Sunday, March 31, 2019

The White House will get the Mueller report before the public does in case it wants to make redactions, Barr says

Sonam Sheth
Mar. 26, 2019, 1:54 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr told him he would send the special counsel Robert Mueller's final report on the Russia investigation to the White House before the public sees it, in case it wants to claim executive privilege over any parts.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said Barr told him it would most likely take "weeks, not months," to make a version of Mueller's final report public.


POLLEN PROBLEMS: Climate Change, the Growing Season, and America’s Allergies

Mar. 27, 2019

Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from pollen allergies. Analysis of local temperature data by Climate Central and recent scientific research show that climate change is prolonging their season of suffering.

Global warming is extending the freeze-free season, giving plants more time to grow, flower, and produce pollen. And as atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rise, laboratory experiments suggest, some plants that produce allergenic pollen produce even more of it.

These trends will worsen as humanity dumps more carbon into the atmosphere. Like global warming’s effects on heat waves and vector-borne diseases, climate change’s consequences for pollen allergies reveal how greenhouse gas emissions are already damaging Americans’ health.

Over the past few decades, the prevalence of allergies among Americans has skyrocketed. In 1970, about one in ten Americans suffered from hay fever, which is caused by airborne allergens, such as pollen and mold spores; by 2000, three in ten did.

Asthma—which often occurs alongside pollen allergies—has become more common, too. The proportion of Americans who suffer from asthma rose from 3.1 percent to 8.4 percent of the population between 1980 and 2010. Rates are even higher among African-Americans, low-income households, and children. Today, some 6.2 million Americans under the age of 18 suffer from the chronic disease.


Researchers do not fully understand the causes of the upward trend in allergies. But one thing is clear: as humans warm the atmosphere, the freeze-free season generally begins earlier and lasts longer each year, extending the time during which plants can grow and produce pollen.


To understand how the growing season has changed across the United States, Climate Central assessed temperature data for 201 cities. Of those cities, 83% saw their freeze-free seasons lengthen since 1970. In the average city, the amount of time between the last and first freeze of the year grew by just over two weeks.

In 34 cities, including El Paso, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, the season between first and last freeze grew by at least four weeks. In Bend, Oregon; Medford, Oregon; and Las Cruces, New Mexico, it lengthened by at least two months—among the biggest increases in the country. In general, relative to early twentieth-century averages, the freeze-free season has lengthened the most in the western United States, becoming about 19 days longer in the Southwest and 16 days longer in the Northwest. And as the frost-free season has lengthened, so has the pollen season of ragweed, one of the most commonly allergenic plants in the United States. In parts of the upper Midwest, for instance, the ragweed pollen season lengthened by about three weeks between 1995 and 2011.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Amphibian 'apocalypse' caused by most destructive pathogen ever

By Michael Greshko
Mar. 28, 2019

For decades, a silent killer has slaughtered frogs and salamanders around the world by eating their skins alive. Now, a global team of 41 scientists has announced that the pathogen—which humans unwittingly spread around the world—has damaged global biodiversity more than any other disease ever recorded.


In all, the fungi have driven the declines of at least 501 amphibian species, or about one out of every 16 known to science.

Of the chytrid-stricken species, 90 have gone extinct or are presumed extinct in the wild. Another 124 species have declined in number by more than 90 percent. All but one of the 501 declines was caused by Bd.

“We’ve known that's chytrid's really bad, but we didn't know how bad it was, and it's much worse than the previous early estimates,” says study leader Ben Scheele, an ecologist at Australian National University. “Our new results put it on the same scale, in terms of damage to biodiversity, as rats, cats, and [other] invasive species.”


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Want to burn less gas? Try driving the speed limit.

By Craig K. Chandler
Monday, March 25, 2019

Suppose that tomorrow you decide to work from home – skipping a commute that normally results in the emission of 10 pounds of carbon dioxide. That’s what would occur if your commute burned about a half-gallon of gasoline.

This is 10 pounds of CO2 that will never be generated and emitted into the atmosphere because of your decision to work from home. Work from home one day a week for a year and you will have not added nearly 500 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Multiply choices like that one by an estimated 115 million American commuters, and the amount of CO2 not emitted into the atmosphere would be hundreds of millions of tons over the course of the next decade. Expand that a few million times across the globe, and the non-emissions increase substantially.

Making these choices are like “drops in a bucket.” Turn off the light when you leave a room: a drop in the bucket. Adjust the thermostat as you leave for work: more drops in the bucket. Buy a fuel-efficient car or hybrid/all-electric vehicle instead of a big SUV or pickup truck: potentially, lots more drops in the bucket.


Every gallon of gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel we don’t burn results in about 19, 22, and 21 pounds of CO2, respectively, not emitted into the atmosphere.

Ways to cut back on gallons of fuel burned are numerous: work from home; carpool; shop online; chain our trips, combining several errands into one trip. But let’s focus first on one that has not received much attention in recent years: driving slower.


Driving 60 mph is 20-25 percent more efficient than driving 75 mph. Why? Mainly because air resistance increases exponentially with the speed of the vehicle.

Declining efficiency with increasing speed also applies to hybrid and all-electric vehicles, as they too, of course, are subject to the drag of air resistance. So, if you drive your all-electric vehicle 75 mph on the highway, you will have to re-charge the car’s battery more often than if you drive 60 mph. And frequently the electricity used to charge electric car batteries is generated from fossil fuel burning power plants.

Some might urge considering the extra time it takes to drive slower. For example, suppose you must drive 25 miles on a highway to reach your place of work. If you drive 75 mph you will arrive at work five minutes sooner than if you drive 60 mph. Is that five minutes’ worth a loss of 20-25 percent in fuel efficiency?


If you’re just not a morning person, science says you may never be
By Brian Resnick
March 17, 2017


We all have a preferred, inborn time for sleeping. Science has validated the idea that there are "morning people," "evening people," and those in between. These are called chronotypes.


Research has been gaining insight on that question. It turns out our internal clocks are influenced by genes and are incredibly difficult to change. If you're just not a morning person, it's likely you'll never be, at least until the effects of aging kick in.

And what's more, if we try to live out of sync with these clocks, our health likely suffers. The mismatch between internal time and real-world time has been linked to heart disease, obesity, and depression.

This all amounts to a case — not an absolute case, but a compelling one nonetheless — that we should listen to our bodies and not the alarm clocks.


Most people — around 30 to 50 percent — fall right in the middle of the chronotype bell curve, sleeping between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am.

Another 40 percent are either slightly morning people or slightly evening people, off by an hour or so. 1

People like Sokolis are even more rare: Only around 0.2 percent — one out of 500 — of adults have a delayed sleep phase like Sokolis. (The condition is much more common among teens, whose clocks gradually shift earlier as they age.) A few more adults (1 percent) have advanced sleep phase syndrome and prefer to go to sleep around 8 pm, according to the American Sleep Association. Society tends to be more forgiving of them.


The most important thing to know about the circadian system is that it doesn't just control when we're sleepy. "Every neurotransmitter, hormone, and chemical in the body cycles with the daily rhythm," Philip Gehrman, a sleep researcher and clinician at the University of Pennsylvania, tells me. "It’s not just humans; even single-cell organisms follow a circadian rhythm. It really seems to be a fundamental property of life."


"Evening types on average get down to their lowest core body temperature later than normal," Leon Lack, who studies circadian rhythms at Flinders University in Australia, tells me in an email. "Their circadian system doesn’t start producing sleepiness until later or alertness until later." They also release cortisol, the stress hormone, later than average. Most people hit their peak alertness around 10 am. Evening-type people can hit theirs hours later.

Some extreme night owls gather on Reddit to discuss the unique challenges of being out of sync with the world.


The delayed sleep phase sufferers I spoke to all agreed: The one thing they wished for was greater tolerance of people like them.

"Sometimes one of the helpful things I do for people is give them permission to follow a late schedule," Gehrman says of his clinical practice. "Because there’s an attitude in our culture that there is something wrong with that."

How Poor Americans Get Exploited by Their Landlords

Richard Florida
Mar 21, 2019

Do the poor pay more for housing?

That’s the question at the heart, and in the title, of a detailed paper published in the American Journal of Sociology on the actual housing costs paid by Americans in low-income urban neighborhoods. Its two authors, Princeton’s Matthew Desmond—who wrote the award-winning 2016 book Evicted—and MIT’s Nathan Wilmers, track the rent burdens and levels of exploitation faced by those living in concentrated poverty. They also uncover the staggeringly high profit margins made by the landlords who own properties in these areas.


Wright defined exploitation as occurring when a dominant and more powerful group enriches itself by excluding a less powerful and more subordinate group from a key productive resource, like technology, machinery, or land.


It is a mistake, Desmond and Wilmers argue, to see slums as a byproduct of the modern city, rundown areas that occur by accident. Instead, they contend that the slum has long been a “prime moneymaker” for those who profit from land scarcity, racial segregation, and deferred maintenance. “If labor exploitation is understood to be getting paid less than the market value of what one produces,” they write, “we can extend this definition to the housing market by operationalizing exploitation as being overcharged relative to the market value of what one purchases, paying more for less.”


Ultimately, they find consistent evidence that the poor, and especially the minority poor, experience the highest rates of housing exploitation. In their most basic formulations, they find that renters in high-poverty neighborhoods experience levels of exploitation that are more than double those of renters in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty. Neighborhoods with a poverty rate of less than 15 percent have an exploitation rate of 10 percent—meaning that rents cover 10 percent of the actual cost of that housing. (In other words, the actual cost of that rental housing can be paid off in 10 years.) But in high-poverty neighborhoods, those where 50 to 60 percent of residents live in poverty, the exploitation rate is 25 percent, meaning that 25 percent of the value of the property is paid back in a single year of rent.

The housing-exploitation rate is also higher in majority-black neighborhoods (20 to 25 percent) compared to minority-black neighborhoods (10 to 15 percent). These results are backed up by the study’s more high-powered statistical models.


The story doesn’t end there. Landlords are making a bundle from poor renters. The poor pay a considerable amount of money in rent: Nationwide, median rents in poor neighborhoods are $511 per month, compared to $674 in non-poor neighborhoods. In Milwaukee, the gap is much narrower: $600 in poor areas versus $650 in non-poor areas. When Wilmers and Desmond control for regular expenses in the form of mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and property management fees, they find the actual profits that landlords make to be significantly higher in poor neighborhoods.


Across the nation, landlords with units in poor neighborhoods average nearly $100 a month in net profit, compared to about $50 in affluent neighborhoods, and just $3 in middle-class areas. In Milwaukee, landlords again do even better, taking home about $150 per month, compared to roughly $20 a month in non-poor neighborhoods.


Why Your Brain Loves Procrastination

By Susannah Locke
April 18, 2016


Procrastination, they've realized, appears to be a coping mechanism. When people procrastinate, they're avoiding emotionally unpleasant tasks and instead doing something that provides a temporary mood boost. The procrastination itself then causes shame and guilt — which in turn leads people to procrastinate even further, creating a vicious cycle.

But getting a better understanding of why our brains are so prone to procrastination might let us find new strategies to avoid it. For example, psychologist Tim Pychyl has co-authored a paper showing that students who forgave themselves for procrastinating on a previous exam were actually less likely to procrastinate on their next test. He and others have also found that people prone to procrastination are, overall, less compassionate toward themselves — an insight that points to ways to help.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Trump reelection campaign shifted $1.3 million of donor money into his businesses: analysis

By Aris Folley - 03/21/19 07:04 PM EDT

Documentation filed by the president’s reelection campaign and reviewed by the business publication revealed that the campaign spent $1.3 million at Trump businesses for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since he took office in 2016.

That includes $800,000 the campaign has paid to Trump Tower Commercial LLC, which is the holding company through which the president reportedly holds interest in the Trump Tower located on Fifth Avenue, and $54,000 to Trump Plaza LLC, which controls property that includes two apartment buildings in New York City, according to the analysis.

Each those payments have been listed as “rent” in documentation filed by the president’s campaign, Forbes reports.

The 2020 effort has also reportedly paid $60,000 to Trump Restaurants LLC, which is another holding company linked to Trump Tower.


National Cathedral says Trump didn't need to give 'approval' for McCain funeral

By Rachel Frazin - 03/21/19 02:33 PM EDT

The Washington National Cathedral disputed President Trump's claim that he had to "approve" the funeral of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

"Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Senator John McCain. All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased; only a state funeral for a former president involves consultation with government officials," a cathedral spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday.

"No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the president or any other government official," he added.

President Trump said on Wednesday in Ohio that he gave McCain "the kind of funeral that he wanted."

“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president, I had to approve,” he told a crowd at an Ohio event. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get 'thank you.' That’s OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”


Monday, March 18, 2019

China says it has arrested 13,000 'terrorists' in Xinjiang

Conditions must be bad in China if they feel they have to detain so many people.

Lily Kuo in Beijing
Mon 18 Mar 2019 07.10 EDT
Last modified on Mon 18 Mar 2019 13.07 EDT

China has claimed to have arrested 13,000 “terrorists” in Xinjiang over the last five years, as it launched an aggressive propaganda campaign in defence of its restrictive measures in the far-western region.

Human rights advocates and researchers believe more than 1 million Muslims – mostly Uighurs as well as Kazakhs and other groups – are being systematically imprisoned in internment camps where they are forced to undergo political re-education.


China’s accounts contrast sharply with satellite imagery that shows prison-like facilities surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers, and testimonies by former and current residents, as well as ex-detainees of the camps.

James Leibold, an associate professor at La Trobe University focusing on ethnic relations, said: “It’s about competing imagery and competing narrative, and if you can saturate the marketplace with your narrative and your images it can be accepted as truth. They’ve really gone into overdrive.”


White supremacy is on the march, and Trump is at least partly to blame

Trump lovers attribute any good news to him. So if he is responsible for everything good that has happened on his watch, he must also be responsible for things like this.

Mon 18 Mar 2019 11.10 EDT
Last modified on Mon 18 Mar 2019 13.21 EDT

Last Friday, after the horrific news had broken that a racist gunman had killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, a reporter at the White House asked Donald Trump if he believed that white nationalism was a growing threat around the world. “I don’t, really,” Trump responded. “I think it’s a small group of people.”


Well, Trump can deny, Conway can deflect and Mulvaney can repeat his line as often as he likes, but the president’s record speaks louder – much louder – than any of their words. Trump may try to evade the issue, but the fact remains that a dangerous and global white supremacy is on the march, and Trump himself is at least partly to blame.

Consider how, in January 2017, a man stormed a mosque in Quebec City and shot six people dead while they prayed. An ardent Trump supporter, the man said he was afraid that refugees coming to Canada were a threat to him and his family.

The New Zealand shooter scrawled the Quebec City shooter’s name on one of his ammunition cartridges. The New Zealand shooter also directly applauded Trump in his own manifesto. “Were/Are you a supporter of Donald Trump,” the document asks (the two different verb tenses are there presumably because the shooter didn’t know if he would survive his own terrorist attack). “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure,” he writes. “As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.” (Because the shooter questioned Trump’s ability to formulate policy doesn’t absolve Trump of anything. It should be clear to anyone that Trump infinitely prefers to play to his base than to govern effectively.)

In fact, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), far-right attacks in Europe have jumped 43% between 2016 and 2017. On the domestic front, the rise is even more disturbing. According to CSIS, the number of terrorist attacks by far-right perpetrators in the United States more than quadrupled between 2016 and 2017.

The intimate connections between the president and white nationalists are well known. I doubt anyone needs to be reminded that the president refused to condemn the white nationalists who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, screaming such disgusting nonsense as “Jews will not replace us.”


Who can forget that this is the president who stated “I think Islam hates us” during a 2015 CNN interview while on the campaign trail? And who exactly is the “us” in his statement? Using few words, Trump was able to repeat a blatant falsehood about Islam and foment needless and dangerous divisions between peoples. Talk of a Muslim ban (now in effect and routinely tearing families apart) followed, signaling to white nationalists everywhere that Muslims can and ought to be treated differently than everyone else simply for being Muslim. The number of organized anti-Muslim hate groups nearly tripled in 2017, a rise that the Southern Poverty Law Center credited in part to the “incendiary rhetoric” of Trump.


Would anyone then be shocked to learn that hate crimes generally have risen precipitously since Trump appeared on the national political stage? Nationwide, hate crimes across the board rose by 17% in 2017, according to FBI statistics, the third year in a row to see an uptick (2018 numbers are not yet available).

Listing all the winks and nods (and well-paying jobs) that Trump has given to avowed racists would take far too long and be far too depressing an undertaking.


The president – any president – sets the national tone for what is permissible speech and impermissible speech in the political arena. Trump, on the other hand, merely revels in the impermissible.


I often wonder just how stupid these politicians and their cronies think we are (and just as often marvel at how stupid we all too frequently are). Trump, Conway and Mulvaney can deflect, distract and divide us as much as possible, but none of their words can erase the fact that the president is unambiguously connected to this far-right political violence that is sometimes performed with him directly in mind. Let me be clear. Trump is not criminally responsible for these acts. That would be a ludicrous idea. But he is politically responsible, and understanding that distinction will be the first step to rejuvenating our politics.

Myspace loses all content uploaded before 2016

Glad I have my music in more than one place.

Alex Hern
Mon 18 Mar 2019 11.33 EDT
Last modified on Mon 18 Mar 2019 12.17 EDT

Myspace, the once mighty social network, has lost every single piece of content uploaded to its site before 2016, including millions of songs, photos and videos with no other home on the internet.

The company is blaming a faulty server migration for the mass deletion, which appears to have happened more than a year ago, when the first reports appeared of users unable to access older content. The company has confirmed to online archivists that music has been lost permanently, dashing hopes that a backup could be used to permanently protect the collection for future generations.

More than 50m tracks from 14 million artists have been lost, including songs that led to the rise of the “Myspace Generation” cohort of artists, such as Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys and Yeasayer. As well as music, the site has also accidentally deleted pictures and videos stored on its servers.

Even though many users had deserted Myspace by the end of the noughties for newer social networks such as Facebook, the site retained a significant user base well into this decade as musicians had cultivated their fan followings on it. A disastrous relaunch in 2013 led to most bands having to rebuild their communities from scratch.

That relaunch also cleared much of the text content on the site, including “wall posts” between users. But music and images were left up, in the hope that they could be the building blocks for a music-focused second life that never came.


Harvard researchers say soda and sports drinks increase risk of dying from heart disease and breast and colon cancers

Angelica LaVito
Mar. 18,2019

Drinking soda, sports drinks and other sugary beverages increases the risk of dying from heart disease and some types of cancers, according to new research.

Harvard researchers found that the more sweetened beverages a person drank, the greater their risk of dying from heart disease. In a study published Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, they also found sugary drinks were associated with a moderately higher risk of dying from breast cancer or colon cancer.

Drinking artificially sweetened drinks did not produce the same effects. However, women who drank more than four diet beverages per day died at a higher rate than other groups, particularly from heart disease. Lead author Vasanti Malik warned that this statistic might be inflated because people could have switched from drinking regular soda.

Researchers also found that swapping sugary drinks for diet versions could moderately reduce a person’s risk of death, though they still recommend that people drink water. The study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugary drinks can cause people to gain weight and possibly lead to a slew of health conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Researchers found that for every additional sugary drink a person consumed, their risk of dying from heart disease increased by 10 percent. Malik said while the optimal amount of sweet drinks a person should drink is “zero,” the risk of drinking one or two per week would probably be small or undetectable.


Beira city '90 percent destroyed' by Cyclone Idai, hundreds dead

I feel sorrow for the victims of cyclone Idai

Mar. 18,2019

President Filipe Nyusi feared the death toll could rise to 1,000 in Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Idai he said in a nationwide address on Monday.

"For the moment we have registered 84 deaths officially, but when we flew over the area ... this morning to understand what's going on, everything indicates that we could register more than 1,000 deaths," he said.

So far the total death toll has risen to at least 215 after the storm tore into central Mozambique last week before continuing on to Zimbabwe and Malawi, bringing flash floods and ferocious winds.

At least 126 people were killed in Mozambique and Malawi, according to the Red Cross, and Zimbabwe's information ministry on Monday put the number of dead at 89 in the country.

Most of the deaths in Mozambique happened in the central port city of Beira, 90 percent of which was destroyed, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

A large dam burst on Sunday in the city, cutting off the last road to the city of about 530,000 people, the IFRC said in a statement.

"The scale of damage caused by Cyclone Idai that hit the Mozambican city of Beira is massive and horrifying," it said.


tags: extreme weather, severe weather

The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change

Of course, climate change is contributing to the decline of the natural world, and vice versa.

By John Vidal
03/15/2019 05:45 am ET Updated 3/17/2019

Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken. That’s the warning hundreds of scientists are preparing to give, and it’s stark.

The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May.

The study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), expected to run to over 8,000 pages, is being compiled by more than 500 experts in 50 countries. It is the greatest attempt yet to assess the state of life on Earth and will show how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself, and how nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on earth.

Nature underpins all economies with the “free” services it provides in the form of clean water, air and the pollination of all major human food crops by bees and insects. In the Americas, this is said to total more than $24 trillion a year. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion.

The final report will be handed to world leaders not just to help politicians, businesses and the public become more aware of the trends shaping life on Earth, but also to show them how to better protect nature.


Around the world, land is being deforested, cleared and destroyed with catastrophic implications for wildlife and people. Forests are being felled across Malaysia, Indonesia and West Africa to give the world the palm oil we need for snacks and cosmetics. Huge swaths of Brazilian rainforest are being cleared to make way for soy plantations and cattle farms, and to feed the timber industry, a situation likely to accelerate under new leader Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist.


Industrial farming is to blame for much of the loss of nature, said Mark Rounsevell, professor of land use change at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, who co-chaired the European section of the IPBES study. “The food system is the root of the problem. The cost of ecological degradation is not considered in the price we pay for food, yet we are still subsidizing fisheries and agriculture.”

This destruction wrought by farming threatens the foundations of our food system. A February report from the U.N. warned that the loss of soil, plants, trees and pollinators such as birds, bats and bees undermines the world’s ability to produce food.

An obsession with economic growth as well as spiraling human populations is also driving this destruction, particularly in the Americas where GDP is expected to nearly double by 2050 and the population is expected to increase 20 percent to 1.2 billion over the same period.


“The loss of trees, grasslands and wetlands is costing the equivalent of about 10 percent of the world’s annual gross product, driving species extinctions, intensifying climate change and pushing the planet toward a sixth mass species extinction,” says the report.


While people are familiar with the threats to whales, elephants and other beloved animals, the problem goes far deeper than that. Animal populations have declined by 60 percent since 1970, driven by human actions, according to a recent World Wildlife Fund study.

And insects, vital to the diets of other animals, as well as the pollinators of our food, are facing a bleak future as populations appear to be collapsing. Land use changes and increased pesticide use are destroying habitats and vastly reducing numbers. In Europe, up to 37 percent of bees and 31 percent of butterflies are in decline, with major losses also recorded in southern Africa, according to the pollinators section of the report.


This destruction is also driving mass human migration and increased conflict. Decreasing land productivity makes societies more vulnerable to social instability, says the report, which estimates that in around 30 years’ time land degradation, together with the closely related problems of climate change, will have forced 50 to 700 million people to migrate.

“It will just be no longer viable to live on those lands,” said Watson.


What surprised me the most about this study was that it became clear that the older cultures, like the indigenous peoples of the Americas, have different values which protect nature better [than Western societies],” said Watson. “No one should romanticize indigenous peoples, and we cannot turn the clock back, but we can learn a lot from them on how to protect the planet.”

Indigenous people, however, continue to experience discrimination, threats and murder. In Brazil, for example, Bolsonaro’s election has cemented a pro-corporate, anti-indigenous agenda that has already started to undermine the rights of the country’s native communities.


Public awareness of the crisis is also growing, with new social movements setting up to put pressure on governments to act urgently. The Extinction Rebellion movement, which began in London in October, argues that we face an unprecedented emergency. Backed by academics, scientists, church leaders and others, including Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and Vandana Shiva, it claims to have spread to 35 countries in its first two months.


Public awareness of the crisis is also growing, with new social movements setting up to put pressure on governments to act urgently. The Extinction Rebellion movement, which began in London in October, argues that we face an unprecedented emergency. Backed by academics, scientists, church leaders and others, including Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and Vandana Shiva, it claims to have spread to 35 countries in its first two months.

Wasting water

Mar. 18, 2019

A simple thing we can do for a healthier environment is stop wasting water. I see people who supposedly care about the environment letting the water run to rinse dishes as they are washing them. If you want to use running water to rinse dishes, it is extremely easy to wash a sinkful with the water off, then rinse them all at once. And much less water can be used if you are rinsing more than a few by rinsing them in a pan of water, instead of running water.

A couple of days ago, I saw someone scrubbing paint off their hands under running water. The paint removal was done with a scrubber. The running water did not contribute. It would have been easy to wet his hands, turn off the water, scrub, then turn on the water to rinse.

We need to be in the habit of not wasting water whether or not we are having a water shortage. Purifying water takes energy and resources, and creates pollution. Materials needed for the purification are mined somewhere.

He Worked In College Admissions And Had To Admit A Bunch Of Mediocre Rich Kids

Ben Kothe / BuzzFeed News


I saw firsthand how colleges and well-intentioned parents alike can play a crucial role in perpetuating inequity in higher education by prioritizing the acceptance of white, wealthy, and male students to meet their bottom line. The real scourge of higher education isn’t affirmative action, but wealthy families who will pay any price to prioritize their own children and keep their family’s elite status alive.


It isn’t news that the wealthy hold undue influence over the college admissions process. ProPublica editor Daniel Golden wrote a book about it all the way back in 2006’s The Price of Admission (which included details about Jared Kushner’s curious acceptance into Harvard). And yet the members of my wealthy, majority-white town, and the parents of kids from other wealthy, majority-white towns I visited as an admissions counselor, were far more worried about race-conscious affirmative action policies that aim to increase the numbers of underrepresented races in college student bodies.


I knew that college admissions was a messy business. I knew that, even though we claimed to value diversity and offered millions of dollars in financial aid every year, that there were far more white guys wearing salmon shorts on my campus than there are in the general American population. But it wasn’t until I saw hundreds of applications cross my desk that I realized how much the deck is stacked against poor students, particularly poor students of color.


The more applications stacked up on my desk, the shorter the bitter-cold winter days got, and the grumpier and more gossipy everybody in the office became, it became clearer and clearer to me that the admissions gold mine was a male student who didn’t need any financial aid. I saw so many of them. Some were actually good and deserving students. But others fit a similarly bleak profile: students with mediocre grades from fancy private schools, with a year of postgrad at prep school to make their GPAs less frightful-looking. Hockey recruits. Lacrosse recruits. Basketball recruits. If these were full-pay kids, they were more likely than not to be admitted. Even though I scored them accurately and fairly according to our guidelines, and even when I wrote scathing rejection notes, I knew in my gut that most of them were going to get in anyway, the same way I knew that some of the poorer students for whom I fiercely advocated were not. It all came down to the limited number of spots for students who need financial aid. If a student could pay full tuition, he was immediately more desirable. (Even though we were specifically looking to beef up the number of men admitted, full-pay, mediocre white girls could sometimes skate by too.)


3 cities in the U.S. have ended chronic homelessness: Here’s how they did it

By Adele Peters
Mar. 11, 2019

In late February, the city of Abilene, Texas, made an announcement: It had ended local veteran homelessness. It was the first community in the state and the ninth in the country to reach that goal, as part of a national program called Built for Zero. Now, through the same program, Abilene is working to end chronic homelessness. While homelessness might often be seen as an intractable problem because of its complexity–or one that costs more to solve than communities can afford–the program is proving that is not the case.

“By ending homelessness, we mean getting to a place where it’s rare, brief, and it gets solved correctly and quickly when it does happen,” says Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions, the nonprofit that leads the Built for Zero program. “That’s a completely achievable end state, we now see.” The nonprofit, which calls this goal “functional zero,” announced today that it is accelerating its work in 50 communities.


One key to the process is data, and a visual dashboard that lets agencies track people experiencing homelessness in real time. In Abilene, with a population a little more than 120,000, for example, the city located every homeless veteran, gathered information about each individual situation, and stored this information in a “by-name list” that was continually updated. “It basically just forced us to continuously look to change improvements to our system, and how to use real-time data to improve our performance,” says John Meier, the program manager for supportive services for veteran families for the West Central Texas Regional Foundation.


Continuing to use real-time data helps the county identify new problems that are emerging; right now, for example, they’re seeing an uptick in both young people and seniors who are homeless. “The data is so important because by the time you know it’s a problem, it’s too late,” says Julia Orlando, director of the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Service Center. “So if you can start seeing trends before it’s a really bad problem, you can start adjusting your policies or trying to get additional services in your facility to try to address that.” For example, they can now start planning to add skilled nursing care to their shelter and searching for different types of grants to support eldercare.


To date, nine communities have reached the goal of “functional zero” for veteran homelessness, and three communities have reached the goal for chronic homelessness. Another 39 have made measurable progress toward those goals by gathering meaningful data.


Dead whale found with 40 kilograms of plastic bags in its stomach

By Matthew Robinson, CNN
Updated 8:55 AM ET, Mon March 18, 2019

A young whale whose carcass washed up in the Philippines died of "dehydration and starvation" after consuming 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of plastic bags, scientists have found.
Marine biologist and environmentalist Darrell Blatchley told CNN that the juvenile male Cuvier's beaked whale was found "showing signs of being emaciated and dehydration" and had been "vomiting blood before it died."


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Ruthless cartel violence drives a wave of Mexican asylum seekers

By Rebecca Plevin and Omar Ornelas | Reporting from Chilapa de Álvarez, Mexico
Feb. 27, 2019


For decades, people like Alfredo and his siblings have left Guerrero, one of the poorest states in Mexico, mainly for economic reasons. The mostly low-skilled migrants labored in fields in California, or in restaurants in New York, without authorization, and sent money home to their families. But the number of unauthorized migrants from Mexico apprehended at the southwest border has been steadily declining since 2004 and flattened since 2014, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The improving Mexican economy, enhanced U.S. immigration enforcement and a long-term drop in Mexico’s birth rate all contributed to the change, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C., focused on immigration.

But a different Mexican migration pattern is emerging as homicides reached a record 33,341 in 2018 and as more than 37,000 people remain missing amid the country’s extended drug war. The violence is particularly intense in the southwestern states of Guerrero and Michoacán, two of five Mexican states the U.S. government says Americans should not travel to due to crime. In recent years, people have been fleeing Guerrero and Michoacán not only to improve their lives, but to save their lives.


Today, there are military checkpoints along the highway into and out of Chilapa. Soldiers with combat helmets and guns slung across their chests guard Chilapa’s zócalo. Yet the rival groups continue firing at each other in the streets. They kidnap people and demand ransoms.

They also engage in more covert terrorism. The groups extort people who own stores and small stands in the markets. Business owners must pay the weekly fee or face consequences. The groups post hit lists on social media sites like Facebook and WhatsApp. They identify people by their names or nicknames and use crude language and slang to threaten them.


In Guerrero, he said, people believe that some police collaborate with the criminal groups, and worry that if they serve as witnesses or report a crime, the groups will retaliate. In February 2019, four municipal police officers from Chilapa were arrested for working with Los Rojos.

The fear of retribution is so entrenched, people typically don’t speak the names of the groups suspected of crimes, even when discussing violent incidents.


The violence spurred by the extended drug war, combined with the widespread mistrust and fear of Mexican authorities, and the lack of justice in the country, are major reasons people flee Mexico, said Everard Meade, a professor at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, who often serves as an expert witness in Mexican asylum cases.

“I haven’t done an asylum case in the past couple years where the risk and the threats people face for reporting (crimes) wasn’t part of the persecution,” Meade said. Impunity, he said, is “at the core of what people are fleeing.”


Another 43 lots of medication used to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure recalled

By Kevin Foster | March 16, 2019 at 6:45 PM CDT - Updated March 17 at 11:07 AM

Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging is voluntarily recalling 43 lots of medication used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. The news is the latest in a series of medication recalls announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiated due to the potential presence of cancer causing impurities.

In two different recalls announced Friday Mar. 15, the company said it’s falling in line with two other pharmaceutical companies, Camber Pharmaceuticals and Torrent Pharmaceuticals, which recalled medications after detecting trace amounts of N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-amino butyric acid (NMBA). The tablets were made by Hetero Labs Limited.

NMBA is the second potential threat to result in a recall. The other potential threat, NDEA, led to several recalls of losartan, valsartan and irbesartan.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Love & sorror for New Zealand

My heart goes out to New Zealand for the horrible killings earlier today.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger

March 13, 20199:01 AM ET
Michaeleen Doucleff
Jane Greenhalgh


And I attend a parenting class, where day care instructors learn how their ancestors raised small children hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of years ago.

Across the board, all the moms mention one golden rule: Don't shout or yell at small children.

Traditional Inuit parenting is incredibly nurturing and tender. If you took all the parenting styles around the world and ranked them by their gentleness, the Inuit approach would likely rank near the top. (They even have a special kiss for babies, where you put your nose against the cheek and sniff the skin.)

The culture views scolding — or even speaking to children in an angry voice — as inappropriate, says Lisa Ipeelie, a radio producer and mom who grew up with 12 siblings. "When they're little, it doesn't help to raise your voice," she says. "It will just make your own heart rate go up."

Even if the child hits you or bites you, there's no raising your voice?

"No," Ipeelie says with a giggle that seems to emphasize how silly my question is. "With little kids, you often think they're pushing your buttons, but that's not what's going on. They're upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is."

Traditionally, the Inuit saw yelling at a small child as demeaning. It's as if the adult is having a tantrum; it's basically stooping to the level of the child, Briggs documented.

Elders I spoke with say intense colonization over the past century is damaging these traditions. And, so, the community is working hard to keep the parenting approach intact.


clinical psychologist and author Laura Markham. "When we yell at a child — or even threaten with something like 'I'm starting to get angry,' we're training the child to yell," says Markham. "We're training them to yell when they get upset and that yelling solves problems."

In contrast, parents who control their own anger are helping their children learn to do the same, Markham says. "Kids learn emotional regulation from us."

I asked Markham if the Inuit's no-yelling policy might be their first secret of raising cool-headed kids. "Absolutely," she says.


For thousands of years, the Inuit have relied on an ancient tool with an ingenious twist: "We use storytelling to discipline," Jaw says.

Jaw isn't talking about fairy tales, where a child needs to decipher the moral. These are oral stories passed down from one generation of Inuit to the next, designed to sculpt kids' behaviors in the moment. Sometimes even save their lives.

For example, how do you teach kids to stay away from the ocean, where they could easily drown? Instead of yelling, "Don't go near the water!" Jaw says Inuit parents take a pre-emptive approach and tell kids a special story about what's inside the water. "It's the sea monster," Jaw says, with a giant pouch on its back just for little kids.

"If a child walks too close to the water, the monster will put you in his pouch, drag you down to the ocean and adopt you out to another family," Jaw says.

"Then we don't need to yell at a child," Jaw says, "because she is already getting the message."


Oral storytelling is what's known as a human universal. For tens of thousands of years, it has been a key way that parents teach children about values and how to behave.

Modern hunter-gatherer groups use stories to teach sharing, respect for both genders and conflict avoidance, a recent study reported, after analyzing 89 different tribes. With the Agta, a hunter-gatherer population of the Philippines, good storytelling skills are prized more than hunting skills or medicinal knowledge, the study found.

Today many American parents outsource their oral storytelling to screens. And in doing so, I wonder if we're missing out on an easy — and effective — way of disciplining and changing behavior. Could small children be somehow "wired" to learn through stories?


This practice is likely critical for children learning to control their anger. Because here's the thing about anger: Once someone is already angry, it is not easy for that person to squelch it — even for adults.

"When you try to control or change your emotions in the moment, that's a really hard thing to do," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychologist at Northeastern University who studies how emotions work.

But if you practice having a different response or a different emotion at times when you're not angry, you'll have a better chance of managing your anger in those hot-button moments, Feldman Barrett says.

"That practice is essentially helping to rewire your brain to be able to make a different emotion [besides anger] much more easily," she says.

This emotional practice may be even more important for children, says psychologist Markham, because kids' brains are still developing the circuitry needed for self-control.

"Children have all kinds of big emotions," she says. "They don't have much prefrontal cortex yet. So what we do in responding to our child's emotions shapes their brain."


Malaysia: schools closed after hundreds poisoned by toxic waste dumped in river

Mar. 13, 2019

More than 100 schools in Malaysia have been closed after the dumping of toxic waste into a river caused hundreds of people to fall ill, including many children, authorities said.

A lorry is believed to have dumped the waste in southern Johor state last week, sending hazardous fumes across a wide area and causing those affected to display symptoms of poisoning such as nausea and vomiting.

More than 500 people, many of them school pupils, have received medical treatment after inhaling the fumes, with more than 160 admitted to hospital, according to official news agency Bernama.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Social Security information

No Democrats, or any other legislators for that matter, voted for or against the 2.8 percent cost of living allowance (COLA) increase that Social Security recipients will see beginning in 2019. Since 1975, COLA increases have kicked in automatically and are based on changes in the consumer price index, a figure calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Democrats Push Plan to Increase Social Security Benefits and Solvency

By Robert Pear
Feb. 3, 2019

After years of Republican-led debate over how to pare back Social Security’s rising costs, Democrats are flipping the script with an ambitious plan to expand the New Deal-era social insurance program while making gradual changes to keep it solvent for the rest of the century.

The Social Security 2100 Act, which was introduced this past week in the House and the Senate, represents a sea change after decades dominated by concern that aging baby boomers would bankrupt the government as they begin drawing benefits from Social Security and other entitlement programs. It would be the first major expansion of Social Security since 1972 and the most significant change in the program since 1983, when Congress stepped in to avert a financial crisis by raising taxes and the eligibility age for Social Security.

The bill would provide an across-the-board benefit increase equivalent to about 2 percent of the average Social Security benefit. It would raise the annual cost-of-living adjustment to reflect the fact that older Americans tend to use more of some services like health care. And it would increase the minimum benefit to ensure that workers with many years of low earnings do not retire into poverty.

The bill would cut federal income taxes on Social Security benefits for about 12 million middle-income people while raising taxes elsewhere. The payroll tax rate would rise to 14.8 percent over the next 24 years, from 12.4 percent, and the payroll tax would be imposed on earnings over $400,000 a year.


Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island, said, “The reality today for more and more Americans is that they’ve used up their savings, they’ve helped a child go to school, they’ve dealt with a family illness. And many companies have taken away pensions.”


Republicans say that entitlement programs, not tax cuts, are the main reason for growing deficits. They have in recent years suggested unpopular changes in Social Security, including an increase in the retirement age and a new formula for computing cost-of-living adjustments that could reduce future benefits.


As president, Mr. Trump has proposed cuts in projected spending on Social Security’s disability benefits, on the assumption that more beneficiaries can return to work.


Social Security benefits to get 2.8 percent boost in 2019

By Naomi Jagoda - 10/11/18 12:04 PM EDT


Many Democrats have been calling for an expansion of Social Security, with a group of more than 150 Democratic lawmakers forming a caucus on the topic last month. A number of Democratic lawmakers praised the COLA increase but also said an expansion of the program is needed given the rising costs of seniors' expenses.

“Today’s announcement of a 2.8 percent Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is good news for seniors, people with disabilities, and other beneficiaries who depend on Social Security," said Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the ranking member on a House subcommittee on Social Security.

"However, more must be done since for two-thirds of retirees, Social Security is the majority of their income. These are already modest benefits; especially for low-wage earners, women, and especially women of color."

Trump budget seeks cuts in science funding

Fortunately, it is Congress, not the president, that sets the budget. But the president does strongly affect scientific research thru the people he appoints to head government agencies.

Seeing Trump's proposed budget, it's easy to see why his people flooded Trump worshipers with a big fat lie about how Democrats voted on increasing SS. I have seen that consistently. When unfavorable information about Trump has come out or is about to come out, Trump cultists are flooded with facebook posts that lie, and/or appeal to their eagerness to hate. The fact is, no one in Congress voter either for or against the Social Security increase. It took effect because it automatically increase with inflation.

By Joel Achenbach, Ben Guarino, Sarah Kaplan and Brady Dennis
March 11, 2019

President Trump’s third budget request, released Monday, again seeks cuts to a number of scientific and medical research enterprises, including a 13 percent cut to the National Science Foundation, a 12 percent cut at the National Institutes of Health and the termination of an Energy Department program that funds speculative technologies deemed too risky for private investors.

NIH would face a roughly $4.5 billion budget cut, according to an HHS document. Among the big losers, if Congress were to sign off on the budget request, would be the National Cancer Institute, dropping from $6.1 billion to $5.2 billion, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, going from $5.5 billion to $4.75 billion.

The administration is highlighting its request for $1.3 billion for opioid and pain research “as part of the government-wide effort to combat the opioid epidemic.”

The NSF, which funds roughly a quarter of all federally supported basic science and engineering research in the U.S., would see its budget fall from $8.1 billion this year to $7.1 billion in 2020.


The Trump budget proposes to eliminate three environmental programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Sea Grant, which supports environmental research on the coasts and in the Great Lakes; the National Coastal Zone Management grants, which provides incentives for states to restore and sustainably develop coastal resources; and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, established by Congress 19 years ago to revive plummeting salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.


His previous budgets have requested cuts to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Energy Department.

But Congress, which has the power of the purse, largely ignored the 2018 Trump budget requests and protected the agencies.


This year the Environmental Protection Agency — one of the president’s favored political targets — was subject to some of the most severe cuts. Trump’s budget would reduce EPA funding $2.8 billion, a 31 percent cut from its current budget.

The budget describes the cuts as an effort to eliminate “lower-priority” EPA programs and return the agency to its “core mission of protecting human health and the environment.” The administration would eliminate the Global Change Research office, which helped produced the National Climate Assessment last fall, warning of growing impacts of climate change.


Spring Warming Across the U.S.

Mar. 6, 2019

Despite record cold in parts of the country, record highs in March are outpacing record lows by a 3 to 1 ratio (according to Guy Walton’s NCEI-based records database) for this decade. And as the climate warms, so are spring temperatures for most cities across the U.S.

In the past half-century, spring temperatures have trended upward at least 1°F in 84 percent of the 244 cities we analyzed. Only 1 percent have experienced a 1°F cooling trend during that same period. This equates to an average spring warming of more than 2°F for the contiguous U.S. And while winter may be the fastest warming season for much of the country, spring is the fastest warming season in the Southwest. Las Vegas and Tucson have warmed more than 6°F since 1970, while temperatures in El Paso and Phoenix have risen more than 5°F.

Higher temperatures mean more frost-free days, which can open the floodgates for pollen and pests. With the last freeze coming sooner (and the first freeze happening later), the growing season has lengthened by 10 days in the Northeast and 17 days in the West. While this may allow more time for crops, it also means a longer allergy season, from tree pollens in the spring to ragweed in the fall. According to a PNAS study that sampled 10 locations from Texas to Canada, pollen seasons got two to four weeks longer from 1995 to 2009 — with the highest increases in northern areas. Earlier springs can also hasten the arrival of mosquitoes, ticks, and agricultural pests — potentially reducing crop yields.


Feds uncover massive college entrance exam cheating plot

March 12, 2019, 10:13 AM EDT / Updated March 12, 2019, 3:51 PM EDT
By Tom Winter, Pete Williams, Julia Ainsley and Rich Schapiro

Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among 50 people charged in a $25 million college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court documents unsealed in Boston on Tuesday.

The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment.

Authorities said the FBI investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to a California man who boosted their children's chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, such as Yale and Stanford, by paying people to take tests for their children, bribing test administrators to allow that to happen, and bribing college coaches and administrators to identify the applicants as athletes.


Lelling stressed that the colleges themselves are not targets of the investigation.


Some of the parents spent between $200,000 to $6.5 million to ensure that their children received guaranteed admission at the schools of their choice, John Bonavolonta, FBI special agent in charge, said.


Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 to bolster their two daughters' chances of gaining admission to the University of Southern California, court papers say. Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, paid $15,000 to get one of their daughters unlimited time for her SAT test, prosecutors say.


The plot involved students who attended or were seeking to attend Georgetown, Stanford, Yale, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of San Diego, USC, the University of Texas and Wake Forest University, according to federal prosecutors.

Of the 50 people charged so far, 33 are parents and nine were college coaches. The others were a mix of test administrators and the scheme's main figures, authorities said.


Prosecutors said the scam was masterminded by Singer, the founder of a for-profit college preparation business based in Newport Beach, California.

Parents paid Singer $15,000 to $75,000 per test for someone else to take the SAT or ACT exams in place of their college-age sons or daughters, according to the court papers.


From 2011 to last month, parents paid Singer roughly $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators to "designate their children as recruited athletes, or other favored admissions categories," according to the court papers.

In some cases, Singer’s associates created fake athletic "profiles" in an effort to improve the students' chances of getting accepted by making them appear to be highly successful high school athletes.

Singer would then bribe college coaches to allot slots meant for incoming athletes to the children of the wealthy parents, authorities said.


Besides the actresses, other defendants include Gamal Abdelaziz, the former president and CEO of Wynn Resorts Development; Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP; and Gregory Abbot, CEO of the International Dispensing Company.


Scientists have discovered a shape that blocks all sound–even your co-workers

I would love to be able to reflect the big bass from neighbors and other drivers back to their source!

Mar. 11, 2019

A team of Boston University researchers recently stuck a loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. They cranked it up loud. What did they hear? Nothing.

How was this possible? Did they block the other end of the pipe with noise canceling foams or a chunk of concrete? No, nothing of the sort. The pipe was actually left open save for a small, 3D-printed ring placed around the rim. That ring cut 94% of the sound blasting from the speaker, enough to make it inaudible to the human ear.

Dubbed an “acoustic meta-material,” the ring was printed from a mathematically modeled design, shaped in such a way that it can catch certain frequencies passing through the air and reflect them back toward their source. Typical acoustic paneling works differently, absorbing sound and turning the vibrations into heat. But what’s particularly trippy is that this muffler is completely open. Air and light can travel through it–just sound cannot.


Why we need science

Mar. 12, 2019

Why we need the scientific method:

A few days ago, a man said we are getting the first spring weather in a year, here in the Atlanta area! Anybody who is aware knows that we have had a goodly amount of springlike weather this winter in the Atlanta area. People forget, they remember just the recent weather. And people will forget things that don't fit into their belief systems. This man is a conservative, so chances are he is a global warming denialist

Why icing a sprain doesn’t help, and could slow recovery

By Andrew P. Han
March 5, 2019

If you’ve ever needed to recover from an athletic injury, you’ve probably used ice to reduce soreness and swelling. For decades, doctors and athletic trainers have recommended RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation — to reduce the pain and inflammation of sprained ankles. Inflammation has been viewed as the enemy of recovery.


Icing, it turns out, is like flossing: an ingrained practice that seems practical but is not strongly supported by clinical evidence. The oldest justifications for icing, dating to the 1970s, have melted under scientific scrutiny, some cryotherapy researchers say, and most scientific studies on icing haven’t provided the solid results that would justify its popularity. This is true, they say, both for icing for daily recovery and for an injury.


Even the doctor who coined RICE no longer promotes it. “It’s perfectly fine to ice if you want, but realize it’s delaying healing,” Gabe Mirkin said, “[Icing] is not going to change anything in the long term.”

Instead of icing to reduce inflammation, athletes might be better off letting it run its course. Better yet, get moving again, Mirkin said: “Don’t increase your pain, but you want to move as soon as you can.”
From personal experience, I know that walking on a sprained ankle too soon retards healing.


The experts she cites in her book believe the justifications given for using ice — to reduce swelling and inflammation — aren’t just lacking in evidence but could be counterproductive. “There’s this idea out there that inflammation is terrible, and you want to reduce it,” Aschwanden said. “But the inflammatory process is how your body recovers from exercise, and rebuilds and recuperates.”

Immediately after tissue damage, cells send out a chemical distress signal that is answered by several types of white blood cells, which arrive on the scene and trigger inflammation as they go about their work attacking pathogens and cleaning up and repairing the damaged cells.

“If done for too long,” icing could have a negative effect on regeneration, said UCLA professor James Tidball, who researches the immune system’s role in muscle injury. In other words, by using ice to try to lessen inflammation, which is the immune system response to injury, you could also be reducing the activity of the cells that are promoting repair.

This isn’t to say cryotherapy has no physiological effect. Icing to numb something definitely works, and “icing is the safest pain medicine we have,” Mirkin said. Ice may also help people get a damaged area moving again. “If you have an injury, the muscles around it switch off,” limiting mobility, said Chris Bleakley, a professor of physical therapy at High Point University in North Carolina who has studied icing. “Ice helps to switch those muscles back on again.”


Trump budget eyes Social Security cuts

03/11/19 04:25 PM—Updated 03/11/19 07:41 PM
By Steve Benen

“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Donald Trump declared in 2015. “Every other Republican’s going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do. I do.”

It became a staple of his entire national candidacy: no matter what, Americans could count on him to champion these social-insurance programs.

Four years later, the president is, in fact, proposing deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. As the New York Times reported, Trump’s newly proposed budget completes the trifecta by targeting Social Security, too.

The administration also proposes spending $26 billion less on Social Security programs, including a $10 billion cut to the Social Security Disability Insurance program.


Education Dept. faces 10% funding cut under Trump's 2020 budget proposal

Annie Nova
Mar. 12, 2019

President Donald Trump's budget proposal unveiled on Monday would slash funding for the U.S. Education Department by more than 10 percent.

The plan, titled "A Budget for a Better America," requests $62 billion for the Department of Education, or $7.1 billion less than the agency's allowance in 2019.

The budget eliminates subsidized student debt, in which interest doesn't accrue on the loans while borrowers are in school or in economic hardship. It also reduces the number of repayment plans for borrowers and scratches the popular, if challenged, public service loan forgiveness program.


The plan would narrow the numerous income-driven repayment plans, which caps people's monthly bills at a percentage of their income, to just one. Under that option, students' payments would be limited to 12.5 percent of their discretionary income, compared with 10 percent now.

Any remaining debt would be canceled after 15 years for undergraduate students, and 30 years for graduate students.

The federal work study program, which provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, would also face cuts. Pell Grants would be expanded to cover short-term training programs, a priority of the administration.

"As college remains more crucial for economic opportunity than ever before and costs continue to rise, these proposals move in the exact opposite direction that students and our economy need," said James Kvaal, the president of The Institute for College Access & Success.

The public service loan forgiveness program is eliminated in the proposed budget.


Hospital groups protest cuts in Trump budget

Mar. 11, 2019

Hospital groups are objecting strongly to hundreds of billions of dollars in proposed Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts in President Donald Trump’s budget.

Two major hospital trade groups did not mince words in blog posts Monday by their leaders.

Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, is calling proposed Medicare cuts “arbitrary and blunt,” adding, “the impact on care for seniors would be devastating.”

American Hospital Association President Rick Pollack says the budget raises “serious concerns about how hospitals and health systems can ensure they serve as the safety net” for patients.

The budget includes a range of hospital cuts over 10 years, including reduced reimbursements for uncompensated care and lower rates for outpatient departments.

Medicare will spend about $650 billion this year. The administration says it’s targeting waste.


Anti-AIDS activists are condemning proposed cuts for worldwide efforts to fight the disease in President Donald Trump’s new budget request.

Activists say the global cuts are at cross-purposes with the $291 million in additional spending that Trump has requested for an effort to virtually eliminate new HIV infections in the United States.

The budget calls for a 22 percent cut to PEPFAR, the U.S. program that has helped treat millions internationally, mostly in Africa, according to The ONE Campaign. That global health advocacy organization is associated with the musician Bono.

Trump is also proposing to change the financing formula another program, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, so that the U.S. contribution is watered down. The budget calls for $1.1 billion for the Global Fund, down from $1.35 billion, the current level as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.


Saturday, March 09, 2019

How to Quit Antidepressants: Very Slowly, Doctors Say

By Benedict Carey
March 5, 2019


In a paper published Tuesday in Lancet Psychiatry, the authors argued that any responsible withdrawal regimen should have the patient tapering off medication over months or even years, depending on the individual, and not over four weeks, the boilerplate advice.

The paper is by far the strongest research-backed denunciation of standard tapering practice by members of the profession.

“I know people who stop suddenly and get no side effects,” said Dr. Mark Horowitz, a clinical research fellow at Britain’s National Health Service and University College London, and one of the paper’s authors.

But many people, he said, “have to pull apart their capsules and reduce the dosage bead by bead. We provided the science to back up what they’re already doing.”


Outside researchers who have studied withdrawal said the new paper was a welcome contribution. “I think what they’ve presented really reinforces what I’ve observed in clinical practice in many patients, and it’s almost identical to the tapering regimen I use,” said Dr. Dee Mangin, the chair of family medicine at McMaster University in Canada, who was not involved in the paper.


People are hacking antidepressant doses to avoid withdrawal
Health 7 July 2017 , updated 10 July 2017

By Clare Wilson

A patient-led movement is helping people taking psychiatric medicines to hack their dosing regimens so they can wean themselves off the drugs without any side effects. Now a Dutch website that sells kits to help people do this is about to launch an English-language site, triggering safety concerns among UK regulators and doctors.


To help people taper their dose more easily, a Dutch medical charity, called Cinderella Therapeutics, together with Maastricht University creates personalised “tapering kits”, with precisely weighed out tablets in labelled packets that gradually reduce over several months. The website recommends people do this under medical supervision and must first receive a doctor’s prescription.


David Healy, a psychiatrist in Bangor in the UK, says people’s experiences of withdrawing from antidepressants can vary a lot. He helps those with severe symptoms by prescribing liquid formulations of their medicine, which they can measure out in small amounts. These formulations aren’t as widely stocked as their pill equivalents.

Moore has just started a liquid version and has found that his symptoms are less severe. But Healy says most GPs refuse to prescribe such liquids because they are more expensive than the standard pills.


Dutch website selling tapering kits for coming off antidepressants launches English-language version
The Pharmaceutical Journal12 JUL 2017By Debbie Andalo

An English-language version of a Netherlands-based website which sells kits to patients to help them wean themselves off antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs has been launched.

Each kit includes a tapering strip of medication packaged in a roll of small daily pouches. Each pouch is numbered and has the same or a slightly lower dose than the one before.


The new website is an English-language version of an established Dutch site, which has been developed in a collaboration involving pharmacist Paul Harder from the Regenboog Apotheek, the charity the Cinderella Therapeutics Foundation and the user research centre at the department of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Maastricht. All are based in the Netherlands.

Harder told the Pharmaceutical Journal that medication would not be prescribed to patients in the UK without a prescription.


Uber and Lyft are losing money. At some point, we’ll pay for it.

By Megan McArdle
March 5, 2019


In 2014, journalist Timothy B. Lee spent a week driving for Lyft. He drove for 50 hours but spent only 14 of those hours actually ferrying passengers. All that circling wears out the car and burns both gas and the driver’s valuable time.

Lee might have gotten better at optimizing his rides if he’d driven for longer, but still, those costs remain considerable. So how can Uber and Lyft, both of which are planning initial public offerings this year, be price-competitive with car ownership outside of places such as Manhattan?

Answer: heavy subsidies, from both the companies and the drivers themselves.

Uber and Lyft have long used investor money to subsidize operations. Lyft’s IPO documents, filed last week, indicate that in 2018 the company booked $8.1 billion in rides, collected $2.2 billion in revenue — and lost more than $900 million after expenses. Uber is also losing money, although perhaps not quite as much.

This despite the fact that many drivers seem to be underpricing their services. Whenever a driver arrives to pick you up in a massive truck or a luxury automobile, you’re either looking at a driver who took up driving as a form of charity work or one who doesn’t understand that ride-sharing income should be calculated after deducting gas and vehicle depreciation. Not every driver makes quite such a blatant error, but there’s considerable evidence that earnings are low after accounting for expenses, and drivers don’t necessarily realize that.

Thus, the ride-sharing market offers a real-life illustration of the old economist’s joke: “We’re losing money on every unit, but we’ll make it up in volume!” Unfortunately for us riders, there’s only so much cheap investment money, and only so many inexperienced drivers, out there. Once Uber and Lyft have burned through those, they’re going to have to charge us what the rides are actually worth. Customers will be in for a rude shock.


Friday, March 08, 2019

Unvaccinated Oregon Boy Contracts Tetanus, Spends Two Months In hospital for Over $800K In Medical Treatments

By Donica Phifer On 3/8/19 at 12:43 AM

An unvaccinated 6-year-old Oregon boy was hospitalized for two months after he contracted tetanus following an injury on a farm. His family racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatment to save his life.

The report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this was the first pediatric tetanus case in the state in almost 30 years


Doctors gave the child a diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) during the course of his eight-weeks of treatment, which the CDC estimated to cost more than $800,000. However, the estimate did not include the cost of air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation and the use of an ambulance, the report said.

Despite the recommendation of doctors, the child's parents refused a second dose of the DTaP vaccination and other vaccines.


Thursday, March 07, 2019

'Falling out of trees': dozens of dead possums blamed on extreme heat stress

Lisa Cox
Thu 7 Mar 2019 02.07 EST
Last modified on Thu 7 Mar 2019 02.09 EST

More than 100 dead and injured ringtail possums have been found by wildlife rescuers along a single stretch of beach in Victoria in what ecologists say is becoming an annual occurrence due to extreme heat.

Rescuers and wildlife carers discovered 127 ringtail possums along the shoreline and in the water at Somers Beach on the Mornington Peninsula on Saturday during a four-day period that saw consistent temperatures in the high 30s, warm nights and bushfires in parts of the state. [30C = 86F, 39C = 102F]

Melanie Attard, a wildlife rescuer and foster carer with Aware Wildlife in Frankston, said rescuers suspected the animals had become so dehydrated and desperate they had left an area of scrub and come down to the beach and attempted to drink salt water.

“We assume they’ve come out due to the heat stress heading for the water in desperation,” she said.
Decline in bogong moth numbers leaves mountain pygmy possums starving
Read more

“It’s not nice seeing a possum throwing itself into the beach and drinking seawater. It’s really desperate.”


He said the situation was similar to heat stress deaths that have affected other species this summer, including the spectacled flying fox in Queensland.

Scientists have also been monitoring large drops in moth species due to climate change and recent drought.


The best thing to give up this Lent is plastic, not chocolate

By Miranda Larbi Wednesday 14 Feb 2018

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gone plant-based for Lent. Being a full-time vegan now, however, I thought I’d dial the change back a bit and simply give up vegan chocolate this year. After all, Vego is life. And then I went to the Lush Summit – the annual convention hosted by the cosmetics brand – and realised that giving up chocolate would benefit no one but myself. Never one to shy away from the big environmental topics, a major focus of the Lush summit is the ocean and our role in the destruction and regeneration of ocean life. And most of that centres around our absurd use of plastic.


It’s not just the fact that plastic doesn’t biodegrade; plastic pieces attract cancer, hormone-disrupting, diabetes-causing chemicals the longer they stay in the sea. And that plastic then enters the fish we eat, the water we drink and the salt we use. The bioaccumulation of plastic – the fact that it’s getting into our food chain – should freak us out. You can cut a huge amount of your own exposure to it going vegan… but you’ve still got to drink water and use salt for seasoning. And vegan or not, we should care that we’re needlessly poisoning animals and ecological systems.


Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Payless ShoeSource closing all 2,100 U.S. stores, starting liquidation sales Sunday

Kelly Tyko
,USA TODAY•March 4, 2019

Payless ShoeSource confirmed Friday that it will close its 2,100 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and start liquidation sales Sunday. The company is also shuttering its e-commerce operations.

The closings mark the biggest by a single chain this year and nearly doubles the number of retail stores set to close in 2019.

"We expect all stores to remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May," the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. "This process does not affect the company’s franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which remain open for business as usual.”


The Topeka, Kansas-based discount shoe retailer had previously filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017 and closed 673 stores.


Prior to the Payless announcement, 2,187 store closings had been announced in the first six weeks of the year, according to the global market research firm's report. This represented a 23 percent increase over the same time period last year.

Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.

For 2018, Coresight Research tracked 5,524 closings, which included all Toys R Us stores, and hundreds of Mattress Firm stores, Kmart and Sears locations, and Brookstone's remaining mall stores.

The record year for closings was 2017, with 8,139 shuttered stores, Coresight reported. This included the 2017 Payless closings, the entire HHGregg electronics and appliance chain and hundreds of Sears and Kmart stores.

Fontana Parents Arrested After 3-Year-Old Daughter Dies; Mother Was on Probation for Child Abuse

Posted 3:12 PM, March 4, 2019, by Erika Martin

A Fontana [California] mother who was already on probation for child abuse is now behind bars after allegedly killing her 3-year-old daughter, officials said Monday.

Miriam Sandoval Montano, 37, was arrested last Wednesday, Feb. 27, after officers responded to a medical aid call in the 9500 block of Madrona Drive around 12:50 p.m., Fontana police said in a news release.


Montano is currently on felony probation for child abuse after being arrested in 2015 in an incident involving the same daughter, officials said.


There were other children in the home, who have since been removed and placed into the care of the county’s Children and Family Services agency.

tags: child abuse

South Korea sees signs North Korea restoring part of launch site it promised to dismantle

David Brunnstrom, Lisa Lambert
Mar. 5, 2019

South Korean intelligence agencies have detected signs that North Korea is restoring part of a missile launch site it began to dismantle after pledging to do so in a first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump last year, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday.


Trump vowed ‘A Plus’ relief for Alabama. That’s not what California and Puerto Rico heard.

By Reis Thebault
March 4, 2019

After the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in years swept through the South, killing more than 20 people and wreaking devastation in Alabama, President Trump promised on Twitter that the disaster relief would be swift, the best his administration could muster — “A Plus treatment” for a state in dire need.

“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump wrote Monday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who said she spoke to Trump, thanked him for the support.


Trump’s enthusiastic assurance that Alabama would get top-flight help contrasts sharply with his barbed rhetoric following horrific wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, when he repeatedly threatened to cut off federal aid and picked fights with local politicians, in one instance calling the mayor of San Juan “totally incompetent."

The difference between Alabama and Puerto Rico and California, the president’s critics say, is obvious.

“The president really treats differently those people who have supported him in the past and those people who haven’t,” Brian Ott, a rhetoric professor at Texas Tech University, told The Washington Post. “Not all lives are equal in the eyes of the president. … The lives of red states matter, and the lives of blue states don’t."


It comes down to politics, said Ott, author of “The Twitter Presidency: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of White Rage.” In the 2016 election, Trump lost California by 30 percentage points. In Puerto Rico, which does not have a say in the presidential election, voters chose Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) over Trump in the Republican primary.

But Trump won Alabama by nearly 28 points.