Sunday, August 17, 2025

Cookies



Blogger said I need to post a notice about cookies if theirs doesn't show up, to satisfy European laws. I don't see theirs on my page, maybe because of something to do with my page setup.
So here it is.
Blogger keeps cookies.
I might have apps that keep cookies, I don't know.
I do not personally keep cookies.


Monday, November 04, 2024

The structure of this blog



I have several blog posts that are at the top of my blog for extended periods of time, because I believe they are of continuing usefulness. So when you look at my blog, the fact that the first few are the same doesn't mean I haven't updated the blog recently.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Volunteer with Tax-Aide

https://www.aarp.org/volunteer/programs/tax-aide/

 

AARP Foundation
With the help of people like you, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free tax-filing help to those who need it most. We’re looking for compassionate and friendly individuals to join our team of local volunteers for the upcoming tax season. You’ll receive training and continued support in a welcoming environment. And, as our current volunteers tell us, you’ll not only learn new skills, but also get a great feeling from helping someone else.

•••••

Who will you help as a volunteer?

We offer free tax preparation help to anyone, with special attention to older, low-income taxpayers. We understand that many individuals may miss out on credits and deductions they’ve earned because they can’t afford to pay for professional tax preparation.

There are exceptions, especially complicated returns, but we can help most people.

Who volunteers?

Neighbors like you. And there's a role for everyone.

Good with the fine print?
Be a volunteer tax preparer.

You'll work with taxpayers directly; filling out tax returns and helping them seek a refund. Experience isn't necessary — we'll provide training and IRS certification.

Love working with people? Be a client facilitator.

You'll welcome taxpayers, help organize their paperwork and manage the overall flow of service.

Skilled in all things digital? Be a technology coordinator.

You'll manage computer equipment, ensure taxpayer data security and provide technical assistance to volunteers at multiple sites.

Want to help get the word out? Be a communications coordinator.

You'll promote AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and recruit volunteers in your community.

Have a knack for running things? Be a leadership or administrative volunteer.

Manage volunteers, make sure program operations run smoothly, track volunteer assignments and site activities, and maintain quality control.

Speak a second language?
You're urgently needed!

We have a big demand for bilingual speakers in all roles. We also have a need for dedicated interpreters who can assist other volunteers.

Get that great feeling from helping your neighbors in need by joining our volunteer team today!

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is offered in conjunction with the IRS.

Extremely hot days linked to higher risk of emergency hospital visits

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935733

 

 News Release 24-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
BMJ

 

Extremely hot days with an average temperature of 34.4°C (93.9°F) are associated with a higher risk of emergency department visits among adults of all ages, finds a large study from the United States published by The BMJ today.

The results show that the adverse health effects of extreme heat are not limited to older adults and that some individuals and communities seem to be at greater risk than others.

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Researchers find new link between a disrupted body clock and inflammatory diseases

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935929

 

 News Release 24-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
RCSI

 

New research from RCSI has demonstrated the significant role that an irregular body clock plays in driving inflammation in the body’s immune cells, with implications for the most serious and prevalent diseases in humans.

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Morning exposure to deep red light improves declining eyesight

 I am a night owl.  I wonder if the time period when the red light therapy is effective should be altered to take into account a person's body clock?

 I have sent this question to the scientist, if I hear back, I'll update the post.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935701

 

 News Release 24-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University College London

 

Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a pioneering new study by UCL researchers.

Published in Scientific Reports, the study builds on the team’s previous work*, which showed daily three-minute exposure to longwave deep red light ‘switched on’ energy producing mitochondria cells in the human retina, helping boost naturally declining vision. 

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In summary, researchers found there was, on average, a 17% improvement in participants’ colour contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning and the effects of this single exposure lasted for at least a week. 

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Despite the clarity of the results, researchers say some of the data are “noisy”. While positive effects are clear for individuals following 670nm exposure, the magnitude of improvements can vary markedly between those of similar ages. Therefore, some caution is needed in interpretating the data. It is possible that there are other variables between individuals that influence the degree of improvement that the researchers have not identified so far and would require a larger sample size.

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Only cones not rods were tested in this study; similar previous research identified a comparable effect on cones and rods, satisfying the team any effect on cones could be translated to rods.


Common medication hindering lung cancer treatment

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935917

 

 News Release 24-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Flinders University

 

A common medication used to treat reflux, heart burn and ulcers could lessen the effectiveness of lung cancer immunotherapy drugs, according to new Flinders University research.

Published in Nature’s British Journal of Cancer, the study investigated the impact of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) on patients undergoing treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 85 percent of cases.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Most cryptocurrency trades may be people buying from themselves

 

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2299023-most-cryptocurrency-trades-may-be-people-buying-from-themselves/

 

25 November 2021
By Chris Stokel-Walker


As many as seven in 10 cryptocurrency trades on the world’s most popular but unregulated exchanges may be people buying from themselves to artificially inflate prices, according to a new analysis.

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COVID variant spreads to more countries as world on alert

&nbsp No surprise. With the number of unvaccinated people, it is inevitable that more mutations will occur.  The radio said that much of the reason for the low rate of vaccination in Africa is the same as in the U.S., people refusing to get vaccinated because of misinformation.

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/61-arrivals-south-africa-test-positive-covid-19-81418969

 

By PAN PYLAS Associated Press
November 27, 2021, 5:25 PM
 

The new potentially more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in more European countries on Saturday, just days after being identified in South Africa, leaving governments around the world scrambling to stop the spread.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Scientists say lobsters and octopuses can feel pain

 

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/can-lobsters-octopuses-feel-pain-scientists-say-yes-uk-listening-rcna6378


Nov. 22, 2021, 5:15 PM EST / Updated Nov. 23, 2021, 9:23 AM EST
By Evan Bush


Lobsters, octopus and crabs are now among animals the United Kingdom plans to classify as sentient beings, a step that could lay the groundwork for changes in how these animals are treated and slaughtered in the  country.

The British government, which is working on a reformation of its animal welfare laws following Brexit, added cephalopods (including squids and octopus, among others) and decapods (lobsters, crabs and shrimp, among others) last week to the roster of species included in a bill that would formally recognize some animals’ capability to experience feelings such as pain. The bill would create a committee that aims to ensure the  U.K. considers animals’ sentience as it designs public policy.

The original bill considered all animals with backbones as sentient, leaving out other creatures  such as lobsters, octopus and crabs. The expansion comes after a report by the London School of Economics found these animals have the capacity to experience pain or distress. 

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The report considered commercial animal welfare concerns and recommended against practices  such as live boiling lobster without stunning, declawing crabs or selling live decapods to untrained handlers.

The report could not identify a humane way that’s commercially viable to kill octopus and other cephalopods, the report says.

The main ways people on fishing vessels kill these creatures in European waters — clubbing them, slicing their brains or by asphyxiating them in a suspended net bag, shouldn’t be acceptable, the report says. 

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Repeated concussions in professional rugby players associated with poor mental health post retirement

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935808

 

 News Release 23-Nov-2021
Peer-reviewed, observational, people
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Durham University

 

Former professional rugby players are more likely to show signs of depression, anxiety and irritability compared to amateur rugby players and non-contact athletes, according to new research led by Durham University.

The retired elite rugby players in the study suffered more concussions during their playing days than those in other groups and the researchers say this could be linked to their poor mental health later in life.

Players who had suffered five or more concussions were almost twice as likely to report signs of depression, anxiety and irritability compared with players with fewer concussions. These players were also more likely to struggle with feelings of covert anger.

Signs of depression and irritability were also more common in rugby players who had suffered three or more concussions in their playing career. One in two players with three or more concussions experienced these signs of poor mental health compared to one in three players who had suffered less than three concussions.

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New research outlines how longer lives are tied to physical activity

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935556

 

 News Release 22-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Harvard University

 

A team of evolutionary biologists and biomedical researchers from Harvard are taking a run at it (sometimes literally) in a new study published in PNAS. The work lays out evolutionary and biomedical evidence showing that humans, who evolved to live many decades after they stopped reproducing, also evolved to be relatively active in their later years.  

The researchers say that physical activity later in life shifts energy away from processes that can compromise health and toward mechanisms in the body that extend it. They hypothesize that humans evolved to remain physically active as they age—and in doing so to allocate energy to physiological processes that slow the body’s gradual deterioration over the years. This guards against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers.

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Exposure to harmless coronaviruses boosts SARS-CoV-2 immunity

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935664

 

 News Release 22-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Zurich


The population’s immunity to SARS-CoV-2, achieved either through infection or vaccination, is crucial to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of researchers led by the University of Zurich (UZH) has now discovered another component that contributes to SARS-CoV-2 immunity – previous antibody responses to other, harmless coronaviruses. “People who have had strong immune responses to other human coronaviruses also have some protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” says Alexandra Trkola, head of the Institute of Medical Virology at UZH.

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Healthier UK diets linked to lower greenhouse gas emissions

 

UK is United Kingdom: England, Scotland, and Wales

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935263

 

 News Release 22-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
PLOS



    New analysis assigns emissions to individual food items rather than broad food groups for greater accuracy; assesses impact of diets for sample of 212 adults.
    Emissions associated with non-vegetarian diets were 59% higher than for vegetarian diets.
    Emissions associated with men’s diets were 41% higher than for women’s diets, primarily due to greater meat intake.
    People whose intake of saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sodium met WHO-recommended levels had lower emissions than people who exceeded recommended levels.

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Giving social support to others may boost your health

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935641


 News Release 22-Nov-2021
Study finds reduced inflammation only in those willing to help
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Ohio State University


When it comes to your health, being willing to give social support to your spouse, friends and family may be just as important as receiving assistance, a new study suggests.

While researchers have long thought that receiving social support from others is a key to health, results from studies have shown mixed results. So researchers from The Ohio State University decided to see if giving support may also play an important role in health.

They found that on one important measure of health – chronic inflammation – indicators of positive social relationships were associated with lower inflammation only among people who said they were available to provide social support to family and friends.

In other words, having friends to lean on may not help your health unless you also say that you’re available to help them when they need it.

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E-cigarette use may be detrimental to bone health in adults

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935584

 

  News Release 22-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Elsevier


While conventional cigarette smoking is an established risk factor for osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture, the effects of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use on bone health have not previously been studied. In a novel study of over 5,500 adult e-cigarette users across all age groups investigators found that e-cigarette use was associated with a higher prevalence of fragility fractures. Their findings, appearing in the American Journal of Medicine Open, published by Elsevier, suggest that e-cigarette use may be detrimental to bone health even in young adults.

Fragility fractures are defined as a composite of self-reported fracture of the hip, spine, or wrist that resulted from minimal trauma such as a fall from standing height or less.

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The rewards of crime

 

Behind every fortune lies a great crime. - Honore de Balzac

Quoted by Kevin Kwan in his novel "China Rich Girlfriend"

 

How Wealth Reduces Compassion

 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-wealth-reduces-compassion/

 

    By Daisy Grewal on April 10, 2012

Who is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal—the poor person or the rich one? It’s temping to think that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to act fairly. After all, if you already have enough for yourself, it’s easier to think about what others may need. But research suggests the opposite is true: as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline.

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In a second study, participants were asked to watch two videos while having their heart rate monitored. One video showed somebody explaining how to build a patio. The other showed children who were suffering from cancer. After watching the videos, participants indicated how much compassion they felt while watching either video. Social class was measured by asking participants questions about their family’s level of income and education. The results of the study showed that participants on the lower end of the spectrum, with less income and education, were more likely to report feeling compassion while watching the video of the cancer patients. In addition, their heart rates slowed down while watching the cancer video—a response that is associated with paying greater attention to the feelings and motivations of others.

These findings build upon previous research showing how upper class individuals are worse at recognizing the emotions of others and less likely to pay attention to people they are interacting with (e.g. by checking their cell phones or doodling).

But why would wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others? After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness. Piff and his colleagues suspect that the answer may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused. Another reason has to do with our attitudes towards greed. Like Gordon Gekko, upper-class people may be more likely to endorse the idea that “greed is good.” Piff and his colleagues found that wealthier people are more likely to agree with statements that greed is justified, beneficial, and morally defensible. These attitudes ended up predicting participants’ likelihood of engaging in unethical behavior.

Given the growing income inequality in the United States, the relationship between wealth and compassion has important implications. Those who hold most of the power in this country, political and otherwise, tend to come from privileged backgrounds. If social class influences how much we care about others, then the most powerful among us may be the least likely to make decisions that help the needy and the poor. They may also be the most likely to engage in unethical behavior. Keltner and Piff recently speculated in the New York Times about how their research helps explain why Goldman Sachs and other high-powered financial corporations are breeding grounds for greedy behavior. Although greed is a universal human emotion, it may have the strongest pull over those of who already have the most.
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Saturday, November 20, 2021

God and money

 

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to". - Dorothy Parker
 
 
Quoted in "China Rich Girlfriend" by Kevin Kwan, which I am currently reading.

 

Study: COVID tech took a toll on work-from-home moms

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935598

 

 News Release 19-Nov-2021
Texts, video calls burdened busy moms' mental health during pandemic, says new UNLV research.
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

 

It's no secret that being a work-from-home mom during the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic was a drag. And those tech tools – video meetings and texting – designed to make remote work easier? They just added to the stress and exacerbated the mental health toll on burnt out moms trying to hold everything together.

That’s one major takeaway from a study published this week in the journal Communication Reports. Researchers surveyed 540 adults in May 2020 who had worked for up to 10 weeks remotely, and found that stress levels among women with children skyrocketed — likely because blurred work-life balance boundaries meant they took on the brunt of juggling homeschooling and household chores alongside professional duties.

The results also reveal that video chats and texts tended to stress out remote workers, regardless of parental status and other factors including age, race, and education. Why? Researchers hypothesize that the extra visual cues needed to get points across via a video screen and expectations of immediacy when replying to texts contributed to fatigue. For working mothers, these two communication methods were especially burdensome because they hindered the ability to multitask.

The findings raise questions about the future of remote work and ways to preserve employees’ mental health, said lead researcher and UNLV communication studies professor Natalie Pennington.

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Private equity ownership of nursing homes linked to lower quality of care, higher Medicare costs

 

No surprise.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935629

 

 News Release 19-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Weill Cornell Medicine

 

Nursing homes acquired by private equity companies saw an increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations among long-stay residents and an uptick in Medicare costs, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. The findings, published Nov. 19 in JAMA Health Forum, suggest that quality of care declined when private equity firms took over the facilities.

“Our findings indicate that private equity firm-owned facilities offer lower quality long-term care,” said Dr. Mark Unruh, an associate professor of population health science at Weill Cornell Medicine. “These residents are among the most vulnerable in our health care system and a lack of transparency in ownership makes it difficult to identify facilities with private equity ownership, which consumers may be interested in knowing.”

Private equity investment in nursing homes has soared in recent years, as part of $750 billion in health care deals between 2010 and 2019. An estimated 5 percent of nursing homes in the United States are owned by private equity firms, according to the research team, which included Dr. Lawrence Casalino, Dr. Hye-Young Jung, Dr. Robert Tyler Braun, and Weill Cornell Medical College alumnus Dr. Zachary Myslinski ’21.

The pressure to generate high, short-term profits could lead private equity-owned nursing homes to reduce staffing, services, supplies or equipment, which may have an adverse association with quality of care, Dr. Unruh said, adding that such firms seek annual returns of 20 percent or more. 

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COVID-19 vaccine elicits weak antibody response in people taking immunosuppressant

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935586

 

 News Release 19-Nov-2021
TNF inhibitors especially impair antibody response against delta variant
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Washington University School of Medicine

 

People who received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while on TNF inhibitors — a class of immunosuppressants used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions — generated less powerful and shorter-lived antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19 than healthy people and those on other kinds of immunosuppressants, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The scientists found this was especially apparent regarding the virus’s delta variant.

The good news is that a third vaccine dose drove antibody levels back up, but the researchers don’t yet know how long the levels will stay high. The findings, available online in Med, a Cell Press journal, suggest that people taking TNF inhibitors face a particularly high risk of breakthrough infections and would benefit most from a third dose.

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Global rise in red/processed meat trade linked to sharp increase in diet-related illness

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935075

 

 News Release 18-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
BMJ

 

The global rise in the red and processed meat trade over the past 30 years is linked to a sharp increase in diet related ill health, with the impact greatest in Northern and Eastern Europe and the island nations of the Caribbean and Oceania, finds an analysis published in the open access journal BMJ Global Health.

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 Among continuous urbanisation and income growth, the global red and processed meat trade has risen exponentially to meet demand. This trend has implications for the environment because of the impact it has on land use and biodiversity loss.

And high red and processed meat consumption is linked to a heightened risk of non-communicable diseases, particularly bowel cancer, diabetes, and coronary artery heart disease.

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May be worth adopting plant based diet to ease chronic migraine severity, say doctors

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935079

 

 News Release 18-Nov-2021
Prescribed meds, elimination diet, yoga and meditation provided no or little symptom relief
Peer-Reviewed Publication
BMJ

 

It may be worth adopting a plant based diet, rich in dark green leafy vegetables, to ease the symptoms of chronic migraine, suggest doctors in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.

The recommendation comes after they treated a man who had endured severe migraine headaches without aura for more than 12 years.

He had tried prescribed meds (Zolmitriptan and Topiramate); cutting out potential ‘trigger’ foods, including chocolate, cheese, nuts, caffeine, and dried fruit; and yoga and meditation in a bid to blunt the severity and frequency of his headaches. Nothing had worked.

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 The report authors advised the man to adopt the Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (LIFE) diet, a nutrient dense, whole food, plant-based diet.

The LIFE diet includes eating at least five ounces by weight of raw or cooked dark green leafy vegetables every day, drinking one 32-ounce daily green LIFE smoothie, and limiting intake of whole grains, starchy vegetables, oils, and animal protein, particularly dairy and red meat.

After 2 months on the LIFE diet, the man said that the frequency of his migraine attacks had fallen to just 1 day a month; the length and severity of the attacks had also lessened. Blood tests showed a substantial rise in beta-carotene levels, from 53 µg/dl to 92 µg/dl.

He stopped taking all his migraine meds. Even when he tried certain ‘challenge’ foods, such as egg whites, salmon, or iced tea, which triggered headache attacks, these were much less painful and much shorter in duration than before.

After 3 months his migraines stopped completely, and they haven't returned in 7.5 years.

The man was allergic, and previously published research suggests that better control of allergies may lead to fewer migraine headaches. In this case, the man’s allergy symptoms improved to the point that he no longer needed to use seasonal medication.

He was also HIV positive, and HIV has been linked to a heightened risk of migraines, so it is certainly possible that the man’s HIV status and antiretroviral drugs had contributed to his symptoms, say the report authors.

But it wasn’t possible to study this further without stopping the antiretroviral treatment, which is a limitation of the study, they acknowledge. 

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Local budgets may cause severe consequences for maternal outcomes in New Jersey

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935345

 

 News Release 18-Nov-2021
Research points to the need for a multisector approach for improving women’s health during pregnancy
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Rutgers University

 

Life-threatening outcomes of labor and delivery are associated with the amount of funding municipal governments spend on services ranging from fire protection and ambulance to parks, recreation and libraries, according to a new Rutgers study that found better maternal outcomes in the northern part of New Jersey.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, examined birth and hospital discharge records to assess the extent to which local spending on public services is associated with women suffering from severe maternal morbidity.

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Revealing the link between child maltreatment, the bonding hormone, and brain development

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935438

 

 News Release 18-Nov-2021
Scientists uncover how child maltreatment alters the oxytocin gene, leading to atypical brain structure and function
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Fukui

 

Child maltreatment, which spans child abuse and neglect, can adversely affect healthy development of the brain. Adults who were abused as kids tend to develop atypical brain structures, which can lead to various psychiatric disorders and even suicide. Fortunately, during and shortly after adolescence, the neocortical regions of the brain (brain regions concerned with thought, perception, and episodic memory) undergo a major reorganization, which provides an opportunity to treat some of the disorders caused by child maltreatment. Is there a biological mechanism that could be effectively targeted during this reorganization to improve the lives of victims of childhood abuse?

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 tags: child abuse,

Autism diagnosis by 2.5 years of age leads to dramatic improvements in social symptoms as compared to those diagnosed later in life

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935220


 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for improvement, highlighting the necessity to eliminate diagnosis barriers
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


The potential benefits of early diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is at the heart of an ongoing debate about the necessity of universal screening for toddlers and the amount of funding that is allocated to facilitate early identification. Now, a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers and their colleagues clearly demonstrates that early diagnosis and treatment lead to considerable improvement in ASD social symptoms.

Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Autism recently.

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Air pollution increases the risk of getting sick from COVID-19

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934879

 

 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

 

Long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with a higher risk of developing COVID-19 among those people who get infected, shows a study led by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation, and co-led by the GCAT| Genomes for Life-Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP), Badalona. The study, published in Environment Health Perspectives, provides further evidence on the health benefits of reducing air pollution.

A series of studies suggest that regions with higher pre-pandemic levels of air pollution had a higher incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, the reasons for this associations are not yet clear; air pollution could favor airborne transmission of the virus, or it could increase an individual’s susceptibility to infection or disease. “The problem is that previous studies were based on reported cases, which had been diagnosed, but missed all the asymptomatic or undiagnosed cases,” says Manolis Kogevinas, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study.

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FDA approves high-tech sound wave surgery for common Parkinson’s symptoms

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935193

 

 News Release 17-Nov-202
Focused ultrasound interrupts faulty brain circuits without need to cut into skull
Business Announcement
University of Virginia Health System

 

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved an incisionless form of brain surgery to treat advanced Parkinson’s disease after successful testing at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and other sites.

The authorization allows the use of Insightec’s Exablate Neuro focused ultrasound device to treat problems with mobility, rigidity and involuntary movements known as dyskinesias that are common in Parkinson’s. UVA is one of only 37 medical centers in the country with the capacity to offer this minimally invasive treatment, according to the Charlottesville-based Focused Ultrasound Foundation, a longtime supporter of UVA’s pioneering research into the many potential applications of the technology.

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Exercise increases the body’s own ‘cannabis’ which reduces chronic inflammation, says new study

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935066

 

 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Nottingham

 

Exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-like substances, which in turn helps reduce inflammation and could potentially help treat certain conditions such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease.

In a new study, published in Gut Microbes, experts from the University of Nottingham found that exercise intervention in people with arthritis, did not just reduce their pain, but it also lowered the levels of inflammatory substances (called cytokines). It also increased levels of cannabis-like substances produced by their own bodies, called endocannabinoids. Interestingly, the way exercise resulted in these changes was by altering the gut microbes.

Exercise is known to decrease chronic inflammation, which in turn causes many diseases including cancer, arthritis and heart disease, but little is known as to how it reduces inflammation.

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Why drinking water needs monitoring for HIV drugs

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935126

 

 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Johannesburg

 -----

People who live in large towns and cities may think that upstream contamination doesn’t affect them. After all, water treatment plants protect them, removing heavy metals, bacteria, viruses and more from their tap water.

But the tap water in large towns and cities often come from rivers upstream. And there is another type of contamination that slips right through almost all water treatment plants.

That contamination is the medicines other people use upstream. Those pass through their wastewater treatment plants. Then the medicines end up in the rivers supplying drinking water to cities and towns downstream.

Pharma in our own taps

“What I can say to a city person is, not all clear water means clean. As researchers we know the challenges with pollutants. Water treatment plants cannot remove pharmaceuticals. But we release pharmaceuticals ourselves into wastewater on a daily basis,” says Nomngongo.

“In the cities, we get medications because we have medical aids (health insurance). Sometimes, we don’t care and say, ‘I am healed now’ and throw our medicines away. The easiest way to do it is to flush it down the toilet.

“We don’t think that this might come back to us through our own tap.”

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Smokers more likely to die from heart disease than lung cancer

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935258

 

 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Northwestern University


The most likely cause of death for people who smoke is a fatal heart attack, stroke or heart failure that occurs without any warning signs, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

“Most people are aware about the risks of lung cancer with smoking, but many people who smoke do not realize that dying from cardiovascular disease is more likely than dying from lung cancer,” said lead study author Dr. Sadiya Khan, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine cardiologist.

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Maternal caregiving may reverse effects of stress during pregnancy on newborns

 

 https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934963

 

 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Wiley


A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests that mothers’ sensitive caregiving after giving birth may erase some of the negative effects of stress during pregnancy on newborns.

In the study of 94 mother-infant pairs, higher levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol in women during pregnancy were associated with greater cortisol-based stress responses in infants, but only in those whose mothers were less emotionally available after birth. Other markers of stress during pregnancy did not show this association, however.

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Atrial fibrillation significantly increases a person’s risk of serious complications and death from COVID-19

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935280

 

 News Release 17-Nov-2021
Reports and Proceedings
Intermountain Healthcare

 

A new study from researchers at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City finds that patients with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart arrhythmia in adults, are at significantly higher risk to experience serious complications from COVID-19 illness.  

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Flavoured vapes less harmful to young people than smoking, and could help teen smokers quit

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934914

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Peer reviewed - Systematic review – Humans
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of East Anglia


Flavoured vapes are much less harmful to young people than smoking, and could help teen smokers quit tobacco – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

A new study published today looks at young peoples’ use of vape flavours, reporting the views and experiences of more than 500,000 under 18s.

It finds that flavours are an important aspect of vaping that young people enjoy, suggesting that flavoured products may help them switch away from harmful tobacco smoking.

But the researchers warn that more needs to be done to make sure that youngsters who have never smoked are not attracted to vaping.

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Common gene variants linked to sepsis and COVID-19 severity in African Americans

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935186

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Penn Medicine researchers identify two pathways to target for disease protection
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Two genetic risk variants that are carried by nearly 40 percent of Black individuals may exacerbate the severity of both sepsis and COVID-19, a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine have found. The findings, published in Immunity, identify two potential pathways to reduce the health disparities driven by these gene mutations.

“Our findings indicate that the APOL1 risk variants could explain an important racial disparity observed in sepsis incidence and severity among Black individuals. Furthermore, our work implies that the identification of subjects with the high-risk APOL1 genotype might be important for disease risk prediction and early intervention,” said the study’s lead author, Katalin Susztak, MD, PhD, a professor of Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension at Penn.

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Two variants of the gene APOL1 — G1 and G2 — are found almost exclusively in people of West African descent. Carrying one risk allele imparts resistance against African sleeping sickness, while having two risk alleles significantly increases the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, as well as HIV and COVID- induced glomerular disease, which has been recently studied by the Susztak lab.

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Do you need a COVID-19 booster shot?

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935051

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Lower antibody level doesn't mean less protection from the coronavirus
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Georgia

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Vaccinated participants showed higher levels of neutralizing antibodies, which serve as lookouts for viruses and alert the body’s immune system when it’s been infected. These individuals’ antibodies were also more effective at binding with the virus, which prevents it from latching onto and infecting cells.

Additionally, the study showed that for most people who were infected with the virus, a single shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine was enough to make them fully immune to the coronavirus. Some may require both shots to be fully protected, though, and there’s currently no way to tell who does or doesn’t. So, Ross recommends that everyone—even those who’ve had COVID-19—receive the second shot. “It doesn’t hurt you to get the second one,” he said.

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But people who were vaccinated in the spring and don’t qualify for a booster shouldn’t panic.

“Now I don’t know what will happen in another six months or another 12 months, but right now, if you were vaccinated in the spring, you should still have protective antibodies in you,” Ross said. “The elderly tend to lose their immunity more quickly. We see that with influenza too. That’s why they have to get vaccinated again. Younger people can maintain it longer.”

That being said, if you’re eligible for a booster, go for it.

“My attitude is that if you’re offered one, you should get one. It can’t hurt you,” Ross said. “And unfortunately, here in the U.S., many of the vaccines are being thrown away because they reached their expiration date. It’s unfortunate that we’re not shipping them around the world to other people who need them, but if the alternative is throwing them away, I say get a booster shot.”

In addition to getting the COVID-19 vaccine series, social distancing and wearing masks are still one of the most important ways to stop the spread of the disease.

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UCalgary study shows why drug used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients may only benefit males

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935114

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Research into the way our immune systems respond to COVID-19 reveals the sex of a patient may affect how well drugs work
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Calgary

 

A new study from the University of Calgary shows how dexamethasone, the main treatment for severe COVID-19 lung infections, alters how immune cells work, which may help male patients, but has little to no benefit for females.

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COVID-19 booster shot helps vast majority of cancer patients

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935067

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Most With no immune response after two-dose vaccination respond well to third shot
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

 

Most cancer patients who had no measurable immune response after being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 were helped by a third vaccine dose, according to a new study by investigators at the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center (MECC). The findings, published online yesterday in Cancer Cell, also show that a “booster” shot is extremely beneficial for all cancer patients, who face a heightened risk of severe disease and dying from COVID-19, and particularly in people who have a blood cancer.

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Air filter significantly reduces presence of airborne SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 wards

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935065

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Cambridge


When a team of doctors, scientists and engineers at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the University of Cambridge placed an air filtration machine in COVID-19 wards, they found that it removed almost all traces of airborne SARS-CoV-2.

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How Western civilization could collapse

People who study economic history tell us that big economic inequality has consistently lead to big economic recessions and depressions in the past.

I recommend reading the whole article at the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse

By Rachel Nuwer
18 April 2017

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change.

•••••

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.

Safa Motesharrei, a systems scientist at the University of Maryland, uses computer models to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that can lead to local or global sustainability or collapse. According to findings that Motesharrei and his colleagues published in 2014, there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change.

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour. The inequalities we see today both within and between countries already point to such disparities. For example, the top 10% of global income earners are responsible for almost as much total greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom 90% combined. Similarly, about half the world’s population lives on less than $3 per day.

For both scenarios, the models define a carrying capacity – a total population level that a given environment’s resources can sustain over the long term. If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable. That fate is avoidable, however. “If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory,” Motesharrei said. “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions.”

Unfortunately, some experts believe such tough decisions exceed our political and psychological capabilities. “The world will not rise to the occasion of solving the climate problem during this century, simply because it is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual,” says Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years.

[I sadly agree. We aren't even dealing with antibiotic resistance in time, and we don't have a powerful business group working to block action on it, as has been happening with climate change.
•••••

While we are all in this together, the world’s poorest will feel the effects of collapse first. Indeed, some nations are already serving as canaries in the coal mine for the issues that may eventually pull apart more affluent ones. Syria, for example, enjoyed exceptionally high fertility rates for a time, which fueled rapid population growth. A severe drought in the late 2000s, likely made worse by human-induced climate change, combined with groundwater shortages to cripple agricultural production. That crisis left large numbers of people – especially young men – unemployed, discontent and desperate. Many flooded into urban centres, overwhelming limited resources and services there. Pre-existing ethnic tensions increased, creating fertile grounds for violence and conflict. On top of that, poor governance – including neoliberal policies that eliminated water subsidies in the middle of the drought – tipped the country into civil war in 2011 and sent it careening toward collapse.

•••••

Whether in the US, UK or elsewhere, the more dissatisfied and afraid people become, Homer-Dixon says, the more of a tendency they have to cling to their in-group identity – whether religious, racial or national. Denial, including of the emerging prospect of societal collapse itself, will be widespread, as will rejection of evidence-based fact. If people admit that problems exist at all, they will assign blame for those problems to everyone outside of their in-group, building up resentment. “You’re setting up the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence,” Homer-Dixon says. When localised violence finally does break out, or another country or group decides to invade, collapse will be difficult to avoid.

•••••

On the other hand, Western societies may not meet with a violent, dramatic end. In some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper.

•••••

Some of these forecasts and early warning signs should sound familiar, precisely because they are already underway. While Homer-Dixon is not surprised at the world’s recent turn of events – he predicted some of them in his 2006 book – he didn’t expect these developments to occur before the mid-2020s.

Western civilisation is not a lost cause, however. Using reason and science to guide decisions, paired with extraordinary leadership and exceptional goodwill, human society can progress to higher and higher levels of well-being and development, Homer-Dixon says. Even as we weather the coming stresses of climate change, population growth and dropping energy returns, we can maintain our societies and better them. But that requires resisting the very natural urge, when confronted with such overwhelming pressures, to become less cooperative, less generous and less open to reason. “The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Homer-Dixon says.

The Mathematics of Inequality

 

 

Mathematical analysis shows that without redistribution, wealth becomes increasingly more concentrated, and inequality grows until almost all assets are held by an extremely small percent of people.  History shows this analysis is accurate.   I first saw such an analysis years ago, I believe in Scientific American in the winter in 1990, 1991, or 1992. I haven't been able to find the article in the Scientific archives, because they don't have good enough descriptions for the column where it would have appeared. I bought several articles I hoped would be the right one, but didn't find it. Luckily, there were finally some more recent analyses I was able to reference in my blog.

 

https://now.tufts.edu/articles/mathematics-inequality

By Taylor McNeil
October 12, 2017

Seven years ago, the combined wealth of 388 billionaires equaled that of the poorest half of humanity, according to Oxfam International. This past January the equation was even more unbalanced: it took only eight billionaires, marking an unmistakable march toward increased concentration of wealth. Today that number has been reduced to five billionaires.

Trying to understand such growing inequality is usually the purview of economists, but Bruce Boghosian, a professor of mathematics, thinks he has found another explanation—and a warning.

Using a mathematical model devised to mimic a simplified version of the free market, he and colleagues are finding that, without redistribution, wealth becomes increasingly more concentrated, and inequality grows until almost all assets are held by an extremely small percent of people.

•••••

It’s easy to imagine how wealth-attained advantage works in real life. “The people with that advantage receive better returns on their investments, lower interest rates on loans, and better financial advice,” said Boghosian. “Conversely, as Barbara Ehrenreich famously observed, it is expensive to be poor. If you are working two jobs, you don’t have time to shop for the best bargains. If you can’t afford the security deposit demanded by most landlords, you may end up staying in a motel at inflated prices.”

The model tracks the data with remarkable accuracy, he said.

•••••

Putting aside ethical issues of growing inequality, it can also create an unhealthy economy, Boghosian said. “That’s because when wealth concentrates and the middle class is depleted too much, you may get very wealthy industrialists, very wealthy manufacturers, but to whom do they sell their products? It locks up the economy,” he said.

•••••

https://www.austms.org.au/Jobs/Library4.html

THE MATHEMATICS OF INEQUALITY

By Mark Buchanan
reprinted from The Australian Financial Review
September 2002
(originally in New Statesman)

•••••

Even if everyone starts out equally, and they remain equally adept at choosing investments, differences in investment luck will cause some people to accumulate more wealth than others. Those who are lucky will tend to invest more, and so have a chance to make greater gains still. Hence, a string of positive returns builds a person's wealth not merely by addition but by multiplication, as each subsequent gain grows ever bigger. This is enough, even in a world of equals where returns on investment are entirely random, to stir up huge disparities of wealth in the population.

•••••

Adopted baby fruit bats behave like their adoptive mothers

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935092

 

 News Release 16-Nov-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Tel-Aviv University

 

Bat researchers at Tel Aviv University conducted a cross-adoption experiment: pups of urban fruit bats were adopted by rural mothers and vice versa, in order to discover whether the relative boldness of city bats is a genetic or acquired trait. The findings indicate that the pups behave like their adoptive, rather than biological, mothers. Pups born in the country but adopted by urban mothers tend to be bolder and take more risks than those born in the city but adopted by rural mothers. Prof. Yovel: "We wanted to find out whether boldness is transferred genetically or learned somehow from the mother. Our findings suggest that this trait is passed on to pups by the mothers that nurse and raise them, even when they are not their biological mothers."

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Monday, November 15, 2021

Study finds reduced risk of cataracts associated with obesity surgery

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/643328

 

 News Release 12-May-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
European Association for the Study of Obesity 


New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (held online 10-13 May) has found a reduced risk of eye cataracts occurring in patients who have lost weight through obesity (bariatric) surgery. The study is by Dr Theresa Burkard, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues from Sweden and Switzerland.

A cataract is a cloudy obstruction in the lens of the eye, and a chronic condition which is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness. A previous meta-analysis reported that overweight and obesity were risk factors for cataract development.[1] In this new study, the authors hypothesized that weight loss in patients with obesity may be associated with a lower incidence of cataract potentially due to decreased oxidative stress, less systemic inflammation, and remission of diabetes and hypertension in patients with those conditions.

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Earthworms could help reduce antibiotic resistance genes in soil

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/593359

 

 News Release 12-May-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Chemical Society


Earthworms improve the soil by aerating it, breaking down organic matter and mineralizing nutrients. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology have dug up another possible role: reducing the number and relative abundance of antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) in soils from diverse ecosystems. These results imply that earthworms could be a natural, sustainable solution to addressing the global issue of antibiotic resistance, the researchers say.

The overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals has caused ARGs to accumulate in soils, which could contribute to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections. Earthworms consume tons of soil per year worldwide, and their guts have a unique combination of low-oxygen conditions, neutral pH and native microbial inhabitants that could have an effect on ARGs.

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The researchers collected earthworms and surrounding soil samples from 28 provinces in China. Then, they analyzed the composition of microbial communities in the worms' guts and the surrounding soil, finding that they differed between guts and soil and also among sites. In addition, the team found a lower number and relative abundance of ARGs in the earthworm guts than in the corresponding soil across all sampling sites. The earthworm guts also had lower levels of bacterial species that commonly host ARGs. These bacteria and their ARGs could be destroyed during digestion, or bacteria that live in the gut could out-compete them, the researchers say. In other experiments, they used controlled environments to show that the number and relative abundance of ARGs were higher in earthworm guts than in their feces, and that the addition of earthworms reduced ARGs in soil samples. These findings suggest that earthworms have the potential to mitigate these genes in soils as a form of natural bioremediation, the researchers say.


Residential coal use in China results in many premature deaths, models indicate

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/571388

 

 News Release 12-May-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Chemical Society


Coal combustion by power plants and industry pollutes the air, causing many governments to implement mitigation actions and encourage cleaner forms of energy. Now, a new study in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology indicates that in China, indoor air pollution from residential coal burning causes a disproportionate number of premature deaths from exThe researchers calculated that in 2014, residential coal accounted for 2.9% of total energy use in China but 34% of premature deaths associated with PM2.5. The number of premature deaths caused by unit coal consumption in the residential sector was 40 times higher than that in the power and industrial sectors. 

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New study: Kefir package claims don't always accurately reflect composition of commercial products

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/707247

 

 News Release 12-May-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Elsevier

 

 In recent years there has been an increased interest in the consumption of kefir, a fermented dairy beverage, because there is some evidence that it has health benefits and its affordability. A new study by researchers from the University of Illinois and The Ohio State University, published in JDS Communications, found that 66 percent of the commercial kefir products studied overstated microorganism density and 80 percent contained bacterial species that were not included on the label, potentially misleading consumers.

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Swanson and his team of researchers bought five kefir products from online vendors and stores in the Urbana, IL area and analyzed two lots of each. Although all five guaranteed specific bacterial species used in fermentation, the team found that no product completely matched its label. All products contained Streptococcus salivarius, and four out of five products contained Lactobacillus paracasei, although they were not included on the labels.

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How people manipulate their own memories

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/925754

 

 News Release 18-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Ruhr-University Bochum


People remember past experiences through the so-called episodic memory system. In the process, they can manipulate their memories on three levels, describe Dr. Roy Dings and Professor Albert Newen from the Institute of Philosophy II at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in a theoretical paper. It has been published online in the journal Review of Philosophy and Psychology on 13. August 2021. The researchers explain how people recall past experiences and modify them in the process. “We often construct memories of important events in a way that suits us,” outlines Albert Newen.

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Adults mainly remember significant experiences that were linked to very positive or very negative feelings, such as a unique experience on holidays, a driving test or a wedding. The memory is not a photographic excerpt of the past, but a construct that is fed by the perception of a past event; however, when the perceived situation is stored and, above all, recalled, a variety of construction processes take place. “To paraphrase Pippi Longstocking, you might say: I make the past world the way I like it,” as Roy Dings illustrates.

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The process of scenario construction includes the stimulus that triggers the memory, the actual processing, and the result, i.e. the memory image and the associated description. People can be influenced by all three components. Firstly, they tend to specifically look for the triggering stimulus for positive memories and avoid it for negative memories. For example, they put a wedding photo on the office desk, but avoid encounters with people with whom unpleasant memories are associated.

Secondly, the self-image can also influence what background information is drawn upon to augment the sparse memory trace into a vivid memory; this is what determines the rich memory image in the first place.

Thirdly, the description associated with a memory image can be either very concrete or rather abstract. The memory image can be described in concrete terms either as the beginning of the bride’s address or in more abstract terms as the beginning of the growing together of two families. The more abstract the associated description, the more likely a person is to remember the experience from an observer’s perspective, i.e. as an object in the scene; in this case, the feelings associated with the experience are less intense. The level of description chosen by the self-image influences the memory image and how it is experienced – and in particular, in what form it is then recorded.

“Essentially, this means we shape our memories in such a way that we protect our positive self and tend to mitigate the challenges posed by negative memories that do not fit our self-image,” concludes Albert Newen.


Empathy training could cut crime figures

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/925723


 News Release 18-Aug-2021
Research by criminologists shows benefits of programmes for young people
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Anglia Ruskin University


Research published in the journal Psychology, Crime & Law suggests a new, low-cost approach that could potentially reduce antisocial behaviour and crime.

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Weak empathy is associated with subsequent weak shame and guilt, all of which play a primary role in moral decision-making when making behavioural choices. Multiple types of crime, including violent, sexual, and fraud-related offences are found to be linked to weak empathy. This is found in various countries and settings, such as in school, prison, psychiatric institutions, and within communities.

 

Previous research by Dr Trivedi-Bateman has identified a strong link between weak empathy and involvement in crime, with prolific, violent offenders having empathy levels 15% lower than less severe offenders and non-offenders. Other studies have shown that higher empathy is linked to lower levels of juvenile -youth aggression, weapon carrying, and gang membership.

 -----

In Germany, a 10-week classroom-based programme was found to increase empathy and reduce cyberbullying behaviour, while a bullying-focused empathy programme in Turkey saw a reduction in bullying behaviour of 40% amongst the primary school pupils who took part, with the control group showing no change in their bullying behaviours.

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“Our study highlights that targeted empathy training programmes used in North America, Asia and Europe can be beneficial.  We also show that repetition and rehearsal of the empathy strengthening techniques are key to successful and longer-term outcomes, while the use of virtual reality technology, placing participants in ‘victim’ and ‘offender’ scenarios, are beneficial when used in cases of bullying and domestic abuse.

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The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Leaf Blowers

 

I suggest reading the whole article.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/25/opinion/leaf-blowers-california-emissions.html

 

By Margaret Renkl

Oct. 25, 2021

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Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry.

Nearly everything about how Americans “care” for their lawns is deadly. Pesticides prevent wildflower seeds from germinating and poison the insects that feed songbirds and other wildlife. Lawn mower blades, set too low, chop into bits the snakes and turtles and baby rabbits that can’t get away in time. Mulch, piled too deep, smothers ground-nesting bees, and often the very plants that mulch is supposed to protect, as well.

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This particular environmental catastrophe is not news. A 2011 study by Edmunds found that a two-stroke gasoline-powered leaf blower spewed out more pollution than a 6,200-pound Ford F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck. Jason Kavanagh, the engineering editor at Edmunds at the time, noted that “hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Raptor.”

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“Some produce more than 100 decibels of low-frequency, wall-penetrating sound — or as much noise as a plane taking off — at levels that can cause tinnitus and hearing loss with long exposure,” Monica Cardoza wrote for Audubon Magazine this year.

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 The risks come not only from the noise and the chemical emissions that two-stroke engines produce, but also from the dust they stir up. “That dust can contain pollen, mold, animal feces, heavy metals and chemicals from herbicides and pesticides,” notes Sara Peach of Yale Climate Connections. All this adds up to increased risk of lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, premature birth and other life-threatening conditions.

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But the trouble with leaf blowers isn’t only their pollution-spewing health consequences. It’s also the damage they do to biodiversity. Fallen leaves provide protection for overwintering insects and the egg sacs of others. Leaf blowers, whether electric or gasoline-powered, dislodge the leaf litter that is so essential to insect life — the insect life that in turn is so essential to birds and other wildlife.

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Nefarious plot!

 

I saw this cartoon in The New Yorker magazine, Aug. 30,2021 edition

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CS6oIN4LtMb/