Friday, February 28, 2014

Acidic Waters Kill 10 Million Scallops Off Vancouver


A mass die-off of scallops near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island is being linked to the increasingly acidic waters that are threatening marine life and aquatic industries along the West Coast.

Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops, estimates his company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million dollars — forcing him to lay off approximately one-third of his staff.

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Ocean acidification, often referred to as global warming’s “evil twin,” threatens to upend the delicate balance of marine life across the globe. As we pump increasing amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere, it’s not just wreaking havoc on air quality. The oceans are the world’s largest carbon sinks, absorbing one-quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted every year. The more carbon dioxide absorbed, the more acidic the water becomes and as a result, organisms like shellfish no longer have the calcium carbonate they need to build their shells.

The Pacific Northwest is a hot spot for ocean acidification and the declining levels of pH hits baby scallops particularly hard — as they struggle to build a protective shell, they’re forced to expend more energy and are vulnerable to predators and infection.


Bisphenol A (BPA) at Very Low Levels Can Adversely Affect Developing Organs in Primates, MU Researcher Finds

Feb. 27, 2014
University of Missouri
Story Contact(s): Jeff Sossamon

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a wide variety of consumer products, such as resins used to line metal food and beverage containers, thermal paper store receipts, and dental composites. BPA exhibits hormone-like properties, and exposure of fetuses, infants, children or adults to the chemical has been shown to cause numerous abnormalities, including cancer, as well as reproductive, immune and brain-behavior problems in rodents. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that daily exposure to very low concentrations of BPA by pregnant females also can cause fetal abnormalities in primates.


“The very low-level exposure to BPA we delivered once a day to the rhesus monkeys is far less than the BPA levels humans are exposed to each day, which reflects multiple exposures,” vom Saal said. “Our findings suggest that traditional toxicological studies likely underestimate actual human exposure and show, unequivocally, that biologically active BPA passes from the mother to the fetus. Additionally, our latest study shows that BPA causes damage to developing systems of monkey fetuses, and this is of great concern for human fetuses.”

The study, “Bisphenol A (BPA) pharmacokinetics with daily oral bolus or continuous exposure via silastic capsules in pregnant rhesus monkeys: relevance for human exposures,” was funded in part by the NIEHS and was published in Reproductive Toxicology in collaboration with Catherine A. VandeVoort with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis; Julia A. Taylor and Wade V. Welshons with the University of Missouri; Pierre-Louis Toutain with the Univesite de Toulouse; and Patricia A Hunt with the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University.

GOES-West Satellite Eyes Soggy Storm Approaching California

Feb. 28, 2014

Cats Have Super, Psychedelic Vision

Feb 18, 2014 07:00 PM ET // by Jennifer Viegas


new research that finds common house cats see things that are invisible to us.

Everything from psychedelic stripes on flowers to flashy patterned feathers on birds are likely detectable by cats and certain other animals, while humans remain oblivious to such things. We are also -- perhaps luckily -- missing out on seeing a whole world of urine markers blanketing the landscape.

The secret behind the feline vision "superpower" is ultraviolet light (UV) detection. A new paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that cats, dogs and certain other animals see this form of light that is usually invisible to humans.


Douglas, a professor of biology at City University London specializing in the visual system, and co-author Glen Jeffery, a professor of neuroscience at University College London, determined that cats, dogs, rodents, hedgehogs, bats, ferrets and okapis all detect substantial levels of UV.


The skill might also help to explain why cats become obsessed with unusual objects, like sheets of paper.

Man-made optical brighteners are sometimes added to paper, fabrics, laundry detergents, cosmetics and shampoos to make them appear brighter. Since optical brighteners absorb light in the UV spectrum, they might appear different, or stand out more, to UV-sensitive animals.

Certain people, such as those who have had their lenses replaced during cataract surgery, can see at least some UV, but most humans cannot.


Study uncovers why autism is more common in males

Contact: Mary Beth O'Leary
Cell Press

Study uncovers why autism is more common in males

Males are at greater risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), than females, but the underlying reasons have been unclear. A large cohort study published by Cell Press on February 27th in the American Journal of Human Genetics provides compelling evidence in support of the "female protective model," which proposes that females require more extreme genetic mutations than do males to push them over the diagnostic threshold for neurodevelopmental disorders.

"This is the first study that convincingly demonstrates a difference at the molecular level between boys and girls referred to the clinic for a developmental disability," says study author S├ębastien Jacquemont of the University Hospital of Lausanne. "The study suggests that there is a different level of robustness in brain development, and females seem to have a clear advantage."


American Bar Association awards lower ratings to women and minorities

Contact: Susan Hagen
University of Rochester

American Bar Association awards lower ratings to women and minorities

For more than half a century, the American Bar Association has vetted the nation's judicial nominees, certifying candidates as "well qualified," "qualified," or "not qualified" and in the process rankling conservatives and liberals alike when nominees earn less than stellar marks.

Now a new study suggests that the sometimes-controversial ratings could be tilted against minorities and women. An analysis of 1,770 district court nominations from 1960 to 2012 finds that the ABA systematically awards lower ratings to minorities and women than to white or male candidates. However, a candidate's political ideology and whether they are a Republican or Democrat have no bearing on the influential seal of approval, the research shows.

The study finds, for example, that African Americans are 42 percentage points less likely to receive a high rating from the ABA than are whites trained at similarly ranked law schools, with similar legal experience, and nominated by the same president. Women, likewise, are 19 percentage points less likely to be highly rated than men with comparable educational and professional qualifications.


Many factors can affect a judicial nomination, but the analysis documents that the ABA ratings are one of the most significant. "Receiving a rating of 'not qualified' is more or less the equivalent of an 'F'," says Sen. Those candidates are 35 percentage points less likely to be confirmed than their more highly-ranked peers, according to the study. During the Obama administration, of the 14 judicial nominees who were given a "not qualified" rating, nine were women and eight were racial or ethnic minorities, Sen reports.

"Low ratings do keep judges out of the federal courts and over time and on average women and minority judicial nominees get more of these lower ratings," she says.

But do the ratings help to weed out individuals who truly would be unsuited for the bench? After all, according to the ABA, the evaluation is based on such laudable criteria as integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. Perhaps these difficult-to-quantify qualities introduce important factors into the considerations.

To test this question, Sen examined how often a judge's rulings were overturned, an indicator many scholars agree is a good measure of judicial performance. Using a variety of statistical controls and comparisons, she found no meaningful difference between judges who were rated highly or poorly by the ABA.

"A judge who receives the 'F' is actually no more likely to be reversed than a judge who receives the 'A+' rating of well qualified," says Sen.


Asthma drug aids simultaneous desensitization to several food allergies, study finds

Contact: Erin Digitale
Stanford University Medical Center

Asthma drug aids simultaneous desensitization to several food allergies, study finds

An asthma drug accelerates the process of desensitizing patients with food allergies to several foods at the same time, a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford shows.

The findings come on the heels of a recent study by the same team showing that people with multiple food allergies can be desensitized to several foods at once. The two studies, both phase-1 safety trials, provide the first scientific evidence that a promising new method for treating people for multiple food allergies works.

Patients who took the asthma drug omalizumab became desensitized to multiple food allergens at a median of 18 weeks; those who did not take the drug became desensitized at a median of 85 weeks, the researchers found. The results of the new study will be published online Feb. 27 in the journal Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology.

In oral immunotherapy, the desensitization method used in both studies, allergic patients build up tolerance to a food by ingesting it in tiny, gradually increasing doses under a doctor's supervision in a hospital setting. Over time, the body stops reacting, and the patient is able to eat the food safely. Several researchers have shown that this therapy works on a single food allergen, but it had not been tested on multiple food allergens. The Stanford team tried the new technique because nearly 4 million Americans are allergic to more than one food.


Federal Government Expands Access To Healthy Food For Low-Income Moms And Babies

By Tara Culp-Ressler on February 28, 2014

A government program that gives federal food assistance to an estimated 9 million women and children is getting revamped for the first time in more than three decades. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — more commonly known as WIC — will now provide low-income Americans with more options for culturally specific food, as well as increase funding for some healthy options.

WIC is a nutritional assistance program intended to help women and their babies afford healthy food. It diverges from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, because it’s specifically targeted at improving healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes. This year, the program marked its 40th anniversary.

And to coincide with that milestone, the U.S. government is finalizing new rules that update WIC’s fairly limited list of foods that can be purchased under the program. Now, women will be able to use their WIC vouchers to buy a wider range of whole grain options; yogurt products; and fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables. They’ll also have more leeway to purchase foods that meet their cultural needs. And the amount of money allocated for babies’ fruit and vegetables will be boosted by 30 percent.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Great songs

I've started a section of my Youtube channel for songs, mostly by singer/songwriters I know, that I think should be on the radio, instead of the boring cookie cutter stuff that now infests it.

Age-21 drinking laws save lives, study confirms


Contact: Kara Peterson
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

Age-21 drinking laws save lives, study confirms

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Although some advocates want to lower the legal drinking age from 21, research continues to show that the law saves lives. That's the finding of a new review published in a special supplemental issue to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Researchers found that studies done since 2006—when a new debate over age-21 laws flared up—have continued to demonstrate that the mandates work. The laws, studies show, are associated with lower rates of drunk-driving crashes among young people. And it seems they also curb other hazards of heavy drinking—including suicide, dating violence and unprotected sex.


Of course, many young people break the law and drink anyway. But, DeJong said, the evidence shows that the law is working despite that. That may be, in part, because minors do not want to be caught drinking, and therefore take fewer risks—like getting behind the wheel.

Plus, DeJong said, "there are many young people who do wait until they're 21 to drink."

DeJong said that education can help discourage underage drinking. Often, youths buy into the myth, for instance, that all college students engage in heavy drinking episodes. So giving them a more realistic picture of the true "drinking norms" can be effective, DeJong explained.

And, he said, tougher enforcement of the age-21 law, rather than a repeal, is what's needed. "Just because a law is commonly disobeyed doesn't mean we should eliminate it," DeJong noted. Clinical trials have found that when college towns put more effort into enforcing the law—and advertise that fact to students—student drinking declines.

Uninsured adolescents and young adults more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer


Contact: David Sampson
American Cancer Society

Uninsured adolescents and young adults more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer

Study shows way forward for age group that has benefited least from cancer progress

ATLANTA – February 24, 2014 – A new American Cancer Society study shows that uninsured adolescents and young adults were far more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer, which is more difficult and expensive to treat and more deadly, compared to young patients with health insurance. The study, published early online, will appear in the March issue of the journal CANCER.

The study's authors says their data suggest a way forward for cancer control efforts in the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population, a group that has benefited the least from recent progress in cancer. "The findings suggest that policies such as the Affordable Care Act that increase the number of people in America with health coverage will result in fewer late-stage cancer diagnoses and save lives."


After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, facility type, ZIP code-based income and education levels, and U.S. Census region, it was found that uninsured males were 1.51 times more likely to be diagnosed at a distant stage of disease compared with patients with private insurance. Among females, the effect of insurance was even stronger, with uninsured patients found to be 1.86 times more likely to be diagnosed at a distant stage.

Uninsured patients were younger, more likely to be male, more likely to be black or Hispanic, more likely to reside in the South, more likely to be treated in teaching/research facilities, and less likely to be treated in NCI-designated facilities. Uninsured patients were also more likely to reside in ZIP codes with the lowest median income, as well as in ZIP codes with the highest percentage of residents without a high school diploma.




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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Agencies often hindered in addressing health concerns from industrial animal production

State regulatory agencies face barriers and often take limited action when confronted with public health concerns resulting from industrial food animal production operations. This is according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future who examined agency responses to community health concerns. They found that agencies with jurisdiction over industrial food animal production operations are unable to address concerns primarily due to narrow regulations, a lack of public health expertise, and limited resources. The results are featured today online in PLOS ONE.

"Despite the well-established health risks associated with living and working near industrial food animal production operations, regulation of these sites is limited and characterized by a patchwork of different regulatory approaches from state to state," said Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH, a project director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. "Common across most states, however, is delegating the permitting to an agency without a primary mandate to address public health, which raises concerns that public health issues may not be adequately monitored or addressed. Our study found that permitting and agriculture agencies' response to health-based industrial farm animal production concerns are constrained by narrow regulations, a lack of public health expertise, and limited resources. In addition, most agency staff believed health departments should play a role in addressing citizen concerns related to industrial food animal production operations."


Previous studies have shown air near animal production sites to contain hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and allergens. Exposure to these emissions has been associated with multiple respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological health problems. A 2013 publication by Fry et al. indicates that despite being contacted by citizens regarding health concerns associated with industrial food animal operations, state and local health departments also played a limited role in addressing health issues. Health department staff cited limited staff resources, lack of expertise or training, jurisdictional issues, and political pressures for their lack of action.


Vegetarian diets associated with lower blood pressure


Contact: Yoko Yokoyama
The JAMA Network Journals

Vegetarian diets associated with lower blood pressure

Eating a vegetarian diet appears to be associated with lower blood pressure (BP), and the diets can also be used to reduce blood pressure.

Factors such as diet, body weight, physical activity and alcohol intake play a role in the risk of developing hypertension. Dietary modifications have been shown to be effective for preventing and managing hypertension.


Use of acetaminophen during pregnancy linked to ADHD in children

By Mark WheelerFebruary 24, 2014

Acetaminophen, found in over-the-counter products such as Excedrin and Tylenol, provides many people with relief from headaches and sore muscles. When used appropriately, it is considered mostly harmless. Over recent decades, the drug, which has been marketed since the 1950s, has become the medication most commonly used by pregnant women for fevers and pain.

Now, a long-term study by UCLA, in collaboration with the University of Aarhus in Denmark, has raised concerns about the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy.

In a report in the current online edition of JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health show that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk in children of attention-deficity/hyperactivity disorder and hyperkinetic disorder. The data raises the question of whether the drug should be considered safe for use by pregnant women.

ADHD, one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders worldwide, is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, increased impulsivity, and motivational and emotional dysregulation. Hyperkinetic disorder is a particularly severe form of ADHD.

"The causes of ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder are not well understood, but both environmental and genetic factors clearly contribute," said Dr. Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at the Fielding School and one of the senior authors of the paper. "We know there has been a rapid increase in childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD, over the past decades, and it's likely that the rise is not solely attributable to better diagnoses or parental awareness. It's likely there are environmental components as well."


More than half of all the mothers reported using acetaminophen while pregnant. The researchers found that children whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy were at a 13 percent to 37 percent higher risk of later receiving a hospital diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder, being treated with ADHD medications or having ADHD-like behaviors at age 7. The longer acetaminophen was taken — that is, into the second and third trimesters — the stronger the associations. The risks for hyperkinetic disorder/ADHD in children were elevated 50 percent or more when the mothers had used the common painkiller for more than 20 weeks in pregnancy.

"It's known from animal data that acetaminophen is a hormone disruptor, and abnormal hormonal exposures in pregnancy may influence fetal brain development," Ritz said.


"We need further research to verify these findings, but if these results reflect causal associations, then acetaminophen should no longer be considered a 'safe' drug for use in pregnancy," Olsen said.

Other authors of the study included Zeyan Liew (first author) and Pei-Chen Lee of UCLA, and Cristina Rebordosa of the University of Arizona. Funding was provided by the Danish Medical Research Council

Skin cancer risk may have driven evolution of black skin

Given the geographic distribution of skin shades before wide-spread re-location, it would be surprising if dark skin were not protective against the sun's rays.

Contact: Henry French
Institute of Cancer Research

Skin cancer risk may have driven evolution of black skin

Early humans may have evolved black skin to protect against a very high risk of dying from ultraviolet light (UV)-induced skin cancer, a new analysis concludes.

Skin cancer has usually been rejected as the most likely selective pressure for the development of black skin because of a belief that it is only rarely fatal at ages young enough to affect reproduction.

But a new paper, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, cites evidence that black people with albinism from parts of Africa with the highest UV radiation exposure, and where humans first evolved, almost all die of skin cancer at a young age.


Analysis: 32 years of U.S. filicide arrests

These are the cases that are reported. There must be others that are never discovered.

February 25, 2014 | Media Contact: David Orenstein

A paper in the March edition of the journal Forensic Science International provides the first comprehensive statistical analysis of filicide in the United States, drawing on 32 years of data on more than 94,000 arrests. The study also explores possible underlying psychiatric and biological underpinnings of filicide.


“To know more about the epidemiology of this crime will hopefully help medical practitioners to identify people who are at risk for committing such crimes and that will help us with prevention, which is the ultimate goal of this research,” Mariano said.

A broad understanding of filicide, for instance, can help disabuse professionals and members of the public of certain myths and stereotypes about the crime, said senior author Dr. Wade Myers, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown and a forensic psychiatrist at Rhode Island Hospital. For example, the data show that men are about as likely as women to kill infants. Stepchildren are not more likely than biological children to die at their parents’ hands, and nearly one in five filicides (18 percent) are killings of adult children, suggesting filicide is a lifetime risk.

Over time, the total number of cases in the country has remained relatively stable at around 3,000 a year. There may be some good news, however. Not only has the number drifted somewhat downward since the early 1990s, but also the numbers did not climb with population growth over the last three decades.

[Note: the rate of violent crime in general has also fallen, possibly due to decreased lead exposure.]

Close to three-quarters (72 percent) of the children killed were age 6 or younger. One-third were infants (children less than 1 year of age). Only about 10 percent of children killed were between ages 7 and 18. Adult offspring were the balance of the victims. Male children were more likely to be killed (58.3 percent) than female children. About 11 percent of victims were stepchildren, which is on the low end of the estimated proportion of U.S. children (10-20 percent) who live with a stepparent.

Among offenders, while fathers were about equally likely to kill an infant, they were more likely to be the alleged murderer of children older than a year, especially when the children were adults (fathers were the offenders in 78.3 percent of those cases). Overall, fathers were the accused murderer 57.4 percent of the time.

The data allowed the researchers to determine the most common filicide scenarios. A father killing a son was the most likely (29.5 percent of cases), a mother killing a son (22.1 percent) follows. A mother was slightly more likely to kill a daughter (19.7 percent of cases) than a father was (18.1 percent). The rarest instances were stepmothers killing either a stepson (0.5 percent) or a stepdaughter (0.3 percent).

The researchers found that the most common method of killing was with “personal weapons,” such as by the beating, choking, or drowning of victims. Parents used these means in 69 percent of murders of infants. As victims aged, firearms were more common, becoming the weapon used in 72.3 percent of the cases in which the victim as an adult. Men were much more likely to use guns than women. Across the board, parents rarely used contact weapons (such as a bat) or edged weapons (such as a knife). While stepparents weren’t overrepresented in the study, they were twice as likely as biological parents to use guns to (40 percent vs. 21 percent).


In the current paper, Mariano synthesizes three main hypotheses about these underlying motives. One is that at least some parents who commit filicide have mental illness that derives from low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Not only is that borne out in some animal studies, but the most typical ages of filicidal parents in the SHR data (18-30 years) are also the age at which many serotonin-related illnesses occur, like depression and schizophrenia.

Looking at the substantial differences that gender appears to make in the SHR data, a second hypothesis focuses on sex hormones. High levels of testosterone appear to coincide with higher rates of filicide in animal studies, for example, and in the crime statistics men were more likely to commit filicide, especially after victims were older than a year.

The final hypothetical motive category pertains mostly to those youngest of victims, “the unwanted child.” This evolutionarily motivated idea, also informed by other studies, suggests that parents, particularly young mothers, may kill young children who are sick or for whom they feel they cannot provide care.

Neither the statistics nor the hypotheses definitively explain filicide, but they provide researchers with a basis to focus their inquiries, Mariano and Myers said.


Psychological side-effects of anti-depressants worse than thought

But it appears that there is no way from this study of knowing how they felt compared with how they would feel if they hadn't been taking the drugs.

Contact: Jamie Brown
University of Liverpool

Psychological side-effects of anti-depressants worse than thought

LIVERPOOL, UK – 26 February 2014: A University of Liverpool researcher has shown that thoughts of suicide, sexual difficulties and emotional numbness as a result of anti-depressants may be more widespread than previously thought.

In a survey of 1,829 people who had been prescribed anti-depressants, the researchers found large numbers of people – over half in some cases – reporting on psychological problems due to their medication, which has led to growing concerns about the scale of the problem of over-prescription of these drugs.

Psychologist and lead researcher, Professor John Read from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: "The medicalisation of sadness and distress has reached bizarre levels. One in ten people in some countries are now prescribed antidepressants each year.

"While the biological side-effects of antidepressants, such as weight gain and nausea, are well documented, the psychological and interpersonal effects have been largely ignored or denied. They appear to be alarmingly common."


Over half of people aged 18 to 25 in the study reported suicidal feelings and in the total sample there were large percentages of people suffering from 'sexual difficulties' (62%) and 'feeling emotionally numb' (60%). Percentages for other effects included: 'feeling not like myself' (52%), 'reduction in positive feelings' (42%), 'caring less about others' (39%) and 'withdrawal effects' (55%). However, 82% reported that the drugs had helped alleviate their depression.


New study presents evidence that blood pressure should be measured in both arms

Contact: Jane Grochowski
Elsevier Health Sciences

New study presents evidence that blood pressure should be measured in both arms

Philadelphia, PA, February 25, 2014 – As heart disease continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States, practitioners and patients alike are looking for ways to cut risk factors and identify new clues to assist with early detection. New research published in the March issue of The American Journal of Medicine suggests that there is an association between a difference in interarm systolic blood pressure and a significant increased risk for future cardiovascular events, leading researchers to recommend expanded clinical use of interarm blood pressure measurement.


This new study examined 3,390 participants aged 40 years and older from the Framingham Heart Study. All subjects were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline, but investigators found that participants with higher interarm systolic blood pressure differences were at a much higher risk for future cardiovascular events than those with less than a 10 mm Hg difference between arms.


Ordinary conditioner removes head lice eggs as effectively as special products

Contact: Richard Levine
Entomological Society of America

Ordinary conditioner removes head lice eggs as effectively as special products

Eggs from head lice, also called nits, are incredibly difficult to remove. Female lice lay eggs directly onto strands of hair, and they cement them in place with a glue-like substance, making them hard to get rid of. In fact, the eggs are glued down so strongly that they will stay in place even after hair has been treated with pediculicides -- substances used to kill lice.

Some shampoos and conditioners that contain chemicals or special oils are marketed as nit-removal products. However, new research just published in the Journal of Medical Entomology shows that ordinary hair conditioner is just as effective.


study ties father's age to higher rates of psychiatric, academic problems in kids

Contact: Brian D'Onofrio
Indiana University

IU study ties father's age to higher rates of psychiatric, academic problems in kids

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An Indiana University study in collaboration with medical researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has found that advancing paternal age at childbearing can lead to higher rates of psychiatric and academic problems in offspring than previously estimated.

Examining an immense data set -- everyone born in Sweden from 1973 until 2001 -- the researchers documented a compelling association between advancing paternal age at childbearing and numerous psychiatric disorders and educational problems in their children, including autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance abuse problems. Academic problems included failing grades, low educational attainment and low IQ scores.

Among the findings: When compared to a child born to a 24-year-old father, a child born to a 45-year-old father is 3.5 times more likely to have autism, 13 times more likely to have ADHD, two times more likely to have a psychotic disorder, 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder and 2.5 times more likely to have suicidal behavior or a substance abuse problem. For most of these problems, the likelihood of the disorder increased steadily with advancing paternal age, suggesting there is no particular paternal age at childbearing that suddenly becomes problematic.


The working hypothesis for D'Onofrio and his colleagues who study this phenomenon is that unlike women, who are born with all their eggs, men continue to produce new sperm throughout their lives. Each time sperm replicate, there is a chance for a mutation in the DNA to occur. As men age, they are also exposed to numerous environmental toxins, which have been shown to cause mutations in the DNA found in sperm. Molecular genetic studies have, in fact, shown that sperm of older men have more genetic mutations.


Passive smoking linked to increased miscarriage, stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy risk

Contact: Stephanie Burns
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Passive smoking linked to increased miscarriage, stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy risk

Risk is cumulative and heightened in parallel with length of exposure

Passive smoking is linked to a significantly increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy, finds a large observational study, published online in Tobacco Control.

The risk appears to be cumulative, with risk heightened in parallel with the length of time exposed to second hand smoke, the findings indicate.

It is well known that smoking during pregnancy significantly increases the risks of miscarriage and birth complications. What is less clear is whether passive smoking exerts similar effects, and if there are particularly critical periods of exposure to second hand smoke.


Cows are smarter when raised in pairs

Contact: Corey Allen
University of British Columbia

Cows are smarter when raised in pairs

Cows learn better when housed together, which may help them adjust faster to complex new feeding and milking technologies on the modern farm, a new University of British Columbia study finds.

The research, published today in PLOS ONE, shows dairy calves become better at learning when a "buddy system" is in place. The study also provides the first evidence that the standard practice of individually housing calves is associated with certain learning difficulties.

"Pairing calves seems to change the way these animals are able to process information," said Dan Weary, corresponding author and a professor in UBC's Animal Welfare Program. "We recommend that farmers use some form of social housing for their calves during the milk feeding period."


Republicans Busted for Trying to Use Fake IRS Scandal To Protect the Koch Brothers

By: Sarah Jones
February, 26th, 2014

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) busted Republicans on Wednesday for trying to delay implementing new regulations concerning 501(c)(4) organizations.

Pointing out that the (c)(4) designation protects secrecy, Levin said, “That is exactly the secrecy that the Republicans are trying to preserve. Why? Because the three largest spenders representing fully 51% of the total are a who’s who list of Republican political operatives. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $71 million. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, spent $36 million. The American Future Fund, also the Koch brothers, spent $25 million.”

Naturally Republicans, who wasted 14 million dollars and counting on ginning up this fake IRS scandal, want to make sure that actual political activities are not taken into account when determining if a group can qualify for tax exemption.


Why are Republicans trying to force the IRS to look the other way? Because Republicans can’t win elections without dark money spreading lies about Democrats. Republicans can’t afford to run on issues. They have to run on smears, since their policies are determined by the Koch Brothers et al, and thus benefit the top 1% instead of the people.

The Republican intention was to manipulate the IRS with a fake story that got a lot of press and thus would be the narrative that stuck in the public’s mind. The press has moved on and barely managed, if at all, to clarify that there was no scandal other than the fact that Republicans lied and schemed to manufacture this fake scandal for the cameras. The Republicans were pulling a classic Karl Rove — attack and put the IRS on the defense, along with the Obama administration as a whole. This way no one would feel free to actually investigate Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc, because it would look bad.

But it backfired. Sure, the public has been duped, but the Democrats did not bow down per usual. The Democrats are on the war path, and they aren’t going down without a fight.

New research indicates causal link between vitamin D, serotonin synthesis and autism

Contact: Melinda Krigel
Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland

New research indicates causal link between vitamin D, serotonin synthesis and autism

Dietary interventions will have relevance for prevention and possibly for treatment of autism

February 26, 2014 - Oakland, CA – A new study by Rhonda Patrick, PhD and Bruce Ames, PhD of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) demonstrates the impact that Vitamin D may have on social behavior associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Patrick and Dr. Ames show that serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, three brain hormones that affect social behavior, are all activated by vitamin D hormone. Autism, which is characterized by abnormal social behavior, has previously been linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain and to low vitamin D levels, but no mechanism has linked the two until now.


The current guidelines for adequate vitamin D levels are concentrations above 30 ng/ml. Most Americans' vitamin D is made in the skin from exposure to UVB radiation; however, melanin pigment and sunscreen inhibit this action. This is an important cause of the well-known widespread vitamin D deficiency among dark-pigmented Americans, particularly those living in Northern latitudes. The most recent National Health and Examination survey reports that greater than 70% of U.S. population does not meet this requirement and that adequate vitamin D levels have plummeted over the last couple of decades. This precipitous drop in adequate levels of vitamin D in the US is concurrent with the rise in autism rates.

The study suggests dietary intervention with vitamin D, tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids would boost brain serotonin concentrations and help prevent and possibly ameliorate some of the symptoms associated with ASD without side effects. There is little vitamin D present in food and fortification is still inadequate as is the amount in most multivitamin and prenatal supplements. Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and offer a simple solution to raise vitamin D levels to an adequate status. In addition, vitamin D levels should be routinely measured in everyone and should become a standard procedure in prenatal care.

Don't throw out old, sprouting garlic -- it has heart-healthy antioxidants

Funny that people would throw out sprouted garlic. People eat green onions.

Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

Don't throw out old, sprouting garlic -- it has heart-healthy antioxidants

"Sprouted" garlic — old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots emerging from the cloves — is considered to be past its prime and usually ends up in the garbage can. But scientists are reporting in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that this type of garlic has even more heart-healthy antioxidant activity than its fresher counterparts.

Jong-Sang Kim and colleagues note that people have used garlic for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Today, people still celebrate its healthful benefits. Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements is touted as a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease risk. It even may boost the immune system and help fight cancer. But those benefits are for fresh, raw garlic. Sprouted garlic has received much less attention. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. Kim's group reasoned that the same thing might be happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic. Other studies have shown that sprouted beans and grains have increased antioxidant activity, so the team set out to see if the same is true for garlic.

They found that garlic sprouted for five days had higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting that it also makes different substances. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage. "Therefore, sprouting may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic," they conclude.

Measuring toxicity

NPR reported on a report that found BPA appeared safe at levels found in most people. A problem with such studies is that they study a single chemical. We are exposed to many chemicals, some of which interact with each other to amplify their effects. And many of such studies are funded by companies that make or sell these chemicals. They tend to choose to publish only those studies that give the results they want.

Reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence prevalent among women seeking medical care

Enough women experience reproductive coercion – male behavior to control contraception and pregnancy outcomes – that a research team now recommends health care providers address the subjects with their patients and tailor family planning discussions and recommendations accordingly.

Researchers from Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island were part of a team that published "Reproductive coercion and co-occurring intimate partner violence in obstetrics and gynecology patients" in a recent issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Reproductive coercion, co-occurring with intimate partner violence, is prevalent among women seeking general obstetrics and gynecology care," notes Rebecca H. Allen, MD, of Women & Infants. She and Amy S. Gottlieb, MD, of the hospital's Women's Primary Care Center, participated in the study of 641 women ages 18 to 44, along with Chris Raker, ScD, a statistician in the hospital's Division of Research.

Study participants completed anonymous surveys. The survey defined reproductive coercion as:
•Pregnancy coercion, such as a male partner threatening to harm the woman physically or psychologically (with infidelity or abandonment) if she did not become pregnant
•Birth control sabotage, such as flushing oral contraceptive pills down the toilet, intentionally breaking or removing condoms, or inhibiting a woman's ability to obtain contraception


In addition, reproductive coercion has been associated with intimate partner violence, including threats, physical injury, or sexual abuse. This study is the first to examine both measurements – reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence – in the same relationship.


Turning web sites into picture books

I have noticed that several web sites I used to read almost every day went over to the picture book style as soon as internet providers were allowed to charge more for those who use more band width. I am for this to the extent that I should't have to subsidize people who download (often stealing) a lot of video. Also, many web sites, including Facebook, will automatically start playing a video. All these pictures & videos require more bandwidth and take longer to download. Surely it will cause some people to buy higher speed internet servicee. What it has done for me is cause me to avoid those sites. I am all for not forcing me to subsidize people who download (often stealing) a lot of video. But with the interconnectedness of media, one has to wonder if the purpose of all this is to try to force us to pay more.
Also, at the same time, the Facebook checkbox to hide the pictures stopped working for a few days, which I complained about. I don't know if my complaint was noted. It could have been an accidental result of some other change by Facebook. Only the coders know for sure.

Study shows why breastfed babies are so smart

It doesn't appear that this study shows that all the results come from the interaction between the mother and child. They would have to have a large group of children who were breastfed but did not receive better social interactions in order to compare them with those who had both.

Brigham Young University
February 26, 2014
Media Contact: Joe Hadfield

Loads of studies over the years have shown that children who were breastfed score higher on IQ tests and perform better in school, but the reason why remained unclear.

Is it the mother-baby bonding time, something in the milk itself or some unseen attribute of mothers who breastfeed their babies?

Now a new study by sociologists at Brigham Young University pinpoints two parenting skills as the real source of this cognitive boost: Responding to children’s emotional cues and reading to children starting at 9 months of age. Breastfeeding mothers tend to do both of those things, said lead study author Ben Gibbs.

“It’s really the parenting that makes the difference,” said Gibbs. “Breastfeeding matters in others ways, but this actually gives us a better mechanism and can shape our confidence about interventions that promote school readiness.”

Gibbs authored the study with fellow BYU professor Renata Forste for the March issue of The Journal of Pediatrics. According to their analysis, improvements in sensitivity to emotional cues and time reading to children could yield 2-3 months’ worth of brain development by age 4 (as measured by math and reading readiness assessments).

“Because these are four-year-olds, a month or two represents a non-trivial chunk of time," Gibbs said. “And if a child is on the edge of needing special education, even a small boost across some eligibility line could shape a child’s educational trajectory.”


The BYU researchers note that the most at-risk children are also the least likely to receive the optimal parenting in early childhood. Single moms in the labor force, for example, don’t have the same luxuries when it comes to breastfeeding and quality time with the children. Parents with less education don’t necessarily hear about research-based parenting practices, either.

“This is the luxury of the advantaged,” Forste said. “It makes it harder to think about how we promote environments for disadvantaged homes. These things can be learned and they really matter. And being sensitive to kids and reading to kids doesn’t have to be done just by the mother.”

Small Volcanoes Restraining A Much Faster Warming Planet, For Now

By Joe Romm on February 24, 2014

How much faster would surface temperatures be warming if not for various (mostly) natural cooling factors? That’s a question raised by the umpteenth study revealing climate models have been under-representing key factors — in this case small volcanic eruptions since 2000 — that appear to slow the rate of surface temperature warming.

We know from a major December study by Cowtan and Way that surface temperatures have not in fact slowed down. The apparent slowdown is largely due to the fact that we don’t have permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean — the place where global warming has been the greatest. So the UK’s Met Office decision to use date that excludes this area has led to a lowballing of actual temperature rise.

The recent reanalysis using satellite data to fill the gaps finds little slowdown in warming: [see link above for graph]

This is especially worrisome because several recent studies have found factors that are keeping surface temps from warming even faster — which means when these factors abate, accelerated warming will return with a vengeance, like a climate boomerang. As a recent study of the impact of anomalous trade winds concluded, when those winds stop boosting ocean warming, “global temperatures look set to rise rapidly.”


When there is a La Nina (we’ve had a bunch recently), heat is taken up by the oceans but extra heat is re-released during El Nino. So, we can expect that the next El Nino will result in record surface temperatures. Of course, this doesn’t prove global warming — we proved that years ago.


Those who point to the faux pause as a reason for delaying action on climate change have it backwards. Recent planetary warming hasn’t slowed down, and to the extent surface temperatures have been affected, we should be anticipating a boomerang period of sped up warming within a decade or so. The time to act was a long time ago, but now is infinitely better than later.

Yanukovich’s media pawns

February 24, 2014 By Mark Kleiman

In light of this week’s mass killings by thugs working for now-deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, last year’s Buzzfeed story (and its predecessor) about how Ukrainian government cash generated stories on right-wing websites seems even more interesting. Either writers for RedState, Breitbart, and PJ Media wrote stories for money, or they were dumb enough to do it for free.


I Wasn’t There, But Let Me Tell You Exactly What Happened

February 24, 2014
By Keith Humphreys

In response to my lament to my lament regarding how some people think watching movies makes them an expert in a public policy area, Kevin Drum sees a broader problem in how people judge what they do and don’t know:

Everyone with the manual dexterity to hoist a beer can regale you with confident answers to all the ills of society, while in the very next breath insisting that you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to subject X. That’s a lot more complicated than you think.

Subject X, of course, is something they happen to know a lot about, probably because they work in the field. But it doesn’t matter. The fact that they’ve learned to be cautious about the one field they know the most about doesn’t stop them from assuming that every other field is pretty simple and tractable.

It would be absurd to deny this sad phenomenon. Kevin is noting how possession of deep knowledge in some areas doesn’t generalize into an assumption that there is also relevant deep knowledge in areas in which we are not specialists.


In interactions in which we are personally involved, we often do not fully understand what is going on. We for example might walk away from a conversation with a loved one or colleague wondering “How did they end up as an argument?” or “What was that conversation really about?”. We also of course forget what happened in our personal interactions, even highly significant ones.


We understand and remember our own interactions poorly. We are even worse when we are one step away, witnessing other people’s interactions. So far, so banal, but riddle me this: Why are so many people so regularly consumed in debate about what really happened in interactions of which they were not a part and did not witness? Google on any hotly debated pairing — Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, to name only three — and you will find myriad accounts confidently describing exactly what did or did not happen between them.

Our knowledge of interactions that we learn of third, fourth, or fifth-hand is inherently inferior to our knowledge of interactions which we personally witness or experience directly. But the humbling experience of bumbling through and mis-recalling our own lives never lessens some people’s claims of omniscience about the lives of people they’ve never met.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Global warming won't cut winter deaths as hoped

If you consider the incidence of extreme weather events around the world in recent years, this will come as no surprise.

By Alister Doyle
Sun Feb 23, 2014

(Reuters) - Global warming will fail to reduce high winter death rates as some officials have predicted because there will be more harmful weather extremes even as it gets less cold, a British study showed on Sunday.

A draft U.N. report due for publication next month says that, overall, climate change will harm human health, but adds:

"Positive effects will include modest improvements in cold-related mortality and morbidity in some areas due to fewer cold extremes, shifts in food production and reduced capacity of disease-carrying vectors."

However a report in the journal Nature Climate Change on the situation in England and Wales said climate warming would likely not decrease winter mortality in those places. It suggested more volatile winters, with swings from cold to mild linked to rising greenhouse gas emissions, might even raise death rates.

Lead author Philip Staddon of the University of Exeter told Reuters that the findings were likely to apply to other developed countries in temperate regions that risk more extreme weather as temperatures rise.


Staddon said developed nations should avoid a radical shift in spending to heatwave protection, such as better air conditioning in homes for the elderly, from measures to ease cold such as subsidies for insulation or winter heating.

"Heatwave deaths will increase a lot but there will still be more winter deaths," he said. In 2003, the worst European heatwave in centuries killed up to 70,000 people, including about 3,000 in Britain.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When you don't snooze, your ethics lose

Can lack of sleep make you behave unethically? Researchers think so.

Many studies have looked at the impact of sleep deprivation on workers’ health, safety, and morale, says management assistant professor Christopher Barnes, but few have considered its implications for unethical behavior. “Sleep deprivation may also contribute to unethical conduct in the workplace, which is costly to organizations,” says Barnes, who co-authored a recent study on the subject.

Barnes and three other scholars conducted four studies to examine the influence of low levels of sleep in decision-making situations involving ethical considerations. “We consistently found that people were more likely to behave unethically when they were short on sleep,” he says.
- See more at:

An important practical implication of their research, he says, is that managers and organizations may play a larger role than previously thought in promoting unethical behavior — through excessive work demands, extended work hours, and shifts that result in night work, each of which, other studies show, has diminished employee sleep.

“We are not arguing that managers can or should completely control the sleep and unethical behavior of their subordinates,” Barnes says, “but that managers should recognize that many of their actions may have second-order effects on sleep and thus unethical behavior. Managers who push their employees to work long hours, work late into the night, or work sporadic and unpredictable schedules may be creating situations that foster unethical behavior.”
- See more at:

He cites one recent finding that 30 percent of American workers get fewer than six hours of sleep a night. - See more at:


Overcoming such temptations requires exercising self-control, Barnes says. And exercising self-control requires rest. He notes that studies have shown that self-control functions take place in a specific region of the brain — the pre-frontal cortex — that works less well when people are low on sleep. - See more at:


His research also underscores the need for managers to keep in mind the dynamic nature of ethical or unethical behavior, he says. “The same person could behave ethically on one day — after a good night of sleep — but unethically on another day — after a poor night of sleep. Thus, it is not just bad people who do bad things — even good people can do bad things if they are unable to exercise self-control.” - See more at:


Barnes is the lead author of “Lack of sleep and unethical conduct,” co-authored with John Schaubroeck and Megan Huth (Michigan State University) and Sonia Ghumman (University of Hawaii) and published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes - See more at:

Arctic Sea Ice Sits at Record Low for Mid-February

February 19th, 2014
By Brian Kahn

Arctic sea ice growth has slowed dramatically in recent weeks, thanks in large part to abnormally warm air and water temperatures. Sea ice now sits at record low levels for mid-February.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, as of February 18, sea ice covered about 14.36 million square kilometers in the Arctic. The previous low on this date was 14.37 million square kilometers in 2006.

The main culprit — in addition to the overall trend of global warming — is likely the rash of warm temperatures. With the polar vortex bringing cold air down to the U.S. this winter, warmer temperatures have been the norm in the Arctic. From February 1-17, temperatures were 7.2° to 14.4°F above normal for much of the Arctic. Some areas have been even warmer.


The decline in sea ice is one of the key indicators of climate change. Sea ice in January, the last full month for which data is available, has declined 3.2 percent per decade since 1979 compared to the 1981-2012 average. That equals roughly 18,500 square miles in ice lost per decade, the same area as Vermont and New Hampshire combined. This past January ranked as the fourth-lowest year on record, with 2011 being the all-time record lowest.

Summer sea ice decline is even more precipitous, dropping 13.7 percent per decade over the same period according to the Arctic Report Card.


15 Military Leaders Who Say Climate Change Is A National Security Threat

May 30, 2012

Republicans in Congress are attempting to prevent the military from purchasing alternative fuels, which Senator Inhofe (R-OK) believes are merely "perpetrating President Obama's global warming fantasies and his war on affordable energy." And conservative media are backing the attacks on climate change and clean energy programs, suggesting that these investments come at the expense of national security. But experts across the political spectrum agree that climate change poses a serious threat to our national security, and that transitioning to alternative energy will enhance military effectiveness. Here are 15 current and former national security officials in their own words on the threat of climate change:

Thomas Fingar, former chairman of President Bush's National Intelligence Council: "We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years ... We judge that the most significant impact for the United States will be indirect and result from climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect US national security interests."
Brig. General Steven Anderson, USA (Ret.), former Chief of Logistics under General Petraeus and a self-described "conservative Republican": "Our oil addiction, I believe, is our greatest threat to our national security. Not just foreign oil but oil in general. Because I believe that in CO2 emissions and climate change and the instability that that all drives, I think that that increases the likelihood there will be conflicts in which American soldiers are going to have to fight and die somewhere."

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense: "[T]he area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security: rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense: "Over the next 20 years and more, certain pressures-population, energy, climate, economic, environmental-could combine with rapid cultural, social, and technological change to produce new sources of deprivation, rage, and instability."

General Gordon Sullivan, USA (Ret.), former Army chief of staff: .....

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.): "If the destabilizing effects of climate change go unchecked, we can expect more frequent, widespread, and intense failed state scenarios creating large scale humanitarian disasters and higher potential for conflict and terrorism ... The Department of Defense and national intelligence communities recognize this clear link between climate change, national security, and instability and have begun strategic plans and programs to both mitigate and adapt to the most likely and serious effects in key areas around the globe."

General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command and special envoy to Israel and Palestine under President George W. Bush: "It's not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability, or climate change and terrorism."

Admiral Joseph Lopez, USN (Ret.): "Climate change will provide the conditions that will extend the war on terror."

General Chuck Wald, USAF (Ret.), former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command under President George W. Bush: .....

Brig. General Bob Barnes, USA (Ret.): .....

Vice Admiral Richard Truly, USN (Ret.), former NASA administrator: "The stresses that climate change will put on our national security will be different than any we've dealt with in the past."

General Paul Kern, USA (Ret.), Commander of the United States Army Materiel Command under President George W. Bush: .....

Lt. General Lawrence Farrell, USAF (Ret.): .....

Admiral John Nathman, USN (Ret.), former Commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command under President George W. Bush: "There are serious risks to doing nothing about climate change. We can pay now or we're going to pay a whole lot later. .....

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.): "The national security community is rightly worried about climate change because of the magnitude of its expected impacts around the globe, even in our own country ... Climate change poses a clear and present danger to the United States of America. But if we respond appropriately, I believe we will enhance our security, not simply by averting the worst climate change impacts, but by spurring a new energy revolution."

The Pentagon recognizes that our dependence on oil is problematic not only because of the threat of climate change, but also because of volatile oil prices and supply disruptions that can threaten the military's energy supply. It's Operational Energy Strategy states:


The Army also notes that transporting fuel can be deadly in a warzone:


To begin the transition away from fossil fuels, the Navy is increasing its use of biofuels and developing a "Great Green Fleet" - an aircraft carrier strike group run entirely on biofuels and other alternative fuels. Although biofuels are currently more expensive than oil, military demand will bring prices down, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus explained to a Congressional committee.


Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn added: "There is not a shred of political correctness in what the military is doing with energy efficiency or renewable energy. From lance corporal to general, they are on board. They live with the problems from the over-reliance on fossil fuels."

Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran, underscored this point in a Huffington Post op-ed: "[T]he military isn't on some kind of ecological mission when it comes to renewables. They're trying to help ensure men and women come home to their loved ones."

Why are hard-headed US military chiefs so worried about global warming? (2014)

By Geoffrey Lean
January 17th, 2014

Here's your starter for ten. Who is about to issue a report concluding that “climate change has had a visible and direct impact on the Arctic region?” and that dramatic reductions in its sea ice are on the way. The much maligned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? The Green Party? Yet another noisy environmental pressure group competing for public attention? Nope. None of the above. It's those infamous, sandal-wearing, green hippies in the Pentagon.

The report, Arctic Road Map – which is due to be published by the US Navy in the next few weeks – is to warn that by as early as 2025 the ice will have melted so much that commercial shipping will be able to sail though enormous tracts of the Arctic Ocean for several months of the year. It is entirely unimpressed by, admittedly ludicrous, claims by some sceptics that last year's partila recovery in Arctic Sea ice from a record low in 2012 means that a cooling period has now set in, and believes that continued warming will give the United States its first new ocean to police since the Pacific in the middle of the last century.

“The inevitable opening of the Arctic will essentially create a new coast on America's north”, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, told the Wall Street Journal. And this presents him a problem since, as the report will point out, the Navy lacks both “operational experience” in the area and vessels that can cope with Arctic conditions.


“This is not a good time to be putting a lot of bills on the table” admits General Charles Jacoby, who is in charge if Northern Command, which oversees the Arctic. But he has no doubt that the ice is melting, and little time for the debate on whether global warming is responsible. “I don't have the luxury of having a political opinion on this” he told the climate change sceptic Journal. “It has happened. And it needs to be accounted for”.

Pentagon ranks global warming as destabilising force (Jan. 2010)

More recently:

Sunday 31 January 2010 16.48 GMT

The Pentagon will for the first time rank global warming as a destabilising force, adding fuel to conflict and putting US troops at risk around the world, in a major strategy review to be presented to Congress tomorrow. The quadrennial defence review, prepared by the Pentagon to update Congress on its security vision, will direct military planners to keep track of the latest climate science, and to factor global warming into their long term strategic planning.

"While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world," said a draft of the review seen by the Guardian.

Heatwaves and freak storms could put increasing demand on the US military to respond to humanitarian crises or natural disaster. But troops could feel the effects of climate change even more directly, the draft says.

More than 30 US bases are threatened by rising sea levels. It ordered the Pentagon to review the risks posed to installations, and to combat troops by a potential increase in severe heatwaves and fires.

The review's release coincides with a sharpening focus in the American defence establishment about global warming – even though polls last week showed the public increasingly less concerned.

The CIA late last year established a centre to collect intelligence on climate change. Earlier this month, CIA officials sent emails to environmental experts in Washington seeking their views on climate change impacts around the world, and how the agency could keep tabs on what actions countries were taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The CIA has also restarted a programme – scrapped by George Bush – that allowed scientists and spies to share satellite images of glaciers and Arctic sea ice.

----- (skipping)

But the navy was already alive to the potential threat, with melting sea ice in the Arctic opening up a new security province. The changing chemistry of the oceans, because of global warming, is also playing havoc with submarine sonar, a report last year from the CNAS warned.

----- (skipping)


Note that Bush is very rich from his family's oil business.

San Francisco's Higher Minimum Wage Hasn't Hurt the Economy

By Susan Berfield
January 22, 2014


San Francisco was also one of the first cities to increase the minimum wage beyond the federal level and mandate better benefits for low-income workers. The wage increase went into effect in 2004, long before the notion of one percenters and the recent wave of wage protests by fast-food and retail workers. And now everyone from President Obama to Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is talking about raising the federal minimum wage.

For those who need more evidence, a new book hopes to persuade them. When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level argues that San Francisco’s decision to increase the minimum wage and offer other benefits, such as sick leave pay, hasn’t hurt the city’s economy at all. The three editors—all labor experts—found that from 2004 to 2011 overall private employment grew 5.6 percent in San Francisco and 3 percent in Santa Clara County. Other Bay Area counties saw an overall 4.4 percent drop during that time. Among food-service workers, who are more likely to be affected by minimum-wage laws, employment grew 17.7 percent in San Francisco, faster than either of the other Bay Area counties.

A few notes: San Francisco’s minimum wage is indexed to inflation and now stands at $10.74. The federal rate is $7.25, and Obama has talked of raising it to $10.10. Fast-food workers, though, are calling for $15 an hour.

The book’s editors weren’t able to measure any change in the profitability at the fast-food companies operating in San Francisco, says Ken Jacobs, the chairman of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Consumers, though, did have to pay slightly more at the restaurants. “We did see a small increase, 2.8 percent, in food prices compared to other counties,” he says. Jacobs also points out that companies saved money because of reduced turnover. For example, turnover decreased 60 percent for low-wage occupations at San Francisco International Airport, where workers earn a minimum wage of $11.24 an hour.


Thyroid cancer cases soar; is it overdiagnosed?

Feb 20, 6:40 PM (ET)

CHICAGO (AP) - A dramatic rise in thyroid cancer has resulted from overdiagnosis and treatment of tumors too small to ever cause harm, according to a study that found cases nearly tripled since 1975.

The study is the latest to question whether all cancers need aggressive treatment. Other research has suggested that certain cancers of the prostate, breast and lung as well as thyroid grow so slowly that they will never become deadly, and that overzealous screening leads to overtreatment.


Thyroid removal is done for 85 percent of all people diagnosed despite guidelines that say less aggressive surgery is reasonable for lower-risk thyroid tumors, the study authors said.


Experts know that better detection methods including CT scans and ultrasound, have led to more thyroid cancers being diagnosed, but they don't know which ones will become aggressive, Burkey said.

"Thyroid cancer even if treated has a fairly high recurrence rate even if it doesn't kill," he said.


Arctic getting darker, making Earth warmer

Feb 18, 3:00 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says.

With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide, said the study's lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.


While earlier studies used computer models, Eisenman said his is the first to use satellite measurements to gauge sunlight reflection and to take into account cloud cover. The results show the darkening is as much as two to three times bigger than previous estimates, he said.


Bumblebees getting stung bad by honeybee sickness

What this article doesn't mention is that bumblebees are subjected to the same poisons and climate change as honeybees, so both can be expected to have lower resistance to disease.

Feb 19, 3:24 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Wild bumblebees worldwide are in trouble, likely contracting deadly diseases from their commercialized honeybee cousins, a new study shows.

That's a problem even though bumblebees aren't trucked from farm to farm like honeybees. They provide a significant chunk of the world's pollination of flowers and food, especially greenhouse tomatoes, insect experts said. And the ailments are hurting bumblebees even more, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"Wild populations of bumblebees appear to be in significant decline across Europe, North America, South America and also in Asia," said study author Mark Brown of the University of London. He said his study confirmed that a major source of the decline was "the spillover of parasites and pathogens and disease" from managed honeybee hives.


The French Way Of Cancer Treatment

Very interesting article.

By Anya Schiffrin,
February 17th, 2014

When my father, the editor and writer Andre Schiffrin, was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer last spring, my family assumed we would care for him in New York. But my parents always spent part of each year in Paris, where my father was born, and soon after he began palliative chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering my father announced he wanted to stick to his normal schedule — and spend the summer in France.


I also didn’t know what the French healthcare system would be like. I’d read it was excellent, but assumed that meant there was better access for the poor and strong primary care. Not better cancer specialists. How could a public hospital in Paris possibly improve on Sloan Kettering’s cancer treatment?


My parents were pleasantly surprised by his new routine. In New York, my father, my mother and I would go to Sloan Kettering every Tuesday around 9:30 a.m. and wind up spending the entire day. They’d take my dad’s blood and we’d wait for the results. The doctor always ran late. We never knew how long it would take before my dad’s name would be called, so we’d sit in the waiting room and, well, wait.


Eventually, we’d see the doctor for a few minutes and my dad would get his chemo. Then, after fighting New York crowds for a cab at rush hour, as my dad stood on the corner of Lexington Avenue feeling woozy, we’d get home by about 5:30 p.m.

So imagine my surprise when my parents reported from Paris that their chemo visits couldn’t be more different. A nurse would come to the house two days before my dad’s treatment day to take his blood. When my dad appeared at the hospital, they were ready for him. The room was a little worn and there was often someone else in the next bed but, most important, there was no waiting. Total time at the Paris hospital each week: 90 minutes.

There were other nice surprises. When my dad needed to see specialists, for example, instead of trekking around the city for appointments, he would stay in one room at Cochin Hospital, a public hospital in the 14th arrondissement where he received his weekly chemo. The specialists would all come to him. The team approach meant the nutritionist, oncologist, general practitioner and pharmacist spoke to each other and coordinated his care. As my dad said, “It turns out there are solutions for the all the things we put up with in New York and accept as normal.”


Regaling my New York friends with stories of my dad’s superb care in Paris, I found people assumed he was getting VIP treatment or had a fancy private plan. Not at all. He had the plain vanilla French government healthcare.

I had read many articles about the French healthcare system during the long public debate over Obamacare. But I still I hadn’t understood fully, until I read this interview in the New York Times, that the French system is basically like an expanded Medicaid. Pretty much everyone has insurance, it explained, and the French get better primary care and more choice of doctors than we do. It also turns out, as has been much commented on, that despite all this great treatment, theFrench spend far less on healthcare than Americans.

In 2011, France’s expenditure on health per capita was $4,086, compared to $8,608 in the United States, according to the World Health Organization. Spending as a percentage of gross domestic product was 11.6 percent in France while in the United States it was a far higher 17.9 percent.


Staff note: The French health system treats health care as a public good rather than a profit. It is a stark contrast to the US health care system that treats health care as a commodity so that patients only get the health care they can afford rather than what they need. It is up to us to change this because we have everything we need in the US to change to a health system that is about health and healing except the movement to demand it.

Ky. man going barefoot for charity in icy winter

Feb 21, 4:12 AM (ET)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Walking a mile in Richard Hudgins shoes can be a painful experience in one of the harshest Southern winters in years.

That's because he's not wearing any.

Hudgins, a hair stylist, has stripped off his shoes and socks and is going barefoot for a full year to raise money for shoeless children a world away.

He has gone barefoot to work, to drop his daughter off at school, to shop and even to exercise at the gym. Shoeless since early December, he has nearly made it through a brutal Kentucky winter that featured several days of snow, ice and single-digit temperatures.


Hudgins wants to raise $25,000 in donations by year's end and then take the money to Narok, Kenya, where children need uniforms and shoes to go to school. So far he has raised nearly $4,000.

If Hudgins reaches his goal, it would buy durable shoes for more than 800 kids, said Elijah Ombati, a missionary from Kenya who has struck up a friendship with Hudgins. Ombati, who runs a Christian group called Nasha Ministries International and splits his time between Africa and Louisville, said many of the needy children are orphans and don't have $20 or $30 for shoes. Ombati said shoes are necessary at schools for good hygiene and to protect the feet of children who walk far distances.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Effect of added sugar on heart disease

Contact: Karen Hunter
The JAMA Network Journals
Study examines consumption of added sugar, death for cardiovascular disease

CHICAGO – Many U.S. adults consume more added sugar (added in processing or preparing of foods, not naturally occurring as in fruits and fruit juices) than expert panels recommend for a healthy diet, and consumption of added sugar was associated with increased risk for death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.


Major sources of added sugar in Americans' diets are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts and candy. A can of regular soda contains about 35g of sugar (about 140 calories).

Quanhe Yang, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used national health survey data to examine added sugar consumption as a percentage of daily calories and to estimate association between consumption and CVD.

Study results indicate that the average percentage of daily calories from added sugar increased from 15.7 percent in 1988-1994 to 16.8 percent in 1999 to 2004 and decreased to 14.9 percent in 2005-2010.

In 2005-2010, most adults (71.4 percent) consumed 10 percent of more of their calories from added sugar and about 10 percent of adults consumed 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.

The authors note the risk of death from CVD increased with a higher percentage of calories from added sugar. Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (seven servings or more per week) was associated with increased risk of dying from CVD.


Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption increases endometrial cancer risk

Contact: Jeremy Moore
American Association for Cancer Research
Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption increases endometrial cancer risk

PHILADELPHIA — 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.

"Although ours is the first study to show this relationship, it is not surprising to see that women who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages had a higher risk of estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer but not estrogen-independent type II endometrial cancer," said Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., who led this study as a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis. "Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer."


Long-term daily multivitamin supplement use decreases cataract risk in men

The increase in macular degeneration, even though small and not statistically significant, shows need for further study. It's possible to remove a cataract, but not macular degeneration.

Contact: Media Relations
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Long-term daily multivitamin supplement use decreases cataract risk in men
Researchers also find a slight, though statistically non-significant, increase in age-related macular degeneration risk among multivitamin users; call for further study

SAN FRANCISCO – Feb. 20, 2014 – Long-term daily multivitamin supplement use may lower cataract risk in men, according to a study of nearly 15,000 male physicians published this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Past observational studies have indicated a relationship between nutritional supplement use and eye health.


The researchers found that in the placebo group 945 cases of cataract developed, which were self-reported and confirmed by medical records, while only 872 cases of cataract developed in the multivitamin group, representing a 9 percent decrease in risk. This risk was even lower, at 13 percent, for nuclear cataract, which occurs at the center of the lens and is the most common variety of cataract associated with the aging process. Given that an estimated 10 million adults in the United States have impaired vision due to cataract, even a modest reduction in risk of cataract has potential to improve public health outcomes.

"If multivitamins really do reduce the risk of cataract, even by a modest 10 percent, this rather small reduction would nonetheless have a large public health impact," said William Christen, ScD, the study's lead author and researcher from Harvard Medical School.


"This finding of more cases of AMD in the multivitamin group than in the placebo group, although not statistically significant, does raise some concerns," added Dr. Christen. "Clearly, this finding needs to be examined further in other trials of multivitamin supplements in both men and women."


High Selenium and vitamin E supplementation may raise prostate cancer risk

Moderation is best in both things. Both selenium and vitamin E are important for health, but like many things, harmful in excess.

Contact: Zachary Rathner
Oxford University Press
Selenium and vitamin E supplementation over recommended dietary intake may raise PC risk

In a large clinical trial testing dietary supplements for prostate cancer (PCa) prevention, baseline selenium (Se) status (measured by toenail Se concentration), in the absence of supplementation, was not associated with prostate cancer (PCa) risk. However, when baseline toenail Se concentrations were high, supplementation with high-dose Se almost doubled the risk of high-grade PCa risk among older men, according to a new study published February 21 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

High-dose vitamin E also more than doubled the risk high-grade PCa risk, but only among men with low baseline toenail Se concentrations.

Some employers find excuses to fire pregnant employees

Date: February 21, 2014
Source: Ohio State University
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 makes it illegal in the United States for a woman to be fired just because she is pregnant. But that doesn’t stop it from happening, according to new research by two sociologists. What employers do to get around the law is vilify pregnant women as poor performers and tardy employees while also pointing to seemingly fair attendance policies and financial costs, their research shows. Pregnancy discrimination only compounds other gender-based employment inequalities women face in the workplace in areas such as hiring, wages and harassment, the authors argue.


Although such concerns may, at face value, seem legitimate in a business sense, Byron and Roscigno note that the same policies and rationales are often not invoked in the case of non-pregnant employees, including those with worse records of performance and attendance.


One example Byron and Roscigno cite in their paper was the case of a woman who was fired from her job as an assistant restaurant manager after she became pregnant. Her supervisor claimed that the company was restructuring and needed to reduce its number of assistant managers from three to two. But after she was fired for "business reasons," the company hired a man to fill the exact same position that was supposedly no longer needed.