Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Air pollution linked to hardening of the arteries


Public release date: 24-Apr-2013
Contact: Laurel Thomas Gnagey
University of Michigan

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," according to a University of Michigan public health researcher and colleagues from across the U.S.

Sara Adar, the John Searle Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, and Joel Kaufman, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and medicine at the University of Washington, led the study that found that higher concentrations of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) were linked to a faster thickening of the inner two layers of the common carotid artery—an important blood vessel that provides blood to the head, neck and brain.

Conversely, they found that reductions of fine particulate air pollution over time were linked to slower progression of the blood vessel thickness.

Their research is published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

The thickness of this blood vessel is an indicator of how much atherosclerosis is present in the arteries throughout the body, even among people with no obvious symptoms of heart disease.


Psychopaths are not neurally equipped to have concern for others

Other research has shown that parenting does have an effect on whether children who are wired this way become criminals when they grow up.

Public release date: 24-Apr-2013
Contact: William Harms

Prisoners who are psychopaths lack the basic neurophysiological "hardwiring" that enables them to care for others, according to a new study by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago and the University of New Mexico.

"A marked lack of empathy is a hallmark characteristic of individuals with psychopathy," said the lead author of the study, Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at UChicago. Psychopathy affects approximately 1 percent of the United States general population and 20 percent to 30 percent of the male and female U.S. prison population. Relative to non-psychopathic criminals, psychopaths are responsible for a disproportionate amount of repetitive crime and violence in society.


Meals On Wheels Sequestration Cuts Taking Effect


by Arthur Delaney, huffingtonpost.com
April 30th 2013


Since 1972 the Administration on Aging has provided federal funding for senior nutrition, and today volunteers from some 5,000 Meals On Wheels affiliates across the country distribute a million meals a day.

But federal funding for senior nutrition has been reduced by budget cuts known as sequestration, meaning less food for old people here and elsewhere. The White House has said the cuts would mean 4 million fewer meals for seniors this year, while the Meals On Wheels Association of America put the loss at 19 million meals. In general, the federal government subsidizes only a portion of the cost of every meal, so whether individual seniors will stop receiving food really depends on the circumstances of whatever local agency serves them.

Michele Daley, director of nutrition services at the Local Office on Aging, which serves Roanoke, Alleghany, Botetourt and Craig counties in Virginia, said the agency expects to receive $95,000 less in federal funds this year (it has an operating budget of $1 million). They're gradually reducing the number of people receiving daily meals from 650 to 600 as a result of the budget cuts. Already, the office has planned to stop handing out most emergency meals -- bags of shelf-stable items like canned beans distributed in advance of snowstorms and holidays. And they've instituted a waiting list.

"We've never had a waiting list," Daley said. "This is the first time ever and it's a direct result of sequestration."


Many seniors would prefer to live independently in an apartment than dwindle away in a nursing home, and that's partly the point of bringing them food at home. It's also fiscally prudent: A Brown University study found the more states spend on meals, which are not expensive, the less they spend housing seniors in nursing homes, which costs much more.


Florida Legislators Pass Bill To Speed Up Death Penalty, Saying, ‘This Is Not About Guilt Or Innocence’

This is pure evil.

by Nicole Flatow, thinkprogress.org
April 30th 2013

The Florida legislature passed a bill this week to impose new obstacles on challenging the death penalty in a state with the greatest number of exonerations. The bill’s intent was to shorten the time inmates wait for execution by imposing time limits for appeals and post-conviction motions, but DNA and other evidence often emerges years after a crime is committed – a concern that didn’t seem to faze Republican proponents of the bill who said swift justice is “not about guilt or innocence”:

“Is swift justice fair justice?” asked Democratic party Senator Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa attorney who voted against the bill. “We have seen cases where, years later, convicted people were exonerated,” she said. […]

But Republican Senator Rob Bradley said, “this is not about guilt or innocence, it’s about timely justice.” Frivolous appeals designed only for delay are not fair to victims and their families, he said. [...]

“Only God can judge,” Matt Gaetz, a Republican who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, said last week during House debate. “But we sure can set up the meeting.”

Florida has more people on death row than any other state except California. Since the state reinstituted the death penalty in the 1970s, one fourth of those sentenced to death were later exonerated. The initial bill set strict timelines for post-conviction motions and appeals that would have likely led to the execution of many of these exonereees, who were facing a death sentence for well over ten years before new evidence emerged in their case. But after several amendments, the most recent version passed by both houses states only that capital cases should be resolved “as soon as possible.” The changes may have been motivated by concerns over a legal challenge. A similar 2000 law was struck down by the state Supreme Court as a violation of separation of powers. Perhaps more alarming than the text of the final version is the intent of the legislators who proposed it to facilitate quick deaths without regard to guilt or innocence, particularly in a system rife with error and racial bias.

Lack of sleep may harm sperm


by Karen Row, nbcnews.com
April 28th 2013 8:38 AM

Not getting enough sleep may harm men’s sperm, a new study from Denmark says.

Men who slept poorly had lower sperm counts and fewer sperm that had formed correctly, compared with men who slept better.

"Given the facts that approximately 20 percent of all young men may have reduced semen quality, and that sleep disturbances are common and increasing in industrialized countries, the results of this study may have important public health implications," the researchers wrote in their article.

The researchers accounted for factors that could affect the results, such as men's alcohol consumption, smoking and age.

There were no differences in hormone levels across the groups, the researchers said.


However, lifestyle factors not accounted for in the study could explain both the poor sleep and lowered semen quality, they noted.

Colorado bill would prevent rapists from receiving parental rights


by Robert Sobel, examiner.com
April 30th 2013

Here's an alarming fact. Out of the 50 states in the country, 31 allow some sort of visitation or custody rights for the father of a baby. Doesn't sound so bad does it? When you realize that the father is a rapist then your opinion might change.

A recent article from Salon has highlighted a topic that is not often talked about. Across all 50 states in the country, women have been attacked, raped and then become pregnant. The situation is one that is difficult to think about and even scarier to know that it actually happens. A report by Georgetown University in 2010 notes that between 33 percent and 64 percent of women who are rapped, decide to keep the child. In an ironic twist of fate following the comments of some Republicans in 2012, Republican state Rep. Lois Landgraf of Colorado has sponsored a bill that would prevent rapists from receiving parental rights.

Rep. Lois Landgraf: First of all they’re faced with the horrible trauma of being raped and then faced with a difficult decision of if I do get pregnant do they keep the child and if they keep the child will they face some relationship with the rapist.

The bill would also require the rapist to pay child support, despite not receiving any parental rights. The bill passed unanimously out of the State Senate and would apply to convictions after July 1, 2013. Arkansas passed similar legislation earlier this year.

Cancer Clinics: Congress Should Have Restored Our Sequester Cuts Before Addressing Airport Delays


By Tara Culp-Ressler posted from ThinkProgress Health on Apr 28, 2013

This past week, Congress approved a measure to restore funding to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after sequester cuts to the national transportation agency disrupted airline travel across the country — but they haven’t taken similar steps to provide relief for other programs that are struggling as a result of sequestration. Now, employees at cancer clinics are sharply criticizing that move, pointing out that lawmakers should have prioritized their funding before working to alleviate airport delays.

After automatic budget cuts slashed their funding, cancer clinics have been forced to delay chemotherapy treatment for their patients. Some clinics may actually have to close their doors altogether if the sequester cuts are not reversed. As several cancer doctors told the Hill, they suspect they may not have been at the top at Congress’ list because reduced access to chemotherapy doesn’t personally inconvenience lawmakers in the same way that airport delays do:

“I would invite anyone in Washington to come look my patients in the eye and tell them that waiting for a flight is a bigger problem than traveling farther and waiting longer for chemotherapy,” said William Nibley, a doctor at Utah Cancer Specialists in Salt Lake City. [...]

“Unfortunately, this doesn’t (hit) home directly to members, as traveling does,” said Ted Okon, executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance, which is aggressively lobbying Congress to soften the cuts to cancer clinics.

Okon said he has sympathy for the FAA employees who were furloughed — the FAA is one of a slew of federal agencies that docked employees’ hours and pay as a result of the sequester. He does not begrudge furloughed FAA workers their fix, but he said Congress needs to move quickly on cancer care, too.


How Austerity Is Literally Killing People


By Travis Waldron posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Apr 29, 2013

Austerity in the United States and Europe isn’t just placing an unnecessary drag on economic growth that has harmed the global economic recovery from the Great Recession. The rapid deficit reduction efforts are also making people less healthy, causing higher rates of suicide, depression, and infectious disease, according to research from Oxford University economist David Stuckler and Stanford University medical professor Sanjay Basu.

HIV rates have risen 200 percent in Greece as it has cut its HIV prevention budget, and the country also suffered its first malaria outbreak in decades after budget cuts to mosquito-related programs. Increased unemployment has led to higher rates of suicide and depression across the continent, and the United States is seeing the effects as well, Reuters reports:


The United States has seen multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in the last three years while budget cuts have targeted food safety and inspection agencies, and the first major modernization of its food safety laws was hamstrung by spending cuts. Education cuts have hit school lunch and other nutrition programs. Other deficit reduction efforts have hammered health programs. And those problems are only going to get worse as sequestration — the automatic budget cuts implemented on March 1 — continue to take effect.

Sequestration includes devastating cuts to medical research programs and food inspection services. It includes cuts to the nation’s already-ailing mental health programs. It has already left medical clinics unable to treat cancer patients, and it includes cuts that will make President Obama’s sweeping health reform law harder to implement. And it also cuts low-income housing and homelessness programs, making it harder for people to find affordable shelter.

At the same time, austerity has come at the direct expense of economic growth that would actually improve lives. With unemployment persistently high (and borrowing costs low), the United States and its European counterparts should be focusing on investments that would help spur growth and restore their economies to full capacity. Europe is at least hinting that it will turn away from austerity. But in the United States, which initially pursued stimulus and growth, Congress remains focused on deficit reduction that isn’t just hurting growth but is harming peoples’ health too.

Two Critics Of Government Spending Are Forcing The Army To Build Tanks It Doesn’t Want


By Annie-Rose Strasser posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Apr 29, 2013

Congress is forcing the Army to spend nearly half a billion dollars building tanks that Army officials insist they don’t want, with money they say could be better spent elsewhere, according to a new report from the AP.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are the two members of congress at the helm of the effort to spend $436 million on upgrading the Abrams tank, “a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.” The reason? Both represent Ohio, home to the nation’s only tank manufacturing plant, which would profit from the money.

The move is contradictory for the two politicians; both are also vocal advocates for fiscal austerity, and have made careers insisting that the government cut what they see as wasteful spending.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

A growing number of Americans are skipping needed medical care because they can't afford it


By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney April 26, 2013

Some 80 million people, around 43% of America's working-age adults, didn't go to the doctor or access other medical services last year because of the cost, according to the Commonwealth Fund's Biennial Health Insurance Survey, released Friday. That's up from 75 million people two years ago and 63 million in 2003.

Not surprisingly, those who were uninsured or had inadequate health insurance were most likely to have trouble affording care. But 28% of working-age adults with good insurance also had to forgo treatment because of the price.

Nearly three in 10 adults said they did not visit a doctor or clinic when they had a medical problem, while more than a quarter did not fill a prescription or skipped recommended tests, treatment or follow-up visits. One in five said they did not get needed specialist care.

And 28% of those with a chronic condition like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and asthma who needed medication for it reported they did not fill prescriptions or skipped doses because they couldn't afford to pay for the drugs.


The survey also found that 84 million people, nearly half of all working-age adults, went without health insurance for a time last year or had such high out-of-pocket expenses relative to their income that they were considered under-insured. That's up from 81 million in 2010 and 61 million in 2003.

One bright spot in the report is that fewer young adults, those ages 19 to 25, were uninsured. The share fell to 41% in 2012, down from 48% two years earlier. That's due in large part to the Affordable Care Act, which allows young adults to stay on their parents insurance until age 26.

All of those numbers should improve going forward as more health reform provisions take effect in 2014 -- primarily the state-based insurance exchanges, which are intended to offer affordable plans to those without work-based coverage.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police


by Sandra Park, aclu.org
April 24th 2013

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs' boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, "You are on three strikes. We're gonna have your landlord evict you."

Yes, that's right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown's "disorderly behavior ordinance," the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of "disorderly behavior" within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes "domestic disturbances" as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

After her first "strike," Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these "strikes," the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home. The ACLU intervened, and the city did not carry out its threats, and even agreed to repeal the ordinance. But just two weeks later, Norristown quietly passed a virtually identical ordinance that imposes fines on landlords unless they evict tenants who obtain police assistance, including for domestic violence.


Norristown is not alone. Cities and towns across the United States have similar laws, sometimes referred to as "nuisance ordinances" or "crime-free ordinances." We represented a domestic violence victim in Illinois, who after years of experiencing abuse, decided to reach out to the police for the first time. The police charged her husband with domestic battery and resisting arrest. Yet only a few days later, the police department sent her landlord a notice, instructing the landlord to evict the victim under the local ordinance based on the arrest. The message was clear: calling the police leads to homelessness.


A recent study of Milwaukee's nuisance ordinance showed that domestic violence was the third most common reason that police issued a nuisance citation, far above drug, property damage, or trespassing offenses. The study also established that enforcement of the ordinance disproportionately targeted African-American neighborhoods. The result? Women of color, like Ms. Briggs, were less able to access police protection.

Effective law enforcement depends on strong relationships between police and members of the community. These ordinances undermine that trust, by punishing victims who call 911 and coercing them to endure escalating violence in silence. Even worse, Norristown reports that domestic violence victims make up 20 percent of its homeless population.

How to get rich - defraud Medicare & Medicaid


Reuters Euronews
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Bernard Vaughan in New York; Editing by Gary Hill and David Gregorio

(Reuters) – The U.S. government filed a civil fraud lawsuit against Novartis AG on Tuesday, accusing a unit of the Swiss drug maker of causing the Medicare and Medicaid programs to pay tens of millions of dollars in reimbursements based on fraudulent, kickback-tainted claims.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp had since 2005 induced at least 20 pharmacies to switch thousands of kidney transplant patients to its immunosuppressant drug Myfortic from competitors’ drugs, in exchange for kickbacks disguised as rebates and discounts.


In his announcement, Bharara called Novartis a “repeat offender,” referring to a settlement of health care fraud charges based on kickbacks less than three years ago.


National debt graph by president


"Terrorism" data base


by EILEEN SULLIVAN and JULIE PACE, apnews.myway.com
April 25th 2013

Two government officials tell The Associated Press that U.S. intelligence agencies added the Boston bombing suspects' mother to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the attack.

Officials say this was done after Russia contacted the CIA late in 2011 with concerns that the now-dead suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev (TAM'-ehr-luhn tsahr-NEYE'-ehv), and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (zoo-bay-DAHT' tsahr-NEYE'-eh-vuh), were religious militants about to travel to Russia. The CIA asked that Tsarnaev and Tsarnaeva be added to a classified intelligence database called TIDE. Being on the database does not automatically mean the U.S. suspects a person of terrorist activity and does not automatically subject a person to surveillance, security screening or travel restrictions.

How child labor made a "race of pygmies"


by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.
April 23, 2013

People living in 19th century England were much shorter than they are today. In part, that’s because they were relatively malnourished.

But there was much more going on. Talk about “average heights” obscures a tremendous difference between rich and poor.

As anthropologist and growth expert Barry Bogin notes, even kids growing in poverty in the least developed nations of the modern world are taller than one historical group:

In 1833, Edwin Chadwick published his Report of the Commissioners on the employment of children in factories.

From an early age, these children worked 12-16 hour days, 6 days a week. They were beaten for being late or inattentive.

Many children were crippled by the unnatural postures they had to adopt, sickened by toxic industrial materials, injured or killed in horrible accidents.

By the time they were 18.5 years old, these young English people averaged 62 inches (5’2″ or 158 cm) in height.

As Bogin points out, the only populations around today with lower averages are the naturally short-statured peoples of Central Africa — people like the Baka, Efe, or Twa.

Today we know that very severe, chronic stress can have a devastating impact on growth. During the 19th century, reformers and people of conscience guessed at it.


in 19th century England, reformers made progress:

• In 1833, the Factory Regulation Act prohibited textile factories from employing children under the age of 9, and limited the working hours of older children (aged 9-12) to 8 hours a day. Night shifts for children were outlawed, and child workers over the age of twelve could not be required to work more than 48 hours per week.

• Subsequent laws applied to other industries as well, and required accidental deaths to be investigated.

• By 1878, English children under the age of 10 were required to attend school, not work.


If a given culture denies basic rights to certain social groups — if it denies children an education, permits slavery, or forces children into marriage, sexual abuse and dangerous pregnancies — they say we can’t judge. Every group defines its own rules.

As an anthropologist, I appreciate how much misery has been caused by people who impose their own cultural ideals on others. But cultural relativism doesn’t require extreme moral relativism. I believe that people everywhere should enjoy certain basic rights. I am thankful for those people who have fought for them in the past -- and who still fight for them today.


Harsh, unsafe, and demeaning labor conditions still exist for some of the world’s children. Donations to UNICEF help fight a number of threats to child welfare, including child labor and child trafficking. And in a recent paper analyzing the effectiveness of foreign aid programs, UNICEF was ranked as having above-average practices. You can make a donation here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Golden Rule

The way we treat others helps create the world we have to live in ourselves.


Florida's new requirement that unemployment claimants file online and take math and reading tests before they can receive benefits ruled illegal

I guess the purpose is to create profits for private prisons for people who steal to keep from starving to death when they can't find a job.


Arthur Delaney

Florida violated federal civil rights law with its new and unusual requirement that unemployment claimants file online and take math and reading tests before they can receive benefits, the U.S. Labor Department determined this month.


"A broken phone system coupled with no meaningful alternative to the online processes left many unemployed Floridians effectively shut out from much needed unemployment insurance," Valory Greenfield, an attorney with Florida Legal Services, said Thursday.


The new law also slashed the duration of state benefits from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks, depending on the state's unemployment rate, and it has served as a model for other states.


Good to know. Helping displaced workers should go along with protecting the environment.

Good to know. Helping displaced workers should go along with protecting the environment.


Michael Graham Richard Business / Green Jobs
April 23, 2013

The Solar Foundation, which has been releasing reports for a few years on the state of the solar industry in the U.S., has just launched a very cool interactive map that breaks the stats down state by state. This allows us to see that there are only 80 solar jobs in Alaska (not too surprising), and over 43,000 in California. Add all 50 states together, and solar employs 119,000 people in the country, a growth of 13.2% in 2012.

Another interesting way to gain perspective is to compare these solar jobs to the number of jobs created by other sectors. Looked at it this way, the Solar Foundation (using stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) found that there were more solar energy workers in Texas than ranchers, that solar workers outnumber actors in California, and that across the whole 50 states, there are more solar workers than coal miners.


Most jobs in solar energy in the U.S. are in installation. It doesn't pay like being a hedge fund manager, but at around $38k/year (around $18/hour), it's above the median national wage of $34,750, and as the industry grows further (it's just getting started), there's the real possibility that shortages of qualified workers will make salaries go up, as they did historically in other fast-growing industries.

Washington State Bill Would Allow Businesses To Discriminate Against Gays


By Zack Ford posted from ThinkProgress LGBT on Apr 26, 2013

Republicans in Washington state have proposed a bill that would allow businesses to openly discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation if they want to do so because of their religious beliefs. SB 5927 carves out a specific exception to the state’s nondiscrimination law that says only federal protections — which don’t include sexual orientation — apply when a person’s religious belief is “burdened”:


Unsurprisingly, the bill’s sponsor is state Sen. Sharon Brown (R), whose district is home to Arlene’s Flowers, a business facing two lawsuits because it refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.


Mark Zuckerberg’s New Political Group Spending Big On Ads Supporting Keystone XL And Oil Drilling


By Josh Israel and Judd Legum posted from ThinkProgress Immigration on Apr 26, 2013

Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including driling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook’s Zuckerberg, NationBuilder’s co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US. Its initial priority is the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including enhanced border security, more visas for workers with special skills, and a pathway to citizenship for those living in the U.S. without legal status. Other long-term priorities for the group include education reform and expanded scientific research.


Autism Risk Spotted at Birth in Abnormal Placentas


Apr. 25, 2013 — Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have figured out how to measure an infant's risk of developing autism by looking for abnormalities in his/her placenta at birth, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment for the developmental disorder. The findings are reported in the April 25 online issue of Biological Psychiatry

One out of 50 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the diagnosis is usually made when these children are 3 to 4 years of age or older. By then the best opportunities for intervention have been lost because the brain is most responsive to treatment in the first year of life.


Baby dies from whooping cough in Florida


April 25, 2013


Orange County health officials said a baby died from whooping cough last week.

This is the first whooping cough death the county has seen in decades. Officials said it's been at least 20 years or more since someone died of the disease.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, and other diseases are making comebacks, because so many parents are deciding not to vaccinate their kids.


Officials said the family chose not to vaccinate their child. Some parents are choosing not to fully vaccinate their children because they worry there is a link between the vaccinations and autism.

"A lot of people may not know (that) even the person who did that study admitted that study was flawed," Weister said.

Health officials said that has caused vaccinations to drop and the number of cases of measles, pertussis and other preventable diseases to go up.


Health officials believe the baby that died caught whooping cough from an adult.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

High leukemia treatment costs may be harming patients


Public release date: 25-Apr-2013
Contact: Andrea Slesinski
American Society of Hematology
Leading leukemia experts: High leukemia treatment costs may be harming patients
Increasing, unsustainable prices for leukemia drugs represent larger issue across all cancers

(WASHINGTON, April 25, 2013) – The increasing cost of treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in the United States has reached unsustainably high levels and may be leaving many patients under- or untreated because they cannot afford care, according to a Blood Forum article supported by nearly 120 CML experts from more than 15 countries on five continents and published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). Blood Forum articles are a new feature in the journal that present well documented opinions on controversial topics and provide a sounding board for current subjects of importance to the science and practice of hematology.

CML was selected as the focus of the piece because it is now considered a highly curable disease, thanks to the emergence of powerful, targeted CML therapies known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that allow patients to manage their disease with few symptoms by taking a well-tolerated pill.


In the Blood Forum article, Dr. Kantarjian and colleagues note that newly approved CML treatments in the U.S. are priced substantially higher than older options, and the trend is consistent among other cancer types. For example, of the 12 drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for various cancer indications in 2012, 11 were priced above $100,000 per yeari. Monthly cancer drug prices today (more than $10,000 per month on average) have almost doubled from just a decade ago, when they averaged $5,000 per month. The overall cost burden on families is significant, as out-of-pocket cancer care-related costs comprise approximately 25-30% of an average annual household budget. Cancer care-related costs contribute heavily to the unprecedented cost of health care in the U.S., now estimated at 18 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, compared with just 6-9% in much of Europe.ii


Research suggests that up to 10 percent of patients in the U.S. fail to take prescribed drugs, largely because of cost concerns.iii And while U.S. CML survival rates have improved in the last decade, the estimated survival remains at roughly 60 percent, suggesting that a portion of the population is not receiving adequate treatment, which may be related in part to the high cost of these therapies. By comparison, in Sweden, where costs are managed and compliance rates are high, CML survival rates are at least 80 percent.


Eden Foods sues over birth control mandate


Eden Foods, which describes itself as "the oldest natural and organic food company in North America," is coming under fire from its tofu-eating customers.

Some are threatening to stop buying Eden Foods, which sells dried tofu, soymilk, seaweed and other foods associated with healthy eating, over the company's stand against a mandate in Obamacare.

The backlash started when Eden Foods sued the Obama administration last month over a clause in the Affordable Care Act that will require employer-sponsored health insurance plans to provide contraceptive coverage to workers. According to the lawsuit, Obamacare "attacks and desecrates a foremost tenet of the Catholic Church" that defines birth control as "immoral and unnatural."


Exxon Earns $9.5 Billion Q1 Profit One Month After Arkansas Oil Spill That It Pays No Taxes To Help Clean Up


By Rebecca Leber on Apr 25, 2013

One month after dumping 500,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil from a ruptured pipeline in Arkansas, the most valuable and profitable corporation in the world ExxonMobil announced higher first quarter profits. Exxon earned $9.5 billion in the first quarter, compared to $9.45 billion last year, and Exxon’s total oil and natural gas production declined 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Exxon is exempt from paying taxes toward the oil spill liability fund that helps clean up spills like in Arkansas, where wildlife have been killed and covered by oil. The 1980 law exemption applies to diluted bitumen so companies escape paying the 8-cents-per-barrel fee to the fund that helps clean up hundreds of spills each year. At the federal level, Exxon’s tax rate comes to only 13 percent.

Here is how else Exxon spends its dollars, and what it receives in return:

– Exxon spent $12,970,000 on lobbying in 2012 to protect low tax rates and block pollution controls and safeguards for public health. In the first three months of 2013, Exxon spent $4.84 million lobbying.

– The company sent $3.6 million in total political contributions to PACs, candidates, and outside groups for the 2012 election cycle, and 89 percent of contributions went to Republicans. It has spent over $76,000 for the 2014 cycle so far.

– Exxon receives an estimated $600 million in annual federal tax breaks. In 2011, Exxon paid just 13 percent in taxes. The company paid no federal income tax in 2009, despite $45.2 billion record profits.

– In the first quarter, Exxon bought back $5.6 billion of its stock, or 59 percent of its profit, which enriches the largest shareholders and executives of the company.

– This year, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson received a 15 percent raise to a $40.3 million salary.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to get rich and richer - lie

If you claim your food is the best in the world, even if that is not true, it is still usable as food.
But if S&P's debt-rating service is not independent, objective and free of conflicts of interest, it negates it's very purpose.


Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
April 23, 2013

As part of its halting response to the 2008 financial meltdown, the U.S. Justice Department has filed suit in federal court accusing Standard & Poors, the nation's largest debt-rating service, of civil fraud. According to the Justice complaint, S&P repeatedly promised the public that its ratings on mortgage-backed securities debt were independent, objective and free of conflicts of interest. In other words, they told investors that their ratings were the product of tough analysis and could not be bought.

The reality was very different, according to the federal complaint:

"As S&P knew, these representations were materially false, and concealed material facts, in that S&P's desire for increased revenue and market share in the RMBS and CDO ratings markets led S&P to downplay and disregard the true extent of the credit risks posed by RMBS and CDO tranches in order to favor the interests of large investment banks and others involved in the issuance of RMBS and CDOs ...." (RMBS=Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities; CDO=Collateralized Debt Obligation)

I have no idea how the courts are going to rule in the case, which will turn on arcane provisions of federal financial laws. But I do find S&P's legal defense very, very interesting. In a filing seeking dismissal of the case, S&P's lawyers argue that the company's promises of independence and objectivity were, in effect, total BS that nobody should have believed anyway.

The brief states:

"... the Government claims that S&P engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by asserting that its ratings were independent, objective and uninfluenced by conflicts of interest when S&P knew or believed that in truth they were not. This claim fails because the statements at issue are not actionable. Each of the representations identified by the Government is the type of vague, generalized statement that court after court -- in this District, this Circuit and elsewhere across the country -- has held to be non-actionable in a federal fraud case such as this."

As it turns out, there's a legal term for such rhetoric: "classic puffery." When a fast-food chain promises to deliver "the best hamburgers in the world," for example, that's classic puffery, and the chain can't be sued if its burgers really aren't the best. To S&P's lawyers, the company's promise of analytical integrity was also "classic puffery."


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

School Principal Discouraged Teen Girl from Reporting Sexual Assault Because It Would Ruin Attacker's Basketball Career

We claim we are superior to other animals because we are smarter. So why do we so admire skill in sports?


by Jessica Mason Pieklo, alternet.org
April 23rd 2013

Last week the National Women’s Law Center, along with a local law firm in Michigan filed a complaint in federal district court on behalf a high school student who was sexually assaulted at school by a fellow student and star basketball player. In many ways the story echoes the tragic high school rape story from Steubenville, Ohio,which should lead all of us to ask just what kind of culture are we raising our children in, and what kind of culture is being cultivated at our high schools?

According to the complaint, in 2010 the victim was sexually assaulted by a star player on the school’s basketball team. The assault took place on campus in a sound proof band room at Forest Hills Central High School. The victim notified a teacher who in turn reported the assault to the principal. But rather than open an investigation into the allegations, the principal discouraged the student and her parents from filing charges, telling them that doing so could ruin the assailant’s prospects at being recruited to play basketball for a Division 1 school.


As alleged in the complaint, two weeks later another female student was sexually assaulted by the same attacker. Despite a legal obligation under Title IX to investigate the assault and protect the student, the high school officials never interviewed the girl or her parents again, failed to conduct an investigation, and for two and a half weeks left the attacker in one of her classes.

It gets worse. As word of the sexual assault spread among the student body, the female victim became the target of an intensive cyber-bullying and harassment campaign—both at school and online—that depicted her as a liar and a “whore” who was trying to bring down an innocent athlete. These cyber-attacks were only reinforced by the fact that the school continued to take no action to reprimand the male student. Not only did fellow students harass the victim, the attacker and his friends verbally and physically harassed the girl as well. They followed her around as she moved in and out of classrooms, through hallways, and around the school campus. The attacker sometimes pushed her into other students as she walked down the hallway, causing her to slam into lockers. Despite repeated efforts by the victim’s parents and other students to alert the principal and the school’s Title IX Coordinator about the viciousness of the harassment by the attacker and other students, school administrators took no action.


The only sanction the school imposed upon the student assailant was to temporarily bench him on the basketball court.


Global warming study suggests human causes, dating back to 1800s

The strength of global warming caused by human activity is seen from the fact that natural forces are in a cooling mode, while the earth is continuing to get warmer.


by John Roach, science.nbcnews.com
April 22nd 2013

A long-term global cooling trend ended in the late 19th century, a reversal in temperature that cannot be explained by natural variability alone, according to a new study.

The finding stems from 2,000-year-long continental-scale temperature records inferred from tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and other so-called proxies from around the world.


"The 18th and 19th centuries would probably have been colder than the 20th century no matter what just because there has been a bit less volcanism in this century, but the amount of warming we've seen is extremely unlikely to have happened solely due to natural processes," he told NBC News.

In fact, he and colleagues note in the study published Sunday in Nature Geoscience that the natural forces driving the long-term cooling trend are still present today.

The record is consistent other recent temperature reconstructions that show the reversal in long-term cooling coinciding with the acceleration of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity during the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century.


Use your personal smartphone for work email? Your company might take it


By Bob Sullivan, Columnist, NBC News
April 23, 2013

If you use your personal smartphone or tablet to read work email, your company may have to seize the device some day, and you may not get it back for months.


Thoughts from the astronauts

See the link below for more quotes, and for beautiful pictures from space.


Scott Carpenter Mercury 7: "The planet is not terra firma. It is a delicate flower and must be cared for. It's lonely. It's small. It's isolated, and there is no resupply. And we are mistreating it. Clearly, the highest loyalty we should have is not to our own country or our own religion our own hometown or even to ourselves. It should be to, number two, the family of man, and number one, the planet at large. This is home, and this is all we've got."

Frank Borman Apollo 8: "When you are finally up on the Moon looking back on Earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you're going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people?"

"I think the one overwhelming emotion we had when we saw the Earth rising in the distance over the lunar landscape.....It makes us realise that we all do exist on one small globe. For from 230,000 miles away it really is a small planet."

Michael Collins Apollo 11: "How peaceful and calm and quiet and serene it looked, and how fragile it appeared. That was, oddly enough, the overriding sensation I got looking at the Earth was, my God, that little thing is so fragile out there."

"After the flight of Apollo 11, the three of us [Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins] went on an around the world trip. Wherever we went people, instead of saying 'You Americans did it', everywhere they said 'We did it! We humankind. We the human race. We people" I'd never heard people in different countries use this word 'we, we, we' as emphatically as we were hearing from Europeans, Asians, Africans, where ever we went it was 'We finally did it!' I thought that was a wonderful thing."

Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14: "When you see the Earth like that it's powerful. Not any bigger than that [thumb size] way up there. You get to see the Earth receding and you get to see the Moon coming towards you and it's awe inspiring"

"The biggest joy was on the way home in my cockpit window every two minutes, the Earth, the Moon and the Sun, and the whole 360 degree panorama of the heavens and that was a powerful, overwhelming experience. And suddenly I realised that the molecules of my body, and the molecules of the spacecraft, and the molecules in the bodies of my partners were prototyped, were manufactured, in some ancient generation of stars. And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness, it was not 'them and us' it was 'that's me' 'that's us'. It was accompanied by an ecstasy, an epiphany, an insight, a sense of 'Oh my God! Yes!'"

"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world and a compulsion to do something about it. From there out on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles and say 'Look at that, you son of a bitch!'"

Muslims helped prevent alleged Canada train bomb plot


By Ian Johnston, Staff Writer, NBC News
April 23, 2013

Muslims helped foil an alleged al Qaeda-backed plot to blow up a rail line between the United States and Canada, according to a community leader and police.


"In our community we may look a little different, but in our hearts we love Canada. It's our country. It's our tribe," he added. "We want safety for all Canadians regardless of their religion."

Police also said a tip from the Muslim community had helped their year-long investigation, Reuters reported.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Spread kindness

Family members of the accused bombers have gotten threats, peaceful Muslims have been assaulted by uncivilized thugs. This kind of mean jerkiness fosters violence in our society.

A common thread of many or most of the mass killings we have had, is that the perpetrators have felt rejected, often harassed and bullied. I know from personal experience how mean our society can be. If we sow hatred, it will come back to hurt us. When we are kind to others, we help our society become safer.

I'm not advocating allowing others to bully us. In my experience, that just emboldens them.

I also note that the bombers are of an age when schizophrenia is most likely to manifest itself. This could result in religious fanaticism. Not that all religious fanatics are schizophrenics, just that it is a possible.

I am greatly saddened by the whole thing. The tragedy for the injured, and the relative who lost loved ones, and for the family of the apparent bombers, and also for the bombers. A person must be filled up with rage and unhappiness to do such a thing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

England's smoking ban linked to annual 5 percent drop in emergency admissions for asthma

An asthma attack can kill a person.


Public release date: 15-Apr-2013
Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Figures add up to around 1900 fewer such admissions among adults every year

This adds up to around 1900 fewer such admissions every year, the authors calculate, and confirms the value of public health interventions, such as smoking bans, they say.

They base their findings on the number of emergency admissions for asthma among adults aged 16 and over in England between April 1997 and December 2010.

Smoking in all publ


Vitamin D may reduce risk of uterine fibroids, according to NIH study


Public release date: 15-Apr-2013
Contact: Robin Mackar
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Women who had sufficient amounts of vitamin D were 32 percent less likely to develop fibroids than women with insufficient vitamin D, according to a study from researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomata, are noncancerous tumors of the uterus. Fibroids often result in pain and bleeding in premenopausal women, and are the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States.


Negative fathering plus barroom drinking are a dangerous mix, lead to aggression


Public release date: 16-Apr-2013
Contact: Peter G. Miller
Deakin University

Contact: Samantha Wells
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

A new study examines the role of the father-son relationship in male-to-male alcohol-related aggression (MMARA).
Findings indicate that negative father-son relationships can play a significant role in fostering young men’s MMARA, particularly when combined with barroom drinking.

Alcohol-related aggression is estimated to be involved in half of all assaults globally. In addition, alcohol-related aggression is most likely to occur among young males and usually at a bar or other licensed venue. While it is clear that drinking and heavy binge drinking can lead to male-to-male alcohol-related aggression (MMARA), this study is the first to examine the role of the father-son relationship in MMARA, finding that negative fathering is particularly influential.


Samantha Wells, a scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health who was not in involved in this study, has conducted similar research on linkages between masculinity and aggression in bars. "These findings may further explain the link between masculinity and male violence; that is, boys who experience violence in the home at the hands of their fathers may react by embracing extreme versions of masculinity as a way of gaining a sense of power," she said. "In this way, the cycle of violence continues. But what is important here is the suggestion that the cycle of violence extends into social behaviour in a bar setting. This finding confirms that male aggression in bars is not simply 'boys being boys' – it's troubled boys being anti-social and harming others."

Miller's study defines "negative fathering" as an abusive or absent relationship to the child. "The terms we use are: indifference, so lack of emotional attachment or concern for the child; abuse, noted as both verbal and physical, for example, shaming or belittling the child, being verbally aggressive or physically violent such as hitting, punching, spanking; and over-control, an authoritarian relationship characterized by high expectations of conformity and compliance to parental rules and directions, while allowing little open dialogue between parent and child," he said.


Aerobic exercise may protect cognitive abilities of heavy drinkers, says CU-Boulder study


Public release date: 16-Apr-2013
Contact: Hollis Karoly
University of Colorado at Boulder

Aerobic exercise may help prevent and perhaps even reverse some of the brain damage associated with heavy alcohol consumption, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

The study results indicated that regular aerobic exercise like walking, running or bicycling is associated with less damage to the brain's "white matter" among heavy alcohol users. White matter, along with gray matter, are the organ's two major physical components. White matter is composed of bundles of nerve cells that act as transmission lines to facilitate communication between various parts of the brain, said lead study author Hollis Karoly, a doctoral student in CU-Boulder's psychology and neuroscience department.

"We found that for people who drink a lot and exercise a lot, there was not a strong relationship between alcohol and white matter," said Karoly. "But for people who drink a lot and don't exercise, our study showed the integrity of white matter is compromised in several areas of the brain. It basically means white matter is not moving messages between areas of the brain as efficiently as normal."


"This is an exploratory study and it is not our intention to suggest a person can erase the physiological damage of years of heavy drinking by exercising," said Karoly. "Some of the specific mechanisms in the brain linked to heavy drinking and exercise are not well understood, and we hope our study will inspire future research on the subject."

UGA research finds sterilized dogs live longer


Public release date: 17-Apr-2013
Contact: Kate E. Creevy
University of Georgia

Athens, Ga. – Many dog owners have their pets spayed or neutered to help control the pet population, but new research from the University of Georgia suggests the procedure could add to the length of their lives and alter the risk of specific causes of death.

Looking at a sample of 40,139 death records from the Veterinary Medical Database from 1984-2004, researchers determined the average age at death for intact dogs—dogs that had not been spayed or neutered—was 7.9 years versus 9.4 years for sterilized dogs. The results of the study were published April 17 in PLOS ONE.


For the first time, researchers have been able to measure costs of reproduction in terms of the actual causes of death, finding that the causes of death differed between sterilized and intact dogs. Dogs who had undergone a gonadectomy (a spay or castration) were more likely to die from cancer or autoimmune diseases. Those in the sample who still had functional reproduction systems at death were more likely to die from infectious disease and trauma.

"Intact dogs are still dying from cancer; it is just a more common cause of death for those that are sterilized," said Jessica Hoffman, a UGA doctoral candidate in the Franklin College of Arts of Sciences who co-authored the study.

Creevy added, "At the level of the individual dog owner, our study tells pet owners that, overall, sterilized dogs will live longer, which is good to know. Also, if you are going to sterilize your dog, you should be aware of possible risks of immune-mediated diseases and cancer; and if you are going to keep him or her intact, you need to keep your eye out for trauma and infection."


Learned helplessness in flies and the roots of depression


Public release date: 18-Apr-2013
Contact: Mary Beth O'Leary
Cell Press

When faced with impossible circumstances beyond their control, animals, including humans, often hunker down as they develop sleep or eating disorders, ulcers, and other physical manifestations of depression. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 18 show that the same kind of thing happens to flies.


Why do babies calm down when they are carried?


Public release date: 18-Apr-2013
Contact: Juliette Savin

Parents know that crying babies usually calm down when they are picked up and carried, but why is that? In a study published today, researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute show that human babies and mouse pups alike automatically and deeply relax when they are carried.

Their study, published in the journal Current Biology, is the first one to demonstrate that the infant calming response to maternal carrying is a coordinated set of nervous, motor and cardiac regulations. Kumi Kuroda and colleagues Gianluca Esposito and Sachine Yoshida, who carried out the research, propose that it might be an evolutionarily conserved, and essential, component of mother-infant interaction.

"This infant response reduces maternal burden of carrying and is beneficial for both the mother and the infant, " explains Kuroda.


Both human and mouse babies calm down and stop moving immediately after they are carried, and mouse pups stop emitting ultrasonic cries. Mouse pups also adopt the characteristic compact posture, with limbs flexed, seen in other mammals such as cats and lions.


"Such proper understanding of infants would reduce frustration of parents and be beneficial, because unsoothable crying is major risk factor for child abuse," says Kuroda.

The Rapidly Shrinking Federal Deficit


by Mark Thoma, economistsview.typepad.com
April 11th 2013 9:10 AM

Calculated Risk:

... It shocks people when I tell them the deficit as a percent of GDP is already close to being cut in half (this doesn't seem to ever make headlines). As Hatzius notes, the deficit is currently running under half the peak of the fiscal 2009 budget and will probably decline further over the next few years with no additional policy changes.

Demanding physical work associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease


Public release date: 18-Apr-2013
Contact: Jacqueline Partarrieu
European Society of Cardiology

Two studies presented at this year's EuroPRevent 2013 congress suggest that demanding physical work has a detrimental effect on an individual's risk of coronary heart disease.


After adjusting for various potential confounding factors such as age, sex, body mass index, smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, family history of cardiovascular disease and adherence to the Mediterranean diet, results confirmed that those occupied in progressively less physically demanding jobs (that is, for each unit increase of the scale) were associated with a 20% lower likelihood of acute coronary events (a statistically significant odds ratio of 0.81%) or of ischaemic stroke (odds ratio 0.83%).


Within the context of exercise recommendations, he noted that the somewhat paradoxical results could possibly be attributed to the stress experienced by people with physically demanding jobs. Stress, he added, may be one reason why hard physical work may not be comparable to the physical exercise recommended for health and well-being, which tend to be non-stressful behaviours. In addition, he explained, such work is often not well paid, which may restrict access to the healthcare system.


Results during follow-up showed an overall beneficial effect of leisure time physical activity, but an adverse effect of demanding physical work. However, Dr Els Clays, from the Department of Public Health at the University of Ghent, Belgium, added that an "interaction effect" was also evident in the results: while moderate-to-high physical activity during leisure time was associated with a 60% reduced risk of coronary events in men with low occupational physical activity (a statistically significant hazard rate of 0.40), this protective effect was not observed in those workers who were also exposed to high physical work demands (HR 1.67).

Dr Clays added that, after adjusting for socio-demographic and well established coronary risk factors, men with high physical job demands were more than four times likely to have coronary heart disease when they also engaged in physical activity during leisure time (HR 4.77).

Commenting on the results Dr Clays said: "From a public health perspective it is very important to know whether people with physically demanding jobs should be advised to engage in leisure time activity. The results of this study suggest that additional physical activity during leisure time in those who are already physically exhausted from their daily occupation does not induce a 'training' effect but rather an overloading effect on the cardiovascular system.

Carbon Pollution graphicall


Carbon Pollution: If We Don’t Change Our Direction, We’ll End Up Where We’re Headed

By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 19, 2013
By Dr. Jonathan G. Koomey, via koomey.com


Here’s Figure 2-3 from Cold Cash, Cool Climate, updated to include CO2 concentrations through 2012. It shows historical carbon dioxide concentrations for the past 450,000 years, including the strikingly rapid increase since the 1800s. The early historical data come from the Vostok and Lawdome ice cores, while the more recent data (post 1959) come from direct measurements. We’ve pushed carbon dioxide concentrations well outside the range that has prevailed over the past 450 millennia.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Beware of monsters

I'm not a fan of Nietzsche, but I think this is a very true observation.
Applies both to the fanatics who bomb in the name of some cause, and to our own reactions to them.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.


Lead poisoning toll revised to 1 in 38 young kids


by MIKE STOBBE, bigstory.ap.org

NEW YORK (AP) — More than half a million U.S. children are now believed to have lead poisoning, roughly twice the previous high estimate, health officials reported Thursday.

The increase is the result of the government last year lowering the threshold for lead poisoning, so now more children are considered at risk.

Too much lead can harm developing brains and can mean a lower IQ. Lead poisoning used to be a much larger concern in the United States, but has declined significantly as lead was removed from paint and gasoline and other sources.

The new number translates to about 1 in 38 young children. That estimate suggests a need for more testing and preventive measures, some experts said, but budget cuts last year eliminated federal grant funding for such programs.

Those cuts represent "an abandonment of children," said David Rosner, a Columbia University public health historian who writes books about lead poisoning.

"We've been acting like the problem was solved and this was a thing of the past," he added.

Lead can harm a child's brain, kidneys and other organs. High levels in the blood can cause coma, convulsions and death. Lower levels can reduce intelligence, impair hearing and behavior and cause other problems.


Study reveals austerity's harmful impact on health in Greece


Public release date: 18-Apr-2013
Contact: Mark Almberg
Physicians for a National Health Program
Findings are 'much worse than we imagined,' researcher says

In one of the most detailed studies of its kind, a team of Greek and U.S. researchers have vividly chronicled the harmful public health impacts of the economic austerity measures imposed on Greece's population in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Writing in today's [Thursday, April 18] American Journal of Public Health, the researchers cite data showing the economic recession and subsequent austerity policies in Greece have led to a sharp deterioration of health services and health outcomes.


They found that key public health indicators declined in tandem with the recession and austerity policies that reduced public services.

For example, between 2007 and 2009, suicide and homicide mortality rates among men increased by 22.7 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively. Mental disorders, substance abuse, and infectious diseases showed worsening trends.


The U.S.-based researcher on the team, Dr. Howard Waitzkin, distinguished professor emeritus of sociology and medicine at the University of New Mexico, said: "The policies of cutbacks currently proposed in the United States for Medicare and Social Security will lead to similar devastating effects on health services and outcomes. Instead of austerity policies, we need increased public sector spending to stimulate our failing economy and to protect the health of our people."

Painkillers taken before marathons linked to potentially serious side effects


Public release date: 19-Apr-2013
Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Risk increases with dose; unrecognised problem, doctors warn

Many competitors try to prevent pain interfering with their performance by taking painkillers that are readily available in pharmacies and supermarkets, say the authors.

And in a bid to find out what impact these common drugs might have, the authors quizzed participants in the 2010 Bonn Marathon/Half-Marathon about their use of medication and any symptoms they had during and/or after the race.


The numbers of those forced to withdraw during the race because of pain and other health symptoms differed little between those who took painkillers and those who didn't.

But withdrawal from competition because of gastrointestinal problems was significantly more common among those taking painkillers, and while withdrawal as a result of muscle cramps was rare, it was significantly more common in those who had taken these drugs.

Runners who popped painkillers were five times as likely to experience symptoms as those who didn't take these drugs; the overall difference in risk was 13%.

Symptoms included stomach cramps, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal bleeds, blood in the urine and joint and muscle pain.

The rate of symptoms rose in parallel with increasing dose. One in 10 of those taking diclofenac took over 100 mg; 43% of those who took ibuprofen, the second most popular choice, took doses of 800 mg or more—twice the recommended dose.

Virtually none of the respondents said they were aware of any risks associated with taking painkillers for endurance sports.

Nine runners who took painkillers said they had ended up in hospital: three for temporary kidney failure after taking ibuprofen; four for bleeding ulcers (aspirin), and two after a heart attack (aspirin), one of whom had taken 500 mg for mild foot pain.

None of the runners who competed without having topped up on painkillers was admitted to hospital.

Painkillers block enzymes called cyclooxygenases, which regulate the production of prostaglandins. But the authors suggest that prostaglandins also protect tissues when the body is under extreme stress, such as during endurance sports.


A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent


by Mark Thoma, economistsview.typepad.com
April 16th 2013

Except for the dust-up (cyclone?) over the Reinhart and Rogoff results on debt and growth, it's a bit of a slow day and I need to get to a meeting. So, reaching back a few days for a quick post, Joseph Stiglitz does not "eschew the word 'fair'":

A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent, by Joe Stiglitz, Commentary, NY Times: ...About 6 in 10 of us believe that the tax system is unfair — and they’re right: put simply, the very rich don’t pay their fair share. The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than $200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes — far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent..., and about the same as those earning a mere $200,000 to $500,000. And in 2009, 116 of the top 400 earners — almost a third — paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes.

Conservatives like to point out that the richest Americans’ tax payments make up a large portion of total receipts. ... Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization that advocates for a more progressive tax system, has estimated that, when federal, state and local taxes are taken into account, the top 1 percent paid only slightly more than 20 percent of all American taxes in 2010 — about the same as the share of income they took home, an outcome that is not progressive at all.

With such low effective tax rates — and, importantly, the low tax rate of 20 percent on income from capital gains — it’s not a huge surprise that the share of income going to the top 1 percent has doubled since 1979, and that the share going to the top 0.1 percent has almost tripled...

Over the years, some of the wealthy have been enormously successful in getting special treatment, shifting an ever greater share of the burden of financing the country’s expenditures — defense, education, social programs — onto others. ...


Teen moms at greater risk for later obesity


A new study debunks the myth that younger moms are more likely to “bounce back” after having a baby – teenage pregnancy actually makes women more likely to become obese.

Women who give birth as teens are significantly more likely to be overweight or obese later in life than women who were not teen moms, University of Michigan Health System researchers found.


When loving others becomes routine, it can overshadow the routine of evil

I recommend reading the whole essay at the following link:


April 16, 2013
By Issac J. Bailey


Reports of a bombing here, a dead soldier there, in Iraq and Afghanistan have become so routine I have to force myself to pay attention to them.

The same with bloody unrest in Libya and daily slaughter in Syria.

Even a big undetected rock falling from the sky is part of the routine we now call life.

Belittling each other. Thinking the worst of each other. Calling each other nasty names just because we can. Routine.

A planned, deadly bombing at one of the world’s most prestigious marathons has been added to the list of the routine, another of the thousands cuts.

Over most of those things, we have little to no control.

But we can make hugging our children a little tighter a little more often a part of the new routine, not just in response to the latest tragedy.

We can treat each other with more kindness as part of the new routine. We can decide to routinely love the unlovable.

Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/2013/04/16/3440351/issac-j-bailey-when-loving-others.html#storylink=cpy


The Terrifying Reality of Long-Term Unemployment


Matthew O'Brien Apr 13 2013


There are two labor markets nowadays. There's the market for people who have been out of work for less than six months, and the market for people who have been out of work longer. The former is working pretty normally, and the latter is horribly dysfunctional. That was the conclusion of recent research I highlighted a few months ago by Rand Ghayad, a visiting scholar at the Boston Fed and a PhD candidate in economics at Northeastern University, and William Dickens, a professor of economics at Northeastern University, that looked at Beveridge curves for different ages, industries, and education levels to see who the recovery is leaving behind.


Employers prefer applicants who haven't been out of work for very long, applicants who have industry experience, and applicants who haven't moved between jobs that much. But how long you've been out of work trumps those other factors. As you can see in the chart below from Ghayad's paper, people with relevant experience (red) who had been out of work for six months or longer got called back less than people without relevant experience (blue) who'd been out of work shorter.


Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap. Once you've been out of work for six months, there's little you can do to find work. Employers put you at the back of the jobs line, regardless of how strong the rest of your resume is. After all, they usually don't even look at it.


It's time for the government to start hiring the long-term unemployed. Or, at the least, start giving employers tax incentives to hire the long-term unemployed. The worst possible outcome for all of us is if the long-term unemployed become unemployable. That would permanently reduce our productive capacity.

We can do better, and we need to start doing so now. We can't afford long-term thinking in either the short or the long-term.

Texas wants federal disaster aid it refused to give others


by kos, dailykos.com
April 18th 2013

Texas secessionist Gov. Rick Perry:

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday declared McLennan County - home to West, the small community rocked by the deadly fertilizer plant explosion - a disaster area and announced that he's asking President Barack Obama for a federal emergency declaration as well.

That's not an unreasonable request, and the victims of the fire and the residents of West deserve it. (Even if West Fertilizer Co should ultimately pay the costs for gross negligence.)

Still, it's curious seeing Perry run to the feds after hearing his secessionist rhetoric because of the "oppressive" federal government. And he's joined in the hall of hypocrisy by the rest of the area's federal delegation.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Night Shifts May Be Linked to Increased Ovarian Cancer Risk


sciencedaily.com | Mar 14th 2013

— Working night shifts might increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, indicates research published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The risk may be lower for night types ("owls") than for morning types ("larks"), the findings suggest.


Working night shifts was associated with a 24% increased risk of advanced cancer and a 49% increased risk of early stage disease compared with those who worked normal office hours.


Only women aged 50 and above were significantly more likely to have ovarian cancer if they had worked nights.

The authors say their findings are consistent with, and of a similar magnitude, as those found for breast cancer, but point out that they did not find any cumulative risk for ovarian cancer the longer a woman had worked a night shift pattern.

One possible explanation could be linked to melatonin, a powerful hormone that is normally produced at night, but suppressed by ambient light, and which regulates reproductive hormones, particularly oestrogen.

Melatonin also scavenges harmful free radicals and boosts production of other antioxidants in the body.

Walking Can Lower Risk of Heart-Related Conditions as Much as Running


sciencedaily.com | Apr 4th 2013

Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running can, according to surprising findings reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners' Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers' Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study's six years.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Autism: What we know right now

An interesting article that summarizes many current findings about autism.


by Kelley King Heyworth, cnn.com
April 16th 2013


One possible contributor to autism's rise is that people are having babies later. The chance for gene glitches increases as parents -- especially dads -- age, explains Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist at the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis.

But delayed childbearing explains only a very small fraction of the rise in autism rates. Environmental factors may turn many autism genes "on" or "off," says Hyman.

"The best studies we have now point to things that babies are exposed to in the womb, when the brain is forming," says Hertz-Picciotto. Living in areas with high levels of air pollution (such as near a freeway), having low levels of folic acid, being overweight or diabetic, and having a high fever during pregnancy all seem to up a woman's risk of having a child with autism.


The Silliness of Crowds

What the H**L is wrong with our culture, that so many people would viciously attack Justin Bieber for saying he admired Anne Frank, and hopes she would have liked his music. Reminds me of the hysteria that resulted in the burning of witches, and the lynching of Leo Frank. Some people called his comment silly. I think finding fault with the comment is very silly and nutty, and an example of the meanness we seem to be addicted to, to keep our adrenaline rush going.




Eva Schloss was a childhood friend of the inspirational writer before their families were forced into hiding, and says it's very possible that she would have in fact been a Belieber:

"She probably would have been a fan. Why not? He’s a young man and she was a young girl, and she liked film stars and music."


The Anne Frank House also defended the pop star and said they were just happy he came by and showed an appreciation for the history.


Child Poverty in Rich Countries


Monday, April 15, 2013

Fake charity Twitter accounts launched in light of Boston Marathon explosions


April 15, 2013
By: Steven Ruygrok

While several explosions have hit the Boston Marathon today, there have been a few Twitter accounts opened, that were alleging they would donate money to the victims of the tragedy for every re-tweet they received.

The catch is these accounts were fake and were just looking to profit off of the publicity coming out of the explosions.


While several explosions have hit the Boston Marathon today, there have been a few Twitter accounts opened, that were alleging they would donate money to the victims of the tragedy for every re-tweet they received.

The catch is these accounts were fake and were just looking to profit off of the publicity coming out of the explosions.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Even Brief Unemployment Can Have Long Consequences

No surprise to me.


by Lauren Weber, blogs.wsj.com
April 5th 2013

But even short-term unemployment upends a family’s life. Without a paycheck to count on or benefits to cover healthcare, a visit to the doctor becomes prohibitively expensive, kitchen-table conversations about money replace meals out at restaurants, and the daily cycle of working and earning is put on hold.

Those disruptions are felt long after a person goes back to work, according to new research. Families where one member went through even a brief bout of unemployment between 1999 and 2009 frequently spent down assets saved for retirement or their children’s education, or took on debt, compromising their long-term economic security and mobility. These families were about 30% more likely to suffer a loss of wealth during the decade than other families, according to an analysis of data from roughly 3,000 families by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In short, even a little time without a paycheck can prevent a working-class family from moving up the economic ladder.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Look to the skies!

Click on the picture to see the whole map.

Science Is Awesome

Just as with meteor showers, many people miss out on the amazing spectacle of the auroras simply because they do not look up. Please share this information with your friends and family.

Please feel free to download and repost this image anywhere you wish. Credit is not asked for or expected.

More information on auroras: http://bit.ly/14leC1P


Friday, April 12, 2013

Greenhouse Gases Make High Temps Hotter in China

To be fair, note that China has the largest population of any country.
1 China 1,339,190,000
2 India 1,184,639,000
3 United States of America 309,975,000

And the last time I checked, the U.S. still has the largest carbon footprint per person.


by SETH BORENSTEIN AP, abcnews.go.com
April 12th 2013

China, the world's largest producer of carbon dioxide, is directly feeling the man-made heat of global warming, scientists conclude in the first study to link the burning of fossil fuels to one country's rise in its daily temperature spikes.

China emits more of the greenhouse gas than the next two biggest carbon polluters — the U.S. and India — combined. And its emissions keep soaring by about 10 percent per year.

While other studies have linked averaged-out temperature increases in China and other countries to greenhouse gases, this research is the first to link the warmer daily hottest and coldest readings, or spikes.

Those spikes, which often occur in late afternoon and the early morning, are what scientists say most affect people's health, plants and animals. People don't notice changes in averages, but they feel it when the daily high is hotter or when it doesn't cool off at night to let them recover from a sweltering day.

The study by Chinese and Canadian researchers found that just because of greenhouse gases, daytime highs rose 0.9 degree Celsius (1.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the 46 years up to 2007. At night it was even worse: Because of greenhouse gases, the daily lows went up about 1.7 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit).


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Penn study finds increased sleep could reduce rate of adolescent obesity


Public release date: 8-Apr-2013
Contact: Katie Delach
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Results show each additional hour of sleep is associated with a lower BMI for teens

Philadelphia – Increasing the number of hours of sleep adolescents get each night may reduce the prevalence of adolescent obesity, according to a new study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Results of the study show that fewer hours of sleep is associated with greater increases in adolescent body mass index (BMI) for participants between 14 and 18-years-old. The findings suggest that increasing sleep duration to 10 hours per day, especially for those in the upper half of the BMI distribution, could help to reduce the prevalence of adolescent obesity. Full results of the study are available online in the latest issue of Pediatrics.

Reframing stress: Stage fright can be your friend


Public release date: 8-Apr-2013
Contact: Susan Hagen
University of Rochester

Fear of public speaking tops death and spiders as the nation's number one phobia. But new research shows that learning to rethink the way we view our shaky hands, pounding heart, and sweaty palms can help people perform better both mentally and physically.

Before a stressful speaking task, simply encouraging people to reframe the meaning of these signs of stress as natural and helpful was a surprisingly effective way of handling stage fright, found the study to be published online April 8 in Clinical Psychological Science.


Before speaking in public, people often interpret stress sensations, like butterflies in the stomach, as a warning that something bad is about to happen, he says.

"But those feelings just mean that our body is preparing to address a demanding situation," explains Jamieson. "The body is marshaling resources, pumping more blood to our major muscle groups and delivering more oxygen to our brains." Our body's reaction to social stress is the same flight or fight response we produce when confronting physical danger. These physiological responses help us perform, whether we're facing a bear in the forest or a critical audience.