Monday, April 18, 2016

Get your taxes done for free by Tax-Aide

See the following link for more info, including locations and documents you need to bring with you.

Since 1968, volunteer-based program has helped nearly 50 million low- to moderate-income taxpayers

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has more than 5,000 locations in neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers and senior centers. There’s no fee and no sales pitch for other services and AARP membership is not required.

We help taxpayers of all ages.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Christians Protect Mosques on Fri., Muslims Guard Churches on Sunday

by Terry Turner - Jan 29, 2016

Faced with the threat of terrorist attacks in West Africa, Muslims and Christians have each other’s back.

The worshipers are protecting every place of prayer, no matter religion. On Fridays in Cameroon, Christians guard the mosques as Muslims pray. Muslims return the favor by protecting churches during Sunday services.

The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram is an equal-opportunity destroyer, attacking both churches and mosques while services are in session. The prayerful people inside can’t see it coming, but in some small villages, the terrorists are now running into armed patrols.

Cameroon has set up volunteer “vigilance committees” to patrol villages and the capital of Yaounde, to watch for possible terrorists. They are armed for self defense but report any suspicious activity so the police handle it.

The idea of Christians and Muslims protecting each other’s worship services is not new to places like Egypt or in Western cultures like France recently or Norway, as these two stories detail, but it is new to the remote, northern tip of Cameroon where the model is being testing to see if it might be effective elsewhere.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Economic opportunity may have a significant effect on health behaviors and risks

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Economic opportunity may have a significant effect on health behaviors and risks
Mass. General-led study finds mortality rates, prevalence of risky behaviors are higher in regions with lower economic opportunity
Massachusetts General Hospital

A new study led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has found evidence that economic opportunity - the prospect that individuals may be able to improve their economic status - may have important effects on the health of a community. In an American Journal of Public Health report that has been published online, the researchers found that mortality rates were higher and that risk factors like obesity and smoking and the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes were greater in areas with the lowest levels of economic opportunity, based on a nationwide database.


While much attention has been given lately to issue of income inequality, economic opportunity is a different concept. Income inequality represents unequal distribution of resources at the present time, while economic opportunity reflects prospect for future social mobility. Venkataramani explains that while the two concepts are probably related, they may have distinct consequences for health, which led his team to embark on what they believe is the first national study to examine the relationship between economic opportunity and health.

Economic opportunity is usually determined by comparing income differences between generations.


The study results - based on data from almost 2,700 counties covering 97 percent of the U.S. population - found strong associations between areas of low economic opportunity, such as the Southeast and upper Midwest, and higher mortality rates. Prevalence of smoking, obesity, hypertension and diabetes were all higher in lower-opportunity counties. All of the associations were stronger in working age adults, particularly those ages 25 to 44, and among African Americans. The researchers determined that moving from the lowest opportunity to mid-range counties was associated with a 6.5 percent decrease in mortality, while moving to areas with the highest opportunity levels appeared to reduce the mortality rate by 16.7 percent.


Understanding the wicked problem of climate change

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Understanding the wicked problem of climate change
University of Notre Dame

Frank Incropera the H. Clifford and Evelyn A. Brossey Professor Emeritus of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and former Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the University of Notre Dame's College of Engineering, acknowledges that it's somewhat unusual for an engineer to delve deeply into the topic of climate change. Scientists, not engineers, have played the most prominent roles in the climate change debate to date. However, Incropera feels that solving the problem going forward will require a joint effort from the two specialties. Scientists have provided an understanding of the problem and engineers can now evaluate the feasibility of proposed solutions to the problem.

Incropera's interest in climate change grew out of his interest in energy technology and the future of energy. In the course of his research in those areas, he became convinced that the future of energy will be determined by global warming and climate change. He began devoting much of his time and energy to studying climate change, approaching the subject with no preconceived notions. After extensive research he is convinced that the science is clear and that the problem is exclusively due to greenhouse gasses. He also came away convinced that the proposed technological solutions alone won't get us through the problem.

"Let me begin by saying that technology is essential to dealing with the problem of climate change," Incropera said. "And, it has many facets. Efficiency must be improved in every aspect of energy production and utilization. Decarbonization of transportation must occur through greater use of electric vehicles. Solar and wind energy must be aggressively implemented, with R&D continuing to increase system performance and reduce costs. Battery technologies must advance to facilitate growth in the use of electric vehicles, as well as solar and wind energy. The electric grid must be expanded to better accommodate intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar and it must be endowed with intelligence that can better control and respond to changes in production and demand.

"That said, there are technologies whose potential contributions will be curtailed by economics.


So while technology is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigating the effects of climate change in a world that will have 9 billion inhabitants by 2050, with billions in developing nations aspiring to Western living standards, technology alone will not be enough, Incropera feels. It will have to be accompanied by behavioral changes for which moderation overrides self-indulgence.

"What I have in mind is moving from a culture of consumption to one in which moderation and conservation become core social values," he said "In the West there are certainly people who have a conservation mindset, but there are nations, including the U.S., for which conservation is by no means a social value, that is, one embraced by the society at large. Enabled by historically low costs of fossil fuels, many people are given to waste and over-consumption in their homes, vehicles and other life -style choices. The need for people in the West to moderate their consumption will have to be accompanied by the need for people in the developing world to moderate their aspirations. Moderation is not incompatible with achieving a good standard of living."

Eliminating some of the more frivolous, self-indulgent aspects of energy consumption will be a key to addressing the climate change dilemma, according to Incropera.

"In the U.S. we don't have to supersize our homes and vehicles," he said. "We don't have to overheat homes in winter or supercool them in summer. We can choose to live closer to places of work, recreation and public transportation. Where practical we can use alternative modes of transportation, public and otherwise. We can give more thought to how we use energy and to simple measures for reducing consumption. All of these things can be done without impairing the quality of our lives."


Road rumble strips are a wake-up call to pull over

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Road rumble strips are a wake-up call to pull over: QUT study
Queensland University of Technology

Drowsy drivers are being urged to stop and take a break the first time they hit a road rumble strip these school holidays, with new QUT research revealing the audio-tactile vibrations should be a wake-up call to pull over.

Researcher Chris Watling, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), said an estimated 15 per cent of fatal crashes in Queensland were attributed to fatigue and rumble strips were designed to alert a sleepy or inattentive driver when they veered out of their lane.


"What we found was the first rumble strip hit reduced sleepiness, but repeated hits did not increase alertness, demonstrating sleepiness levels were linked to a greater probability of hitting a rumble strip," he said.

"The results showed that sleepy drivers on average hit the first rumble strip after 20 minutes of driving, subsequent hits occurred 10 minutes later but then dropped to every five minutes.

"This suggests that sleepiness is very resilient to even strongly arousing stimuli and increases over the duration of a drive, despite the interference caused by rumble strips."

Mr Watling said rumble strips have previously been shown to reduce the number of crashes, with a decrease of between seven and 30 per cent following their installation on roadside shoulders and centre lines.

However, he said they were not a complete cure-all for driver sleepiness.

"It is very possible that a driver will run off the road despite the presence of rumble strips if they ignore an early rumble strip hit and decide to continue driving when highly sleepy," he said.

"Sleepiness affects a multitude of cognitive tasks including decision-making and risk acceptance, so if a sleepy driver ignores an earlier rumble strip hit they could be prone to crashing in another manner other than running off the road.

"From a safety perspective, hitting a rumble strip should be regarded as a 'take a break signal', where the driver can implement more effective sleepiness countermeasures, such as napping or drinking caffeine.

"Pulling over and taking a 15-20 minute nap or drinking a double shot of coffee have been found to be the most effective ways of increasing driver alertness and reducing sleepiness."

Mr Watling said planning rest breaks on a long drive was also an important aspect of managing driver sleepiness.

"It is important for the safety of all road users that all drivers, young and old, respect the impairment from sleepiness and get on the front foot so to speak, by ensuring they allow time to get their usual amount of sleep the night before a drive, planning breaks, and being aware of symptoms of sleepiness while driving," he said.

Wild bee decline threatens US crop production

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Wild bee decline threatens US crop production
Following Obama's call for pollinator assessment, first-ever national bee map shows much farmland at risk
University of Vermont

The first national study to map U.S. wild bees suggests they're disappearing in many of the country's most important farmlands--including California's Central Valley, the Midwest's corn belt, and the Mississippi River valley.

If losses of these crucial pollinators continue, the new nationwide assessment indicates that farmers will face increasing costs--and that the problem may even destabilize the nation's crop production.

The findings were published December 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research team, led by Insu Koh at the University of Vermont, estimates that wild bee abundance between 2008 and 2013 declined in 23% of the contiguous U.S. The study also shows that 39% of US croplands that depend on pollinators--from apple orchards to pumpkin patches--face a threatening mismatch between rising demand for pollination and a falling supply of wild bees.


Financial despair, addiction and the rise of suicide in white America

Chris McGreal
Sunday 7 February 2016

Kevin Lowney lies awake some nights wondering if he should kill himself.

“I am in such pain every night, suicide has on a regular basis crossed my mind just simply to ease the pain. If I did not have responsibilities, especially for my youngest daughter who has problems,” he said.

The 56-year-old former salesman’s struggle with chronic pain is bound up with an array of other issues – medical debts, impoverishment and the prospect of a bleak retirement – contributing to growing numbers of suicides in the US and helping drive a sharp and unusual increase in the mortality rate for middle-aged white Americans in recent years alongside premature deaths from alcohol and drugs.

A study released late last year by two Princeton academics, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who won the 2014 Nobel prize for economics, revealed that the death rate for white Americans aged 45 to 54 has risen sharply since 1999 after declining for decades. The increase, by 20% over the 14 years to 2013, represents about half a million lives cut short.

The uptick in the mortality rate is unique to that age and racial group. Death rates for African Americans of a similar age remain notably higher but continue to fall.

Neither was the increase seen in other developed countries. In the UK, the mortality rate for middle-aged people dropped by one third over the same period.

“This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround,” the study said.

Deaths from poisonings by drugs or alcohol have risen dramatically to push lung cancer into second place as the major killer with a sharp increase in suicides now a close third.


Other officials see a number of interconnected forces at work and the rising rate of middle-aged deaths as indicative of crisis wider than those who kill themselves.

Growing economic inequality and increasing financial struggles are intertwined with other issues such as health and addiction. Some people living on low incomes hesitate to go to the doctor even if they have medical insurance because of the cost of out-of-pocket expenses. Chronic conditions can go untreated and become debilitating.

Pain is a driver of alcohol abuse and addiction to opioid painkillers, which in turn is feeding a growing heroin epidemic in the US. Stress and mental health issues are sometimes driven by constant worries about money and fear for the future as growing numbers of Americans look into a financial abyss at retirement.


So what’s changed to drive up the rate of people taking their own lives in recent years?

“Probably the biggest reason is socio-economic. We have about 150,000 people in our state that don’t have access to any type of healthcare, which is a major issue. We have a lot of people living in poverty. Wages are not going up at the same pace as rising health costs, rising cost of living and inflation,” Rosston said.

“Definitely you see a lot of people that all of a sudden they hit 45 or 50 and they don’t see retirement as a bonus. They see something that they’re going to have struggle with and they’re not going to be able to retire.”

Sullivan sees that as tied up with “the expectation that as a middle-aged white person you would outdo your parents economically and socially, and that didn’t occur”.


In searching for explanations for why the US is alone among developing countries in grappling with a rising death rate among its middle-aged white population, Lowney contrasts his situation with a cousin, a fisherman in Ireland who was injured in a work accident at sea and spent a year in hospital.

“He told me it cost him 39 euros. That’s all because of the health system they have in Ireland,” he said.

Lowney ran up most of his debts before Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms. They have been a big leap forward for many Americans by, among other things, preventing insurance companies from cutting people off mid-treatment or capping payments for expensive medications, such as for cancer. But even with subsidized rates for low-income families, a trip to the doctor can still prove expensive because most insurance policies require holders to pay the first few thousand dollars each year before coverage kicks in.

That has put many people in the position of paying for insurance but being unable to afford to go to the doctor.

According to the Butte-Silver Bow Community Health Needs Assessment for 2014 23% of people in Montana have no health insurance.

But the report said that even among those with insurance, nearly 40% faced obstacles to receiving needed healthcare. About one-third said they could not afford the cost of the doctor or prescription. Nearly 8% said they lacked transport to get to a clinic. More than 11% said they skipped or reduced prescription doses in order to save money.


“I’ve heard that the majority of Americans are afraid of even a $500 emergency. They’re one broken refrigerator away from not being able to make it. That’s us.”

That may go some way to explain the differing middle aged death rate with other developed countries that have extensive welfare systems, free or cheap health care and greater support for pensioners. The proportion of US pensioners living in poverty is more than double that in Germany and nearly six times that of France. Few western Europeans are fearful of losing their homes to pay medical bills.


Beyond Flint: In The South, Another Water Crisis Has Been Unfolding For Years

Feb. 6, 2016

It's not simply Flint that has bad water. The Michigan city, which has grabbed headlines recently for its rampant water contamination, is joined in that dubious distinction by another town, much farther south: St. Joseph, La.

"It's just a given fact that at some point during the week, you're going to have brown or yellow water," says resident Garrett Boyte.

Boyte says there have been problems with the water there for a decade, but it's only in the past few weeks that St. Joseph has gotten any media attention.

"What's happening here in St. Joseph got the attention it's gotten because Flint has made water a public issue," he says. "And what I try to tell people is, this isn't just happening in St. Joseph or in Flint. It's happening in Louisiana, it's happening in Kentucky and Tennessee and Mississippi and in areas of poor and disenfranchised communities across the country."

The cause of the dark water in St. Joseph seems to be a broken pipe in the community's aging system. While local officials have said it's not dangerous, the break in the pipe could be a warning.

"Most of their issues seem to be around pipes that are 90 years old and are constantly being repaired," says Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana's state health officer.


And the aging water system has been an issue not just in St. Joseph, according to Guidry, but in other communities throughout Louisiana and other states, as well. He says it's "cost-prohibitive" for small communities to address the mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency on water standards.

"If you have enough customers, you tend to replace infrastructure over time, because you have a funding source. But when you don't have a funding source, you're looking for a low-interest loan if you can afford it or you're looking for a grant, which there aren't many of those around," Guidry says. "It's very difficult for them to meet the standards that are required and then give them the quality of water that they want."


Friday, February 05, 2016

High drowsy driving crash risk on daytime commute after night work

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
High drowsy driving crash risk on daytime commute after night work
New research from Brigham and Women's Hospital finds that nearly 40 percent of shift workers who participated in a test drive following a night shift were involved in a near-crash event
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Most drivers admit to driving while drowsy. Twenty-eight percent of drivers have reported falling asleep while driving within the past year. More than 9.5 million Americans, or 15 percent of the workforce, work overnight or rotating shifts. Those who commute home after working the night shift may be at high risk for drowsy driving crashes because of disruption to their sleep-wake cycles and insufficient sleep during the night.


Protecting a few students from negative stereotypes benefits entire classroom

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Protecting a few students from negative stereotypes benefits entire classroom
Association for Psychological Science

Interventions targeted at individual students can improve the classroom environment and trigger a second wave of benefits for all classmates, new research shows. The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicate that sharing a classroom with greater numbers of students who participate in a brief intervention can boost all students' grades over and above the initial benefits of the intervention.


Scientists find: Religion and politics led to social tension and conflict, then and now

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Scientists find: Religion and politics led to social tension and conflict, then and now
University of Central Florida

Humans haven't learned much in more than 2,000 years when it comes to religion and politics.

Religion has led to social tension and conflict, not just in today's society, but dating back to 700 B.C. according to a new study published today in Current Anthropology .

University of Colorado anthropology Professor Arthur A. Joyce and University of Central Florida Associate Professor Sarah Barber found evidence in several Mexican archeological sites that contradict the long-held belief that religion acted to unite early state societies. It often had the opposite effect, the study says.

"It doesn't matter if we today don't share particular religious beliefs, but when people in the past acted on their beliefs, those actions could have real, material consequences," Barber said about the team's findings. "It really behooves us to acknowledge religion when considering political processes."

Sounds like sage advice in today's world that has multiple examples of politics and religion intersecting and resulting in conflict.


Brain differences in premature babies who later develop autism

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Brain differences in premature babies who later develop autism
Karolinska Institutet

Extremely premature babies run a much higher risk of developing autism in later childhood, and even during the neonate period differences are seen in the brains of those who do. This according to a new study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. The findings, which are published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, suggest that environmental factors can lead to autism

Extremely preterm neonates survive at increasingly early gestation periods thanks to the advances made in intensive care in the past decades. However, babies born more than 13 weeks prematurely run a serious risk of brain damage, autism, ADHD and learning difficulties. They are exposed to numerous stress factors during a period critical to brain development, and it is possible that this plays a key part in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


"We were surprised by how many - almost 30 per cent - of the extremely preterm-born children had developed ASD symptoms," says Ulrika Ådén, researcher at the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Karolinska Institutet and neonatologist at the Neonatology clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. "Amongst children born after full term pregnancy, the corresponding figure is 1 per cent."

The researchers found that it was more common in the group of children who had developed ASD for there to have been complications during the neonate period, such as surgery, than it was amongst their prematurely born peers who had not developed ASD. Already in the neonatal period, long before the children had manifested signs of autism, differences could be observed between the extremely preterm babies who went on to develop ASD and those who did not, with diminished growth of the parts of the brain involved in social contact, empathy and language acquisition - functions that are impaired in autistic children.


Material purchases can bring happiness

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Living happily in a material world: Material purchases can bring happiness
A recent study from Social Psychological and Personality Science shows material purchases provide more frequent happiness
Society for Personality and Social Psychology

In a recent study from the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers have shown that material purchases, from sweaters to skateboards, provide more frequent happiness over time, whereas experiential purchases, like a trip to the zoo, provide more intense happiness on individual occasions.


Empathy with strangers can be learned

Public Release: 21-Dec-2015
Empathy with strangers can be learned
University of Zurich

We can learn to empathize with strangers. Surprisingly positive experiences with people from another group trigger a learning effect in the brain, which increases empathy. As researchers from the University of Zurich reveal, only a handful of positive learning experiences already suffice for a person to be-come more empathic.

Conflicts between people from different nationalities and cultures often stem from a lack of empathy or compassion for 'the stranger'. More empathy for members of other groups could thus encourage peaceful coexistence. A study conducted by the University of Zurich examined whether empathy with strangers can be learned and how positive experiences with others influence empathic brain responses.


Obesity more dangerous than lack of fitness, new study claims

Public Release: 20-Dec-2015
Obesity more dangerous than lack of fitness, new study claims
Oxford University Press

new study, published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology [1], has dismissed the concept of 'fat but fit'. In contrast, the results from the new study suggest that the protective effects of high fitness against early death are reduced in obese people.

Although the detrimental effects of low aerobic fitness have been well documented, this research has largely been performed in older populations. Few studies have investigated the direct link between aerobic fitness and health in younger populations


Men in the highest fifth of aerobic fitness had a 48 per cent lower risk of death from any cause compared with those in the lowest fifth. Stronger associations were observed for deaths related to suicide and abuse of alcohol and narcotics. Unexpectedly, the authors noted a strong association between low aerobic fitness and also deaths related to trauma. Co-author Peter Nordström has no explanation for this finding: "We could only speculate, but genetic factors could have influenced these associations given that aerobic fitness is under strong genetic control."

The study also evaluated the concept that 'fat but fit is ok'. Men of a normal weight, regardless of their fitness level, were at lower risk of death compared to obese individuals in the highest quarter of aerobic fitness. Nevertheless, the relative benefits of high fitness may still be greater in obese people. However, in this study the beneficial effect of high aerobic fitness was actually reduced with increased obesity, and in those with extreme obesity there was no significant effect at all.


Americans Are Living Longer, Thanks to the Clean Air Act

By Melissa C. Lott on January 31, 2016

When the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, Los Angeles was known as the “smog capital of the world” and Steubenville, Ohio was about as polluted as Beijing, according to University of Chicago’s Michael Greenstone. But, Greenstone says, the air is a lot cleaner today. In turn, increases to life expectancies have been realised across the nation.

This is not to say that the Clean Air Act’s work is done. In truth, air pollution is still a significant challenge in the United States. For example, air pollution from combustion processes – primarily from transportation and power generation – results in an estimated 200,000 early deaths across the country each year. But, the nation's air is certainly getting cleaner.

This trend can be seen by looking at particulate matter concentration data from 1970 to 2012 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Greenstone's team was able to calculate changes in life expectancy for metropolitan areas across the nation. For example, according to their results, the following life expectancy increases were seen in these metro areas:
1.Weirton, West Virginia (+5.2 years)
2.Wichita, Kansas (+4.3 years)
3.Phoenix, Arizona (+3.9 years)
4.New Castle, Pennsylvania (+3.9 years)
5.Mobile, Alabama (+3.9 years)
6.Youngstown, Ohio (+3.4 years)
7.Chattanooga, Tennessee (+3.0 years)
8.Pueblo, Colorado (+2.9 years)
9.Kingsport, Tennessee (+2.9 years)
10.Birmingham, Alabama (+2.8 years)
11.Los Angeles, California (+1.7 years)
12.Houston, Texas (+0.9 years)


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Intelligence vs. wisdome

This thought came to me this morning around 3am when I couldn't sleep for awhile:

Intelligence is the ability to learn.

Wisdom is choosing to use that ability.

Childhood concussions impair brain function

Public Release: 18-Dec-2015
Study: Childhood concussions impair brain function
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A new study finds that pre-adolescent children who have sustained sports-related concussions have impaired brain function two years following injury.

The results are published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology.


Exercise eases hot flushes during menopause

Public Release: 17-Dec-2015
Exercise eases hot flushes during menopause
The Physiological Society

Exercise can reduce the amount and intensity of hot flushes experienced during the menopause, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.

Exercise that makes you hot, sweaty and fitter reduced the severity of hot flushes by minimising the symptoms that occur during a hot flush, such as the amount of sweating and elevations in skin, as well as blood flow in the brain. In contrast, the women who remained sedentary reported very little differences in hot flush severity.


Contraception Fell, Medicaid Births Rose When Texas Defunded Planned Parenthood

by Maggie Fox
Feb. 3, 2016

Women stopped using the most effective types of contraception and more babies were born on the government's tab after Texas cut off funding from Planned Parenthood clinics, a team of Texas researchers said Wednesday.

The number of claims for long-acting contraception plummeted by more than a third and births paid for by Medicaid rose 27 percent, the team at the University of Texas at Austin reported.

"This change is worrisome, since increased access to long-acting, reversible contraception methods is a priority of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and one study has indicated substantial unmet demand for long-acting, reversible contraception methods in Texas," they wrote in their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This new research shows the devastating consequences for women when politicians block access to care at Planned Parenthood. Politicians have claimed time and again that our patients can simply go to other health care providers — and tragically that's not the case. Instead, women were left out in the cold," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Feel Good: Volunteer With AARP Foundation Tax-Aide for 2016

It's not too late to volunteer for this season. There is still time to be certified as a greeter. We need more, and they are very useful and help us serve more people.

Feb. 2015

Help people and give your mind a workout, too.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the nation's largest volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service. And we want you to join us.

We started in 1968 with just four volunteers at one site preparing 100 tax returns. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide now involves more than 35,000 volunteers and serves 2.6 million taxpayers annually at more than 5,000 sites nationwide. In fact, we're one of the most effective volunteer programs in America.

But even though we've grown a lot, we're still all about the grassroots. You'll be helping people in your own community with a much-needed service that's free, individualized and has no strings attached.

Almost four out of five people who turn to AARP Foundation Tax-Aide are 60 or older. Household incomes aren't high. For many of them, a tax refund could mean they won't have to choose between paying for groceries and keeping the lights on.

Who volunteers?

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

Good with numbers? Be a tax volunteer.

You'll work with taxpayers directly; filling out tax returns and helping them seek a refund. Experience isn't necessary — we'll train you on the latest tax preparation forms and software.

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.

Love working with people? Be a greeter.

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

Want to help us 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. Dedicated translators who can assist our volunteers are also welcome.

Get the joy and satisfaction of helping others by applying to join the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteer team today! Your expertise will be appreciated more than you can imagine.

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

Sign up to be an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Volunteer. Go

Noise caused disease

Vibroacoustic Disease, or VAD, is a chronic, progressive, cumulative, systemic disease. Exposure to high-intensity/low-frequency sound and infrasound can lead to Vibroacoustic Disease. Studies have shown that environments with high-intensity sound over 110 dB, coupled with low-frequency sounds below 100 Hz, place people at high risk for developing Vibroacoustic Disease. For example, Vibroacoustic Disease has been identified in disk jockeys, due to loud music exposure.
When exposed to high-intensity/low-frequency sound, which includes loud music, the body is subjected to powerful sound vibrations. This noise stressor leads to: homeostatic imbalance, disease, interference with behavior and performance, visual problems, epilepsy, stroke, neurological deficiencies, psychic disturbances, thromboembolism, central nervous system lesions, vascular lesions in most areas of the body, lung local fibrosis, mitral valve abnormalities, pericardial abnormalities, malignancy, gastrointestinal dysfunction, infections of the oropharynx, increased frequency of sister chromatid exchanges, immunological changes, cardiac infarcts, cancer, rage reactions, suicide, and altered coagulation parameters.


In addition, sources of low-frequency noise that place people at risk for developing Vibroacoustic Disease are rock concerts, dance clubs, "Powerful car audio equipment," water jet skies, and motorcycles. (Source: VIBROACOUSTIC DISEASE: THE NEED FOR A NEW ATTITUDE TOWARDS NOISE, by Mariana Alves-Pereira and Nuno Castelo Branco).

"Among the most serious on-the-job consequences of untreated VAD are rage-reactions, epilepsy, and suicide. VAD patients do not have the usual suicidal profile: after the event, if unsuccessful, they remember nothing, and are confused about the entire episode (Castelo Branco et al, 1999). Similarly, patients who suffer rage-reactions also appear confused and seem to remember nothing (Castelo Branco et al, 1999). These events can have dire consequences if they occur on the job. Not only can other individuals be injured, but also costly sophisticated equipment could become irreparably damaged." (Source - VIBROACOUSTIC DISEASE: THE NEED FOR A NEW ATTITUDE TOWARDS NOISE, by Mariana Alves-Pereira and Nuno Castelo Branco)


The SUN AND WEEKLY HERALD ( recently interviewed Dr. Robert Fifer, the Director of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami. He discussed Vibroacoustic Disease and its relation to infrasound and boom cars. The article states, "But the physical vibration so prized by car audio fanatics, and despised by their victims, is largely produced by sounds pitched too low to hear, called subsonic or infrasonic sounds. Medical research over the past four decades shows that exposure to infrasound can have devastating effects on the human body and mind that go far beyond mere hearing loss."

The article goes on to discuss the fight-or-flight adrenaline response and how it is also triggered by LPALF (large pressure amplitude - low-frequency noise) or high-intensity/low-frequency sound. In other words, the fight-or-flight adrenaline response can be triggered by sounds you don't even hear!



The social and economic costs of VAD are staggering, and continuously aggravated by the fact that environmental noise assessments pay little attention to the noise that causes VAD - Low Frequency (LF) noise (* 500 Hz), focusing primarily on that which causes hearing impairment. An erroneous assumption justifies these incomplete noise assessment requirements: noise only affects the ear. Thus, all noise protection measures and evaluation procedures focus exclusively on the frequencies affecting the auditory system (* 500 Hz). The Solution. Physical protection against LF noise is not feasible, given the large wavelength of LF (in meters).


Vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is a noise-induced, whole-body pathology, of a systemic nature, caused by excessive and unmonitored exposure to LF noise. It has been identified in aeronautical technicians (GIMOGMA, 1984a ), military pilots (Carmo et al, 1992 and Canas et al, 1993), commercial pilots and cabin crewmembers (Alves-Pereira et al, 1999), and disc-jockeys (Castelo Branco, 1999 and Castelo Branco et al, 1999). VAD evolves over long-term noise exposure, in years, and can lead to severe medical conditions, such as cardiac infarcts (Castelo Branco, 1999 and Castelo Branco et al, 1999), stroke (Castelo Branco, 1999 and Castelo Branco et al, 1999), cancer (Silva et al, 1996 and Castelo Branco et al, 1999), epilepsy (Martinho Pimenta et al, 1999a), rage reactions (Castelo Branco et al, 1999), and suicide (Castelo Branco et al, 1999). When VAD was first identified in professional groups known to be exposed to noise, it was initially thought to be limited to the realm of occupational diseases. However, it has since been diagnosed in individuals exposed to noise in non-occupational settings, or in seemingly non-"noisy" environments (Castelo Branco et al, 1999). This rises the issue of LF noise-induced pathology to the domain ofPublic Health issues.


Among the most serious on-the-job consequences of untreated VAD are rage-reactions, epilepsy, and suicide. VAD patients do not have the usual suicidal profile: after the event, if unsuccessful, they remember nothing, and are confused about the entire episode (Castelo Branco et al, 1999). Similarly, patients who suffer rage-reactions also appear confused and seem to remember nothing (Castelo Branco et al, 1999). These events can have dire consequences if they occur on the job. Not only can other individuals be injured, but also costly sophisticated equipment could become irreparably damaged.


There seems to be no legislation for infrasound.

If this were a situation with light instead of sound, it would be like ignoring x-rays (merely a different frequency of visible light), simply because they can't be seen. Current LF noise protection is analogous to wearing dark glasses against these x-rays.


All the above information must be made public. It is no longer acceptable that individuals have their lives destroyed because of excessive LF noise exposure. Worse than undesirable, it is unethical to keep workers within "noisy" environments, and ignore the potentially devastating, whole-body, acoustic trauma.

LF noise environments abound in modern leisure activities; specifically, rock concerts, dance clubs and powerful car audio equipment, not to mention the ever so popular water jet skis and motorcycles. Just how widespread are the LF noise-induced disorders is unknown. The public must be informed immediately that excessive exposure to these "noisy" activities may limit their professional future.


Europe's recent summers were the 'warmest in 2,000 years'

I notice Google Chrome doesn't put a line break between copied paragraphs. I usually use FireFox, which does, but I'm going to be working on Tax-Aide certification, which doesn't work right on FireFox.

By Matt McGrath
Jan. 29, 2016

The past 30 years in Europe have likely been the warmest in more than two millennia, according to new research.
The study used tree ring records and historical documents to reconstruct yearly temperatures going back 2,100 years.
Scientists say that past natural variability in temperatures was greater than previously thought.
As a result, climate models may be underestimating the frequency and severity of heat waves in the future.
According to the study, Europe has seen an increase in summer warming of 1.3C [2.3F] between 1986 and 2015.
In this period there has also been an increase in severe heat waves, most notably in 2003, 2010 and 2015.
The 2003 event was linked to the extra deaths of thousands of elderly people due to heat stroke, dehydration and increased air pollution.


"We've got 2,000 years of reconstruction where we have values for every year and the big surprise was that there wasn't a single 30-year period that was as warm as the last 30 years; that was unexpected," said Prof Danny McCarroll from Swansea University, UK, who was part of the research group.


Even though the new reconstruction has a wider range of natural variability in summer temperatures than previous attempts, the temperature data recorded in the past 30 years still sits outside it, pointing towards the same inference as made by the IPCC - that the recent warming is mainly caused by humans.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Using PrtScr

Many people don't understand the PrtScr (Print Screen) button on the computer. It used to print the screen contents. Now it usually copies the screen to the Clipboard, where other copied stuff goes. Alt-PrtScr only captures the active window.
Then you can paste it in documents where you can past a picture.

The Wikipedia link above has a fuller discussion, with additional options.