September 19, 2014
Snapshots of America
1 in 4 Americans open to succession according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.
The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.
Americans ‘surprisingly uncertain’ what their branches of government are, new survey reveals
In the relatively short survey administered to 1,416 adults and published on September 17, 2014 (Constitution Day), the APPC [Annenberg Public Policy Center ] found that 35% of respondents could not name even one branch of government in the US. Only a little more than a third of respondents (36%) could name all three branches of government.
For the first time, there are more single American adults than married ones 50.2% (30.4% never married while 19.8% are divorced or widowed. Link has map of the U.S. showing where the singles are
They're often pegged as the civic-minded, do-gooding generation. But while they're still optimistic about their own personal prospects, a new study finds that today's youth are often more skeptical of the country's institutions than the young generations that preceded them.
In the mid-1970s, when baby boomers were coming of age, about a third of high school seniors agreed that "most people can be trusted." That dropped to 18 percent in the early 1990s for Gen Xers — and then, in 2012, to just 16 percent of Millennials.
The researchers also found that Millennials' approval of major institutions — from Congress and corporations to the news media and educational and religious institutions — dropped more sharply than other generations in the decade that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Score another one for Chinese teenagers, who leave U.S. kids in their dust when it comes to knowing how to handle money. That's the latest anxiety-producing statistic (for American parents, anyway) to emerge out of a newly released international study of the financial habits of roughly 29,000 teens from countries as far flung as Australia, China, Colombia, France, Israel, Russia, Spain, and the U.S……
Many teens still fall woefully behind in understanding financial instruments, institutions, and the best basic ways to build wealth.
Amid a national debate about the worth of a college education, a respected annual poll about the education views held by Americans has found that only 44 percent of Americans now believe that getting a college education is “very important” — down from 75 percent four years ago.
That’s a brutal decline. Add to this the threat posed by the campus rape panic — chasing women away with exaggerated claims of rape, and men with quite realistic fears of the Sex Police — and college recruiting will be increasingly difficult, I expect.
Insty, aka Glenn Reynolds, a law professor in Tennessee, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself
War on Poverty: Successful or Flop?
Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.
The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)
But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.
How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?
The answer is it isn’t possible. Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.
The typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in its home.
the War on Poverty has not succeeded according to Johnson’s original goal. Johnson’s aim was not to prop up living standards by making more and more people dependent on an ever larger welfare state. Instead, Johnson sought to increase self-sufficiency, the ability of a family to support itself out of poverty without dependence on welfare aid. Johnson asserted that the War on Poverty would actually shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from “taxeaters” into “taxpayers.”
Judged by that standard, the War on Poverty has been a colossal flop. The welfare state has undermined self-sufficiency by discouraging work and penalizing marriage. When the War on Poverty began seven percent of children were born outside marriage. Today, 42 percent of children are. By eroding marriage, the welfare state has made many Americans less capable of self-support than they were when the War on Poverty began.
According to the World Bank, researchers found that the aspect of poverty that most concerned the poor was “fear, shame, [and] helplessness” Oddly, they did not mention income inequality or lack of material things. They wanted to be empowered and prospered by their own initiative.
Opportunity provides self-sufficiency, along with respect and pride. This, in turn, removes fear, shame, and helplessness while creating income growth and more wealth for everyone. Inversely, focusing on income inequality means government must redistribute wealth after people create it, thus creating dependency, which creates ultimately what the poor consider poverty: a perpetual state of helplessness. This also leads to resentment against those able to succeed without the condescending paternalism of government.
Focusing on income inequality does not help the poor long-term. Instead, it helps political entities that provide virtual patronage and distracts from bureaucrats’ poor handling of economic forces that require real skill to address. It’s not hard to write a check with someone else’s money. It is harder to empower growth with reasonable policies that do not punish success.
September 17, 2014
They were never Arabs to begin with
Interior Minister Gideon Saar has instructed the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) to allow the registration of a new nationality – Aramaean – in the identity cards of Christian citizens who were registered as Arabs until now.
Saar's decision applies to most of the Christians currently living in Israel, or about 130,000 out of a total of 160,000. They applied as a group to the Interior Ministry in 2010 and will now finally be allowed to register as Aramaeans.
The decision “corrects a historic injustice that wrongly defined Israel's citizens of eastern-Christian descent as 'Christian Arabs,' although other than their spoken language, they have absolutely no connection to the Arab nationality,” he wrote.
In an emotional letter to Saar, Nadaf thanked him for Israeli society's “pluralism and its openness to absorbing religious and ethnic minorities out of love and acceptance, without any discrimination, according to the principles of democracy, individual freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.”
Father Nadaf said that the Christians wish to become “an inseparable part” of Israeli society make their voices heard “in the social, economic, academic and political sphere in the state of Israel.”
“This is the first time that a Middle Eatern state recognizes the Aramaean-Christian minority as a legitimate nationality and acts to preserve it, the teaching of its language and its absorption in society,” he wrote.
"In contrast with the region's countries, in which Christians and other minorities are systematically murdered, churches are destroyed and people are forced to hide their identities just because they are defined as Christians – while with every decade that the world progresses, the Arab countries go a decade backward – the state of Israel has made a giant lead forward.”
Health roundup: MS, Breast cancer, healthy drinking, bottled water and hold the sugar
A team at Bristol University have described their work as a 'breakthrough' after discovering a way to stop cells from attacking healthy body tissue
In the study, scientists were able to selectively target the cells that cause autoimmune disease by dampening down their aggression against the body's own tissue, while converting them into cells capable of protecting against disease.
The researchers have now revealed how the administration of fragments of the proteins that are normally the target for the attack leads to correction of the autoimmune response.
The outcome is to reinstate self-tolerance, where an individual's immune system ignores its own tissues while remaining fully armed to protect against infection. Researchers say that by specifically targeting the cells at fault, the immunotherapeutic approach avoids the need for immune suppressive drugs.
There’s a whole generation of people now hitting old age who were put on drugs such as Valium and temazepam years ago and I’d argue we’re now beginning to see the long-term impact of those drugs on the brain,’ says Mr Haslam.
‘Maybe now this increased risk of Alzheimer’s associated with the drugs will finally persuade GPs to think twice before prescribing them as a long-term treatment.’
Removing both breasts to treat cancer affecting only one side doesn't boost survival chances for most women, compared with surgery that removes just the tumor, a large study suggests. The results raise concerns about riskier, potentially unnecessary operations that increasing numbers of women are choosing.
The study involved nearly 200,000 California women treated for cancer in one breast and followed for several years afterward. Ten-year survival rates were nearly identical - roughly 82 percent - for women who had lumpectomies to remove the tumor plus radiation, and for those who had double mastectomies. Women who had a single mastectomy, removal of just the cancerous breast, fared slightly worse.
Drinking Is Healthy The decisive benefits of moderate drinking
In 2006, the Archives of Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal, published an analysis based on 34 well-designed prospective studies—that is, research which follows subjects for years, even decades. This meta-analysis, incorporating a million subjects, found that “1 to 2 drinks per day for women and 2 to 4 drinks per day for men are inversely associated with total mortality.”
The more alcohol a society consumes, the fewer alcohol-related problems and alcohol-related deaths (including cirrhosis) it has. So the more you drink—up to two drinks a day for woman, and four for men—the less likely you are to die. You may have heard that before, and you may have heard it doubted. But the consensus of the science is overwhelming: It is true.
Obviously, if you are an alcoholic, you will live longer by not drinking.
Bottled water and magnesium. Unlike tap water, bottled water has little magnesium. Drinking only bottled water can make you ill and that may be making you ill.
Nausea, bloating, exhaustion and osteoporosis can be caused by a deficiency in magnesium
This little-heard-of deficiency is surprisingly common among women — one survey found one in ten suffers from it, but some experts cite figures as high as seven in ten — and the effects can be devastating. From maintaining energy levels to steadying heart rhythm, regulating blood pressure and keeping bones strong, magnesium is vital for the body. Magnesium deficiency is hard to diagnose, so many people don’t know they have it.’
Ironically, calcium is useless without magnesium, which is why a deficiency is implicated in osteoporosis. So experts argue that many typical manifestations of aging — loss of muscle mass, rising blood pressure and diminished nervous system function — are because the body’s ability to metabolize magnesium may decrease with age.
Dr Ferguson uses magnesium to treat migraines as it has a relaxing and calming effect on the body. A German study found a 41.6 per cent drop in migraine frequency among sufferers who were given a supplement, and it can also treat asthma by suppressing histamine production.
Hold the sugar, not the salt. Sugar could be worse for your blood pressure than salt, shock new research reveals
…. in an article in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers led by Dr James DiNicolantonio state ‘It is sugar not the salt that may be the actual causative factor for high blood pressure.
‘This notion is supported by meta analyses of randomised control trials (large-scale studies) suggesting that sugar is more strongly related to blood pressure in humans than sodium.
‘Encouraging consumers to hold the sugar, not the salt, may be the better dietary strategy to achieve blood pressure control
Tasty and practical tips
From Authority Nutrition, An Evidence-Based Approach
5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
3. Garlic Can Combat Sickness, Including the Common Cold by boosting the function of the immune system
One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo. The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in placebo to just 1.5 days in the garlic group. Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%
From Cool Tools, a way to save on your Rx
Companies like GoodRx.com are creating tools that can help you find the best prices online, making true price comparison fast and efficient.
GoodRx works by pulling in price feeds from most of the top pharmacy chains in the US, allowing you to search and sort by drug, delivery form, dosage, count, and pharmacy type. It’s trivial to compare prices for brand name vs. generic, and the website automatically sorts the results by price.
Once you find the best option, you can print out a “discount card” that contains GoodRx’s Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) information, so the pharmacist can find the GoodRx quoted price. (They’ll also mail you a card for your wallet if you request one.) Every time you fill a prescription using GoodRx’s group information, they make money via referral fees, so the service itself is free to use.
Out of curiosity, I had the pharmacy quote prices using the GoodRx rate vs. my major health insurance company’s negotiated group rate. GoodRx won by $150.
A quick search on GoodRx.com saved me over $500 in less than a minute. If you live in the US and need to fill a prescription, search here first.
From Distractify 40 Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever
22. To use Google Maps offline, type “OK Maps,” and the visible area will save for future access.
27. Wait to buy airline tickets until 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.
37. Get free WiFi at airports. Add “?.jpg” to the end of any URL to get around the ludicrously expensive WiFi. Alternatively, you can sit right outside an airport club lounge: Wi-Fi signals often glide through the walls.
20th century jihad by the last Caliphate killed between 1-1.5 million Christians
Raphael Lemkin was a Polish Jew and a public prosecutor in Warsaw when he delivered a paper to the Legal Council of the League of Nations in 1933 calling the Crime of Barbarity (which evolved into the idea of genocide a name he coined) a crime against international law.
Late in life, he responded to an interviewer who asked him how he became interested in genocide, ""I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times. It happened to the Armenians and after the Armenians Hitler took action".
He joined the Polish army and defended Warsaw when it was under siege and sustained a bullet wound to his hip. Evading capture by the Germans, he fled Poland for Lithuania and from there to Sweden where he received permission to enter the United States in 1941. He became a special advisor to the War Department, and after the an advisor to Robert Jackson chief counsel at the Nuremberg trials, a distinguished scholar and professor of law.
He was moved by the annihilation of between 1 - 1.5 million Armenians and other Christians who were targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government under the guise of deportation, a crime of genocide which Turkey denies to this day. Turkey has threatened those who write about the Armenian genocide with reprisals. It wasn't until 2010 that the U.S. Congressional panel voted narrowly that the Armenian holocaust was indeed genocide.
Wikipedia has an extensive article on the Armenian genocide from which I got the following two quotes:
Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust" and noted that "the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be. … There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions, cherishing national ambitions that could only be satisfied at the expense of Turkey, and planted geographically between Turkish and Caucasian Moslems"
As a neutral state, Sweden maintained representatives in Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the entirety of WWI who reported on.the massacres. What the ambassador wrote
In his report on 22 July, Anckarsvärd noted that the persecutions of the Armenians were being extended to encompass all Christians in the Ottoman Empire:
[The deportations] can not be any other issue than an annihilation war against the Greek nation in Turkey and as measures hereof they have been implementing forced conversions to Islam, in obvious aim to, that if after the end of the war there again would be a question of European intervention for the protection of the Christians, there will be as few of them left as possible."
On 9 August 1915, Anckarsvärd dispatched yet another report, confirming his suspicions regarding the plans of the Turkish government, "It is obvious that the Turks are taking the opportunity to, now during the war, annihilate [utplåna] the Armenian nation so that when the peace comes no Armenian question longer exists"
Andrew Bostom writes the Ottoman Caliphate of 1915-19 Exponentially Worse than ISIS
Notwithstanding the recent horrific spate of atrocities committed against the Christian communities of northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS/IL) jihadists, the Ottoman jihad ravages were equally barbaric, depraved, and far more extensive.
Occurring primarily between 1915-16 (although continuing through at least 1919), some one million Armenian and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered or starved to death during forced deportations through desert wastelands.
The identical gruesome means used by IS/IL to humiliate and massacre its Christian victims were employed on a scale that was an order of magnitude greater by the Ottoman Muslim Turks, often abetted by local Muslim collaborators (the latter being another phenomenon which also happened during the IS/IL jihad campaign against Iraq’s Christians).
Reverend K. Balakian’s eyewitness narrative Hai Koghota (The Armenian Golgotha) — recounted the harrowing details of a particular slaughter at Yozgat, its Islamic religious motifs unexpurgated. Balakian quotes a Turkish gendarme who confirmed the Ottoman government’s sanction of this explicit act of mass-murderous jihad. Regarding this particular massacre, Balakian laments:
It is impossible for me to convey what happened to those 6,400 defenseless women, virgins, and brides as well as suckling infants. Their heartrending cries and doleful pleas brought down the deaf canopies of heaven. The police soldiers in Yozgat (and Boghazliyan) who accompanied us would even boast to some of us about how they had committed tortures and decapitations, cut off and chopped up body parts with axes, and how they had dismembered suckling infants and children by pulling apart their legs, or dashing them on rocks.
More than one million Armenian city dwellers and peasants were savagely slaughtered and made to choke quietly on their own blood. Tens of thousands of Armenian males, lashed together with string or rope, were mercilessly butchered along all the roads of Asia Minor, or massacred with axes, like tree branches being pruned. The executioners were deaf to the crying and weeping of these wretched victims, even to their pleas to shoot them so that they might escape the torment: the order had come from on high and the jihad against the Armenians truly had been proclaimed. Yes, it was necessary to mercilessly slaughter them until not a single Armenian was left within the confines of the Ottoman Empire.
September 13, 2014
Just for fun
9 Incredible Historical Coincidences. Don't miss how a Booth saved a Lincoln.
8. If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of grade school for saying his teacher’s “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable, you live in a country run by idiots.
Can you stack your firewood like Gary Tallman in Montana?
The Telegraph offers 35 great quotes about Scotland and the Scots including this one from Winston Churchill
“Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”
September 10, 2014
Health Roundup: Alzheimer's and Dementia
Take your vitamin D. New Study Supports Links Between Dementia And Vitamin D Deficiency
Adding to an ever-growing body of evidence, a new study has found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. While previous studies have drawn similar conclusions, this is the largest, most robust study carried out to date. The results have been published in the journal Neurology.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is produced by the body upon exposure of the skin to sunlight, but it can also be found in small amounts in certain foods such as oily fish. It plays a variety of roles in the body and over recent years our understanding of how it helps to maintain optimum health has dramatically increased. For example, it’s thought to reduce the risk of certain bone diseases, bacterial and viral infections and autoimmune diseases.
The researchers discovered that participants with a moderate vitamin D deficiency had a 53% increased risk of developing any form of dementia, and those with a severe deficiency had a 125% increased risk. Similar results were also found for the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia. Interestingly, they found that there was a threshold level of 50nmol/L vitamin D in the serum, below which the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s was markedly increased.
“We expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising- we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” lead researcher Dr David Llewellyn said in a news-release.
Pomegranates may help stop the spread of Alzheimer’s disease, claim scientists.
An ingredient called punicalagin helps prevent the inflammation that destroys brain cells known as micrologia, according to a team at the University of Huddersfield. It is hoped the findings may also potentially benefit sufferers from rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease by reducing painful inflammation from these conditions.
Transfusion of young blood. Alzheimer’s patients to be treated with the blood of under-30s
This October, people with mild to moderate levels of Alzheimer’s disease will receive a transfusion of blood plasma from donors aged under 30. The trial, run by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine in the US, follows their revolutionary study involving lab mice, where the blood plasma of young mice was injected into old mice, resulting in a marked improvement in their physical endurance and cognitive function. Completed earlier this year, their research, combined with independent studies by a handful of research teams around the world, pin-pointed a plasma-borne protein called growth differentiation factor 11 - or GDF11 - as a key factor in the young blood’s powers of rejuvenation.
"We saw these astounding effects,” lead researcher and professor of neurology at Stanford, Tony Wyss-Coray, told Helen Thomson at New Scientist. "The human blood had beneficial effects on every organ we've studied so far."
Researchers in France and Canada, using a health insurance database in Quebec, identified 1,796 people with Alzheimer's whose health had been monitored for at least six years before the disease was diagnosed. They compared each individual against three times as many healthy counterparts, matched for age and gender, to see if anything unusual emerged.
They found that patients who had extensively used benzodiazepines for at least three months in the past, were up to 51 percent more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The risk rose the longer the patient had used the drug. The investigators admitted the picture was foggy. Benzodiazepines are used to treat sleeplessness and anxiety -- symptoms that are also common among people just before an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is in your future. Electric currents applied to the brain can boost our memory and treat strokes and Alzheimer's - and might even stop forgetfulness in old age
Applying electric shocks to the brain can improve memory, researchers have found. They say the discovery could open new avenues for treating strokes, early-stage Alzheimer's and even the normal effects of aging on the brain. They used a non-invasive technique of delivering electrical current using magnetic pulses, called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
It isn't possible to directly stimulate the hippocampus with TMS because it's too deep in the brain for the magnetic fields to penetrate. So, using an MRI scan, Voss and colleagues identified a superficial brain region a mere centimeter from the surface of the skull with high connectivity to the hippocampus. He wanted to see if directing the stimulation to this spot would in turn stimulate the hippocampus. It did.
'I was astonished to see that it worked so specifically,' Voss said.