Lifelong Exercising Yields Sensational Results

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010) — Senior active skiers have twice the oxygen-uptake capacity of seniors who do not exercise. This is shown in new research at Mid Sweden University.

"The findings show that humans have a great potential to maintain a high level of physical work capacity and thereby better quality of life even at advanced ages," says Per Tesch, professor of sports science.

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Now the results of the study are being presented. They show that the maximum capacity for oxygen uptake is twice as great among active senior men compared with men who do not exercise. The results for the active seniors are comparable to values for men who are 40-50 years younger but do not exercise to improve their stamina. Analyses of muscle samples at the molecular and cell level reveal a profile similar to what is found in younger men.


There is plenty of evidence that physical activity helps us maintain and improve our health, but one factor in this study is surely that people who are healthier ti start with are more likely to remain active.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Child Rearing Practices of Distant Ancestors Foster Morality, Compassion in Kids

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010) — Ever meet a kindergartener who seemed naturally compassionate and cared about others' feelings? Who was cooperative and didn't demand his own way? Chances are, his parents held, carried and cuddled him a lot; he most likely was breastfed; he probably routinely slept with his parents; and he likely was encouraged to play outdoors with other children, according to new research findings from the University of Notre Dame.

Three new studies led by Notre Dame Psychology Professor Darcia Narvaez show a relationship between child rearing practices common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies (how we humans have spent about 99 percent of our history) and better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children.

"Our research shows that the roots of moral functioning form early in life, in infancy, and depend on the affective quality of family and community support," says Narvaez, who specializes in the moral and character development of children.

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Narvaez identifies six characteristics of child rearing that were common to our distant ancestors:

* Lots of positive touch -- as in no spanking -- but nearly constant carrying, cuddling and holding;
* Prompt response to baby's fusses and cries. You can't "spoil" a baby. This means meeting a child's needs before they get upset and the brain is flooded with toxic chemicals. "Warm, responsive caregiving like this keeps the infant's brain calm in the years it is forming its personality and response to the world," Narvaez says.
* Breastfeeding, ideally 2 to 5 years. A child's immune system isn't fully formed until age 6 and breast milk provides its building blocks.
* Multiple adult caregivers -- people beyond mom and dad who also love the child.
* Free play with multi-age playmates. Studies show that kids who don't play enough are more likely to have ADHD and other mental health issues.
* Natural childbirth, which provides mothers with the hormone boosts that give the energy to care for a newborn.

The U.S. has been on a downward trajectory on all of these care characteristics, according to Narvaez. Instead of being held, infants spend much more time in carriers, car seats and strollers than they did in the past. Only about 15 percent of mothers are breastfeeding at all by 12 months, extended families are broken up, and free play allowed by parents has decreased dramatically since 1970.

"Ill advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms, or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will 'spoil' it," Narvaez says.

Whether the corollary to these modern practices or the result of other forces, research shows the health and well being of American children is worse than it was 50 years ago: there's an epidemic of anxiety and depression among the young; aggressive behavior and delinquency rates in young children are rising; and empathy, the backbone of compassionate, moral behavior, has been shown to be decreasing among college students.

"All of these issues are of concern to me as a researcher of moral development," Narvaez says. "Kids who don't get the emotional nurturing they need in early life tend to be more self-centered. They don't have available the compassion-related emotions to the same degree as kids who were raised by warm, responsive families."


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Man’s Best Friend Keeps Children on the Move

ScienceDaily (Sep. 21, 2010) — Children whose families own dogs are more active than those without, according to new research. Researchers from St George's, University of London studied 2,065 children aged nine to ten, and found that children from dog-owning families have higher levels of physical activity compared to children without.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Human-Powered Ornithopter Becomes First Ever to Achieve Sustained Flight

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010) — Aviation history was made when the University of Toronto's human-powered aircraft with flapping wings became the first of its kind to fly continuously.

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For centuries engineers have attempted such a feat, ever since Leonardo da Vinci sketched the first human-powered ornithopter in 1485.

But under the power and piloting of Todd Reichert, an Engineering PhD candidate at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), the wing-flapping device sustained both altitude and airspeed for 19.3 seconds, and covered a distance of 145 metres at an average speed of 25.6 kilometres per hour.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

There's No Arguing With Conservatives

September 22, 2010

A new study out of Yale University confirms what argumentative liberals have long-known: Offering reality-based rebuttals to conservative lies only makes conservatives cling to those lies even harder. In essence, schooling conservatives makes them more stupid. From the Washington Post article on the study, which came out yesterday:

Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration's prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation -- the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration's claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.

A similar "backfire effect" also influenced conservatives told about Bush administration assertions that tax cuts increase federal revenue. One group was offered a refutation by prominent economists that included current and former Bush administration officials. About 35 percent of conservatives told about the Bush claim believed it; 67 percent of those provided with both assertion and refutation believed that tax cuts increase revenue.

In a paper approaching publication, Nyhan, a PhD student at Duke University, and Reifler, at Georgia State University, suggest that Republicans might be especially prone to the backfire effect because conservatives may have more rigid views than liberals: Upon hearing a refutation, conservatives might "argue back" against the refutation in their minds, thereby strengthening their belief in the misinformation. Nyhan and Reifler did not see the same "backfire effect" when liberals were given misinformation and a refutation about the Bush administration's stance on stem cell research.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

False Memories of Self-Performance Result from Watching Others' Actions

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — Did I turn off the stove, or did I just imagine it? Memory isn't always reliable. Psychological scientists have discovered all sorts of ways that false memories get created, and now there's another one for the list: watching someone else do an action can make you think you did it yourself.

The team of psychological scientists who found the new way to create false memories weren't setting out to make a big discovery. They were trying to learn more about imagination, another way that false memories get created. But then in an experiment, they found that people who had watched a video of someone else doing a simple action -- shaking a bottle or shuffling a deck of cards, for example -- often remembered doing the action themselves two weeks later.

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Echterhoff says you shouldn't worry that this happens all the time -- but it's worth remembering that your memory isn't always reliable. "It's good to have an informed doubt or informed skepticism about your memory performance, so you don't just easily trust whatever comes to your mind as true and for granted."

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

B Vitamins Slow Brain Atrophy in People With Memory Problems

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — Daily tablets of certain B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people who suffer from mild memory problems, an Oxford University study has shown.

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The team found that on average the brains of those taking the folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76% a year, while those in the placebo group had a mean brain shrinkage rate of 1.08%. People with the highest levels of homocysteine benefited most, showing atrophy rates on treatment that were half of those on placebo.

Along with rate of brain shrinkage, the team from the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) also monitored cognitive test scores, revealing that those with the slowest rate of shrinkage scored more strongly.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

High-Quality Child Care for Low-Income Children: Long-Term Benefits

ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2010) — More than 12 million U.S. children under age 6 attend child care or preschool programs. A new longitudinal study of low-income children has found that children in high-quality preschool settings had fewer behavior problems in middle childhood, and that such settings were particularly important for boys and African American children.

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Children who attended more responsive, stimulating, and well-structured settings during preschool had fewer externalizing behavior problems (such as being aggressive and breaking rules) in middle childhood, according to the study.

High-quality child care was particularly important for boys and African American children, the study found. These children seem to be especially responsive to the added supports of stimulating and responsive care outside the home.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Climate cycles

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — A study presented in Nature Geoscience suggests that changes in solar intensity and volcanic eruptions act as a metronome for temperature variations in the North Atlantic climate.

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The study also shows that the observed warming in the North Atlantic during the 20th century cannot be explained by the solar and volcanic activity alone. In the model, the increased emissions of CO2 and other well-mixed greenhouse gases to the atmosphere since the onset of the industrial revolution have to be included in order to simulate the observed temperature evolution.


It's a safe bet that global warming denialists will ignore the fact that the study shows that solar and volcanic activity alone cannot explain warming patterns in modern times, and tout this study as refuting greenhouse effects.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

World's Last Remaining Tigers Clustered in 6% of Available Habitat

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — A new peer-reviewed paper by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups reveals an ominous finding: most of the world's last remaining tigers -- long decimated by overhunting, logging, and wildlife trade -- are now clustered in just six percent of their available habitat. The paper identifies 42 'source sites' scattered across Asia that are now the last hope and greatest priority for the conservation and recovery of the world's largest cat.

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According to the paper, fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild, of which only about 1,000 are breeding females.

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The authors say that in spite of decades of effort by conservationists, tigers continue to be threatened by overhunting of both tigers and their prey, and by loss and fragmentation of habitat. Much of the decline is being driven by the demand for tiger body parts used in traditional medicines.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Chemicals in Indoor Swimming Pools May Increase Cancer Risk

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — Swimming in indoor chlorinated pools may induce genotoxicity (DNA damage that may lead to cancer) as well as respiratory effects, but the positive health effects of swimming can be maintained by reducing pool levels of the chemicals behind these potential health risks, according to a new study published in a set of three articles online September 12 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). This study is the first to provide a comprehensive characterization of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in an indoor pool environment and the first to study the genotoxicity of exposure to these chemicals among swimmers in an indoor chlorinated pool.

DBPs form in pool water from reactions between disinfectants such as chlorine and organic matter that is either present naturally or is introduced by swimmers, such as sweat, skin cells, and urine. Previous epidemiologic studies have found an association between exposure to DBPs in drinking water and risk of bladder cancer, and one such study has found this association for dermal/inhalational exposure such as occurs during showering, bathing, or swimming.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 Was Fourth Warmest U.S. Summer on Record

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — The contiguous United States had its fourth-warmest summer (June-August) on record, according to the latest NOAA State of the Climate report issued September 8. The report also showed the August average temperature was 75.0 degrees F, which is 2.2 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average. Last month's average precipitation was 2.41 inches, 0.19 inch below the 1901-2000 average.

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Greenland Nanodiamonds Evidence for Cosmic Impact

ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2010) — Nanosize diamonds have been discovered in the Greenland ice sheet, according to a study reported by scientists in a recent online publication of the Journal of Glaciology. The finding adds credence to the controversial hypothesis that fragments of a comet struck across North America and Europe approximately 12,900 years ago.

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Kennett explained that the layer containing nanodiamonds on Santa Rosa Island, as well as those in the Greenland ice sheet -- both supporting a cosmic impact event -- appear to closely correspond to the time of the disappearance of the Clovis culture, the earliest well-established and well-accepted human culture living across North America. The event also corresponds with the time of extinction of many large animals across North America, including mammoths, camels, horses, and the saber tooth cat.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Type D Personality Associated With Higher Future Heart Risk

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2010) — Heart patients with the "distressed" (Type D) personality profile may face a higher risk of future cardiovascular problems, according to a summary article published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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"Type D patients tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, irritation and depressed mood across situations and time, while not sharing these emotions with others because of fear of disapproval," said Viola Spek, Ph.D., senior author of the study and a researcher at Tiburg University in the Netherlands. "We found that Type D personality predicts mortality and morbidity in these patients, independent of traditional medical risk factors."

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Obama urges troops, veterans to claim back pay;_ylt=Ai8sGYPuHe1RJQhBqWVbO7es0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFldWNuYm1hBHBvcwM4MgRzZWMDYWNjb3JkaW9uX3BvbGl0aWNzBHNsawNvYmFtYXVyZ2VzdHI-

– 15 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is encouraging service members whose tours in Iraq or Afghanistan were involuntarily extended or who weren't allowed to retire as planned to meet an Oct. 21 deadline to apply for special retroactive pay.

Obama signed a bill last year making anyone whose service between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009 was extended under what's known as "stop loss" eligible for $500 a month in retroactive pay for every month their service was extended.

The bill set aside $534 million for 185,000 service members, but many have yet to apply.

The White House released a video Wednesday in which Obama urges them to beat the deadline. Says Obama: "As your commander in chief, I'm here to tell you that this is no gimmick or trick."

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Two simultaneous Cat 4s in the Atlantic for 2nd time in history

Posted by: JeffMasters, 2:37 PM GMT on September 15, 2010
The Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 kicked into high gear this morning, with the landfall of Tropical Storm Karl in Mexico, and the simultaneous presence of two Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Igor and Julia. Tropical Storm Karl's formation yesterday marked the fifth earliest date that an eleventh named storm of the season has formed. The only years more active this early in the season were 2005, 1995, 1936 and 1933. This morning's unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record--Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year's record SSTs [SST - Sea Surface Temperature] have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia's ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today's date in 1999.) We've also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)

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Reform brings stability to one family

By Michelle Andrews
updated 9/15/2010 8:32:25 AM ET

For many years, Ric and Jill Lathrop held their breath when the annual open enrollment period for their health insurance plan rolled around. Their two boys, now 12 and 14, have severe hemophilia, and each needs twice-weekly injections of a blood clotting replacement factor that costs roughly $250,000 per person per year. The couple lived in fear that their health plan would put a lifetime limit on their benefits.

In 2005, that's what happened. The Oshkosh, Wis., hospital where Ric Lathrop worked as an MRI technician instituted a $2 million lifetime cap on benefits for the entire family. Rather than wait for their benefits to run out, the Lathrop family relocated to Illinois, where Ric Lathrop got a job at a hospital in Peoria; along with the job came insurance without lifetime limits.

If that coverage had changed, the Lathrops might have had to move again . . . and maybe again. But the federal health-care overhaul makes further wandering unnecessary. Starting Sept. 23, the new law requires that when health plans renew their coverage for the coming year, they eliminate lifetime limits on coverage.

"It gives us a lot of reassurance to know our kids can have more freedom," says Jill Lathrop.

The elimination of lifetime caps on benefits is one of several provisions that will begin to take effect Sept. 23, six months after enactment of the law. Health plans don't have to implement the provisions until their next annual renewal date; since most plans begin their coverage year on Jan. 1, that's when many consumers will start to see changes.

As you sign up for coverage this fall, here's what to look for:

Extension Of young adult coverage

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Prohibition on coverage exclusions for kids with preexisting conditions

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Restriction on annual dollar coverage limits

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Additional provisions take effect on or after Sept. 23 for new plans offered by employers or purchased by individuals since March 23. These include requirements that insurers:

* Cover the full cost of preventive services that have the highest recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
* Allow women to see an Ob-Gyn without a referral.
* Do not make plan members pay higher co-payments or coinsurance for out-of-network emergency services.

The federal government has a website with more detail about the provisions that take effect for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23.


Out of work

Sorry I haven't updated my blog since last week. My job ended. I used to update the blog after I finished working, or while I was waiting for a job to finish that I didn't expect to take long enough to work on something else in the meantime.

Luckily I have savings, and will be able to get unemployment and early social security, so I am not in dire straits. Getting caught up on my sleep is great. Being an evening person, it's great not to have to get up hours before my body clock, even though I didn't have to go in early by a morning person's standard :) And having had osteoarthritis since I was a teenage, I have pain that is not terrible, but does affect my sleep, esp. in the latter half of the night.

I hope all is well with you.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Biosynthetic Corneas Restore Vision in Humans

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2010) — A new study from researchers in Canada and Sweden has shown that biosynthetic corneas can help regenerate and repair damaged eye tissue and improve vision in humans. The results, from an early phase clinical trial with 10 patients, are published in the August 25th, 2010 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

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Together, they initiated a clinical trial in 10 Swedish patients with advanced keratoconus or central corneal scarring. Each patient underwent surgery on one eye to remove damaged corneal tissue and replace it with the biosynthetic cornea, made from synthetically cross-linked recombinant human collagen. Over two years of follow-up, the researchers observed that cells and nerves from the patients' own corneas had grown into the implant, resulting in a "regenerated" cornea that resembled normal, healthy tissue. Patients did not experience any rejection reaction or require long-term immune suppression, which are serious side effects associated with the use of human donor tissue. The biosynthetic corneas also became sensitive to touch and began producing normal tears to keep the eye oxygenated. Vision improved in six of the ten patients, and after contact lens fitting, vision was comparable to conventional corneal transplantation with human donor tissue.


Plastic Artificial Cornea Implants May Offer Hope for Blind Patients

ScienceDaily (June 8, 2010) — Donor corneas are a rarity: In Germany alone, each year roughly 7,000 patients wait for that miniscule piece of tissue. An implant made of plastic may soon offer patients – especially those facing their last resort – with the chance to see again.

For many patients who become blind after an accident or illness, a corneal transplantation could restore the ability to see. Each year, 40,000 people in Europe – in Germany, about 7,000 – await the opportunity to be able to see again, thanks to cornea donors. But donor corneas are not common.

Dr. Joachim Storsberg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm developed material and production process for a corneal prosthesis made of plastic. These can help patients who are unable to tolerate donor corneas due to the special circumstances of their disease, or whose donor corneas were likewise destroyed. In recognition of this accomplishment, Dr. Storsberg is being awarded the 2010 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize.

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Blue Breed: Rare Hibiscus Color Is Achieved

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — Dr. Dariusz Malinowski is seeing blue, and he is very excited.

For four years, Malinowski, an AgriLife Research plant physiologist and forage agronomist in Vernon, has been working with collaborators Steve Brown of the Texas Foundation Seed and Dr. William Pinchak and Shane Martin with AgriLife Research on a winter-hardy hibiscus breeding project.

The project was first a private hobby of the inventors and became a part of the strategic plan of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon in 2009. The flower commercialization is a part of the research on non-traditional or under-utilized crops that have value because of drought tolerance.

Malinowski's breeding goal has been to create a blue-flowering winter-hardy hibiscus.

"A blue pigment does not exist in this species, thus hybridizers have not been successful so far in creating a plant with blue flowers," he said. "There are a couple of recently introduced cultivars with plum and lavender flower color."

But now Malinowski has managed to breed a flower with the illusive color.

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"It took four years of work and more than 1,000 crosses among three winter-hardy hibiscus species to achieve this goal of creating an almost-blue flowering hibiscus hybrid," he said. The new hybrid is not perfect yet, Malinowski said.

"The flowers get a fantastic blue hue in shade, but in full sunlight they are still plum-lavender-bluish," he said.

Brown said it is important to note that in the world of ornamentals, "blue" is interpreted to have a wide range of hues. Most ornamental blues have a more purple or lavender cast.

"There are very few true blue flowers in any ornamental cultivar," he said. "Although I would call this flower 'almost blue' as Dariusz has, there is no question that this development is unique in known hardy hibiscus color ranges.

"My expectation is that we will see more vibrant colors in next year's F1s (cultivars) using this line as a parent," Brown said.

Malinowski said he will use this plant as a parent in his breeding project this summer, with the goal to stabilize the blue color in full sunlight and increase flower size from the current 7 inches to the "magic" 12-inch diameter.

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Compounds in Non-Stick Cookware May Be Associated With Elevated Cholesterol in Children and Teens

ScienceDaily (Sep. 6, 2010) — Children and teens with higher blood levels of chemicals used in the production of non-stick cookware and waterproof fabrics appear more likely to have elevated total and LDL cholesterol levels, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Humans are exposed to the man-made compounds known as perfluoroalkyl acids -- including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) -- through drinking water, dust, food packaging, breast milk, cord blood, microwave popcorn, air and occupational exposure, according to background information in the article. Recent national survey results reported detection of PFOA and PFOS in almost all samples of human serum. Perfluoroalkyl acids are used during the manufacture of fluoropolymers, which give non-stick heat resistance to cookware and breathable, waterproof properties to fabrics and upholstery. PFOA and PFOS may also result from the breakdown of compounds used as coating for commercial food packaging, factory treatments for fabrics and carpets and manufacturer pretreatment for stain-resistant clothing.

Animal studies have identified the liver as the primary organ affected by perfluoroalkyl acid exposure, with potential effects in human including alterations in cholesterol levels.

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After adjusting for related variables, higher PFOA levels were associated with increased total cholesterol and LDL or "bad" cholesterol, and PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL or "good" cholesterol. There was no association between either compound and triglyceride levels.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Study Examines Association Between Urban Living and Psychotic Disorders

ScienceDaily (Sep. 6, 2010) — The association between psychotic disorders and living in urban areas appears to be a reflection of increased social fragmentation present within cities, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"There is a substantial worldwide variation in incidence rates of schizophrenia," the authors write as background in the article. "The clearest geographic pattern within this distribution of rates is that urban areas have a higher incidence of schizophrenia than rural areas." Characteristics of neighborhoods that have been associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis include population and ethnic density, deprivation and social fragmentation or reduced social capital and cohesion.

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Scientists Begin to Unravel Causes of Mysterious Skin Disease

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — Scientists including researchers from the University of Florida have discovered additional evidence that generalized vitiligo -- a disease that typically causes patches of white skin on the face, neck and extremities that pop star Michael Jackson may have experienced -- is associated with slight variations in genes that play a role in the body's natural defenses.

Writing in the June 6 edition of Nature Genetics, scientists describe how they found variations in 10 genes associated with the body's immune response in people with vitiligo. Normally an immune response is a good thing, but with vitiligo, cells that guard the body apparently become too aggressive, killing pigment-producing cells called melanocytes that give color to skin.

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"Generalized vitiligo is a complex disorder that involves not just genetics, not just the environment, but a combination of factors," said Margaret "Peggy" Wallace, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and a member of the UF Genetics Institute and the Center for Epigenetics. "A number of different targets for therapies probably exist. As we do more research on the pathways underlying vitiligo, we can begin figuring out ways to interrupt them. This could present an opportunity to practice personalized medicine, in which therapies are tailored to people with different genetic susceptibilities."

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Teens Who Sleep Less Eat More Fatty Foods and Snacks

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — A study in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Sleep shows that teens who slept less than eight hours per weeknight ate higher proportions of fatty foods and snacks than adolescents who slept eight hours or more. The results suggest that short sleep duration may increase obesity risk by causing small changes in eating patterns that cumulatively alter energy balance, especially in girls.

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Short Nighttime Sleep Duration Among Infants, Young Children Associated With Obesity in Later Life

ScienceDaily (Sep. 6, 2010) — Insufficient amounts of nighttime sleep among infants and preschool-aged children may be a significant risk factor for developing childhood obesity, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Additionally, napping does not appear to be an adequate substitute for nighttime sleep in terms of preventing obesity.

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Short Sleepers at Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — People who sleep less than six hours a night may be three times more likely to develop a condition which leads to diabetes and heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Comprehensive Assessment of the Bush Administration's Record on Cutting Taxes

By Joel Friedman and Isaac Shapiro
Revised April 23, 2004

Executive Summary

The Bush Administration has stood in favor of tax cuts through thick and thin. In the midst of a booming economy and large projected budget surpluses, President Bush’s top economic policy initiative — both as a candidate in 2000 and upon taking office — was to cut taxes. When the economy slowed, the Bush Administration’s response also was dominated by tax cuts. Now, in the face of yawning deficits and its own pledge to reduce them, the Administration has again put forward large, permanent tax cuts as part of its most recent budget.

This analysis offers a comprehensive review of the Bush Administration’s tax cuts. It assesses their costs, benefits to different income groups, and economic effects to date, as well as down the road. It both synthesizes previous findings about the individual tax measures and includes new findings about their combined effects, using new distributional analyses by the UrbanI nstitute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center and fresh cost estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The early returns on the effects of the tax cuts have not been good.

* The Bush tax cuts have contributed to revenues dropping in 2004 to the lowest level as a share of the economy since 1950, and have been a major contributor to the dramatic shift from large projected budget surpluses to projected deficits as far as the eye can see.
* The tax cuts have conferred the most benefits, by far, on the highest-income households — those least in need of additional resources — at a time when income already is exceptionally concentrated at the top of the income spectrum.
* The design of these tax cuts was ill-conceived, resulting in significantly less economic stimulus than could have been accomplished for the same budgetary cost. In part because the tax cuts were not as effective as alternative measures would have been, job creation during this recovery has been notably worse than in any other recovery since the end of World War II.

If the Administration’s latest tax proposals — which would make permanent most of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 and establish new tax cuts on top of that — are enacted, the long-term results are likely to be even more troubling. Over the next 10 years, total tax-cut costs will equal $3.9 trillion, reaching nearly $600 billion or 3.3 percent of the economy in 2014 alone. (These calculations include the effects of the higher interest payments caused by the tax cuts.) The resulting higher deficits will slow future economic growth, saddle future generations with sizable interest payments, and leave the nation ill-prepared not only for the retirement of baby boomers but also for responding to potential future crises — from security matters to natural or environmental disasters — the particulars of which are unknown today.

Pressure to reduce these deficits will mount. Because the tax cuts are so tilted toward the highest-income households — and become even more so over time, as some of the upper-income tax cuts phase-in — the burden of financing these lopsided tax cuts ultimately is likely to be borne disproportionately by households who gain only modestly from the tax cuts. This will be the case unless offsetting spending cuts or tax increases are enacted that reduce benefits or raise taxes primarily on high-income households. As a result, over the long term most Americans may well be net losers from the tax cuts.

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Melting Rate of Icecaps in Greenland and Western Antarctica Lower Than Expected

Some good news for a change. Or at least, it's less bad :)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — The Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps are melting at half the speed previously predicted, according to analysis of recent satellite data.

The finding is the result of research by a joint US/Dutch team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, The Netherlands) and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research. The scientists have published their work in the September issue of Nature Geoscience.


The melting of the ice caps has been charted since 2002 using the measurements produced by the two GRACE satellites. From space they detect small changes in the Earth's gravitational field. These changes are related to the exact distribution of mass on Earth, including ice and water. When ice melts and lands in the sea, this therefore has an effect on the gravitational field.

Based on this principle, previous estimates for the Greenland ice cap calculated that the ice was melting at a rate of 230 gigatonnes a year (i.e. 230,000 billion kg). That would result in an average rise in global sea levels of around 0.75 mm a year. For West Antarctica, the estimate was 132 gigatonnes a year. However, it now turns out that these results were not properly corrected for glacial isostatic adjustment, the phenomenon that the Earth's crust rebounds as a result of the melting of the massive ice caps from the last major Ice Age around 20,000 years ago. These movements of the Earth's crust have to be incorporated in the calculations, since these vertical movements change the Earth's mass distribution and therefore also have an influence on the gravitational field.

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One of the researchers, Dr Bert Vermeersen of TU Delft, explains: "The corrections for deformations of the Earth's crust have a considerable effect on the amount of ice that is estimated to be melting each year. We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted." The average rise in sea levels as a result of the melting ice caps is also lower.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Capsaicin Can Act as Co-Carcinogen; Chili Pepper Component Linked to Skin Cancer

Not surprising. Chronic exposure to anything that does injury to tissues can cause cancer.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2010) — A study in the journal Cancer Research by researchers at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, links capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, to skin cancer. While the molecular mechanisms of the cancer-promoting effects of capsaicin are not clear and remain controversial, the new research has shown a definite connection to formation of skin cancer through various laboratory studies.

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Capsaicin, widely consumed worldwide in foods that contain chili peppers, is also used in topical creams for pain relief and its role in cancer development is controversial. Capsaicin has been shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. However, research findings have also shown that it can also act as a carcinogen, especially at the tumor promotion stage.

Bode says the possibility that capsaicin induces inflammation and may affect cancer development is a critical result of the study. "Most notably, the results raise concerns that a natural compound found in hot peppers used in over-the-counter topical pain remedies might increase skin cancer risk," Bode says.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Girls' Early Puberty Linked to Unstable Environment Via Insecure Attachment in Infancy

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2010) — Girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. One recent study found that more than 10 percent of American girls have some breast development by age 7. This news has upset many people, but it may make evolutionary sense in some cases for girls to develop faster, according to the authors of a new paper published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Girls who physically mature earlier tend to start dating, have sexual intercourse at a younger age, and have more sexual partners than girls who develop later. That puts them at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and makes them more likely to have a child while they're still teenagers. These are generally seen as bad things, says Jay Belsky, of Birkbeck University in London, given that many psychologists and doctors think there are right and wrong ways to develop. But he says it makes more sense to look at development the way nature does -- from an evolutionary perspective. This leads to the expectation that growing up in a risky, unstable environment -- the kind that fosters an insecure rather than secure attachment of infant to mother -- should accelerate pubertal maturation thus increasing the chances that one could reproduce before they die.

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Results revealed, as predicted, that girls who were insecure as babies started their pubertal development sooner -- by about two to four months -- than girls who were secure as babies. They also completed pubertal development sooner and had their first period earlier than girls who were secure as infants.

A risky, unstable early environment, as reflected in an insecure attachment, is not the only reason girls mature early; it's also partly due to genetics. Environmental chemicals may also have some effect. Also, there's been a trend over the last 150 years of girls maturing earlier, possibly because of improved nutrition. But the early rearing environment and the infant-mother attachment relationship are important influences and should not be ignored, says Belsky. He cowrote the study with Renate Houts of Duke University and Pasco Fearon of the University of Reading.

"An evolutionary biology perspective says, 'look, the thing that nature most cares about -- with respect to all living things, humans included -- is dispersing genes in future generations,'" says Belsky. "Thus, under those conditions in which the future appears precarious, where I might not even survive long enough to breed tomorrow, then I should mature earlier so I can mate earlier before that precarious future might get me." This is the evolutionary logic, according to Belsky, which led to the prediction -- and now evidence -- that early insecurity should be related to earlier pubertal development.


Link Between Everyday Stress and Obesity Strenthened With Study Using an Animal Model

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2010) — Stress can take a daily toll on us that has broad physical and psychological implications. Science has long documented the effect of extreme stress, such as war, injury or traumatic grief on humans. Typically, such situations cause victims to decrease their food intake and body weight. Recent studies, however, tend to suggest that social stress--public speaking, tests, job and relationship pressures--may have the opposite effect--over-eating and weight gain. With the rise of obesity rates, science has increasingly focused on its causes and effects--including stress.

A recent study conducted by the Departments of Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, examined the effects of stress on the meal patterns and food intake of animals exposed to the equivalent of everyday stress on humans. The results suggest that, not only does stress have an impact on us in the short term, it can cause metabolic changes in the longer term that contribute to obesity.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Ex-workers at egg farms say safety complaints were ignored

I wonder if this is one of the agencies where Republicans are blocking President Obama's appointments. Even once he appoints a head of an agency, it takes time to effect change. After 8 years of Bush, we can expect that some government agencies do not have an orientation to service to the public. But according to Libertarians, we don't need government regulation, because business will do the right thing. Silly.

updated 9/3/2010 9:37:51 AM ET

DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. Agriculture Department employees working full-time at two Iowa egg farms at the center of a salmonella outbreak and massive recall ignored complaints about conditions at one site, two former employees say.

The ex-workers at Wright County Egg facilities, Robert and Deanna Arnold, said they reported problems such as leaking manure and dead chickens to USDA employees, but nothing was done.

The USDA employees were based next to areas where roughly 7.7 million caged hens laid eggs at the two operations, but agency spokesman Caleb Weaver said their main duties were "grading" the eggs and they weren't primarily responsible for looking for health problems.

In response to the outbreak that has led to a recall of about 550 million eggs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration examined the Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms and noted in a report this week that inspectors found rodents, wild birds, seeping manure and maggots in the operations there.

Weaver said the USDA employee who oversaw grading at the facility did not recall anyone raising issues.

'They didn't care'
The USDA "graders" worked in buildings adjacent to where hens laid eggs, focusing on weighing, measuring and inspecting eggs before they were packaged. They are the people who determine if an egg is A or AA, for instance.

"It didn't matter which USDA officer was working, if we reported something they would just turn their heads," Deanna Arnold said. "They didn't care."

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Too Much Aluminum in Infant Formulas

ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2010) — The aluminum content of a range of the most popular brands of infant formulas remains high, and particularly so for a product designed for preterm infants and a soya-based product designed for infants with cow's milk intolerances and allergies, researchers have found.

A study by a team at Keele University in Staffordshire, led by Dr Chris Exley with Shelle-Ann M Burrell, demonstrating the vulnerability of infants to early exposure to aluminum serves to highlight an urgent need to reduce the aluminum content of infant formulas to as-low-a-level as is practically possible. The research has been published in the journal BMC Pediatrics.

Infant formulas are integral to the nutritional requirements of preterm and term infants. While it has been known for decades that infant formulas are contaminated with significant amounts of aluminum there is little evidence that manufacturers consider this to be a health issue. Aluminum is non-essential and is linked to human disease. There is evidence of both immediate and delayed toxicity in infants, and especially preterm infants, exposed to aluminum and the team contends that there is still too much aluminum in infant formulas.

There has been a long and significant history documenting the contamination of infant formulas by aluminum and consequent health effects in children. Through these and other publications manufacturers of infant formulas have been made fully aware of the potentially compounded issue of both the contamination by aluminum and the heightened vulnerability, from the point of view of a newborn's developing physiology, of infants fed such formulas.

There have been similar warnings over several decades in relation to aluminum toxicity and parenteral nutrition of preterm and term infants. To these ends the expectation would be that the aluminum content of current infant formulas would at the very least be historically low and at best would be as low as might be achieved for a processed product. The team tested this premise and found that the aluminum content of a range of branded infant formulas remains too high.

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ScienceDaily: Your source for the latest research news and science breakthroughs -- updated daily Science News Share Blog Cite Print Email Bookmark 'Charitable' Behavior Found in Bacteria

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2010) — Researchers at Boston University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard have discovered that charitable behavior exists in one of the most microscopic forms of life -- bacteria. Their findings appear in the Sept. 2 issue of Nature.

In studying the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, the researchers found that the populations most adept at withstanding doses of antibiotics are those in which a few highly resistant isolates sacrifice their own well being to improve the group's overall chance of survival.

This bacterial altruism results when the most resistant isolates produce a small molecule called indole.

Indole acts as something of a steroid, helping the strain's more vulnerable members bulk up enough to fight off the antibiotic onslaught. But while indole may save the group, its production takes a toll on the fitness level of the individual isolates that produce it.

"We weren't expecting to find this," said lead investigator James J. Collins, Ph.D., professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute. "Typically, you would expect only the resistant strains to survive, with the susceptible ones dying off in the face of antibiotic stress. We were quite surprised to find the weak strains not only surviving, but thriving."

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Children Who Eat Vended Snack Foods Face Chronic Health Problems, Poor Diet

ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2010) — School children who consume foods purchased in vending machines are more likely to develop poor diet quality -- and that may be associated with being overweight, obese or at risk for chronic health problems such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, according to research from the University of Michigan Medical School.

The study also looked at foods sold in school stores, snack bars and other related sales that compete with USDA lunch program offerings and found that these pose the same health and diet risks in school-aged children.

"The foods that children are exposed to early on in life influence the pattern for their eating habits as adults," says lead study author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., clinical lecturer of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Humanlike brain structures identified in marine worm

I guess a worm would say that wormlike brain structures have been found in humans!

By Jennifer Viegas
updated 9/2/2010 12:52:05 PM ET

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Brain structures directly related to the human brain have just been identified in a marine ragworm, according to a paper published in the latest issue of the journal Cell.

The discovery means that the origins of the human brain can now be traced back at least 600 million years, when we last shared a common ancestor with this species, Platynereis dumerilii, a relative of the common earthworm.

"This worm lives in self-made tubes, explores its environment actively for food, and shows signs of learning behavior," lead author Raju Tomer told Discovery News. "Therefore, we thought this ragworm would be the ideal candidate to look for the counterparts of vertebrate higher brain centers in invertebrates."

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Record ocean temperatures off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Coast

Scientists predicted earlier this year that we would have a busier than average hurricane season in the Atlantic, partly because of the high SSTs (Sea Surface Temperatures). And we are currently in what would be normally be a cooling phase, because of solar cycles. In fact, scientists worried that this temporary cooling cycle would allow people to ignore global warming. Of course, when the cycle returns to normal, we can expect even more extreme weather.

There was much boo-hooing about language scientists used to describe GW deniers. I haven't seen specifics, but I'm sure it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I would use. I consider the heads of Exxon/Mobile, and the Koch brothers, who are funding global warming denial campaigns, for the sake of their own financial interests in the oil industry, to be evil sociopathic mass-murdering slimy scum.

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Record ocean temperatures off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Coast
The period May - July was the hottest such 3-month period in history for the Northeast and Southeast U.S., according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Most of the hurricane-prone states along the coast, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina had their hottest May - July in the 116-year record. These record air temperatures led to record ocean temperatures, according to an analysis I did of monthly average 5x5 degree SST data available from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre.. The region of ocean bounded by 35N - 40N, 75W - 70W, which goes from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Central New Jersey, had the warmest July ocean temperatures since records began in 1875--a remarkable 2.12°C (3.8°F) above average. The year 2008 was a distant second place, with temperatures 1.5°C (2.7°F) above average. The ocean region off the Southeast U.S. coast, bounded by 30N - 35N, 80W - 75W, from the Georgia-Florida border to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, had its 4th warmest July ocean temperatures on record. Temperatures were 0.8°C (1.4°F) above average, which fell short of the record 1.1°C anomaly of 1944. The August numbers are not available yet, but will probably show a similar story.

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Hurricane season in full force.

There's hurricane Earl heading for N. Carolina, New England, and Canada.
Behind it is tropical storm Fiona.
Behind that is tropical depression 9.
Behind that is a weather system coming off Africa. Now that it is moving over the ocean, it has gotten noticeably bigger than yesterday.

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