Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Athletes should drink only when thirsty

But it is also important not to get dehydrated. A friend of mine got very sick, and had kidney damage, because he got severely dehydrated.


Public Release: 29-Jun-2015
Loyola University Health System

At least 14 deaths of marathon runners, football players and other athletes have been attributed to a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia, which results from drinking too much water or sports drinks.

But there's an easy way to prevent hyponatremia, according to new guidelines from an international expert panel: Simply put, drink only when you're thirsty.

"Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration," according to the guidelines, published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.


Exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) occurs when drinking too much overwhelms the ability of the kidneys to excrete the excess water load. Sodium in the body becomes diluted. This leads to swelling in cells, which can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of mild EAH include lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, puffiness and gaining weight during an athletic event. Symptoms of severe EAH include vomiting, headache, altered mental status (confusion, agitation, delirium, etc.), seizure and coma.
[Can also be symptoms of dehydration.]

EAH has occurred during endurance competitions such as marathons, triathlons, canoe races and swimming; military exercises; hiking; football; calisthenics during fraternity hazing; and even yoga and lawn bowling, the guidelines said.

Athletes often are mistakenly advised to "push fluids" or drink more than their thirst dictates by, for example, drinking until their urine is clear or drinking to a prescribed schedule. But excessive fluid intake does not prevent fatigue, muscle cramps or heat stroke.

"Muscle cramps and heatstroke are not related to dehydration," Dr. Winger said. "You get heat stroke because you're producing too much heat."
[From my personal experience, this is misleading. Not drinking enough water can lead to not sweating. Evaporation of sweat cools you off.]

Modest to moderate levels of dehydration are tolerable and pose little risk to otherwise healthy athletes. An athlete can safely lose up to 3 percent of his or her body weight during a competition due to dehydration without loss of performance, Dr. Winger said.

The guidelines say EAH can be treated by administering a concentrated saline solution that is 3 percent sodium - about three times higher than the concentration in normal saline solution.






New study finds words speak louder than actions

It makes sense. You might find out after you buy something that you don't like it. I think more telling is the way that people do tend to buy things that other people have bought and have found satisfactory enough to use or wear.


Public Release: 29-Jun-2015
University of Chicago Booth School of Business

When it comes to the art of persuasion, you can attract more followers if you turn conventional wisdom on its head and stress what you like, not what you do.

A new study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, finds that people are more likely to conform to others' preferences than conform to others' actions. In other words, people want to like what others like, but they want to have or do what others don't have or don't do.


"The tendency to conform is pervasive and rooted in human psychology," said Fishbach. "When people conform, they conform to what others like and to others' attitudes. But in terms of what they do, they want to be different. So if you want to persuade people, you should talk about liking, not about having."

The researchers found that people conform to others' preferences at last partially because they adopt others' judgments as their own. They further found that when people behave as if they are not conforming, their motivation could be to coordinate or complement their actions with others' actions.

For example, when people mentally share an action, such as watching a friend eat a bowl of oatmeal over breakfast, they feel in a way that they ate the oatmeal too, so they seek to enrich their own experience by choosing something that is different, such as an omelet. But when people mentally share another person's preference, such as liking oatmeal more than omelets, they adopt the others' preference as their own and say they like oatmeal more than omelets.

Even when information about others' preferences and actions are available at the same time--such as an online shopping site that lists both its bestselling products and its most liked products--people are more likely to follow what others like, rather than what others buy.
[Well, people might buy things, then find out they don't like them, so this makes sense.]


tags: influence

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Australian Climate Roundtable: Business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups form unusual coalition on climate policy


By business editor Peter Ryan
June 28, 2015

An unprecedented alliance of business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups has been formed to forge what it sees as urgent common ground on climate policy.

The highly unusual coalition — to be branded the Australian Climate Roundtable — comes as developed nations gear up for the Paris Climate Conference in December, where leaders will be under pressure to update their strategies for dealing with climate change.

While Australia's main political parties support the international goal of limiting climate change to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the alliance warns the objective will require "deep global reductions".

The high-profile members cover some influential employer and industry lobby groups, such as the Australian Industry (Ai) Group, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), the Australian Aluminium Council, the Energy Supply Association and the Investor Group on Climate Change.

They will be joined by groups at the opposite end of the political and economic spectrum — the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), WWF Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Climate Institute.

In a statement, the Roundtable warned emissions reductions on the necessary scale would require "substantial change "and present "significant challenges" in Australia and other developed nations.

"We believe Australia should play its fair part in global efforts to avoid the serious economic, social and environmental impacts that unconstrained climate change would have on Australia," the statement said.

In a warning to the Federal Government, the group said "delayed, unpredictable and piecemeal action will increase the costs and challenges of achieving the goals and maximising the opportunities".

"We also know that policies won't work if they don't last and stay on investors' radars," the statement said.

"The foundations of climate policy need broad and durable support, and we all have a role in building it."


Highlighting the social risks of climate policy and climate change, the Roundtable said climate policy must also:

protect the most vulnerable individuals;
avoid disproportionate impacts on low-income households; and
assist communities that are vulnerable to economic shocks or physical risks as a result of climate change or climate policy.

The united agreement from often distant parties on climate policy goals is significant, according to BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott.

"There is now overwhelming common ground on the need for a more certain and meaningful approach to emissions reduction," Ms Westacott said.


ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy described it as "an unlikely alliance, but we've come together because the challenge of tackling global warming is bigger than any of our differences".

"Among the things we have in common is a shared goal for Australia to cut its net greenhouse pollution to zero or below," she said.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Most of America's poor have jobs, study finds


Public Release: 25-Jun-2015
Brigham Young University

The majority of the United States' poor aren't sitting on street corners. They're employed at low-paying jobs, struggling to support themselves and a family.

In the past, differing definitions of employment and poverty prevented researchers from agreeing on who and how many constitute the "working poor."

But a new study by sociologists at BYU, Cornell and LSU provides a rigorous new estimate. Their work suggests about 10 percent of working households are poor. Additionally, households led by women, minorities or individuals with low education are more likely to be poor, but employed.


BYU professor Scott Sanders says the findings dispel the notion that most impoverished Americans don't work so they can rely on government handouts.

"The toxic idea is if we clump all those people together and treat them as the same people, then we don't solve the real problem that the majority of people in poverty are working, trying to improve their lives, and we treat them all as deadbeats," Sanders.

Working poor is the term used to describe individuals or families who hold jobs, but can't break out of poverty. No standards currently exist for determining exactly who qualifies as working poor, so previous estimates vary widely in their results. This study compared 126 different measures of working poverty using 2013 population data. The authors found the most useful representation is determined when a head of household works at least half time and the household income is below 125 percent of the official poverty line. [So this definition does not include people who less than half time when they want full time work.]


The study estimates that between 6.4 million and 8 million heads of families classify as working poor, which is actually less than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2011 estimate of 10.6 million.


Argonne analysis shows increased carbon intensity from Canadian oil sands


Public Release: 25-Jun-2015
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory this week released a study that shows gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands have a higher carbon impact than fuels derived from conventional domestic crude sources.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kids can drown hours after leaving the pool, experts say


June 24, 2015

The last place parents want to be flocking to during the summer is the emergency room, yet every year dozens of children end up there for drowning. This particular drowning doesn't occur while swimming though. It happens hours after the child has left the water, CBS New York station WCBS reports.

Sports medicine specialist Dr. Lewis Maharam explains to WCBS it is a condition known as "dry drowning" and it is landing a lot of kids in the hospital hours after swimming in the pool. He said it takes just a few teaspoons of water to go down the wrong way and into the lungs that causes this condition.

"Dry drowning" happens when children playing around in the pool or lake accidentally inhale water. They may cough, but then they seem fine. But, sometimes, they are not fine.

"They had a normal day and then they go to bed and they're coughing or they're wheezing or their parents see bubbling from the mouth," Dr. Maharam explained.

Dr. Maharam said the lungs are irritated and start to secrete fluid -- and as a result children can actually drown in their body's own fluid.

WCBS spoke to parents at a Long Island pool and asked what they knew about the condition. One parent said she was shocked, and especially shocked it can occur nearly a day after leaving the water.


The symptoms can include lethargy, irritability and trouble breathing.

Jim Hazen with the swim school Safe-T-Swim advises caregivers to go straight to the emergency room, not the pediatrician, after noticing a problem after their child has been in the water.

Hazen says most cases are treatable and preventable.

"The prevention is obviously adult supervision, number one, learn to swim, number two," Hazen said.

WCBS reports that research shows not all children are susceptible to "dry drowning." And while it can also happen in adults -- it's rare.

DOJ Has the Power to Crush Price-Fixers


Albert Foer, American Antitrust Institute (AAI)

Douglas H. Ginsburg, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit;
George Mason University School of Law

Robert H. Lande, University of Baltimore - School of Law

Joshua D. Wright, Federal Trade Commission; George Mason University School of Law

May 29-31, 2015

USA Today Weekend, May 29-31, 2015, Page 11A.
University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper

The four of us are known in antitrust circles for the points on which we disagree. We do agree, however, that price fixing among competitors is inadequately deterred, is often profitable despite existing fines and damages actions, and that it's time to focus more on the individuals who participate in illegal cartels. We propose that, as part of its plea agreements, the Department of Justice should insist that corporate defendants agree not to hire or rehire anyone who has been convicted of price fixing. This re-employment often occurs today. In addition, the Department should insist that corporations agree not to pay the fines of their convicted employees, either directly or indirectly, or compensate them for serving time.

No new legislation would be needed to implement these measures, and there would be no significant budgetary consequences for taxpayers. These policies are logical extensions of a long-term bipartisan agreement on the necessity of tough anti-cartel enforcement, something that both conservatives and liberals support.


There’s nothing like Wednesday’s announcement of a $5.6 billion penalty in the Libor currency manipulation case to make us feel good, secure in the knowledge that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is getting tough on illegal corporate collusion. This was the amount JPMorgan, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and Barclay’s just agreed to pay for participating in a cartel that fixed the prices of international foreign currencies in violation of antitrust laws.

Should we really sleep more securely on account of this huge fine? Realistically, will even a fine this large be likely to stop other firm s from engaging in similar activities?


Unfortunately, in spite of the DOJ’s best efforts, corporate collusion is often still profitable net of fines and damages. Moreover, evidence suggests that many companies encourage their employees to engage in this lucrative but illegal activity by reemploying them upon their release from prison. The prospect of a one to two year “timeout” at a white-collar clink is not too much to pay, it seems, for job security and other benefits.

The four of us are known in antitrust circles for the points on which we disagree. We do agree, however, that price-fixing among competitors is bad for consumers who pay artificially elevated prices and is inadequately deterred, with too many price fixing cartels continuing to opera te despite ever increasing sanctions. Indeed, two careful event studies covering 40 years of price fixing indictments of publicly traded firms in the United States show that the stock prices of 80 percent of the companies rebounded to pre-indictment levels in less than one year.


Weight loss plus vitamin D reduces inflammation linked to cancer, chronic disease


Public Release: 24-Jun-2015
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

For the first time, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that weight loss, in combination with vitamin D supplementation, has a greater effect on reducing chronic inflammation than weight loss alone. Chronic inflammation is known to contribute to the development and progression of several diseases, including some cancers.


"We know from our previous studies that by losing weight, people can reduce their overall levels of inflammation, and there is some evidence suggesting that taking vitamin D supplements can have a similar effect if one has insufficient levels of the nutrient," said lead and corresponding author Catherine Duggan, Ph.D., a principal staff scientist in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch. However, it has not been known whether combining the two -- weight loss and vitamin D -- would further boost this effect. "It's the first study to test whether adding vitamin D augments the considerable effect of weight loss on inflammatory biomarkers," she said.


At the end of the study, all of the participants had reduced levels of inflammation, regardless of whether they took vitamin D, "which highlights the importance of weight loss in reducing inflammation," Duggan said. However, those who saw the most significant decline in markers of inflammation were those who took vitamin D and lost 5 to 10 percent of their baseline weight.


We were quite surprised to see that vitamin D had an effect on an inflammation biomarker only among women who lost at least 5 percent of their baseline weight," Duggan said. "That suggests vitamin D can augment the effect of weight loss on inflammation."

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that has multiple functions beyond its widely recognized role in regulating calcium levels and bone metabolism. Vitamin D receptors are found in more than 30 cell types and the research focus around this nutrient recently has shifted from bone health to vitamin D's effect on cancer, cardiovascular health and weight loss, among other health issues.


Friends motivate us to drink more: QUT study


Public Release: 24-Jun-2015
Queensland University of Technology

Friends can be a dangerous influence, with new QUT research confirming what many drinkers already know - that drinking with mates can push you to drink more.

Dr Ryan McAndrew, from QUT's Business School, said group dynamics played a big role in how much people drank when they were with their friends.

Dr McAndrew's research suggests that excessive alcohol consumption could be curbed by offering alternative settings in which people could achieve the same satisfaction that motivates risking drinking.


"Past research has found education on its own promotes awareness but not behaviour change, and legislative policies are limited, so we need to be taking an alternative approach to curbing this risky behaviour."


What we found is that when friends drink together their alcohol consumption can increase, with four main factors being responsible," he said.

"When friends drink socially, whether they know it or not, they drink more because they are mimicking their friends, they are conforming to their friends, they are winding down with their friends and they are enjoying the company of drinking with their friends."

He said the strongest predictor of alcohol consumption was copying or mimicking behaviour, followed by the desire to wind down, then enjoyment and conformity.

Dr McAndrew said the study also found the gender of the participant influenced alcohol consumption, with males on average drinking almost 25 standard drinks per week, double that of females who drank on average 11 standard drinks per week.

"When examining the effect of group gender composition, all girl groups drink for the same reasons as the all boy groups," he said.

"This is likely to be because traditional views around female intoxication have reduced, allowing mostly female groups to adopt similar drinking practices as mostly male groups."


tags: influence

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wildfires blister Alaska with increased frequency, intensity


Jun 24, 9:18 PM (ET)


increasingly, large wildfires have marred the pristine outdoors, filling the skies with black smoke and forcing people who live near forests to flee for safety.

A study released Wednesday reinforces a trend revealed by state records, showing that wildfires have been blistering Alaska with greater frequency and intensity.

The findings have left forest managers and climate scientists to try to explain why and predict what's next. "Fire seasons seem to be starting earlier and lasting longer," said Tim Mowry, a state Division of Forestry spokesman.

A common factor associated with the increase — which doesn't bode well for 2015 or beyond — is warm weather, even if experts don't explicitly blame climate change.

Temperatures climbed 20 degrees above normal to the mid-80s last week in Anchorage, currently situated between a pair of active blazes that have charred dozens of homes and buildings.

Warm weather in early summer has a strong correlation with the number of square miles that eventually burn, climate expert Scott Rupp said. But it's too soon to blame global warming. "We don't have that understanding or the data that allows us to make those relationship connections," Rupp said.

Still, climate models predict heat-trapping, greenhouse gasses will lead to warmer Alaska summers. "They're all consistently trending up," Rupp said.

Records on Alaska wildfires date to 1939 and show that three of the worst fire seasons have come in the last 12 years, including 2004, when more than 10,000 square miles — about 6.5 million acres, or the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined — went up in flames.


The blazes come as a new study from Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists who research climate change, indicates that the number of large Alaska wildfires have nearly doubled in the 1990s and 2000s compared to the '50s and '60s.

The analysis wasn't a cause-and-effect study, but it notes Alaska has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the country over the last 60 years.
[Climate models predicted faster warmer closer to the poles, which is happening.]


This season, nearly 500 fires have blackened tundra and forest lands. Close to half are still blazing.

"This is the kind of behavior that we would expect," said Todd Sanford, lead author of the Climate Central study.

He notes that warmer temperatures coincide with more wildfires, "and unfortunately it's likely to continue into the future."

Challenging negative stereotypes to narrow the achievement gap


Public Release: 24-Jun-2015
Columbia University

Negative stereotypes can work in subtle but powerful ways to sap confidence in the classroom. Girls and minorities may fear that a bad grade will confirm negative stereotypes about their intelligence, creating added stress that can undermine performance.

It turns out that a simple intervention -- having students write a short essay affirming values important to them -- can ease the anxiety and improve academic performance.


"The act of writing about family and friends gives students the chance to assert their self-worth in an otherwise threatening environment," said the study's lead author, Travis Riddle, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia. "This psychological foothold may motivate them to challenge themselves and live up to their potential."


Evidence that negative stereotypes can hurt academic performance was established in the 1980s by pioneering social psychologist Claude Steele, formerly the provost of Columbia, now the provost at University of California at Berkeley. Steele and his colleagues showed that women's math scores improved if they were told that gender made no difference in test results, and that African Americans did worse on a verbal test if first asked to identify their race.

A 2006 study in Science built on this work by showing that a brief exercise in which seventh-graders wrote about values important to them substantially raised the grades of African Americans, reducing the achievement gap by 40 percent.


Islamaphobia is more to be feared than neo-Nazis, says former white supremacist

Almost all violent criminals were abused by their parents. I notice in the several interviews with former extremists that they talk about having anger, but not where it came from. Do the former extremists not want to talk about possible roots in abusive childhoods, or do reporters not report it? Almost all violent criminals were abused by their parents,


BY INDIRA PRAHST, Instructor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Langara College, Vancouver
Jan. 23, 2015

ALTHOUGH some say that neo-Nazis are thriving, Tony McAleer, former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance and Executive Director of the organization “Life After Hate,” told me: “What is more to be feared is the mainstream intolerance that is going to come our way in the form of Islamaphobia.”

McAleer pointed out: “If you look at the tensions rising in Europe, it is an early warning. We see mosques being fired-bombed in Sweden, France and Germany and we are starting to see more and more mainstream people addressing views which would have been considered extremist a few years ago.”


PRAHST: Do you think this Islamaphobic climate can attract youth to being recruited into Neo-Nazi groups or incite violence among such members?

MCALEER: I think so, if I were to go back to who I was in my former lifetime as an organizer of white supremacy movements, we would be picking our jobs at the opportunities that are presenting themselves today. … A handful of extremists in Paris and the ISIS media coverage has shifted the conversation far more to the right than it was several weeks ago. And we would be doing the exact same thing. We would be taking advantage of those events to draw people closer to the extreme. … And by redefining what the outer end of extremism is we move the centre. … So in that context, I think that is the greatest danger- people shifting to a more intolerant viewpoint.


MCALEER: What I mean is that the ideology of ISIS and white power groups, neo-Nazi’s ideology of radical politics of the 70s, they are not the people that create extremism. I know – I was one of them. There are a number of things that happened in my life to get me to the point where in the end, I chose an ideology that gave me a sense of belonging and power that gave me permission to express my rage and anger in a violent way towards other humans. The ideology justified it and is the last piece to go on. The root causes are the same which I found to be true when I attended the summit against violent extremism in Dublin where I met 50 former violent extremists from around the world – IRA {Irish Republican Army], FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], Bloods [African American street gang founded in Los Angeles], MS13 [Mara Salvatrucha 13 formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s], Mujahedeen, Tamil Tigers, to name a few.


PRAHST: Visible minorities, in particular Muslims and Sikhs, are feeling vulnerable that this hatred may be projected onto them in the current geo-political climate. Any thoughts on that?

MCALEER: The climate is definitely ripe for something to happen, so we need to look at the warning signs. … The Nirmal Singh Gill murder incident in Surrey [in 1998 at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara parking lot] was fuelled by racism, ideology and alcohol. Those incidents can arise as the tensions rise but I would look for the mastermind piece to show up somewhere else. … If one wanted to capitalize on the [anti-]Islamic sentiment today, and launch something forward, it would not be in the form that neo-Nazism may grow, but as a by-product of it. It will be something that comes more into the mainstream, more acceptable views and more acts of violence – mainstream ideology going further to the right.


MCALEER: I came out feeling powerless because I was bullied and I gravitated towards a lifestyle and subculture that made me feel powerful. Violence is about power; it’s an expression of power. … In the current climate we have to be vigilant with youth who are vulnerable. I think over the last 20 years, there is a huge desensitization to violence – the meaning of people dying. There is such a culture of violence. It’s not only videogames, but also how nations interact with their foreign policy, how leaders of those countries have interacted with other nations, etc.

PRAHST: What is a recent strategy in your group that you are employing to help youth steer clear of getting recruited into neo-Nazi groups?

MCALEER: The mission of ‘life after hate’ is engaged in education about racism and intolerance, and we work to assist those trying to get out of extremist groups. But foremost is to inspire people to a place of compassion and forgiveness. The belief is that the more compassion I develop for myself, the more I diminish the capacity to harm another.

De-radicalization programs offer hope in countering terrorism


By John G. Horgan
Feb. 13, 2015

The director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas J. Rasmussen, told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that the number of men and women joining Islamic State is on the rise. Of the 20,000 foreign fighters, he said, at least 3,400 have come from Western countries, including approximately 150 Americans who have either gone or tried to go to Syria.

Most of those will die fighting someone else's battle. Some will survive, and possibly become more dangerous. But there also will be those who — broken, disillusioned and traumatized by what they have done or seen — will want to come home. What is to be done with them?

I've traveled to Pakistan for the last two years to learn how the country rehabilitates and re-integrates former Taliban fighters. I've witnessed remarkable progress there, especially in the efforts to re-integrate former child militants. From seeing that and other programs in action, I have come to believe that de-radicalization can work. It is not a silver-bullet solution, nor can it ensure 100% success, but there is no doubt that de-radicalization programs can be tremendously effective in countering terrorism.


These programs are diverse, but "de-radicalization" is a useful shorthand because most seek to change how former terrorists think. Do that, the assumption goes, and the risk of reengagement with terrorist activities goes way down.

It might sound like cult deprogramming, but the reality is closer to halfway houses. Most programs are conducted in prisons with Islamist militants who have been apprehended by security forces or surrendered — but their actual crimes vary widely. Some have killed, while others have provided material support, but they are all classified as terrorists. Many of those undergoing rehabilitation in Pakistan are young boys, a few barely 10 years old. The goal is to resocialize them all, preparing them for re-integration into their communities. Programs I've looked at employ a combination of psychological therapies, counseling, religious instruction and activities aimed at promoting civic engagement.


Some of the former terrorists I've interviewed told me they were deeply disillusioned with their groups long before they took steps to leave. Their reluctance to walk away was, in large part, because they saw no way out. In many countries, de-radicalization is a true second chance at life — the only real alternative to a lifetime in prison or a life on the run.


Several officers I met had lifelong friends and colleagues killed by the same people now being rehabilitated. And yet, when I ask those officers how they feel about that, they say, we have no choice, we must try.

The Pakistan programs also illustrate that de-radicalization isn't simply about ideological retraining. Programs must provide opportunities for young boys and adolescents if they are to stay disengaged from terrorism long term. Vocational training leading to a job is a vital factor in preventing recidivism. The programs also build trust between the army and the communities from which the militants were recruited.


No de-radicalization program should offer blanket amnesty, and we should put measures in place to evaluate their effectiveness. But it is time to get creative. The U.S. Department of Justice has begun to recognize this and just recently funded two academic research projects on de-radicalization. There are enormous benefits to be gained. After all, it is only by understanding the motivations and experiences of those who have gone to fight abroad that we can prevent the recruitment of another generation of militants.

800 students, 50 Holocaust survivors and a former Skinhead discuss hatred and racism


Rebecca Savransky
February 24, 2015

Angela King always had trouble fitting in. And as she got older, she became angry and violent.

So when several Skinheads welcomed her into their group, she latched on.

"What did it was the fact that I was so angry and so violent and I didn’t have to explain myself," she said. They still wanted me around. And I finally felt this little spark of hope. I finally fit."

The Miami Lakes and Miramar student dropped out of high school, shaved her head and joined violent extremist groups. But then she was arrested for robbery at 23 and spent nearly three years in prison. She started turning her life around when she was released in 2001.

"Every single one of us has the ability to show kindness and compassion," she said, "especially to those we think deserve it the least."


So when several Skinheads welcomed her into their group, she latched on.

"What did it was the fact that I was so angry and so violent and I didn’t have to explain myself," she said. They still wanted me around. And I finally felt this little spark of hope. I finally fit."

Former skinhead explains how he was radicalized


By Dean Reynolds CBS News June 23, 2015,

Dylann Roof described in a manifesto how he came to embrace racism through online forums. One man told how he made that same descent into darkness -- but came out of it.

"I was a neo-Nazi skinhead from 1987 to 1995, roughly from the time I was 14 years old until I was 21.

He says he and alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof might once have been kindred spirits.

He says during those days he would have applauded Roof.


"White power for America! White power for America!" Piccolini shouted, leading his old band Final Solution.

"The music spoke of unemployment and spoke of black on white crimes," Picciolini said. "When I was told that the white race was being attacked from all sides and that minorities were to blame for all the problems that I was having, I bought in."


Now, watching events unfold in Charleston, Picciolini hears echoes in the sentiments of Dylann Roof.

Christian Picciolini shows the relics of his past life as a racist ideagogue, but he has since left it behind.
CBS News

"He could literally have torn pages out of my book and posted it online," he said. "The rhetoric is the same.

"Not everyone becomes a Dylann Roof. But I think that there are thousands of people like him across our country that eventually could be radicalized enough to cause as much damage as he did."

These days Christian Picciolini tries to help others leave the skinhead movement just like he did. He co-founded a non-profit organization called Life After Hate.

You can learn more about Life After Hate at their website: http://www.lifeafterhate.org/


These Former Skinheads Are Fighting Racism

By Luke Winkie
Jan. 6, 2015

There may be no greater American taboo than neo-Nazism. It falls into the same tier of universally accepted evils as infanticide or child molestation. Institutional, garden-variety racism is an ordinary evil, but thoroughbred white power is far more profound. It's enough to turn the term "skinhead," originally a scene for roughhouse kids nursed on rocksteady and ska, into a term worthy of universal, Kanye West–ordained derision.

You probably know the gist already. Some skinheads aren't racist, but hate remains the lifeblood of plenty. For those skins who repent, who repudiate their white-power ideals, achieving any sort of atonement is a lengthy journey. That's as it should be: A community dedicated to the eradication of alleged inferiors ought to be treated with a healthy disrespect. But many former Nazi wannabes are dads and husbands now, their corrosive racism left in the mists of some ugly teenage years. As backward as it might seem, it's hard not to feel some small measure of sympathy for those whose lives are stuck in an endless cycle of remorse.


Can they be saved? Should we even try? And no matter how grave their injustice, is it fair to let a stage of someone's life haunt them forever? For Christian Picciolini and his Life After Hate organization, the answer is no.


Picciolini's resolve wavered as he matured, as he couldn't rationalize why he didn't want his wife and kids to be associated with the group. Eventually, he owned a record store, one of the only ones in the nation selling white-power music, and he credits his diverse patrons for salvation—reminding him that he had a lot more in common with people of color than he thought. He formally buried his beliefs in his early 20s, leaving the movement behind him. Picciolini was only a skinhead for seven years.


In 2009, Picciolini founded Life After Hate, an outreach/activist group made up of former white-power skinheads. The organization stays in touch with at-risk youth in the Chicago area, keeping them from joining gangs or extremist groups, as well as providing a landing pad for those receding from their angry pasts. It's founded on the principle that we can have empathy, that all is not lost, that everyone can change.

Picciolini tells me that he's seen 40-something KKK members renounce their beliefs, so why not stay optimistic? Don't they need our help? He knows that it's frustrating, but he pleads for us not to give up.


"Getting out was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through and has shaped everything since," says John Harrelson, a former white-power skin from Albuquerque. "My whole identity was skinhead. I had plans to move after high school to prospect for a big national gang, with nothing beyond that."

Harrelson is only 23, and he's certainly still dealing with the shame, but figures like Picciolini helped him envision a future. He needed that compassion to make it through.

"I went to this really good high school and a lot of teachers saw what I was and wanted to kick me out. Luckily, a few of them saw past it and realized I wasn't an evil kid—I was just very angry and insecure," Harrelson tells me. "If they hadn't stuck up for me, I would be screwed right now. I knew a lot of really smart and ambitious skinheads—easily as many as I knew who were scumbags. It's not fair to say that because they've been misled or taken a bad path that we just write them off. That's essentially a death sentence for being a dumb kid, and that's not OK."


"Chris said, 'Man, that was a lifetime ago,' and I was like, 'Yeah, it kinda was, wasn't it?' And he told me that he wasn't like that anymore," Tallon says of Picciolini. "So we kinda hit it off because, you know, I had to readjust to normalcy, too. Us anti-racist guys were just as violent, but on a different playing field. You let it go. It happens across the board. There was something super sincere about him. He was calling shots when we were younger, but he was just as earnest about telling me he wasn't into that stuff anymore. Twenty years is a long time."

Tallon's thesis, as it were, is that young, angry men want to belong—they want power—and sometimes they can end up on the wrong side. He was lucky enough to find himself in a defendable anti-racist position, but Picciolini, that semicircle around Donaldson's grave—they weren't so lucky. Skinhead culture should be a stupid youth movement for antagonistic kids who let their politics get out of hand, but it's not easy explaining that to the people they terrorized.

"I did a lot of apologizing for a lot of years, I did a lot of nasty stuff, but it's a short sliver of your life..." Tallon's voice trails off. "Although he was super good at it, it's still a short sliver."

Childhood adversities, including witnessing parental domestic violence, linked to later migraines


Public Release: 24-Jun-2015
University of Toronto

Adults who were exposed to childhood adversity, including witnessing parental domestic violence, childhood physical and sexual abuse have higher odds of experiencing migraine headaches in adulthood, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto.

"We found the more types of violence the individual had been exposed to during their childhood, the greater the odds of migraine. For those who reported all three types of adversities--parental domestic violence, childhood physical and sexual abuse--the odds of migraine were a little over three times higher for men and just under three times higher for women" said Sarah Brennenstuhl, PhD, first author of the study.


"The most surprising finding was the link between exposure to parental domestic violence and migraines. Even after accounting for variables including age, race, socioeconomic status, history of depression and anxiety, and childhood physical and sexual abuse, men and women who had witnessed parental domestic violence had 52% and 64% higher odds of migraine, respectively, compared to those without such a history " says co-author Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor and Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.


tags: child abuse

Minorities underrepresented in US special education classrooms


Public Release: 24-Jun-2015
Penn State

Although minority children are frequently reported to be overrepresented in special education classrooms, a team of researchers suggests that minority children are less likely than otherwise similar white children to receive help for disabilities.

The previously reported overrepresentation is most likely due to a greater exposure to environmental and economic risk factors, said Paul Morgan, associate professor of education, Penn State.

"The general limitation of the available studies is that they haven't been able to correct for minority children's unfortunate, but well-established, greater risk factor exposure to factors that themselves increase the risk for disability," said Morgan. "For example, minority children in the U.S. are much more likely to be born with low birth weight than children who are white, as well as more likely to be exposed to lead in their environment."

Adjusting for this greater risk factor exposure indicated that children who are racial, ethnic or language minorities in U.S. elementary and middle school are instead less likely to receive special education help than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of Educational Researcher.

The magnitude of these differences is large. For example, according to the dataset analyzed by the researchers, the odds of black children being identified as learning disabled are 58 percent lower than white children displaying the same levels of academic achievement, behavior and family economic resources. Black children are 57 percent less likely to be identified as having intellectual impairments and 77 percent less likely to be identified as having health impairments compared to white children. The odds that black children are identified as having emotional disturbances are also 64 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.

The odds that Hispanic children would be identified as having learning disabilities are 27 percent lower than otherwise similar white English-speaking children. Hispanic children are also 33 percent less likely to be identified as having speech or language impairments and 73 percent less likely to be identified as having health impairments.

These numbers differ significantly from the unadjusted or minimally adjusted comparisons. For example, black children make up approximately 14 percent of the general school age population, yet are about 19 percent of the special education population.

"Prior studies have often relied on 'apples to oranges' comparisons between minority and non-minority children, who likely differ in ways other than their race, ethnicity, or language use," said Morgan. "Yet characterizations have been repeatedly made of the special education system as racially biased based on these 'apples to oranges' studies."

Federal law and policies require states to monitor and report on the extent of overrepresentation of minorities in special education. School districts are required to take corrective action if overrepresentation is reported.

Morgan said these federal efforts, although well intentioned, could actually exacerbate inequities in access to special education and related services.

"What's happening is that federal officials have been monitoring and, to some extent, flagging racial bias when they observe what they view as minorities being overrepresented in special education, yet, what is occurring is that minorities are underrepresented in special education," said Morgan. "Instead of emphasizing prevention or reduction of minority overrepresentation, cultural or language barriers may be making it less likely for minority children with disabilities to be appropriately identified and treated."

The researchers failed to observe any tendency of U.S. schools to be racially biased toward identifying minorities as disabled and, therefore, inappropriately placing these children into special education classrooms. Instead, the results indicated that white, English-speaking children are systematically more likely to be provided with special education services.


University of Iowa studies impact of marijuana on driving


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015
University of Iowa studies impact of marijuana on driving

First-of-its-kind study at University of Iowa's National Advanced Simulator shows how marijuana and marijuana with alcohol impacts driving

University of Iowa

A new study conducted at the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator has found drivers who use alcohol and marijuana together weave more on a virtual roadway than drivers who use either substance independently. However, the cocktail of alcohol and marijuana does not double the effect of the impairment.

"What we saw was an additive effect, not a synergistic effect, when we put them together," said Tim Brown, associate research scientist at NADS and corresponding author of the study. "You get what you expect if you take alcohol and cannabis and merge them together."


To date, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia while marijuana has been approved for recreational use in four states and D.C. Since legalizing medical marijuana, Colorado has reported an increase in driving under the influence of cannabis cases and fatal motor vehicle crashes with cannabis-only positive drivers while states without legalized marijuana have experienced no significant change in cannabis-related crashes.

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007. However, that same survey found the number of weekend nighttime drivers with evidence of drugs in their system climbed from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014. The number of drivers with marijuana in their system grew by nearly 50 percent.


Smoking may impact survival after a breast cancer diagnosis


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015

Researchers have found that smoking may increase the risk of dying early in premenopausal women with breast cancer.

In a prospective study of 848 women with breast cancer who were followed for a median of 6.7 years, premenopausal women who smoked for more than 21.5 years had a 3.1-times higher risk of dying from any cause as well as a 3.4-times higher risk of dying from breast cancer. These links were not apparent among post-menopausal women.

There was also some suggestion that the increased risks seen in premenopausal women were especially relevant to women whose cancers expressed both the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jonathan Fleming, Man Exonerated for 1989 Slaying, to Get $6.25M from NYC

The job of a prosecutor should not be to find an innocent person guilty. It should be to seek truth & justice.


June 23, 2015

New York City has agreed to pay $6.25 million to a man who spent nearly 25 years in prison before being exonerated in a killing that happened while he was more than 1,000 miles away vacationing at Disney World, the city comptroller said Tuesday.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said settling Jonathan Fleming's claim is "in the best interest of all parties."

"We cannot give back the time that he served, but the city of New York can offer Jonathan Fleming this compensation for the injustice that was committed against him," Stringer said.

Fleming was released last year after the Brooklyn district attorney's office said it had come to agree that his alibi — which he offered from the start — was valid.


the relief was streaked with sadness: Shortly after signing the settlement documents, Fleming, 53, went to a hospital where his mother is near death.

Her only son was behind bars for nearly half his life, convicted of shooting a friend in Brooklyn in August 1989, though he had told authorities he was more than 1,000 miles away at the time and had plane tickets, videos and other material to show it. A woman testified that she had seen him commit the crime.

But then that eyewitness recanted, newly found witnesses implicated someone else and prosecutors' review of authorities' files turned up documents backing Fleming's alibi. That evidence included a hotel receipt that he paid in Orlando, Florida, about five hours before the shooting and had in his pocket when arrested.

Authorities had never given his defense that receipt or a 1989 Orlando police letter telling New York detectives that some employees at the hotel remembered Fleming.

Cocktail of chemicals may trigger cancer


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015
Brunel University

A global taskforce of 174 scientists from leading research centres across 28 countries studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.


"This research backs up the idea that chemicals not considered harmful by themselves may be combining and accumulating in our bodies to trigger cancer and might lie behind the global cancer epidemic we are witnessing. We urgently need to focus more resources to research the effect of low dose exposure to mixtures of chemicals in the food we eat, air we breathe and water we drink."


Getting children to embrace healthy food


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015
University of Bonn

If the packaging has an appealing design, primary school children also reach for healthy foods. This was revealed in a study in cooperation with the Research Institute for Child Nutrition in Dortmund under the direction of scientists from the University of Bonn. The results are being published in advance online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The final version will be published shortly.

Children are especially eager to reach for snacks if the packaging has an appealing design. 'The food industry has a lot of experience in using marketing effects to increase product sales amongst children,' says professor Bernd Weber from the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) of the University of Bonn. 'By comparison, there is very little knowledge about how such marketing effects can be used to better promote healthy food products to children.' This gap was addressed by a study performed by a team working with Weber from the CENs and professor and Dr. Mathilde Kersting from the Dortmund Research Institute for Child Nutrition (FKE).


'This is a classical marketing placebo effect,' says Weber. As in the case of a placebo medication, effects ascribed to certain products, which are not justified by the ingredients. In the study, each cup contained the same yogurt and fruit cereal snack, however, the primary school students believed that they could discern a difference in the flavor of the snack in the different packages.


It’s Not Just in Your Head, the Web Is Slowing Down


By Millie Dent, The Fiscal Times
June 22, 2015

It’s not your imagination, and it’s not because AT&T – and possibly others -- is purposefully cutting speeds to unlimited data plan users. The real reason: Websites are growing in size, causing slower load times.

The average website is now 2.1 MB in size, compared to 1.5 MB two years ago, according to HTTP Archive, an Internet data measurement company. Multiple reasons can explain this increase in size.

Sites have been adding more content in an effort to drum up traffic, such as videos, engaging images, interactive plug-ins (comments and feeds) and other code and script-heavy features. Websites are becoming more and more technically advanced, and other sites have to keep adding features to stay competitive.

To keep up with the rapidly increasing number of users accessing sites on various platforms, developers are offering more versions of websites as well as apps to accommodate all devices, including smartphones, watches, tablets, and other gadgets. All of these versions require additional code, ultimately adding to the weight of a given website.

Then there are the advertisers who want to get the user’s attention by creating dramatic displays for their products that consume even more bandwidth.

Websites also want to know who is visiting their pages, both welcome and unwelcome visitors. New tools that track and analyze visitors have increased in popularity, as well as stronger encryption technology to add more security. These security measures and trackers require more code, again slowing load times.


Although the weight of a website isn’t all that contributes to slow loading, it’s a major factor. Other reasons include users overusing data, a poor connection, or a high level of traffic in the mobile network.

Google also changed its algorithm in April, so now ‘mobile friendly’ sites are ranked higher on search results, while those that fail to meet its criteria are ranked lower.

Although the internet is only slowing by a matter of seconds, it’s still slowing down. All the more reason for a user to become frustrated with a page that’s taking a couple extra seconds to load and go to a competitor’s site.
[It can be a lot more than a couple of seconds. If a site takes to long to load, I get out. Unfortunately, that can take awhile itself.]

Men think they are math experts, therefore they are

I find that perseverance is important. For many people, self-confidence helps them persevere. I was able to do so, at least in math & debugging computer programs, even when I had gotten to the point where I was feeling I would never solve the problem. And I would eventually solve the problem.


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015

ust because more men pursue careers in science and engineering does not mean they are actually better at math than women are. The difference is that men think they are much better at math than they really are. Women, on the other hand, tend to accurately estimate their arithmetic prowess, says Shane Bench of Washington State University in the U.S., leader of a study in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

There is a sizeable gap between the number of men and women who choose to study and follow careers in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the U.S. This is true even though women outperform their male counterparts on mathematical tests in elementary school. Bench's study examined how people's biases and previous experiences about their mathematical abilities make them more or less likely to consider pursuing math-related courses and careers.


Across the two studies it was found that men overestimated the number of problems they solved, while women quite accurately reported how well they fared. After the participants in Study 1 received feedback about their real test scores, the men were more accurate at estimating how well they had done on the second test. The results of Study 2 show that because the male participants believed they had a greater knack for maths than was the case, they were more likely to pursue maths courses and careers than women.

'Gender gaps in the science, technology, engineering and maths fields are not necessarily the result of women's underestimating their abilities, but rather may be due to men's overestimating their abilities,' explains Bench. His team also found that women who had more positive past experiences with mathematics tended to rate their numerical abilities higher than they really were. This highlights the value of positively reinforcing a woman's knack for mathematics especially at a young age.

'Despite assumptions that realism and objectivity are always best in evaluating the self and making decisions, positive illusions about math abilities may be beneficial to women pursuing math courses and careers,' says Bench. 'Such positive illusions could function to protect women's self-esteem despite lower-than-desired performance, leading women to continue to pursue courses in science, technology, engineering and maths fields and ultimately improve their skills.'

Goldman Sachs Caps Interns to 17 Hours a Day After Death at Bank of America


By Joanna Rothkopf / Salon
June 22, 2015

Goldman Sachs has officially announced that it will cap interns’ days at 17 hours, meaning interns are encouraged to go home by midnight and not arrive before 7 a.m. At the beginning of June, Goldman Sachs took on around 2,900 summer interns.

The announcement comes shortly after Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt, 21, was found dead in his shower after working for 72 hours straight. According to an autopsy, Erhardt died from epileptic seizures that could have been triggered by all-nighters.

Still, after Erhardt’s death, some banks have been making an effort to scale back on the absurd rigor of their internship programs. The bank also recently restricted junior bankers from working on Saturdays.


Goldman Sachs’ chief executive Lloyd Blankfein recently told interns that they shouldn’t devote all their time to the company.

“You have to be interesting, you have to have interests away from the narrow thing of what you do,” Blankfein said. “You have to be somebody who somebody else wants to talk to.”


'Fitness' foods may cause consumers to eat more and exercise less


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015
American Marketing Association

Weight-conscious consumers are often drawn to foods such as Clif Bars and Wheaties, whose packaging suggests that they promote fitness. But according to a new study in the Journal of Marketing Research, such "fitness branding" encourages consumers to eat more of those foods and to exercise less, potentially undermining their efforts to lose or control their weight.

"Unless a food was forbidden by their diet, branding the product as 'fit' increased consumption for those trying to watch their weight," write authors Joerg Koenigstorfer (Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen) and Hans Baumgartner (Pennsylvania State University). "To make matters worse, these eaters also reduced their physical activity, apparently seeing the 'fit' food as a substitute for exercise."


Sea lions, orchids among hundreds worsens on threatened species list


By Michael Casey CBS News June 23, 2015

One of the world's rarest sea lions, a reclusive cat and some of the most beautiful orchids are among hundreds whose status worsened under the latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a biannual count released on Monday that gives a snapshot of the world's biodiversity.

The Red List now includes 77,340 assessed species, of which 22,784 are threatened with extinction, up 371 from November. The increase comprises 100 new species listed as critically endangered, 184 endangered and 87 vulnerable. Some were up- or downgraded, while most were not previously assessed.

Habitat loss was the main reason for species decline, along with over-collection of valuable plants. The IUCN also said the illegal wildlife trade and invasive species were blamed for putting many species on the list.

It wasn't all bad news. Thirty-seven species saw their status upgraded, including the the Iberian lynx and the Guadalupe Fur Seal.


Justice system chips away at women's rights


Public Release: 23-Jun-2015
Michigan State University

Arrests of women increased dramatically in the past two decades, while domestic abuse laws meant to protect female victims have put many behind bars for defending themselves, a new paper argues.

These trends suggest evidence, at least in the justice system, of a "war on women" -- a term coined during the 2012 election that refers to attempts to limit women's rights, said co-author Christina DeJong, associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University.

DeJong said the justice system is chipping away at many of the gains that have been made for women's rights since the 1970s.

"One of the things I'm most concerned about is how rape and domestic assault victims are increasingly being delegitimized," said DeJong, part of a contingent of MSU social scientists studying violence against women. "Many of the protections that were in place for sexual assault victims are withering, and I think a lot of it has to do with the war on women."

The study analyzed FBI data for all crimes from 1993 to 2012 and found that arrest rates for men decreased 12.5 percent during that time while arrest rates for women jumped 26.7 percent. Arrest rates for violent crimes were even more striking: down 13.5 percent for men and up 53.2 percent for women.

It's highly doubtful that women have suddenly "become more criminal," DeJong said. What's likely fueling the trend in part are changing police practices and dual arrest policies, under which police arrest both parties in a domestic assault and let the courts sort it out. "This is particularly troubling," the study says, "given that much of the domestic violence committed by women consists of acts of self-defense."


Current laws allow defense attorneys to introduce evidence that a domestic violence victim had consensual sex with her abuser after a violent incident, thus implying she forgave or no longer feared him. By extending rape shield laws to cover domestic abuse cases, the paper says, attorneys would not be able to use a women's sexual activity against her in court.
[This is crazy. A woman might have sex with her abuser out of fear that to refuse would bring more abuse. If you give your wallet to a mugger after being hit, does that mean you no longer feared him?]

Police who investigate rape cases have "enormous discretion" in the decision to arrest. Victims who are viewed as less credible by police are less likely to have their assailants arrested. Police may also assess the victim's moral character when deciding whether to pursue a case, including a history of drug or alcohol use, engaging in sex-related occupations or having a prior criminal record.

Therefore, victims who engage in these behaviors may choose not to contact police to report their abuse.

"We need to have a system where rape victims are treated seriously, where they can feel safe to report the crime and where they feel the justice system is going to be fair," DeJong said. "I don't think that's the case right now."

Squatting in 'skinny' jeans can damage nerve and muscle fibers in legs and feet


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015

Squatting in 'skinny' jeans for a protracted period of time can damage muscle and nerve fibres in the legs, making it difficult to walk, reveals a case study published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Doctors describe a case of a 35 year old woman who arrived at hospital with severe weakness in both her ankles. The previous day she had been helping a relative move house, and had spent many hours squatting while emptying cupboards.

She had been wearing tight 'skinny' jeans and recalled that these had felt increasingly tight and uncomfortable as the day wore on.

Later that evening, she experienced numbness in her feet and found it difficult to walk, which caused her to trip and fall. Unable to get up, she spent several hours lying on the ground before she was found.

Her calves were so swollen that her jeans had to be cut off her. She couldn't move her ankles or toes properly and had lost feeling in her lower legs and feet.

Investigations revealed that she had damaged muscle and nerve fibres in her lower legs as a result of prolonged compression while squatting, which her tight jeans had made worse, the doctors suggest.

The jeans had prompted the development of compartment syndrome--reduced blood supply to the leg muscles, causing swelling of the muscles and compression of the adjacent nerves.

She was put on an intravenous drip and after 4 days she could walk unaided again, and was discharged from hospital.

Prevalence of overweight, obesity in the United States


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
The JAMA Network Journals

New estimates suggest that more than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Overweight and obesity are associated with a variety of chronic health conditions, which could potentially be avoided by preventing weight gain and obesity.


The study, which was reported in a research letter, estimates that 39.96 percent of men (36.3 million) and 29.74 percent of women (almost 28.9 million) were overweight and 35.04 percent of men (31.8 million) and 36.84 percent of women (nearly 35.8 million) were obese.


Pakistan calls for urgent measures as heatwave toll nears 700


June 23, 2015

Pakistan's prime minister called for emergency measures as the death toll from a heatwave in southern Sindh province reached nearly 700.


Many of the victims are elderly people from low income families.

Health officials say many deaths have been in the largest city, Karachi, which has experienced temperatures as high as 45C (113F) in recent days.

Sindh province Health Secretary Saeed Mangnejo said that 612 people had died in the city's main government-run hospitals during the past four days. Another 80 are reported to have died in private hospitals.

Thousands more are being treated, and some of them are in serious condition.

The demand for electricity for air conditioning has coincided with increased power needs over Ramadan, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.


How the body copes with extreme heat

The body's normal core temperature is 37-38C.

If it heats up to 39-40C (102-104F), the brain tells the muscles to slow down and fatigue sets in. At 40-41C (104-106F) heat exhaustion is likely - and above 41C the body starts to shut down.

Chemical processes start to be affected, the cells inside the body deteriorate and there is a risk of multiple organ failure.

The body cannot even sweat at this point because blood flow to the skin stops, making it feel cold and clammy.

Heatstroke - which can occur at any temperature over 40C - requires professional medical help and if not treated immediately, chances of survival can be slim.

There are a number of things people can do to help themselves. These include:

wearing damp clothes which will help lower the body's temperature
sticking one's hands in cold water
placing fans next to windows as this will draw air from outside, which should be cooler
wearing looser clothes
having a lukewarm shower rather than a cold one
fanning the face rather than other parts of the body


Stress hormones could undermine breast cancer therapy


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
Thomas Jefferson University

Recently, researchers have discovered that the hormone progesterone, an ingredient in contraceptives and menopausal hormone replacement therapies, might stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells that are resistant to anti-estrogen therapy and chemotherapy. Now, new research published June 22nd in the journal Oncogene, a Nature publication, shows that additional hormones, including stress hormones that are frequently used to treat the side effects of common chemotherapy, could make these effective cancer drugs fail sooner in some women with breast cancer. But there may be ways to counteract the effect.


Cardiac device wearers should keep distance from smartphones


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
European Society of Cardiology

Milan, Italy, June 22 -- Cardiac device wearers should keep a safe distance from smartphones to avoid unwanted painful shocks or pauses in function, reveals research presented today at EHRA EUROPACE -- CARDIOSTIM 2015 by Dr. Carsten Lennerz, first author and cardiology resident in the Clinic for Heart and Circulatory Diseases, German Heart Centre, Munich, Germany.


Lennerz said: 'Pacemakers can mistakenly detect electromagnetic interference (EMI) from smartphones as a cardiac signal, causing them to briefly stop working. This leads to a pause in the cardiac rhythm of the pacing dependent patient and may result in syncope. For implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) the external signal mimics a life threatening ventricular tachyarrhythmia, leading the ICD to deliver a painful shock.'

Device manufacturers and regulatory institutions including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend a safety distance of 15 to 20 cm between pacemakers or ICDs and mobile phones. The advice is based on studies performed primarily in pacemakers 10 years ago. Since then smartphones have been introduced and mobile network standards have changed from GSM to UMTS and LTE. New cardiac devices are now in use including ICDs, cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) and MRI compatible devices.

The current study evaluated whether the recommended safety distance was still relevant with the new smartphones, networks and cardiac devices.


Professor Christof Kolb, last author and head of the Department of Electrophysiology at the German Heart Centre, said: 'Nearly everyone uses smartphones and there is the possibility of interference with a cardiac device if you come too close. Patients with a cardiac device can use a smartphone but they should not place it directly over the cardiac device. That means not storing it in a pocket above the cardiac device. They should also hold their smartphone to the ear opposite to the side of the device implant.'

In a second study on EMI, researchers advise limiting exposure to high voltage power lines.2 The study was conducted in response to public concerns about bicycle routes and walking paths under high voltage power lines (230 kV and more) and whether these are safe for patients with cardiac devices. These high electric fields are also encountered in utility substations where employees who bring up power lines, conduct maintenance or work within the buildings (cleaners, for example) may be exposed.

Dr. Katia Dyrda, a cardiologist at Montreal Heart Institute, University of Montreal, said: 'High electric fields may interfere with the normal functioning of cardiac devices, leading to the withholding of appropriate therapy (anti-bradycardia pacing, for example) or to the delivery of inappropriate shocks. The International Organization for Standardization says pacemakers and ICDs should give resistance up to 5.4 kV/m (for 60 Hz electric fields) but electric fields can reach 8.5 kV/m under high voltage power lines and 15 kV/m in utility substations.'


The researchers found that when pacemakers were programmed to nominal parameters and in bipolar mode they were immune to EMI up to 8.6 kV/m. But when programmed to higher sensitivity levels or in unipolar mode, the EMI threshold decreased to as low as 1.5 kV/m in some devices. When programmed to nominal parameters, all ICDs were immune to EMI up to 2.9 kV/m . There was no difference in EMI thresholds between left and right sided implants.

Dyrda said: 'There is no significant concern for patients with pacemakers programmed in the usual configuration (nominal settings, in bipolar mode). For the minority of patients with devices in unipolar mode or with very sensitive settings, counselling should be given at implantation or at medical follow-up.'

She added: 'There is no need for patients with a pacemaker or ICD to avoid crossing under high voltage power lines (> 230 kV) but patients should avoid staying in a stationary position underneath them. Passing near pylons rather than between two pylons mitigates exposure to the electric field because the wires sag in the middle and the field is higher at this location.'

Dyrda emphasised that this advice does not concern distribution lines (lines delivering electricity to homes), as the 60 Hz electric field that they generate is very low. She added: 'Patients ask us if they should avoid driving on roads that cross under high voltage power lines. The answer is no. If you're in a vehicle you are always protected because your car acts as a Faraday cage and shields you automatically.' Employees with a pacemaker or defibrillator should tell their employer so that their safety at work can be carefully evaluated, urged Dyrda. She said: 'Our study tested the effect of electric fields up to 20 kV/m and the results can be used to assess individual risks depending on exposure levels during specific tasks and the type and model of cardiac device. This may lead to job adjustments or, more rarely, to a job change.'

Millions of smokers may have undiagnosed lung disease

Millions of smokers may have undiagnosed lung disease

Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
National Jewish Health

More than half of long-term smokers and ex-smokers who are considered disease-free because they passed lung-function tests have respiratory-related impairments when more closely evaluated with lung imaging, walking and quality-of-life tests. Many of those people likely have the earliest stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an incurable progressive disease (COPD) that is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

"The impact of chronic smoking on the lungs and the individual is substantially underestimated when using lung-function tests alone," said James D. Crapo, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and senior author of the study, which is being published June 22, in JAMA Internal Medicine. "Lung disease is common in smokers whose lung-function tests fall within population norms."

COPD is diagnosed by having people blow as hard and as long as they can into a device called a spirometer, which measures how much air they can blow out in one second and how much total air they can force out of their lungs. Individuals' results are compared to population norms and adjusted for age, size and gender.


CT scans found emphysema or airway thickening in 42 percent of the disease-free participants. Twenty-three percent had significant shortness of breath compared to 3.7 percent of never smokers. Fifteen percent walked less than 350 meters in six minutes, compared to 4 percent of never smokers. The disease-free smokers also had considerably worse quality of life than never smokers, with 25 percent of them having scores on questionnaires that exceeded a threshold considered clinically significant.

"Smokers who have 'normal' lung-function tests often have significant respiratory disease. Many of those smokers likely have the early stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," said Elizabeth Regan, MD, PhD, lead author and assistant professor of medicine at National Jewish Health. "We hope these findings will help debunk the myth of the healthy smoker and highlight the importance of smoking prevention and cessation to prevent lung disease and other long-term effects of smoking."

Recent research has shown that lung CT screening of smokers with smoking histories of at least 30-pack years can lead to early detection of lung cancer and reduce deaths by 20 percent. Early detection of COPD may also enable early treatment that can improve symptoms, functional abilities and quality of life. Drs. Crapo and Regan hope the findings will encourage long-term smokers to get lung CT screenings to detect early stages of lung cancer and COPD.

Monday, June 22, 2015

America's CEOs Now Make 303 Times More Than Their Workers


By Jaeah Lee | Mon Jun. 22, 2015

The US economy is rebounding for the nation's top income earners but not for everyone else, according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute. The study, published Sunday, finds that chief executives at the country's 350 biggest firms earned an average of $16.3 million (16,300,000) in 2014, marking a 54.3 percent increase since 2009. Meanwhile, compensation for typical workers in the same industries as those CEOs fell 1.7 percent over the same time period.

"Those at the top of the income distribution, including many CEOs, are seeing a strong recovery, while the typical worker is still experiencing the detrimental effects of a stagnant labor market," the study's authors, Lawrence Mishel and Alyssa Davis, found.

The pay gap between CEOs and the typical worker has widened since 2009, with CEOs now making more than 303 times the earnings of workers in their industries. CEOs have made at least 120 times the earnings of typical workers since 1995. In 2014, Mishel and Davis note, CEOs also made 5.84 times more than others in the top 0.1 percent of wage earners. "As CEO pay has escalated," the authors found, "it's directly contributed to growing income inequality by [fueling] the growth of the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent."


If you demonstrate that 'black lives matter,' others will too


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
University of California - Berkeley Haas School of Business

The "Black Lives Matter" hashtag evolved as a call for social change aimed at increasing the conversation about racial inequality. But what if social change was less dependent on talking and more dependent on nonverbal communication?

New research finds observing a white American engage in small nonverbal acts such as smiling more often, making eye contact for longer periods of time, and standing in closer proximity to a black American makes the observer less prone to racial biases. Specifically, small acts of positivity by white Americans towards African Americans and other black Americans causes observers to hold fewer stereotypes about black Americans and to have more positive attitudes towards black Americans in general.


"Prejudice is often less overt. It manifests often as micro acts of aggression," says Carney. "What is hopeful is that our study also indicates that positive behavior toward different social groups can be contagious."

Four related experiments to test the contagious effects of racial bias produced these results:

1. Observers of micro-positive behavior toward a black American subject formed more positive impressions.

2. Observers of micro-positive behavior toward a black American subject adopted fewer racial stereotypes.

3. Observers of micro-positive behavior toward a black American subject were found to have less racial bias towards black Americans in general.

4. Observers must also be aware that negative social behavior is being directed toward a black person in order to produce a pro-black bias outcome.


Manning up: Men may overcompensate when their masculinity is threatened


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
University of Washington


Societal norms dictating that men should be masculine are powerful. And new University of Washington research finds that men who believe they fall short of those ideals might be prompted to reassert their masculinity in small but significant ways.

Published last week in Social Psychology, the research sought to understand how men respond when their masculinity is threatened, and looked at two specific strategies they might employ: playing up their manliness and rejecting feminine preferences.

The study found that male college students who were given falsely low results on a handgrip strength test exaggerated their height by three-quarters of an inch on average, reported having more romantic relationships, claimed to be more aggressive and athletic, and showed less interest in stereotypically feminine consumer products.


Though the study focused exclusively on men, Cheryan noted that women also feel pressure to live up to gender ideals of femininity, such as being people-focused and nurturing. If women believe they are falling short of those expectations, Cheryan said, they might make choices with potentially negative consequences to demonstrate that they fit gender norms -- for example, avoiding classes in traditionally male fields such as science and technology.


The findings might seem amusing, but other studies have found that men compensate for a lack of masculinity in ways that aren't as innocuous. Men with baby faces, for example, were more likely to have assertive and hostile personalities and commit crimes than their more chiseled counterparts. Men who were told they scored low on masculinity tests were more likely to act aggressively, harass women and belittle other men.

Additionally, unemployed men were more likely to instigate violence against women, and men who were not their household's primary breadwinner were less willing to share in housework duties.


'High-normal' blood pressure in young adults spells risk of heart failure in later life


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Mild elevations in blood pressure considered to be in the upper range of normal during young adulthood can lead to subclinical heart damage by middle age -- a condition that sets the stage for full-blown heart failure, according to findings of a federally funded study led by scientists at Johns Hopkins.

A report on the findings of the multicenter study that followed 2,500 men and women over a period of 25 years is published online June 22 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Persistently elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is one that tops 140/90, a reading that measures the force of pressure in the heart as it contracts (top number) and as it relaxes between contractions (bottom number). Hypertension has been long implicated as a risk factor in a range of cardiovascular diseases. But the new study suggest that pressure just below that threshold -- or high normal pressure -- begins to fuel heart damage in people as young as 20 and can lead to changes in heart muscle function in as little as 25 years.


The latest clinical guidelines issued by the Joint National Committee in 2014 define hypertension as blood pressure above 140/90, but they call on clinicians and patients to aim for a pressure below 150/90. However, results of the new study suggest that a single cutoff measurement does not apply to all ages, and what constitutes 'normal' should probably change with age.

In healthy people, blood pressure tends to rise slightly as they grow old, researchers say, so while 150/90 may be a reasonable target for a 60-year-old, it may be too high for a 28-year-old.

'A number of patients in our study had 'high-normal' blood pressure in their 20s and 30s but by the time they were 45, they had the heart function of a 75-year-old even if they never met the clinical definition of hypertension,' Lima says.


Compared with people with the lowest diastolic pressure -- the bottom number in a reading -- those with highest diastolic pressure were 70 percent more likely to show signs of abnormal relaxation, a harbinger of a particularly pernicious, treatment-resistant form of heart failure in which the muscle contracts normally but is incapable of relaxing.

Those with persistent elevations in their top readings, or systolic blood pressure, were 46 percent more likely have abnormal contraction, which typically leads to a form of heart failure marked by the organ's inability to contract and pump out blood. Systolic pressure signals the pressure in the arteries during contraction as the heart pumps out blood. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, indicates the pressure during relaxation, or between contractions.


Fat, sugar cause bacterial changes that may relate to loss of cognitive function


Public Release: 22-Jun-2015
Oregon State University

A study at Oregon State University indicates that both a high-fat and a high-sugar diet, compared to a normal diet, cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of "cognitive flexibility," or the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations.

This effect was most serious on the high-sugar diet, which also showed an impairment of early learning for both long-term and short-term memory.

The findings are consistent with some other studies about the impact of fat and sugar on cognitive function and behavior, and suggest that some of these problems may be linked to alteration of the microbiome - a complex mixture in the digestive system of about 100 trillion microorganisms.

The research was done with laboratory mice that consumed different diets and then faced a variety of tests, such as water maze testing, to monitor changes in their mental and physical function, and associated impacts on various types of bacteria. The findings were published in the journal Neuroscience, in work supported by the Microbiology Foundation and the National Science Foundation.


Mice have proven to be a particularly good model for studies relevant to humans, Magnusson said, on such topics as aging, spatial memory, obesity and other issues.


Smoking around your toddler could be just as bad as smoking while pregnant


Public Release: 21-Jun-2015
University of Montreal

Children whose parents smoked when they were toddlers are likely to have a wider waist and a higher BMI by time they reach ten years of age, reveal researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte Justine Research Centre. "We suspect the statistics we've established linking childhood obesity to exposure to parents' smoking may underestimate the effect due to parents under reporting the amount they smoked out of shame," explained Professor Linda Pagani, who led the study. "By the age of ten, the children who had been intermittently or continuously exposed to smoke were likely to have waists that were up to three-fifths of an inch wider than their peers. And their BMI scores were likely to be between .48 and .81 points higher. This prospective association is almost as large as the influence of smoking while pregnant." Worldwide, 40% of children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes.


Media acts to distract and divide

Before I start, let me say that I am not commenting much if at all on whether this study should have been done. Certainly I don't agree with the way it was conducted. I am referrin to the timing and manner of reporting by the news media. Of course, that will not stop those who are hunger for the adrenaline rush of anger and the feeling of superiority from finding an excuse to attack others, and who will react as the unthinking robots as the power elite expects, or those who cannot think rationally.

This morning, NPR reported on mustard gas tests on members of the military during WWII, designed to find out if the skins of different races reacted differently. I did a search, and it is appearing on other news sites today, or within the last month.

They went on for awhile talking about tests on African-Americans and Japanese-Americans. They finally had a couple of sentences that the tests were also done on Caucasians, then went back to exclusively talking about the tests on non-Caucasians. At one point, they made a mention of the people being volunteers, such a brief mention that many people might not have noticed it, esp. if they were listening while doing something else, which is common.

They eventually mentioned that this has been know for more than 20 years. Now, why did they choose this point in time to focus on this. Of course, once one news source reports something like this, other will follow suit. But why did someone decide to get this into the news at this time, when it is not some new discovery?

Before I go further, I note that I have no reason to think, and no expectation, that the recent church shooting was anything other than the act of an unhappy, angry individual.

What I do note is that the church shootings did not get the response that we have come to expect, with big spectacle. We have African-American members of the congregation expressing forgiveness, Caucasians expressing condemnation. Angry, sometimes violent protests have kept other tragedies in the news for an extended period, helping to separate people from working together and paying attention to their common problems caused by the power elite.

And now is a sensitive time for the power elite, as there has been focus on Pope Francis' encyclical on our duty to be good stewards of our earth, and care about the poor, who are especially hurt by climate change and other kinds of pollution and actions by business.

I am 69 years old, and from my experience of following the "news", I say it is very possible, or probable, that the timing of the mustard gas stories at this time is a deliberate attempt to distract us from our common enemies, and stoke distrust among groups so that we do not work together.

There are at least two aspects to this. One is simply that dramatic & controversial news generates more viewers, which means more possible donations for NPR, advertising dollars for commercial media.

Another is that the advertisers, owners, and corporate donors have an obvious influence on the media. It is in their interests to keep us distracted from their actions, and keep us divided. And it is obvious that they use their influence to do so.