Tuesday, September 02, 2014

25 Years of Declining State Support for Public Colleges

The older generations are trashing the environment younger generations will have to live in, and also making it harder for them to have a decent economic life.

http://chronicle.com/article/25-Years-of-Declining-State/144973/

You can look up how the Share of revenue coming from state support for a college has changed between 1987 and 2012. You can do a search for the college of you choice.

Eg., for University of Alabama at Huntsville
1987 : 43.9%
2012 : 24.7%

•••••

http://www.demos.org/publication/great-cost-shift-continues-state-higher-education-funding-after-recession

The Great Cost Shift Continues: State Higher Education Funding After the Recession

March 6, 2014
|
Robert Hiltonsmith,
Tamara Draut

As student debt continues to climb, it’s important to understand how our once debt-free system of public universities and colleges has been transformed into a system in which most students borrow, and at increasingly higher amounts. In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system—more than seven out of 10 college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400.1 Up until about two decades ago, state funding ensured college tuition remained within reach for most middle-class families, and financial aid provided extra support to ensure lower-income students could afford the costs of college.

As Demos chronicled in its first report in the The Great Cost Shift series, this compact began to unravel as states disinvested in higher education during economic downturns but were unable, or unwilling, to restore funding levels during times of economic expansion. Today, as a result, public colleges and universities rely on tuition to fund an ever-increasing share of their operating expenses. And students and their families rely more and more on debt to meet those rising tuition costs. Nationally, revenue from tuition paid for 44 percent of all operating expenses of public colleges and universities in 2012, the highest share ever. A quarter century ago, the share was just 20 percent. This shift—from a collective funding of higher education to one borne increasingly by individuals—has come at the very same time that low- and middle-income households experienced stagnant or declining household income.

The Great Recession intensified these trends, leading to unprecedented declines in state funding for higher education and steep tuition increases:

•••••

Average tuition at 4-year public schools now consumes more than 15 percent of the median household income in 26 states. Average total cost—including room and board—consumes more than one third of the median household income in 22 states.

•••••

With $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt and climbing, student loan debt is now substantial enough to affect our overall economy as indebted graduates find it harder to buy a home or a car.

•••••

Every state but one—North Dakota—has cut per-student funding since the Great Recession in order to help close wide budget gaps. Nationwide, these cuts have averaged $2,394 per student, or 27 percent.

•••••

Wall Street's internet darlings require an endless supply of victims

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Print/2014/08/23/internet_economy_needs_infinite_supply_of_idiots/

Sharing Economy? Mug Economy, more like
By Andrew Orlowski
Posted in Weekend Edition, 23rd August 2014 12:33 GMT

Last week Samsung announced the acquisition of a crowd-funded startup called SmartThings for $200m. USA Today wrote that the deal “has also once again validated the power of crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter, which helped bring SmartThings to market back in 2012. The startup originally sought $250,000 in funding to produce its smart hub, eventually raising more than $1.2 million from individual backers.”

SmartThing’s individual backers, who in conventional language are called “investors”, received nothing from the windfall. Nor did Kickstarter backers of the brilliant Oculus Rift VR headset, after Facebook acquired the team for $2bn. WiReD magazine glossed over this, mentioning “people who had ponied up to support the original Kickstarter campaign, only to see their investments made irrelevant by a deep-pocketed corporation.”

“Irrelevant” is beside the point. The conventional investment logic is that risk is rewarded when success arrives. Most startups fail, while a handful accrue enormous value. Yet Kickstarter investors receive no such reward: although they backed "the next big thing" in SmartThings and Oculus, they don't get the payout.

Here’s another example. Cabaret performer and former living statue (and Mrs Neil Gaiman) Amanda Palmer bypassed the music industry to fund an album and a tour, again using the pan-handling site Kickstarter. She was lauded on tech blogs and beyond for pioneering a new economy of music production. Having raised $1.2m on Kickstarter, however, Palmer decided she could only pay her tour musicians in “hugs” After unfavourable press coverage, Palmer was shamed into grudgingly remunerating them with a currency a little more convertible in the real world. Did her Kickstarter "investors" revolt? No, and they couldn’t; it took hugely unfavourable press coverage to change Palmer's mind.

Last week the New York Times reported how the euphemistically named "sharing economy" – which encompasses piecemeal labour - is creating its own "precariat". The freelance workers who provide the drivers for Uber or the accommodation for AirBnB pay a hefty chunk to the new intermediaries, must accept ever changing rates, and further accept that they’ll not see a penny of the payouts when value is accrued – when the company floats or is acquired. It’s a strange sort of "sharing".

•••••

In short, you’ve been a mug.

And this seems to be the common thread. Strip away the language of "sharing" and "community" and you’ve got an economy that requires an endless supply of mug punters.

•••••

Study links polar vortex chills to melting sea ice

http://phys.org/news/2014-09-links-polar-vortex-chills-sea.html

by Seth Borenstein
Sept. 2, 2014

A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of cold air as the world gets warmer.

Researchers say that's because of shrinking ice in the seas off Russia. Less ice would let more energy go from the ocean into the air, and that would weaken the atmospheric forces that usually keep cold air trapped in the Arctic.

But at times it escapes and wanders south, bringing with it a bit of Arctic super chill.

That can happen for several reasons, and the new study suggests that one of them occurs when ice in northern seas shrinks, leaving more water uncovered.

Normally, sea ice keeps heat energy from escaping the ocean and entering the atmosphere. When there's less ice, more energy gets into the atmosphere and weakens the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that usually keeps Arctic air from wandering south, said study co-author Jin-Ho Yoon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. So the cold air escapes instead.

That happened relatively infrequently in the 1990s, but since 2000 it has happened nearly every year, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. A team of scientists from South Korea and United States found that many such cold outbreaks happened a few months after unusually low sea ice levels in the Barents and Kara seas, off Russia.

The study observed historical data and then conducted computer simulations. Both approaches showed the same strong link between shrinking sea ice and cold outbreaks, according to lead author Baek-Min Kim, a research scientist at the Korea Polar Research Institute. A large portion of sea ice melting is driven by man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, Kim wrote in an email.

•••••

Judge overturns murder-rape convictions for 2 who served 30 years

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/judge-overturns-murder-rape-convictions-for-2-who-served-30-years/

September 2, 2014,

LUMBERTON, N.C. - A North Carolina judge overturned the convictions Tuesday of two men who have served 30 years in prison for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl after another man's DNA was recently discovered on evidence in the case.

Superior Court Judge Douglass Sasser ordered the immediate release of Henry McCollum, 50, and Leon Brown, 46. The half brothers were convicted in the 1983 slaying of Sabrina Buie in Robeson County.

Lawyers for the men petitioned for their release after DNA evidence from a cigarette butt recovered at the crime scene pointed to another man. That man, who lived close to the soybean field where the dead girl's body was found, is already serving a life sentence for a similar rape and murder that happened less than a month later.

•••••

Authorities said McCollum, who was 19 at the time, and Brown, who was 15, confessed to killing Buie.

Attorneys said both men have low IQs and their confessions were coerced after hours of questioning. There is no physical evidence connecting them to the crime.

Both were initially given death sentences, which were overturned. At a second trial, McCollum was again sent to death row, where he remains, while Brown was convicted of rape and sentenced to life.

The DNA from the cigarette butts doesn't match either of them, and fingerprints taken from a beer can at the scene aren't theirs either. The other man now suspected in Buie's killing was convicted of assaulting three other women over 30 years before his last conviction.

Home Depot Probing 'Unusual Activity' After Reports of Data Breach

Target found their data breach early, and reported it. Their reward was to be criticized and lose business.

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/home-depot-probing-unusual-activity-after-reports-data-breach-n193951

Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites. Home Depot is working with investigators to flesh out the origin of "unusual activity," a spokeswoman told CNBC in a statement.

•••••

Krebs reported that the breach bore hallmarks of the same groups that have hit Target and P.F. Chang's, among other vendors. Krebs says the breach may be extended across all of Home Depot's U.S. stores.

•••••

Poverty Blamed for Return of Rickets and Gout to Britain

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/poverty-blamed-return-rickets-gout-britain-n193801

Sept. 2, 2014

A "toxic combination" of poor wage growth and higher food prices has led to the return of Victorian-era diseases like rickets and gout to Britain.The Faculty of Public Health (FPH), which represents doctors and health workers, links food poverty with the rise in those diseases. "It's getting worse because people can't afford good quality food," the FPH's John Middleton told the Observer newspaper. "Malnutrition, rickets and other manifestations of extreme poor diet are becoming apparent. (Doctors) are reporting rickets anecdotally in Manchester, the East End of London, Birmingham and the West Midlands. It is a condition we believed should have died out." Poverty in Britain has become a hot political topic since the global financial crisis. Wages have been consistently below the rate of inflation since 2008 there has been a rise in food banks. Rickets is caused by lack of vitamin D and calcium and affects bone development in children.


•••••

Stamford CEO Accused of Abusing Dog Resigns

http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Stamford-CEO-Accused-of-Abusing-Dog-Resigns-273560441.html

Sep 2, 2014

The CEO of Stamford-based catering company Centerplate has resigned after he was caught on surveillance video abusing a Doberman puppy in an elevator.

Canadian television network Global News obtained the video, which shows Desmond Hague, who was staying at a hotel in Vancouver, kicking the dog, then snapping its leash.

At one point, the video shoes him jerking so hard that he lifts the puppy off the ground by its neck. Then he leaves the elevator, dragging the dog behind him.

Hague has resigned from Centerplate, according to a statement from the company on Tuesday.

•••••

Monday, September 01, 2014

Waffle House Blues

http://www.reverbnation.com/patriciashannon/song/16645906-waffle-house-blues

Why plants in the office make us more productive

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/uoe-wpi082914.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 31-Aug-2014

Contact: Eleanor Gaskarth
University of Exeter
Why plants in the office make us more productive

'Green' offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than 'lean' designs stripped of greenery, new research shows.

In the first field study of its kind, published today, researchers found enriching a 'lean' office with plants could increase productivity by 15%.

The team examined the impact of 'lean' and 'green' offices on staff's perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction, and monitored productivity levels over subsequent months in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands.

Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University's School of Psychology, said: "Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers' quality of life and productivity.

"Although previous laboratory research pointed in this direction, our research is, to our knowledge, the first to examine this in real offices, showing benefits over the long term. It directly challenges the widely accepted business philosophy that a lean office with clean desks is more productive."

The research showed plants in the office significantly increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality.

Analyses into the reasons why plants are beneficial suggests that a green office increases employees' work engagement by making them more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in their work.

•••••

Marlon Nieuwenhuis added: "Simply enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15% - a figure that aligns closely with findings in previously conducted laboratory studies. This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern 'lean' management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working."

Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation at interior landscaping company Ambius, who were involved in the study, said: "We know from previous studies that plants can lower physiological stress, increase attention span and improve well-being. But this is the first long term experiment carried out in a real-life situation which shows that bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work. Businesses should rethink their lean processes, not only for the health of the employees, but for the financial health of the organisation."

Drinking tea reduces non-CV mortality by 24 percent

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/esoc-dtr082614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 31-Aug-2014

Contact: ESC Press Office
European Society of Cardiology
Drinking tea reduces non-CV mortality by 24 percent

Barcelona, Spain – Sunday 31 August 2014: Drinking tea reduces non-cardiovascular mortality by 24%, reveals a study in 131 000 people presented at ESC Congress today by Professor Nicolas Danchin from France.

Professor Danchin said: "If you have to choose between tea or coffee it's probably better to drink tea. Coffee and tea are important components of our way of life. Their effects on cardiovascular (CV) health have been investigated in the past with sometimes divergent results. We investigated the effects of coffee and tea on CV mortality and non-CV mortality in a large French population at low risk of cardiovascular diseases."

•••••

"Tea has antioxidants which may provide survival benefits. Tea drinkers also have healthier lifestyles so does tea drinking reflect a particular person profile or is it tea, per se, that improves outcomes - for me that remains an open question. Pending the answer to that question, I think that you could fairly honestly recommend tea drinking rather than coffee drinking and even rather than not drinking anything at all."

Wine only protects against CVD in people who exercise

cardio : heart
vascular : blood vessels

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/esoc-wop082614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 31-Aug-2014

Contact: ESC Press Office
European Society of Cardiology
Wine only protects against CVD in people who exercise

Barcelona, Spain – Sunday 31 August 2014: Wine only protects against cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people who exercise, according to results from the In Vino Veritas (IVV) study presented at ESC Congress today by Professor Milos Taborsky from the Czech Republic.

Professor Taborsky said: "This is the first randomised trial comparing the effects of red and white wine on markers of atherosclerosis (1) in people at mild to moderate risk of CVD. We found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised. Red and white wine produced the same results."

Evidence suggesting that mild to moderate consumption of wine protects against cardiovascular disease has been accumulating since the early 1990s. In particular, retrospective studies have found that wine increases levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol. But until now there has been no long-term, prospective, randomised study comparing the effects of red and white wine on HDL cholesterol and other markers of atherosclerosis.

•••••

Energy drinks cause heart problems

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/esoc-edc082214.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 31-Aug-2014

Contact: ESC Press Office
European Society of Cardiology
Energy drinks cause heart problems

Barcelona, Spain – Sunday 31 August 2014: Energy drinks can cause heart problems according to research presented at ESC Congress 2014 today by Professor Milou-Daniel Drici from France.

Professor Drici said: "So-called 'energy drinks' are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death."

He added: "Around 96% of these drinks contain caffeine, with a typical 0.25 litre can holding 2 espressos worth of caffeine. Caffeine is one of the most potent agonists of the ryanodine receptors and leads to a massive release of calcium within cardiac cells. This can cause arrhythmias, but also has effects on the heart's abilities to contract and to use oxygen. In addition, 52% of drinks contain taurine, 33% have glucuronolactone and two-thirds contain vitamins."

•••••

The researchers found that consumption of the 103 energy drinks in France increased by 30% between 2009 and 2011 up to over 30 million litres. The leading brand made up 40% of energy drinks consumed. Two-thirds of drinks were consumed away from home.

During the two year period 257 cases were reported to the agency, of which 212 provided sufficient information for food and drug safety evaluation. The experts found that 95 of the reported adverse events had cardiovascular symptoms, 74 psychiatric, and 57 neurological, sometimes overlapping. Cardiac arrests and sudden or unexplained deaths occurred at least in 8 cases, while 46 people had heart rhythm disorders, 13 had angina and 3 had hypertension.

Dr Drici said: "We found that 'caffeine syndrome' was the most common problem, occurring in 60 people. It is characterised by a fast heart rate (called tachycardia), tremor, anxiety and headache.

Rare but severe adverse events were also associated with these drinks, such as sudden or unexplained death, arrhythmia and heart attack (myocardial infarction). Our literature search confirmed that these conditions can be related to consumption of energy drinks."

He added: "Patients with cardiac conditions including catecholaminergic arrhythmias, long QT syndrome and angina should be aware of the potential danger of a large intake of caffeine, which is a stimulant that can exacerbate their condition with possibly fatal consequences."

Dr Drici continued: "The general public need to know that so-called 'energy drinks' have absolutely no place during or after physical exercise, as compared with other drinks designed for that purpose. When used in long alcoholic cocktails, the caffeine in 'energy drinks' enables young people in dance clubs or elsewhere to overcome the unwanted effects of alcohol, leading to an even greater intake of caffeine."

He concluded: "Patients rarely mention consumption of energy drinks to their doctors unless they are asked. Doctors should warn patients with cardiac conditions about the potential dangers of these drinks and ask young people in particular whether they consume such drinks on a regular basis or through binge drinking."

Females Ignored in Basic Medical Research

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/08/females-ignored-in-basic-medical-research.html

Five surgical journals will now require studies to report sex of animals and cells
August 28, 2014 | by Erin White

CHICAGO --- A new study from Northwestern Medicine® has found that surgical researchers rarely use female animals or female cells in their published studies -- despite a huge body of evidence showing that sex differences can play a crucial role in medical research.

Editors of the five major surgical journals reviewed in this study have responded to this finding and will now require authors to state the sex of animals and cells used in their studies. If they use only one sex in their studies, they will be asked to justify why.

“Women make up half the population, but in surgical literature, 80 percent of the studies only use males,” said Melina R. Kibbe, M.D., senior author of the study and a vascular surgeon at Northwestern Medicine®.
- See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/08/females-ignored-in-basic-medical-research.html#sthash.GMAfyioO.dpuf


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Females Ignored in Basic Medical Research
Five surgical journals will now require studies to report sex of animals and cells
text size AAA
August 28, 2014 | by Erin White

CHICAGO --- A new study from Northwestern Medicine® has found that surgical researchers rarely use female animals or female cells in their published studies -- despite a huge body of evidence showing that sex differences can play a crucial role in medical research.

Editors of the five major surgical journals reviewed in this study have responded to this finding and will now require authors to state the sex of animals and cells used in their studies. If they use only one sex in their studies, they will be asked to justify why.

“Women make up half the population, but in surgical literature, 80 percent of the studies only use males,” said Melina R. Kibbe, M.D., senior author of the study and a vascular surgeon at Northwestern Medicine®.

“We need to do better and provide basic research on both sexes to ultimately improve treatments for male and female patients.”

Published Aug. 28 in the journal Surgery, the study follows a “60 Minutes” segment in February about the problem of overlooking sex differences in biomedical research, featuring Northwestern Medicine® scientists Teresa Woodruff and Kibbe.

Following the “60 Minutes” piece, the National Institutes of Health announced that they are developing a policy that will require all of its funded researchers to study both sexes for all pre-clinical research (the animal and cell studies performed before human studies).

Basic science research has shown repeatedly that male and female animals metabolize drugs differently. Accordingly, the research shows that men and women may experience differences in the ways they manifest diseases, experience illnesses and benefit from treatments.

•••••

Probable not much posting for a few days.

I am doing voter registration or door-to-door canvassing every day until Tues., and I have some evening fun activities like music and improv comedy, plus housework & yard work (if it doesn't rain), so I probably won't be posting a lot until after Mon.
And I hope to have time to practice playing my songs, and work on lead sheets for those which don't already have one.

Study finds four-way symbiosis in cicadas

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/tuom-uom082114.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 28-Aug-2014

Contact: John McCutcheon
The University of Montana
University of Montana cicada study discovers 2 genomes that function as 1

MISSOULA, Mont. – Two is company, three is a crowd. But in the case of the cicada, that's a good thing.

Until a recent discovery by a University of Montana research lab, it was thought that cicadas had a symbiotic relationship with two important bacteria that live within the cells of its body. Since the insect eats a simple diet consisting solely of plant sap, it relies on these bacteria to produce the nutrients it needs for survival.

In exchange, those two bacteria, Hodgkinia and Sulcia, live comfortably inside the cicada. Since all three divvy up the nutritional roles, each member of the symbiosis is completely dependent on the others for survival.

So, where does this third-wheel bacterium come into play? That is exactly what UM microbiologist John McCutcheon and his team of colleagues stumbled upon once they started delving deeper into the genome sequence of the essential bacteria. Instead of two bacterial symbionts, they actually identified three. Sulcia was predictably still there, but they found two different kinds of Hodgkinia. What previously was thought to be a tripartite, or a three-way symbiosis, is now proven to actually be a four-way symbiosis.

•••••

Because they only are complete when they operate as a team, they are reliant on each other just as the Sulcia, and ultimately the cicada, is reliant on their contributions to the symbiotic ecosystem.

"This is an obligate symbiosis – all of the organisms in there need each other," McCutcheon said. "We've shown that what was once a three-way symbiosis is now a four-way symbiosis."

•••••

Hodgkinia's development closely parallels that of a path of some organelles. Essentially, organelles are to cells what an organ is to the human body. Mitochondria of our own cells are organelles, and like Hodgkinia, are derived from symbiotic bacteria.

•••••

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Patient Zero Believed to Be Sole Source of Ebola Outbreak

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/patient-zero-believed-to-be-sole-source-of-ebola-outbreak/

Aug 28, 2014 |By Dina Fine Maron

One glaring fact from the latest report on the Ebola outbreak is that five of the many study authors are dead, killed by the disease that is roiling west Africa. The new analysis, published in the August 29 issue of Science, reveals that the current Ebola outbreak stemmed from an earlier initial leap from the wild into humans, rather than the virus repeatedly jumping from a natural reservoir—perhaps infected animals—to humans. By essentially sketching out a high-tech molecular family tree, researchers concluded that the virus spreading in Sierra Leone and nearby countries is the descendent of an original Ebola viral jump, and not new versions of the pathogen that are being repeatedly introduced into the human population. That means the public health response to this outbreak—which focuses on tracking and treating those who have been exposed to people with Ebola, rather than attempting to keep people away from potential animal carriers—has been the right strategy.

•••••

The Last Passenger Pigeon Went Extinct 100 Years Ago

www.wunderground.com/news/passenger-pigeon-went-extinct-100-years-ago-20140831

By Michele Berger
Published: August 31, 2014

Tomorrow marks exactly 100 years since the last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. (She’s pictured above.) It was the end of era for a species once so abundant its flocks were said to darken the sun from midday until the sun went down.

Some scientists are working hard trying to bring back this storied bird. Conservationists are using the centennial as a reminder of our impact on other species. But have Martha and her brethren taught us anything?

At their peak, millions — some argue billions — of passenger pigeons flew together, creating such a ruckus as to make normal conversation a challenge. Yet their numbers diminished rapidly, plunging perilously close to extinction within just a few decades thanks to our voracious appetite for the birds. Then they flamed out completely, the last wild one shot in 1900 and Martha dying 14 years later. “The bird was hunted out of existence,” wrote journalist Barry Yeoman in Audubon magazine, “victimized by the fallacy that no amount of exploitation could endanger a creature so abundant.”

That the species went extinct still shocks the system. Consider their abundance. As Yeoman puts it, nests so weighed down some boughs that they buckled and broke under the strain. Yet technology — namely the railroad and telegraph — meant hunters could hunt the birds not just for their own food, but could also move with the flocks and sell their meat for commercial gain.

•••••

“Martha is receiving plenty of eulogies this year,” he wrote. “I suggest that our most important eulogy would be to reflect on her species’ once great numbers, on the century that has passed since her death and on the century that begins today. We need to imagine Martha asking us, ‘Have you learned anything from my passing?’”
“Martha is receiving plenty of eulogies this year,” he wrote. “I suggest that our most important eulogy would be to reflect on her species’ once great numbers, on the century that has passed since her death and on the century that begins today. We need to imagine Martha asking us, ‘Have you learned anything from my passing?’”

Friday, August 29, 2014

High dietary salt may worsen multiple sclerosis

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/bmj-hds082614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 28-Aug-2014

Contact: Caroline White
BMJ-British Medical Journal
High dietary salt may worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms
And is linked to greater risk of further neurological deterioration

Previous research has indicated that salt may alter the autoimmune response, which is implicated in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), but it is not clear if it has any direct effect on the course of the disease itself.

The researchers assessed the blood and urine samples of 70 people with the relapsing-remitting form of MS to check for levels of salt; a marker of inflammatory activity called creatinine; and vitamin D, low levels of which have been linked to the disease.

•••••

After taking account of influential factors, such as smoking, age, gender, length of time after diagnosis, weight, treatment and circulating vitamin D, the analysis indicated a link between levels of dietary salt and worsening symptoms.

Compared with those consuming the least salt every day, those on moderate to high intake in the first group had around three more episodes of worsening symptoms, and were almost four times as likely to have these episodes.

The researchers then looked at x-rays and scans to find out if the disease had progressed further, and once again found a link between dietary salt intake and radiological evidence of further deterioration.

Those whose dietary salt intake was high were almost 3.5 times as likely to have radiological signs of further progression.

Similar results were obtained for the comparison group.

This is an observational study, so no definitive conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn. And higher levels of salt in the urine may reflect greater disease activity rather than the other way round, the authors point out.

But high salt intake is implicated in various aspects of poor health, they say. And their findings suggest further research into whether dietary salt reduction could ease MS symptoms or slow the progression of the disease might now be warranted, they add.

Deadly remedy: warning issued about Chinese herbal medicine

http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/PressRelease/pressReleaseId-111842.html

Aug. 28, 2014

A herbal preparation prescribed by a Chinese herbal medication practitioner in Melbourne for back pain resulted in life-threatening heart changes, prompting a team of intensive care and emergency physicians to call for appropriate patient education by practitioners who prescribe complementary medications.

Writing in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, emergency medicine trainees Dr Angelly Martinez and Dr Nicky Dobos from the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and emergency medicine trainee Dr Joe-Anthony Rotella and emergency physician Dr Shaun Greene from Austin Health, described the case of a woman who began experiencing facial tingling and numbness within minutes of ingesting a preparation containing aconite.

These symptoms were followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain 30 minutes later.

Aconite is a class of plant that is also known as wolfsbane or devil’s helmet.

The patient was given verbal instructions by the Chinese herbal medicine practitioner to boil the mixture of plant and animal material for 45 minutes prior to ingestion, although she boiled it for only 30 minutes.

By the time she was admitted to the emergency department, she had developed severe cardiovascular toxicity, which required admission to the intensive care unit.

“Aconite poisoning is not a toxicological condition that many Australian doctors would be aware of and has not been described in Australian peer reviewed medical literature for over 20 years,” said Dr Shaun Greene.

•••••

Meaningful relationships can help you thrive

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/sfpa-mrc082514.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
29-Aug-2014

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Contact: Jennifer Santisi
press@spsp.org
202-524-6543
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Meaningful relationships can help you thrive

In brief:
The definition of thriving involves 5 components of well-being
Relationships provide 2 types of support: source of strength (SOS) support, and relational catalyst (RC) support
Support-providers must be sensitive and responsive—there are characteristics in a support-provider that can lead to doing more harm than good
Future research should focus more on social support in non-adverse life circumstances

Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being. Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being and lower rates of morbidity and mortality. A paper published in Personality and Social Psychology Review provides an important perspective on thriving through relationships, emphasizes two types of support that relationships provide, and illuminates aspects where further study is necessary.

•••••


According to the researchers, thriving involves 5 components of well-being; hedonic well-being (happiness, life satisfaction), eudaimonic well-being (having purpose and meaning in life, progressing toward meaningful life goals), psychological well-being (positive self-regard, absence of mental health symptoms/disorders), social well-being (deep and meaningful human connections, faith in others and humanity, positive interpersonal expectancies), and physical well-being (healthy weight and activity levels, health status above expected baselines).

•••••

The researchers emphasize that there are certain characteristics of support-providers that enhance their capacity to provide meaningful support. "It is not just whether someone provides support, but it is how he or she does it that determines the outcome of that support. Any behaviors in the service of providing SOS and RC support must be enacted both responsively and sensitively to promote thriving," explains Feeney. "Being responsive involves providing the type and amount of support that is dictated by the situation and by the partner's needs, and being sensitive involves responding to needs in such a way that the support-recipient feels understood, validated, and cared for."

Support-providers may inadvertently do more harm than good if they make the person feel weak, needy, or inadequate; induce guilt or indebtedness; make the recipient feel like a burden; minimize or discount the recipient's problem, goal, or accomplishment; blame the recipient for his or her misfortunes or setbacks; or restrict autonomy or self-determination. Support-providers might also be neglectful or disengaged, over-involved, controlling, or otherwise out of sync with the recipient's needs. Responsive support requires the knowledge of how to support others and take their perspective, the resources (i.e., cognitive, emotional, and/or tangible) needed to provide effective support, and the motivation to accept the responsibility to support another.

Support-recipients also play an important role in this process by facilitating or hindering the receipt of responsive support. Support-recipients can cultivate effective support by reaching out to others (vs. withdrawing), expressing needs in a clear and direct manner, being receptive to others' support efforts, regulating demands on others (not taxing their social network), expressing gratitude, engaging in healthy dependence and independence, building a dense relationship network, and providing reciprocal support. The researchers emphasize that accepting support when needed, and being willing and able to provide support in return, should cultivate the types of mutually caring relationships that enable people to thrive.

•••••

Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/bcfg-emt082914.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 29-Aug-2014

Contact: Kelly Connelly
Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier
Health benefits appear to peak at 100 volunteer hours annually, or 2-3 hours per week

Toronto, Canada – Older adults who stay active by volunteering are getting more out of it than just an altruistic feeling – they are receiving a health boost!

A new study, led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences and published online this week in Psychological Bulletin, is the first to take a broad-brush look at all the available peer-reviewed evidence regarding the psychosocial health benefits of formal volunteering for older adults.

•••••

Among the key findings:

Volunteering is associated with reductions in symptoms of depression, better overall health, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.

Health benefits may depend on a moderate level of volunteering. There appears to be a tipping point after which greater benefits no longer accrue. The "sweet spot" appears to be at about 100 annual hours, or 2-3 hours per week.

More vulnerable seniors (i.e. those with chronic health conditions) may benefit the most from volunteering.

Feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer appears to amplify the relationship between volunteering and psychosocial wellbeing.

"Taken together, these results suggest that volunteering is associated with health improvements and increased physical activity – changes that one would expect to offer protection against a variety of health conditions," said Dr. Anderson. Indeed, a moderate amount of volunteering has been shown to be related to less hypertension and fewer hip fractures among seniors who volunteer compared to their matched non-volunteering peers.

•••••

What To Do if You See a Dog in a Hot Car

Sometimes it's hard to act in a situation we are not prepared for.

http://www.aspca.org/blog/what-would-you-do-if-you-saw-dog-hot-car-aspca-survey-reveals-one-third-adults-did-nothing?ms=so_fac_blog-hot-car-survey-20140829&initialms=so_fac_blog-hot-car-survey-20140829&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facbook&utm_source=blog-hot-car-survey-20140829

A few weeks ago, we shared an Urgent Alert about the dangers of leaving dogs in parked cars on hot days. What we didn’t know at the time, though, was just how urgent the situation truly is.

According to a new poll conducted by the ASPCA, an overwhelming majority of adults—93 percent—who have never encountered a dog in a car on a hot day said they would do something to help, but of those adults who actually faced such a situation, only 63 percent took action.

•••••

Please take the pledge today.

If I see an animal alone in a hot car, I will:

Immediately call animal control or 911. Local law officials have the ability to enter the vehicle and rescue the pet.

Notify the mangers of nearby businesses so they can make an urgent announcement.

Stay with the pet until help has arrived.

Sex not diminished by sharing housework, study says

http://www.ajc.com/news/lifestyles/health/georgia-state-study-sharing-housework-doesnt-curb-/ng8yC/?ecmp=ajc_social_googleplus_2014_sfp

Aug. 26, 2014

Georgia State University News Service via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA —

Does sharing housework cut into couples’ sex lives? The authors of a 2013 study would say yes, but new research done by Georgia State University sociologists suggests otherwise.

Assistant professor of sociology Daniel Carlson and colleagues Amanda Miller, Sarah Hanson and Sharon Sassler revisit this idea of housework and couples’ intimacy in their new study, “The Gender Division of Housework and Couples’ Sexual Relationships: A Re-Examination.” Earlier research failed to accurately depict the current state of American relationships, the team said.

The previous study examined data from the late '80s and early '90s, Carlson said. But he and his colleagues used data from a 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey (MARS) that sampled low- to moderate-income couples with a child.

Their results show an equal division of labor in the home does not lead to a decrease in sexual frequency and satisfaction. Egalitarian couples have similar and sometimes better sex lives than their conventional counterparts.

“Both arrangements are sexy for people,” Carlson said. “You can find high quality relationships in both types of relationships. Neither are detrimental.”

Carlson believes this new research proves Americans have grown to favor flexibility not only professionally but also personally.

“Attitudes are a big difference,” he said. “Couples today have role models to look at to make this work. In the '80s, egalitarian couples were at the forefront of change. Today’s couples have those examples to look to. It makes it a lot easier, resulting in higher quality relationships. I think we’ve moved to a place where a very stark division of labor is not something people want nor is it something couples want.”

While American views of shared housework have changed, women still do most of the housework in most households. Only 30 percent of the couples represented in the MARS survey admitted to sharing household duties.

Carlson is not surprised.

“It is clear what the vast majority of people want,” he said. “It’s just that right now our social institutions are lagging behind our cultural values. Eventually, as people continue to argue and fight for policies that promote gender equality at home and at work, people will be able to achieve their desires.”

•••••

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Antarctic Riddle: How Much Will the South Pole Melt?



By John Upton
Aug. 25, 2014

One of the biggest question marks surrounding the fate of the planet’s coastlines is dangling from its underbelly.

The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has long been a relatively minor factor in the steady ascent of high-water marks, responsible for about an eighth of the 3 millimeters of annual sea-level rise. But when it comes to climate change, Antarctica is the elephantine ice sculpture in the boiler room. The ice sheet is so massive that its decline is, according to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment, “the largest potential source” of future sea level rise. Accurately forecasting how much of it will be unleashed as seawater, and when that will happen, could help coastal communities plan for surging flood risks.

A study published Aug. 14 in Earth System Dynamics — one that took more than 2 years and 50,000 computer simulations to complete, combining information from 26 atmospheric, oceanic, and ice sheet models from four polar regions — has helped scientists hone their forecasts for this century’s Antarctic thaw. And the results of the global research effort were more sobering than the findings of most of the more limited studies that came before it.

The world’s seas could rise anywhere from less than half an inch up to more than a foot by the end of this century solely because of the effects of balmier waters fanning Antarctica’s underside, causing ice to melt, icebergs to calve, and ice and snowpack to slough into the sea, the scientists calculated. The upper limit of that projection is more than double earlier estimates, with scientists attributing the change to advances in models.

•••••

Those figures do not include additional sea level rise caused by melting glaciers, by the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, by the expansion of warming water, or from the effects of groundwater pumping, which shifts water from aquifers to the seas. If the most recent IPCC projections for those sources of rising seas were combined with the new Antarctic figures, the U.N. group’s upper limit for overall sea level rise by century’s end would increase to 119 cm, or nearly 4 feet. That’s up by more than a fifth compared with the figure included in last year’s assessment.

•••••

That’s a lot of water. For comparison, seas have risen about 8 inches since the turn of the 20th Century, as temperatures have risen by 1.5°F, due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels. That has increased rates of flooding across coastal U.S. and driven some Pacific Islanders to seek asylum in foreign lands. The hastening pace of sea level rise threatens to reshape the lives of more than a billion coastal dwellers and imperils potentially tens of trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure.

Of course, upper limits are just that — they represent the highest levels of sea-level rise for which science currently says coastal planning departments should brace. “It’s this upper limit that’s important for coastal planners,” said Levermann.

But rising upper limits come with rising median projections, which, by definition, have a 50 percent likelihood of being surpassed. Median projections produced through the new study suggest a rise of several inches is likely due to Antarctic melt alone.

The vast range of lower and upper limits for sea level rise caused by Antarctic ice-sheet melting that were included in the new paper — more than a foot — were partly the result of uncertainty over how much greenhouse gas pollution the world will churn out during the coming decades. The upper limit assumes that annual greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. But it also reflects the vast uncertainty in ice sheet and other models that were combined to simulate Antarctic melting.

•••••

U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/science/earth/greenhouse-gas-emissions-are-growing-and-growing-more-dangerous-draft-of-un-report-says.html?partner=MYWAY&ei=5065

By JUSTIN GILLISAUG. 26, 2014

Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.

Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human-produced emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.

The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said. The actual melting would then take centuries, but it would be unstoppable and could result in a sea level rise of 23 feet, with additional increases from other sources like melting Antarctic ice, potentially flooding the world’s major cities.

•••••

The report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of these fuels at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level.

That means if society wants to limit the risks to future generations, it must find the discipline to leave a vast majority of these valuable fuels in the ground, the report said.

•••••

From 1970 to 2000, global emissions of greenhouse gases grew at 1.3 percent a year. But from 2000 to 2010, that rate jumped to 2.2 percent a year, the report found, and the pace seems to be accelerating further in this decade.

A major part of the jump was caused by industrialization in China, which now accounts for half the world’s coal use. Those emissions are being incurred in large part to produce goods for consumption in the West.

•••••

President Obama, using his executive authority under the Clean Air Act, is seeking to impose national limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, but he faces profound legal and political challenges as he seeks to put his policy into effect before leaving office in early 2017.

The draft report found that past emissions, and the failure to heed scientific warnings about the risks, have made large-scale climatic shifts inevitable. But lowering emissions would still slow the expected pace of change, the report said, providing critical decades for human society and the natural world to adapt.

Trash burning worldwide significantly worsens air pollution

http://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/12239/trash-burning-worldwide-significantly-worsens-air-pollution

August 26, 2014

BOULDER -- Unregulated trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research estimates that more than 40 percent of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

•••••

“Air pollution across much of the globe is significantly underestimated because no one is tracking open-fire burning of trash,” said NCAR scientist Christine Wiedinmyer, lead author of the new study. “The uncontrolled burning of trash is a major source of pollutants, and it’s one that should receive more attention.”

•••••

The study concluded that as much as 29 percent of human-related global emissions of small particulates (less than 2.5 microns in diameter) come from the fires, as well as 10 percent of mercury and 40 percent of a group of gases known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These pollutants have been linked to such significant health impacts as decreased lung function, neurological disorders, cancer, and heart attacks.

Trash burning in some countries accounts for particularly high quantities of certain types of pollutants. In China, for example, 22 percent of larger particles (those up to 10 microns in diameter) come from burning garbage.

•••••

Study calls into question link between prenatal antidepressant exposure and autism risk

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/mgh-sci082614.php


26-Aug-2014

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Contact: Noah Brown
nbrown9@partners.org
617-643-3907
Massachusetts General Hospital
Study calls into question link between prenatal antidepressant exposure and autism risk
Previously reported autism risk appears to be attributable to mother's illness, not medication

Previous studies that have suggested an increased risk of autism among children of women who took antidepressants during pregnancy may actually reflect the known increased risk associated with severe maternal depression. In a study receiving advance online publication in Molecular Psychiatry, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that – while a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder was more common in the children of mothers prescribed antidepressants during pregnancy than in those with no prenatal exposure – when the severity of the mother's depression was accounted for, that increased risk was no longer statistically significant. An increased risk for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, persisted even after controlling for factors relating to a mother's mental health.

"We know that untreated depression can pose serious health risks to both a mother and child, so it's important that women being treated with antidepressants who become pregnant, or who are thinking about becoming pregnant, know that these medications will not increase their child's risk of autism," says Roy Perlis, MD, MSc, MGH Department of Psychiatry, senior author of the report.

The authors note that, while genetic factors are known to play a substantial role in autism, exactly how that risk may be exacerbated by environmental factors is not well understood. While animal studies and investigations based on health records have suggested an increased risk associated with prenatal antidepressant exposure, others found no such association. And since discontinuing antidepressant treatment significantly increases the risk of relapse – including an increased risk of postpartum depression – the current study was designed to clarify whether or not any increased autism risk could actually be attributed to the medication.

•••••

While prenatal exposure to antidepressants did increase the risk for either condition, in the autism-focused comparison, adjusting for factors indicating more severe maternal depression reduced the strength of that association to an insignificant level. Taking antidepressants with stronger action in the serotonin pathway, which has been suspected of contributing to a possible autism risk, did not increase the incidence of the disorder. In addition, the children of mothers who took a serotonin-targeting non-antidepressant drug for severe morning sickness had no increased autism incidence. Prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs sometimes used to treat severe, treatment-resistant depression, as well as psychotic disorders, did appear to increase the risk for autism. For ADHD, however, the increased risk associated with prenatal antidepressant exposure remained significant, although reduced, even after adjustment for the severity of maternal depression.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Orphaned children can do just as well in institutions

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/du-occ082614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 27-Aug-2014

Contact: Kyle Hamilton
Duke University
Orphaned children can do just as well in institutions
Drive to eliminate institutional care not supported by evidence

DURHAM, N.C. -- The removal of institutions or group homes will not lead to better child well-being and could even worsen outcomes for some orphaned and separated children, according to new findings from a three-year study across five low- and middle-income countries.

Children in institutions are as healthy and, in some ways, healthier than those in family-based care, according to the study, which was led by Kathryn Whetten, a Duke professor of public policy and director of the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR).

In the largest and most geographically and culturally diverse study of its kind, Duke researchers found there is great variation in how much children's well-being improves over time. The type of residential setting, either institution- or family-dwelling, was a poor predictor of change.

The study found that stronger predictors of child well-being were country, neighborhood or community, and differences in psychosocial characteristics such as age, gender, baseline emotional and nutritional status, and life course events.

Researchers also found that children in group homes were more likely to have their basic needs met.

•••••

Self-deceived individuals deceive others better

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/uoe-sid082614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 27-Aug-2014

Contact: Eleanor Gaskarth
University of Exeter
Self-deceived individuals deceive others better

Over confident people can fool others into believing they are more talented than they actually are, a study has found.

These 'self-deceived' individuals could be more likely to get promotions and reach influential positions in banks and other organizations. And these people are more likely to overestimate other people's abilities and take greater risks, possibly creating problems for their organizations.

The study by researchers from Newcastle University and the University of Exeter, has also found that those who are under confident in their own abilities are viewed as less able by their colleagues.

The findings, which will be published in the journal PLOS ONE today, are the first time a link has been found between a person's view of their own ability and how others see their abilities, and could partially explain financial collapses and other disasters.

•••••

Better health care as important as controlling risk factors for heart health

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/mu-bhc082614.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
27-Aug-2014

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Contact: Veronica McGuire
vmcguir@mcmaster.ca
90-552-591-402-2169
McMaster University
Better health care as important as controlling risk factors for heart health

Hamilton, ON (August 27, 2014) – Keeping a healthy heart may have as much to do with the quality of health care you have available as it does you avoiding risk factors such as smoking, bad diet and little exercise.

A large international study led by researchers at the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences has found a that low-income countries which have people with the lowest risk factors for cardiovascular problems have the highest rates of cardiovascular events and death, while the high-income countries of people with the highest risk factors for heart conditions have a lower rate of severe heart problems and deaths.

The paper, published today in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, involved more than 156,000 people in 17 countries world-wide who took part in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiologic (PURE) Study.

"There is a real paradox. We have found that richer countries with higher risk factors have less heart disease and once people have a heart attack or stroke, the risk of dying is substantially less compared to poor countries," said Dr. Salim Yusuf, principal investigator for the study. But 80% of the deaths each year from cardiovascular disease happen in low and middle income countries.

Yusuf said the difference is the quality of health care. "We have found that health care is as important, if not more important, than avoiding the risk factors in reducing cardiovascular disease."

Yusuf added that for better heart health, "the rich countries should continue to deliver high quality health care while trying to reduce risk factors, while poor countries need to avoid the rise of risk factors but also substantially improve their health care."

Risk factors for cardiovascular problems include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress and not enough fruits and vegetables or exercise.

•••••

The roots of human altruism and cognition

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/uoz-tro082714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 27-Aug-2014

Contact: Judith Burkart
University of Zurich
The roots of human altruism

Scientists have long been searching for the factor that determines why humans often behave so selflessly. It was known that humans share this tendency with species of small Latin American primates of the family Callitrichidae (tamarins and marmosets), leading some to suggest that cooperative care for the young, which is ubiquitous in this family, was responsible for spontaneous helping behavior. But it was not so clear what other primate species do in this regard, because most studies were not comparable.

A group of researchers from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Great Britain, headed by anthropologist Judith Burkart from the University of Zurich, therefore developed a novel approach they systematically applied to a great number of primate species. The results of the study have now been published in Nature Communications.

•••••

Until now, many researchers assumed that spontaneous altruistic behavior in primates could be attributed to factors they would share with humans: advanced cognitive skills, large brains, high social tolerance, collective foraging or the presence of pair bonds or other strong social bonds. As Burkart's new data now reveal, however, none of these factors reliably predicts whether a primate species will be spontaneously altruistic or not. Instead, another factor that sets us humans apart from the great apes appears to be responsible. Says Burkart: "Spontaneous, altruistic behavior is exclusively found among species where the young are not only cared for by the mother, but also other group members such as siblings, fathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles." This behavior is referred to technically as the "cooperative breeding" or "allomaternal care."

The significance of this study goes beyond identifying the roots of our altruism. Cooperative behavior also favored the evolution of our exceptional cognitive abilities. During development, human children gradually construct their cognitive skills based on extensive selfless social inputs from caring parents and other helpers, and the researchers believe that it is this new mode of caring that also put our ancestors on the road to our cognitive excellence. This study may, therefore, have just identified the foundation for the process that made us human. As Burkart suggests: "When our hominin ancestors began to raise their offspring cooperatively, they laid the foundation for both our altruism and our exceptional cognition."

Fighting prostate cancer with a tomato-rich diet

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/uob-fpc082714.php

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 27-Aug-2014

Contact: Philippa Walker
University of Bristol
Fighting prostate cancer with a tomato-rich diet

Men who eat over 10 portions a week of tomatoes have an 18 per cent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, new research suggests.

With 35,000 new cases every year in the UK, and around 10,000 deaths, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide.

Rates are higher in developed countries, which some experts believe is linked to a Westernised diet and lifestyle.

•••••

The NIHR-funded study, published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, is the first study of its kind to develop a prostate cancer 'dietary index' which consists of dietary components – selenium, calcium and foods rich in lycopene – that have been linked to prostate cancer.

Men who had optimal intake of these three dietary components had a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Tomatoes and its products – such as tomato juice and baked beans - were shown to be most beneficial, with an 18 per cent reduction in risk found in men eating over 10 portions a week.

This is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol and Bristol Nutrition BRU, led the research.

She said: "Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active."

The researchers also looked at the recommendations on physical activity, diet and body weight for cancer prevention published by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

Only the recommendation on plant foods – high intake of fruits, vegetables and dietary fibre - was found to be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. As these recommendations are not targeted at prostate cancer prevention, researchers concluded that adhering to these recommendations is not sufficient and that additional dietary recommendations should be developed.

Parents, listen next time your baby babbles

http://now.uiowa.edu/2014/08/parents-listen-next-time-your-baby-babbles

By:
Sara Agnew | 2014.08.27

Pay attention, mom and dad, especially when your infant looks at you and babbles.

Parents may not understand a baby’s prattling, but by listening and responding, they let their infants know they can communicate which leads to children forming complex sounds and using language more quickly.

That’s according to a new study by the University of Iowa and Indiana University that found how parents respond to their children’s babbling can actually shape the way infants communicate and use vocalizations.

The findings challenge the belief that human communication is innate and can’t be influenced by parental feedback. Instead, the researchers argue, parents who consciously engage with their babbling infants can accelerate their children’s vocalizing and language learning.

•••••

What researchers discovered is infants whose mothers responded to what they thought their babies were saying, showed an increase in developmentally advanced, consonant-vowel vocalizations, which means the babbling has become sophisticated enough to sound more like words. The babies also began directing more of their babbling over time toward their mothers.

On the other hand, infants whose mothers did not try as much to understand them and instead directed their infants' attention at times to something else did not show the same rate of growth in their language and communication skills.

Gros-Louis says the difference was mothers who engaged with their infants when they babbled let their children know they could communicate. Consequently, those babies turned more often to their mothers and babbled.

“The infants were using vocalizations in a communicative way, in a sense, because they learned they are communicative,” Gros-Louis says.

In a survey a month after the study ended, mothers who were most attentive to their infants’ babbling reported their children produced more words and gestures at age 15 months.

•••••

Study shows social class makes a difference in how children tackle classroom problems

http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2014/08/calarco-class-study.shtml

Aug. 27, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An Indiana University study has found that social class can account for differences in how parents coach their children to manage classroom challenges. Such differences can affect a child's education by reproducing inequalities in the classroom.

"Parents have different beliefs on how to deal with challenges in the classroom," said Jessica McCrory Calarco, assistant professor in IU Bloomington's Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences. "Middle-class parents tell their children to reach out to the teacher and ask questions. Working-class parents see asking for help as disrespectful to teachers, so they teach their children to work out problems themselves."

•••••

In general, middle-class children get more attention from their instructors because they actively seek it, while working-class children tend to stay silent through any of their educational struggles so as not to be a bother. Calarco said the differences in how parents teach their children to deal with problems in school stem primarily from parents' level of involvement in their children's schooling.

"Middle-class parents are more plugged into the school, so they know what teachers expect in the classroom. Working-class parents don't think it's their place to be involved, so they tend to be less aware of what teachers expect today," Calarco said.

With the widening gaps in educational outcomes between social classes, Calarco suggested that this study could help schools become more aware of these differences and make moves to reduce the inequalities.

•••••

JPMorgan and Other Banks Struck by Cyberattack

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/technology/hackers-target-banks-including-jpmorgan.html?_r=0

By NICOLE PERLROTHAUG. 27, 2014

A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four other firms, were struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people familiar with a developing investigation into the incidents.

The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including checking and savings account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack.

•••••

Russian hackers began a month long online assault on Estonia in 2007 that nearly crippled the Baltic nation, after Estonian government workers moved a Soviet-era war memorial from the Estonian capital.

Still, security experts say that the stealthy nature of the recent attacks suggests that the motivation was not political.

The American banking sector has been a frequent target for hackers over the past few years, with the vast majority of attacks motivated by financial theft.

But not all of them. Over the past two years, banks have been targeted in a series of politically motivated attacks from Iran, in which a group of Iranian hackers flooded U.S. banking sites with so much online traffic — a method called a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack — that the websites slowed or intermittently collapsed under the load.

Hackers who took credit for those attacks said they went after the banks in retaliation for an anti-Islam video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad , and pledged to continue the attacks until the video was pulled from the Internet.

American intelligence officials said the group was actually a cover for the Iranian government. Officials claimed Iran was waging the attacks in retaliation for Western economic sanctions and for a series of cyberattacks on its own systems.

•••••

FBI investigates alleged Russian cyber attack on Wall Street

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11060338/FBI-investigates-alleged-Russian-cyber-attack-on-Wall-Street.html

By Philip Sherwell, New York
10:40PM BST 27 Aug 2014

The FBI is investigating whether Russian hackers staged a cyber-attack on major Wall Street businesses this month in retaliation for US sanctions imposed over Ukraine, Bloomberg News reported last night.

The Russian hackers allegedly stole large amounts of sensitive data from JP Morgan Chase and at least one other bank, according to sources familiar with the investigation. The FBI is also reportedly looking into possible links to recent hacking of large European financial institutions.

The sophistication of the attacks appeared to be beyond the capability of normal criminal hackers, according to Bloomberg. That has fuelled suspicion that the operations may have been launched in retaliation for the US imposition of tougher sanctions on Russian banks and companies for Moscow’s aggression over Ukraine.

•••••

There has been a rise in the number of cyber attacks US financial institutions this year from Russia and eastern Europe as relations have deteriorated between Washington and Moscow during the Ukraine crisis.

•••••

JP Morgan Chase was singled out for criticism by the foreign Moscow ministry for blocking a payment from a Russian embassy to the affiliate of a US sanctioned bank.

Russian hackers have previously launched wide-ranging attacks against targets in Georgia and Estonia during crises between those countries and Moscow.

UK sex abuse report prompts outrage, reflection

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20140827/eu-britain-sex-abuse-5da7bce1d1.html

Aug 27, 4:47 PM (ET)
By SYLVIA HUI

ROTHERHAM, England (AP) — Rotherham is a working-class town that is remarkable in its ordinariness — a collection of charmless discount stores, betting shops and kebab counters, surrounded by sleepy residential streets lined with brick houses that have seen better days.

But below the drab surface, shock was evident Wednesday as the people of this northern English town learned that for 16 years, girls as young as 11 in their community had been subjected to sexual exploitation on a vast scale.

The number of victims — 1,400 — was terrifying enough for a community of just 250,000. But that wasn't all: despite repeated warnings over the years, only a handful of men have ever been convicted and an independent report found that local leaders had dismissed reports of child rape, exploitation and violence for years. Part of the reason, they said, was that they feared they would be branded as racist for pursuing the perpetrators — the majority of whom were men of Pakistani origin.

Yet, many say it's time for police and social workers to come up with a better response than to blame prickly race issues. Muhbeen Hussain, who founded the British Muslim Youth group, said the Pakistani community also needs to step up and face the problem.

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"We need to acknowledge there was a large number of Pakistani men said to be involved. As a Pakistani Muslim I don't find anything within our religion to condone this," the 20-year-old said.

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Jay said Rotherham is not the only place struggling with this issue. She told the BBC that "demand for this kind of sexual activity with children is on the increase and that is validated across not just the UK but Europe and worldwide."

"We can't say that Rotherham is any better or worse than other places because the information simply doesn't exist at a national level to tell us that," she said.

But in Rotherham, where the shock is still sinking in, people are wondering about how things have changed, how times have changed. Claire Hizelhorst, a school dinner lady, said kids used to be able to play outside. Now, she'd be afraid to let them.

"How can anyone do this?" she said. "It's beyond me."

Why Homeless People Don’t Use Shelters

http://culture.squidoo.com/why_homeless_people_avoid_shelters

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Please, keep in mind that not all shelters have all or even any of these down sides. Some have none of them. These are the things many homeless people who don't use them anymore have experienced at some facilities in the U.S. which may have caused them to later avoid using shelters. There are good ones out there, too. They can just be hard to find sometimes.

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Fear of Contracting Parasites

No matter how clean a facility is kept, the danger of getting parasites by using it is still very high. Mind you, this is not the fault of staff or organizations running shelters it is simply a hazard of having sleeping arrangements that hundreds of people cycle through; bedbugs are now even fairly common in high end hotels. Homeless people tend to carry a lot of parasites, likely because they tend to sleep in lots of different places. So if you sleep every night in a different bed that a long string of other people have slept in or sleep too close to an ever-changing assortmenty of people , eventually you are bound to get head lice, pubic lice or scabies. It’s hard as heck to get rid of parasites when you have no home.

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http://www.divinecaroline.com/life-etc/culture-causes/why-some-homeless-people-choose-streets-over-shelters

Becky Blanton, a writer who was homeless from March 2006 to August 2007, says she had a lot of reasons to not enter shelters when she lost her housing. “Disease, violence, mental illness, and addiction,” she said simply before going on to explain that, in her experience, staying in many emergency shelters leads to scabies, lice, bed bugs, the transmission of hepatitis and tuberculosis, athlete’s foot from the showers, the common cold and lots of other things that “are no big deal if you can stay home in bed, but can kill you if you’re homeless.”

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She worked the entire time she was homeless—at a newspaper for awhile and then at odd jobs. The restrictive schedule of shelters would have made it impossible for her to work, she said, since once a person checks in sometime in the afternoon, she can’t check out again until early morning. Blanton’s not alone in this, says Eckstine. “A lot of shelters don’t let you use your own alarm clock or provide an early enough wakeup call.” For people working day labor, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., or overnight shifts, they’re generally out of luck. Eckstine knows some who sleep in their cars just outside shelters, so they can get showers and meals without the curfews.

The restraints can also interfere with recovery programs. “I’ve talked to people who literally had to choose between going to their 12-Step meetings and going to the shelter,” Eckstine says.

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More than 1,000 U.S. retailers could be infected with malicious software

A sad thing is that Target has been severely punished by shoppers not going there because they were diligent enough to catch this problem earlier and report it earlier than most stores.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/data-theft-cash-registers-vulnerable-says-homeland-security-1.2744620

Aug. 22, 2014

More than 1,000 U.S. retailers could be infected with malicious software lurking in their cash register computers, allowing hackers to steal customer financial data, the Homeland Security Department said Friday.

The government urged businesses of all sizes to scan their point-of-sale systems for software known as "Backoff," discovered last October. It previously explained in detail how the software operates and how retailers could find and remove it.

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Earlier this month, United Parcel Service said it found infected computers in 51 stores. UPS said it was not aware of any fraud that resulted from the infection but said hackers may have taken customers' names, addresses, email addresses and payment card information.

The company apologized to customers and offered free identity protection and credit monitoring services to those who had shopped in those 51 stores.

Backoff was discovered in October, but according to the Homeland Security Department the software wasn't flagged by antivirus programs until this month.

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Climate Scientists Spell Out Stark Danger And Immorality Of Inaction In New Leaked Report

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/27/3476258/climate-scientists-draft-ipcc-report/

by Joe Romm Posted on August 27, 2014

One word in the latest draft report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sums up why climate inaction is so uniquely immoral: “Irreversible.”

The message from climate scientists about our ongoing failure to cut carbon pollution: The catastrophic changes in climate that we are voluntarily choosing to impose on our children and grandchildren — and countless generations after them — cannot plausibly be undone for hundreds of years or more.

Yes, we can still stop the worst — with virtually no impact on growth, as an earlier IPCC report from April made clear — but future generations will not be able reverse whatever we are too greedy and shortsighted to prevent through immediate action.

The world’s top scientists have finalized their “synthesis” report (of their fifth full scientific Assessment since 1990). It integrates the analysis from their three previous Fifth Assessment reports — ones on climate science, climate impacts, and climate solutions. They have sent a draft of this report to the world’s leading governments, who must sign off on it line by line and will no doubt water it down.

This report was leaked to the AP and others. That means we can see the unvarnished language.

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How bad can it get? The IPCC already explained that in the science report (see “Alarming IPCC Prognosis: 9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse”). And they expanded on that in the impacts report (see “Conservative Climate Panel Warns World Faces ‘Breakdown Of Food Systems’ And More Violent Conflict”).

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It is always important to remember — as RealClimate wrote of the 2009 study — “Irreversible Does Not Mean Unstoppable.” This latest draft synthesis report makes clear we can still stop the worst from happening, at a very low cost, but we have to start slashing emissions ASAP.

More Evidence That State Income Taxes Have Little Impact on Interstate Migration

See link below for chart.

http://www.offthechartsblog.org/more-evidence-that-state-income-taxes-have-little-impact-on-interstate-migration/

Posted by: Michael Mazerov
Aug. 26, 2014

The New York Times’ Upshot blog has published a fascinating set of graphs of Census Bureau data on interstate migration patterns since 1900, bolstering our argument that state income taxes don’t have a significant impact on people’s decisions about where to live.

We plotted the same Census data, which shows which states do the best job of retaining their native-born populations, on the chart below, also noting which states have (or don’t have) a state income tax. Our chart shows that taxes have little to do with the extent to which native-born people leave their states of origin.


Three of the nine no-income-tax states perform very poorly in holding on to native-born residents. Wyoming, Alaska, and South Dakota have three of the nation’s four highest shares of native-born residents who left the state.

Four other no-income-tax states are closer to the middle of the pack. Nevada is almost exactly in the middle of the state rankings, while New Hampshire and Tennessee fall almost equally below and above Nevada; Washington falls within that interval as well. New Hampshire does no better in retaining its native born than its high-tax neighbor, Vermont. Tennessee’s neighbor, North Carolina, has had the highest income tax rates among southern states for the past 20 years but outperformed nearly all of them in retaining its native born, tying for second nationally.

Only two of the nine no-income-tax states are top performers in retaining their native born. Threeof the five states that retain the largest shares of their natives — California, Georgia, and North Carolina — have income taxes, and California and North Carolina in particular have had higher income taxes than their neighbors. Texas and Florida are the only no-income-tax states that rank highly for retention.


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What Global Warming Might Mean for Extreme Snowfalls

Also, because of global warming, the air contains more moisture, on average, resulting in the possibility of heavier snowfalls when the temperature is conducive to snow.

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/global-warming-extreme-snowfall-17947

By Andrea Thompson
Aug. 27, 2014

So if the world is warming, that means winters should be less snowy, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. OK, it’s a lot more complicated.

While the average annual snowfall in most parts of the world is indeed expected to decline, the extreme snowfalls — those that hit a place once every 10 or 20 years and can cause major headaches and economic impacts — may decline at a slower rate, and could even increase in particularly cold places, a new study detailed in the Aug. 28 issue of the journal Nature finds.

Essentially, in a warming world, there are “more muted changes in [the intensity of] snowfall extremes than in average snowfall,” said study author Paul O’Gorman, a climate researcher at MIT.

The definition of extreme snowfall of course depends on where you are: For Boston, where O’Gorman lives and works, an extreme snow event might dump a couple feet of snow on the city, but “what’s extreme for Atlanta would be quite different,” he told Climate Central. “It really depends on where you are.”

Because the amount of feet in an extreme snowfall would be so dependent on the place, O’Gorman defined extremes by return times, so storms that happen only once every decade or two, which takes subjective snow depths out of the equation.

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The reason the change in intensity of extreme snowfalls seems to behave differently than the overall snowfall picture has to do with the physics that govern the formation of extreme snows. It seems that intense snows develop in a very narrow band of temperatures — it has to be cold enough that the precipitation won’t fall as rain, but can’t be so cold that the air doesn’t have enough moisture in it to fuel a blizzard.

In contrast, the snow that combines to give the annual total encompasses a much broader range of snow types that form under a wider swath of temperatures and so are more affected by warming. Essentially, in some places, less warming is needed to eat away at the temperature range that produces all snow than just the small range that accounts for extreme snows.

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One caveat is that in particularly mild regions that already don’t see much snowfall, a sufficient amount of warming could knock out both the extremes and the average, O’Gorman said. (On the opposite end, places that are cold enough could actually see an increase in extreme snowfalls.)

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A Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2014/08/a-reason-to-question-the-official-unemployment-rate.html

August 26, 2014

David Leonhardt:

A New Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate: ...A new academic paper suggests that the unemployment rate appears to have become less accurate over the last two decades, in part because of this rise in nonresponse. In particular, there seems to have been an increase in the number of people who once would have qualified as officially unemployed and today are considered out of the labor force, neither working nor looking for work.

The trend obviously matters for its own sake: It suggests that the official unemployment rate – 6.2 percent in July – understates the extent of economic pain in the country today. ... The new paper is a reminder that the unemployment rate deserves less attention than it often receives.

Yet the research also relates to a larger phenomenon. The declining response rate to surveys of almost all kinds is among the biggest problems in the social sciences. ...

Why are people less willing to respond? The rise of caller ID and the decline of landlines play a role. But they’re not the only reasons. Americans’ trust in institutions – including government, the media, churches, banks, labor unions and schools – has fallen in recent decades. People seem more dubious of a survey’s purpose and more worried about intrusions into their privacy than in the past.

“People are skeptical – Is this a real survey? What they are asking me?” Francis Horvath, of the Labor Department, says. ...

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Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/upshot/cutting-the-corporate-tax-would-grow-other-problems.html?rref=upshot&abt=0002&abg=1

Jared Bernstein
AUG. 25, 2014

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But as imperfect as the corporate tax may be, the end of it would create all kinds of problems and disadvantages. Here is a breakdown of those drawbacks:

The corporate tax is an important balancing mechanism in an era of great inequality. According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 80 percent of corporate income is held by households in the top fifth of the income scale, and about 50 percent is held by the top 1 percent. Unless we could replace it with higher taxes on those same households — a daunting proposition, as I’ll show in a moment — scrapping or even just lowering the corporate tax rate would increase after-tax income inequality.

When corporate profits as a share of national income are the highest on record, with data going back to the late 1920s, it suggests that the current corporate tax system, with all its shortcomings, is hardly killing the competitiveness of American companies.

Another reason abolishment is a bad idea: If you think we’ve got tax avoidance problems now — and if you don’t, you’re not paying attention — we’d have a much bigger problem with a zero tax rate on incorporated businesses. Most of us don’t manage our taxes. We just pay them. But as your tax bill goes up, you will aggressively look for ways to shelter your income. (More precisely, you hire people to do that for you.)

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Here’s another element to understand why abolishing the corporate rate would go badly: In order to avoid corporate taxes, more than a third of business income is now “passed through” to the owners to be taxed at the individual level. That’s up from 13 percent a few decades ago, and it’s one reason corporate taxes as a share of G.D.P. and a share of federal revenue have fallen from about 4 percent and 20 percent in the 1960s to less than 2 percent and 10 percent today.

Those who would get rid of the corporate tax basically argue that the smart move is to go with this flow: As long as so many more businesses are setting themselves up to avoid the corporate tax, don’t fight ′em, join ′em.

The problem is that to do so risks turning the corporate structure itself into a big tax shelter: If income generated and retained by incorporated businesses should become tax-free, then guess what type of income everybody will suddenly start making? Taxes delayed are taxes saved, and with no corporate tax, anyone who could do so would structure their earnings and investments to be “corporate earnings,” untaxed until they’re distributed.

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One study found that the tax gap — the share of taxes owed but not collected — was 17 percent for corporations and 43 percent for business income reported by individuals. That research is over a decade old, but more recent tax gap research found that business income taxed at the individual level was the single largest source of the gap, and that sole proprietors report less than half of their income to the I.R.S.

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