Friday, September 30, 2011

Glucosamine-Like Supplement Suppresses Multiple Sclerosis Attacks, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Sep. 30, 2011) — A glucosamine-like dietary supplement suppresses the damaging autoimmune response seen in multiple sclerosis, according to a UC Irvine study.

UCI's Dr. Michael Demetriou, Ani Grigorian and others found that oral N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), which is similar to but more effective than the widely available glucosamine, inhibited the growth and function of abnormal T-cells that in MS incorrectly direct the immune system to attack and break down central nervous system tissue that insulates nerves.


The study comes on the heels of others showing the potential of GlcNAc in humans. One reported that eight of 12 children with treatment-resistant autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease improved significantly after two years of GlcNAc therapy. No serious adverse side effects were noted.


He cautioned that more human studies are required to assess the full potential of the approach. GlcNAc supplements are available over the counter and differ from commercially popular glucosamine. People who purchase GlcNAc should consult with their doctors before use.


Adopted child was starved, left outside to die

updated 9/30/2011 7:16:22 PM ET

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The parents of a 13-year-old girl adopted from Ethiopia have been accused of starving and locking the girl outside — resulting in hypothermia that killed her.

Hanna Williams was found dead in her backyard on May 12, naked and wrapped in a sheet. She had been living with her adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, since coming to America from Ethiopia in 2008.

Larry Williams, 47, and Carri Williams, 40, were arrested Thursday in Skagit County and are charged with homicide by abuse. They are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Skagit Count Prosecutor Richard Weyrich told NBC station KING 5 that Hanna Williams' death ranks right up there among the worst cases he's ever prosecuted.

According to the charging documents, Carri Williams is alleged to have talked about how much she disliked her two adopted Ethiopian children, a 10-year-old boy and Hanna. The couple have six biological children.

"She died of hypothermia and you know part of that relates to having lost so much weight over the past year, months ... she had lost nearly 30 pounds," Weyrich told KING 5.

According to allegations in the charging documents, Carri and Larry Williams starved Hanna for days, put her in a locked closet and forced her to sleep outside in the barn in the cold. She wasn't allowed to use the bathroom in the house, instead having to go to a porta-potty behind the barn. In addition, according to an affidavit, Hanna was struck daily with a plumbing tool, a flexible plastic tube with a round ball on the end.


In the documents, a book entitled "To Train Up a Child," was referenced. Weyrich says it includes punishment techniques the Williamses mimicked. There have been other child abuse cases linked to the book across the country, he said.

tags: child abuse

Mosque Kicked Out Suspected Terrorist Because Of His Radical Views And Support Of Al-Qaeda

By Tanya Somanader on Sep 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

This week, the FBI arrested and charged 26-year-old suspected terrorist Rezwan Ferdaus with plotting to use remote-controlled planes filled with plastic explosives to attack the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. The Massachusetts man began plotting a “violent jihad” against the U.S. early last year “with the goal of terrorizing the United States, decapitating its ‘military center’ and killing as many ‘kafirs,’ i.e., an Arabic term meaning non-believers, as possible.”

Not only did Ferdaus’ radical views tip off the FBI, they got him expelled from his local mosque in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Last year, the Islamic Sosciety of Boston Cultural Center asked Ferdaus to leave because of his radical Islamic views, hostility towards women, and his suspected support of al Qaeda. “I can’t think of a mosque where he was welcome,” said the mosque’s director:


Mosques and Muslim communities have been instrumental in the fight against homegrown terrorism. As Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has noted, “About a third of all foiled al-Qaida related plots in the U.S. relied on support or information provided by members of the Muslim community. Indeed, the father of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — the man who tried to bomb a plane over Detroit last year — actually alerted authorities about his son’s “extreme radical views” months before the attempted attack.

What’s more, a Duke University study found that “many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.” “This is one reason that Muslim-American terrorism has resulting in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11,” the study concluded.

tags: religion, terrorism, Islam, Muslims

Banks Successfully Lobbied For Weaker Bailout Repayment Rules So They Could Pay Bonuses

By Pat Garofalo on Sep 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

When the nation’s biggest banks were bailed out in 2008 via the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the money came with a few (very loose) strings, including restrictions on executive compensation and some requirements for the amount of capital the banks would have to raise in order to escape from TARP.

But as a new report from the Special Inspector General for TARP shows, even these restrictions were too much for some of the nation’s biggest banks — including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and PNC — who lobbied for easier payback requirements so that they could be freed from restrictions on paying bonuses. And Treasury obliged their requests:



As GOP Slashes Women’s Health Care, Study Finds Medicaid-Funded Program Saved Texas Over $20 Million

In the latest state budget signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R), the Texas GOP gutted funding for women’s preventative health care, leaving up to 300,000 women without access to basic health services. Now a new report from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission shows just how self-defeating those drastic cuts were. The report says the Medicaid-funded Women’s Health Program saved the state at least $20 million a year and prevented over 6,700 unplanned pregnancies in 2009. Earlier this year Republicans rushed to defund Planned Parenthood and cut family planning services by a staggering $74 million in an attempt to reduce the number of abortions. Yet the Women’s Health Program does not provide abortions but does give low-income women access to breast cancer screenings and birth control. The new study confirms what experts have been saying — state-funded family planning services save taxpayers millions each year. The federal program reportedly saved $10 for every dollar spent.

Take the first step

If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering. That is the secret. Start right now. ~Sister Chän Khöng


Thursday, September 29, 2011

500-Year-Old Music Books Accessible to All

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — Fragile treasures of 16 th Century music are now freely available online, thanks to a partnership between Royal Holloway, University of London, the British Library and JISC. The Early Music Online project has digitised more than 300 books of the world's earliest printed music from holdings at the British Library.

Some of the books date back as far as the 1500s and, due to their fragile nature, would not be freely available to researchers, but thanks to this digitization project, musicians from around the world can now source the original music free of charge using the Early Music Online website.

Highlights of the collection include church music by the Flemish composer Josquin des Prez and the English musicians Thomas Tallis and William Byrd; drinking-songs from Nuremberg and love-songs from Lyon; lute music from Venice and organ music from Leipzig.



Cocaine Users Have 45 Percent Increased Risk of Glaucoma

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — A study of the 5.3 million men and women seen in Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics in a one-year period found that use of cocaine is predictive of open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma.

The study revealed that after adjustments for race and age, current and former cocaine users had a 45 percent increased risk of glaucoma. Men with open-angle glaucoma also had significant exposures to amphetamines and marijuana, although less than cocaine.

Patients with open-angle glaucoma and history of exposure to illegal drugs were nearly 20 years younger than glaucoma patients without a drug exposure history (54 years old versus 73 years old).

Study results appear in the September issue of Journal of Glaucoma.



Oral Steroids Linked to Severe Vitamin D Deficiency in Nationwide US Study

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — People taking oral steroids are twice as likely as the general population to have severe vitamin D deficiency, according to a study of more than 31,000 children and adults by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their findings, in the September 28 online edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, suggest that physicians should more diligently monitor vitamin D levels in patients being treated with oral steroids.


The severe vitamin D deficiency assessed in this study (defined as levels below 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood) is known to be associated with osteomalacia (softening of the bones), rickets (softening of bones in children) and clinical myopathy (muscle weakness). While there is much debate on the issue, vitamin D levels between 20 and 50 ng/ml are generally considered adequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals. Steroids have been shown to cause vitamin D deficiency, possibly by increasing levels of an enzyme that inactivates the vitamin.


Eleven percent of the self-reported steroid users had severely low vitamin D levels compared with a severe vitamin D deficiency of 5 percent for people not taking steroids -- a two-fold increased risk for severe vitamin D deficiency. The risk was particularly pronounced for steroid users under 18, who were 14 times more likely to have a severe vitamin D deficiency compared with young non-steroid users. (Participants who reported using inhaled steroids were not included in the steroid-user group.)


Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, but It May Not Be Your Fault

Since we are social creatures with few instincts, who depend on learning from others what we need to know to survive, we have to be automatically affected by those around us.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — Everyone's a little bit racist, posits the song from the musical Avenue Q. But it may not be your fault, according to research in the latest edition of the British Journal of Social Psychology. In looking for the culprit as to why people tend to display tinges of racism, sexism or ageism, even towards members of their own group, a research team, led by the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that our culture may be partially to blame.
While previous psychological studies have shown that racism, sexism and ageism tend to be universal, a new study led by Paul Verhaeghen, professor in Georgia Tech's School of Psychology, found that works in the American culture, namely literature, movies, TV, radio and the Internet, may contribute to the problem by exhibiting the same stereotypes that society works so hard to snuff out.


In looking at their results from the tests and what appeared in BEAGLE, they found that participants responded faster to the pairs that were more often found together in the literature, whether they were stereotypical or not. So words like black tended to have a much stronger correlation with words that are associated with negative and positive stereotypes like lazy or musical, than with words like goofy that aren't associated with stereotypes. But pairs that were often found in the literature together, like day and light or summer and sunny also inspired a faster response time for participants than words that weren't found together in BEAGLE. Other pairs that had strong correlations were white with greedy and successful; male with loud and strong; female with weak and warm; old with lonely and wise; and young with healthy and reckless.

This leads scientists to believe that the very fast 'gut' reaction measured through response times doesn't have much to do with the prejudice of the subjects, but a lot more with how often people have seen or heard these words paired over a lifetime. They also point out that response times were not correlated with the questionnaires about prejudice.

"One of the things these findings suggest is that for those of us who, like me, very often feel guilty about these gut reactions you have and you're not supposed to have is those gut reactions are normal and they have very little to do with you. They have more to do with the culture around you," said Verhaeghen. "What is more important is your behavior, rather than your gut reaction."

"The second thing is that there's a reason for political correctness. At least, as studies suggest, it might be a good idea to not put stereotypes out there too clearly, because if you do, people will internalize them."

House GOP Unveils Plan To Cut NPR, Job Training And Education Programs

If the Republicans really do cut out funding for NPR, it wouldn't change NPR's slant in favor of big business, because their corporate donations greatly outmatch their government funding. But this effort, which they know was doomed to fail, helps camouflage the corporate slant of NPR.

And the Republicans have blocked cuts in subsidies for big business. Same old, same old.

By ANDREW TAYLOR 09/29/11 03:04 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Setting a collision course with Democrats that could drag out for months, House Republicans on Thursday unveiled plans to cut federal money for job training, heating subsidies and grants to better-performing schools.

The draft measure for labor, health and education programs also seeks to block implementation of President Barack Obama's signature health care law, cut off federal funds for National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood, and reduce eligibility for grants for low-income college students.

Democrats and tea party Republicans opposed the bill, blocking it from advancing through even the easy initial steps of the appropriations process on Capitol Hill. Instead of moving through the Appropriations Committee and the House as a whole, the $153 billion measure is instead expected to be wrapped into a larger omnibus spending bill this fall or winter that would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies.

Negotiations between Republicans controlling the House, the Democratic Senate and the White House are sure to be arduous. The measure is laced with conservative policy "riders" opposed by Democrats that would affect worker protections under federal labor laws and block the Education Department from enforcing rules on for-profit colleges that are often criticized for pushing students to take on too much debt.


The measure would cut heating subsidies for the poor by $1.3 billion, or 28 percent, despite demand elevated by the weak economy and high heating oil prices. And a plan to "zero out" the Title X family planning program, while pleasing to conservatives, is a dead letter with Democrats.


Almost News BachmannRobotRecent Bachmann Gaffes Actually Cybernetic Programing Glitches Sarah Palin's first interview with Sean Hannity. Image from Palin Announces She Will Announce Her Candidacy For President…Eventually JoemarriageJPGU.S. Special Forces Celebrate Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell NorrisWalkerPNGChuck Norris to Endorse New Texas Ranger Walker TeaPartyRacismMany in the Tea Party Admit to Being Racist After Learning the Definition lazycartoon43 Yr Old Man Living in his Mom's Basement Still Unable to Find Job. ideasD.C. Files for FEMA Funding whitehouseObama Finally Arrives at White House PerryRick Perry Unveils His Two Fold Energy Plan, Nuke Canada and Take Their Oil FoxNewsJobAppJPG-1Wikileaks Releases Controversial Fox News Job Application Form Featuring Top 10/85 of Almost News Free Wood Post on Twitter Sarah Palin Announces She Will Announce Her Candidacy For President…Eventually 20 hours ago U.S. Special Forces Celebrate Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell 1 day ago D.C. Files for FEMA Funding 2 days ago Share This “News” Source Jesus Christ Files Lawsuit Against GOP For Slander

September 5, 2011
By Corey Banks

Jesus Christ filed a lawsuit today in the New York Supreme Court against the Republican National Committee for what he is calling “egregious misrepresentation of his statements and image.”

One of the attorneys representing Christ had this to say:

“For years Republicans have proclaimed their love for and loyalty to Jesus, yet their actions are highly contradictory to what Mr. Christ preached. Instead of helping the poor and the sick GOP instead punishes the poor and the sickly.

Our client isn’t telling the GOP what their agenda should be, he simply wants them to stop using his name when their actions contradict everything he stood for.

If the GOP would like to continue using his name they have to start making a significant effort to help the poor and the sick, instead of the rich, and start promoting a more peaceful agenda.”

When asked about the lawsuit, House Speaker John Boehner made the following remarks:

“Mr. Christ is entitled to his opinion, however the GOP believes that the underlying message in the Bible is that giving tax cuts to the wealthy is the true path to happiness.

I don’t know where Mr. Christ thinks the Bible says to help the poor and the sick, but that sounds awfully socialistic to me, and we are not a socialist country.”



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Horn of Africa Hunger Emergency: Somali Children Walk for Days or Weeks to Reach Relief Camps

In some parts of drought-stricken Somalia, one child in 10 is at risk of starving to death, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In a recent report, ICRC stated that the number is twice as high as it was in March.

Malnutrition rates are believed to be significantly higher in several other areas of the country, where relief organizations have not been allowed to operate.

Child malnutrition levels in the Horn of Africa are now the highest in the world. Even in traditionally food-producing parts of Somalia, nearly 11 percent of children younger than 5 have severe acute malnutrition.

Additional feeding centers are being set up by the Somali Red Crescent (an ICRC affiliate), but relief workers are struggling to keep up with the exodus of hungry refugees. Adults who arrive in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, where border camps are swelling, report that children have died en route. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there are 11 million people in the Horn of Africa affected by the worst drought in decades.


Economists Say Obama Jobs Bill Will Prevent Another Recession

September 28, 2011
By Wendy Gittleson

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Economists Say Obama Jobs Bill Will Prevent Another Recession
September 28, 2011
By Wendy Gittleson

In a joint session of Congress earlier this month, President Obama presented a jobs plan, which he believes will jump start the economy and help prevent another recession. Republicans have been, shall we say, less than receptive.

House Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), criticized the President’s $447 billion jobs plan, saying it “inhibits the efficient flow of capital,” He also said he would object to all revenue, including an increase on the 15% capital gains tax and letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire.

Of course, Boehner isn’t the only Republican criticizing the plan.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis): “I don’t know if there’s anything positive in this plan.”

[...] [etc, etc, etc]

Obviously, I could go on for a while. Does it really surprise anyone that the Party of No objects to something the President proposes? Despite the right-wing negative PR blitz, the public is a bit warmer on the jobs plan.

Economists think it will help avoid a double dip recession. According to Bloomberg News:

President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan would help avoid a return to recession by maintaining growth and pushing down the unemployment rate next year, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The legislation, submitted to Congress this month, would increase gross domestic product by 0.6 percent next year and add or keep 275,000 workers on payrolls, the median estimates in the survey of 34 economists showed. The program would also lower the jobless rate by 0.2 percentage point in 2012, economists said.

Economists in the survey are less optimistic than Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who has cited estimates for a 1.5 percent boost to gross domestic product. Even so, the program may bolster Obama’s re-election prospects by lowering a jobless rate that has stayed near 9 percent or more since April 2009.

The plan “prevents a contraction of the economy in the first quarter” of next year, said John Herrmann, a senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets LLC in Boston, who participated in the survey. “It leads to more retention of workers than net new hires.”

In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has other plans. Before tackling the jobs bill, the Senate will vote on a bill that would crack down on China’s currency manipulation with the intent of helping to even the playing field between American and Chinese companies. The Obama administration is against it.


Listeria Outbreak Tied To Colorado Cantaloupes; 13 Known Dead

September 28, 201
by Mark Memmott

"The number of deaths linked to Colorado-grown cantaloupes keeps climbing, and it soon could become the second-deadliest U.S. outbreak of a food-borne illness," The Denver Post reports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post says, "13 deaths have now been confirmed, and three more deaths — in New Mexico, Wyoming and Kansas — soon could be confirmed as listeria-caused. ... The worst recorded listeria outbreak in the U.S. was in 1985, when 52 people died after eating tainted cheese."

The CDC previously reported that the outbreak has been traced to "Rocky Ford Cantaloupe shipped by Jensen Farms." It added that "Jensen Farms is voluntarily recalling Rocky Ford Cantaloupe shipped from July 29 through September 10, 2011, and distributed to at least 17 states with possible further distribution."

The company says that "the whole cantaloupes have a green and white sticker that reads: 'Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford- Cantaloupe' or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that reads: 'Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords.' If the whole cantaloupe is unlabeled, please contact your retail store for sourcing information. Jensen Farms is requesting any consumer that may have one of these cantaloupes to please destroy the products."

One of the problems with listeria, as NPR's Paul Brown reports for our Newscast desk, is that "symptoms including diarrhea and fever may not show up for days or even weeks after the food has been eaten."

Paul adds that the CDC says listeria is more dangerous than other better-known food-borne diseases such as E. coli and poses a threat in particular to the elderly, very young and people with compromised immune systems.

It's important, officials say, to wash produce completely — before cutting it up — because a knife blade can transfer the bacteria from the surface to the flesh.


At The Salt blog, NPR's April Fulton reminds us that the best thing to wash cantaloupes, other produce and vegetables in is a simple solution that's three parts water to one part vinegar. Also important to do: keep cutting boards and knives "cleaned and separated," wash your hands before and after handling food, make sure the refrigerator is cooled to at least 40 degrees and "clean up spills on the counter and fridge right away."


Americans get too much healthcare, their docs say

And other people are not getting enough because they can't afford it. Doctor's are not likely to have them as patients.

By Frederik Joelving

NEW YORK | Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:45pm EDT

(Reuters Health) - Here is a diagnosis of what's wrong with health care in America, straight from the horse's mouth: There's too much.

In a new poll of primary care physicians, nearly half of them said their patients received too much medical care and more than a quarter said they were practicing more aggressively than they'd like to.

That could mean ordering more tests, prescribing more drugs or diagnosing people with diseases, although they would never have experienced any symptoms.

On the other hand, just six percent of doctors believed their patients were getting too little care.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fighting Cervical Cancer With Vinegar and Ingenuity

Published: September 26, 2011

POYAI, Thailand — Maikaew Panomyai did a little dance coming out of the examination room, switching her hips, waving her fists in the air and crowing, in her limited English: “Everything’s O.K.! Everything’s O.K.!”

Translation: The nurse just told me I do not have cervical cancer, and even the little white spot I had treated three years ago is still gone.

What allowed the nurse to render that reassuring diagnosis was a remarkably simple, brief and inexpensive procedure, one with the potential to do for poor countries what the Pap smear did for rich ones: end cervical cancer’s reign as the No. 1 cancer killer of women. The magic ingredient? Household vinegar.

Every year, more than 250,000 women die of cervical cancer, nearly 85 percent of them in poor and middle-income countries. Decades ago, it killed more American women than any other cancer; now it lags far behind cancers of the lung, breast, colon and skin.

Nurses using the new procedure, developed by experts at the Johns Hopkins medical school in the 1990s and endorsed last year by the World Health Organization, brush vinegar on a woman’s cervix. It makes precancerous spots turn white. They can then be immediately frozen off with a metal probe cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide, available from any Coca-Cola bottling plant.


Because cervical cancer takes decades to develop, it is too early to prove that Thailand has lowered its cancer rate. In fact, Roi Et Province, where mass screening first began, has a rate higher than normal, but doctors attribute that to the extra testing. But of the 6,000 women recruited 11 years ago for the first trial, not a single one has developed full-blown cancer.

VIA/cryo was pioneered in the 1990s simultaneously by Dr. Paul D. Blumenthal, an American gynecologist working in Africa, and Dr. Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan in India.



What the Media Aren't Telling You About American Protests

Published on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by

I am lately reminded of an assignment when my metro editor sent me to cover a “gentle protest” over the Gulf War of the 1990s in Jackson, Mich. (Don’t remember that war – or what it was about? That’s OK – because it was probably “security” and “oil,” and George W. ultimately righted his dad’s failure to see that war action through to its completion: killing Saddam Hussein, or at least dismantling his government. But I digress.)

It was an after-hours event, likely on a weekend (as that was my beat). And when I arrived at the designated time, well after sundown, I found one lone woman walking the length of a wall at an armory or similar government-type outpost with, not a flashlight, but a real, flickering candle. Back and forth, in the dark, trudging in the snow.

No one else had shown up – except me, that is. The place was deserted and, as I recall, not on a busy road. I actually had to drive by twice before I even saw her candle and a small chair she set up for herself when she got tired. It occurred to me that, if I walked away, it would have been the same as if she’d never been there at all. Yet, incontrovertibly, there she was: protesting a war that, at the time, no one was particularly riled up about. It wasn’t a story, really.

But I decided to speak with her anyway. I walked with her for about an hour and asked questions. Apart from understanding that my editors expected my story for the next day’s edition, I also sensed that there could be a story to tell – and that, if I didn’t, no one might ever consider an opposing view that, while solitary, might be worth listening to.

I’d have to dig through years of clips to find that story now. (I’m sure it resides in the Jackson Citizen Patriot morgue). But it’s not the story that’s important to me now.

It’s that I covered it at all – and that my editors were grateful I did. And that readers seemed to value the fact we were there to capture a moment in their community they would otherwise not have known about.

More than a week ago, a small band of peaceful protesters descended on Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Park) in New York City, not far from Wall Street. They dubbed their little movement “Occupy Wall Street.” And, on the first weekend, starting Sept. 17, they had quite a number of people join them in marches and speeches that essentially claimed the 99% of Americans who aren’t the 1% of uber-rich are disenfranchised – and have critical needs related to unemployment, cost of living, and a range of other social issues that are either being ignored outright or largely swept under the rug by our finance-focused government.


As I say, all was well – that is, until a phalanx of NYC police moved in and started making mass arrests. Twitter was the only way most of us knew it actually happened; the media team, scarily, was picked off shortly after the march gained momentum near Washington Park.

It’s not like no one was aware the police were coming. I myself could hear what was going down on the police scanner, which I alternately monitored while toggling back and forth between live-streaming and searching for news updates on Google.

The tension was building - you could feel it while watching from hundreds of miles away as the protestors kept dodging orange fencing and an increasingly ominous presence of officers. The marchers were peaceful - but resolute in their efforts to keep marching.

Then, right in the thick of things, the live-streaming ended just before the mass arrests and some disturbing instances of outright police brutality (documented and later distributed via cellphone photos). But, I should note, not before the world had already witnessed some of those protestor/cop encounters. It was shocking, actually, to watch people pushed with real force or slammed to the ground when, to my eye, they hadn't provoked anything remotely requiring that kind of police-state response.


Not to be flip, but if 60-80 people were arrested for dog-fighting, or for wrangling outside a tony nightclub, or protesting at the United Nations, that might have gotten coverage. I’m pretty sure that would have received some attention. But this: In my humble opinion, it got very little. Some, finally - but people had to be hurt, and the police department's reputation tarnished, when neither was necessary if the media were operating as it should.


The media’s job is not to turn a blind eye. The media’s job is to report. Period. Which is yet another reason why Americans are not trusting the modern media. And I have to say, given what I’ve witnessed in recent days in and around Zuccotti Park, that I clearly understand why my profession is much maligned these days.

If people are there, and they have something worthwhile to say – regardless of whether it is popular or potentially alarming or against the political status quo – it is news. Good reporters should be covering it, regardless of their personal political preferences – and let Americans come to their own conclusions.

Is it a media blackout?

Sure seems that way to me. If I can cover one voice about a Gulf War, and contribute to society’s understanding of our greater human experience, then the media can certainly begin paying attention to thousands of marchers - and what appears to be the beginnings of an American movement.



World’s Engineers: “The Technology Needed to Cut the World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 85% by 2050 Already Exists”

By Joe Romm on Sep 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm

The technology needed to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 already exists, according to a joint statement by eleven of the world’s largest engineering organisations….

The statement says that generating electricity from wind, waves and the sun, growing biofuels sustainably, zero emissions transport, low carbon buildings and energy efficiency technologies have all been demonstrated. However they are not being developed for wide-scale use fast enough and there is a desperate need for financial and legislative support from governments around the world if they are to fulfil their potential.



list of the veteran bills being blocked by the GOP in the House

(from Facebook)

Here is a list of the veteran bills being blocked by the GOP in the House

H.R.26 - Veterans Mental Health Screening and Assessment Act

H.R.28 - Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2011

H.R.79 - Dependent Care Act of 2011- To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain abused dependents of veterans with health care

H.R.117 - Housing, Employment, and Living Programs for Veterans Act of 2011-To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purpose 01/04/11

H.R.136 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans, and for other purposes. 01/04/11

H.R.237 - To amend the Homeowners Assistance Program of the Department of Defense to give the Secretary of Defense flexibility regarding setting the commencement date for homeowner assistance for members of the Armed Forces permanently reassigned during the mortgage crisis.

H.R.284 - Veterans, Women, Families with Children, and Persons With Disabilities Housing Fairness Act of 2011-To authorize funds to prevent housing discrimination through the use of nationwide testing, to increase funds for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, and for other purposes. (01-11-11)

H.R.287 - Homes for Heroes Act of 2011-To provide housing assistance for very low-income veterans. (01-11-11)

Fall Safety Tips for Pets!

September 26, 2011

It’s hard to believe, but autumn is already here. The new season brings beautiful foliage, warm apple pie and, of course, a chance for humans and dogs alike to sport their favorite chilly-weather apparel. But fall also brings a bushel of dangers for our furry companions. Here’s what to keep away from your pets this season:

Watch those apples!
While the flesh of ripe apples doesn’t pose a problem for pets, apple stems, leaves and seeds can cause vomiting, diarrhea, a lack of oxygen in the blood, decreased heart rate, respiratory congestion, seizures, coma—and, if large amounts are ingested, even death.

[...] [see link for more]


Smoking Causes Cancer…In Your Pet!

September 27, 2011

It seems like a no-brainer: Smoking around your pet is bad news. But just how dangerous is it? Truth be told, it can be downright deadly.

A study conducted by the Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine shows that cats living in homes with smokers have a greater chance of being diagnosed with mouth cancer. Because of their grooming habits, cats continually lick and ingest cancer-causing carcinogens that build up on their fur. They are also twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma—a cancer that occurs in the lymph nodes and is often fatal.

What about dogs? Well, research shows that dogs living in a smoking household are at a much greater risk of developing cancers of the nose and sinus area. Dogs with nasal cancer typically survive less than one year.



Wealthy Former Google Employee Tells Obama ‘Please Raise My Taxes!’

September 26, 2011
By Robert Sobel

During President Obama’s town hall event, “Putting America Back to Work” in Mountain View California, a question from the audience really put into prospective which party has the right ideology about caring for the country. The question came from former Google employee, Doug Edwards.

“My question is would you please raise my taxes? I would like very much for our country to continue to invest in things like Pell grants, infrastructure, job training–programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am. It kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of tax cuts that have been benefiting so much of us for so long.”

That one question is the line in the sand between the two parties in the United States. On one side you have the Republican Party, the party who stands by less government, low taxes and giving money to the wealthy while promising they will be the ones who create jobs. On the other side you have the Democrats. The party who stands by the middle and working class. The party that stands with low-income earners and small business, who tries to inject what is right into the economy to get the country going again. The Bush tax cuts, which have destroyed the economy, need to expire on the top income earners before the wealthy gap becomes too wide. While Ronald Reagan started the country down a path of economic collapse and the Bush crime family pushed the ball forward, the Republicans continue to fight for the rich and the religious radicals. A man like Doug Edwards shows us what is really right for the country, common sense, shared sacrifice and the American dream.

tags: income inequality, wealth inequality

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fruits and vegetables reduce risks of specific types of colorectal cancers

Public release date: 26-Sep-2011
Contact: Eileen Leahy
Elsevier Health Sciences
Fruits and vegetables reduce risks of specific types of colorectal cancers
According to new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Philadelphia, PA, September 26, 2011 – The effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on colorectal cancer (CRC) appear to differ by site of origin, according to a new study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Researchers found that within the proximal and distal colon, brassica vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) were associated with decreased risk of these cancers. A lower risk of distal colon cancer was associated with eating more apples, however an increased risk for rectal cancer was found with increasing consumption of fruit juice.


Consumption of brassica vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cabbage) was associated with reduced incidence of proximal colon cancer. For distal colon cancer, both total fruit and vegetable intake and total vegetable intake appeared to decrease risk. Distal colon cancer risk was significantly decreased in association with intake of dark yellow vegetables and apples, although there was an increased risk for rectal cancer with consumption of fruit juice. Risk of proximal colon cancer and rectal cancer was not associated with intakes of total fruit and vegetable, total vegetable or total fruit.



High blood pressure is linked to increased risk of developing or dying from cancer

Public release date: 26-Sep-2011
Contact: Emma Mason
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
High blood pressure is linked to increased risk of developing or dying from cancer

Stockholm, Sweden: Raised blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of developing cancer or dying from the disease according to the findings of the largest study to date to investigate the association between the two conditions.

Dr Mieke Van Hemelrijck will tell the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress [1] in Stockholm today (Tuesday) that there had been contradictory results from previous, smaller studies investigating the link between cancer and blood pressure. However, her study, which included 289,454 men and 288,345 women, showed that higher than normal blood pressure was statistically significantly associated with a 10-20% higher risk of developing cancer in men, and a higher risk of dying from the disease in both men and women.


Dr Van Hemelrijck warned that, as the study was observational, it could not show that blood pressure was the cause of the increased cancer risk. "We cannot claim that there is a causal link between high blood pressure and cancer risk, nor can we say that the cause of cancer is a factor related with high blood pressure," she said. "However a healthy lifestyle, including sufficient physical activity and a normal weight, has been shown to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. For instance, high blood pressure is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and our study now indicates that high blood pressure may also be a risk factor for cancer."


Prolonged sleep disruption and deprivation might increase risk of Alzheimer's disease


Public release date: 26-Sep-2011
Contact: Michael C. Purdy
Washington University School of Medicine
Marker for Alzheimer's disease rises during day and falls with sleep
Up-and-down cycle flattens as age disrupts pattern

A marker for Alzheimer's disease rises and falls in the spinal fluid in a daily pattern that echoes the sleep cycle, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found.

The pattern is strongest in healthy young people and reinforces a link between increased Alzheimer's risk and inadequate sleep that had been discovered in animal models. The brain's relative inactivity during sleep may provide an opportunity to finish clearing away the Alzheimer's marker, a byproduct of brain activity called amyloid beta. The body clears amyloid beta from the brain through the spinal fluid and other mechanisms.

In the new study, scientists report that the normal highs and lows of amyloid beta levels in the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord begin to flatten in older adults, whose sleep periods are often shorter and more prone to disruption. In older adults with brain plaques linked to Alzheimer's disease, the ebb and flow is eradicated, and amyloid beta levels are close to constant.

The study is now online in Archives of Neurology.

"In healthy people, levels of amyloid beta drop to their lowest point about six hours after sleep, and return to their highest point six hours after maximum wakefulness," says Randall Bateman, MD, associate professor of neurology. "We looked at many different behaviors, and the transitions between sleep and wakefulness were the only phenomena that strongly correlated with the rise and fall of amyloid beta in the spinal fluid."

Bateman's laboratory conducted the study in partnership with Washington University's Sleep Medicine Center.

"We've known for some time that significant sleep deprivation has negative effects on cognitive function comparable to that of alcohol intoxication," says Stephen Duntley, MD, professor of neurology and director of the center. "But it's recently become apparent that prolonged sleep disruption and deprivation can actually play an important role in pathological processes that underlie diseases. This connection to Alzheimer's disease isn't confirmed yet in humans, but it could be very important."

Duntley notes that older adults often sleep less and have fewer periods of deep slumber. A number of factors linked to aging, such as reduced exercise levels, can disrupt the normal daily patterns of sleep and waking. These disruptions often become more pronounced as individuals age. The risk of Alzheimer's disease also increases with age.



'Illusion of Plenty' Masking Collapse of Two Key Southern California Fisheries

Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San Diego
The two most important recreational fisheries off Southern California have collapsed, according to a new study led by a researcher from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Scripps postdoctoral researcher Brad Erisman and his colleagues examined the health of regional populations of barred sand bass and kelp bass-staple catches of Southern California's recreational fishing fleet-by combining information from fishing records and other data on regional fish populations. Stocks of both species have collapsed due to a combination of overfishing of their breeding areas and changes in oceanographic conditions, the researchers found.

As they describe in the most recent edition of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, the researchers say the total amount, or biomass, of each bass species decreased 90 percent since 1980. Yet fisheries catch rates have remained stable for a number of years, even as overall population sizes dropped drastically. This is due, the authors say, to a phenomenon known as "hyperstability" in which fishing targets spawning areas at which large numbers of fish congregate, leading to a misleading high catch rate and masking a decline in the overall population.

"The problem is when fish are aggregating in these huge masses, fishermen can still catch a lot each trip, so everything looks fine-but in reality the true population is declining," said Erisman, a member of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. "So as the true abundance is declining, the fisheries data used to assess the health of the fisheries are not showing that and give no indication of a collapse-this is referred to as 'the illusion of plenty.'"



Republican Perry Appointees May Raid Public School Funds To Give Oil Refineries $135 Million Tax Break

By Marie Diamond on Sep 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

The nation’s biggest oil companies — many of them headquartered in oil-rich Texas — are raking in record profits this year and don’t need any more incentive to keep doing business. But Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and his hand-picked appointees are giving them one anyway, and literally taking money away from children and schools to pay for it.

Public education — along with Medicaid, women’s health care, and the Texas Forest Service — was gutted in the budget Perry signed this year. But the governor’s hand-picked appointees on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality look likely to raid another $67 million from public schools to give Big Oil a tax break



The top 400 Americans make more than half of all Americans combined

First Posted: 9/25/11 10:46 AM ET Updated: 9/25/11 01:15 PM ET


On Fox News Sunday, Plouffe and host Chris Wallace argued over whether the wealthiest Americans already pay too much in taxes. Wallace put up a graphic on the screen with data from the Tax Policy Center showing that the top 1 percent of Americans pay 38 percent of federal income taxes, and the top 10 percent pay 70 percent. Meanwhile, 46 percent of households pay no federal income taxes.


Those numbers have become favorites among conservatives, used by New York Times columnist David Brooks.

However, they don't tell the whole story.

First of all, the top 400 Americans make more than half of all Americans combined.

Income taxes aren't the only types of taxes people pay. There are also sales, payroll and property taxes, among others.

As David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote, the "vast majority" of American households do end up paying federal taxes, even if they don't all pay income taxes.

"Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. ... The reason is that poor families generally pay more in payroll taxes than they receive through benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. It’s not just poor families for whom the payroll tax is a big deal, either. About three-quarters of all American households pay more in payroll taxes, which go toward Medicare and Social Security, than in income taxes."

The White House, in its talking points on Obama's jobs plan, also tried to debunk the notion that the wealthiest pay an unjust share of federal taxes, noting, "And the top 400 richest Americans, all making over $110 million per year and making an average of $271 million per year, paid only 18 percent of their income in income taxes in 2008. In fact, since the mid-1990s, the share of income paid by the wealthiest 400 Americans has fallen by nearly 40 percent, from 29.9 percent in 1995, even as their average incomes roughly quadrupled."


Wall Street Protest Survives Weekend Crackdown

By Joe Deaux 09/26/11 - 05:58 PM EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The "Occupy Wall Street" protest in downtown Manhattan entered its second week on Monday after a weekend that witnessed some 80 arrests with some among the crowd feeling that sentiment was growing for their cause.

The demonstration in the Financial District began on Sept. 17, calling for a presidential commission be created to address the influence that corporate money has on politicians in Congress, according to, which initiated the event.

"Everybody's here for their own cause. Our main cause is we want the banks to pay their fair share in taxes, we don't want our social services cut and we want them to end the war, because it's a huge drain of our money and resources," one protestor said on Monday.


Video of police macing group of women


Sunday, September 25, 2011

BPA alters development of in vitro ova and could increase risk of Down syndrome

Public release date: 21-Sep-2011
Contact: Montserrat Garcia Caldes
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
BPA alters development of in vitro ova and could increase risk of Down syndrome
Bisphenol A is omnipresent in the plastic of common products such as beverage bottles, cans or baby bottles

Researchers at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with the Vall d'Hebron Hospital Fetal Tissue Bank, the Department of Gynaecology and the Research Unit of Paediatric Endocrinology, analysed the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), a polymer widely used to manufacture plastics, in an in vitro culture of ovaries. The research demonstrated that exposure to this substance gravely altered the development of oocytes and future ova, possibly diminishing the fertility of a woman's offspring and at the same time increasing the risk of Down Syndrome in following generations.

The research, published in Human Reproduction, was carried out with a culture of 21,570 in vitro oocytes. Results demonstrated that exposure to Bisphenol A in concentration levels permitted by health authorities is harmful to the fetus. BPA reduces the number of oocytes (cells which develop into ova) and therefore can affect negatively a woman's fertility and double the risk of chromosome exchange during the cell division process. Specific observations of chromosome 21 in the development of 90 oocytes revealed that exposure to BPA could increase the risk of Down Syndrome in the future offspring of the fetus.

The research provides conclusive data for the debate on how BPA affects the health of individuals. Previous studies on mice and worms demonstrated that reproduction is affected and that exposure to BPA during gestation affects the viability and quality of the cells which later become ova developing in the fetus.

For the first time, human cells were used in a research to analyse the process of cell division of the oocytes - meiosis - in which chromosomes join and exchange material, i.e. meiotic recombination. Oocytes were cultured for 7, 14 or 21 days in different environments, with the presence of BPA and in control cultures without the substance. Data obtained in vitro with human cells was practically identical to that obtained with in vivo animal models, while the effects on meiotic recombination, which could lead to the appearance of Down Syndrome, in humans are even greater than those observed in mice.

"According to our results, BPA does not directly affect the fertility of pregnant women, but that of their daughters and granddaughters. It is a multigenerational effect", explains UAB professor Montserrat Garcia Caldés, director of the research. She goes on to say that "the increase in oocyte mortality in the fetus could diminish ovarian reserve numbers and the quality of the future mother's ova. At the same time, alterations in the recombination of chromosomes in the process of cell division increase the possibility of numerical alterations, such as monosomy (only copy of a chromosome in embryo cells) or trisomy (three copies)."

Concentration levels applied in the experiments were within the safety limits marked by European (EFSA) and US (EPA) authorities. The research therefore suggests that staying within legal limits does not imply that exposure to the substance is innocuous.

"We are exposed to BPA on a daily basis, mainly through oral exposure, since we can find it in lunch boxes, beverage bottles and food storage containers", Miguel Àngel Brieño-Enríquez reminds us. First author of the article, Brieño-Enríquez, from the University of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, is now researcher at the UAB Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology. According to him, "although we generally metabolise the substance, pregnant women retain more fluids and the fetus could be affected by high concentration levels."

YouTube videos can inaccurately depict Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders

Public release date: 21-Sep-2011
Contact: Nicole Garbarini
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
YouTube videos can inaccurately depict Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders

Looking online for medical information? Viewers beware, doctors caution. After reviewing the most frequently watched YouTube videos about movement disorders, a group of neurologists found that the people in the videos often do not have a movement disorder. As described in a Letter to the Editor in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, such medical misinformation may confuse patients suffering from devastating neurological disorders and seeking health information and advice online.

Many people use the Internet as a primary resource for medical information, and YouTube, the third most visited website on the Internet, is a popular platform for patients to share personal medical stories and experiences on video.

Dozens of YouTube videos show people who believe they have movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease demonstrating and talking about their symptoms. In January 2011, neurologists at University College London began a study when patients alerted them that online videos often proposed a diagnosis and suggested therapies.

Seven neurologists from different countries and medical institutions searched YouTube using six keywords: "dystonia," "Parkinsonism," "chorea," "myoclonus," "tics" and "tremor", and found videos allegedly depicting various movement disorders. They then independently reviewed the top three percent most-watched videos that were of sufficient quality to review patient symptoms. Out of 29 videos, the majority (66 percent) were identified as showing "psychogenic" movement disorders, meaning that the abnormal movement originates from a psychological condition or mental state rather than a disease with a physical cause, such as Parkinson's. Of these videos, more than half contained advice about specific therapies to treat the movement disorder. Furthermore, the doctors reviewing the videos did so independently, yet their diagnoses agreed in 87 to 100 percent of all cases.

"Patients and doctors have to be very thoughtful and careful when looking for information on YouTube, as well as the Internet in general," commented Mark Hallett, M.D., senior investigator at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health. "There is a great deal of good information on the Internet, but one has to be careful."



Sex segregation in schools detrimental to equality

Public release date: 22-Sep-2011
Contact: Victoria M. Indivero
Penn State
Sex segregation in schools detrimental to equality

Students who attend sex-segregated schools are not necessarily better educated than students who attend coeducational schools, but they are more likely to accept gender stereotypes, according to a team of psychologists.

"This country starts from the premise that educational experiences should be open to all and not segregated in any way," said Lynn S. Liben, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Human Development and Family Studies, and Education, Penn State. "To justify some kind of segregation there must be scientific evidence that it produces better outcomes."

In the current issue of Science, Liben and her colleagues report that there is little concrete evidence to support claims that single-sex schools are a better learning environment.

"Our examination of the existing studies leads us to conclude that there is not scientific evidence for positive effects of single-sex schooling," said Liben. "That's not to say that academic outcomes are definitively worse, but neither are they definitively better. Advantages have not been demonstrated."

Some supporters of single-sex schools claim that brain differences between boys and girls require different teaching styles. But neuroscientists have found few differences between male and female brains, and none has been linked to different learning styles.

When students are segregated by sex, they are not given opportunities to work together to develop the skills needed to interact with each other. When sex segregation occurs in public schools, the students are left to infer reasons for the separation. Are girls not as good as boys in some subjects? Are boys unable to learn in cooperative settings?


Currently most sex-segregated schools are private schools, and are often cited as evidence of the advantages of single-sex schools. However, private schools require admissions testing before students enter. Entrance exams and private school status make using existing single-sex schools as examples problematic when comparing them to public schools.


tags: gender differences

Zebras vs. cattle: Not so black and white

Public release date: 22-Sep-2011
Contact: Andy Fell
University of California - Davis
Zebras vs. cattle: Not so black and white

African ranchers often prefer to keep wild grazers like zebra off the grass that fattens their cattle. But a new study by UC Davis and Kenyan researchers shows that grazing by wild animals doesn't always harm -- and can sometimes benefit -- cattle. The results are published Sept. 23 in the journal Science.

"Although savanna rangelands worldwide are managed on the premise that cattle and wildlife compete for food, there is little scientific information to support this assumption," said Wilfred Odadi, a researcher at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya.

"Our findings provide further evidence that biodiversity conservation and economic development can be simultaneously achieved in human-occupied savanna landscapes," he said.

Truman Young, a professor of plant sciences at UC Davis and senior author of the study, said the interaction between cattle and wildlife is more complicated than has been appreciated.

"When we look at the effect of wildlife on cattle, we find that they sometimes do suppress weight gain by cattle, but also sometimes enhance it," Young said.

"Generally the decision has been to exclude wild animals, but we're saying that things are not that simple," he said.

The researchers enclosed 10-acre plots of savanna rangeland inside fences to exclude wild animals (principally zebra). Then they weighed the cattle grazing inside and outside the fences to measure how much weight they put on at different times of the year.

The research team found that during the dry season, cattle that grazed with wild animals had reduced weight gain – the bottom line for ranchers. But in the wet season, cattle actually put on more weight when they grazed alongside wildlife.

The explanation is that during the wet season, grass can grow long and become rank, inaccessible and poor in nutritional value.

"When the grass grows very fast and is at risk of becoming rank, having zebras is beneficial," Young said. "They are more than willing to knock back the rank grass."

That means higher-quality, fresher grass for the cattle.

It's not yet clear whether there is a net benefit over a whole year or series of years, Young said, because conditions can vary considerably from year to year. Ranchers are beginning to explore additional ways to control rank grass, such as controlled burns.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Regulations, taxes aren't killing small business, owners say

Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011

By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Politicians and business groups often blame excessive regulation and fear of higher taxes for tepid hiring in the economy. However, little evidence of that emerged when McClatchy canvassed a random sample of small business owners across the nation.

"Government regulations are not 'choking' our business, the hospitality business," Bernard Wolfson, the president of Hospitality Operations in Miami, told The Miami Herald. "In order to do business in today's environment, government regulations are necessary and we must deal with them. The health and safety of our guests depend on regulations. It is the government regulations that help keep things in order."



The Rich Are Different: They May Be Less Empathetic

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 10, 2011

The Rich Are Different: They May Be Less Empathetic Americans may tend to think theirs is a classless society, but new research confirms that social class influences the way we think and act, and how we view the world.

Experts believe social class extends beyond our income bracket, reflecting the clothes we wear, the music we like, who we hang out with, and how we interact with others.

According to the authors of a new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, people from lower classes have fundamentally different ways of thinking about the world than people in upper classes—a fact that should figure into debates on public policy.


People who come from a lower-class background have to depend more on other people. “If you don’t have resources and education, you really adapt to the environment, which is more threatening, by turning to other people,” Keltner said.

“People who grow up in lower-class neighborhoods, as I did, will say,’ There’s always someone there who will take you somewhere, or watch your kid. You’ve just got to lean on people.’”

Wealthier people don’t have to rely on each other as much. The authors believe this causes differences that show up in psychological studies.

Researchers also suggest people from lower-class backgrounds are better at reading other people’s emotions, and that they are more likely to act altruistically.

“They give more and help more. If someone’s in need, they’ll respond,” Keltner said. When poor people see someone else suffering, they have a physiological response that is missing in people with more resources.

“What I think is really interesting about that is, it kind of shows there’s all this strength to the lower class identity: greater empathy, more altruism, and finer attunement to other people,” he says.

Of course, there are also costs to being lower-class. Health studies have found that lower-class people have more anxiety and depression and are less physically healthy.

Upper-class people are different, Keltner said.

“What wealth and education and prestige and a higher station in life gives you is the freedom to focus on the self,” he said. In psychology experiments, wealthier people don’t read other people’s emotions as well. They hoard resources and are less generous than they could be.


One implication of this, Keltner said, is that’s unreasonable to structure a society on the hope that rich people will help those less fortunate.

“One clear policy implication is, the idea of nobless oblige or trickle-down economics, certain versions of it, is bull,” Keltner said.

“Our data say you cannot rely on the wealthy to give back. The ‘thousand points of light’—this rise of compassion in the wealthy to fix all the problems of society—is improbable, psychologically.”

The ability to rise in class is the great promise of the “American Dream.” But studies have found that, as people rise in the classes, they become less empathetic.

Other research has found that as people rise in wealth, they become happier—but not as much as you’d expect.

“I think one of the reasons why is the human psyche stops feeling the need to connect and be closer to others, and we know that’s one of the greatest sources of happiness science can study,” Keltner says.


Troy Davis execution highlights witness unreliability

17:19 22 September 2011 by Andy Coghlan

Taken together, the recanted witness statements paint a picture of witnesses being bullied by police into identifying Davis as the murderer. "They made it clear that the only way they would leave me alone was if I told them what they wanted to hear," said one witness, Jeffrey Sapp.

According to Amnesty International USA, many witnesses identified Davis from a photo array after his picture had been "plastered all over the media", potentially priming the witnesses to pick him simply through prior assumptions linking his face with the crime.

The brief states that in controlled experiments and studies of real cases, misidentification occurs around a third of the time.

It cites research showing that juries tend to "overbelieve" witnesses, giving their testimony disproportionate weight over other evidence: witnesses are often mistaken about their recollection of events, but juries believe them because of their passionate conviction that they are correct.


tags: death penalty


"Science is a great many things, but in the end they all return to this: Science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not." -Jacob Bronowski


Wall Street protests continue

People who watch TV tell me there is still almost no coverage of this protest. I have heard nothing about it on NPR news.


SEPTEMBER 24, 2011, 8:20 P.M. ET
80 people arrested at 'Occupy Wall Street' protest

NEW YORK — About 80 people have been arrested as demonstrators who were camped out near the New York Stock Exchange marched through lower Manhattan.

The "Occupy Wall Street" protest is entering its second week. Demonstrators said Saturday that they are protesting bank bailouts, the mortgage crisis and Georgia's execution of Troy Davis.

At Manhattan's Union Square, police tried to corral the demonstrators using orange plastic netting. Some of the arrests were filmed and activists posted the videos online.

Police say the arrests were mostly for blocking traffic. Charges include disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But one demonstrator was charged with assaulting a police officer. Police say the officer involved suffered a shoulder injury.

Protest spokesman Patrick Bruner criticized the police response as "exceedingly violent" and said the protesters sought to remain peaceful.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Some brain wiring continues to develop well into our 20s: U of A study

Public release date: 22-Sep-2011
Contact: Raquel Maurier
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Some brain wiring continues to develop well into our 20s: U of A study
Brain development doesn't stop at adolescence as once thought

The human brain doesn't stop developing at adolescence, but continues well into our 20s, demonstrates recent research from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

It has been a long-held belief in medical communities that the human brain stopped developing in adolescence. But now there is evidence that this is in fact not the case, thanks to medical research conducted in the Department of Biomedical Engineering by researcher Christian Beaulieu, an Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions scientist, and by his PhD student at the time, Catherine Lebel. Lebel recently moved to the United States to work at UCLA, where she is a post-doctoral fellow working with an expert in brain-imaging research.

"This is the first long-range study, using a type of imaging that looks at brain wiring, to show that in the white matter there are still structural changes happening during young adulthood," says Lebel. "The white matter is the wiring of the brain; it connects different regions to facilitate cognitive abilities. So the connections are strengthening as we age in young adulthood."


The research results revealed that young adult brains were continuing to develop wiring to the frontal lobe; tracts responsible for complex cognitive tasks such as inhibition, high-level functioning and attention. The researchers speculated in their article that this may be due to a plethora of life experiences in young adulthood such as pursing post-secondary education, starting a career, independence and developing new social and family relationships.

An important observation the researchers made when reviewing the brain-imaging scan results was that in some people, several tracts showed reductions in white matter integrity over time, which is associated with the brain degrading. The researchers speculated in their article that this observation needs to be further studied because it may provide a better understanding of the relationship between psychiatric disorders and brain structure. These disorders typically develop in adolescence or young adulthood.

"What's interesting is a lot of psychiatric illness and other disorders emerge during adolescence, so some of the thought might be if certain tracts start to degenerate too soon, it may not be responsible for these disorders, but it may be one of the factors that makes someone more susceptible to developing these disorders," says Beaulieu.


Study shows soy protein reduced progression of clogged arteries in women within 5 years of menopause

Public release date: 22-Sep-2011
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Contact: Molly Cornbleet
Solae, LLC
Study shows soy protein reduced progression of clogged arteries in women within 5 years of menopause
This large scale, first-of-a-kind study will be published in the November issue of Stroke

A new study published in the November 2011 issue of Stroke reveals some promising data on the positive effects of soy protein reducing the progression of clogged arteries in women who were within five years of menopause. This study was the largest and longest randomized controlled human study conducted to-date that directly investigated the efficacy of isolated soy protein consumption on the progression of atherosclerosis (lipid deposition in the artery walls).

"These results are consistent with what we have learned through research conducted over the past decade," said Howard N. Hodis, MD, USC Keck School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "The literature demonstrates that there is a 'window of opportunity' of a potential beneficial effect on coronary heart disease for products that bind to the estrogen receptor including hormone-replacement therapy, soybean isoflavones or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) when initiated in women within 5-6 years of menopause."

The progression rate of carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) trended to be 16 percent lower on average in the isoflavone-containing soy protein group compared with the placebo group. However, in women who had experienced menopause within the past five years, isolated soy protein consumption was associated with a significant 68 percent reduction in CIMT progression compared to those consuming the placebo.


tags: heart disease

Man With Down Syndrome Beat By Police Over Colostomy Bag

September 23, 2011 1:20 pm

A twenty-two-year-old man with down syndrome is recovering from his injuries nearly a week after Miami-Dade police officers beat him outside his home.

According to police reports, a violent confrontation ensued after officers tried to handcuff Gilberto Powell to investigate a bulge they spotted in his pants.

After he was detained they realized the bulge in his waistband was a colostomy bag.

tags: police brutality

1 million more children living in poverty since 2009

Public release date: 22-Sep-2011
Contact: Lori Wright
University of New Hampshire
South hardest hit by child poverty increase

DURHAM, N.H. – Between 2009 and 2010, one million more children in America joined the ranks of those living in poverty, bringing the total to an estimated 15.7 million poor children in 2010, an increase of 2.6 million since the recession began in 2007, according to researchers from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

Furthermore, the authors estimate that nearly 1 in 4 young children -- those under age 6 -- now live in poverty. "It is important to understand young child poverty specifically, as children who are poor before age 6 have been shown to experience educational deficits, and health problems, with effects that span the life course," the researchers said.



Thousands Of Immigrant Women Forced Into Marriage

I heard this broadcast, and they said that this practice is not illegal.
I agree it is reprehensible.
But I also note that many who will say this cultural practice should not be allowed, much less accepted, in our country, are the same who accuse people who complain about cultural practices of playing extremely loud music as "racist", and say we should accept it because it is part of somebody else's culture.
Also note in the preceding article on torture by the U.S., that on of the types of torture mentioned is forcing people to listen to very loud music.

by Jennifer Ludden
September 19, 2011

A new study finds 3,000 cases of young immigrant women being forced into marriage — across 47 U.S. states — and it suggests the issue is dramatically underreported. Those who refuse can face threats of violence, ostracism from their families, and financial repercussions that can lead to homelessness. Yet, advocates say there is very little legal recourse in this country.

tags: women, culture, human rights

The screwed-up philosophy behind ‘managed lanes’

The "logic" of it is to help the haves, on the backs of the have-nots. SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

8:34 am September 23, 2011, by Jay

I have never understood the logic behind these so-called “managed lanes,” also known as Lexus lanes. Take the new project about to open on I-85 north of the Perimeter.

Here’s the theory:

You take an existing lane of interstate highway, an expensive piece of infrastructure that has already been built and paid for by taxpayers both rich and poor through gasoline taxes. You cordon that lane off, allowing access only to those who are willing and able to pay extra to use what they’ve already paid for once.

The idea, we’re told, is that even in the worst traffic, those who can afford the extra cost will be able to buy themselves a free-flowing trip at a minimum of 45 mph. And you accomplish that by raising tolls so high that by design, most people won’t be able to use it. As AJC reporter Ariel Hart notes in a story in today’s newspaper:

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of hundreds of pages of documents associated with the project and interviews with outside experts shows the project is expected to increase traffic in the regular lanes in order to to keep the HOV toll lane flowing.

The state’s own traffic and revenue study says the regular lanes are expected to gain up to 90 new vehicles per lane, per hour during rush hour, and at one location 120, making for traffic volumes of about 1,200 to 1,500 cars per hour in each lane.

However, the study insists drivers won’t notice.

Sarah Tabares, who drives I-85 daily on the way to her job at a coffee house on Indian Trail Road, scoffed at the notion that adding yet more cars to the “parking lot” she encounters on the roadway won’t make a difference she can feel. “They’re full of [it],” she said. “I can tell what season we’re in just by the traffic.” And she doesn’t understand why the state would fund a project that leaves most of the roadway’s drivers in the lurch. “I think it defeats its purpose,” she said.

In addition, the money recovered through tolls doesn’t pay for the expensive cameras and other equipment installed to convert the lane. Even worse, it doesn’t even cover the cost of operating that equipment. That additional infrastructure and operating cost is also paid by taxpayers.

So the average commuter stuck in traffic, with nothing but a sea of red brake lights ahead, can look to his or her left and see a free-flowing lane that he or she has paid to build, using equipment that he or she paid to install and operate, and know that BY DESIGN he or she has been priced out of using it.

And this is supposedly a good thing. It is such a good thing that the DOT plans to install a network of such lanes on interstates throughout the region, at considerable taxpayer expense. In most cases they will convert existing HOV lanes to Lexus lanes. In the case of the I-75 and I-575 corridor north of the Perimeter, the state this week sought bids from private companies to build an extra lane and operate it as a managed toll lane. But once again, the project won’t come close to paying for itself. Taxpayers will have to kick in an estimated $300 million to subsidize it.

How and when did this get accepted as a good idea?