Saturday, November 30, 2013

60 years in an iron lung: US polio survivor worries about new global threat

JoNel Aleccia NBC News
Nov. 30, 2013

It’s a long way from central Oklahoma to Syria, but one of America’s last iron lung survivors says she’s a living reminder that an outbreak of polio anywhere in the world is a danger everywhere.

Martha Ann Lillard, now 65, has spent most of the past six decades inside an 800-pound machine that helps her breathe. News this month that at least 13 children have been paralyzed by a resurgence of polio in Syria — where the disease had been eradicated since 1999 — filled her with sadness and dread, she told NBC News. At least four additional cases have been confirmed in the country, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

“If my mother would have had the opportunity to give me the vaccine, she would have done that,” says Lillard, who was a kindergartner in 1953 when she woke up with a sore throat that quickly progressed to something much worse — a life-threatening infection with poliovirus.


U.S. health experts agree. America’s last outbreak of polio was in 1979, and though risk of reintroduction of the disease is low, they say that growing pockets of unvaccinated children are raising concerns that people may have forgotten the panic over the disease that crippled Lillard — and how easily it could return.

“Scenarios for polio being reintroduced into the U.S. are easy to image and the disease could get a foothold if we don’t maintain high vaccination rates,” says Dr. Greg Wallace, a team leader for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he heads the measles, mumps, rubella and polio epidemiology branch.

“Syria is a good example,” he adds. “They didn’t have any cases. Then they stopped vaccinating for two or three or four years and what do you have?”


The first known outbreak of polio in the U.S. was in 1894 in Vermont, but it’s the epidemics in the 1950s that scarred the nation. In 1952, a record 57,628 cases of polio were reported in the U.S., and between 13,000 and 20,000 people a year were left paralyzed, records show.

Poliomyelitis is a viral infection of the spinal cord that mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Most people who are infected develop no symptoms and don’t even know they’ve got it. But in about 1 in 200 cases, the virus destroys the nerve cells that activate muscles, causing irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. It can paralyze breathing muscles, too, sometimes causing death.


Scandal Widens Over Contracts for Navy Work

Ah yes. Better government thru privatization. [sarcasm]

Published: November 29, 2013

A scandal involving the Navy’s ship supply network, until now focused on the Pacific Fleet, has spread to another contractor working for Navy ships in the waters off the Middle East, Africa and South America.

The Justice Department is looking into allegations that the company, Inchcape Shipping Services, with the help of subcontractors, overcharged the Navy by millions of dollars, interviews and previously undisclosed court documents show.


The civil fraud investigation, which was prompted by a whistle-blower who had worked for the company, is another serious embarrassment for the Navy, which is already grappling with a criminal investigation of its main ship supplier in the Pacific, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

The firm’s owner, Leonard Glenn Francis, was arrested in September on charges of conspiring to bribe Navy officials with cash, trips and prostitutes. In exchange, investigators say, those officials helped divert ships to certain ports where Glenn Defense submitted inflated bills. Three Navy officials have been charged with crimes, and four others, including two admirals, have been suspended over their ties to Mr. Francis.


That ‘Made in U.S.A.’ Premium

Published: November 30, 2013

The designer Nanette Lepore is a cheerleader for New York City’s garment district. Most of her contemporary women’s clothing line, which sells at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, is made locally.


Yet Ms. Lepore says that when she signed a deal with J. C. Penney for a low-cost clothing line for teenagers — clothing that sells for about one-tenth the price of her higher-end lines — Penney could not afford production in New York.

Of the 150 or so items she now has featured on Penney’s website, none are made in this country. “That price point can’t be done here,” Ms. Lepore said of lower-end garments.


Even when consumers are confronted with the human costs of cheap production, like the factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 garment workers, garment makers say, they show little inclination to pay more for clothes.


Two-thirds of Americans say they check labels when shopping to see if they are buying American goods, according to a New York Times poll taken early this year. Given the example of a $50 garment made overseas, almost half of respondents — 46 percent — said they would be willing to pay from $5 to $20 more for a similar garment made in the United States.


But shoppers’ statements that they are interested in American-made goods don’t always square with how they actually spend their money, especially when they are on a budget.


But keeping costs low, which consumers now expect, can often mean lower quality.

“In many cases the product that we buy today does not have the same, higher level of standards that we saw in earlier years,” Mr. Cohen said. “Are you buying a T-shirt that’s lighter than it used to be? In many cases, absolutely, yes. They had to take things out to keep the price the same.”


I can guarantee that things are not made as well as they used to be, and don't last nearly as long.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Mormon bishop disguises himself as homeless man to teach congregation about compassion

There was a recent story about a minister going to a new church who did this which appeared not to be true, as far as could find. This is not the same story. Maybe this Bishop got the idea from that story. I heard an interview with him on NPR a few days ago.

By Abby Stevens, Deseret News
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27 2013

David Musselman, a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did not receive his usual greetings as he approached his meetinghouse last Sunday. But then again, Bishop Musselman is usually not disguised as a homeless man for church.

“As a bishop I try to always be as giving as I can, and I was surprised at my own inability to have compassion,” Bishop Musselman said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I thought about some ways I could somehow convey the importance of not being critical … and sometimes the best way to do that is through experiences that go beyond just a talk in church. And so I just laid awake many nights just thinking about what I could do, and then this kinda popped into my brain.”


Bishop Musselman received varied reactions to his appearance in the church building. At least five people asked him to leave the property, some gave him money and most were indifferent to his presence.

“Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn’t even make eye contact. I’d approach them and say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ many of them I wouldn’t ask for any food or any kind of money, and their inability to even acknowledge me being there was very surprising,”


Most of the children in the congregation were curious and wanted to give to the “homeless man” the bishop appeared to be.

“They (the children) looked to their parents to determine whether or not that was safe, and that’s certainly something you would expect and it’s a good thing,” Bishop Musselman said. “Some parents completely embraced it with their children, other parents were very, very guarded and evasive.”

But even with some negative reception, Bishop Musselman said he learned not to judge people’s motives and hearts.

“One of the gentlemen that approached me and asked me to leave the property felt horrible (afterward), and it would be easy to judge him,” Bishop Musselman said. “But what I didn’t know about this was that just one year before that time his granddaughter had come to his church … and helped an old man get into his car, and at the time that she did that, he was faking, and he stole her purse and drove off. So he came out because he was concerned about the safety of people, and his experience caused him to view me through a different lens.”


Some Florida Election Supervisors Stunned By New Voter Restrictions

By Igor Volsky on November 26, 2013

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) chief election official issued new rules Monday night that could hamper absentee voting, just months before Floridians in the state’s 13th Congressional district take part in a special election to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R). The seat was held by Republicans for decades, but is now considered a tossup.

The move surprised some election supervisors, who confirmed to ThinkProgress that Secretary of State Ken Detzner had not consulted them before announcing the change. Under the new rule, Floridians will be prohibited from dropping off their absentee ballots at “libraries, tax collectors’ branch offices and other places” and will only be allowed to mail-in their selections or deposit them at local election offices.


“I was surprised, to say the least,” Ann McFall, Volusia’s Supervisor of Elections told ThinkProgress. “I just have one office and no ‘drop boxes.” Under the new rules, “people who like to save postage and drop it off at an early voting site” could no longer do so. “Why create a problem when none currently exists?” she asked. “If the Secretary of State were to call me, I would ask why not wait until the winter conference in a few weeks to get ideas from the [Supervisors of Elections]?”

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark had a similar reaction. She told The Tampa Bay Times, “I’m very worried about this. I’m just stunned.” Pinellas county “has used dropoff sites since 2008 and used 14 in the 2012 general election,” when 42 percent of the county’s absentee ballot total were left at dropoff sites.


Detzner has a history of limiting voters’ access, however. In 2012, the state created a voter purge list full of suspected non-citizens, which was mainly comprised of Latino, African and Asian Americans. The list was full of mistakes, targeting U.S. citizens because of a misspelled name or outdated address. County election supervisors refused to go along with the purge, and the Justice Department sued over possible racial discrimination. Detzner eventually apologized for the effort.

tags: voter supression

Arrested because a stalker came into his house

Would he have been arrested if he hadn't been gay? How can it be right to arrest someone for disobeying a protective order to not be around someone who was in your house because he disobeyed a protective order not to come near you?

Nov 29, 2013

Police Investigate Sudden Death of Yale Professor

New Haven, Conn., detectives are investigating the sudden death of a Yale professor who was being held in a cell at the Union Avenue Detention Facility.

Police said Samuel See, 34, of New Haven was arrested on Saturday night. On Sunday, he was found unresponsive in his cell and later pronounced deceased.

Police went to See's home after receiving a complaint of a domestic dispute at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

According to police, See's husband, Saunder Ganglani, 32, of New Haven, had gone to See's home to retrieve his belongings despite a protective order that was in place.

Ganglani told officers that he’d spent about two and a half hours at the house on Saturday before police responded.

Officers charged Ganglani with violating the protective order and spoke with See, who told police to remove Ganglani from the home, police said.

As officers were speaking with See, they mentioned there is also a protective order filed for See to stay away from Ganglani and See “became enraged," police said.

He yelled that it was his house, said he shouldn't be arrested and fought with the officers when they tried handcuffing him.


An ambulance transported See to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was treated.

After being released, he was placed in police custody, taken to the detention facility and charged with violating a protective order, interfering with Police and threatening in the second degree.


Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year?

I suggest reading the whole article.

Feb 20, 2013

On television, in interviews and in meetings with investors, executives of the biggest U.S. banks -- notably JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon -- make the case that size is a competitive advantage. It helps them lower costs and vie for customers on an international scale. Limiting it, they warn, would impair profitability and weaken the country’s position in global finance.

So what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?


Banks have a powerful incentive to get big and unwieldy. The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail.

Lately, economists have tried to pin down exactly how much the subsidy lowers big banks’ borrowing costs. In one relatively thorough effort, two researchers -- Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz -- put the number at about 0.8 percentage point. The discount applies to all their liabilities, including bonds and customer deposits.

Small as it might sound, 0.8 percentage point makes a big difference. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.


Switched at birth: Son born to rich parents sues hospital after life of poverty

I don't think he deserved to win the lawsuit. Just because you happen to be born to a rich family doesn't make you deserving of being rich. And according to the elite philosophy, he doesn't deserve to win the lawsuit, because his life of poverty proved that he is undeserving. I disagree with the elite on that. How a person does in life is hugely influenced by accidental circumstances. Everyone should have a chance to reach their potential.

by Arata Yamamoto and Alexander Smith, NBC News
Nov. 29, 2013

A Japanese man born to wealthy parents has been awarded about $371,000 in damages after accidentally being switched with another baby and spending decades in living in poverty.

It was almost 60 years before a DNA test revealed the life-changing mistake by a hospital worker who had bathed the newborns and returned them to the wrong mothers.

The men spent decades living each others' lives: one man living off welfare checks before working as a truck driver, the other enjoying a private education and now runs his own real-estate business.

"I feel ... regret and also anger," the poverty-stricken man, who has withheld his identity, told a press conference on Wednesday. "I want them to turn back the clock."


Instead of the life of affluence for which he was destined, the man lived off welfare checks and grew up in a small apartment which had no electrical appliances. His given mother raised him and two siblings after their father died when he was two.

The other baby grew up as the eldest of four siblings in a well-off family. He received private tutoring and went to university.

The error was uncovered in 2009 after the wealthy family realized one of the four brothers did not share their likeness and requested a DNA test. After they found out they were not related they searched hospital records and eventually found their true brother in 2011.


I saw this on Facebook yesterday, in the form of one of those pictures that slow down the loading of the page. So I prefer to do a text mode. Also, that way I don't have to worry about the picture being removed from where I link to it, or having to save it to my computer and load it to my blog, which takes time and requires more storage space by Blogger. All that storage requires electricity and other resources, so I try not to be wasteful. Any one picture is not that much, but all together is helping devastate our environment, on which we depend for life.

What do we want?
Respectful discourse.
When do we want it?
Now would be agreeable to me.
 But I am interested in your opinion.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Harvard Just Released Its Epic Study On What Men Need To Live A Happy Life

by Brent Lambert • April 29, 2013

In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history. The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing. The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” — indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become.


Recently, George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades, published the study’s findings in the 2012 book "Triumphs of Experience".


physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by habits formed prior to age 50.


the most significant finding of all is that “Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power.” In fact, alcoholism is the single strongest cause of divorce between the Grant Study men and their wives. Alcoholism was also found to be strongly coupled with neurosis and depression (which most often follows alcohol abuse, rather than preceding it). Together with cigarette smoking, alcoholism proves to be the #1 greatest cause of morbidity and death.


With regards to income, there was no noticeable difference in maximum income earned by men with IQs in the 110-115 range vs. men with IQs above 150. With regards to sex lives, one of the most fascinating discoveries is that aging liberals have way more sex. Political ideology had no bearing on overall life satisfaction, but the most conservative men on average shut down their sex lives around age 68, while the most liberal men had healthy sex lives well into their 80s.


In Triumphs of Experience, Vaillant raises a number of factors more often than others, but the one he refers to most often is the powerful correlation between the warmth of your relationships and your health and happiness in your later years.


One of the most intriguing discoveries of the Grant Study was how significant men’s relationships with their mothers are in determining their well-being in life. For instance, Business Insider writes: “Men who had ‘warm’ childhood relationships with their mothers took home $87,000 more per year than men whose mothers were uncaring. Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old. Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers — but not their fathers — were associated with effectiveness at work. On the other hand, warm childhood relations with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment on vacations, and increased ‘life satisfaction’ at age 75 — whereas the warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.”

In Vallant’s own words, the #1 most important finding from the Grant Study is this: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points to a straightforward five-word conclusion: Happiness is love. Full stop.”

16-Year-Old Jailed at Rikers for 3 Years Without Trial

Think Progress / By Nicole Flatow
November 25, 2013

A teen who spent three years in a notorious New York jail without ever having been convicted or put on trial is coming forward after filing a lawsuit against New York City. In June, charges against Kalief Browder were mysteriously dropped and he was released, as first reported by WABC-TV.

Browder was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school walking home from a party in the Bronx when he was arrested on a tip that he robbed someone three weeks earlier. He was hauled off to Rikers Island, a prison known for punishing conditions and overuse of force, and was held because he couldn’t pay the $10,000 bail. Browder went to court on several occasions, but he was never scheduled for trial. After 33 months in jail, Browder said a judge offered freedom in exchange for a guilty plea, threatening that he could face 15 years in jail if convicted. He refused. Then one day, he was released with no explanation.


Browder says he spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement, was deprived of meals, and was assaulted and beaten both by officers and fellow inmates. Browder attempted suicide at least six times.


An internal review recently obtained by the Associated Press finds a spike in use of both solitary confinement and force by staff at Rikers Island.

Thanksgiving: Food stamp cuts leave pantries struggling to meet rising need

There are still almost 3 people out of work for every job opening. And not all job openings are really job openings.

Thu Nov 28, 2013, Thanksgiving Day
By Elisha Fieldstadt

Food pantries and food banks struggled to meet demand this Thanksgiving, just weeks after food stamp cuts for millions of Americans took effect.

On Nov. 1, the 47 million people who rely on food stamps — also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — saw a decrease in benefits when Congress allowed a 2009 program funding boost to expire. As a result, a family of four will receive $36 less in food stamps in November and each month thereafter, according to the USDA.

“All of our food banks have really ratcheted up what they have had to serve,” said Ross Fraser, media relations director at Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks that serve 61,000 food pantries across the nation. In 2010, Feeding America determined that 37 million Americans turn to food pantries each year.

Across the nation, food pantry workers say they have seen a rush of clients, including many who have never turned to a pantry before but now “need help more often because they have fewer food stamps,” Fraser said.


This month, Foodbank has seen a 40 percent jump in families seeking assistance compared with November 2012, and most of those families are first-time clients, Vargas said.

At NY Common Pantry in Manhattan, officials have seen a 25 percent increase in new families in 2013, “even before the SNAP cuts took effect,” said Kelly Barkley, a development associate.


Barkley said that NY Common Food Pantry has also had to adjust to a lack of government funding this year. In 2012, the U.S. government purchased $560 million worth of food for charities, but in 2013 the funding was slashed to $495 million. Feeding America’s director of tax and commodity policy, Carrie Calvert, said food banks will have to find a way to compensate for the 25 percent decrease in federal food deliveries.


After the cuts, SNAP benefits allow an average of $1.40 per person per meal, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Meanwhile the average cost of a meal in most states hovers around $2.50. In New York, the average price of a meal is $2.68.


At the Door of Hope food pantry in Los Angeles, director Lydia Cardenas sees countless clients facing Trim’s predicament. Prior to Nov. 1, she saw one high-traffic day a week, but “now we’re always busy,” she said.

“It’s impossible to keep up with the demand, because everybody is struggling,” said Cardenas, who recently registered for unemployment herself after realizing it was impossible to remain salaried at the pantry due to funding cuts.

“I’m a volunteer, effective October 31,” Cardenas said, but added, “When you help somebody else, it takes the focus off your own problems.”


For 28th year, man hosts Thanksgiving dinner for strangers

Laura T. Coffey
Nov. 28, 2013, Thanksgiving Day

Scott Macaulay isn’t into self-promotion. He’s never sought out media coverage. In fact, he likes it that most of the people he feeds each Thanksgiving don’t know his name.

On Thursday, for the 28th time, the Massachusetts man is preparing a full turkey dinner for a whole bunch of people he’s never met. His 70 or so guests — elderly people, cancer patients, AA members, low-income people, at-risk teens, recently divorced people, widowed people and others — have one detail in common: Without Macaulay, they’d be alone on Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

High-Fat Diet During Puberty Speeds Up Breast Cancer Development

Nov. 26, 2013 — New findings show that eating a high-fat diet beginning at puberty speeds up the development of breast cancer and may actually increase the risk of cancer similar to a type often found in younger adult women.


In addition to the accelerated breast cancer development, this type of diet produces a distinct gene signature in the tumors consistent with a subset of breast cancers known as basal-like that can carry a worse prognosis.


"It's important to note that since our experimental model did not involve any weight gain from the high-fat diet, these findings are relevant to a much broader segment of the population than just those who are overweight," said Schwartz. "This shows the culprit is the fat itself rather than weight gain."


Health Insurance Increases Preventive Care, Not Risky Behaviors

Nov. 26, 2013 — People with health insurance are more likely to use preventive services such as flu shots and health screenings to reduce their risk of serious illness, but they are no more likely than people without health insurance to engage in risky health behaviors such as smoking or gaining weight, researchers at UC Davis and University of Rochester have found.


Genetic Mutation Increases Risk of Parkinson's Disease from Pesticides

Nov. 27, 2013


"For the first time, we have used human stem cells derived from Parkinson's disease patients to show that a genetic mutation combined with exposure to pesticides creates a 'double hit' scenario, producing free radicals in neurons that disable specific molecular pathways that cause nerve-cell death," says Stuart Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of Sanford-Burnham's Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research and senior author of the study.

Until now, the link between pesticides and Parkinson's disease was based mainly on animal studies and epidemiological research that demonstrated an increased risk of disease among farmers, rural populations, and others exposed to agricultural chemicals.


Swine flu’s death toll was 10 times higher than thought

Nov 27, 2013
Lindsay Abrams

About 203,000 people throughout the world died of flu and respiratory problems during 2009′s H1N1 epidemic, a new study funded by the World Health Organization found. When heart failure and other secondary consequences of the flu are included, the death toll is bumped up to about 400,000 — far exceeding the 18,449 laboratory-confirmed cases that the WHO had until now been reporting.


And from the New York Times:

Brazil’s data was particularly enlightening, [Simonsen] said, because infection and death rates there were much higher in the temperate, relatively wealthy south than in the impoverished, tropical north. That suggested, she said, that the flu threat was more dependent on cold weather than on income, which affects the quality of medical care victims get.

Congressman Proposes Firing EPA Workers Because They Were Furloughed In Government Shutdown

Well, toilets aren't "essential". You can build an outhouse in the back yard if you have to. That doesn't mean they aren't useful & important.

Republicans want us to become as polluted as China. They claim they don't want to leave debt to our children. But leaving our children a devastated planet is much worse.

By Rebecca Leber on November 27, 2013

The lesson one Republican congressman learned from the government shutdown is that the Environmental Protection Agency should lay off more of its workforce.

According to Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), because 94 percent of EPA staff were deemed “non-essential” in the shutdown, they are also unimportant. “If that is the case they should be able to cut 15 percent,” he told a Virginia paper. Griffith will introduce a bill that would force the EPA to cut 15 percent of its staff.


Every day, the EPA oversees basic functions that protect the environment, air, and water. During the shutdown, toxic waste site cleanups, clean air and water regulations, mileage standards for vehicles, the Energy Star program, and more came to a halt. Even now, the EPA is still playing catch up on important work sidetracked by the shutdown. It missed a deadline for a final rule requiring 1,000 power plants to obtain Clean Water Act permits. Likewise, the EPA delayed chemical safety rules and public hearings that follow this summer’s Texas plant explosion by at least a month.

But Republicans celebrated these effects of the shutdown. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) even declared the shutdown was not “all bad” because the EPA could not enforce many of the regulations the Republican disagrees with.

If Griffith’s bill came to the floor, it would easily pass, The Hill’s Pete Kasperowicz writes. After all, this is a Congress that regularly challenges EPA authority and passed 317 anti-environment bills in its last session

Inside China’s Desperate Effort To Control Pollution — Before It’s Too Late

I remember when some rivers used to be so polluted they caught fire.

By Ari Phillips on November 26, 2013


When eight-year-olds start getting lung cancer that can be attributed to air pollution, you’ve got a problem. When smog forces schools, roads, and airports to shut down because visibility is less than 50 yards, you’ve got a problem. When a study finds that severe pollution is slashing an average of five-and-a-half years from the life expectancy in northern China, you’ve got a problem.


In July, the government said it would spend $275 billion through 2018 to reduce pollution levels around Beijing. Last month Shanghai released its Clean Air Action Plan in an effort to rapidly and substantially improve the air quality in China’s most populous city of nearly 24 million residents.

The Chinese government is not stupid and neither are China’s 1.35 billion residents — they can all see that pollution is a real problem.


But that sustained economic boom also led to a bust for the environment. R. Edward Grumbine, a senior international scientist in the Key Lab of Biodiversity and Biogeography at Kunming Institute of Botany, wrote in Yale360 that as the 18th Plenum ended, China’s new President, Xi Jinping, and Prime Minister Li Keqiang find their country at a critical crossroads.

“The economy has slowed, and China is confronting the cumulative consequences of its three-decade focus on economic expansion with little attention paid to mounting ecological and social costs,” Grumbine wrote.


Half of China’s rivers — about 28,000 — have vanished since 1990. China also has about 1,730 cubic meters of fresh water per person, just above the 1,700 cubic meter-level the UN deems “stressed.” In the north, where half of China’s people, most of its coal, and only 20 percent of its water are located, the situation is even more dire. About 300 million rural residents do not have access to safe drinking water, and 57 percent of urban groundwater, a primary source of drinking water, is also polluted.


The U.S. and China make up more than 40 percent of global CO2 emissions.
[Of course, much of China's pollution is created when making goods exported to the U.S.]


“The biggest fear or frustration in life today is the pollution levels in China. A lot of consumers are saying, ‘Who cares if I have a great job? Who cares if I can buy a Louis Vuitton bag, if the air and water are killing my family?’” Rein said.


“We have the laws and regulations, but enforcement remains very weak,” Ma continued. “Environmental agencies in China are hamstrung by local officials who put economic growth ahead of environmental protection; even the courts are beholden to local officials, and they are not open to environmental litigation.”


For women, asking for raise is damned if you do and if you don’t

Allison Linn
Nov. 27, 2013


Contrary to conventional wisdom, researchers say it can hurt women to ask for more money. That’s because when women do request either a raise or a higher starting salary they are more likely than men to be perceived as greedy, demanding or just not very nice.

“To do that requires being assertive, taking initiative, probably taking out your list of accomplishments and thereby self-promoting,” said Laura Kray, a professor of leadership at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “It turns out people don’t like it when women do this.”

Kray said both male and female supervisors can have these negative feelings about women when they ask for more money. And that can hold back women’s careers — either because they don’t get as much money, or because they do but they endure the repercussions of not being very well-liked.


In her leadership classes, Kray said the most gratifying feedback she gets is that her class made a student rethink his or her response to a woman in those types of negotiations.

“They say, ‘You know what, since then I really think a little bit differently about those knee-jerk reactions I have and I ask myself, ‘Would I be responding the same way if (this) were a man?’” she said.

Yes, Copyright Helps Creators

November 25, 2013 · Terry Hart

On November 19, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), released its latest report that shows the value added by copyright industries each year to the US economy. This was the 14th such report IIPA has released since 1990, and for the first time, core copyright industries1 contributed over one trillion dollars.


Since 2002, WIPO has supported and collected reports on the economic contributions of copyright industries in nearly forty countries around the world. Last year, it released a report, WIPO Studies on the Economic Contribution of the Copyright Industries, that analyzed and compared the data from these reports.

One of the things WIPO looked at was how the economic contributions of copyright industries in countries related to those countries rankings on the International Intellectual Property Index, a study prepared by the Property Rights Alliance (PRA) that looks at data from 129 countries.


WIPO’s conclusion: “The analysis suggests a strong and positive relationship that exists between the contribution of copyright industries to GDP and the IPR Index.” That is, copyright industries contribute more to a country’s GDP when they are better protected.


Part of the misunderstanding of the logic of copyright may come from the focus of skeptics on only the incentive to create, to the exclusion of the incentive to disseminate.

[Very true. I have written loads of songs that get compliments at open mics but I can't afford to record them. It has cost me a lot of money to get a few recorded. I know excellent singer/songwriters who have bought out one CD. Their fans would love more, but it costs a lot of money to produce a good music CD, and most never make up the cost of the first one.
If you want to see some of my music, go to

Supreme Court has been clear this is not the case:

Nothing in the text of the Copyright Clause confines the “Progress of Science” exclusively to “incentives for creation.” Evidence from the founding, moreover, suggests that inducing dissemination—as opposed to creation—was viewed as an appropriate means to promote science. Until 1976, in fact, Congress made “federal copyright contingent on publication[,] [thereby] providing incentives not primarily for creation,” but for dissemination. Our decisions correspondingly recognize that “copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.”


for intellectual property; the value to society consists in the existence of a market for the authors’ writings. The money paid to the author is by no means secondary. Rather, it is the unavoidable result of the creation of a market because a market cannot exist without the promise of reward to owners of property who choose to place that property on the market


Where millionaires live? State taxes make little difference

Robert Frank CNBC
Nov. 27, 2013

Media reports are filled with stories of wealthy New Yorkers and pro golfers in California threatening to move to escape high taxes.


But new data on the population of millionaires suggest little connection between tax rates and a state's population of millionaires. If millionaires are moving out, many more are moving in—or being created.

A new state-by-state count of multimillionaires shows that some of the highest tax states created the most millionaires. The study, from UBS and Wealth-X, ranked states by their populations of people worth $30 million or more—presumably the most mobile part of the wealth chain and the most sensitive to taxes.


But even on a percentage basis, several high tax states had big millionaire gains. The number one gainer of multimillionaires on a percentage basis was Massachusetts, aka "Taxachusetts" because of its tax rates.


n short, the report shows that a state's tax rate doesn't correlate to its net gain or loss of multimillionaires—a finding that echoes other research on the effect of tax rates on millionaire migration. Broader economic factors seem to matter as much or more than taxes for millionaire counts—like economic growth, business environment, the role of finance in the economy and the type of local industry.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A reminder of some history between the U.S. & Iran

I copied this from Facebook. I remember when this happened.

In 1980 Carter thought he had reached a deal with newly-elected Iranian President Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr over the release of the fifty-two hostages held by radical students at the American Embassy in Tehran.

Bani-Sadr was a moderate and, as he explained in an editorial for The Christian Science Monitor earlier this year, had successfully run for President on the popular position of releasing the hostages:

"I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign.... I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote.... Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it [hostage-taking]."

Carter was confident that with Bani-Sadr's help, he could end the embarrassing hostage crisis that had been a thorn in his political side ever since it began in November of 1979.

But Carter underestimated the lengths his opponent in the 1980 Presidential election, California Governor Ronald Reagan, would go to screw him over.
Behind Carter's back, the Reagan campaign worked out a deal with the leader of Iran's radical faction - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini - to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 Presidential election.

This was nothing short of treason. The Reagan campaign's secret negotiations with Khomeini - the so-called "October Surprise" - sabotaged Carter and Bani-Sadr's attempts to free the hostages. And as Bani-Sadr told The Christian Science Monitor in March of this year, they most certainly "tipped the results of the [1980] election in Reagan's favor."

Not surprisingly, Iran released the hostages on January 20, 1981, at the exact moment Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

The "October Surprise" emboldened the radical forces inside Iran. A politically weakened Bani-Sadr was overthrown in June of 1981 and replaced with Mohammed Ali Rajai - a favorite of Khomeini's. These radical forces today are represented by people like former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hard-liners who oppose any deal with the United States and, like Khomeini in the 1980s, will jump at any chance to discredit the current moderate presidency of Hassan Rouhani.

The October Surprise also led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people around the world, and in Central America in particular. Reagan took money from the Iranians and used that money to kill nuns in Nicaragua.

Women should not ingest pure apigenin as a supplement

Nov. 20, 2013 — Hormone replacement therapies, or medications containing female hormones that substitute those no longer produced by the body, are often prescribed to reduce the effects of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms in women. Research and clinical trials on hormone replacement therapies have indicated a higher incidence of tumors, especially breast cancer, in post-menopausal women who take synthetic hormones; therefore, doctors have become more reluctant to prescribe the treatment. In 2011, studies conducted by University of Missouri researchers found that a natural compound called apigenin, which is found in celery, parsley, and apples, could reduce the incidence of tumor growth in women receiving hormone replacement therapy. Now, based on subsequent studies conducted by MU researchers, they are recommending that women not ingest pure apigenin as a supplement.

A new study shows that when the supplement apigenin is ingested in a diet at the same concentration as subjects received during IV injections in previous studies -- the benefits were reversed leading to a higher incidence of cancerous tumors in subjects receiving progestin.


Connections in Children's Brains Strengthen During Sleep

Nov. 20, 2013 — While young children sleep, connections between the left and the right hemispheres of their brain strengthen, which may help brain functions mature, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.


Nut Consumption Linked to Reduced Death Rate, Study Suggests

Nov. 20, 2013 — In the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than were those who didn't consume nuts, say scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health.


Too Much Weekly Sport Seems to Be as Bad as Too Little for Teen Wellbeing

Nov. 20, 2013 — But the maximum benefit seems to be obtained from 14 hours of sport a week, which is double the official recommendation of seven hours for this age group, the study shows.


Frequent Breaks from Sedentary Behavior Makes Kids Healthier

Nov. 20, 2013 — Canadian kids spend more than half their waking hours engaged in sedentary behavior -- watching television, playing video games or just sitting around. Studies involving adult populations suggest that breaks in sedentary time are associated with reduced global health risks. Today these findings have been replicated in a study involving children between the ages of 8 and 11 as published in PLOS ONE.


Rotavirus Vaccination May Also Protect Children Against Seizures

Nov. 21, 2013 — A new study suggests an additional -- and somewhat surprising -- potential benefit of vaccinating children against rotavirus, a common cause of diarrhea and vomiting. Besides protecting kids from intestinal illness caused by rotavirus, immunization may also reduce the risk of related seizures, according to findings published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online.


Lifestyle Factors Linked to Healthy Pregnancy

Being in paid employment should make it more likely for a woman to have health insurance, and more likely to have enough money for a healthy diet.

Nov. 21, 2013 — Researchers have identified certain lifestyle factors that make it more likely for a woman to have a normal pregnancy.

They include increasing fruit intake before pregnancy, being a healthy weight, reducing blood pressure, stopping drug and alcohol misuse, and being in paid employment during pregnancy.


Exposure to Television Can Stall Preschoolers' Cognitive Development

Nov. 22, 2013 — Television is a powerful agent of development for children, particularly those in preschool. But when could too much TV be detrimental to a young child's mind? A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that preschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom and are exposed to more background TV have a weaker understanding of other people's beliefs and desires.


College Students More Likely to Be Lawbreakers If Spanked as Children

Nov. 22, 2013 — No matter where they live in the world, university students who were spanked as children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, according to new research by Murray Straus, co-director of University of New Hampshire Family Research Lab. Even young adults whose parents were generally loving and helpful as they were growing up showed higher rates of criminal behavior.


Spanking seems to be associated with an increased probability of subsequent child behavior problems regardless of culture and, regardless of whether it done by loving and helpful parents."

"Children need lots guidance and correction, but not by being physically attacked under the euphemism of 'spanking,' " Straus said.

Straus found that positive parenting decreased the probability of subsequent crime but mainly for nonfamily crime. And even though positive parenting was associated with less crime by students, the relation of spanking to crime remained for all nine aspects of crime.


Straus also investigated the criminal behavior of university students who were spanked just by their fathers, just by their mothers, or by both parents. He found that university students who were spanked by both parents are associated with the greatest increase in criminality for eight of the nine criminality measures.


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Increases Endometrial Cancer Risk

Nov. 22, 2013 — Postmenopausal women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages were more likely to develop the most common type of endometrial cancer compared with women who did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Postmenopausal women who reported the highest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages had a 78 percent increased risk for estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer (the most common type of this disease). This association was found in a dose-dependent manner: the more sugar-sweetened beverages a woman drank, the higher her risk.


PCBs Still Affecting Health Decades Later

Nov. 25, 2013 — Although PCBs have been banned in the United States since 1979, University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine researcher Maryse Bouchard has found that higher levels of the toxin was associated with lower cognitive performance in seniors. There is a significant association between PCB levels and cognitive abilities among individuals aged 70 to 84 years; the correlation was also detected to a lesser extent among people aged 60-69 years.

This analysis also showed that the association differed by sex. Women in the older age group had the largest diminution in cognition in relation to exposure. "While most studies have looked at the impact of PCBs on infant development, our research shows that this toxin might affect us throughout our lives," Bouchard said.

The use and production of PCBs have been phased out for over 40 years, but these highly persistent substances are still found in the blood of most individuals, especially older people.


[The following is a link to a web site detailing the history of PCB use, discovery of health effects, coverups by manufacturers, influences by manufacturers to avoid regulation]

PCB history is not pretty. As the timeline shows, the manufacturers and major users of PCBs knew by the 1930s and 1940s that PCBs caused serious health problems in their workers, and doctors advised them that other effects could be occurring as well. But this did not stop industries from producing and using PCBs, or from releasing PCBs into our environment, contaminating our public waterways, air, croplands, and wildlife. It appears from this PCB history that several companies also deliberately misled workers, customers, regulators and the public for many decades, allowing the PCB problem to spread and become much worse.


1980s --- Researchers began to find that workers exposed to PCBs were dying of skin cancer and, perhaps, of brain cancer. Westinghouse and Monsanto maintain that they always informed their workers completely about the hazards of PCBs, but during the 1990s, thousands of workers began to sue for damages, saying the companies misled them.


1990 --- Studies find children exposed in the womb to PCBs at levels considered "background levels" in the U.S. were found to experience hypotonia (loss of muscle tone) and hyporeflexia (weakened reflexes) at birth, delays in psychomotor development at ages 6 and 12 months, and diminished visual recognition memory at 7 months.


1994 --- Researchers report that boys in Taiwan exposed to PCBs while in their mothers' womb developed smaller penises as they mature, compared to normal boys in Taiwan.


1998 --- An article in the Ecologist highlights the fact that over the years, key govemment figures at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory bodies, have either come from, or gone on to hold senior positions at Monsanto.


1998 --- For 3 years, the Norwegian Polar Institute has found polar bears with both male and female sex organs. This year, 4 hermaphroditic cubs were seen. Researchers fear up to 4% of the bears may be affected.


Teens Eat More, Cheat More After Playing Violent Video Games

Nov. 25, 2013 — Playing violent video games not only increases aggression, it also leads to less self-control and more cheating, a new study finds.

Researchers found that teens who played violent video games ate more chocolate and were more likely to steal raffle tickets in a lab experiment than were teens who played nonviolent games.

The effects were strongest in teens who scored high on a measure of moral disengagement – the ability to convince yourself that ethical standards don’t apply to you in a particular situation.


Women Directors Better at Mergers, Acquisitions

Nov. 25, 2013 — The more women there are on a corporate board the less a company pays for its acquisitions, according to a new study by researchers at UBC's Sauder School of Business.


"Female board members play a significant role in mitigating the empire-building tendency of CEOs through the acquisition of other companies." says Sauder finance professor Kai Li, who co-authored the study. "On average, merger and acquisition transactions don't create shareholder value, so women are having a real impact in protecting shareholder investment and overall firm performance."


"Our findings show that the prudence exhibited by women directors in negotiating mergers and acquisitions has had a substantial positive effect on maintaining firm value," say Professor Li.


Materialism Makes Bad Events Even Worse

Nov. 25, 2013 — In addition to its already well-documented negative direct effects on a person's well-being, materialism also wields an indirect negative effect by making bad events even worse, according to a paper co-written by a University of Illinois expert in consumption values.

usiness professor Aric Rindfleisch says not only is materialism antithetical to individual welfare, it also has a secondary effect of amplifying traumatic events -- everything ranging from terrorism to car accidents and life-threatening illness -- to make them seem that much worse.

"If you're a materialistic individual and life suddenly takes a wrong turn, you're going to have a tougher time recovering from that setback than someone who is less materialistic," said Rindfleisch, the John M. Jones Professor of Marketing in the College of Business. "The research is novel in that an event that's unrelated to materialism will have a stronger impact on someone because of their materialistic values. In other words, materialism has a multiplier effect. It's a finding that I think is especially interesting given our consumer-driven economy."


The results of the U.S.-based portion of the study indicate that these effects are likely due to materialistic individuals exhibiting lower levels of self-esteem, which lessens an individual's ability to cope with traumatic events, according to the paper.


"In times of stress, people often seek solace through shopping," he said. "The idea here is that we need some form of a cultural-based coping mechanism, because the research suggests that there is actually a short-term fix with retail therapy. Soon after purchasing something, there is a reduction of anxiety. But it doesn't last very long. It's fleeting. Materialists seek that as one of their coping mechanisms. And Black Friday and the holiday shopping season play into that."

School Climate Key to Preventing Bullying

Nov. 25, 2013 — To effectively prevent bullying schools need to understand positive school climate, use reliable measures to evaluate school climate and use effective prevention and intervention programs to improve the climate, a recent paper co-authored by a University of California, Riverside assistant professor found.


They found that positive relationships among students and teachers, and negative attitudes toward inappropriate behavior such as bullying are key elements of a positive school climate.

To create a positive school climate, school personnel need to promote and model appropriate attitudes and behaviors, such as caring, empathy, and appropriate interactions among and between teachers and students.

To foster attitudes against bullying, in addition to promoting knowledge and awareness of bullying, teachers need to take reports of any bullying incident seriously and intervene consistently according to school rules instead of ignoring or minimizing bullying behavior.

Adult behavior is also critical foundation for a healthy school climate. Adults should refrain from bullying students and other adults at school. In addition, teachers need to incorporate school climate interventions into the curriculum and use teachable moments to openly discuss topics related to bullying, such as popularity, power and social ostracism.

Finally, bullying is not only a behavior problem, but also a mental health problem. Research has shown that students involved in bullying experience more mental health difficulties and display higher levels of cognitive distortions. Thus, educators need to seek professional help from mental health practitioners for students involved in bullying and experiencing mental health difficulties.

Arctic Seafloor Methane Releases Double Previous Estimates

Nov. 25, 2013 — The seafloor off the coast of Northern Siberia is releasing more than twice the amount of methane as previously estimated, according to new research results published in the Nov. 24 edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.


"Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time."

Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. On land, methane is released when previously frozen organic material decomposes. In the seabed, methane can be stored as a pre-formed gas or asmethane hydrates. As long as the subsea permafrost remains frozen, it forms a cap, effectively trapping the methane beneath. However, as the permafrost thaws, it develops holes, which allow the methane to escape. These releases can be larger and more abrupt than those that result from decomposition.


Methane is an important factor in global climate change, because it so effectively traps heat. As conditions warm, global research has indicated that more methane is released, which then stands to further warm the planet. Scientists call this phenomenon a positive feedback loop.

"We believe that the release of methane from the Arctic, and in particular this part of the Arctic, could impact the entire globe," Shakhova said.


Build a $300 underground greenhouse for year-round gardening

A giant cold frame!
Utilizes the green house effect of glass.

Growers in colder climates often utilize various approaches to extend the growing season or to give their crops a boost, whether it's coldframes, hoop houses or greenhouses. Greenhouses are usually glazed structures, but are typically expensive to construct and heat throughout the winter. A much more affordable and effective alternative to glass greenhouses is the walipini (an Aymara Indian word for a "place of warmth"), also known as an underground or pit greenhouse. First developed over 20 years ago for the cold mountainous regions of South America, this method allows growers to maintain a productive garden year-round, even in the coldest of climates. Here's a video tour of a walipini that even incorporates a bit of interior space for goats: Read More:


Of course, there are precautions to take in waterproofing, drainage and ventilating the walipini, while aligning it properly to the sun -- which the manual covers in detail. Read More:


Media Feeding Panic Over The So-Called ‘Knockout Game’ That Might Not Even Exist

I have seen this on Facebook, and wondered if it were real.
The media would have no problem with sparking copycat behaviour. It would make more hot news to draw in customers.

By Annie-Rose Strasser on November 25, 2013

A slew of stories has come out in recent weeks about a dangerous “game” that people, mostly kids, have started playing. It involves the game-player punching someone in the face, unprovoked, with the goal of knocking out their victim. It’s called, say media outlets, “the knockout game.”

There’s just one problem, though: It might not be real.


Conservative sites have similarly caught on to the newest media frenzy over what is now being called the “knockout game.” Often, though, they use the term to reference targeted muggings, not just random violence, lending credence to the idea that it is more a racial characterization than about the type of violent act itself.

The New York Post says it is “on the rise across the country.” But in actuality, there is no data that such random violence is spreading — just a lot of media chatter.

In fact, police are not even certain that these incidents are connected, or that this widespread, trendy game based on knocking out strangers is real at all. A Jersey City police spokesperson told the New York Times, “If there ever was an urban myth, this was it.” And even Ray Kelly, the police commissioner of New York City who is notorious for his Stop & Frisk policy that targets Black and Latino men, said, “We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon.”

Kelly is also worried that bringing attention to the trend isn’t necessarily a good thing. “When you highlight an incident, or a type of criminal activity, some people will simply try to copy,” he said.

Parents, speak up: Loud music wrecks kids' ears

In my neighborhood, it's the adult parents who subject their children to extremely loud music.

Kathryn Doyle Reuters
Nov. 26, 2013

Teenagers are at risk for serious long-term hearing problems caused by excessively loud music or other loud noises. But parents don't always grasp the gravity of the situation, or talk to their kids about it, according to a new study.

"I think parents are only recently becoming aware of the dangers of excessive noise exposure," study author Dr. Deepa L. Sekhar told Reuters Health.


One in eight American kids and teenagers - or more than 5 million - has a type of hearing loss that usually stems from overexposure to loud noises, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Teen hearing loss is a serious problem, Robert V. Harrison said.

Harrison, a senior scientist who studies hearing at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was not involved in the new study.

Some teens have enough damage to have trouble communicating, he said, or they have ringing in the ears, which is a sure sign of damaged nerve cells in the parts of the brain devoted to hearing.

"But for many, the problem lies in the future 10, 20, 30 years ahead when ‘normal' age-related hearing loss comes earlier or is accelerated," he told Reuters Health.


They should also talk with their teen about using hearing protection in places where it is clear there is going to be a lot of noise, like concerts, shop class or outside while mowing the lawn.


Exercise may help pregnant women quit smoking

By Kathleen Raven NEW YORK Thu Nov 21, 2013

For pregnant women who want to quit smoking, a brisk walk can temporarily stave off tobacco cravings, says a Canadian study.

Previous research has shown that exercise can interrupt nicotine cravings for both men and women.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Drug company warns morning-after pill does not work for women over 176 pounds

Nov 25, 2013
Katie Mcdonough

A European manufacturer of an emergency contraceptive pill identical in chemical composition to Plan-B One Step and other generic brands has issued an alarming warning about the effectiveness of the morning-after pill in women who weigh more than 165 pounds.

According to HRA Pharma, the French manufacturer of the emergency contraceptive Norlevo, the drug begins to lose its effectiveness for women who weigh more than 165 pounds and is completely ineffective for women who weigh more than 176 pounds. European pharmaceutical regulators have updated the packaging of the drug to reflect the weight limits.


This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

Linda Tirado Night Cook, Essayist, Activist

There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3.


The closest Planned Parenthood to me is three hours. That's a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can't afford that

----- [Lots of poor people can't afford cars.]

Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn't give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don't apply for jobs because we know we can't afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary, but I've been turned down more than once because I "don't fit the image of the firm," which is a nice way of saying "gtfo, pov." I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won't make me a server because I don't "fit the corporate image." I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on B12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that's how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn't much point trying.


Poor people aren't stupid; bad decisions are from being overwhelmed, study finds

By Maggie Fox, Senior Health Writer, NBC News
Aug. 29, 2013

Being poor affects your ability to think, a new study shows. Those coping with severe financial stress don't have the mental bandwidth to deal with all of life’s troubles, a team of researchers reported Thursday.

They’ve done a series of tests that show when people are flush with cash, they can stop worrying and make better decisions. But having financial woes takes up so much attention, they often make poor decisions.


Wealthy people may have nannies and accountants and drivers that free up their minds to focus on other problems. Poor people are often busy juggling inadequate and unreliable childcare, transportation and housing. “What do you do with people who need better financial management? Getting paid on a regular basis instead of sporadically (helps),” he says.


It’s not just poverty that distracts people, says Shafir. Dieting and other distractions that have to do with making resources scarce do, too. It may be that rationing anything from food to time to money is especially distracting for the human brain. Shafir and Mullainathan have written a book on the issue "Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much," to be published in September.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

This neuroscientist who discovered he was a psychopath

"The Psycopath Inside" author James Fallon on learning he was prone to aggression, violence and limited empathy

There is a mention of "free will". But why did he choose to try to act in nicer ways? Because he is in an environment that values nice behaviour. I doubt he would choose this path if he were in an environment that values aggression.

Nov 23, 2013
Joseph Stromberg,

One afternoon in October 2005, neuroscientist James Fallon was looking at brain scans of serial killers. As part of a research project at UC Irvine, he was sifting through thousands of PET scans to find anatomical patterns in the brain that correlated with psychopathic tendencies in the real world.


“I got to the bottom of the stack, and saw this scan that was obviously pathological,” he says, noting that it showed low activity in certain areas of the frontal and temporal lobes linked to empathy, morality and self-control. Knowing that it belonged to a member of his family, Fallon checked his lab’s PET machine for an error (it was working perfectly fine) and then decided he simply had to break the blinding that prevented him from knowing whose brain was pictured. When he looked up the code, he was greeted by an unsettling revelation: the psychopathic brain pictured in the scan was his own.


Fallon has gone all in towards the opposite direction, telling the world about his finding in a TED Talk, an NPR interview and now a new book published last month, The Psychopath Inside. In it, Fallon seeks to reconcile how he—a happily married family man—could demonstrate the same anatomical patterns that marked the minds of serial killers.


But when he underwent a series of genetic tests, he got more bad news. “I had all these high-risk alleles for aggression, violence and low empathy,” he says, such as a variant of the MAO-A gene that has been linked with aggressive behavior. Eventually, based on further neurological and behavioral research into psychopathy, he decided he was indeed a psychopath—just a relatively good kind, what he and others call a “pro-social psychopath,” someone who has difficulty feeling true empathy for others but still keeps his behavior roughly within socially-acceptable bounds.

It wasn’t entirely a shock to Fallon, as he’d always been aware that he was someone especially motivated by power and manipulating others, he says. Additionally, his family line included seven alleged murderers, including Lizzie Borden, infamously accused of killing her father and stepmother in 1892.


Why has Fallon been able to temper his behavior, while other people with similar genetics and brain turn violent and end up in prison? Fallon was once a self-proclaimed genetic determinist, but his views on the influence of genes on behavior have evolved. He now believes that his childhood helped prevent him from heading down a scarier path.

“I was loved, and that protected me,” he says. Partly as a result of a series of miscarriages that preceded his birth, he was given an especially heavy amount of attention from his parents, and he thinks that played a key role.

This corresponds to recent research: His particular allele for a serotonin transporter protein present in the brain, for example, is believed to put him at higher risk for psychopathic tendencies. But further analysis has shown that it can affect the development of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (the area with characteristically low activity in psychopaths) in complex ways: It can open up the region to be more significantly affected by environmental influences, and so a positive (or negative) childhood is especially pivotal in determining behavioral outcomes.

Of course, there’s also a third ingredient, in addition to genetics and environment: free will. “Since finding all this out and looking into it, I’ve made an effort to try to change my behavior,” Fallon says. “I’ve more consciously been doing things that are considered ‘the right thing to do,’ and thinking more about other people’s feelings.”

But he added, “At the same time, I’m not doing this because I’m suddenly nice, I’m doing it because of pride—because I want to show to everyone and myself that I can pull it off.”

Men who are unemployed for more than two years show signs of faster ageing in their DNA, a new study has found.

Contact: Sam Wong
Imperial College London

Long-term unemployment may accelerate aging in men


They measured structures called telomeres, which lie at the ends of chromosomes and protect the genetic code from being degraded. Telomeres become shorter over a person's lifetime, and their length is considered a marker for biological ageing. Short telomeres are linked to higher risk of age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


The researchers looked at telomere length in blood cells from samples collected in 1997, when the participants were all 31 years old. The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, found that men who had been unemployed for more than two of the preceding three years were more than twice as likely to have short telomeres compared to men who were continuously employed,.

The analysis accounted for other social, biological and behavioural factors that could have affected the result, helping to rule out the possibility that short telomeres were linked to medical conditions that prevented participants from working.

This trend was not seen in women, which may be because fewer women than men in the study were unemployed for long periods in their 30s. Whether long-term unemployment is more harmful for men than women later in life needs to be addressed in future studies.


Recessions experienced in mid-life linked to higher risk of cognitive decline later on


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Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Enforced job loss, part time working, and lower paid, lower status jobs may all take their toll

Lay-offs and enforced part time work and lower paid, lower status jobs (downward job mobility), sparked by recessions, may explain the toll taken on cognitive ability - memory, verbal fluency, temporal orientation, and numeracy - the findings suggest.

Previous research suggests that working conditions may influence the potential to build up "cognitive reserve," which in turn influences cognitive performance at a later age.


And they took account of a wide range of potentially influential factors, including: birth before or after World War II; self-rated health; material deprivation; occupation of main breadwinner in the household; number of books in the home; self-reported skills in their mother tongue and maths; educational attainment; and type of first job.

The average number of recessions experienced ranged from 0.73 for men between the ages of 45 and 49 to 1.33 for women between the ages of 35 and 44.

The analysis showed that men who did not live through any recession in their mid to late 40s had a mean cognitive score of minus 0.07 at ages 50 to 74, compared with a mean score of minus 0.12 for those experiencing four or more recessions. The impact of a recession on women seemed to occur earlier - in their mid 20s to mid 30s, with the equivalent figures minus 0.05 and 0.17, respectively.

Economic recessions during these periods were associated with several labour market outcomes, such as lay-offs, enforced part-time working, and the need to take lower paid, lower status work.

This is how Pakistan thanks us for resuming aid to them?

By Mushtaq Yusufzai, Henry Austin and Robert Windrem, NBC News
Nov. 22, 2013

A Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find and kill Osama bin Laden has been charged with murder in a case involving a boy who died in 2007 after appendicitis surgery -- a move that U.S. officials say may be aimed at keeping him in prison after his conviction on terror charges was overturned.


A senior U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the murder charge is trumped up.

"This is an attempt by Pakistanis to keep him in jail," the official said. "It's just another ploy."


U.S. releases $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan
By David Simpson, CNN
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Sat October 19, 2013

The Obama administration has decided to release more than $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan, a senior administration official said.

The official told CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott that the decision was made because of improved relations over the past year.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Too much Tylenol in pregnancy could affect child's development, study finds

Kathryn Doyle Reuters
Nov. 22, 2013

Expectant mothers often take Tylenol, with the active ingredient acetaminophen, to deal with back pain, headaches or mild fevers during pregnancy. But frequent use may be linked to poorer language skills and behavior problems among their children, according to a new study.


Close to 4 percent of women took Tylenol for at least 28 days total during pregnancy.

Their children seemed to have poorer motor skills than kids whose mothers had taken the drug fewer times or not at all. Tylenol-exposed kids also tended to start walking later, have poorer communication and language skills and more behavior problems.


But this study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, involved a large number of women, and researchers also looked for any link to ibuprofen, a pain-relief alternative without acetaminophen.

They found no development problems tied to ibuprofen.

"Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three," Brandlistuen said. "That is considerable."


The developmental problems seen in this study align with symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, though the children had not been diagnosed at age three. Herbert has been studying the possible link between acetaminophen and the disorder for several years.

"I don't think it's a done deal," she told Reuters Health. She doesn't like to pin "the cause of autism" on any one thing, as many factors are likely involved.


More walking tied to lower stroke risk among older men

C. E. Huggins Reuters
Nov. 22, 2013

Older men who spend several hours walking each day are less likely to have a stroke than their peers who rarely walk, a new study suggests. And walking pace didn't seem to matter.


Sugary drinks raise cancer risk for women, study finds

Maggie Fox NBC News
Nov. 22, 2013

Women who drank the most sweet soft drinks had a 78 percent increased risk of the cancer, researchers found. But other sweet treats, such as baked goods, didn’t have an effect. Nor did natural fruit juice, even though it’s full of naturally occurring sugars.

The findings fit in with other research linking sugar intake, obesity and a lack of exercise with the cancer, which kills more than 8,000 U.S. women a year.

“Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity.


It might not be anything special about sugary drinks, the researchers say. It might be that women who drink a lot of such drinks have other unhealthy habits, too.

And Inoue-Choi says it’s not clear why drinks and not other sweet foods showed an effect. “One possibility is that sugar from whole foods comes with other nutrients, such as fiber,” she said in a telephone interview. “Sugar from beverages doesn’t come with these nutrients.”


There are two main types of endometrial cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute – Type I and Type II. Inoue-Choi and colleagues found that sweetened drinks only affected Type I risk. But Type I accounts for 80 percent of endometrial cancers.

It’s usually diagnosed early, in time for treatment, because in 90 percent of cases the woman has abnormal bleeding, the American Cancer Society says.

STUDY: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Americans With Individual Plans Qualify For Obamacare Subsidies

By Sy Mukherjee on November 21, 2013

Over 70 percent of Americans under age 65 who buy insurance through the individual market will either qualify for Obamacare subsidies or the health law’s expansion of Medicaid in the states that accept it, according to a new study by Families USA.

Obamacare provides insurance subsidies to Americans making up to 400 percent of the poverty level — about $94,200 for a family of four — who enroll in plans through the health law’s statewide marketplaces. The new study finds that 71 percent of current individual policyholders have annual incomes that fall below this threshold. Earlier estimates by groups like the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimated that just under half of these Americans could qualify for subsidies.

Families USA’s study also confirms earlier reports that the current individual market burdens consumers with uncertainty. For instance, a full “64.5 percent of consumers with individual market insurance kept that insurance for a year or less” irrespective of income, according to study authors. Many of these plans also skimp on the types of benefits that Americans actually need when they get sick, such as maternity, mental health, prescription drug, and even hospitalization coverage, while placing annual and lifetime caps on coverage. The health law has far more robust minimum coverage requirements, outlaws benefit caps, and doesn’t allow insurers to drop customers or raise their premiums based on health status.


More Than 600,000 Americans Are Homeless On Any Given Night

By Bryce Covert on November 22, 2013

More than 600,000 Americans are homeless on a given night, according to the latest government data, which conducts a count on a specific night in January every year. Nearly a quarter are children and a third were living in unsheltered places like parks, cars, or abandoned buildings.

The number of people who are chronically homeless, or who have been continuously homeless for more than one year or experienced at least four episodes over the last three, is over 100,000, and two-thirds go unsheltered. There were more than 57,000 homeless veterans.

The good news is that the government says the numbers have been declining overall. Homelessness declined by 4 percent compared to last year and by 9 percent since the beginning of the recession in 2007. Chronic homelessness has dropped by 25 percent since 2007 and homelessness among veterans went down by 24 percent.

But they aren’t declining everywhere, and some states actually saw huge increases.


Overall, 20 states saw their rates go up compared to last year.


Other indicators have also shown increases. The number of homeless students reached all-time high last year of more than a million, or 2 percent of the student population. The number of homeless children in Massachusetts also just hit a record high.

And a host of evidence shows that it is increasingly dangerous to be homeless. Violence against those without shelter is on the rise and news stories of homeless people who are killed for no reason have been piling up.


October 2013: Earth's 7th Warmest October

And we are currently in a part of the climate cycle where temperatures are usually cooler.

October 2013 was the globe's 7th warmest October since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 8th warmest October on record. The year-to-date period of January - October has been the 7th warmest such period on record. October 2013 global land temperatures were the 8th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were also the 8th warmest on record. October 2013 was the 344th consecutive month (28 years and 8 months) with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.


Arctic sea ice extent during October was 6th lowest in the 35-year satellite record, and had the largest October extent since 2008, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).


Report: 'Company Behind Troubled Obamacare Website Donated Heavily To Republicans In 2012'

October 18, 2013

The GOP’s chief scandal investigator, Rep. Darrell Issa, (R) Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, received a $2000 check from CGI’s PAC according to Federal Election Commission records and Open Secrets.

Several Republican House Members, many that sit on the Appropriations Committee, including Committee Chair Hal Roger (R-Ky) received more from CGI, the general contractor of, than did House Democrats in campaign contributions in 2012.


More money was given to House Republicans by CGI than to House Democrats- Total to Republicans: $48,000; Total to Democrats: $32,000.

Research also shows that CGI’s executives gave more to GOP candidate Mitt Romney than to President Obama according to the FEC. What backroom deal may have contributed to the failure of


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trey Radel, Busted On Cocaine Charge, Voted For Drug Testing Food Stamp Recipients

I would like to know what kind of sentences the judge who gave him probation gives to poor people who do the same thing?

Posted: 11/19/2013 7:21 pm EST | Updated: 11/20/2013
Arthur Delaney

In September, Republican Rep. Trey Radel voted for Republican legislation that would allow states to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they're not on drugs. In October, police busted the Florida Republican on a charge of cocaine possession.

“It’s really interesting it came on the heels of Republicans voting on everyone who had access to food stamps get drug tested," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told BuzzFeed Tuesday. "It’s like, what?”


Most of the state legislation was authored by Republicans. Oftentimes, state Democrats responded by suggesting lawmakers should be subject to tests as well. If the government's going to make sure recipients of taxpayer-funded benefits are clean, the argument went, then why not also make sure the recipients of taxpayer salaries are clean, too?

In June, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) made that very suggestion when he questioned why recipients of crop insurance and other government benefits weren't also targeted for drug tests like people on food stamps.

"Why don't we drug test all the members of Congress here," McGovern said shortly before the drug-testing measure passed. "Force everybody to go urinate in a cup or see whether or not anybody is on drugs? Maybe that will explain why some of these amendments are coming up or why some of the votes are turning out the way they are."


By Rebecca Kaplan /
CBS News/ November 20, 2013

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., was sentenced to a year of minimally supervised probation and ordered to pay a $250 fine to a victims compensation fund after pleading guilty Wednesday to the possession of cocaine.

The maximum charge possible for Radel, who was arrested on Oct. 29, was 180 days of imprisonment in addition to a possible fine up to $1,000.

Assistant Attorney Nihar Mohanty said that Drug Enforcement and FBI agents first learned from confidential sources in fall of 2013 that Radel purchased, used and occasionally shared cocaine with others. He was arrested during an Oct. 29 sting operation in which he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine worth $250 from an undercover agents. When the transaction was completed, agents approached Radel, who dropped the cocaine, but eventually admitted he had purchased it. He also brought the agents back to his apartment, admitted that he had purchased the cocaine, and also gave them another vial of the drug in his possession.


Somewhat ironically, Radel is the cosponsor of H.R. 1695, Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013, which would give judges more flexibility on sentencing in cases involving mandatory minimums. He's also gone on record as citing his favorite vacation spot as Cartagena, Colombia, which as of 2004 accounted for 80 percent of the world's cocaine production.