Archive for June, 2014

Border Patrol has lots of agents — in wrong places

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press | June 29, 2014 | Updated: June 29, 2014 11:06am
  • In this June 5, 2014 photo, a Border Patrol agent uses a headset and computer to conduct a long distance interview by video with a person arrested crossing the border in Texas, from a facility in San Diego. Hit with a dramatic increase of Central Americans crossing in South Texas, the Border Patrol is relieving staffing woes by enlisting agents in less busy sectors to process arrests through video interviews. Photo: Gregory Bull, AP / AP
    Photo By Gregory Bull/AP
    In this June 5, 2014 photo, a Border Patrol agent uses a headset and computer to conduct a long distance interview by video with a person arrested crossing the border in Texas, from a facility in San Diego. Hit with a dramatic increase of Central Americans crossing in South Texas, the Border Patrol is relieving staffing woes by enlisting agents in less busy sectors to process arrests through video interviews.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The downcast faces on computer screens are 1,500 miles away at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas: a 20-year old Honduran woman arrested rafting across the Rio Grande and a 23-year-old man caught under similar circumstances.

Four agents wearing headsets reel through a list of personal questions, spending up to an hour on each adult and even longer on children. On an average day, hundreds of migrants are questioned on camera by agents in San Diego and other stations on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The long-distance interviews — introduced last year in El Paso, Texas, and extended to California — are a response to the dramatic increase of Central Americans crossing the border in Texas that also has flooded immigration facilities with hundreds of women and children. The Border Patrol does not have the staff to process all the immigrants crossing in the Rio Grande Valley, but faraway colleagues have time to spare.

The remote video processing reveals a perpetual predicament that has long bedeviled the Border Patrol. Many agents wind up stationed in places where crossing activity is slowest because the Border Patrol struggles to keep up with constantly shifting migration patterns.

One example of the staffing mismatch: the roughly 2,500 agents in the San Diego sector arrested 97 immigrants illegally crossing the border on June 14, according to an internal document reviewed by The Associated Press. On the same day, the roughly 3,200 agents in the Rio Grande Valley made 1,422 arrests.

President Barack Obama will ask Congress for more than $2 billion to respond to the flood of immigrants illegally entering the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley and for new powers to deal with returning unaccompanied children, a White House official said Saturday. A letter will be sent to Congress on Monday, said the official who was not authorized to speak by name and discussed the requests on condition of anonymity. The exact amount and how it will be spent will come after Congress returns from recess on July 7. Whether any funds will go toward border staffing is unknown.

In San Diego, the video processing is a welcome change of pace. Arrests are at 45-year lows and many agents go entire shifts without finding anyone. Cesar Rodriguez, who joined the Border Patrol in 2010, said eight hours fly by since he gave up his assignment watching a stretch of scrub-covered hills east of San Diego and took on a new assignment to process the immigrants via video.

“If there’s nothing going on, what are you going to do? You’re just staring at the fence,” Rodriguez said in his new office, whose parking lot offers sweeping views of hillside homes in Tijuana, Mexico.

A few feet away, Victor Nunez says he interviewed a woman carrying a 4-month-old child and spent his last shift working on a group of 93 people that crossed the Rio Grande at once. Such activity was unheard of on his overnight shift patrolling the quiet mountains near San Diego.

“I feel like we’re helping out our agents,” said Nunez, who joined the Border Patrol in 2011. “It’s a big problem going on there.”

The McAllen station is designed to hold a few hundred people, but often teems with more than 1,000 who spill into hallways and outside. Migrants have been sent to stations in quieter parts of Texas, and they were overwhelmed. Overcrowding at the Laredo station prompted a visit from the fire marshal last month.

The shift to the Rio Grande Valley is part of a long-running trend where immigrants and smugglers change crossing locations faster than the government responds.

San Diego was the hot spot until the mid-1990s, when 1,000 agents were added there. After traffic moved to Arizona, staffing in Tucson ballooned under President George W. Bush, who doubled the Border Patrol close to its current size of more than 21,000 agents.

Some warn against bulking up in South Texas because smuggling routes will inevitably change along the 1,954-mile border.

“They don’t want to transfer a mass amount of agents and open a gap somewhere else where we have control,” said David Aguilar, the Border Patrol chief from 2004 to 2010.

Forced transfers must be negotiated with the National Border Patrol Council, the union which represents agents, and have not happened on a large scale.

The Border Patrol can move agents for 35 days — longer by mutual agreement — but those temporary assignments are expensive. More than 100 agents were sent to Rio Grande Valley this spring for short stays.

Voluntary transfers were an option but have not been used widely in South Texas. The Border Patrol began a campaign about 10 years ago, partly aimed at boosting morale, to offer more transfers if agents moved themselves. And, as agents quit or retire, the vast majority of new hires who replace them are now assigned to Rio Grande Valley.

The Border Patrol introduced video processing in El Paso in April 2013 to address the surge in Rio Grande Valley, where most border crossers are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and many are unaccompanied children. It expanded the processing to El Centro, California, in March, and to San Diego last month.

Between 230 and 500 people have been processed by video each day since it was introduced last year, but lack of detention space in Rio Grande Valley recently prompted authorities to fly migrants to El Paso and Arizona for processing, said Jackie Wasiluk, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol’s parent agency, Customs and Border Protection. The agency said Friday that it will also fly migrants to California for processing.

Costs are not an issue with video processing. Headsets and cameras are $70 apiece, and it’s a small sacrifice to supervisors.

Agents use a long questionnaire that aims to establish identity — where they lived, where they went to school, where they went to church. Most migrants don’t have identification, so U.S. authorities must convince consulates to issue passports. Otherwise, they can’t be deported.

Throughout their shifts, agents trade instant messages with counterparts in Rio Grande Valley.

“If you have time, can you adjust the camera? It was too high. Ready for another case if you have one,” typed Jake Garcia, a San Diego agent for five years.

His counterpart was talking to a group of migrants. Garcia swirled his chair for something rare in his new role: He took a break.

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, contributed to this report.

Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, contributed to this report.

via Border Patrol has lots of agents — in wrong places – Houston Chronicle.

With so much misandry being promoted in the MSM and a open war on men being waged by the americian legal system.  Most men will not enjoy any retirment years past their ability to support a nagging wife.

 

 

Many studies have investigated the link between marriage and heart health. In March this year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that unmarried women are more likely to die from heart disease, while another study from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, NY, linked marriage to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

 

According to study author Thomas Kamarck, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, there is growing evidence that the quality and patterns of social relationships are linked to an array of health outcomes, including CVD.

 

As such, the team wanted to determine whether positive or negative marital interactions influence the risk of CVD.

 

Negative interactions ‘increased CVD risk by 8.5%’

 

The researchers analyzed 281 healthy and employed middle-aged adults who were either married or living with a partner in a marital-like relationship.

 

Happy couple
Once you are married hugs get replaced with drugs and what comes with her breath just hastens your death……

 

Over 4 days, interactions between participants and their partners were monitored every hour, and participants rated their interactions as positive or negative.

 

The thickness of subjects’ carotid arteries – major blood vessels in the neck that supply the head and neck with oxygenated blood – were also measured. Thickening of the carotid arteries can cause them to narrow, which can lead to atherosclerosis – a build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries that increases the risk of CVD.

 

The results of the study, recently published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, revealed that participants who reported negative interactions with their partner had thicker carotid arteries. They calculated that these subjects had an 8.5% higher risk of developing CVD, compared with those who reported positive interactions with their partner.

 

The team notes that these findings were consistent across all age groups, races, genders and education levels. The results remained even after accounting for other factors that may influence the risk of CVD, the researchers say, and they were independent of the frequency of martial interaction, personality factors and nonmarital social interaction.

 

Commenting on the findings, Kamarck says:

 

“The contribution of this study is in showing that these sorts of links [between marital interactions and CVD] may be observed even during the earliest stages of plaque development, and that these observations may be rooted not just in the way that we evaluate our relationships in general but in the quality of specific social interactions with our partners as they unfold during our daily lives.”

 

‘Romantic relationships play major role in overall health’

 

But lead author Nataria Joseph, who recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh but who is now at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, says she believes the implications of the findings reach further than CVD risk.

 

“It’s another bit of support for the thought that marital or serious romantic relationships play a significant role in overall health,” she says. “Biological, psychological, and social processes all interact to determine physical health.”

 

The study is subject to limitations, according to the team. For example, they are unable to establish a causal relationship between marital interactions and CVD because it is a cross-sectional study where all the data has been collected at one specific time period.

 

“What it does show,” Joseph adds, “is that health care providers should look at relationships as a point of assessment. They are likely to promote health or place health at risk.”

 

It is not only the heart that may benefit from marriage. A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggested that people who are married when they are diagnosed with cancer are likely to live longer, compared with cancer patients who were unmarried at diagnosis.

That bitch is Killing You and it is the most horrible form of abuse.  Get the fuck out now.

 

 

Could a happy marriage be the key to a healthy heart? – Medical News Today.

As the Main Stream Media has less influence on some people because they are now addictive to sites like Facebook the level of influence and depth of reach of information control needed to be quantified if the population is to me kept under control.  In an experiment facebook conducted earlier this year, Facebook injected the feeds of nearly 700,000 of its (unknowing) users with negative content to see if it would make the posts they wrote more negative.

The researchers believe that it did. The mood of the posts seen in the news feeds of the experiment’s subjects moved like a “contagion” into the posts of said subjects.

The inverse, too, was true, the researchers say.

It’s not surprising that Facebook would mess with the moods of its users, who — allow me to remind you — are its bread and butter. Exposing users to the advertisements of Facebook’s partners — on and off Facebook –  is the social media giant’s only real business.

It’s not even more surprising the company would publish the results. The paper appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Because Facebook users are so easily manipulated that all they would have to do is to tell them it was all ok and they actually enjoyed being manipulated. like one big hypnotized stage show.

From the paper:

“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

But the PNAS has doubts about the validity of the research outcome. It’s unclear, the PNAS says, whether the negative and positive posts from research subjects were caused only by the manipulation of the news feed, and not by negative interactions with other users. yet they still published the research and outcome.

Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer led the research. Here’s what it says at Kramer’s American Psychological Association page: “D.I. Kramer, PhD, has an enviable subject pool: the world’s roughly 500 million [now well more than a billion] Facebook users.”

The other researchers were Cornell University professor Jeff Hancock and UCSF post-doctoral fellow Jamie Guillory.

The paper says that users provided tacit consent to be used in research studies when they signed up for Facebook and agreed to Facebook’s Data Use Policy.

So no legal exposure for Facebook, but definitely some more bad vibes from a company that has demonstrated over and over that the needs of its advertising business always trump the needs of its users.

This experiment takes Facebook’s disregard to another level, as it actively sought to impact the wellbeing of users. what if someone was pushed over the edge into suicide because the world was just falling apart and they did not want to belong anymore?

Facebook already has plenty of ways to make people unhappy, from its humblebrags to its envy-inducing profiles.

Last year a University of Michigan study told us that Facebook makes many young people depressed.

Another study, published by Berlin’s Humboldt University, reported that Facebook often fills users with feelings of envy.

Venture beat asks: “And what is the point of this research? Why is it being conducted? Is it purely an academic exercise, or could it be used by some unscrupulous party to mess with people’s feeds and moods on a regular basis?”

Is this really a question?

Facebook should immediately disclose to each of the Facebook users whose feeds it manipulated what they were subjected to and when .

Facebook Doesn’t Understand The Fuss About Its Emotion Manipulation Study.

This weekend, the Internet discovered a study published earlier this month in an academic journal that recounted how a Facebook data scientist, along with two university researchers,

turned 689,003 users’ News Feeds positive or negative to see if it would elate or depress them.

Not unlike the Bildberger groups members turning the Main Stream Media positive or negative, pro-gun, or anti gun, Terrorist are after you civil rights stealing lies, Wake the fuck up you sheeple.

The purpose was to find out if emotions are “contagious” on social networks. (They are, apparently.)

“to find out”  how about to prove once again and to see how fast and of what level of influence you sheeple can be manipulated.

The justification for subjecting unsuspecting users to the psychological mind game was that everyone who signs up for Facebook agrees to the site’s “Data Use Policy,” which has a little line about how your information could be used for “research.” Some people are pretty blase about the study, their reaction along the lines of, “Dude. Facebook and advertisers manipulate us all the time. NBD.” Others, especially in the academic environment, are horrified that Facebook thinks that the little clause in the 9,045-word ToS counts as “informed consent” from a user to take part in a psychological experiment, and that an ethics board reportedly gave that interpretation a thumbs up. The larger debate is about what companies can do to their users without asking them first or telling them about it after.

I asked Facebook yesterday what the review process was for conducting the study in January 2012, and its response reads a bit tone deaf. The focus is on whether the data use was appropriate rather than on the ethics of emotionally manipulating users to have a crappy day for science. That may be because Facebook was responding to a privacy reporter:

“This research was conducted for a single week in 2012 and none of the data used was associated with a specific person’s Facebook account,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible. A big part of this is understanding how people respond to different types of content, whether it’s positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow. We carefully consider what research we do and have a strong internal review process. There is no unnecessary collection of people’s data in connection with these research initiatives and all data is stored securely.”

Remember reading this part of Facebook's data use policy?

Remember reading this part of Facebook’s data use policy?

It’s particularly fascinating to me that Facebook puts this in the “research to improve our services” category, as opposed to “research for academic purposes” category. One usable takeaway in the study was that taking all emotional content out of a person’s feed caused a “withdrawal effect.” Thus Facebook now knows it should subject you to emotional steroids to keep you coming back. It makes me wonder what other kind of psychological manipulation users are subjected to that they never learn about because it isn’t published in an academic journal. This gives more fodder to academic Ryan Calo who has argued that companies need to get their psychological studies of users vetted in some way that echoes what happens in the academic context. When universities conduct studies on people, they have to run them by an ethics board first to get approval — ethics boards that were mandated by the government in the 1970s because scientists were getting too creepy in their experiments, getting subjects to think they were shocking someone to death in order to study obedience, for example. Interestingly, the Facebook “emotional contagion” project had funding from the government — the Army Research Office — according to a Cornell profile of one of the academic researchers involved. And the professor who edited the article said the study was okayed by an Institutional Review Board. That approval has led most academic commentators’ jaws to hit the floor.

Before this story broke, Betsy Haibel wrote a relevant post that linguistically elevated the stakes by calling companies’ assumption of consent from users as corporate rape culture. “The tech industry does not believe that the enthusiastic consent of its users is necessary,” wrote Haibel. “The tech industry doesn’t even believe in requiring affirmative consent.”

When I signed up for 23andMe — a genetic testing service — it asked if I was willing to be part of “23andWe,” which would allow my genetic material to be part of research studies. I had to affirmatively check a box to say I was okay with that. As I suggested when I wrote about this yesterday, I think Facebook should have something similar. While many users may already expect and be willing to have their behavior studied — and while that may be warranted with “research” being one of the 9,045 words in the data use policy — they don’t expect that Facebook will actively manipulate their environment in order to see how they react. That’s a new level of experimentation, turning Facebook from a fishbowl into a petri dish, and it’s why people are flipping out about this.

Vitamin D and Protein as well as working your ass hard….

How to Keep Your Muscles Strong as You Age – WSJ.

Ebola called ‘out of control’ in West Africa.

Children with autism spectral disorders were found to have had a 60 percent greater chance of having had organophosphates sprayed near their mothers’ homes while they were still in the womb. Children with development disorders were nearly 150 percent more likely to have had carbamate pesticides applied near the home during their mothers’ pregnancy. Both of the associations grew stronger as the pesticide applications encroached more closely upon their mothers’ homes.

“Applications of two of the most common agricultural pesticides (organophosphates and pyrethroids) nearby the home may increase the prevalence of [autism spectrum disorders],” the researchers write in their paper, published Monday in Environmental Health Perspectives. “Our findings relating agricultural pesticides to [development disorders] were less robust, but were suggestive of an [association] with applications of carbamates during pregnancy nearby the home.”

The Troubling Connection Between Pesticides and Autism – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society.

Here’s the science breakdown: In the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s, a protein called beta-amyloid accumulates in the gaps that exist between nerve cells, which disrupts the flow of signals between them and eventually leads to memory problems and worse.

That’s the science breakdown?  WTF

But relying upon mice genetically-engineered to mimic Alzheimer’s, researchers found that lavado actually prevented the abnormal build-up of beta-amyloid.

“Given that cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease is thought to start decades before symptoms appear, we believe our results have broad implications for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” said the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, in a press release.

The lavado extract is mostly composed of a type of antioxidant called “polyphenols,” which are also found in fruits and vegetables—and may also protect you from a wealth of other things, from tumors to inflammation.

Lavado supplements may soon be available to consumers, Pasinetti told us, but in the meantime he encouraged people to eat dark chocolate to get their daily dose of cocoa polyphenols.

Well, if dark chocolate is “doctor’s orders,” we suggest the 72-percent cacao bar accented with fleur de sel from Mast Brothers, the Belgium-inspired BRU bar flecked with cacao nibs from Éclat, or the woodsy, aromatic Noir de Cacao bar from Michel Cluizel.

If only all medical advice was so delicious.

Cocoa Extract May Help Treat Alzheimer’s.

Supreme Court limits EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour.

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.
With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference. The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

Robert David Steele Former CIA spy and Open Source Intelligence pioneer, Robert David Steele speaking at the Inter-American Defense Board in 2013 I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’

Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.

Steele’s book is a must-read, a powerful yet still pragmatic roadmap to a new civilisational paradigm that simultaneously offers a trenchant, unrelenting critique of the prevailing global order. His interdisciplinary ‘whole systems’ approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today.

“We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto. “Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Today’s capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive:

“Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we’ve learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”

The goal, he concludes, is to reject:

“… concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.”

Despite this unabashedly radical vision, Steele is hugely respected by senior military intelligence experts across the world. As a researcher at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, he has authored several monographs advocating the need for open source methods to transform the craft of intelligence. He has lectured to the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security as well as National Security Councils in various countries, and his new book has received accolades from senior intelligence officials across multiple countries including France and Turkey.

Yet he remains an outspoken critic of US intelligence practices and what he sees as their integral role in aggravating rather than ameliorating the world’s greatest threats and challenges.

This week, I had the good fortune of being able to touch base with Steele to dig deeper into his recent analysis of the future of US politics in the context of our accelerating environmental challenges. The first thing I asked him was where he sees things going over the next decade, given his holistic take.

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.

“My early graduate education was in the 1970’s when Limits to Growth and World Federalism were the rage. Both sought to achieve an over-view of systemic challenges, but both also suffered from the myth of top-down hubris. What was clear in the 1970s, that has been obscured by political and financial treason in the past half-century, is that everything is connected – what we do in the way of paving over wetlands, or in poisoning ground water ‘inadvertently’ because of our reliance on pesticides and fertilisers that are not subject to the integrity of the ‘Precautionary Principle,’ ultimately leads to climate catastrophes that are acts of man, not acts of god.”

He points me to his tremendous collection of reviews of books on climate change, disease, environmental degradation, peak oil, and water scarcity. “I see five major overlapping threats on the immediate horizon,” he continues. “They are all related: the collapse of complex societies, the acceleration of the Earth’s demise with changes that used to take 10,000 years now taking three or less, predatory or shock capitalism and financial crime out of the City of London and Wall Street, and political corruption at scale, to include the west supporting 42 of 44 dictators. We are close to multiple mass catastrophes.”

What about the claim that the US is on the brink of revolution? “Revolution is overthrow – the complete reversal of the status quo ante. We are at the end of centuries of what Lionel Tiger calls ‘The Manufacture of Evil,’ in which merchant banks led by the City of London have conspired with captive governments to concentrate wealth and commoditise everything including humans. What revolution means in practical terms is that balance has been lost and the status quo ante is unsustainable. There are two ‘stops’ on greed to the nth degree: the first is the carrying capacity of Earth, and the second is human sensibility. We are now at a point where both stops are activating.”

Robert Steele - preconditions for revolution Former CIA officer’s matrix on the preconditions for revolution It’s not just the US, he adds. “The preconditions of revolution exist in the UK, and most western countries. The number of active pre-conditions is quite stunning, from elite isolation to concentrated wealth to inadequate socialisation and education, to concentrated land holdings to loss of authority to repression of new technologies especially in relation to energy, to the atrophy of the public sector and spread of corruption, to media dishonesty, to mass unemployment of young men and on and on and on.”

So why isn’t it happening yet?
“Preconditions are not the same as precipitants. We are waiting for our Tunisian fruit seller. The public will endure great repression, especially when most media outlets and schools are actively aiding the repressive meme of ‘you are helpless, this is the order of things.’ When we have a scandal so powerful that it cannot be ignored by the average Briton or American, we will have a revolution that overturns the corrupt political systems in both countries, and perhaps puts many banks out of business. Vaclav Havel calls this ‘The Power of the Powerless.’ One spark, one massive fire.”

But we need more than revolution, in the sense of overthrow, to effect change, surely. How does your manifesto for ‘open source everything’ fit into this? “The west has pursued an industrialisation path that allows for the privatisation of wealth from the commons, along with the criminalisation of commons rights of the public, as well as the externalisation of all true costs. Never mind that fracking produces earthquakes and poisons aquifers – corrupt politicians at local, state or province, and national levels are all too happy to take money for looking the other way. Our entire commercial, diplomatic, and informational systems are now cancerous. When trade treaties have secret sections – or are entirely secret – one can be certain the public is being screwed and the secrecy is an attempt to avoid accountability. Secrecy enables corruption. So also does an inattentive public enable corruption.”

Is this a crisis of capitalism, then? Does capitalism need to end for us to resolve these problems? And if so, how? “Predatory capitalism is based on the privatisation of profit and the externalisation of cost. It is an extension of the fencing of the commons, of enclosures, along with the criminalisation of prior common customs and rights. What we need is a system that fully accounts for all costs. Whether we call that capitalism or not is irrelevant to me. But doing so would fundamentally transform the dynamic of present day capitalism, by making capital open source. For example, and as calculated by my colleague JZ Liszkiewicz, a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism.”

So what exactly do you mean by open source everything? “We have over 5 billion human brains that are the one infinite resource available to us going forward. Crowd-sourcing and cognitive surplus are two terms of art for the changing power dynamic between those at the top that are ignorant and corrupt, and those across the bottom that are attentive and ethical. The open source ecology is made up of a wide range of opens – open farm technology, open source software, open hardware, open networks, open money, open small business technology, open patents – to name just a few. The key point is that they must all develop together, otherwise the existing system will isolate them into ineffectiveness. Open data is largely worthless unless you have open hardware and open software. Open government demands open cloud and open spectrum, or money will dominate feeds and speeds.”

Robert Steele Robert Steele’s vision for open source systems On 1st May, Steele sent an open letter to US vice president Joe Biden requesting him to consider establishing an Open Source Agency that would transform the operation of the intelligence community, dramatically reduce costs, increasing oversight and accountability, while increasing access to the best possible information to support holistic policy-making. To date, he has received no response.

I’m not particularly surprised. Open source everything pretty much undermines everything the national security state stands for. Why bother even asking vice president Biden to consider it? “The national security state is rooted in secrecy as a means of avoiding accountability. My first book, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World – which by the way had a foreword from Senator David Boren, the immediate past chairman of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence – made it quite clear that the national security state is an expensive, ineffective monstrosity that is simply not fit for purpose. In that sense, the national security state is it’s own worst enemy – it’s bound to fail.”

Given his standing as an intelligence expert, Steele’s criticisms of US intelligence excesses are beyond scathing – they are damning. “Most of what is produced through secret methods is not actually intelligence at all. It is simply secret information that is, most of the time, rather generic and therefore not actually very useful for making critical decisions at a government level. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not prevented any terrorist incidents. CIA cannot even get the population of Syria correct and provides no intelligence – decision-support – to most cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, and department heads. Indeed General Tony Zinni, when he was commander in chief of the US Central Command as it was at war, is on record as saying that he received, ‘at best,’ a meagre 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods.”

So does open source mean you are calling for abolition of intelligence agencies as we know them, I ask. “I’m a former spy and I believe we still need spies and secrecy, but we need to redirect the vast majority of the funds now spent on secrecy toward savings and narrowly focused endeavors at home. For instance, utterly ruthless counterintelligence against corruption, or horrendous evils like paedophilia.

“Believe it or not, 95% of what we need for ethical evidence-based decision support cannot be obtained through the secret methods of standard intelligence practices. But it can be obtained quite openly and cheaply from academics, civil society, commerce, governments, law enforcement organisations, the media, all militaries, and non-governmental organisations. An Open Source Agency, as I’ve proposed it, would not just meet 95% of our intelligence requirements, it would do the same at all levels of government and carry over by enriching education, commerce, and research – it would create what I called in 1995 a ‘Smart Nation.’

“The whole point of Open Source Everything is to restore public agency. Open Source is the only form of information and information technology that is affordable to the majority, interoperable across all boundaries, and rapidly scalable from local to global without the curse of overhead that proprietary corporations impose.”

Robert Steele's graphic on open source systems thinking Robert Steele’s graphic on open source systems thinking It’s clear to me that when Steele talks about intelligence as ‘decision-support,’ he really does intend that we grasp “all information in all languages all the time” – that we do multidisciplinary research spanning centuries into the past as well as into the future. His most intriguing premise is that the 1% are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be. “The collective buying power of the five billion poor is four times that of the one billion rich according to the late Harvard business thinker Prof C. K. Prahalad – open source everything is about the five billion poor coming together to reclaim their collective wealth and mobilise it to transform their lives. There is zero chance of the revolution being put down. Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We’re there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting.”

The Arab spring analogy has its negatives. So far, there really isn’t much to root for. I want to know what’s to stop this revolution from turning into a violent, destructive mess. Steele is characteristically optimistic. “I have struggled with this question. What I see happening is an end to national dictat and the emergence of bottom-up clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. Individual towns across the USA are now nullifying federal and state regulations – for example gag laws on animal cruelty, blanket permissions for fracking. Those such as my colleague Parag Khanna that speak to a new era of city-states are correct in my view. Top down power has failed in a most spectacular manner, and bottom-up consensus power is emergent. ‘Not in my neighborhood’ is beginning to trump ‘Because I say so.’ The one unlimited resource we have on the planet is the human brain – the current strategy of 1% capitalism is failing because it is killing the Golden Goose at multiple levels. Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises. As Larry Summers lectured Elizabeth Warren, ‘insiders do not criticise insiders.'”

But how can activists actually start moving toward the open source vision now? “For starters, there are eight ‘tribes’ that among them can bring together all relevant information: academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. At every level from local to global, across every mission area, we need to create stewardship councils integrating personalities and information from all eight tribes. We don’t need to wait around for someone else to get started. All of us who recognise the vitality of this possibility can begin creating these new grassroots structures from the bottom-up, right now.”

So how does open source everything have the potential to ‘re-engineer the Earth’? For me, this is the most important question, and Steele’s answer is inspiring. “Open Source Everything overturns top-down ‘because I say so at the point of a gun’ power. Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power. Open Source Everything demands that true cost economics and the indigenous concept of ‘seventh generation thinking’ – how will this affect society 200 years ahead – become central. Most of our problems today can be traced to the ascendance of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism, all based on force and lies and encroachment on the commons. The national security state works for the City of London and Wall Street – both are about to be toppled by a combination of Eastern alternative banking and alternative international development capabilities, and individuals who recognise that they have the power to pull their money out of the banks and not buy the consumer goods that subsidise corruption and the concentration of wealth. The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now.”

For Steele, the open source revolution is inevitable, simply because the demise of the system presided over by the 1% cannot be stopped – and because the alternatives to reclaiming the commons are too dismal to contemplate. We have no choice but to step up.

“My motto, a play on the CIA motto that is disgraced every day, is ‘the truth at any cost lowers all other costs'”, he tells me. “Others wiser than I have pointed out that nature bats last. We are at the end of an era in which lies can be used to steal from the public and the commons. We are at the beginning of an era in which truth in public service can restore us all to a state of grace.”

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

could by it self may become He anticipates could be predicted that could become are expected to BULLSHIT,

via 22 Devastating Effects Of Climate Change, Including Tiny Horses | Business Insider.

Manifesto for Half-Arsed Agile Software Development

We have heard about new ways of developing software by
paying consultants and reading Gartner reports. Through
this we have been told to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

and we have mandatory processes and tools to control how those
individuals (we prefer the term ‘resources’) interact

Working software over comprehensive documentation

as long as that software is comprehensively documented

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

within the boundaries of strict contracts, of course, and subject to rigorous change control

Responding to change over following a plan

provided a detailed plan is in place to respond to the change, and it is followed precisely

That is, while the items on the left sound nice
in theory, we’re an enterprise company, and there’s
no way we’re letting go of the items on the right.

Manifesto for Half-Arsed Agile Software Development.

OR GROW UP, (WO)MAN UP, AND WORK WITH OTHERS LIKE YOU AND THEY ARE ADULTS.

As you know, Bob, I spend my Saturdays ranting opining here on TechCrunch, but I spend my work weeks writing software, building apps, sites, and services for the fine startup-to-Fortune-500 clients of the software consultancy HappyFunCorp. (Check out our spiffy new web site!) In that time I have learned many lessons from our clients…the hard way.

By which I mean: over the years I have seen far too many clients make disastrous mistakes. (Or at least try to. I’m pleased to report that we’ve often managed to talk them back onto the path of righteousness.) Below you’ll find a list of ten of the most common tragic client errors. I beseech you, clients of the future; please try to make new mistakes. These ones are getting a little old.

Names have been omitted to protect the guilty. We’re all friends here, right?

1. Premature Scaling Is The Root Of All Evil

Yes, scaling is both hard and important. Yes, your app/site/service needs to be built within a technical architecture that can scale…

…but you would be amazed how many clients focus an an enormous amount of their attention on whether it already does. Founders who haven’t even launched yet, convinced that their baby will instantly become the biggest thing since sliced bread, grow obsessed with whether their app can handle a million users, ten thousand concurrent … rather than, say, whether anyone who doesn’t personally know them will ever discover that the app exists, and how many of those people will install it, and how many of those people will use it, and how many of those people will use it regularly.

Dear clients: Focus on your product, not your stress tests. You don’t need to launch with a back-end API already built as a full-fledged service-oriented architecture ready to scale to an arbitrary number of users. A decently-architected app running on a scalable service (Heroku, App Engine, reasonably-set-up AWS, etc) can scale to quite a sizable number of users without too much effort. And if and when you start bursting the seams of that envelope, you know what, that’s a really awesome problem to have. That means you’ve already won the lottery, because you’ve proven that your app/site/service has mass appeal. If your app is reasonably well-designed, your eventual scaling problems will be solvable. If it isn’t, well, you’ll never get to that point in the first place, because…

2. Technical Debt Will Kill You

Clients often come to HFC because they’ve had a Minimum Viable Product built on the cheap and then discovered, the hard way, that this often means it’s a hornet’s nest of bug-ridden spaghetti code. You know what clients in that situation really don’t want to hear? “The best solution here is to scrap the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch.” You know what the truth is, 90% of the time? “The best solution here is to scrap the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch.”

Dear clients: if the expert engineers you have hired are telling you this, swallow hard, bite the bullet, and listen. We know you don’t want it to be true. We don’t want it to be true either. We want the code you bring us to be elegant and extensible so that we can build new cool stuff rather than reinvent the wheel so that this time it’s actually round, rather than pentagonal. But bad code is often so bad that rewriting it is easier than fixing it.

Also: you know all those times when we said, “Well, the clean and elegant solution to Issue X will take a little longer,” and you said, “I have a demo on Wednesday, just get it done now”? Every time that happened, you accrued a little bit more technical debt. If you don’t build in time for testing and maintenance — and if you don’t keep that time, no matter what happens to the schedule — you’ll just keep accruing more … and bugs will start popping up more frequently, and the pace of development will grow slower and slower, and you’ll very soon lose far more time than you gained by cheaping out on writing tests and refactoring old code.

Dear clients: a stitch in time really does save nine.

3. Google Doesn’t Care

I’ve had clients who wanted to keep all of their plans incredibly hush-hush, NDAs for anyone who so much as breathed the same air, for fear that their genius idea would be stolen. Dear clients: with rare exceptions, the broad strokes of your ideas don’t much matter. What matters is your execution.

I’ve had clients who were convinced they could get Apple or Facebook to change their app rules. (And, OK, one client that actually did, but they’re the exception which proves the rule.) I’ve had clients who didn’t want to host on App Engine because they were worried about lock-in — a risk, granted, but one of the more improbable among the panoply that startups face — but also because, believe it or not, they worried Google might steal their code or degrade their quality of service. (I’m very fond of App Engine, despite its idiosyncracies, because it usually makes both initial development, A/B testing, and subsequent scaling fast and very easy. Just ask Snapchat or Khan Academy, both of which are App-Engine-powered.)

I even had a client who refused to host their video-related iOS app on Google servers because Google owned YouTube and was therefore a direct competitor and not to be trusted. They wound up on AWS. Because it’s not like Amazon does video, right? Oh, wait…

Dear clients: you are not industry players, at least not yet. You will be lucky if any of the Stack behemoths pays any more attention to you than an elephant does to a flea.

Speaking of Stacks,

4. You Are Not A Platform

Platform. It’s a magical word. Everyone wants their app/site/service to one day be a platform. Unfortunately, this can lead people to believe that this is what they are in fact building.

With a few very rare exceptions, that is not how this works. You don’t build a platform; you build a product. You plant a seed. If the product is successful, if it gets better and better, and eventually grows into a tree, then maybe you can turn that tree into a platform. Not before.

Dear clients: stop adding platform features — in fact, stop adding features full stop — and start removing them. Seeds need to be small in order to take root and grow.

5. Stop Trying To Make Viral Happen

I know, I know. You have it all figured out. You just need to get a few people to start using your app, and they’ll tell a few friends, and they’ll tell a few friends, and so on, and so on, and voila, you’re the new WhatsApp. Right?

And hey, you know what? Something like that just might happen. Some of the apps we’ve built for our clients are genuinely pretty great. But do you know the only reason why it might happen? Because your app is cool or useful. Do you know one reason it might not happen? If you keep reminding your users to log in with Facebook, or share with Twitter, or pin to Pinterest, over and over again. Such demands are neither cool nor useful.

Dear clients: yes, you do want to make it easy for users to share. But if your app doesn’t go viral, it’s almost certainly because it isn’t useful/good/fun enough, rather than because it doesn’t have a sufficient density of prompts to share. You don’t want to obnoxiously pester your users with calls to action. Furthermore, if “going viral” is your only marketing plan…

6. Have A Map Of The Valley Of Despair

Y Combinator calls it the “trough of sorrow.” I prefer “Valley of Despair” (well, actually, I prefer “Bog of Eternal Stench“, but nobody else at HFC does.) It’s what happens in the weeks and months after you launch, when the surge of interest and adrenaline from the initial press and email blasts wears itself out, and you’re left with nobody but your baseline regular users … who may well number in the mere hundreds.

There are a million-plus apps already available in the App Store and Google Play, and, to quote Fred Wilson, “Not only do we have a rich get richer dynamic in mobile apps, but we also are witnessing a maturing market consolidating.” It’s never been harder for an app to become a breakout hit. It’s also never been more lucrative … but that’s scant consolation if you don’t make it.

Dear clients: know your market, and have a marketing plan other than “launch and go viral” — and talk to us about it.

7. Stop Trying To Be The NSA

You would be amazed how much time and effort clients put into analytics. Adding ever more events to track, ever more values to measure, heat maps, demographic breakdowns, elaborate custom-built reporting interfaces, a dashboard for every occasion, you name it. Is Google Analytics good enough? Should we use Flurry? How about Mixpanel? New Relic? (OK, New Relic is actually pretty cool.) Does iTunes Connect have an API we can use to download that data hourly? And we have to have our users log in via Facebook, so we can get their demographics, and their interests, and their friend graphs!

Now, granted if you have a good reason to analyze all this data — and if you have users who are actually, you know, generating it for you, and your privacy policy is clear and upfront — then it can indeed be incredibly valuable. But all too many clients don’t actually know what they want to learn from their analytics. Instead they take the NSA’s approach: “collect it all and look at it later.” This is a mistake.

Dear clients: I know Big Data is the phrase of the era, but you won’t get valuable insights from just collecting the maximal amount of analytical data and then randomly browsing through it in an ad-hoc manner whenever the mood strikes you. You need to figure out in advance what your key metrics are, what it is you actually want to measure. Stop trying to replace “asking the right questions” with “throwing more unwanted answers onto an already huge pile of analytical noise.” Instead, start defining exactly what it is you want to learn from your analytics.

8. Stop Managing By Crisis

Project management is a fine art, and a lot of clients are new to it. I do understand, and greatly sympathize; they’re taking a risk, they want results, they want them as fast as possible, and they don’t fully understand when engineers tell them about the unforeseen problems which inevitably arise. They just want it to work, dammit. A noble goal.

But there’s a particular kind of vicious managerial cycle which I’ve seen happen a few times. A client pushes the panic button, instigating crisis mode; engineers (and designers) respond, because hey, it’s a fire drill; and then the client, noting how that big red button got results, just keeps pushing it over and over again, whether or not there’s an actual crisis … without really noticing how the results keep diminishing, because nobody can work in crisis mode all the time, and after a few weeks it loses all meaning and begins to just breed resentment.

Dear clients: save the big red button for real crises. If things seem to be wandering down the wrong trail, or moving too slowly, just sit down and have an honest and open conversation about your concerns. You’d be surprised how effective that is, and what you might learn from such a discussion.

9. Let It Go (For Enterprise Clients)

I don’t need to write this point because someone else already has: I give you the brilliant Half-Arsed Agile Manifesto.

Dear clients: if you work for a hidebound bureaucratic large company, and you’re hiring an agile software consultancy, read this. And cringe.

10. How To Report A Bug

OK, this may sound like a mere pet peeve. And it probably is one. But it’s one which has consumed an enormous amount of my time over the years.

Dear clients: when you are reporting a bug to an engineer, never ever ever say “it doesn’t work” or “it’s broken” or the like. Instead, use the form “when I did X, I expected Y, but got Z” — and then specify X, Y, and Z in reasonable (or even unreasonable) detail.

Postscript

Dear clients: we like you, and we genuinely admire you, and we think your idea is excellent and could be big. We really do, or we wouldn’t be working with you. We want you to succeed almost as much as you do. Help us help you, and avoid making these mistakes, or at least open your mind to the possibility that they might be mistakes — and you will maximize your chance of success. I solemnly swear this in the name of Knuth.

Image credit: Pixabay, public domain.

 

Dear Clients, Please Stop: Ten Ways Founders Sabotage Themselves | TechCrunch.

THE ACTUAL DECISION HERE

James Ryan, dean of Harvard University’s graduate school of education, said the verdict “will likely cause lawyers in other states to think about bringing similar suits.” But he pointed out that the decision explicitly called on the state Legislature to fix the unconstitutional statues at issue. As a result, there will likely be “back-and-forth” between the Legislature and courts for many years to come.

Silicon Valley mogul David F. Welch, founder of an optical-telecommunications firm, who created Students Matter, an advocacy group, to challenge teachers unions in California. Welch pumped several million dollars into the effort. Students Matter is considering similar lawsuits in New York, Connecticut and other states with teacher job protections similar to those in California, Boutrous said.

The court found that the nine student plaintiffs and their team had proven both of their points. One, that California’s laws directly cause students to be unreasonably exposed to grossly ineffective teachers. And two, that poor and minority students, in particular, are saddled with those teachers. The ruling was so complete that the judge declared every state law in question unconstitutional:

-California teachers are permitted to earn lifetime employment after a mere 18 months in class, well before they could truly earn that status or even be properly evaluated for it. The upshot, said the judge, is that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reasons (let alone a compelling one) disadvantaged.”

-The dismissal process for grossly ineffective teachers in California is so complex and costly that it does not work; many districts do not even bother trying. That leaves thousands of underperforming teachers knowingly remaining in front of students. The judge blasted the system as so problematic that it turned dismissal into an illusion.

-California’s “last-in, first-out” law gives top priority in a time of layoffs to ineffective teachers if they have seniority while better teachers with fewer years are sent packing. The judge called that a lose-lose situation, supported by logic that was “unfathomable.”

Now what? In California, the ruling is on hold pending appeal, but the precedent has been set.

The Vergara case reflects just the start of opportunities for action in other states, where many leaders are searching for better ways to evaluate teachers.

California school districts employ roughly 280,000 full-time equivalent teachers, and the average annual teacher’s salary is just under $70,000.

In 37 states, including New York, states still make decisions on whether to grant tenure — protected employment — to teachers in three years or less.

In 33 states — again, including New York — states do not consider classroom performance in deciding which teachers go in a systemwide layoff. Instead of merit, they favor length of service.

And in 38 states, the cumbersome teacher dismissal process allows multiple appeals. This is not due process; it is an undue burden on those trying to protect teacher quality. And it can be dangerous. In New York, even teachers accused of sexual misconduct have stayed on the job.

It would be no surprise to see parents in New York and elsewhere take the cue of the Vergara plaintiffs and take matters into their own hands. It is empowering to know the courts can help.

“This is a huge deal,” said Sandi Jacobs, a policy director for the National Council on Teacher Quality, a privately funded group that aims to change states’ teacher-employment policies. “This has a huge ripple effect nationally in telling policy makers that policies that harm students can be challenged,” said Ms. Jacobs, who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs in the case.

Ms. Jacobs’s group points to Florida, Indiana and Colorado as having what it considers to be best-practice policies where classroom performance is a “top criterion” to be considered in layoff decisions.

It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.

DESPITE the earthquakes of reform that have rattled public education in recent years, there are parts of the system that still resemble “The Lost World”, where prehistoric creatures still roam. A long-standing demand of education reformers has been that it should be easier for schools to fire bad teachers. The terms in many teacher contracts forbid this. Most schools when making cuts are forced to fire the newest teachers rather than the worst ones—a policy is better known as “last in, first out”. The result is that a lot of bad (and often expensive) teachers linger in the system.

Having lousy teachers is terrible for children and their future prospects. Pupils assigned to better teachers are more likely to go to college and earn decent salaries, and are less likely to be teenage mothers, according to work published in 2011. If teachers in grades 4 to 8 are ranked according to ability, and the bottom 5% are replaced with teachers of average quality, a class’s cumulative lifetime income is raised by $250,000. Bill Gates once pointed out that if every child had mathematics teachers as good as those in the top quartile, the achievement gap between America and Asia would vanish in two years.

Owing to the glut of studies showing that teacher quality is more important than a classroom’s size, income level or access to high-tech wizardry, 18 states and Washington, DC, now require tenure decisions to be “informed” by measures of whether a teacher is any good. Fifteen states and DC are using teacher efficacy as a factor in deciding whom to lay off. And in 23 states teachers can now be sacked if their evaluations are unsatisfactory.

California, though, was one of these Jurassic Lost Worlds where the dinosaurs of the teaching world still roared. Its mighty teachers’ unions helped it withstand change. But thanks to a lawsuit brought by Students Matter, an advocacy group formed by David Welch, a rich entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, all this may now change. Mr Welch (with the help of some extremely expensive lawyers) has just won a case challenging teacher tenure, and a Los Angeles court has now ruled that job protections are unconstitutional. The court struck down five teacher-tenure laws.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of nine schoolchildren, concentrated on three areas: teacher tenure, dismissal procedures and the seniority rules. The plaintiffs had argued that the rules resulted in grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment, and these teachers were disproportionately in schools serving low-income and minority students. The judge said this violated fundamental rights to equal education. “There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms,” he said, adding that “the evidence is compelling. Indeed it shocks the conscience.”

Implementation of the ruling has been stayed pending appeals. The California Teachers Association has promised a fight. Teachers complain that they can now be fired on unreasonable grounds, and they have criticised the circumvention of the legislative process. But Mr Welch has said he felt obliged to go through the courts after watching union-backed Democrats repeatedly resist attempts at reform. From the start he and his allies were keen to frame the case as a defence of children’s civil rights, not an attack on teachers. John Deasy, the superintendent of the Los Angeles school district, compared the denial of adequate education to ethnic-minority children to the refusal of café owners to serve coffee to black students over 50 years ago.

This decision is one for the history books, says the National Council on Teacher Quality, a reformist research group. Even Mr Welch’s legal team sounded surprised at the scale of their victory.

The ruling will affect one in eight public-school children in America, thanks to the size of California’s education system, and could resonate well beyond the Golden State. As the NCTQ announced, “this landmark case should put states across the country on notice: policies that are not in the best interest of students cannot stand.” Roars of approval all around.

The case began with courageous students, because they had to endure the nightmare: grossly incompetent teachers, mainly in poor and minority schools, protected by state laws. And when the court ruling thundered down Tuesday, the impact was profoundly clear: Students, you win.

Sweeping and unambiguous, the outcome of Vergara v. California is more than one decision in one big state, although even that much is significant given the shudders it will cause. It is an indictment of laws in any state that protect inferior teachers at the expense of students — and a powerful inspiration for other families nationwide who will turn to the courts out of desperation.

It is precisely because of its spillover national implications that this case has had so many people watching, and they all just became witnesses to history. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu said the evidence of the deleterious effect of ineffective teachers on students is so compelling that it “shocks the conscience” — a line that instantly gave voice to countless parents.

The court found that the nine student plaintiffs and their team had proven both of their points. One, that California’s laws directly cause students to be unreasonably exposed to grossly ineffective teachers. And two, that poor and minority students, in particular, are saddled with those teachers. The ruling was so complete that the judge declared every state law in question unconstitutional:

-California teachers are permitted to earn lifetime employment after a mere 18 months in class, well before they could truly earn that status or even be properly evaluated for it. The upshot, said the judge, is that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reasons (let alone a compelling one) disadvantaged.”

-The dismissal process for grossly ineffective teachers in California is so complex and costly that it does not work; many districts do not even bother trying. That leaves thousands of underperforming teachers knowingly remaining in front of students. The judge blasted the system as so problematic that it turned dismissal into an illusion.

-California’s “last-in, first-out” law gives top priority in a time of layoffs to ineffective teachers if they have seniority while better teachers with fewer years are sent packing. The judge called that a lose-lose situation, supported by logic that was “unfathomable.”

Now what? In California, the ruling is on hold pending appeal, but the precedent has been set.

The Vergara case reflects just the start of opportunities for action in other states, where many leaders are searching for better ways to evaluate teachers.

In 37 states, including New York, states still make decisions on whether to grant tenure — protected employment — to teachers in three years or less.

In 33 states — again, including New York — states do not consider classroom performance in deciding which teachers go in a systemwide layoff. Instead of merit, they favor length of service.

And in 38 states, the cumbersome teacher dismissal process allows multiple appeals. This is not due process; it is an undue burden on those trying to protect teacher quality. And it can be dangerous. In New York, even teachers accused of sexual misconduct have stayed on the job.

It would be no surprise to see parents in New York and elsewhere take the cue of the Vergara plaintiffs and take matters into their own hands. It is empowering to know the courts can help.

It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.

Brown is former anchor for CNN and NBC and and founder of Parents’ Transparency Project, an education advocacy group.

Calling it a landmark decision, lawyers for the plaintiffs said that California was just the start of a planned effort to knock down tenure in a state-by-state campaign across the country. Those who have opposed tenure — from both the right and the left — have long said that the protection is an impediment to stronger U.S. education because it keeps bad teachers in the nation’s classrooms. Tuesday’s decision could mark a new front in national education reform, with attacks on tenure moving into the courtroom.

“This is going to be the beginning of a series of these lawsuits that could fix many of the problems in education systems nationwide,” said plaintiffs attorney Theodore Boutrous, who was joined in the effort against tenure by former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson. The same legal team won a U.S. Supreme Court victory that allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California. “We’re going to roll them out to other jurisdictions.”

Boutrous and Olson were among several prominent lawyers hired by Silicon Valley mogul David F. Welch, founder of an optical-telecommunications firm, who created Students Matter, an advocacy group, to challenge teachers unions in California. Welch pumped several million dollars into the effort. Students Matter is considering similar lawsuits in New York, Connecticut and other states with teacher job protections similar to those in California, Boutrous said.

The ruling was a serious blow to labor unions, whose core mission is to protect teachers’ jobs. The judge issued a stay pending an appeal by the unions, and a final resolution could take years.

John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and a witness for the plaintiffs, called it a “historic day.”

“We can rectify a catastrophe,” Deasy said. “We can and will and must assure that children have the most effective teachers in their classrooms every day. Not some children, not most children, not even nearly all children. But all children.”

Labor leaders said the case is part of a broad assault on unions, as government workers make up more than half of the nation’s union membership.

“Let’s be clear: This lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education,” Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, said in a statement.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the lawsuit focused on the relatively small pool of “grossly ineffective” teachers — estimated at 1 percent to 3 percent of California’s 275,000 teachers — and ignores other factors that affect the quality of education, especially for poor children.

“It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children,” Weingarten said.

Tenure and related employment laws in California protect teachers from arbitrary firings, reward experienced teachers and make teaching an appealing career option, Van Roekel said. The ruling will make it more difficult to attract and retain high-quality teachers, he said.

But the plaintiffs argued that California’s laws make it too difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers, costing districts as much as $450,000 in each instance and taking 10 years in one case, according to one trial witness.

In a 16-page ruling, in the case of Vergara v. California, Treu struck down three state laws as unconstitutional. The laws grant tenure to teachers after two years, require layoffs by seniority, and call for a complex and lengthy process before a teacher can be fired.

Treu said the evidence presented at trial “is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

Defendants in the case, including Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and other state officials, were joined by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.

In many ways, the case was a proxy fight for some of the national conflicts over the teaching profession.

Backing Welch were some of the most incendiary players in the fight over the future of public schools, including Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington who got rid of tenure in the District in 2009 and went on to form an advocacy group aimed at eliminating it across the country.

“It is my hope that this movement continues on the national stage for all of our students,” said Rhee, who is now chief executive of Students First.

For the unions, the ruling poses a serious threat to tenure, which was first adopted by New Jersey in 1909 to protect teachers from firings on the basis of race, pregnancy, politics or other arbitrary factors.

It figures that New Jersey would be the cause of this fucking mess.  A shit state filled with shitheads that all have their heads up their assess!

The California unions have staved off attempts to change the laws through the legislature, leading Welch to try through the courts.

Welch used a novel civil rights approach, arguing that poor and minority students in California are being denied their right under the state constitution to equal access to public education because they are more likely than affluent white students to be taught by “grossly ineffective” teachers.

Under the laws struck down by the court, school districts have about 18 months after a teacher is hired to award tenure. That is not enough time to make a valid decision, the judge found, noting that California is one of only five states with a period of two years or less. Thirty two states have a three-year period and nine states have four- or five-year periods. Four states have no tenure system.

The complaint also attacked seniority rules and “last in, first out” policies, which say the newest teachers are the first to be laid off when jobs are cut, regardless of performance.

Since 2010, Republican governors and legislatures have been trying to eliminate or weaken teacher tenure laws. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and a potential Republican presidential candidate who heads an education foundation, applauded the ruling, saying “its impact will be felt well beyond California.”

Some Democrats also joined in cheering Tuesday’s verdict.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), an old-school liberal and the top Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, suggested that the anti-tenure movement ought to spread beyond California. “It is not only Californians who should celebrate today’s decision, but families in every state and school district across the country,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, school districts nationwide have policies in place that mirror those challenged in Vergara. . . . This is simply indefensible. Today’s ruling puts every school with similar policies on notice.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan also criticized tenure laws.

“The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students,” Duncan said in a statement.

A historic victory for America’s kids  – NY Daily News.

y Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer
Published: 06/05/2014 02:46 PM EDT on LiveScience

Many people think that smoking pot is harmless, but there’s good evidence that the drug has at least some negative effects on health, a new review says.

 

Some people who smoke marijuana can become addicted, and use of the drug in the teen years has been linked with abnormalities in certain brain areas important for learning and memory, the review said. And even the immediate short-term effects of the marijuana, such as impaired thinking and coordination, can have consequences, including difficulty in learning in school and an increased risk of car accidents, the review said.

 

Regular marijuana smokers are also more likely than nonsmokers to have symptoms of chronic bronchitis, such as daily cough and phlegm production.

 

But whether the drug has long-lasting effects on cognition in adults remains controversial, with some studies suggesting the effects are persistent, and others saying the effects may be reversible, said Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who wrote the review along with her colleagues. More research is needed on this topic to provide a definitive answer, she said. [Trippy Tales: The History of 8 Hallucinogens]

 

Legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, still account for a greater burden of disease than marijuana, but this is because legal drugs are more accessible, and thus more widely used, not necessarily more dangerous, Volkow said.

 

“As policy shifts toward legalization of marijuana, it is reasonable and probably prudent to hypothesize that [marijuana] use will increase and that, by extension, so will the number of persons for whom there will be negative health consequence,” the researchers wrote in the June 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

Here are a few more highlights from the review:

 

  • Despite the popular belief that the marijuana is not addicting, about 9 percent of those who experiment with the drug, and up to 50 percent who use it every day, will become addicted.
  • Smoking marijuana in the teen years is linked with brain abnormalities, such as fewer neural fibers in certain brain areas, decreased brain activity and a smaller hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. These studies show an association, and cannot prove that marijuana is the cause of the brain abnormalities, or that the abnormalities are harmful. Still, one study found that people who used marijuana heavily as teens had IQ scores that were 8 points lower, on average, than those who didn’t use the drug.
  • People who use marijuana are at greater risk of abusing other drugs later in life, suggesting that marijuana maybe a “gateway drug.” However, it could be that people who are more susceptible to drug use in general tend to start with marijuana because it is more accessible, and then move on to other drugs.
  • In people who are genetically at risk for schizophrenia, smoking marijuana is linked with an increased risk of developing the condition. However, its possible factors other than marijuana are responsible for the link.
  • A person’s risk of a car accident doubles if that individual drives shortly after smoking marijuana.
  • It’s not clear whether smoking marijuana increases the risk of lung cancer compared with people who don’t smoke, but studies suggest that the risk of lung cancer is lower in marijuana smokers than in tobacco smokers.

More research is needed on the ways in which government policies on marijuana affect public health, the researchers said. For example, it’s not known if legalizing pot will lead to an increase in car accidents or an increase in the number of teens who use the drug, Volkow said.

 

The researchers noted that the potency of marijuana has increased over the last few decades — from about 3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient of marijuana) in 1980, to 12 percent in 2012. Because older studies were based on lower-potency marijuana, it’s possible that more-harmful health effects may occur with today’s marijuana.

 

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. FollowLive Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

 

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ]]>

 

Here’s What We Know So Far About How Marijuana Affects Health.

When Food Isn’t Enough: Gut Bugs Affect Malnutrition, Too, Study Finds – NBC News.com.

Does exercise reduce the risk of obesity by boosting levels of good bacteria in the gut? | Mail Online.

PITTSBURGH — Trauma patients arriving at an emergency room here after sustaining a gunshot or knife wound may find themselves enrolled in a startling medical experiment.

Surgeons will drain their blood and replace it with freezing saltwater. Without heartbeat and brain activity, the patients will be clinically dead.

And then the surgeons will try to save their lives.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have begun a clinical trial that pushes the boundaries of conventional surgery — and, some say, medical ethics.

By inducing hypothermia and slowing metabolism in dying patients, doctors hope to buy valuable time in which to mend the victims’ wounds.

But scientists have never tried anything like this in humans, and the unconscious patients will not be able to consent to the procedure. Indeed, the medical center has been providing free bracelets to be worn by skittish citizens here who do not want to participate should they somehow wind up in the E.R.

“This is ‘Star Wars’ stuff,” said Dr. Thomas M. Scalea, a trauma specialist at the University of Maryland. “If you told people we would be doing this a few years ago, they’d tell you to stop smoking whatever you’re smoking, because you’ve clearly lost your mind.”

Photo

At normal body temperatures, surgeons have less than five minutes to restore blood flow before brain damage occurs. Credit University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Submerged in a frozen lake or stowed away in the wheel well of a jumbo jet at 38,000 feet, people can survive for hours with little or no oxygen if their bodies are kept cold. In the 1960s, surgeons in Siberia began putting babies in snow banks before heart surgery to improve their chances of survival.

Patients are routinely cooled before surgical procedures that involve stopping the heart. But so-called therapeutic hypothermia has never been tried in patients when the injury has already occurred, and until now doctors have never tried to replace a patient’s blood entirely with cold saltwater.

In their trial, funded by the Department of Defense, doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will be performing the procedure only on patients who arrive at the E.R. with “catastrophic penetrating trauma” and who have lost so much blood that they have gone into cardiac arrest.

At normal body temperatures, surgeons typically have less than five minutes to restore blood flow before brain damage occurs.

“In these situations, less than one in 10 survive,” said Dr. Samuel A. Tisherman, the lead researcher of the study. “We want to give people better odds.”

Dr. Tisherman and his team will insert a tube called a cannula into the patient’s aorta, flushing the circulatory system with a cold saline solution until body temperature falls to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As the patient enters a sort of suspended animation, without vital signs, the surgeons will have perhaps one hour to repair the injuries before brain damage occurs.

After the operation, the team will use a heart-lung bypass machine with a heat exchanger to return blood to the patient. The blood will warm the body gradually, which should circumvent injuries that can happen when tissue is suddenly subjected to oxygen after a period of deprivation.

If the procedure works, the patient’s heart should resume beating when body temperature reaches 85 to 90 degrees. But regaining consciousness may take several hours or several days.

Dr. Tisherman and his colleagues plan to try the technique on 10 subjects, then review the data, consider changes in their approach, and enroll another 10. For every patient who has the operation, there will be a control subject for comparison.

The experiment officially began in April and the surgeons predict they will see about one qualifying patient a month.

It may take a couple of years to complete the study. Citing the preliminary nature of the research, Dr. Tisherman declined to say whether he and his colleagues had already operated on a patient.

Each time they do, they will be stepping into a scientific void. Ethicists say it’s reasonable to presume most people would want to undergo the experimental procedure when the alternative is almost certain death. But no one can be sure of the outcome.

“If this works, what they’ve done is suspended people when they are dead and then brought them back to life,” said Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University. “There’s a grave risk that they won’t bring the person back to cognitive life but in a vegetative state.”

But researchers at a number of institutions say they have perfected the technique, known as Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation, or E.P.R., in experimental surgeries on hundreds of dogs and pigs over the last decade.

As many as 90 percent of the animals have survived in recent studies, most without discernible cognitive impairment — after the procedure, the dogs and pigs remembered old tricks and were able to learn new ones.

“From a scientific standpoint, we now know the nuts and bolts and that it works,” said Dr. Hasan B. Alam, chief of general surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center, who has helped perfect the technique in pigs.

“It’s a little unsettling if you think of all the what ifs, but it’s the same every time you push into new frontiers,” he added. “You have to look at risk and balance it against benefits.”

Trauma accounts for more years of life lost than cancer and heart disease combined, and it is the leading cause of death in people up to age 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surgeons are eager for new techniques that would help better the odds in emergency situations. Black males are disproportionately victims of homicide, especially gun violence, and most of the patients likely to fit the study criteria in Pittsburgh are African-American males, according to officials at the medical center.

In order to obtain an exemption to federal informed consent rules, the hospital held two town hall meetings on the university campus, placed advertisements on buses, and made sure the news got in newspapers catering to minority readers.

Officials posted information about the study on a website, acutecareresearch.org, and conducted a phone survey in the neighborhoods most at risk for “involuntary enrollment” in the trial. Still, a taxi driver, grocery clerk and security guard — all African-American men approached at random — said they had never heard of the trial, though they work within a couple of miles of the hospital.

They also did not object. “I don’t have a problem with it, if it saves lives,” said Charles Miller, a 52-year-old security guard.

Just 14 people have so far requested “No E.P.R.” bracelets, according to the medical center.

Nearly a half-dozen trauma hospitals may join the trial and begin testing the hypothermia procedure on dying patients, including the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Dr. Scalea, who will head the effort there, said he hoped to receive final regulatory approval by the end of the year.

He recalled a recent stabbing victim who died on his operating table.

“He might have lived if we could have cooled him down,” Dr. Scalea said.

 

Killing a Patient to Save His Life – NYTimes.com.

Does exercise reduce the risk of obesity by boosting levels of good bacteria in the gut? | Mail Online.

Killing a Patient to Save His Life – NYTimes.com.

Get some Charisma and run the world!

The Charisma Myth: Workbook and Audio Files | Olivia Fox Cabane.

Following is a list of peroxynitrite scavengers containing methoxy and hydroxy groups that have partially reversed Alzheimer’s disease in human clinical trials: rosemary essential oil (eugenol) and lemon essential oil (geraniol) via aromatherapy (Jimbo, et al.–lavender and orange were used in the evenings for relaxation), heat-processed ginseng (ferulic acid, vanillic acid, and syringic acid) (Heo, et al.), lemon balm essential oil extract (eugenol, ferulic acid) (Akhondzadeh et al.), citrus peel (hesperidin) (Seki, et al.), and mulberry leaves (ferulic acid, vanillic, syringic, and sinapic acid) (Scrihaikul).

Perhaps there is a chemist out there who can add or rearrange the methoxy and hdyroxy groups to produce even better results. If he or she can, good fortune to them and to all those with Alzheimer’s disease or taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

via Update on Bexarotene for Alzheimer’s. In the Pipeline:.

Destructive plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients have been rapidly cleared by researchers testing a cancer drug on mice.

The US study, published in the journal Science, reported the plaques were broken down at “unprecedented” speed.

Tests also showed an improvement in some brain function.

Specialists said the results were promising, but warned that successful drugs in mice often failed to work in people.

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, but one of the leading theories involves the formation of clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid. These damage and kill brain cells, eventually resulting in memory problems and the inability to think clearly.

Clearing protein plaques is a major focus of Alzheimer’s research and drugs are already being tested in human clinical trials.

In the body, the role of removing beta-amyloid falls to apolipoprotein E – or ApoE. However, people have different versions of the protein. Having the ApoE4 genetic variant is one of the biggest risk factors for developing the disease.

Helping hand

Scientists at the Case Western Reserve University in Ohio were investigating ways of boosting levels of ApoE, which in theory should reduce levels of beta-amyloid.

They tested bexarotene, which has been approved for use to treat cancers in the skin, on mice with an illness similar to Alzheimer’s.

Brain plaque Plaques, in brown, form around brain cells, in blue, which kills parts of the brain

After one dose in young mice, the levels of beta-amyloid in the brain were “rapidly lowered” within six hours and a 25% reduction was sustained for 70 hours.

In older mice with established amyloid plaques, seven days of treatment halved the number of plaques in the brain.

The study said there were improvements in brain function after treatment, in nest building, maze performance and remembering electrical shocks.

Researchers Paige Cramer said: “This is an unprecedented finding. Previously, the best existing treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in mice required several months to reduce plaque in the brain.”

In people?

The research is at a very early stage, and drugs often do not make the leap from animal experiment to human treatment.

Fellow researcher Prof Gary Landreth said the study was “particularly exciting and rewarding” and held the “potential promise of a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease”.

However, he stressed that the drug had been tested in only three “mouse models” which simulate the early stages of the disease and are not Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia
  • Symptoms include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning
  • No one single factor has been identified as a cause for Alzheimer’s disease – a combination of factors, including age, genes, environment, lifestyle and general health are implicated
  • Source: Alzheimer’s Society

He warned people not to “try this at home”, as the drug had not been proven to work in Alzheimer’s patients and there was no indication of what any dose should be.

“We need to be clear, the drug works quite well in mouse models of the disease. Our next objective is to ascertain if it acts similarly in humans,” he said.

His group is preparing to start trials in a small group of people to see if there is a similar effect in humans.

The disease is likely to become more common as people live longer. The Alzheimer’s Society predicts the number of people with dementia will reach a million by 2021 in the UK alone.

Start Quote

There are a number of drugs in development that aim to clear amyloid from the brain, and the jury is still out on whether this approach will be successful as a treatment for Alzheimer’s”

Dr Simon Ridley Alzheimer’s Research UK

Its research manager, Dr Anne Corbett, said: “This exciting study could be the beginning of a journey towards a potential new way to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

“However, this is very early days. People with Alzheimer’s should not rush to get this drug, as we need much more research to establish if it has benefits for humans.”

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the findings were “promising” but any effect was still unproven in people.

“There are a number of drugs in development that aim to clear amyloid from the brain, and the jury is still out on whether this approach will be successful as a treatment for Alzheimer’s.”

David Allsop, professor of neuroscience at Lancaster University, said: “I would say that the results should be treated with cautious optimism.

“It looks promising in the mouse model but in recent years, these types of experiments in mice have not translated well into humans.”

 

BBC News – Alzheimer’s brain plaques ‘rapidly cleared’ in mice.

(NaturalNews) Everyone argues from time to time, whether it is with friends, family, or neighbors. While these arguments can be stressful, few people think about the health risks that may be involved if they continue to engage in these arguments. A new study has found that arguing with others frequently may increase the risk of early death.

The study was conducted by a research team from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. In the past, similar studies have indicated that good social relationships with others can have a positive effect on a patient’s health and well-being. In this study, Dr. Rikke Lund and his team hoped to expand on this previous research and determine whether or not stressful social relationships could call early mortality.

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, the study analyzed 9,875 women and men between the ages of 36 and 52. These individuals had participated in the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health. They were questioned on their everyday social relationships, focusing particularly on those relationships that caused worry or conflict. They then tracked the health of the participants from 2000 to 2011 using the Danish Cause of Death Registry.

When the study reached its end, 226 of the men and 196 of the women had died. While about half of those deaths were from cancer, the remaining deaths were from illness such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease, suicide, and accidents. Of the participants, 10 percent reported that their children or partners often required excessive demands or were the frequent cause of worry. Another six percent said their more extended family caused worry or made excessive demands while another two percent said this about their friends.

The researchers estimated that a participant’s risk of death increased by 50 to 100 percent when children or partners caused frequent worry or made excessive demands. When the researchers then studied how arguing frequently impacted the participant’s mortality, they found that when participants argued frequently with anyone in their social circle their risk of death doubled or tripled. They were surprised to find these effects were so strong.

The researchers believe that this may be due to the fact that those who have conflict-filled family relationships may have a lower tendency to seek medical treatment, which increases their risk of mortality. They also noted that increased levels of stress are associated with risk factors such as high blood pressure, increased cortisol, higher inflammation levels and risk of angina.

Three reasons why we argue

Delusions of being right

Being wrong is simply intolerable for so many of us. It seems we’d rather disappear from the earth than admit that we made a mistake or a moral error. Forget that. We’ll defend our righteousness until the end!

Interestingly, being wrong is one of the more common experiences that anyone can have. We constantly make errors in judgment, miscalculations, oversights, mistakes and often betray what we know deep down is the right thing to do. There isn’t a perfect person on this planet. Therefore, defending ourselves is a massive set up for interpersonal conflict. Others can often see clearly when you are in the wrong. And they – in one way or another – want to hold you accountable.

And you know the rest of the story.

Emotional insistence on the impossible

Not many people in the psychology and personal development are discussing insistence, but it plays a major role in stressful relationships. Emotional insistence happens when you want to change the impossible – or what you have no control over. It manifests in imperatives:

You’re my wife! You should understand.
You’re my husband. You have to agree with me.
You’re my kid. You have to become a doctor.
He’s my brother, so he should be my friend. We must get along.

And so on. We insist that things be a certain way when, in reality, there are never likely to become so. The insistence on the impossible (or extremely unlikely) leads to conflict, grudges, stress and despair.

The magic of blaming

In an instant of blame, you make all your problems someone else’s fault. So, even if you’re life is a wreck, at least you maintain your innocence.

Of course, your problems remain forever out of your control when you believe they originate outside of you. And, as you well know, other people don’t take kindly to being blamed. They usually just blame right back and now you’ve got another argument on your hands.

What they all have in common

All three of these reasons share a common thread. Each of the above patterns invites rejection into your life. When you chronically blame, insist on the impossible and delude yourself with your own righteousness, you set yourself up to be chronically rejected.

When that rejection comes; when people don’t take kindly to you, it often fuels further blame, insistence and self-righteousness. And the cycle breeds conflict and tension in relationships continues. This is self-sabotage. According to the study, it will take years off your life.

If you see yourself somewhere in the article, it is crucial that you put a stop to this cycle of self-sabotage and invite some peace into your life. To learn how self-sabotage works against you and how to stop it, watch this enlightening free video.

If you like this article, then like my Facebook Page to keep up with all my writing.

About the author:
Watch the free video The AHA! Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.

The information in this video has been called the missing link in mental health and personal development. In a world full of shallow, quick-fix techniques, second rate psychology and pharmaceutical takeovers, real solutions have become nearly impossible to find. Click here to watch the presentation that will turn your world upside down.

Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center and host of Mental Health Exposed, a Natural News Radio program.

This common communication habit doubles your risk of early death – NaturalNews.com.

Fasting for three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable.”

Although fasting diets have been criticized by nutritionists, research suggests that starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing more white blood cells, which fight off infection.

Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for those suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune systems become less effective.

The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” that prompts stem cells to create white blood cells, essentially restoring the immune system.

“It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” said Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the university.

“And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

‘Fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system’

Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of immune system cells.

In trials, volunteers were asked to fast regularly for between two and four days over a six-month period. Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic [formation of stem cells] system,” added Longo. “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.

‘There is no evidence at all that fasting would be dangerous while there is strong evidence that it is beneficial’

“What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back.”

Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy.

“The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital.

Referring to the 72-hour fasting period, Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said: “That could be potentially useful because that is not such a long time that it would be terribly harmful to someone with cancer. But I think the most sensible way forward would be to synthesize this effect with drugs. I am not sure fasting is the best idea. People are better eating on a regular basis.”

Longo added: “There is no evidence at all that fasting would be dangerous while there is strong evidence that it is beneficial.”

 

Fasting for three days renews entire immune system, protects cancer patients, ‘remarkable’ new study finds | National Post.

Norovirus is extremely contagious, with an estimated infectious dose as low as 18 viral particles — the amount on the head of a pin could sicken more than 1,000 people.

 

By Alex Cukan   |   June 4, 2014 at 3:20 PM   |   1 Comment

 

Only 4 percent of norovirus food outbreaks were traced to private residences. (CDC photo.)
Norovirus explained with Dr. Chris Baliga, VMMC
Q13 FOX News

ATLANTA, June 3 (UPI) —About 20 million people get sick from norovirus — referred to incorrectly as “stomach flu” — each year, mostly from eating in restaurants, catering or banquet facilities.”Norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food in restaurants are far too common,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“All who prepare food, especially the food service industry can do more to create a work environment that promotes food safety and ensures that workers adhere to food safety laws and regulations that are already in place.”

Norovirus is extremely contagious, with an estimated infectious dose as low as 18 viral particles — the amount on the head of a pin could sicken more than 1,000 people.

The CDC’s Vital Signs report used data from the National Outbreak Reporting System. From 2009 to 2012 health departments reported 1,008 norovirus outbreaks to the National Outbreak Reporting System.

In about half of the outbreaks, factors contributing to food contamination were reported and
an infected food worker was implicated in 70 percent of them. In these outbreaks, food workers infected with norovirus contaminated food often by touching ready-to-eat foods — washed raw fruit and vegetables for salads or sandwiches, baked goods, or cooked items — served in restaurants with their bare hands.

Sixty-four percent of the food outbreaks were traced to contaminated food in restaurants, 17 percent from catering or banquet facilities, 13 percent were from other causes than contaminated food, 4 percent were from private residences, 1 percent from healthcare facilities and 1 percent from schools and daycare facilities.

One-in-5 food service workers reported working at least once in the previous year while sick with vomiting or diarrhea because they feared for their job and didn’t want to leave coworkers short-staffed, the report said.

The Vital Signs report provides recommendations to help the food service industry prevent norovirus using provisions in the existing Food and Drug Administration model Food Code, which included:

— Making sure food service workers practice proper hand washing and use utensils and single-use disposable gloves to avoid touching ready-to-eat foods with bare hands,

— Certifying kitchen managers and training food service workers in food safety practices.

— Establishing policies that require food service workers to stay home when sick with vomiting and diarrhea and for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop by providing paid sick leave and having a staffing plan that includes on-call workers.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/06/04/20-million-get-sick-each-year-from-norovirus-stomach-flu-in-the-United-States/7841401825577/#ixzz33okxglk4

Only 4 percent of 20 million annual norovirus outbreaks traced to private homes – UPI.com.

We are all going to die! Well not from this thing today.

A massive asteroid roughly the size of an entire football stadium that was discovered only months ago is passing by the Earth this week, with professional and amateur astronomers alike having the best chance to watch the flyover on Thursday.

Officially named Asteroid 2014 HQ124, the giant hunk of space mass has been nicknamed the Beast because, at an estimated size of over 1,000 feet wide, it is roughly the size of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Initial estimates guessed that the body’s diameter was between 400 to 900 meters (1,312 to 2,953 feet), although NASA’s NEOWISE has determined the Beast is closer to 325 meters. (The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia measured between 17 to 20 meters in diameter.)

An object of such size could obviously pose a huge threat to Earth, although the Beast will fly no closer to the planet than 3.2 lunar distances (roughly equivalent to 716,500 miles). It would only take an object of about 100 feet wide to be destructive to Earth, according to Wired magazine.

For all of its size, the Beast was only detected on April 23. The NASA Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer discovered the Beast flying at approximately 31,000 mph (50,400 kilometers per hour) through space upon examining a fixed backdrop of the star system.

What’s disconcerting is that a rocky/metallic body this large, and coming so very close, should have only first been discovered this soon before its nearest approach,” Bob Berman, an astronomer with Internet astronomy outreach venture Slooh, told National Geographic. “HQ214 is at least 10 times bigger, and possibly 20 times, than the asteroid that injured a thousand people last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia.”

If it were to impact us, the energy released would be measured not in kilotons like the atomic bombs that ended World War II, but in H-bomb type megatons,” he continued. “It will be interesting indeed to watch Slooh track and image this substantial intruder as it passes less than a million miles of us, at a speed 17 times greater than that of a high speed rifle bullet.”

The Beast marks one of the first major asteroids to pass by Earth since NASA and Slooh partnered earlier this year in an agreement that makes it possible for more citizen scientists to become involved with scouring outer space for asteroids flying near Earth. While large objects like the Beast make headlines, countless smaller asteroids and bodies fly over Earth every day unnoticed.

While astronomers believe we have spotted 90 percent of the potentially dangerous asteroids that are 1,000 feet wide or bigger,” Wired reported, “they estimate that we have detected only 30 percent of the objects that are around 460 feet wide and just 1 percent of the objects the size of the Beast.”

A Slooh video of the flyover is included below:

Gigantic, harmless ‘Beast’ asteroid flying by Earth LIVE VIDEO — RT News.

(NaturalNews) A new report issued by the World Bank (1) warns that food prices are skyrocketing globally, with wheat up 18 percent and corn up 12 percent this quarter. Ukraine, one of the largest wheat exporters in the world, has suffered a 73 percent increase in domestic wheat costs. Argentina has seen wheat prices skyrocket 70 percent.

According to the World Bank, these price increases have been caused primarily by three factors: 1) Sharply higher demand for food in China, 2) U.S. drought conditions that hammered wheat production, and 3) unrest in Ukraine due to the near state of war with Russia.

Rising food prices lead to food riots

According to the World Bank, rising food prices have caused 51 food riots in 37 countries since 2007. These include Tunisia, South Africa, Cameroon and India, among other nations.

“Food price shocks can both spark and exacerbate conflict and political instability,” warns the report.

A World Bank blog entry by Senior Economist Jose Cuesta entitled “No Food, No Peace” (2) warns that “It is quite likely that we will experience more food riots in the foreseeable future… food price shocks have repeatedly led to spontaneous — typically urban — sociopolitical instability.”

The following chart shows from the World Bank shows the sharp trend toward increased food prices worldwide:

Hunger leads to revolution

What the World Bank is leading to (but not quite saying) is that hunger leads to revolution. When the People are starving in the streets, there is political unrest that can easily turn violent. Because this is a fundamental human reaction, it is just as true in the United States, UK and other first-world nations as it is in Cameroon or India.

American investigative journalist Alfred Henry Lewis (1855-1914) famously said, “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” He went on to explain, “It may be taken as axiomatic that a starving man is never a good citizen.”

What he means is that hunger dispels the illusions of a polite society and unleashes the desperate animal-like nature that lurks inside all human beings. A starving man trying to feed his starving children will at some point abandon all law and order, doing anything necessary to keep himself and his children alive, including engaging in robbery, assault and murder.

Stated another way, the only reason most people obey laws and agree to live in a socially polite manner is because their bellies are full. Take away the food and all illusions of social friendliness vanish in about nine meals (three days). No local police force can hope to control the actions of the starving masses, regardless of how obedient the population once was when food was abundant.

The coming food collapse is now inevitable

Many are now warning about the coming collapse in the food supply. These warnings include all the following factors:

* EBT CARDS are the federal government’s “food stamp” system that distributes money to over 47 million Americans who use that money on debit cards to buy food. The EBT system depends entirely on the financial solvency of the federal government, an empire steeped in over $17 trillion in debt and constantly on the verge of a financial wipeout. When the day comes that the feds stop funding the EBT cards, food riots are imminent. EBT cardholders have already ransacked a Wal-Mart store, even in good times! (Once the EBT entitlements are cut off, EBT card holders will simply ransack the same stores they used to visit as customers. Once those stores run out of food, U.S. cities will devolve into all-out street warfare.)

* HYDROLOGIC CYCLE SCIENTISTS are warning that much of the food production taking place in the world today — across the USA, India, China, etc. — depends entirely on fossil water extraction from underground aquifers. Those aquifers are being rapidly depleted, some dropping more than a foot each year. Once this fossil water is used up, it’s gone for hundreds or thousands of years. Entire breadbasket regions of the world (such as the U.S. Midwest) will be turned into agricultural deserts. Already, much of Texas and Oklahoma is returning to Dust Bowl conditions.

* ENVIRONMENTALISTS warn that climate change will cause radical weather patterns (droughts, floods, freezes) that devastate the food supply. It is undeniable that radical weather has already caused unprecedented destruction of U.S. food production over the last 18 months. (The underlying causes of such weather patterns, however, remain hotly debated.)

* GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS are genetically vulnerable to disease because they are mono-culture crops with little genetic diversity. Nearly all corn grown in the USA, for example, is genetically modified corn with a near-identical genetic makeup. The situation is obviously ripe for precisely the kind of disease wipeout we’re already witnessing with global banana crops.

* ECONOMISTS are warning that the global money supply is on the verge of collapse. Once it collapses, banking would go down with it, destroying the infrastructure that people use to buy food. If grocery stores can’t conduct financial transactions, they can’t buy inventory to retail to the public, for starters. To stay informed on this subject, read up at www.TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com or www.SHTFplan.com or www.SteveQuayle.com

* PERMACULTURE advocates are warning that the global seed supply has been deliberately collapsed by biotech companies which routinely buy up small seed companies and shut them down. The intention is to create seed monopolies and eliminate competing alternatives to patented, corporate-controlled seeds. The answer to all this, by the way, is found in the wisdom of people like Geoff Lawton who teaches decentralized, abundant food production based on permaculture design science. (Really, Geoff’s wisdom can save our world if embraced as a replacement for corporate agriculture…)

Temporary illusions of cheap food will soon be shattered

In other words, there are economic, hydrologic and genetic reasons why today’s abundant food supply will come to an abrupt end. The cheap, easy food you buy at the grocery store right now is a temporary illusion of cheap food based on unsustainable agricultural practices that use up fossil water, destroy topsoil and poison the environment.

Even the U.S. government’s subsidizing of food through its runaway food stamp program is a temporary artifact of a nation headed for an inevitable debt collapse. Learn more from www.TrendsResearch.com

It is therefore a mathematical and physical certainty that this illusion of cheap, plentiful food will soon be shattered. And in its wake, we will be left with a starving, desperate population with nothing to lose by marching in the streets or staging a violent revolt.

America has abandoned food security in favor of corporate monopolies

Everywhere that this happens will see cities turned into death traps. Because of the centralized corporate farming model that now dominates first-world economies, food production (and even farm land) is controlled by very small number of corporate operations. This is the opposite of food security.

A nation practicing food security would encourage home gardens and support decentralized food production that includes urban food production. Interestingly, nations like Cuba and Russia have encouraged precisely these practices, which is why they are more resistant to a food supply collapse.

In the United States, however, home gardeners have been threatened with arrest. People who produce real food are often raided at gunpoint by government authorities. Farmers who try to produce clean, non-GMO crops are sued by companies like Monsanto whose seeds pollute their farm land.

Government and corporate entities have colluded in the United States to monopolize food production, thereby centralizing it in a way that compromises food security. The day of Americans being told to “plant Victory Gardens” during World War II are long gone. Today, we’re told to obediently line up and eat genetically modified soybeans or drink hormone-contaminated cow’s milk. Government now demands our food obedience and actively works against individuals who try to produce their own food at the local level.

Why the food supply is America’s tactical vulnerability

This makes America wildly vulnerable to disruptions in the food supply. While many nations can manage to get by thanks to home gardens and decentralize food production, the United States of America has allowed government and corporations to structure the national food supply system into a precarious, non-fault-tolerant configuration that’s practically begging for collapse.

Just one disruption in the system — a failed power grid, failed fuel refineries or a failed financial transaction infrastructure — would collapse food availability nationwide, sending the population into a near-immediate state of desperate starvation. Martial Law would no doubt quickly follow, after which Americans would be ordered to starve to death at the hands of FEMA instead of starving to death on their own.

On March 16, 2012, Obama declared federal control over all farms, food, livestock and seeds

The federal government already knows everything I’m telling you here. That’s why on march 16, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order entitled, “NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS.”

You can read the official White House press release admitting this right here.

This executive order states that the President alone has the authority to take over all resources in the nation (labor, food, industry, etc.) as long as it is done “to promote the national defense.”

The proclamation gives the Secretary of Agriculture full authority to seize all “food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer.”

The Secretary of Defense is given control over all “water resources,” and the Secretary of Commerce is given control over “all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.”

The federal government sees what’s coming, in other words, and has already laid claim to all YOUR food, farm land, livestock, fertilizer and farm equipment, among other food-related assets.

If, after reading this, you aren’t double-checking your secret storable food stockpiles, you’re crazy. As a small plug if you want to help support Natural News, we offer the world’s only certified organic long-term storable non-GMO freeze-dried fruits (plus some FD organic veggies) at the Natural News Store.

Sources for this article include:
(1) http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/pu…
(2) http://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/no-food-no…

 

World Bank warns of food riots as rising food prices push world populations toward revolt – NaturalNews.com.

(NaturalNews) Autism rates have risen from 1:10,000 in 1981 to 1:68 in 2014. Multiple studies have shown that the prevalence of toxins in our environment to which children are exposed during their developmental stages are the main culprit; however, many other factors should be considered as well, including GMOs and vaccinations.

The multitude of dangers and the associated cover ups

New research has revealed that autism and intellectual disability rates are linked to exposure to harmful factors during congenital development. A professor of genetic medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago, stated:

“Essentially what happens is during pregnancy there are certain sensitive periods where the fetus is very vulnerable to a range of small molecules — from things like plasticisers, prescription drugs, environmental pesticides and other things. Some of these small molecules essentially alter normal development. Autism appears to be strongly correlated with rate of congenital malformations of the genitals in males across the country, this gives an indicator of environmental load and the effect is surprisingly strong. The strongest predictors for autism were associated with the environment; congenital malformations on the reproductive system in males.”

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine compared brain autopsies of autistic children who died from unrelated causes to those brains of normal children. The autistic brains showed abnormal patches of disorganized neurons that disrupted the distinct layers in the cortex. This information suggested that the abnormalities occurred during the key developmental stages that occur during weeks 19 to 30 of gestation, which shows that timing is just as important as the toxin to which the child is exposed.

In Europe, autism rates have remained fairly steady over the last decade. This information coincides with the fact that Europe has significant restrictions or bans on the production and sale of GMOs and pesticides. In the United States, government agencies have approved massive amounts of pesticides and, not long ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the allowable concentration of Monsanto’s glyphosate on food crops, edible oils and animal feed.

A study published by Earth Open Sources provided a review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the serious health hazards caused by glyphosate and Roundup herbicide formulations. It stated:

“Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable. In this report, we examine the industry studies and regulatory documents that led to the approval of glyphosate. We show that industry and regulators knew as long ago as the 1980s and 1990s that glyphosate causes malformation — but that this information was not made public.”

It’s not news that the brain of an embryo, fetus or infant is at risk of significant and permanent damage from exposure to chemicals. A study published in the Journal Reproductive Toxicology identified the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified (GM) food in maternal, fetal and non-pregnant women’s blood. It concluded that Monsanto’s Bt toxin was clearly detectable and appears to cross the placenta to the fetus.

Furthermore, research has confirmed that mothers who are exposed to commonly used pesticides give birth to children with lower intelligence, structural brain abnormalities, behavioral disorders, compromised motor skills and higher rates of brain cancer.

These issues began occurring even before the vigorous vaccine schedule used in the U.S. was introduced. Vaccines add to the issue since there is evidence to support the argument that they are laced with toxins. Vaccine manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and health authorities who clearly knew about the multiple dangers have also been shown by studies to have withheld this information from the public.

The sad fact is that autism rates will likely continue to climb until these dangerous and common exposure points begin to be removed from our environment and clean, potent nutrition becomes the focus of the nation.

Isn’t it about time?

Sources for this article include:

http://www.collective-evolution.com
http://www.naturalnews.com
GMOs.naturalnews.com

About the author:
Derek Henry, B.Kin, is a highly revered holistic health coach and world renowned natural health blogger who created Healing the Body to help people understand the fundamental principles to exceptional health so they can overcome their own health challenges.

His popular Wellness Transformation E-Guide and Ultimate Reset coaching program gives people step by step solutions to achieve a healthier body and mind, while empowering them to maintain that lifestyle through a fundamental education based on the 4 pillars of true health.

If you would like to learn more about what he can do holistically to improve your health, check out his popular free health consult.

Chemical exposure during fetal development to blame for Autism – NaturalNews.com.

(NaturalNews) Mercury tests conducted on vaccines at the Natural News Forensic Food Lab have revealed a shockingly high level of toxic mercury in an influenza vaccine (flu shot) made by GlaxoSmithKline (lot #9H2GX). Tests conducted via ICP-MS document mercury in the Flulaval vaccine at a shocking 51 parts per million, or over 25,000 times higher than the maximum contaminant level of inorganic mercury in drinking water set by the EPA.(1)

The tests were conducted via ICP-MS using a 4-point mercury calibration curve for accuracy. Even then, the extremely high level of mercury found in this flu shot was higher than anything we’ve ever tested, including tuna and ocean fish which are known for high mercury contamination.

In fact, the concentration of mercury found in this GSK flu shot was 100 times higher than the highest level of mercury we’ve ever tested in contaminated fish. And yet vaccines are injected directly into the body, making them many times more toxic than anything ingested orally. As my previous research into foods has already documented, mercury consumed orally is easily blocked by eating common foods like strawberries or peanut butter, both of which bind with and capture about 90% of dietary mercury.

Here are the actual results of what we found in the influenza vaccine from GSK (lot #9H2GX):

Aluminum: 0.4 ppm
Arsenic: zero
Cadmium: zero
Lead: zero
Mercury: 51 ppm

All tests were conducted via calibrated, high-end ICP-MS instrumentation as shown in these lab videos.

Doctors, pharmacists and mainstream media continue to lie about mercury in vaccines

As you take in the scientifically-validated fact that mercury exists at very high concentrations in flu vaccines, keep in mind that most doctors, pharmacists and members of the mainstream media continue to stage an elaborate lie that claims mercury has “already been removed from vaccines.”

Never mind the fact that the use of mercury is admitted right on the package containing the vaccine vial. And now, Natural News has scientifically confirmed the mercury content of flu vaccines using high-end laboratory instrumentation. The existence of high mercury in flu shots is irrefutable.

Anyone who claims mercury has been removed from all vaccines is either wildly ignorant or willfully lying. And anyone who would knowingly allow themselves to be injected with mercury is probably already a victim of the kind of brain damage well known to be caused by mercury.

Insert admits “no controlled trials”

Shockingly, the package insert for this flu shot readily admits the vaccine has never been subjected to scientific clinical trials:

“There have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Flulaval,” the package insert claims in tiny text (that no one reads).

This is printed right on the insert, yet no one in the mainstream media will ever report this astonishing admission. This statement, all by itself, is a confession that flu shot marketing is a fraud.

Across the board, flu shots are heavily propagandized and promoted with the implication that they have zero risks while offering 100% protection. No one in the mainstream media ever questions this claim even though the package insert openly admits the claim is complete hokum and has never been subjected to scientific scrutiny.

No evidence of safety or effectiveness in pregnant women

But that’s not all the insert admits. It also says:

“Safety and effectiveness of Flulaval have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children.”

And yet everywhere you go in America, there’s a Walgreens, CVS or Wal-Mart pharmacy promoting flu shots for pregnant women. Never mind the fact that flu shot safety has never been established in pregnant women, and never mind the obvious fact that you should never inject a pregnant women with mercury in the first place!

Who needs scientific proof when you’ve got the full propaganda of the media and the government to back you up? Anyone who dares question the scientific validity of flu shot safety for pregnant women is immediately attacked as being an opponent of all vaccines.

Apparently, the only requirement to be accepted by the vaccine community is to believe in medical fairy tales while abandoning all critical thinking and scientific skepticism. In the vaccine industry, genuine science is simply not allowed. No wonder two former Merck virologists filed a False Claims Act with the federal government, accusing the company of knowingly fabricating its vaccine efficacy data to trick the FDA.

Never proven safe or effective in children, either

Flu shots are heavily promoted for children, right alongside mumps and measles vaccines. But it turns out flu shots are never scientifically tested for safety or efficacy in children.

Check out what the insert for this vaccine directly admits:

“Safety and effectiveness of Flulaval in pediatric patients have not been established.”

It’s right there in black and white… an open admission. Yet flu shots are aggressively marketed to parents and children as if they were Tic-Tacs. The real beauty of the entire vaccine industry scam is that no scientific evidence is required! You don’t have to have any proof, all you have to do is believe in vaccines as a matter of faith.

Never tested for cancer risk

Do flu shots cause cancer? The honest, scientific answer is that these shots are never tested for that. As the insert readily admits:

“Flulaval has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.”

Believe it or not, the Flulaval vaccine also warns that no one should be given this shot if they’ve already received another flu shot at some previous time:

“Do not administer Flulaval to anyone… following previous administration of any influenza vaccine.”

And yet, amazingly, people are encouraged to get flu shots year after year, even though the package insert directly warns against anyone taking a series of influenza vaccines.

Admission that flu shots contain formaldehyde and sodium deoxycholate

The same insert that admits this vaccine has never been proven safe in children or pregnant women also openly admits that it contains neurotoxic chemicals.

Per the insert, each dose of Flulaval contains up to 25 mcg of formaldehyde (a neurotoxin) and up to 50 mcg of sodium deoxycholate.

This is on top of the 25 mcg of mercury you’ll get in every dose. And remember, this is mercury that’s injected directly into your body, so you absorb 100% of this mercury (unlike mercury you eat, where most of it sticks to food fibers and is transported out of your body).

Total admission that flu shots cause seizures, convulsions and Guillian-Barre syndrome

Ever wonder what all these toxic chemicals and heavy metals cause in humans? Flu shots vaccines, it turns out, are already known to cause a huge number of devastating health effects.

Predictably, there is a massive disinfo campaign across the mainstream media, Wikipedia, medical journals and government propaganda agencies (CDC, FDA, etc.) to pretend that flu shots have no risks whatsoever. Yet the insert that comes with the vaccine openly admits the flu shot has been linked with a long, frightening list of serious adverse effects. As this Flulaval insert says (see photo below):

“In addition to reports in clinical trials, the following adverse events have been identified during postapproval use of Flulaval…

vomiting
chest pain
allergic edema of the mouth
anaphylaxis
laryngitis
cullulitis
muscle weakness
arthritis
dizziness
paresthesia
tremor
somnolence
Guillian-Barre syndrome
convulsions / seizures
facial or cranial nerve paralysis
encephalopathy
limb paralysis
insomnia
dyspnea
sweating”

Here’s a photo of this section of the package insert, complete with the GlaxoSmithKline toll-free phone number:

If you take flu shots, you are being poisoned by quacks

The upshot of all this is that flu shots utterly lack any scientific evidence of safety of efficacy. We don’t know if they work at all, in other words, and neither does the vaccine manufacturer. Neither do the doctors or medical staff who administer them. Flu vaccines are injected into people purely as a matter of blind faith in the very same companies that have already been convicted of felony crimes.

GlaxoSmithKline, for example, not only manufacturers this Flulaval vaccine… the company also committed multiple felony crimes and got caught bribing doctors, ultimately agreeing to pay a multi-billion-dollar criminal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Trusting a flu shot made by a corporation of felons is a lot like trusting the purity of heroin you buy from a street dealer. Both flu shots and street heroin have at least one thing in common, by the way: neither has ever been tested for safety.

We also know that flu shots contain neurotoxic chemicals and heavy metals in alarming concentrations. This is irrefutable scientific fact. We also know that there is no “safe” form of mercury just like there is no safe form of heroin — all forms of mercury are highly toxic when injected into the body (ethyl, methyl, organic, inorganic).

The only people who argue with this are those who are already mercury poisoned and thus incapable of rational thought. Mercury damages brain function, you see, which is exactly what causes some people to be tricked into thinking vaccines are safe and effective.

Technically, you’d have to be stupid to believe such a thing, as the vaccine insert directly tells you precisely the opposite.

Share this story, spread the truth

Share this story with everyone who needs to know the truth about flu vaccines. This message needs to get out. Every fact stated in this article is 100% true and verified. The quotes from the Flulaval package insert are on-the-record statements from GlaxoSmithKline.

And for the record, I am not an opponent of the theory of vaccination. What I’m against is the continued use of toxic heavy metals and chemicals in vaccines. I’m also opposed to the wildly fraudulent marketing of vaccines. If any other product were marketed with the same lies and deceptions as vaccines, they would be immediately charged with fraud and misrepresentation by the FTC. But somehow when the vaccine industry commits routine fraud, everybody pretends it isn’t happening.

Even with all the marketing fraud taking place, if the vaccine manufacturers would stop poisoning the population with vaccine additives (by removing mercury, formaldehyde and other chemicals from their products), nearly all opposition to vaccines would rapidly disappear.

 

EXCLUSIVE: Natural News tests flu vaccine for heavy metals, finds 25,000 times higher mercury level than EPA limit for water – NaturalNews.com.

SCOTUS: Chemical weapons treaty cannot be invoked in assault case

 

BY Mark Sherman, Associated Press June 2, 2014 at 2:20 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that prosecutors may not rely on an international chemical weapons treaty to convict a woman who attacked her husband’s mistress.

The justices threw out the conviction of Carol Anne Bond of Lansdale, Pa., who was prosecuted under a 1999 law based on the chemical weapons treaty. Bond served a six-year prison term after being convicted of using toxic chemicals that caused a thumb burn on a friend who had become her husband’s lover.

The intent of the chemical weapons treaty was to prevent a repeat of the use of mustard gas in World War I or toxic weapons in the Iraq-Iran war in the early 1980s, not “an amateur attempt by a jilted wife to injure her husband’s lover,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.

Roberts contrasted John Singer Sargent’s massive painting, “Gassed,” with its depictions of men who have been blinded by mustard gas, with Bond’s actions. “There are no life-sized paintings of Bond’s rival washing her thumb,” he said.

Pennsylvania laws are sufficient to deal with threats posed by a woman in a love triangle, he said.

“In sum, the global need to prevent chemical warfare does not require the Federal Government to reach into the kitchen cupboard, or to treat a local assault with a chemical irritant as the deployment of a chemical weapon,” Roberts said.

The case posed potentially significant questions about the federal government’s power to make and enforce treaties. The justices resolved the case without reaching that issue, although Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have.

Bond, unable to bear any children of her own, was excited for her best friend Myrlina Haynes when the woman announced her pregnancy. But that was before Bond learned that the baby’s father was her husband of more than 14 years, Clifford Bond.

Vowing revenge, Bond, a laboratory technician, stole the chemical 10-chloro-10H phenoxarsine from the company where she worked and purchased potassium dichromate on Amazon.com. Both can be deadly if ingested or exposed to the skin at sufficiently high levels.

Bond’s efforts were obvious enough that Haynes noticed chemicals had been spread on her door handle and in the tailpipe of her car. Haynes suffered a minor burn. But believing local police did not do enough to investigate, she called the United States Postal Service after finding more of the chemicals on her mailbox. Postal inspectors arrested Bond after they videotaped her going back and forth between Haynes’ car and the mailbox with the chemicals.

Instead of turning the domestic dispute case over to state prosecutors, a federal grand jury indicted Bond on two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon. The grand jury based the charges on a federal anti-terrorism law passed to fulfill the United States’ international treaty obligations under the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

Bond pleaded guilty.

In an earlier stage of the case, the high court unanimously rejected prosecutors’ arguments and lower court rulings that prevented Bond from even challenging her conviction.

via SCOTUS: Chemical weapons treaty cannot be invoked in assault case | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour.

 

Bilderberg at 60: inside the world’s most secretive conference

Topics on the agenda for the three-day summit first held on 29 May 1954 will include: does privacy exist?
George Osborne

George Osborne is among those attending the high-powered summit. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

 

It’s been a week of celebrations for Henry Kissinger. On Tuesday he turned 91, on Wednesday he broke his personal best in the 400m hurdles, and on Thursday in Copenhagen, he’ll be clinking champagne flutes with the secretary general of Nato and the queen of Spain, as they celebrate 60 glorious years of Bilderberg. I just hope George Osborne remembered to pack a party hat.

Thursday is the opening day of the influential three-day summit and it’s also the 60th anniversary of the Bilderberg Group’s first meeting, which took place in Holland on 29 May 1954. So this year’s event is a red-letter occasion, and the official participant list shows that the 2014 conference is a peculiarly high-powered affair.

The chancellor, at his seventh Bilderberg, is spending the next three days deep in conference with the heads of MI6, Nato, the International Monetary Fund, HSBC, Shell, BP and Goldman Sachs International, along with dozens of other chief executives, billionaires and high-ranking politicians from around Europe. This year also includes a visit from the supreme allied commander Europe, and a return of royalty – Queen Sofia of Spain and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the daughter of the Bilderberg founder Prince Bernhard.

Back in the 1950s, when Bernhard sent out the invitations, it was to discuss “a number of problems facing western civilization”. These days, the Bilderberg Group prefers to call them “megatrends”. The megatrends on this year’s agenda include: “What next for Europe?”, “Ukraine”, “Intelligence sharing” and “Does privacy exist?”

That’s an exquisite irony: the world’s most secretive conference discussing whether privacy exists. Certainly for some it does. It’s not just birthday bunting that’s gone up in Copenhagen: there’s also a double ring of three-metre (10ft) high security fencing. The hotel is teeming with security: lithe gentlemen in loose slacks and dark glasses, trying not to kill the birthday vibe. Or anyone else.

Already, two reporters have been arrested trying to interview the organisers of the conference in the Marriott hotel bar. It’s easy enough to keep your privacy intact when you’re employing so many people to guard it.

There’s something distinctly chilling about the existence of privacy being debated, in extreme privacy, by people such as the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, and the board member of Facebook Peter Thiel: exactly the people who know how radically transparent the general public has become.

And to have them discussing it with the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, and Keith Alexander, the recently replaced head of the National Security Agency. And with people such as the head of AXA, the insurance and investment conglomerate – Henri de Castries. Perhaps no one is more interested in data collection and public surveillance than the insurance giants. For them, privacy is the enemy. Public transparency is a goldmine.

Back in 2010, Osborne proudly launched “the most radical transparency agenda the country has ever seen”. However, this transparency agenda doesn’t seem to extend to Osborne himself making a public statement about what he has discussed at this meeting. And with whom.

We know, from the agenda and list, that Osborne will be there with the foreign affairs ministers from Spain and Sweden, and the deputy secretary general of the French presidency. And from closer to home, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, and fellow Bilderberg veteran and shadow chancellor, Ed Balls.

We know that he’s scheduled to discuss the situation in Ukraine with extremely interested parties, such as the chief executive of the European arms giant Airbus, Thomas Enders. Not to mention the chief executive and chairman of “the defence & security company” Saab: Håkan Buskhe and Marcus Wallenberg. And billionaire investors including Henry Kravis of KKR, who is “always looking to sharpen” what he calls “the KKR edge”. Helping Kravis sharpen his edge is General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, now head of the KKR Global Institute – a massive investment operation.

The Bilderberg Group says the conference has no desired outcome. But for private equity giants, and the heads of banks, arms manufacturers and oil companies, there’s always a desired outcome. Try telling the shareholders of Shell that there’s “no desired outcome” of their chairman and chief executive spending three days in conference with politicians and policy makers.

Try telling that to the lobbyists who have been working so hard to push the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal that is being negotiated. Bilderberg is packed to the gills with senior members of powerful lobby groups. Will members of BritishAmerican Business’s international advisory board, such as Douglas Flint and Peter Sutherland, express BAB’s fervent support of TTIP when discussing “Is the economic recovery sustainable?” Or will they leave their lobbying hats at the door?

MP Michael Meacher describes Bilderberg as “the cabal of the rich and powerful” who are working “to consolidate and extend the grip of the markets”. And they’re doing so “beyond the reach of the media or the public”. That said, every year, the press probes a little further behind the security fencing. Every year the questions for the politicians who attend, but remain silent, get harder.

They can try to laugh it off as a “talking shop” or a glorified knees-up, but these people haven’t come to Bilderberg to drink fizzy wine and pull party poppers. It’s possible that Reid Hoffman, the head of LinkedIn, has turned up for the birthday cake. But I doubt it. This is big business. And big politics. And big lobbying.

Bilderberg is big money, and they know how to spend it. From my spot outside, I’ve just seen three vans full of fish delicacies trundle into the hotel service entrance. I always thought there was something fishy about Bilderberg. Turns out that for tonight at least, it’s the rollmops.

 

Bilderberg at 60: inside the world’s most secretive conference | World news | theguardian.com.

To Age Well, Walk – NYTimes.com

Regular exercise, including walking, significantly reduces the chance that a frail older person will become physically disabled, according to one of the largest and longest-running studies of its kind to date.

The results, published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA, reinforce the necessity of frequent physical activity for our aging parents, grandparents and, of course, ourselves.

While everyone knows that exercise is a good idea, whatever your age, the hard, scientific evidence about its benefits in the old and infirm has been surprisingly limited.

“For the first time, we have directly shown that exercise can effectively lessen or prevent the development of physical disability in a population of extremely vulnerable elderly people,” said Dr. Marco Pahor, the director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Florida in Gainesville and the lead author of the study.

Countless epidemiological studies have found a strong correlation between physical activity in advanced age and a longer, healthier life. But such studies can’t prove that exercise improves older people’s health, only that healthy older people exercise.

Other small-scale, randomized experiments have persuasively established a causal link between exercise and healthy aging. But the scope of these experiments has generally been narrow, showing, for instance, that older people can improve their muscle strength with weight training or their endurance capacity with walking.

So, for this latest study, the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders, or LIFE, trial, scientists at eight universities and research centers around the country began recruiting volunteers in 2010, using an unusual set of selection criteria. Unlike many exercise studies, which tend to be filled with people in relatively robust health who can easily exercise, this trial used volunteers who were sedentary and infirm, and on the cusp of frailty.

Ultimately, they recruited 1,635 sedentary men and women aged 70 to 89 who scored below a nine on a 12-point scale of physical functioning often used to assess older people. Almost half scored an eight or lower, but all were able to walk on their own for 400 meters, or a quarter-mile, the researchers’ cutoff point for being physically disabled.

Then the men and women were randomly assigned to either an exercise or an education group.

Those in the education assignment were asked to visit the research center once a month or so to learn about nutrition, health care and other topics related to aging.

The exercise group received information about aging but also started a program of walking and light, lower-body weight training with ankle weights, going to the research center twice a week for supervised group walks on a track, with the walks growing progressively longer. They were also asked to complete three or four more exercise sessions at home, aiming for a total of 150 minutes of walking and about three 10-minute sessions of weight-training exercises each week.

Every six months, researchers checked the physical functioning of all of the volunteers, with particular attention to whether they could still walk 400 meters by themselves.

The experiment continued for an average of 2.6 years, which is far longer than most exercise studies.

By the end of that time, the exercising volunteers were about 18 percent less likely to have experienced any episode of physical disability during the experiment. They were also about 28 percent less likely to have become persistently, possibly permanently disabled, defined as being unable to walk those 400 meters by themselves.

Most of the volunteers “tolerated the exercise program very well,” Dr. Pahor said, but the results did raise some flags. More volunteers in the exercise group wound up hospitalized during the study than did the participants in the education group, possibly because their vital signs were checked far more often, the researchers say. The exercise regimen may also have “unmasked” underlying medical conditions, Dr. Pahor said, although he does not feel that the exercise itself led to hospital stays.

A subtler concern involves the surprisingly small difference, in absolute terms, in the number of people who became disabled in the two groups. About 35 percent of those in the education group had a period of physical disability during the study. But so did 30 percent of those in the exercise group.

“At first glance, those results are underwhelming,” said Dr. Lewis Lipsitz, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, who was not involved with the study. “But then you have to look at the control group, which wasn’t really a control group at all.” That’s because in many cases the participants in the education group began to exercise, study data shows, although they were not asked to do so.

“It wouldn’t have been ethical” to keep them from exercise, Dr. Lipsitz continued. But if the scientists in the LIFE study “had been able to use a control group of completely sedentary older people with poor eating habits, the differences between the groups would be much more pronounced,” he said.

Over all, Dr. Lipsitz said, “it’s an important study because it focuses on an important outcome, which is the prevention of physical disability.”

In the coming months, Dr. Pahor and his colleagues plan to mine their database of results for additional followup, including a cost-benefit analysis.

The exercise intervention cost about $1,800 per participant per year, Dr. Pahor said, including reimbursement for travel to the research centers. But that figure is “considerably less” than the cost of full-time nursing care after someone becomes physically disabled, he said. He and his colleagues hope that the study prompts Medicare to begin covering the costs of group exercise programs for older people.

Dr. Pahor cautioned that the LIFE study is not meant to prompt elderly people to begin solo, unsupervised exercise. “Medical supervision is important,” he said. Talk with your doctor and try to find an exercise group, he said, adding, “The social aspect is important.”

Mildred Johnston, 82, a retired office worker in Gainesville who volunteered for the LIFE trial, has kept up weekly walks with two of the other volunteers she met during the study.

“Exercising has changed my whole aspect on what aging means,” she said. “It’s not about how much help you need from other people now. It’s more about what I can do for myself.” Besides, she said, gossiping during her group walks “really keeps you engaged with life.”

A version of this article appears in print on 05/28/2014, on page A12 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Exercise for Older Adults Helps Reduce Their Risk Of Disability, Study Says .

 

To Age Well, Walk – NYTimes.com.

BY Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News  June 2, 2014 at 11:47 AM EDT
Photo by Rebecca Emery/Getty Images

Photo by Rebecca Emery/Getty Images

Long Island dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla knows well how to treat acne, burns and rashes. But when a patient came in with a potentially disfiguring case of bullous pemphigoid—a rare skin condition that causes large, watery blisters—she was stumped.

The medication doctors usually prescribe for the autoimmune disorder wasn’t available. So she logged in to Modernizing Medicine, a Web-based repository of medical information and insights, for help.

Within seconds, she had the name of another drug that had worked in comparable cases.

“It gives you access to data, and data is king,” she said of Modernizing Medicine. “It’s been very helpful especially in clinically challenging situations.”

The system, one of a growing number of similar tools around the country, lets her tap into the collective knowledge of 4,000 providers and 13 million patients, as well as data on treatments other doctors provide patients with similar profiles. Then it spits out recommendations.

Tech titans like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple already have made huge investments in artificial intelligence to deliver tailored search results and build virtual personal assistants. That approach is starting to trickle down into health care too, thanks in part to the push under the health reform law to leverage new technologies to improve outcomes and reduce costs, and to the availability of cheaper and more powerful computers.

Computers can’t replace doctors at the bedside, but they are capable of crunching vast amounts of data and identifying patterns humans can’t. Artificial intelligence can be a tool to take full advantage of electronic medical records, transforming them from mere e-filing cabinets into full-fledged doctors’ aides that can deliver clinically relevant, high-quality data in real time.

“Electronic health records [are] like large quarries where there’s lots of gold, and we’re just beginning to mine them,” said Dr. Eric Horvitz, who is the managing director of Microsoft Research and specializes in applying artificial intelligence in health care settings.

Increasingly, physician practices and hospitals around the country are using supercomputers and homegrown systems to identify patients who might be at risk for kidney failure, cardiac disease or postoperative infections and to prevent hospital readmissions, another key focus of health reform. Increasingly, physician practices and hospitals around the country are using supercomputers and homegrown systems to identify patients who might be at risk for kidney failure, cardiac disease or postoperative infections and to prevent hospital readmissions, another key focus of health reform.

And they’re starting to combine patients’ individual health data—including genetic information—with the wealth of material available in public databases, textbooks and journals to help come up with more personalized treatments.

For now, the recommendations from Modernizing Medicine are largely based on what is most popular among fellow professionals—say, how often doctors on the platform prescribe a given drug or order a particular lab test. But next month, the system will display data on patient outcomes that the company has collected from its subscribers over the past year. Doctors will also be able to double-check the information against the latest clinical research by querying Watson, IBM’s artificially intelligent supercomputer.

“What happens in the real world should be informed by what’s happening in the medical journals,” said Daniel Cane, CEO of Florida-based Modernizing Medicine. “That information needs to get to the provider at the point of care.”

‘Quick and Seamless’

Using homegrown systems, doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and St. Jude’s Medical Center in Memphis are getting pop-up notifications—not unlike those on an iPhone—within individual patients’ electronic medical records.

The alerts tell them, for instance, when a drug might not work for a patient with certain genetic traits. It shows up in bright yellow at the top of a doctor’s computer screen – hard to miss.

“With a single click, the doctor can prescribe another medication. It’s a very quick and seamless process,” said Vanderbilt’s Dr. Joshua Denny, one of the researchers who developed the system there.

Denny and others used e-medical records on 16,000 patients to help computers predict which patients were likely to need certain medications in the future.

Take the anti-blood clot medication Plavix. Some people can’t break it down. The Vanderbilt system warns doctors to give patients likely to need the medication a genetic test to see whether they can. If not, it gives physicians suggestions on alternative drugs.

Doctors heed the computer’s advice about two-thirds of the time, figuring in for example, the risks associated with the alternative medication.

“The algorithm is pretty good,” says Denny, referring to its ability to predict who’s going to need a certain drug. “It was smarter than my intuition.”

So far, computers have gotten really good at parsing so-called structured data—information that can easily fit in buckets, or categories. In health care, this data is often stored as billing codes or lab test values.

But this data doesn’t capture patients’ full-range of symptoms or even their treatments. Images, radiology reports and the notes doctors write about each patient can be more useful. That’s unstructured data, and computers are less savvy at handling it because it requires making inferences and a certain understanding of context and intent.

That’s the stuff humans are really good at doing — and it’s what scientists are trying to teach machines to do better.

“Computers are notoriously bad at understanding English,” said Peter Szolovits, the director of MIT’s Clinical Decision Making Group. “It’s a slow haul, but I’m still optimistic.”

Computers are getting better at reading unstructured information. Suppose a patient says he doesn’t smoke. His doctor checks ‘no ‘ in a box–structured data, easily captured by a machine.

But then the doctor notes that the patient’s teeth are discolored or that there are nicotine stains on his fingers— a clue that the patient in fact does smoke. Soon a computer may be able to highlight such discrepancies, bringing to the fore information that otherwise might have been overlooked.

In recent years, universities, tech companies and venture capital firms have invested millions into making computers better at analyzing images and words. Companies are popping up to capitalize on findings in studies suggesting that artificial intelligence can be used to improve care.

“Artificial intelligence–ultimately that’s where the biggest quality improvements will be made,” said Euan Thomson, a partner at venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

But many challenges remain, experts say. Among them is the tremendous expense and difficulty of gaining access to high-quality data and of developing smart models and training them to pick up patterns.

Most electronic medical record-keeping systems aren’t compatible with each other. The data is often stored in servers at individual clinics or hospitals, making it difficult to build a comprehensive reservoir of medical information.

Moreover, the systems often aren’t hooked up to the Internet and therefore can’t be widely distributed or accessed like other information in the cloud. So, unlike the vast amount of data on Google and Facebook, the information can’t be mined from anywhere by those interested in analyzing it.

From the perspective of privacy advocates, this makes some good sense: A researcher’s treasure trove is a hacker’s playground.

“It’s not the greatest time to talk about” health records on the web, given security scandals such as the Edward Snowden leaks and the Heartbleed bug, said Dr. Russ Altman, the director of Stanford University’s biomedical informatics training program.

Drawing the line

Also standing in the way are concerns about how far computers should encroach on doctors’ turf. As artificial intelligence systems get smarter, experts say, the line between making recommendations and making decisions could become more murky. That could cause regulators to view the systems as a medical devices, subject to the review of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Wary of the time and expense required for FDA approval, companies engineering the systems – at least for now– are careful not to describe them as diagnostic tools but rather as information banks.

“The FDA would be down on them like a ton of bricks because then they would be claiming to practice medicine,” says MIT’s Szolovits.

At the moment, he said, the technology isn’t good enough to tell doctors with 100 percent certainty what the best course of treatment for a patient may be. Others agree.

“It’s going to be a long road,” said Michael Matheny, a biostatistician at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

Back at her clinic in Long Island, Dr. Mariwalla is thankful for the information that the artificial intelligence system can provide.

For the patient with that blistering skin condition, she took the machine’s suggestion for an alternative medication. The patient has recovered, Mariwalla said.

But she’s careful to add that she made the call herself—based in part on her conversation with her patient.

“That’s where medical judgment comes in,” she said. “You can’t [just] rely on a system to tell you what to do.”


This story was produced in collaboration with Wired. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Doctors turn to artificial intelligence when they’re stumped | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour.

 

Table 1

Persistence of clinically relevant bacteria on dry inanimate surfaces.
Type of bacterium Duration of persistence (range) Reference(s)

Acinetobacter spp. 3 days to 5 months [18, 25, 28, 29, 87, 88]
Bordetella pertussis 3 – 5 days [89, 90]
Campylobacter jejuni up to 6 days [91]
Clostridium difficile (spores) 5 months [92–94]
Chlamydia pneumoniae, C. trachomatis ≤ 30 hours [14, 95]
Chlamydia psittaci 15 days [90]
Corynebacterium diphtheriae 7 days – 6 months [90, 96]
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis 1–8 days [21]
Escherichia coli 1.5 hours – 16 months [12, 16, 17, 22, 28, 52, 90, 97–99]
Enterococcus spp. including VRE and VSE 5 days – 4 months [9, 26, 28, 100, 101]
Haemophilus influenzae 12 days [90]
Helicobacter pylori ≤ 90 minutes [23]
Klebsiella spp. 2 hours to > 30 months [12, 16, 28, 52, 90]
Listeria spp. 1 day – months [15, 90, 102]
Mycobacterium bovis > 2 months [13, 90]
Mycobacterium tuberculosis 1 day – 4 months [30, 90]
Neisseria gonorrhoeae 1 – 3 days [24, 27, 90]
Proteus vulgaris 1 – 2 days [90]
Pseudomonas aeruginosa 6 hours – 16 months; on dry floor: 5 weeks [12, 16, 28, 52, 99, 103, 104]
Salmonella typhi 6 hours – 4 weeks [90]
Salmonella typhimurium 10 days – 4.2 years [15, 90, 105]
Salmonella spp. 1 day [52]
Serratia marcescens 3 days – 2 months; on dry floor: 5 weeks [12, 90]
Shigella spp. 2 days – 5 months [90, 106, 107]
Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA 7 days – 7 months [9, 10, 16, 52, 99, 108]
Streptococcus pneumoniae 1 – 20 days [90]
Streptococcus pyogenes 3 days – 6.5 months [90]
Vibrio cholerae 1 – 7 days [90, 109]

Kramer et al. BMC Infectious Diseases 2006 6:130   doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-130

Overall, gram-negative bacteria have been described to persist longer than gram-positive bacteria [12,13]. Humid conditions improved persistence for most types of bacteria, such as Chlamydia trachomatis [14], Listeria monocytogenes [15], Salmonella typhimurium [15], Pseudomonas aeruginosa [16], Escherichia coli [17], or other relevant pathogens [18,19]. Only Staphylococcus aureus was found to persist longer at low humidity [16].

Low temperatures, e.g., 4°C or 6°C, also improved persistence of most types of bacteria, such Listeria monocytogenes [15], Salmonella typhimurium [15], MRSA [20], corynebacteria [21], Escherichia coli [17,22], Helicobacter pylori [23], and Neisseria gonorrhoeae [24].

The type of test material does not reveal a consistent result. Although some investigators report that the type of material has no influence on the persistence [25,26], other authors described a longer persistence on plastic [27,28], and others yet see a survival advantage on steel [29].

Other factors were rarely investigated and hence provide inconsistent results. Longer persistence has been described with higher inocula [28], in the presence of protein [13], serum [13,24], sputum [30], or without dust [10].

Persistence of clinically relevant fungi on dry inanimate surfaces.
Type of fungus Duration of persistence (range) Reference(s)

Candida albicans 1 – 120 days [31, 53, 99, 110]
Candida parapsilosis 14 days [110]
Torulopsis glabrata 102 – 150 days [31]

Kramer et al. BMC Infectious Diseases 2006 6:130   doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-130

 

 

Table 3

Persistence of clinically relevant viruses on dry inanimate surfaces.
Type of virus Duration of persistence (range) Source

Adenovirus 7 days – 3 months [32, 34, 38–41, 111]
Astrovirus 7 – 90 days [38]
Coronavirus 3 hours [112, 113]
SARS associated virus 72 – 96 hours [114]
Coxsackie virus > 2 weeks [34, 111]
Cytomegalovirus 8 hours [115]
Echovirus 7 days [39]
HAV 2 hours – 60 days [35, 38, 41]
HBV > 1 week [116]
HIV > 7 days [117–119]
Herpes simplex virus, type 1 and 2 4.5 hours – 8 weeks [34, 111, 118, 120]
Influenza virus 1 – 2 days [39, 43, 121, 122]
Norovirus and feline calici virus (FCV) 8 hours – 7 days [42, 45]
Papillomavirus 16 > 7 days [123]
Papovavirus 8 days [118]
Parvovirus > 1 year [118]
Poliovirus type 1 4 hours – < 8 days [35, 118]
Poliovirus type 2 1 day – 8 weeks [34, 38, 111]
Pseudorabies virus ≥ 7 days [124]
Respiratory syncytial virus up to 6 hours [44]
Rhinovirus 2 hours – 7 days [33, 125]
Rotavirus 6 – 60 days [36 – 38, 41]
Vacciniavirus 3 weeks – > 20 weeks [34, 126]

Kramer et al. BMC Infectious Diseases 2006 6:130   doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-130

 

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Pre-publication history

The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/6/130/prepub

BMC Infectious Diseases | Full text | How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A systematic review.

Why You Hate Work – NYTimes.com

THE way we’re working isn’t working. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep.

Increasingly, this experience is common not just to middle managers, but also to top executives.

Our company, The Energy Project, works with organizations and their leaders to improve employee engagement and more sustainable performance. A little over a year ago, Luke Kissam, the chief executive of Albemarle, a multibillion-dollar chemical company, sought out one of us, Tony, as a coach to help him deal with the sense that his life was increasingly overwhelming. “I just felt that no matter what I was doing, I was always getting pulled somewhere else,” he explained. “It seemed like I was always cheating someone — my company, my family, myself. I couldn’t truly focus on anything.”

Continue reading the main story

White-Collar Salt Mine

A 2013 survey of 12,115 workers worldwide found that many lacked a fulfilling workplace.

70%

Regular time for creative or strategic thinking

Ability to focus on one thing at a time

Opportunities to do what is most enjoyed

Level of meaning and significance

Connection to your company’s mission

A sense of community

Opportunities for learning and growth

Opportunities to do what you do best

Ability to prioritize your tasks

Overall positive energy

Understanding of how to be successful

Ability to balance work and home life

Ability to disengage from work

Comfort in truly being yourself

 

18%

DO NOT HAVE THIS AT WORK

DO HAVE THIS

66

21

60

33

50

36

50

25

49

35

48

38

47

36

46

36

45

36

43

40

40

37

40

42

40

45

Mr. Kissam is not alone. Srinivasan S. Pillay, a psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School who studies burnout, recently surveyed a random sample of 72 senior leaders and found that nearly all of them reported at least some signs of burnout and that all of them noted at least one cause of burnout at work.

More broadly, just 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup. Around the world, across 142 countries, the proportion of employees who feel engaged at work is just 13 percent. For most of us, in short, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in some obvious ways, it’s getting worse.

Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night.

Curious to understand what most influences people’s engagement and productivity at work, we partnered with the Harvard Business Review last fall to conduct a survey of more than 12,000 mostly white-collar employees across a broad range of companies and industries. We also gave the survey to employees at two of The Energy Project’s clients — one a manufacturing company with 6,000 employees, the other a financial services company with 2,500 employees. The results were remarkably similar across all three populations.

Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.

THE more effectively leaders and organizations support employees in meeting these core needs, the more likely the employees are to experience engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy at work, and the lower their perceived levels of stress. When employees have one need met, compared with none, all of their performance variables improve. The more needs met, the more positive the impact.

Engagement — variously defined as “involvement, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy” — has now been widely correlated with higher corporate performance. In a 2012 meta-analysis of 263 research studies across 192 companies, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, compared with the bottom quartile, had 22 percent higher profitability, 10 percent higher customer ratings, 28 percent less theft and 48 percent fewer safety incidents.

A 2012 global work force study of 32,000 employees by the consulting company Towers Watson found that the traditional definition of engagement — the willingness of employees to voluntarily expend extra effort — is no longer sufficient to fuel the highest levels of performance. Willing, it turns out, does not guarantee able. Companies in the Towers Watson study with high engagement scores measured in the traditional way had an operating margin of 14 percent. By contrast, companies with the highest number of “sustainably engaged” employees had an operating margin of 27 percent, nearly three times those with the lowest traditional engagement scores.

Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform. What our study revealed is just how much impact companies can have when they meet each of the four core needs of their employees.

Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become. By contrast, feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.

Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has a more significant impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third of respondents said they were able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.

Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

We often ask senior leaders a simple question: If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next we ask, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?” An uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

How to explain this odd disconnect?

The most obvious answer is that systematically investing in employees, beyond paying them a salary, didn’t seem necessary until recently. So long as employees were able to meet work demands, employers were under no pressure to address their more complex needs. Increasingly, however, employers are recognizing that the relentless stress of increased demand — caused in large part by digital technology — simply must be addressed.

Still, the forces of habit and inertia remain powerful obstacles to better meeting employee needs. Several years ago, we did a pilot program with 150 accountants in the middle of their firm’s busy tax season. Historically, employees work extremely long hours during these demanding periods, and are measured and evaluated based on how many hours they put in.

Recognizing the value of intermittent rest, we persuaded this firm to allow one group of accountants to work in a different way — alternating highly focused and uninterrupted 90-minute periods of work with 10-to-15-minute breaks in between, and a full one-hour break in the late afternoon, when our tendency to fall into a slump is higher. Our pilot group of employees was also permitted to leave as soon as they had accomplished a designated amount of work.

With higher focus, these employees ended up getting more work done in less time, left work earlier in the evenings than the rest of their colleagues, and reported a much less stressful overall experience during the busy season. Their turnover rate was far lower than that of employees in the rest of the firm. Senior leaders were aware of the results, but the firm didn’t ultimately change any of its practices. “We just don’t know any other way to measure them, except by their hours,” one leader told us. Recently, we got a call from the same firm. “Could you come back?” one of the partners asked. “Our people are still getting burned out during tax season.”

Partly, the challenge for employers is trust. For example, our study found that employees have a deep desire for flexibility about where and when they work — and far higher engagement when they have more choice. But many employers remain fearful that their employees won’t accomplish their work without constant oversight — a belief that ironically feeds the distrust of their employees, and diminishes their engagement.

A truly human-centered organization puts its people first — even above customers — because it recognizes that they are the key to creating long-term value. Costco, for example, pays its average worker $20.89 an hour, Businessweek reported last year, about 65 percent more than Walmart, which owns its biggest competitor, Sam’s Club. Over time, Costco’s huge investment in employees — including offering benefits to part-time workers — has proved to be a distinct advantage.

Costco’s employees generate nearly twice the sales of Sam’s Club employees. Costco has about 5 percent turnover among employees who stay at least a year, and the overall rate is far lower than that of Walmart. In turn, the reduced costs of recruiting and training new employees saves Costco several hundred million dollars a year. Between 2003 and 2013, Costco’s stock rose more than 200 percent, compared with about 50 percent for Walmart’s. What will prompt more companies to invest more in their employees?

Pain is one powerful motivator. Often companies seek out our services when they’ve begun losing valued employees, or a C.E.O. recognizes his own exhaustion, or a young, rising executive suddenly drops dead of a heart attack — a story we’ve been told more than a half dozen times in just the past six months.

In a numbers-driven world, the most compelling argument for change is the growing evidence that meeting the needs of employees fuels their productivity, loyalty and performance. Our own experience is that more and more companies are taking up this challenge — most commonly addressing employees’ physical needs first, through wellness and well-being programs. Far less common is a broader shift in the corporate mind-set from trying to get more out of employees to investing more in meeting their needs, so they’re both capable of and motivated to perform better and more sustainably.

THE simplest way for companies to take on this challenge is to begin with a basic question: “What would make our employees feel more energized, better taken care of, more focused and more inspired?” It costs nothing, for example, to mandate that meetings run no longer than 90 minutes, or to set boundaries around when people are expected to answer email and how quickly they’re expected to respond. Other basic steps we’ve seen client companies take is to create fitness facilities and nap rooms, and to provide healthy, high-quality food free, or at subsidized prices, as many Silicon Valley companies now do.

It also makes a big difference to explicitly reward leaders and managers who exhibit empathy, care and humility, and to hold them accountable for relying on anger or other demeaning emotions that may drive short-term results but also create a toxic climate of fear over time — with enormous costs. Also, as our study makes clear, employees are far more engaged when their work gives them an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.

The energy of leaders is, for better or worse, contagious. When leaders explicitly encourage employees to work in more sustainable ways — and especially when they themselves model a sustainable way of working — their employees are 55 percent more engaged, 53 percent more focused, and more likely to stay at the company, our research with the Harvard Business Review found.

Mr. Kissam, the Albemarle chief executive Tony first met more than a year ago, has taken up the challenge for himself and his employees. He began by building breaks into his days — taking a walk around the block — and being more fully focused and present during time with his family. He now sets aside at least one morning on his calendar every week for reflection and thinking longer term. He has also made it a practice to send out handwritten notes of appreciation to people inside and outside the company.

Mr. Kissam has also championed a comprehensive rethinking of his organization’s practices around meetings, email, flexible work arrangements, conflict resolution and recognition. By the end of 2014 more than 1,000 of his leaders and managers will have gone through a program aimed at helping them more skillfully meet their own needs, and the needs of those they oversee.

“I can already see it’s working,” Mr. Kissam told us. “Our safety record has improved significantly this year, because our people are more focused. We’re trusting them to do their jobs rather than telling them what to do, and then we’re appreciating them for their efforts. We’re also on the right path financially. A year from now it’s going to show up in our profitability. I saw what happened when I invested more in myself, and now we’re seeing what happens when we invest in our employees.”

Tony Schwartz is the chief executive of The Energy Project, a consulting firm. Christine Porath is an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a consultant to The Energy Project.

 

Why You Hate Work – NYTimes.com.

 

An American trucker who languished for seven months in a Mexican prison after accidentally carrying ammunition across the border told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren the experience was “the worst thing that anybody could ever go through.”

Jabin Bogan recounted his 2012 plight on “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” Tuesday, a case which bears striking similarities to that of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andre Tahmooressi.

Tahmooressi was arrested March 31 after accidentally crossing into Mexico with three registered guns. On Wednesday, he will have his first appearance before a Mexican judge to plead for his freedom.

Bogan said he was making a delivery near the border when he got confused because of construction on the freeway. He said he attempted to turn around but ended up in Mexico.

He was then stopped by Mexican authorities. He said he told them he was carrying ammunition for a delivery in Arizona, and was attempting to go back across the border to the U.S.

“They said, well, you have got a serious problem right now,” he said. “And the next thing you know they put me in handcuffs and put me in custody and put me in a little room and I was there for the next seven months.”

Bogan described his time in the Mexican prison as “hopeless,” saying he had no idea what was going to happen to him. He said it was also difficult because he did not speak the language.

“It’s like you against the world in there,” he said. “Nobody knows you, nobody in there. It’s hopeless really. Like, there is no hope. There is no communication. There is no phone calls. There is no letters.”

Bogan’s mother Aletha Smith told Van Susteren the ordeal was terrible and frustrating, saying she did not know what was happening to her son.

“Just to sit here and relive it – it’s a horrible feeling to hear that your son has been arrested in a foreign country that neither of us knew anything about or why,” she said.

Bogan said eventually he was released, for reasons that are still unclear to him.

“It’s really just – in my opinion, I think it’s the worst thing that anybody could ever go through,” he said.

Trucker recounts ‘hopeless’ prison ordeal after making wrong turn into Mexico | Fox News.

It is well established that brain games and puzzles act as calisthenics for our brains, expanding their capacity and improving their overall health. More surprising are the findings of a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan. It shows that just as effective in building cognitive strength are social interactions.

The design of the study was simple – the researchers took one group of participants, randomly paired people up, and instructed them to get to know each other by asking probing questions. After ten minutes of such interaction, the participants were given a battery of cognitive tests. In parallel, participants in a second group were given challenging brain-game activities to perform, also for ten minutes, and followed by the same cognitive tests. A third group served as the control and took the tests with no prelude. The result? The social interaction group outperformed the control group on the cognitive tests, and did not differ from the brain games group. For the researchers, this suggests that the active perspective-taking one does in conversation involves mental gymnastics as demanding as any brain-teaser.

I find it fascinating that a good way to keep your brain “oiled” is simply to spend time talking with people. I’m also happy to note that this makes the case for open innovation even stronger.

Open innovation projects (where organizations facing tricky problems invite outsiders to take a crack at solving them) always present cognitive challenges, of course. But they also force new, boundary-spanning human interactions and fresh perspective-taking. They require people to reach out to other people, and thus foster social interaction.

Two other recent studies underscore how deeply social an activity open innovation is.  The first, from Newcastle Business School in the UK, looks directly at knowledge exchange between higher education institutions and industry (a typical exchange in open innovation challenges) and concludes that its success depends upon the social processes that facilitate the collaboration. The second, from the University of Lapland in Finland, explores what executives who sponsor open innovation challenges value most about them, and finds that the broader benefits of the multidisciplinary social interaction outweigh the concrete results of getting specific solutions.

In my experience, the “solvers” of challenges also recognize the value of open innovation as social exercise. Take one of the teams that recently responded to the GE/NFL Head Health Open Innovation Challenge, which NineSigma managed. GE and the NFL were looking for fresh approaches to diagnosing concussions, and someone at The University of Akron saw a connection to “neuromarketing” work being done by the school’s Suarez Applied Marketing Research Laboratories. But they recognized they would also need to address other angles, so they assembled a team drawing on the University’s Department of Sport Science and Wellness Education, its Statistics Department, Akron Children’s Hospital, and NE Ohio Medical University. These groups had never before worked together on a common solution, or even imagined that their research could be combined into a larger solution.

As it happens, the solution they proposed didn’t win the challenge. But the University of Michigan research suggests the team members themselves got smarter in the process. Maybe that’s why they are eager to maintain the connection, and have collaborated in other ways since.  And I would go a step further and posit that GE and the NFL built their brainpower, too – not just because they got a smart solution to their challenge but because they expanded their networks. Every time we run a technology search for an organization, proposals pour in from world-class solution providers – usually more than a dozen, and often many times that amount. When our clients reach out to these submitters, they make new connections that sharpen their thinking – even more so if the interaction persists after the immediate search is concluded.

On this point, I can’t help recalling yet another interesting study, published in Nature Neuroscience in 2011. It demonstrated a positive correlation between the size of the amygdala – a part of the human brain that performs a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions – and the size and complexity of a person’s social network. In other words: Bigger brain, greater social interactions. It’s a correlation, and the first assumption people make is that the larger amygdala supports greater emotional intelligence and better memory, allowing the individual’s social network to expand. But perhaps the causality also goes the other way, and interacting widely with others – as companies do when they use open innovation – grows the capacity of brains.

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A Social Brain Is a Smarter Brain – Andy Zynga – Harvard Business Review.

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

American children of the 19th century had a reputation. Returning British visitors reported on American kids who showed no respect, who swore and fought, who appeared — at age 10 — “calling for liquor at the bar, or puffing a cigar in the streets,” as one wrote. There were really no children in 19th-century America, travelers often claimed, only “small stuck-up caricatures of men and women.”

This was not a “carefree” nation, too rough-hewed to teach proper manners; adults deliberately chose to express new values by raising “go-ahead” boys and girls. The result mixed democracy and mob rule, assertiveness and cruelty, sudden freedom and strict boundaries.

Visitors noted how American fathers would brag that their disobedient children were actually “young republicans,” liberated from old hierarchies. Children were still expected to be deferential to elders, but many were trained to embody their nation’s revolutionary virtues. “The theory of the equality” was present at the ballot box, according to one sympathetic Englishman, but “rampant in the nursery.”

Boys, in particular, spent their childhoods in a rowdy outdoor subculture. After age 5 or so they needed little attention from their mothers, but were not big enough to help their fathers work. So until age 10 or 12 they spent much of their time playing or fighting.

The writer William Dean Howells recalled his ordinary, violent Ohio childhood, immersed in his loose gang of pals, rarely catching a “glimpse of life much higher than the middle of a man.” Howells’s peers were “always stoning something,” whether friends, rivals or stray dogs. They left a trail of maimed animals behind them, often hurt in sloppy attempts to domesticate wild pets.

And though we envision innocents playing with a hoop and a stick, many preferred “mumbletypeg” — a game where two players competed to see who could throw a knife closer to his own foot. Stabbing yourself meant a win by default.

Left to their own devices, boys learned an assertive style that shaped their futures. The story of every 19th-century empire builder — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt — seems to begin with a striving 10-year-old. “Boy culture” offered training for the challenges of American manhood and a reprieve before a life of labor.

But these unsupervised boys also formed gangs that harassed the mentally ill, the handicapped and racial and ethnic minorities. Boys played an outsize role in the anti-Irish pogroms in 1840s Philadelphia, the brutal New York City draft riots targeting African-Americans during the Civil War and attacks on Chinese laborers in Gilded Age California. These children did not invent the bigotry rampant in white America, but their unrestrained upbringing let them enact what their parents mostly muttered.

Their sisters followed a different path. Girls were usually assigned more of their mothers’ tasks. An 8-year-old girl would be expected to help with the wash or other physically demanding tasks, while her brother might simply be too small, too slow or too annoying to drive the plow with his father. But despite their drudgery, 19th-century American girls still found time for tree climbing, bonfire building and waterfall-jumping antics. There were few pretty pink princesses in 19th-century America: Girls were too rowdy and too republican for that.

So how did we get from “democratic sucklings” to helicopter parents? Though many point to a rise of parental worrying after the 1970s, this was an incremental change in a movement that began a hundred years earlier.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, middle-class parents launched a self-conscious project to protect children. Urban professionals began to focus on children’s vulnerabilities. Well-to-do worriers no longer needed to raise tough dairymaids or cunning newsboys; the changing economy demanded careful managers of businesses or households, and restrained company men, capable of navigating big institutions.

Demographics played a role as well: By 1900 American women had half as many children as they did in 1800, and those children were twice as likely to live through infancy as they were in 1850. Ironically, as their children faced fewer dangers, parents worried more about their protection.

Instead of seeing boys and girls as capable, clever, knockabout scamps, many reconceived children as vulnerable, weak and naïve. Reformers introduced child labor laws, divided kids by age in school and monitored their play. Jane Addams particularly worked to fit children into the new industrial order, condemning “this stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play.”

There was good reason to tame the boys and girls of the 19th century, if only for stray cats’ sake. But somewhere between Jane Addams and Nancy Grace, Americans lost track of their larger goal. Earlier parents raised their kids to express values their society trumpeted.

“Precocious” 19th-century troublemakers asserted their parents’ democratic beliefs and fit into an economy that had little use for 8-year-olds but idealized striving, self-made men. Reformers designed their Boy Scouts to meet the demands of the 20th century, teaching organization and rebalancing the relationship between play and work. Both movements agreed, in their didactic ways, that playtime shaped future citizens.

Does the overprotected child articulate values we are proud of in 2014? Nothing is easier than judging other peoples’ parenting, but there is a side of contemporary American culture — fearful, litigious, controlling — that we do not brag about but that we reveal in our child rearing, and that runs contrary to our self-image as an open, optimistic nation. Maybe this is why sheltering parents come in for so much easy criticism: A visit to the playground exposes traits we would rather not recognize.

There is, however, a saving grace that parents will notice this summer. Kids are harder to guide and shape, as William Dean Howells put it, “than grown people are apt to think.” It is as true today as it was two centuries ago: “Everywhere and always the world of boys is outside of the laws that govern grown-up communities.” Somehow, they’ll manage to go their own way.

via The Wild Children of Yesteryear – NYTimes.com.

A study from researchers at the University of Eastern Finland shows that there may be a link between cynicism and brain health.

This study was published in the Journal of American Academy of Neurology.

According to Austrian Tribune, those who are less likely to trust others are more likely to develop dementia. Those who have a high level of cynicism like this are two and half times more likely to develop the brain disease.

Researchers divided 1,500 people ages 65 to 79 into groups based on their cynicism.

The study defined cynicism as a person’s belief that others are motivated by selfishness. Researchers discovered a person’s level of cynicism by performing an eight question survey.

They were grouped as highly cynical, moderately cynical, and least cynical.

The higher on the cynicism scale, the more likely a person was to smoke or gain weight during the study.

Cynics, according to AP, view their attitudes differently, but they have shown researchers a link between attitude and health.

Researchers eventually want to see if treating someone’s attitude problem can influence the treatments available for dementia.

via Your cynicism may be hurting your brain | TheCelebrityCafe.com.

In general, smokers have 15 percent chance of developing lung cancer. This percent is very much greater than the non-smokers, according to Richard Houlston, lead author of the study. He says, “Our results show that some smokers with BRCA2 mutations are at an enormous risk of lung cancer — somewhere in the region of 25 percent over their lifetime.”He said that every year, lung cancer takes more than a million lives. The biggest thing that can be done is to persuade people to stop smoking.The study was conducted by Institute of Cancer Research in the United Kingdom. The study showed the connection between BRCA2 gene defect and lung cancer by analyzing the DNA of 16,000 people without lung cancer and 11,000 with the disease.Connection between squamous cell lung cancer and CHEK2 gene defect was also found by this study published in the journal Nature Genetics.

via Gene Defect may lead to Lung Cancer in 1 in 4 Smokers | Techsonia.