Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hypocrite Boehner Demands Obama Act Alone On Border Crisis While Suing Him For Executive Action

Yesterday (July 30, 2014) the Republicans in the U.S. House voted to sue President Obama for using his executive power. See info below.

Do the Republican politicians realize they have boxed themselves into a corner by backing unworkable policies, so they're trying to lose because they don't want to enact the harmful policies they have been advocating?

Or are they crazy?

http://www.politicususa.com/2014/07/31/republicans-destruct-boehner-forced-pull-border-bill-pass.html

By: Jason Easley more from Jason Easley
Thursday, July, 31st, 2014

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was forced to cancel the vote on his border legislation after he didn’t have enough votes to pass it. Boehner then issued a press release demanding that Obama act alone to secure the border.

•••••

The statement told the president that the House is useless, so the president needs to act alone on the border crisis, “This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws. There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.

•••••

So, it is not okay for Obama to take executive action unless the House is paralyzed by Republican infighting? Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans can’t have it both ways. They can’t claim that President Obama is a tyrant, and then tell him to act without them.

•••••

The next time someone in the media laments that both sides do it, and Washington is broken, remember this moment. Both sides don’t do it, and Washington isn’t broken. The Republican Party has broken Washington because their constant infighting has made it impossible for the House Republicans to accomplish anything.

It isn’t President Obama’s fault that John Boehner has let the lunatics run the asylum.


http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-house-votes-to-sue-obama-20140730-story.html

July 30, 2014

The House vote to sue President Obama is the first such legal challenge by a chamber of Congress against a president and a historic foray in the fight over constitutional checks and balances.

Wednesday’s nearly party-line vote followed a feisty floor debate and offered a fresh example of how the capital’s hyper-partisanship has led both parties into unprecedented territory, going to new and greater lengths to confront one another.

•••••

The House approved the resolution in a near party-line vote, 225 to 201. It authorizes House Speaker John A. Boehner to file suit in federal court on behalf of the full body “to seek appropriate relief” for Obama’s failure to enforce a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would penalize businesses that do not offer basic health insurance to their employees.

That provision’s effective date has been delayed by the administration twice and now won’t fully take effect until 2016. The GOP-led House has voted to repeal the law, even as it seeks to sue Obama for failing to enforce it.

•••••

Take Care of Our Planet


Lyrics to a song I wrote. I'm not a great singer, but when I sang it at an open mic, w/o accompaniment, in a restaurant, everybody stopped talking. Only time I've seen that. So people do care.

This video is from Eddie Owen Presents open mic at the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, GA. on July 28, 2014.

http://new.livestream.com/OMPlive/events/3208477




Take Care of Our Planet
copyright 2001 Patricia M. Shannon

Walking in the early sunlight, with the calling birds,
I see the trees against the newborn sky;
listening to the breeze, I hear God's voice
saying "Take care of this planet, don't make it die!"
We must

(chorus)

take care of our planet,
it's the only home we have;
it will give us what we need,
if we treat it respectfully.

He did not make the earth to be just a toy,
or an enemy with which we are at war;
remember that we were just an afterthought,
stewards and not owners are what we are.

Now some say the end is coming,
so we'll need the earth no more;
He said no one will expect it,
might be 10,000 years to go.

(chorus)

He did not mean for us to be parasites,
always taking destruction to new heights,
killing off the species He so carefully planned,
in the interdependent web of life.

Don't depend on some angels,
or a space ship from on high
to save you from your own folly,
if you do, you're sure to die."
So

(chorus)


..

At EPA Hearing, Religious Leaders Call Carbon Pollution ‘An Affront To God’

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/31/3466008/epa-coal-rules-religious-leaders-support/

by Emily Atkin Posted on July 31, 2014

Speaking to three administrators for the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, David Kepley, an elder and deacon at the Providence Presbyterian Church, quoted Leviticus.

“God said ‘the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants,’” he said. “‘Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.’”

The verses, Kepley said, allude to several themes. For one, God has encouraged us not just to draw sustenance from the land, but to replenish it — to act as stewards of Creation. For another, the verses compare humans to “renters” in God’s house, meaning we can’t just trash God’s house with unmitigated pollution.

“To me this means that to be wasteful of the land’s bounty or to despoil it with substances that are harmful to people or other life forms is not just unproductive, but is an affront to God,” Kepley said. “In my view, the EPA has identified one of those areas where we humans have ignored our role as good stewards of the Creation.”

Kepley was just one of at least 28 religious leaders who urged the EPA at two D.C. hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday not to weaken — and at times to strengthen — its proposed regulations on carbon emissions from coal plants. The proposed rule represents the Obama Administration’s most ambitious move yet to combat one of the main drivers behind climate change.

•••••

on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaders from Presbyterian, Episcopal, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Quaker, and Baptist congregations spoke out in strong support of the rule, with most speakers calling it a moral obligation to God. Leaders from Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Baha’i groups also testified in support of the rule.

•••••

“In the religious communities with which I work, people are heart-sick about the role of fossil fuels in producing the heat-trapping gases that are causing climate change,” said Joelle Novey, the director of Interfaith Power & Light, a non-profit that engages religious communities on climate issues. “They are working to reduce their electricity use in their sanctuaries and at home. They are climbing up on ladders to change to more efficient lightbulbs. They are working together to support clean energy through their energy bills.”

•••••

“Climate change disproportionately impacts the very people who we are called to serve,” said Patricia Bruckbauer, an eco-justice fellow at Creation Justice Ministries. “Those who have consistently contributed the least to our changing climate are generally the ones who suffer the most … low-income communities, communities of color, the elderly and children.”

Every religious group that testified on Wednesday afternoon in Washington D.C. spoke out in support of the EPA rule regulating coal.

•••••

But Christians who testified Wednesday in support of the rules widely cited the second chapter of Genesis, in which the first thing that God asks man to do is care for and maintain the earth.

“Before man was asked to love his neighbor, love God, or care for the least of these, he was asked to love the earth,” said Rev. Marjani Dele, the minister of missions at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. “You could say that it was a type of first commandment.”

•••••

Earlier this month, The World Council of Churches — a large umbrella group of churches representing more than half a billion Christians worldwide — announced that it would pull all of its investments in fossil fuels, saying it had determined the investments were no longer ethical.

Pope Francis has also spoken widely about his concern for the environment, most recently telling a group of fellow Catholics that rainforest destruction is a “sin.” The Pope has also made the religious case for tackling climate change, warning a massive crowd in Rome that “if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”

•••••

“We view clean air as a gift from god,” she said. “Responding to the injustices of pollution is important to people of faith, and should be important to industry leaders as well.”

Wall Street admits its guilt in billions of ways

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/jay-bookman/2014/jul/31/wall-street-admits-its-guilt-billions-ways/

By Jay Bookman
July 31, 2014

A federal judge in Manhattan Wednesday ordered Bank of America to pay almost $1.3 billion in penalties for knowingly selling bad mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the runup to the Great Recession.

The bad mortgages were originated through a program called "High Speed Swim Lane," known internally by its acronym "HSSL", or Hustle. The goal of the program was to get as many loans pushed through the approval process as quickly as possible, without regard to the borrower's ability to pay, so that executives and managers could collect big bonuses.

•••••

And of course, that is just the most recent of such cases. Back in March, Bank of America settled another fraud case by agreeing to pay $9.5 billion to the federal government. As The New York Times reports, Bank of America lawyers are also negotiating today with federal prosecutors to settle yet another case, this one with an even bigger price tag:

•••••

The list goes on and on: Two weeks ago, Citigroup agreed to pay $7 billion to settle charges that it knowingly packaged bad mortgages into securities that it then sold to investors. Citi had initially offered federal officials $363 million to settle the case, but that offer was refused.

In November, JP Morgan Chase settled a similar federal case by agreeing to pay $13 billion. So far, JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay some $27 billion in penalties over the last two years. Other banks, such as Royal Bank of Scotland, are also trying to negotiate their way out of trouble.

As critics appropriately point out, none of these settlements has included criminal prosecutions of those who planned and profited from such massive fraud. And as large as the numbers might appear to us mere mortals, the banks involved are so large and are reaping such huge profits that the penalties and fines are more of a temporary annoyance. In fact, a bank's stock often rises, rather than falls, when such settlements are announced.

However, this long, continuing string of multi-billion-dollar settlements are useful because they establish beyond a shadow of a doubt just how out of control Wall Street had become in the years leading up to the 2008 collapse. As you no doubt recall, that's the point at which they turned to the American people -- the very people whom they had been defrauding -- to demand that we save them -- and ourselves -- from the consequences of their actions.

As these settlements make clear, the government wasn't making these companies lie and cheat and defraud. Greed made them do so. Their own lack of instititional control made them do so. A sense of privilege and immunity to consequence made them do so. And yes, lack of effective government oversight allowed them to do so.

•••••

Hackers can tap USB devices in new attacks

http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=OBR&date=20140731&id=17821156

July 31, 2014
Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston. Additional reporting by Michael Gold in Taipei; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Richard Chang

USB devices such as mice, keyboards and thumb-drives can be used to hack into personal computers in a potential new class of attacks that evade all known security protections, a top computer researcher revealed on Thursday.

Karsten Nohl, chief scientist with Berlin's SR Labs, noted that hackers could load malicious software onto tiny, low-cost computer chips that control functions of USB devices but which have no built-in shields against tampering with their code.

"You cannot tell where the virus came from. It is almost like a magic trick," said Nohl, whose research firm is known for uncovering major flaws in mobile phone technology.

•••••

Once a computer is infected, it could be programmed to infect all USB devices that are subsequently attached to that PC, which would then corrupt machines that they contact.

"Now all of your USB devices are infected. It becomes self-propagating and extremely persistent," Nohl said. "You can never remove it."

-----

"The manufacturer should make it much harder to change the software that runs on a USB stick," Paar said.

Study Finds Highest Paid CEOs Earn Lower Stock Returns

http://unews.utah.edu/news_releases/university-of-utah-study-finds-highest-paid-ceos-earn-lower-stock-returns/

une 12, 2014 — New research in a study from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah found that CEOs who receive higher incentive pay often lead their companies to decreased financial performance. Specifically, the study discovered that the highest paid CEOs earn significantly lower stock returns for up to three years.

Additionally, CEOs with an average compensation of more than $20 million are linked to an average yearly loss of $1.4 billion for their organizations.

“It has become well established in academic research that businesses are racing to pay their executives more and more,” said Mike Cooper, professor of finance at the David Eccles School of Business and lead author of the study. His co-authors are Purdue University’s Huseyin Gulen and P. Ragha Vendra Rau of the University of Cambridge.

“They want to have a glamorous, highly paid CEO,” Cooper said. “However, this runs counterintuitive to what is actually smart business. Businesses should be careful to control overzealous investment and takeover activities of highly paid CEOs if they want to ensure the best financial future for their business.”

•••••

The study also found CEOs who receive high pay often have longer tenure and have consistently worse long-term returns by approximately 12 percent, a particularly toxic combination when compared to executives with shorter tenure. Cooper postulates that these managers with long tenure are skilled in negotiating the complicated politics of the boardroom, so they are able to remove any barriers to advancing their agendas.

•••••

High CEO pay doesn’t mean high performance

http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/workplace/article326122/High-CEO-pay-doesn%E2%80%99t-mean-high-performance-report-says.html

By DIANE STAFFORD
08/28/2013

A select group of the nation’s corporate chief executives has been paid far more than their performance warranted, according to a compensation analysis released today.

Twenty years after the Institute for Policy Studies began taking critical annual looks at CEO pay in the nation’s largest companies, researchers reviewed the personal and corporate histories of executives who have appeared on past highest-paid lists.

The title of the 2013 report reveals disappointment — “Bailed Out. Booted. Busted.”

Nearly 40 percent of the men who appeared on lists ranking America’s 25 highest-paid corporate leaders between 1993 and 2012 have led companies bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, been fired for poor performance or led companies charged with fraud-related activities.

“This report should put an end to any remaining sense that we have ‘pay for performance’ in corporate America,” said Sarah Anderson, co-author of all 20 of the institute’s annual executive compensation reports.

The pay gap between large-company CEOs and average American employees has vaulted from 195 to 1 in 1993 to 354 to 1 in 2012, according to data published by BusinessWeek and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

•••••


Who pays the most taxes

On top of the fact that, accounting for all taxes, the rich pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes, a given percentage of income has a much larger effect on the life of the poor than the rich.

https://www.facebook.com/RBReich/posts/762687800410485:0



[I am including below a copy of the text, in case the Facebook entry disappears.]

I recently debated an apologist for the nation's raging inequality who said we shouldn't raise taxes on the richest 1 percent, even though they're now getting more than 20% of total income, because they now pay over 35% of total federal income taxes. Baloney. This misleading factoid ignores two large regressive taxes that hit lower and moderate-income Americans far harder than the those at the top:

(1) The Social Security payroll tax. It provides more than a third of all federal revenues and its surpluses for years have paid for all sorts of things in addition to Social Security. But it only applies to incomes up to a cap now set at $113,600.

(2) State and local taxes. They constitute 40 percent of total government revenues, but the poorest fifth of Americans pay an average combined state and local tax rate of 11%, while the richest 1 percent pay an average rate of 5.3%.

The Kids Who Beat Autism

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/magazine/the-kids-who-beat-autism.html?partner=MYWAY&ei=5065&_r=0


By RUTH PADAWERJULY 31, 2014

At first, everything about L.'s baby boy seemed normal. He met every developmental milestone and delighted in every discovery. But at around 12 months, B. seemed to regress, and by age 2, he had fully retreated into his own world. He no longer made eye contact, no longer seemed to hear, no longer seemed to understand the random words he sometimes spoke.

•••••

When I met with them in February, they told me about all the treatments they had tried in the 1990s: sensory integration, megadose vitamins, therapeutic horseback riding, a vile-tasting powder from a psychologist who claimed that supplements treated autism. None of it helped either boy.

Together the women considered applied behavior analysis, or A.B.A. — a therapy, much debated at the time, that broke down every quotidian action into tiny, learnable steps, acquired through memorization and endless repetition; they rejected it, afraid it would turn their sons into robots. But just before B. turned 3, L. and her husband read a new book by a mother claiming that she used A.B.A. on her two children and that they “recovered” from autism. The day after L. finished it, she tried the exercises in the book’s appendix: Give an instruction, prompt the child to follow it, reward him when he does. “Clap your hands,” she’d say to B. and then take his hands in hers and clap them. Then she would tickle him or give him an M&M and cheer, “Good boy!” Though she barely knew what she was doing, she said, “he still made amazing progress compared with anything he’d gotten before.”

Impressed with B.'s improvement, both families hired A.B.A. specialists from the University of California, Los Angeles (where A.B.A. was developed), for three days of training. The cost was enormous, between $10,000 and $15,000, covering not only the specialists’ fees but also their airfare and hotel stays.

•••••

After that, B.'s language blossomed quickly. By the time he finished kindergarten, he was chatty and amiable, though he remained socially awkward, hyperactive and unyieldingly obsessed with the animal kingdom

•••••

Whether because of the coupons or maturation or something else, B.'s monologues stopped by second grade. Around the same time, his fixations eased. B.'s doctor concluded that the last vestiges of his autism were gone; he no longer met the criteria, even in its mildest form.

L. was ecstatic, but she was also plagued by guilt. Though Jackie’s son received the same treatments as B., he had made no such progress. Matthew still could not talk. He remained uninterested in other children and most toys. And despite efforts to teach him, Matthew’s communication remained extremely limited: When he squealed loudly, he was happy. When he threw up — which for a year he did daily — his parents concluded that he was distressed, after a doctor assured them that there wasn’t anything physically wrong with him.

“Jackie did everything for him,” L. told me, her voice filled with angst. “Everything. She tried just as hard as I did. She hired the same people, did the same work. . . . " Her voice trailed off. She was sure that the behavioral therapy had allowed her to reclaim her son, but she could not understand why it had not done the same for Matthew.

•••••

In the last 18 months, however, two research groups have released rigorous, systematic studies, providing the best evidence yet that in fact a small but reliable subset of children really do overcome autism.

•••••

“Those of us who work closely with children with autism,” says Geraldine Dawson, a psychologist and researcher at Duke University’s department of psychiatry and the Institute for Brain Sciences, “have known clinically that there is this subgroup of kids who start out having autism and then, through the course of development, fully lose those symptoms — and yet people always questioned it. This work, in a very careful and systematic way, shows these kids exist.” She told me that she and many of her colleagues estimated that 10 percent or more of their autistic patients no longer had symptoms.

•••••

Scientists suspect that what is called autism may actually be an array of distinct conditions that have different genetic and environmental etiologies but happen to produce similar symptoms. If true, it could help explain why some children progress so much while others don’t.

•••••

There do, however, seem to be some clues, like the role of I.Q.: The children in Lord’s study who had a nonverbal I.Q. of less than 70 at age 2 all remained autistic. But among those with a nonverbal I.Q. of at least 70, one-quarter eventually became nonautistic, even though their symptoms at diagnosis were as severe as those of children with a comparable I.Q. who remained autistic (Fein’s study, by design, included only people with at least an average I.Q.) Other research has shown that autistic children with better motor skills, better receptive language skills and more willingness to imitate others also tend to progress more swiftly, even if they don’t stop being autistic. So do children who make striking improvements early on, especially in the first year of treatment — perhaps a sign that something about their brains or their kind of autism enables them to learn more readily. Researchers also say that parental involvement — acting as a child’s advocate, pushing for services, working with the child at home — seems to correlate with more improvements in symptoms. Financial resources, no doubt, help too.

•••••

“I see a lot of parents of 2-year-olds,” Catherine Lord says, “who have heard stories about kids growing out of autism, and they tell us, ‘I want my kid to be one of those kids.’ ” She reminds them that only a minority of children lose their symptoms, and she counsels parents to focus instead on helping their child reach his or her potential, whatever it is, instead of feeling that nothing short of recovery is acceptable. “When you get too focused on ‘getting to perfect,’ you can really hurt your child. A typical kid fights back against that kind of pressure, but a kid with autism might not. It’s fine to hope — it’s good to hope — but don’t concentrate so much on that hope that you don’t see the child in front of you.”

•••••

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Healthy lifestyle may buffer against stress-related cell aging

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/uoc--hlm072414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 29-Jul-2014

Contact: Juliana Bunim
University of California - San Francisco
Healthy lifestyle may buffer against stress-related cell aging, study says
UC San Francisco study suggests healthy diet, sleep and exercise can mitigate negative impacts of stress

A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life's stressors accumulate overtime and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

"The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who didn't maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress," said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. "It's very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss."

•••••

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. Telomeres also get shorter with age.

•••••

"This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells," said Puterman.

In recent years, shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

•••••

Why we should vaccinate boys against HPV as well as girls

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/bmj-wws072514.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 29-Jul-2014

Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Why we should vaccinate boys against HPV as well as girls
Personal view: Vaccinate boys as well as girls against HPV, it works and it may be cost effective

Gillian Prue, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University of Belfast, says that the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is common in men and can lead to genital warts and the development of some head and neck, anal or penile cancers. She says incidence of this has increased in the past two decades with HPV causing 5% of all human cancers.

Since September 2008 a free vaccination has been available for 12-13 year old girls in the UK with a catch up programme for girls up to age 18. Australia, the US, Austria and parts of Canada have introduced a vaccination for both boys and girls.

Dr Prue says HPV related disease in men "is associated with considerable burden" and "vaccinating boys is likely to produce health and economic benefits": a study of 4065 males aged 16-25 found the HPV vaccine to prevent genital warts and penile and anal cancer.

She says that with low uptake in girls the "benefit of vaccinating boys is easily apparent" with a European study showing that vaccination of 12 year old boys being associated with substantial clinical benefits such as reduced incidence of HPV-related genital warts and carcinomas.

•••••


First Grade Reading Suffers in Segregated Schools

http://fpg.unc.edu/news/first-grade-reading-suffers-segregated-schools

07/29/2014

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the students’ backgrounds likely are not the cause of the differences.

According to the Center for Civil Rights, although the United States is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, segregation is still on the rise. To better understand segregation’s impact on student performance, FPG scientists looked at nearly 4000 first graders in public schools nationwide.

•••••

Kainz said that researchers have long faced a difficult problem when investigating the reasons behind differences in reading development or other learning outcomes in segregated settings.

“The economic, social, and academic backgrounds of the students who attend segregated schools could be the cause of differences in achievement—and not aspects of the segregated settings themselves,” said Kainz. The challenge, she explained, is in disentangling one group of potential causes from the other.

In order to separate student characteristics from aspects of segregated public schools, Kainz used a statistical technique called "propensity score matching," which allows for comparison of reading growth in segregated and non-segregated schools, while also accounting for numerous differences in the students’ backgrounds. When the analysis revealed that African American students displayed less growth in reading during first grade in segregated schools than in other public schools, Kainz realized the primary reason was the schools themselves—not the students.

“When similar groups of first graders do better in one type of school than another, then it must be some aspect of the school that accounts for the difference,” Kainz said. “This study goes further than any other in being able to say, ‘It’s not the kids.’”

•••••

Deep-sea octopus broods eggs for over 4 years

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/mbar-dob072214.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
30-Jul-2014

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Contact: Meilina Dalit
mdalit@mbari.org
831-775-1716
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Deep-sea octopus broods eggs for over 4 years -- longer than any known animal



IMAGE: This deep-sea octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica) spent four and one half years brooding her eggs on a ledge near the bottom of Monterey Canyon, about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) below the...
Click here for more information.




Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four and one half years—longer than any other known animal. Throughout this time, the female kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators. This amazing feat represents an evolutionary balancing act between the benefits to the young octopuses of having plenty of time to develop within their eggs, and their mother's ability to survive for years with little or no food.

Every few months for the last 25 years, a team of MBARI researchers led by Bruce Robison has performed surveys of deep-sea animals at a research site in the depths of Monterey Canyon that they call "Midwater 1." In May 2007, during one of these surveys, the researchers discovered a female octopus clinging to a rocky ledge just above the floor of the canyon, about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) below the ocean surface. The octopus, a species known as Graneledone boreopacifica, had not been in this location during their previous dive at this site in April.

Over the next four and one-half years, the researchers dove at this same site 18 times. Each time, they found the same octopus, which they could identify by her distinctive scars, in the same place. As the years passed, her translucent eggs grew larger and the researchers could see young octopuses developing inside. Over the same period, the female gradually lost weight and her skin became loose and pale.

The researchers never saw the female leave her eggs or eat anything. She did not even show interest in small crabs and shrimp that crawled or swam by, as long as they did not bother her eggs.

The last time the researchers saw the brooding octopus was in September 2011. When they returned one month later, they found that the female was gone. As the researchers wrote in a recent paper in the Public Library of Science (PLOS ONE), "the rock face she had occupied held the tattered remnants of empty egg capsules."

After counting the remnants of the egg capsules, the researchers estimated that the female octopus had been brooding about 160 eggs.

Most female octopuses lay only one set of eggs and die about the time that their eggs hatch. The eggs of Graneledone boreopacifica are tear-drop-shaped capsules the size of small olives. As the young develop inside the eggs, they require plenty of oxygen. This means that the female octopus must continuously bathe the eggs in fresh, oxygenated seawater and keep them from being covered with silt or debris. The female must also guard her eggs vigilantly to prevent them from being eaten by predators.

Because the young octopus spend so much time in their eggs, by the time they hatch they are fully capable of surviving on their own and hunting for small prey. In fact, the newborns of G. boreopacifica are larger and better developed than the hatchlings of any other octopus or squid.

In their recent paper, the researchers point out that octopus eggs, like those of other invertebrates, develop more slowly in cold water. The seawater near the ocean floor at the Midwater 1 site is about three degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit), which is typical for the depths of Monterey Canyon.

Given this chilly environment, it's not surprising that octopuses are not the only deep-sea animals to brood their young for long periods of time. One type of mysid (a shrimp relative that is abundant in depths of Monterey Canyon) carries its eggs for 20 months and goes without food the whole time. Like octopus hatchlings, the young of this shrimp also emerge from their eggs as fully developed miniature adults.

Such long brooding times present an evolutionary challenge, especially for animals such as octopus, which do not live very long. As the authors noted in their paper, "The trade-off within the reproductive strategy of deep-living octopods is between the mother's ability to endure a long brooding period and the competitiveness of her hatchlings. Graneledone boreopacifica produces hatchlings that are very highly developed, which gives them the advantage of a high potential for survival."

This research suggests that, in addition to setting records for the longest brooding time of any animal, Graneledone boreopacifica may be one of the longest lived cephalopods (a group that includes octopuses, squids, and their relatives). Most shallow-water octopuses and squids live just a year or two.

"The ultimate fate of a brooding female octopus is inevitably death," the researchers wrote, "but in this first example from the deep sea, brooding also confers an extension of adult life that greatly exceeds most projections of cephalopod longevity."

Although long-term observations of deep-sea animals are rare, the researchers propose that extended brooding periods may be common in the deep sea. Such extended life stages would need to be taken into account in assessing the effects of human activities on deep-sea animals. In any case, this strategy has apparently worked for Graneledone boreopacifica—it is one of the most common deep-sea octopuses in the Northeastern Pacific.

Tree nuts appear to help blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes


http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/smh-tna072414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 30-Jul-2014

Contact: Leslie Shepherd
St. Michael's Hospital
Tree nuts appear to help blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes
Best results seen when tree nuts replaced refined carbohydrates

TORONTO, July 30, 2014—Eating tree nuts appears to help lower and stabilize blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes compared to those on a control diet, a new study has found.

A systematic review meta-analysis of the totality of the evidence from 12 clinical trials in 450 participants found that eating about two servings a day of tree nuts improved the two key markers of blood sugar: the HbA1c test, which measures blood sugar levels over three months, and the fasting glucose test, where patients are not allowed to eat or drink anything but water for eight hours before their blood glucose levels are tested.

The best results were seen when tree nuts replaced refined carbohydrates rather than saturated fats, said Dr. John Sievenpiper, a physician and researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital. The results of his study were published today in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Dr. Sievenpiper said participants in the clinical trials reviewed ate 56 grams of tree nuts a day. One serving of tree nuts is about ¼ cup or 30 grams. He said that people in North America consume on average less than one serving a day, so this is one way they can adapt their diets to take advantage of the metabolic benefits.

Tree nuts are such things as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios. They do not include peanuts, which are legumes.

Dr. Sievenpiper said that while nuts are high in fat, it's healthy unsaturated fat and while they can also be high in calories, participants in the clinical trials did not gain weight. "Tree nuts are another way people can maintain healthy blood sugar levels in the context of a healthy dietary pattern," he said.

Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/nu-bdc072914.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 30-Jul-2014

Contact: Emily Bhatti
Northeastern University
Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

In a paper published online today in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature, Northeastern researchers Evan Kodra and Auroop Ganguly found that while global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variability in temperature extremes. For instance, while each year's average hottest and coldest temperatures will likely rise, those averages will also tend to fall within a wider range of potential high and low temperate extremes than are currently being observed. This means that even as overall temperatures rise, we may still continue to experience extreme cold snaps, said Kodra.

"Just because you have a year that's colder than the usual over the last decade isn't a rejection of the global warming hypothesis," Kodra explained.

With funding from a $10-million multi-university Expeditions in Computing grant, the duo used computational tools from big data science for the first time in order to extract nuanced insights about climate extremes.

•••••

The new results provide important scientific as well as societal implications, Ganguly noted. For one thing, knowing that models project a wider range of extreme temperature behavior will allow sectors like agriculture, public health, and insurance planning to better prepare for the future. For example, Kodra said, "an agriculture insurance company wants to know next year what is the coldest snap we could see and hedge against that. So, if the range gets wider they have a broader array of policies to consider."

Dimly lit working environments : correcting your body clock is possible!

http://presse-inserm.fr/en/dimly-lit-working-environments-correcting-your-body-clock-is-possible/14196/

July 30, 2014

The system that allows our body to regulate a certain number of vital functions over a period of about 24 hours is called the body clock (or circadian rhythm). Located deep within the brain, it consists of 20,000 neurons whose pulsatile activity controls the sleep/wake cycle, body temperature, heart rate, the release of hormones, etc. The cycle determined by the internal clock lasts spontaneously between 23.5 to 24.5 hours, depending on the individual. In order to function correctly, it refers to the signals that it receives from the external world and that it interprets as indicators for the purpose of constantly resynchronising itself every 24 hours.
This is why the intake of food, physical exercise and the external temperature, for example, are said to be ‘time setters’. The most important ‘time setter’, however, is light. After inappropriate exposure to light, your entire body clock is thrown out of order with consequences for cognitive functions, sleep, alertness, memory, cardiovascular functions, etc.


For the first time, scientists have been able to study under real conditions how various types of artificial light influence the way the biological clock behaves in situations where the natural light is insufficient. For nine weeks of the polar winter (no sunlight during the day), the staff of the international polar station Concordia were alternately exposed to a standard white light and a white light enriched with blue wavelengths (a particular kind of fluorescent light that is perceived as white by the visual system). For the purposes of the study, the researchers asked the staff not to change their day-to-day habits, particularly the times they got up and went to bed.

Once a week, samples of saliva were taken in order to measure the rates of melatonin (central hormone) secreted by each of the individuals.


The details of the results show that an increase in sleep, better reactions and more motivation were observed during the ‘blue’ weeks. Moreover, while the circadian rhythm tended to shift during the ‘white’ weeks, no disturbance in rhythm was observed during the ‘blue’ weeks. In addition, the effects did not disappear with the passage of time.

•••••


Telephone support program beneficial for caregivers of those with dementia

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/l-sts073014.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
30-Jul-2014

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Contact: Ellen Slingsby
eslingsby@lifespan.org
401-444-6421
Lifespan
Study: Telephone support program beneficial for caregivers of those with dementia
Helps reduce symptoms of caregiver depression, health issues

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island Hospital researchers have found that a support program administered entirely by telephone can significantly reduce depression and other symptoms in informal caregivers, such as family or friends, of individuals with dementia. The study is published online in advance of print in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia.

"Those caring for people with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia are often under a great deal of pressure," said principal investigator Geoffrey Tremont, Ph.D, of the division of neuropsychology in the department of psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital. "This pressure and stress can lead to depression in the caregiver, or to negative reactions, or even to behavior problems exhibited by the individual with dementia."

He continued, "Many of these caregivers have trouble finding time to take care of themselves, allowing their own physical and mental health issues to fester. By providing these caregivers with the option of a telephone-based support program, we are able to bring the help right to them, rather than requiring the caregivers to take time away from their loved one to attend a support group or other appointment."

A telephone-based support program is also potentially less expensive than in-person treatment options, and often more convenient for caregivers. While previous studies have shown that caregivers benefit from programs such as in-person support/group therapy sessions, this is the first such study to present data supporting a program that is delivered only by telephone.

•••••


Birth weight and breastfeeding have implications for children’s health decades later

https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/27166.aspx

July 30, 2014

Young adults who were breastfed for three months or more as babies have a significantly lower risk of chronic inflammation associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, according to research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

•••••

“These findings underscore the importance of a preventive approach, including but not limited to prenatal health care and postnatal breastfeeding support,” Metzger said. “And we know that insured women receive less prenatal care than insured women.

“So here in Missouri and elsewhere, expanding Medicaid eligibility would be one clear step in the right direction,” Metzger said

Antarctic ice sheet is result of CO2 decrease, not continental breakup

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140730141020.htm

Date: July 30, 2014
Source: University of New Hampshire

Summary:
Climate modelers have shown that the most likely explanation for the initiation of Antarctic glaciation during a major climate shift 34 million years ago was decreased carbon dioxide levels. The finding counters a 40-year-old theory suggesting massive rearrangements of Earth's continents caused global cooling and the abrupt formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. It will provide scientists insight into the climate change implications of current rising global CO2 levels.

House Republicans Fiddle While Forest Service Runs Out Of Money To Fight Wildfires

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/30/3465759/house-forest-service-money-wildfires/

by Claire Moser, Matt Lee-Ashley Posted on July 30, 2014

With multiple fires burning in the West, and the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) wildfire budget expected to run dry in the coming days, House Democrats have launched an all-out effort to force an up-or-down vote on a bipartisan proposal that would provide wildland firefighters the resources they need to do their jobs.

One hundred and ninety-six House Democrats have thus far signed on to what is known as a discharge petition, which would force House Republican leaders to bring the stalled Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014 to a vote.

Instead of debating a measure to provide needed resources for fighting wildfires, however, the House this week is expected to vote on a bill that would waive at least 14 environmental laws within 100 miles of the southern U.S. border, and has already spent time voting on legislation to weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“With rising temperatures and record droughts across the country, we could be headed into one of the worst wildfire seasons in our history,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in launching the discharge petition on July 11. “But with fires raging across the west, the money is running out — and House Republicans can’t be bothered to act.”

•••••

In seven of the past twelve years, the USFS and the Department of the Interior (DOI) have significantly exceeded their wildfire budgets, forcing the agencies to divert funds from other critical programs such as forest restoration and regular thinning practices, intended to reduce the numbers of wildfires.

The pattern appears to be repeating itself: addressing the Western Governors Association in June, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack estimated that “fighting wildfires this year will cost about $1.8 billion” which is “$470 million more than Congress has budgeted.”

The Weird Reasons Why People Make Up False Identities on the Internet



By Charles Seife
July 29, 2014

Sockpuppetry—using false identities for deception—is centuries old, but the advent of the web has made creating sockpuppets, and falling for their tricks, easier than ever before.

We can’t physically meet most of the people we interact with on the internet. So we create avatars who represent us in the online world, personae that are designed—on some level, conscious or subconscious—to shape others’ ideas about who we really are.

•••••

Take Amina Arraf. She was a 35-year-old Syrian American who had become a prominent blogger. Her blog, Gay Girl in Damascus, described life in Syria during the beginning of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad.

•••••

But in the early evening of Monday, June 6, 2011, she was walking to meet a friend in downtown Damascus when three young men wrestled her into a red minivan, which screeched off into the dusk. Arraf’s cousin posted details to Amina’s blog. The outcry was immediate. The Guardian reported the kidnapping, and so did the New York Times, Fox News, Gawker, CNN, and several other news organizations. The International Business Times asked how the United States should respond to the abduction, and “Free Amina” websites and posters began to spring up.

Within a few hours, though, Andy Carvin, an NPR journalist, noted on Twitter that none of the people who had ever interviewed Arraf had met her or even spoken to her over the phone. Once someone began to question Arraf’s identity, the illusion shattered. By the morning of June 8, the Wall Street Journal had discovered that photos purportedly of Arraf were, in fact, snapshots of a woman living in London. Shortly thereafter, a website in communication with Arraf was able to show that her computer was in Scotland. Soon it became clear that Arraf wasn’t a “she” at all. She was the creation of Tom MacMaster, a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh.

Everything about Arraf was completely made up—MacMaster had created Arraf’s Facebook page, her Twitter account, her email address—and had conducted interviews with numerous journalists in her name. Why? It was a matter of authority. MacMaster had some very strong views on Middle Eastern affairs, so he created Amina Arraf to give his ideas credibility.

•••••

Debbie Swenson was after attention when she created a Type 1 sockpuppet, a fictitious teenage girl named Kaycee Nicole, in 1999. In a blog she called Living Colours, Kaycee described in detail the ups and downs of her battle with leukemia, which attracted a great deal of attention and sympathy.

•••••

the truth was that Kaycee simply didn’t exist. Debbie Swenson admitted the next day that Kaycee had been a fabrication.

Stories like Kaycee’s are surprisingly common, to the point that psychiatrists and psychologists have started noticing a pattern—a syndrome that’s now called “virtual factitious disorder” or, more snappily, “Munchausen by internet.” In the syndrome someone creates an online persona who suffers some kind of tragedy and milks the resulting outpouring of sympathy and concern.

•••••

==========================

See also:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/02/books/in-virtual-unreality-charles-seife-unfriends-gullibility.html?_r=0

Monday, July 28, 2014

When it hurts to think we were made for each other.

http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/Connect/MediaCentre/NewsReleases/20140722.aspx

Aristotle said, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” Poetic as it is, thinking that you and your partner were made in heaven for each other can hurt your relationship, says a new study.

Psychologists observe that people talk and think about love in apparently limitless ways but underlying such diversity are some common themes that frame how we think about relationships. For example, one popular frame considers love as perfect unity (“made for each other,” “she’s my other half”); in another frame, love is a journey (“look how far we’ve come,” “we’ve been through all these things together”). These two ways of thinking about relationships are particularly interesting because, according to study authors social psychologists Spike W. S. Lee of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Southern California, they have the power to highlight or downplay the damaging effect of conflicts on relationship evaluation. Here’s why. If two people were really made in heaven for each other, why should they have any conflicts?

“Our findings corroborate prior research showing that people who implicitly think of relationships as perfect unity between soulmates have worse relationships than people who implicitly think of relationships as a journey of growing and working things out,” says Prof. Lee. “Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love relationship lead to different ways of evaluating it.”

•••••

Next time you and your partner have a conflict, as Profs. Lee and Schwarz would advise, think what you said at the altar, “I, ____, take you, ____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward ‘till death do us part.” It’s a journey. You’ll feel better now, and you’ll do better down the road.

•••••

Background TV can be bad for kids

http://now.uiowa.edu/2014/06/background-tv-can-be-bad-kids

By: Heather Spangler
July 21, 2014

Parents, turn off the television when your children are with you. And when you do let them watch, make sure the programs stimulate their interest in learning.

That's the advice arising from University of Iowa researchers who examined the impact of television and parenting on children’s social and emotional development. The researchers found that background television—when the TV is on in a room where a child is doing something other than watching—can divert a child’s attention from play and learning. It also found that noneducational programs can negatively affect children’s cognitive development.

•••••


Losing Your Job Could Kill You, But Recessions Could Be Good For Your Health

http://www.drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/July/Unemployment-Study/

July 24, 2014

Being unemployed increases your risk of death, but recessions decrease it. Sound paradoxical? Researchers thought so too.

While previous studies of individuals have shown that employees who lose their jobs have a higher mortality rate, more comprehensive studies have shown, unexpectedly, that population mortality actually declines as unemployment rates increase. The research community has often rejected one of these effects because it conflicted with the other, so researchers from Drexel University and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor set out to better understand these seemingly contradictory findings.
- See more at: http://www.drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/July/Unemployment-Study/#sthash.O3aagRjP.dpuf

•••••

The findings reveal that job loss is associated with a 73 percent increase in the probability of death – the equivalent of adding 10 years to a person’s age. However, this increased risk affects only the minority of people who are unemployed and is outweighed by health-promoting effects of an economic slowdown that affect the entire population, such as a drop in traffic fatalities and reduced atmospheric pollution. The researchers found that each percentage-point increase in the individual’s state unemployment rate reduces the hazard of death by approximately 9 percent, which is about the equivalent of making a person one year younger.

“Most people believe that being unemployed is a bad thing,” said lead author José Tapia, PhD, an economist and population health researcher in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “But what many people don’t realize is that economic expansions – which usually reduce joblessness – also have effects that are harmful for society at large.”

•••••

"The increase in the risk of death associated with being unemployed is very strong," said Tapia, "but it is restricted to unemployed persons, who generally are a small fraction of the population, even in a severe recession. Compared with the increase in the risk of death among the unemployed, the decrease of the mortality risk associated with a weakening economy is small, but the benefit spreads across the entire adult population. The compound result of both effects is that total mortality rises in expansions and falls in recessions."

•••••

“Other potential causes for the decrease of mortality risk during recessions could be changes in levels of stress and risk of injury in the working environment,” said Tapia. “During economic expansions, work is done at a faster pace, more employees are commuting, workers have less average sleep, and so on – all of which can be linked to higher risk of heart attacks, vehicle crashes, industrial injuries and enhanced circulation of germs. All of this reverses in recessions.” - See more at: http://www.drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2014/July/Unemployment-Study/#sthash.O3aagRjP.dpuf

'Experiential products' provide same happiness boost as experiences

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/sfsu-pp072414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Jul-2014

Contact: Jonathan Morales
San Francisco State University
'Experiential products' provide same happiness boost as experiences, study finds
SF State research shows purchasing items such as books, video games fulfills need for competence

SAN FRANCISCO, July 24, 2014 -- Material items designed to create or enhance an experience, also known as "experiential products," can make shoppers just as happy as life experiences, according to new research from San Francisco State University.

Researchers found such products satisfy a different, but equally powerful, psychological need than experiential purchases. While life experiences help consumers feel closer to others, experiential products such as books, sporting goods, video games or musical instruments allow them to utilize and develop new skills and knowledge, resulting in similar levels of happiness.

•••••

Years of research consistently have shown that purchasing life experiences, such as tickets to a play or a vacation, will make shoppers happier than material products such as clothes, jewelry or accessories. But by focusing on those two extremes, Howell said, psychologists have ignored the middle of the buying spectrum, leaving out a large number of items that are tangible but are nevertheless designed to engage users in some way.

•••••

He and lead author Darwin Guevarra, then a student at SF State, asked consumers about a recent purchase and how happy that purchase made them. Expecting that material items would provide the smallest happiness boost and life experiences the largest, with experiential products falling in the middle, they were surprised to find that experiential products actually provided the same level of happiness as experiences.

To learn why, they next looked at whether the purchases satisfied any of three key psychological needs: identity expression (the purchase reflects the consumer's true values); competence (the purchase allows the consumer to utilize skills and knowledge); and relatedness (the purchase brings the consumer closer to others). The results showed that, while experiential products and life experiences offered similar levels of identity expression, the former were best at providing competence and the latter best at providing relatedness.

"They are essentially two different routes to the same well-being," Howell said. "If you're not feeling very competent, the best way to alleviate that deprivation would be through the use of experiential products. On the other hand, if you're feeling lonely, you should buy life experiences and do things with others." The ideal products for happiness, he added, may be those that simultaneously satisfy both needs, such as a board game you play with others or going to the museum with friends.

Because increased happiness is linked to a variety of individual and societal benefits, including better health and longer life, Howell hopes to develop intervention methods that can help researchers steer individuals who have materialistic buying tendencies toward instead purchasing life experiences or experiential products. He also invites people to learn more about how their spending habits are affecting their happiness and contribute to further research by visiting his website, BeyondThePurchase.org.

New study draws links between wildlife loss and social conflicts

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/wcs-nsd072414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 24-Jul-2014

Contact: Scott Smith
Wildlife Conservation Society
New study draws links between wildlife loss and social conflicts
Authors say wildlife loss leads to exploitative labor practices, violence, and organized crime

Citing many sobering examples of how wildlife loss leads to conflict among people around the world, a new article co-authored by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages (HEAL) Program Director Dr. Christopher Golden, calls for an interdisciplinary approach to tackle global biodiversity decline.

The harvest of wild animals directly supports about 15% of the world's people and provides protein for more than a billion of the world's poor. It should come as no surprise that today's unprecedented loss of wildlife, is bringing with it severe repercussions in terms of conflict and human tragedy around the world.

The article, led by Justin Brashares of UC Berkeley and involving a team of sociologists and ecologists, offers three examples in which declines can be linked to conflict;

1) Altered economic structure leading to exploitative labor practices. Wildlife declines can bring about a need for more labor to collect scarcer resources. The authors discuss examples of trafficking of children and adults to undertake forced labor under abusive, and sometimes deadly, circumstances.

2) The rise of profiteering groups that use violence to control wildlife resources. Guerilla groups and militarized crime syndicates are drawn to huge profits gained through the trafficking of illicit wildlife items. Terrorist groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army and Janjaweed are poaching ivory tusks from elephants and rhino horn to fund their activities.

3) Vigilante resource management that escalates into conflict. In circumstances where government lacks the will or capacity to protect declining wildlife resources, vigilante movements may arise. Such was the case when Somalis set out to defend their exclusive fishing rights. Ultimately, these movements evolved into more violent forms and gave way to today's pirate activity.

"Unsustainable human exploitation of wildlife populations does not have singular effects on ecological integritry, but rather has far-reaching consequences that lead to the instability of our health, livelihoods and national security," said Chris Golden.

•••••


Parched West is using up underground water

http://news.uci.edu/press-releases/parched-west-is-using-up-underground-water-uci-nasa-find/

Irvine, Calif., July 24, 2014 — A new study by University of California, Irvine and NASA scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

The research team used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface. Monthly measurements in the change in water mass from December 2004 to November 2013 revealed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater, almost double the volume of the nation’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total – about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic kilometers) – was from groundwater.

“We don’t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don’t know when we’re going to run out,” said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at UC Irvine and the study’s lead author. “This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”

•••••

The Colorado River is the only major river in the southwest part of the United States. Its basin supplies water to about 40 million people in seven states, as well as irrigating roughly four million acres of farmland.

•••••

Famiglietti noted that the rapid depletion rate will compound the problem of short supply by leading to further declines in streamflow in the Colorado River.

“Combined with declining snowpack and population growth, this will likely threaten the long-term ability of the basin to meet its water allocation commitments to the seven basin states and to Mexico,” Famiglietti said.

•••••

Experiences at every stage of life contribute to cognitive abilities in old age

http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/9136

July 24, 2014

Early life experiences, such as childhood socioeconomic status and literacy, may have greater influence on the risk of cognitive impairment late in life than such demographic characteristics as race and ethnicity, a large study by researchers with the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the University of Victoria, Canada, has found.

“Declining cognitive function in older adults is a major personal and public health concern,” said Bruce Reed professor of neurology and associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

“But not all people lose cognitive function, and understanding the remarkable variability in cognitive trajectories as people age is of critical importance for prevention, treatment and planning to promote successful cognitive aging and minimize problems associated with cognitive decline.”

•••••

Consistent with previous research, the study found that non-Latino Caucasians scored 20 to 25 percent higher on tests of semantic memory (general knowledge) and 13 to 15 percent higher on tests of executive functioning compared to the other ethnic groups. However, ethnic differences in executive functioning disappeared and differences in semantic memory were reduced by 20 to 30 percent when group differences in childhood socioeconomic status, adult literacy and extent of physical activity during adulthood were considered.

“This study is unusual in that it examines how many different life experiences affect cognitive decline in late life,” said Dan Mungas, professor of neurology and associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

“It shows that variables like ethnicity and years of education that influence cognitive test scores in a single evaluation are not associated with rate of cognitive decline, but that specific life experiences like level of reading attainment and intellectually stimulating activities are predictive of the rate of late-life cognitive decline. This suggests that intellectual stimulation throughout the life span can reduce cognitive decline in old age.

Regardless of ethnicity, advanced age and apolipoprotein-E (APOE genotype) were associated with increased cognitive decline over an average of four years that participants were followed. APOE is the largest known genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's. Less decline was experienced by persons who reported more engagement in recreational activities in late life and who maintained their levels of activity engagement from middle age to old age. Single-word reading — the ability to decode a word on sight, which often is considered an indication of quality of educational experience — was also associated with less cognitive decline, a finding that was true for both English and Spanish readers, irrespective of their race or ethnicity. These findings suggest that early life experiences affect late-life cognition indirectly, through literacy and late-life recreational pursuits, the authors said.

•••••

Total darkness at night is key to success of breast cancer therapy -- Tulane study

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/tu-tda072214.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 25-Jul-2014

Contact: Arthur Nead
Tulane University
Total darkness at night is key to success of breast cancer therapy -- Tulane study

Exposure to light at night, which shuts off nighttime production of the hormone melatonin, renders breast cancer completely resistant to tamoxifen, a widely used breast cancer drug, says a new study by Tulane University School of Medicine cancer researchers. The study, "Circadian and Melatonin Disruption by Exposure to Light at Night Drives Intrinsic Resistance to Tamoxifen Therapy in Breast Cancer," published in the journal Cancer Research, is the first to show that melatonin is vital to the success of tamoxifen in treating breast cancer.

•••••

"In the first phase of the study, we kept animals in a daily light/dark cycle of 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of total darkness (melatonin is elevated during the dark phase) for several weeks," says Hill. "In the second study, we exposed them to the same daily light/dark cycle; however, during the 12 hour dark phase, animals were exposed to extremely dim light at night (melatonin levels are suppressed), roughly equivalent to faint light coming under a door."

Melatonin by itself delayed the formation of tumors and significantly slowed their growth but tamoxifen caused a dramatic regression of tumors in animals with either high nighttime levels of melatonin during complete darkness or those receiving melatonin supplementation during dim light at night exposure.

These findings have potentially enormous implications for women being treated with tamoxifen and also regularly exposed to light at night due to sleep problems, working night shifts or exposed to light from computer and TV screens.

"High melatonin levels at night put breast cancer cells to 'sleep' by turning off key growth mechanisms. These cells are vulnerable to tamoxifen. But when the lights are on and melatonin is suppressed, breast cancer cells 'wake up' and ignore tamoxifen," Blask says.

The study could make light at night a new and serious risk factor for developing resistance to tamoxifen and other anticancer drugs and make the use of melatonin in combination with tamoxifen, administered at the optimal time of day or night, standard treatment for breast cancer patients.

First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems

http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/news/release/trees-save-lives-reduce-air-pollution

July 25, 2014 - In the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms.

While trees’ pollution removal equated to an average air quality improvement of less than 1 percent, the impacts of that improvement are substantial. Researchers valued the human health effects of the reduced air pollution at nearly $7 billion every year in a study published recently in the journal Environmental Pollution. “Tree and Forest Effects on Air Quality and Human Health in the United States,” is available online at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/46102

The study by Dave Nowak and Eric Greenfield of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and Satoshi Hirabayashi and Allison Bodine of the Davey Institute is unique in that it directly links the removal of air pollution with improved human health effects and associated health values. The scientists found that pollution removal is substantially higher in rural areas than urban areas, however the effects on human health are substantially greater in urban areas than rural areas.

•••••


Study: Climate change and air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/miot-scc072414.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 27-Jul-2014

Contact: Kimberly Allen
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Study: Climate change and air pollution will combine to curb food supplies
Ozone and higher temperatures can combine to reduce crop yields, but effects will vary by region

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution — specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops.

A new study involving researchers at MIT shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

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While heat and ozone can each damage plants independently, the factors also interact. For example, warmer temperatures significantly increase production of ozone from the reactions, in sunlight, of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. Because of these interactions, the team found that 46 percent of damage to soybean crops that had previously been attributed to heat is actually caused by increased ozone.

Under some scenarios, the researchers found that pollution-control measures could make a major dent in the expected crop reductions following climate change. For example, while global food production was projected to fall by 15 percent under one scenario, larger emissions decreases projected in an alternate scenario reduce that drop to 9 percent.

Air pollution is even more decisive in shaping undernourishment in the developing world, the researchers found: Under the more pessimistic air-quality scenario, rates of malnourishment might increase from 18 to 27 percent by 2050 — about a 50 percent jump; under the more optimistic scenario, the rate would still increase, but that increase would almost be cut in half, they found.

Study shows new link between obesity in the young and the lowering of age of puberty

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/uop-ssn072714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 27-Jul-2014
Contact: Andrew Gould
University of Plymouth
Study shows new link between obesity in the young and the lowering of age of puberty

A new link has been identified between obesity in childhood and the lowering of the age of puberty.

The research which discovered the link, carried out at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The study focuses on a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), the regulation and role of which in children are poorly defined. SHBG binds to the sex hormones androgen and oestrogen. SHGB levels are initially high in childhood but decline significantly before puberty, in essence 'allowing' puberty to happen.

The research team analysed data from the EarlyBird longitudinal measurement of 347 schoolchildren in Plymouth, UK, aged five to 15 years.

The findings of this study showed that a child who is heavier at age five tends to have lower levels of SHBG throughout childhood and reaches puberty sooner. The tendency was more striking in girls than in boys.

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Gender inequalities in health: A matter of policies

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/sp-gii072814.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 28-Jul-2014
Contact: Esther Marin
SOPHIE project
Gender inequalities in health: A matter of policies

A new study of the European project SOPHIE has evaluated the relationship between the type of family policies and gender inequalities in health in Europe. The results show that countries with traditional family policies (central and southern Europe) and countries with contradictory policies (Eastern Europe), present higher inequalities in self-perceived health, i.e. women reported poorer health than men. Health inequalities are especially remarkable in Southern Europe countries, where women present a 27% higher risk of having poor health compared to men.

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The results obtained show that there exist gender inequalities in health in countries with Traditional and Contradictory family policies, less oriented to gender equality and assuming that women are mostly responsible of domestic work and family care. Women have a 27% higher probability of having poor health in Traditional Southern countries, 13% in Traditional Central countries and 8% in Contradictory countries. On the opposite situation we can find the Dual-earner and the Market-oriented countries, where the difference in "poor health" drops off to a non-significant 5 and 4%, respectively.

According to the lead author of the study, Laia Palència: "The Southern European countries have developed a family solidarity model where women have a main role as family caregivers and a secondary role in the labour market, while services provision and financial governmental support are limited." At the opposite end are the Nordic countries, "where- Palència said -there is a higher State involvement in the care of children, the elderly and dependents through public services, which means that women have less family burden and a higher work engagement."

"The implementation of policies that promote equality between women and men, including family care policies, the promotion of access to the labour market or political representation by women, may have an effect in reducing gender inequalities in health," the research team noted.

Previous studies have shown that health depends mainly on the living and working conditions. It has also been widely reported that women tend to have poorer self-perceived health, despite having a longer life expectancy.

Motivation May Explain Disconnect Between Cognitive Testing and Real-Life Functioning for Older Adults

Based on my own experience, I would say that part of this is due to experience. When we have experience on a job and in life, we can learn what tends to work, and what to prioritize.

http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/hess-engagement-2014/

Matt Shipman
Dr. Tom Hess
Release Date: 07.28.14

A psychology researcher at North Carolina State University is proposing a new theory to explain why older adults show declining cognitive ability with age, but don’t necessarily show declines in the workplace or daily life. One key appears to be how motivated older adults are to maintain focus on cognitive tasks.

“My research team and I wanted to explain the difference we see in cognitive performance in different settings,” says Dr. Tom Hess, a professor of psychology at NC State and author of a paper describing the theory. “For example, laboratory tests almost universally show that cognitive ability declines with age, so you would expect older adults to perform worse in situations that rely on such abilities, such as job performance – but you don’t. Why is that? That’s what this theoretical framework attempts to address.”

Hess has been developing this framework, called “selective engagement,” over the past 10 years, based on years of work on the psychology of aging.

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“There’s a body of work in psychology research indicating that performing complex mental tasks is more taxing for older adults,” Hess says. “This means older adults have to work harder to perform these tasks. In addition, it takes older adults longer to recover from this sort of exertion. As a result, I argue that older adults have to make decisions about how to prioritize their efforts.”

This is where selective engagement comes in. The idea behind the theory is that older adults are more likely to fully commit their mental resources to a task if they can identify with the task or consider it personally meaningful. This would explain the disparity between cognitive performance in experimental settings and cognitive functioning in the real world.

“This first occurred to me when my research team saw that cognitive performance seemed to be influenced by how we framed the tasks in our experiments,” Hess says. “Tasks that people found personally relevant garnered higher levels of cognitive performance than more abstract tasks.”

Hess next hopes to explore the extent to which selective engagement is reflected in the daily life of older adults and the types of activities they choose to engage in.

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Preschoolers With Special Needs Benefit From Peers’ Strong Language Skills

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/preschoolers-with-special-needs-benefit-from-peers-strong-language-skills.html?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_medium=eureka&utm_campaign=peereffectslanguage

July 28, 2014

The guiding philosophy for educating children with disabilities has been to integrate them as much as possible into a normal classroom environment, with the hope that peers’ skills will help bring them up to speed. A new study provides empirical evidence that peers really can have an impact on a child’s language abilities, for better or worse.

While peers with strong language skills can help boost their classmates’ abilities, being surrounded by peers with weak skills may hinder kids’ language development.

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The researchers found that preschoolers with special needs were more influenced by their peers’ language skills than were children without disabilities. Children with disabilities whose classmates had weak language skills showed the strongest effects – by spring, their language skills lagged far behind those of typically developing children.

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The researchers believe that when kids play together and interact in the classroom, they naturally imitate each other’s behaviors, which in turn helps them to develop language skills such as “taking turns in conversation, communicating their needs and wants, and producing narratives.”

“If peer effects operate as our work suggests they do, it is very important to consider how to organize children in classrooms so that their opportunities to learn from one another is maximized – and so that young children with disabilities are not segregated into classroom serving only those with special needs,” says Justice.

Justice and colleagues conclude that regardless of disability, classrooms in which most children have poor language skills are not ideal. They suggest that since typically developing kids continue to improve their language skills even when they have some less-skilled classmates, administrators should aim for a diversity of skill level in the classroom.

Co-authors on the study include Jessica A. R. Logan and Tzu-Jung Lin of The Ohio State University and Joan N. Kaderavek of the University of Toledo.

Green spaces found to increase birth weight

More green space means less pollution from traffic, and pollution from traffic has been shown to be harmful to health.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/aabu-gsf072814.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 28-Jul-2014
Contact: Andrew Lavin
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Green spaces found to increase birth weight -- Ben-Gurion U. researcher

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, July 28, 2014...Mothers who live near green spaces deliver babies with significantly higher birth weights, according to a new study, "Green Spaces and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes" published in the journal, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

A team of researchers from Israel and Spain, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), evaluated nearly 40,000 single live births from a registry birth cohort in Tel Aviv, Israel to determine the impact of green surroundings during pregnancy and birth outcomes.

"We found that that overall, an increase of surrounding greenery near the home was associated with a significant increase of birth weight and decreased risk for low birth weight," says Prof. Michael Friger, of BGU's Department of Public Health. "This was the first study outside of the United States and Europe demonstrating associations between greenery and birth weight, as well as the first to report the association with low birth weight."

An analysis of neighborhood socioeconomics also revealed that the lowest birth weight occurred in the most economically deprived areas with lack of access to green spaces. Green spaces -- parks, community gardens or even cemeteries -- were defined as land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation.

"The application of remote sensing data on surrounding green areas enabled our study to take small-scale green spaces (eg, street trees and green verges) into account, while the OpenStreetMap data determined the major green spaces," Friger explains.

Five myths about the gender pay gap

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2014/07/five-myths-about-the-gender-pay-gap.html



Here are the myths described by Vivien Labaton:

1. The pay gap is closing rapidly. ...

2. Women earn less because they work in industries that pay less. ...

3. Women earn less because they don’t negotiate well. ...

4. Women earn less because mothers choose to work less. ...

5. To close the pay gap, we should focus on deterring discrimination. ...

Details here.


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Are the Rich Coldhearted?

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2014/07/are-the-rich-coldhearted.html



Why are so many of the rich and powerful so callous and indifferent to the struggles of those who aren't so fortunate?:

Are the Rich Coldhearted?, by Michael Inzlicht and Sukhvinder Obhi, NY Times: ... Can people in high positions of power — presidents, bosses, celebrities, even dominant spouses — easily empathize with those beneath them?

Psychological research suggests the answer is no. ...

Why does power leave people seemingly coldhearted? Some, like the Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske, have suggested that powerful people don’t attend well to others around them because they don’t need them in order to access important resources; as powerful people, they already have plentiful access to those.

We suggest a different, albeit complementary, reason from cognitive neuroscience. On the basis of a study we recently published with the researcher Jeremy Hogeveen, in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, we contend that when people experience power, their brains fundamentally change how sensitive they are to the actions of others. ...

Does this mean that the powerful are heartless beings incapable of empathy? Hardly..., the bad news is that the powerful are, by default and at a neurological level, simply not motivated to care. But the good news is that they are, in theory, redeemable.

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‘Nuisance flooding’ an increasing problem as coastal sea levels rise

They refer to "all three U.S. coasts", so I guess they consider coasts bordering the Gulf of Mexico separately from the Atlantic Ocean.

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2014/20140728_nuisanceflooding.html

July 28, 2014

Eight of the top 10 U.S. cities that have seen an increase in so-called “nuisance flooding”--which causes such public inconveniences as frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains and compromised infrastructure--are on the East Coast, according to a new NOAA technical report.

This nuisance flooding, caused by rising sea levels, has increased on all three U.S. coasts, between 300 and 925 percent since the 1960s.

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“As relative sea level increases, it no longer takes a strong storm or a hurricane to cause flooding,” said William Sweet, Ph.D., oceanographer at NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) and the report’s lead author. “Flooding now occurs with high tides in many locations due to climate-related sea level rise, land subsidence and the loss of natural barriers. The effects of rising sea levels along most of the continental U.S. coastline are only going to become more noticeable and much more severe in the coming decades, probably more so than any other climate-change related factor.”

The study was conducted by scientists at CO-OPS, who looked at data from 45 NOAA water level gauges with long data records around the country and compared that to reports of number of days of nuisance floods.

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People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/28/334447274/people-who-feel-they-have-a-purpose-in-life-live-longer?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20140728

by Patti Neighmond
July 28, 2014

We know that happiness and social connection can have positive benefits on health. Now research suggests that having a sense of purpose or direction in life may also be beneficial.

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They found that 14 years after those questions were asked, people who had reported a greater sense of purpose and direction in life were more likely to .

In fact, people with a sense of purpose had a 15 percent lower risk of death,compared with those who said they were more or less aimless. And it didn't seem to matter when people found their direction. It could be in their 20s, 50s or 70s.

Hill's analysis controlled for other factors known to affect longevity, things like age, gender and emotional well-being. A sense of purpose trumped all that.

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Of course, purpose means different things to different people. Hill says it could be as simple as making sure one's family is happy. It could be bigger, like contributing to social change. It could be more self-focused, like doing well on the job. Or it could be about creativity.

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It's not exactly clear how purpose might benefit health. Purposeful individuals may simply lead healthier lives, says Hill, but it also could be that a sense of purpose protects against the harmful effects of stress.

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More research is needed, but Burrow says his findings suggest that having "a sense of purpose may protect people against stress," with all of its harmful effects, including greater risk of heart disease. And that may explain why people with a sense of purpose live longer.

Ignoring Climate Change Could Sink the U.S. Economy

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2014/07/ignoring-climate-change-could-sink-the-us-economy.html

How ignoring climate change could sink the U.S. economy, by Robert E. Rubin: ...When it comes to the economy, much of the debate about climate change ... is framed as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic prosperity. Many people argue that moving away from fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions will impede economic growth, hurt business and hamper job creation.

But from an economic perspective, that’s precisely the wrong way to look at it. The real question should be: What is the cost of inaction? In my view — and in the view of a growing group of business people, economists, and other financial and market experts — the cost of inaction over the long term is far greater than the cost of action.

I recently participated in a bipartisan effort to measure the economic risks of unchecked climate change in the United States. We commissioned an independent analysis, led by a highly respected group of economists and climate scientists, and our inaugural report, “Risky Business,” was released in June. The report’s conclusions demonstrated the ... U.S. economy faces enormous risks from unmitigated climate change. ...

We do not face a choice between protecting our environment or protecting our economy. We face a choice between protecting our economy by protecting our environment — or allowing environmental havoc to create economic havoc. ...

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