Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Bills' grossly unethical stadium deal will burden the people it purports to unite

I suggest reading the whole article.


Shalise Manza Young·Yahoo Sports Columnist
Tue, March 29, 2022, 7:49 PM


In the state of New York, if you want to receive public assistance — you know, money from state or local authorities to help keep a roof over heads or food in refrigerators — there are conditions that recipients must meet.


 When wealthy people want public assistance, well, that's a different story.

On Monday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and Terry and Kim Pegula, the multi-billionaire owners of the Buffalo Bills, trumpeted a new stadium deal for the team that will see the state give the couple $600 million in taxpayer funds. As if that weren't enough, Erie County will kick in $250 million.

The $850 million is the largest amount of public monies ever given to finance a stadium for a privately owned team.

And yet, in all of the coverage of the agreement, there hasn't been a word about the conditions the Pegulas, and by extension, the Bills, will have to meet to get the public assistance funds.


Terry and Kim Pegula are reportedly worth $5.8 billion, give or take. In a hyper-exclusive club of wealthy team owners, they are among the top 10 wealthiest.


Hochul can just propose to slash $800 million from New York's Office of Child and Family Services. Why make sure the most vulnerable citizens of the state are taken care of when there's a massive facility to build that will get used only 20 or so times a year? A building in which the tenants keep essentially all of the profits and reap all of the benefits when the value of the team increases because of the new facility?



Wednesday, March 30, 2022

As the US Rushes After the Minerals for the Energy Transition, a 150-Year-Old Law Allows Mining Companies Free Rein on Public Lands

  I suggest reading the whole article.


By Jim Robbins
March 13, 2022

On the vast expanse of public lands across the West, a rush for the minerals needed for the 21st century technologies of the energy transition depends on a 150-year-old law. Those lands’ survival of the clean energy mineral rush may depend on rewriting it.

A new open pit lithium mine was approved last year at Thacker Pass in Nevada, on publicly owned land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, to tap into this country’s largest known deposit of the mineral, worth nearly $4 billion.


 But as vital and valuable as lithium is, a Canadian company called Lithium Americas, whose largest shareholders are Chinese mining companies, is getting the mineral at Thacker Pass from the American taxpayer for free. And at the end of the mine’s life, critics say, it will leave behind a mound of waste, an open pit the size of a small canyon that cannot be fully reclaimed and polluted groundwater.


But a coalition of Native Americans, environmentalists and a local rancher that is suing the government to stop the mine argue it will have a host of negative impacts on area water, species and sacred sites that were underestimated in a rushed environmental impact statement that failed to adequately consult area tribes.

At the heart of that conflict, and others across the country, between a booming 21st century renewable energy economy and environmental protection of U.S. public lands is a 19th century mining law written to spur the settling of the American West.

In May of 1872, a couple of months after he signed the bill that created Yellowstone National Park, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the General Mining Law of 1872: An Act to Promote the Development of the Mining Resources of the United States. It gave carte blanche to anyone seeking minerals on federal lands, as a way to finish populating the West.

On hundreds of millions of acres owned by U.S. taxpayers, the law transfers gold, silver, copper, uranium, lithium and other metals, in vast amounts, from public ownership to anyone who locates them, pounds four stakes in the ground around their location and files a claim. Foreign firms can stake claims by forming a U.S. subsidiary. Unlike publicly owned oil and gas resources, miners pay no royalties on the metals and minerals they dig from public lands.



Stabilizing low blood sugar in infancy prevents long-term brain damage


 News Release 30-Mar-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Waterloo


Low blood sugar in infancy is serious, but treatment can ward off long-term brain damage in infants, a new study has found.

The study from the University of Waterloo and the University of Auckland is the first research of its kind to declare stabilizing blood sugar levels in newborns with hypoglycemia prevents brain damage.

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in the blood is too low. Low blood sugar is very common, affecting more than one in six babies. As glucose is the main source of fuel for the brain and the body, untreated low blood sugar can cause adverse effects on a child’s neurodevelopment up to the age of 4.5 years old. 



For those thinking about plastic surgery, selfies give a distorted view


  News Release 30-Mar-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Wolters Kluwer Health


 If you're like a lot of people, an unflattering view on a smartphone "selfie" might start you thinking about rhinoplasty or other cosmetic surgery procedures. But that smartphone shot isn't giving you the true picture, as selfies introduce measurable distortions in the size and perception of facial features, reports a study in the April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

In particular, the nose appears longer and wider than in selfies, compared to standard clinical photographs, according to the report by ASPS Member Surgeon Bardia Amirlak, MD, and colleagues of UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. 


Why are people with allergic asthma less susceptible to severe COVID?


I have allergic asthma.  I probably had Covid in the early part of 2020.  I was sick, but not terribly.  I've felt a lot worse in some flu infections.  I got a flat tire on the way to be tested, and never go tested, so I can't say for sure that I had Covid, but I had symptoms of long Covid for more than a year, until I got vaccinated.  I also got sick when the Delta and Omicron strains were prevalent, but less severe each time.  Whatever I had around Christmas, when a lot of people I knew were getting sick and Omicron was prevalent, was like a mild cold.  But having had severe breathing problems from the asthma, I know how horrible it is to have a hard time breathing, so I have had the booster, and I plan to get the second one at an appropriate time.


 News Release 30-Mar-2022
Scientists show how cells packed with SARS-CoV-2 detach from the upper airway and spread deep into lungs where severe COVID can take root. They also discovered how an asthmatic reaction to allergens battles the virus to hold severe COVID at bay.
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of North Carolina Health Care


The vast majority of people infected with the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 experience mild cold-like symptoms, moderate flu-like symptoms, or no symptoms at all, but the virus is so transmissible that it still spread deep into lung tissue to cause severe disease and death in thousands of people in the United States in 2022 alone. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed biological reasons for how disease progression happens and why a certain population of asthma patients are less susceptible to severe COVID.

This research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, illustrates the importance of a well-known cytokine called interleukin-13 (IL-13) in protecting cells against SARS-CoV-2, which helps explain the mystery of why people with allergic asthma fair better than the general population despite having a chronic lung condition. The same cannot be said for individuals with other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema, who are at very high risk of severe COVID.


 Although cytokines like IL-13 cannot be used as therapies because they trigger inflammation, it is important to understand natural molecular pathways that cells use to protect themselves from pathogen invasion, as these studies have the potential to reveal new therapeutic targets.


COVID vaccination of children age 5-11 cut Omicron hospitalizations by 68%


 News Release 30-Mar-2022
Vaccination also prevented critical illness with both omicron and delta in children age 12-18
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Boston Children's Hospital


Although the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine became available in October for children age 5-11, many parents have been hesitant to have them vaccinated. As of March 16, only 27 percent had received two vaccine doses, according to CDC data. A national study published March 30 by The New England Journal of Medicine now reports that vaccination of 5- to 11-year-olds reduced hospitalizations with COVID-19 by more than two thirds during the omicron surge and protected against severe illness.

The study, co-led by Adrienne Randolph, MD, MSc, at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also confirms that vaccination reduced COVID-19 hospitalization in adolescents age 12-18 and protected strongly against severe illness, in line with a study earlier this year.




Thursday, March 24, 2022

Decades of Lobbying Weakened Americans’ Gas Mileage and Turbocharged Pain at the Pump

I suggest reading the whole article.

 I have a Nissan Versa.  I found years ago that when I only half fill a car's gas tank, I get better gas mileage than filling it up.  It would be surprising if that were not so, because the more gasoline in the tank, the more has to be used to carry around the gas.  In my current car, when the indicator shows I am running low, I have been putting in $8.  My mileage had been about 32.3 mpg, shown on the trip mileage gauge.  Since prices have increased, the $8 buys less gas, and my mileage had increased to more than 33 mpg.  The most recent mileage was 35mpg.


By Sharon Kelly
Mar 18, 2022 @ 09:57 PDT


The pain at the pump for American drivers has roots that run deeper than today’s crisis. In recent years, while fracking’s supporters were shouting “drill baby drill” the oil industry began lobbying behind the scenes to undercut programs designed to make vehicles more fuel efficient or less reliant on fossil fuels. Alongside automakers, they helped pave the way for a boom in gas guzzlers that attracted consumers when gas prices were relatively low: In 2021, a stunning 78 percent of new vehicles sold in the United States were SUVs or trucks, according to the Wall Street Journal. American carmakers like Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler have nearly abandoned making sedans for U.S. drivers altogether.


Federal rules shape the menu of options offered to consumers by requiring automakers to achieve fleet-wide averages on fuel efficiency. A quick look back shows the oil industry’s fingerprints (alongside those of car manufacturers) on gambits to grind down those fuel efficiency standards, leaving everyday Americans more dependent on oil.


A November 2021 Environmental Protection Agency report touts the climb in fuel efficiency in 2020, noting a 0.5 mile-per-gallon gain to 25.4 MPG, “a record high.” But efficiency advocates noted those numbers actually fell short of federal targets, faulting loopholes in the law that they say promote larger vehicles.

“We’re facing a climate crisis, yet automakers are producing cars that are barely more fuel efficient on average than what they sold a year earlier, even as technology improves,” Avi Mersky, senior transportation researcher for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said in a statement that month. “They’re following the letter of the standards but exploiting all the weaknesses in the regulation to keep making gas guzzlers. It’s terrible for the climate and it costs drivers at the pump, especially now as gas prices are increasing.”


as President Trump entered office, some oil refiners also began to involve themselves in fighting auto efficiency regulations. In 2018, the New York Times uncovered lobbying efforts by oil companies and the Koch network.


A number of organizations with ties to the Koch network also joined in lobbying to weaken clean car standards, as DeSmog previously reported. In March 2018, representatives from 11 groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the 60 Plus Association, Frontiers of Freedom, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to prevent California from setting its own fuel efficiency standards.

Koch Industries itself, the Times found, even lobbied to repeal CAFE standards entirely.

The subsequent Trump rollbacks (which reduced plans for fleetwide averages to hit roughly 55 MPG by 2025 to about 40 MPG by 2026) had significant impacts, said Tonachel. “It was a huge setback in terms of the innovation signal to the market and the opportunity for consumers to have access to cleaner, more efficient vehicles,” he said. “It cost consumers money at the pump as well as putting us in reverse in terms of addressing climate change.”

Over the past year, the Biden administration began unwinding moves made by President Trump to loosen fuel economy standards. “We’re now headed back in the right direction,” said Tonachel, adding that the administration’s goal of having 50 percent of car sales be zero emission vehicles by 2030 is “actually the minimum of what we should be doing.”

Nonetheless, the Trump-era rollbacks have continued to echo. Not only did they impact cars on the road today, Becker noted, they were also used by auto lobbyists to argue for weaker standards in California, whose authority to regulate car emissions was recently restored.

The notion of oil abundance was never a good reason to loosen fuel standards, efficiency advocates said.

“Even if there’s an abundance of fossil fuels, if we burn it, we’re burning the planet,” Tonachel said. “There’s no basis to burn more of it when we’re in a climate crisis.”


 A poll by Consumer Reports last year found that 89 percent of U.S. drivers supported improving fuel efficiency for pickup trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles. “Car buyers expect new vehicles to be more fuel efficient, but automakers are failing to deliver what their customers want,” David Friedman, Consumer Reports’ VP of advocacy, said as that poll was released.

But as lawmakers consider ways to reduce oil dependence following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, some Koch-linked organizations have re-entered the fray. On March 8, Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, also linked to Koch, testified at a congressional hearing on electric vehicles, faulting the concept of an energy transition for higher prices.


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Coal Mining Emits More Super-Polluting Methane Than Venting and Flaring From Gas and Oil Wells, a New Study Finds


By Phil McKenna
March 15, 2022 

Methane emissions from coal mines worldwide exceed those from the global oil or gas sectors and are significantly higher than prior estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency and the International Energy Agency, a new Global Energy Monitor report concludes.


Coal mining emits 52 million metric tons of methane per year, more than is emitted from either the oil sector, which emits 39 million tons, or the gas industry, which emits 45 million tons, according to the report, published Tuesday. 


Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas and the second leading driver of climate change after carbon dioxide. On a unit-per-unit basis, methane is more than 80 times as powerful at warming the planet as carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere. The gas slowly accumulates in coal seams as organic matter is converted to coal, a process that can take millions of years.

Tennessee bill allows anyone – even relatives of rapists – to sue abortion providers


Maya Yang
Mon 21 Mar 2022 10.47 EDT


The Tennessee state house is considering a “Texas-style” abortion ban that would allow relatives, friends, neighbors and the spouse of a rapist to sue anyone who provides or assists in the provision of abortion services to his victim.

The bill, which would ban abortion entirely with no exceptions for rape or incest, cleared one hurdle last week, when a health subcommittee passed it. 


Although rape victims could not be sued under the bill, the bill would “allow investigators to ask people who lose a pregnancy how it was lost”, said Rejul Bejoy, a legislative attorney.

In 2019, nearly 6,000 cases of sexual assault were reported to Tennessee law enforcement agencies. According to the state department of health, children between 14 and 17 had the highest rate of sexual assault victimization.




 Mar. 22, 2022

News media is talking a lot about inflation, which is being caused by companies raising prices even thought they are already making big profits, and the executives making big money. Of course, companies have always made as much profit as they could get away with. But last week I realized they have more of an incentive now, because many people will blame Biden for it, making them more likely to vote for republicans in the midterms this year.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

More than two dozen Senate Republicans demand Biden do more for Ukraine after voting against $13.6 billion for Ukraine


By Mariana Alfaro and Eugene Scott
 Today at 4:40 p.m. EDT|Updated today at 5:35 p.m. EDT , Mar. 17, 2022

More than two dozen Senate Republicans are demanding that President Biden do more to aid war-torn Ukraine and arm its forces against Russia’s brutal assault, after voting last week against $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.


Democrats quickly condemned what they saw as glaring hypocrisy among the Republicans who voted against the aid but were quick to criticize Biden as a commander in chief leading from behind in addressing Ukraine’s needs.


Potential 2024 presidential candidates such as Scott have been highly critical of Biden, who also announced Wednesday that the Pentagon was sending nearly $1 billion in military equipment to Ukraine, including 800 Stinger antiaircraft systems, 100 drones, 25,000 helmets and more than 20 million rounds of small-arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

U.S. companies are rushing to suspend or curtail operations in Russia. Not Koch Industries.


No surprise.  The only thing Charles Koch cares about is making every more money.

Last Updated: March 15, 2022 at 7:42 a.m. ET
First Published: March 14, 2022 at 3:34 p.m. ET
By Ciara Linnane

A flood of U.S. companies have announced plans to suspend, close or curtail activities in Russia following that country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, but one prominent conglomerate seems to be operating on a business-as-usual basis.

Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan., company run by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, has offered no statement on any plan to pull back from Russia, where it has several units that make industrial glass, electronic components, and products for the chemical and petrochemical and specialty chemical industries, according to the Popular Information newsletter.


Thursday, March 03, 2022

Australia flooding: Half a million told to evacuate or be ready to as torrential rain lashes Sydney


Hard to feel sorry for the ones who have been voting for climate denialists.

Thursday 3 March 2022 10:33, UK

Half a million people in and around Sydney have now been told to evacuate or prepare to flee flooding as record breaking rain lashed an unusually long stretch of Australia's east coast.

The brutal rain has already claimed several lives and damaged thousands of properties.


Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has warned of life-threatening flash flooding and dangerous winds of potentially more than 56mph (90kph).


The climate crisis is driving temperature changes in Australia, where heat is rising faster than the global average, allowing the atmosphere to hold more moisture, making rain more extreme.


By ROD McGUIRK and JOHN PYEMarch 1, 2022

Schrinner said the six-day rainfall in downtown Brisbane — 792.8 millimeters (31.2 inches) through Monday morning — was significantly higher than the previous record of 655.8 millimeters (25.8 inches) set when flooding devastated the city in 1974.  [This was two days ago, they have had more rain since then.]


Lesley Hughes, an Australian academic and lead author of the U.N. IPCC assessment reports in 2007 and 2015, said climate change was expected to overwhelm government systems such as flood responses.

“We can see that our emergency services are struggling already to cope with the floods in northern New South Wales with people stranded on roofs without food for more than 24 hours,” Hughes said.

GOP pushes to strip safety measures from West Va mining law


AP -  Associated Press


Tue, March 1, 2022, 6:58 PM

 West Virginia Republicans forged ahead Tuesday with an overhaul of mine safety regulation that would strip the state of its ability to cite coal companies for unsafe working conditions.

They blocked an effort by Democrats to derail the measure. That came a day after dozens of miners and former miners gathered at the Capitol on Monday night, helmets in hand, to testify against the bill. The hearing happened the same day a veteran coal miner died in southern West Virginia. He was pinned by an air drill.

During the hearing, miners said the regulations keep them safer.


 It essentially would strip the state office of miners’ health, safety and training of its ability to enforce laws — in fact, it eliminates all enforcement language from state code.

Instead of going to mines for inspections, inspectors will go for “visits” and make “recommendations” instead of “orders.” There would be no more “investigations," just “reviews.”

The proposal would remove almost all penalties mining companies might face for safety violations. Under current law, companies can face thousands of dollars of fines and even prison time for failing to implement safety measures. The state can also close down portions of a mine or an entire mine.


The proposed bill removes the requirement for the minimum number of “visits” that must take place a year and the mandate that mines cannot be warned ahead of time about inspections. It also cuts the requirement that a miner representative be allowed to attend.


Tuesday, March 01, 2022

IPCC issues ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown


No surprise to those of us who have followed the problem for decades.


Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Mon 28 Feb 2022 06.00 EST


“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC. “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”

In what some scientists termed “the bleakest warning yet”, the summary report from the global authority on climate science says droughts, floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather are accelerating and wreaking increasing damage.

Allowing global temperatures to increase by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as looks likely on current trends in greenhouse gas emissions, would result in some “irreversible” impacts. These include the melting of ice caps and glaciers, and a cascading effect whereby wildfires, the die-off of trees, the drying of peatlands and the thawing of permafrost release additional carbon emissions, amplifying the warming further. 


The report says:

    Everywhere is affected, with no inhabited region escaping dire impacts from rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather.

    About half the global population – between 3.3 billion and 3.6 billion people – live in areas “highly vulnerable” to climate change.

    Millions of people face food and water shortages owing to climate change, even at current levels of heating.

    Mass die-offs of species, from trees to corals, are already under way.

    1.5C above pre-industrial levels constitutes a “critical level” beyond which the impacts of the climate crisis accelerate strongly and some become irreversible.

    Coastal areas around the globe, and small, low-lying islands, face inundation at temperature rises of more than 1.5C.

    Key ecosystems are losing their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, turning them from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

    Some countries have agreed to conserve 30% of the Earth’s land, but conserving half may be necessary to restore the ability of natural ecosystems to cope with the damage wreaked on them.






Physical fitness linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease


 News Release 27-Feb-2022
Reports and Proceedings
American Academy of Neurology


People who are more physically fit are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who are less physically fit, according to a preliminary study released today, February 27, 2022, that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 74th Annual Meeting being held in person in Seattle, April 2 to 7, 2022 and virtually, April 24 to 26, 2022.

“One exciting finding of this study is that as people’s fitness improved, their risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreased—it was not an all-or-nothing proposition,” said study author Edward Zamrini, MD, of the Washington VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “So people can work toward making incremental changes and improvements in their physical fitness and hopefully that will be associated with a related decrease in their risk of Alzheimer’s years later.”



Fighting COVID-19 with milk?


 News Release 28-Feb-2022
A new study in the Journal of Dairy Science® tests the properties of cow milk protein against SARS-CoV-2 variants
Peer-Reviewed Publication


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives around the world, dairy scientists may have a surprising role to play. In a new report published in the Journal of Dairy Science®, scientists from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI, USA) and Glanbia PLC Research and Development (Twin Falls, ID, USA) have collaborated to investigate the antiviral properties of cow milk protein against variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the illness.


The protein in question is lactoferrin, found in the milk of most mammals. Bovine lactoferrin, from cow milk, has bioactive characteristics against many microbes, viruses, and other pathogens and has been found to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection under experimental conditions by blocking the ability of the virus to enter target cells, as well as by supporting cells’ antiviral defense mechanisms.



30-60 mins of weekly muscle strengthening activity linked to 10-20% lower death risk


 News Release 28-Feb-2022
From all causes and from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, in particular But no conclusive evidence that more than an hour of this activity is more effective
Peer-Reviewed Publication


Between 30 and 60 minutes of muscle strengthening activity every week is linked to a 10-20% lower risk of death from all causes, and from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, in particular, finds a pooled data analysis of the available evidence, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The findings are independent of aerobic exercise. But the analysis points to a J-shaped curve for most outcomes, with no conclusive evidence that more than an hour a week of muscle strengthening activity reduces the risk further still.



Study finds lower oxidative stress in children who live and study near green spaces


 News Release 1-Mar-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)


A study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation, has analysed, for the first time, the relationship between exposure to different green spaces and oxidative stress in children. The study concluded that greater exposure to vegetation is associated with lower levels of oxidative stress and that this association is observed regardless of the children’s physical activity.



Are medicines affecting our response to infections like COVID-19?


 News Release 1-Mar-2022
Some common drugs can help and others hinder immune responses
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Sydney


The largest clinical review of immune responses to paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid analgesics, with a focus on infectious diseases, has provided insights into unintended impacts of these commonly used medicines. The findings highlight the potential for some of these medicines to join the fight against old and new infectious diseases.


 Key findings of the clinical review

    For pain: Morphine suppresses key cells of the immune system and increases the risk of infection, particularly after cancer surgery.
    For fever: Antipyretics – e.g. Paracetamol [acetaminophen], Ibuprofen, Aspirin – can reduce the desirable immune response when taken for vaccination.
    Aspirin could be an affordable and accessible therapeutic option for tuberculosis – which mainly afflicts poor countries, with beneficial results shown in animals and humans.
    Anti-inflammatory medicine indomethacin may reduce viral replication in Covid-19 but large-scale human trials are needed.


Milk may exacerbate MS symptoms


I'm lucky that I am not one of the people who has this problem with milk.  I love milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese.


 News Release 1-Mar-2022
New study: Cow's milk protein triggers autoimmune response in mice that damages neurons
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Bonn


 The prompt for the study came from MS patients: "We hear again and again from sufferers that they feel worse when they consume milk, cottage cheese or yogurt," explains Stefanie Kürten from the Institute of Anatomy at University Hospital Bonn. "We are interested in the cause of this correlation."


Such cross-reactivity can occur when two molecules are very similar, at least in parts. The immune system then in a sense mistakes them for each other. "We compared casein to different molecules that are important for myelin production," Chunder says. "In the process, we came across a protein called MAG. It looks markedly similar to casein in some respects - so much so that antibodies to casein were also active against MAG in the lab animals."


Certain white blood cells, the B cells, are responsible for antibody production. The study found that the B cells in the blood of people with MS respond particularly strongly to casein. Presumably, the affected individuals developed an allergy to casein at some point as a result of consuming milk. Now, as soon as they consume fresh dairy products, the immune system produces masses of casein antibodies. Due to cross-reactivity with MAG, these also damage the myelin sheath around the nerve fibers.

However, this only affects MS patients who are allergic to cow's milk casein. "We are currently developing a self-test with which affected individuals can check whether they carry corresponding antibodies," says Kürten, who is also a member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2. "At least this subgroup should refrain from consuming milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese."

It is possible that cow's milk also increases the risk of developing MS in healthy individuals. Because casein can also trigger allergies in them - which is probably not even that rare. Once such an immune response exists, cross-reactivity with myelin can in theory occur. However, this does not mean that hypersensitivity to casein necessarily leads to the development of multiple sclerosis, the professor emphasizes. This would presumably require other risk factors. This connection is nevertheless worrying, Kürten says: "Studies indicate that MS rates are elevated in populations where a lot of cow's milk is consumed."

Booster critical as COVID-19 vaccine-induced antibodies wane in 6 months, don’t protect against omicron


  News Release 1-Mar-2022
In studies, a third booster shot enhances immune response
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Ohio State University

A new study using serum from human blood samples suggests neutralizing antibody levels produced by two-dose mRNA vaccines against the original and early variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus wane substantially over time, and offer essentially no protection against the omicron variant.

The same Ohio State University lab found in a previous study, posted on the preprint server bioRxiv, that a third COVID-19 mRNA vaccine booster shot did produce effective levels of neutralizing antibodies against omicron. This study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

“Our new work shows that two doses of mRNA vaccine do not offer protection against omicron, and even having a breakthrough infection on top of vaccine does not help much. But our earlier study showed that the booster can really rescue the shortcomings of the two doses,” said Shan-Lu Liu, the senior author of both studies and a virology professor in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences at Ohio State.


Thoughts of harming baby a normal but unpleasant part of postpartum experience


 News Release 1-Mar-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of British Columbia


Many new mothers experience unwanted and intrusive thoughts about intentionally harming their babies, but those thoughts don’t appear to increase the likelihood that they will actually harm their newborn, according to a new UBC study.

The researchers note that such thoughts should be discussed with new mothers as a normal, albeit unpleasant and likely distressing, postpartum experience. In the absence of any additional risk factors, however, they do not represent a risk to infant safety.


 Out of 763 surveyed postpartum participants in B.C., a total of 388 provided data through questionnaires and interviews in order to assess “unwanted, intrusive thoughts” (UITs) of infant-related harm, OCD and maternal aggression towards the infant.

Among the 151 women who reported UITs of intentional harm, four reported behaving aggressively towards their infant—resulting in an estimated prevalence of 2.6 per cent—compared to 3.1 per cent in women who did not report this ideation.

In other words, there was less than one per cent difference between the two groups. [Actually, less than one percentage point difference.]


Vaccines are effective in preventing COVID-19-related emergency department and urgent care visits for both children and adolescents


 News Release 1-Mar-2022
CDC study provides real-world information on vaccine effectiveness in 5- to 11-year-olds
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Regenstrief Institute


 Using data from 10 states, a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the first real-world studies to show that two doses of an mRNA vaccine provide protection against COVID-19 associated emergency department and urgent care visits among children ages 5 to 11.

The study also found that two doses of an mRNA vaccine provide protection against COVID-19 associated emergency department and urgent care visits as well as very high protection against hospitalization among adolescents aged 12 to 17.