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02-06-2013, 10:24 AM
Fluent News Feb 06, 2013

The simple choice of whether or not to mix liquor with a diet or regular soda may affect how intoxicated you get, a new study suggests.

In the study, men and women ages 21 to 33 who drank vodka mixed with diet soda had breath alcohol concentrations that were 18 percent higher after 40 minutes compared with people who drank the same dose of vodka mixed with regular soda.

In fact, after three to four drinks, people who used diet soda as a mixer had a breath alcohol level that exceeded the legal limit for an adult operating a motor vehicle. People who used regular soda in their drink did not.

What's more, people who used diet mixers scored more poorly on a test of reaction time that people who used regular mixers, although both groups reported feeling similar levels of intoxication.

The study was small just eight men and eight women participated so more research is needed to confirm the findings. And although results from breath alcohol tests are usually consistent with those from tests of blood alcohol, there can sometimes be a discrepancy between the two methods, so the study should be replicated using blood alcohol tests, the researchers said.

But the findings suggest that diet mixers, although lower in calories, may have insidious effects, said study researcher Cecile Marczinski, an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University.

People "think they're saving some calories by drinking their alcohol with a diet drink, [but] it's much more harmful to the body to have a high blood alcohol concentration," Marczinski said.

During the study, the 16 participants came into the laboratory three times, and received either vodka mixed with Squirt, vodka mixed with diet Squirt, or a placebo (Squirt containing a very small dose of alcohol to mimic the appearance and smell of an alcoholic beverage.) Besides the placebo, each drink contained equal amounts of alcohol and mixer. The dose of alcohol in each individual drink was based on the participant's body weight.

Regular mixers may slow down the time it takes a person to become intoxicated from drinking, the researchers said. Alcohol is absorbed by the body when it reaches the small intestine. But the stomach may treat the sugar in regular mixers as if it were food. As a result, the alcohol doesn't reach the small intestine as quickly, Marczinski said.

The artificial sweeteners in diet soda, on the other hand, may not delay stomach emptying, so the alcohol travels straight through to the small intestine, Marczinski added. An earlier study found that men who drank vodka mixed with a diet beverage had higher blood alcohol levels than men who drank vodka mixed with a regular beverage. Using an ultrasound, the researchers showed that the regular drink delayed stomach emptying, but the diet drink did not.

The new finding "helps people to make an informed decision" about the mixer they chose for their alcohol, said Emma Childs, an assistant professor in the University of Chicago's Department of Psychiatry, who has researched the effects of alcohol on physiology and behavior, and was not involved in the study.

02-07-2013, 05:11 AM
Fluent News | Feb 07, 2013

Officials believe a camel that escaped its enclosure twice Tuesday before being clipped by a minivan probably just wanted to be around some other animals.

The Contra Costa Times reports the single-humped camel was hit by the van as it walked along a road in Concord around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

It was the second time Tuesday the 10-year-old camel named "Phil" escaped its enclosure. Earlier in the day citizens helped California Highway Patrol officers shepherd the camel off the roadway.

Raymond Ferrante -- a land manager for a company overseeing property where the camel is being kept -- says UC Davis veterinarians have examined it and said the camel did not suffer any broken bones, or other injuries.

Ferrante says because camels are "very social" he believes that's why Phil escaped its enclosure twice in one day.

02-08-2013, 12:08 AM
Improve your security in four easy but rarely implemented steps.

By Andy Wolber | TechRepublic. February 6, 2013

Takeaway: Secure computing is very much like exercise and diet: you have to make good choices over time to reap the benefits.

We’re already over a month into 2013. I hope you’re eating healthy food in reasonable quantities, exercising frequently, and computing securely. Grouping diet, exercise, and secure computing together may strike you as unusual. It isn’t.

Diet, exercise, and secure computing are things you must do. Knowing you should exercise is not the same as exercising. Reading that your password should be stronger is not the same as actually making your password stronger. The benefit accrues only with action, not knowledge.

I don’t want you to just read this blog post. I want you to act to make your computing experience more secure. One exercise session and one well-balanced meal won’t produce health. A one-time improvement in your password won’t produce security. Secure computing is very much like exercise and diet: you have to make good choices over time.

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Secure computing
Let’s start with the obvious: you need to keep your operating system, applications, and security software (e.g., anti-virus) up to date. That said - here are four more things to do to make your online computing experience more secure.

1. Use unique, longer and stronger passwords
You probably use the same password on different websites. Please go eat a candy bar every time you re-use the same password on different sites. This is obviously a bad idea, right? Don’t do it. The next time you login with a password you’ve used on another site, change it. Your password for every site should be unique.

Tools like LastPass can help you create and manage longer, stronger passwords

When you choose a unique password for each site, make your password as long and as random as possible. And no, your name and a number or clever number replacement doesn’t count: “Wolber1″ or “pa55w0rd” are poor choices. Passwords twelve characters or longer are better than shorter passwords. (Steve Gibson provides a useful method for creating unique passwords called “Off the Grid” on his website. Services like LastPass.com, which I use, also can generate and securely store passwords.)

2. Enable two-factor authentication
(Did you really change all of your passwords? Or are you still reading and not practicing security? Please stop reading now. Go change your passwords to be unique, longer, and stronger; even if you have to resume reading a few weeks from now. This article will be here. Go improve your passwords. Now!)

Your passwords are now longer, stronger, and unique for all systems. Good job.

Now, wherever possible, enable Google’s two-step authentication. This means you’ll need access to your phone in order to log in to your Google Apps account. (See my article “Secure your Google Account with two-step authentication” for detailed instructions.) You can also enable two-step authentication for access to LastPass, WordPress and Dropbox. Follow Matt Cutt’s advice: turn on two-factor authentication everywhere you can.

Use two-step authentication for a month before you move on to the next step.

3. Review your Google Account security settings
Over time, you’ll likely use your Google Account to log in to other services. For example, you might have used your Google account to login to Zoho.com services. You should review this list periodically and “de-authorize” any services you no longer use. Go tohttp://accounts.google.com/settings/security to view these “Connected sites and services”.

Review connected sites and services; revoke access if no longer needed

When you review these sites, also review the “application specific passwords” list at the bottom of the page. These are 16-character codes you generate to enable an application to automatically authenticate with your Google Account. Revoke access to applications you no longer use. (Learn more about how to revoke access on Google’s support pages.)

I suggest you review the list of connected sites and services every 90-days or so. At a minimum, review this list whenever there’s a time change (in the United States), or on the longest and shortest days of the year. You should do a similar review of connected applications for social media sites you use, such as Facebook andTwitter.

(Still reading and not doing? Please, please, please stop. Change your passwords. Use 2-step authentication. And review your Google Account, Facebook and Twitter security settings at least twice a year. Thanks. Now, let’s continue.)

4. There’s always more you can do
If you’ve done the above three steps, your account is likely more secure than that of an average computer user. But there’s almost always more you can do. For example, you might:

Review your Gmail Settings to make sure you’re not forwarding email to addresses you’ve forgotten about,
Review your Gmail delegation settings to make sure you’re not delegating email access unintentionally, or
Choose to use Chrome to take advantage of the browser’s modern security scheme.

Bottom line
Maintaining security, just like maintaining health; it requires both knowledge and action. Stay on top of Google’s latest security news and updates by readingGoogle’s Online Security Blog. Just remember to put the knowledge you gain into action. After all, you can never be too healthy or too secure.

02-08-2013, 10:16 AM
Tumwater, Wash., police say ailing homeless man sent dog with note to get help for him
Associated Press Friday, Feb 8, 2013 | Fluent News

TUMWATER, Wash. — It’s the kind of thing Lassie did.

A Tumwater, Wash., police detective says an ailing homeless man attached a note seeking help to his dog’s harness and sent the animal out in hopes someone would read the message.

Detective Jen Kolb tells Seattle’s KIRO-TV (http://is.gd/EhVhBQ ) that a woman walking her dog along railroad tracks on Wednesday spotted the dog with the note that read, “Send Help. No Joke. Cannot walk.” It also said, “Medicine not working. Need doctor.”

The note was unsigned, but police eventually found the man’s camp.

Kolb says the man was immobile and was afraid he was going to die, so he sent his dog, Buddy, for help.

KIRO reports the man was treated at an Olympia hospital and released.

02-09-2013, 05:35 AM
Guatemala declares national coffee emergency
Fluent News Feb 08, 2013

Guatemala's president has declared a national emergency over the spread coffee rust, a fungus that is affecting 70 percent of the country's crop.

President Otto Molina Perez also has ordered the release of more than $14 million to aid coffee growers.

He says the funds are aimed at helping 60,000 small farmers to buy pesticides and to teach them how to prevent the disease and stop it from spreading.

Molina said Friday that the pesticides will start being applied to coffee plants in April and that two more applications will be needed during the year.

Coffee rust is currently affecting plantations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica.

02-10-2013, 01:27 PM
Researchers: Mini-Fast Prevents Alzheimer's
Thursday, 07 Feb 2013
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard | NewsMax

An easy, relatively painless 12-hour fast several times a week may be a key to preventing Alzheimer's disease — or at least delaying the onset of symptoms.

Several studies have suggested that fasting can have health benefits. A recent study from the National Institute on Aging found that fasting one or two days a week eases the symptoms of those suffering from Alzheimer's, and other studies have shown that fasting increases life span as well as being protective of the brain.

But most formal fasts usually last 24 hours. That's too long for most people, who don't want to deprive themselves of food or experience hunger pains for an entire day once a week or once a month.

Neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, author of "The Alzheimer's Diet," says that fasting can be much easier — a 12 or 14 hour period that takes place mainly when you are asleep. He suggests that you use the "early bird" technique to modify your diet.

"Some restaurants offer an 'early bird' special, where they offer special pricing early in the evening," he said. "But saving money isn't the only benefit. There may also be a brain-boosting effect associated with early dinners."

When the brain is deprived of carbohydrates, which are an important source of energy, the body produces substances called ketones, which can be used as an alternative energy source. Several studies have shown that ketones have a protective effect on brain cells and can actually improve memory in patients with mild cognitive disorder (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease.

When the body has no carbohydrates to burn for fuel, it produces substances called ketone bodies (causing a state called ketosis). Not eating for 12 hours can cause a mild state of ketosis in many people.

If you normally wake up at 6 in the morning, try to eat your last meal at 6 p.m. the night before, says Dr. Isaacson. "This means no late-night snacking!"

"Since there's evidence that ketosis may have anti-aging effects on the brain, trying this approach several days a week may be a reasonable option, as long as your physician approves," says Dr. Isaacson.

"The ketone bodies that are produced while having this mini-fast can actually be protective of the brain," he said. Basically, for two or three hours a night, the brain isn't aging.

"You're doing something protective to slow aging," he said, adding that if a person is in good health, a mini-fast is something anyone can do to lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's

02-11-2013, 12:21 AM
New York optometrist serves beer and cocktails before eye exams
Feb 10, 2013

You'd think he was prescribing beer goggles.

A Park Slope eye doctor is offering booze to customers to help them unwind before exams but not every client is impressed by the nutty hops-tometry.

"I was offered a beer on my first visit," griped one patient, Mark T., on Yelp. "Seriously, alcohol before an eye exam? And in a medical environment?"

But Dr. Justin Bazan says that after 5 p.m., it's happy hour.

"Don't worry. None of the team is drinking! We are not a sterile [hospital]," Bazan wrote in his defense. "We are friendly, helpful and like to have fun! We have beer/wine tastings all the time.

"Heck, if it's been a rough day and you need something strong, just ask. We got you."

Bazan, 34, opened Park Slope Eye on Union Street in 2008 and told The Post he has been serving two types of glasses ever since.

"I just put myself in patients' shoes," he said. "Everybody except that guy 'Mark T.' has loved it."

02-11-2013, 10:50 PM
Microfinance turns Bihar prostitutes into businesswomen
Betwa Sharma | Smart Planet February 11, 2013

BIHAR — How a bank loan could end generations of prostitution in an Indian town.

Julie Khatoon sitting in her bangles shop.

BIHAR — Meena Devi’s grandmother was brought from Varanasi city in Uttar Pradesh and sold in the red light area of Munger, a town on the banks of the Ganges in Bihar.

Meena’s mother also became a prostitute and so did she. “We have done this for generations so I wanted to set my daughters free from this line,” she said.

In 2011, Meena, 35, was one of eight prostitutes who approached the local rural bank, Bihar Kshetriya Gramin Bank, for a loan to start a business. In an unprecedented move by the bank, the women were given a microfinance loan of Rs. 20,000 ($377) each. Four women opened a bangles shop and the four others started a tailoring service.

“No government scheme or bank has touched these women,” said Mohammad Mahfooz Alam from Panah Ashram, a local NGO that educates children of prostitutes in the red light area. “But they showed initiative and things changed.”

Arvind Chaudhary, who oversees microfinance for the rural bank, recalls that he was passing the Panah Ashram school when these women approached him for the loan. “For the first time, I entered the building and saw that these prostitutes were teaching too,” he said. “I was moved and wanted to help.”

It’s been difficult to extend such loans to these women as they do not have collateral and nobody stands as guarantors for them. In 2010, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) extended its Joint Liability Group (JLG) loans to the non-farm sectors as well.

Under the JLG plan, a group of four to ten people taking a loan to start a similar activity accept liability for each other. The eight women were extended a loan under this scheme. The rural bank, satisfied with the women’s performance, extended the credit limit to Rs.50,000 ($943) for each member in April last year.

“We are unable to tap the normal population for bank finance … on the other hand those prostitutes who tried alternative livelihood have been financed,” said Sheetanshu Shekhar, a senior official at NABARD in Munger. “Nobody would have imagined.”

Doing business, however, has not been easy. The bangles group, which has expanded into selling shoes as well, is coping better than the tailoring group. The bangles group has a turnover of about 15,000 ($283) rupees a month, which they distribute among themselves and put some toward repaying the loan. The stitching group is left with only 5,000 to 6,000 rupees a month.

The women explain that bangles and shoes are fashionable items purchased by people regularly. Clothes are bought less frequently. Bank officials have tried to help them by encouraging shopkeepers to give these women orders to make petticoats, hem in the sari borders and make repairs.

Another hurdle, faced by the tailoring group, is that the locals prefer to take their business to male tailors who are more respected in the profession. “They have shops on the main road,” said Sweta Devi, 29, from the tailoring group. “People expect us women to stitch for some Rs. 50.”

Alam, who connected the women and the rural bank, is waiting to see how the two business ventures progress before encouraging more prostitutes to take microfinance loans.

Most of the approximately 200 prostitutes in Munger are from other parts of the country. They belong to the Nat caste, regarded to be at the bottom of the social hierarchy, who mostly sing and dance in the town and bordering villages. They all try to keep their lives hidden from the community back home.

Geeta Devi, 47, who is in the tailoring group, was forced into prostitution after she finished the 10th grade in a government school in Varanasi. “My mother didn’t get me married because I was needed to earn money after turning 18,” she said.

Geeta recalled that she wanted to become a nurse but her mother wouldn’t give the 30 rupees needed to travel and get the training in Fatehpur Sikri, another city in Uttar Pradesh.

02-11-2013, 10:59 PM
Human-robot bootcamp increases trust, efficiency

Charlie Osborne | Smart Planet | via MIT | February 11, 2013
In the same way that teams of people have to spend time getting to know each other, researchers at MIT believe that robots and humans have exactly the same issues.

In the same way that teams of people have to spend time getting to know each other, researchers at MIT believe that robots and humans have exactly the same issues.

As robotic technology becomes more firmly integrated within the manufacturing industry and brings robots into closer contact with humans, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been trying to understand what factors can both harm and improve the efficiency of robot and human workers.

It is not simply a matter of safety now, not as machines take over once human tasks and become a familiar sight in many factories across the globe. With this in mind, Julie Shah, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and head of the Interactive Robotics Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and PhD student Stefanos Nikolaidis began experimenting.

In a paper to be presented (.pdf) at the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction in Tokyo in March, the researchers have attempted to demonstrate that “cross-training” robots and their organic counterparts can be an effective way to “team build.” It’s not just about keeping people from getting hurt; the lead researcher says that it’s also a question of making robots smart enough to work effectively with people. Shah commented:

“People aren’t robots, they don’t do things the same way every single time. And so there is a mismatch between the way we program robots to perform tasks in exactly the same way each time and what we need them to do if they are going to work in concert with people.”

In other words, the unknown human element of unpredictability and error doesn’t always match up with a robot’s logic. But can you make robots better team players by increasing interactivity?

Apparently so. Going beyond reward methods used to train dogs — think “good boy” and a treat — Shah and Nikolaidis created cross-training exercises, where a robot and their human partner would swap roles on different days, and compared this to a control group where the robot was “rewarded” with positive, spoken reinforcement for performing a task correctly.

“This allows people to form a better idea of how their role affects their partner and how their partner’s role affects them,” Shah says.

First, the researchers modified an algorithm to allow robots to learn from swapping roles and not just from positive reinforcement, by including the capability of learning from demonstrating human partners.

Each human-robot team then carried out a task, with half using a reward-only approach, and the others using the cross-training technique.

Teams that were involved in cross-training were able to work concurrently at a boosted rate of 71 percent in comparison to reward-only groups. In addition, the time humans spent waiting around for robots to finish decreased by 41 percent.

That wasn’t all. When the team studied the learning algorithms, they found that there was a far lower level of uncertainty recorded about their human partner’s next moves, which further increased efficiency when sharing a task.

Shah believes improvements in team performance could be due to the greater involvement of both parties in the process, and when a questionnaire was later handed out to secure feedback over the cross-training, cross-training groups were far more likely to say that robots acted in relation to their preferences than the reward-only group.

“When the person trains the robot through reward, it is one-way: The person says ‘good robot’ or the person says ‘bad robot,’ and it’s a very one-way passage of information,” Shah says.

“But when you switch roles, the person is better able to adapt to the robot’s capabilities and learn what it is likely to do, and so we think that it is adaptation on the person’s side that results in a better team performance.”

02-12-2013, 12:04 PM
Raytheon makes it easier for the government to track you
Kirsten Korosec | Smart Planet February 12, 2013 04:30am PST

Defense contractor Raytheon has developed a software tool that can peer into social media accounts, like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, and mine that data to watch, and more importantly, predict, future behavior.

The Guardian obtained a video demonstration of the software, known as RIOT, or rapid information overlay technology, developed by the Massachusetts-based defense contractor.

Raytheon says it has not sold the software. However, it has shared the tech with the U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort in 2010 that aimed to build a national security system capable of analyzing “trillions of entities” from cyberspace, reported the Guardian.

Data from Twitter might not reveal much. But aggregating data from a variety of social media sites can provide a detailed view–your mug included–of how you spend your day. For instance, the tool cannot only map out where you’ve been on Google Earth, but collect the location data from photos you’ve taken and uploaded as well.

By sifting through data in your various social media accounts, RIOT can determine what you look like, where and when you check into specific places–in the company’s demonstration it was an employee’s habitual workouts at a gym–and how often, including the time, you frequent that place.

The U.S. government has shown a strong interest in this type of technology. As VentureBeat notes, the FBI put out a request for proposals last year for a tool that could spider different social networks, collecting keywords to identify current emergency situations and predict future ones.

02-12-2013, 12:35 PM
Amy Serafin | Smart Planet February 12, 2013
At the internationally-renowned restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, finding an insect in your food is a reason to dig in, not send it back.

In a wooded area north of Copenhagen, dozens of angry ants were scuttling furiously around the top of an anthill when a young Irish chef named Trevor Moran said, “Put your hand down so they can climb up and bite you.” It seemed futile to argue; I lowered my hand and let the tiny ants rush to the attack, climbing onto my skin and pricking me with their minuscule pincers. After watching in horror for a moment I brushed off all but one. Following Moran’s advice to “Eat it quickly or it will bite your tongue,” I crushed it between my teeth and tasted an oily burst of lemony flavor.

A couple of times a week from spring through fall, Moran and a Danish colleague, Thomas Paulsen, forage for ants for Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant where they work (often named the world’s top table by food critics and Restaurant magazine’s World’s 50 Best list). At first they had no idea what they were doing, but now it is routine. They skim the top off a hill, attract the bugs onto rolled up pieces of waxed paper and pour them into a plastic container — all the while trying to ignore those that climb inside their pants and bite their legs. During our drive back to the city a stray one wandered out of Moran’s shirt and onto the car seat; Paulsen ate it.

Over the past year or so, Noma’s chef and co-owner, René Redzepi, has become a leading proponent of insects as food. In 2008 he co-founded the Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit foundation for culinary research. Now one of the lab’s principal activities is exploring the gastronomic qualities of insects. The staff have applied for a three-year grant to take their research even further, studying issues from psychology to pathology.

Nobody knows exactly how many people around the planet think of bugs as lunch. Some estimates say that 70 percent of the world’s cultures have a tradition of eating insects, from Cambodia to Nigeria to Mexico — practically everywhere outside the modern West. One reason for this cultural disparity is that insects are larger, more available and easier to harvest in tropical zones. But as the global population explodes, edible insects could become big business worldwide.

What interests Redzepi is their potential as a new source of deliciousness, especially since he restricts his cuisine to indigenous products in a place where variety is hard to come by. Two years ago, when he launched an annual culinary symposium called Mad (Danish for “food”), the Brazilian chef Alex Atala showed up with Amazonian ants to try. Redzepi said the taste was explosive, like lemongrass and kaffir lime. “I could not believe there was so much flavor in such a little creature,” he recalled. “I was thinking, why aren’t we exploring this? We have bugs here — maybe some are actually delicious.”

One day, while foraging for herbs, Moran met a Danish schoolteacher who had been serving local ants to his students, dipped in chocolate. These too, tasted of lemongrass. (The sour flavor comes from formic acid, their defense mechanism.) “That was a revolution for us,” Redzepi said. “Lemongrass, this exotic flavor, here in the cold North? I was blown away. Then we played around, trying to test: when do we get past the point of seeing it as a bug rather than an ingredient? It took no more than a week.”

In the spring of 2012 he added Danish ants to his tasting menu, served live, struggling to escape from a small pile of crème fraîche. Mind you, this is a restaurant where a table of two can easily part with $1,000 and the waiting list often runs to more than a thousand names. Nonetheless, very few clients rejected the bugs. In fact, many showed up asking for them.

But Redzepi has been disappointed by the reaction of others, notably chefs from New York to Paris who accuse him of gimmickry. He believes they suffer from closed minds and Western self-righteousness. Personally, he says, he is fed up with eating the same animals day after day. “Everywhere I travel it’s the same. Now you’re going to taste my pork. Now it’s my pork. Here’s my beef, you’ll taste my beef. Then chicken. I don’t want to feel closed in, or just accept that this is the way it is. Once in a while we find new flavors that help push our restaurant forward. Right now, these three ants we’ve found are making our food better.” And ants are only the beginning — the earth hosts at least 1,900 species of edible bugs just waiting for a creative hand in the kitchen.

Every morning before work, Redzepi stops in at the Nordic Food Lab, a roomy houseboat docked in the harbor steps from Noma. He conceived the foundation, sits on its board, and shares some of his kitchen staff, but makes clear the lab is a completely independent entity from the restaurant. Its purpose is to expand upon food knowledge with long-term research projects, and disseminate its findings at conferences and via its website (www.nordicfoodlab.org).

The day before my ant-foraging expedition, I visited the boat and met the staff. The director, Michael Bom Frøst, teaches sensory science at the University of Copenhagen. Benedict Reade, head of culinary R&D, is a Scottish chef with a background in gastronomic science. And Joshua Evans, an intern, is a recent Yale graduate who has studied sustainable agriculture. As we started to talk, they pulled out a container of dehydrated and salted bee larvae, and explained to me that the primary focus of the insect project is what they call the “hedonic factor.” It doesn’t matter how nutritious insects might be or how impressive their food conversion rate — if they don’t taste good, nobody will want to eat them.

I took a few of the small brown chips and popped them into my mouth. They were crunchy and salty with a slightly sweet honey taste, and I could easily imagine going through a bowl or two at happy hour. Larvae is a byproduct of beekeeping, some typically removed and discarded so there is excess honey to harvest later on. The Food Lab receives the bugs in different stages of development: older pupae with the beginnings of a differentiated thorax and abdomen, and creamy larvae blobs, sweet and mild with flavors reminiscent of egg and warm honeydew. The lab have used them to make mayonnaise and a particularly tasty high-protein granola.

Reade explained that bee larvae were an excellent “gateway” insect for breaking down the mental barriers people have to ingesting bugs. He said the first time you eat an insect is generally the hardest, but a positive experience can quickly change attitudes: “If you put something that looks like a maggot in front of a group of people to eat, they’re kind of revolted. But if you say ‘all this animal has ever eaten is honey,’ it can be a real game changer.”

One of the experts with whom the Food Lab collaborates is Paul Rozin, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in food choices and disgust. Rozin calls learning to like things that originally turn us off (such as cigarettes) “hedonic reversals,” though it’s not known why or how they take place. “Most likely it is primarily social: we note that those we admire like these things, and that gets us to somehow reinterpret the negative sensations/perceptions/conceptions that we have,” he explained. “What is clear is that if we can induce someone to eat something disgusting a number of times, in a positive social context, there is a good chance they will come to like it.”

The staff at the Nordic Food Lab say there are many reasons for convincing Westerners to add insects to their diet. But bugs should not be considered the sole solution to the problem of feeding a growing planet. As Bom Frøst pointed out, “Sustainability is diversity.” Cows and chickens still have an important role to play in a healthy biosystem.

Even so, conventional livestock uses 70 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Insects emit less greenhouse gases, can often be grown on organic waste, frequently prefer to be packed together, and reach maturity in a matter of weeks. They are nutritious; grasshoppers, for example, provide the same protein content as beef with less fat. They have a high food conversion rate — according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, crickets need six times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein. With these facts in mind, the European Union is investing some 4 million euros in a feasibility study of insects as protein in animal feed.

An important aspect of any such study is pathology: knowing which insects are safe to eat and which might make us sick. At the Food Lab, the staff use cultural practices as a starting point. If a certain insect is part of a human diet somewhere in the world, it is more likely to be pathogen-free. They read any books and papers they can find on the subject, and consult a professor of entomological parasitology.

Once they are convinced that a bug is safe, they search for the best ways to uncover its deliciousness, using some fairly complex processes. (This is where it helps to be a chef.) The first time the grasshoppers arrived, Reade immediately thought of turning them into a garum, using a fermentation technique going back to Roman times. When I visited, they had already made a garum with grasshoppers and wax moth larvae, with excellent results. On this day they decided to try it with bee larvae.

Continues on next post.

02-12-2013, 12:36 PM
Part two:

....Reade pulled out a chunk of koji barley inoculated with fuzzy green Aspergillus oryzae, the same fungus used in sake and soy sauce. The fungus produces enzymes that break down the starches and make the barley sweet, and hydrolizes the proteins into simple amino acids with a rich umami flavor. Reade used a Thermomix to blend the koji with bee larvae and salt water (the salt keeps the pathogenic microorganisms at bay as well as enabling the enzymes, some beneficial bacteria and various strains of yeast to flourish). After a few minutes he had a thick greenish concoction that resembled pea soup.

Then he took a bag of raw, pureed grasshoppers and added it to the blend. One main obstacle to eating insects is the exoskeleton, but the food processor quickly solves the problem. Reade whizzed the mixture together until it turned the color of chocolate mousse with little brown specks. It smelled sweet like the koji with an earthy, toasted note from the grasshoppers. “Crickets don’t taste like much to start,” he said. “They’re not flavor-rich like ants. But they are protein-rich, so the flavor comes from fermenting.”

The mix would sit for six weeks at 42 degrees celsius, during which time it would darken, intensify in flavor, and separate into a paste, or “miso,” and a liquid the Food Lab would use to flavor their staff meals. “We can’t hope to make other people incorporate these foods into their diet if we don’t,” Evans said.

Not every experiment is a success. Reade recalls trying to make “bagoong,” a fermented prawn condiment, with langoustine heads. “I tried to use the math, to work out the dry weight and the wet weight, how much salt was needed.” He knew he had gotten something wrong when he opened the box in which it was fermenting and the stench was so bad he gagged. Fortunately, such failures are rare.

The fermented cricket paste was the first of the Food Lab’s insect-based creations to make it onto the menu at Noma. After visiting the boat, I went to the test kitchen above the restaurant, where Redzepi served me a sorrel leaf folded around a bit of cricket miso, beet reduction and lacto-fermented red currants. The grasshopper smear had a pungent umami flavor that contrasted with the tart greenness of the leaf.

Redzepi was careful to point out that insects are only a small fraction of what Noma serves. He does not consider them a main dish but rather a new toolbox of flavors, like a spice or a condiment. They offer him one more way to connect with the land and explore the seasons. The Danish wood ants, for example, are milder in spring and sweeter in summer. “Sometimes when they have just eaten,” he noted, “they’re sort of bloated.”

The ants have become an ingredient in two new dishes at Noma, ground into paste with a bit of thyme oil as a binder (and less recognizable than when served alive). One dish I tasted consisted of a fresh milk curd covered with wild blueberries mixed with ant paste. The insects added a bright citrus note, followed by an aftertaste of something wild and alien — an almost aggressive flavor I could only describe as “antiness.”

At times people ask Redzepi why he doesn’t just use a lemon. The question drives him mad. “It’s so unbelievably prosaic,” he said. “You may as well live in a corner, because what is really necessary then? Is it necessary that we have watches? Is it necessary that we sometimes sit on a pillow? What is necessary if you want to always stick to the bare essentials? We’re explorers, you know? We’re exploring.”

02-14-2013, 12:39 AM
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/lernstift-tech-diagram.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/lernstift-tech-diagram.jpg)
Pen vibrates when you misspell or use bad grammarBy Janet Fang (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=janet+fang) | Smart Planet February 12, 2013

I know my penmanship has suffered a lot since my early high school days of writing essays on college-ruled lined paper.
And with autocorrect or spell check, there are some words that I’ve just never remembered how to spell (sadly).
Now there’s a pen that hopes to bring handwriting back by vibrating when you spell something wrong or make a
grammatical error. Or when your writing is just plain illegible.

The Lernstift (http://www.lernstift.com/index_en.html#.URtDlk-8Eh0) — German for “learning pen” — contains a standard ballpoint pen and uses motion sensors to trace
movements and detect errors. It’s powered by Linux and contains between €50 and €80 (or $68 to $109) worth of
smartphone electronics in a thermoplastic or aluminum body.

In Calligraphy Mode, it warns of mistakes in penmanship.
In Orthography Mode it detects spelling and grammatical errors — vibrating once for the
former and twice for the latter.

The inventors are launching a crowdfunding project and say that the first generation of Lernstift — with motion sensors
and a word recognition system — will be available this August.

[Via Gizmag (http://www.gizmag.com/lernstift-digital-pen/26113/), Wired (http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/04/vibrating-pen)]
Image: Lernstift (http://www.lernstift.com/feedback_en.html)

02-14-2013, 02:32 PM
Coming soon: pee-powered warfare
David Worthington | SmartPlanet February 13, 2013

Start-up SiGNa Chemistry is piloting its fuel cell technology with the U.S. military. All that’s required to power it is a tiny chemical hydrogen cartridge and some water - or pee.

Mini fuel cells like these can take 25 lbs off of a soldier's back

New York start-up SiGNa Chemistry, maker of mini fuel cells that charge smart phones, is piloting its technology with the U.S. military. All that’s required to power the latest battlefield technology is a tiny chemical hydrogen cartridge and some water - or even urine.

The military could shave 25 pounds off of a soldier’s gear by adopting the technology, CEO Michael Lefenfeld said in an interview yesterday.

SiGNa’s fuel cells are non-toxic, work without recharging, and can be handled and disposed of safely, he added. The addition of water (or pee) initiates a chemical reaction that generates power instantly. It may sound funny, but that flexibility is what drew the military’s attention.

Reducing or eliminating fossil fuels for power generation on the front lines simplifies wartime logistics, reduces maintenance costs, and eliminates the risk of attack on fuel convoys. Green technology has been a key solution, and the U.S. military has been exploring potential power sources over the past several years.

It’s not trying to be altruistic; green energy is tactical. A Marine unit in Afghanistan has already deployed portable solar blankets to keep radio batteries charged on long patrols, and uses solar tarps to light tents at night as a way to dramatically reduce fuel use at its command centers. But you can take the fuel cells camping.

The technology has been commercially available in Asia since 2011, and was demoed in the United States at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas last month as the PowerTrekk fuel cell smartphone recharger. The PowerTrekk (brought to market by Swedish fuel cell maker myFC) is now available in the U.S. through the outdoor recreation equipment chain REI. REI will provide refill cartridges and recycle empties for a few dollars.

One cartridge will charge a cell phone up to two times, said Lefenfeld. The cartridges have an indefinite shelf life and are safe to ship and store over long periods of time. That is due to a sodium powder that SiGNa invented, which releases hydrogen when it reacts with water (or pee), but is otherwise stable. The powder was developed as an alternative to reactive alkali metals and their derivatives, a spokesperson explained.

The fuel cells are safer to transport on an airplane than lithium ion batteries, and are useful for a range of consumer applications, Lefenfeld said. Those could include powering electric bicycles or installing fuel cells as emergency backup power sources in cars. In the near term, the company is working with its partners to produce higher capacity products to charge more energy hungry electronics such as iPads or laptops.

02-14-2013, 02:41 PM
iOS 6.1 hack lets users see your phone app, place calls

February 14, 2013 | Don Reisinger | C|Net
Some sleight of hand with Apple's iOS 6.1 has been illustrated in a YouTube video, and CNET can confirm it works.

Some sleight of hand will allow iOS 6.1 hackers to access your phone application, listen to your voice mails, and place calls.

A YouTube video showing users how to "bypass iPhone 5 passcode" on Apple's latest iOS releases, including iOS 6.1, has been published. The person who uploaded the video shows how anyone can access the phone application on a passcode-protected iPhone.

In order to achieve the hack, users must come close to turning off the iPhone, place an emergency call, and keep their finger on the power button. CNET was able to recreate the hack with ease, and the YouTube user who uploaded the video provided step-by-step directions.

"For prank[ing] your friends, for a magic show. Use it as you want, at your own risk, but...please...do not use this trick to do evil,""videosdebarraquito" posted on the YouTube page.

The video was actually published at the end of last month. However, it flew under the radar until The Verge discovered it earlier today.

Although the video and directions show how to sidestep Apple's simple passcode that allows users to input four numbers to unlock the device, CNET was able to conduct the same hack on Apple's more sophisticated passcode option that lets users input text.

Upon breaking into a device, users have the ability to listen to voice mails, place calls, and look through the handset's photos through the contacts section of the phone app. When trying to go elsewhere in the software, the user is sent back to the passcode screen. Still, there doesn't currently appear to be any immediate way to safeguard against the hack.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the hack. We will update this story when we have more information.

02-16-2013, 01:40 PM
Floors that can prevent theft and button-less cars are coming
David Worthington |SmartPlanet February 6, 2013

A start-up has made its possible for nearly any surface to become a multi-touch input like a smartphone, including floors and automotive dashboards.

Solid-state controls eliminate the need for buttons and dials in cars

A New York start-up has made its possible for nearly any surface to become a multi-touch input like a smartphone, including floors and automotive dashboards. Smart floors would identify someone by his or her gait, and could even flag suspicious behavior in stores. A car could have a minimalistic interior without buttons or dials. A wall could become a home control.

Tactonic demonstrated its technology at the New York Tech Meetup last night. It has invented pressure sensors that create a touch screen type capability on a variety of things - even flexible substrates like OLEDs or thermoformed objects. Software creates many possibilities, some of which were discussed during the Meetup. Other use cases are still surfacing (pun intended).

Tactonic’s use of pressure sensors eliminates the need for fingers or styluses, explained CEO Gerry Seidman. That would allow a “smart skin” to be built into a floor or transform plastic automotive panels (or displays) into solid-state controls. Surfaces could even be back-lit or durable.

Seidman said that the company was working to install smart flooring into factories to sniff out ergonomics concerns. A worker carrying an unsafe load can be recognized by how they walk, he explained. A retail store could deploy a floor that knows when a shoplifter is up to no good or identify scenarios where there may be too many uncommitted buyers passing by a display. Everyone’s walk is like a fingerprint, so it’s entirely possible that a retailer could gain customer intelligence through discreet observation.

Your gait can identify who you are.

Here’s my two cents: that might sound intrusive, but think of it another way - it could mean an end to annoying retail alarms and plastic gates outside of stores. Those awful plastic clamshell things that are almost impossible to open up? Gone. An intelligent retail system could be used to determine buyer intent, and a known customer might receive offers on their smart phones as they are shopping.

Less obvious applications could affect how buildings are designed. A smart wall panel could be used to turn the lights on or set the thermostat, completely eliminating obtrusive controls and switches. A doormat could recognize you and unlock your front door. It also comes down to imagination, and how well the technology works in practice (the demos had a few hiccups).

There are clearly some privacy concerns associated with this type of technology, but many use cases need not involve any. Regardless of controversy, prepare for a new era of human interface design.

02-18-2013, 02:08 PM
Should restaurants fine customers who waste food?
Tyler Falk | SmartPlanet February 18, 2013 04:00am PST

At one Japanese restaurant, leave a grain of rice and pay the price.

If you go to Hachikyo, a seafood restaurant in Sapporo, Japan, make sure to go hungry. Not only because their bowl of rice with salmon roe is all-you-can eat (and looks amazing) but also because if you don’t finish your meal you’ll get slapped with a fine.

Midori Yokoyama, writing for the Japanese blog Gold Rush, reports (thanks to the English translation from Rocket News):

According to the explanation in the menu, the working conditions for fishermen are harsh and so dangerous that it’s not unknown for lives to be lost. To show our gratitude and appreciation for the food they provide, it is forbidden to leave even one grain of rice in your bowl. Customers who do not finish their tsukko meshi must give a donation.

Kind of harsh, but completely understandable. And, at least according to anecdotal evidence, it’s working. Yokoyama’s waitress told him: “Hardly anyone leaves their tsukko meshi unfinished.”

While this restaurant uses the fine to show respect to fisherman, could restaurants lead the way in the fight against food waste with a simple fine for not finishing your meal? In Washington, D.C., where I live, the city imposed a plastic bag tax of 5 cents per bag at grocery stores. It’s a minimal amount but it’s dramatically reduced plastic bag use in the city.

Food waste, in the United States alone is a major, $165 billion a year, problem. Restaurants, of course, aren’t the only places where food waste happens, but they do account for about 15 percent of all food waste. Putting a price on wasting food could curb that. On the other hand, if it’s not implemented on a large scale, a restaurant that leads the way on a food waste tax would have to offer irresistible food, like Hachikyo, or risk losing customers.

[Via Gold Rush, Rocket News, Discovery News]

02-18-2013, 02:14 PM
Mussel-inspired glue for fetal surgery
Janet Fang | SmartPlanet February 17, 2013

There are no good adhesives on the market that can repair tears in fetal membranes. Now researchers have created a synthetic polymer that mimics proteins in the steadfast grip of mussels.

For decades, researchers have sought the secrets behind the mussel’s steadfast grip on wet, slippery rock. Now they’ve found a way to transform the mussel’s biochemical tricks into a biocompatible glue that can seal fetal membranes. ScienceNOW reports.
Prenatal surgeons can repair some birth defects (such as spina bifida) while a fetus is still in utero. But the surgery risks rupturing the protective fetal membrane prematurely, triggering premature labor.

There are no good adhesives on the market that can repair these fetal-membrane tears – the main reason why fetal surgery remains risky.

So researchers looked to mussels. To stick to wet, salty surfaces, these bivalves secrete liquid proteins that harden into a solid, water resistant glue. This substrate shares the same desired properties as medical adhesives, according to Phillip Messersmith of Northwestern University.

His team created a synthetic, thread-like polymer — called polyethylene glycol — that mimics the mussel protein. And they tipped it with an amino acid that’s found on the parts of mussel proteins that face out toward the hard surface.

When they tested their mussel-inspired glue on a 3.5-mm hole in a rabbit fetal membrane, the puncture was sealed. Without the glue, only 40% of the baby bunnies survived the surgery, but with the glue, 60% did.

The work was presented at the annual AAAS meeting here in Boston.

[Via ScienceNOW]

02-20-2013, 12:08 PM
Managers conducting interviews in public venues: Stop the madness!

Summary: Anyone spending time working in public venues such as coffee shops will eventually witness a candidate for a job being interviewed in public. This is very demeaning and should never happen.

By James Kendrick for Mobile News |ZDNET Tech Today -US |February 20, 2013

Have you ever been in a coffee shop and seen a manager interviewing a job candidate in the area for customers? Asking them all sorts of very personal questions in public to share their answers with nearby patrons? This happens all too frequently and is very demeaning for those job applicants.

I often work in coffee shops and can't remember how many interviews I've seen (and heard) conducted in these very public places. The managers who choose to do these interviews seem oblivious to how it exposes already nervous applicants to public display.

The personal information I have seen exposed makes me sick, yet the interviews keep happening. Maybe these managers believe that a nice coffee shop is more relaxing for the applicant. Applying for a job is certainly nerve-wracking in any location. If that's what drives these managers to do this they are sadly mistaken in this writer's view.

I've heard applicants talk about the reasons they left their prior employment. I've heard heart-breaking accounts of family problems that make getting that particular job so important. I've heard of sick children desperately in need of health insurance. I've heard people practically beg for the job.

None of these discussions should ever have been held in public, within earshot of everyone in the immediate area. Job interviews often result in the disclosure of personal information and should be held in private.

Job interviews are the most common personal meetings that happen in public but are by no means the only meetings I've been exposed to. A few weeks ago a meeting was held, in a coffee shop at a table about 6 inches away from my own, that was incredibly personal.

It didn't take long for the loud discussion at that meeting to make it clear to everyone around that the young lady was meeting with a government official to discuss a sexual harrassment claim against her previous employer. The harrassment was discussed in incredible detail and before the meeting was concluded the name of the attorney being reported was shared (I'd like to think unintentionally) with coffee shop patrons.

So please, managers and other workers who conduct personal meetings such as those discussed, keep them private. It is not fair to make job applicants (or anyone) have personal discussions with you in public. Even if you choose the location to make it better for the nervous applicant it's not the thing to do. Privacy should be a primary concern for every meeting, so choose your meeting spot accordingly.

02-20-2013, 12:27 PM
Ready for your closeup? Surveillance science advances quickly
Rose Eveleth | Smart Planet Daily | February 20, 2013

The science behind the ubiquitous security camera is advancing steadily - from facial recognition to predictive modeling to simply finding new places to hide the cameras themselves.

Nearly everywhere you go, whether it’s an airport, a shopping mall, or a local university, you’re on camera.

Surveillance installations are ubiquitous, tacked to ceilings, hidden in corners or staring down at you from broad, glass orbs. The science behind those lenses is advancing steadily: both in the form of new technology such as facial recognition or predictive modeling and in the shape of strategies guiding new places to hide the cameras themselves.

Where did he go?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to setting up a good surveillance system is mapping out coverage. It’s difficult (and expensive) to install cameras that track an entire area, so most installations have blind spots - places where the cameras can’t “see.” People disappear off the side of one screen and reappear later on another. What they do in between is a mystery.

“What people have done traditionally is to measure how long it takes for people on average to move from one camera to the next, and then to wait for that time to elapse, and then at that time do the search for that person,” says Andrea Cavallaro, a computer scientist and director of Queen Mary University of London’s Centre for Intelligent Sensing.

Cavallaro thought there might be a better way. So, he and his team recently built an algorithm that takes other information into account — things like the floor plan of the area and a behavioral model that predicts where people are likely to move.

“People tend to be attracted to shops, elevators, and exits, and at the same time try to avoid different obstacles, like walls,” Cavallaro says.

This might seem obvious, but combining those data points into a closed circuit surveillance system can make it easier to track people as they move around.

They’re watching you

Another challenge is where to place cameras. Standard surveillance systems are nestled in the ceilings of stores and public places. But that makes it hard to recognize faces or to see details that can be used to distinguish individual people. In many ways, people look quite similar from above.

The best place for a camera, if you want it to recognize faces more easily and accurately, is at face level. So that’s exactly what Max Cantanese, the CEO of Italy’s Almax Group, did with his Eye See Mannequins, which come equipped with a camera inside them.

The Eye See mannequins caused a stir when they were released, because shoppers didn’t exactly like the idea of a mannequin watching them. In most cases, however, the cameras installed in them are classified as blind. That is, they characterize the person who walks by - such as adult male, Caucasian - and store that information but no pictures.

Some of Almax’s mannequins, of course, do record images of actual individuals. But Cantanese points out that they’re no different from the cameras recording on the ceiling. “It’s not spying on you and sending a message to your boyfriend or girlfriend,” he laughs.

Beyond security

Collecting all this data about people serves far more than one purpose. In public spaces, knowing where people move can tell architects whether they designed the space well or not. “It is not only about security,” says Cavallaro, “but the information that is collected with these toes of models can also help architects and designers to improve what has been designed based on how the space has been used.”

For Cantanese, the data the Almax mannequins collect is priceless customer information, especially about where different kinds of people congregate at different times.

For example, in one case, a store mannequin observed a spike in visitors under the age of 20 around 4 p.m. each day. The store manager realized there was a school nearby, and introduced a kid’s line of clothing that now accounts for 11 percent of total store sales.

LIke it or not, the combination of these advances - from better camera quality and placement to facial recognition and predictive modeling - is making for more sophisticated surveillance everywhere we go.

Researchers know where you’re going, where you’re likely to go, and how often you’ll return. Businesses of all sizes will use that information not just to keep their retail and office spaces more secure, but to improve them, and design them more efficiently in the future. So smile, you’re on camera. Get used to it.

02-20-2013, 12:32 PM
Boeing proposes emergency fix to get Dreamliners back in the air
Charlie Osborne | Smart Planet February 20, 2013 06:54am PST
Stick on a band-aid and see what happens.

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner battery woes continue, but the firm plans to propose a short-term fix as early as this week.

According to the Seattle Times, the carrier plans to get fliers up in the air again as quickly as possible — unsurprising considering the endless list of airlines who have grounded their Boeing 787 fleets until a solution to continual battery problems is found.

In order to make the Dreamliner fleet safe enough to ferry about commercial passengers, Boeing intends to re-design of the lithium-ion battery which has caused so many issues — ranging from causing emergency landings in Japan to cabin fires and overheating.

Fleets have been grounded worldwide, including in the U.S., Japan, Chile and Europe.

Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, the publication says that while the re-design goes ahead — which could take the best part of a year — Boeing will propose a “heavy-duty titanium or steel containment box” that would fit around the battery cells, and then if there is a battery fire, any gases resulting from overheating would escape via high-pressure evacuation tubes.

I can’t say that this method fills me with confidence, and it may not be the case that this stop-gap will be acceptable to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) either. It might stop the plane from suffering damage, but there’s no reason to suggest overheating wouldn’t require an emergency stop.

The battery issues may be costing Boeing a fortune — without considering potential lawsuits placed at their doors by airlines who have purchased the planes — but perhaps the company’s efforts should be focused on prevention, and not a band-aid solution which may still place passengers in danger.

02-25-2013, 05:44 PM
Internet titans throw millions into life sciences

Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet February 22 2013

A who’s who of tech and innovation have launched the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences–with a purse more than double that of the Nobels–with two aims in mind: recognize standout research focused on curing intractable diseases and extending human life.

As one of the prize founders Google’s Sergey Brin put it in a statement announcing the prize, “curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown.”

The founders, Brin and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, CEO and co-founder of personal genetics company 23andMe; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, collectively agreed to establish five annual prizes, at $3 million each. Eleven scientists received prizes in this initial round.

Art Levinson, Apple’s chairman of the board and former CEO of Genentech, will serve as chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

The prizes will be awarded for past achievements and aim to give the recipients more freedom and opportunity to purse future accomplishments, the founders said. In other words, these are recognition prizes, not inducement prizes that roundup scientists for a particular challenge.

The premise of the prize has received some criticism since it was announced this week. Over at the Guardian, the blog GrrlsScientist notes nearly all “breakthroughs” are the result of scientific collaborations and research teams, not one person. And the post further complains that the vast majority of the life sciences, such as biology, climate science, ecology, microbiology etc., have been overlooked.

A singular theme appears to connect most of the prize winners, at least this time around. Take a look at the list and you’ll see a lot of cancer and genetics research.

Here are first 11 recipients, and a peek at why they were chosen:

Cornelia I. Bargmann: for the genetics of neural circuits and behavior, and synaptic guidepost molecules;

David Botstein: for linkage mapping of Mendelian disease in humans using DNA polymorphisms;

Lewis C. Cantley: for the discovery of PI 3 Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism;

Hans Clevers: for describing the role of Wnt signaling in tissue stem cells and cancer;

Napolene Ferrara: for discoveries in the mechanisms of angiogenesis that led to therapies for cancer and eye diseases.

Titia de Lange: for research on telomeres, illuminating how they protect chromosome ends and their role in genome instability in cancer.

Eric S. Lander: for the discovery of general principles for identifying human disease genes and enabling their application to medicine through the creation and analysis of genetic, physical and sequence maps of the human genome.

Charles L. Sawyers: for cancer genes and targeted therapy.

Bert Vogelstein: for cancer genomics and tumor suppressor genes.

Robert A. Weinberg: for characterization of human cancer genes.

Shinya Yamanaka: for induced pluripotent stem cells.

02-26-2013, 11:44 AM
Nevada recluse's gold fortune to be auctioned for taxes

Fluent News | February 26, 2013

Even though he lived in the same quiet neighborhood for decades, no one seemed to know Walter Samaszko Jr. He was so unknown that weeks passed before authorities discovered he had died in his modest Carson City home.

When cleanup crews arrived, they made another startling discovery: The 69-year-old man who had lived so simply had a vast collection of thousands of gold coins worth millions of dollars stashed in old ammunition boxes in his garage.

About half of the collection's value will be auctioned off Tuesday in a Carson City courtroom to satisfy some $800,000 in government estate taxes and fees.

The profits from any sales beyond that amount will go to a substitute teacher in San Rafael, Calif., who is Samaszko's first cousin and sole heir. It took an exhaustive search to locate Arlene Magdanz.

The auction will include only the bullion coin collection, not the collector's edition coins, said Alan Glover, Carson City's clerk recorder who will oversee the auction.

"They're buying and bidding on an ounce of gold, pure gold by the weight," Glover said.

The bidders are all professional coin collectors who regularly make purchases ranging from $3 million to $10 million, he added.

Coins have been grouped into 11 sets based on type, and the sets have been weighed by the ounce. The collections range from 24.1 troy ounces to 602 troy ounces.

In total, about 135 pounds of gold is to be sold at auction, which Glover said is expected to net about $3 million. Another auction for the larger half of the collection is likely later, he said.

Officials discovered the trove neatly wrapped and stored mostly in ammunition boxes stacked on top of each other. There were more than 2,900 Austrian coins, many from 1915; more than 5,000 from Mexico; at least 500 from Britain; 300 U.S. gold pieces, some dating to 1880; and more than 100 U.S. gold pieces as old as the 1890s.

Among the coins were meticulous records of the purchases dating back to at least 1964, when gold averaged about $35 per ounce. The precious metal currently sells for nearly $1,600 an ounce.

Authorities believe that his mother, who lived with Samaszko until her death in 1992, purchased most of the coins.

Despite the millions of dollars in his garage, Samaszko didn't appear to lead a luxurious life. Records show he only withdrew about $500 a month to pay modest bills. He died with $1,200 in a checking account and just a bit more than $165,000 in a money market and mutual fund account.

Since learning of her inheritance, Magdanz has shunned publicity and not made any comments about the fortune.

03-01-2013, 02:03 PM
Mobile oddities: Delve into the stranger side of MWCby Amanda Kooser February 27, 2013Imagine waking up, reaching for the tablet on your nightstand, and turning on your coffee maker from bed. You catch a few more winks before it alerts you that your hot java's ready. If Qualcomm's concept Wi-Fi coffee maker ever goes into production, your mornings may never be quite the same. The coffee maker, however, is just one of many odd and unusual gadgets on display at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona......... Fujitsu rolled (or walked) out a cane equipped with GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth that could help seniors get around........ BeeWi showed off an early version of its Mobot power plug. Not only can you use it to remotely turn electrical devices off and on with your phone, but it also has a motion sensor and temperature sensor to warm you when things get too hot........ Revel in the weird and wonderful world of the wackier side of Mobile World Congress. If you ever dreamed of having a folding phablet or a smartphone that comes from a company that also makes compactors and hydraulic excavators, this is the place for you.

03-04-2013, 12:37 PM
Butt-dial to 911 spoils alleged drug deal
by Chris Matyszczyk March 2, 2013

None of us is immune from being our own worst enemy.

We find ways to sabotage ourselves that aren't even assuaged by years of visits to our psychologists.

The extremely openhearted may, therefore, find a certain at-oneness with an alleged drug dealer whose bottom may have caused him to be arrested.

As KGW-TV deals it, Raleigh Reynolds, 25, was allegedly about to participate in a narcotic business transaction.

Unfortunately (at least for him), police say a 911 dispatcher got to listen in on the proceedings, as Reynolods inadvertently called it in.

"It got a chuckle around the department because they don't make it that easy, usually," officer Aaron Christopherson told the police.

The 911 call was received just after midnight last Monday.

And the dialogue seemed somewhat incriminating. For example: "OK, cause I got 40 on me, so the only issue is seeing the product before I purchase."

I hadn't been aware that merely seeing a product was ever enough before purchasing. Though that does help to avoid buying, say, a wooden iPad.

The recorded butt-dial continued like this: "Yah, I definitely need a 40...and please let it be good. I'm so tired of getting ripped off."

The dispatcher concluded that it was unlikely that the conversation was about a 40-shot frappucino.

So, with the help of GPS technology, the call was traced to a back alley in Molalla, Ore., conveniently just one block from the police station.

The two suspects, a man and a woman, allegedly declared that no, they didn't have a cell phone.

However, the Molalla police have quite some IQ. They spoke loudly and, lo, the dispatcher could hear their voices.

Police allege that the drug involved was meth and Reynolds was charged with multiple felonies.

There is no record of what type of cell phone might have been the police informant.

article from C|Net

03-04-2013, 01:17 PM
and in many cases NZ

* Pasta had not been invented.
* Curry was a surname.

* Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet
* Spices came from the Middle East where they were used for embalming.

* Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.
* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
* A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.

* Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage.

* All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
* Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.

* Soft drinks were called pop.
* Coke was something that we put on the fire.

* A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
* Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.

* A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
* A Pizza Hut was an Italian shed.

* A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
* Brown bread was something only poor people ate.

* Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking.
* Bread and jam was a treat.

* Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.
* Coffee was Camp, and came in a bottle.
* Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.

* Figs and dates appeared every Christmas.
* Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.

* Jellied eels were peculiar to Londoners.
* Salad cream was a dressing for salads, mayonnaise did not exist

* Hors d'oeuvre was a spelling mistake.

* The starter was our main meal. Soup was a main meal.
* Only Heinz made beans.

* Leftovers went in the dog.
* Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.

* Fish was only eaten on Fridays.
* Fish didn't have fingers in those days.
* Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.

* Ready meals only came from the fish and chip shop.
* For the best taste fish and chips had to be eaten out of old newspapers.

* Frozen food was called ice cream.
* Nothing ever went off in the fridge because we never had one.
* Ice cream only came in one colour and one flavour.

* None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
* Jelly and blancmange was only eaten at parties.

* If we said that we were on a diet, we simply got less.
* Healthy food consisted of anything edible.

* People who didn't peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.
* Indian restaurants were only found in India .

* Brunch was not a meal.
* If we had eaten bacon lettuce and tomato in the same sandwich we would have been certified
* A bun was a small cake back then.

* The word" Barbie" was not associated with anything to do with food.
* Eating outside was a picnic.
* Cooking outside was called camping.

* Seaweed was not a recognised food.
* Pancakes were only eaten on Pancake Tuesday

* "Kebab" was not even a word never mind a food.
* Hot dogs were a type of sausage that only the Americans ate.

* Cornflakes had arrived from America but it was obvious they would never catch on.

* The phrase "boil in the bag" would have been beyond comprehension.
* The idea of "oven chips" would not have made any sense at all to us.

* The world had not heard of Pot Noodles, Instant Mash and Pop Tarts.
* Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
* Lettuce and tomatoes in winter were only found abroad.

* Prunes were medicinal.
* Surprisingly muesli was readily available in those days, it was called cattle or hog feed.

* Turkeys were definitely seasonal.
* Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.

* We never heard of Croissants we certainly couldn't pronounce it,
* We thought that Baguettes were a problem the French needed to deal with.
* Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour food.

* Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than petrol for it they would have become a laughing stock.

* Food hygiene was all about washing your hands before meals.
* Campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria, and Botulism were all called "food poisoning."

* The one thing that we never ever had on the table was elbows.

03-05-2013, 05:52 PM
Internet-capable cars bring privacy concerns
Craig Timberg | FluentNews | Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013

BARCELONA — Cars will soon be so linked into wireless networks they will be like giant rolling smartphones — with calling systems, streaming video, cameras and apps capable of harnessing the unprecedented trove of data vehicles will produce about themselves and the humans who drive them.

The battle over who can access all this data is an awkward undercurrent amid recent announcements by car manufacturers touting their new, Internet-capable vehicle systems.

Low on gas? Soon a gas station app may know before you do. Tires need rotating? Your car may wirelessly alert your dealership when it’s time. Ready for a lunch break? Your car can make a reasonable guess based on the hour. A savvy restaurant app may soon use additional detail, such as whether the person in the back seat is watching a Disney movie, in deciding to offer an advertisement featuring a Happy Meal and directions to the nearest McDonalds.

Cars have long gathered data to monitor safety and performance. But their newfound connectivity may allow a range of parties — automakers, software developers, perhaps even police officers — new access to such information, privacy advocates say. Because few U.S. laws govern these issues, consumers have little control over who can see this data and how it can be used.

More than 60 percent of vehicles worldwide will be connected directly to the Internet by 2017, up from 11 percent last year, predicts ABI Research. In North America and Europe, that percentage is likely to reach 80 percent.

Many cars already record their speed, direction and gear setting, as well as when brakes activate and for how long. Newer systems also can track whether road surfaces are slick or whether the driver is wearing a seat belt – information potentially valuable to police and insurance companies investigating crashes. (Some car insurance companies already monitor driving behavior in exchange for discounted rates.)

“The cars produce literally hundreds of megabytes of data each second,” said John Ellis, a Ford technologist who demonstrated some of the new Internet-based systems at the company’s display at the Mobile World Congress, which ended last week in Barcelona. “The technology is advancing so much faster than legislation or business models are keeping up. . . . What can government do? What can you do?”

Such issues go beyond vehicles. Many of the nearly 1,500 exhibits at the Mobile World Congress touted technology fueled by personal information. Thermostats, health sensors, even Dumpsters, can function better, according to companies exhibiting their products here, if individual behavior is tracked.

In the United States, proposed new federal highway safety rules would require all new cars by 2014 to come equipped with so-called “black boxes” to save vehicle information from the final seconds before and after crashes. The plan has prompted several privacy groups to lobby for an explicit declaration that data produced by a vehicle is owned by the motorist, with authorities having access only under certain conditions.

Yet some vehicle computer systems already on the road offer the potential for monitoring driver behavior to a far greater extent than “black boxes” do. A critical review of an electric car in the New York Times last month, which said the vehicle lost power in cold weather, drew an exceptionally detailed rebuttal from the manufacturer, Tesla, that cited logs kept by an onboard computer. (The Times has stood by its review.)

There are few legal standards for what information a vehicle can collect, how it can be used and by whom. Each manufacturer produces its own onboard Internet systems, each with specific rules that few consumers review and even fewer understand, said privacy experts.

“People are being duped into giving away a whole lot of information that maybe somebody ought to ask us about first,” said Dorothy J. Glancy, a Santa Clara University law professor who studies privacy and transportation. “It seems to me you ought to get a choice.”

The Internet system used by Ford, which last week announced greater integration with the popular music app Spotify, relies on a user’s smartphone to connect with wireless services.

The integration between car and smartphone means that some vehicle data can be made available to developers through an open Internet platform, allowing for a new generation of apps that draw on the information, said Ellis, the Ford technologist who heads its developer program.

The privacy policies of app makers would govern how an individual’s personal information can be used, Ellis said. “We assume that you’re comfortable with whatever privacy policy that app has.”

Also in Barcelona, General Motors announced plans to install high-speed wireless connections on all of its vehicles beginning with the 2015 model year, in partnership with AT&T. The new system will augment OnStar, which long has provided some GM customers with directions, emergency assistance and help recovering stolen cars.

One of the prototype vehicles on display here, a dark blue Cadillac ATS sedan, was outfitted with OnStar, streaming video, music apps and cameras installed aimed at both the interior and exterior of the car. In demonstrations, one of the car’s interior cameras took short video clips of occupants that were incorporated in animated sequences broadcast on the dashboard video screen.

Stefan Cross, an executive with public relations firm Weber Shandwick, which was assisting in GM’s announcement of the new technology, said one possible feature would alert owners by text messages if their cars are bumped or hit. Owners might then be able to activate the exterior cameras remotely for immediate visual reconnaissance in the aftermath of an incident.

“It allows somebody to stay connected to your car even if you’re not in it,” he said.

Cross said GM would protect the privacy of its customers, even as the volume of data increases. “We have that data. We’re just not prepared to release it to third parties.”

Yet experts say that in the absence of strong national privacy laws, valuable data often leaks out. Any information produced by a vehicle and transmitted over the Internet ends up on servers, making it a potential target for authorities, lawyers engaged in court cases or even hackers. Companies also can voluntarily make some data available to app developers in pursuit of better products for customers.

The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly taken action in recent years against technology companies — including cellphone maker HTC last month — for failing to adequately protect personal data collected from customers.

The prospect of the government itself gaining access to rich new streams of personal information worries some privacy experts as well. Vehicle data could be used to generate tickets or prosecute drivers after accidents.

“As soon as that data starts flowing to outside parties, whether app developers or [wireless] carriers, I start getting nervous,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It raises the prospect that control over individuals by police, by insurance companies, by whoever, might become much more finely grained than we have now.”

03-05-2013, 05:57 PM
Iran reportedly uses snipers to tackle Tehran's rat problem
Fluent News | Mar 05, 2013

As Tehran's rodents become increasingly resistant to poison, Iran has a new way to combat the growing pest population: snipers.

Ten sniper teams reportedly have been deployed to combat the capital city's growing rat population, which currently outnumbers Tehran's 12 million human residents, according to The National.

"It's become a 24/7 war," said Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, the head of Tehran municipality's environmental agency. "We use chemical poison during the day and the snipers at night."

The sharpshooters have bagged more than 2,000 rats in recent weeks, The National reports, but the surviving pests appear to be mutating.

"They seem to have a genetic mutation," said Ismail Kahram, an environmental adviser to the city council. "They are bigger now and look different. These are changes that normally take millions of years of evolution."

Kahram says the rats are so big, they even outweigh many of Tehran's cats.

Officials say the city is now working to boost the number of sniper squads to 40, according to The National.

03-06-2013, 12:45 PM
MRIs reveal what you think of others

David Worthington | Smart Planet | March 5, 2013
Your own thoughts betray you, or at least they could. Cornell University neuroscience researchers are able to determine what you think of others by scanning your brain.

fMRI technology can identify how you perceive others by how your brain encodes their personalities.

Your own thoughts betray you, or at least they could. Cornell University neuroscience researchers are able to determine what you think of others by scanning your brain.

Cornell’s press office announced the findings of a study by neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues today. The team analyzed functional MRI (fMRI) data to reveal how the human brain perceives others by encoding their personality traits. The human brain creates a distinct personality profile for everyone that can be identified by observing changes in blood flow to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), an area of the brain that functions to plan social interactions, the study says.

Volunteers were asked to consider how specific people might react to situations after studying those individuals’ personality traits. By analyzing the brain activation patterns, researchers were consistently able to recognize which person a volunteer was thinking about. That profiling process has provided new insights into how the brains of people who have disorders such as autism function differently. In those cases, the encoding fails.

“Prior research has implicated the anterior mPFC in social cognition disorders such as autism and our results suggest people with such disorders may have an inability to build accurate personality models,” said Spreng. “If further research bears this out, we may ultimately be able to identify specific brain activation biomarkers not only for diagnosing such diseases, but for monitoring the effects of interventions.”

fMRI technology has already been deployed in courtrooms as a lie detector, can be used to predict how well someone will learn, and is being used to more accurately map the human brain. Neuroscience has come a long way since the dubious study phrenology, which alleged uncovered mental faculties by measuring the skull.

That’s notable, because phrenology became the basis for social darwinism and discrimination.

While it’s unlikely that neuro research will produce the same consequences in this age, the obvious question is are your brain waves considered to be private? Who has a right to know what you’re thinking?

03-06-2013, 12:51 PM
Holograms help firefighters see people trapped in flames

Janet Fang | SmartPlanet | March 5, 2013

Current infrared cameras can be blinded by the intense radiation emitted by flames. A new digital holography system can produce a live 3-D movie of people in a room on fire.

Researchers in Italy are using an infrared digital holography system to help firefighters look for people trapped in flames.

This lens-free, fire search and rescue system — developed by Pietro Ferraro and colleagues from the National Institute of Optics in Pozzuoli — produces a live holographic movie that reconstructs motion hidden by a fire.

Firefighters can see through smoke using infrared camera technology. But IR cameras can’t capture people blocked by flames because they rely on a lens to produce an image. A zoom lens concentrates rays on the sensor, and the intense infrared radiation emitted by flames overwhelm and blind the sensitive detectors.

A lens-free setup, on the other hand, can cope with the flood of radiation since it isn’t focused on any one area. And with holograms (like the ones on credit cards), partial data contains information about the whole structure — so you can use a very small subset of pixels to reconstruct a whole object.

To create a hologram, a laser beam is split into two: an object beam and a reference beam. You shine the object beam onto the thing being imaged; when the reflected object beam and the reference beam are recombined, they create an interference pattern that encodes the 3-D image.

In the new system, a beam of IR laser light is dispersed throughout a room, passing through flames and smoke. The light reflects off of any objects or people in the room, and the information carried by this reflected light is recorded by a holographic imager.
It’s then decoded to produce an almost real time, 3-D movie of the room and its contents. You can watch a video of the thermographic view vs. holographic view.

The team plans to make a portable tripod system that holds the laser and the holographic camera, allowing the system to be fixed inside buildings or tunnels.

The system could also have biomedical applications: “studying or monitoring breathing, cardiac beat detection and analysis, or measurement of body deformation due to various stresses during exercise,” Ferraro says in a press release.

The work was published in Optics Express last week.

[Via New Scientist, Wired]

03-06-2013, 01:04 PM
Four things that make your resume look dated

By Toni Bowers |TechRepublic | March 4, 2013

Takeaway: Even if people keep their resume up to date with their latest jobs, they often plug that new information into an old format. Here’s how to tell if your resume is dated and what to do about it.
Many people aren’t great at keeping their resumes up to date. Even if they remember to add new accomplishments or jobs, they still just plug the new information into the old resume. Here’s why your old resume may need tweaking and what you should keep in mind when you’re doing that tweaking.

1. You still have an objective statement. Some people swear by the objective statement, and a broad, descriptive statement is good as an introduction. But what you don’t want is the old “Seeking a position that utilizes my outstanding project management skills.” I hate to break it to you, but hiring managers couldn’t possibly care less about what you’re looking for. The exercise is all about what you can do for the company you’re applying to. Instead, use a profile that outlines what you’ve accomplished and in what ways you can bring value to the company.

2. Your resume looks like it was typed on a Smith-Corona. Remember back when left-alignment was the only formatting option you had? Now, apps like Microsoft Word let you do everything but make the words dance to music. I’m not suggesting you justify your margins or center-align everything (please don’t do that!), but you can let go of the old Company name…tab…Position held…tab…..dates worked mentality. (While we’re on the subject, I suggest you put things in order of their importance — list your title first, add a comma, and then put the company name. If you want to add dates, you can do that and then right-align that portion.

3. You consider yourself “hard working” or a “good communicator.” Two problems with this: One, you’re talking about yourself so you’re a little subjective. How much weight do you think that will carry? Two, unless you have some way to prove this (for example, “I conducted all end-user training for the company” can replace “good communicator”), there’s really no reason to even mention it.

4. You offer references upon request. Honestly, a savvy employer will have googled the heck out of you already, so there may be no need for references. Also, it’s understood that if a reference is needed, the employer will ask for it and you’ll provide it. Save that part of your resume real estate for something important.

03-08-2013, 11:50 PM

A Waikato woman who snapped a chance picture of debris from an undersea volcano as she flew home from a Samoan holiday alerted scientists around the world to a major discovery.

But the tale of co-incidental discovery doesn't end there; she found debris from the same eruption on a Coromandel beach months later.
Tirohia artist and jewellery maker Maggie de Grauw was flying home from a holiday in Samoa in July last year when she spotted a vast brownish-grey slick on the surface of the ocean beneath the aircraft 800 kilometres northeast of Tauranga. It turned out to be from an undersea volcanic eruption.
"I took a couple of pictures [from the aeroplane] wondering if it was an algal bloom, oil spill or, recalling a conversation with a friend the week before, a deposit from a volcano," she said.
On her return to New Zealand, an internet search led her to Scott Bryan, a vulcanologist at Queensland University.
She sent her photographs to him and he alerted geologists in New Zealand and the United States.
Nine days later the crew of an airforce Orion found the deposit over an area 250 nautical miles by 30 nautical miles.
Then a Niwa marine biologist identified the sediment as likely to have come from an underwater volcanic eruption.
Ms de Grauw said Robert Andrews of the Smithsonian Institute emailed her to tell her if she had not photographed the raft no-one would have known there had been an eruption on the Havre seamount on the Kermadec Ridge. It had no history of erupting.
The photographs Ms de Grauw took were used in a report on the eruption by the Smithsonian Institute.
But the story doesn't end there.
"This January, six months to the day after photographing the pumice raft, I was beachcombing at Opoutere and Hot Water Beach and found some chunks of pumice covered with ‘goose barnacles', which rarely make it to our shores, so I let Niwa know and they asked me to send samples down," she said.
"It has just been confirmed the pumice . . . came from that undersea eruption of Havre," she said.
Ms de Grauw has previously used pumice beads in her jewellery work, but now has some new material with special significance.
"Now I have confirmation from Niwa about the pumice being from the raft I saw, I am going to make a series of pieces using this freshly spewed-out pumice to commemorate my accidental journey into a scientific discovery," she said.

03-08-2013, 11:53 PM
I've seen this bloke on his little motorbike cruising in the traffic in Christchurch........never knew anything about him......but like a lot of people I really felt for him when I read his bike had been stolen.


03-10-2013, 01:48 PM
Seanz, thanks for the great stories. Interesting reading :)

03-11-2013, 03:28 PM
Google Glass: Expect widespread usage bans over privacy concerns

Summary: Google is about to unleash a rash of concerns generated by Google Glasses' ability to take clandestine photos and videos.

By James Kendrick for Mobile News | March 11, 2013
ZDnet Tech News

Google Glass is the company's upcoming product that puts a computer on your face. Google is about to release the dorky-looking device and most likely it will be snapped up by the techie crowd. It is an innovative product that pushes live-blogging to the next level, and that will unleash a storm of concern never before seen caused by a mobile gadget

A bar in Seattle has already generated buzz in tech communities with a preemptive strike against Google Glass. The proprietor doesn't want patrons to have to worry that someone with Google Glasses might be snapping photos. His patrons come in for privacy and he wants to keep it that way.

That may have been nothing more than a publicity stunt but it portends a greater problem for Google Glass. When the general public becomes aware of Google Glass and exactly what it does, expect to see a lot of reactions similar to that of the Seattle bar owner.

Rightly or wrongly there's already a concern about folks taking photos and videos in certain public locations and situations. Pull out a camera in places like public schools, playgrounds, and airports and you might incur the wrath of authorities and parents, especially where public safety of kids are concerned.

These bans are not going to be the result of Google Glass wearers actually using them, they are going to be a result over the concern that they can be used discretely. Parents are not going to like the exposure that Google Glasses worn in schools, playgrounds, parks, and other places where groups of kids hang out, might bring to their kids.When public awareness of Google Glass reaches a critical mass and it's understood that these devices can record photos, video, and audio of the wearer's surroundings, an outbreak of bans is sure to result. Don't be surprised if within weeks of the Google Glasses general release we start seeing bans of it cropping up all over the place.

Authorities who already overreact to those with cameras during stressful public situations are not going to like the fact that Google Glass wearers can record those situations without discovery. This will include the TSA in airports over concerns that wearers might be recording things and "compromising the public's safety." You'll hear that, I can almost guarantee it.

Don't be surprised when those on the sexual offenders list in most states are banned from owning/wearing Google Glasses as part of their punishment.

Businesses are going to quickly realize the exposure to both liability and corporate security and one after another companies, large and small, are going to ban Google Glass use within work areas. Because Google Glass can be used without notice, that ban will extend to even wearing the device on the premises. That will probably be welcomed by non-Glass using workers who will feel uncomfortable that coworkers might be recording them at work.

Then there are the concerns that will surely pop up over wiretapping laws. In many states it's illegal to record anyone without their permission. Imagine the flurry of legal activity that will result due to the fear that Google Glasses wearers have recorded others without notice. This could get messy very quickly.

Outside of the bar in Seattle none of these bans are official yet but don't be surprised when they start happening. People will have a knee-jerk reaction to the realization that Google Glass wearers can snap photos or worse, video of kids, other adults, or anything, really. The public outcry is going to be fast and furious, and authorities are going to do what they can to nip this potential privacy breach in the bud.

03-11-2013, 09:35 PM
Even offline, retailers track your every move

Tyler Falk | SmartPlanet | March 11, 2013

Retailers are getting smarter about how you shop in their brick-and-mortar stores. Find out how.

It’s a well known practice for online retailers to track your browsing habits on their site so that they can highlight products based on your preferences. But retailers are increasingly tracking you when you’re inside their physical stores too.

The New York Times reports on Euclid Analytics, a company that sells WiFi antennas to retailers wanting to know more about customer shopping habits. By picking up signals that smartphones give off, even when you’re not using the phone, stores can get an idea for how many people enter the store, how long they stay, and where they browse.

The big initial use is the so-called bounce rate, or the percentage of people who come into the store who leave without making a purchase. But the technology also helps stores make sure that there is enough sales help or that enough registers are open. By seeing how people move in a store, retailers can also better determine where to place low-profit and high-profit items.

According to the Times, the three-year-old company already has 100 customers — Nordstroms and Home Depot among them — and has tracked 50 million devices in 4,000 locations.

Privacy is always a concern when it comes to this kind of tracking. The company assures that the collected data is anonymous. But really, I don’t think privacy is a big deal in this case. Let’s face it, if you use a smartphone or computer you’re leaving digital traces everywhere. There’s something uncomfortable about it, but I think we’re growing more comfortable with this reality. If you’re not, you should stop browsing the Web and using your phone. Plus, if this technology can make for a better customer experience, it’s a benefit to everyone.

03-12-2013, 01:17 PM
College student invents a gel that stops bleeding on contact

Tuan C. Nguyen | SmartPlanet 12, 2013

(A treatment that mimics the body’s own wound-healing capabilities can be a lifesaver in hospitals, the battlefield and around the home.)

A college student has invented a gel that he claims could stop bleeding — instantly.

Apparently, the substance, dubbed Veti-Gel, works by activating the the body’s natural blood-clotting mechanism and enabling the wound-healing process to go into effect immediately. Inventor Joe Landolina, an undergraduate at NYU, says he’s tested his creation on wounded rats as well as a wounded person who suffered a severe burn injury.

“One of my other colleagues … he went to a bonfire. One of his friends fell into the fire and got second-degree burns,” he told TechNewsDaily. “He put the gel on, and the next day it was healed.”

Landolina designed Veti-gel to mimic a substance found within animal connective tissue known as the extracellular matrix, which not only does the important job of providing structural support to cells but is also responsible for kick-starting a chain reaction that produces fibrin, the proteins that come together to form blood clots.

To come up with a synthetic version of ECM, he extracted a material that functions similarly from special genetically-modified plants. When applied, the gel helps to seal the wound through a combination of enhanced blood clotting, platelet activation to help block the flow of blood as well as covering and putting pressure on the opening.

While there other treatments on the market, none offer Veti-Gel’s distinct advantages. For instance, while the U.S. military already uses a material called QuikClot to force platelets to quickly form a clot, it takes longer and requires being applied with pressure. And while some of these alternatives need to be kept refrigerated, Veti-Gel works out of the tube at just about any temperature.

Landolina knows he’s still a ways from a putting out a mass-market product. The third year bachelor’s degree candidate has launched a startup and has been searching for an outside researcher to carry out independent tests on Veti-Gel. He’s also exploring the possibility of testing Veti-Gel in collaboration with veterinarians. In the meantime, Landolina has applied for a patent, submitted his treatment to the FDA for approval and applied for a military grant to further development.

Looks like he’s going to have a busy summer

03-13-2013, 05:35 PM
FDA: Popular Antibiotic Can Cause Fatal Heart Problem

NewsMax Health | Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013

The Food and Drug Administration warned on Tuesday that the antibiotic azithromycin, sold as Zithromax and Z-Pak, can cause a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm in some patients.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine last May compared the risk of cardiovascular death from different antibacterial drugs and found that the drug, which is made by Pfizer Inc and is also sold by generic drugmakers, had a higher rate of death.

In its warning, the FDA said the drug can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal heart rhythm known as prolonged QT interval, in which the timing of the heart's contractions becomes irregular.

The FDA said doctors should use caution when giving the popular antibiotic to patients known to have this condition or who have certain risk factors. Those who may be at risk include people with low levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or people who take certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. The drug could also cause problems in people with torsades de pointes, a specific, rare heart rhythm abnormality.

However, the FDA noted that other drugs in the same class as azithromycin known as macrolides also have the potential for causing QT prolongation, as do non-macrolide antibiotics, such as fluoroquinolones, and doctors need to consider all of these risks when choosing an antibiotic.

Pfizer officials were not immediately available for comment.

News from Newsmax.com

03-17-2013, 04:57 AM
Red Bull says blackmailers threatening feces in cans
Fluent News | Mar 15, 2013

Energy drink producer Red Bull says it is being blackmailed, with the perpetrators threatening to place cans of its product contaminated with feces on supermarket shelves.

The company says the threats started several weeks ago. But Marcus Neher of the Salzburg Public Prosecutor's office said Friday that "up to now there has only been a claim of contamination," and the company also says that supermarket checks have shown no signs that the product was tampered with.

The company sells its energy drink worldwide. In a statement, it says it is "cooperating closely" with police but offers no details on the perpetrators' demands.

There was also no information on the location of the stores named by the blackmailers.

03-19-2013, 06:14 AM
Swarming cockroaches turn bus to New York into roach-mobile

NEW YORK | Fri Mar 15, 2013

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Greyhound bus ride into New York City on Friday turned into a horror show for passengers suddenly swarmed by an invasion of cockroaches that forced the driver to pull over and evacuate the vehicle.

Cockroaches began emerging about 15 minutes after the bus departed from Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Friday morning, a Greyhound spokesman said.

The driver soon pulled over and the 48 passengers scuttled off the infested bus to wait for a replacement vehicle.

Cell phone photos showing armies of cockroaches scampering over the seats and floor were posted by local media outlets, supplied by passengers on the bus.

"We at Greyhound apologize for this inconvenience and have spoken with each passenger regarding this incident," Tim Stokes, a spokesman for a Greyhound, a unit of Scotland-based FirstGroup Plc, said in a statement.

"Currently, our team is investigating the situation and working to determine its cause," Stokes said.

The company said it had refunded the passengers' fares and that they arrived without further incident in New York City in the afternoon.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Dan Grebler)

03-21-2013, 02:49 AM
I own metal detector (http://www.detectorall.com/) and when I went to the beach I always took them there and they can give me some surprises. and I also can take it to the park to or find the metal goods, such as coins and so on. It has also helped find the ring that I lost in the garden,this is really great.

Good news. It must be fun to use one of those. You never know what you'll find.

I'd love to try one.

What's thing you found, that you like most (beside the lost ring)?

What kind of metals can it find besides iron ?

03-21-2013, 01:14 PM
What happens in an Internet minute?
Charlie Osborne | SmartPlanet | March 21, 2013

Sixty seconds online and millions of users — what happens in a minute on the web?

In only 60 seconds, almost 640TB of data is transferred around the world. A world away from the time of dial-up and 250mb desktop computers, this vast amount of data is continually mined by service providers, advertisers and businesses looking to profit from our online activity.

Our behavioral patterns are a way to profit for many, but as this infographic from Intel shows, our surfing habits can be broken down into a number of social elements too. In just a minute, Google’s search engine will have answered over two million queries, while the video streaming service YouTube allows users to view approximately 1.3 million videos — at the same time uploading roughly 30 hours of content.

In terms of social media, Facebook generates over six million views in sixty seconds and 100,000 tweets will be shared. However, email still reigns — with over 204 million sent every minute.

According to Intel, online business appears to be booming, as Amazon rakes in $83,000 in sales. However, the expansion of online and digital services harbors risk, as 20 people a minute also become the victim of identity theft.

Based on these figures, Intel believes that in the future, the number of networked devices in operation will be double the global human population. In addition, in 2015, five years’ worth of video is expected to flood online networks per second.

03-28-2013, 02:55 PM

03-29-2013, 12:09 PM
Probiotics Benefit Brain Activity
from:Home Health Insider

We often associate probiotics with gastrointestinal and digestive health. But the more we research these amazing friendly bacteria, the more we discover just how widespread their benefits can be—far beyond the digestive tract. In fact, research has shown a connection between robust friendly bacteria in the system and stroke and atherosclerosis prevention,1 healthy immunity,2reduced risk of obesity3 and allergy prevention and treatment.4

Now, research shows that probiotics benefit the parts of the brain that control the processing of emotions and sensation.5

Past animal research has linked gut microflora with emotional behavior and brain biochemistry,6-7 but researchers in this latest study wanted to see if these findings translated to human brains. Their goal was to examine whether the consumption of a fermented milk product that contained various probiotic strains altered intrinsic connectivity or responses to emotional attention tasks in the brain.

A total of 36 healthy women with no gastrointestinal or psychiatric issues were divided into three groups: 12 in the test group, 11 in a non-fermented milk control group and 13 in a no-intervention control group. The test group received a fermented milk product that contained various strains of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacterium animalis, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

All the participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after the intervention to measure brain response to emotional faces attention and resting brain activity.

The trial lasted four weeks. After analyzing their data, researchers found that the consumption of the fermented milk product was associated with some significant changes in the brain.

They noticed that the fermented milk intervention led to activity reductions in areas of the brain that deal with sensation. In addition, the fermented milk ingestion was associated with connectivity changes when the brain was at rest. This is significant because, according to the researchers, “The resting state brain networks provide functional ‘templates’ with which the brain can rapidly respond to changes in the environment.”

Furthermore, the resting state connectivity can be predictive of pain modulation, suggesting a broader role for this part of the brain with regard to pain vulnerability. This critical information can provide new avenues for the treatment of pain and other stress responses in the body.

Make Probiotics a Part of Your Nutritional Foundation

Believe it or not, up to 500 different species of bacteria reside in your digestive tract, all existing in a harmonious balance—at least most of the time. When the bad strains of bacteria get out of control, health problems and illness can occur. But if you take a probiotic supplement every day, you give your friendly bacteria the competitive edge.

The bottom line: Probiotics provide excellent health and protective benefits from head to toe, as this most recent study and countless previous studies have demonstrated. This link between probiotics and good health is so solid that we recommend that you make probiotics one of your core, daily, foundational supplements.

In addition to supplementation, you can further increase your probiotic protection by consuming fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, miso and tempeh, which naturally contain various probiotic strains.

Karlsson FH, et al. Nat Commun. 2012;3:1245. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2266.

Purchiaroni F, et al. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Feb;17(3):323-33.
Boroni Moreira AP, et al. Nutr Hosp. 2012 Oct;27(5):1408-14.
de Azevedo MS, et al. J Appl Microbiol. 2013 Feb 26. doi: 10.1111/jam.12174 [Epub ahead of print.]
Tillisch K, et al. Gastroenterology. 2013 Mar 5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. [Epub ahead of print.]
Bravo JA, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16050-5.
Neufeld KM, et al. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Mar;23(3):255-64:e119.

03-31-2013, 04:20 AM
A D.C. doctor blogs about his decline as Alzheimer’s claims his mind
Theresa Vargas | Washington Post | Saturday, Mar 30, 2013

In a rented car on a rural road, David Hilfiker glanced at the Google map he printed before leaving his District apartment and turned where it said to turn. The retired doctor drove this way for three and a half hours, eyes darting between paper and pavement, trying not to get lost.

Nothing about the trip felt familiar. Not the tree-framed scenery outside his window. Not the sand-colored prison where he eventually stopped, or the visitor’s room where he sat with an old friend. Not the chaplain who came by to say hello. Hilfiker, a gray-haired man with a charmingly tilted smile, introduced himself.

“Yes,” the chaplain told him, “I remember you from last time.”

Hilfiker had driven to the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Va., just a few months earlier. There, he had sat in the same visitor’s room with the same friend for four hours.

Hilfiker remembered none of it.

At the time, he dismissed the incident as a bizarre memory lapse, perhaps a byproduct of his age, then 66. But now, two and a half years later, he recognizes it for what it was: one of the first major signs of his mind’s decline. Hilfiker has Alzheimer’s, a brain disease expected to afflict a record 14 million Americans by 2050, inflicting a terrible emotional and economic toll on communities, families, and the men and women who learn that their memories and identities will slowly be lost. For Hilfiker, a family doctor who has spent decades helping the District’s most vulnerable, that moment came six months ago.

Since then, he has grappled with how to tell those around him, when to let go of responsibilities and, as a man who has always defined himself by his mind, who he will be when it’s gone. He has also taken the unusual step of chronicling his demise in a blog titled “Watching the Lights Go Out,” providing a sobering guide for the millions headed behind him into the darkness.

“I’m facing the collapse of so much of what has given me meaning,” he wrote in one of his early posts. “What is it actually going to be like?”

Three decades ago, Hilfiker stepped into an exam room and found a worried man and his wife waiting for him.

“Something’s wrong with Mama,” the man said.

A quick look at Mama revealed that her mind had been slipping away long before her husband had sought help.

“We humans have amazing denial mechanisms, of course, but why are they almost universally so powerful in dementia?” Hilfiker blogged. “It’s shame and fear, I suspect; shame so strong that one can’t bear to entertain the possibility and fear of isolation so overwhelming that telling others . . . terrifies us.”

In many ways, Hilfiker’s entire life has prepared him to write with ease and expertise about an illness that would leave most people besieged and lost.

He has never been an emotional person. When he found out that his mother committed suicide his sophomore year of college, he cried for two minutes. Years later he pieced together her long struggle with depression, but it would take him years more to recognize that he shared her illness.

If the depression tempered his happiness, it didn’t slow his achievements. The son of a pastor and a nurse, Hilfiker decided early on that success came not only in pushing himself to whatever heights he could reach but also in pulling up others less able with him.

The valedictorian of his high school and a standout at Yale, he didn’t just become a doctor: He set up a practice in a rural town in Minnesota and then in a low-income area in the District. He wasn’t just the author of three books: He wrote about issues he hoped would help strengthen the medical profession and a divided society.

One of his greatest accomplishments lies inside a gray-brick rowhouse in Northwest Washington. Hilfiker founded Joseph’s House in 1990 for homeless men living with AIDS and envisioned it as a place where the lines between black and white, rich and poor, would be blurred. He moved his wife and three children into the two-story home that counted among its first residents drug addicts and convicted criminals.

Hilfiker’s family lived there for three years, enough time to see about two dozen men die and to grow familiar with the dementia that AIDS patients sometimes develop before death. Even now at the house, which today serves men and women dying of AIDS and cancer, it’s not unusual for a resident to sit at the long dining room table, all personality and laughter, and then months later, carry the vacant stare of one whose thoughts are far away.

Hilfiker wonders how long it will take him to reach that point. Two years? Five years? A decade?

He had noticed mental slips in himself even before the forgotten trip to Virginia. On a train bound for the West Coast, he lost his fanny pack twice. The first time, it was returned without the money; the second time it remained gone. Hilfiker also found himself grasping for words in a way he never had before and struggling to understand an Excel spreadsheet formula he had once created with ease.

When Hilfiker visited a neurologist for the second time in September, he missed three questions on a cognitive test. He shouldn’t have missed any. The one that troubled him most required him to simply draw a three-dimensional cube.

“I couldn’t do it, “ he wrote. “I couldn’t get all the lines to connect. I had administered similar tests to patients before. I knew immediately what this meant. A knot quickly formed in my gut, and I felt almost sick. I realized that my mind was going.”

Hilfiker often navigates the city by bike, but not long after his visit to the neurologist, he found himself in Washington Circle, lost. He had been heading to meet his wife, Marja, at the Kennedy Center, and he must have taken a wrong turn. In the soft light of dusk, he could read the street signs — K Street, I Street — but he couldn’t find New Hampshire Avenue, which was less than 100 feet away. He asked one person for directions, and then another.

“I’m ordinarily good at directions, and I’ve passed through that circle hundreds of times,” he recounted in his blog. “I got lost when there was no reason to get lost.”

The only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s is through a biopsy after death. But Hilfiker said he has accepted that he has the disease and has even joined a clinical trial for it at Georgetown University.

Barring a medical breakthrough, 13.8 million Americans age 65 and older will have Alzheimer’s in 2050, up from the 5 million currently affected, according to a study recently released by the Alzheimer’s Association. The study found that the cost of caring for this population will rise from the current $203 billion to $1.2 trillion.

In its early stages, Alzheimer’s is characterized by memory loss and disorientation, but it can eventually lead to death.

“If I live in the future, it’s a very painful disease,” Hilfiker said one recent afternoon as he sat at his kitchen table in Northwest Washington. “If I live in the present, it’s not.”

In the present, he is still able to hold engaging conversations, teach the interns at Joseph’s House, as he does every year, and go on nightly walks with his wife.

In the future, he will likely end up in a nursing home bed. He might act out with rage. And he may not recognize his wife, even as he comes to rely on her for everything.

One day in November, Hilfiker and his wife went to the Natural History Museum to watch an Imax film on monarch butterflies. Afterward, as they prepared to leave, David became tangled in his jacket. The left sleeve was bunched behind him, just out of reach. Marja noticed and instinctively reached out to help. David pulled away, annoyed.

Continues on next post

03-31-2013, 04:23 AM
Marja is a born caretaker. She founded a D.C. school for adults who want to get their GEDs, and for as long as her children can remember, strangers in need have rotated through the family’s home. Currently, a young man with dreams of being a hip-hop artist lives in the couple’s spare room.

But the problem was the jacket, not the Alzheimer’s, Hilfiker thought at the time. He didn’t need her help — not yet.

“What bothered me was thinking that she thought I was helpless when, in fact, I wasn’t,” Hilfiker wrote. “So, it’s going to be a delicate dance in which we both have to offer each other a lot of grace.”

They met in high school when she was a 17-year-old foreign exchange student from Finland and he was a studious 16-year-old New Yorker who carried a briefcase even though no other boys did. They married 44 years ago, and Marja has been with him through the darkest days of his depression.

“If someone had given me three wishes in life, one would have been ‘Just let David enjoy life more,’ ” Marja said. The disease, she added, has now given him that.

Over the past six months, she has witnessed her husband’s mental lapses. He has forgotten appointments. He has introduced himself to people he has already met. And while doing the bookkeeping at church, he calculated an extra $24,000 in the budget that didn’t exist. Blue slips of paper, on which David now notes everything he doesn’t want to forget, stretch from the couple’s kitchen to their bedroom.

Marja has noticed other changes. Her husband has been more emotionally open than ever, even crying tears of joy on a recent Sunday at church.

And he has decided that although he’s “still fun,” he wants to spend more time with their children and grandchildren, none of whom live close. Every summer, the couple go on a hiking trip. This year, they’re planning a family canoe trip.

Marja and David say they know the time will come when they will have to worry about the practical: whether to stay in the non-handicapped-accessible apartment they love, how they will manage their money in light of nursing home costs that can run more than $100,000 a year, and when it’s time for David to stop driving, riding his bike or even blogging. (When he can no longer write about his own experiences, a friend has agreed to do it for him).

But that’s in the future.

In the present, David boards a train on an afternoon in early March, alone. He will visit his sister in Minneapolis, his son in Seattle and his daughter and grandchildren in Napa, Calif. In the past, he used to feel guilty leaving Washington for even a few weeks. This time, he’ll be gone about a month.

“Perhaps this Alzheimer’s is allowing me to enjoy my life for the first time, not because things are any better, but because I’m more emotionally in touch with the goodness,” he wrote. “I feel rooted, grounded. I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

04-06-2013, 05:41 AM
Alaska city mulls outlawing walking the streets while intoxicated
Fluent News | Apr 05, 2013

It could soon be against the law to mere walk the streets of a remote Alaska city while drunk.

Bethel, in the western part of the Yukon State, is reportedly considering changes to its public decency laws, including one that would ban walking on city streets while intoxicated.

The ordinance, which was recently introduced by the Bethel City Council, would also ban public excretion within city limits and add language to existing law against littering, defacing property, shoplifting and selling tobacco to minors, KYUK.org reports.

"Our Bethel Municipal Code doesn't have a lot of teeth in it," Councilmember Sharon Sigmund said. "It's like my dog. He has very few teeth left and if he bites you, you probably wouldn't even know it."

Walking while intoxicated on the community's ice roads would also be banned under the amendment.

"It's not geared to prohibit the intoxication as much as it's geared to keep these areas of our community safe," Sigmund continued. "Public streets and roads, ice roads or highways, are very dangerous areas. They have a lot of fast-moving, big vehicles. A lot of foot traffic as well. To have an intoxicated person in those particular areas makes for an exponentially greater risk of harm not only to the person who's intoxicated, but anyone who's traveling on those roadways."

Not all local lawmakers support the potential changes. Councilmember Rick Robb said he backed most of the ordinance, but had concerns with the public intoxication component.

"I can't support that particular section," Robb told the website. "I understand people can be a menace, but there's other ways to handle it than outlawing drunk walking."

Bethel, roughly 400 west of Anchorage, is the largest community in western Alaska and was reportedly named America's taxicab capital in 2007. Although the town has just one single paved road that stretches roughly 10 miles, Bethel had 93 taxi drivers at the time, or roughly one cab for every 62 residents. That's by far more taxi drivers per capita than anywhere else in the country, according to Alfred LaGasse, executive vice president of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association.

04-08-2013, 02:40 AM
Gate to Hell found in Turkey

Fluent News 4.7 2013

A "gate to hell" has emerged from ruins in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced.

Known as Pluto's Gate -- Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin -- the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.

Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors.

"This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death," the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC -- about 24 AD) wrote.

"I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell," he added.

Announced this month at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Turkey, the finding was made by a team led by Francesco D'Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento.

D'Andria has conducted extensive archaeological research at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis. Two years ago he claimed to discover there the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.

Founded around 190 B.C. by Eumenes II, King of Pergamum (197 B.C.-159 B.C.), Hierapolis was given over to Rome in 133 B.C.

The Hellenistic city grew into a flourishing Roman city, with temples, a theater and popular sacred hot springs, believed to have healing properties.

"We found the Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring. Indeed, Pamukkale' springs, which produce the famous white travertine terraces originate from this cave," D'Andria told Discovery News.

Featuring a vast array of abandoned broken ruins, possibly the result of earthquakes, the site revealed more ruins once it was excavated. The archaeologists found Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld -- Pluto and Kore.

D'Andria also found the remains of a temple, a pool and a series of steps placed above the cave -- all matching the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.

"People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal," D'Andria said.

According to the archaeologist, there was a sort of touristic organization at the site. Small birds were given to pilgrims to test the deadly effects of the cave, while hallucinated priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto.

The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead.

"We could see the cave's lethal properties during the excavation. Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes," D'Andria said.

Only the eunuchs of Cybele, an ancient fertility goddess, were able to enter the hell gate without any apparent damage.

"They hold their breath as much as they can," Strabo wrote, adding that their immunity could have been due to their "menomation," "divine providence" or "certain physical powers that are antidotes against the vapor."

According to D'Andria, the site was a famous destination for rites of incubation. Pilgrims took the waters in the pool near the temple, slept not too far from the cave and received visions and prophecies, in a sort of oracle of Delphi effect. Indeed, the fumes coming from the depths of Hierapoli's phreatic groundwater produced hallucinations.

"This is an exceptional discovery as it confirms and clarifies the information we have from the ancient literary and historic sources," Alister Filippini, a researcher in Roman history at the Universities of Palermo, Italy, and Cologne, Germany, told Discovery News.

Fully functional until the 4th century AD, and occasionally visited during the following two centuries, the site represented "an important pilgrimage destination for the last pagan intellectuals of the Late Antiquity," Filippini said.

During the 6th century AD, the Plutonium was obliterated by the Christians. Earthquakes may have then completed the destruction.

D'Andria and his team are now working on the digital reconstruction of the site.

04-09-2013, 03:23 AM
Montana man wants to be reimbursed by feds after dog eats $500

FluentNews | Apr 08, 2013

A Montana man whose 12-year-old golden retriever ate five $100 bills hopes to be reimbursed by the federal government.

Wayne Klinkel tells the Independent Record that his dog Sundance ate the bills while he and his wife were on a road trip to visit their daughter.

Klinkel says he carefully picked through the dog's droppings, and his daughter recovered more when snow melted.

He says he washed the remnants of the bills and taped them together and sent them to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing with an explanation of what happened.

The bureau's website says an "experienced mutilated currency examiner" will determine if at least 51 percent of a bill is present and eligible for reimbursement. The process can take up to two years.

04-09-2013, 10:24 AM
New health worry in red meat
FluentNews | Apr 08, 2013

Doctors have long assumed that saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat are what raise the risk of heart disease. But a study in the journal Nature Medicine fingers another culprit: carnitine, a compound abundant in red meat that also is sold as a dietary supplement and found in some energy drinks.

Carnitine typically helps the body transport fatty acids into cells to be used as energy. But researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that in both humans and mice, certain bacteria in the digestive tract convert carnitine to another metabolite, called TMAO, that promotes atherosclerosis, or a thickening of the arteries.

The researchers, led by Stanley Hazen, chief of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, tested the carnitine and TMAO levels of omnivores, vegans and vegetarians, and examined records of 2,595 patients undergoing cardiac evaluations. In patients with high TMAO levels, the more carnitine in their blood, the more likely they were to develop cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke and death.

Many studies have linked consumption of red and processed meat to cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The Harvard School of Public Health reported last year that among 83,000 nurses and 37,000 male health professionals followed since the 1980s, those who consumed the highest levels of red meat had the highest risk of death during the study, and that one additional serving a day of red meat raised the risk of death by 13 percent.

The new findings don't mean that red meat is more hazardous than previously thought. But they may help explain the underlying risk of eating red meat, which some researchers have long thought was higher than the saturated fat and cholesterol content alone could explain.

Dr. Hazen speculated that carnitine could be compounding the danger. "Cholesterol is still needed to clog the arteries, but TMAO changes how cholesterol is metabolizedlike the dimmer on a light switch," he said. "It may explain why two people can have the same LDL level [a measure of one type of cholesterol], but one develops cardiovascular disease and the other doesn't."

One surprising finding, Dr. Hazen said, was how a long-term diet that includes meat affected the amount of TMAO-producing bacteria in the gut and thus magnified the risk. In the study, when longtime meat-eaters consumed an eight-ounce steak and a carnitine supplement, their bacteria and TMAO levels rose considerably. But when a vegan ate the same combination, he showed no increase in TMAO or bacterial change.

"Vegans basically lose their ability to digest carnitine," said Dr. Hazen.

The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, didn't assess how little red meat people could consume and still have elevated TMAO. Nor did it look at how long someone had to abstain from red meat to end the process. "We know it will be longer than one week, but shorter than one year," Dr. Hazen said.

He and his colleagues have been exploring how altering gut bacteria might influence the risk of heart disease. "In the future, maybe there will be a heart-healthy yogurt, or a drug to block the formation of TMAO," he said.

04-10-2013, 01:49 AM
Sweet chariot: Arizona man's love for paralyzed wife makes him king of custom wheelchairs

FluentNews Apr 09, 2013

When an auto accident left Liz Soden paralyzed, she told her then-fiance to leave her. He proposed instead, and then disappeared into the garage and began a lifelong quest to build a better wheelchair.

Actually, calling the creations Brad Soden turns out of his Arizona garage "wheelchairs" doesn't do them justice. There's the Tank Chair, with half-track treads that allow it to move through sand or ice. Another chair can carry Liz Soden at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and still another has a .50-caliber gun mounted on it. Those vehicles are a long way from the prototype Soden made - a modified golf cart - so his wife could zoom down the aisle and then mingle with guests at their wedding in March, 2000.

"Most of the time, when you are in a wheelchair, you are put someplace and people have to come to you," Liz Soden said. "But with the golf cart, I was able to move around and see everyone. I wasn't stuck in one place."

The golf cart was only the beginning for Brad Soden, a volunteer firefighter who was unhurt in the accident that nearly cost Liz her mobility, but didn't.

"We ended up walking away from it, but she ended up paralyzed," he said, referring to the three sons from a prior relationship who were in the car. "Between the two of us, we have five kids. We are a very active family. We go camping a lot. After she got hurt, we tried with the wheelchair and to keep everything as normal as we could."

Since their marriage, it seems every time Liz runs into a barrier, Brad heads for the garage and starts tinkering. On a family camping trip in 2005, he realized that the golf cart wasn't enough.

"We were out there one day and a herd of elk came through the campgrounds," Brad Soden recalled. "We tried to get her in the chair and get her out with the kids, and the chair kept getting stuck. She was crying, saying, 'Just go on without me,' and I just found that unacceptable. So I told her I would build her something."

Without any background in engineering or physics, Brad set out to design a better wheelchair for Liz. One that would provide no limits.

"I did not [have any experience]. What I did was, with my concept, I went around to a lot of people and the first thing they asked me is if I was an electrical engineer," Soden recalled.

"I'm just a dumb ol' hillbilly, but I wasn't going to take no for answer so when a lot of people turned me down...it didn't stop me. I just kept working at it."

Soden began devouring books on electrical engineering, and he began tinkering.

"I made my first Tank Chair in 2007," Soden said. "And I basically pushed the limits on what you can do with electricity. Started a lot of fires, met a lot of resistance. But from what I learned, with the applied science, we've done some pretty cool things."

The original Tank Chair, an off-road wheelchair that easily goes over any terrainfrom snow to mudfeatured rubber tank treads stretched over wheels and two high-torque electric motors. Later that year, the family visited the Grand Canyon, and Brad took Liz to the North Rim for her first "hike" since the accident.

"She just had this big, million- jumbo-watt smile," he recalled. "She got to go on a hike with her two little girls side by side. She got to go by herself. It was freedom that she had not had since the accident. I got to sit at the camp with the boys and I could watch go off, and she got to enjoy herself."

Liz said the trip showed her that she never had to be immobilized, as long as she had Brad for a husband.

"The freedom was justawesome," she said. "It was like I was handed my legs back again.

"[Prior to the accident,] we were always camping and being outside and being a mom with five kids, I would set up the camp," she said. "After the accident, I got put next to the fire and everyone else went off and did everything. I tried so hard not to cry. The kids wanted to go on hike and I couldn't go with them."

Still, the Tank Chair had some limitationsmainly that she couldn't use in indoors. So Brad then set out to build a tricked-out electric wheelchair. His Speedster is outfitted with motorcycle tires and can top out at 30 miles per hour. Its battery can hold a 10-day charge.

When their home was vandalized, Brad made sure his wife never had to feel helpless.

"We called the police and the dispatcher asked if anyone got hurt. I said no and she gave me a number to call to file an incident report," Brad recalled. ""I said, 'Here's a thought, how about you send a police officer out and I dunno, dust for prints? At least try to look for somebody.' She said, 'Sorry, we don't have the manpower for that.'"

"I thought that was wrong. So I said I would handle it myself. I spent a whole weekend in the garage, took a .50-caliber [Browning machine gun] and put it on a Tank Chair chassis.

"I unloaded [the gun] and had my 7-year-old son with cameras from inside the house to operate it and I was sitting in my front yard with my hat on and my beer. Then I moved and my son moved the chair and mirrored me. The whole precinct showed up on our block. Cop cars filled the entire cul-de-sac."

These days, whenever Liz is out and about in one of her custom chairs, people stop and ask questions as to where they could get one. That led the couple to start the Liz Soden Foundation in 2011, to provide Tank Chairs or Speedsters to needy paralyzed folks, as well as police officers, firefighters and soldiers injured in the line of duty. It cost's an average of $7500 to produce each chair.

Bill Weigt, an investigator for the Peoria, Ariz., police department, who was paralyzed after being shot in the chest while chasing a murder suspect in 2005 got a one-of-a-kind "Cop Chair" which was outfitted with lights, a siren, and iPad interface.

"It's amazing. Words can't even describe it," Weigt said to local media at the time. "It still blows me away that it's been so long and people still want to do nice things, which is amazing."

Another recipient, from the Sodens' hometown of Parker, Jessie Schifo, 29, received his chair three months ago after being paralyzed for 11 years.

"I've wanted one ever since Brad told me he was building them," he said. "Before I even saw a sketch.

"It gives me the ability to things I haven't been able to do for a long time," he also said, adding that he recently rode the Tank Chair through four feet of snow at a ski resort near Flagstaff, Ariz., and was able to attend an off-road race in the Las Vegas desert.

"It gives you a warm feeling to be able to have the freedom to do all things you want again," he said.

04-11-2013, 11:56 AM
The future of retail: personalized shopping?

Tyler Falk | SmartPlanet | April 10, 2013

Online retailers are looking to transform the shopping experience to make it personalized and exciting.

The online experience has evolved over the years to become more personalized. Everything from Pandora picking out new music for you based on the artists you like to advertisements that predict your interests based on browsing history. And while online retailers use similar personalization techniques to suggest products based on your purchase history, new retailers are taking that concept to the next level.

Writing for Fast Company, Kathy Oneto points to startups that have brought ultimate personalization and even some excitement to the online shopping experience.

Take Stitch Fix, an online clothing store, for example. You start by filling out a style profile. Based on your answers the company’s stylists picks out five items they think you’ll want to wear. They send them to you, you try them on and send back the clothes you don’t like, for free. If you choose to keep all five, you get a 25 percent discount on the order. True&Co. does something similar with bras. Take an online fitting survey, try on five at home, and send back what you don’t like for free. The idea with both sites, like Pandora, is that you get some items similar to your interests and others that might broaden your interests based on what you like.

Then there’s the gift-giving site Wantful that helps you choose gifts based on the interests of the recipient. If you still aren’t sure what to give after the site gives you customized options you can send the person gift options that you choose.

As Oneto writes:

These new services are not only changing the retail and shopping experience for shoppers, but are also creating new distribution channels for marketers’ products. From start-ups to established players, these new channels can offer opportunities to reach niche consumer groups or can provide a platform to test new product concepts.

Sites like these also take advantage of their platform to offer a service that’s unique but also interesting and convenient to consumers. Why shop online if you’re going to have to return an item that doesn’t work for you (and pay for extra shipping)? Why shop online if the experience isn’t much different from being in a physical store. Sites like these could show the way for online retail.

04-12-2013, 08:22 AM
Police: Belt buckle saves employee hit by stray bullet inside Philadelphia grocery store
Fluent News | Apr 11, 2013

A grocery store employee said Thursday that he is thanking God and his belt buckle for saving him from a stray bullet that smashed through the market's front door.

The bullet lodged in the metal buckle worn by Bienvenido Reynoso, who had only recently started his job at 8 Brothers Supermarket in Philadelphia.

"It saved my life," Reynoso said of the belt. "I keep it for (my) whole life now."

Reynoso, 38, said he was about to wheel a hand truck outside the market in the city's Grays Ferry section when he heard gunshots around 4 p.m. Wednesday. He hit the floor.

Surveillance footage shows a man on a bike firing a gun outside the market. One person outside the store was hit in the abdomen and was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

At first, Reynoso didn't realize he could have been a second victim.

"When I check my body, I don't see nothing, no blood, nothing," he said in an interview at his home Thursday. "And I said I'm going to be OK."

Then someone noticed a hole at the bottom of Reynoso's shirt. That's when he found the bullet stuck to his belt buckle.

Police took the bullet and shirt as evidence. But Reynoso, the father of a young daughter, got to keep the belt, which he said he got in New York three years ago.

Christian Vinas, 21, was working behind the counter and also dived to the ground when the shooting began. Reynoso had perfect timing in dropping to the floor, he said.

"That has to be God," Vinas said. "Out of all the places you could get hit in the body, you get hit right there. It was truly amazing."

Police arrested a 24-year-old suspect and charged him with attempted murder and aggravated assault.

04-14-2013, 05:13 PM
Extreme trekkers: Anchorage couple covers 4,000 miles the hard way
Published: April 13, 2013

Journey from Washington to Kotzebue

At this time last year Caroline Van Hemert and Pat Farrell were rowing homemade boats up Alaska's Inside Passage, en route from Bellingham, Wash., to their cabin near Haines.

By MIKE DUNHAM —mdunham@adn.com

On one hand, it was a nature lover's dream, said Van Hemert. "Migration was in full force. The herring spawn was going crazy. There were tons of birds and sea lions -- and no people."

On the other hand, the Anchorage adventurers were encountering spring storms.

"We got hit with big water right off the bat," Van Hemert said. "In some cases we were pinned down by storms for five or six days. It was pretty humbling knowing that we were at the mercy of the conditions."

Even more humbling was the fact that, once they reached their cabin, they would just be a short way into a 4,000-mile expedition.

Their staggering itinerary called for them to go from Bellingham to Kotzebue via the Arctic Ocean, the Brooks Range and the Yukon, MacKenzie and Noatak rivers. All under their own power -- paddling, climbing, hiking, floating -- in six months.

It appears to be a trek unprecedented in legend, history or the annals of modern extreme sports.

They'll talk about it at a slide/lecture on Tuesday at the Snow Goose Theater.

Here's the short version.

No trails

Van Hemert and Farrell met at Western Washington University, where she was a writing student and he was studying art. They discovered that they shared a taste for excursions not generally included in hiking books.

"Our first trip was 10 years ago," said Van Hemert. "We hiked into a pretty remote area in the Yukon territory, planning to float out -- except we didn't have a boat."

The plan was to build a birch bark canoe to return to civilization, Farrell said, and to make as much as they could from available materials.

"We brought in just the steel portions of the tools," he said. They made the handles from local wood. It took a lot longer than calculated and making your own canoe is a gamble, he said: "It worked, but barely."

"It's not the most lightweight, efficient craft," Van Hemert observed.

Since then the two, now married, have lived on a sailboat in Washington, built their cabin near Haines, moved back to Van Hemert's hometown, Anchorage (she graduated from West High in 1996), and accumulated a catalog of strenuous exploits. They climbed Mount Fairweather, for example, in 2011.

The opportunity to spend half a year on the Bellingham-Kotzebue trip arose when Van Hemert, a research biologist at the Alaska Science Center, completed her Ph.D. in biology.

"I wanted to take a break," she said. "We were interested in linking up some places we knew pretty well, but also going to a lot of other places we'd never explored. And doing it without the use of trails."

"It seemed like a time to try something on a really big scale," said Farrell.

And so they began to pencil out the details for their epic journey.

Clouds of mosquitoes

As 2012 dawned, Farrell, who designs and builds residential homes and other construction projects, put his sculptural skills to work building the two 18-foot rowboats they would use to get from the Lower 48 to Haines.

"I had trouble finding expedition rowboats, so I found these plans and built them myself," he said.

They left Bellingham in a hailstorm on St. Patrick's Day. After a blustery seven weeks, they arrived at their cabin on Lynn Canal. There they left the rowboats, picked up pack rafts, skis and climbing gear, and headed due east into the Coast Range, pushing through the rainforest into mountain glaciers, crossing into Canada.

They inflated the pack rafts and began floating down the Yukon. North of Dawson, they left the river and alternately hiked or floated over taiga, tundra and snow-packed passes, revisiting the area of their original birch bark canoe adventure and finally connecting with the MacKenzie River.

The river slowed and divided into myriad channels as it approached the Arctic Ocean.

"Pack rafts aren't the right boat for that kind of travel," said Farrell. Counter currents and winds off the ocean sometimes pushed them in the wrong direction. And clouds of mosquitoes to rival anything in the north fell on them.

"We've done a lot of trips up here but the MacKenzie Delta at that time of year was more than I could imagine," said Farrell. "It sapped our morale. We started to lose our drive a little bit. But we really wanted to check out the Arctic coast."

The walk along the north edge of Canada and Alaska was particularly rewarding, they said. There was fairly good footing along the beaches of the continent and the barrier islands. The pack rafts proved effective at water crossings. There was a lot of wildlife and beached whale carcasses along the route.

But it too had unexpected challenges, including, Farrell said, finding fresh water.

Arriving in Kaktovik, they turned inland again, crossing the tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and going over the Brooks Range. They floated down the Chandalar River to Arctic Village, where they mailed their pack rafts to Anaktuvuk Pass to lighten the load for the next leg of the journey. Once they got to Anaktuvuk, they planned to go back to switching from hiking to floating.

The little backpackable craft generally worked well.

"They're definitely durable," said Van Hemert. "They didn't pop once."

A cold swim

But with the pack rafts on the mail plane, the pair had to swim the chilly Chandalar to continue along the Continental Divide.

"We took a high route for a good portion of it," said Farrell. "It was awesome. You'd come to pass after pass and be able to look out for miles."

But they didn't have much time to pause for scenery.

"We knew if we didn't make it before freeze-up, we'd have to change our plans," Farrell said. "The whole key to this trip was to try to move efficiently over ground, staying pretty darned light on our feet."

In the Brooks Range, however, they encountered more tough weather. At one point they were turned around by knee-deep snow high in the mountains. For another spell, "It just rained for days," Farrell said. "We knew we had to get over some passes if we were going to get out using our first options. The other options weren't that good, either."

They carried a satellite telephone and, for most of the trip, had their rations shipped to the towns along the way. Friends had left a cache of food where they crossed the Dalton Highway. Even with full packs, Van Hemert said, "We were hungry all the time."

Now they were hitting the bottom of their reserves.

Down to the last few granola bars, they had supplies flown in to their campsite on the banks of the Noatak River. It was the only air resupply they had on the whole trip. In addition to grub, the plane brought them a folding canoe that would take them to the Chukchi Sea.

On Sept. 9, they paddled across Kotzebue Sound to complete the odyssey.

"We just narrowly slipped by as winter was chasing us out of there," said Farrell.

They'd encountered abundant wildlife on the way, from aggressive bears to the massive Western Arctic caribou herd in its fall migration. But the final encounter was the oddest, Van Hemert said.

"We saw two moose in the Arctic Ocean," she said. "They followed us, up to their knees in saltwater. Then they swam after us for a mile or more. They weren't aggressive, but it was certainly strange."

What does it feel like to make a 4,000-mile trek?

"Part of me felt totally relieved that we managed to pull it off," said Van Hemert. "But there was a certain amount of sadness or nostalgia for what had become a lifestyle."

And how do you celebrate?

"We came back to Anchorage and some friends came over for pizza and beer," said Farrell. "You'd think these things would be more dramatic."

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/04/13/2863873/extreme-trekkers-anchorage-couple.html#storylink=cpy

04-16-2013, 03:16 AM
Here's a good one.

6-year-old takes his dad’s car for Chinese food

Law enforcement in Lapeer, Michigan, had an unusual run-in on Saturday morning. A six-year-old had taken his dad's car to go pick up some Chinese food.

The Detroit News reports that concerned witnesses called the the cops to report a car that was driving erratically. The paper reported, "They told police when they called that it looked like a 6-year-old was driving the car," said Sgt. Andy Engster of the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department. "And they were exactly right."

Police responded but not before other drivers boxed in the young Chinese food enthusiast with their own cars. One of the civilians then reached into the six-year-old's car, turned off the ignition and (wisely) removed the keys.

The boy told police that he had taken the keys from the counter and that his previous experience behind the wheel was nonexistent. "He said he'd never even sat on his dad's lap to steer the car or anything," Engster said.

The boy also told police that he had hit a street sign near his home. After seeing the damage, he figured he needed to drive to the car dealer for repairs. It was unclear if the boy was planning on eating first. Also unclear: How the boy planned to pay for the food, much less the car repairs.

The police spoke to the boy's father, who was asleep at the time. "He didn't even know (his son) was gone," Engster said. An investigation is ongoing, according to the Detroit News.

04-16-2013, 03:39 AM
Here's a good one.

6-year-old takes his dad’s car for Chinese food

Law enforcement in Lapeer, Michigan, had an unusual run-in on Saturday morning. A six-year-old had taken his dad's car to go pick up some Chinese food.

The Detroit News reports that concerned witnesses called the the cops to report a car that was driving erratically. The paper reported, "They told police when they called that it looked like a 6-year-old was driving the car," said Sgt. Andy Engster of the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department. "And they were exactly right."

Police responded but not before other drivers boxed in the young Chinese food enthusiast with their own cars. One of the civilians then reached into the six-year-old's car, turned off the ignition and (wisely) removed the keys.

The boy told police that he had taken the keys from the counter and that his previous experience behind the wheel was nonexistent. "He said he'd never even sat on his dad's lap to steer the car or anything," Engster said.

The boy also told police that he had hit a street sign near his home. After seeing the damage, he figured he needed to drive to the car dealer for repairs. It was unclear if the boy was planning on eating first. Also unclear: How the boy planned to pay for the food, much less the car repairs.

The police spoke to the boy's father, who was asleep at the time. "He didn't even know (his son) was gone," Engster said. An investigation is ongoing, according to the Detroit News.

The Dad is gonna get a double earfull from the Mom. What ya wanna bet???

04-26-2013, 10:32 AM
American tourists recoving after swimming for 14 hours when ship sinks in Caribbean.
Fluent News | Apr 26, 2013

The fishing trip off the rugged north coast of St. Lucia was supposed to last all day, but about four hours into the journey, the boat's electric system crackled and popped.

Dan Suski, a 30-year-old business owner and information technology expert from San Francisco, had been wrestling a 200-pound marlin in rough seas with help from his sister, Kate Suski, a 39-year-old architect from Seattle. It was around noon April 21.

He was still trying to reel in the fish when water rushed into the cabin and flooded the engine room, prompting the captain to radio for help as he yelled out their coordinates.

It would be nearly 14 hours and a long, long swim before what was supposed to be a highlight of their sunny vacation would come to an end.

As the waves pounded the boat they had chartered from the local company "Reel Irie," more water flooded in. The captain threw life preservers to the Suskis.

"He said, `Jump out! Jump out!"' Kate Suski recalled in a telephone interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

The Suskis obeyed and jumped into the water with the captain and first mate. Less than five minutes later, the boat sank.

The group was at least eight miles from shore, and waves more than twice their size tossed them.

"The captain was telling us to stay together, and that help was on its way and that we needed to wait," Kate Suski said.

The group waited for about an hour, but no one came.

"I was saying, `Let's swim, let's swim. If they're coming, they will find us. We can't just stay here,"' she recalled.

As they began to swim, the Suskis lost sight of the captain and first mate amid the burgeoning swells. Soon after, they also lost sight of land amid the rain.

"We would just see swells and gray," Dan Suski said.

A plane and a helicopter appeared in the distance and hovered over the area, but no one spotted the siblings.

Several hours went by, and the sun began to set.

"There's this very real understanding that the situation is dire," Kate Suski said. "You come face-to-face with understanding your own mortality ... We both processed the possible ways we might die. Would we drown? Be eaten by a shark?"

"Hypothermia?" Dan Suski asked.

"Would our legs cramp up and make it impossible to swim?" the sister continued.

They swam for 12 to 14 hours, talking as they pushed and shivered their way through the ocean. Dan Suski tried to ignore images of the movie "Open Water" that kept popping into his head and its story of a scuba-diving couple left behind by their group and attacked by sharks. His sister said she also couldn't stop thinking about sharks.

"I thought I was going to vomit I was so scared," she said.

When they finally came within 30 feet of land, they realized they couldn't get out of the water.

"There were sheer cliffs coming into the ocean," she said. "We knew we would get crushed."

Dan Suski thought they should try to reach the rocks anyway, but his sister disagreed.

"We won't survive that," she told him.

They swam until they noticed a spit of sand nearby. When they got to land, they collapsed, barely able to walk. It was past midnight, and they didn't notice any homes in the area.

"Dan said the first priority was to stay warm," she recalled.

They hiked inland and lay side by side, pulling up grass and brush to cover themselves and stay warm. Kate Suski had only her bikini on, having shed her sundress to swim better. Dan Suski had gotten rid of his shorts, having recalled a saying when he was a kid that "the best-dressed corpses wear cotton."

They heard a stream nearby but decided to wait until daylight to determine whether the water was safe to drink.

As the sun came up, they began to hike through thick brush, picking up bitter mangoes along the way and stopping to eat green bananas.

"It was probably the best and worst banana I've ever had," Dan Suski recalled.

Some three hours later, they spotted a young farm worker walking with his white dog. He fed them crackers, gave them water and waited until police arrived, the Suskis said.

"We asked if he knew anything about the captain and mate," Kate Suski said. "He said he had seen the news the night before and they hadn't been found at that time. I think we felt a sense of tragedy that we weren't prepared for."

The Suskis were hospitalized and received IV fluids, with doctors concerned they couldn't draw blood from Kate Suski's arm because she was so dehydrated. They also learned that the captain and mate were rescued after spending nearly 23 hours in the water, noting that their relatives called and took care of them after the ordeal.

St. Lucia's tourism minister called it a miracle, and the island's maritime affairs unit is investigating exactly what caused the ship to sink. Marine Police Sgt. Finley Leonce said they have already interviewed the captain, and that police did not suspect foul play or any criminal activity in the sinking of the ship.

A man who answered the phone Thursday at the "Reel Irie" company declined to comment except to say that he's grateful everyone is safe. He said both the captain and first mate were standing next to him but that they weren't ready to talk about the incident.

The brother and sister said they don't blame anyone for the shipwreck.

"We are so grateful to be alive right now," Kate Suski said. "Nothing can sort of puncture that bubble."

Upon returning to their hotel in St. Lucia earlier this week, the Suskis were upgraded to a suite as they recover from cuts on their feet, severe tendonitis in their ankles from swimming and abrasions from the lifejackets.

"It's really been amazing," Dan Suski said. "It's a moving experience for me."

On Saturday, they plan to fly back to the U.S. to meet their father in Miami.

Once a night owl, Kate Suski no longer minds getting up early for flights, or for any other reason.

"Since this ordeal, I've been waking up at dawn every morning," she said. "I've never looked forward to the sunrise so much in my life."

04-27-2013, 12:58 PM
Birthday girls Viola Pande, 5, and Vera Pande, soon-to-be 8, along with their guests Milly Collins, and Ashley Newman, react when Cinderella shows them her glass slipper in Chantilly.

Steve Hendrix | Fluent News | Friday, Apr 26, 2013

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Cinderella was on the phone with her next client. “Are you ready? Everybody there? Okay, here I come.”

The princess put away her cellphone, gave her crown a final tweak and climbed out of her Kia, ready to rock her fourth birthday party of the weekend. This Cinderella is a gown about town.

“I think I’ve done more than 800 parties now,” said Rebecca Russell, owner and principal Cinderella of Princess Parties of Virginia, as she guided her voluminous blue skirts along a Chantilly cul-de-sac. “It’s just getting busier and busier.”

It is an enchanting time to be a professional party princess. On the tails of a massive marketing blitz of all things tiara-ed, the ancient childhood appeal of the fairy-tale heroine has exploded into a modern princess-industrial complex. Amid thousands of princess products and millions of begowned little girls, it turns out there is a decent living to be made by chipper-voiced entrepreneurs ready to displace the old party clown.

“It’s just grown like crazy,” said Heidi Martin, who recently started a party princess company in Stafford and now books a stable of 25 Cinderellas, Belles and Pocahontases for gatherings all around the region.

Even in career-obsessed Washington, where legions of professional women command six-figure salaries and care more about office shoes than glass slippers, parents find themselves helpless in the face of the fierce princess passions of their 3-to-6-year-old girls.

“I have parents from D.C. all the time who call and say, ‘We don’t know where this came from, Disney is getting to her somehow,’ ” said Russell. “They say, ‘We don’t even play with princesses but all she wants to do is put on a dress and dance around the house, and now she really, really wants Cinderella at her birthday party.’ ”

There were no reservations at the Chantilly home of Vedika and Vinay Pande, where Cinderella was walking up the front steps.

“No, no, no,” she scolded, in an un-princessy voice, as some rose thorns snagged her gown. But by the time she pushed the doorbell, she was composed, aglow and ready to burst into song.

“A dream is a wish your heart makes,” she crooned out as the door opened, accompanied by a wireless speaker held in her gloved hand. She swept past a wide-eyed crowd of children, ages 5 to 9, who stared, squealed and clutched their cheeks in excitement.

For the next two hours, Cinderella held court in a living room cleared of furniture. She led nine agog girls — and four only slightly more reserved boys — in song, using the iPad she keeps in her leopard-skin roll-aboard bag. They danced in a circle, she painted their faces and helped them make magic wands. She dubbed them all official princesses and knights.

“The fairy dust will only last a couple of months,” she said sweetly, casting a little confetti glitter on birthday-girl Viola’s hands. A few parental heads snap around. “I’m just kidding. But the magic will last forever.”

This is Russell’s weekend life. She lives in costume and in character, coordinating four other performers by cellphone (her message begins with her theme song) and e-mail (all signed “Enchantingly yours”). She pumps gas in her gown and has endured a couple of fender-benders where the other driver gets out only to confront Cinderella.

“I used to have my phone number on the car, but I’d get these creepy calls from guys who saw me in traffic,” she said. “I’d have to say, I’m sorry, I’m not that kind of princess.”

But at an average of $220 per party, even a proper princess can pull down $40,000 a year, Russell said. The former wedding singer (and daughter of a Washington Opera chorus member) jumped into the biz in 2007, when she heard about a “real” princess showing up at her niece’s party in Fairfax. Instantly, she knew it was the home-based business she was searching for.

She bought a Cinderella gown from a Halloween outfitter, boned up on the classic tunes and put together a Web site. She has learned a lot about copyright law and the public domain, always with an eye on the world’s most powerful mouse.

“I can say I’m Cinderella because she was around before Disney,” explained Russell, who has upgraded her outfits and now has five other performers working for her. “Rapunzel they don’t own, but ‘Tangled’ they do. Our Little Mermaid is not their Ariel. But we do look like them.”

Ken Massimo, who dispatches princesses for his company Kids Parties D.C., always warns his performers to be careful in their wording. He still remembers the cease-and-desist letter he got from the “Barney people” back in the ’90s, marking the end of his purple-dinosaur days.

“I don’t want to make any powerful enemies,” Massimo said.

Without doubt, Disney was the big bang that launched the ever-expanding princess universe. For decades, the company promoted princess products only every seven years or so, when “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and its other animated features would be released on a rotating basis.

But in 2000, executives lifted those characters out of their films and began marketing them together, year-round, as the “Disney Princesses.” The result has been annual retail sales of more than $4 billion, according to Disney, some 26,000 princess products and a generation obsessed with gowns and crowns.

“That’s why it seems at once familiar and extreme to us,” said Peggy Orenstein, author of the best-selling “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” a scathing critique of the princess craze as too centered on merchandizing and beauty. “Now everybody is jumping on the bandwagon . . . including all these women dressing up like princesses and going to birthday parties.”

Gina Eppolito is a marathon runner and her husband a mountaineer. The two (who met on Mount Everest) have always pushed outdoors and adventure themes at home, so they have no idea where their twin 3-year-old daughters picked up the mania that has one of them suiting up in a Sleeping Beauty dress to eat breakfast and the other donning a wimple. They’ve been to three princess parties in recent months, including one where the mom and dad were dressed as king and queen.

“The girls wore those cardboard crowns until they fell apart,” said Eppolito, 52, a former longtime flight attendant. She has enjoyed their kids’ enthusiasm, but hiring a pro princess of their own? That would be a tiara too far.

“That is just beyond the level I feel like feeding this obsession,” said Eppolito, who was relieved when her girls recently expressed interest in having a dolphin-themed party for their next birthday.

“It might be coming to an end,” she said. “I think my husband would be mortified to have a live Cinderella come to our house.”

Fortunately for the growing ranks of rent-a-princesses, there are plenty of customers to be had. Russell is looking to hire one or two more performers to cover Rockville and Bethesda.

Martin, who owns Princess Parties by Heidi, is holding auditions. She looks for young singers, many from the musical theater program at George Mason University. She brings them in, hears them sing and watches how they react when her 6-year-old runs into the room.

“They might have model looks and a beautiful voice but not really be a kid person,” Martin said. “I have six kids, I can tell when someone is a kid person or not.”

Most stay in the job only briefly, many as just a summer gig, according to Mary Alice “Marty” LeGrow. A Philadelphia-based princess, she blogs about the profession under the moniker Assassin Princess. She describes how, after years of the work, the princess persona has crept into all parts of her life, how even in adult settings she finds herself smiling constantly and filling awkward silences with “adorable laughter.”

She is well known in her neighborhood for coming and going in full princess regalia. But working in her garden recently, the white gloves were off in favor of work gloves, dungarees, sunglasses and a cap.

“I looked like the Unabomber, and I’ve got a chain saw in my hands, when my neighbor stopped by with her kids and the little girl goes, ‘That’s the princess!’ ” said LeGrow, with a not-so-tinkling laugh. “It’s just who I am now.”

04-27-2013, 02:38 PM
Binky had a taste for zoo-goers’ flesh. But with each tourist he attacked, Alaskans loved him even more.
By ELIZABETH HAMES | Up Here | ( & Anchorage Daily News )

The polar bear cage at the Alaska Zoo is a fortress. Eighteen feet of sheer concrete surround the man-eaters on all sides; the windows are of shatter-proof glass. When it’s feeding time, says zoo director Patrick Lampi, “keepers have to unlock three doors to enter.” Two are commercial steel fire doors; the third is a bar-grate door with a master lock.

But it hasn’t always looked like a maximum-security prison. The zoo’s first polar bear exhibit, which housed its most prestigious pet, Binky, was more like a playground: Only eight feet of drill pipe and two waist-high gates stood between the half-tonne bruin and his admirers. Twice during the summer of 1994, people trespassed in Binky’s enclosure. Both times, he taught them a terrible lesson. The ferocious attacks shocked headline-readers around the world – but Alaskans refused to demonize the bear. Instead, in their irreverent Northern way, they crowned him their hero.
* * * *

Trauma tainted Binky’s early days. Like many bears before him, poachers had slaughtered his mother when she left her den on Alaska’s North Slope to search for food. Whether Binky witnessed this event is uncertain, but he would be nearly crippled by its effects. At three months old, Binky had just found his feet, so hunting the Arctic’s buffet of wary seals and quick birds was unthinkable. It wouldn’t take long for him to succumb to starvation. So when wildlife officials spotted him toddling helplessly to- ward the sea ice in January 1975, they had no choice but to scoop him up and surrender him to the Anchorage zoo.

He was an instant hit. Visitors clambered to get a glimpse of the jovial cub, and Binky, it seemed, reveled in their attention. “[He] plays to the crowds, tossing side-long glances to make sure someone is watching,” reported the Anchorage Daily News in May 1976. “And when the zoo closes at 5 p.m., he cries because he’ll receive no more applause and laughs for the day.”

But growing up under the gaze of tourists did nothing to dispel Binky’s instinctive appetite for human flesh. He was merely a wild animal with a landscaped den – and it showed. In a 1984 letter to the editor, nine- year-old Della May Higgs told the Anchorage Daily News that Binky had tried to “tear me, my mom and my sister to pieces.” As they ogled the brown bears in the neighbouring enclosure, Binky thrashed at the bars of his cage. “Binky was turning the bar from side to side, we were terrified,” she wrote. A quick-thinking zookeeper tossed Binky some meat to quell his anger. Meanwhile, the terrified tourists backed away, keeping their gaze on his cage.

Higgs and her family weren’t the only ones to catch a glimpse of Binky’s mean streak. Lampi, who was a zookeeper at the time, says the bear behaved unusually violently toward zoo staff and visitors alike.
“I do not see that same aggression in the bears we have today,” he says. But not everyone saw Binky for the fierce predator he was. In July 1994, an Australian woman, Kathryn Warburton, wandered from the zoo’s main path in hopes of snapping a close-up of the bear, which she thought was dozing. She scaled the set of four-foot fences separating tourists from his cage, apparently oblivious to the danger.

It wouldn’t be long before she changed her mind. With her camera covering her face, Warburton didn’t see Binky sneak up to the fence and slowly slip his arm through the 14-inch gap between the bars. Wrapping his giant paw around her calf, he pulled the woman flush to the fence and thrust his canines into her blue trouser shorts. Then, attempting to drag her into his cage, he yanked on her calf, snapping her femur. With the crack of her bone, Warburton released a cry that resonated throughout the 25-acre park. “Stop! Stop!” she screamed.

Two nearby groundskeepers perked up when they heard her cries. Throwing down their trowels, they ran toward the bear enclosure. In seconds they were yanking at Warburton’s right arm while Binky pulled back on her left thigh. It was a deadly tug of war, and Warburton was the prize.

The commotion drew gawkers from all corners of the zoo. “Can someone call someone?” a spectator asked. “Use a gun – a tranquilizer gun!” yelled another. While most visitors looked on in shock, a few threw their manpower into the battle, while others smacked the bear with scavenged branches. But next to the slavering beast, their sticks were downright flimsy. Then, in a flash, Binky loosened his jaws and the groundskeepers stumbled backward with Warburton in their arms. In one last show of power, Binky snatched her red and white tennis shoe as it brushed past his mouth. He wouldn’t put it down for three days.

While Warburton whimpered in the arms of paramedics, Lampi was relaxing on one of Alaska’s idyllic fishing piers. He wouldn’t hear about the incident until later that evening, when he dropped off his wife in time for her shift at the hospital lab. But before he could give her a kiss goodbye, he was swarmed by a gaggle of frantic lab technicians. “Oh my God. It’s crazy!” Lampi recalls them saying. Binky had attacked a woman, they said, and the victim was recovering in a room upstairs. As he ran down the hospital halls to her bedside, he scrolled through the possible scenarios. At best, she would sue, at worst she would demand death for the bear. He never could have anticipated her response: “Please don’t let them do anything to Binky,” she cried, when he introduced himself. “I am so sorry, it’s all my fault.”

Alaskans agreed. Many had moved to the state to be closer to nature, and tourists were known for behaving ignorantly in the wilderness – even for taunting the North’s wild critters. Antics such as Warburton’s were the ultimate show of disrespect.

Alaskans quickly adopted the bear as their unofficial mascot. T-shirts, greeting cards and pins bearing his image appeared on store shelves faster than his victim could heal. “Bring another tourist, this one got away,” read the tagline underneath a photo of a menacing-looking Binky, Warburton’s shoe dangling from his mouth. Pickup- truck bumpers carried stickers suggesting he should run for governor, because he would “take a bite out of crime.”

Then, six weeks later, the unthinkable happened: Binky struck again, wrapping his jaws around yet another unsuspecting tourist – this time, a teenager. After a long night of drinking, the boy and his friend scaled the six-foot fence that surrounded the back of the park. Perhaps on a dare, the youths stripped down, preparing to slip through the fence and take a dip in Binky’s pool. At that time of night, the polar bear cage would have appeared empty. The boys may have thought Binky and his den-mate, Nuka, had been locked away – only they weren’t. Startled by the commotion, Binky pounced at the boys, who were still on the outside of the cage, and snagged one in his jaws. The victim’s friend pulled back on his arm, and Binky released his grip. “The extent of injuries and nature were not released,” Lampi wrote in a letter to zoo staff years after the incident. “Rumours were that he would not be diluting the gene pool.”

Despite the horrific nature of his attacks, Alaskans stood by their bloodthirsty bear. “The Alaska Zoo was flooded with cards, letters and phone calls in support of the zoo and Binky,” says Lampi. “This support came from the community, state, nation and even internationally.” Even then-zoo director Sammy Seawell blamed the tourists, not Binky. “I feel sorry for the people who got hurt, but in both cases it was their fault,” she told the Beaver County Times following the second mauling.

When Binky succumbed to a parasitic infection a year later, Alaskans made a pilgrimage to his memorial. On the Saturday following his death, the zoo forgave its entrance fee and hundreds showed up for an official ceremony. “There was a pretty good turnout for a rainy day,” says Lampi. Solemn bagpipes wailed. At Binky’s cage, mourners laid flowers and cards – not to mention sneakers.

Although there is no official gravesite for the zoo’s 20-year resident, Warburton’s shoe is displayed behind glass as a grim sort of tribute. But perhaps the most fitting memorial is the polar bear fortress, built five years after Binky’s death. Although the enclosure’s high security has so far deterred additional Warburtons, Lampi isn’t convinced the zoo won’t see yet another overzealous tourist.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” Lampi wrote in the letter to staff. “You can only make it more difficult for people to get in where they don’t belong. There is no prevention against stupidity.”

04-27-2013, 02:51 PM
Margot Woelk, Hitler's Food Taster, Recalls Life Of Terror In The 'Wolf's Lair'

Huffington Post

BERLIN -- They were feasts of sublime asparagus – laced with fear. And for more than half a century, Margot Woelk kept her secret hidden from the world, even from her husband. Then, a few months after her 95th birthday, she revealed the truth about her wartime role: Adolf Hitler's food taster.

Woelk, then in her mid-twenties, spent two and a half years as one of 15 young women who sampled Hitler's food to make sure it wasn't poisoned before it was served to the Nazi leader in his "Wolf's Lair," the heavily guarded command center in what is now Poland, where he spent much of his time in the final years of World War II.

"He was a vegetarian. He never ate any meat during the entire time I was there," Woelk said of the Nazi leader. "And Hitler was so paranoid that the British would poison him – that's why he had 15 girls taste the food before he ate it himself."

With many Germans contending with food shortages and a bland diet as the war dragged on, sampling Hitler's food had its advantages.

"The food was delicious, only the best vegetables, asparagus, bell peppers, everything you can imagine. And always with a side of rice or pasta," she recalled. "But this constant fear – we knew of all those poisoning rumors and could never enjoy the food. Every day we feared it was going to be our last meal."

The petite widow's story is a tale of the horror, pain and dislocation endured by people of all sides who survived World War II.

Only now in the sunset of her life has she been willing to relate her experiences, which she had buried because of shame and the fear of prosecution for having worked with the Nazis, although she insists she was never a party member. She told her story as she flipped through a photo album with pictures of her as a young woman, in the same Berlin apartment where she was born in 1917.

Woelk first revealed her secret to a local Berlin reporter a few months ago. Since then interest in her life story has been overwhelming. School teachers wrote and asked her for photos and autographs to bring history alive for their students. Several researchers from a museum visited to ask for details about her life as Hitler's taster.

Woelk says her association with Hitler began after she fled Berlin to escape Allied air attacks. With her husband gone and serving in the German army, she moved in with relatives about 435 miles (700 kilometers) to the east in Rastenburg, then part of Germany; now it is Ketrzyn, in what became Poland after the war.

There she was drafted into civilian service and assigned for the next two and a half years as a food taster and kitchen bookkeeper at the Wolf's Lair complex, located a few miles (kilometers) outside the town. Hitler was secretive, even in the relative safety of his headquarters, that she never saw him in person – only his German shepherd Blondie and his SS guards, who chatted with the women.

Hitler's security fears were not unfounded. On July 20, 1944, a trusted colonel detonated a bomb in the Wolf's Lair in an attempt to kill Hitler. He survived, but nearly 5,000 people were executed following the assassination attempt, including the bomber.
"We were sitting on wooden benches when we heard and felt an incredible big bang," she said of the 1944 bombing. "We fell off the benches, and I heard someone shouting `Hitler is dead!' But he wasn't. "

Following the blast, tension rose around the headquarters. Woelk said the Nazis ordered her to leave her relatives' home and move into an abandoned school closer to the compound.
With the Soviet army on the offensive and the war going badly for Germany, one of her SS friends advised her to leave the Wolf's Lair.

She said she returned by train to Berlin and went into hiding.
Woelk said the other women on the food tasting team decided to remain in Rastenburg since their families were all there and it was their home.

"Later, I found out that the Russians shot all of the 14 other girls," she said. It was after Soviet troops overran the headquarters in January 1945.

When she returned to Berlin, she found a city facing complete destruction. Round-the-clock bombing by U.S. and British planes was grinding the city center to rubble.

On April 20, 1945, Soviet artillery began shelling the outskirts of Berlin and ground forces pushed through toward the heart of the capital against strong resistance by die-hard SS and Hitler Youth fighters.

After about two weeks of heavy fighting, the city surrendered on May 2 – after Hitler, who had abandoned the Wolf's Lair about five months before, had committed suicide. His successor surrendered a week later, ending the war in Europe.

For many Berlin civilians – their homes destroyed, family members missing or dead and food almost gone – the horror did not end with capitulation.

"The Russians then came to Berlin and got me, too," Woelk said. "They took me to a doctor's apartment and raped me for 14 consecutive days. That's why I could never have children. They destroyed everything."

Like millions of Germans and other Europeans, Woelk began rebuilding her life and trying to forget as best she could her bitter memories and the shame of her association with a criminal regime that had destroyed much of Europe.

She worked in a variety of jobs, mostly as a secretary or administrative assistant. Her husband returned from the war but died 23 years ago, she said.

With the frailty of advanced age and the lack of an elevator in her building, she has not left her apartment for the past eight years. Nurses visit several times a day, and a niece stops by frequently, she said.

Now at the end of her life, she feels the need to purge the memories by talking about her story.

"For decades, I tried to shake off those memories," she said. "But they always came back to haunt me at night."

04-30-2013, 12:29 PM
WWII bomber jacket rescued from Goodwill, returned to 90-year-old vet
Fluent News | Apr 30, 2013

A military buff like John Dodds could tell right away the leather bomber jacket wasn't just any old coat hanging on a rack at a Washington, D.C., Goodwill shop.

His daughter had noticed it and called him over, and Dodds began to examine it. The leather was a a bit stiff, but it was in good shape, with that perfect vintage patina. On the back was a red-bearded man in a winged helmet, the words "Red Raiders" and "22nd Bomb Group" emblazoned above and below. The jacket had lieutenant bars, a pricetag of $17 and a pretty big clue as to its original owner.

"Robert G. Arand" read the name tag on the front breast, according to Stars and Stripes, which first reported the story of the World War II relic's strange resurfacing at a thrift shop, and its pending return to the 90-year-old Arand, a former B-24 pilot who is alive and well in Cincinnati.

Dodds, assistant general counsel for the Air Force and an amateur military historian who once helped a friend research his brother who was shot down during the Vietnam War, plunked down the $17. Within 24 hours, he had reached Robert Arand by phone.

They chatted about Arand's time in the 22nd Bombardment Group, a predecessor of today's 22nd Operations Group at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. Arand recalled a commander with red hair, Col. Richard Robinson, from whom the group took its nickname. Arand, who flew more than 40 missions in the South Pacific and remained in the military until his retirement in 1983, figures the last time he wore the jacket was in San Francisco, well before settling in Ohio.

"I remember my wife asking if I was ever going to wear it again, and I said I didn't think I would, except for a veterans' parade," said Arand, who believes that his wife may have donated it to a charity in Cincinnati in 1950.

Arand, a father of five, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of two, told Stars and Stripes he isn't sure how the jacket wound up in Washington, but he "would love to know."

Dodds recently shipped the jacket to Arand, who said it still fits -- if maybe a tad snug in the chest. He's ready to show it off to his family.

"My children and grandchildren are anxious to see it," he said.

04-30-2013, 12:57 PM
Socks, other household items can be dangerous to pets that decide to munch on them

Washington Post | Monday, Apr 29, 2013
LOS ANGELES — A toy poodle that was rushed to the vet after swallowing a tube sock. A Great Dane that had to be operated on three times for eating his owner’s shoulder pads.

These are just a couple of examples of the emergency cases Dr. Karen Halligan has seen involving household items that seem harmless until an animal decides to munch on them.

Hundreds of pets undergo surgery every year to remove small articles of clothing and other objects from their stomachs and intestines, said Halligan, author, TV consultant and director of veterinary services for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles.

“It’s very common in private practice and in large institutions to be removing non-food items out of dogs and cats,” she said.

It also can be very dangerous.

Ingested clothing and fabric items, for instance, won’t show up on X-rays. Within 48 hours, a pet that has consumed a piece of clothing will develop symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever and depression.

If caught early, a vet can remove the item from inside the animal and everything will be fine. If not, the pet’s intestines will start to die because blood can’t get through, Halligan said. Removing the intestine is an option if the obstruction is eventually found.

If left untreated, the problem can be fatal because of dehydration or bacteria leaking into the stomach, causing peritonitis.

“We had one Great Dane. Three times we had to cut him (open) for his mother’s shoulder pads. He loved his mother’s shoulders pads,” Halligan said.

And surgeries to remove or dislodge things that pets swallow are not cheap.

“We are talking $2,500 to $5,000 at the least,” Halligan said.

Socks are probably the most popular pet-pilfered pieces of clothing across the country. They’re especially irresistible to pets after they’ve been worn. “It’s the scent that attracts them,” Halligan said.

One of Halligan’s older clients came in with his toy poodle and said the dog ate one of his tube socks.

“I was skeptical. I X-rayed, and it didn’t show up. But he was absolutely certain. He was adamant,” she said.

Halligan said she made the dog vomit and “sure enough, we pulled a foot-long tube sock out of this miniature apricot poodle, and the dog was fine.”

X-rays quite clearly show many other things pets swallow.

In March, Tim Kelleher’s 13-year-old Jack Russell terrier got sick and he rushed him to the vet. X-rays showed the dog had eaten a pile of pennies.

Dr. Amy Zalcman at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in New York used a camera attached to a net to fish 111 pennies out of Jack’s stomach. Scooping up five at a time, it took a couple of hours.

Letting the coins pass could have killed Jack because pennies made after 1982 contain toxic zinc.

Zalcman didn’t check the dates on the pennies, “but many were corroded, suggesting that they were being digested,” she said.

Jack goes jogging daily and eats the best holistic food on the market, but he’s got a voracious appetite and is always licking things off the floor, Kelleher said.

The day the long-legged, broken-coat terrier ate the pennies, Kelleher had left a sack with a few bagel crumbs on his desk. While going after it, Jack knocked over a jar of pennies. As Jack licked the crumbs off the floor, he slurped up the pennies too.

Kelleher thought he had “Jackproofed” his apartment. But just a few days ago, the dog ate a whole bag of hamburger rolls after pulling it off a kitchen counter.

While some human foods are fine for pets, others, like chocolate, can be deadly to dogs and cats.

For those who keep flower bouquets in the house, eating just one lily can kill a cat. Preservative packets for the water in the vase also can make animals sick if they drink it.

In seven years of emergency veterinary medicine, Zalcman has removed a variety of items from pets, including jewelry, condoms and a new No. 2 pencil with an eraser. Some of her colleagues have retrieved forks and blades, she said.

In Halligan’s 24 years as a vet, the most unusual object she had to retrieve from a dog’s stomach was a Mickey Mouse hat.

“You could see the plastic parts on the X-ray,” Halligan said.

04-30-2013, 02:33 PM
Changed/Added the above story ^^^

05-02-2013, 07:42 PM
Chris D. Meletis, N.D. | Whole Health Insider

When you’re eating that piece of cake or pie at your favorite restaurant or family gathering, you fully expect it to have an effect on your blood sugar and waistline. But what you probably don’t expect is for it to have an effect on your brain, too.
Researchers are establishing a strong link between blood sugar and brain health to the point where they’re calling Alzheimer’s disease “type 3 diabetes.” There’s also a link between diabetes and other forms of memory problems, including vascular dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

Studies consistently show a two to 3.4-fold increased risk of vascular dementia and a 1.8 to two-fold increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people with diabetes.1 Many studies also show that you’re 1.5 times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment—a condition known as predementia—if you have diabetes.1

Diabetes is thought to account for six to eight percent of all cases of dementia in older people.2 Additionally, people who have diabetes are 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and people with Alzheimer’s disease have a higher than normal tendency to develop type 2 diabetes or impaired fasting glucose.3

Scientists looked at 15 studies that investigated the link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Fourteen of those studies found that the two conditions were related, and in nine of those studies, the link between the two conditions was statistically significant. Smoking and hypertension—when they existed along with diabetes—increased the risk of Alzheimer’s even more.4

As fascinating as these statistics are, what’s really eye-opening is the many reasons why impaired blood sugar is so damaging to your brain.

This Is Your Brain on Sugar

When researchers first began to suspect there was a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, they wanted to know why this connection existed. Their search led them to two peptides—chains of amino acids that form proteins.

One type of peptide, known as amyloid beta, is found in Alzheimer plaques in neurons of the brain—and in the pancreas of diabetic patients. The other peptide, amylin, is found in both the pancreas and the brain.5

In one study, researchers found that same hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease—amyloid beta—in both the brains and the retinas (which is considered an extension of the brain) of diabetic patients. Specifically, the researchers looked at brain-cell-damaging toxins—known as oligomers—produced by amyloid beta.6 Oligomers are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s-related memory loss.

Insulin plays an important role in the formation of memories. And when oligomers attach to neurons, they knock out the insulin receptors from the neuron’s surfaces, which causes insulin resistance in the brain.6

Normally, after eating, an increase in sugar in the bloodstream signals the pancreas to boost levels of insulin, which in turn signals cells to remove sugar from the bloodstream so that the cells can use the sugar for energy. Insulin resistance occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin’s signal to allow glucose into the cells. This causes the pancreas to secrete even more insulin. Over time, the elevated insulin levels aren’t enough to compensate for the higher blood sugars, and the result is high blood sugar or diabetes since glucose can’t get into the cells.

Diabetes causes even more oligomers to build up in the brain and retina, which makes neurons even more insulin resistant.6

If glucose can’t get into the cells, the brain is starved of the fuel it needs to function. Without glucose, your brain would work about as effectively as your car when it runs out of gas. The brain composes only about two percent of the entire human body mass. Yet, 50 percent of glucose use in the body occurs in the brain.7-8 The majority of the brain glucose is converted to ATP energy,9 so that your brain cells can work properly and your memory remains in top shape.

The brain needs a balanced amount of glucose to function effectively. The problem occurs when the body is subjected to too much glucose and other forms of sugar such as sucrose and fructose. Too much of these sugars and it overwhelms your body to the extent that your body keeps producing more and more insulin, which ultimately loses its effectiveness, and results in the insulin resistance mentioned above. This is why, when mice with Alzheimer’s disease are fed excessive quantities of glucose, amyloid beta levels increase.10

Tangled Taus

Tau proteins are another culprit to blame for the connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. When tau proteins clump together, they form neurofibrillary tangles, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers don’t know for sure whether these tangles actually cause Alzheimer’s, but they definitely play an important role in the development of the disease.

Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) modifies these tau proteins in the brain in such a way that they begin clumping together, causing them to form neurofibrillary tangles.3

The Inflammation Link

Inflammation is another link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Inflammation triggers the production of amyloid beta and increases the risk of the vascular disease associated with dementia.

Low-grade, systemic inflammation also is linked to diabetes as well as the cognitive decline that occurs in diabetics. One study reported that higher levels of inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein were associated with lower cognitive performance.1

Not the Brain You Were Born With

Diabetes results in changes to the brain’s structure—including more frequent brain lesions, and wasting away of an important area of the brain—compared to people who don’t have diabetes.1

And it’s not only the structure of the brain that changes during diabetes. The blood-brain barrier becomes more permeable as well.11 The blood-brain barrier separates circulating blood from the extracellular fluid of the central nervous system.

This is because the brain is very choosy about what it allows inside of it. The blood-brain barrier keeps bacteria and other large molecules that don’t belong from entering the brain while allowing in glucose, hormones and other substances the brain needs to function.

When the blood-brain barrier isn’t working properly, it allows amyloid beta to slip through into the brain.11

The ability to allow amyloid beta proteins into your brain is controlled, in part, by a receptor for advanced glycation end products—better known as AGEs—which are produced in excess in diabetes and prediabetes.12 AGEs form as a result of a protein or fat molecule combining with a sugar molecule.

AGEs are easiest to understand when you think of them in relation to the browning of food. When you toast a slice of bread, the browning of the bread is the result of AGE formation in the food. This same process occurs in your body during blood sugar spikes. The more diabetes or insulin resistance disrupts your blood sugar, the more AGEs that form in your body. And, therefore, the more amyloid beta that can get into your brain and damage your neurons.12

Starving the Brain

Some research shows that during diabetes and insulin resistance, the brain is being starved of the insulin it needs to function. Yet, even while high levels of insulin are saturating the body during prediabetes, the brain becomes deficient in insulin because overproduction of this hormone weakens insulin receptors at the blood–brain barrier. This results in reduced amounts of insulin transported to the brain.1

This spells disaster for brain function, since insulin enhances memory and learning. Insulin deficiency in the brain also is involved in cerebral vascular dysfunction, inflammation, oxidative stress and the inability of neurons in the brain to repair themselves.1

Are Genetics to Blame?

Researchers have discovered a gene that may explain the link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes. They found that the gene, present in many Alzheimer’s disease cases, affects the insulin pathway.13

Yet, of the two types of Alzheimer’s disease—type 1 and type 2—only type 1, which accounts for five to 10 percent of Alzheimer’s cases, is genetic. This type of Alzheimer’s often develops at an earlier age. The rest of the cases, 90 to 95 percent, are type 2 and aren’t connected to genetics.

Interestingly, this sounds a lot like diabetes as well, doesn’t it? Of the two types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2—type 1 accounts for five percent of all diabetes cases, with 95 percent of diabetes falling under the type 2 classification.
Improve Your Diet, Boost Your Memory

The research linking Alzheimer’s and diabetes means that the key to having a good memory resides in your stomach.

Commit to eating a healthy diet free of sugary foods and sodas. Choose whole wheat bread and pasta over white, refined products. Stick with healthy sweeteners such as xylitol and stevia that don’t raise your blood sugar levels.

And get moving! Exercise not only supports healthy blood sugar levels, it also enhances cognitive health, too.

Chromium, cinnamon and Gymnema sylvestre are good choices for supplemental blood-sugar support. An analysis of the medical literature found that chromium reduced glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), which is a measure of blood sugar control, as well as fasting blood glucose levels.14 Gymnema sylvestre also reduced HbA1c levels in two small trials, while other studies showed cinnamon improved fasting blood glucose.14

In my practice, I often call chromium “will power in a bottle.” That’s because by balancing blood sugar, it also helps reduce the cravings for sweets that occur when your blood sugar is low.

You’ll want to consider supplementing with 1-6 grams of cinnamon, 600 mcg of chromium and 200-800 mg of Gymnema sylvestre per day.

Put the above strategies into practice and you’ll not only reap all the rewards of having balanced blood sugar—you’ll keep your memory sharp, too.

05-02-2013, 07:49 PM
References to the above article:

1. Samaras K, et al. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec;3(6):189-96.
2. Kloppenborg R, et al. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008;585:97-108.
3. Kim B, et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012 Dec 19. [Epub ahead of print.]
4. Vagelatos NT, et al. Epidemiol Rev. 2013 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print.]
5. http://www.newswise.com/articles/type-ii-diabetes-and-the-alzheimer-s-connection.
6. Bitel CL, et al. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. October 2012;32(2):291-305.
7. Fehm HL, et al. Prog. Brain Res. 2006;153:129-40.
8. Liu F, et al. Brain. 2009;132:1820-32.
9. Shah K, et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2012 Oct 3;13(10):12629-55.
10. Takeda S. Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2012 Nov;32(5-6):239-44.
11. Acharya NK, et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2013 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print.]
12. Kuwahara H, et al. Brain Nerve. 2013 Feb;65(2):145-51.
13. Ewald CY, et al. Genetics. June 1, 2012;191(2);493-507.
14. Nahas R. Canadian Family Physician. June 2009;55(6):591-6.

05-07-2013, 12:55 PM
East about to be overrun by billions of cicadas
Fox News via Fluent News | May 06, 2013

Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the East Coast. They will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600-to-1. Maybe more.

But ominous as that sounds - along with scientists' horror-movie name for the infestation, Brood II - they're harmless. These insects won't hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won't ever see them.

"It's not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people," says May Berenbaum, a University of Illinois entomologist.

They're looking for just one thing: sex. And they've been waiting quite a long time.

Since 1996, this group of 1-inch bugs, in wingless nymph form, has been a few feet underground, sucking on tree roots and biding their time. They will emerge only when the ground temperature reaches precisely 64 degrees. After a few weeks up in the trees, they will die and their offspring will go underground, not to return until 2030.

"It's just an amazing accomplishment," Berenbaum says. "How can anyone not be impressed?"

And they will make a big racket, too. The noise all the male cicadas make when they sing for sex can drown out your own thoughts, and maybe even rival a rock concert. In 2004, Gene Kritsky, an entomologist at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, measured cicadas at 94 decibels, saying it was so loud "you don't hear planes flying overhead."

There are ordinary cicadas that come out every year around the world, but these are different. They're called magicicadas - as in magic - and are red-eyed. And these magicicadas are seen only in the eastern half of the United States, nowhere else in the world.

There are 15 U.S. broods that emerge every 13 or 17 years, so that nearly every year, some place is overrun. Last year it was a small area, mostly around the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. Next year, two places get hit: Iowa into Illinois and Missouri; and Louisiana and Mississippi. And it's possible to live in these locations and actually never see them.

This year's invasion, Brood II, is one of the bigger ones. Several experts say that they really don't have a handle on how many cicadas are lurking underground but that 30 billion seems like a good estimate. At the Smithsonian Institution, researcher Gary Hevel thinks it may be more like 1 trillion.

Even if it's merely 30 billion, if they were lined up head to tail, they'd reach the moon and back.

"There will be some places where it's wall-to-wall cicadas," says University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp.

Strength in numbers is the key to cicada survival: There are so many of them that the birds can't possibly eat them all, and those that are left over are free to multiply, Raupp says.

But why only every 13 or 17 years? Some scientists think they come out in these odd cycles so that predators can't match the timing and be waiting for them in huge numbers. Another theory is that the unusual cycles ensure that different broods don't compete with each other much.

And there's the mystery of just how these bugs know it's been 17 years and time to come out, not 15 or 16 years.

"These guys have evolved several mathematically clever tricks," Raupp says. "These guys are geniuses with little tiny brains."

Past cicada invasions have seen as many as 1.5 million bugs per acre. Of course, most places along the East Coast won't be so swamped, and some places, especially in cities, may see zero, says Chris Simon of the University of Connecticut. For example, Staten Island gets this brood of cicadas, but the rest of New York City and Long Island don't, she says. The cicadas also live beneath the metro areas of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

Scientists and ordinary people with a bug fetish travel to see them. Thomas Jefferson once wrote about an invasion of this very brood at Monticello, his home in Virginia.

While they stay underground, the bugs aren't asleep. They go through different growth stages and molt four times before ever getting to the surface. They are some of the world's longest-lived insects. They drink up a low-protein tree fluid called xylum, which isn't essential to the tree. Then they go aboveground, where they molt, leaving behind a crusty brown shell, and grow a half-inch bigger.

The timing of when they first come out depends purely on ground temperature. That means early May for southern areas and late May or even June for northern areas.

The males come out first - think of it as getting to the singles bar early, Raupp says. They come out first as nymphs, which are essentially wingless and silent juveniles, climb on to tree branches and molt one last time, becoming adult winged cicadas. They perch on tree branches and sing, individually or in a chorus. Then when a female comes close, the males change their song, they do a dance and mate, he explained.

The males keep mating ("That's what puts the `cad' in `cicada,'" Raupp jokes) and eventually the female lays 600 or so eggs on the tip of a branch. The offspring then dive-bomb out of the trees, bounce off the ground and eventually burrow into the earth, he says.

"It's a treacherous, precarious life," Raupp says. "But somehow they make it work."

05-07-2013, 03:02 PM
Orcas ambush Alaska-bound whales off California coast.

Anchorage Daily News | 5.6. 2013

SAN FRANCISCO -- Scores of killer whales are patrolling Monterey Bay, ambushing gray whales and picking off their young as the leviathans attempt to cross a deep water canyon that bisects their annual migration route.

It is a desperate situation for the migrating mother whales, which are trying to lead their calves through a gauntlet of hungry orcas to reach their feeding grounds in Alaska. Whale watchers and scientists, who are crowding onto boats to witness the action, have described it as the "Serengeti of the Sea."

"It's pretty scary and sad to watch, but this is nature," said Nancy Black , a marine biologist and co-owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch . "It's a big battle, with the mother trying to protect her calf, and there is a lot of commotion and splashing in the water."

Scientists say the violent drama, involving fleeing whales and pursuing packs of orcas, is an annual extravaganza of death off the coast of Monterey that is growing in intensity as the number of whales and orcas increase.

The mother gray whales and their calves leave their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico, in April and travel north along the Northern California coast this time each year. As many as 35 whales and calves a day are swimming by right now, hugging the shore trying to elude predators, Black said.

The problem for the mothers and calves is that they must navigate around a deepwater depression, called the Monterey Submarine Canyon, at Point Pinos.

Transient killer whales, which at 22- to 26-feet-long are the ocean's apex predators, congregate along the edges of the canyon, which starts a quarter mile from shore and is 6,000 feet deep in the middle. They wait for the big beasts -- which are about 45-feet long -- to attempt the crossing, kind of like crocodiles waiting for migrating wildebeests to swim across the Nile.

The more stealthy grays take the long way around, sticking close to shore and swimming through the kelp beds, but some of the more bold or hurried whales cut across the canyon, using sonar to follow the contour lines at the bottom.

"It is one of the few places on the gray whale migration where they have to leave the protection of the shore," said Black, who has been studying killer whales since 1992 and is considered the Bay Area's foremost expert. "The killer whales come in the area and patrol the canyon, searching for calves."

Most of the attacks occur along the edge of the drop off, where packs of between four and seven mostly female orcas use the cover of deep water to approach from underneath, said Black and other researchers. It is not an easy kill. The calves are 18- to 20-feet long, weighing many tons.

Working as a team, the "wolves of the sea," as they are known to some Native American tribes, surround and harass the mother, separating her from her child. While she is occupied, other orcas batter and attempt to drown the calf.

"It's pretty brutal," Black said. "The mother will stay there trying to protect her calf and sometimes roll upside down to allow the calf to get up on top of her, but the only way they can save themselves is by moving toward shore. It takes two to three hours, sometimes up to six hours, to kill a gray whale calf."

It is, say marine biologists, a spectacular example of the natural interplay between two of the largest, most dynamic, creatures in the sea and a sign that the ocean ecosystem is slowly improving on the Pacific coast.

The killer whale, Orcinus orca , is the largest, most intelligent of the world's ocean predators. They can live up to 100 years -- the oldest known orca is believed to be a 96-year-old female -- but are highly susceptible to toxins, which accumulate in their tissues.

The animals, which are actually members of the dolphin family, were originally called matadors de ballenas, or "whale killers," by the Spanish who witnessed them hunting the large cetaceans. The words got reversed when translated into English.

The distinctive black-and-white mammals have an incredibly complex, and remarkably stable, matrilineal social structure in which the sons spend their lives with their mothers, except for occasional dalliances with females outside the family group. Different groups feed on different things and are believed to have different languages and even cultures that are passed down through the generations.

The endangered southern resident orcas of Puget Sound, in Washington, feed on salmon. Offshore orcas eat schooling fish and sharks and the transients that frequent Monterey Bay prey exclusively on marine mammals.

Mammal eating orcas have been known to prey on birds and even terrestrial mammals, such as deer and moose swimming between islands along the northwest coast, but there has never been a documented killing of a human in the wild.

The Monterey orcas have been spotted attacking sea lions, elephant seals, harbor seals, dolphins and porpoises, but gray whale calves are especially coveted. Black said she has seen as many as 25 killer whales feeding on a blubbery carcass, which can take between 12 and 48 hours to consume.

The drama unfolding now along the Monterey coast was unknown to researchers until about 1992, when the once vast gray whale populations began to recover after being driven nearly to extinction by whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The population rebounded from about 4,000 in the 1930s to 26,600 in 1999 , according to estimates by the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle . The recovery is nevertheless still shaky, according to experts. The number of grays dropped to 17,000 in the early 2000s as a result of the El Niño weather pattern and other factors that affected their food supply. There are now between 19,000 and 21,000 gray whales in the Pacific, according to researchers.

Forty of the approximately 140 killer whales that marine biologists have identified through their markings since 1992 have been spotted this year circling Monterey Bay, which marine biologists consider one of the best places in the world to study the creatures. They have, over time, noticeably learned from their mistakes and honed their hunting skills, Black said.

"The gray whale population has gotten bigger over the last 20 years and the killer whales have gotten better at hunting the gray whale calves," she said. "It is a pretty amazing event and it all happens within 5 miles of shore.

05-09-2013, 11:12 AM
San Diego boat rescues men adrift for weeks in Pacific

Fluent News | May 08, 2013
Two men adrift for more than three weeks on a skiff in the Pacific Ocean survived on rainwater and raw fish before they were rescued by a San Diego boat.

The two men were spotted by Alfred Canepa, captain of the Pacific Princess, during a tuna-fishing trip on Friday.

"We were just doing our job searching for fish, and I spotted a target on my radar that looked like birds," Canepa told U-T San Diego. "Birds attract fish, so we went toward the birds and saw a large object floating. But it turned out to be a little skiff drifting by the birds. Luckily, I found the birds or I would have never found these guys."

The men, ages 20 and 40, drifted 420 miles from their home in the Gilbert Islands and began drinking salt water in 90-degree weather after their fresh water supply ran out, U-T San Diego reports.

Canepa said the men prayed in the ship's chapel for an hour after being picked up from their 14-foot aluminum skiff, and his crew gave them new clothes and toiletries.

The men were dropped off in the Solomon Islands port of Honiara, while government officials are planning to send them home.

05-12-2013, 11:47 AM
New York man finishes writing out entire Bible by hand
Fluent News | May 12, 2013

At last, it is written.

Four years after he began his project to write out every word of the Bible, Phillip Patterson penned the very last lines Saturday at an upstate New York church.

"Every single curly-q, every single loop, it was all worth it," said Patterson, 63, moments after inking the final two verses of the King James Bible. "I'm really going to miss this writing."

It took Patterson just a few minutes to copy the final lines of the Book of Revelation before a crowd of about 125 people at St. Peter's Presbyterian Church in Spencertown. He ended the ceremony by saying "Amen."

Patterson, of Philmont, began copying the complete King James Bible in his neat, looping handwriting in 2009. He spent two years copying the first five books of the Bible as a prototype before starting fresh. He said he'll spend about another year working on the book's binding and covers before donating the fully completed Bible -- more than 2,400 pages -- to St. Peter's as a gift.

For now, he said, he'll just have to get used to his new life without holding a Pigma Micron pen every day.

"I'm going to miss the writing, that's what I'm going to miss," he said. "My fingers are fine, no callouses."

Patterson has said he started the project to learn about the Bible, not as a spiritual quest. But he said the project has helped him become more patient, confident and loving.

The project was slowed by his health problems, including AIDS and anemia. The retired interior designer relies on two canes and leans on walls and furniture to get around his apartment near the Massachusetts border.

Paterson worked as much as 14 hours a day on his project.

05-12-2013, 11:00 PM
Photos for mom lead back to Alaska
Julia Spitz | MetroWestDaily News staff 5.12.2013


The footage Ed Harrow's father shot in the early 1940s has proved valuable to a number of historical preservation groups and organizations such as the Appalachian Mountain Club.

A photograph Harrow found as he prepared for his mother's 100th birthday last weekend turned out to have value as well: It led to a surprising gift for a woman more than 3,500 miles from his Hopkinton home.

"John Muller's family'' was written on the back of the black-and-white picture Harrow came across while going through photos to use in a slide show at his mother's birthday celebration.

"I knew John Muller supplied the dog teams that my father and the survey crew used while in Teller,'' Harrow said, and, hoping to find out more, he decided to email the photo to the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome, since he'd been in contact with folks there about the 8-mm movies his father, J. Dalton Harrow, shot while working for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1938-44.

The federal agency, now part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dates back to 1807 and has long had both military and civilian employees tasked with surveying land and coastal areas. Harrow's father was a civilian employee who worked in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, as well as at the Tuckerman Ravine in New Hampshire, and several other sites throughout the continental United States.

The film he shot, often in color, reflects some of the work he and his colleagues did, but many parts capture moments of everyday life.

A fascinating reel of a Fourth of July celebration in Nome, 1944, shows kids riding bikes and soldiers competing in a three-legged sack race, men testing their skills in a traditional native jumping contest and people being tossed in the air as a large group holds the blanket used as a makeshift trampoline.

Another shows Alaskan children preparing nets and a umiak to catch fish.

It was that footage, along with the Muller family photo, that caught one woman's eye at the McLain museum.

A woman named Peggy, who was working on a project at the Nome museum this month, immediately recognized her friend among the Muller children.

When the museum's director showed her the fishing film clip, Peggy recognized other people as well.

"What a great surprise to see my mom while she was so young,'' Peggy wrote in an email to Harrow last week. "I have never seen any pictures of that part of our lives before and I am so excited to show my sisters and brothers the video. ... I'm almost sure one of the bigger kids is my brother Mike and the smaller girl has to be my older sister Dane.''

As he's gone through reels of film, "it's a bit haunting to see these people and know they have some significance and you have no idea who they are,'' Harrow said.

When Harrow's late father, who spent much of his career working for Raytheon, left the Coast and Geodetic Survey, he put down the movie camera as well.

"I don't know why he stopped,'' said Harrow. "Maybe he thought the domestic life was not worthy'' of documentation.

But one slice of domestic life filmed far from home in the 1940s has turned out to be a worthy find indeed.

While the Harrows celebrated Helen's centennial birthday, a woman in Alaska got the unexpected gift of a glimpse of her own mom at a far younger age.

Julia Spitz can be reached at 508-626-3968 (tel:508-626-3968) or jspitz@wickedlocal.com. You can also read the Spitz Bits blog at www.metrowestdailynews.com/blogs/spitzbits (http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/blogs/spitzbits) and follow tweets at twitter.com/SpitzJ_MW.

05-13-2013, 10:59 AM
UN says: why not eat more insects?
Fluent News | May 13, 2013

A U.N. food agency is pushing a new kind of diet for a hungry world. It ranks high in nutritional value and gets good grades for protecting the environment: edible insects.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilized food for people, livestock and pets.

A new report says 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects. Insects are high in protein and minerals, need far less feed per kilo of mass than cattle do and produce far less greenhouse gas per kilo than pigs.

While most edible insects are gathered in forests, the U.N. says mechanization can ratchet up insect-farming production. Now, most insect farming serves niche markets.

05-16-2013, 09:42 PM
The $325,000 burger set to debut in London

Tyler Falk | SmartPlanet | May 16, 2013 (New York Times)

The first lab-grown burger will be eaten soon.

The future of food: First bugs, now $325,000 hamburgers?

You’ll have to forgive Mark Post for what has to be the most expensive five ounce hamburger in history; he grew it in a lab.

And The New York Times is reporting that the first in vitro burger could be eaten in the coming weeks at an event in London. But don’t expect test tube burgers — which are made using stem cells (more on that process here) — to pop up on a menu anytime soon

Growing meat in the laboratory has proved difficult and devilishly expensive. Dr. Post, who knows as much about the subject as anybody, has repeatedly postponed the hamburger cook-off, which was originally expected to take place in November.

His burger consists of about 20,000 thin strips of cultured muscle tissue. Dr. Post, who has conducted some informal taste tests, said that even without any fat, the tissue “tastes reasonably good.” For the London event he plans to add only salt and pepper.

But the meat is produced with materials — including fetal calf serum, used as a medium in which to grow the cells — that eventually would have to be replaced by similar materials of non-animal origin. And the burger was created at phenomenal cost — 250,000 euros, or about $325,000, provided by a donor who so far has remained anonymous. Large-scale manufacturing of cultured meat that could sit side by side with conventional meat in a supermarket and compete with it in price is at the very least a long way off.

So what’s the point of putting all this effort into a product that already exists? At least one study says that meat produced in vitro instead of by traditional methods of, say, beef production, can significantly reduce energy use and emissions outputs while lowering land and water use. Now we just have to improve the production process to bring down the costs. But even then, who knows if there will be a strong enough market for test tube meat.

Would you eat meat grown in a lab?

Building a $325,000 Burger [New York Times]

05-17-2013, 04:07 PM
The IRS Is Seeing Everything You Do Online
Friday, 17 May 2013
By Michael Kling | MoneyNews & NexwsMax

The IRS may be watching your online activities — including what you post on social media sites, what you sell online, even what you write in emails and text messages.

Some tax experts and civil liberties groups are disturbed by what they call the agency's secretive practices. Taxpayers know little about how it uses big data and "robo-audits."

"It's well-known in the tax community, but not many people outside of it are aware of this big expansion of data and computer use," Edward Zelinsky, a tax expert at Cardozo Law School and Yale Law School, told U.S. News & World Report.

"I am sure people will be concerned about the use of personal information on databases in government, and those concerns are well-taken."

Anything you do or say on the Internet can be used against you in IRS enforcement actions, he stressed.

The IRS spent about $1 billion in its recent data-mining modernization.

As a result, the agency's is rolling out an effort to deploy sophisticated data-matching and pattern-recognition technology, and match up taxpayer returns with third-party information, according to U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.

The IRS is collecting massive amounts of data, tracking Internet users' online movements, and using Social Security numbers, health records, credit card transactions and other information that private companies cannot obtain, according to U.S. News.

The IRS Criminal Tax Division has long believed that it can read your emails without a warrant, said American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler, citing IRS documents. The ACLU examined 247 pages of IRS records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if the IRS obtains search warrants before reading emails, texts, and other digital communications.

"So does the IRS always get a warrant?" Wessler wrote in an ACLU blog post.
"Unfortunately, while the documents we have obtained do not answer this question point blank, they suggest otherwise."

The agency should be upfront about its policies and obtain warrants, he argued, saying the federal law on email access is hopelessly outdated.

"Let's hope you never end up on the wrong end of an IRS criminal tax investigation. But if you do, you should be able to trust that the IRS will obey the Fourth Amendment when it seeks the contents of your private emails."

The Sixth Circuit Court Appeals Court in United States v. Warshak ruled that the IRS must obtain a warrant to read private emails, but the IRS has not said if it now obtains warrants everywhere or only in the Sixth Circuit.

05-17-2013, 06:40 PM
Man escapes attack after wife whacks bear on head with gun
By Lydia Mulvany | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 16, 2013

A woman whacked a young bear over the head with a gun, rescuing her husband from an attack outside their Silver Cliff cabin Wednesday, the Marinette County Sheriff's Office said.

Gerre Ninnemann, the husband, originally saw the bear running after his dog, the sheriff's report says. He went outside to call the dog in, and while the dog made it home, Ninnemann didn't. The bear tackled him in a chase, biting and clawing at his back.

He momentarily got away and ran to the corner of the cabin, but the bear was faster and mauled him again.

Ninnemann's wife, Marie, took a gun from the basement but didn't know how to load the shells. She took the weapon outside and hit the bear on the head, giving her husband his chance to escape. Pointing the gun at the bear, the couple backtracked into their cabin.

The bear continued to circle the home and look in the windows.

The wife called the Sheriff's Department about 1:30 p.m. After the deputy arrived, the bear walked to the front passenger side of the squad car, where the responding deputy shot and killed it.

Ninnemann had bite marks from his belt line up to the back of his head, among other injuries, and was taken to the hospital, the report says.

The animal is being checked for rabies in Madison, and wildlife health officials are performing a necropsy, an examination of a dead animal, to determine what may have led the bear to attack, Department of Natural Resources area wildlife supervisor John Huff said.

The bear was only a year old, Huff said, and it was probably on its own for the first time this year.

Bear attacks are so rare that the occurrences are difficult to track. There have been only a few attacks in Wisconsin in recent decades, Huff said.

05-22-2013, 11:58 AM
Tourists drift away (and then are rescued) while dining on ice floe
The Sideshow

If you're dining on an ice floe, first be sure it's firmly attached to land. If not, you might end up like a group of American tourists who had to be rescued after they floated 10 meters (33 feet) from shore.

The Iceland Review reports that the travelers, who were at the Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon in East Iceland, had set up a table and chairs on the ice floe with plans to eat dinner. But then a strong gust of wind came along and the floe detached. The next thing the tourists knew, they were drifting away.

Luckily, one of the diners was able to jump onto dry land before the ice drifted too far and called an emergency crew, according to theReykjavik Grapevine. Páll Sigurður Vignisson, a member of the rescue team, spoke to Iceland Review about the unexpected rescue mission.

"When we arrived it was quite comical to see them sitting on chairs and with a table on an iceberg. ... Yes the dinner was over," Vignisson told the paper. He added that the tourists, who were rescued by boat, seemed oddly calm considering ice floes have a tendency to capsize without warning.

05-29-2013, 11:10 AM
Breakaway BBQ Truck a.k.a. X-Grill: The Ultimate Rolling Barbecue Grill

Breakaway BBQ Truck / X-Grill

So you’ve got an outdoor kitchen that you’re pretty proud of, complete with stainless steel grill, side burner, maybe even a little fridge. That’s cool. Can you drive it to a tailgate party?


You can drive this one. With the push of a button, this entire tanker opens up revealing a traveling kitchen inside, complete with a four-burner stove, 42-inch grill and stainless steel prep counter. It’s a one-of-a-kind breakaway BBQ truck.

So how’d a truck like this get built? It just took a couple of guys with a big idea, a little bit of cash and some extra time.


Ken Foster, owner of Hall Oil and grill store Breakaway Barbecue Grills in South Dennis, Massachusetts started planning the mobile grill about a year ago when he started collaborating with Gary Webb, of Gary’s Truck Equipment in neighboring Harwich. They based the Breakaway truck on an old 1987 Ford LN8000 chassis (1987 incidentally was the same year the Ken Foster founded Breakaway BBQ Grills).


It cost them about $40,000 to outfit the truck with all of the cooking mods.

Now, they drive their “Breakaway” BBQ Truck a.k.a. “X-Grill” around to advertise their businesses and rent it out for private parties and fundraisers. It makes about 50 appearances per year, which is about once every weekend. And yep, we’re pretty sure it would would make for a heck of a tailgate centerpiece.

Breakaway BBQ Truck / X-Grill Vital Stats:


Model Year: 1987
Ford LN8000
Fabricated by Boston Steel
10.4 Liter, 3208 Cat Diesel: Good for 500 – 600 ft-lbs of torque.
Reincarnated in 2008 in South Dennis, MA

Weight: 15,780 LBS
Length: 300 Inches
Height: 163 Inches

Fuel Capacity: 50 Gallons Diesel
Propane Capacity: 6,928,500 BTUs
Water Capacity: 50 Gallons


Hamburger Capacity: 1000/hour

Hot Dog Capacity: 1750/hour

Book the X-Grill / Breakaway BBQ Truck for your next event

Content Courtesy of: Technabob.com

Photos Courtesy of: Fleetowner.com

This rolling breakaway BBQ truck was brought to you by the Pit Boss BBQ Tool Belt. If you can’t afford a giant rolling BBQ Truck, a Pit Boss BBQ Tool Belt could the next best thing. It holds everything you need for the grill and most definitely makes you the center of attention. Unless of course you are standing next to a giant rolling grill-truck. At $89.99 it’s a heck of a lot less expensive.

06-03-2013, 03:10 AM
Dog Owners Have Unique Skin Bacteria

By Dr. Becker | Healthy Pets.com

It seems all the lovely closeness we share with our canine companions – all the hugs, paw shakes, sloppy kisses, naps on the couch – populate our skin with microbes we wouldn’t be exposed to were it not for our furry friends.

A recent study conducted at the University of Colorado-Boulder1 shows that dog owners have“a more diverse and different set of skin bacteria” than non-dog owners, according to a Human Food Project article. The microbes in question are a blend of harmless bacteria from doggy tongues (Betaproteobacteria) and paws (actinobacteria).

If you find the prospect of these “diverse and different” bugs alarming, fear not. As it turns out, exposure to a variety of microbes has the potential to make you healthier by tuning up your immune system.

Do Family Members Share Microbes?

Identical twins are no more likely to have similar gut bacteria than fraternal twins, which has led scientists to conclude that genetics aren’t the only factor involved in determining what microbes we carry around on and in our bodies.

So the researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder set out to discover how environment in the form of exposure to related and unrelated people and other species (dogs) affects the microbiota (microbe colonies) of humans.

Study participants included 159 people and 36 dogs, separated into four groups:

Families with children aged 6 to 18
Families with no children but one or more dogs
Families with both children and dogs
Families with no kids and no dogs
The researchers collected samples of skin (from the forehead, palms or paws, and tongues) and stool samples from all the participants (two- and four-legged) to determine what bacteria were present in each location.

Adult Dog Owners Share More Microbes with Their Dogs Than with Their Children

Analysis of the samples showed that human family members share similar microbes in the stool, on the skin, and in the mouth, with skin microbiota being the most similar. The researchers also found that parents share similar mouth and gut microbial communities with children aged 3 to 18, but less so with children under 3.

Other interesting findings:

On average, 11 percent of bacteria on the hands is actually from oral sources, with less than 2 percent from fecal sources (thank goodness!).

Couples with dogs share more palm and forehead microbes than non-dog owning couples, and dog owners also have “novel and rare” microbes on their skin.

Adult dog owners share more microbes with their dogs than with their children.
Adult females have a greater diversity of hand bacteria than adult males.
Pet cats had no effect on the diversity of adult skin bacteria.
Interestingly, dog ownership seems to have no effect on oral or gut microbiota in humans.
Harmless Skin Bacteria Helps Train Your Immune System

The Colorado researchers noted that much of the common bacteria shared between humans and their dogs happens through licking. Another method of transmission occurs when dogs track bacteria in from outdoors and humans in the household pick it up. The paws and foreheads of dogs are a rich source of a great number of diverse microbes.

This study demonstrates that while the exposure of humans to the larger microbial world has shrunk in modern times, and not always to our benefit, dog owners may have an advantage thanks to the diverse microbial community they are exposed to through contact with fuzzy family members. Innocuous bacteria on your skin helps your immune system learn to distinguish between good and bad germs.

06-09-2013, 02:02 PM
Town mails discarded dog poop back to errant pet owners
The Sideshow - Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Dog parks are an oasis for millions of pet owners—pups can run around, interact with other dogs and get a taste of nature without having to head out of town on weekends.

Some careless dog owners, however, don't abide by dog park rules, or simple common decency, and leave their dogs' waste behind for others to clean up.

Well, a small town in Spain, reports the Telegraph, has decided to remedy the situation by mailing the discarded dog excrement back to the offending owners.

The paper reports that the town council of Brunete, located about 20 miles from Madrid, has undertaken a complex effort to crack down on the disrespectful dog owners. Twenty volunteers have been enlisted to approach dog owners who leave their pet’s poop behind, and to strike up a conversation with the goal of finding out the name of the dog.

"With the name of the dog and the breed it was possible to identify the owner from the registered pet database held in the town hall," a spokesman from the council told the Telegraph.

Once the owner’s address was confirmed, the dog poop is scooped up, placed in a box containing the town hall’s insignia and delivered via courier to the owner’s home. And to top it all off, the box is labeled, “Lost Property.”

So far, 147 boxes of dog excrement have been mailed in the town, which is home to about 10,000 residents. And it’s been effective: Brunete says unwarranted “dog drops” have declined by some 70 percent since the campaign began.

And the company that developed the approach free of charge even won the Sol de Plata award at the 2013 Ibero-American Advertising Festival.

"We told them we didn't have a penny to spend, but they found the idea so novel and exciting that they decided to work with us anyway," the spokesman told The Local.

06-11-2013, 02:29 PM
OMsignal’s smart shirt monitors your emotional well-being
Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet | June 10, 2013

One early-stage startup company has developed a shirt that not only measures your movement, but also your emotional well being.

A host of fitness tracking tech is currently on the market allowing users to measure and monitor their daily activities, heart rate, exercise intensity and even how much they sweat.
But what about your emotional state? Montreal-based smart apparel company OMsignal has developed a T-shirt and a bra that not only tracks your daily steps, calorie burn and heart rate, but it also measures your breathing and emotional well-being using your heart rate variability, or HRV, reported VentureBeat.

OMsignal’s clothing contains a 3-axis accelerometer, the basic tool found in other fitness devices, which measures motion, steps and calories. It also detects and measures two other signals: your ECG—the electrical signature of your heart—and respiration rhythms.

Sensors woven into the polyester/lycra fabric act as a 3-lead EKG, producing a readout of cardiac activity when the user is at rest or doing something active, according to the company. A breathing sensor in the shirt measures ribcage extension and contraction, providing information on respiratory rate and the depth of each breath.

The shirt’s 3-axis accelerator is housed in a tiny unit along with a transmitter and memory card that records the wearer’s movements throughout the day, according to the company’s blog.

The clothing also contains GPS capability, a feature that can help you understand how your body reacts to certain activities and environments. You might, for example, learn your stress levels are much higher than expected while working from home.

The wearer can connect to the unit via Bluetooth and view graphic charting of their biological data on the OMsignal app. The app displays their emotive state, relaxation levels and stress patterns throughout the day. The data is stored for seven days and unit in the clothing has a battery lifespan of 16 hours and is chargeable over a regular USB connection.

The company is still developing the product, which is not yet available for purchase. And it’s opening up the product to developers in an effort to improve it. The company is giving away 100 free shirts to external developers who submit the best, most innovative proposal to improve the product.

OMsignal employees have been wearing the shirt on a daily basis and the data that has been collected will be shared with the winners.

06-12-2013, 05:58 AM
Keyboard snooze leads to huge bank error
The Sideshow - 6/11 2013

A bank employee reportedly took a very expensive on-the-job nap when he laid his head down on his keyboard, a German court heard this week.

When the employee woke a short time later, he discovered that he'd accidentally transferred hundreds of millions of euros by holding down the "2" key, according to a report from AFP.

What was supposed to be a 62.40 euro transfer ($82.80) turned into a 222,222,222.22 euro transfer ($295 million).

How do you say "oops" in German?

The mistake, which occurred in April 2012, was reversed, but the sleepy employee's boss initially let the transfer go through. The supervisor was reportedly fired for not catching the mistake right away.

The court recently ruled that the supervisor was wrongly fired and ordered the bank to give her her job back because the mistake was not malicious in nature, according to the London Evening Standard.

It's unclear what became of the sleepy employee.

06-13-2013, 01:31 PM
Yahoo puts inactive IDs up for grabs
Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet | June 12, 2013

In a bid to reward loyal users and encourage the departed to return, Yahoo is putting inactive IDs up for grabs. You have a month to save your account, or let it drift away for good.

In a bid to reward loyal users and encourage the departed to return, Yahoo is freeing up IDs (aka email addresses) that have been inactive for at least 12 months.
If you haven’t logged into your Yahoo account, you have until July 15 to do. After that, your ID along with all the other inactives, will go on the open market, so to speak.

Yahoo has been around for nearly two decades, plenty of time for the tech company to rack up a lot of inactive users. Yahoo doesn’t say how many inactive users it has, nor does the company explain what will happen to emails stored on inactive accounts that are subsequently reset and given away.

Here’s the bulk of the announcement from Jay Rossiter, SVP, Platforms at Yahoo:

Over the last few months, we’ve made exciting changes to some of your favorite Yahoo! products, like Flickr, Mail, Weather, the Homepage and Search. Today, I’m excited to share with you our next big push: we want to give our loyal users and new folks the opportunity to sign up for the Yahoo! ID they’ve always wanted.

If you’re like me, you want a Yahoo! ID that’s short, sweet, and memorable like albert@yahoo.com instead of albert9330399@yahoo.com. A Yahoo! ID is not only your email address, it also gives you access to content tailored to your interests – like sports scores for your favorite teams, weather in your hometown, and news that matters to you.

So, how are we making these Yahoo! IDs available? We’re freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start. In mid July, anyone can have a shot at scoring the Yahoo! ID they want. In mid August, users who staked a claim on certain IDs can come to Yahoo! to discover which one they got.

What if you haven’t logged into Yahoo! for over a year, but want to keep your Yahoo! ID? It’s easy. All you have to do is log on to any Yahoo! product before July 15th.

06-13-2013, 01:48 PM
Glowing plants: a cool idea, or terrible one?
Laura Shin | SmartPlanet | June 13, 2013

A Kickstarter campaign could release hundreds of thousands of synthetic biological weeds across the United States — and so far, the government is doing nothing about it.

“What if we used trees to light our streets instead of electric street lamps?” starts the Glowing Plant Kickstarter campaign video.

The pitch, launched April 23, continues, “Our way of life is unsustainable. Lighting creates as much CO2 as cars,” and then describes how its “Stanford-trained PhDs” used synthetic biology to create a weed, Arabidopsis thaliana, that faintly glows in the dark. Along with images from the film “Avatar,” the video finishes with Glowing Plant project manager Antony Evans asking potential backers to “demonstrate their commitment to a more sustainable future.” For $40 or more, 8,000 backers of the project will each receive 50 to 100 seeds next year.

Unless, that is, some environmental groups — claiming that the project will set a precedent that could have far-reaching environmental ramifications — manage to stop it.

Before going any further, let’s define genetic engineering and synthetic biology. With the former, you take genes from one organism and insert them into another organism. With the latter, which is newer technology, you design genes on a computer and put them into an organism, thereby creating DNA that has never before existed in nature.

Evans says Glowing Plant has two goals: “The first is to educate and inspire people about the capabilities of the technology and to start a discussion around it and to get people working on it. The second is a long-term vision to create glowing trees that could replace street lamps.”

But protest groups such as ETC Group and Friends of the Earth say the project sets a dangerous precedent. While no one knows exactly what kind of danger a glowing Arabidopsis poses to the environment or human health, if any, they say that is precisely their point.

Jim Thomas, research director for ETC Group, an international technology watchdog, says Glowing Plant will be the first environmental release of a synthetic biological organism — and that it will be conducted without any oversight. “What’s kind of crazy about this project is that not only are they going to release an organism produced by synthetic biology, but they’re going to release it randomly, hundreds of thousands of seeds — unmonitored, uncontrolled, unregulated. It’s absolutely the worst way to begin an environmental release of a synthetic biological organism,” he says.

Dr. Allison Snow, an ecologist at Ohio State University, says, “Anytime you have an engineered plant and you put it out in nature, there’s a regulatory process that nearly every country goes though to say, ‘This is the novel gene, this is what it does, this is why we think it’s safe,’ and we don’t have that information yet for this project.”

So, how is Glowing Plant getting around this process? Actually, there aren’t regulations that cover it. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has mostly regulated genetically modified crops under plant pest laws; many genetically modified organisms are created with agrobacteria that inserts the genes into the plant, and agrobacteria is a type of plant pest.

Glowing Plant, however, isn’t using agrobacteria. On its Kickstarter page, the group explains, “Once we have proven the designs work [using agrobacteria], we will then insert the same gene sequence into the plant using a gene gun. This is more complicated, as there’s a risk the gene sequence gets scrambled, but the result will be unregulated by the USDA and thus suitable for release.”

Protest groups have contacted Kickstarter, which declined to comment for this story, and APHIS, which told SmartPlanet, “Regarding synthetic biologics, if they do not pose a plant risk, APHIS does not regulate it and as such cannot comment further.”

Evans emphasizes that what makes Glowing Plant special is not the science, but the crowdfunding aspect. “[Glowing Plants is] the first project to be done with Kickstarter funding in a do-it-yourself biology lab. It’s not some radical new approach to science.”

Todd Kuiken, a senior science and technology innovation associate at the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, called Glowing Plant “an ideal stress test” of current regulations for biotechnology, which, since the 1980s, have been grafted onto existing laws, instead of being drawn up anew.

Noting that Scotts Miracle-Gro’s genetically engineered Kentucky Bluegrass also fell out of the USDA’s regulatory purview, he says: “[Glowing Plant] does set a precedent, where you can do this and release it and no one is evaluating it. And that is a concern that needs to be examined. What are the questions we need to be concerned about when we release products or plants using synthetic biology or traditional gene transfer techniques into the environment?”

06-16-2013, 01:20 PM
Penn State Researchers: Chocolate Controls Diabetes
Thursday, 13 Jun 2013 04:01 PM
By Nick Tate | NewsMax Health

It may sound counter-intuitive, but Penn State researchers are reporting that a few cups of hot cocoa — or other forms of chocolate — may actually help obese people control diabetes and other inflammation-related diseases, based on a new study of mice.

The study, published online in the European Journal of Nutrition, found laboratory mice fed cocoa as part of a high-fat diet experienced less obesity-related inflammation than those on the same diet without the supplement.

Lead researcher Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science at Penn, said the mice ate the human equivalent of 10 tablespoons of cocoa powder — about four or five cups of hot cocoa — during a 10-week period. The results showed several indicators of inflammation and diabetes in the mice fed the cocoa were much lower and almost identical to those in mice fed a healthier low-fat diet. For example, the cocoa-eating mice had about 27 percent lower plasma insulin levels — signaling the presence of diabetes — than the other mice.

"What surprised me was the magnitude of the effect," Lambert said. "There wasn't as big of an effect on the body weight as we expected, but I was surprised at the dramatic reduction of inflammation and fatty liver disease."

The researchers also found cocoa reduced the levels of liver triglycerides in mice by about 32 percent. Elevated triglyceride levels are a sign of fatty liver disease and are related to inflammation and diabetes.

"Most obesity researchers tend to steer clear of chocolate because it is high in fat, high in sugar and is usually considered an indulgence," Lambert said. "However, cocoa powder is low in fat and low in sugar. We looked at cocoa because it contains a lot of polyphenolic compounds, so it is analogous to things like green tea and wine, which researchers have been studying for some of their health benefits."

The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.


06-19-2013, 09:36 AM
Baked Alaska: Unusual heat wave hits 49th state

AP RACHEL D'ORO |Yahoo News 6.18. 2013

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A heat wave hitting Alaska may not rival the blazing heat of Phoenix or Las Vegas, but to residents of the 49th state, the days of hot weather feel like a stifling oven — or a tropical paradise.

With temperatures topping 80 degrees in Anchorage, and higher in other parts of the state, people have been sweltering in a place where few homes have air conditioning.

They're sunbathing and swimming at local lakes, hosing down their dogs and cleaning out supplies of fans in at least one local hardware store. Mid-June normally brings high temperatures in the 60s in Anchorage, and just a month ago, it was still snowing.

The weather feels like anywhere but Alaska to 18-year-old Jordan Rollison, who was sunbathing with three friends and several hundred others lolling at the beach of Anchorage's Goose Lake.

"I love it, I love it," Rollison said. "I've never seen a summer like this, ever."

State health officials even took the unusual step of posting a Facebook message reminding people to slather on the sunscreen.

"It's almost unbearable to me," said Lorraine Roehl, who has lived in Anchorage for two years after moving here from the community of Sand Point in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. "I don't like being hot. I'm used to cool ocean breeze."Some people aren't so thrilled, complaining that it's just too hot.

On Tuesday, the official afternoon high in Anchorage was 81 degrees, breaking the city's record of 80 set in 1926 for that date.

Other smaller communities throughout a wide swath of the state are seeing even higher temperatures.

All-time highs were recorded elsewhere, including 96 degrees on Monday 80 miles to the north in the small community of Talkeetna, purported to be the inspiration for the town in the TV series, "Northern Exposure" and the last stop for climbers heading to Mount McKinley, North America's tallest mountain. One unofficial reading taken at a lodge near Talkeetna even measured 98 degrees, which would tie the highest undisputed temperature recorded in Alaska.

That record was set in 1969, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the online forecasting service Weather Underground.

It's also been really hot for a while. The city had six days over 70 degrees, then hit a high of 68 last Thursday, followed by five more days of 70-plus."This is the hottest heat wave in Alaska since '69," he said. "You're way, way from normal."

The city's record of consecutive days with temperatures of 70 or above was 13 days recorded in 1953, said Eddie Zingone, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service who has lived in the Anchorage area for 17 years.

The heat wave also comes after a few cooler summers — the last time it officially hit the 80 mark in Anchorage was 2009. Plus, Tuesday marked exactly one month that the city's last snow of the season fell, said Zingone, who has lived in Anchorage for 18 years.

"Within a month you have that big of a change, it definitely seems very, very hot," he said. "It was a very quick warm-up."

With the heat comes an invasion of mosquitoes many are calling the worst they've ever seen. At the True Value Hardware store, people have grabbed up five times the usual amount of mosquito warfare supplies, said store owner Tim Craig. The store shelves also are bare of fans, which is unusual, he said.

Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, said it's gotten up to 84 degrees at his home in the Anchorage suburb of Eagle River, where a tall glass front lets the sunlight filter through."Those are two hot items, so to speak," he said.

"And that's with all the windows open and a fan going," he said. "We're just not used to it. Our homes aren't built for it."

Love or hate the unusual heat, it'll all be over soon.

Weather forecasters say a high pressure system that has locked the region in clear skies and baking temperatures has shifted and Wednesday should be the start of a cooling trend, although slightly lower temperatures in the 70s are still expected to loiter into the weekend.

06-19-2013, 09:59 AM
$90 for a cup of coffee: world’s most expensive blend is defecated from an animal.

The Sideshow Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News | 6.18.2013

Coffee snobs can now take it to a whole new level. The world’s most expensive cup of coffee is made from beans that are extracted from the excrement of a small animal.

The Kopi Kuwak is famously produced by the Paradoxurus, a relative of three different breeds of civet, a slinky mammal that looks like a cross between a cat and a mongoose. The coffee blends originates on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is produced when the Paradoxurus eats coffee cherries, digests them and then the beans are extracted, cleaned and roasted.

Amazingly, a cup of Kopi Kuwak typically costs about $90. Or, you can pick up a pound of the beans for around $1,000. Just getting a cup of the coffee typically requires an appointment.

Is it the unusual and labor-intensive process that drives up the price? Or, is there something truly, well, unique about its taste?

The coffee website Funnel Mill describes the Kopi Kuwak process as, “The resulting coffee is said to be like no other. It has a rich, heavy flavor with hints of caramel and chocolate. Other terms used to describe it are earthy, aromatic, sweet and exotic. The body is almost syrupy and it is probably the smoothest coffee known to mankind.”

However, the website Touch of Modern is offering a limited run of Kopi Kuwak that is far less expensive. You can pick up a bag of Kopi Luwak Arabica for less than $30. Buying three 150 gram packages of the blend will set you back about $600 but that’s still quite a bit less than purchasing the bleind at its full price.

So, what do you think? Would you spend $600, or even $30, to try the world’s most rare and expensive coffee?

06-21-2013, 01:34 PM
What your flight attendant really thinks of you

Airfarewatchdog.com Jun 20, 2013
By George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog

Ever wonder what your flight attendant really thinks of you? What they'd tell you if they had the nerve? Or weren't afraid of being fired? What deep, dark secrets would they reveal about their jobs?

I have a number of friends who work as flight attendants. One of them recently retired after 20 years flying for the most storied name in commercial aviation, while others work for less glamorous domestic U.S. airlines. I asked them what they'd tell their passengers if they could tell them anything at all, or what secrets they'd reveal only if granted complete anonymity. All I can say is that these people do not represent every single flight attendant in the skies, so if you're a flight attendant yourself, please hold your fire and don't shoot the messenger. But I didn't make this stuff up. What you read here may shock you, or make you laugh, I'm not sure which.

1. You know that coffee you ordered? It's actually decaf even though you asked for regular. We'd rather that you sit back, relax and fall asleep so you don't bother us too much. Our airline sent around a memo wondering why the decaf supplies were going so fast, noting that decaf costs more than regular coffee.

2. When we "arm" the doors on your aircraft, each flight attendant checks the work of his colleague at the opposite door. You've heard it a million times: "arm doors and cross check." Did you hear "crotch check?" It wasn't your imagination. We get silly sometimes. And yes, despite all the cross checking, once in a great while we screw up and we forget to arm the doors, which means the emergency slides won't automatically deploy if needed in an emergency. We can get fired for that.

3. Our airline used to pay us when we showed up for duty at the airport. That was eons ago. Then we got paid our measly hourly wage when the cabin doors closed. Then it was when the plane's brakes were released. Now we get paid only when the wheels leave the ground ("wheels up" in airline parlance). We don't even get paid when we're taxiing! There can sometimes be hours of delay between the time we show up for work and when we're airborne. Different airlines have different policies, but it's a way for them to save money. So when we greet you at the door, we do that for free. When we serve you your pre-flight drink, we do that for free, too. No wonder our smiles are so fake.

4. If a flight is late, the airline might have to pay us overtime. If the flight is going to be late anyway, we've been known to delay it even further in order make sure overtime kicks in, which on our airline means up to double the hourly pay. We might find some minor defect in the aircraft or use some other ruse to make up for the money we don't get paid waiting for take off.

5. Yes, we can upgrade you to business class or first class after the airplane's doors close. No, we don't do it very often, partly because on some airlines we have to file a report explaining why we did it, partly because there has to be a meal for you and partly because the forward cabins are often full. Who do we upgrade? Not the slob who's dressed in a dirty tank top. It helps if you're extremely nice, well dressed, pregnant, very tall, good looking, one of our friends or all of the above.

6. Please don't take your computer and a newspaper into the lav. It's gross and it means you're going to be occupying it longer than you should.

7. Please don't ask me what we're flying over. I'm as clueless as you are. I am not flying the plane.

8. Please don't do deep knee bends in my galley while I'm trying to work. You won't get deep vein thrombosis on a flight between Houston and Austin.

9. Jiggling your glass of ice at me won't make me dash to the galley for a refill. In fact, it makes me want to scream.

10. When I ask you what you'd like to drink and you ask me "Well, what do you have?" I want to answer "Not a lot of time." But you wouldn't like that.

11. I want to yank your headphones off your head after I've asked you what you want to drink and you've responded "huh?" three times. After the fourth time I just move on or give you a Coke.

12. Yes, we do ask the captain to leave the seatbelt on long after the turbulence has ended so we can serve in the aisles.

13. On night flights, we sometimes hold off on meal service as long as we can so that you'll be asleep and we'll have less to do.

14. We really don't like children. Not just your children, children period. Why do you think we chose a career where we spend half our lives away from home?

15. If you poke me, I'm going to poke you back. Harder!

16. Don't ask me where you can shove your bag. I've been waiting 12 years to tell you where you can shove it.

06-24-2013, 11:02 AM
Firm: Facebook's shadow profiles are 'frightening' dossiers on everyone.

By Violet Blue for Zero Day | ZDNET | June 24, 2013

Facebook's shadow profile data collection activities came to light Friday when the social network disclosed a bug fix.

The security researchers who found the vulnerability, Packet Storm Security, say Facebook is compiling "frightening" dossiers on everyone possible, including people without Facebook accounts.

Last week, Packet Storm discovered Facebook's vulnerability and contacted Facebook.

After extended dialogue with Facebook the researchers were compelled to reflect that, "The issue itself was not built with malice in mind it was simply an oversight. The significance of what it unearthed is the real problem that still remains."

Since 2012, Facebook had unintentionally combined user's shadow profiles with their Facebook profiles and shared it with those users' friends who used Facebook's Download Your Information (DYI) tool.

If only Facebook had explained the bug as clearly as Packet Storm in its post Facebook: Where Your Friends Are Your Worst Enemies:

When you open the downloaded archive, there is a file inside called addressbook.html. This file is supposed to house the contact information you uploaded.

However, due to a flaw in how Facebook implemented this, it also housed contact information from other uploads other users have performed for the same person, provided you had one piece of matching data, effectively building large dossiers on people.

In our testing, we found that uploading one public email address for an individual could reap a dozen additional pieces of contact information.

It should also be noted that the collection of this information goes for all of the data uploaded, regardless of whether or not your contacts are Facebook users. Most people who found out they have a 'shadow profile' with contact info they never gave to Facebook - such as telephone numbers - were surprised and angry.

Facebook responded Sunday pointing to a page on its address book email collection policy and emphasizing that the data is uploaded voluntarily by people the users know.

Updated with Facebook's response: Anger mounts after Facebook's 'shadow profiles' leak in bug.

The real alarm rose when Packet Storm began to comprehend what this meant for the individual user - and what happened when the security researchers approached Facebook with its concrete fears:

The fact that I have no control over additional email addresses and phone numbers added to their data store on me is frightening. The questions we asked were very to the point but carefully constructed to reflect an equal balance between usability and user safety.

(...) Our first question asked that, in the name of common decency and privacy, would Facebook ever commit to automatically discarding information of individuals that do not have a known Facebook account? Possibly age it out X days if they don't respond to an invite due to a friend uploading their information without their knowledge?

Their response was essentially that they think of contacts imported by a user as the user's data and they are allowed to do with it what they want.

To clarify, it's not your data, it's your friends. We went on to ask them if Facebook would commit to having a privacy setting that dictates Facebook will automatically delete any and all data uploaded about me via third parties ("friends") if it's not in scope with what I've shared on my profile (and by proxy, is out of band from my privacy settings)?

We were basically met with the same reasoning as above and in their wording they actually went as far as claiming that it would be a freedom of speech violation.
Standing on its policy, Facebook is refusing to allow users to have control over their own personal information.

Facebook policy in this area is that your data is not yours; it belongs to your friends, and by its rules your friends - or merely peple you know - have more control over your data than you do.

Packet Storm praised Facebook for acting swiftly to patch the bug.

The security company emphasized that it is not Facebook security that is broken, but instead it is Facebook policy that is broken, and their disclosure is not meant to cast a negative light on the company.

Packet Storm remarked, "It was clear that Facebook attacked the disclosure flaw properly, but concerns still remain about the fact that dossiers are being built on everyone possible."

"You can run, but you can't hide"

Right now commenters across the Internet will be saying, Don't join Facebook or Delete your account. But it appears that we're subject to Facebook's shadow profiles whether or not we choose to participate.

I feel like we're only beginning to understand why Facebook's data is so very valuable to advertisers, governments, app makers and malicious entities.

Packet Storm wrote,

It is now publicly known that Facebook has all of this correlated information (or if it's not now, it can be) and everyone (read: governments and criminals alike) are going to aim for it, whether legally or illegally.

Facebook claims they will not disclose this additional information to the government when requests are received, but it still has the world's largest target painted on it asking for trouble.

Packet Storm thinks legislation is the answer. "What we need are governments to enact legislation that forces the hand, but given recent news items in the United States, it is clear that not all governments are making this a top priority."

We are well aware right now that our laws are woefully inept when it comes to keeping up with data privacy.

Some of us hope that this is an oversight that will be corrected.

There are no protections against shadow profiling. Just like with so-called "people search" websites, we have no legal mandates with which we can identify and remove our information from their systems, no protections that guarantee an opt-out, and no recourse other than to say "no."

Let's hope that Facebook policy listens to the anger and fear they're inspiring right now, and that it means something.

Because if there was ever a time Facebook needs to do the right thing, it's now.

Topics: Security, Data Management, Government US, Legal, Privacy

06-24-2013, 11:19 AM
Facebook vs. NSA: which is worse?

By David Gewirtz for ZDNet Government | June 24, 2013

Let's start with a simple question. Do you read the usage agreements when you sign up for a new online service? No? Most people don't.

If they did, they'd be rather concerned. In Facebook's Data Usage Policy, for example, Facebook freely admits it catalogs information like your IP address, the pages you visit, your GPS location, and — of course — all your friends and relationships.

Facebook certainly doesn't stop there. Any web site that features a Facebook Like button or has any Facebook widgets may report your browsing history back to Facebook. So even if you don't specifically Like a page, Facebook probably knows you've been there.

Facebook also gets information from advertisers, and any advertiser in its network may help gather information that's reported back to Facebook's data centers.

Even more to the point, to quote from the company's Data Usage Policy:

We also put together data from the information we already have about you and your friends. For example, we may put together data about you to determine which friends we should show you in your News Feed or suggest you tag in the photos you post. We may put together your current city with GPS and other location information we have about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in. We may also put together data about you to serve you ads that might be more relevant to you.

Now, of course, Facebook isn't alone in capturing all this data. Google maintains a tremendous amount of analytics data. This information helps to inform searches, power Google Now, help improve translation, and so on. Of course, all that information about you is captured and stored.

This brings me back to the recent brouhaha about the United States government data acquisition and counter-terrorism operations. Lots of people are up in arms about just how much information about you the government captures, and what they might do with it.

Of course, there is a difference. I did an interview with Bloomberg Radio, and as host Pimm Fox pointed out, we all clicked "okay" on the various online service usage agreements, but didn't okay the government doing the same thing.

Most of us love these online services and are willing to give up a little information about ourselves to fuel the advertising and marketing efforts of those services in return for the value they provide us.

Perhaps we should think about it the same way when it comes to our government and the NSA. After all, we benefit from constant vigilance protecting us from unyielding and unending assault from our enemies, they provide roads, bridges, police and fire protection, a whole host of regulations designed to keep us (moderately) safe, and even years of research that sometimes lead to technologies as transformative as the Internet and GPS.

That's right. If it weren't for the work of the U.S. government, the world wouldn't have had either GPS or the Internet.

Sure, there's a risk. There's the risk that an overzealous prosecutor or cop would go delving into all that information and choose to prosecute any of us for something that might have been alluded to over the Internet.

But there's also a risk with companies like Facebook. Last week, for example, we found out that Facebook released contact information to millions of "friends," without having permission to do so.

Let's say you're being stalked by this crazy chick who you just unfriended. You then change your number and give it to your best buddy, who is still a Facebook friend. He enters the new number into his Facebook account. Facebook then decided it was okay to link up the old number with the new number, and go ahead and give everyone who had the old number (including the unfriended stalker chick) your new number. So much for privacy.

Facebook has since apologized, and they've said they've gone out and fixed that bug. But, in the meantime, Facebook's data collection and aggregation efforts start to seem a lot more scary than our own government trying to prevent its citizens from being killed by terrorists or enemy actors.

At the beginning of this column, I asked which is worse, the NSA or Facebook. In my book, the real answer is that data collection — regardless of who is doing it — is a potentially dangerous genie when let out of the bottle. In the same way that nuclear research led to both the bomb and nuclear medicine, massive big data collection can both harm us and provide us with enormous value.

We accept as a given that Facebook needs to collect all of this data to provide us with interesting information and observations about our friends. I submit that it's far more important to accept that America's counter-terrorism agencies need to collect all the data they do for the far more serious task of protecting American lives.

Who is worse? Neither. Should all that data in any hands worry you? Heck, yeah.

About David Gewirtz;
David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets.

06-24-2013, 03:31 PM
Two Large Meals Better Than Mini-Meals for Weight Loss: Study
NewsMax Health | Monday, 24 Jun 2013

Eating two large meals a day yielded more weight loss than consuming six mini-meals with the same number of calories, according to a study that challenges the common wisdom on appetite control.

Over 12 weeks, people with Type 2 diabetes who ate just breakfast and lunch lost an average of 1.23 points in body mass index, or BMI, compared with a loss of 0.82 point for those who ate six smaller meals of the same nutritional and energy content. The data, in a small study involving 54 patients, were presented today at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago.

The study builds on previous results disproving the theory that eating more frequently improves weight loss. That pattern, thought to work because it helps control appetite, was shown to produce no more weight loss than three regular meals in a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The latest report eliminates one additional meal.

“Our results support the ancient proverb: ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,”’ Hana Kahleova, a researcher at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, Czech Republic, said today in a presentation.

BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI of 30 or higher in an adult is considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For someone who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, a weight of 203 pounds has a BMI of 30. In today’s study, patients had an average BMI of 32.6.

Obesity’s Risks

More than a third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the CDC, putting them at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes. Losing 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight can confer benefits such as improved glucose tolerance, Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, said yesterday in a presentation at the ADA conference.

In today’s study, sponsored by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health, both the frequency of the meals and the timing were important, according to Kahleova. Eating earlier in the day -- just breakfast, between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and lunch, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. -- is associated with better results than skipping breakfast, she said.

Two meals a day also led to a greater decrease in liver fat content and a bigger increase in insulin sensitivity than six smaller meals.

“Eating breakfast and lunch is more beneficial than skipping breakfast and eating lunch and dinner, because the fat deposition is bigger in the afternoon and after the evening meal,” Kahleova said.

06-24-2013, 03:41 PM
5 Foods That Lower Triglycerides
By Charlotte Libov | NewsMax Health | Sunday, 23 Jun 2013

The dangers of high cholesterol are widely known and much-publicized. But there’s a related health barometer that is even more vital – and few people monitor it closely.

Triglycerides are a blood fat which doctors have dubbed “ugly cholesterol.” New research shows that high readings are even more dangerous than elevated levels of total cholesterol.

Cholesterol is made up of several components:

LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol
A certain amount of triglycerides are needed for your body to function, but excess is stored as fat.

Triglycerides have always been known to raise heart disease risk, but now they are getting new attention from scientists looking for ways to prevent heart attacks.

People with high triglycerides were found to have triple the risk of heart disease of those with high LDL (bad) cholesterol, according to a new study by the University of Denmark.

Other research in the journal Stroke found that women with high triglycerides were more likely to a have a stroke than those with high LDL levels.

“We’ve always believed that total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels were the most important biomarkers for identifying stroke risk, but this study gives us strong evidence to question that approach,” said Jeffrey Berger, M.D., who authored the study.

Triglycerides are measured when you have a standard lipid blood test. Following a meal, blood triglyceride levels are generally high, so the test should be taken after fasting for 12 hours. A normal triglyceride level is 150 mg/dl and under.

Here’s a list of five foods that lower triglycerides:

1. Salmon. Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, and cod, have omega-3 fatty acids that help lower triglycerides. Among these, salmon is credited with the most triglyceride-lowering power. If you don’t care for fish, fish oil supplements also lower triglycerides.

2. Olive oil. Butter and margarine are simply triglycerides in a stick or tub form. Palm, coconut oil, and rendered fats such as lard are also fats that will raise triglyceride levels. However, substituting monounsaturated fats like olive oil and walnut oil can lower them.

3. Grapes. Eating candy and other sugary foods fuel triglyceride levels, but eating naturally sweet grapes can lower them. Grapes contain pterostilbene, a compound that acts similarly to ciprofibrate, a commercial product that lowers triglycerides, according to the USDA. It is also similar to resveratrol, the antioxidant that is believed to give red wine its health benefits. Blueberries contain high concentrations of this triglyceride-lowering compound as well.

4. Beans. High-fiber foods such as beans and legumes lower triglycerides by slowing digestion, enabling the body to absorb more of the food’s nutrients. High-fiber foods are also useful in replacing the high-fat and sugary foods that fuel triglycerides. They make you feel full longer, helping you avoid unhealthy snacking. Other high-fiber legumes, such as peas and lentils are also good, but beans rank among the best choices for fiber and protein.

5. Spinach. Spinach is high in alpha-lipoic acid, which in one animal study lowered triglycerides up to 60 percent. Other alpha-lipoic-rich vegetables include broccoli, peas, and Brussels sprouts. Some fruits are high in alpha-lipoic acid as well, including tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.

06-24-2013, 03:53 PM
80% of Pre-Packaged Foods in America Are Banned in Other Countries

By Babble.com | Shine Food

If you or your kids enjoy pre-packaged convenience foods commonly found in grocery stores across the U.S. such as Froot Loops, Swanson dinners, Mountain Dew, and frozen potato and bread products, you may think twice before purchasing them after hearing what they contain: dangerous chemicals that other countries around the globe have deemed toxic to the point that they're illegal, and companies are fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for including them in food products.

In a new book Rich Food, Poor Food, authors Mira and Jason Calton provide a list of what they term "Banned Bad Boys" - ingredients commonly used in up to 80% of all American convenience food that have been banned by other countries, with information about which countries banned each substance and why.

And though it might not surprise you to hear that Olestra - commonly used in low/no-fat snack foods and known to cause serious gastrointestinal issues for those who consume it (understatement) - is on that list, having been banned in both the United Kingdom and Canada, you may be shocked to hear that Mountain Dew, Fresca and Squirt all contain brominated vegetable oil, a substance that has been banned in more than 100 countries "because it has been linked to basically every form of thyroid disease - from cancer to autoimmune diseases - known to man."

Way to go, FDA! Woot!
You might also be upset to hear that the food coloring used to make your kid's delicious Mac & Cheese dinner visually appealing - yellow #5 and yellow #6, namely - is made from coal tar, which among other things is an active ingredient in lice shampoo and has been linked to allergies, ADHD, and cancer in animals. And gaaaaah.

Then there's azodicarbonamide - commonly found in frozen dinners and frozen potato and bread products - which is used make things like bleach and foamed plastics like those found in yoga mats (tasty!). Azodicarbonamide has been banned in most European countries because it's known to induce asthma, and is in fact deemed so dangerous that in Singapore its use carries a hefty $500,00 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

Yet, according to the FDA, it's SO TOTALLY FINE for us to keep shoveling it into our kid's faceholes: "[Azodicarbonamide] is approved to be a bleaching agent in cereal flour and is permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption."
Oooookay then.

Finally, there's butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) - found in Post, Kelloggs and Quaker brand cereals - which is made from petroleum and is a known cancer-causing agent. It's been banned in England and Japan, but those of us in the U.S. can keep right on serving up to our children for breakfast, because AMMURICA. And FREEDOMZ.

Anyone else find all of this, ohhhh I don't know, more than a tad bit disturbing? I'm not ashamed to say I have love for the blue box Mac & Cheese, and to think that chemicals known and recognized world-wide as completely toxic are included in that - a product openly marketed as being a meal FOR KIDS - makes me more than a little ragey. I mean, those chemicals can't be what makes it taste so good, right? So can't we, umm, just use something else instead? (PLEEEASE DON'T MAKE ME GIVE UP THE MAC & CHEESE, PLEEEASE.) Sigh.

-By Tracey Gaughran-Perez

06-24-2013, 04:11 PM
Seven dangerous artificial ingredients and food additives you should never feed your family.

May 24th, 2012

One of the things that scares me the most as a mom is how our food is modified with artificial ingredients and additives before it hits store shelves. There are so many harmful things that are injected into perfectly healthy food, rendering them unhealthy, before they are available to use for consumption. Despite research that links these ingredients to harmful side effects like tumors, cancer, ADHD and more, the FDA is refusing to completely ban them. So, the next best thing I can is do is to try my best to avoid them. Here are seven ingredients you should always try to avoid, or eat in severe moderation. I like to carry around a list of these preservatives to make sure they’re not in any of the ingredients lists of the foods I buy!

MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate)

MSG is a common food additive that is considered a neurotoxin because it can overstimulate cells to death. It is found in many everyday foods, including deli meats and salad dressings.

Heed warnings about consuming too much of it, and know the symptoms to watch for if you do, such upset stomach 15 after consuming the MSG, headaches, and arm or leg weakness. You can help eliminate MSG from your own diet by making some simple foods, like salad dressings, from scratch.


These additives are often added to food made with fats to prevent early spoilage and extend shelf-life. They are known to cause cancer in rats, and, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers both to be safe, they are toxic in large qualities. You can steer clear of this additive by choosing natural snack brands and making your own snacks, like potato chips, from scratch.

Sodium Nitrate

This salty food additive is often used to preserve meats and fatty foods. The Mayo Clinic warns that sodium nitrate could increase your heart disease risk. You can avoid stabilizers found in processed meats by making sandwiches using proteins like fresh chicken, which you can roast yourself.

Artificial Food Dyes

Artificial food dyes have been linked to ADHD, cancer, and allergies in kids and adults. About 15 million pounds of eight specific synthetic dyes are put into our food each year. If you can, avoid eating artificially colored foods, like gummy bears, and learn how to make natural food dyes -- it's surprisingly easy.

Propyl Gallate

This food preservative is often found in vegetable oils, meats, soups, chewing gum, and turkey stuffing. It is banned in Britain and several other countries have restricted its use. Some studieshave shown that it may cause cancer in rats. In humans, propyl gallate has been linked to cases of skin irritability and stomach problems, as well as allergic reactions that impact breathing. To avoid it, cook with organic, grass-fed meat whenever possible.


Frequently cited as one of the most dangerous neurotoxins available, aspartame is found in many sugar-free foods and is used to artificially sweetened soda, candy, and a wide variety of diet food. It is linked to depression, fuzzy thinking, headaches, seizures, and cancer — specifically lymphoma and leukemia. Keep your cabinets clean of aspartame by avoiding "diet" foods and artificial sweeteners.

Potassium Bromate

This seemingly-harmless additive is often used in baked goods to achieve a higher rise and lighter crumb. It's use has been banned in Canada and Europe because of a potential cancer link. In the U.S., the FDA has encourages bakers to use other additives, although potassium bromate has not been banned. Check the labels when you shop for baked goods; many companies, includingArnold's, Pillsbury, and Pepperidge Farm are now bromate-free. You can also try getting the kids in the kitchen and making your own baked goods from scratch.

06-25-2013, 12:42 PM
Medieval feces shows Crusaders struggled with worms and hygiene
Reuters | Yahoo News | 6.25.2013

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Medieval feces discovered at an ancient castle in Cyprus has revealed that the Crusaders suffered from a bad case of the worms, and had poor hygiene habits.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered that occupants of a 12th century Crusaders' castle in western Cyprus were rife with parasites, reaffirming previous research which suggested high mortality rates among Crusaders from malnutrition and infectious diseases.

Tests on latrine samples in the Saranda Kolones castle, a crusader fortress which was built after King Richard I of England captured Cyprus during the Third Crusade in 1191 AD, showed two species of parasite eggs, the roundworm and the whipworm, prevalent in the soil of what was once a cesspit.

Both types of parasites can live in the human gut, and their eggs are released through bowel movement.

The parasites are transmitted orally and evidence of their presence reflects the poor hygiene conditions that prevailed in medieval castles, according to researchers Evilena Anastasiou and Piers D. Mitchell.

"The discovery of these parasites highlights how medieval crusaders may have been at risk of malnutrition at times of siege and famine, as these worms competed with them for nutrients," they wrote in the International Journal of Paleopathology.

Modern research has shown that intestinal parasites absorb nutrients from the diet before they can be absorbed by the host, leaving those with poor diets vulnerable to malnutrition.

The ancient toilets were half-circle holes cut into what appeared to be a rock seat, connected by a sewer below.

Poor hygiene seems to have taken its toll among crusaders. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of crusaders in long expeditions died from malnutrition and infectious diseases, on a par with those who died from wounds in battle.

Saranda Kolones, which literally means "Forty Columns" was occupied for about 30 years. It was abandoned after an earthquake in 1222 and never rebuilt.

(Writing By Michele Kambas, editing by Paul Casciato)

06-27-2013, 01:02 PM
An iPhone case that doubles as a stun gun

Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet Daily | June 26, 2013

Yellow Jacket, a startup based in Louisiana, has developed an iPhone that protects you from would-be attackers. Oh yeah, and it also charges your phone.

A typical iPhone case has a pretty standard job to fulfill: protect the device. One startup has expanded the role of the lowly iPhone case by incorporating a stun gun into the design.
Innovation within smartphone cases has largely centered on durability, design and other features that improve the security of the device.

Yellow Jacket, a startup based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has created a case with a broader security purpose in mind: protect the phone and its user.

The idea, and ultimate creation, of a stun gun smartphone case was triggered after its inventor Seth Froom was robbed at gunpoint. Froom, a former soldier in the U.S. Army, had firearms in his home and even owned a fake cell phone stun gun. But none of those were in reach as the attack unfolded.

Concealed within the protective case is a stun gun that delivers 650,000 volts of electricity. An external battery on the case also can charge your iPhone for up to one full extra battery charge.

So far, the case has been only designed for the iPhone 4/4S. Yellow Jacket was awarded Apple’s MFi Development license earlier this month, which means a “made for iPhone” badge will be placed on all of their packaging.

The company also is working on other upgrades for the iPhone 5 and for the Samsung Galaxy.

To avoid any accidental shocks to yourself or a loved one, the case has a dual safety switch that requires the user to flip off the electrode cover. The case also includes a protective layer that prevents any potential interference with the phone.

06-28-2013, 12:02 PM
Computer Games Can Reverse Mental Decline: UCLA Study
Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013
By Charlotte Libov |NewsMax Health.

Growing older often means forgetting names, faces, or even where the car is parked – but a new study shows that playing a computer brain-training game can help.

UCLA researchers found that elderly people who played a brain-fitness computer game significantly improved their memory and language skills.

“This is great news. What this study says is that if you get one of these computer games, and you use it regularly, your brain is going to improve in terms of memory,” said Gary Small, M.D., professor and director of the UCLA Longevity Center.

Age-related memory decline affects approximately 40 percent of older adults. And while previous studies have shown that engaging in stimulating mental activities can help older adults improve their memory, little research had been done to determine whether the numerous computerized brain-fitness games and memory training programs on the market are effective in improving memory. This is one of the first studies to assess the cognitive effects of a computerized memory-training program.

Scientists still aren’t sure how computer usage leads to cognitive improvement. Dr. Small, author of The Mind Health Report newsletter, offers two theories. The first is that playing such games exercise brain cells, strengthening them in much the same way that weight training builds muscles. The other possibility is that playing the games teaches older people how to compensate for age-related memory loss.

“By age 45 the average person shows decreases in memory ability, and it continues to get worse with age. So this may be a way that people learn techniques to compensate,” Dr. Small told Newsmax Health.

The UCLA team studied 69 dementia-free participants with an average age of 82 who were recruited from Southern California retirement communities. They played a computer brain-fitness program. The game consists of exercises in short- and long-term memory, language, visual-spatial processing, reasoning, problem-solving, and math calculation skills.

The study found of the 69 participants, the 52 individuals who over a six-month period completed at least 40 sessions (or 20-25 minutes each) on the program showed mental improvement. The study showed that the more subjects played the game, the more improvement they showed in memory, said Dr. Small, who wrote the best-selling book The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.

While the study looked at people who did not have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the findings have important implications for that group, said Dr. Small.

“Alzheimer’s disease is by definition the loss of cognitive ability that leaves individuals unable to function independently. If you can delay that loss of cognitive function you can in essence delay the onset of Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Small.

Using brain-training programs, good nutrition, exercise, and stress management can forestall Alzheimer’s symptoms for some three-to-four years, he said. “This is important to do while waiting for science to find a cure,” Dr. Small added.

The computer game used in the UCLA study is Dakim BrainFitness, but there are similar ones on the market including Lumosity and Posit Science’s Brain HQ.

06-28-2013, 01:14 PM
Danger on Your Dinner Plate: Food Safety Scandal
Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 NewsMax Health

One of the dirtiest secrets of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is that it inspects almost no food.

The FDA inspected only 6 percent of domestic food producers and a miniscule 0.4 percent of food importers in 2011. So the vast majority of food producers either police themselves – often with for-hire auditors whose reports are kept secret – or there is no oversight at all.

It’s only after a serious problem emerges – often after people have died – that governmental agencies take action. The consequences are shocking.

Each year, foodborne disease in the United States:

Sickens 48 million people.
Hospitalizes 128,000 people.
Kills 3,000 people.

Outbreaks of foodborne disease are increasingly common. In 2005, the FDA issued two recalls of fruits and vegetables. In 2010, there were 37.

The year 2011 saw the worst outbreak of foodborne disease in a century. Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes from a single Colorado farm sickened 147 people in 28 states and killed 33 people. Other serious outbreaks in 2011 were traced to bacteria-contaminated ground turkey and papaya.

Foodborne illnesses are most likely to infect and kill people with underdeveloped or weakened immune systems, such as young children and the elderly.

Avoid Fish from China

Foreign producers often have little incentive to make sure their food is free of illness-causing bacteria. Today, about 20 percent of U.S. food is imported.

Which countries are most responsible for exporting tainted food to the U.S.?
“It depends on the food,” says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety, tells Newsmax Health. “Some 90 percent of our fish and seafood is imported, mostly from southeast Asian countries that don’t always use the best sanitary practices.”

For example, one of the most popular fishes consumed in the U.S. – tilapia – often comes from fish farms in China. “These fish are frequently fed raw manure, which is associated with health issues such as salmonella bacteria,” Dr. Doyle says.

For many years, China also tolerated producers who added a chemical called melamine to their food products. Melamine artificially inflates the level of protein in the fish, which increases its monetary value. But it also sickened hundreds of thousands of children worldwide.

Even though the Chinese government finally banned the use of melamine in food products, the FDA recently issued six import rejections of soy protein from China because it was contaminated with melamine, according to Dr. Doyle.

Mexico’s Mixed Record

In the U.S., imports account for more than 50 percent of fruit and more than 20 percent of vegetables. Mexico has largely replaced California as the nation’s “salad bowl.” That’s not necessarily bad, says Dr. Doyle.

“Not all produce coming out Mexico is unsafe because we have good (U.S.-based) producers down there who have good control over their fields and the irrigation water that is used. But we do know there are some issues with the food that is produced there.”

Much of Mexico’s produce is grown in areas where there is little control over irrigation water. “It’s fertilized with water that comes from big cities such as Mexico City where they don’t treat the human sewage that goes into the rivers,” Dr. Doyle says.

Protecting Yourself

Don’t eat raw sprouts. Although food hazards abound, experts agree that the single most dangerous food of all is raw sprouts. “We’ve had many outbreaks associated with raw sprouts,” says Dr. Doyle, who strongly recommends doing as Asians do, and cooking sprouts before eating them.

Don’t eat raw meat or nuts. “Thoroughly cook meats,” he says. “Hamburger (a frequent source of infection) is supposed to be cooked to 165 degrees.” In restaurants, it’s best to order your hamburgers medium-well, because bacteria can be mixed throughout the patty. Steak, on the other hand, can be safely ordered medium because any bacterial contamination is most likely to be on the surface.

Wash hands after handling meat or produce. “Even lettuce, including lettuce that’s grown here in the U.S., may contain bacteria, typically on the outer leaves,” said Dr. Doyle. “So you should remove the outer leaves, then wash your hands because you’ve just touched potentially contaminated outer leaves, and then wash the inner leaves.”

06-29-2013, 03:06 AM
Go to the front of the line with priority access on your next flight
Airfarewatchdog.com 16 hours ago
By George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog

Lines, lines, everywhere. Lines to check in, lines to drop bags, lines to get through security, lines at the gate, lines at customer service when everything goes haywire, lines at customs you name it, airports have got you queuing up for it. Who's for skipping? We sure are and we'll show you how it's done, step by step. Today, let's take a look at the concept of priority access, one of the easiest line hacks out there.

What is it?

Priority access can mean many things, but ideally, what you're looking for is the opportunity not only to jump ahead the security checkpoint lines like you would if you were an airline elite, or a first-class passenger but also get on board your plane first. Maybe there are other perks, such as priority baggage handling, too.

Who is lucky enough to get this?

Who gets priority all depends on which airline we are talking about. Some major carriers, such as American, reserve the very best of everything for their elite customers; the only way to buy in is to book a very expensive plane ticket. However, even American will sell you an opportunity to move your boarding position up as far as possible, without getting in the way of those who earned their spot with years of travel (or, again, those who paid thousands of dollars in plane fare). Not every airline is so protective of their most loyal customers. United, for example, packages up the nice treatment its elites receive the dedicated airport check-in counters, special security lanes and priority boarding and sells it off to anyone who can cough up as little as $9 per segment for the privilege. That's right even if you booked one of those nonrefundable tickets in the very last. For $9, you're suddenly a VIP. US Airways offers the same thing for just $10.

Don't get too excited

United and US Airways are outliers in this category most airlines tend to take a different view on the matter of priority access and priority boarding. What you get if anything at all all depends on whom you're flying. JetBlue sells a line-jumping product, called Even More Speed, but that's just for the security line (and, on a busy day at JFK's Terminal 5, well worth it, if only to take some of the stress out of your trip.) Virgin America, on the other hand, bundles the security speed-through with Group A boarding privileges and a seat towards the front of the line, allowing them to charge $30 as opposed to JetBlue's $10. Their product goes by the name Main Cabin Express. Still other airlines Alaska is one notable example offers nothing to its non-elites.

Is it all worth it?

Recognizing that every person has differing levels of anxiety as relates to airports and travel, it's tough to say, but here's a good rule of thumb: know exactly what you're buying read the fine print before you spend the cash. There's an ocean of difference between United's Premier Access for $9 and American's Group 1 Boarding product for $10 the latter's really no deal, unless the idea of having to gate check your bag (because there's no more room in the overhead bin) sends you into shock. Then there are the programs that have become popular enough that their value can often be considerably weaker: Southwest's EarlyBird Check-In offers you peace-of-mind that you'll be automatically assigned a boarding position ahead of the 24-hour mark that allows the general population to grab theirs. Sounds good for $12.50, sure, except that if enough people buy in, you're not guaranteed a slot in the A boarding group, which means that if you're lucky, you may squeeze into the middle seat of the exit row, between two grumpy looking guys doing their best death stare in hopes of scaring you off. Or maybe you won't even get that lucky. But, not to worry Southwest has begun selling even better boarding slots for $40, 45 minutes before the flight. If there are any left, of course.

06-29-2013, 07:42 AM
7 Foods that Fight Aging
By Elle | Healthy Living 6. 28. 2013

We asked nutritionist Dana James which foods to add to your diet so you can feel like you're 19 again. (Ok, only a time machine can do that, but these will help, we swear!)

1. Avocado
The green fruit that could has fat. That's right, it contains monounsaturated fat. This is a good thing. The fat is so tiny it can slip through membranes and protect cells from free radical damage. This enhances vitality and mental acuity, and improves skin texture. Bonus: Avocados may also improve bone density thanks to the mineral boron, which helps absorb calcium, and a whole avocado contains 14 grams of fiber, which expedites the removal of toxins that can lead to aging.
Avocados are best served as an unadulterated raw food. (We've never liked cooking avocados.) Make a cooling cucumber and avocado soup with fresh mint, toss avocado into organic mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette, or add avocado to a nori wrap filled with baby greens, wild salmon, tomatoes, peppers, and sprouts.

2. Turmeric
Consider turmeric a regular must-have. It been shown to help prevent cancer, and it contains curcuminoid pigments that turn on genes that enhance the body's own synthesis of antioxidants. Turmeric also protects brain cells and skin cells from free radical damage, improving concentration and slowing the formation of wrinkles and fine lines.

Turmeric's warm peppery flavor adds depth to smoothies, vegetables, and eggs. Add a dash of ground turmeric to an almond milk, banana, and raw honey smoothie, pan-fry organic eggs in coconut oil and toss in ground turmeric, or sauté kale in coconut oil and turmeric.

3. Green vegetable juice
If you juice, pat yourself on the back. Juicing green vegetables breaks down the plant's cell walls so the nutrients can quickly be absorbed and assimilated into the body with very minimal digestive effort, making it the quickest way to infuse the body with antioxidants, phytonutrients, enzymes, oxygen, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. An eight-ounce juice is equivalent to two large salads with no dressing.

Use the season to dictate the ingredients of a green vegetable juice. In summer, try cucumber, fennel, mint, kiwi fruit, and lime. In winter, make a juice with dandelion greens, spinach, spearmint, cucumber, apple, and Meyer lemon. A touch of citrus helps prevent oxidation.

4. Arctic char
Arctic char packs in all the benefits of salmon, but it is actually farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner, making it the preferable choice. It contains the same amount of omega-3 fats as wild salmon- 1300 milligrams per four ounces- which inhibit a wrinkle-causing enzyme. The omega-3 fats also improve the integrity of brain cells, which helps decrease brain fogginess. If that's not enough, char also contains carotenoids, which improve eyesight and protect skin cells from sun damage. Frankly, we can't think of a reason to not eat this magical fish!

Serve pan-seared arctic char over a watercress and pink grapefruit salad, make an arctic char ceviche with fresh lime, or add flaked arctic char to a kale salad with hemp seeds and yellow peppers.

5. Hijiki
Sushi lovers should be sure to add a hijiki appetizer to their next order. The black sea vegetable is rich in iodine, which increases the synthesis of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine, to boost the metabolism. Also, 40 percent of hijiki is fiber, which helps regulate hormones and enhances liver detoxification.

Hijiki has a pasta-like texture, making it an ideal substitute when following a gluten-restricted diet. Simply soak the hijiki in water for 20 minutes, and then boil it for 10 minutes, just like pasta. Add hijiki to organic mixed greens tossed with spicy pumpkin seeds, avocado, and hemp seeds. Or, you know, just order takeout.

6. Hemp Seeds
Before you shriek and hide from tie-dye and Birkenstocks, relax. Hemp seeds are actually good for your skin. They help improve firmness and radiance. They're also the only edible source of gamma-linoleic-acid (GLA), an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fat, which forms part of the membrane that surrounds skin cells. Finally, hemp seeds contain 15 grams of protein per three tablespoons, making it an ideal protein source for individuals following a plant-based diet. The protein also helps to synthesize collagen and elastin, keeping skin firm and supple.

Eat hemp seeds raw as heat will destroy their delicate oils. Toss them over a kale and avocado salad, add them to a mango smoothie for an extra protein boost, or make a raw tabouli salad with hemp seeds, parsley, tomatoes, and lime juice.

7. Chlorophyll
Need to atone for everything? Welcome to the antidote to your dietary sins. If you drink coffee, chloryphyll helps to negate its acidity. If you drink alcohol, it helps metabolize alcohol faster. If you eat non-organic produce or fish high in mercury, it helps remove these toxins. If you don't do any of these things (Good for you! We'll have another cup of coffee, please!), it simply enhances your own vitality. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in all green plants, but can be bought in a concentrated liquid form made from nettles or mulberry leaves.

Make chlorophyll water by mixing three tablespoons of chlorophyll to 32 ounces of filtered water. Flavor the drink by adding cucumber and fresh mint. Alternatively, make a green tea smoothie with almond milk, matcha green tea, avocado, chlorophyll, vanilla, and cardamom.

07-02-2013, 08:44 AM
Even Dirtier Food, Brought to You by the Environmental Protection Agency
Takepart.com 15 hours ago

Just when it seemed the United States Department of Agriculture might finally be taking a second look at crops engineered to resist pesticide application, another branch of government, the Environmental Protection Agency, now seems poised to raise the level of pesticides that can be sprayed on our food.

Apparently taking its orders from chemical giant Monsanto—which manufactures both agricultural chemicals and transgene plants that are resistant to them—the EPA hiked the amount of residue from the herbicide glyphosate that is allowed on several foods we eat, including carrots, sweet potatoes and mustard seeds. While the latest pesticide hike is geared toward non-GE crops rather than genetically engineered “Roundup-ready” crops, Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, tells TakePart that higher levels of glyphosate residues means farmers will spray our food with more herbicides and pesticides—increasing the health risks for humans, animals and the environment.

“The formula in its product (Roundup) is a lot more toxic than glysophate alone,” Freese says. “It’s very toxic to amphibians, but there have been studies linking Roundup to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans, which kills 30 percent of those who contract it. Farmers generally have less cancer overall because of their active lifestyles, but they show higher rates of this type of cancer. That’s really scary.”

A June 2013 study out of Thailand found that glyphosate “exerted proliferative effects in human hormone-dependent breast cancer.” This followed an MIT study in April that concluded that “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins,” adding that glyphosate’s “negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.” Scary indeed.

According to its website, the EPA sets tolerances for pesticide residues that may be found on food:

In establishing tolerances, EPA considers the toxicity of each pesticide, how much of the pesticide is applied and how often, and how much of the pesticide (i.e., the residues) remains in or on food. An added margin of safety ensures that residues remaining in foods are many times lower than amounts that could actually cause adverse health effects.

The pesticide tolerances set by EPA are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration, which monitors domestically produced and imported foods traveling in interstate commerce except meat, poultry, and some egg products.

This latest Monsanto-related controversy follows the case of the “zombie wheat” from earlier this year, where an Oregon farmer found Roundup-resistant wheat on his property, despite the crop’s absence from commercial production. (Monsanto was publicly skeptical that the GE wheat was its creation.)

Today, July 1, is the last day the EPA will be accepting public comments on the planned herbicide residue hike. Electronic comments may be made here. After today, the policy will go into effect immediately. Freese, of the Center for Food Safety, says he’d be “very surprised” if the EPA altered its ruling in any way in response to objections.

“They only look at the active ingredient itself (glyphosate) rather than the entire formula,” Freese says, “and they rely almost entirely on the companies contesting (Monsanto).”

Related stories on TakePart:

6 Shocking Facts About Pesticides in Your Food Supply

07-05-2013, 12:40 PM
World’s largest building opens in China
Tyler Falk | SmartPlanet | July 5, 2013

China’s massive new building is four times the size of Vatican City.

Of the world’s largest standalone buildings, none of the top 10 are located outside Asia or the Middle East. So it’s only fitting that China is now home to the largest building in the world.

At 18.94 million square feet, The New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China, has offices, plenty of retail space, a university, hotels, a 14-screen IMAX Cineplex, a “Mediterranean village.” And what building isn’t complete without an artificial beach and fake sun?

It’s 328 feet tall, 1,640 feet long, and 1,312 feet wide and Quartz puts the size of the massive building into perspective:

That’s roughly 20 times the size of Sydney’s legendary Opera House, four times the size of Vatican City, and three times the size of the Pentagon. And its 420 acres in floor space is nearly the size of the entire country of Monaco (499 acres).

Unlike some major projects, though, the building hasn’t forgotten one of the most important parts: getting people there. The Independent points out that the opening of the building coincides with the expansion of a subway line to the area.

07-08-2013, 09:55 AM
Surviving a Plan Crash: Where You Sit Could Be The Difference Between Life and Death

The harrowing Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport may incite fear in the minds of the millions of Americans who take to the skies every year, but it also proves that even horrific disasters are survivable.

The San Francisco-bound flight was carrying more than 300 people Saturday when crashed on the runway, tore its tail and burst into flames.

Two 16-year-old female students from China were killed, and 181 people were injured in the crash. The injured were being cared for at several hospitals, and at least 22 were in critical condition.

While only one in 1.2 million flights end up in an accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, there are still precautions passengers can take to prepare for emergency situations.

Experts say where you sit on a plane may prove to be the difference between life and death in a crash.

Professor Ed Galea of the University of Greenwich, who has spent more than 25 years analyzing how humans react in emergencies, advised that the seconds before impact are the most dangerous.

"You are responsible for your life," Galea said. "If you know what you're doing, you've got a better chance of surviving."

One flying rule of thumb? Sit as close to an exit as possible.

Galea studied the seating charts of more than 100 plane crashes and interviewed dozens of survivors. He uncovered that survivors move an average of five rows before safely exiting a burning plane. He also found seats in the rear of a plane were generally safer, as were aisle seats.

The survival rate in U.S. plane crashes from 1983 to 2000 was 95 percent, according to the NTSB. But if the plan does crash, it's important to remember to not panic.

"If you haven't thought about what you might do and prepared, the thing becomes overwhelming and you shut down," Galea said. "You can prepare yourself to react appropriately in emergency situations."

Airborne travelers may also want to remember to take time to brace upon impact.

Discovery TV had a Boeing 727 equipped with more than a half a million dollars worth of crash test dummies, 38 specialized cameras and sensors, and a crew of incredibly daring pilots. The pilots, who'd donned parachutes, bailed out of a hatch in the back of the aircraft minutes before the huge jetliner careered into the ground in a horrific crash that tore the plane apart.In an ambitious test undertaken in the name of airline safety, a test crash of a Boeing 727 in the Sonoran Desert last year found that bracing for impact increased a passenger's likelihood of surviving a crash.

During the crash, which was a belly flop done nose first, passengers near the front bore the brunt of the impact. Rows one through seven held the "fatal" seats -- seat 7A was catapulted straight out of the plane.

The crash was staged as part of the Discovery Channels "Curiousity Plane Crash," a result of four years of planning and consultations to better understand what happens to passengers when an aircraft goes down.

The test crash also revealed other aspects of plane crashes, such as the tremendous amount of debris that could prove deadly to any passenger sitting upright, and how important it was to be able to get out of the plane fast. Generally, sitting within five rows of an exit gave passengers the best odds.

In addition, remembering a simple mathematic formula -- plus three, minus eight -- can boost your survivability factor in the case of an unexpected plane crash.

Most accidents happen within the first three minutes of takeoff or in the eight minutes before landing, according to Ben Sherwood, author of "The Survivors Club -- The Secrets and Science That could Save Your Life" and president of ABC News.

Sherwood said 80 percent of all plane crashes occur during these 11 in-flight minutes. Instead of picking up a magazine or taking your shoes off, it's important to remain alert.

Sherwood advised to have a plan of action in the case of an unexpected crisis.

"If a plane crashes it's very likely that I'm going to survive it, and if I do the right thing, if I pay attention, if I have a plan, if I act, the chances are even better," Sherwood said.

But passengers should remember that not all flights are bound for peril.

The aviation industry has taken strides to protect passengers in emergency situations. Stronger seats, improved flame retardant plane parts and better firefighting techniques following a crash have contributed to increasing the time for passengers to make a safe escape.

"Riding on a commercial airplane has got about the same amount of risk as riding on an escalator," MIT International Center for Air Transportation Director John Hansman Jr. told ABC News.

07-08-2013, 10:03 AM
20 Tips to Surviving a Plane Crash
By SEAN DOOLEY May 13, 2011

Mommy blogger Stephanie Nielson's survival and recovery after a tragic plane crash has proven inspirational to her fans worldwide. But the fact that Nielson did survive the crash is less unusual than you might think.

Burn Survivor: Saving Stephanie Nielson | ABCNEWS.com

Ben Sherwood, the author of "The Survivors Club -- The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life" and the president of ABC News, says that plane crashes are highly unlikely and the odds are that you will survive.

"You could fly every day for the next 164,000 years and not have an airplane crash," he said.

In the unlikely event of a crash, he said, we should all take comfort in the knowledge that we have the power to save ourselves.

"If a plane crashes it's very likely that I'm going to survive it, and if I do the right thing, if I pay attention, if I have a plan, if I act, the chances are even better," Sherwood said.

Here are some of Sherwood's favorite tips to keep in mind the next time you board a plane:

1. Know the statistics. There may be an urge to feel a sense of hopelessness in a crash -- accepting the worst case scenario as a given. But believe it or not, the survival rate of plane crashes is 95.7 percent. Don't ever give up and know that the probability of survival is actually very high.

2. You have only 90 seconds to get out of the plane -- just 90 seconds. Any longer and the fire can burn through the aluminum skin of the plane and engulf everything.

3. "Plus Three / Minus Eight" -- In aviation lingo this refers to the first three minutes of your plane ride and the last eight. It's during these 11 in-flight minutes that 80 percent of all plane crashes occur. So this is the time to pay extra close attention and be alert. Don't fall asleep, take off your shoes, listen to music, or take a sleeping pill during the plus three, minus eight period of your flight. The plane that carried Stephanie and Christian Nielson crashed during its initial ascent.

4. Formulate an action plan. In many cases survival is entirely up to you and Sherwood says that the moment you board a plane you should begin devising your emergency plan. Memorize where the exits are and count how many rows away they are. Also have an idea of how you would get to these exits if the passageways were blocked.

5. Being in shape helps. Although it won't always save you, being agile, fast and strong can make a huge difference in how fast you are able to get out of a burning plane and save yourself. Both Stephanie and Christian Nielson were young, fit and had an active lifestyle.

6. Being slim helps even more. In a crash you will often have to squeeze through tight spaces to get yourself out of the plane. The thinner you are, the easier that will be.

7. Don't panic. Panic is the enemy of survival. Most people in an emergency actually do not panic or act irrational, but they freeze and await instructions. Try to stay calm and make sure you are focused on your action plan so that you don't freeze.

8. In most emergencies, there are 10 percent of people who have the ability to think absolutely clearly and instruct others on how to save themselves. If you find yourself unwillingly frozen and you come in contact with one of these impressive 10 percent of people, listen to them and follow their instructions.

9. Have a plan B. It's not enough to locate one exit and plan on reaching it in the case of an emergency. Locate a second way out of the plane in case your first one is obstructed or inaccessible.

10. Actually pay attention to the flight attendant's safety briefings. Most people ignore the standard safety explanation at the beginning of a flight and continue reading their book or talking to their neighbor. The information being provided is important and could help save your life.

11. Internalize the most important points in the safety briefing. Even more important than just listening to the flight attendant's presentation is remembering the most vital instructions. For instance if a plane decompresses at high altitude you only have a few seconds to get your oxygen mask on - so make sure you understand how to do it correctly.

12. Even if you're a frequent flier it's important to listen to the safety briefing and have an action plan. Often people who travel a lot think they already know everything they should about flight safety, but that can hurt your chances of survival in an emergency.

13. Always wear comfortable shoes when flying. Women should leave their heels at home. Stephanie Neilson, for example, wore suede moccasins that protected her feet -- one of the few areas of her body that was not burned.

14. Don't drink alcohol on a plane. As tempting as it can be to kick back with an in-flight cocktail while flying, try not to. You want to be as alert as possible in the case of an emergency and alcohol will impair your most important abilities.

15. Face it, in a plane crash you are going to hit something, so be as prepared as you can for that impact. Have your seat belt fastened firmly across your waist. It's a good idea to avoid bulkhead seats because those walls don't have the give that another seat in front of you does. And know how to get into the brace position. It is designed to minimize the force of impact on your body and head. During her crash, Stephanie Nielson got herself into the brace position before her plane hit the ground possibly preventing her from breaking any bones.

16. Forget about your carry-on luggage. Investigators say that, while fleeing a plane, passengers frequently try to bring their bags with them. If you are involved in a plane crash the only thing you should be thinking about is how to get off that plane. Just remember anything in your bags can ultimately be replaced.

17. Try to sit within five rows of an exit. There is no conclusive evidence that any one area of a plane is the safest place to sit. Each crash is different and in many cases survivors and victims are found right next to each other in the same section. What can make a difference is how close you are to an exit.

18. If you're traveling with family or children discuss what each person's role will be in your action plan and make sure everyone understands what he or she will do in case of an emergency.

19. Remind yourself at take-off and landing who matters to you most. Investigators say that in emergencies people can forget the most basic things -- husbands flee without wives, parents without children. If you are in an emergency consider even reciting a mantra to yourself like, "I've got kids, I've got kids."

20. Ask yourself, "How committed am I?" Remember that survival is not just about physical fitness but mental fitness as well. In a crash you cannot have even a moment's hesitation. Be prepared to climb over seats, crawl on the floor, to do whatever is necessary to reach the exit.

Stephanie and Christian Nielson both thought of their children.

"This feeling in my heart told me...think of your children, they need you to be well," Christian Nielson said.

07-13-2013, 12:17 AM
Idaho cyclist recalls scary Alaska Highway wolf chase
The Spokesman-Review (RICH LANDERS)07/11/2013

Growing up in the Yukon, Melanie Klassen had seen numerous bicycle tourists pedaling the Alaska Highway, but never one with a canine companion running behind him.

"I thought it was odd until I saw the panicked look on the biker's face - as though he was about to be eaten," she said in a telephone interview.

"That wasn't a dog; it was a wolf."

The cyclist, William "Mac" Hollan, 35, of Sandpoint, Idaho, verified Klassen's observation of Saturday's incident: "At this point I realized I might not be going home, and I began to panic at the thought of how much it was going to hurt."

The Grande Prairie, Alberta, woman was among the heroes who rescued the North Idaho elementary school student-teacher halfway through his 2,750-mile pedal to Prudhoe Bay as a fundraiser for a Sandpoint school lunch program.

Hollan's account was posted Monday on his Point to Bay Facebook page from Whitehorse. He departed Sandpoint on June 17 for the six-week tour, loaded with bike camping gear and accompanied by Gabe Dawson, of Ashland, Ore., and Jordan Achilli, of New York.

As Hollan rode a half-mile ahead of his buddies, his nightmare began with a gray wolf sprinting out of the woods 60 miles west of Watson Lake and surprising the passing cyclist with an initial chomp that just missed his pedal.

At first, Hollan tried to out-race the wolf, but the predator reeled him in with the ease of a peloton erasing the lead of a dope-free breakaway rider.

The wolf nipped at the bike's rear packs the way it would bite the hamstrings of a fleeing moose in the drawn-out ordeal of subduing large prey.

Hollan, who was prepared for grizzly encounters, blasted the wolf with bursts of bear spray on several occasions. He said the wolf would fade back 20 feet or so and then move up again.
He heard his tent poles clank to the pavement as the chase continued.

"I saw an 18 wheeler round the corner and began to wave, shout, and point to the wolf frantically," Hollan wrote. "After taking a good look at the scene the driver resumed his speed and drove on."

The panicked cyclist had his hopes dashed four separate times as vehicles passed. The wolf would back off and close in again between each rig.

"As I came around the corner, to my horror, I saw a quick incline, and knew that I would not be able to stay in front of this wolf for much longer. . It was a surreal moment to realize that I was (the) prey, and this hill was (the) moment."

Klassen came onto the scene as Hollan was preparing to stop, use his bike as a shield and try to deter the wolf's advances with the last of his bear spray.

"We were towing a trailer behind my orange Hummer, and we couldn't stop fast enough," Klassen said.

"We made a U-turn and zipped back around the bend. A motor home had stopped in the road, and I could see the wolf lunging in behind it."

Hollan describes the moment:

"An RV came around the corner, and I knew this was it. I placed myself squarely in the center of the road and began screaming at the top of my lungs . while waving frantically.

"The driver quickly passed me and stopped on a dime right in front of my bike. I don't know how I got unclipped or off my bike, but I swear I hurdled the handlebars without missing a beat or letting go of my can of bear spray.

"When I got to the backdoor of the RV still screaming, the door was locked. In an absolute panic I began to climb in the passenger window, but the driver reached across and threw the door open.

"By the time I shut the door the wolf was already on my bike pulling at the shredded remains of my tent bag."

Hollan said he began to shake - and cuss - uncontrollably.
Klassen was relieved Hollan was safe, but the wolf continued to attack the bike "as though it were prey."

"I said somebody has to do something, and my boyfriend was yelling, 'No! No!' as I jumped out the passenger door," she said. "My dad was a Yukon conservation officer and I remember him telling us to stand tall if confronted by a wolf and make it think you're bigger and tougher, or the wolf will take over."

But even with her standing in the doorway of a Hummer and yelling tough words at a distance of about 8 feet while other vehicles honked, the wolf wouldn't back off.

"The only weapon I had was a water bottle," she said. "I winged it and beaned him right in the head. That got him to retreat to the ditch. But he didn't go away until other cars stopped and people started throwing rocks.

"The biker in the RV was really rattled."

Nancy Campbell, Environment Yukon spokeswoman in Whitehorse, called the incident "a new one for us."

"We don't want people to think there's a row of wolves licking their chops waiting for people to come into the Yukon. We don't know if it was a young, desperate wolf or an old, sick wolf, one that had come to associate people as a source of food or what."

A similar incident occurred June 8 in British Columbia as a wolf gave chase to a motorcyclist who photographed the incident on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park. Officials said that was unheard of, too.

Hollan's continuing his tour, noting that "I do look over my shoulder more, and I'm a bit jumpy. While other things have happened since the last update, this is all I can really remember."

07-14-2013, 02:00 PM
Beware of the 8 Germiest Public Places
NewsMax | Friday, 12 Jul 2013

An average adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers, and remote controls. At home, you do all that you can to keep the germs at bay. But what happens when you step out the door to go to dinner, do some grocery shopping, or visit the doctor's office? It's not pretty.

Here's where germs are most likely to lurk—and how you can limit your exposure.

Restaurant menus

Have you ever seen anyone wash off a menu? Probably not. A study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it's a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus—and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order.

Lemon wedges

According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70% of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Tell your server that you'd prefer your beverage sans fruit. Why risk it? And skip the diet soda while you're at it—yes, diet. (Discover 7 scary side effects of diet soda.)

Condiment dispensers

It's the rare eatery that regularly bleaches its condiment containers. And the reality is that many people don't wash their hands before eating, says Kelly Reynolds, PhD. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fries. Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it. Holding the bottle with a napkin won't help; napkins are porous, so microorganisms can pass right through, Reynolds says.

Restroom door handles

Don't think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you're a germ-phobe—but you'll never see them again, and you're the one who won't get sick. (Here's how else you can avoid public bathroom germs.)

Soap dispensers

About 25% of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap that harbors bacteria may seem ironic, but that's exactly what a recent study found. "Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up," says Charles Gerba, PhD. "And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there's a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria." Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds—and if you happen to have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, use that, too.

Grocery carts

The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold (stores are starting to provide them, so look around for a dispenser). And while you're wheeling around the supermarket, skip the free food samples, which are nothing more than communal hand-to-germ-to-mouth zones.

Doctor's office

A doctor's office is not the place to be if you're trying to avoid germs. Take your own books and magazines (and kid's toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you). Pack your own tissues and hand sanitizers, which should be at least 60% alcohol content. And in the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs; germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor.

Airplane bathrooms

When Gerba tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It's not surprising, then, that you're 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you're airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research. To protect yourself, try taking green tea supplements. In a 2007 study from the University of Florida, people who took a 450-milligram green tea supplement twice a day for 3 months had one-third fewer days of cold symptoms. See what other supplements you need with the 100 Best Supplements as selected by Prevention nutrition adviser Ashley Koff, RD.

07-23-2013, 01:14 PM
Sign of the future: Sensors that stick everywhere
Mari Silbey | SmartPlanet | July 23, 2013

StickNFind has created colorful sensors the size of a quarter, its own Bluetooth software stack, and an open developer platform. What more do you need for the Internet of Things?

Lose your keys? Your cat? The TV remote? StickNFind has an app for that. Better yet, StickNFind has colorful sensors the size of a quarter, its own Bluetooth software stack, and a developer platform that could turn this crowd-funded Indiegogo product into a foundation piece for the coming “Internet of Things” revolution.

StickNFind Technologies, based in Davie, Fla., shipped its first products in March after raising nearly a million dollars in a campaign that ended earlier this year. The company’s low-power Bluetooth sensors are irresistible for the most mundane of reasons. Put a StickNFind sticker on virtually anything, and you can track it from your smartphone up to 100 feet away. In the company’s own survey of 12,000 users, about a third put the stickers on their keys, 20 percent on their wallets, and another 20 percent on pets (mostly cats).
“Some guy, he emailed us that he lost his keys at the beach,” says CEO Jimmy Buchheim. “He opened the app, and he found it in a matter of seconds. And he was really thankful because [the keys were] actually in the sand.”

Buchheim notes that about 40 percent of users are also female, making StickNFind “a product that actually breaches this orthodox of the male geek consumer.”

It’s not just the key-finding function, however, that makes StickNFind so compelling. The commercial potential is huge, both for the company’s existing tracking application, and for its forthcoming task-launcher feature. The launcher will automate smartphone functions based on proximity to a Bluetooth sticker. Location plus automation means smarter homes, cars, factories and more.

One developer has suggested creating an application that sends out an automatic check-in email when a user gets home. Another wants to prevent texting while driving by setting a lock on smartphone keyboards that activates when a user gets into a car with a Bluetooth sticker in it.

StickNFind wants developers to get creative, and the company has released a software development kit (SDK) to encourage innovation. “We have our own team of developers … but we realized that we cannot make everything so we released the SDK,” Buchheim says. “[It's] completely open.”

So far, the commercial applications getting the most attention include inventory management, security and indoor navigation. One bakery is using StickNFind for automatic inventory counts in its walk-in freezer. A retail company is investigating the possibility of using the Bluetooth stickers to trigger a display of product details on in-store screens when a tagged package gets within range. And StickNFind says it’s working with two large security companies to replace employee passcards with Bluetooth stickers and a smartphone application.

While it would be easy to get carried away with the application potential, Buchheim says his first priority for StickNFind is to keep improving product quality. The company is working on supporting more mobile platforms, adding directional capabilities that don’t require GPS services, and making the hardware smaller and cheaper.

“We are working with the chip manufacturers, the Bluetooth chip manufacturers. We are working with them, and we’re trying to see how we can present together with them in lower cost solutions,” Buchheim says.

Future ambitions aren’t stopping StickNFind from selling products today, however. The startup has shipped close to 300,000 stickers and has its first retail distribution deal with Brookstone. Current features for the smartphone application include radar visualization for tracking the distance to tagged objects, and a virtual leash that notifies users when a sticker comes back within range.

Buchheim believes StickNFind “can actually help change the world for the better.” Maybe it can. One sticker at a time.

07-23-2013, 01:19 PM
China’s latest crime-fighting tool has feathers
Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet | July 22, 2013

Chinese police forces in rural areas of Xinjiang province have turned to a low-tech tactic that’s been used for centuries to tackle crime.

Chinese police forces in rural areas of Xinjiang province have turned to domesticated geese to help fight crime.

The gaggle of geese have been so effective, police are actively promoting their use across the region, according to a report on the Chinese language website of the state-run People’s Daily newspaper (which The Telegraph also reported on).

The geese were described as a “highlight of stability maintenance work” and were “better than dogs” in fighting crime, law enforcement agents said in the report.

Employing geese as security guards is an innovative, yet low-tech tactic that has been used for centuries.

Geese, which are among the most aggressive of all poultry, have exceptional eyesight and wide field of vision and when combined with their strident voices, make excellent guards against approaching strangers or predators since outsiders cannot calm them into silence, according to a 1995 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Whisky maker Ballatine’s used a gaggle of geese (dubbed The Scotch Watch) to protect its bonded warehouses in Scotland from 1959 until last year when drinks giant Chivas Brothers purchased the site. In 390 BC, holy geese housed in the temple of Rome’s fort alerted guards the city was under attack by Gallic troops. Today, people living in the high Andes and Southeast Asia have replaced their guard dogs with geese.

07-23-2013, 01:27 PM
These wetsuits confuse and repel sharks
David Worthington | SmartPlanet | July 22, 2013

Shark attacks are rare, but there’s adequate apprehension in water sports for Australian scientists to have created wetsuits that can deter unwanted encounters.

The Zebra-like pattern displayed here makes the wearer undesirable to sharks (just watch out for lions)

Shark attacks are rare, but there’s adequate apprehension in water sports for Australian scientists to have created wetsuits that can deter unwanted encounters.

Earlier today, Michelle Starr, our CNET compatriot down under, published an article about new wetsuit designs that promise to make shark attack even more unusual. A company called Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) partnered with the University of Western Australia’s Ocean Institute to produce designs based upon scientific research into the vision of sharks. It turns out that the predators can be regularly fooled into avoiding humans with specialized colors and patterns that take advantage of evolutionary quirks.

SAMS is selling two models: one effectively camouflages people from sharks; another mimics nature’s warning colors to turn them off from taking a nosh. The “Elude” makes it more difficult for colorblind sharks to see the wearer by blending him or her into the ocean, and the “Diverter” will make a shark think twice about pursuing people because it resembles the look of venomous sea creatures.

SAMS has tested its gear to draw sharks in for an attack with bait, and it says that the preliminary results were encouraging. The suits are now available on preorder through the surf brand Radiator. Diverter board stickers are also coming to market.

While people are creating new technology to avoid sharks, some scientists and engineers cannot get enough of them. Shark skin has been found to produce thrust in the water, potentially leading to new swimming aides that will increase speed. Engineers are also researching how to reproduce how the ridged scales of sharks reduce friction between the animals and water. That discovery could lead to faster ships, more efficient airplanes, and even windmills that work better.

07-24-2013, 12:01 PM
Unending Supply: charge a cellphone with urine
Janet Fang | Smart Planet | July 23, 2013 12:36pm PDT

For the first time, a device that harnesses human waste products was used to successfully charge a standard cellphone battery.

For people who need a source of battery power that is both cheap and abundant…

In 2011, researchers from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory demonstrated that urine can be a viable fuel. Science explains:

As it cascades through a series of fuel cells, hungry bacteria consume it and release electrons, which generate an electrical current.

Now, the team reports that these energy-converting microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have successfully used urine to directly power a cellphone battery.

“One product that we can be sure of an unending supply is our own urine,” BRL’s Ioannis Ieropoulos said in a news release. “The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun; we are actually re-using waste to create energy.”

After a full day of charging, a Samsung cellphone worked for 25 minutes — enough to send several texts and make a 6-minute, 20-second call.

With each fuel cell only costing around £1 to produce, the Independent reports, such devices could provide a new, cheaper way of generating power.
The team hopes the device will help people in remote areas stay connected. Perhaps in the future, it can be installed in bathrooms and produce sufficient electricity to power razors and lights. They’re also aiming to have something that can be carried around easily.

The research was sponsored in part by the Gates Foundation, and the team is currently bidding for funding to work alongside partners in the U.S. and South Africa to develop a smart toilet.

The work was published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics last week.

[BRL news release via ScienceNOW]

S/V Laura Ellen
07-24-2013, 12:46 PM
Just down the street:

Sarnia Police Service set up a perimeter in the area of Bright Street in Bright’s Grove after the discovery of a hand grenade in a home.
In a news release this evening (Tues) police say a World War One era grenade was found by a homeowner.
A perimeter was established as a precaution for public safety reasons and the public was asked to avoid the area.
Police say in consultation with the OPP TRU team it was believed the hand grenade posed no risk to the public.
A Warrant Officer with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Centre of CFB Borden arrived shortly after 10:30 p.m. and collected the hand grenade for proper disposal.
Sarnia Police then cleared the scene and the secured perimeter was lifted.
The public is reminded that should they encounter any form of military ordinance, it should be left in place and the police called immediately so it can be dealt with by trained personnel.


07-26-2013, 03:08 PM
Lobsterman Saved by His Boots

July 26, 2013 – Montauk, New York

No doubt John Aldridge's family had just about given up hope that the Long Island lobsterman's body would be found after he fell overboard 12 hours earlier, so when word that a Coast Guard helo crew had not only found Aldridge but that he was very much alive, they were ecstatic.

Aldridge's family celebrated when they heard the news of his rescue.
© 2013 PO2 Erik Swanson / USCG

Aldridge, 45, fell overboard while the rest of the boat's crew was asleep. It's unclear how long he was in the water before his cremates sounded the alarm, it took an eight-hour search by East Coast assets over 660 square miles to find the man. When a CG rescue swimmer plucked him from the waters 43 miles south of Montauk, New York, he was clad only in a T-shirt and shorts.

John Aldridge suffered from hypothermia after being in the water for 12 hours, but was otherwise unharmed during his ordeal.

The fact that Aldridge was able to avoid hypothermia, drowning and circling sharks is a miracle, but add to that the fact that he wasn't wearing a PFD and prepare to have your mind blown. It turns out Aldridge tucked his rubber boots under his arms to keep himself afloat!

"Unfortunately many of these cases don't end with a happy ending," noted PO Erik Swanson. "With that many hours passed, it's hard to say with the currents and the temperature of the water. Luckily everything came together for us." Aldridge was treated for dehydration, exposure and hypothermia, then released.

07-26-2013, 03:12 PM
Just down the street:

Sarnia Police Service set up a perimeter in the area of Bright Street in Bright’s Grove after the discovery of a hand grenade in a home.
In a news release this evening (Tues) police say a World War One era grenade was found by a homeowner.
A perimeter was established as a precaution for public safety reasons and the public was asked to avoid the area.
Police say in consultation with the OPP TRU team it was believed the hand grenade posed no risk to the public.
A Warrant Officer with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Centre of CFB Borden arrived shortly after 10:30 p.m. and collected the hand grenade for proper disposal.
Sarnia Police then cleared the scene and the secured perimeter was lifted.
The public is reminded that should they encounter any form of military ordinance, it should be left in place and the police called immediately so it can be dealt with by trained personnel.


Interesting story. It's really something that people take these things home :eek:

Thanks for posting.

07-29-2013, 11:42 AM
Hate airport fondling? Pay the TSA $85 for hands-off screening
Charlie Osborne | SmartPlanet| July 26, 2013

If you’re not enamoured by fondling as part of the airport screening process, then the TSA will let you pass — for a fee.

Airport screening and security checks are a necessary evil on every trip you take out of the country.

Although this is an important process to protect passengers, the delays and process often are a cause of frustration for fliers. In some cases, this requires a pat-down which some passengers find uncomfortable.

But what if you could pay a fee to avoid the long lines, full-body scan and physical search?

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is offering a new service, the PreCheck, to cut the queues and create a new revenue stream in the process. For “trusted” travelers, a payment of $85 will allow you to not only avoid taking off your belt, shoes and jacket, but also leave liquids and electronics in your carry-on luggage.

The TSA PreCheck scheme begins this fall. Once you have filled out an online application, verified your I.D. and been fingerprinted, you need to send off the fee. Once complete, the TSA will issue you a “Known Traveler Number” that can be input when booking a flight — allowing you to skip the line for five years.

The TSA scheme can be used when traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. Eventually, the opt-in airline list will be expanded.

Although this scheme may help cut down queue time and frustration at security, the TSA makes it clear you’re not completely exempt. The agency still holds the right to “incorporate random and unpredictable security measures” if necessary.

07-29-2013, 12:28 PM
Eating Garlic Cuts Cancer Risk in Half: Researchers
Friday, 26 Jul 2013
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard. NewsMax Health

Garlic, the odorous bulb that's probably in your kitchen right now, has been important in both food and medicine dating back to ancient Egypt, but its most important role may be in fighting one of modern man's most dreaded diseases — cancer. Recent research has found that compounds in garlic can cut cancer risks by as much as two-thirds.

According to the National Cancer Institute, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health, several studies have shown that garlic cut the risk of several forms of cancer by 50 percent or more. And garlic also helps prevent heart disease and diabetes, and it in addition generally boosts the immune system.

Add generous amounts of garlic to your home-cooked dishes — or take garlic supplements — to fight the following ailments:

• Cancer. Recent research has found garlic contains more than 30 organosulphur compounds, many with exciting anti-cancer properties. One is an organosulphur compound called diallyl trisulfide (DATS), which fights cancer by preventing, killing, or blocking the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Some studies have suggested that garlic inhibits the development and progression of prostate, breast, colon, stomach, bladder, esophageal, and skin cancers in test tubes and in animals. One study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that people who eat garlic cut their risk of colorectal cancer by two-thirds.

According to The National Cancer Institute, garlic can lower the risk of pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, prostate cancer by 50 percent, colon cancer by 50 percent, and stomach cancer by 52 percent. Some studies show even greater benefits: One study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that people who eat garlic cut their risk of colorectal cancer by two-thirds.

Garlic can even help deter some of the deadliest cancers. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina found that sulfur compounds in garlic are effective against glioblastoma, a fatal type of brain tumor.

• Low Testosterone. Japanese studies found that garlic boosts testosterone when combined with a high-protein diet for a month. The chemical diallyl disulfide stimulates the body to release a hormone that spurs the production of testosterone.

• Diabetes. Garlic is used as a traditional treatment in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East to treat diabetes. Both animal and human studies conducted in Japan, India, and Saudi Arabia show that garlic regulates and lowers blood sugar. The Indian study found the allicin in garlic combines with the B vitamin thiamine and stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.

• Heart Disease. Garlic tackles both cholesterol and blood pressure to lower the risk of heart disease. Several studies have found that garlic lowers blood levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol — the "bad" forms — as much as 20 percent. In one large study, those who took 800 milligrams of powdered garlic daily for four months lowered their cholesterol by 12 percent and their triglycerides by 17 percent, while the placebo group experienced little change.

Several studies using garlic supplements have shown a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading), and three showed a reduction in systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading). A chemical in garlic called hydrogen sulfide makes smooth muscles relax, thus helping to control blood pressure.

Garlic appears to prevent the buildup of plaque and prevent blood clots by thinning the blood, thus lowering the risk of strokes and thromboses. A study at India's Tagore Medical College found that patients who took garlic oil daily for 10 months were 83 percent less likely to form dangerous blood clots.

• Common Cold. A British study found that taking a garlic supplement each day reduced the risk of catching a cold by more than half when compared to people who took a placebo. In addition, those who caught colds recovered more quickly, and their chances of an infection following the cold were significantly reduced.

Experts recommend eating two to four cloves of fresh garlic daily or taking a total of 1,200 milligrams of freeze-dried garlic divided into three doses. When cooking, maximize its health benefits by mincing or crushing it and then giving it time to sit before cooking. The process allows two of garlic's chemicals — alliin and alliinase — to combine and create the powerful compound allicin.

Source: http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Headline/garlic-cancer-risk-organosulphur-compounds-diallyl-trisulfide/2013/07/26/id/517277?s=al&promo_code=1453D-1

07-29-2013, 01:28 PM
3 Nutrients That Lead to Better Sleep: Researchers

NewsMax Health Monday, 29 Jul 2013

Want a better night's sleep? If you have difficulty getting quality zzzs, it could be linked to a surprising reason: vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

This week health website Livescience reported on three common sleep problems and the three nutrients that may cure what ails you.

1. Can't get to sleep: Studies have shown that insomnia is one of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Good natural sources are dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils.

2. Difficulty staying asleep: This could be linked to potassium, Livescience reports. Studies have shown that potassium supplements may boost sleeping through the night, but good food sources are beans, leafy greens, avocados, baked potatoes, and to a lesser degree, bananas.

3. Feeling tired during the day: While this could be the result of many factors, namely stress, research has found "a strong correlation" between excessive drowsiness during the day and vitamin D deficiency, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Good vitamin D sources: the sun's rays, but you can find the mineral in food sources such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, and fortified dairy products.

07-31-2013, 08:39 AM
A New Age of Sail? Clipper ships are back in business
Janet Fang | SmartPlanet | July 31, 2013

Fuel costs for conventional ocean freighters are increasing. Rolls Royce and B9 Shipping are developing a cargo vessel featuring a 180-foot sail augmented by biomethane engines.

Sail last dominated freight hauling during the clipper ship era of the mid-1800s — with vessels averaging 19 mph and carrying up to 1,500 tons — until coal-powered ships gained an edge.

Betting that regulations to curb air pollution emissions will increase fuel costs for conventional ocean freighters, Rolls-Royce wants to develop a modern-day clipper ship that’s 55 percent more efficient. Is it time to herald a New Age of Sail? Businessweek reports.

Around 90 percent of the world’s cargo fleet is currently propelled by bunker fuel. While it’s relatively cheap at about $600 per ton, it’s also one of the heaviest and dirtiest of crude oil distillates.

International Maritime Organization sulfur caps already require cleaner, pricier grades of fuel. Additionally, ships entering Emission Control Areas were required to reduce to 1 percent sulfur fuel in 2010, and all oceangoing vessels will have to adopt 0.5 percent sulfur by around 2020.
London-based Rolls is predicting that trimmer designs and innovative propulsion systems — such as liquid natural gas and “high-tech wind” — could more than offset the extra cost.

The sail-powered freighter from Rolls partner B9 Shipping will measure 330 feet long and carry 4,500 tons of freight (right). It’ll derive primary power from a 180-foot sail, augmented by biomethane engines.

The sail is hoisted with an automated rig, and mechanically controlled masts rotate to catch available wind.
The sail and engine could be used together for optimal efficiency: 60 percent of the thrust will come from wind, 40 percent from the engine fueled by biomethane gas (during calm conditions or when maneuvering in port).
An analysis showed an estimated fuel consumption of 46 percent to 55 percent less than an equivalent conventional ship on the same route.

Rolls will provide a backup power plant that’s able to burn methane produced from municipal waste.
While the wind-methane hybrid design increases capital costs, B9 says the investment will pay off within five years of a ship’s three-decade lifespan. They’re trying to raise the $22 million needed to put a ship in the water within two years.

S/V Laura Ellen
07-31-2013, 05:53 PM
I wonder how many cities would also have contaminated soil in park land.

News item

The City of Sarnia is closing a portion of Centennial Park to the public after soil samples taken in late April were found to contain asbestos.
In a statement released Thursday, city manager Lloyd Fennell said “This process may take a while and the public’s cooperation in staying out of the park is greatly appreciated.”
Until further tests can be done to determine the risks to the public, the city has decided to follow the recommendations of a consultant to close the park.
According to the consultant areas where people can come into direct contact with soil, (areas with no vegetation) and where ground cover could be disturbed by activity are considered to be most ‘at risk.’
More samples have been sent to a lab specializing in soil containing asbestos to ensure there were no errors in the original results. Previous samples from other areas of the park are also being re-tested.
The city says it is working with the organizers of affected events to find alternate venues.
The Dow People Place remains open and the city says it will try to keep the waterfront walkway open where possible.
An area of the park had already been closed earlier in May after high levels of lead were found in the soil.

08-01-2013, 03:12 AM
Historic Lighthouse for Sale!
By Priyanka Tilve | ABC News Blogs

Want to buy a lighthouse? You've got about five more days.
The U.S. government is auctioning off Graves Island Light Station, the tallest lighthouse in Boston Harbor, according to the National Park Service. The highest bid is $111,000.

"The property includes the approximately 10 acres of ledge know as Graves Island, the conical lighthouse structure, the attached dock and the oil house," according to the General Services Administration, which is handling the auction.

The 110-year-old tower stands at 113-feet high and the interior includes storage space, an engine room, kitchen and several bedrooms.

The "structure is no longer of use to the Coast Guard" because of other technology that's now available, GSA's Patrick Sclafani said.

But the government will maintain some authority over the site even after the sale. The sale's terms dictate that "the United States shall have the right to enter the Property at any time for the purpose of maintaining the navigational aids" and "the right to utilize the fog signal horn at any time and in any manner it deems necessary."

GSA Regional Administrator Robert Zarnetske says the lighthouse's sale will benefit its new owner and the public.

"The light facilitated commerce and kept generations of mariners safe," he said. "Going forward, in partnership with a private owner, the light will continue to serve as an active aide to navigation without taxpayer expense."

Graves Island Light Station is listed in the National Registrar of Historic Places. The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act required GSA to first offer the lighthouse at no cost to non-profit and educational groups, but Sclafani says a lack of successful applicants led the government to sell the property.

Bidding began June 11 with an offer of $25,000.

Interested parties had the opportunity to inspect the lighthouse, along with GSA and the Coast Guard, two days ago. The two highest bids were made after that inspection. There have been five bids in total.

The auction is set to close Aug. 6.

Similar lighthouses have normally sold for $25,000 to $381,000, according to the GSA. Sclafani says the bid of $111,000 is a "typical price."

He also says the GSA gives away or sells six to 12 lighthouses every year.
Also Read

08-02-2013, 01:17 PM
Revelation: people pay premiums for products with compelling backstories
Joe McKendrick | SmartPlanet | August 1, 2013

The ability to tell a compelling story, in human terms, isn’t just marketing happy talk. It actually increases the value of products, and ultimately, the price at which they can be sold.

There was a running joke In tech circles a few years back about the late, great company Digital Equipment Corporation: If they were in the sushi business, they would be marketing it as “cold, wet, dead fish.”

Alas, DEC was actually way ahead of its time with its computer systems. But due in large part to its engineering culture, the company could not provide compelling stories for its products. They were given dry names such as “VAX-11/780,” with dry, techie specification and description sheets.

The ability to tell a compelling story, in human terms, isn’t just marketing happy talk. It actually increases the value of products, and ultimately, the price at which they can be sold. This point was recently raised by Ty Montague in an HBR Blog Network post, in which he urged enterprises to tell a better story around the things they sell. “In a world of abundance, what your product does for your customers is important, but not nearly as important as what your product means to them,” he says.

Most successful and high-value products have stories supporting them. Consider the allure around Disney parks and products, which everyone associates with some part of his or her childhood. The story of Mickey Mouse, leading to the vision of Disneyland and DisneyWorld, is well known — and people eagerly open their wallets to travel to these destinations. Other successful products — Apple, Ben & Jerry’s, Nike — all have stories behind them, often quirky.

Montague recounts an experiment performed by New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker, who purchased a number of items from thrift shops, none exceeding four dollars, such as an old wooden mallet, a lost hotel room key, an old mayonnaise jar, and a plastic banana. He then commissioned some writers to build stories around the objects, and then offered them for sale on eBay. The items sold at 2,700 percent of their original value.

Walker’s experiment was an example of how perceived value can dramatically increase what people are willing to pay for something. And the perception of value increases when there is a meaningful story behind the object.

Yes, this is an old concept that may be familiar to anyone who took marketing 101 — but in a world inundated with products and advertising, much of it tied to tech, a compelling human interest story can make a product stand out in people’s minds.

The key takeaway here is don’t be afraid to invest time and money in researching and providing a background story to a product’s development. Even if the backstory is something quirky, people enjoy the intrigue.

Which brings to mind a memorable scene from Mad Men a couple seasons back, when Don Draper, the flawed great persuader of the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency, was commissioned to sell a slide projector for Kodak. He decided not to call it the “Wheel,” which was Kodak’s first choice (at least in the storyline), but the “Carousel” instead, and appeal to a deeper yearning in consumers. As he put it in his presentation:

“Technology is a glittering lure, but there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash… Switch it on…. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine…. It goes backwards and forwards…. And it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.”

08-04-2013, 01:18 PM
Anemia Hikes Dementia Risk by 60 Percent: Study
NewsMax Health | Thursday, 01 Aug 2013

Older adults suffering from anemia -- lower than normal red blood cell levels -- may be at increased risk for dementia, a new study suggests.

Anemia affects as many as 23 percent of seniors, the researchers say.

"We found a 60 percent increased risk of dementia with anemia. After controlling for other factors such as other medical illness, demographics, etcetera, the risk remained elevated 40 to 50 percent," said lead study author Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

"Given how common both anemia and dementia are in older adults, more attention to the connection between the two is important, and I do think screening older adults for anemia makes sense," said Yaffe.

The study of more than 2,500 men and women in their 70s doesn't actually prove that anemia causes dementia, however.

"Because we studied this prospectively, we do think, as best we can tell, that anemia is causally related to dementia, but with observational studies one can never say for sure. But we did our best to exclude other explanations," Yaffe said.

The job of red blood cells is to carry oxygen throughout the body. When you are anemic, less oxygen is delivered to brain cells, Yaffe explained. "We think the association is about low oxygen being carried to the brain," she said.

Anemia could also indicate poor overall health, the study authors noted. Causes of anemia include iron deficiency and blood loss. Cancer, kidney failure and certain chronic diseases can also lead to anemia.

The study -- published online July 31 in Neurology -- should remind doctors that many conditions can lead to dementia, and treating them might ward off mental decline, one expert said.

"One concern about the increased visibility and prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is that some physicians will be tempted to jump straight to that diagnosis without first having followed the 'rule out reversible causes' rule," said Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health in New York City. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.

"We must always seek to exclude treatable, reversible causes of dementia such as depression, nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders and metabolic disorders before rushing into a diagnosis of Alzheimer's," he said.

During the study, all of the participants were tested for anemia and took memory and thinking tests over 11 years.

Almost 400 participants were anemic at the study's start. Over the course of the study, about 18 percent of participants -- 455 -- developed dementia, the researchers found.
Of participants with anemia, 23 percent developed dementia, compared with 17 percent of those who weren't anemic.

People who were anemic at the study's start had a 41 percent higher risk of developing dementia than those without anemia after the researchers took into account factors such as age, race, sex and education.

Additional research is needed to confirm this association before recommendations are made regarding dementia prevention, the study authors suggested.

S/V Laura Ellen
08-08-2013, 07:08 AM
Don't you love it when a plan comes together.
Real Canadian Superstore is a grocery food (and so much more) chain.

Construction of a new medical clinic within Sarnia’s Real Canadian Superstore on Murphy Road has been put on hold.
In an email to Blackburn Radio News, Primacy Management Director Tara Stanford writes, “There are no doctors for this location and no leads at this time”. She went on to say that “the project is on hold as a result”.
Construction of the two thousand square foot facility got underway in May. The clinic, which was to include eight exam rooms, was hoped to be complete by September.

08-12-2013, 02:39 PM
9 Ways Candy is Good for You

11 Aug 2013 By Sylvia Booth Hubbard | Newsmax Health

If you're a candy lover who winces with guilt each time you indulge in your favorite treat, take heart: Candy may actually be good for you. Although dark chocolate candy has the most proven health benefits, other favorites such as peppermint have real advantages as well. So, enjoy your treat — in moderation, of course — and check out the ways candy can improve your health.

• Heart disease. Rich, dark chocolate is packed with powerful heart-healthy antioxidant flavonoids. A study reported in the British Medical Journal found that regularly eating chocolate decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Another study found that those who ate a chocolate bar weekly reduced their chances of dying from a stroke by 46 percent.

• Depression. Chocolate contains both serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts as an antidepressant, as well as a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) that enhances mood.

• Longevity. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate candy several times a month lived almost a year longer than those who ate no candy at all. Researchers believed the antioxidant phenol, which is also found in red wine, may be responsible for the increased longevity of candy lovers. They also speculated that cacao, from which chocolate is made, can reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and can enhance immune function.

• Diabetes. A 2011 animal study found that a flavonoid in licorice called glabridin reversed learning and memory problems caused by Type 2 diabetes and also improved the memory of non-diabetic animals. In addition, a study conducted at the U.K.'s University of Hull found that dark chocolate increased levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol in Type 2 diabetics. "Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with Type 2 diabetes as part of a sensible, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle," said researcher Steve Atkin, Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology. "This study demonstrates that it can offer a potential reduction in cardiovascular risk without detrimental risks on weight, insulin resistance or glycemic control."

08-19-2013, 01:29 AM
The Unhealthiest of “Health Foods”

Dr. Mercola | Mercola.com "Take control of your health" | August 19, 2013

If you grew up believing the best way to start your day was a bowl of cereal, a piece of whole wheat toast smeared with margarine, and a glass of orange juice, you’re in good company.

If your health is ailing and you’re reading this, chances are your lack of progress isn’t due to apathy or poorwill power but instead, confusion over which foods are good for you and which are not.

Many foods considered “health foods” are doing exactly the opposite of what is claimed, thanks to massively successful corporate advertising campaigns. There are solid scientific reasons why America’s waistline has continued to expand.

In an article by certified personal trainer and health enthusiast Kris Gunnars, 11 so-called health foods are discussed,1 and unlike most mainstream nutrition articles, I agree with all of them.

If you are stumped about why you aren’t making progress toward your health or fitness goals, you might just be a victim of your “health food.” It would help to take a look at those popular foods, starting with one of the most beloved beverages among children and adults alike: fruit juices.

Fruit Juices

In spite of beliefs to the contrary, there are several problems with fruit juice that make it a FAR cry from “health food.” Consider orange juice, for example—particularly nearly all commercially prepared OJ.

Most all commercially prepared orange juices are actually highly processed into a liquid that bears little nutritional resemblance to fresh orange juice, as Alissa Hamilton, author of the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, explains in the interview below.

First of all, it is pasteurized which decimates its vitality. Then the juice is kept in giant tanks to ensure a year-round supply. In order to preserve it, all of the oxygen is removed, and therefore all of the natural compounds that give oranges their flavor are destroyed.

Some companies add artificial flavor packs, which are essentially chemical perfumes. A common one is ethyl butyrate. If the “Best Before” date is 60 days or more, you know you have a heavily processed juice. Fruit drinks are even worse, consisting mostly of high fructose corn syrup in a mélange of artificial ingredients. Many commercial orange juices are also contaminated with mold from damaged fruit.

Additionally, fruit juice is far worse than the whole fruit, especially if it is not freshly juiced and is stored in containers, as the methanol in the juice will dissociate from the pectin and actually increase your risk of M.S.

But even fresh, pure orange juice—even freshly squeezed—is very high in sugar that is separated from its beneficial fiber and therefore detrimental to your health. One eight-ounce glass contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar, compared to 10 teaspoons in a can of soda.

Habitually downing this much sugar can increase your risk for gout, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and a number of other serious health problems. And many commercial juices have been found to contain unacceptably high levels or arsenic.

Consuming the whole fruit causes less of a problem as the sugar is modulated by the fiber and antioxidants in the fruit, so you’re better off eating fruit whole, but in moderation. If you want juice, making your own vegetable juice at home is an excellent option.

Whole Wheat and Other Grains

Contrary to what you’ve been hearing for years about the nutritional value of whole grains, there’s a sizeable body of scientific evidence that they frequently do more harm to your body than good. Grains contain anti-nutrients and lectins that can damage your gut. And it’s the fibrous portion of the grain—the bran—that actually contains most of the anti-nutrients. These components can cause inflammation, intestinal permeability and “leaky gut.”

Wheat and other glutinous grains are the worst of the bunch. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) has been found to be inflammatory, immunotoxic, cardiotoxic, and neurotoxic, and can pass through your blood-brain barrier and interfere with neurotransmitter function.

Gluten intolerance may be at the root of many chronic diseases, including many neurological and psychiatric conditions such as depression, ADD/ADHD, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Many people have gluten intolerance but are unaware of it, which makes it even more insidious. It’s important to realize that ALL types of grain contribute to insulin and leptin resistance, which are the primary underlying causes for most, if not all, chronic diseases—from diabetes to cancer.

Don’t be lured into believing that all products boasting the label “gluten free” or “low-carb” are good for you. Many of these items contain other grains that are highly processed, which make them no more nutritious than the average bag of chips as they will increase your insulin and leptin resistance. And many contain sophisticated combinations of ingredients specifically engineered to induce cravings.

Agave Syrup and Nectar

Agave still lines nutrition store shelves, as if you should be pouring it over everything. Most agave nectar or syrup is nothing more than a laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, devoid of virtually all nutrient value. Agave syrup is mostly fructose and is so highly processed and refined that it bears NO resemblance to the plant for which it’s named. Depending on how it’s processed, it may contain anywhere from 55 to 90 percent fructose. High fructose corn syrup is also about 55 percent fructose, so even in the best case, agave syrup offers no advantage.

The evidence is overwhelming that, when consumed in large quantities, fructose is the most damaging sugar you can eat. Fructose drives up uric acid, which is a direct pathway toward hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes, kidney and liver disease. Better sweetener options are stevia (an herb), and raw organic honey, in small amounts. Honey is also a concentrated form of sugar, but at least it can offer some health benefits, provided it’s high quality.

Sports Drinks and Energy Bars

For most average exercisers and athletes, sports drinks are not only a waste of your money but can actually make your health worse. Most sports drinks are loaded with things you DON'T want, like high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and artificial colors and flavors. Less than one percent of those who use sports drinks actually benefit from them.

Sports drinks are up to 30 times more erosive to your teeth than water. And brushing your teeth won’t help because the citric acid in the sports drink will soften your tooth enamel so much it could be damaged simply by brushing. A far better alternative is coconut water, sporting a long list of beneficial nutritional compounds including natural electrolytes, enzymes, trace elements, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Coconut water also has anti-inflammatory and blood pressure-lowering properties, making it the perfect “sports drink.” But even coconut water is loaded with sugar and ideally should be limited to when you need to replace minerals and fluid, like after a sauna or long duration cardio. Energy bars are no better than sports drinks—essentially just overpriced junk food. Most commercial energy bars are comprised of cheap soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic vitamins, and waste products from industrial food production.

Vegetable Oils and Fake Butter

Americans’ massive over consumption of vegetable oils is largely due to the demonization of saturated fats that’s been going on for decades. As the push to avoid animal fats rages on, people are consuming unhealthy quantities of highly refined vegetable oils—corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower oil. Unfortunately, all of these are highly processed and have virtually no nutritional value. And they have turned the average American’somega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratios upside down, which is a major driver of chronic inflammation.

Soybean oil is one of the worst vegetable oils, and processed foods are positively loaded with it. Whether partially hydrogenated, organic, or made from newer soybean varieties modified in such a way as to not require hydrogenation, soybean oil can cause dysfunction and chaos in your body at a cellular level. More than 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered, and as a result contaminated with dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, which compounds their toxicity.

Margarine is basically a heart attack in a tub, loaded with trans fats (from hydrogenation, the process of turning liquid vegetable oils into a solid). Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormone imbalance and infertility, as well as low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children. Butter, on the other hand, is the real health food—it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, CLA (if the cows are limited to eating grass and not grains), and many other nutrients your body needs.

Continues on the next post

08-19-2013, 01:31 AM
The unhealthiest of health foods (part two)

Low-Fat and Fat-Free Foods

The low-fat craze has been one of the most damaging dietary fads in history, leaving many tens of millions with chronic illness in its wake. The idea that all fat (especially animal-derived fat) is bad for you is nothing more than a mistaken interpretation of science—one that has become “stuck” in Western culture. Of course, you want to avoid the previously touted “healthy” vegetable oils as not only are they highly processed but they have far too much omega-6 fats.

A healthier fat alternative that is not promoted by the media or most nutritionists, are saturated fats from animals and vegetables. They provide a source of a number of important health benefits. In fact, your body cannot function without saturated fats! They are needed for the proper function of your cell membranes, immune system, heart, brain and other organs. In fact, a recent “landmark” study provides compelling evidence that the type of fat you consume, not the amount, is what imparts the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

When fats are removed from foods, it leaves them tasteless and unappealing. So manufacturers load them up with sugar and sodium and chemicals, in massive quantities. So stick with unaltered whole foods, including full-fat unpasteurized dairy. They’re much better for you—and they taste much better too!

Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals are a favorite way to start the day for many, but they are rife with toxic ingredients and misleading advertising. Of course, the first problem is that they are grain-based, which I’ve already covered. But even many of the so-called “natural” varieties are contaminated with toxic pesticides, carcinogenic fumigants and solvents, and genetically modified ingredients. The only label that can give you any peace of mind is the “USDA Certified 100% Organic” label.

Independent testing by the Cornucopia Institute has shown that several breakfast cereals marketed as “natural”—even some that claim to avoid genetically engineered ingredients and are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project—contain high levels of genetically engineered ingredients. Typical American breakfast staples, such as cereal, muffins, and the like, are popular because of wildly successful corporate PR. You might even consider skipping breakfast altogether.

But wait—isn’t that the most important meal of your day? Compelling new research indicates differently. Skipping breakfast may reduce your hunger, stimulate your metabolism, level out your blood sugar, and stabilize your insulin levels throughout the day. Properly done intermittent fasting will actually help eliminate most food cravings and help you achieve your ideal body weight.

Choose Real Food Instead!

When considering food—regardless of whether it’s organic, local, from a supermarket or from a farmer’s market, make sure you keep the following criteria in mind. Most often, the best place to find high-quality foods is from asustainable agricultural group in your area. If you’re unsure of what foods you should be eating and in what proportions, or you just need some help getting started, please refer to my free nutrition plan. Make sure that your food is:

Grown/raised without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods) Is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may still be the better option as freshness is important for optimal nutrient content)
Not genetically engineered Not grown/raised in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO)
Contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs Grown/raised with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free access to the outdoors)
Contains no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or artificial anything Grown/raised sustainably (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)

08-19-2013, 02:16 PM
How to Remember Hundreds of Passwords Without Writing Them Down.

By John Refford | Business 2 Community

How to Remember Hundreds of Passwords Without Writing Them Down

If you’re like me you have a ga-jillion internet accounts. Multiple email addresses, dozens of app or social media accounts. You want to keep your accounts secure so you don’t get hacked but there doesn’t seem like an easy way to do it. You either need to have the same password for every site or have a different password for every site.

Same Password
If you use the same password once a hacker accesses one of your accounts they can easily log into your other accounts. This is a nightmare scenario, especially if a hacker gets access to your shopping or banking accounts. Perhaps if you use a really complex password this strategy is acceptable. One of the better ways to do this is with mnemonic passwords. Josette Dehaney covers mnemonic passwords nicely in her blog. Here’s an example of a mnemonic password:
In 2013 I will take the opportunity every Sunday to relax, smile = !2013!wttOeS2R:-)

Different Password
If you use a different password for each site/app you quickly realize that there are too many passwords that you need to remember and you have to write them down. Once you write down your password you’ve made it less secure, especially if it’s written on paper. You might secure the paper in a safe box or something, but that’s of little use to you when you need it. The “different password people” typically use a mobile password manager to save all of their passwords in a database for relatively easy access. This Lifehacker article lists some options.

My Password System
The “same password” and “different password” approaches both have their benefits and drawbacks, My password system works well for me because each password is different but I can remember them all. Note, I don’t claim to be the originator of this system, I’m sure I picked it up when I was running the security team for my financial firm – we had some bright security minds.

Base + Site
My password system has two components: a base and site specific
Base – The base is any short word you want to use. Four to six letters are sufficient and use a mix of alphanumeric and special characters.
Site – The site specific comes from the website or app itself. You can pick the first four to six characters from the website (or maybe the last four to six if you want to mix it up.)
Now, put the two together. You can either do base+site or site+base. Whichever. Doesn’t matter, just pick one style and stick with it.

For our examples, our base will be “Wat3r”, the first 5 characters in a site’s name and the base+site style.
Amazon Wat3ramazo
Gmail Wat3rgmail
Fab Wat3rfab (note, since the site name is shorter, I used what was available)
The key to my system is to never tell anyone your base password or the system you’re using (which I just did, meaning I care about my audience so much that I’m taking on some risk).

Two Factor Authentication
Lastly a word about two factor authentication. Some web services (Yahoo and Gmail to name a couple) provide two factor authentication passwords. Two factor authentication means that you require something you know and something you have in order to log in. Essentially the service ties your log in to your mobile phone (what you have). Because I use my Google account for web services I use their two factor system. It’s a bit of a pain to set up, but after you set it up you don’t have to deal with it again. Google two factor authentication creates hard to crack passwords (that you don’t have to remember) and provides an extra layer of security.

If your password strategy isn’t where you want it to be, I suggest you adopt my password strategy so you don’t end up like this guy.

note; Sorry the links didn't work here.

Here is the source where you can get the links;


08-20-2013, 01:29 PM
Isolated Mashco-Piro Indians appear in Peru

Associated Press FRANK BAJAK

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Members of an Indian tribe that has long lived in voluntary isolation in Peru's southeastern Amazon attempted to make contact with outsiders for a second time since 2011, leading to a tense standoff at a river hamlet.

Authorities are unsure what provoked the three-day encounter but say the Mashco-Piro may be upset by illegal logging in their territory as well as drug smugglers who pass through. Oil and gas exploration also affects the region.

The more than 100 members of Mashco-Piro clan appeared across the Las Piedras river from the remote community of Monte Salvado in the Tambopata region of Madre de Dios state from June 24-26, said Klaus Quicque, president of the regional FENAMAD indigenous federation.

They asked for bananas, rope and machetes from the local Yine people but were dissuaded from crossing the river by FENAMAD rangers posted at the settlement, said Quicque, who directed them to a banana patch on their side of the river.

The incident on the Las Piedras is chronicled in video shot by one of the rangers and obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

"You can see in the images there was a lot of threatening — the intention of crossing. They practically reached mid-river," Quicque said by phone from Puerto Maldonado, the regional capital.

The video shows Mashco-Piro of all ages and sexes, including men with lances, bows and arrows. In one image shot during a moment of tension, a man flexes his bow, ready to shoot.

Quicque said the estimated 110-150 people living in Monte Salvado "feared for their lives." He credited the ranger, Rommel Ponciano, for keeping a cool head.

He said 23 Mashco-Piro appeared on the first day, 110 on the second and 25 on the third. The clan left and hasn't returned.

"They spoke a variant of Yine," Quicque said, but Ponciano understood only about two-thirds of the words.

The Mashco-Piro live by their own social code, which includes kidnapping other tribes' women and children, according to Carlos Soria, a Lima professor and former head of Peru's park protection agency.

Peruvian law prohibits physical contact with the estimated 15 "uncontacted" tribes in Peru that together are estimated to number between 12,000 and 15,000 people living in jungles east of the Andes. The main reason is their safety: Their immune systems are highly vulnerable to germs other humans carry.

Anthropologist Beatriz Huertas, who works with Peru's agency for indigenous affairs, says the Mashco-Piro are becoming increasingly less isolated. The tribe is believed to number in the hundreds in several different clans.

It is not unusual for them to appear where they did during a season of sparse rainfall when rivers are low, and they tend to be itinerant, she said.

"What's strange is that they came so close to the population of Monte Salvado. It could be they are upset by problems of others taking advantage of resources in their territories and for that reason were demanding objects and food of the population," Huertas said.

Naturalists in the area and national park officials say the tribe's traditional hunting grounds have been affected by a rise in low-flying air traffic related to natural gas and oil exploration in the region.

Quicque said the Mashco-Piro were victimized by "genocide" in the mid-1980s from the incursion of loggers, and subsequently engaged in battles with mahogany-seekers.

Members of the group reappeared in May 2011 on the banks of a different river after more than two decades in voluntary isolation.

After those sightings, and after tourists left clothing for the Mashco-Piro, authorities barred all boats from going ashore in the area.

Mashco-Piro were blamed later in 2011 for the wounding of one forest ranger and the killing of a Matsiguenka Indian who had long maintained a relationship with them and provided them with machetes and cooking pots.

08-20-2013, 01:53 PM
Copper in Drinking Water Tied to Alzheimer's
NewsMax Health | Monday, 19 Aug 2013

Copper appears to be one of the main environmental factors that cause Alzheimer's disease and contribute to its progression, according to a study of mice and, in some phases, human brain cells.

The common metal prevents the clearance and accelerates the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain, the researchers said.

"It is clear that, over time, copper's cumulative effect is to impair the systems by which amyloid beta is removed from the brain," study author Rashid Deane, a research professor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a medical center news release.

"This impairment is one of the key factors that cause the protein to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease," Deane said.

People have extensive exposure to copper. The mineral appears in drinking water carried by copper pipes, in nutritional supplements, and in foods such as red meat, shellfish, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables, according to the news release. Copper plays an important and healthy role in nerve conduction, bone growth, the formation of connective tissue and hormone secretion.

This study found, however, that copper can accumulate in the brain and cause the blood-brain barrier -- which controls what enters and exits the brain -- to break down, resulting in the accumulation of the protein amyloid beta, which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.

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

Although studies involving animals can be useful, they frequently fail to produce similar results in humans.

The researchers said their results must be interpreted with caution, as the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between copper exposure and Alzheimer's.

"Copper is an essential metal and it is clear that these effects are due to exposure over a long period of time," Deane said. "The key will be striking the right balance between too little and too much copper consumption. Right now we cannot say what the right level will be, but diet may ultimately play an important role in regulating this process."

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Health-News/copper-alzheimer-drinking-water/2013/08/19/id/521160?s=al&promo_code=1495A-1#ixzz2cXLMaxvl

08-22-2013, 01:33 PM
Bradley Manning Says He'll Live as a Woman Named 'Chelsea'

Bradley Manning, who has been sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified documents, announced Thursday that he intends to begin hormone treatments so he can live the rest of his life as a woman named Chelsea.

The news revealed by the army private in an exclusive statement to NBC's "Today" program, came as his lawyers also announced their intention to petition President Barack Obama for a presidential pardon.

"I am Chelsea Manning," the army private convicted of espionage said his statement Thursday morning. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

To his supporters, Manning also requested that "starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back," his statement said.

It was signed, "Chelsea E. Manning."

A military court sentenced the 25-year-old soldier on Wednesday to 35 years following his conviction on 20 charges ranging from theft to espionage. He was accused of turning over more than 700,000 classified documents to the WikiLeaks website while he was stationed in Iraq in 2010.

Shortly after his sentencing, Manning issued a personal statement to President Obama as part of his planned presidential pardon request. His attorneys had suggested during his trial that his struggles with gender identity, and as a homosexual in the military, played a part in his decision to leak the stolen documents to WikiLeaks.

They presented as evidence an April 2010 e-mail from a former supervisor, which claimed that Manning joined the Army to "get rid" of his transgender status. The email was titled "My Problem" and included a photo of Manning in a blonde wig and lipstick.

In addition, during Manning's nine months in the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va., he sent letters to his counselor signed, "Breanna."

However, his lawyer, David Coombs, told Today's Savannah Guthrie that Manning's transgender status was used in court to describe the stress that he was under, and was "never an excuse [for his decision to leak classified documents] because that's not what drove his actions. What drove his actions was a strong moral compass."

After Manning's sentencing on Wednesday, Coombs said his defense team planned to seek a presidential pardon for the soldier, who also received a dishonorable discharge from the military as part of his sentencing.

"The time for the president to protect whistleblowers rather than punishing them is now," Coombs said, according to Politico. "The time for the president to pardon Pfc. Manning is now."

Manning, in a lengthy personal statement to Obama that was released by his attorneys, said he gave the documents to WikiLeaks because of his "concern for my country and the world that we live in."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that if Manning does indeed seek an official pardon, it will be considered just like any other application for clemency.

But records indicate that Manning could face an uphill battle, given the fact that Obama has granted clemency less often than his past four predecessors.

However, a number of advocacy groups, including Amnesty International, plan to press the president as well on Manning behalf.

“Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pretrial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial,” said Widney Brown, senior international law director for Amnesty International.

While Manning is facing 36 years in prison, he will be credited with the more than three years he's already served in military custody. He is also eligible to appear before a clemency board in three years and is up for parole in seven years.

The initial charges against Manning could have resulted in a sentence of 90 years.

from Newsmax.com

08-22-2013, 01:37 PM
Popular Instagram photographers turn hobby into new careers
Laura Shin | SmartPlanet | August 22, 2013

Think Instagram is just a fun way to share photos with friends and fans? Some of the app’s popular photographers are also making money from it.

Two years ago, Michael O’Neal quit his marketing job at Apple to become a freelance photographer. “I started using Instagram a lot more because I had a lot more time,” he says, laughing.

At that time, the community had about 10 million members. (Now, it has 130 million active monthly users, and 45 million photos are uploaded to the site daily.) O’Neal found Instagram to be “a source of inspiration, a place to share ideas.” And he made friends just by commenting on other people’s photos and asking them to get a coffee or go on a photo adventure.

“Instagram is really about community and all the people I’ve met through the app … it’s about hanging out with people that you’ve never seen for two years and then becoming friends with them,” he says. “It sounds dreamy and wishy-washy, but it’s true.”

What’s also true is that, for O’Neal and some of Instagram’s most popular photographers (each with half a million followers), it’s also becoming a way to make money.

This summer, O’Neal and four other Instagrammers are participating in a contest called “CLA Take the Wheel” sponsored by Mercedes Benz USA (24,000 followers). For five weeks, each of them will, for one week, take a trip with a CLA, an entry-level luxury car that Mercedes is launching this September. Along they way, they will take and post Instagram photos tagged #clatakethewheel. At the end (the last journey wraps up Aug. 23), whoever has the most likes for his or her photos gets to keep the car for three years.

“The stats on Instagram are just incredible,” says Mark Aikman, Mercedes-Benz USA’s social media lead, noting that the campaign is aimed at bringing new buyers to the automaker. “Some of the stats we’re seeing on Instagram are that the usage, activity and engagement is even higher than on Twitter, so it seemed like the perfect platform to meet this new audience for the CLA.”

At least one new business has popped up to meet the demand for Instagram photographers. All the photographers in the Mercedes campaign are represented by picture agency Tinker Street, which two months ago launched a division called Tinker Mobile that has a roster of 20 Instagrammers and has so far worked with companies such as Delta, PayPal, and Pitchfork.

Tinker Street founder Jesse Miller emphasizes some of the group aren’t professional photographers and that making careers out of Instagram isn’t their main goal. “Relationships are first and foremost for us. It’s a nice coalition of people — there’s a wide range of the levels that people are at with photography, and what they do. Some people have full-time jobs,” he says, noting that Cubby Graham works at the non-profit charity: water, but was added because of the strength of his work and because he’s friends with everyone else.

Miller wouldn’t disclose the rates Tinker Mobile has negotiated for the photographers, saying that it depends on each individual project, but he did mention that sometimes it works with small companies and does a trade instead of charging a fee. He says that the collective’s main goals are to work with companies that prize creativity, and to do work that benefits the community and the environment.

While the photographers are open to commercial opportunities, it’s unclear how open the fans will be. At the launch of the Mercedes campaign, there were a few grumblings. One follower said on the first #clatakethewheel post (a video) by the first photographer, Tim Landis: “#sellout.” However, it was only one of two negative comments of the 150 total on the photo, which had more than 8,700 likes. (The week before the contest, photos Landis posted generally received between 9,000 and 16,000 likes.)

O’Neal, who drove the CLA the contest’s second week, admitted that he did worry about whether participating would hurt his Instagram credibility. “Yeah, absolutely, I asked myself if it was the right thing to do, but I also thought, ‘Times are changing and why not use this medium to tell a story?’ ” he says. “We’re blazing a new trail with this, and there are going to be people that are going to be hateful about it or question it or wonder why I’m doing that, but I’m a struggling photographer. I’m trying to pay my mortgage just like anyone else, and when someone asks you to shoot something for a great client like Mercedes, it’s very exciting.”

S/V Laura Ellen
08-22-2013, 02:52 PM
This from just down river....

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Marysville Border Patrol station arrested a Canadian man smuggling marijuana into the United States Monday by crossing the St. Clair River in a scuba suit.
The incident occurred at approximately 1 a.m. when agents were notified by the Saint Clair County Central Dispatch that they had received a citizen call notifying them of an individual swimming across the Saint Clair River near Marine City, Michigan.
An alert boater saw the man carrying PVC pipe and know something was wrong.

After receiving this information, Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS) camera operators at the Operational Integration Center (OIC) on Selfridge ANGB were able to locate the individual in the river.
"RVSS camera operators at the operational integration center on Selfridge were able to see him on the night vision cameras swimming across and it looked like he was pulling something, " said an agent.


08-23-2013, 02:00 AM
This from just down river....

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Marysville Border Patrol station arrested a Canadian man smuggling marijuana into the United States Monday by crossing the St. Clair River in a scuba suit.
The incident occurred at approximately 1 a.m. when agents were notified by the Saint Clair County Central Dispatch that they had received a citizen call notifying them of an individual swimming across the Saint Clair River near Marine City, Michigan.
An alert boater saw the man carrying PVC pipe and know something was wrong.

After receiving this information, Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS) camera operators at the Operational Integration Center (OIC) on Selfridge ANGB were able to locate the individual in the river.
"RVSS camera operators at the operational integration center on Selfridge were able to see him on the night vision cameras swimming across and it looked like he was pulling something, " said an agent.


Thanks for the interesting story. LOL... Well, the guy obviously didn't think it through. Ain't that something....LOL.

08-23-2013, 02:04 AM
Coprophagia: Does Your Dog have This Nasty Habit? What to Do...
Dr. Mercola | August 23, 2013

Believe it or not, one of the most frequently searched subjects by readers of my Healthy Pets newsletter is stool eating. It would seem there are a lot of pets (primarily dogs) out there snacking on poop!

I think we can all agree this is a revolting subject, but it’s a common problem that should be addressed.

Coprophagia is the technical term for stool eating. It is considered inappropriate, not to mention disgusting eating behavior. The single exception is with mother dogs and cats that deliberately ingest the feces of their litters to hide their scent while the babies are still vulnerable and hidden away in the den or nest.

Medical Reasons for Coprophagia

Dogs eat poop for lots of reasons. Sometimes there’s an underlying medical problem like an enzyme deficiency or pancreatic insufficiency. Intestinal malabsorption and GI parasites are also common medical reasons underlying coprophagia.

At my practice we recommend clients bring their dogs in every six months for a stool check for parasites. Healthy dogs can wind up withintestinal parasites from eating poop, so twice-yearly stool analysis can be a very helpful tool.

A dog’s pancreas secretes digestive enzymes to aid in food digestion, but many dogs don’t make enough of these enzymes and wind up deficient. Since the feces of other animals are a good source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will sometimes ingest enzyme-rich poop. In fact, rabbit poop is a very rich source of not only enzymes, but also B vitamins, which is why many dogs, given the opportunity, will happily scarf up rabbit droppings.

In my experience, dogs on processed dry food diets will often seek out other sources of digestive enzymes to make up for a chronic enzyme deficiency brought on by a biologically inappropriate diet.

Cats with enzyme deficiencies, malabsorption issues, and/or who are fed poor-quality nutrition can provide litter box temptations for dogs. Many cheap dry pet foods contain ingredients that are impossible to digest, so they pass right through the cat’s GI tract and out the other end undigested. This provides poop eating dogs an opportunity to sample cat “snacks” right out of the litter box.

Behavioral Causes

Some dogs, especially those in kennel situations, may eat poop because they are feeling anxious or stressed.

Research also suggests dogs who are punished for inappropriate eliminationcan convince themselves pooping itself is bad, so they hide the evidence by eating it.

I see a lot of coprophagia in puppy mill dogs. Puppies who go hungry, are weaned too soon, have to fight with others for food, or are forced to sit for weeks in a small crate with no physical or mental stimulation, are at high risk of becoming habitual stool eaters.

Coprophagia can also be a learned behavior. Older poop eating dogs can actually “lead by example,” encouraging younger dogs in the household to pick up the nasty habit.

Oddly, some dogs are quite selective about the poop they are willing to eat. Some favor only poopsicles (frozen poop). Others will eat only the feces of a particular animal, and still others only indulge their habit at certain times of the year.

Study Investigates Poop Eating Behavior

Last year a researcher at the University of California, Davis collected 1,500 internet surveys from pet owners to learn more about poop eating in dogs. The study found that:

16 percent of dogs eat stools frequently and 85 percent eat other dogs’ poop
Intact males are less likely to indulge than neutered dogs of either sex
Poop eaters are more likely to live with other dogs and are greedy eaters
40 percent of Border Collies and Shelties are stool eaters; no Poodles were reported to be
90 percent of stools were eaten within two days
The researchers concluded, based on this last finding, that since poop eaters prefer “fresh” stools, the habit may have developed from an innate drive to keep the den clean and protect pack members from intestinal parasites, which would not yet have incubated to an infectious stage.

The researchers also found that food additives are only effective as a deterrent from 0 to 2 percent of the time, nor is punishment effective. Also ineffective were electronic collars and reward-based reinforcement like clicker training. The UC Davis team concluded the best solution is to supervise and clean up after your dog. Or perhaps get a male Poodle!

Suggestions for Owners of Coprophagic Pets

Feed a diet containing human-grade (preferably unprocessed) protein and supplement with probiotics and digestive enzymes to help curb your pet’s urge to find gross sources of free enzymes around the yard or in the litter box.
Pick up your dog’s feces immediately, as soon after he eliminates as possible.
If you have cats, get a self-cleaning litter box, place the box in a location in your home where your dog can’t get to it, or consider purchasing or making a dog-resistant litter box. I also recommend you improve your kitty’s diet and add digestive enzymes and probiotics at meal time to make your cat’s poop less appealing to your dog.
Make sure your dog has toys that stimulate his brain and alleviate boredom. Also insure he is well exercised. Bored, sedentary dogs tend to develop far stranger behaviors and habits than dogs who get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Consider experimenting with some of the over-the-counter coprophagia deterrent products. Make sure you look for a non-toxic product that doesn’t contain MSG.
If despite your best efforts your dog’s poop eating behavior isn’t improving, or is getting worse, I recommend making an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying medical reason for the behavior.

From http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/08/23/coprophagia-poop-eating.aspx?e_cid=20130823Z1_PetsNL_art_1&utm_source=petnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130823Z1

08-24-2013, 09:06 AM
Documentary; Fast Food, Fat Profits: Obesity in America
August 24, 2013

By Dr. Mercola

“Fast Food, Fat Profits” gives a quick overview of what’s wrong with the US food industry, and how its inherent design virtually guarantees a sick, overweight population.

From food deserts and cheap fast food to soda that’s marketed directly to children and a revolving door between food agencies and the government, the system is very much stackedagainst healthy eating … and healthy people.

If your meals consist of $1 burgers and super-size drinks, your diet may be cheap, but it is also excessively high in grains, sugars, and factory-farmed meats. This is a recipe for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, just to name a few of the conditions that commonly befall those who consume "the Standard American Diet."

Why is a Fast-Food Meal Cheaper Than Healthy Food?

Many people realize that they can get a value meal at numerous fast-food restaurants for far less money than it takes to purchase foods to make a healthy meal for their family.

Adding to the problem, many on the most limited food budgets, such as those who receive food assistance dollars, live in "food deserts" – areas without grocery stores, and perhaps only a convenience store or a fast-food restaurant where they can purchase their food.

While it’s certainly possible to eat healthy on a limited budget, this first requires that you understand what constitutes a healthy meal, and then that you have access to such foods, which is not always the case.

Meanwhile, instead of ensuring that all Americans have access to healthy foods, the US government is actively supporting a diet that consists of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), soybean oil, corn oil and grain-fed cattle, a direct result of their flawed farm subsidy system.

The junk foods are made even cheaper through the use of unhealthy filler ingredients and preservatives that prevent spoiling, with the end result being that the very worst foods for your health are often significantly cheaper to buy.

Kids are Eating Turkey Sandwiches With 100 Other Ingredients …

Perhaps nowhere are the problems with the food system more apparent than in US schools, where kids are served processed food products that only vaguely resemble actual fresh food. In “Fast Food, Fat Profits,” one chef is shocked to see that turkey sandwiches slated for the next school lunch contain 100 ingredients!

What this cocktail of chemicals is ultimately doing to our population is difficult to pin down, but food additives like preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and MSG have already been linked to behavioral problems, ADHD andcancer, among other conditions. But, again, many assume that the burger from a fast-food joint is equivalent to one they’d make in their own kitchen … a far cry from reality.

For instance, the McRib sandwich from McDonald’s, described as pork, barbecue sauce, slivered onions and tart pickles, served on a hoagie style bun, actually contains more than 70 ingredients and even the ‘pork’ allegedly consists of restructured meat product (made from all the less expensive innards and castoffs from the pig).

Unfortunately, some parents are unaware that feeding their kids fast-food meals is like feeding them a chemistry experiment, or they are simply lured in by the low prices and tasty (albeit artificial and addictive) flavors.

The Revolving Door Between the Food Industry and the Government is Ever Turning

Many Americans also believe, mistakenly, that food sold on US soil must be good for them, or else the state and federal regulatory agencies would be taking action. But this ideal is laughable when those same government officials work for the very food companies they are supposed to be regulating.

Take, for instance, John Bode, a Washington attorney who served on the Senate Agriculture Committee staff and held three presidential appointments at the Agriculture Department. He became president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association in May of this year.

Then there’s Catherine Woteki, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) chief scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, who previously served as Global Director of Scientific Affairs for Mars, Inc. Michael Taylor, a former vice president of public policy and chief lobbyist at Monsanto Company, who became the deputy commissioner for foods at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet another example.

There are other close connections that most of the public isn’t aware of either. Dairy Management, which also includes the National Dairy Council, has been aggressively marketing cheese to restaurant chains in efforts to increase sales. But we’re not talking about simply promoting consumption of a piece of cheddar cheese or a block of Gouda … this includes fast-food restaurants selling junk-food products like:

Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites pizza
Wendy's dual Double Melt sandwich concept
Burger King's Cheesy Angus Bacon cheeseburger and TenderCrisp chicken sandwich (both of which contained three slices of cheese plus a "cheesy sauce")
In other words, the government is not your ally here. They are working alongside fast-food giants like Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Wendy’s and others to get you to eat more of their junk-food products, which happen to contain lots of (highly processed) cheese!

Should Soda Be Banned From Food Stamp Programs?

Most Americans are drinking far too much soda and other sugary drinks, a key culprit in rising rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and related conditions. Some brands, like Chubby’s from the Caribbean, are even marketed directly to children (and feature bottles designed to fit in a small child’s hand).

But, as the video highlighted, now a group of health associations, physicians and nutrition experts are calling for pilot programs that would restrict the purchase of sugary drinks by people using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is already done for alcohol and tobacco, but the move to regulate what types of food and drinks a person is able to buy is new territory.

Increasing regulations like these may not be the solution, however, especially if the money spent on soda is simply put toward more heavily processed foods. While farmer’s markets do occasionally make it into the ghetto (and some do accept food stamps), the farmer's market is an occasional institution, operating just one day a week. Fast-food franchises, on the other hand, pump out low-nutrient fare seven days a week, 365 days a year.

While it's possible to make the healthy choice, under these conditions, it's not easy.

There’s no denying, of course, that processed foods, whether soda or potato chips, will eat up your grocery budget in the blink of an eye, and will cause disease in the long-term. In reality, any money spent on junk food is a waste, and purging these items from your grocery list is the first step to eating right on a budget. Some of the healthiest foods are incredibly affordable, even under $1 a serving, such as:

Raw organic milk
Raw nuts and seeds
Two cage-free organic eggs
Avocado, berries and broccoli
Home-grown sunflower sprouts
Fermented foods you make at home

What’s the Real Cost of Eating Cheap Food?

“Fast Food, Fat Profits” highlights what is arguably one of the most disturbing health trends of the 21st century – the fact that today’s generation may be the first to live a shorter lifespan than their parents, and this is a direct result of too much cheap (nutrient-deficient and toxin-laden) food. Avoiding processed food requires a change in mindset, which is not always an easy task. It CAN be done, however. Rather than looking at processed foods as a convenience that tastes good or saves money, try thinking of it as:

Continues on next post:

08-24-2013, 09:09 AM
(Continues from the last post)

Extra calories that will harm your body
A toxic concoction of foreign chemicals and artificial flavors that will lead to disease
A waste of your money
Likely to lead to increased health care bills for you and your family
Not something to give to children, whose bodies are still developing and therefore are both much more susceptible to cancer and in greater need of nutrients
Your goal should be to strive for 90 percent non-processed, whole food. Not only will you enjoy the health benefits—especially if you buy mostly organic—but you'll also get the satisfaction of knowing exactly what you're putting into your body, and that in and of itself can be a great feeling. It may cost more to eat this way, but then again it might not. (And in the long run the amount it will save you in the long run is immeasurable.)

Are You Trying to Eat Healthy on a Budget?

While it may not be immediately obvious for people who have grown up relying on ready-made, pre-packaged foods and snacks, you can replace those foods with something equally satisfying that will support, rather than wreck, your health. This requires some strategy, especially if you're working with a tight budget, but it can be done:

Identify a Person to Prepare Meals. Someone has to invest some time in the kitchen. It will be necessary for either you, your spouse, or perhaps someone in your family prepare the meals from locally grown healthful foods. This includes packing lunches for your kids to take to school.

Become resourceful: This is an area where your grandmother can be a wealth of information, as how to use up every morsel of food and stretch out a good meal was common knowledge to generations past. Seek to get back to the basics of cooking – using the bones from a roast chicken to make stock for a pot of soup, extending a Sunday roast to use for weekday dinners, learning how to make hearty stews from inexpensive cuts of meat, using up leftovers and so on.

Plan your meals: If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. This is essential, as you will need to be prepared for mealtimes in advance to be successful. Ideally this will involve scouting out your local farmer's markets for in-season produce that is priced to sell, and planning your meals accordingly, but you can also use this same premise with supermarket sales.
You can generally plan a week of meals at a time, make sure you have all ingredients necessary on hand, and then do any prep work you can ahead of time so that dinner is easy to prepare if you're short on time in the evenings.

It is no mystery that you will be eating lunch around noon every day so rather than rely on fast food at work, before you go to bed make a plan as to what you are going to take to work the next day. This is a marvelous simple strategy that will let you eat healthier, especially if you take healthy food from home in to work.

Avoid food waste: According to a study published in the journal PloS One,1 Americans waste an estimated 1,400 calories of food per person, each and every day. The two steps above will help you to mitigate food waste in your home. You may also have seen my article titled 14 Ways to Save Money on Groceries. Among those tips are suggestions for keeping your groceries fresher, longer, and I suggest reviewing those tips now.
Buy organic animal foods. The most important foods to buy organic are animal, not vegetable, products (meat, eggs, butter, etc.), because animal foods tend to concentrate pesticides in higher amounts. If you cannot afford to buy all of your food organic, opt for organic animal foods first.

Keep costs down on grass-fed beef. Pasture-finished beef is far healthier than grain-fed beef (which I don't recommend consuming). To keep cost down, look for inexpensive roasts or ground meat. You may also save money by buying an entire side of beef (or splitting one with two or three other families), if you have enough freezer space to store it.
Buy in bulk when non-perishable items go on sale. If you are fortunate to live near a buyer's club or a co-op, you may also be able to take advantage of buying by the pound from bins, saving both you and the supplier the cost of expensive packaging.

Frequent farmer's markets or grow your own produce. You may be surprised to find out that by going directly to the source you can get amazingly healthy, locally grown, organic food for less than you can find at your supermarket. This gives you the best of both worlds: food that is grown near to you, cutting down on its carbon footprint and giving you optimal freshness, as well as grown without chemicals, genetically modified seeds, and other potential toxins.
Just as restaurants are able to keep their costs down by getting food directly from a supplier, you, too, can take advantage of a direct farm-to-consumer relationship, either on an individual basis or by joining a food coop in your area. Many farmer's markets are now accepting food stamps, so this is an opportunity most everyone can join in on.

From: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/08/24/fast-food-fat-profits.aspx

08-25-2013, 05:14 AM
Nunavut man surprised to find lost boat ‘good as new’ on an Arctic island — 13 years after it went missing in a storm

Joe O'Connor | National Post Friday, Aug. 23, 2013

Elijah Evaluarjuk, found his family's boat on an island in the Arctic ocean recently — 13 years after it blew away in a wind storm. Courtesy Elijah Evaluarjuk

Elijah Evaluarjuk and his family own and operate a hotel in Igloolik, a small community on a small island in the middle of the big, empty ocean expanse between Baffin Island and the Melville Peninsula.

Being a small place ensures that local happenings — a birth, a death, the arrival of a brand-new, 7.3-metre aluminum boat manufactured in Winnipeg and delivered to the Evaluarjuks’ beach by way of a 600-kilometre trip through the Northwest Passage — become momentous community affairs.

And so it was, about 15 years ago, when the shiny new aluminum boat showed up at the family’s hotel.

We thought it must be at the bottom of the ocean

“It was a really big deal,” Elijah Evaluarjuk says. “The boat was quite expensive for us. We had a canoe before that, with a motor on it. I had been going walrus and caribou hunting with my Dad for as long as I could remember, and we could put two or three big walruses — they weigh a ton each — and we could put all that walrus meat in that boat, no problem.”

But there was a problem, an unforeseen glitch that materialized two years after the boat’s arrival.

Lionel Evaluarjuk, Elijah’s younger brother, was on a hunting trip south of Igloolik when the vessel vanished in the night.

It was ripped from its anchorage by a violent summer storm, amid howling winds and crashing waves that, come morning, had poor Lionel staring out at the vastness where the family boat had been and wondering how he was going to explain its disappearance to his father, Mark.

“My dad didn’t get too mad at Lionel,” Mr. Evaluarjuk says.

“It wasn’t my brother’s fault. But we thought that that was the end of our boat. We thought it must be at the bottom of the ocean.”

And yet the boat, while missing, did not seem to want to stay lost. There were sightings over the years, reports from neighbours saying they had seen it — on Rowley Island, on Koch Island, on Bray Island. Specifics were never provided. The details were sketchy. No GPS co-ordinates ever secured.

And so the boat remained missing, touched by rumour, shrouded by mystery, until the arrival of a team of polar bear researchers. They happened to be staying at the Evaluarjuks’ hotel in the summer of 2012, and happened to hear the tale of the missing boat from the hotel’s proprietor — then happened to spot it from their helicopter.

“They saw sunlight hitting something, a reflection, and so they landed right beside the boat,” Mr. Evaluarjuk says. “It was amazing.”

It was too late in the season for the family to go and take a look. But last weekend they did, in their fibreglass boat, which had replaced the aluminum one — and which was not half as special.

The lost boat was finally found about 80 km from home, about 13 years after it broke free.

“Seeing the boat for the first time was extremely emotional for us because it made us think of our parents, my mom and dad are no longer alive,” Mr. Evaluarjuk says.

Seeing the boat for the first time was extremely emotional

“Polar bears had broken the windows, but otherwise it was as good as new. So we shined it up and towed it home. We brought it in at 11 p.m. It was still light. A lot of people came down to the beach to meet us. It was the talk of the community.

“People were crying, thinking of our late relatives, but we were happy after that. I think my mom and dad were looking over our shoulders. There was a storm here, just today, rain and snow mixed together. High winds. There were people down on the beach pulling their boats up on the shore. Fall is coming.

“You can never be too careful with the weather.”

National Post

08-25-2013, 05:24 AM
That's a cool little article Spin_Drift......reads like an E. Annie. Proulx short story.

08-28-2013, 01:48 AM
That's a cool little article Spin_Drift......reads like an E. Annie. Proulx short story.

Thanks Sean :)

08-28-2013, 01:54 AM
Think Twice About This New "Natural" Pet Food That Contains Sketchy Ingredients
August 28, 2013

By Dr. Becker

At the close of the annual Global Pet Expo earlier in the year, online site Pets Weekly put together a list of the “Top 10 Pet Trends of 2013.”

The list includes initiatives to make pets safer when traveling by car; tents, shades and patio furniture for four-legged companions who enjoy the great outdoors alongside their human family members; environmentally responsible pet products; and specialty pet beds.

Also on the list were supplements and nutraceuticals for pets, novel protein sources for pet foods and treats, and a growing trend in pet food: products made in the U.S. that are all natural and organic.

According to Stacy Mantle of Pets Weekly, “Even the big names in pet food are making a move to natural pet foods.” She cites Hill’s new brand called Ideal Balance, and Science Diet’s new line introduced in summer 2012, Nature’s Best (which has since been discontinued).

Mantle continues:

“We predict a number of other companies will be following suit as pet parents realize the value of raw, freeze-dried, and dehydrated foods for their pet. This is something that companies like The Honest Kitchen, Merrick and Stella & Chewy's have been doing for years. But, as we all know, it takes time for the big boys to implement change.”

What Mantle seems to be saying is that the new Hills and Science Diet offerings are comparable to The Honest Kitchen, Merrick’s and Stella & Chewy’s products (and there are dozens of other excellent small pet food companies out there besides those she mentioned). I disagree, and I certainly hope pet owners take the time to carefully evaluate the differences in commercial pet foods as they search for more natural, organic, species-appropriate diets for their furry companions. It’s never a good idea to take product packaging or marketing/advertising claims at face value.

How to SPOT TRULY Natural, Organic Commercial Pet Food.

Let’s take a quick look at the first 10 ingredients in grain free dog food formulas from three of the companies Mantle mentions: Hill’s, The Honest Kitchen, and Stella & Chewy’s.


Clearly, The Honest Kitchen and Stella & Chewy’s products contain more natural, organic ingredients at the top of the list than the Hill’s formula. Would you prefer to offer your dog a few apple slices, a bit of organic broccoli... or some dried beet pulp?

Now let’s take a look at another extremely important feature of commercial pet food that determines the quality of the finished product – the raw ingredients.

Another Test for How Natural and Organic Your Pet’s Food Is: Where Did the Ingredients Come from?

According to The Honest Kitchen, their formulas are made in a human food facility, not a pet food plant. This means they are held to the same quality standards as human food manufacturers.

Their ingredients are purchased from suppliers they trust in the human food industry. They choose many ingredients from as close to home as possible, as well as from their native lands around the world. All their foods are 100 percent human grade.

The Honest Kitchen dehydrates each ingredient to remove moisture. This process – as opposed to cooking, canning or extruding – helps preserve vital nutrients.

According to Stella & Chewy's, their products are made with raw, naturally raised meat, poultry or fish sourced from USDA-inspected facilities. These animal protein sources contain neither added hormones nor antibiotics. The vegetables and fruits are organic, and their formulas are made without grain, fillers, artificial preservatives or colorings, sugar or salt.

Stella & Chewy’s formulas are produced with an exclusive “SecureByNature” food safety process (patent pending), designed to make them safe from harmful bacteria naturally, while retaining the food’s nutrient value and flavor. And while high pressure pasteurization (HPP) is certainly a much debated topic in raw food circles, we can assume all types of human grade raw pet food are safer than extruded kibble, which contains carcinogens as a byproduct of the extrusion process.

The Hill’s website talks about the safety of their products, but there’s no mention of how the ingredients are sourced... no mention of human grade or USDA-inspected facilities... and no mention of how the food is processed (since it’s kibble in the example I used, above, we can assume it’s extruded). This of course means the food is not human grade but rendered, and is made in a pet food processing plant that is not held to the same standards as a human food facility.

I suppose if you compare Ideal Balance formulas with other Hill’s product lines, they may seem more “natural,” but I certainly wouldn’t put them in the same category as the others mentioned in Mantle’s post, or several other smaller-sized manufacturers that produce excellent quality, human grade pet food.

Arm yourself with information so you can’t be fooled by clever marketing.

More and more consumers are making it clear they are looking for nutritious, higher quality diets for their dogs and cats. In response, many of the largest pet food companies in the industry will attempt to meet the demand not by significantly improving the quality and species-appropriateness of their products, but by making relatively small tweaks to their formulas that can be spun by marketers to appeal to the desire of pet owners to feed a more wholesome diet.

That’s why it’s important for you, as a pet owner concerned about feeding your dog or cat a nutritious diet, to know the difference between real natural, organic pet food and pet food that only claims to be.

There are dozens of other companies not mentioned by Pets Weekly that offer excellent, species appropriate, human grade pet foods. The key is to know what to look for.

source : http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/08/28/natural-organic-pet-food.aspx?e_cid=20130828Z1_PetsNL_art_1&utm_source=petnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130828Z1

08-30-2013, 10:08 AM
Researching the Mediterranean by kayak

Bryan Pirolli | SmartPlanet | August 29, 2013

Two French students brave 10,000 kilometers of the Mediterranean in a kayak for a very different sort of vacation, hoping to raise awareness of the sea’s issues.

PARIS — Forget sunning in St. Tropez or munching on salade nicoise seaside in Nice. Two French students are experiencing the Mediterranean in a very different way, embarking on a 10,000-kilometer kayak mission to raise awareness of its environmental issues. The project, called Mare Nostrum, is a way for the pair to explore the sea while focusing on several research and educational objectives.

According to the European Union Commission, ecosystem depletion due to rapid construction and pollution are among the leading threats to the ever-fragile Mediterranean Sea. France has targeted part of their coastline in 2003 as a protected ecological zone, tracking pollution and fining offenders. Still, the Commission estimates that by 2025, nearly 50% of the coastline will be developed. Under the Horizon 2020 plan, the Commission has committed to reducing the causes of pollution as well as increasing knowledge of the sea’s problem over the next seven years. But Louis Wilmotte and Douglas Coet, both 22-year-old students in French universities, are looking to increase awareness on a smaller level through their kayaking adventure.

Wilmotte and Couet are avid marine enthusiasts, be it sailing, diving, or kayaking. After growing up in the same village and attending the same school, the two went off to different universities, but still decided to put their passion for water to good use while their friends worked their part-time jobs during the year and vacationed during the summer. “By practicing all of these sports, we wanted to do something bigger and more important,” Wilmotte said.

They began to hatch a plan to cross the Mediterranean exclusively by kayak in the framework of a prolonged research project. Soon, however, they found their project to be part of a larger movement that has been growing over the past few years. They quickly found support from their universities and various associations like SOS Oceans, a French group dedicated to raising money to help raise awareness about issues facing France’s coastlines. Another French partner, the Maude Fontenoy Foundation, has been committed to preserving the oceans since 2008 while the Ramoge Agreement between France, Monaco, and Italy seeks to fight pollution along their respective Mediterranean rivieras.

Fellow students also became involved by creating and maintaining the project’s website as a class assignment. This August, the two finally hit the water, starting at the Strait of Gibraltar, equipped with various types of gear and a land-based team to monitor their progress. They will be sleeping mostly in their canoes during the 12- to 14-month trip, eventually reaching Istanbul where a French-speaking school is awaiting them.

Their project is three-pronged, addressing questions of education, research and culture. While exploring several of the 22 nations bordering the sea, they will also be collaborating with schools in France and Turkey to educate young students about marine ecosystems. With solar-powered equipment, the two will be able to Skype with classrooms during their excursion to share their experiences with students.

Part of the educational component is to show younger students that one need not be a marine biologist in order to be interested in such topics. “We got here by being motivated and passionate and by a desire to engage people, and we have already done some good work and we’re proud about it,” Wilmotte said. While Couet is studying oceanography, Wilmotte’s education is geared towards technology and industry, with little connection to maritime affairs.

The arduous journey in a kayak was a strategic choice, and not just because both enjoy it. “To do proper scientific analyses, we are as close as we can be to the water and everything that’s happening,” Wilmotte said. They will attempt to collect data related to noise pollution in the water and how it may affect the sea mammals that inhabit the Mediterranean.

Additionally they’ll be taking algae samples along the way for future research in collaboration with their partners like DCNS, which seeks sustainable solutions for maritime businesses. “I think for us to associate with these groups is because we have common interests and we’re fighting to protect the sea at different levels,” Wilmotte said.

The public can follow along as Wilmotte and Couet track their progress via GPS locations and social media updates. They hope that their project will inspire others to take interest in the Mediterranean, and not just for its sun-soaked beaches. “I think there are many things that have been done — areas of protection, laws, and associations — and all of this is very new,” Wilmotte said, “but there are still plenty of things to do. It’s not the two of us who will be able to do it all.”

08-30-2013, 10:31 AM
10 resume mistakes to avoid
By Toni Bowers in Career Management. |TechRepublic | June 5, 2012

The goal of a resume is to let a potential employer know why you're the best person for the job. Here are 10 practices that impede that goal.
There is one goal for your resume: To show a potential employer why you are the best person for the job. However, there are so many things that can get in the way of what should be a clear message. Here are ten of the most common mistakes made in resumes.

1. Your focus is wrong

This may be one of the most difficult concepts for job hunters to grasp, but your resume is not something you create for yourself. You create it, format it, and organize it so that it's easy for a hiring manager to gauge your fit with the job he or she is offering. It's important to tailor your resume to each job you apply to. I promise you, no hiring manager is going to study your resume for specifics that would apply to the job at hand. Your resume has to make them obvious.

For example, if you're applying for a project manager position, highlight any experience and accomplishments that show your expertise in project management, even if you have to switch to a functional resume format to do it. While the bulk of your work experience may be in tech support, it's really not applicable to the job at hand, so don't concentrate on the day-to-day minutiae. Concentrate instead on those instances where you demonstrated leadership, ingenuity, and organizational skills.

2. You have typos in your resume

Hiring executives have a low threshold for resume bloopers. A recent study on working.com claims that one out of four executives will toss a resume into the wastebasket if they spot a typo. But sometimes even the most careful people can miss a typo or two. Here are some tips for making sure you're sending out pristine copies of your resume:

Enlist detail-oriented family members, friends, or mentors to proofread your resume and provide honest feedback.
Take a timeout. Before submitting your resume, take a break and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. You might catch something you missed the first time.
Print a copy. It's easy to overlook typos or formatting mistakes when reading a resume on a monitor, so print it out for review.
Try a new perspective. Sometimes readers inadvertently skip over parts they have read previously. Review your resume backward to help avoid this problem. You can "read" it from bottom to top, or from the right side of a line to the left. This takes away the mental expectation that sometimes tricks us into thinking a word is spelled correctly, etc.
Read it out loud. This can also help you find phrases that don't make sense.

3. Your resume is too long

There are all kinds of opinions as to how long a resume should be. Most people say to keep it to one page, but many people say that two pages are OK, particularly if you have 10 or more years of experience related to your goal or you need space to list and prove your technical knowledge.

Sign up for our Career Management newsletter!

Either way, the goal is to keep your resume lean yet meaningful. List only your selling points that are relevant to the job at hand and let go of some details that have no bearing on your current goal. You may have become proficient in Windows NT in a previous job, but it's not something that would have a bearing on a job today.

4. Your resume is not very "readable"

Never underestimate resume formatting. Consider that some hiring managers have to look through hundreds of resumes for each job opening. Also consider that those employers will usually take, at most, only thirty-five seconds to look at a one-page resume before deciding whether to keep or discard it. You should design your resume so that employers can read the document easily and process information quickly.

To judge the formatting of your resume, ask yourself these questions:

Am I using too many fonts? It's best to stick to one or two fonts. You can vary the size and add bold if necessary to make headings stand out but don't go overboard. You don't want your resume to look like a ransom note built out of newspaper clippings.

Am I overdoing the emphasis thing? As I said in the previous point, you can create emphasis by using bold, italics, underlining, etc. However, you don't want to mix methods or overuse them. You would not, for example, want to CAPITALIZE, ITALICIZE, AND UNDERLINE pieces of text. It's overkill and hard on the eyes.
Is there too much text on the page? There's nothing more intimidating to a reviewer than blocks of dense text on a resume. Here are some things to keep in mind: Set your margins at about 1-inch all around, use bulleted points to break up paragraphs of text that list your accomplishments, and make sure your sections are distinct. Don't be afraid of white space! If you have to choose between crammed-in text and an extra resume page, go with the latter.
You can see in Figure A how much more readable the list of accomplishments are when put into bullets separated by white space.

Figure A

5. Your name appears in the Word header

Your name should appear prominently at the top of your resume, but even though it looks kind of cool, avoid using Word's header feature (see Figure B) for this information. (Using Word's header feature will make your name appear automatically at the top of every page of your resume.) The problem is a lot of scanning software used by HR departments won't work on headers and footers so your resume could get lost in the shuffle.

Figure B

6. Your resume doesn't include keywords

It's an unfortunate fact of life that many organizations use scanning software (mentioned above) when vetting resumes. This is often done as the preliminary step in weeding out any people whose qualifications and experience don't match the job being filled. So be very sure that you pepper your resume with relevant keywords. That is to say, don't use one in every sentence and don't use keywords that you don't have experience with just for the sake of sneaking in under the radar. Sooner or later you'll have to own up. The actual job description is the best starting place for finding relevant keywords.

7. You list your experience instead of your accomplishments
First of all, never use expressions such as "Duties included" or "Responsibilities included." These lists outline only what was in your job description; they don't say whether you did them well or not. And they don't show how you stood out from the other people in your company who were doing the same things.

To help rewrite your responsibilities to accomplishments, try asking yourself:

What special things did I do to set myself apart?
How did I do the job better or differently than anyone else?
What did I do to make it my own?
What were some problems or challenges that I faced?
How did I solve or overcome those problems?
What were the results of my efforts?
How did the company benefit from my performance? For example, did it make or save money or save time?
It might help to use an accomplishment tracker template like this one available from TechRepublic.

8. You use vague verbs and subjective adjectives

Avoid, at all costs, those abstract verb phrases like "Assisted with..." or "Handled..." or "Managed...." Those phrases can mean almost anything. Every time you're tempted with one of those phrases, ask yourself How? How did you assist with something? What exactly did you do? Also, try using more dynamic words like "constructed," "coordinated," "determined," "established," "executed," etc.

On the same ticket, it is very easy to say you "skillfully completed" some task or that you have "extraordinary people skills." But unless you can back those statements up with concrete evidence, it's just you saying something good about yourself. So explain why your task completion was skillful. Did it come in under budget and within time restraints? What evidence do you have of your great people skills? Did you get recognized for this in some way? Were you assigned more end users than other staffers? Any detail that you can offer in explanation will help.

9. Your resume is like all the others

We're not saying that you should make yourself stand out by formatting your entire resume in a cursive font. We're saying that, since you're a tech pro, a prospective employer is probably going to expect something a little more advanced. Toward this goal consider:

Including a link to your online portfolio. Online portfolios can be anything from a blog or a website, to a dedicated solution (something that's just a portfolio, without any of the extra stuff). Make it something that loads fast, is visually professional, and showcases your accomplishments, mission statement, career progression, and leadership aptitude. Before you put the link in your resume, ask yourself how well the site answers questions any potential employers might have about you.
Adding a QR code. A QR (quick-response) code is a two-dimensional, barcode-like image (seen in Figure C) that, once scanned, directs potential employers to carefully selected, customized web pages for more information about a job seeker. It's a tech-savvy way to illustrate your strengths.

Figure C

10. You lie/exaggerate on your resume

Decision makers routinely conduct background checks and online research to verify a resume. And sometimes what they find out can embarrass you down the line; a lesson learned the hard way by former CEO Scott Thompson. At the very least, don't claim education that you don't have. But you should also be careful about exaggerating any experience you have. It could take only a few targeted questions in an interview to reveal your deception.

About Toni Bowers:

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

08-30-2013, 10:44 AM
These images are for the above post.

Figure A


Figure B


Figure C


09-04-2013, 12:26 PM
How safe are online password managers?
Michael Kassner |Tech Republic

People who use online password managers have a lot riding on the application's integrity. What are the chances of others gaining access to the stored passwords?

http://tr1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2013/09/03/b565437f-1412-4503-b169-566058ccf8cb/resize/220x165/password%20manager1x300.png?hash=ad9d1896f1064a885 fb1e51ae80f2d83

Digital bad guys are as concerned about return on investment (ROI) as any big business. That’s why they attack credit-card processing centers rather than gathering account information one credit card at a time. It’s also why they’re more interested in cracking online password managers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_manager) instead of stealing individual passwords.
Recently, it has come to our attention that someone else (U.S. Government) seems to be interested in passwords, which has people who use online password managers asking an important question, who other than the person owning the password manager account knows the master password? Or, more to the point, is it possible for anyone other than the account owner to access passwords stored in online password managers?

Cracking password managers

To be honest, I’ve wondered the same thing: how hard is it to get at the passwords protected by one of these applications? To find out, I chatted withJacob Williams (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jacob-williams/16/38a/779), a forensic scientist and penetration tester. If anyone can break into a password manager, Jake can.
I specifically asked Jake about the master and synchronization passwords, as obtaining these passwords appears to be the simplest way (remember bad-guy ROI) to crack the applications:
“Even if the passwords are encrypted at rest, they must use reversible encryption. That means a hacker with access to the victim’s machine could potentially steal the database/backup files, and walk away with the passwords. Of course, with a master password that's less of an issue.

"Synchronization is another thing entirely. I looked at some FAQs and did not see any guarantee that synchronized passwords are encrypted. However, I'd bet they just synchronize the copy of the encrypted password database on each machine. It appears the master password is the key used to encrypt the data. Good for them in that regard. That's what they should do."
It sounds like there may be a way in for bad guys, albeit difficult.

What’s legal

I also wondered what can be legally requested by government agencies. To figure that out, I askedTyler Pitchford (http://www.bhappeals.com/attorneys/tyler-pitchford/index.htm), my attorney friend, for his opinion. Here is what he had to say:
“The general concept is the same as the classic lock/key debate. If the access password is written down, they can request a copy, if the access password is in your mind they need an exception to the Fifth Amendment such as the foregone-conclusion doctrine (http://www.callawyer.com/Clstory.cfm?eid=920910).
"As for password manager programs, assuming there's probable cause or a subpoena right, the government can request the password database and attempt to break it; or as mentioned above, ask for a physical copy of the password if one exists or force disclosure if they have an exception handy.
"If the password database is stored on a remote server, it's probably subpoenable and if the users employ weak encryption or store the master, they may be out of luck.”

What the developers are saying

With the “breaking into and legal” aspects taken care of, it’s time to see what the developers have to say about their products. Rather than have each vendor extol the virtues of their technology, it seemed better to ask each of them the question on users’ minds, “If the government orders you to turn over someone's passwords, is it possible?”


First up is Agilebits, with 1Password (https://agilebits.com/onepassword) being their version of online password manager. I asked Jeff Goldberg, Agilebits Chief Defender Against the Dark Arts (great title) “The Question.” His response:
“We never have the opportunity to see either your data or your master password. In fact, we don’t even have the chance to see how or whether you even use 1Password. So the short answer to your question is, no, it is not possible for us to obtain your password database, nor it is possible for us to decrypt it even if we did manage to get hold of it.”


Next up is LastPass (https://lastpass.com/), a popular online password manager. Erin Styles, Vice President of Marketing answered “The Question,” and included a comment from LastPass CEO Joe Siegrist:
“In Joe's words, ‘We can't give them what we don't have.’ So, to answer your question, there is nothing we could do to obtain someone's passwords. If ordered by the government, we would hand over a blob of encrypted data that they could attempt to brute force. As everyone knows, with a strong master password, brute force would be virtually impossible.”


Moving on to mSeven, mSecure (https://msevensoftware.com/) is the company’s password manager. Ray Marshall, CEO and president of mSeven responded to “The Question” this way:
“It's a great question. We don't have access to any of our users’ data, and we can't decrypt it even if we did, since we don't have their password. mSecure stores all data locally and encrypts the data with the user's own password. Much to the chagrin of users, if they forget their mSecure password, even we can't get it back for them.”

Siber Systems

Last up is Siber Systems with their password manager — Roboform (http://www.siber.com/consumer/roboform). Vadim Maslov, CEO and founder of Siber Systems answered “The Question”:
“We really cannot open users’ passcard (password database) without knowing the master password. Also, RoboForm has no backdoors. If you use long and random master passwords, your passcards will be hard (computationally) to crack. It does not mean the NSA will not be able to do it, as we heard that they may throw a lot of computational power at it.”
That last comment tweaked my attention, having just read this Wired article (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/08/black-budget/) quoting Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “[W]e are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic.”
Even before this, there’s been talk about a substantial NSA breakthrough in cryptanalytic capabilities (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/). With that in mind, I asked Vadim a few more questions.

Kassner: Vadim, did any government agencies contact you?

Maslov: We never received any legal communication from NSA or FISA or anybody else requesting disclosure of user data.

Kassner: What if the government orders you to allow them to snoop the login exchange? Will that work?

Maslov: To answer your question, there is no snooping on the master password, as it never gets sent to a server. Only a hash of the RoboForm Everywhere password is sent, so it can be snooped on in principle. Then again, it is sent over SSL only, so this would have to be done somewhere on the server. Well, even Google and Yahoo had to release salts (hashes) of passwords to the NSA, if you believe the press.

Final thoughts

As I was working through this piece, I realized that I’m introducing more questions than providing answers. Using online password managers apparently means trusting the app’s developer, hoping the ROI is not enough to interest the bad guys, and staying off government agency’s lists.
There is good news: Jake, my break-in expert, has decided to take hard look at online password managers, so stay tuned.

http://tr2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2013/07/11/7a0ad843-8264-43cf-9e0e-29ff1a3b21f9/thumbnail/60x60/Michael_Kassner400X300.jpg?hash=77cd656915d6cf6f49 5c7f08bfec7b1e (http://www.techrepublic.com/search/?q=michael+kassner)
About Michael Kassner

Michael Kassner is currently a systems manager for an international company. Together with his son, he runs MKassner Net, a small IT publication consultancy.

09-08-2013, 11:33 AM
There’s arsenic in your rice — and here’s how it got there
By Twilight Greenaway |Grist

Rice. It’s just one of the basics, right? Whether eaten on its own, or in products like pastas or cereal, this inexpensive and healthy food is a staple for Asian and Latino communities, as well as the growing number of people looking to avoid gluten.

Here’s the bad news (cue Debbie Downer sound effect): The food most of us think we have more or less locked down is shockingly high in arsenic. And arsenic, especially the inorganic form often found in rice, is a known carcinogen linked to several types of cancer, and believed to interfere with fetal development.

According to new research by the Consumers Union, which took over 200 samples of both organic and conventionally grown rice and rice products, nearly all the samples contained some level of arsenic, and a great deal of them contained enough to cause alarm. While there is no federal standard for arsenic in food, according to the Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, one serving of rice may have as much inorganic arsenic as an entire day’s worth of water. (They’ve also created a useful chart of various rice products, rice brands, and their arsenic levels.)

Rice often readily absorbs arsenic from soil where chemical-heavy cotton once grew.
How does rice compare to other grains like wheat and oats? It turns out it’s much higher because of two main factors: How and where rice is grown. The November issue of Consumer Reports, released today, breaks down both phenomena. First, the how:

Rice absorbs arsenic from soil or water much more effectively than most plants. That’s in part because it is one of the only major crops grown in water-flooded conditions, which allow arsenic to be more easily taken up by its roots and stored in the grains.

Then, the where:
In the U.S. as of 2010, about 15 percent of rice acreage was in California, 49 percent in Arkansas, and the remainder in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. That south-central region of the country has a long history of producing cotton, a crop that was heavily treated with arsenical pesticides for decades in part to combat the boll weevil beetle.

Not a big rice eater? Well, I’d argue this study matters for other reasons too; it illustrates what a long shadow industrial farming practices can cast over the entire food system — and the way some chemicals can cycle through our food and water, for literally generations. You see, in some areas, even rice grown organically is impacted because of what you might call the legacy of the soil.

For decades, farmers used lead-arsenate insecticides to control pests. As the name implies, these were extra dangerous because of their lead content and they were banned in the 1980s, but much of the arsenic that was left behind still remains in the soil. As Consumer Reports mentioned above, the worst offenders were cotton farms in the South, which relied heavily on these heavy-metal-containing chemicals. (Cotton farming, generally, is known to be some of the most “chemically dependent” farming on Earth.)

There are still several non-lead-based arsenical pesticides on the market, and although most are in the process of being phased out, Michael Hansen, Consumers Union senior scientist, says there is still one important pesticide, called MSMA, in use on cotton farms. Ironically, Hansen says, “they’re allowing its use because of the increasing problem of Palmer pigweed — created by the overuse of Glyphosate [Roundup] due to [Roundup Ready] GMO seeds.” (Otherwise known as superweeds.) “Palmer pigweed can lead to a 25 percent-or-more loss of revenue in cotton. So federal regulators calculated that it was worth the risk to continue using arsenic herbicides.”

Arsenic has also been commonly used in animal feed to prevent disease and make both hogs and chickens grow faster. The manure from these farms also ultimately ends up adding arsenic back in the soil (it’s even permitted on organic farms). Hansen says he’s seen ample evidence that soils that have been treated with poultry manure for years “have significantly higher levels of arsenic than untreated soil.”

On the bright side, a new law in Maryland, a huge poultry farming state, will keep arsenic feed out of chicken farms there. And one poultry drug,Pfizer’s Roxarsone, was voluntarily withdrawn from the market last spring. Meanwhile there are three others are still allowed to be used outside Maryland. “We think the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] should ban those as well,” said Hansen.

In the press release associated with the study, Consumers Union recommended that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) phase out use of all arsenical pesticides and the FDA set limits for arsenic in rice products. In response to Wednesday’s report, the FDA released an FAQ on its websitedescribing its own testing of 1,000 different rice products. FDA officials alsotold the Washington Post, however, that they are “not prepared, based on preliminary data, to advise people to change their eating patterns.”

The Consumers Union, on the other hand, has a released a chart explicitly designed to help consumers limit their exposure to rice, with exact serving recommendations for both adults and children. Rice cereal, which federal surveys indicate many small children eat multiple times a day, is of special concern.

According to Hansen, rice grown in California (a relatively small subset of the U.S. industry), is also likely to have lower arsenic rates than rice grown in the South. For those interested in reducing their risk, the scientist also recommends washing the grain thoroughly before cooking it, and using a technique Hansen has observed in Asia.

“When I was in Bangladesh recently I noticed they would cook the rice with a lot of extra water — to absorb arsenic and/or pesticide residue — and then drain it off at the very end before serving it.” Hansen says this technique, over time, especially if filtered water is used, may reduce the risk of exposure to the heavy metal.

09-08-2013, 11:50 AM
Here's a link if you want to find out more about arsenic in rice and food products. It also gives you a formula of how much water to cook your rice in to get arsenic partly eliminated.

This is from Consumer Reports.


09-08-2013, 06:05 PM
Ironically, Hansen says, “they’re allowing its use because of the increasing problem of Palmer pigweed — created by the overuse of Glyphosate [Roundup] due to [Roundup Ready] GMO seeds.”

Doubly Ironic - Palmer Pigweed, AKA - Amaranth - is nutritious.. both greens, & seeds. I had some (my garden boasts many & healthy 'weeds'!) last night for greens in my goulash - with rice. ;-)

Thanks for this Spinner.. Rice (mostly organic now) is a major part of my diet - for like 35 years!

For added info, here's the Lundberg (the rice I am currently eating) page on Arsenic (http://www.lundberg.com/info/Arsenic/productfaqs.aspx). Unfortunately, it doesn't break out Organic/Conventional, but they say all their small packages (1..12 lbs) of long grain brown are California grown.


09-10-2013, 08:15 AM
Iowa Debates Issuing Gun Permits To The Blind

September 9th, 2013 The National Memo
Henry Decker.

In January, Stevie Wonder considered buying a gun to illustrate the inanity of America’s gun reform debate.

“Imagine me with a gun,” the blind musician said at the time. “It’s crazy.”

Apparently, it’s not too crazy for Iowa. The Hawkeye State has been granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind, the Des Moines Register reports.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff’s office, told the Register.Polk County officials added that they’ve issued weapons permits to “at least three people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so becaue of visual impairments.”

Under Iowa state law, sheriffs cannot deny an individual the right to carry a gun based on physical disability; additionally, preventing the blind from obtaining weapons permits could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Still, allowing someone with a visual impairment to carry a weapon in public creates an obvious public health concern.

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere told the Register. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.”

That argument is not persuasive to Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who told the paper that trying to limit gun rights for the blind was a waste of time.

“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive,” he said.

The debate over arming the blind illustrates just how little progress gun reform efforts have made since Congress killed the Manchin-Toomey amendment in April. Iowa has gone from arguing over expanding gun sale background checks — a proposal which is supported by 75 percent of Iowans, according to a recent poll — to arguing about whether those whose vision is too impaired to drive a car should be allowed to carry a gun. If there really is a massive liberal conspiracy to eradicate Americans’ Second Amendment rights, it clearly isn’t very effective.

09-10-2013, 07:29 PM
A fine example of New Zealandish womanhood.


Waikato women's rugby team saves life, wins game

A Waikato rugby player is being hailed a "legend" by her teammates after she helped save a man's life at a bloody crash scene on the way to a game.

But Carrie Lobb, a member of the Waikato women's provincial team, reckons she's "certainly not a hero" and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
There were three crashes on north Waikato roads within about 90 minutes on Saturday morning that caused a 14-kilometre traffic jam on State Highway 1 as people made their way to Hamilton for the All Blacks test against Argentina.
About 10.15am, nine people were injured in a three-car pile-up . A second crash happened on a diversion set up by police. Then, shortly before 11.45am, a van rolled on a bend and smashed head-on into a bus carrying 34 tourists on Fisher Road.
The Waikato women's rugby team was travelling north for their game against Counties Manukau when they came across the mess.
They were among the first on the scene and quickly sprang into action, helping direct traffic.
Miss Lobb, a trainee surgeon, climbed onto the rolled van and provided emergency treatment for the trapped 58-year-old driver, who had deep cuts to his face.
"We couldn't get him out. I was just trying to keep an eye on his condition and trying to give him the best care we could," Miss Lobb said.
He was later pulled out the back window by emergency services and flown to Waikato Hospital.
Miss Lobb said it was a "team effort" to bring the situation under control.
"The game was the second thing on our minds. It's not heroic at all. It was just being in the right place at the right time."
Despite the delay, the team made it to Manukau with minutes to spare and won the game by one point: 16-15.

09-14-2013, 08:02 AM
Dog alerts parents to abusive babysitter.
(From Life With Dogs)

A woman who was abusing a baby has been arrested thanks to the family dog, who gave away his distrust of her when she came to the house.

Benjamin and Hope Jordan were horrified to learn that the woman they trusted to care for their son for five months had been abusing him when she thought no one was watching. But someone was – the dog.

The dog, whose name has not been given, served as baby Finn’s protector when his parents were away. The Jordans, who had recently moved to Charleston, South Carolina, hired 22-year-old Alexis Khan after she came up clean on a background check.

“We felt like Alexis was a good fit at the time,” said Benjamin Jordan.

But before long, they began to see some peculiar behavior from their dog.

“About five months into her being our baby sitter, we started to notice that our dog was very defensive of our son when she would come in the door,” Jordan said. “He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.”

The parents were suspicious, but had nothing substantial to go on. Hope suggested they keep tabs on Khan by putting an iPhone under the couch to record what happened while they were at work.

“It started with cussing,” Jordan said. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up.

“To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day…”

A few weeks later, Charleston City Police took Khan into custody. She pleaded guilty to assault and battery. She will serve one to three years in prison, and placed on a child abuse registry, preventing her from ever working with children. She will be eligible for parole after completing one year of her sentence.

“That is fantastic news to us. To know that maybe Finn’s ordeal has possibly saved another child’s life in the future,” Jordan said. “Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife’s instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the babysitter. You never know.”

The Jordans report that Finn is doing well, and seems to show no signs of trauma.



Full Tilt
09-14-2013, 09:18 AM
“He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.”

Yet they left this person in their home with a dog that several times tried to attack the babysitter.

Does this fact not set off anyone else's 'BS Alarms'?

Mike :confused:

09-19-2013, 12:37 PM
Four privacy settings you should enable in iOS 7 immediately

By Jason D. O'Grady for The Apple Core | September 19, 2013

Data backed up? Check.

iOS 7 installed? Check.

Data restored? Check.

Life is good and time to fire up your favoriteiTunes Radio station, right?

Not so fast.

Before diving into the beautiful, parallaxy, candy-colored world that is iOS 7, you need to adjust your privacy settings on your iPhone or iPad. If you like your Privacy, that is. Installing iOS 7 is pretty easy and, even if you don't back up your data ahead of time, it will usually put everything back right where it belongs.

Simple, right?

Well yes, that's how iOS 7 is designed to work. But don't let Apple's thin Helvetica Neue and and serene, dynamic wallpapers lull you into complacency. A whole number iOS upgrade is a big deal and it resets a bunch of your settings and adds other new ones that you should be aware of.

Apple hides its System Services settings all the way down at the bottom of the Privacy > Location Services panel. If you've owned your iPhone for more than a few months you'll have dozens (if not a hundred plus) app lists on this screen, making it a very long scroll. If you actually make it to the bottom of the list (most people don't) you'll see the fabled System Services setting and the explanation of what that little purple arrow icons means.

Learn this screen and commit the meanings of the three little arrow icons to memory. Then notice when they appear in the top right of your iOS menu bar and come back to Settings > Privacy > Location Services to see which apps are using your location data. Audit this screen frequently to disable location access for apps that don't need it.

Then touch System Services to reveal the most important privacy settings on your iPhone or iPad.

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services

I recommend turning off:

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Diagnostics & Usage

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The Diagnostics & Usage setting monitors everything you do on your iPhone and "anonymously" sends it to Apple for "improving iOS." Whatever. It's just like when all the major software companies changed their install screens from "send usage data" to "customer experience program" or some such If that option is on you're basically giving Apple your permission to monitor and record everything you do on your device.

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations
Frequent Locations is equally bad, if not more so. There was a big stir about this when iOS 7 beta 5 was released and the data it captures about your "frequent locations" can be downright creepy. In fact, for many it brought back memories of the Locationgate fiasco from iOS 4 in April 2011 when a "database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location" (a.k.a. Consolidated.db) was discovered on iOS 4 devices -- and the computers they're backed up to.

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Location-Based iAds
iAds created it's own privacy uproar in June 2010 when a 45-page update to Apple’s privacy policywhich detailed how your location information could be used to allow the company – and their "partners and licensees" – to "collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device." The privacy policy has been toned down quite a bit since then and Apple posted a knowledge base article titled "How to opt out of interest-based ads from the iAd network." I turn this off and am happy with "less relevant" ads being shown.

Lastly, you should turn off:

Settings > Safari > Do Not Track
Apple's one of the few companies that still supports the aging Do Not Track standard in its mobile Web browser. Even if it is considered dead and my colleague here at ZDNet Ed Bott called it "worse that a miserable failure," I turn it on anyway, for the few web servers that actually respect it.

About Jason D. O'Grady
Jason O'Grady is a journalist and author specializing in mobile technology. He has published six books on Apple and mobile gadgets and his PowerPage blog has been publishing for over 17 years.

09-19-2013, 12:48 PM
Six reasons why you should not immediately upgrade to iOS 7

Summary: If you're sticking with an older iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, your preferences may warrant holding off upgrading to iOS 7 straight away. Here are six good reasons.

By Zack Whittaker for Between the Lines | September 18, 2013

iOS 7 will begin showing up on compatible devices on September 18.
While we still have a few more days to wait before Apple's latest smartphones arrive in our hands, the next-generation mobile software iOS 7 will land on devices from Wednesday.

iOS 7 is the seventh major iteration of the mobile platform, which according to latest IDCand Gartner figures powers about 14 percent of all smartphones worldwide, compared to Android's massive 79 percent. That said, Apple's iPad tablet share remains strong at about one-third of the market.

The new software includes more than 200 new features, including an overhauled bright and colorful user interface. It also packs in a number of business-ready features designed to entice prosumers and enterprise users.

But not everyone will want to — or necessarily should — install the latest version on their iPhones and iPads.

Before you accept the automatic software upgrade on your phone, or head to iTunes to download the software, think again. Here are six important factors to consider.

1. Some apps won't be compatible right away
As with almost every new software version, apps often require a modest update at most to remain compatible. But some apps will fall behind simply fail to work — or fail to appear in the update list — because of an incompatibility issue.

In some cases, apps that were previously available may no longer be due to Apple having to approve each app before it can be downloaded by the end user. The technology giant has updated requirements for existing apps, such as user interface tweaks, and may not receive immediate approval. In some cases, apps can get stuck in the approval queue for weeks.

On the other hand, some apps will be designed specifically for iOS 7 and will be entirely worth the upgrade.

2. There isn't a jailbreak available (yet)
For some, jailbreaking a phone flings open the gates to Apple's walled garden of in-built features, apps, and services. For others, it's not even remotely important, and in some cases frowned upon by IT departments. That said, as many iPhone owners are bring-your-own-device (BYOD) users, many still prefer to have their devices running customization tweaks and features that non-jailbroken devices would lack.

While few iPhone developers have given a firm timeline for offering their jailbreak wares — it depends on how secure iOS 7 is, as jailbreak tools require exploiting the software's security layers — no doubt many security experts and hackers will be working tirelessly on it from the moment they land their hands on iOS 7. In some cases, it can take less than a day, but with every minor software update comes new fixes to prevent existing jailbreak tools from working.

3. Expect a few bugs and quirks in the first few weeks
According to some estimates, one percent of all iPhone traffic is already using a pre-release version of iOS 7. But that remains a mere fraction of the vast majority who will end up installing the finished and polished software.

But as the pool widens out to the general public, expect a few bugs and flaws that haven't yet been ironed out. This isn't a dig at Apple's quality control — in any major software upgrade from any manufacturer, you can expect (and likely have at some point experienced) the same. In line with previous years, updates will likely be coming to iOS 7 in the trailing weeks after its initial release to fix anything that users are struggling with.

4. If you're using a work phone, check with IT first
Despite the inclusion of new enterprise-focused features, such as per-app virtual private networking (VPN) and single sign-on support, business users may not be allowed to upgrade to the latest software until an IT administrator or CIO approves the software.

5. Older devices may experience sluggishnessIn any case, internal apps or mobile device management (MDM) solutions may not yet be compatible with the latest software, systems may need to be adjusted to accommodate new features, or it may simply be too early for businesses to risk jumping on the early adoption train so soon. If you upgrade without permission from work, you could find your device barred from use on the corporate network.

iOS 7 is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPod touch (5th generation), and iPad 2 tablets and later. Not all devices come with the same feature set as the brand new iPhone 5s and 5c smartphones, and the latest iPad with Retina display, as they require the latest hardware to work properly. (If the device isn't listed, such as iPhone 3GS handsets, you're unfortunately out of luck.)

Older compatible devices may still not see the full performance one might expect with the latest editions to Apple's smartphone and tablet lineup.

Users should be aware that older devices that retain iOS 7 compatibility may be slow or sluggish at times, particularly if the device is low on storage or when running multiple apps at the same time.

6. Downgrading to iOS 6 may be impossible
Though beta and pre-release versions of iOS 7 allowed developers and software testers to downgrade to the latest stable iOS 6.1.3 or 6.1.4 build, Apple is not expected to extend the same courtesy with the final "gold master" version of iOS 7.

As with other recent major iterations of iOS, it has become increasingly difficult — if not impossible — to downgrade to earlier major versions of iOS unless certain files are saved. Even then, it often requires third-party non-Apple apps, and this process is not officially supported. And for those running the latest devices with A5 and A6 chips, you're altogether out of luck due to the way the software is constructed.

09-19-2013, 01:19 PM
What's right (and wrong) with iOS 7

Summary: While iOS 7 undoubtedly has potential, in many ways it feels like an iTunes software update. Things have been moved and a whole lotta stuff looks different, but overall it doesn't feel much better.

By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes for Hardware 2.0 | September 2013
(Article is from ZDNet)

Apple's mobile operating system iOS 7 is out and waiting to be downloaded and installed onto hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices. But is it any good?

A few points I want to make right before we start on this journey of exploration.

Secondly, I've been using iOS for long time. I owned an iPod touch (1st generation) and since then have owned several iPhones and iPads, so I have a long history with the platform.First, this is a first impressions piece. The final software has been available for download for only a few hours (and it takes days, if not weeks, to get a full picture of an operating system), far too short a time for a full review. And since I wanted the full end user experience, I didn't make use iOS downloads aimed at developers that was available ahead of the official release because this isn't how everyone else gets iOS 7.

Finally, I'm testing iOS 7 on flagship hardware — the iPhone 5 and iPad 4 — and have yet to try it on older hardware.

What's right with iOS 7?
It works: No small achievement for a modern operating system.

Robust: I've thrown at lot at both the iPhone and iPad, and both seem rock solid under pressure.

Folders now hold more icons: Now I don't need to have multiple folders called "Games," but there is a catch (see below).

Easier to close running apps: The new behavior feels more like how Android works, which feels nicer and is a lot easier to carry out.

Edge-to-edge design: iOS 7 makes great use of the available screen real estate, and makes Android seem utterly wasteful.

Auto app updating: A real timesaver — even if there are some drawbacks (more on that shortly).

Improved Mail app: The new gesture controls are nice and give users more control over the scourge that is email.

Better security: iDevices are now more securely bound to Apple IDs, and wiping a device doesn't nuke its link to an to the Apple ID. This means that hardware should be less attractive to thieves.

Maps are better: Quite a lot better, as a matter of fact.

AirDrop for iOS is a killer feature: But there's a catch (see below).

Lots of little refinements: Such as being able to see timestamps in Message (swipe to the left), send and receive files using AirDrop, smoother Mail app, better Photos app, and being able to block people from getting in touch.
Now we've taken a brief look at some of iOS 7's highlights, let's now take a look at what's wrong with Apple's mobile platform. And I'll warn you from the start, there's a lot of ground to cover.

What's wrong with iOS 7?

Cryptic error messages at installation: When iOS works, it's great. But when it doesn't, the user is presented with cryptic, ambiguous error messages such as "Software Update Failed," which are way up there with the worst of what Microsoft could throw at users when something goes wrong.

Lag: I'm running iOS 7 on an iPhone 5 and an iPad 4 and still I'm feeling the operating system to be laggy and slow to respond to taps and swipes. Right now, I'm not sure if this is a built-in stylistic lag or whether the hardware is struggling to drive the interface. Either way, this is not a pleasant experience and requires optimization.

Poor response to touch: Finding myself having to tap and then retap often. More of a problem on the iPad.

Inconsistent keyboard: Some apps feature the new keyboard, some the old keyboard. Why, all of a sudden, do we havefragmentation at the keyboard level?

Mystery meat interface: The flat user interface look fresh ("flat" is the new "three-dimensional"), but at times it left me scratching my head trying to figure out what I'm supposed to click on.

Gestures battle royale: With iOS 7, Apple has added a whole bunch of features to the swipe up gesture, using it to bring up the new Control Center. The problem is not all apps are ready for this, and it can cause confusion in apps such as games. The only solution to such conflicts at present is to disable the feature.

Siri's new voices: The new voices sound like Siri has a kazoo rammed down its throat.

Home screen parallax is gimmicky atbest: At best it is a cheap gimmick, and at worst it's something that will give me motion sickness. The parallax effect also can push icon badges over the top of the status bar at the top of the screen, which looks ugly and unpolished. Fortunately, if you don't like this effect you can turn it off in the settings ("Reduce Motion" under "Accessibility").

Garish color schemes: iOS 7 seems to pick a color scheme for the operating system based on colors found in the background wallpaper, and while some of the choices are OK, some throw up a primordial soup of greens and browns that are neither aesthetic nor easy on the eye. It's time for Apple to allow users to custom pick colors.

Too much contrast and inconsistencies: The Reminders app has a white on black user interface, as does the FaceTime app, while Contacts, Calendar, and Clock is black on white. The Find My Friends app still has that leather skeuomorphic look. Is there some paradigm that Apple is going for here? If that's the case, it's too subtle for me.

Background updating and refreshing eats battery life: iOS 7 has the ability to both refresh app data and update apps automatically in the background, but my limited testing suggests this is very heavy on the battery. Turning this off helps (under "Background App Refresh and Settings" in "iTunes and App Store" settings).

Background updating and refreshing could be hard on data plans: With iOS doing more in the background, users could find themselves putting a lot more pressure on their data plans, which could make iOS 7 expensive.

Folder views only show nine icons: While the number of icons that a folder can hold has been increased, only nine icons are shown at any one time. This is a poor use of screen real estate and forces users to swipe unnecessarily.

Notifications panel is too big: It's too big and doesn't present enough at-a-glance data.

Poor color choices: Take the new Notes app as an example. Here we have yellow text against a white background. Not the clearest user interface. You can improve on this by increasing contrast (under the "Accessibility" setting).

Lock screen behavior has changed for the worse: When an older iOS 6 device was locked, a double-click of the home button would bring up the media controls when songs or audiobooks were playing. This feature has been replaced with a swipe, which feels trickier to do when on the treadmill for example.

AirDrop support too fragmented: Great feature but only works with the iPhone 5 and newer, the iPad (fourth-generation and later) and iPad Mini, and the iPod touch (fifth generation and later).

Settings app is too unwieldy: Microsoft had to add a search mechanism to Control Panel, and I think Apple needs to follow suit.

Tons of small bugs: Individually, nothing more than pin pricks, but cumulative it's death by a thousand pin pricks. These will be picked off over the coming weeks and months.
The bottom line
Time for a few conclusions. Right now, I'll admit to having mixed feelings about iOS 7. While I can't say that it is any worse than iOS 6, it's hard to conclusively say that it much better either. It's a case of ten steps forward in some areas, five steps back in others, and a few steps sideways in others.

Some aspects of iOS have certainly been improved. Core apps such as Messages, Photos, and Mail have been dramatically improved, and new features like AirDrop have the potential to be game changers. But most of these features could have been added to iOS 6.

But...A balance has been struck between revolutionary new features and evolutionary improvements.

While I think that iOS 7 has potential, I have to admit that I'm also worried. In many ways it feels like an iTunes software update, in that things have been moved and a whole bunch of things look different. Overall it doesn't feel much better. In fact, it feels confused and unfinished. The complexity of the "Settings" app alone also makes it quite evident that Apple hasn't yet come up with a good way organizing everything.

The state of iOS 7 at release, with its glaring user interface inconsistencies and strange development decisions, also casts doubt on whether lead Apple designer Jony Ive is any better at steering the look and feel of iOS than Scott Forstall was before he was pushed out of the company. It's also clear why we've had to wait over seven years for some basic features to be present of the iPhone — the problems related to consistency and complexity still haven't been figured out.

While new features are welcomed, packaging them into a new user interface feels like change for the sake of change, and makes the user learning curve far steeper than it need be.

Developing a fully-featured mobile operating system that works on limited screen space isn't easy.

iOS 7 might be out, but Apple has a lot of work left to do.

Edited on September 19 at 12 midday ET:With corrections

About Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology.

10-01-2013, 12:05 AM
For aging nuclear reactors, a coming surge of shutdowns
Kevin Gray | September 23, 2013 01:59am PDT
Defunct nuclear reactors are being cleaned up to be used for new purposes. But how safe will these ad-hoc radioactive dumps be?

When it first fired up its twin reactors in 1973, the Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois — roughly 40 miles north of Chicago — was the largest in the world. It was a stunning work of technology that supplied electricity to some two million homes. And it could have easily lived on into the new century. But in 1998, its parent company, the energy giant Exelon Corp, turned off its lights and shuttered the facility rather than face some costly upgrades.

For 12 years, Zion sat dormant on prime Lake Michigan shorefront as Exelon shelled out $10 million a year to maintain it and protect it with round-the-clock patrols of armed guards. By 2010, the facility had become home to drifting weeds and nesting falcons.

But that year, the federal government — in an arrangement never tried before — agreed to allow Exelon to transfer custody of the plant to EnergySolutions, a nuclear-waste storage outfit. The deal was worth a potential $1 billion in clean-up fees to EnergySolutions. It would be the largest nuclear power plant decommissioning ever undertaken in the United States. And it pledged to return the 375-acre site back to Exelon as grass and local shrubbery at the end of 10 years. From there it could be used for a park, condos or commercial purposes.

Following fears of meltdowns at Japan’s tsunami-ravaged Fukushima reactors in 2011, governments, utilities and private industry are eager to see the results of the deal. The storage of spent nuclear fuel and the dismantling and transportation of the reactor buildings takes technical skill and an innovative business plan, which could become a model for dozens of other nuclear plants being mothballed across the United States and around the world. And because President Obama refused in 2008 to re-open the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, the toxic byproducts in facilities need commercial resting places.

Today, despite some financial setbacks, EnergySolutions is ahead of its decommission schedule. And this October, it will begin the trickiest phase of its operation: moving the spent nuclear fuel from the wet storage pools in the reactor buildings to large concrete casks several yards away, where they will sit on a raised pad and remain indefinitely.

“The project is 42 percent complete,” says John Christian, head of logistics, processing and disposal at EnergySolutions and the man who has overseen the project from the start. “We’ve completed all the site prep and started to make waste shipment from the site.”

Ripping and shipping

Rows of ominous-looking concrete casks now rise on the gravel site. They stand 18 feet, 9 inches high, measure more than 11 feet in diameter and, when loaded, will weigh 157 tons each. They can withstand a tornado with winds up to 360 miles per hour, 4,000-pound wind-blown projectiles hurtling at speeds of 126 miles per hour, flooding, fire and even accidental tipping over. And they will soon house all 2.2 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel — and another 80,000 pounds of radioactive material — from the site.

In a process known as “rip and ship,” the company will next tear down sections of the plant and move them by rail to its radioactive waste facility in Clive, Utah, where they will be dumped wholesale and entombed beneath rock and clay. EnergySolutions expects to ship some 500,000 cubic feet of material — enough to fill 80 rail cars — everything from concrete walls, pipes, wiring, machinery, desks and chairs, much of it contaminated with low-level radiation. But the hottest stuff — the spent fuel — will remain right where it is.

EnergySolutions has spent the past year removing Zion’s fuel rods from a cooling pool and putting them into the canisters and casks for dry storage. The fuel, which is still about 400 degrees, can now be air cooled. Christian expects the company to begin moving the casks, via a heavy-haul rail, 100 yards south of the reactors by mid-October.

They will remain there until the feds come up with an alternative to Yucca Mountain. “Until we have a national repository open, this spent fuel has to stay where it is,” says Lawrence Boing, a nuclear decommissioning specialist at Argonne National Laboratory’s nuclear engineering division. “The big question now is what do we do with this stuff?”

That question comes at a time when the entire global decommissioning market is about to expand like at no other time during our nuclear era. In the past three years since the tsunami wreaked havoc on the Fukushima plants, more than 20 reactors have been ordered closed at a potential cost of $26 billion to the industry. That’s a boon to businesses like EnergySolutions that can lead to decades-long contracts for tear-downs.

“A lot of plants are approaching 40 years old, and at some point the owners are going to look around and either build a new one or say ‘This no longer makes economic sense,’” says Margaret Harding, a nuclear industry consultant based in Wilmington, Del.

She adds that the rise of cheap natural gas from shale fracking has put nuclear power on alert. On Aug. 27, energy company Entergy shocked both supporters and long-time opponents, who had fought for the closure of its 41-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor, among the oldest in the country. The company said it would do so, but not because of opposition. In the face of cheap gas, it was “no longer financially viable,” an Entergy executive said.

While Entergy said it could take decades to decommission the reactor, which it plans to shut down next year, other nuclear sites are moving to decommission at a faster pace. The global trends publisher Research and Markets reported last year that it expects the decommissioning market to surge as more than half the world’s reactors are expected to shut down by 2030, including 150 reactors across Europe, accounting for the bulk of them.

A financial challenge

In the United States, the people paying for these tear-downs are usually the electric utility’s ratepayers. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires each power plant operator to set aside a fund to dismantle or permanently encase its reactors. When Zion powered up, ratepayers began paying pennies on every bill to go into its fund. It stands at $1 billion.

The Zion project has been a financial challenge for EnergySolutions. In March 2012, it revealed it had underestimated the costs by about $100 million — an enormous amount considering the size of the decommissioning fund. A month later, it replaced its CEO for the second time in two years. The company’s new president, David Lockwood, told analysts it had intentionally underbid the project, hoping the publicity would help it land other teardowns around the world, including in Germany, which hopes to shutter all of its plants by 2022. “We undertook Zion for strategic, not financial, reasons,” Lockwood said.

Indeed, EnergySolutions has enormous technical skills. It helped tear down the Maine Yankee and Connecticut Yankee plants, and it is contracted to clean up roughly 53 million gallons of residual radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 aging tanks at the nation’s Hanford weapons site, home to the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It is also currently decommissioning 18 reactors in the United Kingdom and is designing and installing the system that will decontaminate water from the Fukushima plants down to safe level. “EnergySolutions has remarkable experience dealing with far higher contamination, and in far more complicated processes at sites like Hanford, than you are going to see at a commercial nuclear site,” says Harding, who has worked in this field for 30 years.

It also has the financial advantage of owning its own waste facilities. Its Utah site, where lower-level radioactive waste from Zion will be shipped, charges between $25 to $100 per cubic foot for waste storage. About 4 million cubic feet of Zion waste will be shipped there, monitored by 30 air-sampling stations, 90 ground-monitoring wells and 60 soil-sampling stations. This might cost another firm $400 million, a budget-breaking figure on a typical lump-sum project, but it’s one that should pay off for EnergySolutions.

This past January, in a sign of its financial struggles, a $7 billion private equity firm, Energy Capital Partners, bought the company for $1.1 billion and took it private, paying a 20-percent premium at $3.75 per share, over the company’s average closing share price. “For our company, this transaction enables us to continue to execute on our strategic plan by providing the investment capital to expand and to grow our business,” said Lockwood, indicating a desire to see the company grow into the expanding market here and overseas.

The fate of Zion’s dry storage casks is less certain. EnergySolutions will turn the casks and the Zion site as greenfield back to Exelon once it has completed decommissioning. Exelon could turn the area into a park. The casks are licensed for 20 years, with up to four year extensions. The NRC believes the fuel can be safely stored for at least 100 in casks. But the radioactive half life is 16 million years, with a defined hazardous life of 160 million years. The world will soon be dotted with these ad-hoc radioactive dumps.

10-01-2013, 12:12 AM
Wake up call: Both pilots are falling asleep in the cockpit
Mark Halper | SmartPlanet | September 27, 2013
Flying soon? Bring a noisemaker.

Anyone awake in there?

Airline pilots have revealed that it’s not uncommon for both pilots to fall asleep at the same time on two-pilot commercial flights.

The second sentence of this blog post is intentionally void of any information so that you can pause and take in what you just read.

Okay, back to business now.

The British Airline Pilots Association “circulated a survey of 500 commercial pilots suggesting half had fallen asleep on the flight deck and a third had woken up to find the other pilot asleep,” the BBC reported.

The survey came to light amid a report that two pilots had dozed off at the same time at 35,000 feet on August 13 while at the controls of a U.K. based Airbus A330 passenger flight. That revelation came via a Freedom of Information request by Data News Ltd., in which Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority did not reveal the exact flight but said hundreds of passengers were likely on board.

“One of the pilots had only five hours sleep over the previous two nights,” the BBC wrote. The two skippers were taking turns monitoring the auto-pilot system.

The news surfaces as the European Parliament gets ready to vote Monday on easing pilot safety restrictions. The looser regulations would allow a pilot to land an aircraft even after being awake for 22 hours, would increase the number of early starts, and, get this: Would allow only two pilots rather than three on the longest haul flights.

Going overseas soon? Bring a noisemaker.

10-04-2013, 09:01 PM
Fast-food chain grows produce close to Fukushima plant
Charlie Osborne |SmartPlanet | October 4, 2013

Despite reactor meltdowns which contaminated ground, water and air, a Japanese fast-food chain plans to grow food close to the Fukushima plant.

Safety worries have clouded Yoshinoya Holdings’ plans to grow vegetables close to the the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

The Japanese fast-food chain, known for selling “gyudon” — stewed beef and rice — has formed a joint venture with farmers local to Shirakawa, to the south-west of the plant. Farmers will grow onions, cabbage and rice for use in the chain’s outlets 60 miles from the power plant.

After an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered nuclear meltdowns. Roughly 160,000 people were evacuated and a compulsory safe-zone was established around the contaminated area, where air, ground and water all became poisoned.

Yoshinoya says the vegetables will be safe to consume, and the joint venture will “lead to support for reconstruction” of the area. However, contamination worries have resulted in low prices for Fukushima produce and substantial losses for local farmers.

In September, Japanese officials unveiled plans to control the spread of radioactive water coming from the plant. Two projects, one to contain the damaged reactors with a ring of subterranean ice and the other to construct a second processing plant to filter radioactive particles from contaminated water, are expected to cover a total of ¥47 billion.

On Thursday, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a speech in Nagoya that Japan should abandon nuclear power and opt for alternative, less dangerous and renewable means.

“I’m calling for zero nuclear power,” Koizumi said. “The sooner, the better.”

Via: NBC

10-04-2013, 09:05 PM
Fuel made from waste goes on sale in California
Charlie Osborne | October 3, 2013

Will fuel sourced from landfill sites tempt U.S. consumers?

Clean Energy has become the first commercial distributor of fuel made entirely from waste.

The largest provider of natural gas for transportation will offer drivers a new type of fuel, dubbed Redeem, which is made from waste streams including landfills, large dairies and sewage plants. The fuel will be available at 35 stations in California to begin with.

Clean Energy says that the fuel is up to 90 percent cleaner than diesel and completely renewable. The fuel, biomethane, is derived from biogenic methane or biogas — the gas extracted from organic waste. This gas is then captured and the methane gas is processed, purified and sent into natural gas pipelines.

Andrew J. Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy said:

“It’s a landmark day for Clean Energy as the first company to make this revolutionary and renewable transportation fuel made from waste available to our customers. Our goal is to produce and distribute 15 million gallons of Redeem in our first year which can make significant progress towards achieving California’s climate change goals and show that this is a viable, cleaner and abundant alternative fuel source for our future.”

Renewable natural gas fuels have not been readily available in the United States until now. Methane’s rise could be placed at the feet of natural gas drilling, which is slowly providing a source of energy away from fossil fuels like oil.

According to California Air Resource Board estimates, a fleet that consumes 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 9,700 metric tons by using Redeem — which is the equivalent of taking 1,940 passenger cars off the road per year.

Via: Clean Energy

10-05-2013, 11:08 AM
Just what is in that chicken nugget?
Reuters Kathryn Doyle Oct 4, 2013
By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Stand-up comedians have long joked that some things, like the actual components of chicken nuggets, are better left mysterious.

Recently, Mississippi researchers found out why: two nuggets they examined consisted of 50 percent or less chicken muscle tissue, the breast or thigh meat that comes to mind when a customer thinks of "chicken."

The nuggets came from two national fast food chains in Jackson. The three researchers selected one nugget from each box, preserved, dissected and stained the nuggets, then looked at them under a microscope.

The first nugget was about half muscle, with the rest a mix of fat, blood vessels and nerves. Close inspection revealed cells that line the skin and internal organs of the bird, the authors write in the American Journal of Medicine.

The second nugget was only 40 percent muscle, and the remainder was fat, cartilage and pieces of bone.

"We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it," lead author Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said.

"What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken," deShazo told Reuters Health.

"It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them."

The nuggets he examined would be okay to eat occasionally, but he worries that since they are cheap, convenient and taste good, kids eat them often. His own grandchildren "beg" for chicken nuggets all the time, and he compromises by making them at home by pan-frying chicken breasts with a small amount of oil, deShazo said.

"Chicken nuggets are an excellent source of protein, especially for kids who might be picky eaters," said Ashley Peterson, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Chicken Council (NCC), a non-profit trade group representing the U.S. chicken industry.

According to the NCC, its member producers and processors account for about 95 percent of the chicken produced in the U.S.

"This study evaluates only two chicken nugget samples out of the billions of chicken nuggets that are made every year," Peterson said. A sample size of two nuggets is simply too small to generalize to an entire category of food, she told Reuters Health.

Two nuggets is a small sample size, deShazo acknowledged, and some chains have begun to use primarily white meat in their nuggets - just not the particular restaurants he visited.

"Chicken nuggets tend to have an elevated fat content because they are breaded and fried. But it's no secret what is in a chicken nugget - most quick service restaurants have nutritional information posted in the store or on their website," Peterson said.

"And every package of chicken nuggets in the grocery store by law contains an ingredient list and a complete nutritional profile, including fat content," she said.

The brief chicken nugget exploration was not meant to be an exposé of the chicken industry or fast food generally, but to remind consumers that "not everything that tastes good is good for you," deShazo said.

He and his colleagues chose not to reveal which chain restaurants they visited.

Consumers aren't necessarily being misled, since much of the nutritional information they need is readily available, he said.

"We just don't take the time to understand basic nutritional facts."

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/16Inpg8 American Journal of Medicine, online September 13, 2013.

10-06-2013, 12:52 PM
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon bartender just got the tip of a lifetime.One of Aurora Kephart's regulars at Conway's Restaurant and Lounge in Springfield often tips her with Keno tickets from the Oregon Lottery. On Tuesday evening, the man who wishes to remain anonymous asked Kephart to choose two.When she checked the numbers, Kephart's first ticket won $5. The second turned into a $17,500 gratuity."The look on his face was incredible," Kephart, 25, told The Register-Guard newspaper (http://is.gd/I9P2nA ). "I automatically handed it back to him; it was his ticket."But the man wouldn't take the ticket and made Kephart sign it so she would be the only one able to collect the prize.Kephart said 80 percent of her customers are regulars, and they were excited for her."The reaction was crazy," Kephart said. "Everyone was so amped up."With the bar busy, Kephart went right back to work, her brain "scrambled" by the big tip. The next day, she claimed her prize at the Oregon Lottery office in Salem.Kephart said she gave the man a percentage of her winnings. "I just couldn't not give him some of it," she said.Kephart said she plans to buy a new couch with her share and save the rest. Those modest plans earned her teasing from the bar's regulars, but she had been looking for a couch before going to work Tuesday and was scared off by the prices."I never realized how expensive couches were," she said. "Instead of waiting till Christmas or later, now I can buy something I really need."___Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

10-08-2013, 09:34 AM
Astaxanthin: New Super-Nutrient Fights Aging
Sunday, 06 Oct 2013

Astaxanthin, a powerful, natural antioxidant that gives the reddish color to salmon, is a new nutritional superstar. According to experts, this amazing supplement, which is in the carotenoid family, is thousands of times more powerful at scavenging free radicals than vitamin C, and may be a major key to preventing the degenerative diseases of aging.

“One of the major ways our body ages is through oxidative stress, and astaxanthin is one of the most potent natural antioxidants available to help prevent this degenerative damage,” Joseph Mercola, M.D., author of the New York Times best-seller The No- Grain Diet, told Newsmax Health.

“Astaxanthin is hundreds of times more effective than vitamin E in squelching singlet oxygen free radicals, and far exceeds the free-radical scavenging power of vitamin C, CoQ10, beta-carotene, and green tea,” said Dr. Mercola, director of the Optimal Wellness Center.

“It’s 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 500 times stronger than vitamin E, and 3,000 times stronger than resveratrol and quercetin.”

Studies have shown astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin):

Fights dementia. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that astaxanthin reduces harmful free radicals in the blood by 50 percent. “We have found that there is an abnormal accumulation of hydroperoxides within red blood cells in people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Mercola. “We now know that if you give these patients astaxanthin, the amount of peroxides — harmful free radicals — is reduced by 50 percent. That’s a significant reduction.”

Reduces arthritis pain. When arthritis patients were given 4 mg of astaxanthin, they reported an 85 percent improvement in their pain and a 60 percent improvement in mobility. And 60 percent said the supplement was just as effective as prescription drugs.

Lowers cholesterol. People with high cholesterol levels were given 6, 12, or 18 mg doses of astaxanthin daily. At the end of 12 weeks, astaxanthin significantly decreased triglycerides and increased HDL (good) cholesterol, although total cholesterol levels were unchanged. The study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, found the greatest increases in HDL cholesterol in the groups taking 6 and 12 mg.

Shields diabetics. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that astaxanthin protects cells against damage caused by high sugar levels, reducing the risk of kidney disease, neuropathy, and diabetic retinopathy.

Prevents heart disease. A report in Future Cardiology analyzed eight clinical trials and found that astaxanthin fights oxidative stress and inflammation — two main components in the development of heart disease. And a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism found that astaxanthin reduced levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker of inflammation.

Other studies have shown that astaxanthin smoothes wrinkles, safeguards eyes, increases endurance and strength, boosts fat loss, and improves male fertility.

Dr. Mercola believes astaxanthin is safe and effective and advises his patients to add it to their health regimen. A good food source of astaxanthin is Pacific salmon. Astaxanthin is widely available from websites, health food and drugstores.

From: NewsMax Health

Full Tilt
10-08-2013, 09:35 AM
Can it do anything for 'Housemaids knee'?

10-08-2013, 10:06 AM
Too Much Sleep as Damaging as Too Little: Study

NewsMax Health | Friday 04 Oct 2013

Getting too little or too much sleep is associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, a new study finds.

"Sleeping longer doesn't necessarily mean you're sleeping well," said Dr. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "It is important to understand that both the quality and quantity of sleep impact your health . . . When and how you sleep is just as important as what you eat or how you exercise."

Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, Badr said in an academy news release.

For the study, published in the October issue of the journal Sleep, researchers looked at more than 54,000 Americans aged 45 and older in 14 states. About one-third of them were short sleepers (less than six hours per night), 4 percent were long sleepers (10 or more hours) and 64 percent were optimal sleepers (seven to nine hours).

Compared to optimal sleepers, short sleepers were more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and frequent mental distress. The same was true for long sleepers, and the associations with heart disease, stroke and diabetes were even stronger with more sleep.

Study co-author Janet Croft said some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep duration and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and obesity. "This suggests that physicians should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition to sleep health for patients with chronic diseases," said Croft, a senior chronic disease epidemiologist in the division of population health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sleep illnesses -- including sleep apnea and insomnia -- occur frequently in people with a chronic disease and can hinder your ability to sleep soundly, Badr noted. "So if you're waking up exhausted, speak with a sleep physician to see if there's a problem. If you are diagnosed with a sleep illness, treating it could significantly improve disease symptoms and your quality of life," Badr explained.

10-08-2013, 10:24 AM
Can it do anything for 'Housemaids knee'?

Seems like time is the healer, and avoiding those things that abdicate it.


Ask the doctor: Housemaid's knee? Don't let your GP go near it!
By Dr. Martin Scurr | Daily Mail.uk

Dr Martin Scurr has been treating patients for more than 30 years and is one of the country's leading GPs. Here he tackles housemaid's knee...

" I’m 47 and have always been fit and healthy, but a few months ago I developed a large swelling on my right knee. The doctor diagnosed bursitis (or housemaid's knee). Resting it didn’t help, so she drained it and gave me a steroid injection.
I’ve now had this done three times, but the swelling remains. I then saw an orthopaedic specialist who suggested surgery.
Both the doctor and specialist said the swelling is not harmful and it doesn’t hurt, although it tingles when I’ve been walking a lot. Is an operation absolutely necessary? Ruth Elaine Power, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. "

Dr Scurr says... Housemaid's knee is actually one of two types of swelling you can develop at the front of the knee. The other is known as clergyman’s knee. Both are painless, fluid-filled swellings (the size of a squashy tangerine) which develop as a result of a minor injury. The difference between them is simply in their location.

If the swelling is in front of the kneecap, it’s called housemaid’s knee. These days, thanks to Hoovers and other modern gadgets few cleaning ladies develop it. However it’s an occupational hazard for those who do a lot of kneeling, such as floor tile layers or carpet fitters.

When the swelling occurs just below the kneecap, over the patellar tendon, it is called clergyman’s knee - probably because that’s where you apply pressure when kneeling at prayer.

Housemaid's knee: It's one of two types of swelling you can develop on the front of the knee

Both are quite harmless and can be left alone. They are also very common - I probably see one every week. Officially the condition is called bursitis. Small sacs of fluid - or bursa - are found naturally around the joints.

Their job is to help reduce friction and give the joint flexibility. But if the area becomes damaged, the bursa swells with increased in fluid in the sac, leading to bursitis.
It is always tempting for a doctor to draw the fluid off through a needle - we like doing those craft-based techniques which we so often did as hospital doctors during our training.

But the swelling usually reappears within days because the fluid is the body’s way of cushioning a vulnerable bony point, and unless the irritation is reduced it will go on trying to protect the area.

Adding cortisone after removing the fluid might help prevent recurrence, but as you found, it is not always effective.
And the risk of doing this is that the needle opens a highway for germs, and the swelling can become infected. It can then take weeks of antibiotic treatment to settle the whole mess down. Even then, the bursa will remain. Infection can also occur spontaneously.

Surgery means a keyhole operation to remove the fluid-filled sac. The joint can function without the bursa. However, I think a sensible approach is to do nothing.

These swellings often remain for a year or two and then slowly subside, eventually disappearing.

It is well worth waiting if you can bear the unsightly appearance. And certainly do all you can to keep off your knees.

10-08-2013, 01:20 PM
The 10 Smartest Dog Breeds
By Pet360 | Pets – Mon, Oct 7, 2013

By Cheryl Lock | Pet360.com

Sure your dog's clever … but is he or she one of the smartest dog breeds out there? "While all dogs are smart, certain breeds are more intelligent at specific tasks than others," said Lisa Peterson, spokesperson with the American Kennel Club. Now we know every dog is different, and mixed-breeds are some of the smartest, so we want to mention them up front. If you have a mixed breed (or any breed!) that's great at a certain task, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Meanwhile we asked the AKC to help us list 10 dog breeds that excel in intelligence, especially when it comes to the job they do.

1. Border Collie
Known as the workaholic of the dog world and prized for its intelligence and working ability, the Border Collie excels at agility. Border Collies have extraordinary instinct and need a job to do in order to be happy.

2. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is extremely smart at police work. They are well-known to be the world's leading police, military,and guard dog. They're also loyal and dependable.

3. Bloodhound
Bloodhounds are the best at trailing. They are often used in police work and search and rescue. Their scenting abilities are so exceptional that a Bloodhound's mantrailing results are permissible in court.

4. Beagle
Beagles tend to follow their nose, which makes them exceptional at detection work. Bed bugs became a major problem for businesses and homeowners over the past few years, so the Beagle came to the rescue. With their excellent noses, exterminators and business owners enlisted the dog's incredible abilities to find where bed bugs were hiding so humans could get rid of them.

5. Labrador Retriever
Labs are the smartest guide dogs. They are highly trainable and are very eager to please. This is also why Labs make such great family pets and are the most popular dog, according to AKC Registration Statistics.

6. Newfoundland
Newfoundlands are the smartest at water rescue. They have a large lung capacity that enables them to be masters at long-distance swimming, and they have true lifesaving instincts in the water. They are intelligent and easily trained.

7. Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois are extremely smart military dogs. They are strong, agile, highly trainable and have a strong desire to work. They are confident and naturally protective, which makes them effective at military work.

8. Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies excel at sledding. They were bred in Northeast Asia as sled dogs, and have amazing endurance and willingness to work.

9. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are very smart assistance dogs. They have an innate working ability, are intelligent and have an eager-to-please attitude

10. Australian Shepherds
Aussies are amazing herders--the breed lives for its job. Aussies are adaptable, energetic, intelligent and have very strong natural herding instincts.

(This is according AKC)

10-10-2013, 01:46 PM
'Heroic' Passenger Lands Plane Solo After Pilot Collapses
By ABC News | ABC News Blogs – Wed, Oct 9, 2013

A passenger with no flying experience managed to complete a harrowing landing at a British airport on Tuesday after the pilot of the small plane he was flying in collapsed.

John Wildey landed the four-seater aircraft in the dark having never attempted a landing before. "I hadn't a clue what to do to get down," he told the BBC.

"It's nothing short of heroic. He remained calm throughout the incident and keeping his head saved his life," a spokesman for Humberside Airport told ABC News.

According to the spokesman, the plane set off from Sandtoft Airfield (roughly 25 miles from Humberside) and they were on their way back after a daylong trip when the pilot was stricken.

Humberside Airport received a mayday call from the Cessna 172 aircraft, alerting the control room that the pilot had collapsed leaving Wildey, the only other person on board, with no other choice than to perform an emergency landing.

When the emergency was announced at the airport, police, ambulances and 55 firefighters arrived at the North Lincolnshire airport along with two flying instructors, who were tasked with the job of helping the passenger land the plane.

Roy Murray, an instructor at the Frank Morgan School of Flying was one of the people in communication with Wildey.

"We had to get him to do two to three circuits. The last one was not very good so we told him to go round again and on the fourth one he managed it," Murray said in a press conference.
The instructor said that he did a "beautiful," job landing the plane, adding, "I would not be frightened to fly with him."

Wildey described the landing as "a controlled crash," saying that the plane hit the ground with a large "bump."

Although an eyewitness is reported to have seen sparks fly from the plane during the landing, Humberside Airport say that no damage was done to the airfield. The plane did end up on the grass when Wildey turned off the tarmac at the end of the landing. A punctured tire was the only damage done to the aircraft.

The pilot, who has not been named, has died, according to Humberside police. According to a statement, an autopsy will be done, though "the death is not being treated as suspicious."

10-11-2013, 10:00 AM
Associated Press By ARIEL DAVID 10.10.2013
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — If you thought recycling was just a modern phenomenon championed by environmentalists and concerned urbanites — think again.

There is mounting evidence that hundreds of thousands of years ago, our prehistoric ancestors learned to recycle the objects they used in their daily lives, say researchers gathered at an international conference in Israel.

"For the first time we are revealing the extent of this phenomenon, both in terms of the amount of recycling that went on and the different methods used," said Ran Barkai, an archaeologist and one of the organizers of the four-day gathering at Tel Aviv University that ended Thursday.

Just as today we recycle materials such as paper and plastic to manufacture new items, early hominids would collect discarded or broken tools made of flint and bone to create new utensils, Barkai said.

The behavior "appeared at different times, in different places, with different methods according to the context and the availability of raw materials," he told The Associated Press.

From caves in Spain and North Africa to sites in Italy and Israel, archaeologists have been finding such recycled tools in recent years. The conference, titled "The Origins of Recycling," gathered nearly 50 scholars from about 10 countries to compare notes and figure out what the phenomenon meant for our ancestors.

Recycling was widespread not only among early humans but among our evolutionary predecessors such as Homo erectus, Neanderthals and other species of hominids that have not yet even been named, Barkai said.

Avi Gopher, a Tel Aviv University archaeologist, said the early appearance of recycling highlights its role as a basic survival strategy. While they may not have been driven by concerns over pollution and the environment, hominids shared some of our motivations, he said.

"Why do we recycle plastic? To conserve energy and raw materials," Gopher said. "In the same way, if you recycled flint you didn't have to go all the way to the quarry to get more, so you conserved your energy and saved on the material."

Some cases may date as far back as 1.3 million years ago, according to finds in Fuente Nueva, on the shores of a prehistoric lake in southern Spain, said Deborah Barsky, an archaeologist with the University of Tarragona. Here there was only basic reworking of flint and it was hard to tell whether this was really recycling, she said.

"I think it was just something you picked up unconsciously and used to make something else," Barsky said. "Only after years and years does this become systematic."

That started happening about half a million years ago or later, scholars said.

"We find several levels of reuse and recycling," he said. "The bones were shattered to extract the marrow, then the fragments were shaped into tools, abandoned, and finally reworked to be used again."For example, a dry pond in Castel di Guido, near Rome, has yielded bone tools used some 300,000 years ago by Neanderthals who hunted or scavenged elephant carcasses there, said Giovanni Boschian, a geologist from the University of Pisa.

At other sites, stone hand-axes and discarded flint flakes would often function as core material to create smaller tools like blades and scrapers. Sometimes hominids found a use even for the tiny flakes that flew off the stone during the knapping process.

At Qesem cave, a site near Tel Aviv dating back to between 200,000 and 420,000 years ago, Gopher and Barkai uncovered flint chips that had been reshaped into small blades to cut meat — a primitive form of cutlery.

Some 10 percent of the tools found at the site were recycled in some way, Gopher said. "It was not an occasional behavior; it was part of the way they did things, part of their way of life," he said.

He said scientists have various ways to determine if a tool was recycled. They can find direct evidence of retouching and reuse, or they can look at the object's patina — a progressive discoloration that occurs once stone is exposed to the elements. Differences in the patina indicate that a fresh layer of material was exposed hundreds or thousands of years after the tool's first incarnation.

Some participants argued that scholars should be cautious to draw parallels between this ancient behavior and the current forms of systematic recycling, driven by mass production and environmental concerns.

"It is very useful to think about prehistoric recycling," said Daniel Amick, a professor of anthropology at Chicago's Loyola University. "But I think that when they recycled they did so on an 'ad hoc' basis, when the need arose."

Participants in the conference plan to submit papers to be published next year in a special volume of Quaternary International, a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the study of the last 2.6 million years of Earth's history.

Norm Catto, the journal's editor in chief and a geography professor at Memorial University in St John's, Canada, said that while prehistoric recycling had come up in past studies, this was the first time experts met to discuss the issue in such depth.

Catto, who was not at the conference, said in an email that studying prehistoric recycling could give clues on trading links and how much time people spent at one site.

Above all, he wrote, the phenomenon reflects how despite living millennia apart and in completely different environments, humans appear to display "similar responses to the challenges and opportunities presented by life over thousands of years."

10-11-2013, 10:24 AM
Kissing the key to finding Mr Darcy
11 October 2013 BBC News

Kissing helps us assess potential partners if, like a Jane Austen heroine, we cannot wait forever for Mr Darcy to come along, a study suggests.

Scientists believe kissing helps people judge the quality of a potential mate through taste, smell and fitness.

Once in a relationship, the Oxford University study found kissing was a way of getting a partner to stick around.

Women were found to value kissing more highly in long-term relationships.

An online survey of 900 adults by the Oxford team, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, showed that men and women who were more attractive or had more casual sex partners were more selective in choosing mates, and those groups valued kissing more highly.

This suggests that kissing helps in sizing up a potential partner, the study says.

'Social cues'

Professor Robin Dunbar, from the department of experimental psychology at Oxford University, said courtship in humans was complex and involved a whole series of assessments before men and women decided to carry on their relationship.

"Initial attraction may include facial, body and social cues. Then assessments become more and more intimate as we go deeper into the courtship stages, and this is where kissing comes in.

"In choosing partners, we have to deal with the 'Jane Austen problem': How long do you wait for Mr Darcy to come along when you can't wait forever and there may be lots of you waiting just for him? At what point do you have to compromise for the curate?"

Prof Dunbar said that Jane Austen, whose works of romantic fiction included Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, realised that people were extremely good at assessing where they were in the "mating market" and pitching their demands accordingly.

"It depends what kind of poker hand you've been dealt.

"If you have a strong bidding hand, you can afford to be much more demanding and choosy when it comes to prospective mates," he said,

Feelings of affection

If kissing plays a part in selecting a partner then it also plays an important role before sex in short relationships and at a range of different times in committed relationships, the study found.

The study found that kissing was particularly important to women in long-term relationships.

This may be because it plays a role in increasing feelings of affection and attachment among couples, the researchers suggest.

Previous research had found that women placed greater value on activities that strengthen long-term relationships because being pregnant and raising children is easier when two parents are present.

In another study in Human Nature, researchers from Oxford suggest that women's attitude to romantic kissing also depends on where in their menstrual cycle and their relationship they are.

Women valued kissing most at the start of a relationship and around the time they were most likely to conceive in their cycle.

10-12-2013, 01:59 PM
Facebook policy change leaves users with nowhere to hide

BGR.com By Zach Epstein Oct 11, 2013 2:30 PM

Facebook users who prefer to lurk in the shadows will not be terribly pleased to learn of a new change to Facebook’s privacy settings that is currently in the process of being rolled out.

Facebook users until now have had the option to hide their accounts from the website’s search service. Enabling the setting would mean that their profiles would not be included in search results even when people search for them by name. This will no longer be the case once Facebook removes the privacy option in question, however. Facebook says that the new change will only impact a single-digit percentage of its user base, but we’re not sure how comforting that is. Considering Facebook is currently home to about 1.2 billion users, that means this change could impact more than 100 million people around the world.

10-14-2013, 10:02 AM
10 signs it's time to let an employee go
By Jack Wallen in 10 Things | TechRepublic | October 9, 2013

For some it's tough to let an employee go, even when the signs are obvious. If you see these behaviors, prepare to make a personnel move.

Everyone has done it – held on to an employee too long. For whatever reason (the person is family, a friend, or you just fear the whole process), you just can't seem to muster up the courage to get rid of that one particular employee. For some managers/owners, it's a simple process. For others, the prospect of releasing an employee is a gut-wrenching experience they'd rather avoid. It doesn't have to be. Not when you have telltale signs it's time to let that employee go. Sometimes, he or she is practically asking for it.

Use these as tips for how and when you should release an employee.

1. Apathy

The biggest problem with apathy is that it not only prevents people from doing their jobs, it's quite contagious. Should you wind up with an outbreak of apathy, recovery can be quite a chore. If an apathetic employee is one who previously displayed no such behavior, it would be to your benefit to get a feel for what's going on. If the employee is undergoing a personal issue, make sure he understands that, although you respect his personal life, he needs to keep the apathy in check. If the employee indicates no issues are going on, then it's very likely his apathy is aimed specifically at work.

2. Disappearing acts

If disappearing acts are preceded by the employee dressing up (beyond the norm) or other changes in behavior, it could mean he's already scouting out new employment. If not, he could simply be skirting his duties. Either way, ducking out beyond regularly scheduled breaks is a sure sign you have an employee who feels he's above and beyond the job. Not only do you risk other employees assuming unscheduled disappearing acts are allowed, those who do follow the rules will become resentful.

3. Arguments

Argumentative employees usually take two forms: those employees who feel strongly about their positions and those who have grown weary of their environment and wish to argue for the simple act of releasing aggression. If the former, congratulations, you have a passionate employee! If the latter, you have someone on your team who has reached the point where a blowup is imminent. When the latter begins frequently arguing with you, other management, fellow employees, or clients, it's a very good sign that it's time for that employee to go. If you're kindhearted, you could (and probably should) bring the employee in for a conference to see if any issues can be resolved. Otherwise, it's "Hit the road."

4. Productivity decline

Production loss can come for many reasons. Sometimes staff can become overloaded with work or be placed on a project they have no business on because they lack the skill set. Other times, a drop in production can come for no apparent reason. It's when this type of slowdown occurs that attention must be paid to the culprit. If the employee in question seems to be spending more time with his eyes in places other than their work, it's time to bring that employee in for a chat. When that happens, the employee will either deny your claims or make excuses for his (in)action.

5. Secrecy

Huddled employees who scatter when you appear are a problem. When you start hearing whispered tales around the office, that could mean dissension is spreading like wildfire. In some cases, those tales can be traced back to one particular member of the team. It's always best to get to the heart of the matter before that discontent (or false information) is spread among the masses.

6. Disaffection

Cleaning house is a bad sign. When you an employee slowly removing her personal effects from her desk, you should take that as a sure bet the employee is starting to disassociate herself from her job and the company. The end game in this scenario is a slow severing of the ties that bind. During that process bad blood can be spilled. If you find this employee already dangling on an unsteady precipice, it's time she was cut loose.

7. Pot-stirring

This one of the most damaging behaviors you'll find in the office. When you see signs of this behavior, the first thing you must do is find out who is holding the spoon. The one fomenting trouble, whether it's by spreading rumors or setting employees against one another, is doing so for a reason (either legitimate or not). That staff member must be dealt with quickly or you'll never calm the sauce of your department/company.

8. Unreasonable demands

When an employee becomes dissatisfied with either her jobs or her work environments, she'll start asking for things that aren't realistic. She is practically begging for you to let them go. If you find this to be the case, oblige her. Do take one thing under consideration – if more than one employee seems to be making unreasonable demands, it is upon you to figure out if there is one employee driving this coup or if you have actually created an environment that breeds such behavior. Take responsibility and try to view the situation objectively; you might discover something that can be easily remedied.

9. Redundancy

If you're lucky, you can afford to keep someone around for the times when his or her skills are a necessity, even if that need ebbs and flows. When business is in high demand, those redundancies can keep you afloat, but when business is slow, you're spending more than you need. The most important thing is to try and strike a balance. But economics might lead to the hard decision to cull the herd a bit, and rely on a contractor if and when the situation requires it.

10. Internal affairs

I'm not talking about run-of-the-mill office politics. I'm talking about emotional and sexual affairs. It's tough to devise a policy that prevents dating among employees, but it's smart. As much as we don't want to admit this, inter-office romance can be a breeding ground for big trouble. When this happens, you'll find yourself cleaning up messes you don't want to be involved in. Try to avoid this altogether by creating a strong policy concerning relationships in the workplace. If someone breaks that policy – they have to go.

The hiring and firing of employees is a tough business. This is especially true when you're trying to create an environment of trust and ease. In the end, there will always be hard decisions to make.


About Jack Wallen
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for Techrepublic and Linux.com. As an avid promoter/user of the Linux OS, Jack tries to convert as many users to open source as possible. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux (a melding of Ubuntu ...

10-15-2013, 01:37 PM
NSA Collects Americans' Email Contact Lists

Monday, 14 Oct 2013
By Cathy Burke |NewsMax News

The National Security Agency collects contact lists of email and instant message services from users worldwide, and Americans are among those whose data is being harvested.

The revelations, from senior intelligence officials and documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, were reported by The Washington Post on Monday.

The program feeds off email address books and buddy lists transmitted by various online services when users sign on, write a message, or sync their computers or mobile devices to one another, The Post reported.

Instead of targeting individual users, the lists are described as being collected en masse, in hopes of letting the spy agency map out and discover relationships between various players.

A similar NSA program mapping social ties and relationships of Americans was reported by The New York Times last month.

According to a summary provided by The Post, the harvested "contact lists" are the online address books that allow users of Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, Facebook and other online services to keep track of their friends, family and business associates.

Address books contain the email addresses of people whom users are in contact with via email or chat. In some services, including Google Contacts and Facebook, they can also include full names, addresses and phone numbers.

Many smartphones and computers allow you to "sync" your contacts to services such as Google and Facebook.

Leading web-based email services generate contact lists automatically as a result of sending, and sometimes receiving, emails. These lists allow users to compose emails more quickly via an "auto-complete" feature.

A document supplied to The Post by Snowden indicates that in a typical day, the NSA collected 444,743 email address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail, and 22,881 from other providers.

Those figures correspond to a rate of more than 250 million per year, The Post reported.

Although the collection takes place overseas, two senior U.S. intelligence officials told The Post that it sweeps in the contacts of many Americans. The number is likely to be in the millions or tens of millions, The Post reported.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, told The Post the agency "is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers. We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans."

Ther spokesman, Shawn Turner, said rules approved by the attorney general require the NSA to “minimize the acquisition, use, and dissemination” of information that identifies a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The NSA’s collection of nearly all U.S. call records under a separate program has generated a storm of controversy since it was revealed June, but has been upheld by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The data snooping was defended Monday by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The NSA has not been authorized by Congress or the special intelligence court that oversees foreign surveillance to collect contact lists in bulk.

Senior intelligence officials told The Post it would be illegal to do so from facilities in the United States, but another official said the NSA avoids the restrictions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by intercepting contact lists from access points "all over the world."

"None of those are on U.S. territory," that official told The Post.

An unnamed intelligence official told The Post that the privacy of Americans is protected despite mass collection, because "we have checks and balances built into our tools."

Google spokesman Niki Fenwick told The Post: “We have neither knowledge nor participation in any mass collection of webmail addresses or chat lists by the government."

At Microsoft, spokesman Nicole Miller said the company "does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customers’ data," adding that "we would have significant concerns if these allegations about government actions are true."

Facebook spokesman Jodi Seth told the newspaper "we did not know and did not assist" in the NSA’s interception of contact lists.

Suzanne Philion, a Yahoo spokesman, said Monday in response to an inquiry from The Post that beginning in January Yahoo would start encrypting all its email connections.

10-16-2013, 07:47 AM
Moose Die-Off- What’s The Cause
By Ellisha Rader Mannering | WebProNews/Science | 10.15.2013

Moose populations are declining at a rapid rate across the United States, causing many scientists to worry about their survival as a species. Montana is one of the locations where the populations are declining the most. There were once two different moose populations that numbered in the thousands. Now there are much fewer, with one population dropping down to less than 300 moose.

Biologists are working hard to protect the animals and have gone to great efforts to keep track of their numbers. They are also trying to determine what could be causing these animals to die off in such large numbers. One of the most likely reasons is the climate changes. According to scientists, the winters in Montana and many other northern states are getting shorter and the winter tick populations are growing larger.

Winter ticks can devastate moose populations by spreading disease. They can also cause hair loss, exposing the moose to the cold and even anemia, making the moose to weak to find food. Other parasites such a brain worms and liver flukes could also be causing the moose populations to decline. Some scientists believe that the shorter winters are causing the moose to suffer from heat stress.

Deforestation of areas where moose live could be another reason for dwindling moose populations. When trees are taken, moose are unable to find adequate shelter or protection from humans and predators. To ensure that overhunting is not the issue, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have issued less moose hunting permits and created better regulations. With so many factors at play, it may take a while before biologists can determine the exact cause or causes of the moose die-offs.

“It’s complicated because there’s so many pieces of this puzzle that could be impacted by climate change,” said Erika Butler, until recently the wildlife veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Earlier this year, $1.2 million study using advanced monitoring technology to find moose as soon as they die. The animals are given transmitters in their food and the transmitters monitor vital signs. If the moose’s heart stops, the transmitter sends a signal and the scientists can quickly find the dead moose before predators carry away or eat the carcass. These efforts may help biologists develop new conservations plans to help rebuild moose populations in the northern United States.

10-16-2013, 08:32 AM
Tiny Homes: Man Lives in Self-Built Hobbit Hole in Rural Oregon
Trending Now By Henry Baker 10.15.2014. (Yahoo News)

Living simply can be thought of as a virtue. Dan Price practices this virtue in a rather extreme way, living on $5,000 a year, mostly in a self-described "hobbit hole" near Joseph, Oregon. For more than 20 years, Price has been living in the small underground structure that he built from mostly found materials on the horse pasture where it lies.

Once a photojournalist with a wife and two kids, he moved from Kentucky to his native Oregon to live a simple life after reading Harlan Hubbard's book "Payne Hollow," in which the author describes moving to a meager cottage in Ohio. In addition to the hobbit hole, Price made himself a bathhouse and sauna, a workshop, and a garage for his TerraTrike, a three-wheeled off-road bicycle that he uses to get around.

During the warm months of the year, Price lives on the horse pasture where his shelter is, paying the landowners $100 a month. In the colder months, he surfs in Hawaii. In addition to odd jobs around town, Price sells a zine called "Moonlight Chronicles."

And the reason for his disconnection? He told NBC News, "I don't believe in houses or mortgages. Who in their right mind would spend their lifetime paying for a building they never get to spend time in because they are always working?"

Web commenters were understanding of Price's lifestyle, but a bit circumspect. One person wrote, "A lot of people around the world live in worse conditions, not by choice, and they somehow get by. A lot of the things we take for granted aren't really necessary. I doubt I could do what these people are doing, but a part of me understands it."

10-17-2013, 01:25 PM
This Single Supplement Fights Alzheimer's, Cancer, Diabetes
Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard | NewsMax Health

Mom always encouraged you to eat fish, saying it was "brain food," and modern science has once again proved mom right. Studies conducted during the last couple of decades showed that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are beneficial for heart health, and more recent studies have shown that fish oil does indeed keep the brain healthy. Fish also is proving to be a great ally in the fight against many of the diseases of aging.

"Mountains of evidence clearly show that omega-3 fatty acids enhance the health of the brain, as well as virtually every cell in the body," says Dr. Russell Blaylock, neurosurgeon and author of The Blaylock Wellness Report.

Adding fish or fish oil supplements to your diet can help protect you against:

Researchers found seniors whose diets were rich in omega-3 fatty acids had lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that circulates in the blood and is deposited as plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The research, published in the journal Neurology, speculates that the less beta-amyloid in the blood, the less of the harmful protein that ends up as mind-robbing plaque in the brain. They discovered that one gram of omega-3 each day (the dietary equivalent of half a salmon filet each week) lowered the levels of beta-amyloid in the blood between 20 and 30 percent. The results were the same regardless of age, race, gender, education, and whether or not a person carried the APOE gene, a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

Type 2 diabetes:
A meta-analysis of 14 studies from the Harvard School of Public Health found that fish oil supplements lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil increase blood levels of adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that makes the body more sensitive to insulin. Previous research found that low levels of adiponectin are predictive of future development of diabetes — the lower the levels, the greater the risk. Adiponectin is also anti-inflammatory, and prior studies also found that it lowers the risk of heart disease.

Heart disease:
Clinical trials have found that omega-3 fatty acids cut cardiac deaths by up to 52 percent. Study results have been so impressive that British health agencies urge docs to prescribe fish oil supplements for their patients who have had heart attacks in the previous three months unless they eat oily fish two to four times a week. The one-gram, one-a-day treatment will be prescribed for life.

A British study shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the progression of osteoarthritis and may even keep it from occurring. Scientists at the University of Bristol found that guinea pigs fed a diet rich in omega-3 oils developed 50 percent less arthritis than guinea pigs fed a standard diet. Lead researcher Dr. John Tarlton said that early symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as the breakdown of collagen in cartilage and the reduction in molecules that give cartilage its ability to absorb shocks, were improved with the use of omega-3s. Although the study used guinea pigs as subjects, Dr. Tarlton believes omega-3's would also fight arthritis in humans. "All of the evidence supports the use of omega-3 in human disease," he said.

Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids may mean lower obesity, according to a new study from Australia’s University of Newcastle. The researchers reported in the British Journal of Nutrition that omega-3 levels in people who are a healthy weight are 15 percent higher than in those who are overweight.

The scientists selected adults classified as being of normal weight, overweight, and obese. After the subjects fasted for ten hours, blood samples were taken to measure their omega-3 levels. In short, higher omega-3 levels meant lower weight and smaller waists and hips.

Prostate cancer:
The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish could slash the risk of developing prostate cancer almost in half. The fish oil also reversed the deadly effect of a gene known to increase the risk of developing an aggressive inherited form of prostate cancer. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco found that men who ate "dark" oily fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel, one to three times a month had a 36 percent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. Those who ate the fish more than once a week slashed their risk by 57 percent.

The omega-3 oils also influenced a variant of the COX-2 gene, an inherited gene that encourages inflammation and is linked to a 500 percent increased risk for an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Eating a diet rich in oily fish wiped out the negative effects of the gene and eliminated the increased risk.

Fish can even protect your brain from too many cheeseburgers and French fries. A British analysis of 185 research papers found that high-fat diets interfere with the process of generating new nerve cells in the brain by increasing inflammatory chemicals. Fish oil, however, decreases production of the harmful chemicals and restores normal nerve growth.

Many experts suggest eating two portions of cold-water fish each week or taking a 1,000 mg omega-3 supplement three times a day. Cold-water fish include salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel. Chicken, nuts, flaxseed, beans, and olive oil also contain omega-3 fatty acids.

10-17-2013, 02:00 PM
These two young artists quit their jobs to build this glass house for $500

Yahoo News
By Ilyce R. Glink | Spaces – 10.15.2013


Plenty of natural sunlight isn't an unusual quality of a dream home. But what about a home built completely of glass so the light would never be hidden? For a pair of young artists, a beautiful sunset and a thoughtful conversation led to the construction of a breathtaking retreat in mountainous West Virginia.

Photographer Nick Olson, 27, who works with old-fashioned labor-intensive photographic processes, and designer Lilah Horwitz, 23, who makes "site-specific clothing," met at an artist’s residency in Pennsylvania. Early on in their relationship, Olson invited Horwitz to join him on a trip to his family’s property in southern West Virginia. One evening, the two went on a walk in the woods that resulted in an artistic vision.

As the sun sank behind a hill, the couple began talking about how amazing the light appeared at that moment. What if, they pondered, there could be a living space where light changed based on the time of day?

“Light is so different in the morning, at noon and at dusk. We wanted to somehow build a house so that change happened in our living space,” Olson said. “It’s about being closer to living with the elements.”

Both Olson and Horwitz had summer plans to work at their current jobs, but agreed they had suddenly discovered a project worth pursuing.

In what Olson calls a “spur-of-the-moment decision,” the new couple quit their jobs, rented a U-Haul and began driving state to state to find the right windows for their retreat.

The couple's unique cabin was featured in "Half Cut Tea," a Web video series that explores artists and their works. (Their episode is at the bottom of this blog post.) Olson is friends with one of the series creators, Jordan Wayne Long, a performance artist originally from Bald Knob, Arkansas, who interviewed the couple and showcased their cabin.

Most of the windows the couple collected were found or scavenged, Olson said. Some were purchased, but not many. The first the couple found was in a big stack of old windows at an abandoned barn in Pennsylvania. Horwitz describes finding that window as “serendipitous.”

When they had collected enough glass, the two began constructing the cabin on the family land near New River Gorge National River park. The closest town to the property is Hinton, West Virginia, Olson said.

The building process was sometimes frustrating, Horwitz said. The two built the entire structure themselves – their only audience was the occasional curious deer, rabbit or fox. The home’s front window wall is about 16 feet high, but the base of the structure is another 4 feet off the ground, Horwitz said.

“It was just the two of us trying to put up these gigantic posts. It was scary and hard,” she said. “Looking at it now, it’s just totally insane. It’s huge. I realize now that’s what makes it so amazing.”

Olson credits an artistic vision and frugality with their success. While living on a diet of rice and beans, the two used nails, wood and anything salvageable from an old barn on the property to piece their structure together. They estimate they spent $500 in total on the project.

“Even the roofing we took from the abandoned barn,” Olson said. “We were able to make it a reality because we are first artists and creators. We had to be resourceful to do it cheaply.”

After months of work, the home was completed in December. On what was once a pile of old windows and a patch of wooded land stood a beautiful glass-faced building. Though there is no plumbing or electricity, the two artists said they enjoy the space as an escape.

Horwitz described her favorite time of day inside the home as the “nighttime sun” – just as dusk falls.

“That’s when everything inside is on fire,” she said.
Olson said he’s awestruck after the sun goes down.

“The house is an experience at night,” Olson said. “The fireflies start at the ground and merge to the stars up above. It’s really like you’re sleeping under the stars.”

Someday Olson and Horwitz hope to build onto the home and add an outdoor kitchen, solar power and a wood-burning stove, they said. But for now, the Milwaukee-based couple said, they’ll enjoy the home as a picturesque retreat.

[Yahoo Homes editor's update, Oct. 17: Some commenters felt that we exaggerated the characteristics of the retreat that Olson and Horwitz built. We've made a few edits throughout to clarify that the cabin is not made "completely" of glass -- though we left that phrasing in the first paragraph because that was the original inspiration that the couple discussed, even if they built something humbler. The structure is also not meant for year-round living, as a number of commenters have noted. We simply think that the glass cabin and the video are an inspiring story about youth and dreams.]

10-18-2013, 08:30 PM
DNA links Abominable Snowman to ancient polar bear

LONDON (AP) - A British scientist says he may have solved the mystery of the Abominable Snowman - the elusive ape-like creature of the Himalayas. He thinks it's a bear.

DNA analysis conducted by Oxford University genetics professor Bryan Sykes suggests the creature, also known as the Yeti, is the descendant of an ancient polar bear.

"The next thing is go there and find one."


10-20-2013, 01:17 PM
Meet Melbourne’s horse listener
By Lieu Thi Pham | SmartPlanet | October 19, 2013, 8:00 PM PDT


MELBOURNE — When Whittlesea resident Melissa Stevenson first bought Gideon, a 16.2-hand, warmblood horse, he came with some baggage — namely a nervous disposition and a confidence issue. He would panic, run, try to buck and constantly stop when Stevenson rode him. Gideon was — in textbook language — a nervous wreck.

Then Gideon met Carlos Tabernaberri, an Argentinian horse trainer said to work wonders with ‘troubled’ horses. Over six months, Tabernaberri helped both Stevenson and Gideon find ‘common ground’ with a series of gentle exercises based on the formula CCKL = TOR. The acronym is Tabernaberri’s philosophy that through demonstrating Confidence, Consistency, Kindness and Leadership to Gideon, Stevenson would gain her horse’s Trust, Obedience and Respect.

“Gideon’s probably 90 percent better,” Stevenson says, expressing her gratitude towards Tabernaberri. “At times he still has his hang ups, but I have learned to listen to him. Carlos is able to provide different ways of coping with challenging moments whereas other instructors would say ‘get tough with him’ or ‘work him harder’.”

In Hollywood-speak, Tabernaberri is known as a horse whisperer. He doesn’t mind the title, but he prefers to be known as a ‘listener.’ “But you can’t hear what the horse is telling you when you’re whispering to him, can you?” says Tabernaberri, 48, a man known for his sayings.

Tabernaberri’s approach to horsemanship can be traced to his Argentinean childhood living in Gaucho country. As a young boy, he witnessed gauchos (Argentine cowboys) using the traditional, but cruel, Doma Nacional method to break in horses. Saddened by this sight, a nine-year-old Tabernaberri made a promise to a horse that he would always care for its kind.

Today Tabernaberri, whose family immigrated to Australia when he was 14, lives and works on a 32-acre Whittlesearanch, 25 miles from Melbourne’s central business district, and practises what he calls ‘good horsemanship.’

The Melbourne trainer is opposed to traditional horsemanship, which sometimes employs whips, drugs, tongue-tying, bits and spurs. He says that though many trainers claim to use the natural method, a term usually reserved for non-aggressive horse-training techniques based around communication, not all conform to the definition.

His pain-free methods, which reject all types of abusive methods, are resonating with horse owners globally, as reflected in his profit margin, which has increased by 200 percent over the past five years. In addition to private consultations, he runs 46 clinics a year; he can go from a remote outback station in Australia to Chicago, all in one month.


Dr. Andrew McLean, a scientist who holds a Ph.D. in equine cognition and learning, says that despite not being formally educated, Tabernaberri is practising some great horse science. He explains that behavioral problems are sometimes associated with dysfunctions in the animal’s learning process, which stems from basic animal psychology.

“Horses form bad habits which we instil in them through bad riding and some habits take a long time to undo,” Dr. McLean says. “Riders can also have bad habits and some have no proper equestrian or equitation science education. I believe that if you are going to train an animal, you owe it to them to know as much about the psychology of the animal as possible before training.”

Generally when horses fail to start or jump when prompted, are too stubborn, run away or get distracted, they are branded as having ‘behavioral’ problems. But Tabernaberri says that blaming the horse will not fix the issue. ”We should be taking the fear out of the horse, not putting fear into the horse,” he says.

The Australian state of Victoria is known for its thriving horse industry. A 2012 Economic Impact Study commissioned by Racing Victoria revealed that thoroughbred racing events last year generated AUD$620.1 (USD$596.5) million in gross economic benefit to the state’s economy.

The industry’s biggest event, the annual Melbourne Cup, will take place next month. But behind the accolades and fanfare is an ugly side. The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR), an animal welfare body, reports that an estimated 18,000 horses are killed every year.

The CPR claim that failed and injured racehorses which no longer have the potential to return a profit or have very little commercial value are sometimes discarded — sold to abattoirs to be killed and turned into pet food — in what the industry calls ‘wastage.’

Cara Shelley, an equine welfare officer for Racing Victoria told SmartPlanet the number of retired racehorses euthanized in the industry is considerably less than that reported by opposition groups. She said that since 2011, Racing Victoria has introduced a new equine welfare department, grown their support for outplacement programs and become an active member of the equestrian world by fostering opportunities for thoroughbreds.

Ward Young, a representative for the CPR, acknowledges some recent movement in the transition towards natural horsemanship but claims the racing industry still lags behind with old-school training methods which often try to dominate the horse rather than work with it.

While not an activist in the conventional sense, Tabernaberri’s work rehabilitating horses has been acknowledged with an equine welfare award. He says he’s never met a horse that he wasn’t able to help, though unfortunately, he has met plenty of owners who have decided it wasn’t worth the time or money.

He states emphatically, “I never give up on any horse that needs help,” and explains that, “rehabilitation of these horses take longer due to trauma and distrust of humans.”

Photos: Whispering Acres.

10-20-2013, 01:37 PM
Good Night's Sleep 'Cleans' Brain: Study
NewsMax Health | Friday, 18 Oct 2013

Why do humans need sleep? That age-old question may have an answer, with scientists finding that slumber seems to help the brain clear away potentially harmful waste that builds up during the day.

The new study of mice found that by "taking out the trash" during sleep, the brain clears away toxins thought to be responsible for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

"This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake," the study's lead author, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Center for Translational Neuromedicine, said in a university news release. "In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness."

The lymphatic system disposes cellular waste throughout the rest of the body, but this waste removal system does not include the brain, Nedergaard's team found in earlier research.

With the help of new imaging technologies, the researchers were able to examine a living mouse brain to determine exactly how the brain gets rid of waste. They discovered the brain has its own unique process, known as the glymphatic system, that is guarded by a complex gateway known as the blood-brain barrier.

Using the brain's blood vessels, the glymphatic system pumps cerebral spinal fluid through the brain's tissue, flushing waste into the circulatory system until it eventually reaches the liver.

Noting that the amount of energy used by the brain increases during sleep, the researchers suggested this is when the brain's waste-removal system becomes more active. The brains of the mice studied were 10 times more active during sleep, the investigators found.

The researchers explained that pumping cerebral spinal fluid requires a lot of energy and this process may only be possible at night when the brain is not actively processing information. They also pointed out the sleeping brains were able to remove much more amyloid-beta, the plaque-building protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choose between two different functional states -- awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up," explained Nedergaard. "You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can't really do both at the same time."

The study, published Oct. 17 in Science, also showed that during sleep, cells in the brain "shrink" or reduce in size by 60 percent. This creates more space between cells so that waste can be removed more effectively. The researchers speculated that noradrenaline, a hormone that is less active during sleep, could help control this process.

Without the brain's waste-removal system, toxic proteins, such as amyloid-beta, would accumulate in the brain. The researchers pointed out that nearly every degenerative brain disorder is linked to the buildup of cellular waste products.

"These findings have significant implications for treating 'dirty brain' disease like Alzheimer's," concluded Nedergaard. "Understanding precisely how and when the brain activates the glymphatic system and clears waste is a critical first step in efforts to potentially modulate this system and make it work more efficiently."

Scientists note, however, that results obtained in animal experiments do not necessarily apply to humans.

10-23-2013, 01:45 PM
Is Butter Really That Bad for You?

Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013
By Nick Tate | NewsMax Health

Butter and cheese may not be as bad for your heart as previously believed.

That's the key conclusion of new research that finds saturated fat, vilified as a dietary evil since the 1970s, does not contribute significantly to heart disease and that the long-believed connection a myth.

The finding, based on a new analysis of recent scientific studies, suggest the latest evidence actually shows that advice to reduce saturated fat intake "has paradoxically increased our cardiovascular risks," said lead researcher Aseem Malhotra, a cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital in London.

In new research published in the British Medical Journal, Malhorta said health officials' obsession with levels of total cholesterol "has led to the over-medication of millions of people with statins and has diverted our attention from the more egregious risk factor" of unfavorable ratios of blood fats.

He added that a major study linked the incidence of coronary heart disease and total cholesterol in the 1970s, but "correlation is not causation" and more recent studies "have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and risk of [cardiovascular disease]."

In fact, he noted, some studies have found saturated fat may be protective against heart disease, citing a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found people eating a "low fat" diet were most likely to have unhealthy total cholesterol levels and increased risk for diabetes, compared with a low-carb, low-sugar diet.

Malhotra noted fat consumption in the U.S. has declined from 40 percent to 30 percent in the past 30 years, yet obesity has rocketed in that time. One reason, he said, is that the food industry "compensated by replacing saturated fat with added sugar."

The new research also shows adopting a Mediterranean diet — heavy on healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, fish, and vegetables — after a heart attack is almost three times as powerful in reducing mortality as taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, he added.

"It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity," he said.

10-26-2013, 12:20 AM
Huge landslide covers National Park road in Alaska

Associated Press By RACHEL D'ORO

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A massive landslide in Denali National Park in Alaska rained tons of rock and soil on parts of a road that attracts scores of tourists each summer, park officials said Friday.

Crews began clearing the 200-foot stretch of Denali Park Road on Friday. It was not immediately clear if road damage or instability of the terrain would affect visitors next summer, park officials said. If it turns out that there is road damage, repairs would have to be made.

"Whether or not it would delay things would depend on the extent. It's just pretty hypothetical," park spokeswoman Kris Fister said. "We don't want to scare people at this point because we just really don't know."

For now, crews will take advantage of unseasonably mild weather conditions. They will work seven days a week for as long as possible, picking up again next spring as needed, park officials said.

The slide debris is piled in depths of up to 35 feet. Officials estimate about 30,000 yards of rock and soil fell from a point 500 feet above the road."

"That's a lot of stuff," Fister said.

That part of the road, 37 miles in, is already closed this time of year. There are no known casualties.

The landslide was discovered Wednesday by road-crew supervisors. Officials believe the slide occurred very recently. Initial photos of the area show debris flowed over light snow that recently fell.

The slope where the slide occurred is unstable. Although that part of the road is closed, it can still be reached on foot or bicycle, and park officials urged people to stay away from the work zone.

Longtime park workers recall that the last huge landslide occurred in the late 1980s. In that slide — 45 miles in — more roadway was covered, but a lot less debris fell, Fister said."

Denali is located 180 miles north of Anchorage. It is home to numerous wild animals, including moose, bears, wolves, caribou and lynx. Many visitors take buses along the road, getting close-up views of spectacular scenery and plentiful wildlife.

The park attracts just over 400,000 tourists a year, with most of them visiting in June, July and August, Fister said.

The road is essentially dormant and unmaintained during the snowy winter months. Crews begin clearing the road in mid-March, with bus drivers beginning training in early May.

The first 30 miles of the road open the earliest.

Summer bus runs begin May 20 for the first 53 miles of the road. Buses begin running the full length of the 92-mile road on June 8.

10-27-2013, 04:03 AM

8 VERY healthy foods that make you fat.
BioTrust Nutrition | Oct.26.2013

There's not a day that goes by where someone doesn't come to us asking for diet advice confused as to why they're NOT losing weight even though they don't eat "a lot"...and even if they're eating "healthy". The truth is that while "quantity" does matter, it's possible to still overconsume calories if choosing the wrong foods.

Some foods, even though they're considered very healthy, carry loads of calories in a very small amount of food. We call these calorically dense foods and if your diet is comprised of a bunch of them, you can easily gain weight even without eating "a lot" of food.

Here are some "healthy" examples of calorically dense foods:

1. Granola - granola, especially the varieties mixed with nuts can pack as many as 500 cals per cup!

2. Pasta - a moderate 1 and 1/2 cups of most pastas yield more than 60 grams of carbs and almost 350 calories

3. Avocado - avocado is awesome and a great source of monounsaturated fat, but one single avocado is over 300 calories and 30 grams of fat

4. Nuts and Nut Butters - nuts are super healthy, but one of the most calorically dense foods around. A few ounces could mean 400+ calories

5. Fruit Juice and Smoothies - all fruit juices are loaded with sugar and so are most "smoothie" shop smoothies (make your own with whole fruit)

6. Dried Fruit - dried fruits remove the water content which dramatically decreases volume...what's left is high in sugar and very calorically dense

7. "Whole Wheat" Breads - even the 100% whole wheat variety can pack a mean calorie punch if you're eating a lot of grains as part of your diet

8. Whole Grain Bagels - a large "deli" bagel is loaded with carbs and calories, many times over 400 cals in a single bagel

While some of the foods above are only "thought" to be healthy (fruit juice, whole grain bagels, etc), stuff like nuts, nut butters, and avocado are foods that I'd recommend in just about everyone's diet and they are indeed great choices.

That said, these calorically dense foods require that you monitor your intake of them closely. A few ounces of nuts, a couple tablespoons of nut butter, and an avocado is NOT a lot of food, but if you ate all of these every day, you'd be getting close to 1000 calories just right there.

Now, before we go we also want to make sure you're aware of one particular carb that you literally should NEVER eat. You see, this extremely common carb wreaks havoc on your fat-storing hormones in a MAJOR way, and has even been shown to hamper memory, slow brain activity, and increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Even worse, the money-hungry food industry is conspiring to sneak this nightmare carb into just about everything.

10-27-2013, 04:21 AM
This is still one of the coolest threads going and it more than lives up to it's headline . . . Good job, Spin-Drift.

Either it's a quiz or maybe I'm missing something on that last story. What is the "nightmare carb" they mentioned there at the end?

10-27-2013, 06:09 AM
This is still one of the coolest threads going and it more than lives up to it's headline . . . Good job, Spin-Drift.

Either it's a quiz or maybe I'm missing something on that last story. What is the "nightmare carb" they mentioned there at the end?

Thanks. :)

The absolutely worst carb is HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.

10-27-2013, 06:16 AM
By Josh Bezoni | BioTrust Nutrition

And the #1 worst carb ever is…(drum roll please)

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Although high fructose corn syrup (called HFCS and “corn sugar”) may sound healthy, it actually is anything but. This dirt cheap, chemically-altered sweetener shuts down leptin, a fat-regulating hormone in your body that is responsible for sending “hunger signals” from your stomach to your brain.

Essentially leptin lets you know when you’re full. And when your brain doesn’t get the message, you keep eating and eating and eating while the manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup, and the products that contain it, keep making more and more and more money.

Here’s an example from a recent study. Test subjects were divided into two groups—one was given a glucose (sugar) beverage to add to their diet, while the other group was given a beverage containing high fructose corn syrup to add to their diets. While both test groups gained weight, the group consuming high fructose corn syrup packed on intra-abdominal fat (or belly fat).

Why is that so startling?

It’s because this particular kind of fat causes diabetes and heart disease. So, not only is high fructose corn syrup causing you to eat more than you should, it is literally putting your health at risk.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes 42 pounds of HFCS a year. That’s more than 75,000 empty calories that have no nutritional value! What’s more, teenagers are consuming 15 to 20 teaspoons of HFCS a day when they need to be eating nutrient-dense foods for growth and lifelong health.

It’s no wonder that The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that HFCS use increased by 4,000% between 1970 and 1990. The manufacturers of HFCS really are cashing in big… just like drug dealers… while America is adding belly fat at a very dangerous rate.

Speaking of a drug, have you ever indulged in a sweet dessert that just wouldn’t fill you up no matter how much you ate? One of those treats that you have no self-control over, like, oh, I don’t know… maybe soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, ice cream, pudding, jellies, most “fat-free” foods, chocolate, crackers, cereals, syrups, candies, or desserts? If that’s the case, you may want to check out the food label. Chances are it contains a large amount of high fructose corn syrup.

And remember, on American food labels ingredients are listed in order of the most abundant to the least. So if, for example, you see HFCS listed anywhere in the first five ingredients, that’s very bad. Instead, you’ll want to choose a version that doesn’t contain HFCS at all.

As an alternative to HFCS, I recommend the new zero- or low-calorie sweeteners like truvia™, Z-Sweet®, and Sun Crystals™ that are made with natural sources, such as erythritol and stevia. You can find these at most grocery stores. These natural sweeteners can be used instead of sugar packets in your hot beverages, on oatmeal, and even in baked goods to some extent.

Erythritol is an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener that is fermented from sugars and found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It has no calories, no glycemic impact, and is only slightly sweeter than real sugar. It is also recognized as safe by the FDA.

Other sugar alcohols (such as xylitol or maltitol) frequently are blamed for side effects like gas and diarrhea when people overdo sugar-free treats. However, erythritol is absorbed before it reaches the large intestine, so it does not normally cause these digestive effects.

In the U.S., the granular form is marketed under the name Z-Sweet® and found in other natural sweeteners including Sun Crystals™ (which is a mixture of erythritol and raw cane sugar so it’s not zero-calorie) and truvia™ (which contains a mixture of erythritol and stevia).

Stevia rebaudiana is a leaf that first gained popularity in South America as a no-calorie, natural sweetener with a sweetness that is 30-45 times greater than that of table sugar. It’s been used all over the world for years as a safe, natural no-calorie sweetener.

After a long debate (which many people believe was due to the chemical sweetener industry trying to block it), it’s been approved for use in the United States. You can find stevia under the names PureVia™, SweetLeaf™, and mixed with erythritol in truvia™.

It’s important to remember that you should use all sugar alternatives, even natural ones, sparingly. Let your body learn that it doesn’t need sweets all the time to be satisfied, and you’ll be on the fast track to better health.

Now, while High Fructose Corn Syrup just may be the #1 worst carb ever, does that mean you should be avoiding ALL carbohydrates?

Absolutely not! Carbs aren’t the enemy, just like fat isn’t…these nutrients are a healthy part of any wholesome fat-burning diet.

10-28-2013, 04:39 AM
4 Common Shampoo Chemicals You DON'T Want in Your Home...

From Healthy Pets. Dr Becker.

Have you checked the labels lately on the products you use to keep your dog smelling clean and fresh? You might be surprised at the potential hazards, especially if your household includes a cat...

I recommend keeping these 4 chemicals out of your home:

D-trans Allethrin - Can cause allergic responses and may disrupt your pets' endocrine function

Resmethrin - Very toxic to cats

Pyriproxyfen and S-Methoprene - When combined with the first 2 chemicals, their risks are unknown.

11-08-2013, 12:38 PM
The latest threat to China’s surveillance network

Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet | November 7, 2013

China’s smog has reduced the life expectancy of its citizens, hurt tourism and practically shut down Harbin, a city of 11 million people. Now it’s threatening national security.

China’s oppressive smog has reduced the life expectancy of its citizens, hurt tourism and practically shut down Harbin, a city of 11 million people.

Now, the smog is threatening national security, the government says. Last month, when visibility in Harbin dropped below three meters because of heavy smog it also rendered the surveillance cameras that blanket the city useless.

The central government has invested heavily in a nationwide surveillance network that allows police to monitor practically every major street and corner in large cities, the South China Morning Post reported. But heavy smog containing thick layers of particles limits the view of the surveillance cameras.

The government is so concerned about smog’s impact on its security network that it is funding two teams of scientists to come up with solution within four years, the South China Morning Post reported.

Smog in China is so vast that you can see it from space. The Chinese government has issued a new round of subsidies for alternative energy vehicles, proposed charging drivers of gasoline-powered cars a congestion fee and has announced plans to reduce the amount of coal it burns for electricity. It’s even looking into a new electronic vacuum that sucks smog particles to the ground by creating an electromagnetic field using cooper coils.

11-08-2013, 12:43 PM
Video games can grow the human brain
David Worthington | SmartPlanet | November 7, 2013

Playing video games can grow regions of the brain that would benefit patients with neurological problems.

Playing Mario 64 30 minutes daily for two months produced changes in the brains of research subjects

Playing video games could make the grey matter in your brain bigger.

A study published in Molecular Psychiatry reported changes in brain tissue of volunteers who played Mario 64 on Nintendo’s portable DS system daily for two months. Researchers observed growth in the bilateral hippocampus and some regions of the right prefrontal cortex. Those parts of the brain are thought to have a role in memory, navigation, processing visual information, and problem solving.

“Video game training augments GM in brain areas crucial for spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory and motor performance going along with evidence for behavioral changes of navigation strategy,” the study abstract says.

Playing games won’t necessarily make you smarter, but could be useful in treating patients who have certain mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. People with neurodegenerative disease may also benefit.

“While previous studies have shown differences in brain structure of video gamers, the present study can demonstrate the direct causal link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase. This proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games”, says study leader Simone Kühn, senior scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Organizations such as the U.S. government’s National Institute on Aging (a part of the NIH) already recommend playing demanding video games to prevent or delay cognitive decline. Other brain stimulating activities such as reading, speaking a second language, writing and puzzles can have similar benefits, according to studies.

However, research also shows that so-called brain-training games don’t work. Several companies say that specialized designed games will improve overall intelligence and brain function; the peer review process has produced skepticism.

Nintendo is one of the companies that will cite some previous research to promote the effectiveness of its “brain training games”. I couldn’t find a clear link to any involvement by Nintendo in the Molecular Psychiatry study.

11-12-2013, 12:34 PM
Federal officials are preparing to flood the Grand Canyon. No, not all the way.

By Jay Busbee | YahooNews 11.10.2013


The U.S. Department of the Interior will bepumping more water through the Glen Canyon Dam to spread an abundance of sand throughout the floor of the canyon. The move is meant to replicate pre-dam conditions and will help create new beaches for rafters and protect delicate archaeological sites in the canyon. There's enough sediment built up behind the dam to fill a football field to a depth of nearly 70 stories.

Water began flowing through the dam on Monday and will continue for five days, flattening out rapids throughout the length of the Colorado River. The sediment replenishment is designed to prevent erosion and other ecological problems that could arise as part of the dam's influence on the river.

What would it take to actually fill the Grand Canyon with water? One website puts the (very rough) estimate at 2098.5 cubic miles to a depth of 4,000 feet. At current water flows of 30,000 cubic feet per second, it would take about 327 years to fill up the canyon, which would then be the second-deepest continental lake on Earth and the fourth largest by volume.

11-19-2013, 07:24 AM
'Wild Bill' Hickok's pistol fails to sell at San Francisco auction

Reuters | By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The revolver carried by Old West lawman James "Wild Bill" Hickok on the day he was shot down at a Deadwood saloon failed to sell at an auction in San Francisco on Monday, with bidders failing to meet the steep reserve set by the gun's owners.

Bonhams Auctioneers started the bidding for the Smith & Wesson No. 2 revolver at $150,000, but potential buyers were only willing to pay $220,000, less than what the consigners would sell it for, Bonhams arms and armor specialist James Ferrell said.

The reserve price is private, but it is typically set between 20 and 30 percent less than the minimum of the item's estimated value, Ferrell said. Hickok's revolver was valued between $300,000 and $500,000.

"It was a fairly bold estimate," Ferrell said. "But it's an auction. There's no way to state a reason why it didn't sell."

According to Bonhams' rules, the gun's owners could take the pistol back, list it in an upcoming sale or accept bids submitted in the days following the auction.

Typically, the auctioneers will receive bids for high-interest unsold items for about a week after the auction, Ferrell said. Moments after Monday's sale ended, potential bidders were already calling about the gun, Ferrell said.

The pistol, a piece of Wild West history, went on display for public viewing on Friday. The item has attracted special attention compared to the other 500 items listed in the sale, Ferrell said.

"Wild Bill Hickok is as big an icon of the Old West as there is," he said. "Anything in our field that's associated with somebody who's famous gives a whole new value to the item."

Also contributing to the gun's value is the fact that Hickok left behind very few belongings when he died in 1876, Ferrell said.

Hickok, a lawman known for his shooting and gambling skills, was playing a game of poker at the Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota, when he was shot from behind by Jack "Crooked Nose" McCall. McCall reportedly shouted "Damn you! Take that!" after pulling the trigger.

A fictionalized Hickok was a central character in the former Emmy-winning TV Western series "Deadwood" from HBO, and his death was featured in the show.

Notarized letters that will be included in the revolver purchase say that a Deadwood sheriff took possession of Hickok's belongings after he was slain and shortly after gave it to the Willoth family to settle a tab Hickok ran up at the family's stationery and tobacco store.

A member of that family gave the piece to Leo Zymetzke and his family, the current owners, in 1972 for unknown reasons.

The 6-inch-barrel pistol, with blued finish steel and rosewood grips, is considered to be in very good condition despite cracks and slight bulges in front of its breech.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh)

11-20-2013, 04:44 AM
Thank you all who enjoy this thread. You are the inspiration that keeps this going.

This thread is getting close to 100k views. Who will break that great number?

11-22-2013, 01:31 PM
Beware of Foods That Raise Cancer Risk
Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013
By Dr. Brownstein | NewsMax Health

I have no doubt that many of the health issues we are facing, including the epidemic of cancer, are related to the way we eat.

I often use the adage, “Garbage in, garbage out,” which simply means that if you eat poor-
quality food, you can’t expect the body to function optimally. That’s just common sense.

Most of us eat too many devitalized, refined foods that leave our bodies nutritionally
deficient. Furthermore, eating food that has been contaminated with synthetic hormones, pesticides, and herbicides will lead to an increased risk of developing chronic illnesses, including cancer.

Our food supply has been contaminated by multiple sources. But perhaps the most egregious contamination is from synthetic hormones that are added to the food fed to our livestock. These estrogenic hormones are added to fatten the animals before they go to market.

Unfortunately, these synthetic substances then make it into our food supply. Synthetic hormones in food have been shown to lead to early development in girls and boys. Early
development of secondary sexual characteristics have been associated with breast cancer in women, and I have no doubt that it is also partly responsible for the increase in prostate cancer in men.

How can you avoid synthetic hormones in our food supply? Simply by eating only animal products that are labeled as “certified organic.” Keep in mind that many animals are fed
hormones and other toxic chemicals to fatten them up. This includes chickens. Chickens and eggs should only be eaten if they are certified organic.

Another example of a common food that can be healthy or unhealthy is fish. Fish provides the body with essential fatty acids that we need in order to be healthy. But most of the fish eaten in this country is farm-raised. In fact, nearly all of the salmon labeled as “Atlantic” is farm-raised.

Like cattle, farm-raised fish are fed an unhealthy diet of antibiotics and other additives designed to maximize their growth potential in order to increase profit. Farm-raised salmon has been found to have significantly more organochlorine contaminants than wild salmon. Organochlorine contaminants can cause or worsen iodine deficiency. In my opinion, you should avoid farm-raised fish altogether. It is best to eat wild-caught fish.

It is also important to avoid “whites” in your diet. White sugar, salt, and flour are all examples of refined foods that are devitalized. This means that in the manufacturing process, the naturally occurring minerals have been removed from these foods. Furthermore, the final product has been exposed to harsh bleaching chemicals to produce the high white color that you see.

A healthy, cancer-fighting diet is full of unrefined foods, including organic fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts, and seeds. It may take a little work and cost more money, but the health benefits of a good diet are well worth it. More information on eating a healthy diet can be found in my book, The Guide to Healthy Eating.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Dr-Brownstein/foods-cancer-risk-estrogenic/2013/10/16/id/531342?ns_mail_uid=36284090&ns_mail_job=1547076_11222013&promo_code=15B1D-1#ixzz2lP8BiVYd

11-25-2013, 01:16 PM
Coconut Oil: Can It Stop Alzheimer's?
Monday, 25 Nov 2013
By Vera Tweed | NewsMax Health

When he was 53, Steve Newport began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and kept getting worse ― until five years later, when his wife and caregiver, Dr. Mary Newport, discovered coconut oil. Within hours of taking a couple of tablespoons, he started to improve.

Steve’s memory improved, he was able to process information better, and he just seemed all-around more mentally sharp.

What If There Was a Cure?
Although it didn’t cure Steve of the disease, the benefits of coconut oil were so striking that Dr. Newport became an advocate, and found that it helped many other people in similar situations. She wrote a book, What If There Was a Cure? and helped to instigate a clinical trial at the University of South Florida.

The study, which will begin enrolling participants in early summer, is being led by David Morgan, a researcher who has studied Alzheimer’s for 25 years. Dr. Morgan is the CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in Tampa, the largest center in the United States that both treats dementia patients and carries on clinical trials.

Promising Research
Earlier studies, though not conclusive, have found that coconut oil holds considerable promise as an Alzheimer’s treatment. And, Dr. Morgan looked at anecdotal evidence from more than 200 people. “About 80 to 85 percent of these people experienced benefits,” he tells Newsmax Health, “usually within a few weeks.”

Coconut Oil: Brain Fuel
With Alzheimer’s, specific types of plaques build up in the brain and destroy brain cells. Animal studies have found that coconut oil does not get rid of such plaques, according to Dr. Morgan, but it may help in another way. From what we know so far, he says, “Healthy parts of the brain work better.”

More specifically, there is an underlying mechanism: In Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, the brain is sometimes not able to use glucose, its basic source of energy. Coconut oil is unique in that it provides an alternative source of brain fuel, called ketones. Our bodies make ketones when body fat is burned for energy, such as during fasting, but fasting doesn’t help people with Alzheimer’s. Coconut oil appears to deliver the ketones in a way that is especially useful to the brain.

In any given case of a neurological disease, this mechanism may play a bigger or smaller role, so coconut oil benefits may vary. And that’s part of what Dr. Morgan’s study will help us understand.

How Much Coconut Oil Should You Take?
Solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a saturated fat, which conventional doctors consider unhealthy. But integrative physicians view coconut oil as a healthy fat, because it has unique properties. Unlike other saturated fats, it is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a specific type of fat that provides ketones that fuel the brain. Coconut oil is also popular among body builders, because MCTs are believed to help to burn body fat.

MCTs make up about 60 percent of coconut oil. MCT oil is also available by itself in supplements, with fewer calories.

Earlier studies have found that 20 grams of MCTs daily are a therapeutic dose. That amount is found in slightly more than 2 tablespoons, or 7 level teaspoons of coconut oil.

In his study, Dr. Morgan is using a flavored drink (the brand is called Fuel for Thought) that combines coconut oil and MCT oil with water. Participants will be taking either a placebo or a one-ounce serving of the drink, three times daily, with a meal.

Coconut oil can be used in place of butter and oils in cooking, as a spread, and in smoothies. Processed foods sometimes contain “hydrogenated coconut oil,” which is an altered form of the oil that is a trans fat and clogs arteries. Look for organic coconut oil, which is widely available in health food stores and some supermarkets and discount chains.

(The complete version of this article first appeared in Health Radar.)

From Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxhealth.com

11-27-2013, 10:42 AM
Travelers accidentally leave TSA a sizable donation by forgetting loose change.

By Tyler Falk on November 25, 2013 | SmartPlanet.

During the hubbub of passing through a security checkpoint at airports in the United States there is plenty to keep in mind: belt and shoes off, pockets emptied, laptop out of the bag, liquids in a clear bag, step in here, hands over your head, all clear. It's not surprising that the last of your worries when you make it through is a handful of change at the bottom of the X-ray bins. But the change travelers leave behind adds up for the Transportation Security Administration.

During the 2012 fiscal year, TSA collected $531,000 in loose change at airports throughout the U.S., a $100,000-plus increase from 2011.

The question is now what do with the unappropriated funds? Los Angeles Times report:

The TSA has been putting the money into its “aviation security fund” to translate airport signs into different languages, among other overhead costs.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) put forward a bill recently to set aside the loose change for use by nonprofit groups that run airport facilities where members of the military and their families can rest while traveling.
Change is handled differently than items confiscated by TSA in the security line. By law, they aren't allowed to make money from those items. Instead they are donated to state agencies and auctioned online, at sites like Govdeals.com or Ebay, or sold at government-run surplus stores.

With tomorrow being one of the busiest days for air travel in the United States, as millions travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, remember, if you're going through the security checkpoint, to grab your change unless you want to give the TSA a holiday donation.

11-29-2013, 07:33 AM
2 Hints You Have an Awesome Relationship with Your Dog


By Dr. Becker | HealthyPets | November 29, 2013

Recent research on the human-animal bond has proved there is genuine chemistry between dogs and their owners. Daily interactions with your favorite furry companion have a measurably positive effect on your biochemistry, thanks to a hormone called oxytocin.

Oxytocin goes by a number of nicknames, including the “hug hormone,” the “cuddle hormone,” the “love chemical,” and the “morale molecule.” Oxytocin is what makes skin-to-skin contact feel good; it’s what makes a great meal so satisfying. This marvelous hormone can also act as a natural painkiller, and can lower stress levels and blood pressure.

It’s a well-known fact that human-to-human contact – for example, bonding with children or partners – triggers the release of oxytocin. But what more recent studies have revealed is that bonding with a completely different species also promotes release of the “love chemical.”

Bonded Owner-Dog Pairs Show Increased Levels of Oxytocin and Other “Happy Hormones”

There was a Japanese study published a few years ago in the journal Hormones and Behavior titled Dog's gaze at its owner increases owner's urinary oxytocin during social interaction.1 The study involved 55 dogs and their owners. The owners whose dogs gazed at them for two minutes or longer showed higher levels of oxytocin than owners whose dogs gazed at them for less time. The people with dogs with a long gaze – about 23 percent of the group – also claimed to be happier with their dogs than owners whose dogs’ gaze was only around a minute long.

In a more recent study from Sweden,2 researchers found that owners who kissed their dogs frequently had higher levels of oxytocin than other owners. And along with kissing, there were two other factors that contributed to elevated levels of oxytocin. One was that the owners perceived their relationship with their dog to be pleasurable rather than difficult or a chore, and the other was that they offered fewer treats to their pet, preferring to offer attention and affection instead.

In a third study published 10 years ago and conducted at the University of Pretoria in South Africa,3 dog owners were put in a sparsely furnished room and asked to sit on a rug on the floor with their dogs. For a half hour, the owners were instructed to focus all their attention on their dogs – talk softly to them, stroke and scratch and pet them. The owners’ blood was drawn at the beginning and again at the end of the 30 minute session.

The researchers found that the dog owners’ blood pressure decreased, and they showed elevated levels not only of oxytocin, but also several other hormones. These included beta-endorphins, which are associated with both pain relief and euphoria; prolactin, which promotes bonding between parent and child; phenylethylamine, which is increased in people involved in romantic relationships; and dopamine, which heightens feelings of pleasure. Incredibly, all the same hormones were also elevated in the dogs, which suggests that the feelings of attachment are mutual.

The dog owners were then asked to sit in the same room and read a book for 30 minutes. None of the hormones, including oxytocin, increased as much as they did during the session with the dogs.

How Bonded Are You to Your Dog?

Isn’t it incredible that for many of us, our relationship with our dog is so profound it affects our biochemistry? And it does the same for our dogs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Understanding the mechanisms of the relationship between humans and dogs, and their implications for both species, will keep researchers occupied well into the future.

In the meantime, if you need a little boost – or if your dog seems to – try engaging him in a long, loving gaze. If he’s the shy type, give him your undivided, loving attention for a half hour. You’ll both feel healthier and happier for it!

From; Mercola.com

11-29-2013, 07:43 AM
Back to Basics: 10 Great Dog Training Tips
By Dr. Becker | November 29 2013


Everyone realizes there’s a big difference between a well-mannered canine citizen and an unpredictable, out-of-control dog. But often dog owners develop bad training habits without realizing it, and are left feeling confused and concerned about their dog’s uncooperative behavior.

10 Great Dog Training Tips

Socialize your dog early and often. Puppies and even adult dogs need to be exposed to new places, noises, people, and other animals. As soon as your puppy is immunized, he should be given regular opportunities to socialize and have new experiences. This will go a long way toward curbing fear-based, unfriendly behavior toward other dogs.

When you give a command, try to say it only once. Repeating a command over and over tells your dog you really didn’t mean what you said the first time, and therefore she really doesn’t need to respond to your command immediately.

When correcting an undesirable behavior, give a one or two-word command and immediately redirect your dog to a more appropriate behavior. Do not yell, hit, kick, yank or jerk the leash, or “alpha roll” your pet. All you’ll teach your dog with aggressive corrections is to fear you.

Exercise patience. Your dog picks up on the tone and volume of your voice and your body language, and can sense when you’re feeling frustrated or angry. As soon as your dog feels anxious about your mood, all positive training opportunities go out the window.

Be consistent in the words you use to train your dog. Repeat the same command for a particular behavior you desire. For example, if your dog has a habit of jumping up on people, pick a one-word command like “Down” and stick with it. Don’t say “Down” some of the time, “Off” at other times, “No” now and then, and “Bad Dog” when you’re truly frustrated.

Also be consistent in what you ask of your dog. If you don’t want her on the couch, be consistent about not letting her on the couch. Don’t allow her up there some of the time or even once in awhile. It’s not mean to set reasonable boundaries for your dog, but it IS mean to confuse her by constantly changing the rules she’s expected to live by.

Lead your dog on walks rather than the other way around. Make two-thirds of each walk about keeping a brisk pace, with your dog moving beside you. Then allow him to sniff, dawdle and read his pee-mail during the other one-third of your walk.

Learn something about how dogs think. As difficult as it is to believe at times, your dog doesn’t think like a human. Her thought processes aren’t complicated. Dogs think in black and white, and they live in the moment. The more you understand about what makes your dog tick, the better equipped you’ll be to help her be a wonderful companion. Don’t be hard on your dog for being a dog.

Always, always reward your dog for good behavior, with small training treats, affection, and/or an enthusiastic “Good Dog!” This will help your pet learn the difference between doing something you like and something you don’t like.

Make training sessions short and fun. Stay calm and upbeat, and spend no more than 10 minutes per session.

11-29-2013, 08:03 AM
Fueling immunity to sail through winter colds.

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz | http://easyhealthoptions.com/ November 29 2013

What are the best ways to prevent cold and flu? This question comes up a lot this time of year. Respiratory infections stampede through schools, workplaces and households. We can often see them coming a few days before impact in a co-worker’s racking cough or a child’s runny nose. These signs can make us think there’s nowhere to hide.

But that’s not necessarily true. We have an amazing tool to fight off disease: immunity. A healthy, balanced immune system identifies pathogens and starts fighting, while simultaneously orchestrating a more robust and sophisticated response. We’ve observed this mechanism in friends who never seem to get sick. Or if they do catch something, it never lasts long. This is probably an indication that their immune systems are working full force. With some exceptions, we can all have such powerful defenses. It’s simply a matter of fueling our immunity with the right nutrients. Here are a few ways to charge your batteries:


I start with zinc because it’s crucial to immunity. For example, people with zinc deficiencies are often immune-suppressed, and zinc deficiency is most problematic in the elderly. Many of our most important immune cells rely on zinc to function properly, including T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells. There are also studies that show people who take zinc get fewer infections; and when they do catch a cold, the symptoms don’t stick around as long.

Medicinal Mushrooms

A balanced immune system is the key to fighting off harmful invaders and maintaining long-term health. Sometimes, the goal is to boost immunity. Other times, we want to temper our immune response if we have an autoimmune disease such as Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Medicinal mushrooms do both, functioning much like adaptogenic herbs that work by fine-tuning your system to respond best to outside influences. They help to optimize immune cell function to provide the appropriate response. In some cases, this means energizing them to attack a cold virus. For example, mushrooms boost macrophages, which are important defenders against viruses. They also boost phagocytes and NK cells. Top varieties include reishi, oyster, maitake, Coriolus, Cordyceps, umbellatus and Tremella.


There’s some debate over whether vitamin supplements can help prevent colds and flus. In the laboratory, vitamins A and D have been shown to support lymphocytes, T-cells, B-cells and other immune components. Vitamins C and B complex have also been linked to NK and white blood cells. Unfortunately, human clinical studies have not always meshed with the lab findings.

However, there’s an easy workaround that has been shown to support immunity: Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and phytonutrients. In one study, researchers found that fruit and vegetable juice powders protected immune cells from DNA damage and increased the number of T-cells.

It’s likely that the complex combinations of minerals, enzymes, flavonoid compounds and other phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables synergize with their vitamin nutrients to provide better immune support.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Like fruits, vegetables are a key part of any immune-boosting diet. I particularly recommend cruciferous varieties, such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale. These superfoods have been found to modulate immune system genes, as well as eliminate harmful bacteria in the gut.


While we’re talking about digestive health, it’s critically important to maintain healthy bacteria, which act as a barrier against dangerous pathogens, as well as performing many other key functions. Because the digestive tract is a major entry point for viruses and other invaders, the immune system focuses a lot of energy there: Up to 80 percent of immune activity is located in the gut. Probiotics also support immune-related genes. We can support healthy bacteria with probiotic foods, such as kefir, yogurt and kimchee, as well as probiotic supplements.

Modified Citrus Pectin

Made from inner pith of citrus peels, modified citrus pectin (MCP) is one of the most powerful supplements in our arsenal. First, MCP is an effective way to safely remove heavy metals and toxins, which can damage the immune system. It also binds to the inflammatory protein galectin-3 to fight cancer and chronic diseases, boosts NK cells and provides overall cellular support.

Chicken Soup

I’m always interested when “old wives tales” turn out to be true. For example, chicken soup has been shown to inhibit inflammation and reduce cold durations. Use it as a nutrient-delivery vehicle with extra carrots, garlic, onions, kale and other nutrient-rich veggies.

Herbal Formulas

I particularly recommend a Tibetan herbal formula, which supports strong immunity as well as cardiovascular health. The formula’s benefits have been supported by decades of research. This blend, which has been used in Tibet for thousands of years, combines Iceland moss, cardamom fruit, costus root, beal tree fruit, golden cinquefoil herb, chebulic myrobalan, red saunders and other botanicals.

Each year, many of us expend a great deal of energy worrying about whether we’re going to get sick. I recommend reapplying that effort toward prevention, which also includes adequate stress relief. This is a partial list of immune-supporting remedies, and there are many more. Incorporate them into your lifestyle along with exercise, a healthy diet and good sleep, and the only thing you’ll notice about cold and flu season is just how great you feel.

From http://easyhealthoptions.com/alternative-medicine/fueling-immunity-to-sail-through-winter/

11-29-2013, 01:25 PM
Make Buffets Healthier With This Simple Strategy
Friday, 22 Nov 2013
By Nick Tate | NewsMax Health

Here's a simple, but effective way to make sure you don't overdo it at the holiday dinner buffet lines this year: Help yourself to salad, vegetables, and other healthier options first, then move on to higher-calorie options at the other end of the table.

That, in short, is the upshot of new research from Cornell University that finds that two-thirds of an individual's plate is typically filled with the first three items they encounter at a buffet table.

The study of diners' food habits, by researchers Brian Wansink and Andrew Hanks, also found that when healthy foods are selected first, most eaters are less likely to pile on higher-calorie dishes later in the line.

"Each food taken may partly determine what other foods a person selects. In this way, the first food a person selects triggers what they take next," wrote the behavioral economists, in findings published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE.

For the study, the researchers offered two breakfast buffets to 124 people. In one, diners encountered healthy food like fruit, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat granola first. At the other buffet, dinners came upon high-calorie offerings such as cheesy eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon first.

The found that, regardless of the choices, diners at both buffet lines tended to load up on the first food items they encountered. What's more, 86 percent of diners took fruit when it was offered first, but only 54 percent took fruit when it was offered last. In addition, about 75 percent of diners took cheesy eggs when offered first, compared with only 29 percent who dished them up when they were offered last.

"The first three food items a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66 percent of their total plate, regardless of whether the items were high or low-calorie foods," said Wansink.

"There's an easy take-away here for us … always start at the healthier end of the buffet. Two-thirds of your plate will be the good stuff!"


12-02-2013, 08:52 AM
Know Your Flavonoids
Dr. Blaylock | NewsMax Health | December 2 2013

There are approximately 4,000 different flavonoid compounds found in foods, many of which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and brain-protecting properties.

But not all vegetables or fruits contain the same flavonoids. Here is a list of beneficial flavonoids and the foods they are found in:

• Anthocyanins — found in grapes, berries, purple cabbage, and other fruits with purple, red or blue coloration

• Apigenin — celery, parsley, carrots, chamomile flowers, and chicory

• Caffeic acid — blueberries, apricots, apples, plums, and tomatoes

• Catechin — red wine, teas, and grapes

• Chlorogenic acid — McIntosh apples, blueberries, eggplant, and tomato skin

• Curcumin — turmeric spice

• Ellagic acid (ellagitannins) — walnuts, pomegranates, raspberries, muscadine grapes, strawberries, and oak-aged wines

• Epicatechins — teas (especially white and green) and hawthorn

•Epigallocatechin gallate — teas (especially white and green), peaches, black and red currants

• Ferulic acid — some fruits and peppers

• Hesperidin — oranges, black currants, and grapefruit

•Kaempferol — kale, turnip greens, cherries, broccoli, leeks, chives, onions, strawberries, black
currants, and black, white, and green teas

• Luteolin — celery, artichokes, carrots, chicory, and lettuce (low levels)

• Myricetin — grapes, broad beans, red wine, and teas

• Naringenin — grapefruit and oranges

• Nobiletin — tangerines

• Quercetin — white and green teas, onions, leeks,
red wine, grapes, and cranberries

• Tangeretin — tangerines

From: NewsMax Health

12-04-2013, 10:57 AM
10 tips for spotting a phishing email
By Brien Posey |TechRepublic | in 10 Things, December 3, 2013

Phishing emails insinuate themselves into inboxes year-round, but the holidays bring out a rash of new scams. Help your users spot "fishy" emails.

Every day countless phishing emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are so outlandish that they are obvious frauds, others can be a bit more convincing. So how do you tell the difference between a phishing message and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one single technique that works in every situation, but there are a number of different things that you can look for. This article lists ten.

1. The message contains a mismatched URL

One of the first things that I recommend checking in a suspicious email message is the integrity of any embedded URLs. Often times the URL in a phishing message will appear to be perfectly valid. However, if you hover your mouse over top of the URL, you will see the actual hyperlinked address (at least that’s how it works in Outlook). If the hyperlinked address is different from the address that is displayed. then the message is probably fraudulent or malicious.

2. URLs contain a misleading domain name

Often times people that launch phishing scams depend on their victims not knowing how the DNS naming structure for domains works. It is the last part of a domain name that is the most telling. For example, the domain name info.brienposey.com would be a child domain of brienposey.com because brienposey.com appears at the end of the full domain name (on the right hand side). Conversely, brienposey.com.maliciousdomai.com would clearly not have originated from brienposey.com because the reference to brienposey.com is on the left side of the domain name, not the right.

I have seen this trick used countless times by phishing artists as a way of trying to convince victims that a message came from a company like Microsoft or Apple. The phishing artist simply creates a child domain bearing the name Microsoft, Apple, or whatever. The resulting domain name looks something like this: Microsoft.maliciousdomainname.com.

3. The message contains poor spelling and grammar

Whenever a large company sends out a message on behalf of the company as a whole, the message is usually reviewed for spelling, grammar, legality, and a number of other things. As such, if a message is filled with poor grammar or spelling mistakes it probably didn’t come from a major corporation’s legal department.

To give you a rather amusing example, I received an email message a few weeks ago that was supposedly from one of the large real estate companies. However, the body of the email merely said, “Me buy house fast”. Obviously, that email was not legit.

I’ll concede that this particular message was more of a spam than a phishing message, but the same basic principle applies to phishing emails as well.

4. The message asks for personal information

No matter how official an email message might look, it is always a bad sign if the message asks for personal information. Your bank doesn’t need you to send them your account number. They already know what it is. Similarly, a reputable company should never send an email asking for your password, credit card number, or the answer to a security question.

5. The offer seems too good to be true

There is an old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That saying holds especially true for email messages. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making big promises, then the message is probably a scam. After all, why would a Nigerian prince that you have never heard of contact you to help him smuggle money out of his country?

6. You didn’t initiate the action

Just yesterday I received an email message informing me that I had won the lottery!!!! The only problem is that I never bought a lottery ticket. If you get a message informing you that you have won a contest that you did not enter then you can bet that the message is a scam.

7. You are asked to send money to cover expenses

One telltale sign of a phishing E-mail is that you will eventually be asked for money. You might not get hit up for cash in the initial message, but sooner or later a phishing artist will likely ask for money to cover expenses, taxes, fees, or something like that. If that happens, then you can bet that it’s a scam.

8. The message makes unrealistic threats

Although most of the phishing scams seem to try to trick people into giving up cash or sensitive information by promising the victim instant riches, other phishing artists try to use intimidation to scare the victim into giving up information. If a message makes unrealistic threats then the message is probably a scam. Let me give you an example.

About ten years ago, I received a very official looking letter that was allegedly from US Bank. Everything in the letter seemed completely legit except for one thing. The letter said that my account had been compromised and that if I did not submit a form (which asked for my account number) along with two forms of picture ID then my account would be canceled and my assets seized.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that it’s illegal for a bank to close your account and seize your assets simply because you didn’t respond to an email message.

The amusing part however, was that the only account that I had with US Bank was a car lease. There were no deposits to seize because I did not have a checking or savings account with the bank.

9. The message appears to be from a government agency

Phishing artists who want to use intimidation don’t always pose as a bank. Sometimes phishing artists will send messages claiming to have come from a law enforcement agency, the IRS, the FBI, or just about anything else that could scare the average law abiding citizen.

I can’t tell you how government agencies work outside of the United States. In America however, government agencies do not normally use email as the initial point of contact. That isn’t to say that law enforcement and other government agencies do not use email – they do. However, law enforcement agencies follow certain protocols. They do not engage in email-based extortion (at least that hasn’t been my experience).

10. Something just doesn’t look right

In Las Vegas casino security teams are taught to look for anything that JDLR (as they call it). The idea is that if something just doesn’t look right, then there is probably a good reason why. This same principle almost always applies to email messages. If you receive a message that seems suspicious then it is usually in your best interest to avoid acting on the message.


12-05-2013, 05:03 AM
Dementia cases 'set to treble worldwide' by 2050
By James Gallagher | Health and science reporter | BBC News | 5 December 2013

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is set to treble by 2050, according to a new analysis.

Alzheimer's Disease International says 44 million people live with the disease, but that figure will increase to 135 million by 2050.

The figures were released ahead of the G8 dementia summit in London next week.

In the UK, dementia research receives one eighth of the amount of funding that is spent on cancer, which charities say is insufficient.

Alzheimer's Disease International expects increasing life expectancies to drive a surge in cases in poor and middle-income countries, particularly in South East Asia and Africa.

Currently 38% of cases are in rich countries. But that balance is predicted shift significantly by 2050, with 71% of patients being in poor and middle-income countries.

The report says most governments are "woefully unprepared for the dementia epidemic".

Marc Wortmann, the executive director at Alzheimer Disease International, said: "It's a global epidemic and it is only getting worse - if we look into the future the numbers of elderly people will rise dramatically."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the UK's Alzheimer's Society, said: "Dementia is fast becoming the biggest health and social care challenge of this generation.

"We must tackle dementia now, for those currently living with the condition across the world and for those millions who will develop dementia in the future.

"The G8 is our once-in-a-generation chance to conquer this condition and we must see meaningful action after the talking is over."

Rebecca Wood, the chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "Increasing numbers of people affected by dementia worldwide is cause for alarm, but research can stem the tide.

"An intervention to delay the onset of Alzheimer's by five years could halve the number of people who die with the disease, having a transformative impact on millions of people's lives.

"This progress can only come through research and these figures are a timely reminder of the scale of the challenge ahead of the G8 dementia research summit."

12-05-2013, 05:20 AM
'Tips for Jesus' spreads the wealth in massive restaurant tips

December 4, 2013, By Eun Kyung Kim, TODAY | NBC

These Instagram posts document generous gratuities left by a man who signs his receipts "Tips for Jesus."

An anonymous patron is leaving a trail of generous gratuities on bar and restaurant tabs across the country, signing each credit-card receipt with the same name as the Instagram account he uses to document his largess: @TipsForJesus.

Micah Olson learned about the man Tuesday night only after he left the Phoenix restaurant he co-owns. The mysterious man arrived with a woman and asked Olson, who was working behind the bar, whether he had ever heard of Tips for Jesus. Olson hadn’t.

“Oh, you’ll hear about it later tonight,” the man laughed — and then proceeded to order several $70 drinks for himself and his friend.

When the man closed his tab, he bought a round of drinks for Olson and his fellow bartender and left a $2,500 tip on his $530 bill.

“I’ve had great tips, but nothing like that,” Olson told TODAY.com. “When he was done, he called himself a cab and said, ‘You’ll probably hear more about this tomorrow.’”

According to his Instagram account, the mysterious man is “doing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time.”

His gratuities have ranged from $500 on a $24 bill in Hollywood, Calif., to several $10,000 tips, all dropped within the last three months at bars and restaurants along the West coast, in the Pacific Northwest and in several Midwest states.

Ben Swerdlow-Freed, 24, who waits tables at Bar Louie in Ann Arbor, Mich., remembers the man well. He left a $3,000 tip on an $87 bill. The Sept. 8 receipt was the first one posted on “Tips for Jesus.”

“When I initially read it, I thought it said $300, which still blew my mind a bit, then realized, whoa, there’s an extra zero there,” Swerdlow-Freed said.

The mysterious benefactor assured Swerdlow-Freed the tip wasn’t a joke, and even asked him whether he needed to consult with his manager because of the size of the final bill.

“I asked him why he did it, and he said I had good beer recommendations,” he said. “It was very shocking. I was shaking so hard I could barely serve the next table."

Each of the bills appears to be paid with an American Express “black card,” which is reserved for its elite customers. Once, however, the man paid two caddies $300 each in cash while playing golf in Ogden, Utah.

"Caddies are cash only #tipsforjesus," he wrote in the caption of the picture he posted.

Last weekend, when the man left a $5,000 tip on a $576 bar bill at a neighborhood bar in Port Orchard, Wash., the bartender called up his boss.

“Of course I was skeptical. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not,” said Darryl Baldwin, owner of Moondogs, Too. “I thought, ‘We’ll wait and see if it clears.’”

It cleared, and 11 staffers working that night will get be sharing the joy in Thursday’s paycheck.

While the man used to sign his credit card slips with his moniker (and sometimes add a smiley face and a “God bless”) he recently got a “@tipsforjesus” rubber stamp, which he admits he was too eager to try out. "A little aggressive with the new stamp. Racer 5's will do that," he wrote on Instagram.

All of his charges appear to be processed without exception.

"Tipsforjesus pays its tabs," he wrote on one post, apparently responding to the owners of a South Bend, Ind., restaurant that challenged the authenticity of two $5,000 tips he left.

Based on the types of eateries involved, the mysterious benefactor appears to be a college football fan because several of the gratuities have lined up with games. On the day Notre Dame played the University of Southern California, he wrote the USC slogan “Fight On” on his receipt.

Baldwin, the bar owner in Washington, said the man was very polite and appeared to have a great time talking and dancing with his friends.

“He said he had owned very well-known businesses, and he made a lot of money and was now spreading it around,” he said.

Baldwin said he wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the man was once in the service industry.

“It’s seems like everyone in this world has been a bartender or server at one point in his life,” he said.

12-05-2013, 05:30 AM
'My entire life is a miracle': Face transplants showing signs of success
December 4, 2013
By Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press

Dallas Wiens, the nation's first full face transplant patient, shows his progress at a news conference Dec. 4 in Chicago. Medical imaging shows new blood vessel networks have formed, connecting transplanted skin with the patient's facial tissue.

CHICAGO — The nation's first full face transplant patients are growing into their new appearances — literally.

Medical imaging shows new blood vessel networks have formed, connecting transplanted skin with the patients' facial tissue, a finding that may help improve future face transplant surgeries, doctors announced Wednesday.

Dallas Wiens, the first U.S. man to get a full face transplant, is a remarkable example of that success. The 28-year-old Fort Worth man attended Wednesday's annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America with his new wife and golden retriever guide dog. Despite still visible facial scars from the March 2011 surgery, he looks and sounds like a recovered man.

"My entire life is a miracle," Wiens said at a news conference.

His face was burned off in a 2008 painting accident at his church. He was on a cherry-picker lift when his head hit a high voltage wire.

Dallas Wiens in 2010, before his face transplant.
After surgery, Wiens lived for two years with no facial features and just a two-inch slit for a mouth, until his transplant at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Imaging studies on Wiens and two other full face transplants done at Brigham in 2011 show that a network of new blood vessels had formed just a year after the operations. A fourth full face transplant was performed at Brigham earlier this year.

The same thing typically happens with other transplants and it helps ensure their success by boosting blood flow to the donor tissue. But Brigham doctors say this is the first time it has happened with full face transplants.

The finding could eventually shorten the operating time for future face transplants, Brigham radiologist Dr. Frank Rybicki said. The operations can take up to 30 hours and include attaching spaghetti-thin arteries in the patients' existing tissue to the donor face, but the findings suggest attaching only two facial or neck arteries instead of several is sufficient, he said.

Dr. Samir Mardini, a Mayo Clinic expert in reconstructive transplant surgery, said blood vessel reorganization occurs with other types of tissue transplants — doctors call it "neovascularization" and it helps ensure the tissue's survival by improving blood flow.

"It's interesting that they've shown it" with face transplants, but it's not a surprise, Mardini said.

Face transplants, using cadaver donors, are still experimental. Fewer than 30 have been done since the first in 2005, said Dr. Branko Bojovich, a surgeon involved in a 2012 face transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

He called the Boston team's findings "very reassuring" for surgeons and for future patients.

"We're assuming that these patients will hopefully go on to live productive and long lives," Bojovich said.

Wiens' life before the accident was troubled, and he says he misses nothing about it except possibly his eyesight.

"I've learned more about other people and myself, being blind," he said.

Dallas Wiens and Jamie Nash pose for pictures after getting married March 30, 2013, at Ridglea Baptist Church in Forth Worth, Texas.
He met his wife, Jamie Nash, in a support group for burn patients, and they were married in March at the same church where Wiens' accident occurred. That was a symbolic choice, Wiens said.

"The most life-changing experience I had happened at that church. I felt like the beginning of my new life should happen there," he said.

Nash, 30, had suffered severe burns in a 2010 car crash in which she lost control of her car while texting.

The couple lives with his 6-year-old daughter and her two children. Nash helps him "see" and he helps her do things that are difficult because of her scarred, stiff arms.

Together, they work with a foundation Nash set up to advocate against texting and driving, visiting schools to bring the message to teens. Wiens says the work helps make his new life fulfilling.

"Our life is incredible," Nash said Wednesday. "We are so much in love."

Added Wiens, "There is life after tragedy."

Story and images here .. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/my-entire-life-miracle-face-transplants-showing-signs-success-2D11690929

12-05-2013, 05:44 AM
Why milk prices could soar to $8
December 4, 2013 | By Katie Little, CNBC

Milk prices could shoot up if Congress doesn't pass a new farm bill by the end of the year.

Brace yourself: the U.S. is about to go over the "dairy cliff," which could cause milk prices to jump.

If Congress is not able to pass a new farm bill before the 2008 farm bill expires at the end of the year, a decades-old law will kick in. As part of this permanent legislation from 1949, the government would then buy dairy products from producers at about twice the current market rate.

"It could take a period of weeks or a month or two for there to be a trickle-down effect at the retail level," said Chris Galen, senior vice president of communications at the National Milk Producers Federation, a group of 30 dairy cooperatives. "What happens under this permanent law, the USDA is required to basically support a much higher price to dairy farmers."

Possible impact of an expiration

Once this price increase gets passed down to shoppers, Galen said milk prices could jump as much as "$2 or $3 a gallon," possibly even as high as $7 to $8 a gallon in pricier markets. The national average for a gallon of milk in October stood at about $3.46, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If the farm bill expires, "domestic demand for dairy products would fall by an estimated 9 percent, and exports, which have seen much growth over the past decade, would likely disappear as the cost of U.S. dairy products would become prohibitively expensive," the Executive Office of the President predicted in a recent report.

In order to support these higher prices, the government would have to buy and store large quantities of dairy, which would cost the federal government "at least $12 billion per year," the report forecast.

So what's causing this dairy impasse?

"This is the second time we've been down this road. The same thing happened last year," Galen said. "It's because of gridlock on Capitol Hill. It's very similar to the showdown and shutdown we had in October."

Still, he thinks it's unlikely consumers will see the return of the earlier permanent law. It's more likely that Congress will pass either a short-term extension of the bill until early 2014 when they'll hammer out a new bill or another 12-month extension or possibly even 24 months, Galen added.

A big question mark

Bruce Stone, owner of Stone Dairy in Henning, Minn., and a member of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, said it's hard to say how it would affect his business if D.C. wrangling leads the U.S. to go over the dairy cliff.

"We don't know what's going to happen. There's a lot of uncertainty," said Stone, who milks about 450 cows and sells dairy products primarily to Land O' Lakes.

Higher feed costs due to the bill's expiration would erase Stone's margins, he added.

"The dairy industry's been tough going for the last few years," he said. "There's not much profit in it. Costs are high. Prices aren't high enough to cover it."

12-05-2013, 05:52 AM
Ohio most foul-mouthed state; Washington is least, report says
December 4, 2013 | By Eun Kyung Kim, TODAY

Ohio residents curse more than anyone else in the country, according to an analysis of customer service calls.

You have a f@*%$&!*# problem with that?

In addition to having potty mouths, people living in the Buckeye state also are less likely to mind their manners, ranking among the top five “least courteous” states in the nation, according to a study by mobile ad technology company Marchex.

The company examined more than 600,000 phone calls over a 12 month-period. Researchers looked at calls placed by consumers to businesses across 30 industries, including cable and satellite companies, auto dealerships and pest control centers. They then scanned for curse words and matched them to the state from where the calls were placed.

The results, released online in May, are going viral this week.

Ohio ranked first among states where people were most likely to curse, swearing in one out of about every 150 phone conversations. Maryland came in second, followed by New Jersey, Louisiana and Illinois.

The state less likely to drop the f-bomb or some other curse word? Washington. People there cursed once in about every 300 conversations — or half as much as Ohioans. Massachusetts, Arizona, Texas and Virginia rounded out the top five of what Marchex dubbed the “goody two-shoes” category.

The company also aggregated data on the states most likely to say “please” and “thank you.” South Carolina came in first, followed by North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia. The least courteous states were Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio.

12-05-2013, 06:07 AM
Warning: Scientists say gas cans carry risk of explosion
December 4, 2013 | By Lisa Myers and Richard Gardella

Red plastic portable gasoline containers – consumer gas cans sold throughout the U.S. – pose a rare but real explosion hazard many Americans may not know about, an NBC News investigation has found.

“It was ‘boom.’ That was it,” said William Melvin, who suffered severe burns on one-third of his body when a gas can he was using allegedly exploded. “It was a miracle that I was still alive.”

American consumers buy approximately 20 million gas cans each year, and there are more than 100 million plastic gas cans currently in circulation in the U.S., according to industry estimates.

But lab tests indicate that under certain limited conditions, gas vapor mixtures can explode inside those cans and cause significant injury. At the request of NBC News, the federal government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission analyzed incident and injury databases and counted at least 11 reported deaths and 1,200 emergency room visits involving gas can explosions during the pouring of gasoline since 1998.

The results of scientific tests conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's combustion lab with the support of the gas can industry, published earlier this year, show the conditions under which so-called “flashback” explosions inside the cans are possible. Other tests conducted for plaintiffs' attorneys, for a government criminal investigation, and for NBC News all reached the same finding.

The tests show that under certain limited conditions -- including a very low volume of gasoline left inside -- a flashback explosion can occur inside a plastic gas can, when gas vapor escaping the can contacts a source of ignition such as a flame or a spark. The vapor outside the container can ignite and "flash back" inside the can. If it does, and if the gas/air vapor mixture inside the can is a certain concentration, that mixture can ignite and cause an explosion of flame.

The test findings are the latest development in a long-running legal battle between can manufacturers and plaintiffs who have filed product-liability lawsuits.

Attorneys have filed at least 80 lawsuits during the past two decades on behalf of individuals injured in alleged gas can explosions. They have argued that portable plastic gas cans are “dangerous” and “unsafe” because they are “susceptible” to flashback explosions. Most of the lawsuits have named as defendants Blitz USA, until recently the largest manufacturer of plastic gas cans, and Wal-Mart, the largest seller.

Robert Jacoby, now 27, sued after a Blitz can he said he bought at Walmart allegedly exploded in his hand in 2010 while he was reaching down to put it on the ground in his front yard.

“It was just a big gas bomb right in my face,” Jacoby told NBC News. “It blew up, covered my whole body just head to toe.”

Jacoby said he had poured gasoline from the can onto a brush pile he planned to ignite, but had walked the can 20 feet from the pile when it exploded. He said he had not yet lit a match or any other fire, but claimed a spark from static electricity created by the friction between the plastic can and his denim jeans was the source of ignition.

A fire investigator hired by Jacoby’s attorney examined Jacoby’s property in the presence of Blitz representatives and says he found no evidence inconsistent with Jacoby’s claim, and no evidence that Jacoby had lit the brush pile or that the brush pile had burned.

Jacoby suffered severe burns over 75 percent of his body. He spent four months in a hospital burn unit, and had multiple surgeries and skin grafts, incurring $1.5 million in medical bills. Scar tissue covers most of his torso and arms.

Karen Kornegay sued after her 19-year-old son, Dylan, died in 2010 from the effects of third- and fourth-degree burns he received over 80 percent of his body following an alleged gas can explosion.

Kornegay said her son had poured gasoline from a Blitz can purchased at Wal-Mart to start a bonfire with friends. She said Dylan’s friends told her he was walking away from the fire when the can swelled and exploded near his leg, and engulfed him in flames. Dylan spent six weeks in a burn center, underwent 15 surgeries, including the amputation of part of his leg. He succumbed to an infection while at the burn center.

“Dylan was the victim of a gasoline container,” said Kornegay, “that blew up.”

William Melvin sued after a Blitz can he said he bought at Wal-Mart allegedly exploded in his hand in 2009 while he was refueling his riding lawnmower with the engine off.

Melvin told NBC News he had been mowing, but after the mower ran out of gas he pushed it a few hundred feet to his garage shop, where he had gasoline stored in several plastic cans. About 15 seconds after he started pouring from one of the cans, Melvin said, he saw a flash of fire.

“The gas can exploded and blew me back into the shop,” Melvin said.

Melvin suffered severe burns on his face, arms, legs and all of his torso and spent weeks in a burn unit. He has largely recovered and has returned to his work as a racecar body repairman.

Attorney Diane Breneman has represented Jacoby, Kornegay and Melvin, and about 30 other plaintiffs.

“Any time a spark or flame gets near a can, you are holding a potential bomb,” said Breneman. “That's the reality of it. … It’s not a safe product.”

The plastic gas can industry disagrees. “Today's gas cans are very safe,” said William Moschella, an attorney for the Portable Fuel Container Manufacturers Association, a trade group of plastic gas can manufacturers. “They are used billions of times a day without incident by people who use them appropriately.”

Moschella noted that all plastic gas cans are imprinted with warnings that "vapors can explode" and "can be ignited by a flame source many feet away."

In lawsuits, Blitz and other manufacturers have argued that any alleged injuries were caused by the users’ own negligence and misuse, and that the cans were not at fault.

The defendants argued that Robert Jacoby was negligent because he was using gas to ignite a brush fire, that Dylan Kornegay was negligent because he had used gas to ignite a bonfire, and that William Melvin was negligent because he poured gas into the tank of a mower with an engine that was not cool.

Jacoby maintains he never ignited the brush fire. Kornegay’s mother acknowledges that her son’s use of gas to light a bonfire was a mistake, but claims he would not have died if the can had not exploded. Some fire experts say that while pouring gas on a fire may cause the fire to flare up and burn someone, it's the explosion involving the gas can itself that covers the victim in flames and causes catastrophic injuries.

Melvin acknowledged that his mower’s engine was warm, but contends that it’s standard practice for many consumers to add fuel to engines that are off but not completely cool.

The American Petroleum Institute and others publish gasoline handling precautions which warn consumers to “put gasoline in a small engine (like a lawnmower) only when the engine and attachments are cool.”

Moschella told NBC News that most of the alleged incidents of internal can explosion have involved consumer misuse – such as pouring gasoline on a fire. He argued that all the incidents more likely have resulted from vapor explosions occurring outside the cans, and asserted that no one has proven in court that an explosion incident resulted from an ignition inside a can.

“This is really only occurring in a laboratory environment,” Moschella said. “We haven't seen a case where that has been demonstrated.”

“It’s not clear at all that what is occurring in the real world, in real life, is that gas cans are exploding,” said Moschella.

Gas Cans Alleged 'Defect': No Flame Arresters

The lawsuits allege that all the incidents were flashback explosions of the kind WPI’s results demonstrated, from ignitions inside the cans.

They allege that the gas cans are “susceptible” to such internal combustion explosions and are therefore “dangerous,” “unsafe” and “defective” for a specific reason: because their design does not include a flame arrester, a part the lawsuits allege could prevent flashback explosions.

Flame arresters -- pieces of mesh or disks with holes that are intended to disrupt flame -- are in use in metal “safety” gas cans, in fuel tanks, and in storage containers of other flammable liquids such as charcoal lighter fluid and rum.

“Any can that doesn't have a flame arrester is unsafe, period,” said Breneman, the plaintiffs' attorney.

The gas can industry is “intently” studying whether to add arresters, said Moscella. “We can only add that to the can if it won't make the can less safe.”

Dylan Kornegay’s mother Karen has started a website in her son’s given first name, Matthew, to educate others about the hazard of plastic gas can explosions. The website is called “Matthew Didn’t Know.”

“Dylan didn't know. I didn't know,” Kornegay said. “He didn't have to die. His injuries could've been so much less.”

After inquiries from NBC News and a review of both injury reports and flame-arrester engineering the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement calling on the consumer gas can industry to incorporate flame-arrester technology into its gasoline containers.

“CPSC believes that this technology also should be included in gasoline containers,” the statement said. “CPSC is calling on the industry to regain the momentum that was lost in years past by designing their products to include this safety technology. In addition, CPSC is asking voluntary standards organizations to incorporate a flame arrestor system into applicable safety standards for gas cans.”

12-05-2013, 12:28 PM
8 Natural Flu-Fighting Antivirals
Wednesday, 04 Dec 2013
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard | NewsMax Health

The cold and flu season is here. Even though Old Man Winter hasn't officially arrived, he barged in the back door bringing colder-than-usual weather to many parts of the United States Thanksgiving week. The cold weather, combined with stress and holiday crowds, will raise the risk of colds and flu for weeks to come. You can fight back by keeping your immune system in tip-top order by making sure your diet is rich in antivirals — powerful natural immune enhancers.

“Antivirals are the newest substances to be found in nature, possessing even more disease-fighting power than antioxidants,” says fitness expert Tosca Reno, author of
Your Best Body Now.

However, antivirals do much more than just shield you from colds and flu. Their anti-inflammatory properties are powerful immune boosters that can help protect you from the disease of aging, including cancer, Alzheimer's, and cardiovascular disease.

Use antivirals on a daily basis to keep your immune system strong and to treat various ailments, or use as preventives when you’ve been exposed to disease-causing viruses.

“You can’t get enough of these incredible antivirals,” Reno says. “They should be on the top of your radar every day, at any age, because of their strong disease-fighting, age-proofing, and immune-system-boosting properties.”

Enjoy the following eight antivirals as a part of your daily diet, or buy them as supplements and follow directions on the label. Either way, Reno says, you’ll be giving your health a boost.

Turmeric contains the antiviral curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps to prevent many deadly diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and Parkinson’s. One study at the University of California, Los Angeles, found curcumin may treat Alzheimer's by slowing the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain.

Laboratory studies at the University of Texas found that turmeric appeared to prevent the development and spread of many types of cancer, including breast, colon, and melanoma. Additional studies have found a link between a reduced risk of leukemia and colon cancer in populations whose diets include large amounts of turmeric.

One study published in Gut, a publication of the British Medical Journal, found that turmeric delays liver damage that eventually causes cirrhosis

A 2012 study gave turmeric's active ingredient — curcumin — as supplements to 124 adults with prediabetes, with 116 prediabetics as controls. After nine months, 19 of the 116 controls had developed diabetes, but no one in the curcumin group did.

Turmeric can be purchased as a supplement. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Rosemary improves brain function and circulation, and also lowers the risk of developing cancer, according to several studies. Researchers in California and Japan found that rosemary contains carnosic acid, which protects the brain against damage by free radicals, helping prevent strokes and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. A study conducted in the United Kingdom found when volunteers worked in cubicles scented by rosemary, they had better long-term memory than those in unscented cubicles, and a 2013 study found that rosemary extract was effective against mild cognitive impairment — a precursor to Alzheimer's.

In addition, researchers recommend adding rosemary extract to ground beef to reduce the cancer-causing chemicals that can form when meat is cooked, especially at high temperatures. Add rosemary to favorite dishes or buy as a supplement and follow directions on the label.

According to Cancer.gov, studies have found that garlic lowers the risk of pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, prostate cancer by 50 percent, colon cancer by 50 percent, and stomach cancer by 52 percent. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina found that sulfur compounds in garlic are effective against glioblastoma, a fatal type of brain tumor. Garlic has also been found to lower the risk of esophageal, breast, bladder, and skin cancer.

A British study found that people taking a garlic supplement containing allicin each day reduced their chances of catching a cold by more than half when compared to those taking a placebo. In addition, those who caught colds recovered more quickly, and their chances of an infection following the cold were significantly reduced.

Garlic is also a potent ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease. Several studies have found that garlic lowers blood levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol — the "bad" forms — as much as 20 percent. In one large study, those who took 800 milligrams of powdered garlic daily for four months lowered their cholesterol by 12 percent and their triglycerides by 17 percent, while the placebo group experienced little change.

Green tea.
Green tea contains catechins — powerful disease-fighters that fight cancer and lower cholesterol. A Taiwanese study found that drinking green tea daily reduced the risk of developing lung cancer by 66 percent, and smokers who didn’t drink green tea increased their risk 13-fold. Other studies link green tea with a lower risk of numerous other cancers, including breast, stomach, skin, oral, esophageal, prostate, uterine, pancreatic, and colorectal, as well as leukemia.

Green tea may be the key to reducing the risk of dying from heart disease. Researchers at Japan’s Okayama University found that senior citizens who drank large amounts of green tea slashed their risk of dying from heart disease by as much as 76 percent.

Researchers are discovering coffee is much more than just an eye-opener. It’s an ally against developing diabetes. The Iowa Women’s Health Study observed 23,000 menopausal women over 11 years and found that those who drank more than six cups of coffee (including caffeine-free) a day lowered their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent when compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. And a meta-analysis of 500,000 people found a 7 percent reduction in diabetes risk for every cup of coffee drunk each day.

Scientists have found that coffee lowers the risk of developing several cancers, including kidney, breast, prostate, liver, ovarian, and head and neck.

Drinking moderate amounts of coffee during middle age — classified as three to five cups daily — can decrease the risk of dementia by 65 percent, according to a study by Swedish and Finnish researchers.

This component of grapes is present in much higher amounts in wine than in grape juice and may be responsible for the “French Paradox” — the apparent ability of the French to eat high-fat diets and drink copious amounts of red wine and still have low rates of heart disease and cancer.

An avalanche of studies show that moderate drinking, which is considered to be two glasses of wine each day for men and one for women, can aid your body from head to toe, including helping you fight cancer, lose weight, and maintain a sharp intellect.
Some studies show that moderate amounts of wine lower the risk of heart attack by 30 to 50 percent, and regular wine drinkers reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's by 80 percent. Wine also appears to reduce the risk of some cancers: A study done at New York's Stony Brook University found that people who drink at least three glasses of red wine each week cut their risk of colorectal cancer by almost 70 percent. But be wary; heavy drinking can increase the risk.

Gingko biloba.
Gingko increases circulation in the brain, thus enhancing memory and brain function. A study at UCLA examined the effects of gingko biloba in patients aged 45 to 75 who complained of mild age-related memory loss, but did not have dementia. One group received 120 mg of ginkgo biloba twice daily and one group received a placebo. Verbal recall, measured by cognitive tests, improved in volunteers taking ginkgo biloba. An animal study at Johns Hopkins found that ginkgo prevented or reduced brain damage after an induced stroke.

Coconut oil.
Coconut oil has been used in traditional medicine around the world to treat a wide range of ailments. Modern research shows its healing ability is powered by lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, which kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi by causing their cell walls to collapse. According to the Coconut Research Center, it has the ability to kill viruses that cause flu, measles, herpes, and hepatitis C as well as many types of bacteria, including heliobacter pylori — the most common cause of stomach ulcers. It may be able to thwart Alzheimer's: Studies have shown that 80 to 85 percent of Alzheimer's patients who take coconut oil show improvement within weeks, says researcher Dr. David Morgan, CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in Tampa.

12-05-2013, 02:08 PM
How to find out if your password has been stolen
By Larry Seltzer for Zero Day | ZDnet Security | December 5, 2013

Summary: There are many public databases of breached accounts, the largest breach being that of Adobe.com, but no way to search across all of them. Until now.

The announcement yesterday's of the discovery of a botnet command and control database of user credentials for Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, ADP and others is just the latest in a trend going back several years. You can't trust Internet services to protect your passwords; you have to protect them yourself.

This new revelation is actually rather minor compared to many others from recent years for reasons explained by Webroot in a blog entry: the number (2 million credentials) is actually small compared to many of the others, with the king of the hill being the Adobe breach of as many as 150 million credentials.

Trustwave, the company that found the botnet and password database, isn't publishing it, but other databases are publicly available and you can search them. But there are two sites I have found that let you search across multiple databases.

Troy Hunt's Have I been pwned? consolidates the databases from five major breaches for a single search:

152,445,165 Adobe accounts
859,777 Stratfor accounts
532,659 Gawker accounts
453,427 Yahoo! accounts
37,103 Sony accounts
Enter your email address and haveibeenpwned.com searches all of them and reports back. One of my addresses was in the Adobe database, but I knew that already:


I changed the password a while ago and hadn't used it on other sites.

As Hunt explains in a blog entry announcing the site, he built it in large part as an exercise to in using certain Windows Azure technologies, but he believes in the service and wants to make the site as useful as is practical. He says he has plans to add new databases as they come available and new features such as a service to alert you in case your email address shows up in a database and the ability to search on a whole domain (such as '@zdnet.com').

The other site, Should I Change My Password?, is mostly a front-end for pay services. The site already has the email alert service, which they call Email Watchdog, and which appears to be free. But if you simply search for an address and it's in one of their databases they won't give you any detail, just the fact that it was in a database:

It seems odd that they "...can't tell you which breach your email address was compromised in" as they say in their FAQ. haveibeenpwned.com has no trouble providing this information, as it is stored in their database for each breached record. shouldichangemypassword.com only stores a hash of the password, the date of the last compromise and the number of times it was compromised (i.e., presumably, the number of databases in which it was found). This seems less useful. If I learn from haveibeenpwned.com that my Adobe account was breached then I only have to change that password.

Perhaps shouldichangemypassword.com (a service of Avalanche Technology Group) will give you this detail as part of one of their pay services which they push

Regardless of your status on any of these databases, the only good strategy is to have strong and separate passwords for all services you use. Remembering all that is not humanly possible, so you'll need a password manager. I use LastPass, others I know use 1Password and RoboForm, and there are many others. I hope to write more about password managers soon.

SPINNER's NOTE: I checked my email addresses and found that one of them had been hacked through Adobe. The link below provides a great service for free.


12-08-2013, 05:14 AM
Undersea Miracle: How Man in Sunken Ship Survived 3 Days
By Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor | LiveScience | Date: 04 December 2013

In one of the most shocking tales of survival-at-sea ever told, a man lived for almost three days inside a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean.

In May, a tugboat with a crew of 12 was moving through choppy waters off the coast of Nigeria. The boat was towing an oil tanker when a sudden ocean swell or rogue wave slammed into the vessel, snapping the tow rope and capsizing the vessel at about 4:30 a.m.

Harrison Okene, the ship's cook, was in the bathroom when the boat turned over and began to sink. Most of the other crew members were locked in their cabins — a safety precaution necessitated by the pirates who regularly rob and abduct vessels in that area. That safety measure, however, sealed the other crew members' doom. [Disasters at Sea: 6 Deadliest Shipwrecks]

In the predawn darkness, Okene was tossed from the bathroom wearing only his boxer shorts. "I was dazed, and everywhere was dark as I was thrown from one end of the small cubicle to another," he told The Nation. Okene was luckier than his crewmates, however. Locked inside their cabins asleep, none survived the ship's sinking.

Okene eventually scrambled into the engineers' office, where he found a small pocket of air. By this time, the boat had come to rest upside down on the seafloor at a depth of about 100 feet (30 meters). Almost naked, with no food or fresh water, in a cold, wet room with a dwindling supply of oxygen, Okene's odds of survival seemed to be near-zero.

Tales of survival
Through a series of odd coincidences and amazing good luck, Okene survived. Other people who have been trapped underwater have equally hard-to-believe tales of survival under near-impossible conditions.

In 1991, scuba diver Michael Proudfoot was exploring an underwater wreck off the Baja California coast when he accidentally smashed his breathing regulator, losing his entire air supply. Finding an air pocket, Proudfoot reportedly survived for two days on raw sea urchins and a small pot containing some fresh water before he was rescued.

In addition to his small pocket of air, Okene also discovered a bottle of Coca-Cola and a life vest with two small flashlights attached. But as Okene listened to the sounds of sharks or other fish devouring the bodies of his crewmates, he began to lose hope, he is reported as saying.

The physics of staying alive
The air pocket Okene found was, by his estimation, only about 4 feet (1.2 m) high, and humans inhale roughly 350 cubic feet (10 cubic meters) of air every 24 hours.

However, because Okene was under pressure at the ocean floor, physicist and recreational scuba diver Maxim Umansky of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) estimates that Okene's air pocket had been compressed by a factor of about four, according to a LLNL statement.

If the pressurized air pocket were about 216 cubic feet (6 cubic m), Umansky reckoned, it would contain enough oxygen to keep Okene alive for about two-and-a-half days, or 60 hours.
But there is an additional danger: carbon dioxide (CO2), which is lethal to humans at concentrations of about 5 percent. As Okene breathed, he exhaled carbon dioxide, and levels of the gas slowly built up in his tiny air chamber.

Carbon dioxide, however, is also absorbed by water, and by splashing the water inside his air pocket, Okene inadvertently increased the water's surface area, thereby increasing the absorption of CO2 and keeping levels of the gas below the deadly 5 percent level.

Hypothermia: a slow death
Another risk for Okene was hypothermia, which occurs when a person's core temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or below. Hypothermia can result in confusion, movement disorders, amnesia and, in severe cases, unusual behaviors like "terminal burrowing," in which a person struggles to find a small, enclosed shelter, not unlike a hibernating animal.

Death can eventually result from extreme hypothermia. Even in water as warm as 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius), a person could go unconscious within two hours, according to the University of Minnesota.

But once again, luck was with Okene: He was able to fashion a small platform with a mattress, which kept him just above the water level. Had his body been exposed to the frigid ocean water, Okene would have died within a matter of hours.

Looking for bodies
Dramatic video shows the moment salvage divers — who were looking for bodies and had already found four — saw a human hand motioning to them through an opening in the wreck.
After about 60 hours underwater, Okene was nearing the end of his oxygen supply. "This man was lucky to survive mainly because a sufficiently large amount of trapped air was in his air pocket," Umansky said in the LLNL statement. "He was not poisoned by the CO2 after 60 hours spent there, because it stayed at safe levels, and we can speculate that it was helped by the ocean water sealing his enclosure."

After almost three days of desperately hoping, praying and reminiscing about family and friends, Okene was finally brought to the surface in a decompression chamber by the salvage divers. He had no idea, however, how much time had passed.

"When we came out, I saw the stars in the sky and I thought I must have been in the water for the whole day," Okene told The Nation. "It was after I left the DCC [decompression chamber] that I was told that I had spent over two days there."

12-12-2013, 01:23 PM
Killing a drug-resistant fungus using plastic bottles

From SmartPlanet

Here’s a potentially life-saving use for plastic bottles straight out of the recycling bin: a nontoxic, biocompatible material to attack fungal infections.

Over 20,000 people die in the U.S. alone from bacteria and fungi that have become resistant to antibiotics. The treatment cost for fungal infections -- which range from athlete’s foot to life-threatening blood infections -- is expected to increase to $6 billion in 2014.

Compared with bacteria, fungi are particularly challenging because their cellular machinery are so close to our own. That means any drugs that sabotage their molecular processes could badly affect our healthy cells.

So how do you create an antifungal compound that doesn’t cause us harm -- while avoiding resistance? By punching holes in the membranes that surrounds each of their cells. Technology Review explains:

These membrane-attacking compounds mimic one of the body’s natural defenses -- antimicrobial peptides that insert themselves into a microbe’s outer membrane and break open the bug.

IBM Research, together with Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), has developed just such a ninja compound that destroys fungal cells and disappears without harming healthy ones. Its polymer-like structure has weak bonds between each molecule, allowing the material to degrade over time, rather than accumulate in our bodies.

And this all starts with a common plastic called PET.

Whenever IBM’s James Hedrick needs more starting material, he just goes to the nearest recycling bin in the San Jose facility, finds a plastic bottle, and cuts a piece of out of it, he told Tech Review.

So far, the plastic-derived Ninja Polymer is capable of killing Candida albicans fungi infecting the eyes of mice. And whereas Candida developed resistance to a conventional antifungal drug, the fungus didn’t develop resistance to the new compound -- even after 11 treatments.

The team is now actively seeking pharmaceutical companies to further develop this work for future clinical applications, according to an IBN news release.

While this particular study focuses on antifungal activity, a similar compound can take out superbug MRSA. Check out IBM’s infographic below.

The work was published in Nature Communications this week.

[IBM Research press release via Technology Review]

12-13-2013, 05:42 AM
How Your Email Account Could be the Weakest Link to Your Online Accounts
Posted on December 4, 2013 by ZoneAlarm

Our personal email accounts enable us to send and receive messages instantly with people all around the world. While we primarily use our email accounts for communications purposes, many of us use it to sign up for accounts such as online banking, online shopping, social networks, and even alternative email accounts. But have you considered the possibility that your personal email account could be the weakest link? By “weakest link”, we mean that a compromised email account could potentially result in the accounts connected to it being compromised too. That’s why it’s important to address email security from the get go.

Where the weakness lies
The way you sign into your personal email account is by entering in your username and password then clicking “Sign In”. For some email providers, in the event you somehow can’t access your account because you do not remember your password, you can simply click on “Forgot password” or “I can’t access my account”. From there you’re presented with a security question that you must answer correctly, where upon doing so you’re prompted to create a new password before gaining access into your account. Unfortunately, this is where the weakness lies.

Your email account may be secured by the most complicated and complex password, but that alone is not enough to keep hackers out. Hackers can simply try their luck by clicking on the same “Forgot password” link or “I can’t access my account” as you would if you forgot your password and see if they can guess the answer to your security question. After all, “fluffy” is much easier to guess than “!Am7h3R3a7N8p5ter”.

So, how exactly could a hacker compromising your personal email account lead to your online accounts associated with it being potentially compromised as well?

How your other online accounts could be compromised
Let’s first assume a hacker has gained access to your personal email account. There’s now a good amount of information he might be able to extract from your account. If you’re the type of person who emails yourself the login credentials for your online accounts, then you’ve practically handed the hacker the login credentials for those accounts too. Even if you’re not the type to email yourself login credentials, the online accounts connected to your personal email account could still be compromised.

Let’s use Facebook as an example. Assuming a hacker has gained access to the email account connected with your Facebook account, they could go to Facebook and simply initiate a password reset. Upon entering that email address and clicking on “Continue”, Facebook will ask “How would you like to reset your password?” along with the option to “Email me a link to reset my password”. Though some of the characters in the email address given are masked by the asterisks symbol, it’s quite easy to determine if the email address shown is the same one the hacker has just gained access to.

After clicking on “Continue”, Facebook sends a code to the email addressed associated with the Facebook account.

Since the hacker already has gained access to your personal email account, they can easily click on “Continue” and simply wait for the password reset email in your inbox.

After receiving the code from the password reset email from Facebook and entering it into the field, the hacker is prompted to choose a new password. At this point, not only has the hacker gained access to your account, but you’ve also lost access since the password you once used to log in is now only known to the hacker.

How to strengthen the security of your email accounts
Don’t share too much online
Let’s first revisit “fluffy” mentioned above that was used as the answer to your email’s security question. How did the hacker manage to guess “fluffy” as the answer to your security question?

Let’s take a look at a sample list below of security questions you might be presented with. You can see that “What was your first pet’s name?” is listed. In fact, you probably could answer many of these questions listed below for a friend or family member.

One thing a hacker might do is search the Internet for information to aid in guessing the answer to your security question. Social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn are a goldmine of personal information that could be exploited by someone with malicious intent. If you have a photo of your dog Fluffy on your Facebook page, it’s not a good idea to use “fluffy” as the answer to a security question for any of your online accounts. Or if the answer to your security question is your favorite author, then it’s not a good idea to publically announce on social networks that your favorite author is Tom Clancy. You get the idea.

Enable two-factor authentication for your email accounts
If at all possible, we recommend not relying on security questions as a tool to gain access to your email account in the event you do forget the password to your account. Even if you choose to create your own security question rather than relying on default question that’s provided to you from your email service provider, the fact is the answer to your security question is still guessable. The fact is a security breach associated with your email service provider could result in your email and password being exposed.

Here is where two-factor authentication comes into play.

Two-factor authentication requires an additional factor, such as a passcode sent to your mobile phone, to be entered in before access is allowed to an account. This additional security measure is triggered when a login has been initiated by an unknown browser or device. The beauty of two-factor authentication is that it really doesn’t matter if the hacker got hold of your actual password. Without the additional factor, the code sent to your phone, the hacker simply cannot gain access to your account. Below are links not only to enabling two-factor authentication for your email accounts but also for your Facebook and LinkedIn account.

• How to turn on two-factor authentication for your email accounts
• How to turn on Login Approvals for Facebook
• How to turn on two-step verification for LinkedIn

Although many email service providers are doing away with security questions due to its inherent flaws, some still utilize this feature. With that said, we suggest you to check if they offer two-factor authentication or not. Also, be sure to check with your other online accounts, such as for online banking and credit card, investment and trading, and shopping, to see if they offer two-factor authentication. It may be less convenient for you to have to take an additional step to gain access to your account, but you’ll be glad you did knowing you have another layer of security guarding your online accounts!

12-13-2013, 05:48 AM
The Risks of Public Hotspots: How Free WiFi Can Harm You
Posted on November 20, 2013 by ZoneAlarm Security

Practically anywhere you go, you’ll come across public WiFi hotspots. However, this free service could spell trouble. We explore the security risks of public hotspots and what to consider before connecting to public WiFi.


12-14-2013, 12:52 PM
Get the Sleep You Need
Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013
By Dr. Blaylock | NewsMax Health

The lack of sleep can sharply influence your quality of life as well as raise your risk of everything from automobile accidents to obesity and heart attacks.

The problem with sleep-inducing drugs is that they rarely produce restful sleep, and they often plague users with a number of complications and side effects, including next-day drowsiness, sleepwalking, and confusion.

Below are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that you will enjoy a good night's sleep without the use of drugs. (For additional information, read my report "Good Sleep: Stop Insomnia, Reduce Stress, Boost Your Total Health"):

• Always try to go to bed at least by midnight. Staying up late resets the biological clock and can disrupt sleep patterns.

• Keep the room slightly cool. Benjamin Franklin suggested a cool pillow to induce sleep.

• Make sure the room is dark. Avoid nightlights, brightly lit phone dials and clocks.

• Try playing soothing music on a low volume at bedtime.

• Avoid reading or watching television at least one hour before bedtime. Allow yourself time to wind down.

• Some people will become hypoglycemic during the night, and this will wake them up. Avoid sugar and sweet foods in the evening. Try eating a piece of turkey by itself (no bread) before bedtime. Turkey is high in L-tryptophan, an amino acid that the brain uses to generate the sleep neurotransmitter serotonin.

• Avoid caffeine, smoking and all foods containing excitotoxins.

• Avoid sleeping late and naps during the day.

• Exercise earlier in the day. Exercise lowers inflammatory cytokines. Exercising late in the day revs up the metabolism and this can keep you awake. Do not exercise after 7:00 PM.

• Before retiring for the night, take the following:

1) One gram of buffered vitamin C (magnesium or calcium ascorbate). This helps induce sleep.
2) Magnesium citrate (120 mg.) at bedtime. It is a natural relaxant and calmative.
3) Melatonin. Start at 1 mg. 30 minutes before bedtime. Increase as necessary. It will induce dreaming.

Other natural sleep aids:

• Calming teas. Chamomile, valerian root, passionflower and catnip all calm and sooth the nerves.

• Flavonoids. Many flavonoids are anxiolytic, meaning they calm anxiety. The most useful are hesperidin and quercetin. Take 250 to 500 mg. of hesperidin and 250 mg. of quercetin one hour before bedtime. They also reduce inflammation.

• Omega-3s. Take your fish oils one hour before bedtime. (One teaspoon to one tablespoon.) The omega-3 fatty acids suppress the cytokines that disturb sleep. For more information on how omega-3 oils boost your health, read my report "Omega 3: Nature’s Miracle Panacea."

© 2013 NewsmaxHealth

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Dr-Blaylock/restful-sleep-insomnia-sleep-inducing-drugs-DrRussell-Blaylock/2013/12/11/id/541194?ns_mail_uid=36284090&ns_mail_job=1549788_12142013&promo_code=15E98-1#ixzz2nTaYEWNK

12-15-2013, 03:29 AM

12-15-2013, 03:41 AM
Funny. My email got infected this week and started sending out spam . First time it has ever happened.

how did they gain access to my account ?

12-15-2013, 04:46 AM
Funny. My email got infected this week and started sending out spam . First time it has ever happened.

how did they gain access to my account ?

Did you get the hacking situation fixed, if not, here is how:

9 Needed Steps After Your Email is Hacked

Column by ADAM LEVIN (@adam_k_levin) , Credit.com Jul 21, 2013

For many people, the first sign that their email has been hacked comes when a friend shoots them a text or an email saying, "Hey there. Uh… I think your email was hacked… unless you meant to send me that link to the Viagra store." Or you might figure it out because you can no longer log in to your account, or your smartphone can't retrieve your messages. Or maybe you can log in to your email, but find that your inbox is suddenly empty and all of your contacts have been deleted. No matter what tips you off, when your email is hacked (notice I say when, not if, here), the impact can be disastrous.

The fact is, despite Twitter, Facebook and texting, we still rely on email for most business and personal interactions. So it can be pretty disquieting when inexplicable things start to happen to our email accounts, or our access to email is blocked. When these things happen, we can't just will them away or delude ourselves into thinking that our computer is simply having a bad day. They could well be manifestations of email hijacking, which often is the prelude to identity theft. So your response should not be "Oh God," but rather, "Houston, we have a problem."

There are plenty of things you can do to minimize the risk of having your email hacked, as we've covered in the past. And if you're worried about how to spot suspicious emails in your inbox, there are plenty of telltale signs. Nevertheless, these days nothing is foolproof and nobody is perfect, so the likelihood that you will be exposed to a phishing scam at some point is relatively high. The question is what do you do when it does eventually happen, to keep both you and your friends safe. With that in mind, we offer these tips:

1. Change your password.
If the wizards who hacked into your account forgot to change your password and you can still log in – do it immediately and change that password. Oh, and make it stronger, stranger and less "you." That means no birthdays, addresses, kids' names, dogs' names, maiden names, favorite movie names, favorite band names, or anything else that you might otherwise feature on your Facebook page.

2. Recapture your account.
If your access is blocked, follow the directions on the email site help center. Once you again become the master of your email kingdom, invent a very sophisticated password, change your security questions and get creative in your answers because the hacker may well have nailed those questions correctly in the first place. Trust me -- you want them out of your life and not as permanent pen pals.

3. Report the incident to the email site.
Your email provider has seen this type of thing before and may be able to provide you with further details about the nature and source of the attack, as well as any tools they may have available to protect your information and get you back up and running. (You may also have access to identity protection services through your insurance company, bank, credit union or employer).

4. Speak to your peeps.
Notify everyone on your contact list that you have been compromised and they should look at any communication from you with suspicion for the time being. Further, they should double down on their computer protection. If they have already been victimized, offer your condolences and support, and make sure they are following these steps, too. (Hey, maybe forward them THIS article!)

5. Scan your computer with an updated anti-virus program.
Don't think that sophisticated email hackers are in it for the fun of grabbing your email and then doing a spam conga line. Often their goal is much more insidious. Why crawl into a life unless you can truly monetize it? Therefore, beware of the Trojan. (As a Stanford guy, that has always been my motto when dealing with people from USC.)

In this case however, they may have inserted it into your system so that it can conduct recon and report back to them with all of your passwords or a treasure trove of your information. Get that program running and eliminate any and all viruses, spyware or malware that it discovers. If you don't have a new and sophisticated security software program now is not the time to cheap out. It's a reasonable investment that will ultimately show a serious return by keeping your information yours.

6. Don't fail to review your personal email settings.
Make sure the cyber ninjas haven't created forwarding email addresses and if you find any delete them immediately. Also, look carefully at the signature block and make sure it's really yours. The hackers may have included some malicious links there too.

7. Change passwords or security questions for other sites.
In the event you shared your email passwords or security questions with any other site, change them, too. Too often consumers opt for convenience (or simplicity) over security and use a single password for multiple websites -- including financial services, social media, retail or secondary email sites. Not a good idea. In fact it's a very bad idea. Change all of them and use different passwords for each.

8. Check your email folders.
Folks have a tendency to send financial or personally identifiable information to others via email and then archive the offending email in a file in their system. If so, immediately go to whatever account is identified and change the user ID and password.

9. Monitor!
Assuming that the hacker in question was able to find either your Social Security number or other valuable pieces of personally identifiable information, it will become important for you to monitor your credit and various financial accounts for suspicious activity. You can get a copy of each of your three major credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can use tools like Credit.com's free Credit Report Card for an easy to understand overview of your credit history, along with your credit scores. Finally, you might also wish to contact the fraud department of one of the big three credit reporting agencies and have a fraud alert put on your file, or you may even want to ask them to "freeze" your credit.

Your email is an important component of your identity portfolio. You must manage it like an investment. That means you minimize your risk of exposure by being smart, discrete and sophisticated in your security approach; keep a watchful eye for things that seem a bit "off," and know what your damage control options are before you need to control the damage.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Adam Levin is chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.

12-15-2013, 04:50 AM
Yah..they shut my email down and sent me a notice

but how did i get infected ?

did it come from woodenboat ?

very very very few people have my email and ive never used a public connection.

12-15-2013, 05:06 AM
How did my email account get “hacked”?
Posted by Moises

If you’re reading this it’s likely that your email account was recently hacked and now you’re wondering how it happened, why it happened to you. Or maybe you’re just wondering how you can prevent it from happening to you.

Let me start off by saying that there are many different ways an email account can be compromised. In this article I’ll cover three of those methods.

Also note that these aren’t the only way an email account can get compromised. People are always inventing new ways of compromising an email account/system. So by the time you finish reading this article, it’s likely that they will have come up with a few new techniques.

Now lets imagine you’re at the local coffee shop sipping on some hot coffee. You open your laptop and connect to the coffee shop’s WiFi. Why not, it’s free Internet, right?

Now it’s time to check your email messages because you are expecting important news. You open the email client on your computer and start browsing the Internet for, you know, important stuff. An hour passes by and you go on your way to work, home, or school. But did you notice the person sitting across from you with their laptop? He just took your email credentials while you weren’t looking. But how did it happen?

Did it happen while you were in the bathroom?


Did it happen when you went for yet another cup of joe?


So how did that person steal your email information with out even coming close to your computer?

Ever heard of a Man in the Middle attack? To put a MITM attack in simplest terms, some malicious so and so sets up their computer to act like a router and tricks your computer into thinking that the computer actually is the router. Then the router thinks the shady computer – in the middle of the connection – is your computer.

Think of it as someone tapping into your network connection. Once this starts happening they can view all kinds of fun packets coming from your computer to the mail server (or to any server). Each time you make a connection to the mail server you are sending your authentication credentials through the bad guy’s computer.

From there it’s easy to use a program to filter out all packets containing login credentials. This includes your Facebook, Twitter, and bank account login information as well. Everything.

So does that mean it would be better to just stay away from your local coffee shop?

Hey, no need to be drastic! You can still go and you can still surf the Internet but it may be best if you didn’t use the coffee shop’s Internet connection. Personally, I don’t trust any network that I don’t own or control.

A nice work-around would be to use the Internet connection on your smart phone. Most smart phones have the capability of turning into a password protected Wifi “hot spot.” They also have the capability to tether the smart phone to your laptop. But, of course you will be using your phone service provider’s data plan.

So if I protect myself from that shady “man in the middle,” I’m safe, right?

Not exactly.

Another way your email account could be compromised is with a virus/malware being installed on your computer without your knowledge. This method is the most common and likely way that your email account (and everything else on your computer) can be compromised. I’ve seen what some of these viruses and malware are capable of doing, and it’s scary stuff.

Some of the virus/malware infections come with a nice little tool called a keylogger. What it basically does it logs all your key strokes and sends them to a server controlled by whoever infected your computer with the virus/malware. So any time you enter a username and password, the keystrokes are logged before the login request is sent. It doesn’t matter that the connection from your computer to the mail server is encrypted.

So how did this software get onto your system, or how can you prevent it from being installed on your system?

You can start by practicing the following:

Keep your system/software updated with the latest security patches.
Update your Antivirus programs and run scans on a routine schedule.
Avoid downloading files you don’t recognize.
Don’t open any email messages you didn’t expect to receive. For example: You get an email message with the subject; “Your PayPal account has been limited,” but you don’t have a PayPal account.
Avoid visiting web sites that have a bad reputation. A simple Google Search will sometimes display a warning message in the search results right below the domain name; “This site may harm your computer.“
The third way an email account can be compromised is by social engineering. Some email systems come with a nifty “Forgot your password?” tool. So what’s the big deal about this feature? Well, when you were setting up your email account you weren’t thinking twice and just answered the security questions truthfully. For example the signup form has the following questions:

What is your pet’s name?
What is your mother’s maiden name?
Which street did grow up on?
Which school did you attend in the 5th grade?
In which hospital were you born?
You had to pick two of them and answered the two question correctly. No harm done right?

Wrong. The question/answer that you’ve set up with your email account should actually be considered to be your second and third passwords. Why? Because the correct answers to these questions gains access to the email account.

It would be best to answer these questions kind of incorrectly. So, let’s say you chose Which street did grow up on? and What is your mother’s maiden name? and answer to the first question is Main St. and the answer to the next question is Smith.

Instead of using the correct answers, you can add a extra character befor the real answer. For example @Main St. and @Smith. If the system doesn’t allow these type of characters then you can also use a letter before the real answer. For example: QMain St. and QSmith . That way if the malicious person finds out the real information, they will still have a hard time getting into your email account.

You must be wondering how these people even get the information in order to gain access to your email account using the security questions method. The answer is very easy. In this day and age most of us use social media sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. What’s the problem with social media? Well, the problem is we like to give out to much information.

We all like to share share share. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but we give out too much information. So much information that it makes it easy for a malicious person to gain access to your email account using the security question method.

If you keep these things in mind and think about security in new ways, you will protect yourself from a lot of potential headaches.

12-15-2013, 05:12 AM

12-15-2013, 06:25 AM
Beer concentrate lets you take brews on an outdoor adventure

December 14, 2013, | From NBC News
By Jim Galligan, TODAY contributor

You can take a craft brew with you to the ends of the earth (or just Aspen) with new beer concentrates.
Weight is the enemy of the backpacker, as every added ounce can lead to increased muscle strain, fatigue, and the desire to turn around and stay at the lodge.

For fans of craft beer, enjoying a decent brew while hiking or camping away from the car usually involves lugging around heavy cans of beer, which can turn a lovely trek into a grueling slog through the woods.

But now the folks at Pat’s Backcountry Beverages have created a solution – their new Brew Concentrates come in featherweight 50ml packets and can be reconstituted with carbonated water (courtesy of their trail-ready 16-ounce carbonator bottle).

If you’re using a water purifier or good old-fashioned boiling to transform lake or river water into a drinking supply, the weight savings are significant. Plus, you don’t have to worry about pressurized aluminum cylinders exploding beer all over your gear if you slip and fall or are a little rough with your pack.

The real question is this: Can a trail-blended beer concentrate taste as good as a Dale’s Pale Ale or 21st Amendment Back in Black?

The answer requires assembling the beer to find out – it’s not a simple task, but it’s a cool bit of science that’s very satisfying when you make it work.

Building the beer

There are several steps involved in reconstituting a beer, and each must be performed with attention to detail to ensure you’ll be drinking a foamy brew and not a flat canister of diluted beer concentrate.

The first time through the process can be overwhelming. You have to prime the cap, mix packets of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate into the orange carbonation chamber (make sure you massage the packets before using them so they aren’t clumpy), add in your beer concentrate, and top off the bottle with 16 ounces of water.

Now comes the embarrassing part. The carbonator bottle is basically the Shake Weight of the great outdoors, requiring two seconds of furious shaking, a one-second pause, a quick lifting of the lever on the cap to release the CO2 you’ve just created, and then another two-second pause as the bubbles are released into your beverage.

These steps are repeated dozens of times over the course of one or two minutes. Hopefully you’re camping alone, or at least with someone who’s not going to record you and post it on YouTube.

Once the shaking sequence is over, you put your beverage down and rub your aching arm as the beer settles. You then screw off the cap (be prepared for it to spit a bit of beer as you do) and enjoy your bubbly creation as you marvel at the fact that such a thing is possible. It seems like magic the first time you get it right (which might take a couple of tries – hang in there).

Impressing the beer geek

Pat’s makes two “beers” (they’re not allowed to market them as such, as they are technically “distilled adult beverages”), a pale ale called the 1919 Pale Rail and Black Hops, a facsimile of a black IPA.

The 1919 Pale Rail is a very serviceable 5.2 percent ABV pale ale when reconstituted with the recommended 16 ounces of water, featuring an earthy malt backbone and a nicely balanced pine-forward hop profile. You certainly wouldn’t be suffering while sipping one of these around the campfire. If you prefer the flavor amped up a bit, use less water when reconstituting the beer to beef up the flavor and alcohol content.

I enjoyed the 6.2 percent ABV Black Hops even more, as its dark body, roasted malt flavor and lingering pop of hops made me feel like I was drinking a brew fit for a beer geek. I even poured it into one of my fancy Spiegelau crystal pint glasses to get the full effect (it foamed up beautifully, like it was coming from a brewery-sealed bottle – impressive!).

Overall, both beers are worthwhile, even if they have a slight homebrew quality about them, with just a hint of sourness lurking deep behind the malts.

A four-pack of Brew Concentrates runs $9.99, and it costs about 50 cents a pop for the activation packets needed to carbonate them. Without figuring in the $29.95 for the carbonator bottle, that’s about $3 per beer.

These DIY brews will appeal to beer geeks and gear geeks as well. They’re a celebration of science and ingenuity, showing that artful distilling, basic chemistry and a some good old-fashioned elbow grease can allow us to conquer nature (at least the part of it that says it’s impossible to craft a beer in the wild).

12-17-2013, 02:10 AM
Abu Dhabi reminds tourists, expats of how not to end up on the wrong side of the law.

The UAE government has released the top crimes that foreigners commit when working or visiting Abu Dhabi in the hopes of keeping tourists out of jail cells.

The article, published in the UAE Ministry of Interior's monthly magazine 999 says that drink driving is the most common crime committed by non-locals in the conservative Islamic country, although wearing disrespectful clothing, being affectionate in public or sunbathing in "skimpy" garments can also land you in hot water.

As business is performed on an international level and expats often find themselves in cultures very different from their own, cases where something trivial in the West result in jail time across the sea often hit the headlines. A Canadian executive for UAE telecommunications provider Etisalat was jailed for a month in November for swearing at a colleague, and international outrage caused Dubai officials to pardon a Norwegian woman sentenced because she claimed she had been raped.

However, others believe ignorance of the law is no defence. The magazine's editor in chief Awadh Saleh Al Kindi commented:
"There is no valid reason for tourists and visitors to not find out more about their destination country's customs and laws before or even after arriving here.
There are enough learning resources -- and our cover story will make for a very good starting point for anyone considering visiting the UAE for work or play."

12-17-2013, 02:38 AM
Bone Broth—One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples
December 16, 2013 | dr. Mercola

According to an old South American proverb, "good broth will resurrect the dead." While that’s undoubtedly an exaggeration, it speaks to the value placed on this wholesome food, going back through the annals of time.

The featured article by Dr. Amy Myers1 lists 10 health benefits of bone broth. Sally Fallon with the Weston A. Price Foundation2 has previously published information about this healing food as well.

First and foremost, homemade bone broth is excellent for speeding healing and recuperation from illness. You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage that chicken soup will help cure a cold, and there’s scientific support for such a statement.

For starters, chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily. Processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth.

For best results, you really need to make up a fresh batch yourself (or ask a friend or family member to do so). If combating a cold, make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to expel.

But the benefits of broth don’t end there. As explained by Sally Fallon:3

“Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”

The Healing Influence of Broth on Your Gut

In later years, medical scientists have discovered that your health is in large part dependent on the health of your intestinal tract. Many of our modern diseases appear to be rooted in an unbalanced mix of microorganisms in your digestive system, courtesy of an inappropriate and unbalanced diet that is too high in sugars and too low in healthful fats and beneficial bacteria.

Bone broth is excellent for “healing and sealing” your gut, to use Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride term. Dr. Campbell’s GAPS Nutritional Protocol, described in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), centers around the concept of “healing and sealing” your gut through your diet.

Broth or “stock” plays an important role as it’s easily digestible, helps heal the lining of your gut, and contains valuable nutrients. Abnormalities in your immune system are a common outcome of GAPS, and such immune abnormalities can then allow for the development of virtually any degenerative disease...

The Healing Benefits of Bone Broth

As the featured article states, there are many reasons for incorporating good-old-fashioned bone broth into your diet. The following health benefits attest to its status as “good medicine.”

Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion: The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion. Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, etc.: A study4 published over a decade ago found that chicken soup indeed has medicinal qualities, significantly mitigating infection
Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis5 (whole-body inflammation).

Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better
Promotes strong, healthy bones: As mentioned above, bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth

Making your own bone broth is extremely cost effective, as you can make use of left over carcass bones that would otherwise be thrown away. And while the thought of making your own broth may seem intimidating at first, it’s actually quite easy. It can also save you money by reducing your need for dietary supplements. As mentioned above, bone broth provides you with a variety of important nutrients—such as calcium, magnesium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and arginine—that you may otherwise be spending a good deal of money on in the form of supplements.

Easy Chicken Broth Recipe

Both featured articles include a sample recipe for homemade chicken broth. The following recipe was provided by Sally Fallon, writing for the Weston A. Price Foundation.6 Her article also contains a recipe for beef and fish broth. (You could also use turkey, duck, or lamb, following the same basic directions.) For Dr. Myers’ chicken broth recipe, please see the original article.7

Perhaps the most important caveat when making broth, whether you’re using chicken or beef, is to make sure they’re from organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals. As noted by Fallon, chickens raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce stock that doesn’t gel, and this gelatin has long been valued for its therapeutic properties.8 As explained by Fallon:

“Gelatin was universally acclaimed as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French, who were seeking ways to feed their armies and vast numbers of homeless in Paris and other cities. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal.”

Besides that, CAFO animals are fed an unnatural diet that is not beneficial for their intestinal makeup, and they’re also given a variety of veterinary drugs and growth promoters. You don’t want any of these potentially harmful additives in your broth, so make sure to start off with an organically-raised product.

Ingredients for homemade chicken broth9

1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones, and wings

Gizzards from one chicken (optional)

2-4 chicken feet (optional)

4 quarts cold filtered water

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1 bunch parsley

Please note the addition of vinegar. Not only are fats are ideally combined with acids like vinegar, but when it comes to making broth, the vinegar helps leech all those valuable minerals from the bones into the stockpot water, which is ultimately what you’ll be eating. The goal is to extract as many minerals as possible out of the bones into the broth water. Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Cooking Directions

There are lots of different ways to make bone broth, and there really isn’t a wrong way. You can find different variations online. Here, I’ll offer some basic directions. If you’re starting out with a whole chicken, you’ll of course have plenty of meat as well, which can be added back into the broth later with extra herbs and spices to make a chicken soup. I also use it on my salad.

Fill up a large stockpot (or large crockpot) with pure, filtered water. (A crockpot is recommended for safety reasons if you have to leave home while it’s cooking.)
Add vinegar and all vegetables except parsley to the water.
Place the whole chicken or chicken carcass into the pot.
Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top.
Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer.
If cooking a whole chicken, the meat should start separating from the bone after about 2 hours. Simply remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the bones. Place the carcass back into the pot and continue simmering the bones for another 12-24 hours and follow with step 8 and 9.
If cooking bones only, simply let them simmer for about 24 hours.
Fallon suggests adding the fresh parsley about 10 minutes before finishing the stock, as this will add healthy mineral ions to your broth.
Remove remaining bones from the broth with a slotted spoon and strain the rest through a strainer to remove any bone fragments.

Bone Broth—A Medicinal ‘Soul Food’

Simmering bones over low heat for an entire day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Keep in mind that the "skin" that forms on the top is the best part. It contains valuable nutrients, such as sulfur, along with healthful fats, so just stir it back into the broth.

Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.

Both broth and fermented foods, such as fermented veggies, are simple and inexpensive to make at home, and both also allow you to make use of a wide variety of leftovers. When you add all the benefits together, it’s hard to imagine a food that will give you more bang for your buck.

12-17-2013, 12:44 PM
Business! Innovation! Startups! It must be nuclear power
— By Mark Halper on December 15, 2013 | SmartPlanet

If asked to name a nuclear power company, the average person might identify an electric utility, or might cite one of the world's large reactor vendors, like Toshiba's Westinghouse group, France's Areva, or General Electric Hitachi.

Ever hear of NuScale Power?

The U.S. Department of Energy has. DOE has just awarded the Corvallis, Oregon startup as much as $226 million to develop and build a reactor that departs from the conventional designs that have defined the industry for all of its 50-plus years.

NuScale is working on a “small modular reactor” (SMR) that is significantly smaller than traditional reactors, compared to which its hardware is potentially much less expensive, and safer. The NuScale Integral Pressurized Water Reactor will have an electrical output of 45 megawatts, roughly 3 or 4 percent of today's new reactors, which exceed 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt).

One of the main ideas behind SMRs is that they can be made assembly-line style and shipped on a truck to the end user, a process that would slash cost from the nuclear building process.

And end users such as utilities could buy new reactors in increments, thus reducing the enormous upfront capital expenditure for conventional gigawatt-plus reactors, which can soar to over $10 billion each. NuScale's approach allows up to 12 reactors on one site, for a 540-megawatt plant. Its cylindrical design measures 80-feet by 15 feet, including a steam generator (thus the “integral” in the reactor's name, as the generator normally resides on a separate "island" in a nuclear plant). The reactor would operate underground – protecting it from attack - in a pool of water that would cool it in an emergency.

NuScale is a 2007 spin out from Oregon State University, but at seven-years-old it is still a relative “startup” in the traditionally slow moving nuclear industry, even if it is now majority owned by $27.6 billion Irving, Texas engineering company Fluor. (For more on NuScale and its DOE grant, see my story on the Weinberg website).

NuScale is representative of a growing group of young nuclear companies that are trying to shake the industry out of its business-as-usual ways with reactor designs that can be superior in many ways – cost, efficiency, safety, waste and others - to the reactors that the industry has built for five decades.

As innovative as the Oregon company's shrunken reactor is, NuScale still applies a lot of convention, such as using water as the coolant that absorbs heat from nuclear fission reactions and transfers the heat to a steam turbine, and such as using solid uranium rods as fuel.

Other startup companies (and some older ones) from the U.S., Canada and around the world are working on designs that depart from convention in far more radical ways.

Between them, these companies are proposing reactors that yield less long-lived waste than conventional reactors, that can use “waste” as fuel (mitigating the need to store the waste), that run at safe normal pressure rather than in potentially dangerous pressurized environments, that can be virtually melt-down proof, that can make better use of fuel (today's uranium reactors use only a very small percentage of the uranium that feeds them which is one reason they yield a lot of troublesome waste).

To accomplish this, each is proposing their own unique set of changes that tend to include, among others, some combination of: liquid fuel; alternative solid fuels shaped into pebble or brick form rather than rods; different coolants including salts and gases and metals instead of water; thorium fuel instead of uranium; and others, such as allowing neutrons to run "fast" rather than slowing them down as today's reactors do.

Most of these “advanced" or “fourth generation” reactors run at much higher temperatures than today's inefficient and inferior behemoths. (NuScale's reactor, for all its benefits, operates at conventional temperatures).

Higher temperatures improve the efficiency of electricity generation, which would help make nuclear more cost-competitive with what today is inexpensive natural gas, at least in the U.S.

And as U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz himself recently noted, with operating temperatures of between 600 degrees C and 900 degrees C, many of these reactors could work as clean sources of heat used in industrial processes such hydrogen production, steelmaking, cement making, and oil and petrochemical processing – replacing CO2-emitting fossil fuels.

I've written about many of the companies working on these designs, here on SmartPlanet. The young ones include, among others: Bill Gates' nuclear company TerraPower; Flibe Energy; Terrestrial Energy; Transatomic Power; Thorium Tech Solution; Northern Nuclear; Steenkampskraal Thorium Ltd.; and Thor Energy. Among older companies, General Atomics in San Diego has an interesting high temperature reactor in the works that could burn spent fuel; and General Electric Hitachi has a reactor call PRISM that could use waste as fuel. Westinghouse and Areva are also quietly looking into alternatives.

(Meanwhile, several startup companies have emerged to chase the dream of fusion energy, which generates electricity by combining atoms rather than splitting them apart).

China is investing heavily in many of its own advanced nuclear projects, while Russia looks intent on developing a version called a “fast” reactor.

The government backing for advanced nuclear in those two countries exceeds the U.S. commitment. For U.S. advanced nuclear enthusiasts, the DOE's $226 million commitment to NuScale marks an encouraging step in the right direction. It's the second tranche in a $452 million funding initiative, coming a year after a similar award to small reactor maker Babcock & Wilcox.

But what many would like to see is for the U.S. to step up its involvement in advanced nuclear, and to do more to encourage the development of high temperature (and even fusion) reactors.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has become more vocal lately about the role that nuclear power can play in combatting climate change. Nuclear is a clean energy source that emits no CO2 in the electricity (or heat) generating process and that over its lifetime, including mining and construction, emits comparatively little CO2.

“Small modular reactors represent a new generation of safe, reliable, low-carbon nuclear energy technology,” Moniz said in announcing the award to NuScale late last week. “The Energy Department is committed to strengthening nuclear energy’s continuing important role in America’s low carbon future.”

Many of the advanced, high temperature reactors suit themselves perfectly to small modular design. In fact, some of the companies developing them applied for the funding that DOE granted to NuScale.

Between them, these companies are the Googles, Skypes, Twitters and Facebooks of their industry. Google et al have already turned old media and old telecom on its head. It will take the NuScales, Terrestrial, Flibes, Transatomics and their like a longer time to do the same in nuclear, given the more complex and expensive regulatory and development environments.

But it will happen. Innovation is returning to nuclear in a manner that the industry hasn't seen since the early days in the 1950s and 60s. There is still not enough of it, at least not in the West. The will is there among the scientists, engineers and technologists. More money needs to flow into it. There are signs that the oil industry could help fund it - both as a user and possible vendor of nuclear power.

More supportive government policy would help in the West, where obstacles include vested interests of conventional nuclear, a general public and political squeamishness over the word "nuclear," and, in the U.S., the current craze for low-priced natural gas.

DOE's $226 million grant of NuScale is a step in the right direction. But it's a small step - in more ways than one. It's time to move on to the advanced round.

Recent alternative nuclear developments:

Bombs away: Key uranium supply to U.S., from Russian weapons, ends. Time for thorium?
Conventional nuclear giant Areva strikes thorium deal
Hans Blix: Nuclear must use thorium to reduce weapons risk
Nobel physicist: Thorium trumps all fuels as energy source
Novel reactors atop MIT energy contest finalists
Look who's talking: ExxonMobil says world has to double nuclear
Bill Gates stop chasing nuclear 'wave', pursues variety of reactors
A nuclear reactor to clean up the oil sands industry
As thorium tests begin in Norway, the nuclear industry watches closely
Alternative nuclear energy race heats up as Canadian company enters
Turning Japan's nuclear past into its future
And the DOE energy innovation award goes to ... A new type of nuclear power

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter.

12-17-2013, 01:54 PM
Google Adds to Its Menagerie of Robots

Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot named WildCat can gallop at high speeds.

New York Times Technology | December 14, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google’s growing robot menagerie.

Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.

It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.

The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.


A robot named BigDog, which can walk over rough terrain, can also stay upright in response to a well-placed human kick.

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has not sold robots commercially, but has pushed the limits of mobile and off-road robotics technology, mostly for Pentagon clients like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. Early on, the company also did consulting work for Sony on consumer robots like the Aibo robotic dog.

Boston Dynamics’ walking robots have a reputation for being extraordinarily agile, able to walk over rough terrain and handle surfaces that in some cases are challenging even for humans.

A video of one of its robots named BigDog shows a noisy, gas-powered, four-legged, walking robot that climbs hills, travels through snow, skitters precariously on ice and even manages to stay upright in response to a well-placed human kick. BigDog development started in 2003 in partnership with the British robot maker Foster-Miller, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Harvard.

The video has been viewed more than 15 million times since it was posted on YouTube in 2008.

More recently, Boston Dynamics distributed a video of a four-legged robot named WildCat, galloping in high-speed circles in a parking lot.

Although the videos frequently inspire comments that the robots will evolve into scary killing machines straight out of the “Terminator” movies, Dr. Raibert has said in the past that he does not consider his company to be a military contractor — it is merely trying to advance robotics technology. Google executives said the company would honor existing military contracts, but that it did not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on its own.

Under a $10.8 million contract, Boston Dynamics is currently supplying Darpa with a set of humanoid robots named Atlas to participate in the Darpa Robotics Challenge, a two-year contest with a $2 million prize. The contest’s goal is creating a class of robots that can operate in natural disasters and catastrophes like the nuclear power plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.

“Competitions like the Darpa Robotics Challenge stretch participants to try to solve problems that matter and we hope to learn from the teams’ insights around disaster relief,” Mr. Rubin said in a statement released by Google.

Boston Dynamics has also designed robots that can climb walls and trees as well as other two- and four-legged walking robots, a neat match to Mr. Rubin’s notion that “computers are starting to sprout legs and move around in the environment.”

A recent video shows a robot named Cheetah running on a treadmill. This year, the robot was clocked running 29 miles per hour, surpassing the previous legged robot land speed record of 13.1 m.p.h., set in 1999. That’s about one mile per hour faster than Jamaica’sUsain Bolt, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter dash. But it’s far short of a real cheetah, which can hit 65 m.p.h.

Google’s other robotics acquisitions include companies in the United States and Japan that have pioneered a range of technologies including software for advanced robot arms, grasping technology and computer vision. Mr. Rubin has also said that he is interested in advancing sensor technology.

Mr. Rubin has called his robotics effort a “moonshot,” but has declined to describe specific products that might come from the project. He has, however, also said that he does not expect initial product development to go on for years, indicating that Google commercial robots of some nature could be available in the next several years.

Google declined to say how much it paid for its newest robotics acquisition and said that it did not plan to release financial information on any of the other companies it has recently bought.

Dr. Raibert is known as the father of walking robots in the United States. He originally created the Leg Lab, a research laboratory to explore walking machines at Carnegie Mellon University in 1980. He then moved the laboratory to M.I.T. before leaving academia to build engineering systems for the military and Sony.

His research in walking robots began with a pogo-stick project called “the hopper,” which he used to test basic concepts.

“I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big,” Dr. Raibert said, “with the resources to make it happen.”

(images: Boston Dynamics, via New York Times)




12-18-2013, 12:47 PM
Apple picks its iPhone 'app of the year'

— By Tyler Falk | SmartPlanet Daily | December 16, 2013

An educational app that's as popular as Candy Crush Saga?

Duolingo, a free language-learning app for iOS and Android, might not be quite that popular, but it did catch the attention of Apple, which named it the top free iPhone app of 2013.

Released in late 2012, the app already has more than 10 million downloads and offers its language-learning services for six languages -- English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. USA Today reports that Duolingo hopes to be able to offer more than 50 languages in the coming months.

But what's most impressive is the business model the company uses to make money and keep the app free. Basically, the app's users do the work for the app, while learning, by translating web documents that companies pay Duolingo to translate.

When it comes to the app itself, I haven't tried nearly as many apps as Apple, but I too found Duolingo to be a deceptively addicting and helpful tool. Every time I open it to refresh my Spanish, I find that I use the app much longer than I intend, no small feat for a medium where other apps and notifications are constantly vying for your attention. Sometimes, I'll even take some time to try out new languages. The feel of the app is like a quiz game with variety of ways to test your skills to keep things interesting -- it uses your microphone to test your speaking ability, for example -- but it does so without feeling oversimplified. Points and increased skill levels help push you to continue learning, even if you barely know what "hola" means.

With the number of smartphone users skyrocketing around the world (and growth expected to continue), the way we communicate could be dramatically changing.

link http://www.duolingo.com/

12-18-2013, 12:55 PM
Philips has given the lowly lightbulb a makeover. Instead of the cylindrical shape synonymous with lightbulbs for the past 100 years, this new version is flat.


The so-called SlimStyle is a 10.5-watt LED bulb that emits light at a brightness equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent. It has a lifespan of 25,000 hours, or about 22 years, and reduces energy use by 85 percent, Philips said in information sent via email.

The bulb will be available on HomeDepot.com beginning Jan. 2, around the same time the final phase of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which places efficiency standards on 60-watt incandescent bulbs, goes into effect.

The energy efficiency specs, which are similar to those found in many modern LEDs, are not what makes the bulb standout. It's the novel design.

But this isn't design, for design sake. There's a purpose to the flatness. Philips flattened it to help pull heat away from the LEDs, eliminating the need for heavy aluminum heat sinks, which in turn, reduces the cost of bulb.

Thumbnail photo: Philips

— By Kirsten Korosec on December 16, 2013, 4:00 PM

12-18-2013, 01:01 PM
A pacemaker so tiny, it goes in through your blood vessels

Janet Fang |SmartPlanet | December 16, 2013


By miniaturizing wireless pacemakers, researchers have made it possible to implant the heartbeat-regulating device without surgery. Technology Review reports.

With conventional pacemakers, doctors have to make a cut above the heart and dig a hole down to where the device will be implanted. Additionally, a pulse generator has to be connected through a vein near the collarbone using with wires.

Medtronic’s Micra Transcatheter Pacing System -- the world’s smallest, they say -- can be delivered into the heart through a cut on the leg. At 24 millimeters long and 0.75 cubic centimeters in volume, it’s a tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker (and about the size of a large vitamin).

Flexible catheters allow surgeons to steer the device through a large blood vessel in the thigh, called the femoral vein. (No incision in the chest necessary.)
Once positioned, the device is attached to the heart wall where it sits.
This pacemaker is also “leadless” -- that is, it doesn’t require long electrodes that wind their way into heart.
It delivers electric pulses through small tines, or prongs, attached to the heart.

Not only does this new design reduce the amount of power required, it also eliminates a major source of device failure, Tech Review explains. According to the manufacturer, the batteries will last up 10 years when running at full-stimulating capacity.

Last week, doctors in Austria implanted the device into a patient for the first time. Initial results from the first 60 patients are expected next year.

These tiny pacemakers are the latest effort to make heart surgery less traumatic, especially for high-risk elderly patients and those who are too frail to undergo surgery. Tech Review reports:

Doctors began to widely use less invasive heart treatments in the late 1990s, when artery-unclogging balloons delivered by catheters started to replace bypass surgeries. Other cardiac technologies like stents, which prop open weak or narrow arteries, can also be delivered through blood vessels. More recently, researchers have developed artificial valves for patients whose natural valves have become damaged; these devices can also be delivered by catheters snaking through large blood vessels.

Check out Medtronic’s site on miniaturization and pacemaker evolution.

[Medtronic via Technology Review]

Image: Medtronic

12-19-2013, 01:44 AM
Which Plastics Are Safe?
By Annie B. Bond |Care2 Home

The news about plastics has been pretty alarming lately, causing some of us to go dashing for the water bottles to see what kind of plastic they are—and find out if we’ve been unwittingly poisoning our children and ourselves with chemicals leaching into the water from them.

If you’ve been concerned, here is a handy chart that identifies the good, bad, and OK plastics and where they are found. Find out here:

1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
Used to make soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, and salad dressing bottles, and peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

2 High density polyethylene (HDPE)
Milk, water, and juice bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery, trash, and retail bags.
GOOD: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.

3 Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
Most cling-wrapped meats, cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped in PVC.
BAD: To soften into its flexible form, manufacturers add “plasticizers” during production. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of PVC when in contact with foods. According to the National Institutes of Health, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC, is a suspected human carcinogen.

4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles.
OK: Not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones, but not as widely recycled as #1 or #2.

5 Polypropylene (PP)
Some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs.
OK: Hazardous during production, but not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. Not as widely recycled as #1 and #2.

6 Polystyrene (PS)
Foam insulation and also for hard applications (e.g. cups, some toys)
BAD: Benzene (material used in production) is a known human carcinogen. Butadiene and styrene (the basic building block of the plastic) are suspected carcinogens. Energy intensive and poor recycling.

7 Other (usually polycarbonate)
Baby bottles, microwave ovenware, eating utensils, plastic coating for metal cans
BAD: Made with biphenyl-A, a chemical invented in the 1930s in search for synthetic estrogens. A hormone disruptor. Simulates the action of estrogen when tested in human breast cancer studies. Can leach into food as product ages.

From: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/which-plastics-are-safe.html

12-20-2013, 01:45 AM
If you ever wondered why drones are so successful in hitting the right target, this will explain all. Remember that not all classified cameras are allowed to be shown i.e. they have even better cameras.

Hard to disappear in a crowd…. pick on a small part of the crowd click a couple of times -wait -- click a few more times and see how clear each individual face will become each time

This picture was taken with a 70,000 x 30,000 pixel camera (2100 Mega Pixels.) These cameras are not sold to the public and are being installed in strategic locations. The camera can identify a face among a multitude of people. Place your computer’s cursor in the mass of people and double-click a couple times. Scary - sharp!! George Orwell must be smiling somewhere out there.


Spinner's note: This is truly amazing. Check any face in the crowd in the above link. Person truly CAN NOT hide.


12-20-2013, 01:06 PM
How DNA sequencing can reduce bird strikes at airports.

— By Janet Fang |SmartPlanet | December 18, 2013

Birds have collided with windows, been gruesomely chopped up by engine blades, and in some cases, they’ve caused emergency landings (on the Hudson River, for example) and even crashes. Animal collisions have directly caused 221 deaths since 1988. In addition to the public safety risk, commercial airlines lose over $1 billion per year due to repair expenses and delays related to "bird strikes."

New York's JFK and Chicago's O'Hare, for example, employ full-time wildlife biologists. Verge reports:

Wildlife biologists track bird populations using radar, and then employ "harassment strategies" to spook them off. Noisemakers, lasers, and pyrotechnics are among the most common approaches, although some airports also play noises of either birds in distress or predators…When conventional efforts don't work, specialists will make changes to the airport's environment -- eliminating standing water, killing off common bird prey, and reducing the accessibility of perch-friendly ledges -- in an effort to make the habitat less desirable. And when all else fails, they'll resort to deadly tactics.

And now, DNA sequencing! But not of the birds themselves...

DNA has previously been used to identify species that have hit aircraft, but this time DNA was used to look at what attracted birds to airports in the first place. Now, for the first time ever, they’re applying next-generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to semi-digested food found in dead bird stomachs.

As it turns out, exactly what birds eat is (surprisingly) a bit of a mystery. For example, little is known about the diet of birds, such as the red-tailed black cockatoo, Science explains, which hangs around an airport in Perth, Australia.

Murdoch University researchers collected the carcasses of 77 birds from the Perth runway over a year.
They collected a large amount of dietary data from 16 species and generated 151,000 DNA sequences of samples from the birds’ digestive tracts.
The most commonly identified vertebrate was the house mouse. Grasshoppers were the most common invertebrate, and Poaceae grasses were the most commonly identified plant.
These results suggest that the best plan would be rodent control and grass species that are less hospitable to tasty insects.

The work has clear benefits for ecology research as well. The team paid special attention to species of particular concern: nankeen kestrels, galahs, and white-faced herons. In addition to a better understanding of migration strategies, the team confirmed that kestrels fed primarily on feral mice and grasshoppers, the galahs were targeting an invasive weed called Erodium, and herons were eating an invasive mosquito fish found in airport waterways.

Other Australian airports, as well as those in the U.S. and Denmark, want to launch similar studies for their airport hazard management plans. Good news, since according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s wildlife strike database, there were 10,760 reported strikes at American airports in 2012 alone.

The work was published in Investigative Genetics last week.

[Murdoch University news via Science]

12-23-2013, 05:22 AM
For lightness of heart. LOL ;) :)


12-25-2013, 03:48 AM
One Thing Most People Don't Know About Reindeer.
By Dr. Becker |HealthyPet News

New research suggests that Rudolph the reindeer’s red nose wasn’t his only unique facial feature.

According to a study published in the October issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B,1 Rudolph and his Arctic reindeer buddies have eyes that turn blue each year in time for Christmas.

Actually, it’s only a part of the eye that changes color – the tapetum lucidum, also known as the “cat’s eye,” which sits under the unpigmented part of the retina. According to Karl-Arne Stokkan of the University of Tromso in Norway, “In summer, it is golden with most light reflected back directly through the retina, whereas in winter it is deep blue with less light reflected out of the eye.”

The Eyes of Arctic Reindeer Change from a Golden Color in Summer to Blue in Winter

Stokkan studied the reindeer at the University of Tromso. Many of the animals were brought in by mountain region herders and were maintained in large outdoor facilities during the study. Stokkan and his colleagues observed their eyes over two weeks before and after the summer solstice, and another two weeks before and after the winter solstice.

The blue coloring in the reindeers’ eyes during winter provides for increased retinal sensitivity. It may scatter light, making the eyes work harder, which improves sensitivity. According to the researchers, increased sensitivity comes at the expense of sharp vision, but may help reindeer sense predators during dark Arctic winters. And this is an important adaptation, since reindeer are the favored prey of a wide variety of carnivores, including Golden eagles, wolverines, brown bears, polar bears, and gray wolves.

Reindeer, also known as caribou in North America, is a species of deer native to the Arctic and Subarctic. There are both resident and migratory populations.

Reindeer come in many different sizes and colors. Fur color varies considerably, both individually and depending on season and subspecies. Northern populations of reindeer are whiter in color, while southern populations are darker. Reindeer have two-layered coats of fur. There’s a thick woolly undercoat topped by a longer coat made up of hollow hairs.

In most populations, both sexes of reindeer grow antlers, but the antlers of males are typically larger than those of females.


Like the color of their eyes, reindeer hooves also adapt to the season. During summer months when the ground is soft and moist, the footpads become like sponges to provide extra traction. In the winter, the pads shrink and tighten, exposing the rim of the hoof, which is used to cut into the ice and packed snow, also to provide traction. The rims of their hooves also allow reindeer to crater into the snow to reach one of their favorite foods – a lichen known as reindeer moss.

12-26-2013, 10:38 AM
12 business skills that will never, ever go out of style

This is the digital age -- throw everything we've ever known about succeeding in business out the window, right? Wait a second, not quite everything.

There are basic rules for business success that haven't gone away with the digital age -- in fact, they have only become more important. The skills listed below could have appeared in any career book of the 1990s, 1980s, or even 1930s -- and continue to withstand the test of time:

Communication skills.
Management is still tight with budgets, and needs to be sold on new project ideas. The ability to construct an argument and make your case forcefully and clearly to your boss, client or coworkers will move your ideas to fruition. Computer systems can provide all the information you need, but machines don't know how to package it up to get decision-makers excited about lending their support to a project or idea.

Time management and organization.
The ability to stay organized and prioritize tasks will go a long way to moving you and your team forward. An application may accomplish a task within a millisecond, but it doesn't know its context or how it fits into the scheme of things. Just as important, to be able to make a decision and act on an opportunity now -- without getting wrapped up by paralysis by analysis -- will deliver results.

Goal setting.
No business operation -- no matter how automated and virtualized -- will get anywhere without a vision of the end result. It is this vision that focuses and solidifies all activities teams are undertaking.

No matter how talented and educated, one individual cannot do everything that needs to be done to keep an organization on track toward its goals. The ability to surround yourself with talented people who can augment your skills will get things done every time without fail.

Public speaking and presentation skills.
The ability to communicate your ideas to audiences will raise your profile to new levels. Web-based conferencing services make it easy, but face-to-face encounters will make lasting impressions.

Relationship building.
Nothing helps lay the groundwork for advancement more than cultivating and maintaining good relationships. Social media and email may help make it easier to keep in touch, but the key is to keep those contacts going.

Involvement in professional groups/conferences:
The best way to exchange ideas, learn new things and expand your network is to become involved in groups relevant to your craft. This can be through user groups for a particular software environment you work with, or professional associations. There are plenty of websites and forums that enable professionals to engage with one another online, but nothing seals a bond like face-to-face activities.

Passion and determination.
Motivation has to come from within; the drive to excellence is entirely an internal affair. Totally out of reach of any IT system.

Civility, politeness, and respect.
Nothing makes a business a great place to work more than mutual respect. This should be a golden rule for every tech startup, Fortune 500 and public organization that wants to make a positive difference in the world.

Entrepreneurial and innovation skills.
Even in the techiest of places, it takes a sense of imagination to conceive new ways to create value. New ideas aren't generated by machines, they come from the minds of the people using those machines.

Desire to learn.
Nothing beats the value of education, whether it's formal college degrees or completion of training skills in your profession. Even seeking out coworkers on the job for opinions and experiences means the growth of knowledge.

Flexibility and adaptability.
Rigidity never worked in the 1990s or 1930s, and it certainly won't work now. Be open to new ideas, environments, and responsibilities. Technology will constantly be changing, professionals need to change as well.

— By Joe McKendrick on March 10, 2013 | SmartPlanet Daily — "Our favorite stories of 2013 | December 26 2013"

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University.

12-26-2013, 11:48 AM
Hard gale blowing yesterday and today.

This morning I was on deck doublechecking everything as a ro ro ship was entering the port. The roro tried to make a turn into the wind to prepare to approach the dock and was overpowered by the wind.
Bow Thruster wailing full blast , but still not enough to bring the bow into the wind. The ship is trapped broadsides to the wind and slowy drifting down onto the small craft port were Im located.
A harbour tug sprang into action, got a line on the ship bow , then threw the tug into hard reverse to pull the ship to windward. Smoke is billowing out of the tugs stacks and KABOOM..the line attaching it to the bow of the ship snapped with incredible force.

Closer and closer the ships bow drifted into the small craft port. With about 200 meter left till impact the tug shot another line onboard...powered up in reverse and slowly , slowly dragged the ships bow back to windward.

naturally these things always happen when you dont have a camera in your pocket

12-30-2013, 11:39 AM
Alaska amongst states chosen by FAA for drone test sites

By Nichells Rindels | Anchorage Daily News | The Associated Press | December 28, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft's march into U.S. skies.

The agency said Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia as states that will host research sites.

Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.

"These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

The FAA said when selecting the sites it considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, aviation experience and risk.

In the case of Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones. New York's site at Griffiss International Airport will look into integrating drones into the congested northeast airspace.

The state of North Dakota already has committed $5 million to the venture and named a former state Air National Guard Commander as its test site director.

The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials concede the project may take longer than expected. The FAA projects some 7,500 commercial drones could be aloft within five years of getting widespread access to American airspace.

An industry-commissioned study last spring predicted more than 70,000 jobs would develop in the first three years after Congress loosens restrictions on U.S. skies. The same study projects an average salary range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.

"Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with integrating unmanned systems into U.S. airspace," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. "We have successfully brought new technology into the nation's aviation system for more than 50 years, and I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft."

Associated Press writer Dave Kolpack in Fargo, N.D., contributed to this report.

12-30-2013, 11:42 AM
Hard gale blowing yesterday and today.

This morning I was on deck doublechecking everything as a ro ro ship was entering the port. The roro tried to make a turn into the wind to prepare to approach the dock and was overpowered by the wind.
Bow Thruster wailing full blast , but still not enough to bring the bow into the wind. The ship is trapped broadsides to the wind and slowy drifting down onto the small craft port were Im located.
A harbour tug sprang into action, got a line on the ship bow , then threw the tug into hard reverse to pull the ship to windward. Smoke is billowing out of the tugs stacks and KABOOM..the line attaching it to the bow of the ship snapped with incredible force.

Closer and closer the ships bow drifted into the small craft port. With about 200 meter left till impact the tug shot another line onboard...powered up in reverse and slowly , slowly dragged the ships bow back to windward.

naturally these things always happen when you dont have a camera in your pocket

That was an interesting story. I bet it was a "white knuckle" moment to those who saw it happen.

Thanks for posting it.

12-31-2013, 08:33 AM
Feel This In The Morning, Watch Out For A Stroke
Carl Lowe | Easy Health Digest | Dec 31, 2013

Research in Finland pinpoints a sensation in the morning that could be the sign of an impending stroke. But it’s easy to fix with a simple change in what you do the night before.

The sensation that signals an increasing risk of stroke is a hangover. If you’re accustomed to downing six or more alcoholic drinks on occasion, you are putting your cardiovascular system in danger. Merely experiencing one hangover a year significantly increases your risk of a stroke.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide after heart disease. It accounts for 10 percent of all deaths. It is also a leading cause of disability.

When researchers at the University of Eastern Finland analyzed the health records of middle-aged men taking part in the FinDrink study, they found that binge drinking (defined as six or more alcoholic beverages in an individual evening) increases hardening of the arteries and boosts the chances of having a stroke. Drinkers who are overweight or have high blood pressure are at the highest risk of cardiovascular complications.

01-01-2014, 08:43 AM
Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Ushered in With New Year

Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013
By Andrea Billups

Incandescent light bulbs, which have been in use in the United States for more than a century, are on their way out in the new year. The federal government has prohibited their manufacture and import starting Wednesday.

The latest ban covers 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs. The 100-watt and 75-watt varieties had already been phased out. The bans were signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act.

Opponents of the law protest that the government is making decisions for consumers rather than letting the marketplace determine the products people want.

"When we make a purchase, it's about quality, price, how much money we have now, can I use that money for a better investment? I don't need the government to say that I am making the incorrect decision and therefore I should buy energy-efficient products," said Daren Bakst, research fellow in agricultural policy at the Heritage Foundation.

He decries the light-bulb ban as representing heightened government overreach.

"The light-bulb issue is about a complete ban of a product. It's overkill. Now you have something you can no longer buy. That's really indefensible," he said.

"Forget about choice. It's basically saying not only can you not make smart choices, we have so little faith in you that we will make sure you can't buy those goods anymore.

"Here you have a central-planning bureaucrat that knows everything, saying we're going to make sure you do the right thing. Granted, Congress passed the law, but this looks like the state knows better than the public does," Bakst said.

The prohibition has also led to U.S. job losses, as factories that made incandescent bulbs have been forced to close.

Because of the ban, General Electric closed a factory with 200 employees in Winchester, Va., that was the last major incandescent manufacturing facility in the United States. Now the work is going to places such as China, where some of the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are made.

Energy efficiency experts say the new light bulbs benefit consumers, who will pay more on the front end for the new-generation bulbs but will save money over time because they last longer — up to 23 years for LED bulbs and about nine years for CFLs.

CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy, government estimates say, while LEDs use about 85 percent less than incandescent bulbs, but they cost about 10 times more.

"The reason why the federal government legislated the change is because these incandescent bulbs use four times or more energy than other technologies," Kevin Hallinan, a University of Dayton engineering professor who studies renewable energy, told the Dayton Daily News, noting that incandescent bulbs emit more heat.

"That's more pollution coming out of the power plants, that's more carbon emissions, so this is really a good thing for the U.S," Hallinan said.

Consumers can still purchase the incandescent bulbs as long as supplies last, and they remain in stock at many home-product retailers around the country. Once those are gone, however, the newer bulbs will be the only ones available.

Some Republican members of Congress have sought a repeal of certain elements of the ban, but have had no success despite cries of a "nanny state" imposing its will on consumers.

In 2011, a trio of Republican lawmakers — Reps. Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee — offered the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, but the legislation failed to pass the House.

The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, sponsored by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and eight co-sponsors, was also floated in 2011 but died in a House subcommittee.

Current laws under the federal government's Energy Star program are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of new guidelines for light fixtures. The guidelines for a fixture to earn Energy Star ratings increased in 2013 as part of the federal law's broader energy efficiency plan.

The light bulb issue marks a continued pattern of what some say is the federal government's overextending its power in recent years, including spying on news reporters' sources, forcing menu labeling laws in an attempt to change what people eat, and intimidating certain groups, including conservatives, through IRS intrusion.

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain said in a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference:

"We've got the IRS abuse. FEC intimidation. EPA discrimination. DOJ intimidation. NSA corruption. And it goes on and on and on in terms of the abuse and the corruption in the government that wants to control all of our lives."

Said Bakst, of the Heritage Foundation:

"We certainly have seen far more government intrusion in the last few years than we have before. It has become the expectation that the government has the proper role in the free choices that we make."

01-01-2014, 09:47 AM
Without real lightbulbs, What source of heat will us boat guys use ?

I have a incandescent bulb curing epoxy right now.

01-03-2014, 12:25 PM
Biodegradable batteries for ingestible medical devices
By Janet Fang | SmartPlanet | January 1, 2014

Researchers have found a way to turn ink from squirmy cuttlefish into electrode materials for batteries. These edible, dissolvable batteries could power tiny medical devices that, once ingested or implanted in the body, can be used for monitoring wounds or disease and for smarter ways to release drugs.

Turns out, the chemistry and structure of the melanin pigments in the ink from Sepia officinalis (a close relative to squid) is perfect for powering tiny electronic devices that operate in close proximity to sensitive living tissue, study researcher Chris Bettinger from Carnegie Mellon University said in a press release.

According to the release:
At present, high-performance energy storage systems for medical devices are designed to supply power to semi-permanent devices that are often encapsulated. These scenarios permit the use of potentially toxic electrode materials and electrolytes.

Conventional battery materials aren’t safe inside the body unless they’re encased in protective capsules --which must eventually be surgically removed, Technology Review explains.

“Instead of lithium and toxic electrolytes that work really well but aren’t biocompatible, we chose simple materials of biological origin,” Bettinger says. The battery materials break down into nontoxic bits in the body.

The melanin batteries don’t match the performance of lithium-ion batteries. The current prototypes provide enough power to run simple sensors, Tech Review reports. The team is working to improve power output and storage capacity by experimenting with different forms of melanin.

The work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month.

01-03-2014, 12:41 PM
Japan to grow human organs inside pigs

— By Charlie Osborne on January 2, 2014 | SmartPlanet

Japanese researchers are seeking less conventional methods to ensure transplant waiting list patients can receive the organs they need -- by growing them inside pigs.

As reported by the BBC, Professor Nagashima has been conducting experiments on pigs. Female pigs have been injected with embryos containing genetic material from two different species, in order for the piglets to grow into chimeric animals.

The animals have been genetically modified to "switch off" natural genes with instructions to create particular organs. Stem cells from other animals are then introduced to replace the missing instructions with organ growth from different pig species.

For example, as a modified white pig grew, so did the animal's pancreas -- which is genetically a black pig's.

The ultimate objective of this research is to eventually develop a method for human organs to be grown inside pigs. Not only this, but Professor Hiro Nakauchi from Tokyo University has taken things a step further. Nakauchi wants to be able to take skin cells from human adults and change them into iPS cells that can be injected into pig embryos. IPS cells are similar to embryonic stem cells, and can grow in to any organ in an animal's body -- and so it may be possible to grow genetically identical organs for humans who need a transplant inside other animals.

So far, the scientists has managed to successfully utilise IPS cells to grow a brown rat's pancreas inside of a white mouse, showing the idea may have promise. If successfully developed to cater for human cells, the research could spell the end of donor organ rejection and waiting lists.

While this research could prove to be the solution to solving the problem of organ donation shortages, the scientists have many obstacles to overcome. As pigs and humans are only distantly related, growing human organs inside the pigs is a massive step beyond current experiments. While the team are confident the transition from black pigs and white pigs to humans can be done, it could take up to five years -- or longer.

In addition, critics of chimeric research could prevent such hybrids from being legal, and the ethics of such experiments also comes in to play.

Via: BBC

01-05-2014, 10:50 AM
Denver realtor 'adopts' homeless man, helps business
Chris Rezac now spins a sign for the broker
Yahoo Contributor Network By Steven Bryan Jan 3, 2014

Sometimes, an empty gas tank can actually be a good thing. As reported by FOX 31 KDVR, Denver real estate broker Joe Manzanares recently drove by Chris Rezac, a homeless man who was holding up a sign that read: "I'm cold. I'm homeless. I'm hungry. Spare Anything."

One month later, Rezac has a steady income and a new sign that reads: "No need for your cash! I'm sponsored by Joe Manzanares."

When reached by phone for an interview, Manzanares, who works for RE/MAX, said he had loaned his car to his son the day he saw Rezac. After retrieving his vehicle, Manzanares ran out of gas right by the Denver corner where Rezac stood.

"I know Chris is there every day," he explained. "I said, 'Hey, can you help me push my car across the street?' So he did. I went home, picked up 15 bucks, went to a restaurant, and picked him up a burrito and said, 'Thanks.'"

The realtor also took time to sit down and speak with Rezac, who said he makes approximately $20-25 dollars a day on the corner.

"I drive a lot because I sell real estate. I see these guys often, and you just never know their stories," Manzanares said. "I just wanted to give it a shot and see if I could help somebody out. He was standing there anyway, and I said, 'Why don't I just give you your money and you spin my board around?'"

For the realtor, it wasn't a matter of hiring cheap labor, though. He found out that Rezac was a longtime welder who went through a divorce. Rezac also had been a volunteer firefighter who helped put out a Denver-area fire a few years back

"He pretty much lost everything, including his will to live. He lost his little girl, and it just spiraled," Manzanares said.

The realtor also pointed out that Rezac now makes more than $25 a day: "I thought it would be good for a small business to adopt somebody, adopt a homeless person and take them through the whole process. They just don't think anyone cares; they are getting yelled at and cussed at, spit at sometimes."

This coming Monday, Manzanares has an appointment to take Rezac to get his resume written up and by the end of the week, Rezac should have a phone: "Right now, he has a warm place to stay every night, which is cool. He's right in my neighborhood, so every day, I stop and make sure he's OK or if he's hungry or he's cold."

On Christmas Eve, the realtor bought Rezac some new clothes and boots and treated him to a haircut. Manzanares said, "He's really feeling good about himself. He's really pumped."

Manzanares said he only thought about taking care of one person. He didn't expect what he did to become such a big deal. "I've also been contacted by the mayor's office about this idea. They love this idea, and they want to present it to committee for this month's meeting with the Homeless Coalition," he explained.

01-05-2014, 10:55 AM
North Carolina Trekkie councilman says 'I quit' in Klingon
Reuters By John Peragine Jan 3, 2014

(Reuters) - A North Carolina town councilman planning to run for U.S. Congress has quit his post by submitting a resignation letter in Klingon, the language of a fictional extraterrestrial warrior species on the "Star Trek" TV and film series.

David Waddell said he used Klingon to resign from the Indian Trail Town Council on Thursday because the fierce-looking science fiction characters valued integrity, honor and duty.

The letter indicated that Waddell, whose four-year term is up in December 2015, plans to resign at the end of this month.

"Teach (the) city (the) constitution," said the English translation. "I will return next time to (witness) victory."

Waddell, often a minority voice on the council, said he plans to mount a campaign on the Constitution Party's platform for U.S. Democratic Senator Kay Hagan's seat.

"I am going away, (but) I'm not done fighting," he said.

The city's mayor, Michael Alvarez, who also describes himself as a Trekkie, an avid "Star Trek" fan, said he did not immediately understand the letter and only realized Waddell was leaving when he started getting phone calls about it.

Alvarez said he was disappointed - both by Waddell's decision to leave the council early and his method of departure.

But he, too, has a sense of humor, the mayor said. He wished Waddell well, borrowing a saying from the Vulcans, Star Trek's logic-based species whose most famous member is Spock.

"Live long and prosper!" Mayor Alvarez said.

(Reporting by John Peragine in Lake Lure, North Carolina; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Gunna Dickson)

01-07-2014, 12:37 PM
10 Reasons Why You Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day For Your Health
by Preity | Patient.co.in

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one's serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we're born our family's touch shows us that we're loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.

6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system - parasympathetic.

8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.

10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it's synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.

01-09-2014, 11:34 AM
It’s the Most Wonderful Time… for SEO Poisoning!
ZoneAlarm Security Blog...

‘Tis the time of year for eggnog and holiday tales. Here is a holiday story for you to be mindful of when browsing online.

When searching for something on the Web, most people type in a few keywords into a search engine, such as Yahoo!, Google, or Bing and press enter. And by the magic of the Internet, you’re presented with a list of results within a fraction of a second.

And like most people, you probably look only at the results from the first page of the search engine results page (also known as SERP). Website owners understand this mechanism, that the more visible (or higher ranked) their website is, the better chance of someone visiting their page. If a website is built with revenue in mind, a high ranking is critical to its success.

So, to help with creating better website visibility, owners employ a marketing technique called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Also called White Hat SEO, these are legitimate techniques that fully comply with search engine rules and policies.

But there’s always a twist in these tales. In this case, cybercriminals also employ SEO techniques. This is called Black Hat SEO or SEO poisoning, where the techniques violate search engine rules and policies and can result in a page being banned from a search engine. Cybercriminals manipulate search results, so visitors who click on the highly ranked (and poisoned) results are redirected to a malicious website or a compromised legitimate website. From there, the visitor can be hit by malware through drive-by-download or have their personal information compromised through a scam.

Let us explain some different techniques cybercriminals use to poison search results and what you can do to stay safe this holiday season.

How Cybercriminals Poison Search Results

Keyword Stuffing
Cybercriminals manipulate search results by stuffing irrelevant keywords into a website, tricking search engines into ranking the website higher. In fact, as you do your holiday-related searches, cybercriminals are very familiar with the buzzwords users will search. They’ll then stuff those keywords into the malicious sites they want users to browse.

Cybercriminals can cloak a website, where content displayed to a search engine and a visitor are vastly different. For example, a user who searches for “best online deals” could wind up on a website that redirects to pornographic content or pops up a fake antivirus scanner.

Link Farming
Cybercriminals create link farms, which are websites that contain a mass of unrelated links. The sole purpose of link farms is to increase the ranking of other websites. Farm links rely on quantity rather than on quality and relevance of backlinks to achieve higher page ranking.

Stay Safe This Holiday Season

Search with Caution
Cybercriminals are hoping online shoppers will be busy using their search engines to look for the best holiday deals online. And they certainly hope users will find themselves on one of their malicious sites. Be vigilant and pay attention to the results you get when you search for online deals, coupons, sales, as well as any topics that may be trending or late-breaking during this time of the year.

Always Verify the Address in the URL
It’s a good habit to verify the website before entering in any personal information. Since cybercriminals can redirect users to malicious or phishing sites that look like the real deal, verifying the URL in the address bar can mean the difference between a cheerful holiday spent with friends and family or one spent making phone calls to your bank, credit card company, and consumer credit report services.

Make Sure Your PC Has an Antivirus and Firewall
Even if you’re vigilant about what you click on, it’s critical that your PC is equipped with an antivirus and firewall. Even more importantly, your security software should be up-to-date with the latest definitions. Since legitimate and respectable websites can harbor malware when compromised, it’s always good to know your antivirus and firewalls can be your backup.

01-09-2014, 11:39 AM
USB Drives: Are You Plugging Malware into Your PC?
Posted on November 13, 2013 by ZoneAlarm

It’s safe to say at one point or another, we’ve all used USB drives to transfer and retrieve files from one computer to the next. As convenient as USB drives are for this purpose, it’s also extremely easy for attackers to distribute malware in the same fashion.

Why You Should Be Cautious
According to a study, 25% of malware is spread through the use of USB drives. This usually happens when a malware-infected PC transfers itself onto a USB drive, without the user ever knowing. These “dirty” USB then pass along the infection to new computers they encounter. Attackers commonly spread malware by leaving dirty drives in places where a curious person might be susceptible to plug the infected device into their computer.

Preventing Malware from Dirty Drives
Disable Autorun
Depending on the operating system of your computer, users can enable or disable Autorun, which allows the malware to automatically run. While for Windows 7 and above, Autorun feature has been removed, AutoPlay is still available. You can learn the differences between Autorun and AutoPlay here.

Protect Your PC with an Antivirus and Firewall
While disabling the Autorun feature on your PC prevents malicious programs from automatically launching, it does not prevent malware from initiating if you open the file infected with malware. It’s important that your computer is equipped with, at the minimum, a two-way firewall and antivirus software, which can stop the malware from executing and damaging your system or stealing your personal information.

Keep Your Operating System Up-to-date
Make sure to run your recommended system updates. Security updates apply necessary patches that repair vulnerabilities in software. You can turn on automatic updates for Windows here.

Be Cautious About What You Plug In
Just as you should exercise caution when deciding to click on links or to download programs, you should be just as vigilant when it comes to plugging in just any USB drives into your computer. Think twice before plugging in that free USB drive or letting a friend retrieve a file on your computer. That little device could be putting your computer and your personal information at risk.

01-09-2014, 12:18 PM
Water Bottle Plastic Linked to Prostate Cancer
Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 | NewsMax Health

A study with mice suggests that exposure in the womb to the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) could put males at greater risk for prostate cancer later in life.

The findings are early, however, and can't prove a causal link between BPA exposure and the cancer.

According to background information from the study's authors, BPA is commonly used in everyday products such as water bottles and soup cans, and boosts stem cells' sensitivity to estrogen. Estrogen is found naturally in both men and women.

Over time, heightened sensitivity to the hormone might raise men's vulnerability to illnesses such as prostate cancer, the researchers said.

"Our research [in mice] provides the first direct evidence that exposure to BPA during development, at the levels we see in our day-to-day lives, increases the risk for prostate cancer in human prostate tissue," study lead author Gail Prins, professor of physiology and director of the andrology laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a university news release.

"The findings of adverse effects of BPA in human tissue are highly relevant and should encourage agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to re-evaluate their policies in the near future," Prins said.

In conducting the study, which was published online Jan. 7 in the journal Endocrinology, the researchers took human prostate stem cells from young men who died and implanted them into mice. The mice were then fed BPA two weeks after implantation to copy the effects of BPA exposure that would be similar to that of a baby in the womb.

The mice were given doses of BPA similar to levels detected in pregnant American women, the researchers said. "The amount of BPA we fed the mice was equivalent to levels ingested by the average person," Prins said. "We didn't feed them exorbitantly high doses."

One month later, the mice were given estrogen to mimic the levels of the hormone, which rise naturally among men as they age. After two to four months, tissue samples were taken from the mice and screened for prostate cancer.

The study found that one-third of the tissue samples taken from mice that had been fed BPA had either pre-cancerous lesions or prostate cancer. The same was true for only 12 percent of the mice in the control group that were not fed BPA.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of the prostate stem cells exposed to BPA both before and after being implanted in the mice had pre-cancerous lesions or cancer.

"We believe that BPA actually reprograms the stem cells to be more sensitive to estrogen throughout life, leading to a lifelong increased susceptibility to diseases including cancer," Prins said.

The researchers said previous studies involving rodents have also shown that BPA, which acts like estrogen, is linked to several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. They added, however, that BPA, which is often used to soften plastics, is nearly impossible to avoid entirely.

"Previous studies have shown that people who avoided all contact with plastics or other BPA-containing objects for up to a month or more still had BPA in their urine, which means they must have come into contact with BPA in the last 24 to 48 hours, since it clears the body rather quickly," Prins said. "It's very hard to avoid."

01-10-2014, 04:37 AM
If You MUST Vaccinate, Aim for This Body Part
Dr. Becker | Healthy Pets | Mercola.com

It is estimated that from one to 10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated will develop cancer at the vaccine injection site, also known as vaccine-associated sarcoma (VAS). A sarcoma is a type of cancer resulting from changes in connective tissue cells. Feline vaccine-associated sarcoma is a malignant tumor that is primarily associated with two vaccines: the rabies vaccine, and the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine.

For several years, it has been customary for feline rabies vaccines to be given in the right rear leg and FeLV vaccines in the left rear leg. The injections are made below the knee joint so that amputation of the lower portion of the leg can be offered to cat owners as a cancer treatment option. However, many owners of cats with VAS refuse amputation of their kitty’s leg because it’s painful, disfiguring and costly.

Pilot Study Suggests Tail Vaccinations Are Effective and Well-Tolerated

A research team from the University of Florida, Operation Catnip in Florida, Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and Kansas State University’s Rabies Laboratory set out to evaluate alternatives to customary vaccine injection sites in the lower legs of cats. The results of their pilot study were published recently in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.1

The researchers surveyed oncology practitioners to learn their preference for vaccination sites based on ease of tumor removal. The preferred sites by 94 oncology practitioners were below the knee (41 percent), and the tip of the tail (30 percent).

Study results also indicated there were no significant differences in the behavior of the cats that received vaccinations below the knee and in the tail. All but one cat that received the tail vaccines developed protective antibody titers. The researchers concluded that tail vaccination was well tolerated by the cats in the study and was as effective as vaccines injected in the lower rear legs.

The researchers believe tail vaccinations could make surgical treatment of vaccine-associated sarcomas easier and less disfiguring, which could in turn encourage more owners to have their cats treated for cancer.

My Guidelines for Vaccinating Cats

As a holistic veterinarian, I’m much less interested in which body parts are best for vaccine injections than I am in determining which vaccines an animal truly needs based on established immunity, age, lifestyle, and other factors. This is especially true of cats, in light of the potential for vaccine-associated sarcomas.

If possible, I recommend you find a holistic or integrative vet to care for your cat. Non-traditional veterinarians are generally very cautious vaccinators. If your cat is strictly an indoor housecat with no exposure to other cats or the outdoors, the risks of annual vaccines far outweigh the benefits, in my opinion.

Ask for a vaccine titer test, which will measure your cat’s immunological protection against diseases for which he has already been vaccinated via his kitten shots. You can’t add protection to an already immunized pet, so don’t keep vaccinating.

If your pet truly needs a booster of a certain vaccine or a vaccine she’s never received, make sure that 1) the vaccine is for a serious disease (this eliminates many on the list immediately), 2) your cat may be in a position to be exposed to the disease (indoor cats have little to no exposure to most diseases), and 3) the vaccine is considered both safe and effective.

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat (in a high risk category for disease exposure) and must receive a booster vaccine, ask your vet to provide a homeopathic detox remedy called Thuja, which will help neutralize the effects of any vaccine other than the rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccines are required by law. There are two varieties of the same vaccine – the one-year type and the three-year type. Insist on the thimerosal-free, three-year rabies vaccine, and ask your vet about the homeopathic rabies vaccine detoxifier called Lyssin. If your pet is a kitten, ask to have the rabies vaccine given after four months of age, preferably closer to six months, to reduce the potential for a reaction.

If your cat lives entirely indoors, I recommend she not be vaccinated again after a full set of kitten shots in her first year of life. Her indoor-only lifestyle eliminates her risk of exposure to infectious diseases. Keep your unvaccinated indoor cat away from all other cats and your pet’s risk is virtually nonexistent.

Do not vaccinate your cat if he has had a serious vaccine reaction in the past.

Avoid veterinary practices that promote annual or more frequent re-vaccinations. Try not to patronize any boarding facility, groomer, or other animal care service that requires you to vaccinate your cat more than necessary.

01-10-2014, 01:31 PM
U.K. aims to put Scotch whisky counterfeiters on the rocks.
— By Mark Halper | SmartPlanet | January 10, 2014

Scotch whisky is a $7 billion export industry. Like champagne, roquefort cheese and parma ham, the EU bestows it with geographical labeling privileges - you can't call it Scotch if it ain't Scotch. But that hasn't stopped counterfeiters from flooding the market with fakes.

Now, Britain is cracking down (for those of you who need a reminder, Scotland is still part of the U.K.) The government is launching a public register of certified makers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The story notes:

Scotch whisky producers would have to volunteer to be checked by U.K. authorities, who would ensure the spirit is manufactured in Scotland and in accordance with strict EU guidelines, the government said. Those guidelines require whiskies be aged in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years to be considered legally Scotch, according to the Scotch Whisky Association, the industry body.
Scotch Whisky Association CEO David Frost welcomed the move. “Geographical indication status is of great commercial value to the Scotch Whisky industry," he said in The Scotsman. "This is a step change in the protection of Scotch Whisky and should be warmly welcomed."

The stories do not elaborate on where the faux Scotch is coming from, although The Scotsman claims that the industry "at any time is fighting 70 cases around the world against counterfeit products." For instance, China convicted a seller for adding artificial flavoring to spirits he labelled as Scotch, the BBC reported a year ago.

With the brouhaha, the factoid of the day has surfaced: The U.K. levies nearly an 80 cent tax on sales of Scotch at home. 80 percent! Maybe Colorado legislators could use that as a model for their state's newly legal cannabis?

The answer's a fairly obvious "no." For among other reasons: Domestic Scotch sales, which are only about 10 percent of overall sales, have been declining ever since the British government imposed yearly automatic tax increases five years ago.

But exports are growing, and Britain aims to keep them rising with its move to dump the phony elixirs, which cost the industry about $820 million a year, according to The Scotsman. The issue has huge economic relevance in Scotland, a country with a population of 5. 2 million people and where the industry employees more than 10,000 of them.

As the WSJ noted, "Scotch was the U.K.'s 10th-biggest manufactured product by value of sales in 2012," and sales "exceeded vehicle parts and accessories."

Or, with apologies to Robin Hood, people around the world help enrich Scotland by giving a pour. Of the real thing.

01-12-2014, 02:31 PM
Banks say no to marijuana money, legal or not
Published: January 12, 2014

SEATTLE - In his second-floor office above a hair salon in north Seattle, Ryan Kunkel is seated on a couch placing $1,000 bricks of cash - dozens of them - in a rumpled brown paper bag. When he finishes, he stashes the money in the trunk of his BMW and sets off on an adrenalized drive downtown, darting through traffic and nervously checking to see if anyone is following him.

Despite the air of criminality, there is nothing illicit in what Kunkel is doing. He co-owns five legal medical marijuana dispensaries, and on this day he is heading to the Washington state Department of Revenue to commit the ultimate in law-abiding acts: paying taxes. After about 25 minutes at the agency, Kunkel emerges with a receipt for $51,321.

"Carrying such large amounts of cash is a terrible risk that freaks me out a bit because there is the fear in my mind that the next car pulling up beside me could be the crew that hijacks us," he said. "So, we have to play this never-ending shell game of different cars, different routes, different dates and different times."

Legal marijuana merchants like Kunkel - mainly medical marijuana dispensaries but also, starting this year, shops that sell recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington - are grappling with a pressing predicament: Their businesses are conducted almost entirely in cash because it is exceedingly difficult for them to open and maintain bank accounts, and thus accept credit cards.

The problem underscores the patchwork nature of federal and state laws that have evolved fitfully as states have legalized some form of marijuana commerce. Though 20 states and the District of Columbia allow either medical or recreational marijuana use - with more likely to follow suit - the drug remains illegal under federal law. The Controlled Substances Act, enacted in 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous category, which also includes heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

As a result, banks, including state-chartered ones, are reluctant to provide traditional services to marijuana businesses. They fear that federal regulators and law enforcement authorities might punish them, with measures like large fines, for violating prohibitions on money-laundering, among other federal laws and regulations.

"Banking is the most urgent issue facing the legal cannabis industry today," said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association in Washington, D.C. Saying legal marijuana sales in the United States could reach $3 billion this year, Smith added: "So much money floating around outside the banking system is not safe, and it is not in anyone's interest. Federal law needs to be harmonized with state laws."

The limitations have created unique burdens for legal marijuana business owners. They pay employees with envelopes of cash. They haul Chipotle and Nordstrom bags containing thousands of dollars in $10 and $20 bills to supermarkets to buy money orders. When they are able to open bank accounts - often under false pretenses - many have taken to storing money in Tupperware containers filled with air fresheners to mask the smell of marijuana.

The all-cash nature of the business has also created huge security concerns for business owners. Many have installed panic buttons for workers in the event of a robbery and have set up a constellation of security cameras at their facilities beyond what is required, as well as floor sensors to detect break-ins. In Colorado, Blue Line Protection Group was formed a few months ago, specializing in protecting dispensaries and facilities that grow marijuana, and in providing transportation security. The firm largely uses military veterans who have Special Operations experience.

Marijuana business owners have devised strategies to avoid the suspicions of bankers. A number of legal operations have opened accounts by establishing holding companies with names that obscure the nature of their business. Some owners simply use personal bank accounts. Others have relied on local bank managers willing to take chances and bring them on as clients, or even offer tips on how to choose nondescript company names.

But the financial institutions eventually shut down many of these accounts after managers conclude the businesses are too much of a risk. It is not unusual for a legitimate marijuana business to go through a half-dozen bank accounts in a few years. While they are active, however, these accounts may have informal restrictions placed on them - some self-imposed - so they do not draw the scrutiny of bankers who may file suspicious-activity reports or would be required to report deposits over $10,000 in cash. The account holders may make only small deposits, and only at night and at certain branches. Kunkel of Seattle has such an account.

At the largest credit union in Washington state, BECU, about 20 accounts have been shut down in the last three years after it was discovered they were for businesses in the legal marijuana trade, Todd Pietzsch, a spokesman for the credit union, said.

Kristi Kelly, 36, who owns two dispensaries and several marijuana growing operations in the Denver area, said six bank accounts of hers had been canceled in the last 18 months. "Opening the account is not necessarily the problem," she said. "Our cash deposit levels flag a bank's compliance division."

Kelly, who had just paid $10,000 in cash to the city of Denver for licensing and application fees to expand her business, said that several times a week she carried around tens of thousands of dollars in a bag. "I never felt as illegitimate as the day I had to buy a cash counter," she said, adding that she spends three hours or so a day just managing the cash from her business' multiple locations.

ATMs are common in marijuana outlets, but the business owners often have to use their own cash in the machines in case law enforcement authorities conduct a raid and seize the money.

Those marijuana operations that do have bank accounts or use the personal ones of their owners can use a cashless ATM service in which a debit card is swiped at a dispensary and the money is transferred into the recipient's account.

"It is operating over the ATM network and not the credit card network," said Lance Ott, whose company, Guardian Data Systems, provides this service. "The ATM networks are not as regulated. This is the loophole."

Because legal marijuana operations, for the most part, cannot get bank loans, these small businesses have to rely on short-term loans from individuals, usually with higher interest rates.

To help, High Times magazine is starting a private equity fund to invest in marijuana businesses. But many investors may feel uneasy about marijuana businesses that do not have bank accounts. And without bank references, entrepreneurs say, it is much tougher to get lines of credit from vendors.

Leaders in the marijuana trade point out that giving accounts to businesses would allow for more transparency and meticulous regulation and would help ensure that jurisdictions receive the taxes they are entitled to.

Marijuana entrepreneurs and banks both would like clear guidelines from the government on how financial institutions can serve the industry. On Friday, six members of Colorado's congressional delegation sent a letter to the Treasury and the Justice Department requesting that they "expedite" that guidance.

In August, the Justice Department issued a memo indicating that it would not crack down on legal marijuana as long as eight regulatory requirements were met, like preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises and preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors. The memo did not address banking.

The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network hopes to circulate recommendations by the end of this month to officials at the Treasury and the Justice Department for their opinions, an official briefed on the situation said. There is no timetable for formal guidelines.

Richard Riese, senior vice president for regulatory compliance at the American Bankers Association, said banks wanted clear and comprehensive guidelines on how to do business with the legal marijuana industry.

Riese said, for instance, that banks would want to know that they were not "aiding and abetting" a criminal enterprise if they provided services to marijuana businesses. "Banks will need a lot of detail from regulators to get the satisfaction and comfort they are looking for," he said.

01-13-2014, 10:59 AM
Slug-inspired surgical glue patches up broken hearts

— By Janet Fang on January 10, 2014 | SmartPlanet Healthcare

To reduce the invasiveness of surgical procedures, researchers have developed a new glue that can seal up heart defects in seconds -- and it stays tight under pressure.
Sutures take too much time to stitch, and staples can damage fragile heart tissue. But clinically approved surgical glues that are currently available can’t withstand the force of blood flow within heart chambers and major blood vessels. (You know, the same pressure that causes those arterial spray patterns seen on CSI and Dexter.)

Not to mention, these medical-grade superglues contain toxins, so they’re mainly only used on the skin, Technology Review explains.

This biocompatible new glue -- called hydrophobic light-activated adhesive (HLAA) -- can rapidly attach biodegradable patches in wet, dynamic conditions, like inside a beating heart. It could prove useful for medics on the battlefield as well as surgeons in the emergency room.

"About 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects in the United States annually, and those that require treatment are plagued with multiple surgeries to deliver or replace non-degradable implants that do not grow with young patients," says study coauthor Jeffrey Karp of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in a press release.

So, Karp and colleagues studied the viscous secretions of slugs andsandcastle worms, IEEE Spectrum reports, to determine how they were able to form stable bonds underwater. The result:

HLAA is made of a soft, elastic polymer that allows it to flex and move with the heart.
It’s both waterproof and blood repellent, which means blood won’t interfere with the adhesive action.
Once applied, the liquid goo penetrates tissue, hardens, and locks in place in just five seconds with a brief shine of ultraviolet light. (Yep, a glue that’s light activated!)
The polymer physically interdigitates with collagen fibers -- like interlocking fingers -- for maximal adhesion.
Since the adhesive patch is biodegradable and biocompatible, nothing foreign or toxic stays in the body.
When the researchers tested the glue on pig hearts, they found that the patch effectively created a watertight seal on holes in the heart and maintained its strong sticking power even in the presence of blood.

Although tests in humans are needed, these results hint at a practical new tool for tissue repair and for sealing open wounds quickly in trauma. The technology has been licensed to Paris startupGecko Biomedical. The company expects to bring the adhesive to the market within two to three years.

The work was published in Science Translational Medicine this week.

01-13-2014, 11:06 AM
A recycling initiative has given citizens of Peru the chance to exchange litter for something useful -- 3D printed parts, services and items to make their lives a little easier.

Piles of plastic, whether it be bottles, bags or packaging, are a common sight in poorer areas of the world. In parts of Peru, naturally beautiful beaches are now ruined by this problem, caused by the cheap production and non bio-degradable properties of the material.

As there is no official service to clean up the mess, Canadian entrepreneur David Katz has come up with an interesting solution: make plastic a "currency" that people can spend.

Plastic Bank, a scheme that sets up plastic banks in poorer countries, aims to clear the world's waterways and beaches while also educating and improving the lives of those in poverty. The organization says that reusable plastics gathered by locals is exchanged for 3D-printed products, necessities and micro-finance loans, and it is hoped that through education, citizens may also use their own entrepreneurial edge to reuse the garbage in innovative ways.

In Peru, pickers will be able to exchange plastic for food, clothing, basic necessities and also use 3D printing labs to manufacture objects they want. The plastic, however, is shipped to an unnamed corporation that will reuse the material.

Katz told Fast. CoExist:

"If we can reveal the value in the things around us, then we can give people the opportunity to make a better life with that. Perhaps they're working with waste from a gas station and the mechanics need components they can print on site. It gives them an opportunity to take the waste out of the environment and make something worth $5, $10, or $20."
The first Plastic Bank in Peru will be opened in April 2015.

Via: Fast. CoExist

— By Charlie Osborne | SmartPlanet |Cities | on January 13, 2014

01-13-2014, 11:22 AM
Pouring Cheese on Icy Roads in (Where Else?) Wisconsin
By STEVEN YACCINO | New York Times

MILWAUKEE — In a state whose license plates advertise it as America’s Dairyland, where lawmakers once honored the bacterium in Monterey Jack as the state’s official microbe and where otherwise sober citizens wear foam cheesehead hats, road crews are trying to thaw freezing Wisconsin streets with a material that smells a little like mozzarella.

This month, Milwaukee began a pilot program to repurpose cheese brine for use in keeping city roads from freezing, mixing the dairy waste with traditional rock salt as a way to trim costs and ease pollution.

“You want to use provolone or mozzarella,” said Jeffrey A. Tews, the fleet operations manager for the public works department, which has thrice spread the cheesy substance in Bay View, a neighborhood on Milwaukee’s south side. “Those have the best salt content. You have to do practically nothing to it.”

Local governments across the country have been experimenting with cheaper and environmentally friendly ways of thawing icy thoroughfares, trying everything from sugar beet juice to discarded brewery grain in an attempt to limit the use of road salt, which can spread too thin, wash away and pollute waterways.

Snow science experts say an attempt to recycle the salty brine that flavors cheese was only a matter of time, particularly in a state like Wisconsin.

“We’re just trying to make every possible use of cheese,” said Tony Zielinski, an alderman who represents the Bay View district, adding that local governments in other states have called him to learn more about the program. “If this takes off, if this proves to be a success here, I’m sure that it will be used in cities all over the country.”

But in this dense urban setting, Milwaukee officials are reviewing a list of potential problems that come with cheese-coated streets: Would a faint odor of cheese bother residents? Would it attract rodents? Would the benefits of cheese brine, said to freeze at a lower temperature than regular salt brine, be enough to justify the additional hauling and storing requirements?

If at first it sounded like a joke, the reality of tapping the wellspring of dairy byproduct has become a serious budget-slimming conversation. The state produced 2.7 billion pounds of cheese in 2012, the most of any in the nation. With it comes a surplus of brine that is shipped to local waste treatment plants. (Cheese brine is permitted on roads if limited to eight gallons per ton of rock salt used.)

Chuck Engdahl, the wastewater manager at F & A Dairy Products in northwestern Wisconsin, said his company now donates most of the excess liquid to a handful of municipalities willing to cart it away, including Milwaukee, saving about $20,000 a year in hauling costs.

And Polk County, also near the Minnesota border, estimates that it saved $40,000 in rock salt expenses in 2009, the year it started using cheese brine on its highways.

“If you put dry salt on a roadway, you typically lose 30 percent to bounce and traffic,” said Emil Norby, who works for Polk County and was the first in Wisconsin to come up with the cheese brine idea to help the salt stick. The county has expanded its use of the material every year since, spreading more than 40,000 gallons on its highways last year. Chehalis, in Washington State, also uses an anti-icing mixture that includes cheese brine.

Looking for rock salt alternatives, Milwaukee, a city that averages about 50 inches of snow each winter, tested a “molasses-type product” more than a decade ago, but scrapped the idea after residents complained that it left shoe prints in their homes. In 2009, the city sprayed its rock salt with sugar beet juice to make it last longer, but the mixture clogged trucks and was eventually dropped.

“If this takes off, if this proves to be a success here, I’m sure that it will be used in cities all over the country,” says Tony Zielinski, a Milwaukee alderman.

Last year, with only 28 inches of snow, Milwaukee used 44,000 tons of salt and spent almost $6.5 million on snow and ice management. The year before, the costs surpassed $10 million.

It is, perhaps, too soon to tell how much cheese brine would alter that outlay. The pilot program will cost Milwaukee about $6,500 — mostly for transporting and storing a small batch of brine. A full report is expected in the spring.

Residents of Bay View say they have noticed little difference, good or bad, in the smell of their streets, and city officials say they have received no complaints. If anything, days after the plows passed through, a person would have to get down and sniff the pavement to get a decent whiff of dairy.

“We never look down or get that close,” said Ghassan A. Korban, the public works commissioner, his back straight as he stood behind a truck of cheese brine, battle-ready for an approaching storm. “If you can’t smell it from this height, then you won’t smell it.”

01-14-2014, 02:09 AM
Guidelines for Natural Flu Prevention
Dr. Mercola | January 14. 2014

It's important to remember that your immune system is your primary line of defense against any virus, so keeping your immune function high should be at the top of your list if you want to avoid influenza or other flu-like illness. The following guidelines can help keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with or, if you do get sick with the flu, you will be better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.

Optimize Your Vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm your levels are within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.
Ideally, you'll want to get all your vitamin D from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed, but as a last resort you can take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. According to the latest review by Carole Baggerly (GrassrootsHealth.org), adults may need as much as 8,000 IUs a day.

Avoid Sugar/Fructose and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.

Optimize Your Gut Flora. The best way to do this is avoid apply the step above by avoiding sugars, processed foods and most grains, and replacing them with healthy fats and taking regular amounts of fermented foods, which can radically improve the function of your immune system

Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article "Guide to a Good Night's Sleep" for some great tips to help you get quality rest.

Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming, then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.

Get Regular Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. Be sure to incorporate high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness into your routine.

Take a Good Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.

Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this – antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.

Use Natural Immune Boosters. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic.

Avoid Hospitals. I'd recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.