Friday, September 30, 2016

Eating more plant protein associated with lower risk of death

Public Release: 1-Aug-2016
Eating more plant protein associated with lower risk of death
The JAMA Network Journals

Eating more protein from plant sources was associated with a lower risk of death and eating more protein from animals was associated with a higher risk of death, especially among adults with at least one unhealthy behavior such as smoking, drinking and being overweight or sedentary, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.


The authors report:

After adjusting for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, every 10 percent increment of animal protein from total calories was associated with a 2 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 8 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease death.

In contrast, eating more plant protein was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of death from all causes for every 3 percent increment of total calories and a 12 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death.

Increased mortality associated with eating more animal protein was more pronounced among study participants who were obese and those who drank alcohol heavily.

The association between eating more plant protein and lower mortality was stronger among study participants who smoked, drank at least 14 grams of alcohol a day, were overweight or obese, were physically inactive or were younger than 65 or older than 80.

Substituting 3 percent of calories from animal protein with plant protein was associated with a lower risk of death from all causes: 34 percent for replacing processed red meat, 12 percent for replacing unprocessed red meat and 19 percent for replacing eggs.


Exercise results in larger brain size and lowered dementia risk

Public Release: 1-Aug-2016
Exercise results in larger brain size and lowered dementia risk
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

Using the landmark Framingham Heart Study to assess how physical activity affects the size of the brain and one's risk for developing dementia, UCLA researchers found an association between low physical activity and a higher risk for dementia in older individuals. This suggests that regular physical activity for older adults could lead to higher brain volumes and a reduced risk for developing dementia.

The researchers found that physical activity particularly affected the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain controlling short-term memory. Also, the protective effect of regular physical activity against dementia was strongest in people age 75 and older.


What this all means: one is never too old to exercise for brain health and to stave off the risk for developing dementia.

Meat consumption contributing to global obesity

Public Release: 1-Aug-2016
Meat consumption contributing to global obesity
University of Adelaide

Should we be warning consumers about over-consumption of meat as well as sugar?

That's the question being raised by a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide, who say meat in the modern diet offers surplus energy, and is contributing to the prevalence of global obesity.

Comparative anatomy and human evolution experts from the University's School of Medicine have been studying the correlation between meat consumption and obesity rates in 170 countries.

"Our findings are likely to be controversial because they suggest that meat contributes to obesity prevalence worldwide at the same extent as sugar," says Professor Maciej Henneberg, head of the Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Research Unit.

"In the analysis of obesity prevalence across 170 countries, we have found that sugar availability in a nation explains 50% of obesity variation while meat availability another 50%. After correcting for differences in nations' wealth (Gross Domestic Product), calorie consumption, levels of urbanization and of physical inactivity, which are all major contributors to obesity, sugar availability remained an important factor, contributing independently 13%, while meat contributed another 13% to obesity.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

The decline of the middle class is causing even more economic damage than we realized

Lawrence H. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot university professor at Harvard, is a former treasury secretary and director of the National Economic Council in the White House. He writes occasional posts on Wonkblog about issues of national and international economics and policymaking.

By Lawrence H. Summers September 29, 2016

I have just come across an International Monetary Fund working paper on income polarization in the United States that makes an important contribution to the secular stagnation debate. The authors — Ali Alichi, Kory Kantenga and Juan Solé — use standard econometric techniques to estimate the impact of declines in middle class incomes on total consumer spending. They find that polarization has reduced consumer spending by more than 3 percent or about $400 billion annually. If these findings stand up to scrutiny, they deserve to have a policy impact.

This level of reduction in spending is huge. For example, it exceeds by a significant margin the impact in any year of the Obama stimulus program. Alone it would be enough to account for a significant reduction in neutral real interest rates. If consumers were spending 3 percent more, there would be scope to maintain full employment at interest rates much closer to normal. And there would be much less of a problem of monetary policy’s inability to respond to the next recession.

What is the policy implication? Principally, it is the macroeconomic importance of supporting middle class incomes. This can be done in a range of ways from promoting workers right to collectively bargain to raising spending on infrastructure to making the tax system more progressive. These are hardly new ideas. And I supported them before seeing this new research. But there is now another powerful argument in terms of mitigating secular stagnation in their favor.

How Donald Trump’s Company Violated the United States Embargo Against Cuba

By Kurt Eichenwald On 9/29/16

A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowed to maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.


Breastfeeding associated with better brain development and neurocognitive outcomes

Public Release: 29-Jul-2016
Breastfeeding associated with better brain development and neurocognitive outcomes
New research finds pre-term babies fed more breast milk in the first 28 days of life had larger deep nuclear gray matter volume and better IQs, academic achievements, memory, and motor function by age 7
Brigham and Women's Hospital

A new study, which followed 180 pre-term infants from birth to age seven, found that babies who were fed more breast milk within the first 28 days of life had had larger volumes of certain regions of the brain at term equivalent and had better IQs, academic achievement, working memory, and motor function.

The findings were published online Friday, July 29, in The Journal of Pediatrics.


President George W. Bush originated and signed NAFTA treat

November 14, 1993

The House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on the North American Free Trade Agreement, a complex and ambitious piece of legislation to create the world's largest free-trade zone. It is timely, then, to look at what is proposed and why it has aroused such opposition:


4. Is it a treaty? It is not a treaty. It is an international agreement. This is why it requires approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Treaties require only approval of the Senate. NAFTA faces its biggest challenge in the House, which votes Wednesday.

5. Whose idea was it? It was first proposed by President George Bush and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in June as "a powerful engine for economic development, creating new jobs and opening new markets" in both countries. Canada, which created a free-trade zone with the United States in 1989, agreed to join the wider bloc.

6. Why has NAFTA come up now? President Bush signed the original agreement in December 1992. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton endorsed NAFTA on the condition that side agreements be negotiated to strengthen Mexico's implementation of labor and environmental standards. Negotiations on the side agreements lasted until August, delaying congressional consideration. Without the side agreements, it had no chance of congressional approval. Even with them, the outcome of the House vote is uncertain.


December 18, 1992|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite

President Bush signed the North American Free Trade Agreement yesterday, and his successor-in-waiting Bill Clinton immediately announced that he would not seek the treaty's renegotiation.

Mr. Clinton, in a statement issued in Little Rock, Ark., said the signing represented "an important step" toward the economic integration of North America. He repeated his campaign assertion that there would have to be new job and environmental protections, and safeguards against sudden trade "surges," but these could be settled without renegotiating the treaty with Mexico and Canada before he submitted implementing legislation.

"I will pursue those other things that I think need to be done in the public interest, then I will prepare implementing legislation and try to pass it in Congress," he said.

His new administration would also take domestic action on assisting workers, protecting the U.S. environment, helping farmers, encouraging public participation in consideration of the agreement and closing loopholes for foreign workers, he said.

"I believe these steps do not require renegotiation of NAFTA," said Mr. Clinton, promising to work closely with the two neighboring governments and with congress to "move this process forward."


Mr. Bush's action yesterday fulfilled the requirements of the "fast-track" legislative process, under which Congress can now only vote the agreement up or down. It cannot change the signed document.

Mr. Bush had to allow Congress 90 days to consider the agreement before signing. Yesterday was the first possible day for his signature. The clock will start ticking again when Mr. Clinton submits implementing legislation to make the necessary changes in U.S. law and tariffs required by the treaty. There is no deadline for Mr. Clinton to take this action, but once he does Congress will have up to 90 legislative days to vote up or down on the implementing legislation or change it.


Prominent climate change denier now admits he was wrong

By Neela Banerjee
July 30, 2012

The verdict is in: Global warming is real and greenhouse-gas emissions from human activity are the main cause.

This, according to Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkely, a MacArthur fellow and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of other climatologists around the world came to such conclusions years ago, but the difference now is the source: Muller is a long-standing, colorful critic of prevailing climate science, and the Berkeley project was heavily funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which, along with its libertarian petrochemical billionaire founder Charles G. Koch, has a considerable history of backing groups that deny climate change.

In an opinion piece in Saturday’s New York Times titled “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Muller writes:

“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

The Berkeley project’s research has shown, Muller says, “that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by 2½ degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1½ degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

He calls his current stance “a total turnaround.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cognitive ability varies, but prejudice is universal

Public Release: 29-Jul-2016
Cognitive ability varies, but prejudice is universal
Society for Personality and Social Psychology

When it comes to prejudice, it does not matter if you are smart or not, or conservative or liberal, each group has their own specific biases. In a recent study, psychologists show that low cognitive ability (i.e., intelligence, verbal ability) was not a consistent predictor of prejudice. Cognitive ability, whether high or low, only predicts prejudice towards specific groups. The results are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"Very few people are immune to expressing prejudice, especially prejudice towards people they disagree with," says lead author Mark Brandt (Tilburg University, Netherlands).

Brandt and Jarret Crawford (The College of New Jersey) analyzed data from 5914 people in the United States that includes a measure of verbal ability and prejudice towards 24 different groups.

Analyzing the results, the researchers found that people with both relatively higher and lower levels of cognitive ability show approximately equal levels of intergroup bias, but towards different sets of groups. People with low cognitive ability tended to express prejudice towards groups perceived as liberal and unconventional (e.g., atheists, gays and lesbians), as well as groups of people perceived as having low choice over group membership (e.g., ethnic minorities). People with high cognitive ability showed the reverse pattern. They tended to express prejudice towards groups perceived as conservative and conventional (e.g., Christians, the military, big business).
[How do they define "prejudice"? If you are not a Christian, you have received nasty comments & behaviour from people calling themselves Christians, , and proposals to limit your rights, so of course you will have negative feelings toward them. If you are intelligent and informed, you will know that big business does do things like conceal the fact that their products are harmful, conspire to make needed medicines cost a lot, etc. I have noticed that people in various groups readily accept totally ridiculous claims towards those they don't like.]

The mind-boggling New Orleans heat record that no one is talking about

By Angela Fritz
Sept. 26, 2016

During one of the country’s hottest summers, New Orleans quietly set a mind-boggling record. On 43 nights, the temperature did not drop below 80 degrees in New Orleans, according to the Louisiana state climatologist.

It blows the previous record out of the water — 13 nights in 2010. It’s also incredible considering in an average summer, New Orleans has just 2.1 nights at or above 80 degrees.

This record should be getting much more attention than it has been.

Very warm overnight temperatures are hard on your body, let alone your utility bills. The elderly are particularly at risk during these times, as is the entire homeless population and anyone with an illness. You might be inclined to raise a finger to mention that air conditioning negates these effects, but around 30 percent of New Orleans’s population lives in poverty. If a family is lucky enough to own an air conditioner, they probably cannot afford to use it.

Why is this happening? In short, man-made climate change.

It’s not just New Orleans and the South in general that are suffering through dangerously uncomfortable nights; this trend is obvious across the entire Lower forty-eight. And that’s exactly what we expect in a climate-change world. In reality, very warm overnight low temperatures have been increasing in frequency since the 1970s.


Why is this happening? In short, man-made climate change.

It’s not just New Orleans and the South in general that are suffering through dangerously uncomfortable nights; this trend is obvious across the entire Lower forty-eight. And that’s exactly what we expect in a climate-change world. In reality, very warm overnight low temperatures have been increasing in frequency since the 1970s.

The World Passes 400 PPM Threshold.

By Brian Kahn
Sept. 27, 2016

The World Passes 400 PPM Threshold. Permanently

In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million.

That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.

Because carbon pollution has been increasing since the start of the Industrial Revolution and has shown no signs of abating, it was more a question of “when” rather than “if” we would cross this threshold. The inevitability doesn’t make it any less significant, though.

September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. At Mauna Loa Observatory, the world’s marquee site for monitoring carbon dioxide, there are signs that the process has begun but levels have remained above 400 ppm.

Since the industrial revolution, humans have been altering this process by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than plants can take up. That’s driven carbon dioxide levels higher and with it, global temperatures, along with a host of other climate change impacts.

“Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible,” Ralph Keeling, the scientist who runs the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, wrote in a blog post. “Brief excursions toward lower values are still possible, but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.”

We may get a day or two reprieve in the next month, similar to August when Tropical Storm Madeline blew by Hawaii and knocked carbon dioxide below 400 ppm for a day. But otherwise, we’re living in a 400 ppm world. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, what has already put in the atmosphere will linger for many decades to come.


Donald Trump Would Boost Debt More Than Hillary Clinton, Report Says

From the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by right-winger Rupert Murdoch.

By Nick Timiraos
Sep 26, 2016

A new analysis estimates Hillary Clinton’s tax and spending proposals would have a relatively modest effect on the national debt, while Donald Trump’s fiscal plans would sharply boost deficits and the debt over the next decade.

The report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group that advocates debt reduction, examines the fiscal proposals of both candidates as of Sept. 21.

It finds Mrs. Clinton’s proposed tax increases, primarily on businesses and the wealthiest American households, would cover most of the cost of $1.65 trillion in new proposed spending over the next decade, including $500 billion on college education and $300 billion each on infrastructure and paid family leave.

The plan would boost spending by $200 billion over the next decade relative to current policy, leaving the national debt at around 86% of gross domestic product in a decade. That is up from around 75% today and in line with the level that the Congressional Budget Office estimates the debt will hit if no changes are made to spending and revenue over the coming decade.

The report finds that Mr. Trump, on the other hand, would cut spending by around $1.2 trillion over the next decade while reducing revenues by $5.8 trillion through his plans to cut taxes and repeal other taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act. The spending estimate takes into account large cuts from repealing the health-care law and from slashing nondefense discretionary spending. Partially offsetting those cuts are big increases in spending on defense, veterans’ programs and child care.


Including the costs of additional federal borrowing from Mr. Trump’s plans, the national debt would rise by $5.3 trillion over a decade relative to current policy, pushing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 105%, which is significantly higher than either Mrs. Clinton’s policies or the current trajectory for the debt, though it is lower than an earlier estimate from the CRFB.


Online polls showing Trump won the debate were rigged

And this is from a news site owned by right-winger Rupert Murdoch

By Marisa Schultz
September 27, 2016 | 5:42pm

A series of online polls showing Donald Trump winning Monday night’s debate were rigged, according to a report on Tuesday.

While mainstream media and pundits quickly crowned Hillary Clinton the winner, Trump touted several online polls showing that he triumphed.

“Such a great honor. Final debate polls are in — and the MOVEMENT wins,” Trump tweeted.

Online polls aren’t given much credence because they aren’t scientifically representative samples of the electorate.

But The Daily Dot suggested online results from about 70 debate polls were particularly egregious because Trump supporters “artificially manipulated” the results “to create the false narrative” that he won.

Trump supporters using Reddit and 4chan message boards bombarded the online polls and spread the effort to Twitter to catapult the hashtag “#Trumpwon” to the No. 1 trending topic.

Established pollster Neil Newhouse says online surveys encourage a “stuffing the ballot box” mentality.


“At the same time, the polls that were supposedly ‘manipulated’ weren’t actually polls to begin with. They are nothing more than ‘click-bait’ to get people to respond. Ignore these polls. They are not measuring what they purport to and are really quite worthless.”


News outlets admit their results are far from scientific.

“Online reader polls like this one are not statistically representative of likely voters, and are not predictive of how the debate outcome will affect the election,” wrote in an online disclaimer. The Time poll shows Trump won 56 percent to 44 percent with 1.8 million responses.

“They are a measure, however imprecise, of which candidates have the most energized online supporters, or most social media savvy fan base.”

Major Insurers Charge Moderate-Income Customers With Perfect Driving Records More Than High-Income Customers With Recent Accidents

September 26, 2016

Auto insurance prices are often more closely aligned with personal economic characteristics than with drivers’ accident and ticket history, according to new research by Consumer Federation of America (CFA). Testing premiums offered by the nation’s five largest insurers in ten U.S. cities for drivers with different socio-economic characteristics and different driving records, CFA found surprising results, including:

Upper-income drivers with DUIs often pay less than good drivers of modest means with no accidents or tickets on their driving record.


Moderate-income drivers with perfect records pay more than upper-income drivers who caused an accident in which someone was injured.


Progressive and GEICO consistently charge upper-income bad drivers less than moderate-income good drivers.


Moderate-income good drivers often pay more than upper-income drivers with multiple points on their record.


Moderate-income good drivers often pay more than upper-income drivers with multiple points on their record.


According to CFA’s premium testing, it costs a moderate-income good driver more for basic auto insurance than an upper-income driver convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the past 12 months over two-thirds of the time. Of the 30 instances in which companies offered a quote both to an upper-income driver with a DUI and a moderate-income driver with a clean record, 21 times the driver with the perfect record paid more,


“The data show that Progressive and GEICO are competing vigorously for the business of upper-income drivers regardless of their driving record, and they’re subsidizing that competition by overcharging moderate-income drivers with clean records. As we have seen in other research for these two insurers, auto insurance appears to be a loss-leader and marketing ploy for gaining access to higher-income people to try to sell them other products. This is unfair discrimination in my estimation and illegal in all states.” said Hunter of CFA, who is also an actuary.


California was the only market tested in which the good drivers always paid less than the drivers with marks on their driving record. This state has the nation’s best consumer protections in place when it comes to preventing the unfair pricing revealed in CFA’s report.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Compromise nearly guaranteed when a woman is involved in decision-making pairs

Public Release: 28-Jul-2016
Compromise nearly guaranteed when a woman is involved in decision-making pairs
Study finds when making joint decisions, men need to prove masculinity, 'push away' from compromise; findings pertinent to marketers, managers, and consumers
Boston College

More isn't necessarily better when it comes to men making decisions together, especially if you want a middle-of-the-road compromise. That's according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research which finds that compromise always occurs among two decision makers when a woman is involved (female-female pairs or mixed gender pairs), but hardly ever when the pair of decision makers are men. The findings could be pertinent to marketers, managers, and consumers alike.

"When men are in the presence of other men, they feel the need to prove their masculinity," says co-researcher Hristina Nikolova, the Coughlin Sesquicentennial Assistant Professor of Marketing with the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. "Both tend to push away from the compromise option because the compromise option is consistent with feminine norms. On the other hand, extremism is a more masculine trait so that's why both male partners tend to prefer an extreme option when making decisions together."


"No matter what the product is, we see the same effects," says Nikolova. "The compromise effect basically emerges in any pair when there is a woman. However, surprisingly, when you have men choosing together, they actually tend to push away from the compromise option and select one of the extreme options. Say two men are choosing a car and the cars they are considering differ on safety and fuel efficiency - they will either go for the safest car or the one that offers them the most fuel efficiency, but they won't choose an option that offers a little of both." In contrast, individuals and mixed-gender and female-female pairs will likely go for the middle option since it seems reasonable and is easily justified.

According to the study: "When making decisions together, men take actions that are maximally different from feminine norms, which prioritize moderation, and maximally similar to masculine norms, which prioritize extremity. Furthermore, because a female presence makes the masculinity of men in male-female dyads obvious, in these pairings we observe compromise behavior consistent with that of individual decision-makers and female-female dyads."

"In contrast to men," says Nikolova, "women act the same together as they would alone because they don't need to prove anything in front of other women. Womanhood is not precarious and does not need the same level of public defense as manhood. That's why we observe the compromise effect in the joint decisions of two female partners."

Interestingly, the research found that compromise is criticized among other men, but embraced by women.

"Only men judge other men very harshly when they suggest the compromise option to a male partner," says Nikolova. "It doesn't happen when a man suggests the compromise option to a female partner or when women suggest the compromise option so it's really specific to men dealing with other men."


As for consumers, it's important for male consumers to know what they might buy themselves is different from what they would choose with another man.

"What we're finding is when men have to choose alone, most select the compromise option," says Nikolova. "But when they have to make the decision with another man, they tend to choose one of the extreme options which is not something they would prefer if they were alone. It's important for male consumers to be aware of this when making decisions with other people since the drive to prove their masculinity might lead them to make decisions that they might not enjoy later."

Research reveals restorative justice reduces recidivism

Public Release: 28-Jul-2016
Research reveals restorative justice reduces recidivism
Sam Houston State University

Restorative justice programs, such victim-offender mediation and community impact panels, are more effective in reducing recidivism rates among juvenile offenders than traditional court processing, a study by researchers at Sam Houston State University found.

"Our results generally not only support the effectiveness of RJ (restorative justice) programming as compared to traditional juvenile court processing but also suggest that each type of RJ intervention, even those that are minimally involved, reduces recidivism risk relative to juvenile court proceedings," said Jeffrey Bouffard, a Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and Research Director for the Correctional Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University. "This pattern of results would suggest that in many cases, it may be possible to use less intensive RJ approaches and still receive promising results."

The study, published in Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, examined four types of restorative justice programs for juvenile offenders in a small, mostly rural area in the upper Midwest. These interventions include face-to-face mediation between victims and offenders, indirect communication between victims and offenders, community panels who stand in for the victim, and even minimal RJ interventions that simply educate offenders about the restorative justice process.


Maintaining healthy relationships: University of Waterloo studies identify a promising way

Public Release: 28-Jul-2016
Maintaining healthy relationships: University of Waterloo studies identify a promising way
University of Waterloo

Thinking about the future helps overcome relationship conflicts, according to a University of Waterloo study just published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"When romantic partners argue over things like finances, jealousy, or other interpersonal issues, they tend to employ their current feelings as fuel for a heated argument. By envisioning their relationship in the future, people can shift the focus away from their current feelings and mitigate conflicts," said Alex Huynh, a doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study, which he published with Igor Grossmann from the University of Waterloo, and Daniel Yang from Yale University.

Previous research has shown that taking a step back, and adopting a distanced fly-on-the-wall-type of perspective can be a positive strategy for reconciliation of interpersonal struggles. For example, prior research by Grossmann and colleagues suggests that people are able to reason more wisely over issues of infidelity when they are asked to do so from a third-person perspective. Huynh and his collaborators investigated whether similar benefits in reasoning and relationship well-being can be induced by simply stepping back and thinking about the future.


The researchers found that thinking about the future affected both participants' focus on their feelings, and their reasoning strategies. As a result, participants reported more positivity about their relationship altogether. In particular, when study participants extended their thinking about the relationship a year into the future, they were able to show more forgiveness and reinterpret the event in a more reasoned and positive light.

The way people respond to conflict is an essential component for relationship maintenance, say the researchers.


200 Million Americans Have ‘Erin Brockovich’ Carcinogen in Their Tap Water © Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

By Eric Pianin
September 23, 2016


Lead contamination of municipal water systems, sadly, is a relatively widespread problem in this country and would require massive resources at the federal and local level to adequately address the problem. CNBC reported recently that data it obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that 41 states have reported higher-than-acceptable levels of lead in drinking water during the past three years.


Now comes a troubling report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an activist research organization, that chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical compound, has contaminated water supplies for more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states. The tests conducted by utilities across the country and supervised by the EPA found chromium-6 in almost 90 percent of the water systems sampled.

The study found that levels of chromium-6 are at or exceed 0.03 parts per billion in three-quarters of the samples that were tested between 2013 and 2015. Roughly seven million people received or consumed tap water with levels of the compound higher than the 10-parts-per-billion legal limit set by California— the only state that currently imposes a maximum contaminant level.

Arizona, California and Oklahoma had the highest average statewide levels, according to the report. Phoenix by far had the highest average level among major cities while Houston and St. Louis also registered comparatively high levels.

Hexavalent chromium or chromium-6 is a chemical compound commonly used in industry for a number of purposes, including electroplating and manufacturing stainless steel and textiles. Chromium-6 is also used as a coolant in power plant towers and is found in the ash of coal burned by utilities. While scientists may differ on the degree of public health risks that it poses, research has shown that exposure to small quantities of chromium-6 in drinking water can produce cancer in humans and animals.

A two-year study released in 2008 by the National Toxicology Program found that drinking water with chromium-6 caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice. Subsequently, research scientists at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment concluded in 2011 that ingestion of even tiny amounts of chromium-6 could cause cancer in people. That finding was later confirmed by scientists in New Jersey and North Carolina, according to EWG.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers all chromium compounds to be “occupational carcinogens” that are closely connected with lung, nasal and sinus cancer, according to a government website.

The chemical industry has long opposed tough regulation of chromium-6, arguing that additional research was needed. The EPA has never set a specific limit on chromium-6 in drinking water, although the environmental agency has established a drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion for all forms of chromium, which is a natural occurring element.


How Mylan Soaked Medicare and Taxpayers for EpiPen Profits

By Eric Pianin Follow
September 21, 2016


Bresch has been back-peddling for weeks following complaints from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, lawmakers and consumer groups about a marketing strategy that drove up the list price of the two-pack nearly six-fold since 2007, from $100 to $600.

EpiPen injectors generate a reported $1 billion a year in revenues for Mylan.

Mylan is just the most recent pharmaceutical company to spark a nationwide uproar over excessive drug pricing. These companies have either jacked up the retail list price of drugs that have long been on the market after acquiring their patents, which is what Mylan did with EpiPen, or have imposed sky-high prices on newly developed, highly-effective drugs such as Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis-C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni, which retail for roughly $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a course of treatment.

Expensive drugs have greatly added to the overall annual cost of U.S. health care and are posing serious economic consequences for consumers, health insurers and federal government agencies and programs.

Medicare Part D spending on EpiPen injectors, for example, grew by an astounding 1,151 percent between 2007 and 2014 – from $7 million to $87.9 million— while the number of beneficiaries rose by just 164 percent, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation released this week.

Moreover, out-of-pocket spending by seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D who didn’t qualify for income-based subsidies for EpiPen purchases nearly doubled during that period, from $30 to $56 per purchase. In the aggregate, out-of-pocket spending by all Part D enrollees who used the EpiPen increased more than five-fold between 2007 and 2014, according to the report, from $1.6 million to $8.5 million, “reflecting both an increase in the number of users and price increases for the EpiPen.” And that doesn’t include subsequent price hikes over the past two years that led to the current controversy.


Mylan Admits It Makes Far More on EpiPens Than It Originally Reported to Congress

By Eric Pianin
September 26, 2016


The company has caused an uproar among lawmakers, consumers and health care policy makers after driving up the list price of the two-pack nearly six-fold since 2007, from $100 to $600. Throughout her testimony to the House Oversight and Investigation Committee, Bresch insisted that Mylan had actually reaped modest profits for the drug dispenser after deducting the costs of health care industry middlemen, research and marketing. She repeatedly blamed the health care system – not Mylan – and said her company cleared only $50 per pen in profit, or $100 per two-pack.

But Mylan admitted on Monday that the EpiPen’s pre-tax profits were actually 60 percent higher than it told Congress, according to The Wall Street Journal. Mylan had added a 37.5 percent U.S. tax rate into the mix while computing its profits. Without that tax-related reduction, the profits on the EpiPen two-pack would be about $160 per pack – much higher than the $100 figure Bresch gave to committee members last week.

The company sells an estimated 4.1 million EpiPen two-packs in this country annually, worth nearly $1 billion in revenues.


Ryan Baum, an analyst with SSR Health, a health-care investment research firm, told The Wall Street Journal that the 37.5 percent tax rate Mylan applied to EpiPen is unrealistic because the company didn’t pay nearly that much tax on its product. He said that Mylan had a low 7.4 percent overall tax rate last year and a “negative effective tax rate” in the United States where the EpiPen was sold.


Friday, September 23, 2016

What Consumers Need to Know About the Yahoo Security Breach

Paul Blake and Mike Levine contributed to this story.
Sep 23, 2016

Yahoo announced on Thursday that it believes information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen by a "state-sponsored actor" at the end of 2014.

Cyber security experts believe that this was the largest-known breach of user accounts. Russian hackers are suspected as being behind the breach.

More users were reportedly impacted in this one incident than all of last year, according to the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report produced by security company Symantec.


The stolen information could include names, email addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, password information and possibly the question-answer combinations for security questions, which are often used to reset passwords, said Yahoo in a statement.

However, Yahoo said that the passwords that were compromised were hashed, a way of encrypting data.

The stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data or bank account information, according to Yahoo.

"Unfortunately there is information being stolen everyday and this is not a unique event, but it's adding to the long list of compromises that have been out there,” said Jeff Greene, director of government affairs for North America at Symantec.


Hackers may attempt to log directly into a Yahoo account, but they could also use the information to try to get into someone’s other accounts, according security experts.

“If your primary email address is compromised, so much of you the rest of your digital life flows from that,” said Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT, which represents app and tech companies.

When it comes to stolen passwords, the "good news" is that the passwords were encrypted, said Reed.

The bad news is that the one entity that has the resources to break encryption is a state actor, he added.

Criminals can also come out of the woodwork to use this as an opportunity to take advantage of consumers, said Greene. People may receive bogus emails to reset accounts and click on links.

"It's like after a storm, there will be all these fake requests for money," said Greene.

There is also a future risk. The data may be stored and used for an attack down the road. The hackers themselves may not even know the potential of the information yet.

"There's the short game, the immediate compromise, and there's the long game," he said.

What can you do?

Change your password. Yahoo recommends "that users who haven't changed their passwords since 2014 do so," the company said in its statement. Cyber security experts say this is the necessary first step.

Security experts also recommend signing up for "two-factor authentication," make sure passwords are complex and unique, and make all software is up-to-date and patched.

Use different passwords on different accounts, according to cyber experts that spoke with ABC News.

“Far too many Americans use the same password for different services,” said Reed.

However, a new Consumer Reports report, which compiled 66 expert tips, found that it's better to keep the same password and be "password loyal," unless there is a breach.

Be aware of unusual activity. Look for unusual friend requests, requests to reset a password and anything out of the ordinary.

"If you do all of these things, you are going to stop the vast majority of the attacks,” said Greene.





The Estate Tax

Confused About Taxes
Posted on September 12, 2016 by James Kwak | 20 Comments
By James Kwak

In the Times a couple of days ago, Gregory Mankiw made a half-hearted case for eliminating the estate tax that was so weak I’m not even sure he convinced himself. The core of his argument is that the estate tax violates the principle of horizontal equity, according to which “similar people should face similar burdens.” The problem, on his view, is that between two rich couples that each amass $20 million, the Profligates who consume their wealth before death end up paying lower taxes than the Frugals who maintain a modest lifestyle. “To me, this does not seem right,” Mankiw concludes.

First of all, it’s not even clear why this example violates horizontal equity. The Profligates and the Frugals are not “similar people”


Second, it’s not clear that the Frugals are paying more tax than the Profligates. Their estate will pay higher taxes, but by then they are dead; the estate tax does not directly limit their personal consumption in the slightest.


Only an economist, and an economist of a certain type, could evaluate the fairness of the estate tax by comparing two wealthy families. Mankiw’s point is that the estate tax is unfair to the Frugals—as compared to whom, exactly? Remember, Mr. and Mrs. Profligate spent most of their money before they died; their children get next to nothing. The Frugals’ kids end up with about $16 million ($20 million less the 40% federal estate tax on the amount above the exemption), but they’re still the richest people in the story. The Profligates’ kids get the remaining crumbs of the parents’ once-impressive fortune—yet we’re supposed to feel sorry for the Frugals.

But the people we should really be thinking about are everyone else’s children. It’s a little peculiar to profess to care about equal treatment and then proceed to talk solely about rich people. What about Mr. and Mrs. Poor and their children, who far outnumber the Profligates and the Frugals? The Poors’ children inherit nothing because their parents died with nothing; the Frugals’ kids inherit $16 million although their parents died with $20 million. There’s no reason to think the second generation of Frugals is any more deserving than the second generation of Poors—yet they are born into comfort and security, while the Poors face hardship and anxiety. From this perspective, the only fair estate tax would be one with a rate of 100%. And even then, the Frugals’ kids would be better off than those of the Poors, since they would have the most productivity-enhancing childhood that money can buy.

The bottom line is this: You can’t argue against the estate tax on fairness grounds, unless your powers of abstraction are so awesome that you can some how overlook the fact that most people wish their parents had to pay the estate tax.


The big misdirection in Mankiw’s column, however, goes unstated: talking about the estate tax in isolation from the rest of the tax code and, for that matter, the economy. At the end of the day, the estate tax is about the inter-generational transmission of wealth. From that standpoint, the rest of the tax code effectively imposes a negative estate tax.

The main reason is step-up of basis at death. Ordinarily, when you sell an asset, you have to pay capital gains tax on your profits (sale price minus purchase price). But when you die, your heirs get to increase their cost basis to the value of the asset at the time of your death—so no one ever pays tax on the appreciation during your lifetime. This is very clearly a negative estate tax, since it makes assets worth more to your heirs than they were to you. In addition, you don’t pay capital gains tax until you sell an asset—so the longer you hold onto an asset, the lower your effective tax rate. This obviously benefits the wealthiest families the most, since they have the least need to sell assets. And if you do ever sell an asset, you get to pay capital gains tax at a preferential rate.

In short, most of the tax code benefits families with more wealth than they can consume in one lifetime. In this context, the estate tax is really just an imperfect, partial, insufficient way to slightly mitigate the inter-generational transmission of wealth and the development of an aristocracy of hedge fund managers and their children. The big question isn’t whether we should have an estate tax or not. It’s whether we should take much more aggressive measures to give all children a fair shot at a comfortable and prosperous future. Eliminating the estate tax, without addressing the sources of inter-generational inequality, would only accelerate the transformation of American into a new feudal society.

Police: 4 Men Held at California Pot Farm, Forced to Work

By kristin j. bender, associated press
SAN FRANCISCO — Sep 21, 2016

Two women have been arrested on charges of holding four brothers captive at an illegal marijuana farm in Northern California and forcing them to work there for six months, police said Wednesday.

The men told police they ran away in July from the secluded pot-growing operation in the small Sierra Nevada foothills town of West Point after overhearing they would be killed once all the marijuana was harvested, Calaveras County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Macedo said.

Two other men, including the brothers' nephew, are being sought by authorities from the small, impoverished county undergoing a dramatic transformation because of marijuana cultivation.

The traditionally politically conservative board of supervisors on May 10 made it legal for farmers to grow commercial amounts of medicinal marijuana. The legislation was seen as a way to help the county recover from a devastating wildfire


The cultivation law was passed over the objection of the sheriff and district attorney, who said the remote county was already overrun with too many illicit pot farms and warned of an influx of unsavory outsiders.

Authorities said they destroyed 23,000 plants worth up to $60 million found on July 28 at the forested compound where the brothers worked. The two women were arrested Sept. 14 in Modesto and charged with human trafficking, kidnapping, battery with serious bodily injury, terrorist threats and drug charges.

"We've seen an increase in violence, theft and greed related to marijuana trafficking, and this appears to be an organized, violent group," Macedo said.

Neither Guadalupe Sierra Arellano, 43, nor Medarda Urbieta, 44, entered pleas during a court appearance in San Andreas, California. Macedo said the two women are suspected of living in the United States without proper documentation.

Macedo said investigators are looking into whether suspects have ties to any Mexican drug cartels. Authorities said they found a religious shrine popular among Mexican drug traffickers and cartels during a search of a Modesto home in connection with the case.


Macedo said the victims, who were not identified, had bruises and black eyes after they escaped the marijuana farm and made it to a nearby home to ask for help. One of the brothers suffered a broken jaw and had to be hospitalized, court records show.

The case began in February when Arellano hired two of the brothers to help clean a Modesto home, court records show. Instead, the two brothers said they were taken against their will to the marijuana farm and forced to live and work there at gunpoint. They told police that Arellano threatened harm to their family if they escaped or called police.

Nine days later, investigators say Arellano lured the two other brothers to the farm under the guise of visiting the brothers held captive. Once there, all four brothers were forced to live and cultivate. They say they were beaten on three occasions, the last time three days before their escape.

The men worked the marijuana operation on several acres of land up a winding road with armed men standing guard over a house where the women lived. The men themselves slept in squalid and ramshackle conditions in a hut-like structure, Macedo said.

tags: drug use, drug abuse,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ireland jails three top bankers over 2008 banking meltdown

Writing by Conor Humphries; editing by Mark Heinrich
July 29, 2016

Three senior Irish bankers were jailed on Friday for up to three-and-a-half years for conspiring to defraud investors in the most prominent prosecution arising from the 2008 banking crisis that crippled the country's economy.

The trio will be among the first senior bankers globally to be jailed for their role in the collapse of a bank during the crisis.

The lack of convictions until now has angered Irish taxpayers, who had to stump up 64 billion euros - almost 40 percent of annual economic output - after a property collapse forced the biggest state bank rescue in the euro zone.

The crash thrust Ireland into a three-year sovereign bailout in 2010 and the finance ministry said last month that it could take another 15 years to recover the funds pumped into the banks still operating.

Former Irish Life and Permanent Chief Executive Denis Casey was sentenced to two years and nine months following the 74-day criminal trial, Ireland's longest ever.

Willie McAteer, former finance director at the failed Anglo Irish Bank, and John Bowe, its ex-head of capital markets, were given sentences of 42 months and 24 months respectively.

All three were convicted of conspiring together and with others to mislead investors, depositors and lenders by setting up a 7.2-billion-euro circular transaction scheme between March and September 2008 to bolster Anglo's balance sheet.

Irish Life placed the deposits via a non-banking subsidiary in the run-up to Anglo's financial year-end, to allow its rival to categorize them as customer deposits, which are viewed as more secure, rather than a deposit from another bank.

"By means that could be termed dishonest, deceitful and corrupt they manufactured 7.2 billion euros in deposits by obvious sham transactions," Judge Martin Nolan told the court, describing the conspiracy as a "very serious crime".

"The public is entitled to rely on the probity of blue chip firms. If we can’t rely on the probity of these banks we lose all hope or trust in institutions," said Nolan.


Two other Anglo-Irish bankers, chief operations officer Tiarnan O'Mahoney, 56, and former company secretary Bernard Daly, 67, earlier this year had their sentences quashed on appeal after spending several months in prison.

Banks in the United States and Britain have paid billions of dollars in fines and settlements connected to wrongdoing over their handling of subprime loans that helped cause the crisis. But no senior industry executives in those countries have been sent to jail.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blue Bell recalls some ice cream after listeria scare

Sept. 21, 2016

Blue Bell Creameries recalled select flavors of ice cream distributed across the South after finding chocolate chip cookie dough from a third-party supplier for use as an ingredient was potentially contaminated with listeria, the Brenham, Texas-based company announced Wednesday.

Blue Bell said it was recalling half gallons and pints of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and half gallons of Blue Bell Cookie Two Step made at its Sylacauga, Alabama, creamery after intensified internal testing found the cookie dough from Garner, Iowa-based Aspen Hills Inc. potentially tainted, according to a Blue Bell statement.

No illnesses have been reported from the ice cream distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, the company said.

Blue Bell said the recall involves Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough half gallons with the code date 082618226 on the carton bottoms and pints with the code dates 081518242 and 082418242, as well as Cookie Two Step half gallons with the code dates 080418222 and 081818224. Consumers should return the affected cartons to their place of purchase for full refunds.


Protect kids from toxic secondhand smoke, experts urge

Public Release: 12-Sep-2016
Protect kids from toxic secondhand smoke, experts urge
American Heart Association Scientific Statement
American Heart Association

arents and policy advocates should take a "zero tolerance" approach to exposing children to secondhand cigarette smoke, which can be responsible for lifelong cardiovascular consequences in addition to respiratory and other health issues, according to a new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

"Parents should consider making their children's environment smoke free because cigarette smoke exposure is harmful to children's long-term heart health and may shorten life expectancy," said Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., M.P.H., pediatric cardiologist and chair of the American Heart Association expert panel that wrote the statement. "Children exposed to cigarette smoke may develop early heart disease as adults due to poorly functioning, stiffer blood vessels. Some babies who were exposed to cigarette smoke while still in the womb may be at risk for sudden death during infancy."

Besides impacting heart function by causing damage to arteries, exposure to secondhand smoke has been associated with other cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance - which is linked to diabetes. Furthermore, children are more likely to become smokers themselves if their parents smoke.

Since publication of the 1994 American Heart Association statement on this topic, experts have learned more about the dangers of secondhand smoke to children, including the high level of toxicity in the smoke that comes from the end of a burning cigarette ("side stream smoke" - this is a major component of second hand smoke) and the damage smoke does to children's blood vessels, Raghuveer said.

Secondhand smoke contains a host of chemicals that can impact health by causing changes to blood flow, blood vessels, blood pressure and heart rhythm.

Compared with adults, children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke exposure in part because they cannot control tobacco use in their surroundings, and they appear to be particularly susceptible physically to the smoke's effects.


There is also a clear disparity in exposure among minority children and those from poor families compared with their peers. Data from 2011-12 show that 68 percent of non-Hispanic African-American children aged 3 to 11 had been exposed to secondhand smoke, compared with 37 percent of non-Hispanic white and 30 percent of Hispanic children.


Your judgement of how drunk you are appears to depend on those around you

ublic Release: 12-Sep-2016
Your judgement of how drunk you are appears to depend on those around you
BioMed Central

When drunk and surrounded by other drinkers, people's judgements of their own levels of intoxication and the associated risks are related to the drunkenness of their peers, not on the objective amount of alcohol they have actually consumed, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

Researchers at Cardiff University found that whilst intoxicated and in drinking environments, people's perception of their own drunkenness, the excess of their drinking and the long-term health implications of their drinking behaviour were related to how their own drunkenness ranked in comparison to others around them. People were more likely to underestimate their own level of drinking, drunkenness and the associated risks when surrounded by others who were intoxicated but felt more at risk when surrounded by people who were more sober.


Researchers find evidence of 'hidden hearing loss' in college-age human subjects

Public Release: 12-Sep-2016
Researchers find evidence of 'hidden hearing loss' in college-age human subjects
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear have, for the first time, linked symptoms of difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments with evidence of cochlear synaptopathy, a condition known as "hidden hearing loss," in college-age human subjects with normal hearing sensitivity.

In a study of young adults who may regularly overexpose their ears to loud sounds, a research team led by Stéphane Maison, Ph.D., showed a significant correlation between performance on a speech-in-noise test and an electrophysiological measure of the health of the auditory nerve. The team also saw significantly better scores on both tests among subjects who regularly wore hearing protection when exposed to loud sounds. Their findings were published online today in PLOS ONE.

"While hearing sensitivity and the ability to understand speech in quiet environments were the same across all subjects, we saw reduced responses from the auditory nerve in participants exposed to noise on a regular basis and, as expected, that loss was matched with difficulties understanding speech in noisy and reverberating environments," said Dr. Maison, an investigator in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at Mass. Eye and Ear and Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.

Hearing loss, which affects an estimated 48 million Americans, can be caused by noise or aging and typically arises from damage to the sensory cells of the inner ear (or cochlea), which convert sounds into electrical signals, and/or the auditory nerve fibers that transmit those signals to the brain. It is traditionally diagnosed by elevation in the sound level required to hear a brief tone, as revealed on an audiogram, the gold standard test of hearing sensitivity.

"Hidden hearing loss," on the other hand, refers to synaptopathy, or damage to the connections between the auditory nerve fibers and the sensory cells, a type of damage which happens well before the loss of the sensory cells themselves. Loss of these connections likely contributes to difficulties understanding speech in challenging listening environments, and may also be important in the generation of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and/or hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to sound). Hidden hearing loss cannot be measured using the standard audiogram; thus, the Mass. Eye and Ear researchers set out to develop more sensitive measures that can also test for cochlear synaptopathy.


Smoking may lead to heart failure by thickening the heart wall

Public Release: 13-Sep-2016
Smoking may lead to heart failure by thickening the heart wall
Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging Journal Report
American Heart Association

Smoking is associated with thicker heart walls and reduction in the heart's pumping ability, two factors associated with increased risk of heart failure, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.


"In addition, the more people smoke, the greater the damage to the heart's structure and function, which reinforces the recommendations stating that smoking is dangerous and should be stopped."


"The good news is that former smokers had similar heart structure and function compared with never smokers," said Scott Solomon, M.D., senior study author and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. "This suggests that the potential effects of tobacco on the myocardium might be reversible after smoking cessation."

Eurekalert is back up

Hooray, Eurekalert is back up. They got hacked, and were recovering and putting procedures in place to guard against future problems. Unfortunately, the criminals eventually find ways around safeguards.

I have been trying to catch up on news from this site for my blog. I had gotten behind when I was doing volunteer taxes for Tax-Aide at the beginning of the year. But I'm going to just have to forget about that, and start from today.

Adolf Hitler: How Could a Monster Succeed in Blinding a Nation? By Alice Miller, Ph.D.

Studies have found that almost all violent criminals were abused as children, often showing signs of physical brain damage from the abuse.
FBI profilers who studied serial killers found that every one they studied was badly abused as a child, usually by their parents.
This problem is not confined to any one ethnic group.

Is it still possible in today's Germany to escape the realization that without the mistreatment of children, without a form of child-rearing based on violence to inculcate blind obedience, there would not have been a Hitler and his followers? And thus not millions of murdered victims either? Probably every thinking person in the post-war period has wondered at some time or other how it could have happened that a human being devised a gigantic machinery of death and found millions of helpers to set it in motion.

Yet the monster Adolf Hitler, murderer of millions, master of destruction and organized insanity, did not come into the world as a monster. He was not sent to earth by the devil, as some people think, nor was he sent by heaven to "bring order" to Germany, to give the country the autobahn and rescue it from its economic crisis, as many others still believe. Neither was he born with "destructive drives", because there are no such things. Our biological mission is to preserve life, not to destroy It. Human destructiveness Is never inborn, and inherited traits are neither good nor evil. How they develop depends on one's character, which is formed In the course of one's life, and the nature of which depends, in turn, on the experiences one has, above all, in childhood and adolescence, and on the decisions one makes as an adult.


In order not to die, all mistreated children must totally repress the mistreatment, deprivation, and bewilderment they have undergone because otherwise the child's organism wouldn't be able to cope with the magnitude of the pain suffered. Only as adults do they have other possibilities for dealing with their feelings. If they don't make use of these possibilities, then what was once the life-saving function of repression can be transformed Into a dangerous destructive, and self-destructive force. In the careers of despots such as Hitler and Stalin, their suppressed fantasies of revenge can lead to indescribable atrocities. This phenomenon doesn't exist anywhere in the entire animal kingdom, for no animal is trained by its parents to deny its nature completely in order to become a "well-behaved" animal - only human beings act In such a destructive way. According to the reports of Nazi criminals (and also of soldiers who volunteered to fight in Vietnam), their unconscious programming to be violent began in every case with a brutal upbringing that demanded absolute obedience and expressed total contempt for the child. I know of no example of this which is so well-documented and which demonstrates so clearly the consequences of the psychological murder of children - bringing along with it a form of collective blindness - than the fateful success of Adolf Hitler.


The Führer once told his secretary that during one of the regular beatings given him by his father he was able to stop crying, to feel nothing, and even to count the thirty-two blows he received.

In this way, by totally denying his pain, his feelings of powerlessness, and his despair- in other words, by denying the truth - Hitler made himself into a master of violence and of contempt for human beings. The result was a very primitive person, incapable of any empathy for other people. He was mercilessly and constantly driven to new destructive acts by his latent feelings of hatred and revenge. After millions had been forced to die for this reason, those feelings still haunted him in his sleep. Hermann Rauschning reports nocturnal paroxysms of screaming on the Führer's part, along with "inexplicable counting", which I trace back to the counting he did during the beatings of his childhood. Hitler did not invent fascism; he found it, like so many of his contemporaries) prefigured in the totalitarian regime of his family. The National Socialist version of fascism, however, does bear unmistakable traces of Hitler's childhood. But his early experience was by no means an exception. Thus, neither Gerhart Hauptmann nor Martin Heidegger nor many other celebrated intellects of the day were able to see through Hitler's madness. To do so, they would have had to be able to see through the madness of their own upbringing.


Fortunately, there were persons now and again with whom a child could find refuge from this totalitarian regime, and perhaps even experience love, respect, and protection. On the basis of these good experiences, even simply on the basis of the comparison they provided, a child could at least pass inward judgment on the cruelty endured and not want to inflict it in turn later on. But when there were no witnesses to come to the rescue, the child had no choice in this bizarre scenario but to stifle every natural reflex such as anger or even laughter, and to practice absolute obedience daily in order to keep the father's menacing behavior within bearable limits. It was this kind of early character training that Hitler was later able to exploit. In strict accordance with this system of child-rearing he then developed his Nazi ideology,


Without the numerous documentary films that attest to the frenzied acclaim Hitler received, no one today would believe that a madman with this ideology of contempt for human beings could generate so much enthusiasm. How was it at all possible that Hitler found such an immense number of followers? By promising his people a solution to all their problems and by offering them a scapegoat? Certainly. But that alone would not have been enough. In order to use untold numbers of people as marionettes, he had to make his promises in the style of the domineering, violent father most of his followers knew, feared, and admired.


Why don't these parents know that physical or - as the case may be - psychological punishment constitutes degradation and mistreatment of children and always, sooner or later, has destructive consequences, whether visible or concealed? Why don't they know that with their demonstrably false claim that striking children is absolutely necessary and completely harmless they are affirming, preserving, and perpetuating a destructive tradition?

They don't know this because they are familiar from their own experience only with this form of child-rearing and had to learn at an early age to regard it as normal and harmless. In their eyes, violent methods are the only effective corrective for a child's behavior.


It is just as impossible for us to imagine having been fascinated by a Hitler. People who were treated with respect as children, who weren't drilled to become robots with the aid of mistreatment, will never want to die out of "faithfulness to the Führer" or send thousands of human beings to Stalingrad against all reason just because some madman planned it. But Hitler's generals stood at attention In the Fürher's headquarters, and all counter-arguments dissolved into fear and mental paralysis or, on the other hand, into enthusiasm when they heard him (the father) speak. This disastrous political blindness that cost millions of people their lives proves conclusively what our grandparents so hotly denied: that in every case, physical as well as psychological abuse of the child is not only harmful but highly dangerous. Not only for the individual but under certain circumstances for whole nations.

tags: child abuse

Trump refused to pay winner of a 2010 golf contest his $1M prize — and when mogul was sued, he doled out settlement using money from his charity

BY Adam Edelman
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 5:02 PM

Donald Trump once refused to pay a winner of a hole-in-one contest $1 million during a 2010 golf tournament, prompting the competition’s angry winner to sue the mogul, recently unearthed documents from the lawsuit show.

And when the GOP nominee finally settled the suit for $158,000, he did so with money from his charitable foundation, which is illegal.


The country club calamity arose in August 2010, after Martin Greenberg, the CEO of Sterling Commodities Corp., hit a hole-in-one on the 13th hole while playing in a for-charity tournament at the Trump National Golf Club, Westchester, in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

Under the rules of the competition, Greenberg was entitled to a $1 million prize.

But the rules also stipulated that Greenberg’s shot had to travel at least 150 yards, a distance that Trump’s golf club, allegedly, made the hole short of, on purpose.

In the suit, Greenberg conveyed how surprised he was when he didn’t get the money, pointing to the fact that former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, whose charity was also


But just over an hour after Greenberg’s shot, he was “summoned” to meet with representatives from Trump’s club and the insurance company that underwrote the prize to examine the spot from where he hit his shot.

William Fried, one of Greenberg’s attorneys, told The News the claim was ultimately denied because “the markers at the tee were not set at the right yardage” and that “the course” — owned by Trump in this case — “traditionally sets those markers.”

When Greenberg didn’t receive the money on that basis, he sued Trump’s club, Mourning’s charity and the insurance company that had underwritten the prize.

Eventually, Trump’s club and Greenberg settled the case, with the company agreeing to donate $158,000 to a charity chosen by Greenberg, which he later decided would be the Martin Greenberg Foundation

The money given to Greenberg’s charity, however, came from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, tax forms for the mogul’s charity from 2012 show.

Leaders of nonprofit groups and charities are legally forbidden from using money that could benefit themselves or their personal businesses.

Fried confirmed his client’s charity later received the money.


Fair Scheduling Gains Momentum

Justin Miller
Sept. 20, 2016

Worker movements have had tremendous success in blue cities and states in securing higher minimum wages and access to paid sick leave. Now those wins are blazing a trail for another critical policy for low-wage workers: the right to a fair workweek. After enacting a $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave in recent years, two cities are now leading the way on granting workers the right to a sane and predictable schedule.

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his support for legislation currently pending in the city council that would give Gotham’s fast-food workers the right to more predictable work hours. On Monday, the Seattle City Council passed a comprehensive fair workweek law that advocates hope can serve as a model for other cities.

These policy developments come at a time when many workers say that service-sector employers’ scheduling practices make it impossible for them to live their lives. On-call scheduling—in which workers can be told to report to work with little advance notice—make it hard for employees to schedule parenting, school, doctor visits, and much else. Scheduling software aimed solely at efficiency can lengthen or eliminate their shifts at the last minute. On top of that, the prevalent practice of “clopening”—where a worker has a closing shift followed just a few hours later by an opening shift—often leaves workers with little time to rest. Meanwhile, workers are on the hook for the costs of uncertainty, like a last-minute taxi ride to work or unexpected child-care costs.

In one nationwide survey, four out of five early-career adult workers said that their weekly hours fluctuated by an average of 87 percent compared with their usual hours; 45 percent of hourly workers who are parents said they have no input on their schedules.

Fair-scheduling advocates say it's time for employees to have more say in scheduling practices—and for employers to finally pay their workers for the costs that their flexible schedule imposes on employees (like those taxi rides and child care). They are also demanding that companies stop hiring more and more workers to maximize flexibility while cutting hours for existing workers.

In 2014, San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the country to mandate fair-scheduling practices with its unprecedented “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” The new Seattle law will build on that by requiring that employers give workers two weeks advance notice on shift schedules


On the opposite coast, the New York City legislation focuses on the 65,000 workers in the city’s fast-food industry.


San Jose will decide on a ballot measure that would require companies with 35 or more workers to offer additional hours to part-timers before taking on new employees.

Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis are also considering fair-scheduling measures for retail and fast-food chains, though both efforts have run into heavy resistance from the business lobby. Workers and organizers are also pushing for a fair-scheduling law in Emeryville, a small city between Berkeley and Oakland that is a major retail-shopping destination for the east Bay Area.


Why do so many veterinarians commit suicide?

By Sy Montgomery Globe Correspondent September 19, 2016


It’s hard to think of many people in our lives more important, more integral, or more venerated than our veterinarians. To those of us who love animals, veterinary medicine is one of the world’s noblest professions.

So it was with shock and dismay that I learned that veterinarians suffer alarmingly high rates of depression and suicide.

“It’s a big problem,” says Stephanie Kube, a veterinary neurologist and pain pathologist at Veterinary Neurology and Pain Management Center of New England in Walpole. “The profession is truly plagued.”

A 2014 federal Centers for Disease Control online survey of 10,000 practicing veterinarians published last year found that more than one in six American veterinarians has considered suicide. Veterinarians suffer from feelings of hopelessness, depression, and other psychiatric disorders two to three times more often than the general population. Two studies published in the British Veterinarian Association’s journal, The Veterinary Record, found suicide rates are double or more those of dentists and doctors, and four to six times higher than the general population.


A good Samaritan had rescued a sick cat from a nearby park, and brought him to Koshi, owner of Gentle Hands Veterinary Clinic in Riverdale. Koshi treated the animal and adopted him. Weeks later, a woman appeared, demanding Koshi give her the cat. She claimed the cat was hers because she left food for him, and a number of other cats who roamed the public park. The woman sued; angry demonstrators picketed Koshi’s office; organized hate groups attacked the vet online. Koshi, 55, killed herself at her home.


“Most of our clients are awesome, and we love them. But all sorts of people have pets,” Kube says. Some adopt or rescue pets who can’t take care of them. Some want healthy pets put down. Some pet owners have emotional disabilities. Some are too financially strapped to pay for veterinary care. “And some think vets will do everything for free, because we love animals,” Kube says. “And we do — but we can’t.” Many veterinarians, she mentioned, carry huge debt from vet school, which can cost as much or more than medical school. But most veterinarians will earn less than a third what doctors and dentists do, mainly because they charge less and don’t get reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance. (Pet insurance does exist, but few people have it.)

Yet veterinarians have to witness, and often assist, in the healer’s most wrenching moment, far more often than doctors. “Many of our patients die during our career,” my vet, Dr. Chuck DeVinne of Animal Care Clinic in Peterborough, N.H., told me — simply because companion animals’ lives are shorter than humans.


Vets encounter death frequently, along with some moral issues doctors never face. Consider the vet who needs to counsel an owner forced to choose between a costly operation for their pet or sending their kid to college — or worse, a vet who operates on a pet who despite good care still dies.

When things go wrong, veterinarians take it hard. “Many veterinarians have devoted everything they’ve got to their profession,” says DeVinne.

When these stresses combine with long working hours and on-call pressures, it’s easy to see how anyone could melt down. And because vets can offer gentle deaths to their patients with euthanasia, they may see death as a way out of pain. All of them have easy access to drugs that can kill.


“Educating the public is a first step” to healing these animal healers, Kube says. I urge you to do as I do when I bring my puppy in for a visit: Tell your vet — and their staff — that you’re grateful for what they do.

How Big Pharma Lobbyists Make the Opioid Crisis Worse

By Eric Pianin
September 20, 2016

A nationwide epidemic of prescription drug addiction so alarmed lawmakers and the White House this year that Congress passed major legislation in July to police and treat opioid abuse.

The government has estimated that more than two million Americans are opioid abusers and that nearly 500,000 more are heroin addicts. In 2014 alone, there were more than 47,000 deaths related to prescription drug abuse – or twice the death rate in 2000.

Although lawmakers approved only about half the $1.1 billion President Obama requested, the legislation was viewed as an important first step. It includes grants and other programs designed to help law enforcement officials and health care experts identify and treat heroin and prescription drug abuse.

This is a problem that once was largely confined to urban areas but now is rampant in suburban and rural areas.

Major pharmaceutical companies have publicly voiced support for steps to combat or reduce the addiction epidemic, particularly after it became an important issue during the presidential primaries this year. In May, PhRMA, the major pharmaceutical research and manufacturing trade organization, declared in a statement, “Given the growing toll related to the abuse of prescription opioids and heroin, we must collectively redouble our efforts to prevent the misuse, abuse and diversion of prescription medicine.”

A joint investigation by The Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press found that major drug companies frequently lobbied state legislatures across the country to resist legal restrictions on their drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Fentanyl.

Often teaming up with advocacy groups that “use the veneer of independence to fight limits on the drugs,” the manufacturers of prescription painkillers adopted a 50-state strategy that included “hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids,” the report says.

Between 2006 and 2015, the drug companies and their allies spent $880 million nationwide on campaign contributions and the lobbying effort in statehouses. That works out to an astounding 200 times more spending on lobbying and political activity than spending by advocates for stricter drug policies. The investigation found that the drug companies and their allies employed on average 1,350 lobbyists a year to try to influence state lawmakers and other influential officials.


“The opioid lobby has been doing everything it can to preserve the status quo of aggressive prescribing,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and an outspoken advocate for opioid reform, told the researchers. “They are reaping enormous profits from aggressive prescribing.”


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Gas crunch eases as pipeline fixes continue

5:11 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016

Even before the damaged Alabama pipeline started pumping again, retailers said Wednesday the Atlanta gasoline situation was moving closer to normal.

Colonial Pipeline expected to resume regular flow sometime Wednesday evening using a 500-foot bypass around the leaky section of a major regional pipeline south of Birmingham.

But fuel only flows at about 5 miles an hour, and the Alpharetta-based pipeline company also said it would be “several days” before its part of the supply chain is fully restored.


Still, the impact of the pipeline problem was softened by planning, said Angela Holland, spokeswoman for the 7,000-member Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

“These retailers have been in the industry a lot time and they have contingency plans,” she said. “Our retailers do have fuel coming from other sources, from the Plantation pipeline, from the ports in Savannah and Jacksonville.

“Public fear really drove the demand way up,” since reports of shortages emerged late last week, she said. As long as demand is high, it’s tough to meet it and get things back to normal.”

International Peace Day

Sept. 21, 2016

Victor Yehling, on Facebook:

In observance of International Peace Day:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

"We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace." - William Ewart Gladstone

"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with each and every one of us." - with thanks and apologies to Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller.


How to deal with fake facebook accounts

When your friends tell you you have been "hacked" because they have gotten friend requests from someone with your name who is not you, this is not really hacking . Someone has created a new Facebook account using your name. Usually they have downloaded your picture and used it too. Changing your account info will do NOTHING to help this. They don't need your password to do this.

How do I report a fake account?
If you have a Facebook account and want to report someone that's pretending to be you or someone you know:

Go to the profile of the fake account
Click on the cover photo and select Report
Follow the on-screen instructions to file a report

If you don't have a Facebook account and want to report someone that's pretending to be you or someone you know, please fill out this form.

[Go to link above for form.]

New study undercuts favorite climate myth ‘more CO2 is good for plants’

If you have a yard and/or garden, you should know that high temperatures are bad for planats. But I have found that many people are oblivious to what is going on around them.

Sept. 19, 2016

A new study by scientists at Stanford University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested whether hotter temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels that we’ll see post-2050 will benefit the kinds of plants that live in California grasslands. They found that carbon dioxide at higher levels than today (400 ppm) did not significantly change plant growth, while higher temperatures had a negative effect.
The oversimplified myth of ‘CO2 is plant food’

Those who benefit from the status quo of burning copious amounts of fossil fuels love to argue that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit plant life. It’s a favorite claim of climate contrarians like Matt Ridley and Rupert Murdoch.

It seems like a great counter-argument to the fact that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant – a fact that contrarians often dispute. However, reality is far more complicated than the oversimplification of ‘CO2 is plant food.’ Unlike in the controlled environment of a greenhouse, the increasing greenhouse effect on Earth causes temperatures to rise and the climate to change in various ways that can be bad for plant life. We can’t control all the other variables the way we can in a greenhouse.

So far, as contrarians like Rupert Murdoch love to point out, the plant food effect has won out. Earth has become greener in recent decades (although that trend may now be reversing). The situation is not unlike a human diet – at relatively low calorie levels, more food is beneficial. But as calorie intake continues to rise, at a certain point it’s no longer benefiting the human body. More food is good, but only up to a certain point, as the global obesity epidemic makes clear.

The Stanford scientists set up 132 plots of flowers and grass in California and introduced varying levels of carbon dioxide, temperature, water, and nitrogen. The scientists conducted the experiments over 16 growing seasons between 1998 and 2014. They found that only higher nitrogen levels resulted in higher plant productivity, while higher temperatures caused it to decline.

While this experiment was specific to California grasslands, other studies have similarly undermined the ‘more CO2 is great’ myth. For example, a 2012 paperfound that higher temperatures are detrimental to French corn yields. While French corn production has increased steadily in recent decades due to a combination of technological improvements and CO2 fertilization (the former far more than the latter), yields have leveled off in recent years, and were particularly low when struck by heat waves.

A significant reduction in maize yield is found for each day with a maximum temperature above 32°C, in broad agreement with previous estimates. The recent increase in such hot days has likely contributed to the observed yield stagnation.

Another study published in Nature Climate Change last week concluded that higher temperatures will cause wheat production to decline. Just a 1°C rise in global temperature will decrease wheat yields by about 5% (approximately 35 million tons). Climate change is bad news for several of our staple crops.