Saturday, August 31, 2019

Malware found in popular Android app with more than 100 million downloads

Yoni Heisler
,BGR News•August 30, 2019

If you’re an Android user, you’ll want to steer clear of a popular Android app that recently began serving up malware to unsuspecting users. The app in question is called CamScanner and has been around for nearly a decade and has accumulated well over 100 million downloads. The app itself is fairly simple insofar that offers up OCR capabilities and can convert scanned documents into PDFs.

Security researchers from Kaspersky first noticed something was amiss following app updates that rolled out in June and July of this year. Interestingly enough, malware wasn’t found in versions of the app that users downloaded in August.

According to Kaspersky researchers, the malware in question may “show intrusive ads and sign users up for paid subscriptions.” Upon being made aware of the issue, Google promptly removed the CamScanner app from the Google Play store. Needless to say, if you previously downloaded the app, you’ll want to delete it immediately.

As Kaspersky notes, the troubling aspect about this saga is that even seemingly reliable apps that have been safe to use for years can become problematic out of the blue.


Woman left alone as she gave birth in jail cell says 'pain was indescribable'

Clark Mindock
,The Independent•August 30, 2019

A Colorado woman is suing after she was forced to give birth to her child, alone in a jail cell, while screaming and pleading for help from staff that paid her virtually no mind.

In the hours leading up to the birth of her child on July 31, 2018, surveillance footage shows 26-year-old Diana Sanchez repeatedly attempt to alert jail staff that she was in labour, her water had broken, and that she was in desperate need of medical attention.

But, instead of providing help to Ms Sanchez as she writhed in pain and screamed, staff at the Denver County Jail, alongside nurses from the Denver Health Centre, largely ignored her pain and pleas. As she begged for help, staff can only be seen providing a sanitary pad, slipped under her door less than an hour before she gave birth.

“That pain was indescribable,” Ms Sanchez said in an interview with local media outlet KDVR last year. She continued, "and what hurts me more though is the fact that nobody cared.”


A spokesperson for the sheriff department told KDVR on Wednesday that the investigation showed deputies “took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures.”

But, she added that, “Policy has since been clarified that when an inmate is in labour, an emergency ambulance will be called.”


During an interview with KDVR last year, she said that hospital staff, when she was finally taken to one, said that she was close to death.


Friday, August 30, 2019

It's never too late to start exercising, new study shows

News Release 30-Aug-2019
University of Birmingham

Older people who have never taken part in sustained exercise programmes have the same ability to build muscle mass as highly trained master athletes of a similar age, according to new research at the University of Birmingham.

The research shows that even those who are entirely unaccustomed to exercise can benefit from resistance exercises such as weight training.


Link between different forms of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer incidence

News Release 29-Aug-2019
The Lancet: New analyses of the worldwide epidemiological evidence demonstrate link between different forms of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer incidence, and find that some risk persists for many years
The Lancet

For women of average weight in Western countries, five years of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), starting at age 50 years, would increase breast cancer incidence from age 50 to 69 years by about one additional case in every 50 users of oestrogen plus daily progestogen MHT, one in every 70 users of oestrogen plus intermittent progestogen MHT, and one in every 200 users of oestrogen-only MHT.

After ceasing MHT, some excess risk persists for more than 10 years - the size of this risk depended on the duration of previous use. If a woman had used MHT for less than a year, however, there was little excess risk thereafter.


Nuclear winter would threaten nearly everyone on Earth

News Release 28-Aug-2019
Rutgers University

If the United States and Russia waged an all-out nuclear war, much of the land in the Northern Hemisphere would be below freezing in the summertime, with the growing season slashed by nearly 90 percent in some areas, according to a Rutgers-led study.

Indeed, death by famine would threaten nearly all of the Earth's 7.7 billion people, said co-author Alan Robock, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The study in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres provides more evidence to support The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed by the United Nations two years ago, Robock said. Twenty-five nations have ratified the treaty so far, not including the United States, and it would take effect when the number hits 50.


Oxygen depletion in ancient oceans caused major mass extinction

by Zachary Boehm, Florida State University
Aug. 30, 2019

Late in the prehistoric Silurian Period, around 420 million years ago, a devastating mass extinction event wiped 23 percent of all marine animals from the face of the planet.

For years, scientists struggled to connect a mechanism to this mass extinction, one of the 10 most dramatic ever recorded in Earth's history. Now, researchers from Florida State University have confirmed that this event, referred to by scientists as the Lau/Kozlowskii extinction, was triggered by an all-too-familiar culprit: rapid and widespread depletion of oxygen in the global oceans.

Their study, published today in the journal Geology, resolves a longstanding paleoclimate mystery, and raises urgent concerns about the ruinous fate that could befall our modern oceans if well-established trends of deoxygenation persist and accelerate.


Their investigations also revealed that the extinction was likely driven in part by the proliferation of sulfidic ocean conditions.


Jack Dorsey's Twitter account was hacked — and he's the CEO of Twitter

By Ahiza Garcia, CNN Business
Updated 5:01 PM ET, Fri August 30, 2019

Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey's account on the social network was hacked Friday afternoon. A series of racist and otherwise offensive tweets went out from his account.

The company's communications team confirmed in tweets of their own that Dorsey's account had been compromised.

Twitter directed CNN Business to its tweet about the hack but declined to comment further. All of the offensive tweets, which included racist and anti-Semitic posts, have since been deleted.


Home health aides care for the elderly. Who will care for them?

One of the fastest-growing jobs in America is also one of the hardest.
By Alexia Fernández Aug 21, 2019, 9:50am EDT


According to the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy is expected to create about 1.2 million new positions for home caregivers like Angelica by 2026 — a 41 percent increase from the 2.9 million personal care and home health aides working in 2016.

Aging baby boomers and expanded Medicaid coverage have led to the surge in the need for workers to care for the sick and elderly in their own homes. But these positions, which require minimal training and no college degree, are among the lowest-paid in the country.

Beyond that, home care workers are an easily exploitable workforce. Because of the job’s roots in slave labor, these workers have long been excluded from US labor laws. Live-in caregivers are not entitled to overtime pay or a minimum wage under federal law, or any other labor protections. Neither are caregivers who spend less than 20 percent of their job helping clients do basic tasks. None are protected from racial discrimination or sexual harassment. They have no right to a safe workplace, and in some cases, they have no collective bargaining rights. One of the fastest-growing jobs in the US is a really lousy one.


The stakes are high. The problems health aides face could compromise not only the future of American work but also the state of care for the aging population. If unemployment keeps dropping, and caregivers discover better job options, they won’t stick around for long. Yet few policymakers have attempted to address the problems in a system rooted in racism and sexism.


High School Students Do Better In Science, Math And English If They Also Take Music Lessons

Eva Amsen
June 25, 2019

Schools are under constant pressure to make budget cuts, and music programs are often first on the chopping block. Now, an extensive study from the University of British Columbia in Canada shows that students who took music lessons in high school performed better in subjects such as English, science, and math.


Comparing the test scores of students who took music classes with those of their peers, the musicians got higher grades in a range of different school subjects. Research like this has been done before, but the current study is much larger, and took into account other factors that may have affected the results. For example, perhaps students who took music classes were encouraged to do so because they already had good grades. Or perhaps students were more or less inclined to study music depending on their socioeconomic background, which could also affect academic scores. The research team corrected for these factors in their data analysis, and they still found a clear effect of music lessons on academic performance.

Not only did music students perform better than non-musicians, but students who played an instrument did even better than those who sang. This could be related to the level of involvement with music. “Learning to play a musical instrument and playing in an ensemble is very demanding," says Martin Guhn, one of the researchers involved with the study, "A student has to learn to read music notation, develop eye-hand-mind coordination, develop keen listening skills, develop team skills for playing in an ensemble and develop discipline to practice.”


Nevada woman cleared of murder after 35 years in prison gets $3 million

Aug. 29, 2019, 8:54 AM EDT
By Associated Press

A Nevada woman who spent 35 years in prison for a murder she didn't commit before she was exonerated by DNA evidence on a crime-scene cigarette butt will get $3 million in a partial settlement of a federal civil rights lawsuit, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Cathy Woods, 68, will continue to seek additional damages from the city of Reno and former detectives she accuses of coercing a fabricated confession from her while she was a patient at a Louisiana mental hospital in 1979, according to her lawyer, Elizabeth Wang.

Woods was released from prison in 2015 when new evidence linked the 1976 killing of a Reno college student to an Oregon inmate, Rodney Halbower, who has since has been convicted of two San Francisco Bay Area slayings that happened during the same period.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s

The Atlantic
Olga Khazan


A study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise.


They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.

“Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older, to prevent gaining weight,” Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University, said in a statement. “However, it also indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.”


In an interview, Kuk proffered three different factors that might be making harder for adults today to stay thin.

First, people are exposed to more chemicals that might be weight-gain inducing. Pesticides, flame retardants, and the substances in food packaging might all be altering our hormonal processes and tweaking the way our bodies put on and maintain weight.

Second, the use of prescription drugs has risen dramatically since the ‘70s and ‘80s. Prozac, the first blockbuster SSRI, came out in 1988. Antidepressants are now one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., and many of them have been linked to weight gain.

Finally, Kuk and the other study authors think that the microbiomes of Americans might have somehow changed between the 1980s and now. It’s well known that some types of gut bacteria make a person more prone to weight gain and obesity. Americans are eating more meat than they were a few decades ago, and many animal products are treated with hormones and antibiotics in order to promote growth. All that meat might be changing gut bacteria in ways that are subtle, at first, but add up over time. Kuk believes the proliferation of artificial sweeteners could also be playing a role.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Innocent man jailed for 82 days and loses jobs for bringing three jars of honey back to US

Lynh Bui
,The Independent•August 25, 2019
Leon Haughton likes honey in his tea.

Which is why during his Christmas visit to relatives in Jamaica, he made his regular stop and bought three bottles from a favourite roadside stand before heading home to Maryland.

It was a routine purchase for him until he landed at the airport in Baltimore.

US customs officers detained Mr Haughton and police arrested him, accusing him of smuggling in not honey, but liquid methamphetamine.

Mr Haughton spent nearly three months in jail before all charges were dropped and two rounds of law enforcement lab tests showed no controlled substances in the bottles.

By then, Mr Haughton, who according to his lawyer had no criminal record, had lost both of his jobs as a cleaner and a construction worker.

“They messed up my life,” Mr Haughton said. “I want the world to know that the system is not right. If I didn’t have strong people around me, they would probably leave me in jail. You’re lost in the system.”


Twenty days after his arrest, a state police lab test looking for drugs in the bottles came up negative.

Yet the 45-year-old father sat behind bars for two more months before the last of the charges were dropped after a second all-clear in a federal lab test.


Mr Haughton said he’s been trying to get his life back in order. He has a job driving a bread truck after losing his previous jobs while in jail.

And his children are trying to improve their grades after the trauma of his disappearance affected their schoolwork.

Mr Haughton says he is constantly trying to reassure his children – one of whom burst into tears when Mr Haughton came home because she didn’t recognise her father – that he isn’t going to vanish again.

But some scars, Mr Haughton said, won’t go away.

“I’m scared to even travel right now,” he said. “You’re innocent, and you can end up in jail.”

Media bias chart

Pretty much fits my observations of the ones I am familiar with.

new, interactive version

older version

Friday, August 23, 2019

Study: 'Remarkable' weather becomes normal within a few years

I have noticed when talking to people that many don't remember how much the weather has changed in our own lifetimes.

February 25, 2019
University of California - Davis
What kinds of weather do people find remarkable, when does that change, and what does that say about the public's perception of climate change? A study examined those questions through the lens of more than 2 billion US Twitter posts.


The study, published Feb. 25 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates that people have short memories when it comes to what they consider "normal" weather. On average, people base their idea of normal weather on what has happened in just the past two to eight years. This disconnect with the historical climate record may obscure the public's perception of climate change.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Republican Firm Is Targeting EPA Staff Who Have Donated to Democrats

Rebecca Leber


the Republican opposition research outfit America Rising filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking her correspondence. Specifically, the group was looking for “Emails sent by Loreen Targos, EPA scientist, that mention Congresswoman Ilhan Omar,” to whom the EPA staffer had donated $215 earlier this year. It was the first in a series of FOIA requests made by Allan Blutstein, an America Rising lawyer and senior vice president, seeking the records of EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees who have contributed to Democrats. At least two of these requests have focused on supporters of Omar, a Minnesota lawmaker who has become a GOP bugaboo.


Blutstein appears to be searching for evidence that Targos and other EPA and NOAA employees violated the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from performing any electioneering during work hours and from hosting political fundraisers. (Earlier this summer, the Office of Special Counsel recommended that presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway be fired for repeated Hatch Act violations.) Government employees, however, are free to donate to political candidates so long as the contribution is made on their personal time and does not involve the use of government resources or equipment.

It is unclear if Targos’ protest and the records request for her emails are related. But since July 24, Blutstein has submitted at least eight other requests concerning EPA and NOAA employees whose only common trait is that they have donated to Democrats. The requests have zeroed in on staffers who have donated to Omar and other Democratic members and candidates, as well as the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee. Blutstein targets have included an EPA geologist, several EPA attorneys, and a National Weather Service staffer.


Until last year, Blutstein was a vice president at Definers Public Affairs, a Republican consulting and public affairs shop based in Virginia that was the recipient of a controversial $120,000 contract awarded by the office of then–EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to provide “war room”–style media monitoring and shape press coverage of the agency. Meanwhile, the company, via Blutstein, was filing dozens of EPA records requests targeting staffers who had been publicly critical of the Trump administration.


America Rising and Definers are part of an interconnected network of conservative political groups founded by Joe Pounder, a former campaign staffer for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager.


Health care workers unprepared for magnitude of climate change

News Release 22-Aug-2019
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

An epidemic of chronic kidney disease that has killed tens of thousands of agricultural workers worldwide, is just one of many ailments poised to strike as a result of climate change, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

"Chronic kidney disease is a sentinel disease in the era of climate change," said Cecilia Sorensen, MD, of the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.


Sugar cane workers in Central America, who often toil in 104-degree heat in heavy clothing, are often victims of the illness. Sorensen said there is evidence that constant exposure to high temperatures can result in chronic kidney damage.

"They can't say it's too hot, they don't want to go work in the fields," she said. "If they don't work, they don't eat that night."

The disease is also showing up in the U.S. in places like Florida, California and Colorado's San Luis Valley.

And the hotter it gets, Sorensen said, the more likely it will increase along with other diseases.

"When it gets hotter, we see more people in emergency rooms with cardiovascular disease," said Sorensen, who is an emergency department physician at CU Anschutz and a member of the CU Consortium for Climate Change & Health. "We are seeing average global temperatures gradually creep up but one of the biggest risks are heat waves."

She said U.S. public health officials are not prepared for the kinds of heat waves seen in Europe in 2003 that killed over 70,000 people.

"We are way behind the curve on this compared to Europe," she said. "We are also seeing Lyme disease in places we never saw it before because the winters are no longer cold enough to kill off the ticks that carry it."

She said the mosquitos that carry diseases like Zika, dengue fever and Chikungunya are now showing up in the U.S.


A couple who ran a religious conversion therapy program have been charged with trafficking underage boys

Lauren Frias
,INSIDER•August 21, 2019


Gary Wiggins, 49, and his wife Megann, 34, ran a religious home that was supposed to be a "safe haven" for troubled boys. But a multi-state investigation alleges that the couple who ran the home were actually trafficking the boys and forcing them into labor.


tags: child abuse

CDC sounds alarm over deadly drug-resistant salmonella

By Katie Hunt and Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Updated 2:36 PM ET, Thu August 22, 2019

A deadly strain of salmonella that has sickened more than 250 people may not respond to the antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat the foodborne infection, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published on Thursday, the CDC said that from June 2018 to March 2019, 255 people in 32 states were infected with the strain, with 60 being hospitalized and two dying from the infection.


"The antibiotic resistance pattern of this strain is alarming because the primary oral antibiotics used to treat patients with this type of Salmonella infection may not work," he said.

The salmonella infections were linked to beef obtained in the United States and soft cheese obtained in Mexico, suggesting that this strain could be present in cattle in both countries, the CDC found. Eighty-nine of the people who contracted the infection had recently traveled to Mexico.
"To prevent infection, consumers should avoid eating soft cheese that could be made with unpasteurized milk, and when preparing beef they should use a thermometer to ensure appropriate cooking temperatures are reached: 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62.8 Celsius) for steaks and roasts followed by a 3-minute rest time, and 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 Celsius) for ground beef or hamburgers," according to the new CDC report.


The CDC said that avoiding the unnecessary use of antibiotics in cattle, especially those that are important for the treatment of human infections, could help prevent the spread of this drug-resistant salmonella strain.

US has half a million fewer jobs than believed after big government revision

Paul Davidson
,USA TODAY•August 21, 2019


The Labor Department revised down total job gains from April 2018 to March 2019 by 501,000, the agency said Wednesday, the largest downward revision in a decade.

The agency’s annual benchmark revision is based on state unemployment insurance records that reflect actual payrolls while its earlier estimates are derived from surveys. The preliminary figure could be revised further early next year.

The large change means job growth averaged 170,000 a month during the 12-month period, down from the 210,000 initially estimated, according to JPMorgan Chase.


Luntz: ‘I was wrong’ on climate change

By Anthony Adragna
,Politico•August 21, 2019
Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican pollster, disavowed work Thursday in the early 2000s to cast doubt on the science behind climate change and said America, on the whole, wants the federal government to "do more, right now, to address it."

"I was wrong in 2001," Luntz told an ad-hoc Senate Democratic climate panel. "I don't want credit. I don't want blame. Just stop using something that I wrote 18 years ago because it's not accurate today."


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cancer Patient Says Question Could Save Lives: 'Do You Have Eastern European Jewish Ancestry?'

August 21, 2019
Carey Goldberg


an influential federal panel's new recommendations on BRCA gene mutations, which convey an unusually high risk of cancer. The panel says that Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry — meaning Jewish forebears from Eastern Europe — is enough to consider genetic testing for BRCA mutations, even without a known family history of cancer.


Ashkenazi Jews have a one-in-40 chance of carrying the high-risk BRCA mutations. That's roughly 10 times higher than the general population.


There are also high-risk groups beyond Ashkenazi Jews, says Dr. Judy Garber, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber. They include some French Canadians, "and many populations in the world have small groups who have an increased risk. Some Caribbean populations also can be included in that list."


11 Useful Websites You Might Not Know About

See the link below for the websites

David Nield
Aug 16, 2019, 10:00am


The Planet Needs a New Internet

Maddie Stone
Aug. 20, 2019

When climate change comes for our coffee and our wine, we’ll moan about it on Twitter, read about it on our favorite websites, and watch diverting videos on YouTube to fill the icy hole in our hearts. We’ll do all this until the websites go dark and the networks go down because eventually, climate change will come for our internet, too.

That is, unless we can get the web ready for the coming storms.

Huge changes will be needed because right now, the internet is unsustainable. On the one hand, rising sea levels threaten to swamp the cables and stations that transmit the web to our homes; rising temperatures could make it more costly to run the data centers handling ever-increasing web traffic; wildfires could burn it all down. On the other, all of those data centers, computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices take a prodigious amount of energy to build and to run, thus contributing to global warming and hastening our collective demise.


Anders Andrae, Senior Expert of Life Cycle Assessment at Huawei, told Gizmodo that the internet as a whole—including the energy used to power data centers, networks, and individual devices, as well as the energy used during the manufacturing of those devices—is responsible for about 7 percent of global electricity consumption, with power demands growing at around 8 percent per year. A report the Shift Project published in July found that digital technologies now accounts for 4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—more than the entire aviation sector. And that footprint could double to 8 percent by 2025.


We can ease up on our social media use. We can think twice before letting that next episode autoplay, or kick it old school and return to broadcast, which Hazas described as “very efficient” compared to streaming. We can make sure to host websites and buy cloud space with companies that have demonstrated a real commitment to clean energy.


We Don't Have Time - song

Great song.

Low levels of vitamin D in elementary school could spell trouble in adolescence

News Release 20-Aug-2019
University of Michigan

Vitamin D deficiency in middle childhood could result in aggressive behavior as well as anxious and depressive moods during adolescence, according to a new University of Michigan study of school children in Bogotá, Colombia.

Children with blood vitamin D levels suggestive of deficiency were almost twice as likely to develop externalizing behavior problems--aggressive and rule breaking behaviors -- as reported by their parents, compared with children who had higher levels of the vitamin.

Also, low levels of the protein that transports vitamin D in blood were related to more self-reported aggressive behavior and anxious/depressed symptoms. The associations were independent of child, parental and household characteristics.


Villamor said vitamin D deficiency has been associated with other mental health problems in adulthood, including depression and schizophrenia, and some studies have focused on the effect of vitamin D status during pregnancy and childhood.


University of Michigan study indicates negative outcomes for Native American children who are spanked

News Release 19-Aug-2019
University of Michigan

Some people may believe that if you live in a community with different cultural values, spanking might not be harmful--an assumption that does not appear to be correct, according to a new University of Michigan study.

In the first longitudinal examination of the effects of spanking among the Native American population, U-M researchers say that spanking is just as harmful for them as it is for black and white children. They say it can lead to greater externalizing behavior (e.g., being defiant, hitting others, throwing temper tantrums).


Among white, African American and Native American groups, spanking was associated with greater child externalizing behavior. In other words, spanking is harmful for all three racial groups despite the fact that the practice may be considered "acceptable" or "normal" in some groups.

"Contrary to the idea that spanking may be 'normal,' and therefore not harmful in some groups, these results demonstrate that spanking is similarly associated with detrimental outcomes among white, black and American Indian children in the United States," said the study's lead author Kaitlin Ward, U-M doctoral student in social work and developmental psychology.


tags: child abuse

Great stories undermine strong facts

News Release 19-Aug-2019
Facts and stories: Great stories undermine strong facts
Society for Personality and Social Psychology

ome research shows facts are better received when presented on their own. Other studies show facts are more accepted when interwoven with stories; stories can help bridge emotional connections. If someone is trying to persuade or influence others, should they use a story or stick to the facts? According to research from social psychologists at Northwestern University, stories can increase the persuasiveness of weak facts, but actually decrease the persuasiveness of strong facts.

"Stories persuade, at least in part, by disrupting the ability to evaluate facts, rather than just biasing a person to think positively," says Rebecca Krause, who coauthored the paper with Derek Rucker.


Empathy for perpetrators helps explain victim blaming in sexual harassment

News Release 18-Aug-2019
University of Exeter
Men's empathy for other men who sexually harass women may help explain why they are more likely to blame victims, new research suggests.

The research, based on two studies, compared people's reactions after reading about an incident of sexual harassment.

In the first study, men and women showed equal levels of empathy for the female victim - but men's greater empathy for the male perpetrator explained why they were more likely than women to blame the victim.

The second study was an experiment where people were asked to focus on the man's or the woman's point of view before reading the same information. Both men and women who focused on the male perpetrator's point of view showed greater empathy for him and blamed the female victim more.


Cannabis-related poison control calls for Massachusetts kids doubled after medical pot legalized

News Release 16-Aug-2019
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

After medical marijuana became legal in Massachusetts, cannabis-related poison control calls involving the commonwealth's children and teenagers doubled, according to a public health investigation led by University of Massachusetts Amherst injury prevention researcher Jennifer Whitehill.

The increase in calls to the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention at Boston Children's Hospital occurred despite legislative mandates for childproof packaging and warning labels, and before the recreational use of marijuana was legalized for adults.


tags: drug use, drug abuse

Speed identified as the best predictor of car crashes

News Release 21-Aug-2019
University of Waterloo

Speeding is the riskiest kind of aggressive driving, according to a unique analysis of data from on-board devices in vehicles.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo examined data from 28 million trips for possible links between four bad driving behaviours - speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering - and the likelihood of crashes.

Speeding is the riskiest kind of aggressive driving, according to a unique analysis of data from on-board devices in vehicles.


Their analysis revealed speeding is a strong predictor of crashes, while statistically significant links for the other kinds of aggressive driving couldn't be established.


Fake news can lead to false memories

News Release 21-Aug-2019
Association for Psychological Science

Voters may form false memories after seeing fabricated news stories, especially if those stories align with their political beliefs, according to research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.


Loftus says understanding the psychological effects of fake news is critical given that sophisticated technology is making it easier to create not only phony news reports and images, but fake video, as well.

"People will act on their fake memories, and it is often hard to convince them that fake news is fake," Loftus says. "With the growing ability to make news incredibly convincing, how are we going to help people avoid being misled? It's a problem that psychological scientists may be uniquely qualified to work on."

Green space is good for your mental health -- the nearer the better!

News Release 20-Aug-2019
University of Warwick

  • First study to demonstrate relationship between green space and mental wellbeing at an individual level published
  • Using data from 25,518 people, the researchers show that Londoners who live within 300m of green space have significantly better mental wellbeing
  • Proximity to green space was more important than lifestyle factors such as employment, income, and general health.


How to improve multiple sclerosis therapy

News Release 20-Aug-2019
Ruhr-University Bochum

Medications currently used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) can merely reduce relapses during the initial relapsing-remitting phase. Many patients, however, develop progressive MS at a later stage, with disability becoming progressively worse. This type cannot be sufficiently treated at yet. Possible causes why an effective therapy for progressive MS is still lacking have been compiled by an international research team in a review article in the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery from 9 August 2019.


"A bottom line of our analysis is that the reason why it is so difficult to treat progressive MS is the fact that progression is caused by various mechanisms," says Simon Faissner. "In order to provide more efficient treatment, we will probably need precise therapy approaches targeting various pathomechanisms." According to the authors, another problem is the fact that the full range of underlying mechanisms is not represented in any of the existing animal models.


There are also financial aspects that impede the development of new drugs. There is evidence that drugs approved for another indication may also prove effective against multiple sclerosis. "But as patents for such medication have expired, pharmaceutical companies can't further develop them," explains Simon Faissner. "The implementation of studies to test the efficacy of those drugs for MS often fails due to a lack of funds."
An example of why we need government funding for medical research.


Today, new drugs for the progressive types of MS are available, such as Ocrelizumab and Siponimod. However, the therapy effects are as yet limited.

Vehicle exhaust pollutants linked to near doubling in risk of common eye condition

News Release 20-Aug-2019

Long term exposure to pollutants from vehicle exhaust is linked to a heightened risk of the common eye condition age-related macular degeneration, or AMD for short, suggests research published online in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

Exposure to the highest levels of air pollutants was associated with an almost doubling in risk among those aged 50 and older, the findings show.
AMD is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the middle part of the retina, known as the macula. It is one of the most common causes of poor vision in older people, and is most likely caused by an interplay between genetic and environmental risk factors.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pollution linked to psychiatric disorders

News Release 20-Aug-2019
Is pollution linked to psychiatric disorders?


The results of a new study publishing August 20 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by an international group of researchers using large data sets from the US and Denmark suggests a possible link between exposure to environmental pollution and an increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders.

The team found that poor air quality was associated with higher rates of bipolar disorder and major depression in both US and Danish populations. The trend appeared even stronger in Denmark, where exposure to polluted air during the first ten years of a person's life also predicted a more than two-fold increase in schizophrenia and personality disorders.


Although mental illnesses like schizophrenia develop due to a complex interplay of genetic predispositions and life experiences or exposures, genetics alone do not account entirely for variations in mental health and disease. Researchers have long suspected that genetic, neurochemical and environmental factors interact at different levels to affect the onset, severity and progression of these illnesses.

Growing evidence is beginning to provide insight into how components of air pollution can be toxic to the brain: Recent studies on rodents suggest that environmental agents like ambient small particulate matter (fine dust) travel to the brain through the nose and lungs, while animals exposed to pollution have also shown signs of cognitive impairment and depression-like behavioral symptoms. "We hypothesized that pollutants might affect our brains through neuroinflammatory pathways that have also been shown to cause depression-like signs in animal studies," said Andrey Rzhetsky, who led the new study.


Mexican man facing voter fraud trial in Sacramento. He’s a Trump supporter

Sam Stanton
,Sacramento Bee•August 19, 2019

For years, President Trump has claimed that millions of noncitizens voted in the 2016 presidential election, unfairly skewing his vote as Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.

On Monday in federal court in Sacramento, a man accused of coming to the United States from Mexico and voting illegally in elections for the past 20 years went on trial on charges of aggravated identity theft, voting by an alien and making a false statement on a passport application.

But there’s a twist.

Gustavo Araujo Lerma is an avowed Trump supporter, and evidence expected to be introduced in his trial includes letters of thanks from Trump, former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.

A June 2, 2017, letter from Trump to the defendant assures him that the president and Vice President Mike Pence “are deeply grateful for your resolve to help us make American safer, stronger and more prosperous than ever before.”

The letter was addressed to Hiram Enrique Velez – the name of a deceased American citizen whose identity Lerma allegedly assumed years ago to win legal status for his wife and their two children, who were all born in Mexico, according to prosecutors.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Trump Weakens Endangered Species Protections, Making It Harder to Consider Effects of Climate Change

By Sabrina Shankman
Aug. 12, 2019

The Trump Administration announced major changes Monday to the way it will implement the Endangered Species Act, weakening protections for threatened species and critical habitat and making it harder to take future risks from climate change into account.

The act has been credited with keeping 99 percent of listed species from becoming extinct, including humpback whales and bald eagles.


The revisions weaken the Endangered Species Act in key ways. They make it harder to take climate change into account when deciding whether a species needs protection, and they limit protections for critical habitat. They also allow the agencies to consider economic interests when deciding whether to list a species—something that was explicitly forbidden in the past.

And they make it harder to list threatened species—those with populations that appear to be stable but which face risks from expected loss of habitat, like ice-dependent species or those susceptible to sea level rise.


The oil and gas industry, which has long argued that the Endangered Species Act restricts its ability to pursue natural resources by putting some areas off limits, would benefit from the revisions, and the American Petroleum Institute said it welcomed the Interior Department's changes.


The revision to the act comes just months after a major United Nations report found that a million species are at risk of extinction, and that climate change is a key driver. In order to save ecosystems from collapse, the report called for "urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change."

"It's sad. It's just so myopic," said Thomas Lovejoy, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation who has studied biodiversity for 30 years. What's frightening, he said, is that "it's very easy to actually do a poor economic analysis, which basically sets it up so that the endangered species take it in the chin."


Heat-trapping gases broke records in 2018, climate report finds

Emily Holden in Washington
Tue 13 Aug 2019 13.18 EDT

The gases heating the planet at higher levels in 2018 than humans have ever recorded, according to an authoritative report published by the American Meteorological Society and compiled by the US government.

Greenhouse gases were at levels unseen in 60 years of modern measurements and 800,000 years of ice core data, the study found. The data used in the 325-page report was collected from more than 470 scientists in 60 countries.

The global annual average for carbon dioxide, which is elevated because of human activities such as driving cars and burning fuel, was 407.4 parts per million, 2.4 ppm higher than in 2017. The warming influence of CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere is now nearly 43% stronger than in 1990.

2018 was the fourth warmest year since the mid-to-late 1800s. Temperatures were 0.3C to 0.4C higher than the average between 1981 and 2010. Only 2015, 2016, and 2017 were hotter.

Sea levels were the highest on record, and sea surface temperatures were also near a record high.


The gases heating the planet at higher levels in 2018 than humans have ever recorded, according to an authoritative report published by the American Meteorological Society and compiled by the US government.

Greenhouse gases were at levels unseen in 60 years of modern measurements and 800,000 years of ice core data, the study found. The data used in the 325-page report was collected from more than 470 scientists in 60 countries.

The global annual average for carbon dioxide, which is elevated because of human activities such as driving cars and burning fuel, was 407.4 parts per million, 2.4 ppm higher than in 2017. The warming influence of CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere is now nearly 43% stronger than in 1990.

2018 was the fourth warmest year since the mid-to-late 1800s. Temperatures were 0.3C to 0.4C higher than the average between 1981 and 2010. Only 2015, 2016, and 2017 were hotter.

Sea levels were the highest on record, and sea surface temperatures were also near a record high.


There were 14 weather and climate events in the US that each caused more than $1bn in damage, the fourth highest figure since records began in 1980. Hurricane Michael was the fourth strongest storm to ever hit the continental US, killing more than 30 people and causing between $15bn and $20bn in damages.

There was also a record number of Category 5 storms in the tropics, where 11 were recorded. Super typhoon Mangkhut killed 160 people and caused $6bn in damages in the western North Pacific, and tropical storm Son-Tinh killed 170 in Vietnam and Laos.


More than 40 charged in federal court from Mississippi ICE raid, but no company officials

Jimmie E. Gates and Luke Ramseth
,USA TODAY•August 17, 2019

Charges have been filed in federal court accusing more than 40 people detained in the recent Mississippi chicken processing plant raids of being in the United States illegally.

But more than a week after the raids, there are no records of company officials charged with knowingly hiring undocumented workers. This is despite information in federal search warrant affidavits suggesting company officials knew their workers were undocumented.

Some managers knew workers wore ankle monitors to work as they waited on immigration hearings, the warrants say. One of the chicken companies was aware its workers used fraudulent Social Security numbers, a confidential informant told investigators. A human resources employee revealed an employee was hired on two occasions, under two different identities.

When a Guatemalan man encountered law enforcement in Texas, he admitted he had worked at one of the plants, Koch Foods, and reportedly said the plant knew about his immigration status and that there were “a lot of illegals working there."


The search warrant affidavits suggest all five companies that operated the processing plants knowingly hired undocumented immigrants. Companies engaging in a “pattern and practice” of knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants can be fined as much as $3,000 for each person hired. Company officials can face up to six months in prison.


In addition, investigators found some employees had not been run through the legally-required federal E-Verify system, which scans an applicant's information through federal databases. (The system can't necessarily flag whether an applicant is using fake documents, however.)

Agents also said they learned some employees entering and leaving the plants did not match up with names of employees in the company's quarterly wage report filed with the state.


Legal experts said there have been relatively few prosecutions of employers over hiring of undocumented workers over the years.

Under President Donald Trump, ICE has drastically increased immigration crackdowns including worksite enforcement actions, according to the Associated Press. But the amount of employers being charged has remained almost the same.

There are a few prominent recent examples from Mississippi, however.


Shell Union Workers Had to Choose Between Attending President Trump's Speech or Losing Pay: Reports

Time•August 17, 2019

Union workers at a Royal Dutch Shell’s manufacturing facility in western Pennsylvania were told that they had to attend President Donald Trump’s speech on Tuesday – or take the day off without pay, reports say.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a contractor sent a memo to union leaders that the employees’ attendance at a Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania was “not mandatory.” However, a supervisor for the contractor wrote that only employees who arrived at the hours-long event would receive pay, writing, “NO SCAN, NO PAY.”


He also claimed credit for the construction of the Shell plant, which had first been announced under the Obama administration, telling the workers, “This would have never happened without me and us.”


Unprecedented heatwave kills thousands of fish in Alaska

Alessio Perrone
,The Independent•August 17, 2019

Climate change and warming rivers may have caused the mass death of salmon in parts of Alaska, scientists say.

Large numbers of salmon died prematurely in some Alaskan rivers in July according to local reports, and scientists believe the cause could be the unprecedented heatwave that gripped the state last month.

“Climate change is here in Alaska. We are seeing it. We are feeling it. And our salmon are dying because of it,” said Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, a biologist specialising in salmon and the director of the Yukon Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, in a Facebook post.


Thailand's lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

,Associated Press•August 17, 2019

An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.


An autopsy showed a big amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.

"She must have thought these plastics were edible," Jatuporn said.


It Slices, It Dices, It Binds And It Stops Bugs: Dental Floss Is Your Secret Multitool

See the article for several neat things dental floss can be used for.

August 15, 20192:16 PM ET
Suzette Lohmeyer

The Life Kit team poked around Dyment's website for practical tips on the many other uses of dental floss.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Scientists Develop Vaccine That Prevents Cats From Making You Allergic to Them

By K Thor Jensen On 8/15/19 at 12:52 PM EDT

A Swiss pharmaceutical company announced the development of a vaccine that makes cats less able to produce allergens, thereby lessening the likelihood of an owner developing an allergy.

In April, scientists at Hypo Pet published a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggesting that an early version of its injectable vaccine performed well in clinical trials.

Founded in 2013 by the University of Zürich Switzerland and funded by grants from the Swiss government, Hypo Pet has partnered with a British company to bring new veterinary medicines to market. It's first drug, also called Hypo Pet, is unlike current treatments for feline allergies, which involve cat owners undergoing periodic injections designed to suppress the body's natural immune responses to the cat allergens.

Hypo Pet essentially makes cats hypoallergenic by reducing or eliminating the allergens their bodies naturally produce in the first place.


It will likely be years before Hypo Pet is available on the market, though: The April study is the first step in a long process that will include human trials and approval from both European and U.S. drug agencies. The company has begun the ramp up to larger production, but no timeline has been set.


Greenland's ice is melting at the rate scientists thought would be our worst-case scenario in 2070

Morgan McFall-Johnsen
,Business Insider•August 14, 2019


Greenland's ice is melting at the rate scientists thought would be our worst-case scenario in 2070


Greenland's ice melt has already raised sea levels more than 0.5 inches since 1972. Half of that occurred just in the last eight years, according to a study published in April.


Iceland's dead Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque

Iceland's Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque
By Toby Luckhurst BBC News
Aug 18, 2019

Mourners have gathered in Iceland to commemorate the loss of Okjokull, which has died at the age of about 700.

The glacier was officially declared dead in 2014 when it was no longer thick enough to move.

What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.


"Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier," it reads.

"In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.

"Only you know if we did it."

The dedication, written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, ends with the date of the ceremony and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air globally - 415 parts per million (ppm).

Friday, August 16, 2019

Judge orders release of Missouri man imprisoned 2 decades

,Associated Press•August 15, 2019

A judge ordered the release Thursday of a Missouri inmate who was imprisoned for more than 20 years for a double murder, a day after overturning his conviction.

DeKalb County Judge Daren Adkins said in his order that prosecutors didn't object to 44-year-old Ricky Kidd being freed pending further proceedings in the case. Adkins issued the order one day after finding that there was "clear and convincing" evidence that Kidd was innocent of the February 1996 deaths of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges in Kansas City. Adkins gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to retry him.


Murder retrial of Salvadoran woman over stillborn son to continue

By Nelson Renteria
,Reuters•August 15, 2019

The retrial of a Salvadoran woman convicted of aggravated homicide after a stillbirth adjourned without a verdict on Thursday, in a closely watched case that could overturn a 30-year prison sentence handed down after prosecutors said she had induced an abortion.

El Salvador bans abortion in all circumstances.

The judge ordered a recess Thursday afternoon after a witness for the prosecution failed to appear.


Hernandez has served three years of the three-decade sentence that was handed down. Hernandez had said that she was unaware of her pregnancy when she delivered a stillborn son in 2016.

She again stated her innocence in the retrial, which began in mid-July but went on recess due to the illness of a witness. Hernandez, a domestic worker who was studying to be a nurse, has said she was impregnated after being raped by a gang member.

"I only wish to tell you that I am an innocent girl. I have always told you that I am innocent," the defendant Evelyn Hernandez, 21, told reporters as she entered the court."I only wish to tell you that I am an innocent girl. I have always told you that I am innocent," the defendant Evelyn Hernandez, 21, told reporters as she entered the court.


Any intentional termination of a pregnancy in El Salvador can be prosecuted as a crime, including stillbirths due to home delivery or abortions induced because of medical emergencies.

Some 147 Salvadoran women were sentenced to up to 40 years in prison in such cases between 2000 and 2014, according to the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion.


Update Windows 10 Immediately, Warns Microsoft

By Chris Morris

August 15, 2019

Microsoft is sounding a red alert to Windows 10 users, warning them to update their operating systems immediately.

The company, in a blog post Tuesday, warned of two "critical" vulnerabilities that rival the previous "BlueKeep" crisis. As with that bug, the new issues are described as "wormable," meaning hackers could use them to spread malware from one machine to another without any interaction from the user.

Microsoft said, so far, it has no evidence that the vulnerabilities were known to any third parties.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kentucky Miners Are Camped Out on Railroad Tracks, Blocking a Coal Train, Demanding Their Stolen Wages

How the rich get that way - stealing workers salaries.

If you like Trump, you will be fine with this, since this is the kind of thing he has habitually done to workers.

This is common in the coal industry. The owner gets rich, mine out an area, declare bankruptcy and stiff their workers and creditors, then start another company and do it again.

Kentucky Miners Are Camped Out on Railroad Tracks, Blocking a Coal Train, Demanding Their Stolen Wages
July 31, 2019 / Alexandra Bradbury


For three days now, miners and their families have occupied a railroad track, blocking a train that’s loaded up with coal that these workers dug out of the earth and never got paid for.

Word spread quickly July 29 that someone was loading up the train to move. A few laid-off miners headed down to the site to find out what was going on, and it didn’t take long to decide they weren’t going to let this train go anywhere.

The miners want their jobs back, if possible—but bottom line, they want their wages for the work they already did.


“If we can’t get our money, they need to do something with [former CEO] Jeff Hoops for what he’s done,” said Shane Smith, a fourth-generation miner. His youngest daughter was born three days after the company announced its bankruptcy a month ago and stole workers’ wages.

Both men said they are owed nearly $4,000 in their last two paychecks.


Blackjewel LLC abruptly shut down all its mines July 1 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Partway through a shift, workers were told the bad news and sent home.

Cornett heard about it on Facebook, but showed up anyway for the night shift, “just to see.” He found no one there but a security guard.

The miners never got their last paycheck. Their second-to-last paycheck, already deposited, evaporated out of their bank accounts.


Adding insult to injury, the miners never received any paper notice of their layoff, which caused a bureaucratic headache when they went to file for unemployment—they couldn’t prove they were out of work.


Even once that was straightened out, the company’s paperwork was a mess, said Cornett. Everyone’s case was slightly different. It turned out that Blackjewel hadn’t reported most of his wages to Social Security all year. He filed additional paperwork and expects to wait two to three more weeks for a reconsideration by the unemployment department.


Besides the six mines in Harlan County, the bankruptcy hit Blackjewel’s mines in Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, laying off 1,800 miners in all. The stiffed miners have been exchanging information and encouragement cross-country through a Facebook group.


The mismanagement is shocking. A nonprofit public-interest research firm called the Sightline Institute pored over Blackjewel’s bankruptcy filing and reported that Hoops specialized in taking over financially struggling mines, that his companies were chronically short on cash and routinely stiffed creditors and tax collectors, that he had no way of tracking the finances of individual mines, and that he repeatedly transferred money back and forth between the company and his personal account, apparently to keep checks from bouncing.

Hoops is also building a $30 million Roman Coliseum-themed resort called “The Grand Patrician” on the site of an abandoned hospital in West Virginia.


A flight attendant has died after contracting measles on a flight out of New York City, according to reports

Talia Lakritz
,INSIDER•August 13, 2019

An El Al Airlines flight attendant who contracted measles after a person with the disease boarded a flight to Israel has died, according to Israel National News.

Israel's Ministry of Health confirmed that a person infected with measles was onboard El Al Airlines flight 002 from New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport to Tel Aviv on March 26.


On April 4, INSIDER reported that a 43-year-old female flight attendant was hospitalized with measles. A few weeks later, she reportedly fell into a coma. Israel National News reported that she was then transferred to the quarantine section of Meir Medical Center's intensive care wing in Kfar Saba, Israel, and pronounced dead on Tuesday.

Heat-trapping gases broke records in 2018, climate crisis report finds

Emily Holden
Mon 12 Aug 2019 17.35 EDT

The gases heating the planet in 2018 were higher than humans have ever recorded, according to an authoritative new report from the American Meteorological Society and the US government.

Greenhouse gas levels topped 60 years of modern measurements and 800,000 years of ice core data, the study found. The data used in the 325-page report is collected from more than 470 scientists in 60 countries.

The global annual average for carbon dioxide – which is elevated because of human activities like driving cars and burning fuel – was 407.4 parts per million, 2.4 ppm higher than in 2017.

The report finds 2018 was the fourth-warmest on record since the mid-to-late- 1800s. Temperatures were .3C to .4C higher than the average between 1981 and 2010.

Sea levels were the highest on record, as global heating melted land-based ice and expanded the oceans. Sea surface temperatures were also near a record high.

As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put it, the report “found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet”.

Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent was near a record low, and glaciers continued to melt and lose mass for the 30th year in a row.


At the Altar of the Dollar

Beautiful video by Todd Smith

Todd Smith also has an album that explores climate change and human’s negative impact on the planet: "Is Anybody Listening?"

The World’s Wealthiest Family Gets $4 Million Richer Every Hour

See the link below for information on the 25 richest families.

Aug. 10, 2019

The numbers are mind-boggling: $70,000 per minute, $4 million per hour, $100 million per day.

That’s how quickly the fortune of the Waltons, the clan behind Walmart Inc., has been growing since last year’s Bloomberg ranking of the world’s richest families.

At that rate, their wealth would’ve expanded about $23,000 since you began reading this. A new Walmart associate in the U.S. would’ve made about 6 cents in that time, on the way to an $11 hourly minimum.

Even in this era of extreme wealth and brutal inequality, the contrast is jarring. The heirs of Sam Walton, Walmart’s notoriously frugal founder, are amassing wealth on a near-unprecedented scale — and they’re hardly alone.

The Walton fortune has swelled by $39 billion, to $191 billion, since topping the June 2018 ranking of the world’s richest families.

Other American dynasties are close behind in terms of the assets they’ve accrued. The Mars family, of candy fame, added $37 billion, bringing its fortune to $127 billion. The Kochs, the industrialists-cum-political-power-players, tacked on $26 billion, to $125 billion.

So it goes around the globe. America’s richest 0.1% today control more wealth than at any time since 1929, but their counterparts in Asia and Europe are gaining too. Worldwide, the 25 richest families now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth, up 24% from last year.


As the tension increases, even some billionaire heirs are backing steps such as wealth taxes.

“If we don’t do something like this, what are we doing, just hoarding this wealth in a country that’s falling apart at the seams?” Liesel Pritzker Simmons, whose family ranks 17th on the Bloomberg list, said in June. “That’s not the America we want to live in.”


Thursday, August 08, 2019

57 people are dead and 18,000 were hospitalized in Japan as the country grapples with a stifling heat wave

Rosie Perper
,INSIDER•August 7, 2019

57 people died and more than 18,000 were taken to hospital in the space of a single week as Japan grappled with a powerful heat wave.

According to Kyodo News, 18,347 people were taken to the hospital in the last week, more than three times the number recorded the week before that.

The figures are for July 29 to August 4, and were released at the beginning of this week. They paint a bleak picture of how Japan is coping with its ongoing high temperatures.


Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency told said that atmospheric high pressure led to the lengthy hot period. Temperatures climbed to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tokyo in the last week.

On Wednesday, temperatures reached 38.4 C (101 F) in Kumagaya, a city northwest of Tokyo, and 36.9 C (98.4 F) in Fukushima and Osaka, according to Japan's public broadcaster, NHK.

High temperatures have plagued Japan for weeks, resulting in scores of heat-related deaths this summer.

Last month, more than 80 people died in a heat wave where temperatures climbed above 40 C (104 F) in parts of the country.

Then temperatures reached a record 41.1 C (105.8 F) according to Kyodo News, prompting Japan's Meteorological Agency to issue a warning that the heat posed a "threat to life."

"We recognize it as a natural disaster," a spokesperson said last month.

Alaska records warmest month ever in July with coastline barren of sea ice

Oliver Milman in New York
Thu 8 Aug 2019 02.00 EDT

A heatwave pulsating through the Arctic helped push Alaska to its warmest month ever recorded in July, with the state’s vast coastline left completely barren of sea ice.

Alaska’s average temperature in July was a record 58.1F (14.5C), nearly 1F above the previous monthly high set in July 2004, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Cities and towns across the vast US state, such as Anchorage, Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow) and Kodiak all had their warmest month in 125 years of record-keeping.

This heat, 5.4F warmer than the long-term average for July, helped spur wildfires that shrouded much of Alaska in a pall of smoke and has now resulted in a remarkable melting away of shoreline ice.

There is now no sea ice within 150 miles of Alaskan shores, according to an analysis by the National Weather Service. The pace of ice loss is “unprecedented” in 40 years of satellite records, scientists said, with the Bering Sea, which separates Alaska from Russia, left completely ice-free.


“It looks like the worst case scenario put forward by the IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] could be an underestimate because we are seeing ice melting now that we expected 30 to 40 years from now. It’s alarming because it’s very fast-paced and the consequences are hard to predict.”


'Blood on their hands': the intelligence officer whose warning over white supremacy was ignored

Lois Beckett in San Francisco
Thu 8 Aug 2019 01.00 EDT

Ten years ago, the Department of Homeland Security sent American law enforcement agencies an intelligence briefing warning of a rising threat of domestic rightwing extremism, including white supremacist terrorism.

The economic recession and the election of America’s first black president would create fertile ground for rightwing radicalization, the 2009 report concluded. Military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular, would be attractive targets for recruitment.

Republican politicians and conservative pundits reacted with outrage and demanded a retraction. The report was politically motivated and unfairly demonized conservative views, they argued. “Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are,” the head of the American Legion, a veterans group, wrote.

The head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) publicly apologized. The small team of domestic terrorism analysts who had produced the report was disbanded, and analysts were reassigned to study Muslim extremism, according to Daryl Johnson, the career federal intelligence analyst who had led the team. By the next year, Johnson says, he had been forced out of the DHS altogether.

Since then, Johnson has watched a rising tide of white nationalist terror attacks around the world. This year, he published a book, Hateland, on American extremism.


Why do you think the Republican Party doesn’t want to talk about rightwing terrorism and white supremacy?
Partly because they’re the ones who are arming Americans. No matter how many times you can try to blame the person for carrying out the act, they still have access to weapons that are meant for war.

And I also believe, going back to their campaign strategy for the 2010 midterms, there’s blood on their hands. They’re definitely fanning the flame and providing the fuel, and it’s all to win elections.


Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices

Of course, this company is not the only one guilty of things like this.

Foxconn blames it on lax oversight, but any executive who doesn't already know that such abuse will happen w/o good oversight is incompetent to be in that position.

Gethin Chamberlain
Thu 8 Aug 2019 18.37 EDT

Hundreds of schoolchildren have been drafted in to make Amazon’s Alexa devices in China as part of a controversial and often illegal attempt to meet production targets, documents seen by the Guardian reveal.

Interviews with workers and leaked documents from Amazon’s supplier Foxconn show that many of the children have been required to work nights and overtime to produce the smart-speaker devices, in breach of Chinese labour laws.

According to the documents, the teenagers – drafted in from schools and technical colleges in and around the central southern city of Hengyang – are classified as “interns”, and their teachers are paid by the factory to accompany them. Teachers are asked to encourage uncooperative pupils to accept overtime work on top of regular shifts.


Chinese factories are allowed to employ students aged 16 and older, but these schoolchildren are not allowed to work nights or overtime.

Foxconn, which also makes iPhones for Apple, admitted that students had been employed illegally and said it was taking immediate action to fix the situation.

The company said in a statement: “We have doubled the oversight and monitoring of the internship program with each relevant partner school to ensure that, under no circumstances, will interns [be] allowed to work overtime or nights.


World food crisis looms if carbon emissions go unchecked, UN says

By Stephen Leahy
Aug. 8, 2019

The impacts of climate change on land are already severe and will substantially increase food prices, risking widespread food instability, says a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The Special Report on Climate Change and Land warned that a food crisis looms, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions, if carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions go unchecked. Rising temperatures may also reduce the nutritional value of crops and will significantly reduce crop yields, the report said.


Crop yields and animal growth rates are already falling. Nutrition levels are also expected to decline with continued CO2 emissions, putting already poor countries at very severe risk of increased hunger and malnutrition, she said.


“We have to protect the quality of the entire landscape where food is produced,” says Louis Verchot of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and a lead author of the special report.

That means preventing further degradation of soils, water, insect life, or any element of the biosphere from farm field to consumers’ tables, Verchot said.

Agriculture and global food systems need to be reformed because they are a big part of the climate problem, producing about one-third of total carbon emissions, said Mark Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University.

However, they can be part of the solution. More efficient, sustainable forms of food production can reduce emissions, freeing up land that can be used to store carbon in soils and vegetation like trees, said Howden, a vice chairman of an IPCC working group.

“Reductions in food loss and waste, currently estimated to be 25-30 percent of the global food produced, could have similar benefits,” he says in an email.


Protecting the world’s remaining forests as quickly as possible is a definite no-brainer, according to Charlotte Streck, head of climate think-tank Climate Focus. Streck says the sharp increases in meat consumption in China and Asia pose a threat to forests and the climate. Eating less meat is healthier, and since over 60 percent of agricultural land is used for meat production, cutting meat consumption would free up a lot of land for reforestation, she said.


Richer nations need cut their own carbon emissions to zero before 2050 and provide massive funding to developing countries to protect their forests.

“Governments face hard choices now because they’ve been negligent for 30 years,” he said. “This is only way left to get to close to 1.5 C.”


A Conversation with a Reformed White Nationalist

Yara BayoumyKathy Gilsinan
Aug 6, 2019

It’s going to get worse.

That’s the warning of a former violent extremist, Christian Picciolini, who joined a neo-Nazi movement 30 years ago and now tries to get people out of them. White-supremacist terrorists—the ones who have left dozens dead in attacks in Pittsburgh, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, in recent months—aren’t just trying to outdo one another, he told us. They’re trying to outdo Timothy McVeigh, the anti-government terrorist who blew up an Oklahoma City federal building and killed more than 100 people in 1995—the worst terrorist attack in the United States before September 11, 2001.


That shooting, along with another one hours later, in which an attacker killed nine people over 30 seconds in Dayton, Ohio, renewed the clamor for gun-control laws that has become a grim ritual after such events. But Picciolini said that even if the U.S. could get a handle on its gun problem, terrorists can always find other ways. McVeigh had his car bomb, the September 11th hijackers had their airplanes, Islamic State attackers have suicide bombings, trucks, and knives. “I have to ask myself, Do we have white-nationalist airline pilots?” Picciolini said. “There have to be. I knew people in powerful positions, in politics, in law enforcement, who were secretly white nationalists. I think we’d be stupid and selfish to think that we don’t have those in the truck-driving industry.”


Picciolini now runs a global network, the Free Radicals Project, where former extremists like him provide counseling to others trying to leave extremist movements. He spoke with us yesterday morning about the mainstreaming of white nationalism, what it takes to de-radicalize far-right extremists, and why the problem is metastasizing.


Kathy Gilsinan: What role does the internet play? There’s a lot of discussion about internet radicalization for members of ISIS—is this a parallel process for white-supremacist movements, or are there differences?

Picciolini: It’s a very parallel process. The propaganda is very similar. The internet itself is a platform. Thirty years ago, marginalized, broken, angry young people had to be met face-to-face to get recruited into a movement. Nowadays, those millions and millions of young people are living most of their lives online if they don’t have real-world connections. And they’re finding a community online instead of in the real world, and having conversations about promoting violence.


Bayoumy: That’s a good segue to get into your own story. How did you go through this evolution and find yourself on the other side of this? And since then, how have you been able to help people who are still in these groups? Have you noticed any change in the frequency of people who want to leave these movements but don’t know how?

Picciolini: I’ve seen the requests for help skyrocket since 2014.


Bayoumy: What does disengagement look like? What’s a typical example of someone reaching out to you saying they want to leave? How do you help them through that?

Picciolini: It’s a whole lot of listening. I listen for what I call potholes: things that happen to us in our journey of life that detour us, things like trauma, abuse, mental illness, poverty, joblessness. Even privilege can be a pothole that detours us. As I listen to those—rather than debate or confront them about their ideology, but creating a rapport with them—I start to fill in those potholes. I will find resources in their community to help them deal with the trauma, with whatever it is that was the motivation for them to go in that direction. Nobody’s born racist; we all found it. Then I leverage the community around them to try to engage them and support them, and try to find ways for them to crawl out of that hole. Typically what I found is, people hate other people because they hate something very specifically about themselves, or are very angry about a situation within their own environment, and that is then projected onto other people. So I’m really trying to build resilience with people.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Elliott Completes Acquisition of Barnes & Noble

Hopefully this will help them stay in business longer. It sounds like Elliot wants to keep bookstores alive. Doesn't sound like one of those slimy parasite venture capitalists who buy companies just to use them to borrow a bunch of money to pay themselves huge amounts, then declare the business bankrupt leaving their creditors in the lurch. I hope I don't turn out to be wrong.

Aug. 7, 2019

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS, “Barnes & Noble”) announced today the successful closing of its acquisition by funds advised by Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited (“Elliott” or the “Offeror”).

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, follows its June 2018 acquisition of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the United Kingdom. Barnes & Noble serves 627 different communities across all 50 states, where it remains the #1 bookseller in the United States. Elliott seeks to build upon this strong foundation as it addresses the significant challenges facing the bricks and mortar book retail space in the United States, applying a model that successfully turned around Waterstones over the past decade. Elliott will own both Barnes & Noble and Waterstones and, while each bookseller will operate independently, James Daunt will serve as CEO of both companies and relocate from London to New York.


On the other hand

Waterstones paying millions to US ‘vulture fund’ owners while denying staff living wage
by CorporateWatch1 / Consumer Goods, News, Slider, Work / 29 Mar 2019

Waterstones staff are demanding to be paid the living wage. Management say the company can’t afford it but an investigation by Corporate Watch has found:

Waterstones’ new owner – US hedge fund Elliot Advisors – has set up an offshore financing scheme that could see it make £17 million a year from the bookseller.

The highest paid director’s £1.6 million pay packet is over 100 times more than staff on the minimum wage receive.

Elliott Advisors is a notorious ‘vulture fund’, chasing the debts of crisis-hit countries like Argentina. It is run by Paul Singer, a US billionaire and major conservative donor who has funded Donald Trump, George W Bush and the Koch brothers.

In short, Waterstones sums up capitalism in Britain today: billionaire owners and millionaire executives living off a workforce on poverty wages.

We put all the points below to Waterstones. It did not dispute the figures but a spokesperson said: “we pay our booksellers as much as it is prudent to do, with a particular commitment to a progressive pay scale”


Diabetic, 27, dies after taking cheaper insulin as he lost private health insurance

Antonio Olivo
Aug. 5, 2019

Josh Wilkerson was alone, in the sleeping quarters above the northern Virginia dog kennel where he worked, when he suffered a series of strokes that would prove fatal.

He had aged out of his stepfather’s health insurance plan on his 26th birthday and eventually switched to over-the-counter insulin. Like many other diabetics his age, he could not afford the prescription brand he needed.

A few hours after taking another dose of the lower-grade medication that June day in Leesburg, Mr Wilkerson was in the throes of a diabetic coma – his blood sugar level 17 times higher than what is considered normal.

His death at age 27 illustrates the worst-case scenario for thousands of lower-income people living with diabetes in the United States who depend on over-the-counter insulin that – for $25 (£21) a vial at Walmart – sells for one-tenth of what the more effective version costs.


The more affordable form of the medication – sold by Walmart since 2000 under its ReliOn brand – is known as “human insulin.” It predates the genetically altered “analogue” insulin doctors routinely prescribe.

While human insulin can require as many as four hours to take effect, with varying levels of success, analogue insulin is more precise and takes as little as 20 minutes to regulate blood sugar levels, patient advocates say.

But with analogue insulin prices nearly tripling since 2002, doctors have begun recommending the cheaper version as a stopgap – a strategy endorsed for “some patients” by the American Diabetes Association in a white paper published last year.

Allison Bailey, US advocacy manager for T1International, a nonprofit organisation for people with type 1 diabetes, said human insulin may work better for people who have type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that develops more often in people who are overweight and that is more manageable with diet and exercise.

For the estimated 1.25 million people with type 1 diabetes in the US, using human insulin is riskier.


“It’s pretty much a death sentence,” Ms Weaver said of people who are forced to ration insulin or depend on the less-reliable form sold over the counter. “They have no health insurance or good jobs to afford what they need, so they’re left with the pittance that is left.”