March 30, 2016

“We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy"

IBD  Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare

Former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer,  “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,” said Edenhofer, who co-chaired the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015.

So what is the goal of environmental policy?  “We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy,” said Edenhofer.
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Last year, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, made a similar statement, "This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said in anticipation of last year’s Paris climate summit.

Climate Change: The Greatest-Ever Conspiracy Against The Taxpayer

Climate change is the biggest scam in the history of the world – a $1.5 trillion-a-year conspiracy against the taxpayer, every cent, penny and centime of which ends in the pockets of the wrong kind of people, none of which goes towards a cause remotely worth funding, all of it a complete and utter waste.
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Well it has often been said – and there is much anecdotal evidence to support this – that after the Berlin Wall came down the left had a bit of a problem. Capitalism had won the economic argument. Where could the left go next?    But the solution was there waiting them – the green movement. In the guise of saving the world’s environment they could advance all their usual obsessions – control, regulation, state intervention, puritanism, compulsory immiseration – though this time with a smiling, fluffy face. Watermelons they call them: green on the outside, red on the inside.

So the Berlin Wall came down but it never really went away. And sometimes I look at the world and what has been happening with the rise and rise of green lunacy and I ask myself: did the right side really win the Cold War or is it just an illusion?

Green Europe is Killing 40,000 Poor People a Year

Europe’s suicidal green energy policies are killing at least 40,000 people a year.  That’s just the number estimated to have died in the winter of 2014 because they were unable to afford fuel bills driven artificially high by renewable energy tariffs.

But the real death toll will certainly be much higher when you take into account the air pollution caused when Germany decided to abandon nuclear power after Fukushima and ramp up its coal-burning instead; and also when you consider the massive increase in diesel pollution –  the result of EU-driven anti-CO2 policies – which may be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:06 PM | Permalink

Impact of Vaccines

I've yet to see a more startling and convincing set of graphs than those published in the Wall St Journal showing  The Impact of Vaccines in Battling Infectious Diseases in the 20th century

 Impact Of Vaccines-2

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2016

Poisoning the water supply

Muslim hackers infiltrate water utility’s control system, change levels of chemicals used to treat tap water

The location of the utility has not been revealed and its name has been changed in Verizon’s report, but given the fact of Verizon’s involvement, this likely happened in the U.S. — all the other incidents discussed in the report linked in The Register’s article took place in America. And we know that jihadis have long wanted to poison the water supply. As far back as 2002, the feds arrested two jihadis who were carrying plans about how to poison water supplies. In 2003, al-Qaeda threatened to poison water supplies in Western countries. In 2011, a jihadi in Spain likewise planned to poison water supplies.

And in May 2013, seven Muslim “chemical engineers” were caught trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir, a key supply of water for Boston, after midnight. Only months later and indirectly did we hear that it was a “criminal matter.” A month later, locks were cut at the aqueduct that supplies water to Greater Boston. 

Also in May 2013, jihadists were caught in Canada who had considered poisoning air and water to murder up to 100,000 people. In October 2013, the FBI was investigating a possible water supply threat in Wichita. In January 2014, a Muslim broke into a water treatment plant in New Jersey.

The Register article by John Leyden Water treatment plant hacked, chemical mix changed for tap supplies

The cyber-attack is documented in this month’s IT security breach report from Verizon Security Solutions. The utility in question is referred to using a pseudonym, Kemuri Water Company, and its location is not revealed.

A "hacktivist" group with ties to Syria compromised Kemuri Water Company’s computers after exploiting unpatched web vulnerabilities in its internet-facing customer payment portal, it is reported.
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Verizon's RISK Team uncovered evidence that the hacktivists had manipulated the valves controlling the flow of chemicals twice – though fortunately to no particular effect. It seems the activists lacked either the knowledge of SCADA systems or the intent to do any harm.

The same hack also resulted in the exposure of personal information of the utility’s 2.5 million customers. There’s no evidence that this has been monetised or used to commit fraud.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:07 PM | Permalink

The Pension Bomb

If you kick the can down the road enough,  eventually it will explode.  Taxpayers will have to deal with the damage and it will be ugly.

NYT:  Citigroup Study Finds Public Pension Promises Exceed Ability to Pay

When Detroit went bankrupt in 2013, investors were shocked to learn that the city had promised pensions worth billions more than anyone knew — creating a financial pileup that ultimately meant big, unexpected losses for Detroit’s bondholders.

Now, researchers at Citigroup say the groundwork has been laid for similar conflicts across the developed world: Governments have promised much more than they can most likely pay to current and future retirees, without revealing the disparity to investors who bought government bonds and whose investments could be at risk.Twenty countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have promised their retirees a total $78 trillion, much of it unfunded, according to the Citigroup report. That is close to twice the $44 trillion total national debt of those 20 countries, and the pension obligations are “not on government balance sheets,” Citigroup said.

“Total global government debt may be three times as large as people currently think it is,” the researchers warned,

Thomas Lifson calls it The great global governing elite scam

This staggering level of debt simply can’t be paid by taxpayers.  The stark fact is that governments all over the Western world have enriched themselves and created a protected elite of their own employees comparable to a feudal system in which the peasants struggle to survive while handing over all of their surplus to a governing elite that rules them.

American Interest comments on the "explosive report".

It’s an unpleasant reality that’s dawning on the Western world: the comfortable 20th century welfare state only appeared sustainable while the baby boomers were in the active workforce. As that venerable cohort ages (and reaps the considerable benefits provided by advances in medicine to live into a ripe old age), the demographics have shifted, and the underlying numbers just don’t add up any more: there are fewer and fewer working people available to support an aging population.

The adjustments the world over are going to be painful and ugly, when people at the end of their working lives realize that the comfortable retirement they were counting on is anything but assured.

California Audit Reveals Pension Debt Grew by 2,000%

Government accounting rules have forced a California audit that has revealed an increase in the “debt” it owes for pension liability by 2,000 percent this year. The state could nearly double the debt again next year when it is forced to account for unfunded retiree health benefits.
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For taxpayers, California’s balance sheet increase amounts to $8,694 per state household, and is almost equal to the entire $117.5 billion in state spending for 2016....With the addition of the GASB’s required balance sheet adjustments, each of California’s approximately 12.7 million households now is on the hook for about $31,904 in pension obligations.

Chicago pensions are the worst in the nation

The city of Chicago is the local government most burdened by unfunded retirement plans in the nation, with a pension debt that's more than eight times annual revenues, according to a new study by Moody's Investors Service.

WSJ  Europe Faces Pension Predicament

State-funded pensions are at the heart of Europe’s social-welfare model, insulating people from extreme poverty in old age. Most European countries have set aside almost nothing to pay these benefits, simply funding them each year out of tax revenue. Now, European countries face a demographic tsunami, in the form of a growing mismatch between low birthrates and high longevity, for which few are prepared.
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“Western European governments are close to bankruptcy because of the pension time bomb,” said Roy Stockell, head of asset management at Ernst & Young. “We have so many baby boomers moving into retirement [with] the expectation that the government will provide.”

Zero Hedge comments in How Stupid Do You Have To Be To Let This Happen?

In fact the only thing that can be reasonably described as preparation is the decision to ramp up immigration. This might have worked if Europe had chosen more compatible immigrants, but that’s a subject for a different column. For now let’s focus on insanely stupid choice number one, which is to offer entitlements with no funding mechanism other than future tax revenue. If an insurance company or corporate pension plan did something like that its executives would be led away in handcuffs — rightfully so, since the essence of such deferred-payout entities is an account that starts small and grows to sufficient size as its beneficiaries begin to need it.

So what the Europeans have aren’t actually pensions, but a form of election fraud designed to give an entire generation of politicians the ability to offer free money to voters without consequence.

‘You Can See It All Over. It’s Unwinding’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2016

Europe is again at war

Europe is again at war by John R. Schindler

It’s time to admit the extent of Europe’s problem with Islamic radicalism. This isn’t mere terrorism any longer, this is guerrilla war.
The bombings at Zaventem airport and the Brussels metro at current count killed 31 and injured 270—over 300 casualties in all. Belgium is not accustomed to such a bloodbath. ... Belgium is a small country. Relative to population, this would be equivalent to 900 dead Americans and a staggering 7,800 wounded. To say nothing of the symbolism of yesterday’s attack on the metro near Maelbeek station in downtown Brussels, right next to the offices of the European Union. Striking at the very heart of the European project, revealing its vulnerability to even a handful of ardent madmen, sends a powerful message that nobody can miss.
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Belgian intelligence has long been short of funds and personnel and above all any political will to do anything substantive about the country’s vast jihadist problem. Belgium’s chronically dysfunctional politics have played a toxic role, as has the general Western European tendency to avert eyes and hope for the best regarding the growing radicalism of whole swathes of young people in the Muslim ghettos that exist in most of their cities now.

As I’ve explained before, there is no intelligence solution to this problem. Although more funds and better information sharing will surely help prevent some terrorism—and especially catch terrorists after they kill innocents—the threat is now so great, with Europe possessing thousands of homegrown radicals bent on murder, that mere spying cannot prevent all attacks “left of boom” as the professionals put it.  Maintaining 24/7 human and technical surveillance on just one target requires something like two dozen operatives, and even the larger European security services can effectively watch only a few handfuls of would-be terrorists at one time.
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Europe is now at war again. The threat today is less terrorism than a low-grade insurgency, a guerrilla war of sorts, that hangs over much of the continent as thousands of jihadists, made proficient killers by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, return home with visions of killing “infidels,” their former neighbors. There will be no parley or negotiation with such mass murderers.
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When that violence comes, a practically disarmed Europe will be all but powerless to stop it. To take the case of Belgium, at the Cold War’s end a generation ago, its army had seven brigades with 18 infantry battalions, plus some 30 more battalions in the reserve. Today, Belgium’s army has only two brigades and six infantry battalions, some 3,000 bayonets in all. That tiny force would have trouble exerting control over even one bumptious Brussels neighborhood in the event of serious crisis.
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And when politics fail, violence follows, and violence on a large scale becomes war.

I believe it.  Just take a look at these links from the past week.
Belgium terror incompetence laid bare: How all THREE Brussels suicide bombers were flagged up by Turkish authorities and left to commit mass murder in Europe.  No bullets in rifles!    Belgian soldiers deployed to fight terrorists had no bullets in rifles.

Brussels cancels peace march amid fears ISIS will use it to launch ANOTHER brutal attack.  Authorities cancelled the march as it would be difficult to properly police without drawing resources away from the manhunt for the dangerous terrorists responsible for the attacks on the Metro and airport that killed 34 and injured more than 300.

Sick Irony: One Of The Brussels Terrorists Was A “Migrants Rights Activist” 

Brussels terrorists used highly-volatile explosive called Mother of SATAN in their bombs and may have had outside help.

Sleeper cells    ISIS have 400 trained fighters in Europe who are poised to unleash more terror attacks with orders to wait for the right time to cause maximum carnage.  ISIS 'sleeper cells' are reported to be plotting more than 20 deadly terror attacks on Britain's streets in a follow-up to the atrocities in Brussels and Paris while  MI5 are tracking more than FIFTY hardcore jihadis who are thought to be planning attacks in Britain .

Dirty Bomb

Fears over the vulnerability of the nuclear installations in Belgium a country with a history of security lapses at its nuclear facilities, a weak intelligence apparatus and a deeply rooted terrorist network.  "Dirty Bomb" Fears Rise.  The Brussels terrorists may have been plotting to make a radioactive bomb after it emerged 11 nuclear power plant workers have had their site access revoked amid fears of 'insider help'.
Jihadi brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui had secretly filmed the daily routine of Belgium's nuclear program chief, before they blew themselves up at Brussels airport and on a Metro train.  Belgian Nuclear Plant Guard Murdered, Security Badge Stolen Days After Attack
Police say it was a criminal and not a terrorist attack since the guard was killed in his bathroom.  Two Belgian nuclear power plant workers fled to Syria to join ISIS

Holy Week
In Glasgow Muslim shopkeeper who wished his 'beloved Christian nation' a Happy Easter is stabbed 30 times by a FELLOW MUSLIM who sat laughing on his dying victim's chest.

ISIS 'crucifies Catholic priest on Good Friday' after kidnapping him from old people's home where four nuns were shot dead.

Taliban jihadi kills 72 and injures 300 by targeting Christians celebrating Easter in a Lahore, Pakistan park.

Elsewhere
ISIS attacked the town of Taza in northern Iraq with mustard gas shells.  Three people were killed including a six-month-old baby and 1,500 were injured.  Dozens of victims are being flown to Ankara, Turkey for medical treatment

Teenage ISIS suicide bomber blows himself up at a FOOTBALL STADIUM near Baghdad, killing at least 65 people and injuring more than 60

Continuing Threats

ISIS supporters in Belgium cheer Brussels attacks in calling it a "new 9/11" and pledging further terror atrocities in Europe.

British ISIS fighters threaten Heathrow and Downing Street in chilling video celebrating Brussels terror attacks

Middle-class jihadis plotting bloodbath on London streets: 'Turnup Terror Squad' plotted to gun down soldiers, police and civilians in ISIS-inspired drive-by shootings

Brussels slaughter 'just a taste' of what is coming, warns ISIS chief executioner
In a chilling ISIS video Hicham Chaib, responsible for countless beheadings, crucifixions and amputations in Syria, tells the West that ISIS will 'kill your people' during a rant over air strikes in the country....At the end of the nine-minute video, the 34-year-old executes a kneeling ISIS prisoner, shooting him in the head.

ISIS Supporters Release Video with Exploding Eiffel Tower
To you western Kafir, you that meant to fight Islam," the narrator warns, "vengeance is coming" against the "new crusaders," and "it will be welcomed by Allah's permission." The video threatens to "rip your cross," showing video of ISIS members tearing down church crosses in the territory occupied by the Islamic State. "So we will invade London, Brussels and Berlin, like we did in Paris before."

Top Jihadist Claims Brussels, Paris Are Terror Rehearsals for ‘Big’ Attack Inside U.S.

Another Top Jihadist Claims Islamic State Has Agents Working in Western Airports.  That's easy to believe when we learn that the TSA failed to vet 73 employees with terror ties working at 40 U.S. airports

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

When English Fails

There are at least 216 foreign words for positive emotional states and concepts that we don't have in English

Tim Lomas at the University of East London has begun a deep investigation into all the non-English words for positive emotions and concepts that don't have a direct translation in English.

I've selected my favorites from his initial findings.  He is continually updating his list online, so if you know of other words, add them.

Words relating to feelings:
Gula – Spanish for the desire to eat simply for the taste
Schnapsidee – German for coming up with an ingenious plan when drunk
Gokotta – Swedish for waking up early to listen to bird song
Suaimhneas croi – Gaelic for the happiness that comes from finishing a task
Iktsuarpok – Inuit for the anticipation felt when waiting for someone
Words relating to relationships:
Nakama – Japanese for friends who one considers like family
Gigil – Philippine Tagalog for the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because you love them so much
Kilig – Tagalog for the butterflies in the stomach you get when interacting with someone you find attractive
Myotahapea – Finnish for vicarious embarrassment
Mudita – Sanskrit for reveling in someone else's joy

Words relating to character:
Sitzfleisch – German for the ability to persevere through hard or boring tasks (literally "sit meat")
Baraka – Arabic for a gift of spiritual energy that can be passed from one person to another
Desenrascanco – Portuguese for the ability to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation
Sprezzatura – Italian for when all art and effort are concealed beneath a "studied carelessness"
Kao pu – Chinese for someone who is reliable and responsible and gets things done without causing problems for others
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

March 26, 2016

US Elections Are Way More Crooked Than You Thought

New Study Shows That US Elections Are Way More Crooked Than You Thought

The latest report from the Electoral Integrity Project is as surprising as it is expected. The annual survey measuring the integrity of elections around the world (this year, surveying elections between 2012 and 2015, based on the opinions of 2,000 election experts worldwide across 49 categories) has found that western Europe scores high, Africa scores low, and that a host of other countries score very differently than you might think.

For starters, if you’re familiar with some of the more absurd US election laws, it may not surprise you that this year’s report finds that the US electoral system ranks lower than any other long-established democracy on Earth (and 47th out of 139 countries overall).

The country received its low marks due to poor performance in the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 congressional elections, mostly in terms of “the quality of the electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance.”

The report also finds that these trends are holding strong, if not getting worse, as the US moves closer to Election Day 2016.

Voter ID laws in every state would help.  So would the elimination of absentee ballots, except for those homebound.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

"What happens to your relationships when your emotional perception changes overnight?"

I missed this fascinating report last week.

An Experimental Autism Treatment Cost Me My Marriage  John Elder Robinson

What happens to your relationships when your emotional perception changes overnight? Because I’m autistic, I have always been oblivious to unspoken cues from other people. My wife, my son and my friends liked my unflappable demeanor and my predictable behavior. They told me I was great the way I was, but I never really agreed.

For 50 years I made the best of how I was, because there was nothing else I could do. Then I was offered a chance to participate in a study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Investigators at the Berenson-Allen Center there were studying transcranial magnetic stimulation, or T.M.S., a noninvasive procedure that applies magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain
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The intervention succeeded beyond my wildest dreams — and it turned my life upside down.... Before the T.M.S., I had fantasized that the emotional cues I was missing in my autism would bring me closer to people. The reality was very different. The signals I now picked up about what my fellow humans were feeling overwhelmed me. They seemed scared, alarmed, worried and even greedy. The beauty I envisioned was nowhere to be found.

Seeing emotion didn’t make my life happy. It scared me, as the fear I felt in others took hold in me, too.
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And the hardest thing: It cost me a marriage. When I met my former wife (a decade before the T.M.S.), she was seriously depressed. She’d accepted my autistic even keel, and I accepted her often quiet sadness. I never really felt her depression, so we complemented each other. She could read other people much better than I could, and I relied on her for that.

Then came the T.M.S. With my newfound ability I imagined myself joyfully shedding a cloak of disability. I thought she would be happy, but instead she said matter of factly, “You won’t need me anymore.” My heart hurt, and I felt unspeakably sad. Later, people at work told me they’d liked me better the way I was before....I’d lived with my wife’s chronic depression all those years because I did not share it. After the T.M.S., I felt the full force of her sadness, and the weight of it dragged me under.
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It took me five years to find a new balance and stability. In that time, my sense that I could see into people’s souls faded. Yet the experience left me forever changed. Before the T.M.S., discussions of emotions were like cruel taunts to me; it was as if someone were describing beautiful color to a person who saw in black and white. Then, in an instant, the scientists turned on color vision. Even though that vision faded, the memory of its full brilliance will remain with me always.

I’m married again, to someone who’s emotionally insightful. To my amazement, she became best friends with my first wife, and helped me reconnect with my son. She started a tradition of family dinners and gatherings, and brought new warmth into my life. Even more, she helped me become part of a web of emotional connectedness I’d never known before, and surely could not have known pre-T.M.S.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

Miscellany 37

The Clothes Horse

At the annual Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire, the handsome Irish chestnut gelding, Morestead, who will be 11 in two weeks, struttin' in his tweed ensemble. And his friend, 20-time champion and former jockey, Sir Anthony McCoy in matching style. The dapper suit is a first of its kind, took 4 weeks and it took Emma Sandham-King more than 59 ft of tweed to make.

 Tweedhorse

I've waited my whole life for this moment.

Of Mouse and Men

Nearing his 90th year, Mickey has not only outlived his adversaries, he has conquered them. Emerson famously advised his readers that if they built a better mousetrap, people would beat a path to their doors. Walt Disney wisely ignored his advice. Instead of a better trap, he built a better mouse, and the world paved a superhighway to his property.

Pigeons wearing tiny backpacks tweet about air pollution

Equipped with little backpack sensors, a group of London pigeons are flying around the city measuring and live-tweeting air pollution levels.

In Search of Ambergris  A highly prized slurry of squid beaks and whale feces also known as the secret ingredient in Chanel No. 5.

Enchanting Storybook GIFs Animated by artist known as ‘Sparrows’

Each storybook animation features some form of magical realism where pelicans play scrabble, tattoos bloom from skin, or breakfasts appear to cook themselves. Sparrows tells us that she works professionally as an illustrator, but these brief standalone pieces are just ideas she wants to exist outside of her head.

Longreads.  Loving Books in a Dark Age

In the “dark ages” of Europe, people began reading silently to themselves, and a love of books and learning took hold, pioneered by Bede.

The people of Bhutan celebrate the birth of the king and queen's first son by planting 108,000 trees across the nation

 Bhutan-King-Queen-Newborn

In Buddhism, trees are symbols of longevity, health, beauty and compassion. The number of saplings was also symbolic, as Buddhists believe each person is required to overcome 108 defilements in order to achieve enlightenment.
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"We are now nurturing the plants as if we are nurturing the little prince."

 Bhutenese Plant 108,000 Trees

The incredible true story of Colonel Sanders: How the bad-tempered creator of KFC once SHOT a business rival and served dinner to scientists while they worked on the Hiroshima bomb.

The Monarch butterfly population is skyrocketing in the forests of Mexico where the butterflies spend their winters, a new survey has found.
The increase in the butterflies was absolutely massive: there were three and a half times more of them this winter compared to last winter, and the vibrant orange and black creatures blanketed 10 acres of forest, according to a CBS News report.

Why the song "Danny Boy" is so popular

“Songs like 'Danny Boy' that last 100 years are rare. They appear simple, but are beautifully complicated. You need a bunch of keys to unlock the mysteries of 'Danny Boy,' but I believe one of its most essential elements is its emotional dialectic – loss and hope, joy and pain, sunshine and shadow – and these lie at the very center of all our lives.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 AM | Permalink

March 24, 2016

“We’re attacked about every 7 seconds, 24 hours a day,” CIO Beth Israel Deaconess hospital

5 Major Hospital Hacks: Horror Stories from the Cybersecurity Frontlines

In real-world war, combatants typically don’t attack hospitals. In the cyber realm, hackers have no such scruples. “We’re attacked about every 7 seconds, 24 hours a day,” says John Halamka, CIO of the Boston hospital Beth Israel Deaconess. And the strikes come from everywhere: “It’s hacktivists, organized crime, cyberterrorists, MIT students,” he says.
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These attacks may all sound like nightmare scenarios, but the experts say they’re becoming almost routine. And hospitals have not made cybersecurity a priority in their budgets, Halamka says: “In healthcare, we spent about 2 percent on IT, and security might be 10 percent of that.” Compare that percentage to the security spending by financial firms: “Fidelity spends 35 percent of its budget on IT,” he says. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 AM | Permalink

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.’

Why three men, a Catholic father of a West Point grad, a red diaper baby from New Zealand and an American Muslim, let go of earlier beliefs they once held with certainty.  When, as  Abraham Lincoln said,  ‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.’ 

Charles J Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia tells the story about a friend of his during a speech at Brigham Young University entitled Living as a Believer in the Nation We Have Now

I have a friend of many years, a man committed to his wife and family, well-educated and very Catholic, whose son attended West Point. Over the years he’s taken great pride in his son, and in the ideals of the military academy. He’s still proud of his son. And he still admires the legacy of West Point.  But he would never send another child to a service academy. He simply doesn’t believe that America, as it currently stands, is the same country he once loved. And, in his words, it’s not worth risking a son or a daughter to fight for it. The America he sees nowan America of abortion, confused sex, language police, entitlements, consumer and corporate greed, clownish politics, and government bullying of religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor—is different in kind, not merely in degree, from the nation he thought he knew. It’s no longer a country he considers his own. And keep in mind that this is a man of the cultural right, where support for the military has typically been strong.

Michael Faraday grew up as a 'red diaper baby" in New Zealand and now witnesses what if was like inside a 'faith of lies' and what it took to leave  The Mind of the Left from an Insider

We didn't call it socialism. We called it "workers' rights.” In my family, my older siblings and I were the third generation of socialists. We never chose socialism, we inherited it. In the late ‘60s, the younger middle-class joined us.  It is especially in the British Commonwealth that millions have been raised by leftists, who were raised by leftists, who were raised by leftists, and so on. Some leftist families have been so for more than a century. They consider themselves leftist royalty.

For the millions raised as leftists, it is not an ideology; it is a culture. Since childhood, they have lived and breathed it every day in the home. They know nothing else. Like any culture, it is a way of speaking, thinking and acting, with its own narratives and rituals. Narratives are held sacred, repeated, reinforced and, over time, added to. That which challenges sacred narratives, even reality itself, is met with confusion and hostility. As with any aggressive, intolerant culture, if you enter it, it enters you.

Contrary to opinion, leftism isn't just about hate. Leftists are more complex than that. From my time as a red diaper leftist, I can tell you that a whole range of emotions are involved. Hate, anger, fear, bitterness, jealousy, envy, rage, greed, pride, smugness and paranoia.....With such a parade of negative emotions, it is no surprise that so many leftists suffer from chronic depression, often from a young age. Even if they lose the anger, they still retain the attitude: that the government must fix everyone’s problems, regardless of cost and that there is an enormous right-wing conspiracy that is just around the corner....The victim narrative of the Left is very infectious. You are always the victim and you are always owed something. The wealthy are always evil, while you are always good and wholesome...The victim narrative was in every conversation......

Nabeel Qureshi  writes The Quran's deadly role in inspiring Belgian slaughter

As a Muslim growing up in the United States, I was taught by my imams and the community around me that Islam is a religion of peace. My family modeled love for others and love for country, and not just by their words. My father served in the U.S. Navy throughout my childhood, starting as a seaman and retiring as a lieutenant commander. I believed wholeheartedly a slogan often repeated at my mosque after 9/11: “The terrorists who hijacked the planes also hijacked Islam.”

Yet as I began to investigate the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad’s life for myself in college, I found to my genuine surprise that the pages of Islamic history are filled with violence. How could I reconcile this with what I had always been taught about Islam?
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The Quran itself reveals a trajectory of jihad reflected in the almost 23 years of Muhammad’s prophetic career....,Starting with peaceful teachings and proclamations of monotheism, Muhammad's message featured violence with increasing intensity, culminating in surah 9, chronologically the last major chapter of the Quran, and its most expansively violent teaching....Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45).
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I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.
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As more and more Western Muslims encounter ISIL’s claims and the surprising violence in their own tradition, many will be looking for ways out of the moral quandary this poses for them. We need to be equipped to provide alternatives to violent jihad, alternatives that address the root of why so many Muslims are radicalizing in the first place. Any solution, political or otherwise, that overlooks the spiritual and religious roots of jihad can have only limited effectiveness.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:15 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2016

Health roundup: Switching off Cancer, Reversing Osteoporosis, Reversing Diabetes and Hope for Stroke Victims

Cancer breakthrough as scientists uncover HOW diseased cells take first steps away from their tumor to spread through the body

Cancer cells remodel their environment in order to reach nearby blood vessels, scientists have revealed. Doing so allows them to more easily spread – or metastasize – throughout the body. Cancer metastasis is responsible for 90 per cent of cancer deaths, according to experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And, scientists have found that high levels of a certain protein – called MenaINV - are linked to metastasis and earlier death among breast cancer patients, in particular. Thus, finding a way to block that protein could help prevent metastasis, experts revealed.

Scientists discover how to 'switch off' cancer: Remarkable breakthrough means diseased cells can be made healthy again

Scientists have found a code for turning off cancer, it was announced today. In exciting experiments, they made cancerous breast and bladder cells benign again. And they believe many other types of cancer should be in their grasp. They said that their work reveals ‘an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer’. Most importantly, it uncovers ‘a new strategy for cancer therapy’.

The work is still at an early stage but brings with it hope that cancer will take fewer lives in the future. Unlike conventional cancer drugs, which work by killing cancer, the US work aims to disarm it and render them harmless. The breakthrough focuses on a protein called PLEKHA7 that helps healthy cells clump together.

The research, from the Mayo Clinic in Florida, showed it to be missing or faulty in a range of cancers. When this happens, key genetic instructions to the cells are scrambled and they turn cancerous. A research team, led by Panos Anastasiadis, was able to reset the instructions – turning off the cancer. Experiments in a dish showed that human cells from highly dangerous bladder cancers can be made normal again.
Dr Anastasiadis said: ‘Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising.’ He thinks the approach, detailed in the journal Nature Cell Biology, would apply to most cancers, other than brain and blood cancers.

However, much more research is needed before the technique is tried out on people for the first time. And even if the therapy did help patients, it is likely they would still need chemotherapy. British experts described the research as ‘beautiful’ and ‘absolutely fascinating’. But they cautioned that it is still a long way from helping people.

Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: ‘This important study solves a long-standing biological mystery, but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. 'There’s a long way to go before we know whether these findings, in cells grown in a laboratory, will help treat people with cancer.’ He added that such work is ‘crucial’ if ‘the encouraging progress against cancer we’ve seen in recent years’ is to continue.

Hope for stroke victims: Zapping the brains of patients with electricity can restore strength and grip after just nine treatments

Zapping the brains of stroke patients with electricity could greatly improve their recovery, Oxford University research suggests.
Men and women whose arms and hands had been weakened by a stroke found it easier to reach, lift and grasp after nine short sessions of electrical brain stimulation.  One was able to peel a banana and another could cut a steak for the first time in years.

While such improvements may seem small to the able-bodied, they could have a big impact on quality of life.
Even small changes strength or dexterity that allow people to do up their buttons or brush their teeth could boost independence.
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The technique trialled in Oxford involved a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS.  It involves passing a gentle 'tingling' current through the damaged part of the brain, in the hope of increasing the number of messages passed between brain cells.....
Tests showed the improvements lasted for three months and the patients say they are still feeling the benefit today, four years on.

Osteoporosis in mice reversed with single injection of stem cells

Age-related osteoporosis, where the bone structure deteriorates and becomes more vulnerable to fracture, is said to affect more than 200 million people worldwide. Drugs are available to treat or delay the condition, but a cure has remained elusive. Much-needed help may now be on the way, however, with scientists discovering healthy bone structure can be restored in mice with a single injection of stem cells.

Researchers at the University of Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital had previously found a causal effect between mice developing age-related osteoporosis and a deficiency in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). One of the promising attributes of MSCs is that, while they can grow into different cells in the body just like other stem cells, they can be transplanted without the need for a match.  "We reasoned that if defective MSCs are responsible for osteoporosis, transplantation of healthy MSCs should be able to prevent or treat osteoporosis," says William Stanford, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and Professor at the University of Ottawa.

To put this reasoning to the test, the scientists injected MSCs into mice with the condition. Six months later, which is one quarter of the life span of the animal, they observed a healthy functional bone in place of the damaged one. "We had hoped for a general increase in bone health," says John E. Davies, co-author of the study. "But the huge surprise was to find that the exquisite inner 'coral-like' architecture of the bone structure of the injected animals – which is severely compromised in osteoporosis – was restored to normal."

According to the scientists, these results could form the basis for new ways of treating or indefinitely postponing the onset of osteoporosis. The team is currently waiting on the results of trials where elderly patients were injected with MSCs to investigate various outcomes. If these show improvements to bone health, the team hopes dedicated trials will commence in the next five years.

Dieting for just eight weeks can reverse your diabetes: Experts say restricting food for two months could eradicate the disease

A crash diet lasting just eight weeks can reverse type 2 diabetes, experts have found.  Even people who had suffered with diabetes for a decade saw their condition eradicated after they restricted their eating for two months.  And six months after stopping the diet, participants in the Newcastle University trial were still free of the disease, suggesting that the condition had effectively been reversed.

Type 2 diabetes occurs either when the body does not produce enough insulin to control the blood sugar – or the cells don’t react to it. The condition is often linked to obesity and usually occurs in middle age, coming with a risk of limb amputations, heart attacks and vision loss.
Experts used to think that once the disease had taken hold, it was incurable. But a growing body of evidence suggests that losing weight could reverse the condition. Scientists think that this is because removing fat from the pancreas allows insulin production to return to normal, eradicating the problem at the root of the disease.  Now, a British trial has suggested that the condition could not only be reversible – but that the reverse could come in a matter of weeks.
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‘Type 2 diabetes can now be understood to be a metabolic syndrome potentially reversible by substantial weight loss, and this is an important paradigm shift.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's

Breakthrough MIT study: Memories lost to Alzheimer’s may be recovered

An MIT neuroscientist has made a breakthrough discovery that researchers say will open countless doors for future treatments: memories obscured by the devastating illness have the potential to be restored.  “The big message is that there is a way to strengthen these memory cells,” said Dheeraj Roy, doctoral student at MIT and lead author on the study. “If we had a way of restoring the memory of patients, we think this could have a huge impact on society.”

A paper published today online in the science journal “Nature” outlines the study by Roy and his colleagues, which found genetically engineered mice with early-stage Alzheimer’s could recall seemingly “lost” events when memory cells in the brain were stimulated. The study involved both healthy and memory-impaired mice that were put in boxes and given a shock. Those that did not suffer from memory-loss froze out of fear when placed back in the box. The Alzheimer’s mice were not afraid. The researchers used a technique known as optogenetics on the mice with memory loss: They injected the memory cells, called “engram cells,” with a light-sensitive protein and activated them using blue light. The mice immediately showed fear.

The MIT researchers noted that the engram cells of Alzheimer’s mice were missing tiny buds called dendritic spines, which allow neurons to communicate with each other. The study’s revelations have sent a ripple through the Alzheimer’s research community, and have effectively “shattered a 20-year paradigm of how we’re thinking about the disease,” said Rudy Tanzi, a Harvard neurology professor, who is not involved in the research.  “Since the mid-’80s, it’s been thought that these memories just weren’t getting stored,” Tanzi said. “This paper shows that the information is getting stored — we just can’t access it.”

Another reason to floss.  Gum disease may signal faster Alzheimer’s decline

For people with Alzheimer’s disease, having gum disease is tied to faster cognitive decline, according to a new study. “What we have shown is that regardless of the severity of dementia (within this mild to moderate impaired group) that patients with more severe gum disease are declining more rapidly,” said senior author Clive Holmes of the University of Southampton in the UK.

Could this implant PREVENT Alzheimer's? Capsule under the skin 'releases antibodies to fight the disease'

Scientists develop an implantable capsule that can prevent Alzheimer's.  The capsule is implanted in tissue under the skin before cognitive symptoms appear and releases a steady flow of antibodies into the bloodstream that target Alzheimer's plaque in the brain. Tests on mice found that the antibodies prevent the plaques from forming.
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A team of experts at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland developed the implantable bioactive capsule to deliver a steady and safe flow of antibodies to clear the brain of amyloid plaques. The capsule  is made of two permeable membranes that are sealed together with a polypropoylene frame – and contains a hydrogel that facilitates cell growth. The capsule’s cells must be compatible with the patient, so that the immune system isn’t triggered against them – just like a transplant. The capsule’s membranes shield the cells from being identified and attacked by the immune system.

The cells are taken from muscle tissues – and permeable membranes allow them to interact with surrounding cells, so that they are able to get the necessary nutrients and molecules. The team of scientists tested the device on mice genetically modified with Alzheimer’s disease. The results showed a ‘dramatic reduction’ of the plaque load. Furthermore, the constant flow of antibodies produced by the capsule over 239 weeks prevented the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. The team found that the capsule also reduced the altering of a protein called tau – which is another hallmark of Alzheimer’s. The study was published in the journal Brain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink

March 16, 2016

Health Roundup: Astonishing breast cancer treatment, Talc, Viagra, Chronic stress, Antibiotic fail, Happy gardeners, Curing blindness with stem cells and more

Terminal breast cancer could be wiped out by tweaking an EXISTING treatment, 'astonishing' study declares

Terminal breast cancer has been wiped out, in ‘astounding’ research that raises hope of a cure for thousands of women with the disease.
In tests on mice, their cancer vanished completely for at least eight months.  This is the equivalent of 24 years for a woman and would be judged a lasting cure.  In contrast, current treatments extend life by as little as six months.....Mauro Ferrari, president of the Houston Methodist Research Institute, said: ‘I would never want to over-promise to the thousands of patients looking for a cure but the data is astounding.’
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While the initial tumor that appears on a woman’s breast rarely kills, once the disease starts to eat away at other parts of the body it becomes incurable. Drugs struggle to get to tumors hidden deep in the lungs or liver and once there, they risk being pumped out by cells that have become resistant to treatment.

Dr Ferrari, of the Houston Medical Research Institute, has found an ingenious way of getting round these defenses - and so of potentially curing metastatic cancer. He has taken a widely-used cancer drug called doxorubicin and packed it in microscopic discs made of silicon. The silicon packaging hides the drug from the cancer, allowing it to sneak into its cells. Once inside, the silicon is broken down, releasing the drug, which is in an inactive form. The drug then moves out of reach of the pumps that are poised to eject it and towards the very heart of cell. Once there, the drug is activated and the cell is killed. In tests on mice with terminal disease, all the animals given conventional treatment died. In contrast, half of the creatures given the new treatment were still cancer-free after eight months – roughly 24 years in human terms.

Dr Ferrari says that in future, women with metastatic breast cancer could be given a jab of billions of drug-filled silicon discs into their arm.
This would home in on the tumors riddling their lungs or liver and destroy them.  He hopes to test the treatment on women for the first time next year and says that some of the early drug trials could be in the UK.

Talc 'IS linked to ovarian cancer': Risk of disease is ONE THIRD higher for women who use talcum powder on their genitals.

Women who regularly powder their genitals with talc have a one-third higher risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, scientists have warned. A new study asked 2,041 women with ovarian cancer - and 2,100 free of the disease - about their talcum powder use. Those who routinely apply talc to their genitals, sanitary napkins, tampons and underwear were found to have a 33 per cent higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Lead study author Dr Daniel Cramer, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told Reuters that there must be warning labels on talcum powder. He said: 'This is an easily modified risk factor."  The study comes a week after a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who allegedly died of the disease after using their baby powder.

Chronic stress turns cancer deadly by opening up new routes for the disease to spread quickly through the bloodstream' 

Chronic stress accelerates the spread of cancer, scientists have revealed. A new study found that stress builds lymphatic ‘highways’ that allow cancer cells to move around the body faster. The lymphatic system normally transports immune cells throughout the body to fight illness.

A global wake-up call: common antibiotics are failing in up to half of all children

The most common antibiotics are failing in up to half of children, a study published in the British Medical Journal has found.  The researchers, from Bristol University and Imperial College London, reviewed 58 studies from 26 countries involving 78,000 E.coli patients — in particular those with urinary tract infections, which are common in children. In half of the children the bacteria were resistant to ampicillin. In a quarter of the children the bacteria were resistant to trimethoprim, while co-trimoxazole failed in a third of the children.  The figures were higher still in developing countries. The researchers say that if the trend continues, future treatments could be rendered ineffective.

Viagra promotes the growth of aggressive skin cancer

The drug, sildenafil which is marketed as Viagra and Revatio, is commonly prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction,  A long-term study, published in 2014, of nearly 15,000 men in the US suggested that sildenafil increased the risk of malignant melanoma.
The correlation was confirmed in 2015 in a study of nearly 24,000 men in Sweden.

A new study by researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany found that sildenafil  has a stimulating effect on the messenger molecule cyclic guanosine monophosphate - or cGMP, cGMP, in turn, promotes the growth of existing malignant melanomas. The scientists reached this conclusion through animal experiments and human cell cultures.

Obese women on the Pill are '30 times more likely to suffer a rare type of stroke

Obese women taking oral contraceptives are up to 30 times more at risk of suffering a rare type of stroke, a new study warned.
Dutch researchers found women with a body mass index is above 30 were at a greater risk of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) - a blood clot on the brain.  Although the risk is still low, scientists said women should be informed of the risk and offered alternative contraceptives that are not linked to thrombosis.

How Dirt Makes You Happy: Antidepressant Microbes In Soil

Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.

Lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects. These antidepressant microbes in soil may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt.

Is Your Medicine Right for Your Metabolism?

People can respond to drugs very differently. A medication that brings relief for some patients might show no benefit at all in others, or even cause harmful side effects.  A growing array of genetic tests is designed to help predict how people are likely to respond to many common medications, from antidepressants and antihistamines to pain relievers and blood thinners. The tests, which are controversial, look for tiny variations in genes that determine how fast or slow we metabolize medications.

Because of such gene variations, codeine, frequently prescribed to relieve pain, has little effect on as much as 20% of the population, while 2% of people have such a strong reaction that a normal dose can be life-threatening. About 25% of people can’t effectively absorb Plavix, a clot-busting drug, putting them at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Even everyday drugs such as Advil and Motrin, for pain relief, and Zocor, to lower cholesterol, can have widely varying effects.
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How people’s genes affect their response to medications is called pharmacogenetics. One of the first such drug-gene interactions was identified at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in the 1970s. Researchers discovered that about 1 in 300 children being treated for childhood leukemia had a gene variation that made the drug thiopurine destroy their bone marrow. Now, children are routinely tested before undergoing treatment with the drug.

Scientists have since discovered that about 75% of prescription and over-the-counter drugs depend on a handful of liver enzymes to be absorbed and eliminated from the body. Minor variations in the genes that regulate those enzymes are very common—95% of people have at least one.

On the horizon. New technique to detect cancer and HIV 'could prove 10,000 TIMES more effective, and lead to earlier diagnosis', experts claim

Early detection of most diseases significantly increases the chance of successful treatment.  While one aspect of early diagnosis is luck - whether a patient is screened at the right time, another important aspect is that tests are sensitive enough to pick up on the minuscule changes that diseases leave in the blood stream.  Now scientists at Stanford University have developed a new technique, which they hope will prove thousands of times more sensitive than those currently used in lab experiments.

When a disease, whether it is cancer or a virus like HIV, begins growing in the body, the immune system responds by producing antibodies.
Fishing these antibodies or related biomarkers out of the blood is one way that scientists can discover the presence of a disease.  The new technique looks for a short strand of DNA.  Experts say the new technique is much more sensitive and is better at picking up subtle changes in the blood stream. These changes indicate the presence of disease, they say. Noticing small changes earlier 'increases the chances treatment will work'

The researchers tested their technique, with its signature DNA flag, against four commercially available, FDA-approved tests for a biomarker for thyroid cancer. The new technique outperformed the sensitivity of all of them, by at least 800 times, and as much as 10,000 times.
By detecting the biomarkers of disease at lower concentrations, doctors could theoretically catch diseases far earlier in their progression, the chemists noted.

On the horizon Pioneering stem cell op 'could bring back sight for millions'

A revolutionary technique that harnesses the power of stem cell therapy promises to restore the sight of millions.
Taking as little as 45 minutes, the procedure offers hope to those with age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults globally.  In the breakthrough developed at University College London, doctors inserted a patch of stem cells into the retina of a woman who has lost her central vision.

The procedure, which has attracted the support of medical giant Pfizer, is carried out under local anaesthetic. It involves taking a single embryonic stem cell and growing it into a 6mm patch of 100,000 retinal pigment cells. That patch is then rolled into a thin tube, which is injected through a tiny slit in the eye. Once unfurled, it is placed behind the retina where scientists hope it will replace the faulty cells.

Retinal surgeon Professor Lyndon Da Cruz, who conducted the operation, said at the time: ‘There is real potential that people with wet age-related macular degeneration will benefit in the future from transplantation of these cells.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:29 PM | Permalink

Children need lots of 'free play' to ward off anxiety and depression

There's a reason kids are more anxious and depressed than ever.  They don't play enough.  In 2010,  Lenore Skenazy wrote Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) and started a movement which she documents on her blog. Free Range Kids.  In 2014 The Atlantic examined The Overprotected Kid and the preoccupation with safety that has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer

Now psychologist Peter Gray looks at the statistics and the studies.  The Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders

Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today... five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. ...
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The increased psychopathology seems to have nothing to do with realistic dangers and uncertainties in the larger world. The changes do not correlate with economic cycles, wars, or any of the other kinds of world events that people often talk about as affecting children's mental states. Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, and the turbulent 1960s and early ‘70s than they are today. The changes seem to have much more to do with the way young people view the world than with the way the world actually is.
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One thing we know about anxiety and depression is that they correlate significantly with people's sense of control or lack of control over their own lives. People who believe that they are in charge of their own fate are less likely to become anxious or depressed than those who believe that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control. ---- Yet the data indicate that young people's belief that they have control over their own destinies has declined sharply over the decades.

The standard measure of sense of control is the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale developed by Juien Rotter.  Modified for use with children 9-14 is the Nowicki-Strickland Scale. 

Many studies over the years have shown that people who score toward the Internal end of Rotter's scale fare better in life than do those who score toward the External end. They are more likely to get good jobs that they enjoy, take care of their health, and play active roles in their communities—and they are less likely to become anxious or depressed.
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Julien Twenge analyzed many previous studies from 1960-2002 and the dramatic shift from the Internal to the External end of the scale...the same linear trend as did the rise in depression and anxiety.  The average young person in 2002 was more External than were 80% of young people in the 1960s....

Twenge's own theory is that the generational increases in anxiety and depression are related to a shift from "intrinsic" to "extrinsic" goals. Intrinsic goals are those that have to do with one's own development as a person—such as becoming competent in endeavors of one's choosing and developing a meaningful philosophy of life. Extrinsic goals, on the other hand, are those that have to do with material rewards and other people's judgments. They include goals of high income, status, and good looks. ...

We have much less personal control over achievement of extrinsic goals than intrinsic goals. I can, through personal effort, quite definitely improve my competence, but that doesn't guarantee that I'll get rich. I can, through spiritual practices or philosophical delving, find my own sense of meaning in life, but that doesn't guarantee that people will find me more attractive or lavish praise on me. To the extent that my emotional sense of satisfaction comes from progress toward intrinsic goals I can control my emotional wellbeing. To the extent that my satisfaction comes from others' judgments and rewards, I have much less control over my emotional state.

Of course this shift from intrinsic to extrinsic goals reflects our increasing materialistic culture.  How could it not with constant ads and shows delivering the message that happiness depends on good looks, popularity and material goods.  The author suggests another: Play.

As I pointed out ....children's freedom to play and explore on their own, independent of direct adult guidance and direction, has declined greatly in recent decades. Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.

By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 AM | Permalink

Alzheimer's Roundup : Herpes virus a cause? Strong immune system, blueberries, maple syrup and exercise wards off

Scientists identify a virus and two bacteria that could be causing Alzheimer's

An international group of 31 Alzheimer's researchers has published an editorial urging the science world to change its focus when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. The message is clear - after a decade of failed attempts to treat and prevent the disease, it's time to reassess the evidence that Alzheimer's could be spread by microbes. The editorial specifically implicates the herpes virus - the kind that causes cold sores - and two types of bacteria, all of which have already been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
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Right now, the leading hypothesis is that Alzheimer's is caused by the build-up of sticky amyloid plaques and mis-folded tau proteins in the brain, which break down communication between neurons and lead to memory loss, cognitive decline, and eventually death.

Now the editorial claims it's time to consider the idea that certain viruses or bacteria are triggering this plaque build-up in the first place, and investigate whether antimicrobial drugs could help stop it. They say that the first microbes we should investigate are the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), the chlamydia bacteria, and a type of spiral-shaped bacteria called spirochaetes. ....

"We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease has a dormant microbial component," said Douglas Kell, a chemist from the University of Manchester in the UK, who was one of the editorial's authors. "We can’t keep ignoring all of the evidence."

Remember when stomach ulcers were thought to be caused by spicy food?    Well, in 2005, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to 2 Australian scientists who showed that  inflammation of the stomach and stomach ulcers result from an infection of the stomach caused by H. pylori bacteria. 

Immune cells found to be vital in protecting against Alzheimer's

It was long thought that the immune system does not have much of an effect on Alzheimer’s disease. However, a new study revealed key immune cells located outside of the brain actually help rid the brain of the plaques that build up and trigger the disease.   A team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine genetically modified a group of mice with Alzheimer's to lack those immune cells - B-cells, T-cells and NK-cells.  They were found to have a far larger accumulation of Alzheimer's plaque than mice whose immune systems were intact.
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Study co-author Dr Mathew Blurton-Jones said: ‘We were very surprised by the magnitude of this effect.  We expected the influence of the deficient immune system on Alzheimer’s pathology to be much more subtle.’

Brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's disease developed by US scientists

Alzheimer’s disease could be definitively diagnosed for the first time after scientists proved brain scans can pick up the condition in its earliest stages.  Currently the only way to determine whether Alzheimer’s is present is to look at the brain of a patient after death.
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Researchers at the University of California have proven that it is possible to spot the sticky amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles which cause the disease and pinpoint the moment that they trigger Alzheimer’s disease.
The US scientists were able to track the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s disease, even in adults who showed no symptoms. It means that people at risk from the condition – such as one in five of the population who carry the APOE gene variant – could be regularly screened.

What you can do.  Eat more blueberries

Snacking on blueberries from middle age could prevent dementia developing decades later, scientists say.
Experts told a major US conference that a compound in the berries may strengthen the brain’s defenses against Alzheimer’s....
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....The  benefits are due to anthocyanins, the plant chemicals that give the berries their deep blue/purple color.  They are thought to act on the brain in various ways, including boosting blood flow, cutting inflammation, and enhancing the passage of information between cells. The chemicals may also boost cells’ defenses, an American Chemical Society conference heard. In a second study of people who hadn’t been diagnosed with any memory problems, but simply felt they were becoming more forgetful, the berries also helped boost cognition, although to a lesser extent.

Maple Syrup is another food that could ward off Alzheimer's by protecting the brain against rogue proteins which destroy memory'

Just like blueberries, broccoli and fish, maple syrup  is rich in antioxidants that boost immunity.  Already linked with reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes, maple syrup has been included at the annual American Chemical Society meeting in a list of healthy natural products that could prevent the kind of damage found in dementia.
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The effect was similar to resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine which has been found to help slow dementia. The findings come after scientists from the University of Cincinnati told the same conference in San Diego earlier this week that regularly eating blueberries from middle age could prevent dementia developing decades later. Researchers found an extract of maple syrup may help prevent the misfolding and clumping of two types of proteins found in brain cells - beta amyloid and tau peptide.

In Europe, the LipiDiDiet project is investigating how nutrition impacts the development of Alzheimer's. We have known for a while that diet can reduce the risk of developing dementia. Indeed, certain nutrients have been found to have a neuroprotective effect on the brain," said researcher Tobias Hartmann from Saarland University in Germany and coordinator of the LipiDiDiet project. Nutrient drink helps protect memory in early Alzheimer's patients, study finds

Early results from an ongoing study into Alzheimer's disease in Europe suggest that a commonly available, over-the-counter nutritional supplement could help conserve memory function in patients with the early stages of the disease.  Scientists in Finland have been examining the effects of regular consumption of 'Fortasyn Connect', a patented combination of nutrients, sold under the brand name Souvenaid. While the early findings offer mixed results, the two-year clinical trial of 311 Alzheimer's patients suggests drinking Souvenaid daily does confer benefits to the memory function of people with prodomal (early stage) Alzheimer's...Just one drink a day brought back personal memories.

Don't forget that regular exercise can protect the brain.

In their quest to discover how to prevent the onset of the debilitating condition, a team of experts from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, found that those who are physically active cut their risk of dementia by 50 per cent...Virtually any form of exercise, including jogging, walking, dancing and even gardening, boosts brain volume in older people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2016

Medical breakthroughs: leukemia, organ transplants, breast cancer, schizophrenia and HIV

With all the bad news in the world, it's good to realize how much good news there is in the medical field.

The breakthrough that could halt leukemia in its tracks

Eliminating a protein essential for leukemia cell growth can stop the disease from progressing, scientists have revealed. The protein Hhex is produced in excess in patients with the disease – enabling cancerous cells to ‘grow uncontrollably'; however, the protein isn’t needed by healthy blood cells.  Removing this protein essential for leukemia cell growth can stop the disease from progressing, scientists have revealed and does not cause patients any harm, researchers noted.


And so, scientists from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne targeted Hhex in preclinical disease models. They found they can put a ‘handbrake’ on acute myeloid leukemia cell growth and division. This finding could pave the way for new therapies for leukemia, they said...Acute myeloid leukemia is an aggressive blood cancer that develops suddenly, grows quickly and has a poor prognosis.  Currently, AML treatments are associated with serious side-effects. Nearly three-quarters of patients relapse after only a short period of treatment.

New therapy 'alters the immune system, allowing the body to accept incompatible kidneys'.  Breakthrough means patients could receive organs from ANY donor.

The breakthrough procedure, known as desensitization therapy, allows patients to receive kidneys from live donors, who are not exact matches. Desensitization therapy filters out antibodies that would attack the non-matched organ, from the patient's blood.  Patients who undergo the procedure are more likely to be alive after eight years than those who wait for a kidney from a deceased donor - or don't receive a transplant, according researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Senior study author Dr Dorry Segev, of Johns Hopkins University, told Reuters: 'We used to say if you had a compatible donor, you could do a transplant.  'Now you can say, if you have an incompatible donor, we can make that transplant happen. That's very exciting to those on the waiting list.'

More than 100,000 people are currently on the waiting list in the US for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Breast cancer Tumors shrunk 'dramatically' in 11 days

 Breast Cancer, Mri Scan-Spl-1

A pair of drugs can dramatically shrink and eliminate some breast cancers in just 11 days, UK doctors have shown.
They said the "surprise" findings, reported at the European Breast Cancer Conference, could mean some women no longer need chemotherapy.  The drugs, tested on 257 women, target a specific weakness found in one-in-ten breast cancers.
Experts said the findings were a "stepping stone" to tailored cancer care. The doctors leading the trial had not expected or even intended to achieve such striking results. They were investigating how drugs changed cancers in the short window between a tumor being diagnosed and the operation to remove it.

The drugs were lapatinib and trastuzumab, which is more widely known as Herceptin.They both target HER2 - a protein that fuels the growth of some women's breast cancers. Herceptin works on the surface of cancerous cells while lapatinib is able to penetrate inside the cell to disable HER2.

Breast cancer is now thought of as at least ten separate diseases, each with a different cause, life expectancy and needing a different treatment.  Matching the specific errors in a tumor to targeted drugs is considered the future of cancer medicine.

Scientists crack what causes schizophrenia: Process that 'tidies the brain' in the teenage years goes haywire, landmark study reveals

A game-changing study described as a 'turning point' in tackling mental illness has revealed the biological cause of schizophrenia. For the first time scientists have linked the devastating disease to a physical process, the 'pruning' of unwanted connections between brain neurons.  During the teenage years, the brain undergoes widespread re-wiring that involves 'synaptic pruning'.
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The new study, based on a genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 people from around the world, pinpointed a defective gene that appears to trigger excessive pruning.  Scientists believe it is this that underlies the symptoms of schizophrenia, a severe psychotic condition marked by a loosening grip on reality, delusions, paranoia and hallucinations.

They hope the discovery will lead to more effective treatments targeting the disorder's roots rather than its symptoms. Schizophrenia affects more than 21 million people worldwide and typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Breakthrough as researchers find HIV virus manipulates 400 genes

HIV produces a key protein call Tat that directly binds to 400 human genes which in turn creates an environment in which HIV can thrive and cause AIDS, scientists found at the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Study author Dr Ivan D’Orso said: ‘The findings clearly suggest that blocking Tat activity may be of therapeutic value to HIV patients.’

HIV causes AIDS to develop by hijacking immune cells and killing off cells that normally fight disease.
Also, HIV hides in cells and undermines the host’s immune system – even if antiretroviral therapy is being used.
An estimated 1.2 million people in the US were living with HIV in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 PM | Permalink

Miscellany 36

20 Shots From Popular Movies Show How Visual Effects Transform The Whole Thing.  From now on, I'm giving more credit to actors for their acting with ridiculous props.  Here is Emilia Clarke playing Daenerys Targaryen petting one of her dragons in Game of Thrones.

 Special Effects

Penguin swims 5,000 MILES every year to visit Brazilian man who nursed it back to life after he found it covered in oil and dying on a beach

Retired bricklayer and part time fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, from an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, discovered the tiny penguin languishing on rocks in 2011.  The helpless creature was starving and covered in oil but Mr de Souza took him in and nursed him back to health, naming the South American Magellanic penguin Dindim. When Dindim was well again Mr de Souza released him back into the sea, never expecting to see his new friend again.

He was astonished when, just a few months later, the penguin returned to the island where he recognized Mr de Souza and returned home with him.  Now, Dindim spends eight months of the year with Mr de Souza and spends the rest of his time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile.

 Dindim+ Despouza-1
'I love the penguin like it's my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,' Mr Pereira de Souza told Globo TV.
'No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up.'

21 Reasons To Never Ever Step Inside A Whole Foods Again

Why I’m moving to the place I called ‘America’s worst place to live’

Last summer, Christopher Ingraham  snarkily called Red Cloud, Minnesota, "America's worst place to live."  This summer, the Washington Post reporter is moving there with his whole family. 

A Banana Grows in Iceland, only 177 miles from the Arctic Circle thanks to heat from volcanic hot springs.

Picture of the week: Shaun Cunningham saves his nine-year-old son Landon from being hit in the face.  It was his 9th birthday and Landon was attending his first baseball game and texting a photo to his mom when his father went into protective Dad mode.

 Dad-Saves-Son-From-Bat

The man who was sucked into a nuclear power plant’s sea intake – and LIVED!

Christopher Le Cun, 30, from Florida, was out scuba diving with his friend Robert Blake and they decided to check out huge structures beneath the waves which turned out to be 16ft-wide intake pipes for a nuclear power plant. ...Cun was sucked into one of the structures which turned out to be 16ft-wide intake pipes, capable of draining 500,000 gallons of water per minute into massive pools used to cool the plant's reactors. Cun described the sensation as similar to being sucked over a waterfall, saying he suddenly found himself in complete darkness and still being swept along. ...

Blake, sure he'd just witnessed his friend die, swam back to the boat and broke the news to Cun's wife Brittany, who was sitting in the craft with the couple's young son and daughter.  Meanwhile, hundreds of feet below them, Cun was adrift in total darkness and fearful of being cut to piece by whatever turbine was sucking the water in.He added: 'I contemplated, you know, do I just pull the regulator out of my mouth and just die? I started thinking about my family, you know, how are they going to survive without me?'

After around five minutes Cun was deposited into one of the reservoir pools used to store water before it is pumped into the reactor, where he managed to climb out....Still in his scuba diving gear he confronted a shocked employee who, after several moments of disbelief, got Cun a phone so he could call his wife and tell her he was ok.

Dogs that look like food. Chihuahua or a muffin?

 Chihuahua Or Muffin

Portland-based Karen Zack has also uploaded 'Labradoodle or fried chicken? Puppy or bagel?  Shar Pei or croissant? Dog or mop?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

More on how foods increase or decrease your risk for developing certain diseases

White bread, bagels and rice 'increase the risk of lung cancer by 49%

Many studies suggest carbohydrates are bad for your waistline.  But a new study has warned they may also be bad for your lungs.  Specifically, foods with a high glycemic index - such as white bread or bagels, corn flakes and puffed rice - may increase the risk of lung cancer, scientists say. And non-smokers, who account for 12 per cent of those killed by the disease, appear to be particularly at risk.

The glycemic index is a measure of the quality of dietary carbohydrates - and is defined by how quickly blood sugar levels are raised after a meal. The theory now is that a high-GI diet triggers higher levels of blood glucose and insulin. This, in turn, increases levels of a type of hormone called Insulin-Like Growth Factors (IGFs).  Elevated levels of IGFs have previously been linked with a higher risk of lung cancer.

Lead study author Dr Stephanie Melkonian, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said: 'We observed a 49 per cent increased risk of lung cancer among subjects with the highest daily GI compared to those with the lowest daily GI.'
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Previous studies have found that dietary factors may have an influence on a person's risk of developing lung cancer.
Diets high in fruits and vegetables were found to decrease the risk - while increased consumption of red meat, saturated fats and dairy products are know to increase the risk of the disease.
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The study recommended that people limit foods and beverages with high GI.
Examples of low GI foods include whole-wheat or pumpernickel bread, rolled or steel-cut oatmeal and pasta.

Grapes that are great for your eyes - and could reduce the risk of blindness later in life

The fruit protects against a chemical process known as oxidative stress, which releases harmful molecules called free radicals into the retina, the study found. Grapes are rich in antioxidants that protect healthy cells from DNA damage and it is believed these compounds are behind the eyesight benefits.
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Widely recognized as a superfood, grapes are packed with vitamins C and K and beta- carotene, which help rid the body of free radicals, by-products of oxygen use that cause cellular damage.  Previous research by scientists at the University of Glasgow found that the antioxidant benefits of drinking purple grape juice could also reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Another study, by scientists at Washington State University, found that eating grapes can help prevent weight gain. They contain a compound called resveratrol – also found in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples – that converts bad, white fat in the body into good ‘beige fat’, which burns up calories.


 Grapes-Bunches

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink

The continuing failure of Obamacare

NPR and Harvard agree: Obamacare is a complete failure.

National Public Radio collaborated with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to survey Americans’ recent experience with health care. As to the Affordable Care Act, the survey’s findings are damning. They suggest that Obamacare has been worse than a complete waste of money.
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The survey says more people think health care has gotten worse (26%) than better (15%).  Forty-nine percent of people think health care has stayed about the same.
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Remember how we were all supposed to save $2,500 a year in health insurance premiums? Only 4% say they have saved anything, and those respondents are probably wrong. For the vast majority, Obamacare has either done nothing, or has increased the cost of health care, counting premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Good going, Barry!
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The federal government has had its share of failures over the years, but it is hard to think of a federal program that has proved such a comprehensive disaster, in such a short period of time, as the Affordable Care Act. Which, by the way, still hasn’t been fully implemented, as the Democrats have postponed some of its more baleful effects until 2017. So the number of people who are hurt by Obamacare, e.g. by losing the employer-based coverage with which they were content, is destined to rise.

Over half of the nonprofit health insurance co-ops formed by Obamacare have failed.

These failed ObamaCare co-ops have not repaid $1.2B in federal loans. and still owe more than $1 billion in additional liabilities, according to recent financial statements cited Thursday at a congressional hearing.

“In some states, these losses will be absorbed by other insurance companies—which means, by the policyholders of other insurance companies who have to pay increased … premiums,” he said. “In other states, doctors, hospitals and individual patients stand to suffer large out-of-pocket losses due to the co-op failures—as our report details
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:08 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2016

"If opportunity knocks, and he's not at home, opportunity waits"

 Most-Interesting-Man-In-The-World1-1

Most interesting man in the world faces a forced retirement at 77.
Dos Equis, owned by Amsterdam-based brewer Heineken, has retired the world's reigning "Most Interesting Man" played by veteran actor Jonathan Goldsmith, after roughly nine years during which it nearly tripled its business, to make way for a younger man to take his place.

"Culture has changed very dramatically" since the commercials debuted said Andrew Katz , vice president of marketing.  "Our Millennial drinker has changed quite dramatically, and the competition has only exploded with the advent of craft (beer). We just want to make sure that the (Most Interesting Man) story evolves."


The Daily Mail has a great collection of the ads, including his last before he takes off on a one man mission to Mars in a tuxedo, Adios Amigos. "His only regret," the voiceover says, "is not knowing what regret feels like."

100 Most Interesting Man in the World Quotes

When he drives a car off the lot, its price increases in value
Once a rattlesnake bit him, after 5 days of excruciating pain, the snake finally died
His feet don't get blisters, but his shoes do
He once went to the psychic, to warn her
He wouldn't be afraid to show his feminine side, if he had one.
If he were to pat you on your back, you would list it on your resume
He once brought a knife to a gunfight… just to even the odds
If opportunity knocks, and he's not at home, opportunity waits
Mosquitoes refuse to bite him purely out of respect
Presidents take his birthday off
His cereal never gets soggy. It sits there, staying crispy, just for him.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 PM | Permalink

March 7, 2016

Health Roundup - Food

Citrus fruit intake has been associated with reduced stroke risk.

The key may lie with a citrus phytonutrient called hesperidin, which appears to increase blood flow throughout the body, including the brain....When subjects drank straight orange juice instead of the hesperidin solution, their blood flow was even better. In other words, the stroke-reducing effects of oranges extend beyond just the hesperidin. When it comes to food, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.

 Cruciferous

Forget wonder drugs, you need broccoli and spinach to protect against deadly diseases

Broccoli is incredible. It can prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer spread; activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants; help to prevent lymphoma; boost the enzymes that detox your liver; target breast cancer stem cells; and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression.

The component responsible for all this is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables — including rocket, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spring greens, horseradish, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnip tops and watercress. Sulforaphane may also help protect your brain and your eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation and manage type 2 diabetes. It was even recently found to help treat autism....
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Popeye was right about spinach: dark green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest food on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie.  Of all the food groups analyzed by a team of Harvard University researchers, greens turned out to be associated with the strongest protection against major chronic diseases.  That meant about a 20 per cent reduction in risk for heart attacks and strokes for every additional daily serving. Yet today, only about one in every 25 people even eat a dozen servings in a month, let alone a week.

A healthy diet slows the damaging effects of smoking and helps to prevent lung cancer from spreading 

Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are the biggest killers.  One potential cause of lung cancer may be the fumes from frying food

A healthy diet may help mitigate the DNA-damaging effects of tobacco smoke, as well as perhaps helping prevent lung cancer from spreading...In one study of long-term smokers, as little as a single stalk of broccoli a day resulted in  41 per cent fewer DNA mutations in their bloodstream over ten days — and it seems the broccoli wasn't just helping their livers work better, but making them more resilient at a subcellular level. ...
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, makes it difficult to breathe and gets worse over time. Data going back 50 years show that a high intake of fruit and vegetables aids good lung function. Just one extra serving of fruit each day may mean a 24 per cent lower risk of dying from COPD.
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Researchers in Sweden decided to test out a plant-based diet on a group of 35 severe asthmatics who weren't getting better despite the best medical therapies.  Of the 24 patients who stuck with the plant-based diet, 70 per cent improved considerably after four months and 90 per cent improved within a year.

Lack of vitamin D 'significantly speeds up the growth of breast cancer tumors and causes the disease to spread'

The Stanford University School of Medicine study highlights a direct link between circulating vitamin D levels and the expression of a gene called ID1, known to be associated with tumor growth and breast cancer metastasis.
It adds to previous findings that a vitamin D deficiency not only increase a person's risk of developing breast cancer, but are also correlated with more aggressive tumors and worse prognoses.

Vitamin pills don't have the cancer-fighting effects of real food

After following more than 60,000 people for more than a dozen years, University of Oxford researchers found those who consume a plant-based diet were less likely to develop all forms of cancer combined.  The greatest protection appeared to be against blood cancers. The incidence of leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma among those eating vegetarian diets is nearly half that of meat-eaters.  Green, leafy vegetables - including salad and cooked greens - and citrus fruits seemed to offer the most protection

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2016

Miscellany 35

Chemists at Oregon State University discover a brilliant new blue pigment - "YinMn" by happy accident

 New Blue Pigment

Formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue,  the vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade.  Nor is it toxic.
"During the Renaissance, vivid blue ultramarine pigments, often used for painting the Virgin Mary’s cloak, were worth five times their weight in gold," writes Virginia Postrel, " In 1704, another accidental chemical discovery, of what became known as Prussian blue, made less expensive synthetic true blues available

Brahms Lullaby, the beautiful and most effective lullaby in the world as you can see in this wonderful clip.

I love Stephen McMennamy's photo mash-ups.

 Stephen-Mcmennamy-Cauliflower Poodle

 Stephen-Mcmennamy-Lightbulb Egg

Daughter of Civil War vet still getting a pension 

Private Mose Triplett was 19 when the Civil War ended in 1865. Later in life, he married a woman 50 years younger than him and, in 1930, they had a daughter Irene. Irene Triplett is now in her mid-eighties and gets a monthly benefit check from US Department of Veterans Affairs for her father's service so many years before.

New Spray Painted Tile Floor Patterns in Abandoned Spaces Apart from Banksy, Javier De Rib is the only graffiti artist I like. 

 Riba Floor-2

A peacock in flight

 Flying Peacock

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2016

Various views on our country and our culture that resonate

Malcolm Pollack writing on  Culture and Metaculture  in 2013.

We need to be clear about the meaning of the word “culture”. The word, properly understood, refers to the ideas and folkways that are characteristic of, and above all shared by, a particular group of people....Culture, then, is what a common people share. Its very essence is its distinctness. The commonalities that have until now formed the essential foundations of culture, throughout history and around the world, are such things as language, religion, moral norms, history, myths and legends, great heroes, music, poetry, literature, cuisine, dress, and rituals of birth, marriage, and death. Above all, there is always a sense of extension in time: a reverent awareness of the shared culture’s unique embedding in history, and of the duty to preserve it for future generations by honoring and propagating its traditions.

By contrast, look at modern American (or more generally, Western) “culture”. Its highest value, its summum bonum, is now the very antithesis of culture itself: not commonality, but “diversity”.

What remains of the high culture of the West in our new, barbarian metaculture is shrunken, withered, pecked by crows. As for the metaculture itself: what are its pillars? Where are its heroes, its mythos, its religion, its language, its great literature? Where are the commonalities that bind its people together? Gone, gone, gone.

Worse: where is its history? Not only gone, but despised. Our new “culture” has lost its sense of extension in time. Under modernity’s ascendant doctrine, the long history of the West is only a litany of sins, deserving not propagation, but repudiation. We have no legacy, no heritage, to cherish for posterity; we have pulled up our own roots. If our new American “culture” has any history worth remembering at all, it is no more than a few decades old, and consists almost entirely of the destruction of the past.

In our “brave new world”, then, we are cut off from both past and future, imprisoned in the present as no generation of people has ever been before. We have lost — jettisoned — both our rudder and our compass, and are unmoored and adrift.

Malcolm Pollack in 2016 quotes from his earlier essay and adds

In short, we have lost our sense of extension in time. Until now, every generation of every civilization saw itself as a living bridge between past and future — as heirs and beneficiaries of the productive labor of their forebears, and stewards of that treasure for children yet unborn. But now, having pulled up our roots (and salted the earth from which they sprang), we have no inheritance to cherish and preserve; that which we have not simply squandered, we have taught ourselves to despise. We have, therefore, nothing to offer our posterity, and so if we think of it at all, it is only to turn away in guilt, and to focus on what we can take for ourselves right now. If that weren’t enough, we also find ourselves in a time of exponential social and technological change. Even those of us who do seek to preserve our inheritance can hardly imagine how.

'Idiocracy' writer: I never expected my movie 'to become a documentary'

Cohen co-wrote the time-travel comedy. The plot revolves around the misadventures of a man who wakes up in a futuristic America only to discover that everyone around him, including lawmakers and government officials, is an idiot.
"I thought the worst thing that would come true was everyone wearing Crocs,” Cohen told his Twitter followers.

Peggy Noonan Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected

What marks this political moment, in Europe and the U.S., is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better.....This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.  And a country really can’t continue this way.

Brendan O'Neill, From Trumpmania to Euroscepticism: Revenge of the Plebs

America’s new elites, fancying themselves superior to the rural, the old, the religiously inclined and the rest, have increasingly turned politics into something that is done to people, for their own good, rather than by people according to their moral outlook. And then they wonder why people go looking for something else, something less sneering.

Charles Murray writes in Trump’s America that there is nothing irrational about Donald Trump’s appeal to the white working class.  They have every reason to be angry

For white working-class men in their 30s and 40s—what should be the prime decades for working and raising a family—participation in the labor force dropped from 96% in 1968 to 79% in 2015. Over that same period, the portion of these men who were married dropped from 86% to 52%....These are stunning changes, and they are visible across the country. ...

These major changes in American class structure were taking place alongside another sea change: large-scale ideological defection from the principles of liberty and individualism, two of the pillars of the American creed. This came about in large measure because of the civil rights and feminist movements, both of which began as classic invocations of the creed, rightly demanding that America make good on its ideals for blacks and women....

For the white working class, there has been five decades of decline.... During the past half-century of economic growth, virtually none of the rewards have gone to the working class....The real family income of people in the bottom half of the income distribution hasn’t increased since the late 1960s......

During the same half-century, American corporations exported millions of manufacturing jobs, which were among the best-paying working-class jobs. ...During the same half-century, the federal government allowed the immigration, legal and illegal, of tens of millions of competitors for the remaining working-class jobs....

Add to this the fact that white working-class men are looked down upon by the elites and get little validation in their own communities for being good providers, fathers and spouses—and that life in their communities is falling apart. To top it off, the party they have voted for in recent decades, the Republicans, hasn’t done a damn thing to help them. Who wouldn’t be angry?....

And just as support for the American creed has shrunk, so has its correspondence to daily life. Our vaunted liberty is now constrained by thousands of petty restrictions that touch almost anything we want to do, individualism is routinely ignored in favor of group rights, and we have acquired an arrogant upper class. Operationally as well as ideologically, the American creed is shattered.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2016

In the 18th century, the celebration—and creation—of beauty was the purpose of art; today, artists fear and reject beauty.

Theodore Dalrymple visited two exhibitions in a single day.  He reflects on the contrast between them in a brilliant essay in City Journal.  For eighteenth-century painter Joshua Reynolds, the celebration—and creation—of beauty was the purpose of art; today, artists fear and reject beauty.

Beauty and Ugliness

The first, in the Wallace Collection, was called Sir Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint; the second, across the city, was called Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden. Reynolds, the most famous British artist of his day, was born in 1723 and died in 1792; Dumas was born in South Africa in 1953 and has worked in the Netherlands since 1976.
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Reynolds...felt free to portray beauty without feeling that he was thereby betraying reality or avoiding the unpleasant in a cowardly fashion.....
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Crossing London to see the exhibition of Marlene Dumas’s work was like traveling to another continent..... There can be no doubt about Dumas’s power to disturb..Each and every room in the exhibition induced a state, at least in me, of anxiety—an anxiety not related to any particular aspect of existence but relating to existence as such.

 Contrast Reynolds-Dumas

Dumas’s subject is humans, hundreds of them, painted, as she herself says, from photographs, in the process transforming them into what she thinks they really are—apparently, pre-corpses.....The pictures show no laughter or unequivocal pleasure; the world is terrible, and ugliness is the new beauty....
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Reynolds'  painting exudes a tenderness that is not cloying because it is real and unaffected. It avoids sentimentality because it represents not the whole of reality but of an undoubted aspect of reality—which delights us unless we are wholly soured by life, for children really do have soft skin, bright eyes, a trusting manner, and pleasure in life—but also because the sensitive viewer is only too aware that what is depicted is but fleeting, that Miss Bowles will grow up and face many sorrows, that the dog will age and cease to be so important to her, and that she will never again be so charmingly innocent:
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By contrast, Marlene Dumas’s children are not sweet or innocent, but knowing and scheming. They look as if they are pre-murderers, at best; she sheds upon them a cold, unsparing light, that of the extreme Calvinist preacher who demands a never-to-be-forgotten awareness of original sin, precluding the most momentary innocence.
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Her writing, .... has an apodictic, take-it-or-leave-it quality: “Art is a low-risk, high-reward crime.” Or: “Now that we know that images can mean whatever, whoever wants them to mean, we don’t trust anybody anymore, especially ourselves.” This is a world without enchantment.
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All that is necessary for ugliness to prosper is for artists to reject beauty.

Lenin abjured music, to which he was sensitive, because it made him feel well-disposed to the people around him, and he thought it would be necessary to kill so many of them. Theodor Adorno said that there could be no more poetry after Auschwitz. Our view of the world has become so politicized that we think that the unembarrassed celebration of beauty is a sign of insensibility to suffering and that exclusively to focus on the world’s deformations, its horrors, is in itself a sign of compassion. Reynolds was not tortured by such considerations.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 PM | Permalink