Sunday, June 30, 2013

High drama

I heard on the news this afternoon that leaked U.S. info showed that the U.S. has been spying on European governments, and those governments are shocked, simply shocked!!! As if that were any surprise, and as if they don't do the same thing to us and each other.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Crabgrass' secret: The despised weed makes herbicide to kill neighboring plants

Well, crabgrass does make good grass whistles :)

Public release date: 26-Jun-2013
Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

Contrary to popular belief, crabgrass does not thrive in lawns, gardens and farm fields by simply crowding out other plants. A new study in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found that the much-despised weed actually produces its own herbicides that kill nearby plants.


"Big Givers" Get Punished for Being Nonconformists

June 27, 2013
Contact: Terry Goodrich

WACO, Texas (June 27, 2013) -- People punish generous group members by rejecting them socially -- even when the generosity benefits everyone -- because the "big givers" are nonconformists, according to a Baylor University study.

The study, published in the journal Social Science Research, showed that besides socially rejecting especially generous givers, others even "paid" to punish them through a points system.

"This is puzzling behavior," said researcher Kyle Irwin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "Why would you punish the people who are doing the most -- especially when it benefits the group? It doesn't seem to make sense on the surface, but it shows the power of norms. It may be that group members think it's more important to conform than for the group to do well."

"Free-riders" - those who were stingy but benefited from others' larger contributions -- also were nonconformists and ostracized.


Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies

It has previously been shown that an ingredient in antibacterial soaps can cause muscle damage.

Public release date: 27-Jun-2013
Contact: Lola Alapo
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
UT study: Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies

KNOXVILLE—A mother's prolonged use of antibacterial soaps containing the chemical triclocarban may harm nursing babies, according to a recent study from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The study, which was conducted on rats, showed that exposure to the compound may reduce the survival rates of babies.

Rebekah Kennedy, a UT graduate student pursuing a dual master's degree in public health and nutrition, and Jiangang Chen, an assistant professor in the UT Department of Public Health, presented the results this month at the Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting and Expo in San Francisco. Kennedy was the study's lead author.

Triclocarban, a bactericide, is found primarily in antibacterial bar soaps.

The researchers noted that they were not condemning the use of antibacterial soaps.

"People have to weigh their own risks and decide what would be the best route," Kennedy said. "There's always a time and place for antibacterial bar soaps, such as in health care settings where the chance of infection and transmission is high. For the average person, antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap."

Chen conducted an earlier study that examined how prolonged exposure to triclocarban affected growth of sex organs in adult male rats. Kennedy decided to go a step further and look into how it would affect baby rats in the womb and during nursing.

Humans are exposed to triclocarban through skin absorption. Research shows that based on how the compound is biotransformed, oral exposure in rats is similar to dermal exposure for humans, Kennedy said.

During Kennedy's research, pregnant rats fed with triclocarban through food had similar blood concentrations compared to human blood concentrations after a 15-minute shower using antibacterial soap.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

One in five students in Grades 7-12 say they have had a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime

Toronto, June 25, 2013
By Leslie Shepherd

One in five adolescents surveyed in Ontario said they have suffered a traumatic brain injury that left them unconscious for five minutes or required them to be hospitalized overnight, a statistic researchers in Toronto say is much higher than previously thought.

Sports such as ice hockey and soccer accounted for more than half the injuries, said Dr. Gabriela Ilie, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, were reported more often by males than females, by those with lower school grades and by those who used alcohol or cannabis in the previous 12 months, she said.

The study was to be published Wednesday (June 26) in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


The survey found that 20 per cent of adolescents in Ontario said they had had a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime. It found that 5.6 per cent of them had had such an injury in the past 12 months.

Dr. Ilie said this suggests the prevalence of TBI among young people is much higher than previously known, because many head injuries remain uncounted when they are not being reported to parents, teachers, sports coaches or health care workers. In Canada, 50 per cent of all injuries that kill and disable youth involve a TBI.

This new research found that 46.9 per cent of the TBIs reported by adolescent females occurred during sports (e.g., hockey, skate boarding); the figure was 63.5 per cent for males.


Brain injuries among adolescents are particularly concerning because their brains are still developing. There is growing evidence that people who have had one or more concussions are at greater risk of future concussions, and evidence that multiple brain injuries can result in lasting cognitive impairment, substance use, mental health and physical health harms.

Concussions affect children's brains even after symptoms subside

Public release date: 11-Dec-2012
Contact: Kat Snodgrass
Society for Neuroscience

Clinical study suggests potential benefit of using advanced imaging techniques to monitor recovery

Washington, DC — Brain changes in children who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, persist for months following injury — even after the symptoms of the injury are gone, according to a study published in the December 12 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings highlight the potential benefit of using advanced imaging techniques to monitor recovery in children following concussions.


Frequent soccer ball 'heading' may lead to brain injury

Public release date: 11-Jun-2013
Contact: Kim Newman
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

June 11, 2013 -- (BRONX, NY) — Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have shown that soccer players who frequently head the ball have brain abnormalities resembling those found in patients with concussion (mild traumatic brain injury). The study, which used advanced imaging techniques and cognitive tests that assessed memory, published online today in the journal Radiology.


Vitamin D reduces blood pressure and relieves depression in women with diabetes

Public release date: 24-Jun-2013
Contact: Jim Ritter
Loyola University Health System

MAYWOOD, Il. -- In women who have type 2 diabetes and show signs of depression, vitamin D supplements significantly lowered blood pressure and improved their moods, according to a pilot study at Loyola University Chicago Niehoff School of Nursing.

Vitamin D even helped the women lose a few pounds.


New research finds flu shot effective regardless of circulating flu strain

After I had the swine flue shot years ago, I didn't get sick for three years.

Public release date: 25-Jun-2013
Contact: Kate Taylor
St. Michael's Hospital

New research out of St. Michael's Hospital has found that despite popular belief, the flu shot is effective in preventing the flu, even if the virus going around does not match the vaccine.

"It's quite common for people to say they are not going to get the flu shot this year because they've heard it does not match the strain of flu going around," said Dr. Andrea Tricco, the lead author of the paper and a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital. "However, we've found that individuals will be protected regardless of whether the flu strain is a match or not."


The study looked at the two most popular vaccine formulations in Canada – Trivalent inactive vaccine for adults and live-attenuated influenza vaccine for children. They found that both vaccines provided significant protection against matched (ranging from 65 per cent to 83 per cent effectiveness) and mismatched (ranging from 52 per cent to 54 per cent effectiveness) flu strains.


South Asians need more exercise than white Europeans to reduce diabetes risk, say scientists

Maybe white Europeans have been depending on others to do their work for so long, that many of the ones who needed more exercise to be healthy died and had fewer offspring.

Public release date: 27-Jun-2013
Contact: Stuart Forsyth

South Asians (from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) may have to exercise more than white Europeans to achieve the same levels of fitness and reduce their risk of diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have found that lower fitness levels in middle-aged men of South Asian origin are contributing to higher blood sugar levels and increased diabetes risk compared with white men.

The research, published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), suggests that physical activity guidelines may need to be changed to take ethnicity into account.


Impulsive murderers much more mentally impaired than those who kill strategically - See more at:

June 27, 2013 | by Erin White

The minds of murderers who kill impulsively, often out of rage, and those who carefully carry out premeditated crimes differ markedly both psychologically and intellectually, according to a new study by Northwestern Medicine® researcher Robert Hanlon.

“Impulsive murderers were much more mentally impaired, particularly cognitively impaired, in terms of both their intelligence and other cognitive functions,” said Hanlon, senior author of the study and associate professor of clinical psychiatry and clinical neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“The predatory and premeditated murderers did not typically show any major intellectual or cognitive impairments, but many more of them have psychiatric disorders,” he said.
- See more at:


“It’s important to try to learn as much as we can about the thought patterns and the psychopathology, neuropathology and mental disorders that tend to characterize the types of people committing these crimes,” he said. “Ultimately, we may be able to increase our rates of prevention and also assist the courts, particularly helping judges and juries be more informed about the minds and the mental abnormalities of the people who commit these violent crimes.” - See more at:

SCIENTIST: Yes, That Lobster You're Boiling Alive Is Probably In Real Pain

It's impossible to "prove" that a person feels pain.

Agence France Presse Jan. 16, 2013

A lobster thrown live into boiling water may suffer for many seconds, said a scientist who argued Thursday that crustaceans can likely feel pain.

A set of experiments on crabs revealed that the animals are willing to give up a valuable dark hiding place in order to avoid an electric shock, an indicator of pain, said a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Crabs in the study learned to avoid the shelter in a laboratory tank where they had repeatedly received a shock, said study leader Bob Elwood of Queen's University in Belfast.

"They were willing to give up their hideaway in order to avoid the source of their probable pain."

Elwood told AFP it was impossible to prove beyond doubt that the animals feel pain, but the research results were "consistent" with pain and added: "Perhaps we should err on the side of caution".

Elwood said billions of prawns, crabs and lobster are caught or reared for human consumption every year and treated in "very extreme ways."

"Crabs have their claws torn off and the live crab is thrown back in the sea. Lobsters and prawns have the front half of the body torn off from the abdomen which is kept for the meat. The nervous system in the head and thorax is still functional an hour later."

The biologist said many people assumed that because crustaceans do not have a brain resembling that of vertebrate animals, they could not feel pain.

"Crustaceans are invertebrates and people do not care about invertebrates," he said.

"More consideration of the treatment of these animals is needed as a potentially very large problem is being ignored."

Jan 16, 2013 11:17 PM ET // by Jennifer Viegas

Shellfish, such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp, feel pain, suggests a new study that calls into question how food and aquaculture industries treat these animals.

Researchers have suspected for some time that live lobsters dunked into boiling water and rubber-banded crustaceans stored in crowded fish market tanks experience tremendous pain. We reported on that some years back. But it’s always a challenge for scientists to prove conclusively that a non-human is feeling pain.

“On a philosophical point, it is impossible to demonstrate absolutely that an animal experiences pain,” researcher Bob Elwood of the Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, was quoted as saying in a press release. “However, various criteria have been suggested regarding what we would expect if pain were to be experienced. The research at Queen’s has tested those criteria and the data is consistent with the idea of pain. Thus, we conclude that there is a strong probability of pain and the need to consider the welfare of these animals.”


Republican Darrell Issa requested IRS scrutiny of liberal groups not be released

June 27, 2013

The reason information was not previously released which revealed that liberal groups were scrutinized by the Internal Revenue Service, was because Darrell Issa requested as such. Additionally, Issa had requested investigators “narrowly focus on tea party organizations,” a spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration.

Documents this week were obtained showing that “progressive,” “Israel” and “occupy” appeared on versions of “be-on-the-lookout” lists (also called BOLO) used by employees in the Internal Revenue Service office that reviewed tax-exempt applications in an effort to coordinate similar issues. Included on the BOLO list was “anti-Republican” which rather negates Issa’s allegations, which said the IRS scrutiny linked in some way to the White House.


By Jay Bookman
June 27, 2013

You want to know the truth about the IRS scandal?

This, from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, is the truth about the IRS scandal:

"To be sure, the IRS made mistakes in how it screened conservative groups. And this week it admitted that liberal groups, too, were on a special “be on the lookout” list and called out for greater attention.

However, (the IRS) has never taken sufficient action against the very largest conservative or progressive organizations that clearly have been abusing their tax status by engaging in substantial partisan political activities.

For years it has also permitted foundations run by politicians for their own political interests to gain tax-exempt status. And the agency has repeatedly refused to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that have crossed the political line....

The first improvement would be to give the agency more money to hire more people to enforce the law.

The agency has far too few employees both to review the rapidly growing applications for tax-exempt status and to make certain that nonprofits comply with the rules and regulations through audits and other enforcement measures. In short, IRS staff members are overwhelmed by the work they are called on to do....

The hypocrisy of a Congress that complains about the inadequacies of the IRS yet is unwilling to grant the agency the money it needs to do its job is all too apparent.

The second challenge is the ambiguity of IRS regulations, and that’s something Congress can urge the agency to fix.


When and why the Tea Party Movement Was Created!

Omar Rivero25 June, 2013

If you have ever been unfortunate enough to get caught in the political debate with a Tea Partier, I am sure that you have heard the tired lie that their supposedly grassroots movement sprung from the legitimate concerns of the oppressed American people that are sick and fed up with the big, bad, tyrannical federal government.

If this particular Tea Partier is well versed in Koch-produced talking points, he or she might have noted that, although their movement is largely funded by Koch brother money through Freedomworks, the actual groundwork and initial impetus originated organically from concerned and patriotic citizens.

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. An academic study by the National Cancer Institute of Health has confirmed that front-groups with long-standing ties to the tobacco industry and the Koch brothers sinisterly planned this pseudo-populist uprising more than a decade before it burst onto the US political scene.

The study traced the roots of the Tea Party back to the early 1980s, when tobacco companies started investing in third-party groups to fight taxes and health studies which they considered detrimental to the longevity and profits of the tobacco industry.

The two organizations that are the most responsible for the rapid growth and proliferation of the Tea Party Movement are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. Not only did these two organizations start off as a very pro tobacco lobby organization called Citizens for a Sounds Economy, they are now still actively “supporting the tobacco companies’ political agenda by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.

The study even revealed that in 2002, the Kochs and their CSE partners-in-crime designed and published the first Tea Party Movement website under the URL


Obama has been working on the problem of problem

I see comments on Facebook that President Obama should be working on the problem of global warming. They ignore the fact that Republicans in Congress have blocked action. Most do not know that he has been doing things he can do w/o Congressional action. Note that only Congress can change the law.

By Mark Drajem - Mar 15, 2013

President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.

The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.


Obama Will Use Nixon-Era Law to Fight Climate Change
By Mark Drajem - Mar 15, 2013 11:50 AM ET

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Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Similar analyses could be made for the oil sands that would be transported in TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, and leases to drill for oil, gas and coal on federal lands, such as those for Arch Coal Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp.

President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.

The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.

“It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Southern Co. (SO) The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.

In taking the step, Obama would be fulfilling a vow to act alone in the face of a Republican-run House of Representatives unwilling to pass measures limiting greenhouse gases. He’d expand the scope of a Nixon-era law that was first intended to force agencies to assess the effect of projects on air, water and soil pollution.


by Cora Currier and Theodoric Meyer
ProPublica, Nov. 1, 2012

Back in the 2008 campaign, climate change was one of the few issues that Obama and his Republican rival, John McCain, agreed on. McCain reiterated his support for a "cap-and-trade" system to combat climate change at a speech in Oregon. Obama predicted Americans would look back at the election as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal," and said he would make energy and climate change his first priority.

After his election, Obama did make some moves at least related to climate change. His stimulus bill included funds and incentives for clean energy development, and he appointed Lisa Jackson to head the Environmental Protection Agency, which has pushed for tougher emissions standards for power plants and automobiles. The White House also recently announced new rules requiring automakers to nearly double vehicles' average fuel efficiency by 2025.

But a push to hash out a climate change bill died in the Senate. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, had been a key player in crafting the legislation. But he pulled his support shortly after Fox News broke a story citing "senior administration sources" that Graham was seeking to raise gasoline taxes as part of the legislation.


Monday, June 24, 2013

IRS chief: 'Inappropriate' screening was broad

Now that they have firmly planted in people's the idea that the IRS was giving certain conservative groups a hard time, they finally admit that progressive groups were also targeted. The AP is still calling it "inappropriate screening", when it was very reasonable to look hard at names known to be associated with primarily political aims, and thus not eligible for the status of tax-exempt social service groups.

By ALAN FRAM Jun. 24, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service's screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency said Monday.

An internal IRS document obtained by The Associated Press said that besides "tea party," lists used by screeners to pick groups for close examination also included the terms "Israel," ''Progressive" and "Occupy." The document said an investigation into why specific terms were included was still underway.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

App to protect private data on iOS devices finds almost half of other apps access private data

Public release date: 20-Jun-2013
Contact: Ioana Patringenaru
University of California - San Diego

Almost half of the mobile apps running on Apple's iOS operating system access the unique identifier of the devices where they're downloaded, computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have found. In addition, more than 13 percent access the devices' location and more than 6 percent the address book. The researchers developed a new app that detects what data the other apps running on an iOS device are trying to access.


Total amount of exercise important, not frequency, research shows

20 June 2013

A new study by Queen’s University researchers has determined that adults who accumulated 150 minutes of exercise on a few days of the week were not any less healthy than adults who exercised more frequently throughout the week.


Berkeley Lab Confirms Thirdhand Smoke Causes DNA Damage

June 20, 2013
Julie Chao

A study led by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found for the first time that thirdhand smoke—the noxious residue that clings to virtually all surfaces long after the secondhand smoke from a cigarette has cleared out—causes significant genetic damage in human cells.

Furthermore, the study also found that chronic exposure is worse than acute exposure, with the chemical compounds in samples exposed to chronic thirdhand smoke existing in higher concentrations and causing more DNA damage than samples exposed to acute thirdhand smoke, suggesting that the residue becomes more harmful over time.


Research reveals low exposure of excellent work by female scientists

June 21, 2013

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have found that high quality science by female academics is underrepresented in comparison to that of their male counterparts.

The researchers analysed the genders of invited speakers at the most prestigious gatherings of evolutionary biologists in Europe - six biannual congresses of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) and found that male speakers outnumbered women.

Even in comparison to the numbers of women and men among world class scientists – from the world top ranked institutions for life sciences, and authors in the top-tier journals Nature and Science - women were still underrepresented among invited speakers.

The researchers also found that women were underrepresented at the 2011 congress because men accepted invitations more often than women.


Supermoon rising: How to photograph this weekend's full moon

By Denise Chow, Live Science
June 22, 2013

The largest full moon of the year will rise this weekend, and for any shutterbugs hoping to snap photos of the so-called "supermoon," following some easy guidelines can help people make the most of their moon shots.

On Sunday (June 23), the moon will reach the closest point to Earth in its asymmetrical orbit, and will appear roughly 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than the full moon at its farthest point from the planet, according to Photographing the supermoon does not require much special equipment, but the trick to capturing more than just a bright, white blob is to think like a camera, said Jason Mrachina, a professional photographer based in Des Moines, Iowa.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

IQ link to baby's weight gain in first month

Public release date: 17-Jun-2013
Contact: Dr. Lisa Smithers
University of Adelaide

New research from the University of Adelaide shows that weight gain and increased head size in the first month of a baby's life is linked to a higher IQ at early school age.

The study was led by University of Adelaide Public Health researchers, who analysed data from more than 13,800 children who were born full-term.

The results, published in the journal Pediatrics, show that babies who put on 40% of their birthweight in the first four weeks had an IQ 1.5 points higher by the time they were six years of age, compared with babies who only put on 15% of their birthweight.


Farm bill fails in the House
By Michael O'Brien and Frank Thorp, NBC News
June 20, 2013

A major piece of farm legislation went down to a surprising and dramatic defeat in the House on Thursday, as conservatives joined with most Democrats to oppose the $940 billion bill.


President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the House legislation had it somehow eventually reached his desk.

Democrats were angry about the heavy cuts to food stamp programs contained in the Republican-written legislation, prompting all but 24 of them to oppose the legislation.


Feds: 2 plotted to build 'Hiroshima light switch' weapon

by Jonathan Dienst,
June 19th 2013

NBC's Pete Williams reports on the arrest of the two suspects who allegedly tried to use a mobile radiation device.

Two upstate New York men, one of them said to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, plotted to build a truck-mounted, industrial-strength X-ray weapon to kill “enemies of Israel” by poisoning them with radiation, federal authorities said Wednesday.

One of them boasted that he could build a “Hiroshima light switch” and that “everything with respiration would be dead by morning,” authorities said.

Investigators said the public was never in danger. The men scoped out Muslims and other groups as potential targets and apparently got as far as building a trigger for the device, but the FBI caught on, set up a sting and made sure the device didn’t work, the authorities said.

The men — Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, and Eric J. Feight, 54 — were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.


Severe egg allergy? There's now a flu shot for you

by Mike Stobbe,
June 20, 2013

People with serious egg allergies may no longer have to worry about flu shots.

A federal advisory panel on Thursday said a new vaccine that's made without eggs is an option for adults with severe allergies. Most current flu shots are made from viruses grown in eggs and could trigger allergic reactions in some cases.

The new Flublok vaccine is made with cell technology, which is used for other kinds of vaccines. It was licensed in January by Protein Sciences Corp.


Ex-gay' group says it's shutting down; leader apologizes for 'pain and hurt'

By Erin McClam and Miranda Leitsinger, NBC News staff writers
June 20, 2013

A Christian ministry that led the so-called ex-gay movement, which professes to rid people of their homosexuality, has announced that it will shut down, and its leader apologized extensively to gays for causing “pain and hurt.”

The ministry, Exodus International, was founded in 1976 and claims more than 200 branches, churches and counselors in the United States and Canada. It had insisted that people could overcome same-sex attraction through prayer and therapy.


The president of Exodus, Alan Chambers, said late Wednesday on the ministry’s website that he had “conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions” but now accepts them “as parts of my life that will like always be there.”

Addressing gays, Chambers, who is married to a woman, wrote: “You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours.”


May 2013 Earth's 3rd Warmest May;

Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 5:07 PM GMT on June 20, 2013

May 2013 was the globe's 3rd warmest May since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 10th warmest May on record. The year-to-date period of January - May has been the 8th warmest such period on record. May 2013 global land temperatures were the 3rd warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 5th warmest on record. May 2013 was the 339th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.

----- [And the 20th century average temperature was itself higher than average.]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Getting enough sleep could help prevent type 2 diabetes

Public release date: 18-Jun-2013
Contact: Laura Mecoy
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)

LA BioMed research finds improved insulin sensitivity

SAN FRANCISCO – (June 18, 2013) – Men who lose sleep during the work week may be able to lower their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by getting more hours of sleep, according to Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) research findings presented today at The Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The study by Peter Liu, MD, PhD, an LA BioMed lead researcher, found that insulin sensitivity, the body's ability to clear glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream, significantly improved after three nights of "catch-up sleep" on the weekend in men with long-term, weekday sleep restrictions.


Chemical probe confirms that body makes its own rotten egg gas, H2S, to benefit health

June 18, 2013

A new study confirms directly what scientists previously knew only indirectly: The poisonous “rotten egg” gas hydrogen sulfide is generated by our body’s growing cells.

Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, is normally toxic, but in small amounts it plays a role in cardiovascular health.


A 1 percenter tells the truth about "job creators"

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Nick Hanauer, successful entrepreneur and one percenter, gave testimony on income inequality a few days ago before the U.S. Senate. His testimony in full should be posted in every break room in America:

For 30 years, Americans on the right and left have accepted a particular explanation for the origins of
Prosperity in capitalist economies. It is that rich business people like me are “Job Creators. ” That if taxes go up on us or our companies, we will create fewer jobs. And that the lower our taxes are, the more jobs we will create and the more general prosperity we’ ll have.


I’ll argue here that prosperity in capitalist economies never trickles down from the top. Prosperity is built from the middle out.As an entrepreneur and investor, I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all would have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.


Further, that the goal of every business—profit-- is largely a measure of our relative ability to not create jobs compared to our competitors. In this sense, calling ourselves job creators isn't just inaccurate, it's disingenuous.

That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer. Since 1980 the share of income for the richest 1% of Americans has tripled while our effective tax rates have by approximately 50%. If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs. If it was true that more profit for corporations or lower tax rates for corporations lead to more job creation, then it could not also be true that both corporate profits and unemployment are at 50 year highs.

There can never be enough super rich Americans like me to power a great economy. I earn 1000 times the median wage, but I do not buy 1000 times as much stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, we
go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally. I can’t buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can’t buy any new clothes or cars or enjoy any meals out. Or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the vast majority of American families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages.This is why the fast increasing inequality in our society is killing our economy.


Tax the wealthy and corporations--as we once did in this country—and invest that money in the middle class as we once did in this country. Those polices won’ t just be great for the middle class, they’ll be great for the poor, for businesses large and small, and the rich.


Florida’s Governor Signs Business-Backed Bill Banning Paid Sick Leave

The wording at one point is confusing. ALEC is working to block paid sick leave.

By Bryce Covert posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Jun 17, 2013

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a bill on Friday that blocks local governments from implementing paid sick leave legislation, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He made his decision quickly, only taking four of the 15 days he legally had to review the bill before he signed it.

In signing the bill, Scott sided with big business interests including Disney World, Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The bill is part of a national effort to pass so-called “preemption bills” that would block paid sick leave legislation that is backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group that coordinates conservative laws across states. The state’s House Majority Leader, Steve Precourt (R), who was instrumental in putting forward the preemption bill, is an active ALEC member.

The bill has made moot a 2014 referendum in Orange County that would have decided whether to require paid sick leave. More than 50,000 voters had tried to get the measure on the November 6 ballot but the County Commission voted it off. It made it on the ballot in 2014 thanks to a three-judge panel.


Big business stood in opposition to the Orange County effort on paid sick leave because it claimed such a bill would drive up costs. Yet a study of San Francisco, which enacted a paid sick leave policy in 2007, showed that a majority of businesses saw either no impact or a positive one on profitability. Other research has shown such policies to be good for business and job growth.

The Wrong Route to Equality – Men’s Declining Wages

The median is the point where half the values are higher, half are lower.

The improvement in women’s wages relative to men’s is in part due to men’s declining wages

By Heidi Shierholz | June 12, 2013

In the late 1970s, after a long period of holding fairly steady, the gap in wages between men and women began improving. In 1979, the median hourly wage for women was 62.7 percent of the median hourly wage for men; by 2012, it was 82.8 percent. However, a big chunk of that improvement – more than a quarter of it — happened because of men’s wage losses, rather than women’s wage gains.

With the exception of the period of labor market strength in the late 1990s, the median male wage, after adjusting for inflation, has decreased over essentially the entire period since the late 1970s. Between 1979 and 1996, it dropped 11.5 percent, from $19.53 per hour to $17.27 per hour. With the strong labor market of the late 1990s, the median male wage partially rebounded to $18.93 by 2002. It then began declining again; at $18.03 per hour in 2012, the real wage of the median male was 4.7 percent below where it had been a decade earlier.

This cannot be blamed on economic stagnation.


Furthermore, looking at the median wage understates the losses many men have experienced since the 1970s. For men with a high school degree, real wages have fallen by more than 14 percent. It is not the case, however, that men’s wages have fared poorly since the 1970s because men do not have the right education or skills. In the last 10 years, even workers with a college degree have failed to see any real wage growth.

Nor are men’s losses are due to women’s gains. The forces that were holding back male wage growth were also acting on women’s wages, but the gains made by women over this period in educational attainment, labor force attachment, and occupational upgrading, along with greater legal protections against discriminatory pay, initially compensated for adverse forces. In the last decade, however, women’s wages have also dropped.


The decline in unionization alone explains about a third of the rise in male wage inequality (and about a fifth of the increase in female wage inequality) over this period.


Autism Is Twice As Likely In Children Living Near High Air Pollution Areas

By Ryan Koronowski on Jun 18, 2013

The largest study to date that examines the link between air pollution and autism found that women living in high-pollution areas were twice as likely to have a child with the disorder. [Bloomberg]

Researchers seeking the roots of autism have linked the disorder to chemicals in air pollution and, in a separate study, found that language difficulties of the disorder may be due to a disconnect in brain wiring.

Researchers from Harvard University’s School of Public Health found that pregnant women exposed to high levels of diesel particulates or mercury were twice as likely to have an autistic child compared with peers in low-pollution areas. The findings, published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, are from the largest U.S. study to examine the ties between air pollution and autism.


Silencing Science: What you may never know about plastic baby bottles

By Lou Dubose
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Washington Spectator is reporting this week that two independent labs have found that Tritan, a trademarked resin now widely used in plastic consumer goods, is estrogenic active. ● If correct, that means the resin has similar effects on human biology as BPA (bisphenol A), a substance banned from use in products used by young children by the FDA in 2012. ● Eastman Chemical, which makes Tritan, has mounted an aggressive lawsuit in a Texas federal court to overturn these findings and silence the scientists associated with the test results. ● On trial are scientific conclusions vital to the public interest, but much of the information relating to this case is sealed under court order. ● If a Texas jury rules in Eastman's favor in July, you may never know the level of toxicity in your infant's plastic baby bottle.



If what CertiChem found is correct, when ingested, the estrogenic-active chemical compounds in Tritan will attach to estrogen receptors and can slightly change the way the body functions.

EA chemicals are also androgenic, attaching to androgen receptors in males and potentially altering men’s reproductive function, including prostate and sperm count. Very-low-doses of estrogenic active chemicals—measured in parts per billion— can effect the biological functions of the body.


Not only did tests done in an independent lab reveal that Eastman’s monomers have EA properties, while Eastman was fighting over the estrogenicity of its product, it was revealed in court documents that Eastman monomers include a plasticizer that also possesses EA properties.

Triphenyl phosphate (TPP), which is found in Eastman resins, is a known estrogenic-active chemical compound. Test results that mention TPP were not included in a paper that Eastman paid a toxicologist to write for a peer-revealed journal, according to court records.


Cummings releases full transcript clearing White House

Posted: 3:22 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, 2013
By Jay Bookman

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, has released the full, complete transcript of a committee interview with the IRS manager who oversaw 501(c)4 applications in Cincinnati.

The transcripts confirm that nobody in Washington, let alone the White House, had anything to do with identifying Tea Party applications for closer scrutiny. To the contrary, the transcripts confirm in direct testimony from the person overseeing the process that the practice originated with low-ranking IRS employees who were trying to process 25 to 30 such applications a day.

It also confirms that the manager is himself a conservative Republican.


He [the IRS official] explained that he initiated the first effort to gather similar cases in order to ensure their consistent treatment, and that he took this action on his own, without any direction from his superiors, and without any political motivation. He also confirmed that one of his screeners developed terms subsequently identified by the Inspector General as “inappropriate,” such as “Patriot” and “9/12 project,” but that he did not become aware that his screener was using these terms until more than a year later."


Media working on behalf of Republicans

This is a horrible situation, and I hope it gets changed so that it doesn't cause hardship to innocent people.
But I noticed how the AP is trying to make it appear that progressives are not appalled by this horrible situation.

Posted: Sunday, June 16th 2013 at 9:28am
Lawmakers seek changes for property seizure legislation
By The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Alda Gentile was not arrested. She was not charged with a crime. Yet police in Georgia seized $11,530 in cash that Gentile said she had in a car for a house-hunting trip in Florida.

Police confiscated the money after stopping the car, driven by her son, for speeding. They searched for drugs but found nothing.

Her case has become a rallying cry for libertarian, conservative and other groups seeking to change laws in Georgia that allow law enforcement to seize property and cash from people who have not been convicted of crimes, a process known as civil forfeiture.

Lawmakers in at least four states have proposed changing similar laws, with varying levels of intensity and success.

Those seeking to change the system say the process allows police to skirt the higher standards of proof needed in criminal trials and puts those who lose property in the position of having to prove their innocence.

"I never even thought it was anything illegal about bringing cash," said Gentile, who got the money back after days of frantic phone calls. "They made me feel like a criminal."

The leader of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association says the success of forfeiture laws cannot be judged based on isolated cases. Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, whose agency was not involved in the seizure from Gentile, said the system is supposed to make sure that someone sent to prison for drug dealing cannot enjoy cars and cash obtained through illegal means once they are released. He noted that Gentile got her money back, and he accused his opponents of coddling criminals while fighting against legislation to set stricter rules in Georgia.

"That bill would have only benefited, in my personal and professional opinion, criminals and the lawyers who represent them," he said.


Less posting

I haven't been able to post as much lately because I haven't been able to get connected from home. I've always had a slow connection there, because I live downhill, but I used to be able to get connected on sunny days, and even a lot of times on cloudy days since I got an antenna for my USB stick. But I haven't been able to get on at all the last week or so. I don't know whether it is a permanent situation or not.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Osteoporosis drug stops growth of breast cancer cells, even in resistant tumors

Public release date: 15-Jun-2013
Contact: Rachel Harrison
Duke University Medical Center

DURHAM, N.C. -- A drug approved in Europe to treat osteoporosis has now been shown to stop the growth of breast cancer cells, even in cancers that have become resistant to current targeted therapies, according to a Duke Cancer Institute study.

The findings, presented June 15, 2013, at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in San Francisco, indicate that the drug bazedoxifene packs a powerful one-two punch that not only prevents estrogen from fueling breast cancer cell growth, but also flags the estrogen receptor for destruction.

"We found bazedoxifene binds to the estrogen receptor and interferes with its activity, but the surprising thing we then found was that it also degrades the receptor; it gets rid of it," said senior author Donald McDonnell, PhD, chair of Duke's Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology.


Why the Internet Sucks You In Like a Black Hole

A lack of structural online boundaries tempts users into spending countless hours on the Web
By Tia Ghose and LiveScience

"Checking Facebook should only take a minute."

Those are the famous last words of countless people every day, right before getting sucked into several hours of watching cat videos, commenting on Instagrammed sushi lunches, and Googling to find out what ever happened to Dolph Lundgren.

If that sounds like you, don't feel bad: That behavior is natural, given how the Internet is structured, experts say.

People are wired to compulsively seek unpredictable payoffs like those doled out on the Web. And the Internet's omnipresence and lack of boundaries encourage people to lose track of time, making it hard to exercise the willpower to turn it off.

"The Internet is not addictive in the same way as pharmacological substances are," said Tom Stafford, a cognitive scientist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. "But it's compulsive; it's compelling; it's distracting."

Take care of our children's future

from Facebook site of Sustainability the Musical

If my father were still alive for this father's day, he'd be 96. Considering he died just before my eleventh birthday, it's surprising that he comes to mind so readily, but he was an enormous influence on me, firmly planting the seed of a lifelong love of learning that lies at the core of my self identity. Being a father myself, I have to say that being a dad is far and away the most challenging and rewarding thing I've done in this lifetime, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, even the power to fly or other wacky stuff like that. Not wanting to beat a dead horse by writing here what everyone who knows me expects, but the fact that I take being a dad seriously lies at the root of my constant activism as well. Can we please get more parents to recognize that if we don't tackle climate change and other ecological catastrophes we are creating for ourselves, nothing that we might want to imagine for our children's futures is going to matter? The only regret I have as a parent at all is that I've failed to turn millions of other parents on to the simple idea that if we love our children, we owe them a future with, well, a future in it.

Mexican students riot to protest required English classes

Ironically, a major reason for the mass immigration of Mexicans to work in the U.S. is because drought has caused crop failures there. So those in the rural areas who are protesting the teaching of English might end up coming here to work. Although you could say it is poetic justice, since the U.S. is disproportionately responsible for global warming, which is making droughts worse.


Police raided three teachers colleges on Monday in the western state of Michoacan, where dozens of students had been hijacking buses and delivery trucks for a week to protest curriculum changes.

Masked protesters battled police with rocks and fireworks. Student involved in the campus takeovers burned a dozen trucks and buses before authorities swept in, detaining 176 strikers. Ten police officers were injured, three seriously, the Michoacan state government reported.


The standoff at the teachers colleges began over a week ago, when students seized the campuses to protest plans to require them to take English and computer science courses. The protesters say the colleges are meant to prepare teachers for rural areas where basic skills are more of a priority.


Farming is already being affected by climate change

Dr. Ricky Rood is a professor at U Michigan and leads a course on climate change problem solving. These articles include ideas from the course. And no tuition!

Posted by: Dr. Ricky Rood, 3:52 AM GMT on June 10, 2013


We are already in a time of rapidly changing climate. The first decade of this century was the warmest recorded, and it has been many years since the monthly average of the Earth’s surface was cooler than the 20th century average. For the northern hemisphere, this warming has led to a lengthening of the growing season, as defined by frost-free days. Farmers have already adapted by planting earlier with seed developed to take advantage of these changes or to survive despite them. The last thirty years have also been a time when the rhythm of precipitation has changed. We see more precipitation in intense storms and changes in the seasonal cycle of the availability of fresh water.

I was recently on a telecon with some scientists from the Department of Agriculture. I learned that in recent years, heavy spring rains had been inhibiting spring planting. There have been problems with getting heavy equipment into the field. The amount of time when the soil moisture is right for both holding up the equipment and providing a good seedbed is becoming shorter (news link). The likelihood of seedlings being washed out by intense rains is increasing. Curiously to me, one response to this has been to build still bigger equipment so that more can be planted in the shorter amount of time that is available.

We are already in a time of rapidly changing climate. The first decade of this century was the warmest recorded, and it has been many years since the monthly average of the Earth’s surface was cooler than the 20th century average. For the northern hemisphere, this warming has led to a lengthening of the growing season, as defined by frost-free days. Farmers have already adapted by planting earlier with seed developed to take advantage of these changes or to survive despite them. The last thirty years have also been a time when the rhythm of precipitation has changed. We see more precipitation in intense storms and changes in the seasonal cycle of the availability of fresh water.

I was recently on a telecon with some scientists from the Department of Agriculture. I learned that in recent years, heavy spring rains had been inhibiting spring planting. There have been problems with getting heavy equipment into the field. The amount of time when the soil moisture is right for both holding up the equipment and providing a good seedbed is becoming shorter (news link). The likelihood of seedlings being washed out by intense rains is increasing. Curiously to me, one response to this has been to build still bigger equipment so that more can be planted in the shorter amount of time that is available.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Vitamin C May Be Beneficial Against Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction

June 12, 2013 — Vitamin C may substantially reduce bronchoconstriction caused by exercise, says Dr. Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Hemila's meta-analysis "Vitamin C may alleviate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction" was published in BMJ Open (7 June, 2013)

Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction means the transient narrowing of the airways that occurs during or after exercise. It can cause symptoms such as cough, wheezing and the shortness of breath. Formerly, this condition was called exercise-induced asthma.


Each of the three identified trials found that vitamin C halved the FEV1 decline caused by exercise challenge test. The pooled estimate of vitamin C effect indicated a 48% reduction in the FEV1 decline caused by exercise.

Dr. Hemila concludes that given the low cost and safety of vitamin C and the consistency of positive findings in three randomized trials on EIB, it seems reasonable for physically active people to test vitamin C on an individual basis if they have respiratory symptoms such as cough associated with exercise.

Humans Are Happier When They Do the Right Thing; It Also Helps Them Overcome Difficulties

June 12, 2013 — Communities that stick together and do good for others cope better with crises and are happier for it, according to a new study by John Helliwell, from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and colleagues. Their work suggests that part of the reason for this greater resilience is the fact that humans are more than simply social beings, they are so-called 'pro-social' beings. In other words, they get happiness not just from doing things with others, but from doing things both with and for others. The paper is published online in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.


BPA Linked to Obesity Risk in Puberty-Age Girls

June 12, 2013 — Girls between 9 and 12 years of age with higher-than-average levels of bisphenol-A (BPA) in their urine had double the risk of being obese than girls with lower levels of BPA, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

This study provides evidence from a human population that confirms the findings from animal studies -- that high BPA exposure levels could increase the risk of overweight or obesity," said De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the study and a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

BPA is used to make plastics and other materials, such as cash register receipts. It is a known endocrine disruptor with estrogenic properties. In children and adolescents, BPA is likely to enter the body primarily through the ingestion of foods and liquids that have come into contac


June 12, 2013 — The number of children admitted to hospital for problems related to obesity in England and Wales quadrupled between 2000 and 2009, a study has found.

Nearly three quarters of these admissions were to deal with problems complicated by obesity such as asthma, breathing difficulties during sleep, and complications of pregnancy, rather than obesity itself being the primary reason.


Volunteering Reduces Risk of Hypertension in Older Adults

June 13, 2013 — It turns out that helping others can also help you protect yourself from high blood pressure.

New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that older adults who volunteer for at least 200 hours per year decrease their risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure, by 40 percent. The study, published by the American Psychological Association's Psychology and Aging journal, suggests that volunteer work may be an effective non-pharmaceutical option to help prevent the condition. Hypertension affects an estimated 65 million Americans and is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.


Boston Children’s Hospital Finds Root Cause of Diabetes

Hope this works out.
I notice this research did not come from drug companies. No surprise, because it would finding cures is not likely to be worth it to them financially. I read a few days ago some man said drug companies should do such research because it is "the right thing to do", but that is not what a business is for.

by Melissa Malamut | Hub Health | June 13, 2013

Boston Children’s Hospital could be on the verge of curing type 1 diabetes. Seriously. This huge news, which was announced today on their blog, could affect the 215,000 people in the U.S. younger than 20 who have diabetes (type 1 or type 2). That’s a pretty huge number, so it’s no wonder why it’s been called an epidemic.


It will still be a few years before they can test the therapies in children, but the outcome of what was discovered here could be truly amazing.

“I believe it won’t be long before we can cure diabetes with a number of different therapies depending on the needs of the patient,” Fiorina says on the blog. “Then, if the right screening techniques for diabetes could be developed, it would be entirely possible in many cases that we could prevent the disease from ever developing in children. The future of diabetes treatment is very exciting.”

Bank of America Lied to Homeowners and Rewarded Foreclosures, Former Employees Say

by Paul Kiel
ProPublica, June 14, 2013

Bank of America employees regularly lied to homeowners seeking loan modifications, denied their applications for made-up reasons, and were rewarded for sending homeowners to foreclosure, according to sworn statements by former bank employees.


Sometimes, homeowners were simply denied en masse in a procedure called a “blitz,” said William Wilson, Jr., who worked as an underwriter and manager from 2010 until 2012. As part of the modification applications, homeowners were required to send in documents with their financial information. About twice a month, Wilson said, the bank ordered that all files with documentation 60 or more days old simply be denied. “During a blitz, a single team would decline between 600 and 1,500 modification files at a time,” he said in the sworn declaration. To justify the denials, employees produced fictitious reasons, for instance saying the homeowner had not sent in the required documents, when in actuality, they had.

Such mass denials may have occurred at other mortgage servicers. Chris Wyatt, a former employee of Goldman Sachs subsidiary Litton Loan Servicing, told ProPublica in 2012 that the company periodically conducted “denial sweeps” to reduce the backlog of homeowners.


Five of the former Bank of America employees stated that they were encouraged to mislead customers. “We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested,” said Simone Gordon, who worked at the bank from 2007 until early 2012 as a senior collector. “We were told that admitting that the Bank received documents ‘would open a can of worms,’” she said, since the bank was required to underwrite applications within 30 days of receiving documents and didn’t have adequate staff. Wilson said each underwriter commonly had 400 outstanding applications awaiting review.

Anxious homeowners calling in for an update on their application were frequently told that their applications were “under review” when, in fact, nothing had been done in months, or the application had already been denied, four former employees said.

Employees were rewarded for denying applications and referring customers to foreclosure, according to the statements. Gordon said collectors “who placed ten or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus.” Other rewards included gift cards to retail stores or restaurants, said Gordon and Theresa Terrelonge, who worked as a collector from 2009 until 2010.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bad teeth, broken dreams: Lack of dental care keeps many out of jobs

by JoNel Alecci,
June 12th 2013

Volunteer dentists treated more than 2,000 patients, free of charge, at the California Dental Association's "CDA Cares" event in San Jose, Calif. Patients said the two-day clinic provided an escape from the vicious cycle of limited dental care and unemployment.

With five broken teeth, three cavities and a painful gum abscess spreading to her sinuses, Patty Kennedy knew she had to get in line early for a free dental clinic held last month in San Jose, Calif.

The 53-year-old woman from Modesto, nearly 100 miles away, was counting on the care to repair not only her smile and her worsening health -- but also her chances of getting a job.

“I’d love to work at a grocery store as a cashier. I’d even go for bagger,” said Kennedy, who camped out overnight at the CDA Cares clinic sponsored by the California Dental Association Foundation. “At this point, I’d do whatever.”

But like many of the more than 2,200 people who showed up for the 5:30 a.m. clinic on May 18 and 19, Kennedy knew that bad teeth translate into poor employment prospects, even for the best workers.

“I really don’t smile a lot,” said Kennedy, whose husband, Lucas, also 53, lost his job five years ago when California’s construction economy tanked. “I know that when you have a job, you want to have a pleasant attitude and you've got to smile and be friendly.”

Lack of access to dental care is a particular problem in California, where budget woes virtually eliminated access to the state’s Denti-Cal program in 2009, leaving an estimated 3 million poor, disabled and elderly people without oral health services. In 2012, CDA events provided about $2.8 million in free care to nearly 4,000 people.

But barriers to dental services are a problem nationwide, with more than 47 million people in the U.S. living in places with difficult access to care, according to the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA. Low-income adults are almost twice as likely as those with higher incomes to have no dental care in the previous year, according to a 2008 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.


Hyde co-authored a 2006 study in which researchers offered interventions to nearly 400 welfare recipients with severe dental problems. Thirty percent had horribly receding gums, 85 percent were missing one or more teeth, 84 percent had one or more teeth decaying in their mouths, Hyde recalled. “One man told me, ‘I get my wife to chew my food for me first.'”

But when they were offered dental services, the patients flourished, she said. Those who completed their dental treatment were twice as likely to get jobs or move off welfare than those who didn’t finish treatment, the study showed.


Toxic hazards await astronauts who explore Mars

by Leonard David Howell,
June 13th 2013

The pervading carpet of perchlorate chemicals found on Mars may boost the chances that microbial life exists on the Red Planet — but perchlorates are also perilous to the health of future crews destined to explore that way-off world.

Perchlorates are reactive chemicals first detected in arctic Martian soil by NASA's Phoenix lander that plopped down on Mars over five years ago in May 2008.


Smith said microbes on Earth use perchlorate for an energy source. They actually live off highly oxidized chlorine, and in reducing the chlorine down to chloride, they use the energy in that transaction to power themselves. In fact, when there's too much perchlorate in drinking water, microbes are used to clean it up, he said.


"Anybody who is saying they want to go live on the surface of Mars better think about the interaction of perchlorate with the human body," he warned. "At one-half percent, that's a huge amount. Very small amounts are considered toxic. So you'd better have a plan to deal with the poisons on the surface."


"I'd put it in the category of, this is exactly why we do robotic exploration before sending humans," Doug Archer, a scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said of the perchlorate research.

Archer said perchlorate's existence on Mars would have posed an even larger problem had it not been discovered.

"But now that we know it's there, I am confident we will be able to design around it," he said.

Frozen berry mix linked to hepatitis A recalled


WASHINGTON (AP) - An Oregon company is recalling a frozen berry mix sold to Costco and Harris Teeter stores after the product has been linked to at least 49 hepatitis A illnesses in seven states.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., is recalling its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, packaged under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those stores.

Also Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control said the illness count has risen from 34 to 49 people. Illnesses were reported last week in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California, and CDC said that there are additional illnesses reported in Hawaii and Utah. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said 12 of the cases are in that state.


Bill Gaar, a lawyer for Townsend Farms, said last week that the frozen organic blend bag includes pomegranate seeds from Turkey. The seeds are only used in the product associated with the outbreak and no other Townsend Farms products, he said.


Hepatitis A illnesses occur within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

Vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure, and those who have already been vaccinated are unlikely to become ill, according to CDC.


NASA Finds ‘Amazing’ Levels Of Arctic Methane And CO2

By Joe Romm on Jun 13, 2013

A NASA science team has observed “amazing and potentially troubling” levels of methane and CO2 from the rapidly warming Arctic. Given the staggering amount of carbon trapped in the permafrost — and the fact that methane is a very potent heat-trapping gas — the space agency is now asking: “Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?”

We’ve known for a while that “permafrost” was a misnomer (see “Thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s“). The defrosting permamelt will likely add up to 1.5°F to total global warming by 2100.

Two studies from February provide more evidence the process may happen even faster than we thought:

500,000-Year History of Permafrost Reveals Further Warming of 1.5°C Would ‘Thaw Significant Regions’
“Surface exposure to sunlight stimulates CO2 release from permafrost soil carbon in the Arctic”


Ultimately, the scientists hope their observations will indicate whether an irreversible permafrost tipping point may be near at hand. While scientists don’t yet believe the Arctic has reached that tipping point, no one knows for sure.


“Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures — as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years,” Miller said. “As heat from Earth’s surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic’s carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming.”

Recall that NOAA has reported, “In 2012, new record high temperatures at 20 [meters, 65 feet] depth were measured at most permafrost observatories on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Brooks Range, where measurements began in the late 1970s.”


Over hundreds of millennia, Arctic permafrost soils have accumulated vast stores of organic carbon – an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it (a petagram is 2.2 trillion pounds, or 1 billion metric tons). That’s about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth’s soils. In comparison, about 350 petagrams of carbon have been emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. Most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable topsoils within 10 feet (3 meters) of the surface.

Second, methane is a very, very potent heat-trapping gas. Whether the permamelt releases CO2 [carbon dioxide] or CH4 [methane] depends critically on the soils and state of the land surfaces, which CARVE aims to characterize:


Molecule per molecule, methane is 22 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide on a 100-year timescale, and 105 times more potent on a 20-year timescale. If just one percent of the permafrost carbon released over a short time period is methane, it will have the same greenhouse impact as the 99 percent that is released as carbon dioxide.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Global warming and extreme weather

Extreme Jet Stream Pattern Triggers Historic European Floods
Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:48 PM GMT on June 09, 2013

A historic multi-billion dollar flood disaster has killed at least eighteen people in Central Europe after record flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia over the past two weeks. The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. Numerous cities recorded their highest flood waters in more than a century, although in some locations the great flood of 2002 was higher. The Danube is expected to crest in Hungary's capital city of Budapest on June 10 at the highest flood level on record, 35 cm higher than the record set in 2006. The flooding was caused by torrential rains that fell on already wet soils. In a 2-day period from May 30 - June 1, portions of Austria received the amount of rain that normally falls in two-and-half months: 150 to 200 mm (5.9 to 7.9"), with isolated regions experiencing 250 mm (9.8"). This two-day rain event had a greater than 1-in-100 year recurrence interval, according to the Austrian Meteorological Agency, ZAMG.


The primary cause of the torrential rains over Central Europe during late May and early June was large loop in the jet stream that developed over Europe and got stuck in place.


If it seems like getting two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious--well, it is. Those recurrence intervals are based on weather statistics from Earth's former climate. We are now in a new climate regime with more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, combined with altered jet stream patterns, which makes major flooding disasters more likely in certain parts of the world, like Central Europe. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, "Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?", research published this year by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of these extreme patterns occurred in August 2002, during Central Europe's last 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year flood. When the jet stream goes into one of these extreme configurations, it freezes in its tracks for weeks, resulting in an extended period of extreme heat or flooding, depending upon where the high-amplitude part of the jet stream lies. The scientists found that because human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic to heat up more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, a unique resonance pattern capable of causing this behavior was resulting. According to German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, "Planetary wave [jet stream] amplitudes have been very high in the last few weeks; we think this plays a role in the current German flooding event."


Politics is in everything we do

From a Facebook posting:

Folks I have news for you....politics is in everything we do!!! The food you eat, the water you drink and the air you breath. Political decisions determine your health care, your education and your entertainment. If you think that "giving up" on politics is the answer your delusional. Nothing that you can do will get you out of the mess that has been left to us by others who also "gave up" on politics!!

Dying from lack of insurance.

From a Facebook friend, who posted a link to a song:

One of my favorites. Nice rendition. It brought back a memory that is painful. It was in another life. It was my 1st wife's (Joann RIP) favorite. She died at home from a brain aneurysm. The hospital sent her home claiming she was just drunk. The real reason they sent her home was she had no insurance and owed them money. Her daughter Liz and her son Dennis held her hand as she described what was happening to her, as blood leaked into her brain and she started losing functions of her body. She told them she could hear the blood gurgling in her head. She passed with them there on the couch in their living room. Does capitalism work for the people?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Get used to killer heat waves, CDC warns

I know from personal experience you can have heat stroke and not even know it. Fortunately, I put my hand on my leg and felt who dry and hot it was, so took steps to cool down right away. My temperature was 105, but I just felt tired, as normal when hot.

by Maggie Fox,
June 6, 2013

Think last summer was bad? You better get used to it, federal health officials warned Thursday. Climate change means hotter summers and more intense storms that could knock power out for days -- and kill people.

New data on heat-related deaths suggest that public health officials have been underestimating them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It’s an especially important message as summers get longer and hotter due to climate change, and as storms that can cause widespread blackouts become more common and more intense.

More than 7,200 people died from excess heat from 1999 to 2009, Ethel Taylor and colleagues at the CDC found. The latest numbers, part of the CDC’s weekly report in death and illness, list non-residents for the first time, a group that includes illegal immigrants, tourists, migrant workers and others. These groups suffer especially when it gets hot, Taylor says.

“About 15 percent of the heat-related deaths we have seen over 10 years are occurring in non-US residents,” Taylor told NBC News. This adds up to about 1,000 people.


Weather experts stress that it’s impossible to say whether any individual storm or heat wave was caused by climate change. But the patterns are clearly changing and that can certainly be attributed to climate change, Luber says. “The sheer magnitude of these weather events are a challenge to public health,” Luber says.


Symptoms of heat illness can be subtle and people can be seriously ill before they even know they are in danger. Heat exhaustion is marked by heavy sweating and exhaustion – both symptoms that people may see as normal when it’s hot. Extra warning signs include cold, clammy skin and a fast, weak pulse, nausea or fainting.

Heatstroke is a more immediate emergency – body temperature soars to 103 degrees or higher, the pulse gets faster and the skin may turn red and dry. Heatstroke can cause deadly swelling of the brain, liver and kidney failure; people with these symptoms should call 911 right away, CDC advises.


Texas Jury acquits escort shooter

By Michelle Mondo, Staff Writers
Updated 10:12 pm, Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Bexar County jury on Wednesday acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of murder in the death of a 23-year-old Craigslist escort.


During closing arguments Tuesday, Gilbert's defense team conceded the shooting did occur but said the intent wasn't to kill. Gilbert's actions were justified, they argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property: the $150 he paid Frago. It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back, they said.


The Texas law that allows people to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft was put in place for “law-abiding” citizens, prosecutors Matt Lovell and Jessica Schulze countered. It's not intended for someone trying to force another person into an illegal act such as prostitution, they argued.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Complaining about not being allowed to break the law

NPR replayed a few minutes of testimony from a spokewoman for a tea party group who complained about the questions they had to answer to the IRS because they wanted to be classified as 501(c)(4) social service organizations so they could claim tax-exempt status w/o disclosing their donors. She said her organizaion was a small one, it cost the IRS more than their tax exemption.

Of course, they chose to request this classification. If it was for such a small savings, why didn't they just forego trying for this classification, which they probably didn't qualify for anyway?

Largest Tornado on Record: the May 31 El Reno, OK EF-5 Tornado

Wow! And we thought the Moore, Oklahoma tornado the week before was big!

Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 9:54 PM GMT on June 04, 2013

The largest tornado in recorded history was Friday's May 31, 2013 EF-5 tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma, the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma announced on Tuesday. The EF-5 re-classification was based upon Doppler radar data taken by Oklahoma University's mobile RaXPol radar. According to comments made by tornado researcher Rick Smith at a press conference today, the mobile radar was positioned on top of an overpass, and recorded winds close to the surface of up to 295 mph in satellite suction vorticies that orbited the large, main vortex. The large, main vortex had EF-4 winds of 185 mph, and the satellite suction vortices moved across the fields at that speed, and rotated on their own at speeds of up to 110 mph, giving a combined wind speed of up to 295 mph in some of the satellite vortices. It's no wonder that so many storm chasers got in trouble with this tornado, since these suction vortices moved as speeds of up to 185 mph towards them as the tornado rapidly expanded into the largest on record. The tornado killed tornado scientist Tim Samaras and his two chase partners, Paul Samaras and Carl Young, and also killed an amateur storm chaser, Richard Charles Henderson. The 295 mph winds of the El Reno tornado rank second only to the world-record 302 mph (130 m/s) winds recorded in the Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 3, 1999. However, the Moore tornado's winds were measured at an altitude of 105 feet (32 meters), so the winds near the surface may have been higher in the El Reno tornado.

Central Oklahoma Tornadoes and Flash Flooding - May 31, 2013

Note: We are continuing to collect and analyze more information and data regarding this event. Refer back to this page frequently for the most up to date information.

From the chart at this link:
Location : El Reno
Preliminary Rating : EF-5
Path length : 16.2 miles
Maximum width : 2.6 miles

The Tornado Outbreak of May 20, 2013

Note: The NWS survey conducted by several teams on May 21, 2013 has now rated the Newcastle-Moore tornado as EF-5. The damage survey teams have also determined that the tornado began 4.4 miles west of Newcastle and ended 4.8 miles east of Moore, yielding an approximate tornado path length of 17 miles. The preliminary maximum damage path width is 1.3 miles. Crews will continue to sort through damage for a final intensity rating.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Good news: the United States may be experiencing the lowest murder rate in over a century

by Kathleen Geier,
May 18th 2013

Now for some good news: according to economic consultant Rick Nevin, this year, the U.S. in on track to experience the lowest murder rate in over 100 years. Nevin reports that, based on preliminary FBI data, the weighted average murder rate in 30 large localities nationwide this year is 18% lower than it was at this time last year. Even in my hometown of Chicago, for example, which has suffered from a sky-high homicide rate, murders have declined by an astonishing 39%, as compared to this time last year. And New Orleans, which in recent years has experienced the nation’s highest murder rate, has seen an 11% decline in homocides this year.

Nevins, like Kevin Drum, believes the crime is attributable to declining rates of lead exposure in childhood. Here’s Drum, referring to curves on a chart which measures the relationship between lead exposure and the murder rate (you’ll have to click on his post to see the chart, because I’m not able to upload it here):


Lead exposure doesn't just lower IQs and hurt educational development. It also increases violent tendencies later in life.


Put this all together and the benefits of lead cleanup could be in the neighborhood of $200 billion per year. In other words, an annual investment of $20 billion for 20 years could produce returns of 10-to-1 every single year for decades to come. Those are returns that Wall Street hedge funds can only dream of.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Why "Rational" People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories

I don't see how a person who believes a variety of contradictory conspiracy theories could be considered "rational."
On the other hand, there are conspiracies, so it is not irrational to believe some exist.

May 21st 2013

In the days following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, speculation online regarding the identity and motive of the unknown perpetrator or perpetrators was rampant. And once the Tsarnaev brothers were identified and the manhunt came to a close, the speculation didn’t cease. It took a new form. A sampling: Maybe the brothers Tsarnaev were just patsies, fall guys set up to take the heat for a mysterious Saudi with high-level connections; or maybe they were innocent, but instead of the Saudis, the actual bomber had acted on behalf of a rogue branch of our own government; or what if the Tsarnaevs were behind the attacks, but were secretly working for a larger organization?

Crazy as these theories are, those propagating them are not — they’re quite normal, in fact. But recent scientific research tells us this much: if you think one of the theories above is plausible, you probably feel the same way about the others, even though they contradict one another. And it’s very likely that this isn’t the only news story that makes you feel as if shadowy forces are behind major world events.

“The best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is belief in other conspiracy theories,” says Viren Swami, a psychology professor who studies conspiracy belief at the University of Westminster in England. Psychologists say that’s because a conspiracy theory isn’t so much a response to a single event as it is an expression of an overarching worldview.

As Richard Hofstadter wrote in his seminal 1965 book, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” conspiracy theories, especially those involving meddlesome foreigners, are a favorite pastime in this nation. Americans have always had the sneaking suspicion that somebody was out to get us — be it Freemasons, Catholics or communists. But in recent years, it seems as if every tragedy comes with a round of yarn-spinning, as the Web fills with stories about “false flag” attacks and “crisis actors” — not mere theorizing but arguments for the existence of a completely alternate version of reality.

Since Hofstadter’s book was published, our access to information has vastly improved, which you would think would have helped minimize such wild speculation. But according to recent scientific research on the matter, it most likely only serves to make theories more convincing to the public. What’s even more surprising is that this sort of theorizing isn’t limited to those on the margins. Perfectly sane minds possess an incredible capacity for developing narratives, and even some of the wildest conspiracy theories can be grounded in rational thinking, which makes them that much more pernicious. Consider this: 63 percent of registered American voters believe in at least one political conspiracy theory, according to a recent poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University.


They found, perhaps surprisingly, that believers are more likely to be cynical about the world in general and politics in particular. Conspiracy theories also seem to be more compelling to those with low self-worth, especially with regard to their sense of agency in the world at large. Conspiracy theories appear to be a way of reacting to uncertainty and powerlessness.


Surprisingly, Swami’s work has also turned up a correlation between conspiracy theorizing and strong support of democratic principles. But this isn’t quite so strange if you consider the context. Kathryn Olmsted, a historian at the University of California, Davis, says that conspiracy theories wouldn’t exist in a world in which real conspiracies don’t exist. And those conspiracies — Watergate or the Iran-contra Affair — often involve manipulating and circumventing the democratic process.


In 2006, the political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler identified a phenomenon called the “backfire effect.” They showed that efforts to debunk inaccurate political information can leave people more convinced that false information is true than they would have been otherwise. Nyhan isn’t sure why this happens, but it appears to be more prevalent when the bad information helps bolster a favored worldview or ideology.

In that way, Swami says, the Internet and other media have helped perpetuate paranoia. Not only does more exposure to these alternative narratives help engender belief in conspiracies, he says, but the Internet’s tendency toward tribalism helps reinforce misguided beliefs.


Alex Jones, a syndicated radio host, can build fame as a conspiracy peddler; politicians can hint at conspiracies for votes and leverage; but if conspiracy theories are a tool the average person uses to reclaim his sense of agency and access to democracy, it’s an ineffective tool. It can even have dangerous health implications. For example, research has shown that African-Americans who believe AIDS is a weapon loosed on them by the government (remembering the abuses of the Tuskegee experiment) are less likely to practice protected sex. And if you believe that governments or corporations are hiding evidence that vaccines harm children, you’re less likely to have your children vaccinated. The result: pockets of measles and whooping-cough infections and a few deaths in places with low child-vaccination rates.