Saturday, March 30, 2013

Women Make Better Decisions Than Men, Study Suggests

by Bioethics,
March 25th 2013

Women's abilities to make fair decisions when competing interests are at stake make them better corporate leaders, researchers have found.

A survey of more than 600 board directors showed that women are more likely to consider the rights of others and to take a cooperative approach to decision-making. This approach translates into better performance for their companies.


"We've known for some time that companies that have more women on their boards have better results," explains Bart. "Our findings show that having women on the board is no longer just the right thing but also the smart thing to do. Companies with few female directors may actually be shortchanging their investors."

Bart and McQueen found that male directors, who made up 75% of the survey sample, prefer to make decisions using rules, regulations and traditional ways of doing business or getting along.

Female directors, in contrast, are less constrained by these parameters and are more prepared to rock the boat than their male counterparts.

In addition, women corporate directors are significantly more inclined to make decisions by taking the interests of multiple stakeholders into account in order to arrive at a fair and moral decision. They will also tend to use cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building more often -- and more effectively -- in order to make sound decisions.

Women seem to be predisposed to be more inquisitive and to see more possible solutions. At the board level where directors are compelled to act in the best interest of the corporation while taking the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders into account, this quality makes them more effective corporate directors, explains McQueen.


Boards with high female representation experience a 53% higher return on equity, a 66% higher return on invested capital and a 42% higher return on sales (Joy et al., 2007).

Having just one female director on the board cuts the risk of bankruptcy by 20% (Wilson, 2009).


Women make other board members more civilized and sensitive to other perspectives (Fondas and Sassalos, 2000) and reduce 'game playing' (Singh, 2008)
Female directors are more likely to ask questions rather than nodding through decisions (Konrad et al., 2008).

Five Year-Olds Who Watch TV for Three or More Hours a Day More Likely to Be Antisocial: But the Risk Is Very Small | Mar 25th 2013

Five year-olds who watch TV for three or more hours a day are increasingly likely to develop antisocial behaviours, such as fighting or stealing by the age of seven, indicates research published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

But the risk is very small, say the authors, who additionally found that time spent playing computer/electronic games had no impact on behaviour.

Prolonged screen viewing time has been linked to various behavioural and emotional problems in children, say the authors, but most research has focused exclusively on television, and almost all of it has been carried out in the US.

They wanted to explore what psychological and social impact time spent watching TV and playing electronic games might have on children between the ages of five and seven.


When they were five, almost two thirds of the children watched TV for between one and three hours every day, with 15% watching more than three hours. Less than 2% watched no TV.

But at this age, they spent considerably less time playing electronic games, and only 3% spent three or more hours engaged in this activity every day.


But spending a lot of time in front of the TV was not linked to other difficulties such as emotional problems or attention issues. And spending time playing electronic games had no similar impact, the analysis showed, although this might reflect the fact that children spent less time playing games than they did watching TV, say the authors.


Arguments in the Home Linked With Babies' Brain Functioning | Mar 25th 2013

Being exposed to arguments between parents is associated with the way babies' brains process emotional tone of voice, according to a new study to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study, conducted by graduate student Alice Graham with her advisors Phil Fisher and Jennifer Pfeifer of the University of Oregon, found that infants respond to angry tone of voice, even when they're asleep.

Babies' brains are highly plastic, allowing them to develop in response to the environments and encounters they experience. But this plasticity comes with a certain degree of vulnerability -- research has shown that severe stress, such as maltreatment or institutionalization, can have a significant, negative impact on child development.


"Even during sleep, infants showed distinct patterns of brain activity depending on the emotional tone of voice we presented," says Graham.

The researchers found that infants from high conflict homes showed greater reactivity to very angry tone of voice in brain areas linked to stress and emotion regulation, such as the anterior cingulate cortex, caudate, thalamus, and hypothalamus.


Parent-Child Violence Leads to Teen Dating Violence, Study Suggests | Mar 25th 2013

Teens today are involved in intimate relationships at a much younger age and often have different definitions of what is acceptable behavior in a relationship. Violence is something that is all too common and according to researchers at Iowa State it is a reflection of the relationships teens have with their parents or their parent's partner.

"It is true that if you grow up in a violent household you have a higher likelihood of being in a violent relationship," said Brenda Lohman, lead author and an associate professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University.

The research focused on psychological violence instead of physical violence. Lohman and her colleagues discovered that psychological violence between a parent and child was more significant than a child witnessing violence between two adults in the home.

"If the parent is more aggressive toward the child, the child is more likely to be in relationships where they're being victimized or perpetrating violence against their partner a few years or even a decade later," Lohman said.


Office Workers Carry Biomarker of Potentially Harmful Flame Retardant, Study Finds | Mar 25th 2013

A flame retardant removed from children's pajamas 30 years ago but now used in polyurethane foam is prevalent in office environments, especially in older buildings, where urine testing of workers turned up widespread evidence of its biomarker, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health researchers has found.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, found that the chemical known as TDCPP -- chlorinated tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, or 'chlorinated tris' -- was present in 99 percent of dust samples taken from participants' homes, vehicles and offices, "demonstrating the widespread presence of this flame retardant in the indoor environment." The research team recruited 31 adults who worked and lived in the Boston area for the testing.


In vitro studies suggest TDCPP may be neurotoxic, and one study found that increased concentrations in dust were associated with decreased semen quality and reduced free thyroxine in men, suggesting possible effects on fertility and thyroid function. Animal studies show TDCPP is readily absorbed through both the skin and gastrointestinal tract.


Implantable Telescope Lens to Treat Macular Degeneration Available at Johns Hopkins | Mar 21st 2013


Hindman, founder and former CEO of Jiffy Lube International, is one of the approximately two million Americans who have the advanced form of AMD, which affects the region of the retina responsible for central, detailed vision, and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and legal blindness in people over the age of 65.

Now, a relatively new device, essentially an implantable telescope, is available to people like Hindman, who underwent his implantation in December 2012, and is offering hope for those "aging eyes." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT), which works like the telephoto lens of a camera, in 2010.


Hindman is one of three (two from the trial, one post-FDA approval) Wilmer patients in Maryland to have the telescope implanted to date. The device itself costs approximately $15,000, which does not include the cost of surgery and rehabilitation. However, Schein says that the IMT is covered by Medicare for eligible patients. Schein says that after the IMT implantation, patients participate in an extensive rehabilitation program that involves training them to effectively use the device. Rehabilitation postsurgery takes about six months to a year.


Schein cautions though that the surgery is not for everyone and in keeping with FDA guidelines potential candidates must be 75 years of age or older, have irreversible dry AMD and no longer be a candidate for drug treatment. The guidelines also exclude those who have had previous cataract surgery in the eye to be implanted.


[Wow, seems I was lucky I could only afford to have one cataract fixed!]

Road Traffic Pollution as Serious as Passive Smoke in the Development of Childhood Asthma | Mar 21st 2013

New research conducted in 10 European cities has estimated that 14% of chronic childhood asthma is due to exposure to traffic pollution near busy roads.

The results are comparable to the burden associated with passive smoking: the World Health Organization estimates that between 4% and 18% of asthma cases in children are linked to passive smoking.


No link between 'too many vaccines' and autism, CDC study says

by Rachael Rettner
Mar. 29, 2013

Despite concerns by some parents that their children receive “too many vaccines too soon,” a new study finds that many shots, even on the same day, do not increase the risk of autism.

In the first six months of life, children receive as many as 19 vaccine doses of six different vaccines, and by the time they are 6 years old, a total of 25 doses from 10 vaccines.

In a 2011 survey, about a third of parents expressed concerns that their child received too many vaccines before age 2, and too many vaccines on a single day.

Previous studies have found no link between the number of vaccines a child receives and their risk of several neurological conditions (though these studies did not specifically consider autism).

The new study went a step further by looking at the link between a child's total exposure to antigens — the proteins in vaccines that stimulate the body's immune system — and his or her risk of autism.

The researchers looked at total antigen exposure rather than the total number of vaccines kids received because, at the root of parents' concerns is the idea that "somehow they provide too much immunological stimulation, more so than a young child's immune system can handle," said study researcher Dr. Frank DeStefano, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The sheer number of vaccines would not be as good a measure of immunological response because vaccines contain different numbers of antigens, and some protect against more than one disease, DeStefano said.)


Kids are exposed to many viruses and other pathogens that stimulate their immune systems in the same way vaccines do, and it's been estimated that kids could theoretically receive thousands of vaccines at once, the researchers said.

Although children today receive more vaccines than children in the mid-90s, the vaccines used today contain fewer antigens. So while children in the mid-90s were exposed to between 3,000 and 15,250 antigens in the first two years of life, children today are exposed to about 315 antigens, the researchers said.

Real Wages Decline

by Kenneth Thomas,
March 24th 2013

Your read it here first: Real wages fell 0.2% in 2012, down from $295.49 (1982-84 dollars) to $294.83 per week, according to the 2013 Economic Report of the President. Thus, a 1.9% increase in nominal wages was more than wiped out by inflation, marking the 40th consecutive year that real wages have remained below their 1972 peak.

Yet no one in the media noticed, or at least none thought it newsworthy. I searched the web and the subscription-only Nexis news database, and there are literally 0 stories on this. So I meant it when I said you read it here first. In fact, there was little press coverage of the report at all, in sharp contrast to last year.


Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

by: Elizabeth Agnvall, from: AARP Bulletin, February 14, 2011

Adults with hearing loss are significantly more likely than adults with normal hearing to develop dementia, according to a new study out today from researchers at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging. The study — which finds that the greater the hearing loss, the higher the risk — may open a new avenue of research into dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Men and women in the study who experienced severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. But even mild hearing loss doubled the risk of dementia.


Researchers found that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were much more likely to develop dementia by the end, even after taking into account age and other risk factors. The risk of dementia only began to rise once hearing loss began to interfere with the ability to communicate — for example, in a noisy restaurant. The study also found that hearing loss increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the two were not as strongly linked as hearing loss and dementia.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Just Because Climate Change Is Irreversible Doesn’t Mean It Is Unstoppable

By Ryan Koronowski on Mar 29, 2013

There is widespread confusion about the near-term benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that misunderstanding may be complicating the formidable task of reducing manmade global warming, argue two climate researchers in Science in a story published Thursday.

The scientists, Damon Matthews of Concordia University in Montreal and Susan Solomon of MIT, make the case that policymakers, the media, and to some extent the public have misunderstood the implications of two key concepts — the “irreversibility” of climate change, and the amount of global warming already in the pipeline due to historical greenhouse gas emissions.

The duo challenge what they say have become pervasive misinterpretations of recent scientific results, including findings from a 2010 National Research Council report they helped write that said that the amount of global warming to date is essentially irreversible on the timescale of about 1,000 years. That study has been repeatedly cited by policymakers to justify delays in tackling carbon emissions by making global warming appear to be inexorable, regardless of what actions are taken.

But Matthews and Solomon rebut that justification, writing instead that, “the irreversibility of past changes does not mean that future warming is unavoidable.”


Bombshell IMF Study: United States Is World’s Number One Fossil Fuel Subsidizer

By Jeff Spross on Mar 29, 2013

Between directly lowered prices, tax breaks, and the failure to properly price carbon, the world subsidized fossil fuel use by over $1.9 trillion in 2011 — or eight percent of global government revenues — according to a study released this week by the International Monetary Fund.

The biggest offender was by far the United States, clocking in at $502 billion. China came in second at $279 billion, and Russia was third at $116 billion.


Conservatives Laugh As Liberals Attack President Over Non-Existent ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

It does say "the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law,", but then goes on to qualify this, so it's hard to know exactly how this would play out.

I find it interesting that ALEC seems to be fueling the drive to demonize Monsanto,"because Monsanto is one of the largest corporate supporters of climate change science, and is actively working to help ring the alarm." (But I do think the Round-Up resistant crops are a negative.) I do have qualms that disease-resistance genes could lead to resistance by disease-causing organisms to natural defenses.

I have wondered how much of the drive to keep the focus on the BP oil spill is to distract people from the actions of other oil companies which are funding the global warming denialists, and to punish BP for supporting the scientific evidence for climate change.

It is distressingly easy to manipulate many people, liberals or conservatives, against their own interests. Eg., post a Facebook claim that a copyright protection law is a pro-censorship law, and you can get songwriters signing petitions against it.

By Nathaniel Downes

If you’ve been on the internet any time since Tuesday, it is likely that you have seen something about what is being called the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’ It always looks as if it is that the President has signed a bill giving complete immunity to the Missouri based corporation. But even a casual glance into this, and the whole argument falls apart.

What is being referred to is an amendment to the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013″ signed into law on Tuesday. This act was implemented to avoid a government shutdown on Wednesday, by authorizing the president to pay the nations bills through October, when the new fiscal year begins. The particular provision being pointed to in this act is Section 735, within the agricultural portion of the bill. This section reads as follows:

SEC. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, ..... Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.


A bit wordy and complex, as laws tend to be. However, this is not a new measure. This particular section is already law, passed as part of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill, and was carried forward when that bill was merged in with numerous other ones to make this current bill. What this particular measure does is allow the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary deregulation status for a crop in the event that the crop is under litigation against the USDA’s approval of deregulation status, for the time period that the case is working through the courts. This means that attempts to damage a competitor, by filing suit against their crop, will not happen. Anybody can file a lawsuit in the United States. It would be incredibly easy for a competing firm to file a lawsuit against such a status for a crop grown by their competition, to effectively freeze that competition out of the market for the years needed for a case to work its way through the courts. This measure simply ensures that will not happen.


This measure also relieves a lot from the USDA’s legal department. Months, and millions of dollars, can be spent fighting injunctions in the courts before the case ever goes before the judge. By this measure, that money can be saved, and the legal proceedings sped up accordingly.


Researching the origin of the measure finds us going to 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled in Monsanto vs Geertson Seed Farms that lower courts cannot prohibit the planting of crops during the litigation process. This rule is just the codification of the courts ruling, enabling the regulators to have a say in the process. Without it, there would be no process, and companies which do happen to produce a dangerous crop would have a free hand in planting. By codifying this, now the Secretary of Agriculture has final say, and while can grant such a waiver, now can, thanks to the Plant Protection Act which this derives its authority under, also refuse to grant such a waiver. In other words, now there is a protection put in place, while before there was not.

But where did these attacks against the provision come from? You find the origins among the darker corners of the internet, with the shady astroturf groups more commonly associated with organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heritage Foundation. Conservative organizations fuel the idea, and let left-wing pundits go into the fight to attack… the bill meant to prevent the government from shutting down. but why Monsanto, why use that label when the bill could as easily apply to ConAgra, US Sugar, or one of hundreds of other agricultural businesses?

It’s because Monsanto is one of the largest corporate supporters of climate change science, and is actively working to help ring the alarm.


Even snopes was quick to discredit the claims about the bill, finding it a mixture of fact and fiction, with the main claims of it granting immunity from prosecution as false.

Not only that, but this bill passed both houses of Congress with a filibuster proof majority. Even if it was as bad as some people are claiming the President couldn’t have vetoed it if he wanted to.

The bill as signed did not provide immunity to Monsanto or any other company, it only brought US Code into compliance with the Supreme Courts ruling, while also speeding up the litigation process over unregulated food crops.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Obama Can’t Fix Congress’ Monsanto Giveaway with an Executive Order

I have seen several Facebook posts about the so-called "Monsanto Protection Act" being signed into law by President Obama, excoriating President Obama and members of Congress who voted for it. This is deceitful, unfair language. (I'm not defending the provision itself.) When I tried to address this rationally, some commenters ranted that the President should have vetoed the whole bill in order to stop this one provision, shutting down the government, and hurting many of our poorest people. This kind of stuff from people who call themselves "liberals", being extremism mirror images of tea baggers, is why I stopped calling myself a Liberal and started calling myself a Progressive.

By: Sarah JonesMar. 27th, 2013

The “Monsanto Protection Act” (section 735) was attached (anonymously) as a rider to a short term spending bill (HR 933). President Obama signed it into law on March 26th.

Food activists (and generally sane people) are outraged, as they should be. 250,000 voters signed a petition opposing the act and others called for Obama to strike the Monsanto provision (aka, “biotech rider”) from the spending bill.


The problem is that the President does not have line item veto power; it’s all or nothing. This is called a poison pill. As part of the short term spending bill, President Obama had to sign the resolution in order to prevent the federal government from shutting down today, March 27, when the current funding was set to expire. He doesn’t get to cherry pick what parts he signs into law. He either lets the goverment shut down or he signs the poison pill.

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013
By Natasha Lennard

Updated, March 28: A number of readers have requested to know exactly where in the HR 933 they might find the provision dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act.” It is Section 735 in the bill, the full text of which can be read here.


Original post: Slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which passed through Congress last week, was a small provision that’s a big deal for Monsanto and its opponents. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks and has thus been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” by activists who oppose the biotech giant. President Barack Obama signed the spending bill, including the provision, into law on Tuesday

The Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food are directing blame at the Senate Appropriations Committee and its chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. According to reports, many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the spending bill, HR 933; they voted in order to avert a government shutdown.

“It sets a terrible precedent,” noted the International Business Times. “Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Income Growth For Bottom 90 Percent Of Americans Averaged Just $59 Over 4 Decades

by Jillian Berm,
March 25th 2013

Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans only grew by $59 on average between 1966 and 2011 (when you adjust those incomes for inflation), according to an analysis by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston for Tax Analysts. During the same period, the average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071, Johnston found.

To put that into perspective: if you say the $59 boost is equivalent to one inch, then the incomes of the top 10 percent of Americans rose by 168 feet


Incomes for the bottom fifth of Americans, for instance, grew about 20 percent between 1979 and 2007, according to a 2011 study from the Congressional Budget Office. During the same period, members of the top 1 percent saw their incomes grow by 275 percent.

Another way to illustrate the huge disparity: the six heirs to the Walmart fortune had a net worth equivalent to the bottom 41.5 percent of Americans combined in 2010, according to an analysis from Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute.

Stopping Ear Worms

Ear worms are those songs that get stuck in your head, playing over, and over, and ...


According to music psychologist Ira Hyman, who recently published a paper on earworm science in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, songs function much like puzzles in our brains: Music is catchy because its patterns and rhythms engage our minds like a crossword puzzle would. Listening to it -- really hearing songs' lyrics, particularly when they come in the form of a repetitive chorus -- requires some concentration, but not much of it.


there may, scientists say, be a way to stop them. Hyman and his colleagues figured that if earworms function like puzzles, they might be vanquished by puzzles, too. After conducting tests on a group of (hopefully extremely well-compensated) test subjects, the researchers determined that cognitive subterfuge is the best way to rid the mind of sticky songs. To defeat an earworm, they suggest, you just have to fool your brain into solving another puzzle -- a non-musical puzzle. The best way to do that? Give it actual puzzles to concentrate on. Do a quick crossword. Tackle an anagram. Spend a few minutes, even, reading a novel. Replace the earworm with another worm, tricking your mind out of its need to finish what it started by giving it something else -- something simple, but not too simple -- to focus on.


'Largest Publicly Announced DDoS Attack' Ever Affecting Internet Users Worldwide

Supposedly it is not affecting most people, but I've certainly noticed a slowness when I'm on the internet the last few days.

By RAPHAEL SATTER Posted: 03/27/2013

A record-breaking cyberattack targeting an anti-spam watchdog group has sent ripples of disruption coursing across the Web, experts said Wednesday.

Spamhaus, a site responsible for keeping ads for counterfeit Viagra and bogus weight-loss pills out of the world's inboxes, said it had been buffeted by the monster denial-of-service attack since mid-March, apparently from groups angry at being blacklisted by the Swiss-British group.

"It is a small miracle that we're still online," Spamhaus researcher Vincent Hanna said.

Denial-of-service attacks overwhelm a server with traffic — like hundreds of letters being jammed through a mail slot at the same time. Security experts measure those attacks in bits of data per second. Recent cyberattacks — like the ones that caused persistent outages at U.S. banking sites late last year — have tended to peak at 100 billion bits per second.

But the furious assault on Spamhaus has shattered the charts, clocking in at 300 billion bits per second, according to San Francisco-based CloudFlare Inc., which Spamhaus has enlisted to help it weather the attack.

"It was likely quite a bit more, but at some point measurement systems can't keep up," CloudFlare chief executive Matthew Prince wrote in an email.

Patrick Gilmore of Akamai Technologies said that was no understatement.

"This attack is the largest that has been publicly disclosed — ever — in the history of the Internet," he said.


Stop ALEC from making it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms

Stop ALEC from making it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms.
Please consider signing the on-line petition:

By Casey Elofson – Posted on March 21, 2013

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative legislature and business advocacy group, in conjunction with meat and poultry industries, are lobbying hard throughout the country to pass bills that punish the investigative filming, photographing and sound recording of animal cruelty offenses that take place in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Some of these bills being pushed would prohibit animal rights advocacy members from “lying” on job applications in order to get behind the closed slaughterhouse doors and would also make it illegal to record or photograph when unknown to a plant. States such as Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania would deem these recordings as being “criminal.”

Several other state laws are being shopped, including in California, that would require that any animal abuse footage be surrendered to law officials within 48 hours, or risk being fined.

Activists claim this is a ruse by the meat industry, since 24-48 hours is not enough time to accurately obtain incriminating images that could be punishable under federal food handling and safety laws. It’s instead a way to simply turn the heat off unlawful animal handling since the meat and poultry industries often claim these abuses to be “isolated circumstances”.

With only 48 hours to prove an animal injustice, it would seem that way. This time period seems too convenient for ALEC lobbyists to get away with animal murders.

When cruel and disturbing undercover footage is publicly released, it’s no wonder why the agriculture industry wants to keep these videos from surfacing and fine the people who film them. For example, a video like one reported from Vermont that shows veal calves being skinned alive and mercilessly tossed onto a heap of piling high cow caracasses.

Or like in California, the group Compassion Over Killing released captured factory footage that revealed a worker stepping on a cows nostrils to suffocate it to death, after a euthanization device failed, causing the Fresno factory to halt production.

The filming of devastating acts of indecency against animals such as this shouldn’t be punished; people have a right to know how their food is being handled. These bills are trying to deny the rights that consumers have to be educated on where their next meal is coming from. The documenting of the industry is simply giving consumers another way to make an informed decision on their own food.

Laws like these that hope to suppress whistleblowing within the agriculture industry that reveal animal cruelty situations were named “Ag-gag Laws” by New York Times columnist Mark Bittman in 2011.


It seems as though these Ag-gag laws are a reaction to the bad publicity that ensues when the footage is published, but if the cruelty ended, the worry and stress over secret documentation wouldn’t matter and wouldn’t be a concern to factory owners.


If factory farms have nothing to hide, then they have no reason to duck behind organizations like ALEC and continue animal cruelty crimes in the shadows of an Ag-gag law.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms

This is scary because of the methane hydrates in the deep ocean. When it gets warm enough, they will melt, releasing methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. It might already be happening.

By Climate Guest Blogger on Mar 25, 2013

By Dana Nuccitelli via Skeptical Science.

A new study of ocean warming has just been published in Geophysical Research Letters by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén (2013). There are several important conclusions which can be drawn from this paper.

Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years. This is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.
As suspected, much of the ‘missing heat’ Kevin Trenberth previously talked about has been found in the deep oceans. Consistent with the results of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), this study finds that 30% of the ocean warming over the past decade has occurred in the deeper oceans below 700 meters, which they note is unprecedented over at least the past half century.


State-Level Tax Cuts Don’t Boost Job Growth, Study Says

By Travis Waldron posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Mar 25, 2013

A slew of Republican governors have proposed massive tax cuts that they say will help generate job and economic growth in their states, with some pushing for the abolition of income taxes altogether. That is a misguided approach, though, according to an analysis of past tax cuts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The five states that implemented deep tax cuts during the 1990s experienced slower job growth over the next economic cycle than states that did not, and none of those states experienced income growth that exceeded inflation, CBPP found:

Similarly, the five states that enacted the deepest tax cuts during the boom years of the middle and late 1990s saw job growth over the next full economic cycle (2000-2007) of less than 0.3 percent per year, on average, compared to 1.0 percent for the other states (see graph). They also had slower income growth than the rest of the nation on average.


CBPP’s report also noted that of eight major reports that studied the effects of state-level tax cuts on economic growth, six found that the cuts did not spur growth. Another found inconsistent results and only one supported the idea.

Still, Republicans in Kansas, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Nebraska are pushing massive tax cuts that largely benefit corporations and the wealthy under the banner of boosting economic growth. Those tax cuts will leave lower and middle class families with higher tax rates and fewer services on which they depend. What they won’t deliver, however, is a stronger state-level economy.

SC Republican says veteran should have ‘come home in a body bag’

Todd Kincannon
March 25, 2013
By: David Phillips

South Carolina Republican Todd Kincannon who is the former head of the South Carolina Republican Party, used his Twitter feed to attack former Iraqi war veteran Michael Prysner, saying that the veteran should have “come home in a body bag”.

@ToddKincannon March 24

.@MikePrysner You are an Iraq veteran? Shame you didn't come home in a body bag.

Kincannon tweeted his reply to Michael Prysner after he made some comments about Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez who died last week, and a Police Officer who Prysner called a “coward and a sociopath.”

The South Carolinian Republican also went on to say in another tweet about Michael Prysner, “I wish the Iraqis had better aim with his ass”.

@ToddKincannon March 24

“I wish the Iraqis had better aim with his ass. Yes, I hope if that guy is ever in combat again, the enemy splatters his brains JFK-style. He deserves it.”


And if you are looking for any comments from the South Carolina Republican Party distancing themselves from this man and his comments, none have been found as of this writing.

Don't Ticket A Homeless Man For Searching For Food

If you would like to sign a petition protesting this, click on the following link:

Earlier this month, James Kelly, a 44-year-old homeless vet, was so hungry that he was driven to digging into the trash to find his next meal in Houston, Texas.

He made the mistake of doing this in a trash bin near Houston City Hall. For that, he received a citation from a Houston police officer that charged him with "disturbing the contents of a garbage can in (the) downtown district."


Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky.
They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.-Studs Terkel

Rising inequality

This is from a speech by Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin:

Focusing on Low- and Moderate-Income Working Americans: ... Challenges Posed by Labor Market Conditions

The Great Recession stands out for the magnitude of job losses we experienced throughout the downturn. These factors have hit low- and moderate-income Americans the hardest. The poverty rate has risen sharply since the onset of the recession, after a decade of relative stability, and it now stands at 15 percent--significantly higher than the average over the past three decades.1 And those who are fortunate enough to have held onto their jobs have seen their hourly compensation barely keep pace with the cost of living over the past three years.2 ...

About two-thirds of all job losses resulting from the recession were in moderate-wage occupations, such as manufacturing, skilled construction, and office administration jobs. However, these occupations have accounted for less than one-quarter of subsequent job gains. The declines in lower-wage occupations--such as retail sales and food service--accounted for about one-fifth of job loss, but a bit more than one-half of subsequent job gains. Indeed, recent job gains have been largely concentrated in lower-wage occupations such as retail sales, food preparation, manual labor, home health care, and customer service.3

Furthermore, wage growth has remained more muted than is typical during an economic recovery. To some extent, the rebound is being driven by the low-paying nature of the jobs that have been created. ... In fact, while average wages have continued to increase steadily for persons who have remained employed all along, the average wage for new hires have actually declined since 2010


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Republican ‘tax reform’ in Georgia will mean big tax hike for many

by Jay Bookman,
March 15th 2013

If you want to pay higher taxes, (Republican) state Sen. David Shafer, the Senate president pro tem from Gwinnett County, has just the plan for you. He has proposed two amendments to the state constitution that, if approved by voters, would lead to significantly higher taxes on the vast majority of Georgia households, while sharply reducing taxes on the wealthiest.

That ought to be controversial under any circumstances. As it is, lower- and middle-income Georgia households already pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in state and local taxes than do the wealthy. The Shafer amendments would make that disparity considerably worse.

First, let’s take a look at the current disparity. According to a study of state tax structures by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, middle-class Georgians — those with incomes of $15,000 to $80,000 — today pay roughly 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes. In contrast, the top 1 percent — with an average income of $983,000 — pay less than 5 percent of their income. That’s barely half the rate paid by lower-income Georgians.

The reason for that disparity is clear. Unlike the federal government, Georgia raises roughly a third of its revenue from the sales tax, and the sales tax always hits the poor and middle class much harder than it does the wealthy.

Again, the ITEP report documents the disparity. The richest 1 percent of Georgia households today pay just 0.8 percent of their income through the state sales tax and excise taxes. In contrast, the sales tax takes 4 to 6 percent of the income of middle-class households, because unlike the wealthy they tend to spend most of their income, and they tend to spend it on taxable items rather than services.


Women Report They Were Paid To Say They Had Sex With Senator | Mar 19th 2013

Dominican police report that three women who claimed they had sex with Senator Robert Menendez (R-NJ) now have said their claims were false and they were paid to make them.

Police spokesman Maximo Baez said the women were hired by a Dominican reporter and paid up to $425 to say the junior senator from New Jersey hired them for sex. One escort involved in the case first recanted in early March after an FBI investigation found no evidence to substantiate the claims.


The women first made the allegations in videos posted on Tucker Carlson’s right-wing site The Daily Caller.


The charge from the right of soliciting prostitutes has overshadowed the grand jury investigation into Menendez’s association to campaign donor Dr. Salomon Melgen, who allegedly overbilled for Medicare treatments.


Bachmann Falsely Accuses Obama Of Doing What She Does

By Igor Volsky on Mar 16, 2013

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) criticized President Obama’s so-called life of excess at the White House


Obama has actually one of the lowest net worths of any American president, and has less wealth than Republicans like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Bachmann and her husband Marcus have also done well for themselves and have an estimated net worth of between $1.3 million and $2.8 million.

Bachmann, meanwhile, has faced criticism for refusing to pay $5,000 to five staffers from her failed presidential bid, even though she has more than $2 million in her campaign account.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sugary Drinks Linked To 180,000 Annual Deaths Around The World

by Tara Culp-Ressler
March 20th 2013

New research finds that the consumption of sugary drinks and sodas contributes to about 180,000 obesity-related deaths around the world — including the deaths of about 25,000 adult Americans — each year.

According to a new study presented on Tuesday at a meeting of the American Heart Association, one out of every 100 obesity-related deaths around the world can be tied to sugary drinks, which directly exacerbate health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Specifically, the over-consumption of those beverages increased global deaths from diabetes by 133,000, from cardiovascular disease by 44,000 and from cancer by 6,000.

Although the United States doesn’t currently have the highest rate of deaths associated with sugary drinks — that dubious distinction goes to Mexico, where people consume more sugar-sweetened beverages than anywhere else in the world — Americans still get the majority of their calories from those type of drinks. The experts who contributed to the study explained that’s a big issue because those calories don’t provide any nutritional value,


Flu kills 105 children; most not vaccinated, CDC says

by Maggie Fox,
March 22nd 2013

Influenza has killed 105 children this year, federal officials reported on Friday, and almost none of them had been vaccinated against the virus.

That’s triple the number who died during last year’s flu season. But flu deaths fluctuate a lot and it’s not anywhere near the worst season for child deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in its weekly report on influenza.

“We are getting close to the end of the flu season now but it’s not over,” says CDC flu expert Dr. Michael Jhung.

Deaths from flu and pneumonia are “barely” above the annual level designated as “epidemic”, he said. “We get an epidemic of flu every year,” Jhung added in a telephone interview. “It’s just the flu season. We assign the name epidemic to it.”

Officials reported that six children died of flu last week, the CDC said. That brings the total to 105 for this season, compared to 34 last year. But in the 2010-2011 flu season 122 died, and when the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit in 2009-2010, it killed 282 U.S. children.


Most of the children who died – 90 percent of them – had not been vaccinated against flu.

This may be confusing, as CDC had reported that the flu vaccine was not especially effective in those most at risk from flu – the elderly. But Jhung says it protects children pretty well.

“In the senior age group it didn’t do as well, but in the children who should have been vaccinated, it actually worked pretty well,” Jhung said. A vaccinated child was 64 percent less likely to be hospitalized with flu this year, or to need to see a doctor for symptoms.

Of the children who died, 60 percent were at unusually high risk for flu complications.

“Children younger than 5 years of age and children of any age with certain chronic health conditions, including asthma or other lung disorders, heart disease, or a neurologic or neurodevelopmental disorder are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu infection,” CDC says’

That means 40 percent were perfectly healthy.


Flu kills anywhere between 3,000 and 49,000 people a year — it varies a lot, the CDC says — and people over 65 are far more likely to die from flu than any other age group.

Wrongly jailed for 23 years, freed man suffers heart attack a day later

How sad. I hope he has a good recovery.

March 23, 2013

David Ranta has suffered a massive heart attack just two days after being exonerated of murder and leaving prison for the first time in 23 years, his attorney told


Ranta was freed from prison Thursday after serving 23 years of a 37.5 year sentence for the murder of Brooklyn rabbi Chaskel Werzberger in 1990.


Over the last two decades the case against Ranta began to crumble. In 2011 an eyewitness, who was a child at the time of the murder, came forward to say he had been coached to pick Ranta out of a line up. A subsequent investigation by the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office determined Ranta's case had been mishandled by police.


Prosecutors say they now suspect the murderer is man who died two months after Werzberger was killed. They did not name him.

Too much tea causes unusual bone disease

Wow, I wouldn't have been able to stand this amount of caffeine.

by Rachael Rettner
Mar. 20, 2013

A 47-year-old Michigan woman developed a bone disease rarely seen in the U.S. after she drank a pitcher of tea made from at least 100 tea bags daily, for 17 years, researchers report.

The Detroit woman visited the doctor after experiencing pain in her lower back, arms, legs and hips for five years.

X-rays revealed areas of very dense bone on the spinal vertebrae and calcifications of ligaments in her arm, said study researcher Dr. Sudhaker D. Rao, a physician at Henry Ford Hospital who specializes in endocrinology and bone and mineral metabolism.

The researchers suspected the woman had skeletal fluorosis, a bone disease caused by consuming too much fluoride (a mineral found in tea as well as drinking water).

The patient's blood levels of fluoride were four times higher than what would be considered normal, the researchers said.

Skeletal fluorosis is endemic in regions of the world with naturally high levels of fluoride in drinking water, including some parts of India and China, but is rare in Europe and North America. (Low levels of fluoride are added to drinking water in the United States to prevent cavities, but aren't high enough to cause fluorosis.)


A few other cases of skeletal fluorosis caused by tea drinking have been reported in the United States. In these cases, patients typically drank a gallon of tea a day, Rao said.


Pending Comments

I checked for pending comments and saw some I wanted to publish to the blog, but the Publish button wasn't showing. Maybe because I'm on a slow connection and things don't always load all the way. I'l try again another time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


"Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love." - Julian Assange

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A dramatic greening of the Arctic over the past 30 years

Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:30 PM GMT on March 18, 2013

A remarkable transformation in the vegetation of the Arctic has occurred over the past 30 years, according to a study of satellite data published on March 10, 2013, in Nature Climate Change. The authors found that Arctic vegetation growth and temperatures in 2011 resembled what occurred 250 - 430 miles farther to the south back in 1982. That's the approximate distance in latitude between San Francisco and San Diego, or Washington D.C. and Atlanta. More greening occurred in Eurasia than North America, and the Arctic's new greenness is visible on the ground as an increasing abundance of tall shrubs and trees. Large patches of vigorously productive vegetation now span a third of the northern landscape, an area about equal to the contiguous United States. "Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more," said co-author Dr. Ranga Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth and Environment, in a NASA press release. "In the north's Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems." The changes in the Arctic's vegetation are being driven by human-caused global warming, which is occurring in the Arctic at more than double the rate of the rest of the planet. This so-called "Arctic amplification" is due, in part, to the increased melting of ice and snow near the pole. When ice and snow melt, they uncover darker surfaces underneath, which absorb more sunlight and increase Arctic temperatures in a vicious cycle which melts even more ice and snow. Using 17 climate models, the researchers predicted that a continuation of warming in the Arctic in coming decades could lead to over a 1300 mile latitudinal shift in Arctic vegetation zones by the year 2100, compared to the period 1951 - 1980. That's a distance greater than the north-south extent of the contiguous United States. However, more frequent forest fires, increased pest outbreaks, and summertime droughts due to a warming climate might slow down Arctic plant growth.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Republican CPAC Participant Defends Slavery

Is the Conservative interpretation of How to Win Friends and Influence People?

by Scott Keyes,
March 15th 2013

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — A panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee on Republican minority outreach exploded into controversy on Friday afternoon, after an audience member defended slavery as good for African-Americans.

The exchange occurred after an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.

After the exchange, Terry muttered under his breath, “why can’t we just have segregation?” noting the Constitution’s protections for freedom of association.

ThinkProgress spoke with Terry, who sported a Rick Santorum sticker and attended CPAC with a friend who wore a Confederate Flag-emblazoned t-shirt, about his views after the panel. Terry maintained that white people have been “systematically disenfranchised” by federal legislation.

When asked by ThinkProgress if he’d accept a society where African-Americans were permanently subservient to whites, he said “I’d be fine with that.” He also claimed that African-Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the Tea Parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was.

At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”


Studies tie stress from storms, war to heart risks

AP Chief Medical Writer / March 10, 2013

Stress does bad things to the heart. New studies have found higher rates of cardiac problems in veterans with PTSD, New Orleans residents six years after Hurricane Katrina and Greeks struggling through that country’s financial turmoil.

Disasters and prolonged stress can raise ‘‘fight or flight’’ hormones that affect blood pressure, blood sugar and other things in ways that make heart trouble more likely, doctors say. They also provoke anger and helplessness and spur heart-harming behaviors like eating or drinking too much.


They were free of major heart disease and diabetes when researchers checked their Veterans Administration medical records from 2009 and 2010.

Checked again about two years later, 35 percent of those with PTSD but only 19 percent of those without it had developed insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and hardening of the arteries.

Doctors also saw higher rates of metabolic syndrome — a collection of heart disease risk factors that include high body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. About 53 percent of veterans with PTSD but only 37 percent of those without it had several of these symptoms.

The numbers are estimates and are not as important as the trend — more heart risk with more stress, said one study leader, Dr. Ramin Ebrahimi, a cardiologist at the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center and a professor at UCLA.


Tulane Medical Center doctors led a study of their hospital’s patients that suggests heart attack incidence is three times higher in New Orleans than it was in the two years before the 2005 storm.


A third study found that heart attacks rose sharply in the Messinia area of southwestern Greece since January 2008, the start of that country’s financial crisis.


Heart attack incidence rose 40 percent among women, who have higher unemployment rates than men and tend to be more responsible for child care — a double burden of stress, said the lead researcher, Dr. Emmanouil Makaris.


For those hit by natural disasters in 2012, IRS can help

by Cynthia Ramnarace

Residents in areas that suffered through one of the 10 federally declared disaster areas in 2012 can deduct the value of their lost property on their tax returns.

For this reason, the 177,000 people in the Sandy corridor and some 64,000 other storm victims might actually be looking forward to dealing with the Internal Revenue Service this tax season. But get ready, because like all things storm-related, there's going to be lots of paperwork - and tissues - involved.

"It's so emotional," says Judy Strauss, an enrolled agent (IRS-licensed preparer) in Cobleskill, N.Y. "But people just have to take a deep breath and do it. I tell people to keep a piece of paper by the bed. Every time you wake up in the middle of the night and remember something else you've lost, write it down."

Timing your return
If you were in a declared federal disaster area, you can file an amended return for the 2011 tax year and tuck your Sandy losses into that, or you can simply claim them on your 2012 return. (You can find a complete list of the qualifying storms and areas at the FEMA website.)


How to stay poor on Spotify

From singer/songwriter on Facebook:

Kurt Scobie
Friday at 3:00pm ·

Wow! 58 CENTS!! Must've had a TON of streams on @Spotify this month! Seriously. 2,000 plays online = about $0.58 in royalties

Children's severe food allergies fade after one doc's new treatment

Note this should only be done under a qualified doctor's care.

by Lisa Flam
Mar. 14, 2013

An alarming one in every 13 kids in America has a food allergy, meaning the slightest contact with certain foods can be life-threatening, but there's new hope for kids with allergies thanks to a radical new treatment. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren reports.


The Northern California couple found a doctor working on a treatment called oral immunotherapy, which would be used to try to knock out most of Tessa’s food allergies at once, by desensitizing her to those foods. In just four months last year, the experimental regimen, administered as part of a clinical trial, had worked.

Tessa, under the care of Dr. Kari Nadeau, a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., had become the world’s first person to be desensitized to more than one allergen at the same time, according to The New York Times Magazine, which featured the breakthrough in a March 10 cover story.

The magazine described Tessa’s treatment, which involved taking a powerful drug that suppresses allergic reactions and consuming a daily dose of small amounts of the foods she was allergic to. Her parents monitored her for two hours each night, and the doses were gradually increased in the hospital.


“This treatment is really amazing,” Thernstrom said on TODAY. “Dr. Nadeau doesn't use the word ‘cure’ because she's a scientist and she's very careful.

“They use the word ‘desensitizing’ the child and having them ‘tolerate’ the food,” Thernstrom said. “But the fact is, from a parent point of view, it is a cure. Your child is eating the food and as long as your child eats the food every day, they're done with their allergies.”

There are, however, required daily maintenance doses so that patients do not regain the allergy, the magazine notes. Nadeau told the magazine that sensitivity can return if someone is off the maintenance doses for three days.


[See the the link above information on enrolling in similar trials]

New Poultry Plant Rule Would Give Food Inspectors 1/3 Of A Second To Examine A Chicken

This proposal is crazy. Businesses often do unethical things in order to increase their profits, including actions that are dangerous to our health. To depend on them to do most of their own food inspection is nutty.

by Aviva Shen,
March 14th 2013

A new food inspection rule proposed by the US Department of Agriculture would let poultry plants conduct their own inspections, removing federal food inspectors from the assembly line. At a House appropriations oversight hearing on Wednesday, Food Safety and Inspection Service administrators argued the move would save taxpayers money and allow the department to focus on testing for pathogens like e. coli and salmonella.

But other FSIS inspectors working in poultry plants piloting the new rule protest that public health is sacrificed by outsourcing inspections. Poultry plant employees often miss contaminated birds, and are even discouraged from removing the ones they do flag:

In affidavits given to the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistle-blowers, several inspectors who work at plants where the pilot program is in place said the main problem is that they are removed from positions on the assembly line and put at the end of the line, which makes it impossible for them to spot diseased birds.

The inspectors, whose names were redacted, said they had observed numerous instances of poultry plant employees allowing birds contaminated with fecal matter or other substances to pass. And even when the employees try to remove diseased birds, they face reprimands, the inspectors said.

While public health may suffer, the poultry plants will reap huge benefits from this rule change. The USDA says the elimination of inspector jobs will save $90 million in taxpayer dollars over three years — but poultry businesses are projected to save $125 million a year. The rule would also let plants speed up the production line to 175 birds per minute from 140, giving inspectors a third of a second to check each chicken for contamination.

Not only does speeding up production make it impossible to screen contaminated chickens on the assembly line, it also endangers workers.


Poultry plant assembly lines already run at rapidfire speeds, and workers are forced to handle the birds even if they are injured, sick, or bleeding.

Foodborne illness sickens 48 million Americans and kills about 3,000 people every year. The most common culprits are pathogens carried by feces in tightly-packed factory farms. Despite the ubiquity of foodborne illness, food safety inspectors stationed in these plants are notoriously lax. Shortly before an e. coli outbreak caused by Cargill hamburger meat, federal inspectors repeatedly discovered violations of Cargill’s own standards at 55 plants in handling beef, but never imposed penalties or sanctions. Soon, 940 people fell ill. Many suffered permanent damage. If plants are allowed to swap out federal inspectors with their own employees, this haphazard approach to food safety will only worsen.


FDA Shuts Down Bakery That Put Sugar In Its 'Sugar-Free' Products

Republicans and libertarians will be unhappy that the government is interfering in this businesses ability to label their products how ever they want.

Since diabetics could die because of the deliberate mislabeling, I think the owners should be prosecuted for attempted murder.

by Sy Mukherjee,
March 14th 2013

Sweet lovers, bakers, and assorted pastry-makers, take note: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t take kindly to companies falsifying nutritional information about their products.

In the latest chapter of the FDA’s ongoing saga with New Jersey-based Butterfly Bakery, a federal judge has “approved a consent decree of permanent injunction against” the company “for unlawfully distributing misbranded food products, such as muffins and snack cakes,” according to an FDA press release.

Butterfly Bakery has a history of openly flaunting FDA regulations with regards to their nutritional labeling, misrepresenting the sugar and fat content of their products to astonishing degrees — in fact, the FDA plainly warned the company and CEO Brenda Issac that it would face consequences if it didn’t cease its fraudulent practices.


Experts Say Food May Contribute To Anger, Violent Behavior

by Michelle Roberts,
March 15th 2013

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’, and now some believe food choices may actually contribute to anger and violent behavior. Jeff Resnick believes it; he even knows what sets him off. “I can get irritable, absolutely, when I’ve had too much of the carbs,” he said.

Nutritionist Nicolette Pace says carbs can make you feel good, but it doesn’t last. “They don’t give your body what you need to cope with day-to-day stresses,” she said. Pace agrees that there is a connection between anger and food. “Deficiencies in nutrients, magnesium or manganese, vitamin C, or some B vitamins may make a person hyperactive towards a stressor, a short fuse so to speak,” she explained.

Pace and other nutritionists say if you eat plenty of fish, eggs, beans, fruits and green leafy vegetables, you should have the nutrients you need. However, people who tend to eat a diet loaded with processed or packaged foods could find themselves more easily irritated.


Being moody isn’t the worst thing that can happen. “Deficiencies in these nutrients have been correlated strongly with either increases in aggressive behavior and/or violent acts,” Pace explained.

To test that theory, Oxford University researchers gave vitamin supplements to prison inmates. They found it led to less aggressive behavior. “I think it does demonstrate there is something to nutrient deficiencies giving people a propensity toward violence,” Ramsey said.


See Jupiter and Moon Pair Up on St. Patrick's Day

by Joe Rao, Skywatching Columnist
Date: 16 March 2013

On Sunday evening, revelers can cap their St. Patrick’s Day by enjoying a view of a rendezvous involving two of the brightest objects in the night sky: the moon and the planet Jupiter.

About 45 minutes after sunset on Sunday (March 17), the eye-catching celestial duo will be visible in the southwest sky, roughly two-thirds up from the horizon to the point directly overhead (called the zenith).

The moon will be a wide crescent at the time, 34 percent illuminated by the sun, and will sit below Jupiter. At its closest pass — which will occur at around 10:30 p.m. local daylight time along the U.S. East Coast, and around 7:00 p.m. local time for the West Coast — Earth's natural satellite will be just 2 degrees from the giant planet. (For reference, your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Early Detection of MS Treatment Complication May Improve Survival | Mar 10th 2013

— The drug natalizumab is effective for treating multiple sclerosis (MS), but it increases the risk of a rare but potentially fatal brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). A study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013, suggests that early detection of PML may help improve survival and disability levels.


Natalizumab is generally prescribed for people who have not responded to or cannot tolerate other treatments for MS.

The study was supported by Biogen Idec Inc. and Elan Pharmaceuticals.

Can Hormone Help Treat Multiple Sclerosis Long-Term? | Mar 10th 2013

— A new study suggests that treatment with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) may be helpful for people whose multiple sclerosis (MS) is not well-controlled through their regular treatment. The study was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013.


Mom's Sensitivity Helps Language Development in Children With Hearing Loss | Mar 8th 2013

University of Miami (UM) Psychologist Alexandra L. Quittner leads one of the largest, most nationally representative studies of the effects of parenting on very young, deaf children who have received cochlear implants. The findings indicate that mothers who are most sensitive in their interactions with their children receiving cochlear implants have kids that develop language faster, almost "catching up" to their hearing peers.


The goal of the study was to understand the role of parental behavior in language growth for deaf children. Maternal sensitivity was measured in videotaped interactions with the child and defined by warmth, as the degree to which a mother expressed positive regard and emotional support of the child.


The largest improvements in language development were observed in children whose parents displayed high sensitivity; Language stimulation was also an important predictor of language gains, but was most effective when delivered in a sensitive manner. Deaf children with sensitive parents had only a 1 year delay in oral language compared to. 2.5 years among those with less sensitive parents.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Prenatal Exposure to Pesticide DDT Linked to Adult High Blood Pressure | Mar 12th 2013

Infant girls exposed to high levels of the pesticide DDT while still inside the womb are three times more likely to develop hypertension when they become adults, according to a new study led by the University of California, Davis.

Previous studies have shown that adults exposed to DDT (dichlorodiplhenyltrichloroethane) are at an increased risk of high blood pressure. But this study, published online March 12 in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to link prenatal DDT exposure to hypertension in adults.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a high risk factor for heart disease, which remains the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide.


La Merrill said that traces of DDT, a persistent organic pollutant, also remain in the food system, primarily in fatty animal products.


Coffee and Tea During Pregnancy Affect Fetal Growth | Mar 11th 2013

Drinking just two cups of coffee a day is associated with the risk of low birth weight. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have conducted a study on 59,000 women in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Expectant mothers who consume caffeine, usually by drinking coffee, are more likely to have babies with lower birth weight than anticipated, given their gestational age. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, conducted a study on 59,000 pregnant Norwegian women in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

"The correlation between intake of caffeine and fetal growth was established even among women who followed the official recommendation that they limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day (two cups of coffee)," researcher Verena Sengpiel says.

The medical term used in this connection is "small for gestational age" (SGA), which is associated with an elevated risk of morbidity and death.


Weight Loss May Prevent, Treat Osteoarthritis in Obese Patients | Mar 8th 2013

Weight loss may prevent and significantly alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, a progressive disease of the joints known as "wear and tear" arthritis, according to a literature review appearing in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons(JAAOS).

According to the article, obesity actually may trigger the biomechanical and inflammatory changes that cause osteoarthritis, and the pain and loss of mobility associated with the condition.

"There's a clear link between obesity and osteoarthritis, and the link is both from biomechanical factors as well as systemic factors. The systemic component appears to be significant," said Ryan C. Koonce, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Skagit Regional Clinics in Mount Vernon, Wash., and one of the authors of the literature review. Approximately one half of osteoarthritis cases of the knee could be avoided in the U.S. if obesity was removed as a risk factor, according to the article. Other highlights include:


Reconstruction of Earth Climate History Shows Significance of Recent Temperature Rise

Note that the Earth's position relative to the sun is such that we should be in the coolest part of this cycle, and instead we are much warmer than average. | Mar 7th 2013

Using data from 73 sites around the world, scientists have been able to reconstruct Earth's temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age, revealing that the planet today is warmer than it has been during 70 to 80 percent of the time over the last 11,300 years.

Of even more concern are projections of global temperature for the year 2100, when virtually every climate model evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that temperatures will exceed the warmest temperatures during that 11,300-year period known as the Holocene -- under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

Results of the study, by researchers at Oregon State University and Harvard University, were published this week in the journal Science. It was funded by the National Science Foundation's Paleoclimate Program.


We already knew that on a global scale, Earth is warmer today than it was over much of the past 2,000 years," Marcott said. "Now we know that it is warmer than most of the past 11,300 years. This is of particular interest because the Holocene spans the entire period of human civilization."


What that history shows, the researchers say, is that over the past 5,000 years, Earth on average cooled about 1.3 degrees (Fahrenheit) -- until the past 100 years, when it warmed ̴ 1.3 degrees (F). The largest changes were in the northern hemisphere, where there are more land masses and greater human populations.

Climate models project that global temperature will rise another 2.0 to 11.5 degrees (F) by the end of this century, largely dependent on the magnitude of carbon emissions. "What is most troubling," Clark said, "is that this warming will be significantly greater than at any time during the past 11,300 years."

Marcott said that one of the natural factors affecting global temperatures over the past 11,300 years is gradual change in the distribution of solar insolation associated with Earth's position relative to the sun.

"During the warmest period of the Holocene, the Earth was positioned such that Northern Hemisphere summers warmed more," Marcott said. "As the Earth's orientation changed, Northern Hemisphere summers became cooler, and we should now be near the bottom of this long-term cooling trend -- but obviously, we are not."


"This research shows that we've experienced almost the same range of temperature change since the beginning of the industrial revolution as over the previous 11,000 years of Earth history -- but this change happened a lot more quickly."


"The Earth's climate is complex and responds to multiple forcings, including CO2 and solar insolation," Marcott said. "Both of those changed very slowly over the past 11,000 years. But in the last 100 years, the increase in CO2 through increased emissions from human activities has been significant. It is the only variable that can best explain the rapid increase in global temperatures."

Secondhand Smoke Exposure Linked to Signs of Heart Disease | Mar 7th 2013

Nonsmokers, beware. It seems the more you are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke -- whether it was during your childhood or as an adult, at work or at home -- the more likely you are to develop early signs of heart disease, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session.

Researchers found that 26 percent of people exposed to varying levels of secondhand smoke had signs of coronary artery calcification (CAC), compared to 18.5 percent in the general population. The new data also shows that people who report higher levels of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure also have the greatest evidence of coronary artery calcification, a build-up of calcium in the artery walls as seen on a low-dose computed tomography scan. While previous studies have shown a marked increase in cardiac events related to secondhand tobacco smoke, authors say this study is the first to demonstrate a clear dose-response relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and the earliest detectable signs of heart disease.


After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, people classified as having low, moderate or high secondhand smoke exposure were 50, 60 and 90 percent more likely to have evidence of coronary artery calcification than those who reported minimal exposure. The apparent health effects of secondhand smoke on CAC remained regardless of whether the exposure was during childhood or adulthood.


Folate and Vitamin B12 Reduce Disabling Schizophrenia Symptoms in Some Patients

Mar 6th 2013

Adding the dietary supplements folate and vitamin B12 to treatment with antipsychotic medication improved a core symptom component of schizophrenia in a study of more than 100 patients. The study focused on negative symptoms of schizophrenia -- which include apathy, social withdrawal, and a lack of emotional expressiveness. While the level of improvement across all participants was modest, results were more significant in individuals carrying specific variants in genes involved with folate metabolism. The report from a team based at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) will appear in the journal JAMA Psychiatry (formerly Archives of General Psychiatry) and has been issued online.


Adequate folate intake during pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects -- in particular neural tube defects -- and studies have suggested that folate deficiency during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of schizophrenia among offspring. Earlier research by members of the MGH-based team associated low blood folate levels with more severe negative symptoms among patients with schizophrenia.


"For participants who did show a benefit, it took the full 16 weeks of treatment for that benefit to appear," Roffman explains. "While we don't know why this is the case, changes in gene expression -- which take time -- are a likely explanation. Folate plays a critical role in DNA methylation, which regulates gene expression, so it's plausible that its effects on negative symptoms act through gene expression changes. Participants with the low-functioning FOLH1 variant might eventually show a benefit of folate supplementation if treated for a longer period of time, but that needs to be investigated in future studies."


Ostracism Cuts Both Ways: Hurting Someone Else Can Hurt the One Who Inflicts Pain Just as Much

Mar 5th 2013

If you think giving someone the cold shoulder inflicts pain only on them, beware. A new study shows that individuals who deliberately shun another person are equally distressed by the experience.

"In real life and in academic studies, we tend to focus on the harm done to victims in cases of social aggression," says co-author Richard Ryan, professor of clinical and social psychology at the University of Rochester. "This study shows that when people bend to pressure to exclude others, they also pay a steep personal cost. Their distress is different from the person excluded, but no less intense."

What causes this discomfort? The research found that complying with instructions to exclude another person leads most people to feel shame and guilt, along with a diminished sense of autonomy, explains Nicole Legate, lead author of the Psychological Science paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester. The results also showed that inflicting social pain makes people feel less connected to others. "We are social animals at heart," says Legate. "We typically are empathetic and avoid harming others unless we feel threatened."

The findings point to the hidden price of going along with demands to exclude individuals based on social stigmas, such as being gay, write the authors. The study also provides insight into the harm to both parties in cases of social bullying.


Low-Income Kids Are Being Kicked Out Of Their Preschool Programs Thanks To Sequestration

By Annie-Rose Strasser posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Mar 15, 2013

The early childhood education program Head Start provides educational opportunities specifically to low-income kids. But 70,000 of those students will lose the opportunity to be in the program as a result of the drastic reductions in funding triggered by sequestration.

Reports are beginning to roll in about how children will bear the brunt of Congressional inaction. In several states, programs have to decide where they will make the cuts. In some cases, that means picking which students will be kept in the program, and which will be forced to leave:

----- [some states cutting back on food for these children.]

Preschool is not an extracurricular activity for kids. It’s been proven to help kids learn to socialize and become well-adjusted citizens. A study in California found that “our society receives $9 in benefits for every $1 invested in Head Start children.” A Center for American Progress report found that children who don’t receive early childhood education are 40 percent more likely to become a parent as a teenager, 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

How Arctic Ice Loss Amplified Superstorm Sandy — Oceanography Journal

By Joe Romm on Mar 15, 2013

We’ve written extensively about how global warming worsened the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

Now a new article, “Superstorm Sandy: A Series of Unfortunate Events?” (PDF here) connects the dots even more explicitly:

Cornell and Rutgers researchers report in the March issue of Oceanography that the severe loss of summertime Arctic sea ice — attributed to greenhouse warming — appears to enhance Northern Hemisphere jet stream meandering, intensify Arctic air mass invasions toward middle latitudes, and increase the frequency of atmospheric blocking events like the one that steered Hurricane Sandy west into the densely populated New York City area.


Arizona woman's murder conviction, death sentence overturned

Another person sentenced to death on evidence the prosecution knew was at best untrustworthy, and chose to the evidence withhold from the accused. These prosecutors are criminals, but it is almost unheard of for them to suffer any penalty.

by Greg Botelho,
March 14th 2013

After 22 years on death row, Debra Milke is close to freedom.

A jury convicted the Arizona woman, now 49, of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and kidnapping on October 12, 1990, less than a year after her 4-year-old son was found dead.

A judge sentenced her to death a few months later.

But those convictions and the related sentence were tossed out Thursday by a federal appeals court judge. In explaining his decision, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals chided the prosecution for remaining "unconstitutionally silent" on the "history of misconduct" of its key witness, a Phoenix police detective.

"The Constitution requires a fair trial," Kozinski wrote. "This never happened in Milke's case."


The detective, Armando Saldate, said the friend told him that Debra Milke was involved in a plot to kill her son. But neither the friend nor Styers testified to that assertion in court.

In fact, "no other witnesses or direct evidence (linked) Milke to the crime" other than Saldate's testimony. After pleading not guilty, Milke stood trial and tried to convince a jury that her account -- and not the detective's -- was the true one.

"The trial was, essentially, a swearing contest between Milke and ... Saldate," said Kozin


"The judge and jury believed Saldate," said Kozinski of the verdict and sentence. "But they didn't know about Saldate's long history of lying under oath and other misconduct."

Specifically, the judge noted that the detective had been suspended five days for taking "liberties" with a female motorist and lying about it to his supervisors; that judges had tossed out four confessions or indictments because Saldate had lied under oath; and that judges suppressed or vacated four confessions because Saldate had violated a person's constitutional rights.

"The state knew of the evidence in the personnel file and had an obligation to produce the documents," Kozinski said. "... There can be no doubt that the state failed in its constitutional obligation."


Patient killed by rabies from organ transplant, CDC says

by Maggie Fox
Mar. 15, 2013

The first person to die from rabies in 40 years in Maryland was infected by a transplanted organ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The donor died in Florida, and the heart, kidneys and liver from the patient were transplanted into other people, the CDC said.

At the time of the donor’s death, rabies was not suspected as the cause and testing for rabies was not performed. Rabies was only recently confirmed as the cause of death after the current investigation began in Maryland.

"Shortly before becoming ill, the donor had moved to Florida, but was a previous resident of North Carolina where it is believed the exposure may have occurred. How the donor may have gotten rabies is currently under investigation," the CDC said in a statement.


Potential organ donors in the United States are screened and tested to identify if the donor might present an infectious risk. Lab testing for rabies is not routinely performed, because results could not be determined in the short time period organs are viable for the recipient. Transmission of rabies through organ transplant is extremely rare, according to the CDC.

People can become infected with rabies without knowing it. it is transmitted in saliva -- which is why animal bites are dangerous -- and blood. But vaccination after a bite can prevent symptoms. Once a patient develops symptoms from rabies, it is almost always fatal.