Monday, September 30, 2013

Private Firefighter Crews Save Wealthy Homes From Wildfires As It Becomes Harder To Save The Poor’s

By Rebecca Leber on September 30, 2013

Over the last decade, wealthy Americans living in wildfire-prone areas have started turning to private contract services to keep their homes safe. Reuters describes how niche insurance policies are now sending private firefighter crews to protect multi-million-dollar homes from damage. One of AIG’s insurance plans for Western residents will preemptively send a crew to cover a home with fire-resistant foam when a wildfire approaches, at a cost of $7,000 annually.


The growth of private firefighting only underscores how climate change leaves low-income Americans (and globally, poor countries) the most vulnerable. Hurricane Sandy was just one recent example of extreme weather leaving low-income and minority communities behind in the aftermath of rebuilding. Colorado’s extreme flooding likewise has destroyed farms, motor homes, and immigrants’ livelihoods.

As a drier climate pushes wildfires to new extremes, the price tag to stop those fires will only grow. That fact — combined with budget cuts to the U.S. Forest Service — has meant that for the second year in a row, the federal government ran out of funds for fighting wildfires. Sequestration has cut $115 million from wildfire suppression, and another $100 million from a reserve fund. As a result, the Forest Service has had to divert millions from preventing wildfires to begin with to battle massive blazes like the Yosemite Rim Fire.

Record-setting rain drenches Northwest even more than usual

Warm water evaporates faster. Warm air can hold more moisture. When the moist air comes into contact with cooler air, the result, as was predicted by scientists, is heavier precipitation, whether rain or snow. And tornadoes result from the collision of warm and cooler air. But that's ok. We are such weak wimps we can't possibly be expected to go to the trouble of changing any of our habits.

Of course, the same facts mean that droughts are worse in some areas. Double whammy.

By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News
Sept. 30, 2013

A massive rainstorm was setting records Monday across the perennially soggy Pacific Northwest, accompanied by damaging winds and even an extremely rare tornado that damaged a Boeing plant and tipped over rail cars in Washington state.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bailed-Out Bank CEO: Public Criticism of Wall St. Bonuses is Just Like Lynchings

If you need a cure for low blood pressure, read the whole article!

September 25, 2013
by Joshua Holland

In an interview published Monday in The Wall Street Journal, AIG chief executive Robert Benmosche compared the American public’s outrage at bailed-out Wall Street execs grabbing bloated bonuses to African-Americans being lynched in the Old South.

No, really. Here’s the quote (brackets are in the original):

The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.

In 2008, AIG received $85 billion from American taxpayers on top of the funds made available from the TARP program. Less than a week later, a bunch of AIG executives went on a “retreat” to the luxurious St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a bill of almost a half-million dollars, including $150,000 for meals and $23,000 in spa charges.

Now, with Wall Street employees pocketing average cash bonuses of $121,900 — while most families’ incomes stagnate — Benmosche thinks the public should have more sympathy for the plight of these good people. “They’re all scared,” he told the Journal. “They [had made] good livings. They probably lived beyond their means. We wouldn’t be here today had they not stayed and accepted … dramatically reduced pay…It is a shame we put them through that.” One can almost hear the sad strains of a violin playing softly in the background.

This is not the first time a Wall Street titan has unintentionally revealed a mind-boggling degree of entitlement. Apparently, it’s not enough that high-level bankers have all avoided jail for crashing the economy through widespread fraud. It’s not enough that they are enjoying record profits once again, that they have effectively captured the regulatory agencies that are supposed to police them or that the “too big to fail” firms have only grown larger since the bailouts. When politicians call them “fat cats,” or the public expresses outrage at their insatiable appetite for material wealth, they respond like a powerless minority facing the cruelest oppression.


A study by UC-Berkeley social psychologist Paul Piff found that people with high socio-economic status are more likely to harbor a sense of entitlement and display narcissistic personality traits than are those of lesser means. And powerful Wall Street executives continually substantiate his research every time they decide to share their hurt feelings with the media.

GOP adds anti-contraceptive clause to spending bill

Why restrict the clause to preventative care for women? If it is really a matter of "conscience", why shouldn't it also apply to men and children?

An example of how the media gives preferential treatment to Republicans is CNN's headline for this article : "GOP adds 'conscience clause' to spending bill"

CNN's Lisa Desjardins
September 28th, 2013

Washington (CNN) - House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill coming up for a vote Saturday night, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN.

A senior House leadership aide confirmed that development.

The so-called “conscience clause” would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. That prominently includes birth control, which most insurers are required to provide for free under current Obamacare rules.

Please Don't Steal Songs

From Facebook:

Frank Gambale
September 27 at 3:34pm ·

Hi Folks,
Ok, I think you all know that I am NOT one to rant on...but today I have taken a stand, alongside some other fine Artists who have and are doing the same. My angst is toward music streaming companies such as Rhapsody ( with the emphasis on "sody", Rdio and Spotify to name but a few.

I have instructed CD baby to remove all my catalog of music from those streaming sites.

Why? You may well ask!

If we as Artists believe our music to be worthless, then Spotify and the like are GREAT places to put your music.
17,000 plays of one of my tunes on Spotify paid a whopping 15.3 cents!!!

Now, look folks, I talk to people all the time and many of them say they use Spotify. The consumers love these sites. $10 a month for a subscription, then they play and listen to whatever they want...completely oblivious to the fact that the folks running Spotify and the like are lining their pockets and paying Artists less than peanuts...because I can't afford to buy peanuts to eat if I had to rely on Spotify royalties.

Now folks, I'm not against streaming, I think it's awesome, however, I DO think that these companies need to realize where their revenue is coming from.

In my mind it's utterly pitiful and a disgraceful display of greed and once again Artists being ripped off. Folks, WE, as musicians ARE the source!! We love what we do, but let's face it, we're not a charity!

Here's the facts:

Rhapsody royalty rate = .0091 cents per play
Rdio royalty rate = .0045 cents per play
Spotify royalty rate = .0009 to ZERO ( YES ZERO!!! ) per play!

I rest my case folks. The regular airwave radio stations pay roughly 10 cents a play...these internet radio stations need to pay Artists an actual royalty rate that reflects RESPECT for the music, Artists and Musicians who make the music in the first place.

Grammy winning guitar virtuoso, Frank Gambale, exploded on the L.A. scene in the early ˆé80ˆ¢s. His meteoric rise to fame is a testament to his passion powered playing ˆ a style "Rolling Stone Magazine" calls "ferocious"!

Gambale is the the undisputed genius who originated the sweep picking technique and elevated it to a precise art form now standard in the guitar lexicon. The 'Gambale Sweep Picking Technique' continues to inspire generations of musicians. Jazz, rock, metal and prog artists alike are united in their awe of Frank as oth an amazing technician and an unsurpassed musician.

As jazz legend, Chick Corea, describes Frank 'He is one of the most incredible guitarists on the planet. Everything he touches with his guitar turns gold ˆ always has.' While John McLaughlinˆ¢s tongue-in-cheek response to his finesse is 'Iˆ¢d like to cut his hands off.'

A musician's musician, gifted composer, brilliant innovator and author of numerous instructional books and DVDs, Frank continues to reach unprecedented sonic and technical heights. His six string prowess and seemingly limitless vision point towards an exciting future of ground breaking music.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

No matter

New Scientist Sept. 7-13, 2013 List of 10 funniest jokes, as voted for by critics & fans at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the annual arts jamboree in Scotland's capital, included two science-based jokes, including:

From Liam Williams : "The Universe implodes. No matter."

When the Going Gets Tough, the Materialistic Go Shopping

Sep. 25, 2013 — Materialistic people experience more stress from traumatic events such as terrorist attacks and are more likely to spend compulsively as a result, according to an international study led by a Michigan State University business professor.

These possession-driven folks tend to have lower self-esteem than others, said Ayalla Ruvio, assistant professor of marketing in MSU's Broad College of Business.

"When the going gets tough, the materialistic go shopping," said Ruvio. "And this compulsive and impulsive spending is likely to produce even greater stress and lower well-being. Essentially, materialism appears to make bad events even worse."


The second part of the study also found that materialistic people are more likely to try to relieve fear of death through impulsive and out-of-control spending. In this case, the effects occurred not just in response to a specific threat such as a terrorist attack but as a way to cope with general anxiety about mortality.

The findings suggest that materialism's intensifying effect on extreme stress may be driven by a global response to fear of death and by low self-esteem.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Why Won't She Leave Him? Abused Women Often Fear for Pets Left Behind

Sep. 25, 2013 — Veterinarians and women's shelters can make it easier for abused women to decide to leave their homes, particularly when the abuser is using a beloved pet as part of a campaign to control his partner, reports a new University of Illinois study.

He made me stand there and . . . watch [him kill my cat]. And he was like: That could happen to you, one woman in the study said.

"These incidences are very symbolic of what the abuser is capable of doing. He's sending the message: I can do something just as severe to hurt you," said Jennifer Hardesty, a U of I associate professor of human development and family studies.

For the study, Hardesty interviewed 19 abused women about their decisions on what to do with their pets when they were seeking help from a shelter.

A recent study found that 34 percent of women had delayed leaving out of concern for their pets because their abuser had threatened and harmed the animals in the past, Hardesty noted.

"For abused women, a pet can be a treasured source of unconditional love and comfort -- maybe even protection -- in a time of transition. Many are strongly bonded to their animals," she said.


Experts Confirm That Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Reduces Risk of Mortality

Sep. 26, 2013 — A European study analyzes the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of mortality. As previous research has already suggested, this study concludes that fruit and vegetable consumption reduces all-cause mortality, and especially cardiovascular disease mortality.


According to the results, a combined fruit and vegetable consumption of more than 569 grams per day reduces the risk of mortality by 10% and delays the risk of mortality by 1.12 years compared to a consumption of less than 249 grams per day.

Furthermore, for every 200 gram increase in daily fruit and vegetable consumption, the risk falls by 6%. The proportion of deaths that could be prevented if everyone eating too few fruit and vegetables increased their consumption by 100-200 grams per day -- thus reaching the recommended 400-500 grams per day -- is 2.9%.

Previous studies already noted that fruit and vegetable consumption, in accordance with the recommended daily allowance, prevents the development of chronic diseases, and reduces the risk of mortality by 10-25%.


Considering fruit consumption separately, no significant risk reduction was observed, whereas vegetable consumption alone was associated with a lower risk of mortality, which was even more significant for raw vegetables: high consumption reduces the risk of mortality by 16%.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Study Shows How Food-Bank Clients Afford Basic Non-Food Items

Sep. 25, 2013 — Many families struggle to afford basic non-food household goods, such as personal care, household, and baby-care products, according to a new nationwide Feed America study that benefited from assistance from the University of Illinois Family Resiliency Center (FRC).

“The study found that these families often make trade-offs with other living expenses and employ coping strategies in an effort to secure such essential household items as toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, or disposable diapers,” said Barbara H. Fiese, FRC director and Pampered Chef Endowed Chair.

The study revealed that one in three low-income families had a hard time affording basic household necessities in the past year. Of these families, 82 percent live in households with low or very low food security, meaning they cannot afford enough food to feed their family, she added.

“What’s more, nearly three in four low-income families have cut back on food in the past year in order to afford essential non-food items,” she said.


Drivers Who Test Positive for Drugs Have Triple the Risk of Fatal Car Crash

Sep. 25, 2013 — Drugged driving has been a safety issue of increasing public concern in the United States and many other countries but its role in motor vehicle crashes had not been adequately examined. In a new study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, researchers assessed the association of driver drug use, as well as the combination of drugs and alcohol, with the risk of fatal crash. They found that drug use is associated with a significantly increased risk of fatal crash involvement, particularly when used in combination with alcohol. The study provides critical data for understanding the joint effect of alcohol and drugs on driving safety.


Booster Seats Not Safer Than Booster Cushions for Older Children, Study Suggests

Sep. 26, 2013 — Over the past few years, belt-positioning booster seats (with backrest) have basically out-competed booster cushions (without backrest) for children between the ages of 4 and 12. However, the larger booster seats are not always safer. In some cases, they may even be less safe.

Researchers today agree that rear-facing child seats provide the best safety for children up to 3-4 years of age. For children between the ages of 4 and 12, however, development over the past few years has not progressed in the right direction. This is the opinion of Lotta Jakobsson, who is an adjunct professor at Chalmers University of Technology and a technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre.


Are rising house prices good?

I have heard comments on the radio that rising house prices is good. This seems warped to me. Is it good when food prices rise? Shelter is necessary to live. Esp. in the U.S., where it is usually illegal to be homeless. It's too bad that some people were persuaded by the financial elite to regard their homes as investments rather than as shelter. But if housing prices continually rose faster than incomes, eventually nobody could afford shelter, as rising house prices lead to rising rents.

Of course, rising house prices are good for the investors who bought a lot of foreclosed property cheap. And they are in the financial class that writes laws and financial columns, and shape our beliefs to their own benefit.

This Selfish Ayn Rand Business Philosophy Is Ruining The US Economy

A business can normally run for awhile with the owner/managers absent. The employees keep doing the work necessary. But w/o employees, the company could do nothing.

Henry Blodget Sep. 24, 2013

Forbes contributor Harry Binswanger, who is a disciple of the writer Ayn Rand, argued this week that people who make $1+ million a year are so valuable to society that they shouldn't pay any taxes.

Far from these million-dollar earners paying more taxes, Binswanger argued, the rest of America should "give back" to the 1% by thanking them for their service to the country and rewarding them by exempting them from taxation.

This argument is the logical extension of an argument that many American entrepreneurs and investors make, which is that they are the country's "job creators" and therefore deserve almost all of the country's income and wealth. These "job creators," this argument goes, should pay their employees as little as possible and keep every penny of profit for themselves. After all, they deserve it: They're the ones who "create" the jobs that sustain the country.


Successful entrepreneurs do play a valuable and important role in this ecosystem: They start companies that develop products and services that people want, and they guide the companies that produce them.

Successful investors also play a valuable and important role: They provide the capital necessary for companies to invest in new products and services.

But without talented employees who make a company's products and services, and — just as important — without financially healthy customers who buy them, entrepreneurs and investors can't create any sustainable jobs.

So to suggest that entrepreneurs and investors deserve all the credit or compensation in the economy is absurd.


Climate Change Devastating Ocean Fisherman

Climate Change Devastating Ocean Fisherman: ‘Sometimes We’ll Catch 5,000 Pounds Of Jellyfish’
By Katie Valentine on September 24, 2013

For many U.S. fisherman, there’s no debate about climate change. It’s here, and already majorly impacting their industries.

In New Jersey, Rutgers scientists have documented for 24 years how climate change is affecting the state’s oceans through weekly fish surveys. The researchers are finding fewer and fewer northern species and more and more southern species — fish like the Atlantic croaker, which historically have rarely ventured into the cool waters surrounding New Jersey. Mackerel and clams, which were once common, are now moving north, forcing fisherman to reevaluate what they fish for.

“As far as fishermen are concerned, climate change is here. This is a reality,” Tom Fote, of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re going to have to change the way we fish.”

And it’s not just in New Jersey. Off the coast of Oregon, ocean acidification and hypoxia — a depletion in the ocean’s oxygen which can cause dead zones — are two of the biggest problems facing the region’s ocean ecosystems. Both are linked to climate change: the ocean absorbs about 30 to 40 percent of the atmosphere’s excess carbon, causing its pH to drop, and one study found hypoxia tends to increase as temperatures rise. Particularly off the coast of Oregon, where hypoxia began occurring in 2002 and anoxia — an area with zero oxygen — first emerged in 2006, more evidence is pointing to climate change as a likely culprit of the patches of depleted oxygen.


Faux Pause: Ocean Warming, Sea Level Rise And Polar Ice Melt Speed Up

Scientists learned long ago that certain gases have the greenhouse effect. If it were not for them, the earth would be a big ball of ice. Note that the moon is the same distance from the sun as the earth, and is very cold.

It is a fact of physics that humans have been causing an increase in greenhouse gases.

It would be surprising if the earth weren't warming, and that would have to be explained.

By Joe Romm on September 25, 2013

[Click on the following graph to see the whole thing.]

“Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms,” as we reported back in March. And “Greenland Ice Melt Up Nearly Five-Fold Since Mid-1990s, Antarctica’s Ice Loss Up 50% In Past Decade,” as we reported last November. Another study that month found “sea level rising 60% faster than projected.”

And yet much of the media believes climate change isn’t what gets measured and reported by scientists, but is somehow a dialectic or a debate between scientists and deniers. So while 2010 was the hottest year on record and the 2000s the hottest decade on record, we are subject to nonsensically framed stories like this one from CBS, headlined “Controversy over U.N. report on climate change as warming appears to slow.”


Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years. This is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.

As suspected, much of the ‘missing heat’ Kevin Trenberth previously talked about has been found in the deep oceans. Consistent with the results of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), this study finds that 30% of the ocean warming over the past decade has occurred in the deeper oceans below 700 meters, which they note is unprecedented over at least the past half century.


The heat content of the oceans is growing and growing. That means that the greenhouse effect has not taken a pause and the cold sun is not noticeably slowing global warming….

The increase in the amount of heat in the oceans amounts to 17 x 1022 Joules over the last 30 years. That is so much energy it is equivalent to exploding a Hiroshima bomb every second in the ocean for thirty years.


What’s surprising is not that deniers and confusionists keep pushing their denial and confusion — that is, after all, their job — but that much of the mainstream media keeps buying what they are selling. [They are paid by the fossil fuel industry to do this.]


Rahmstorf, who is Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, explains:

The amount of heat stored in the oceans is one of the most important diagnostics for global warming, because about 90% of the additional heat is stored there (you can read more about this in the last IPCC report from 2007). The atmosphere stores only about 2% because of its small heat capacity. The surface (including the continental ice masses) can only absorb heat slowly because it is a poor heat conductor. Thus, heat absorbed by the oceans accounts for almost all of the planet’s radiative imbalance.


And let’s not forget another key indicator of accelerating warming — the accelerating melting of the great ice sheets as documented in the most comprehensive analysis of satellite altimetry, interferometry, and gravimetry data sets to date:

Warming of the whole globe (as opposed to the thin surface layer) has sped up. When the rate of surface warming returns to the trendline, I wonder if the media will report that global warming has accelerated.

human digestive system produces approximately 3g of ethanol per day

The average human digestive system produces approximately 3g of ethanol per day merely through fermentation of its contents.[citation needed] Catabolic degradation of ethanol is thus essential to life, not only of humans, but of almost all living organisms. In fact, certain amino acid sequences in the enzymes used to oxidize ethanol are conserved all the way back to single cell bacteria.[1] Such a functionality is needed because all organisms actually produce alcohol in small amounts by several pathways, primarily along the fatty acid synthesis,[2] glycerolipid metabolism,[3] and bile acid biosynthesis pathways.[4] If the body had no mechanism for catabolizing the alcohols, they would build up in the body and become toxic.

New Blockbuster IPCC Climate Report: Comprehensive, Authoritative, Conservative

Note that warmer air holds more moisture. When it comes into contact with cooler air, the result will be heavier precipitation - rain, snow, or sleet.

Dr. Jeff Masters, 11:31 AM GMT on September 26, 2013

Comprehensive. Authoritative. Conservative.
Those words summarize the world's most rigorous and important scientific report in history: the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate assessment, due to be released at 4am EDT Friday in Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize-winning IPCC has put together an amazingly authoritative and comprehensive report on a subject crucial to the future of civilization, a report that will guide policymakers worldwide as they struggle to cope with the growing chaos generated by the Great Climate Disruption that is already upon us. The first 31 pages of the report, called the "Summary For Policymakers", is what will be released Friday, and this summary will lay out a powerful scientific case that significant climate change with severe impacts is already occurring, humans are mostly responsible, the pace of climate change is expected to accelerate, and we can make choices to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to limit the damage.


Q: What are some of the weaknesses of the IPCC report?
1) The report is already out-of-date, since papers had to be submitted for publication by July 2012 and published by March 2013 in order to be cited.

2) The report is tedious, complex, and difficult to read, making this vital science difficult to access. Little regard was given by the IPCC to communicating the results of the report. Science has little value if it is not understandably communicated to those who need the information. Where are the accompanying explanatory videos? Why was the report issued on a Friday, the worst day of the work week to get attention? The IPCC has devoted a very small portion of its budget to communication and outreach, leaving the interpretation of the report to others. I can understand the reluctance of the IPCC to provide a more slick and showy interpretation of the report, since they might be accused of "spinning" the science, and one of the great strengths of the IPCC report is its great science and the impartiality of the content. But the assumption that the science will speak for itself is wrong. The most powerful and richest corporations in world history--the oil companies--are waging very well-funded PR campaigns to deny the science, play up the uncertainties, and question the character of the scientists who write the report. The world's most rigorous and important scientific report in history is being kicked apart by powerful special interests whose profits are threatened by the findings.

3) Since the "Summary for Policymakers" is subject to unanimous approval by politicians, the science is potentially compromised, and the conclusions will tend to be conservative.


4) The lower-end emissions scenario, called RCP2.6, which assumes that CO2 concentrations will reach 421 ppm by the year 2100, is highly unlikely. Earth reached 400 ppm of CO2 earlier this year, and CO2 has increased by over 2 ppm per year during the past decade. CO2 emissions are accelerating, and CO2 levels will surpass 421 ppm by the year 2023 at the current rate of acceleration. RCP2.6 requires that we slash emissions of CO2 by 50%, relative to 1990 levels, by 2050. We are currently on a pace to match or exceed the worst-case scenario considered by the IPCC (RCP8.5), where CO2 levels reach 936 ppm by the year 2100.

The two higher-end emission scenarios of the four considered by the IPCC will very likely warm the planet more than 2°C (3.6°F) over pre-industrial levels. Two degrees Centigrade represents a "dangerous" level of warming for civilization that we must avoid, according to the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, signed by world leaders including President Obama. We will have to work very hard, and very soon, to keep warming below this 2°C "danger" level. As climate writer Elizabeth Kolbert says, holding the global temperature increase to “only” two degrees Celsius, though, is like limiting yourself to “only” a few rounds of Russian roulette: unless you’re uncommonly lucky, the result is not likely be happy. The 0.9°C warming we've experienced since 1900 has already caused a destabilization of global weather patterns, resulting in unprecedented extreme weather events and accelerating melting of polar ice caps. As a group of climate scientists wrote in 2009 at,

"Even a “moderate” warming of 2°C stands a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society, leading potentially to the conflict and suffering that go with failed states and mass migrations. Global warming of 2°C would leave the Earth warmer than it has been in millions of years, a disruption of climate conditions that have been stable for longer than the history of human agriculture."

Jimmy Webb Speaks Out: Pandora Payments "Ridiculously Low"

By Etan Rosenbloom

This week, veteran songwriter Jimmy Webb releases Still Within the Sound of My Voice. The collection finds the Grammy winner giving intimate performances of 14 of his most beloved songs, with the help of some famous friends.


Mike Ragogna: [laughs] Jimmy, you've left a major mark on music and you've left a major mark on a lot of people's lives. You've got to feel good about that.

Jimmy Webb: Well, I feel like it could've turned out a lot worse. I'm very, very happy in serving ASCAP, with the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, to try to create a future for songwriters. I'm very concerned about IP (intellectual property), I'm very concerned about Pandora and the streaming issue, and that the amount of money that's being paid for songwriters' works is ridiculously low. It's laughable, it's insulting for a young girl to get six-thousand streams on Pandora and get a check for two cents, a young girl who's trying to start a career. We are going to pay the price for this as a nation one of these days because one of these days, somebody's going to look around and say, "Where's James Taylor? Where's Joni Mitchell? Where's Lyle Lovett?" There won't be any. There won't be any because nobody is going to work for two cents. And to cut a check for two cents and send somebody a check for two cents is the highest cynicism. That tells you who you're dealing with. You're dealing with someone who is laughing at you and thinks nothing of what you do. Nothing. You don't want to get me started in that direction, I don't think.

MR: [laughs] Actually, I do. Do you see a corner being turned on that at some point?

JW: Well yeah, I do. I personally do. I think that the world will come to its senses and I think that everybody has to give a little, including the record companies and the artists. One of the great problems we have is the fourteen to one disparity between what the artists and the record company receives and what the writers and publishers receive. Is the record company really investing that much money these days? I don't see big tour support. I don't see big billboards, except for maybe a couple of artists on top. I think it's a smokescreen. They're getting fifty nine percent and we're getting four percent, and we're writing the songs? How do you make the record without the songs? How do you have a tour without the record? To me it's like, "Listen, do I really have to explain this to you guys? Are you really just stupid?"

As a songwriter whose greatest success has come from other artists’ recordings of his music (“Up, Up and Away,” “Wichita Lineman,” “MacArthur Park,” etc.), Webb understands full well how essential performance royalties are to songwriters and composers. He joins a growing list of writers (including ASCAP member Josh Kear) who have voiced concerns about Pandora’s efforts to pay songwriters less. Find out more at

["MaArthur Park" is the song about leaving a cake out in the rain.]

High school coaches suspend entire football team

Bravo for these coaches.

Sep 26, 2013

Coaches at Utah's Union High School suspended the entire football team -- both varsity and junior varsity -- right before the big homecoming game.

The Cougars have had a few academic issues this season, as well as some attitude problems.

Last week, the coaches learned that a player or players may have been involved in the anonymous cyber bullying of another student.

"It just felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn't want our young men going and so we felt like we needed to make a stand," said head coach, Matt Labrum.

So after Friday's home game, the coaches made all of their players hand in their jerseys. Players left the locker room in tears telling their parents the team had been disbanded.

But their season wasn't over. Players were being given the option to play again under some very specific terms outlined in a letter signed by the entire coaching staff. The letter called for the election of new team captains, two days of community service instead of practice, mandatory attendance at a character education class and at a study hall session.


Beer-Producing Gut Gets Man Drunk on Bread

I read years ago that we all produce some alcohol each day in our digestive systems. But not usually enough to make us drunk.

By Breanna Draxler | September 19, 2013

Here’s a medical mystery for you. A man checks himself into an emergency room in Texas because he feels dizzy. Dizzy? Try drunk. His blood alcohol concentration is soaring at 0.37 percent. But here’s the sticking point: the man hasn’t had a single drink that day.

How the heck?


Turns out the man had a thriving colony of brewer’s yeast in his gut. As reported by NPR,

“The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

Global Warming Is Likely to Increase Severe Thunderstorm Conditions in U.S.

Sep. 23, 2013 — Severe thunderstorms, often exhibiting destructive rainfall, hail and tornadoes, are one of the primary causes of catastrophic losses in the United States. New climate models suggest a robust increase in these types of storms across the country.

In 2012, 11 weather disasters in the United States crossed the billion-dollar threshold in economic losses. Seven of those events were related to severe thunderstorms.

New climate analyses led by Stanford scientists indicate that global warming is likely to cause a robust increase in the conditions that produce these types of storms across much of the country over the next century.

Severe thunderstorms are one of the primary causes of catastrophic losses in the United States


Bring up a child in the way he should go

It's crazy that women complain about men being insensitive and mean, but they still tell little boys (like 3 years old) to be a big boy and not cry when they hurt themselves or are sad.

Rand Paul Says Subsidizing Health Care Of Federal Workers Should Be Unconstitutional, Continues To Accept Subsidized Health Care

Rand Paul Says Subsidizing Health Care Of Federal Workers Should Be Unconstitutional, Continues To Accept Subsidized Health Care

By Igor Volsky on September 23, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — who has relied on taxpayer-funded health care since 2011 — plans to offer a constitutional amendment that would prohibit tax dollars from subsidizing the health care of government employees and require all federal workers to purchase insurance through the exchanges included in the Affordable Care Act.

The proposal comes as the senator still appears to be enrolled in government subsidized health care coverage.


Under current law, lawmakers and some of their aides will be required to drop their existing health care coverage in the tax-subsidized Federal Health Benefits Program (FEHB) and enroll in the insurance exchanges at the core of the health law beginning on Oct 1.


The federal government currently pays for approximately 75 percent of Paul’s health care costs and the senator has advocated for expanding the Congressional system.


The Middle Class Does Better In States With Lots Of Union Members

By Alan Pyke on September 23, 2013

The middle class brings home a substantially larger share of aggregate earnings in states that have high rates of union membership than in those where fewer workers are organized, a Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) analysis of Census data shows. Amid very high and still increasing income inequality, union density appears to offer some buffer for middle-class Americans.


The finding shouldn’t surprise anyone. The rise of inequality over the past three decades tracks closely with the decline of union membership. Stronger unions mean stronger advocacy for policies that support workers, not just on the job but with regard to fiscal policy decisions that help set the path for what level of income inequality there will be.

Income inequality has intensified since the Great Recession officially ended in the summer of 2009. Rich people have captured an increasingly large share of the country’s income over the past three years, and everyone else’s piece of the pie has gotten smaller. While the official poverty rate has held steady since jumping up above 15 percent during the recession, other measures paint a bleaker picture. Nearly half the country is economically insecure, and one in seven American families cannot consistently put enough food on their tables.

Ex-Halliburton Official Charged With Destroying Evidence In Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

By Ryan Koronowski on September 21, 2013

Anthony Badalamenti, Halliburton Energy Services Inc.’s cementing technology director, was criminally charged with one count of destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in federal court Thursday.


U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana also noted that Halliburton self-reported the misconduct and cooperated with the investigation. Badalamenti was charged with a “bill of information,” which often means that the defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.


Earth has its 4th Warmest August on Record, and 6 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters

August 2013 was the globe's 4th warmest August since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 5th warmest August on record. The year-to-date period of January - August has been the 6th warmest such period on record. August 2013 global land temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 5th warmest on record. August 2013 was the 342nd consecutive month (28.5 years) with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. [And temps were warming before the 20th century began.]


The big stories that he highlights are the intense heat waves that hit Central Europe and East Asia, which brought all-time national heat records to Austria, Slovenia, and Japan. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, passed its all-time heat record a remarkable five times during the month.


The world-wide tally of billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2013 is 25, and the U.S. total is six, according to the August 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. This excludes the September Colorado flood, whose damages are preliminarily estimated at $2 billion. Ranked in term of cost, here are the 25 disasters:


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Greenhouse gas reduction could prevent millions of premature deaths

Charles Choi
Sept. 22, 2013

Reducing the flow of the greenhouse gases that spur global warming could prevent up to 3 million premature deaths annually by the year 2100, a new study suggests.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat, helping warm the globe. The surge in carbon dioxide levels due to human activity since the Industrial Revolution is now causing an overall warming of the planet that is having impacts around the globe. And the burning of fuel generates not only carbon dioxide, but also air pollutants that are harmful to human health.


Based on standard cost-benefit analysis that assigns a monetary value to saving lives, the researchers estimated that reducing a ton of carbon dioxide emissions was valued at $50 to $380.

"This is much more than the costs of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, so this can justify reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the point of view of human health," West said.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Get the Facts on Pandora’s Attack on Songwriters

September 17, 2013

The rights of songwriters came under attack last fall when online streaming giant Pandora filed suit against ASCAP. Pandora, which controls close to 70% of the U.S. streaming market, refuses to pay fair value to license the hard work of songwriters and is now taking songwriters to court to pay even less.


Lifelines for Poor Children \

Sept. 14, 2013

What’s missing in the current debate over economic inequality is enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age 5. This is not a big government boondoggle policy that would require a huge redistribution of wealth. Acting on it would, however, require us to rethink long-held notions of how we develop productive people and promote shared prosperity.


The cognitive skills prized by the American educational establishment and measured by achievement tests are only part of what is required for success in life. Character skills are equally important determinants of wages, education, health and many other significant aspects of flourishing lives. Self-control, openness, the ability to engage with others, to plan and to persist — these are the attributes that get people in the door and on the job, and lead to productive lives. Cognitive and character skills work together as dynamic complements; they are inseparable. Skills beget skills. More motivated children learn more. Those who are more informed usually make wiser decisions.


The family into which a child is born plays a powerful role in determining lifetime opportunities. This is hardly news, but it bears repeating: some kids win the lottery at birth, far too many don’t — and most people have a hard time catching up over the rest of their lives. Children raised in disadvantaged environments are not only much less likely to succeed in school or in society, but they are also much less likely to be healthy adults.


¶Critics say that early childhood education is expensive and that it is not effective. They are right about the cost, but terribly wrong about the large return on the investment. Quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children more than pay for themselves in better education, health and economic outcomes.

¶Proof comes in the form of a long-term cost-benefit analysis of effective early childhood programs. The Perry Preschool project was an intensive two-year voluntary program administered between 1962 and 1967 to disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-old, low-I.Q. African-American children in Ypslanti, Mich. The curriculum emphasized the development of self-control, perseverance and social skills in conjunction with basic cognitive skills. It also worked with the mothers to foster attachment, develop parenting skills and deepen their interactions with their children. The participants were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups, with the outcomes evaluated over a period of four decades.

¶Perry did not produce lasting gains in the I.Q.’s of its participants, but it did boost character skills that produced better education, economic and life outcomes. The economic rate of return from Perry is in the range of 6 percent to 10 percent per year per dollar invested, based on greater productivity and savings in expenditures on remediation, criminal justice and social dependency. This compares favorably to the estimated 6.9 percent annual rate of return of the United States stock market from the end of World War II to the 2008 meltdown. And yes, these estimates account for the costs of raising taxes and any resulting loss of economic activity.

A similar long-term early childhood study, the Carolina Abecedarian Project, better known as ABC, gave cognitive stimulation, training in self-control and social skills, and parental education starting in the first few months of life. ..... This program had lasting effects on I.Q., parenting practices and child attachment, leading to higher educational attainment and more skilled employment among those in the treatment group.

¶Most dramatic were ABC’s effects on lifelong health. Now, over 30 years later, those treated in ABC have lower blood pressure, lower abdominal obesity, less hypertension and less likelihood of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular conditions as adults.


A recent public opinion poll commissioned by the First Five Years Fund found that 68 percent of voters think that only half or even fewer children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Eighty-nine percent say it is important to make early education and child care more affordable for working families to give their children a strong start, and a similar number want the federal government to help states build better preschools and make them more accessible to low- and middle-income children

President Obama has proposed an early childhood initiative that combines family visitation, infant health and development, early learning, quality child care and more effective preschooling at ages 4 and 5.


Subsidizing Spouses

September 16, 2013

Nancy Folbre is professor emerita of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The federal tax code and Social Security both contain provisions that subsidize marriage if one spouse refrains from paid employment.


At first glance, the debate over such subsidies looks like a clash between those who want to support families and those who want to tax people as individuals. A closer look, however, shows that pro-marriage policies are not necessarily pro-family policies, because they don’t consistently reward effort devoted to caring for dependents such as children and the elderly.

A stay-at-home spouse who redecorates the living room, prepares gourmet meals and greets his or her partner at the door with a martini receives the same federal income tax treatment as one who raises several children and cares for sick, disabled or elderly family members.


Relatively few families in the bottom 45 percent in income pay federal income taxes, so they receive no benefit from the exemption. But most workers pay Social Security taxes that subsidize marriage even more generously. Those taxes that wage earners pay are not affected by their marital status, but married earners can receive an additional 50 percent of their individual retirement benefit to support a spouse who either lacks eligibility for earnings based on his or her own employment or opts for a spousal rather than an individual benefit.


In New Health Law, a Bridge to Medicare

Published: September 9, 2013

THE sweeping federal health care law making its major public debut next month was meant for people like Juanita Stonebraker, 63, from Oakland, Md., who retired from her job in a hospital billing office a year and a half ago.

She was able to continue her health insurance coverage from the hospital for a time, but when she tried to find an individual policy on her own, none of the insurers she contacted would cover her because she was diabetic.

“I didn’t even get to tell them about the heart attack,” said Ms. Stonebraker, who has been without health insurance since July. She is a little over a year away from qualifying for Medicare, the federal insurance program for people 65 and older. She now worries a recent hospitalization will leave her several thousand dollars in debt.

Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, insurers must now offer coverage to people like Ms. Stonebraker, and they will not be able to set the premiums they charge on the basis of someone’s health. Starting Oct. 1, she and millions of other Americans are expected to be able to buy one of the plans available through newly created online state marketplaces, or exchanges, for coverage that begins in 2014. For those with low incomes, subsidies are available to help pay premiums.


Early retirees are “the big group of winners in this equation,” said Edward A. Kaplan, a senior benefits consultant at the Segal Company, who said many of the premiums he had seen so far in the states that had made them public were relatively low, with subsidies making them even lower.


As for next year, experts say retirees who already have Medicare should see no surprises as a result of the law. Those eligible can still opt for traditional Medicare, along with a drug-only plan, or one of the Medicare Advantage plans run by private insurers, but they do not have to select their plans through the new exchanges.

“Medicare has not been radically altered,” said Gerry Smolka, a policy expert at AARP Public Policy Institute. “This is the same for you as it was last year.”


Nine million Americans between 50 and 64 years old were uninsured in 2010, according to a recent analysis by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Greg Burke, for example, is 61 and he retired in 2008. While he still had insurance from his former employer, he had a knee replacement.

“After my knee replacement, I found that the insurers didn’t love me anymore,” Mr. Burke said.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Colorado House Republicans Unanimously Support Flood Relief, Unanimously Opposed Sandy Aid

By Josh Israel on September 19, 2013

As historic floods of “biblical” proportions continue to ravage Colorado, President Obama signed an emergency declaration on Sunday — a move that was encouraged by a bipartisan letter last week from the state’s nine-member Congressional delegation. But the four Republican Congressmen who are now supporting disaster relief for their own state were among those voting earlier this year against the emergency aid funding for Superstorm Sandy victims on the East Coast.

Colorado Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton joined their delegation in asking the president to send emergency funds to help their constituents combat and recover from the more than 14 inches of rain that have flooded Colorado this month.

All four also signed onto a July 10, 2013 letter from the entire delegation to President Obama asking him for a federal major disaster declaration for summer wildfires. Their request noted that such a declaration would “provide urgently needed resources and support to the state, communities, and especially the families who have been uprooted by these wildfires.”

But back in January, a vote in the House of Representatives provided $50 billion in Sandy relief, yet among those voting against the bill were Coffman, Gardner, Lamborn, and Tipton. Their opposition stemmed, in part, because they we unable to steer some of the Sandy aid to their own state. Though he had himself sought disaster aid after damages from Colorado wildfires in June 2012, Lamborn even voted against a smaller $9 billion emergency Sandy relief bill 11 days earlier. [Colorado is not exactly close to the area devastated by Sandy.]

Though scientists have noted that climate is a key cause of these Colorado floods, Coffman, Gardner, Lamborn, and Tipton are all deniers of climate science.

After Texas boy dies from ant bites, debate rages over EpiPens in schools

Melissa Dahl
Sept. 20, 2013

The death of a middle school boy who suffered an allergic reaction to fire ants during a football game has added fuel to the debate about whether schools should stock epinephrine, a potentially life-saving medication for severe allergy attacks.


He died just one week after a bill was introduced to the U.S. Senate that would encourage states to require schools to stock epinephrine. The most well-known version of the medication is the EpiPen, a brand of the injectable form, which drives adrenaline into the person suffering an allergic attack.


Even though staff at schools in 30 states, including Texas, are allowed to inject an EpiPen in students even if they do not have a prescription for it, only four of those states -- Virginia, Maryland, Nebraska and Nevada --require schools to stock it.

Allergists say Cameron’s death highlights the importance of making epinephrine available to all students in schools across the country. Because, they say, Cameron’s mother is right – an EpiPen injection almost certainly would have saved the boy’s life.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wrongfully Convicted Inmate Released After 12 Years

Sept. 12, 2013

ATLANTA, GA, Sep 12, 2013 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- King & Spalding announced that it has secured the release of pro bono client David Peralta, who had served 12 years of a life sentence for a murder he did not commit. The DeKalb district attorney this morning dropped all charges against Peralta, who is to be released today.

Peralta was convicted in 2001 for a drive-by shooting that killed victim Rebecca Moore and was sentenced to life in prison. King & Spalding attorneys have been representing Peralta pro bono for over three years to obtain a new trial and his release. The DeKalb County Superior Court on April 22 granted Peralta's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence and vacated the conviction, whereupon the DeKalb district attorney determined that the new evidence shows Peralta was not involved in the murder. The DeKalb DA dropped the charges on Sept. 12 at a hearing before Judge Daniel M. Coursey, Jr.


2008 economic crisis could be to blame for thousands of excess suicides worldwide

Public release date: 17-Sep-2013
Contact: Stephanie Burns
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Researchers say 'urgent action' is needed to prevent further deaths

In a paper published today on, researchers are suggesting that the 2008 global economic crisis could be to blame for the increase in suicide rates in European and American countries, particularly among males and in countries with higher levels of job losses.

In 2008, the International Labour Organization estimated that the number of jobless worldwide would reach approximately 212 million by 2009, an increase of 34 million compared with 2007. The World Health Organization raised concerns of the crisis' impact on global health and called for action to monitor and protect health, in particular amongst the poor and vulnerable.


It’s Not (Really) About the Guns

I would say it's linked to attitudes of our society, that we have embraced meanness and uncaringness, and admire narcissism and psychopathic behaviour.

December 21, 2012
By Daniel Luzer


How many, indeed? There have been 62 public shootings in the last 30 years, according to an article in Mother Jones. Before Newtown there had been six mass shootings this year alone. We now have them more often than we have presidential elections, more often than we have the Olympics and the Grammy awards.

Newsom’s reaction, while understandable, misses the real problem. The reality is that the American mass shooting probably has a lot to do with gun policy, a fair amount to do with mental health programs, and everything to do with the distribution of wealth in America.


The public shootings began in the 1980s. There were two gun massacres in the two decades before Ronald Reagan took office, one in 1966 and one a decade later. There were, by some estimates, more than 30 mass killings during his time in office alone.

There were mass shooting prior to this, but they were mostly rational acts of violence, not random rage murders. On February 14, 1929, for instance, seven men were machine gunned to death in Chicago. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, while horrific, was a very a simple case of mobsters murdering rivals during Prohibition in order to retaliate for an earlier attempt to control the city’s bootlegging business.

The most dramatic change since then was not a modification in policy toward crime or guns but, rather, of the country’s economic structure.

Since 1980, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has lost about a quarter of its manufacturing jobs. Between 1990 and 2000 CEO pay increased 570 percent. The average worker’s salary, however, increased only 34 percent. Of the total increase in all American income from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent went to the top one percent. The wealth of that top one percent of Americans now exceeds the combined wealth of the bottom 95 percent. America has the worst wealth distribution of any first-world nation. Income distribution in the United States, as Timothy Noah put it in a 2010 piece he wrote for Slate, is now “more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador.”

The American firearm murder rate is also starting to resemble that of a banana republic. The countries with highest rates of gun death in the world are Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. The highest rates of gun homicide, in fact, are intensely concentrated in Latin America and Caribbean, other places with vast wealth disparities.

What does this orientation of resources do to a society? In 2005 Mark Ames published Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond, in which he argues that the American public gun murder is essentially the 21st century equivalent of the slave rebellions that occurred before the Civil War.


It’s impossible to demonstrate causality in any individual case, and in fact it could be argued that many of the gunmen were insulated by family circumstances from the worst effects of the American economic policies. But the grievances and obsessions of American mass shooters seem mostly to center on issues of status.


As societies become more inequitable, they become more violent. That’s because gross inequities in wealth make people feel angry and impotent and irrelevant. Their sense of powerlessness is ratified and reinforced by a culture and economic system in which the small group of winners feels morally justified in dismissing the large and growing number of losers


This is not to say that these murderers are innocent or mere victims of circumstance; they were adults who chose their brutal actions freely. It’s also true that a rigorous and severe gun control policy, in particular, could dramatically reduce the number of people who actually die from public acts of violence;

----- [But would they then turn to arson and bombs?]


The typical American family makes less than it did in 1989

By Neil Irwin, Published: September 17, 2013

The Census Bureau is out with the annual report on incomes and poverty. And while you might think that after years of stagnant incomes and elevated poverty rates, we would be inured to the depressing facts contained therein, it still somehow has the power to shock.

For my money, the most depressing fact about the economy is not the fact that household incomes were basically flat in 2012 (the real median household income was down to $51,017 from $51,100 in 2011, a statistically insignificant change). It wasn't even the fact that 15 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty, according to the official, flawed definition of the term.

Nah, the most depressing result comes when you look at the longer view of household incomes in the United States. This chart shows real median household income over the past 25 years; that is, the money earned, in inflation-adjusted dollars, by the family at the exact middle of the income distribution.


In 1989, the median American household made $51,681 in current dollars (the 2012 number, again, was $51,017). That means that 24 years ago, a middle class American family was making more than the a middle class family was making one year ago.


Healthy diet may reverse aging

Maggie Fox NBC News
Sept. 16, 2013

A program of healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction can not only reverse some diseases -- it may actually slow down the aging process at the genetic level, researchers reported Monday.

The lifestyle changes affected the telomeres -- little caps on the end of the chromosomes that carry the DNA, the team at the University of California, San Francisco report.


The program includes eating a diet high in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains and keeping fat to 10 percent of calories. The average American gets more than a third of calories from fat.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Family Current On Its Mortgage Had House Sold In Foreclosure

I guess they have to steal houses in order to pay the CEO an exorbitant salary.

By Alan Pyke on September 16, 2013

An Altadena, California family will be able to keep its home after a local news report exposed major errors made by the financial company that tried to sell it out from under the borrowers even though they were current on their payments.

Nationstar Mortgage bought Louise and Ceith Sinclair’s mortgage from Ocwen Financial Corporation and failed to honor a loan modification that the Sinclairs had finalized prior to the transfer of their loan. “Every time we call them back, they give us the run-around, saying call back in two days, call back in two days,” Louise Sinclair told Los Angeles’ KABC. Then in June, someone knocked on the door and told the Sinclairs their house had been sold and they’d need to leave and even pay rent until they did. Nationstar had foreclosed on the house and sold it to another financial company without ever notifying the rightful owners. “They said that we didn’t notarized one paper of the modification, and in fact, we did,” Ceith Sinclair told KABC.


Many homeowners caught in the trap of mortgage servicer abuses and aggressive foreclosure tactics don’t share the Sinclairs’ good fortune. Etienne Syldor of Orlando, Florida faced foreclosure despite repaying his loan early. Jo-An Seipp, another Floridian, was current on her payments when Wells Fargo sold her house. Jacqueline Barber of Atlanta, Georgia was “dual-tracked,” meaning the bank foreclosed at the same time they told her she was on track for a loan modification that would keep her in her home.

These individual stories are the tiniest fraction of the whole problem of mortgage servicing. Documented abuses and ducked phonecalls are two of the most common abusive practices in a review by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that found sloppy and illegal foreclosure practices are rampant nationwide.


Diet Is Associated With Risk of Depression

Sep. 16, 2013 — A healthy diet may reduce the risk of severe depression, according to a prospective follow-up study of more than 2,000 men conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition, weight loss in the context of a lifestyle intervention was associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms.


A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms and a lower risk of depression during the follow-up period.

Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate. In addition, increased coffee consumption was non-linearly associated with a decreased risk of depression.

In addition, participation in a three-year lifestyle intervention study improved depression scores with no specific group effect. Furthermore, a reduction in the body weight was associated with a greater reduction in depressive symptoms.

Adherence to an unhealthy diet characterized by a high consumption of sausages, processed meats, sugar-containing desserts and snacks, sugary drinks, manufactured foods, French rolls and baked or processed potatoes was associated with an increased prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms.

Contrary to some earlier observations, vitamin B12 intake, serum concentrations of n-3 PUFAs, serum ratio of n-6 to n-3 PUFAs, tea drinking and total caffeine intake were not related to the risk of depression in this study.


Environmentally Friendly Cement Is Stronger Than Ordinary Cement

Sep. 16, 2013 — New research from the Niels Bohr Institute shows that cement made with waste ash from sugar production is stronger than ordinary cement. The research shows that the ash helps to bind water in the cement so that it is stronger, can withstand higher pressure and crumbles less. At the same time, energy is saved and pollution from cement production is reduced.


Non-Traditional Mathematics Curriculum Results in Higher Standardized Test Scores

Sep. 16, 2013 — For many years, studies have shown that American students score significantly lower than students worldwide in mathematics achievement, ranking 25th among 34 countries. Now, researchers from theUniversity of Missouri have found high school students in the United States achieve higher scores on a standardized mathematics test if they study from a curriculum known as integrated mathematics.


Integrated mathematics is a curriculum that combines several mathematic topics, such as algebra, geometry and statistics, into single courses. Many countries that currently perform higher than the U.S. in mathematics achievement use a more integrated curriculum. Traditional U.S. mathematics curricula typically organize the content into year-long courses, so that a 9th grade student may take Algebra I, followed by Geometry, followed by Algebra II before a pre-Calculus course.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stress May Lead to False Confessions

Sep. 11, 2013 — Imagine if you were wrongly accused of a crime. Would you be stressed? Anyone would be, but Iowa State University researchers found the innocent are often less stressed than the guilty. And that could put them at greater risk to admit to a crime they didn't commit.


The Innocence Project is a nonprofit group that works to exonerate those who are wrongly convicted, many because of false confessions. To date, the organization has helped clear 80 people who admitted to crimes they did not commit.

Madon said other researchers have studied false confession cases in which police recorded the length of the interrogation. Of those cases, they found people were questioned for up to 16 hours on average before admitting to a crime they did not commit.

"These people held out for a very long time, but they couldn't hold out forever," Madon said.

Typically, interrogations only last 30 minutes to 2.5 hours. But with some false confessions, suspects were questioned for up to 24 hours.


Pain Research Yielding Encouraging Discoveries, but Funding Cuts Threaten Future Advances

Sep. 11, 2013 — Multi-faceted pain research discoveries within the last decade are bringing new hope for the estimated 100 million Americans with chronic pain. Unfortunately, translation of these scientific advances into clinical practice could be stalled without sufficient funding for both basic science and clinical pain research, according to the American Pain Society.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Exercise Provides Some Benefits for Depression

I found walking in the woods and gardening very helpful.

Sep. 11, 2013 — Exercise may benefit people suffering from depression, according to an updated systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. The authors of the review found evidence to suggest that exercise reduces symptoms of depression, although they say more high quality trials are needed.


Delaying Climate Policy Would Triple Short-Term Mitigation Costs

Sep. 12, 2013 — Higher costs would in turn increase the threshold for decision-makers to start the transition to a low-carbon economy. Thus, to keep climate targets within reach it seems to be most relevant to not further postpone mitigation, the researchers conclude.

"The transitional economic repercussions that would result if the switch towards a climate-friendly economy is delayed, are comparable to the costs of the financial crisis the world just experienced," lead-author Gunnar Luderer says. The later climate policy implementation starts, the faster -- hence the more expensive -- emissions have to be reduced if states world-wide want to achieve the internationally agreed target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. A binding global agreement to implement the emissions reductions required to reach this target is currently still under negotiation, while global emissions have continued to rise.


Are Women Less Corrupt?

Sep. 12, 2013 — Women are more likely than men to disapprove of -- and less likely to participate in -- political corruption, but only in countries where corruption is stigmatized, according to new political science research from Rice University.

"'Fairer Sex' or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender and Institutional Context" finds that women are less tolerant of corrupt behavior, but only in democratic governments, where appropriating public policy for private gain is typically punished by voters and courts.


Esarey noted that previous research has shown that greater female participation in government (that is, in the legislature) is associated with lower levels of perceived corruption. However, he said that his research reveals that this relationship does not exist in autocracies, where women might feel more compelled to go along with the status quo than challenge the system.


Low Omega-3 Could Explain Why Some Children Struggle With Reading

Sep. 13, 2013 — An Oxford University study has shown that a representative sample of UK schoolchildren aged seven to nine years had low levels of key Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Furthermore, the study found that children's blood levels of the long-chain Omega-3 DHA (the form found in most abundance in the brain) 'significantly predicted' how well they were able to concentrate and learn.


Diet During Pregnancy and Early Life May Affect Children's Behavior and Intelligence

The Republicans are trying to reduce food benefits for poor children.

Sep. 13, 2013 — The statement "you are what you eat" is significant for the development of optimum mental performance in children as evidence is accumulating to show that nutrition pre-birth and in early life "programmes" long term health, well being, brain development and mental performance and that certain nutrients are important to this process.


The study has found that folic acid, which is recommended in some European countries, to be taken by women during the first three months of pregnancy, can reduce the likelihood of behavioural problems during early childhood. Eating oily fish is also very beneficial, not only for the omega-3 fatty acids they which are 'building blocks' for brain cells, but also for the iodine content which has a positive effect on reading ability in children when measured at age nine.


Deficit Falls To Lowest Level Since 2008

By Alan Pyke on September 13, 2013

New Treasury Department figures confirm what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in the spring: the budget deficit for fiscal year 2013 will be dramatically lower than it was the past four years. The government recorded a $148 billion deficit in August, 22.5 percent smaller than in the same month of 2012, and is on track to total a $642 billion annual deficit when the fiscal year ends on September 30.


‘Biblical’ Amounts Of Rainfall Slam Colorado, Causing Death, Destruction, And Massive Flooding

By Ryan Koronowski on September 13, 2013

Massive, historic, “biblical” rainfall cascaded through much of Colorado Thursday, leaving three people dead and one missing as of Thursday night as a result of the flooding.

Up to 8 inches of rain fell across a hundred-mile expanse of Colorado’s Front Range, causing thousands to be evacuated as local streams turned into rampaging torrents. The heavy rains returned to the foothills region Thursday night, with more precipitation forecast for Friday.

The National Weather Service issued constantly-updated versions of a local area forecast, and one at 9:41 a.m. MDT reported a dire warning:


There’s no scientific definition of “biblical” but the flooding has been unlike anything local residents have ever seen before.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, after facing 20-foot walls of water racing down canyons already stripped bare by wildfires and drought, said, “This is not an ordinary day. It is not an ordinary disaster.”

A dozen dams overflowed and six actually blew out, while officials were keeping their eyes on several high-hazard dams whose failure would seriously endanger lives.


Though there have been severe storms in the past, the amount of rain that has fallen in so short a time is unprecedented.


And it’s not just Colorado. Historic, “unbelievable” rainfall in New Mexico on Thursday caused flooding in areas that typically have little to no flow at this time of year.


One single event cannot definitively be said to be caused by climate change. But a study last year found that as the Earth gets warmer, precipitation patterns shift and we will see more intense downpours as storms become stronger because they have more energy.

[Also, warm air holds more moisture. When a mass of warm mass air meets a mass of colder air, we have more precipitation.]


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Employers Actually Plan To Hire More Full-Time Workers As Obamacare Rolls Out


A new survey of chief financial officers finds that American companies expect to increase the number of full-time employees by 1.8 percent over the next 12 months as key parts of the Affordable Care Act go into effect, undermining conservative critics who’ve argued that the health care law would hamper business growth and expansion.


CryoSat Reveals Decline In Arctic Sea Ice Volume Continues


Arctic sea ice volume collapsed from 1979 to 2012, several decades ahead of what the climate models had predicted.
Now new data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite has revealed that this ice volume trend continued through the spring of 2013.

[This shows the area covered by ice. But the decline in the amount of ice is even greater, because it is getting thinner.]


University of Leeds Prof. Andrew Shepherd explains:
“CryoSat continues to provide clear evidence of diminishing Arctic sea ice…. there has been a decrease in the volume of winter and summer ice over the past three years.
“The volume of the sea ice at the end of last winter was less than 15 000 cubic km, which is lower than any other year going into summer and indicates less winter growth than usual.”


The CryoSat satellite now allows very accurate measures of ice thickness, which can be combined with ice area to give volume. Here is a new video “based on measurements taken between October 2010 and April 2013,” which revealed that “the volume of seasonal winter and summer sea ice has declined year on year during this period.”


Cellphones are now essentials for the poor

Thu Sep 12, 2013

After losing her job as a bookstore manager in New York City two years ago, Ethel Brown, 53, also lost her home. Since then, she’s mostly been living under an acquaintance’s roof while trying to find work, and may need to find another place to live soon.

Though money is tight, Brown makes sure she stays on top of her monthly cellphone bill for a $35 prepaid plan from Boost Mobile, which provides her with unlimited minutes and texts. Sometimes she cuts back on buying a cup of coffee or extra food, to ensure she can pay her cellphone bill.

With both her employment and living situation in flux, Brown needs her mobile phone. She uses it to follow up on job and housing leads, and to keep in touch with public assistance agencies, which sometimes follow up with phone calls instead of asking applicants to come into an office. Having a cellphone also helps Brown stay in touch with her family and friends.


"Today every family must have a telephone if it is to contact emergency services," Linda Gibbs, New York City’s deputy mayor for health and human services, wrote in a 2007 poverty report.


Brown went through a period of a few months where she had no mobile phone, and she said it was awful.

"You have to depend on somebody else to take your messages and when you do go over and speak to the person and say ‘Hey, did anybody call?’… Hopefully they’ll tell you, or they wrote it down," Brown said.

And that old standby, the pay phone, is not as reliable — or available — as it once was. In March 2012, the FCC said there were 243,487 payphones in the U.S., down from more than 2 million in March 2000.

"You try to get to a payphone, you can’t even use it, it’s not working," Brown said. "Or you put the quarters in, and next thing you know, if you don’t have enough, the quarters are gone."


In San Francisco, Lifeline case managers and clients alike report that the wireless subsidies do make a big difference, says Bevan Dufty, director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement for San Francisco, especially when it comes to being available to make and confirm job appointments.


Drop the cookie: Sweet, starchy foods 'probably' cause women’s cancer

Maggie Fox NBC News
Sep. 10, 2013

Sweet, starchy foods like sugar and white bread probably cause endometrial cancer, while coffee probably protects against it, researchers reported on Tuesday.

And a review of the available evidence reinforces that being obese is probably the greatest cause of the cancer, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund International said.

“AICR now estimates that most cases of endometrial cancer (59 percent, or about 29,500 every year) could be prevented in the U.S. if women were active for at least 30 minutes a day and maintained a healthy body weight,” the group said in a statement.


“Women who are obese have two to three times the rate of endometrial cancer. People who are more active regularly tend to have a decreased rate of endometrial cancer."


“We don’t want to tell people to go ahead and drink as much coffee as you want,” Bandera cautioned. Coffee can raise blood pressure and can also have other side effects. “Everything in moderation.”


“The bottom line is you want to eat whole grains instead of refined grains and sugary foods,” she added. “All the findings are really pointing to the same thing – maintaining better glucose metabolism and maintaining a healthy body weight,” she added. “That means a healthy diet and regular exercise.”

Men need 'female' hormone for sex drive, fat control: study

Brian Alexander NBC News contributor
Sep. 11, 2013

Estrogen, the “female” hormone, is a lot more important to men than even many doctors think, according to a surprising new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that it’s actually a lack of estrogen that’s most responsible for the accumulation of body fat plaguing men with low testosterone levels, raising their risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Low estrogen is also a big contributor to the sexual dysfunction and low libido usually blamed solely on low testosterone.


Chicago Mayor 'Sorry' About Torture Cases

I don't think the mayor should have to apologize for something he had nothing to do with. And I wouldn't say his statement is necessarily an apology. There are a lot of things I am sorry for in the world, but I am not to blame for them, so I am not making an apology.

By Ward Room Staff
| Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the $12.3 million settlement in two Chicago police-torture cases is "a way of saying all of us are sorry about what happened here in the city."


Former Chicago Police Commander Burge was convicted in 2010 of lying under oath about torturing suspects into confessions and was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.


Wednesday's council-approved settlements, stemming from lawsuits by Ronald Kitchen and Marvin Reeves, brings the total payouts in the long-running torture cases to more than $80 million.

Both men in these two cases claim they were tortured by members of Burge's unit. They say Kitchen falsely confessed and implicated Reeves in the 1988 slayings of five people. Both men were exonerated and released from prison after spending years behind bars.

Though none of the cases occurred during Emanuel's tenure, he made the apology Wednesday after being asked repeatedly by a reporter if he would apologize.

"I am sorry this happened," he said in response. "Let us all now move on."


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Study links warming to some 2012 wild weather

Sep 5, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) - A study of a dozen of 2012's wildest weather events found that man-made global warming increased the likelihood of about half of them, including Superstorm Sandy's devastating surge and the blistering U.S. summer heat.

The other half - including a record wet British summer and the U.S. drought last year - simply reflected the random freakiness of weather, researchers with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British meteorological office concluded in a report issued Thursday.


By Jennifer Viegas

Home gardeners often struggle to prevent deer from eating prized roses and other plants, so how do commercial Christmas tree growers keep hungry deer at bay? North Carolina State University extension researchers have recently come up with some creative, natural, and cost-effective solutions.

The scientists, led by Christmas tree production specialist Jeff Owen, are exploring the use of inexpensive, inedible food byproducts — such as dried blood and egg powder — typically sold in bulk to the pet food industry to be used for flavoring. These byproducts cost 85 to 90 percent less than their commercial counterparts, and are found to be just as effective.

Using these repellents, which can be purchased locally in bulk, may provide tree farmers an early Christmas present.

“These products have an unappealing taste, but the decaying smell actually elicits a fear response in the deer and keeps them away from the crops,” Owen explained. “We’re continuing to look at similar products, like liver powder and fishmeal, to see if they work the same way.”

The products add to the growing list of more well-known natural repellants, such as human hair clippings, cayenne pepper, and raw eggs.


For home gardeners who might wish to also benefit from Owen's research, he offers the following tip:
“Our growers get these products in 50-pound bags or even 2,000-pound pallets, and have to mix the egg powder or dried blood into a solution to be sprayed. It’s not the prettiest process,” he laughed. “For the average homeowner, the pre-made commercial deer repellent should be more than adequate, provided you rotate repellents from time to time.”

Top 1 percent took record share of US income in 2012

PAUL WISEMAN The Associated Press

The pay gap between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America widened last year, making a record.

The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their largest share in Internal Revenue Service figures going back a century.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. But until last year, the top 1 percent's share of pre-tax income had not yet surpassed the 18.7 percent it reached in 1927, according to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.


Last year, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose 19.6 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent.


The income figures include wages, pension payments, dividends and capital gains from the sale of stocks and other assets. They do not include so-called transfer payments from government programs such as unemployment benefits and Social Security.