Archive for March, 2015

Probiotics are important in maintaining our gut flora, but they can still cause issues just like any supplement and most issues with supplementation go unreported on the natural health blogosphere. Everyone writes about the pros of taking probiotics, but what are the cons? The cons of taking probiotics is the topic of this upcoming blog series.

Histamine is an organic compound produced by the body. Histamine is produced during immune responses and as a neurotransmitter down regulator. Histamine produced by the stomach and the intestines help to regulate their function. There are four types of histamine receptors in the body, and each receptor performs a different task.1

Most people make histamine out to be a monster. Too much histamine is the cause of my seasonal allergies. Histamine overproduction is the only cause of my anaphylactic reaction when I eat shrimp, which I am allergic. Excess histamine is the reason I have heartburn, so I take a histamine receptor two antagonist like Pepcid to relieve my digestive woes. The main problem is not directly the histamine in all of these individual issues; the real problem is why too much histamine was released or is circulating throughout the body during these health issues.2

The body needs the correct balance of histamine so that your digestive system, immune system, neurotransmitter system, and nervous system work properly.

Proper supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids,3 vitamin D3,4 vitamin B6,5 magnesium,6 and vitamin C7 can help the body maintain proper histamine balance. If you are suffering from having a histamine imbalance, you should try a histamine reduced diet to see if your issues improve.

If you are supplementing probiotics and have histamine issues, you should only supplement histamine-degrading probiotics instead of histamine-producing probiotics until the imbalance corrects itself. The intestines and stomach for proper function require histamine. It is totally unknown if these probiotics increase histamine levels in vivo in humans, I would still limit them if needed. Histamine-producing probiotics should not be used until the body can maintain proper levels of histamine.

Histamine Producing / Degrading Bacteria


Histamine Producers:8

E. coli
Klebsiella pneumoniae
Lactobacillus bulgaricus
Lactobacillus casei
Lactobacillus helveticus
Lactobacillus reuteri

Histamine Degraders:9 10 11

Bifidobacterium infantis
Bifidobacterium longum
Lactobacillus gasseri
Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Lactobacillus plantarum
Lactobacillus salivarius

  8. Preedy, Victor. Processing and Impact on Active Components in Food, Academic Press, 2014.


Why Supplementing With Probiotics May Make You Ill – Part 1: Excessive Histamine Production – Fix Your Gut.

A book worth reading and a blog worth looking into:

Magnesium is important in over 325 enzyme reactions in the body.1 It is used to regulate blood sugar in the body, and to help prevent you from developing diabetes.2 Magnesium relaxes arteries that carry blood throughout the body, which lowers blood pressure. Magnesium also chelates extra calcium in the body; this keeps the arteries from hardening due to excess calcium. Finally, magnesium supplementation can help lower stress and anxiety levels.


Let’ us take a look at the many magnesium types and their functions, but the best form I can recommend is magnesium glycinate. The body absorbs the most elemental magnesium from glycinate.3 The extra glycine, an amino acid, relaxes nerves, and relieves anxiety.


Possible Symptoms of A Magnesium Deficiency




This is a list of possible symptoms a patient might have if they have a magnesium deficiency. If a magnesium deficiency is present, you can still have a magnesium deficiency and not have any of these symptoms as well. This often occurs in patients that are younger (age helps reduce the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency,) and it can also depend on the gender (men tend to have less symptoms than women.) Most people should supplement with 400 mg of elemental magnesium (as long as their kidney function is normal) even if they do not know if they are deficient.4


·        Tingling in legs – Magnesium deficiency is the main cause of restless legs syndrome


·        Leg cramps (charlie horse)


·        Weakness


·        Asthma


·        Elevated blood pressure and/or pulse


·        Heart disease


·        Diabetes


·        Dizziness


·        Shaking


·        Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)


·        Constipation5


 Diagnostic Tests for Magnesium Deficiency




Here is a simple guide of the different tests that are used to determine if you have a magnesium deficiency or not.


Magnesium Serum Test – A magnesium serum test is the most common magnesium test performed and also the most inaccurate. Less than 1% of the body’s total magnesium is in the blood plasma and the body does whatever it takes to keep that number regular. If you score low on a plasma test then you are in dire need of magnesium and you are definitely deficient in your bones, organs, and muscles.6 This test is used to measure extracellular magnesium levels. Normal plasma magnesium levels are, 1.6 – 2.4 mEq/L.7 This test does not accurately measure the body’s total magnesium level, but is the test most often used for diagnostic testing.


Magnesium RBC Test – A magnesium RBC test is a more accurate test that quantifies the amount of magnesium stored in the red blood cells. This test measures intracellular magnesium levels. This test gives you the amount of magnesium that has been stored in your cells for the past four months.  Results of six mg / dl or higher indicate strong magnesium reserves in the body.8


Magnesium WBC Test – A magnesium WBC test is more accurate than the RBC test. Like the magnesium RBC test, the WBC test also measures intracellular magnesium levels. This test gives you the amount of magnesium that is currently in your cells, it does not show an average of magnesium in the cells over a period of time like the RBC test. This test is not available to many doctors or diagnostic labs.9


Magnesium EXA Test – A magnesium EXA test is the best test to determine magnesium deficiency. This test is performed by scraping your cheek buccal cells for a sample so that levels of magnesium stored in your cells, bones, and muscles can be determined. Like the WBC test, the EXA test is considered an intracellular magnesium test. The EXA test will account for 99% of the body’s total magnesium, and is the most accurate diagnostic test for magnesium currently.10


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6



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  1. Magnesium: Most Overlooked Mineral For Improving Health – Part 5 – Fix Your GutDecember 30, 2014[…] Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 […]
  2. Magnesium: Most Overlooked Mineral for Improving Health – Part 4 – Fix Your GutDecember 30, 2014[…] Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 […]
  3. Magnesium: Most Overlooked Mineral for Improving Health – Part 2 – Fix Your GutSeptember 30, 2014[…] Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 […]
  4. Magnesium: Most Overlooked Mineral For Improving Health – Part 6 – Fix Your GutSeptember 30, 2014


Magnesium and Your Digestive Health


Magnesium is used in the body to help active digestive enzyme reactions in your body as well as regulate the proper transit time of your bowels.1 2 The enzyme reactions in your body help further break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Magnesium chloride can help increase stomach acid to help assimilate food better if you have digestion problems it might be the type you want to use.3 Most all other magnesium (unless chelated with an acid like citrate or malate) lower stomach acid so they should be taken before bed so problems with digestion will not occur.




Magnesium is used by your intestines as an osmotic laxative.4 This means that your large intestine uses magnesium to bring in water into the bowl so that your stool becomes softer and easier to pass. This is why magnesium supplementation is a great treatment for someone who has constipation issues.5 Magnesium is very important for the functioning of your digestive system as well as your complete health as well.


Different Forms of Magnesium


Recommended Forms of Magnesium:




Magnesium glycinate – The most bio-available form of magnesium. The extra glycine as an amino acid can help with sleep and provide a calm feeling. This form of magnesium is the least likely to cause loose stools. Taken at bedtime.6


Magnesium malate – Magnesium malate is important for people who have a lot of fatigue or suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Magnesium supplementation increases ATP, which is a molecule that provides energy to our cells. Malic Acid has also been shown to increase ATP levels. Magnesium malate should be taken during the day with meals. The extra malic acid will increase stomach acid and assimilation.7


Magnesium chloride – Magnesium chloride is one of the best forms of magnesium for people with Gerd or stomach problems. It must be taken with food because the extra chloride will definitely make more HCL in the stomach. Can also be used topically as a spray for transdermal supplementation.8


Magnesium taurate – Magnesium taurate is a lifesaver for people with heart disease. The extra taurine is an amino acid helps increase heart function. Taken at bedtime.9


Magnesium citrate – Magnesium citrate should mostly only be used for bowel irrigation, it is also one of the most well-known forms of magnesium supplementation. It causes some loose stools and its absorption is average. Magnesium citrate should be taken with meals because the extra citric acid will increase stomach acid and assimilation.10


Magnesium sulfate – Honestly only used to stop pre-eclampsia and used in bath salts as epsom salt. Has okay absorption but does leave some extra organic sulfur in the body can be absorbed by the skin. Sulfate can help heal muscle sprains better than most other forms of magnesium because of skin permeability. Taken soaking in a bath or before bed.11


Magnesium arginate – Arginine is a vasodilator amino acid that is good for increasing blood flow.12 This form of magnesium is very good for bodybuilders. Taken with meals throughout the day due to the possibility of increased energy.


Magnesium lysinate – A good source of magnesium and the amino acid lysine. Lysine is an excellent anti-viral. Taken before bed.13


Magnesium ascorbate – A good source of magnesium and vitamin C. Can cause some loose stools. Taken before bed.14


Magnesium ZMK- A great form of magnesium that uses magnesium from all of the Krebs cycle: citrate, fumarate, malate, succinate & alpha-keto-glutarate. This supplement form of magnesium ZMK is great for athletes, and is very good for recovery. A ZMK supplement should be taken before bed.


Magnesium fumerate, succinate, alpha-keto glutarate – See Magnesium ZMK, All Krebs cycle forms of magnesium.15


Magnesium gluconate – A form of magnesium that is chelated with gluconic acid, which occurs from the fermentation of glucose. Magnesium gluconate has above average absorption in the body (better than even magnesium citrate)16, rarely causes loose stools. Taken before bed.


Magnesium carbonate – This is probably the lowest form of magnesium I can recommend. Has one of lowest levels of assimilation and is a good osmotic laxative. It can also lower stomach acid levels and is used in most antacids. Taken at bedtime.17


Magnesium With Special Uses:




Magnesium orotate – This is one least known forms of magnesium, but let me tell you if you just had a surgery or exercise constantly then it will be your godsend. The extra orotate will help muscle regeneration.18 It also has been shown to support heart health greater than even magnesium taurate. Taken at bedtime.19


Magnesium L-threonate – Magnesium L-threonate may greatly increase magnesium in the brain and spinal column for increased cognitive function.20 To be honest there isn’t a lot of in vivo research to prove if this is true yet though. L-threonate is an isomer of ascorbic acid.21 (New research has shown that it increases magnesium levels about the same as magnesium sulfate, granted magnesium sulfate is injected which might make it be able to cross the blood brain barrier then oral magnesium.22) Taken at bedtime.


Magnesium 2-AEP – This is a form of magnesium that is chelated with phosphorylethanolamine which is a vital component of the structure and integrity of cell membranes. Magnesium 2-AEP has been theorized to help patients with MS, because it can help with cellular function and integrity and can help protect myelin in the brain. Taken with meals during the day.23


Magnesium peroxide – ONLY AS COLON CLEANSER. Taken before bed.


Magnesium Phos 6X – Normally I do not recommend homeopathic supplements (if they work for some people I’m glad they do, I rather recommend nutriceuticals), but for homeopathic minerals I feel they still can be beneficial because some of the trace mineral should be left in the product. I would suggest on using this in a person who is extremely sensitive to all forms of magnesium supplementation. If magnesium glycinate still causes loose stools and magnesium chloride causes allergic reactions on the skin then this is the magnesium for you to try. 24 This magnesium contains some phosphorus so I would suggest if you have kidney problems to stay away from this form. Taken before bed.25


Garbage forms of Magnesium:




Most of these forms of magnesium I consider are garbage because they either do damage in the body or are very poorly absorbed.


Magnesium yeast chelate – A “natural” form of magnesium that is very easily assimilated by the body, what sounds so wrong about that? This form of magnesium is found in most of your “natural” vitamins like New Chapter, Garden of Life, and Megafood. The main problem I have with this form of magnesium is that you have to ingest a lot of brewers yeast (which some people are sensitive to) in the whole supplement to get a tiny amount of magnesium.26 Most vitamins that use this form of magnesium have very little magnesium actually in the vitamin (less than 100 mg elemental). There are just a lot better options out there. Taken with food.


Magnesium aspartate – Absorption is notworth extra aspartic acid. Too much aspartic acid can be neurotoxic. Can you say ASPARTAME? Taken at bedtime. This includes magnesium ZMA supplements.27


Magnesium pidolate (Magnesium 5-Oxo Proline) – Absorption is DEFINITELY not worth the extra free glutamic acid. Too much free glutamic acid can be excitotoxic and neurotoxic. Can you say MSG? Taken with meals.


Magnesium hydroxide – Not greatly absorbed and most magnesium is released into the bowels. Most commercial preparations (Milk of Magnesium) have sodium hypochlorite added (bleach.) Taken at Bedtime.28


Magnesium oxide – VERY POORLY ABSORBED – Out of 400 mg only AT MOST 80 mg of elemental magnesium is absorbed by the body. Magnesium oxide is one of the worst absorbed forms of magnesium, and sadly the most common supplement form of magnesium taken. Taken at Bedtime.29


Magnesium glycerophosphate – This magnesium is chelated with phosphorus. The problem with this magnesium is that most people get too much phosphate in their diet. People with kidney problems should also definitely stay away from this supplement because it is harder for them to eliminate excess phosphates. Taken at bedtime.30


Magnesium lactate – Extra lactic acid is FUN! Should not definitely not be used for people who have kidney disease because the extra lactic acid can cause complications for the kidneys. I do not generally recommend this form at all. Taken during meals.


Magnesium: Most Overlooked Mineral for Improving Health – Part 2 – Fix Your Gut.



IceAgeNow | Planetary Theory Moves to the Next Level.


Calgary, Alberta, Canada (PRWEB) August 15, 2013

Climate change on earth is significantly affected by the changing 11 year solar magnetic cycles, according to Friends of Science and many solar and climate researchers. A recently released NASA video, complete with animation explaining the process wherein the sun’s magnetic poles flip polarity, lends credence to the scientific position Friends of Science takes on climate change and global warming.

“We are pleased that the NASA video and animation describing these events in part explains how climate is affected by the solar magnetic flux,” says Dr. Neil Hutton, director of Friends of Science.

The video also notes there are space and earth climate variations as earth passes through the ‘waves’ of magnetic energy radiating from the sun.

Dr. Hutton is a long-time proponent of the view that solar magnetic flux is the principle driver of climate change. His work has been cited by the late Dr. Peter Ziegler, Emeritus Professor, University of Basel, in December 2010 in a presentation to the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

“For the first time in history, people are able to observe close-up the changes the sun goes through as its magnetic poles flip,” says Hutton. He points out that sun spot activity has been documented as early as 300 BC, but most notably by Galileo in the 1600’s, and the activity has been systematically recorded since 1700.

Hutton notes that this particular “Cycle 24” of the sun is quite unusual due to the very low number of sunspots.

“The current sun spot behavior has not been observed in 200 years,” says Hutton.

Colder periods like the Little Ice Age were preceded by low sunspot activity. During the Little Ice Age from about 1350 to 1850, cooler temperatures and wet seasons across Europe lead to massive crop failures, famines and civil unrest.

Hutton states: “The Sun’s magnetic index is measured daily and has significantly declined since the last maximum of Cycle 23. The geomagnetic activity of earth and that of the sun are interrelated and their interplay also affects climate. Theoretically, a weaker solar magnetic field could allow the penetration of more cosmic rays which directly affect cloud cover and climate. This has been demonstrated by the recently completed CLOUD experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.”

Friends of Science express concern that global governments are not prepared for the possible consequences of multi-decade global cooling.

“Even a one degree drop in temperature could devastate agricultural production,” says Hutton. “Are we prepared?”

Colder weather would reduce northern hemisphere crop growth, increase demand for reliable, dispatchable energy, and increase the number of health issues and deaths.

“Instead of spending a trillion dollars world-wide on carbon reduction policies and unreliable wind and solar, as we have done in the past decade, we need to upgrade and maintain inexpensive fossil-fuel based energy for northern, industrialized countries,” says Hutton.

Friends of Science President, Len Maier, a retired engineer, is a farmer and recommends: “We must convert land production from producing biofuels from crops like canola and corn. Current producing crops like these should be dedicated to human or animal feed, not be used for biofuels.”

The Little Ice Age lasted about 500 years. Other periods of extended cooling occurred before humans used fossil-fuels. Friends of Science agree that human activity has some impact on climate; the effect of human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2) is minor compared to natural forces and cyclical patterns of the sun and ocean currents.

About Friends of Science

Friends of Science have spent a decade reviewing a broad spectrum of literature on climate change and have concluded the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide (CO2). Membership is open to the public and available on-line.

Friends of Science
P.O. Box 23167, Connaught P.O.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2S 3B1

Toll-free Telephone: 1-888-789-9597

E-mail: contact(at)friendsofscience(dot)org

Spectacular NASA Images Illustrate Sun as a Driver of Global Warming and Climate Change Foretells Global Cooling Says Friends of Science.



solar-cycle-sunspot-number.gif (GIF Image, 720 × 550 pixels).


loners die early.

A study by Brigham Young University in Utah unveiled that loners die early. Being alone not only affects a person mentally but also physically, said the study researchers. The researchers evaluated data for the study subjects over a period of 35 years. Remaining lonely for 35 years was characterized by living alone and social isolation. In the study, three million participants were examined. After assessing, the researchers concluded that loneliness can lead to physical and mental damage.

Various factors that might affect the study include age, socioeconomic status, gender, and current illnesses. As per the analysis, with the controlled variables, loneliness led to 26% of the participants to die prematurely and isolation led to 29% of participants to die prematurely.

In the case of people who live alone, the risk of dying early was 32%. The researchers also found that younger individuals who are lonely having increased risk of dying than older people in their 60s. The study added that social media can add to loneliness and also reduces satisfaction.

Experts affirmed that being lonely does not mean being alone. Even when the person is surrounded by many people, some people still feel alone as loneliness depends on the subjective quality of relationship. The researchers said that there is a need to take social relationships more seriously.

via Loners at Risk of Early Death: Study | Uncover California.

Hedge fund executives have unleashed a tsunami of money the past few years aimed at getting New York’s politicians to close more public schools and expand charter schools.

via Hedge fund execs’ money for charter schools may pay off – NY Daily News.

the average oil and gas worker makes $108,000


via Itemizing The Oil Bust: 75,000 Layoffs And Counting.

Ashely Judd

Billy Joel

Hugh Laurie

Jim Carrey

How can somebody so funny be secretly struggling with depression? Such is the case with celebrated comedic actor Jim Carrey, who has been very open about his long-term depression battle. In a 2008 interview with the British newspaper The Sun, Carrey described how his mental health issues began just as he was breaking through to stardom, adding that his perspective on depression has changed over the years.

Sheryl Crow

This Grammy-winning singer has released hit single after hit single through the years, but even a woman famous for singing “all I wanna do is have some fun” can be depressed. According to a 2002 write-up in Blender, Crow states that depression has been part of her everyday life as long as she can remember. She credits antidepressants and therapy with helping her recovery.


10 Celebrities Coping With Depression – Depression Center – Everyday Health.

Sean Bell

The 2006 shooting of 23-year-old Sean Bell raised questions in New York City about the NYPD’s use of excessive force. On what would have been his wedding day, Bell was shot and killed by police in a hail of 50 bullets outside a strip club in Queens. Officers said they thought the victim and his friends, who were celebrating Bell’s bachelor party, were planning on retrieving a gun from their vehicle when they opened fire. After months of protests around the city, Officers Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper were acquitted in 2008.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

David London

Security cameras in a Manhattan apartment building recorded NYPD officer David London hitting Iraq war veteran Walter Harvin almost 20 times with a baton even after he had handcuffed him. The incident began when Harvin entered the building without a key and refused to identify himself to London. Footage shows Harvin shoved London, but the cop lied to investigators by claiming that he’d been punched before retaliating with his baton. A jury acquitted London of assault and making false statements in 2010.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Danziger Bridge Shootings

The trial is underway for four New Orleans police officers accused of killing two people and wounding four others in the shooting on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The suspects, pictured left to right, are Robert Faulcon Jr., Robert Gisevius Jr., Kenneth Bowen, and Anthony Villavaso II.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Jon Burge

In this May 24, 2010 file photo, former Chicago Police commander Jon Burge departs the federal building in Chicago. Burge, whose name has become synonymous with police brutality and abuse of power in Chicago, was convicted in 2010 of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a civil suit when he said he’d never witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Michael Mineo

Michael Mineo accused an NYPD cop of sodomizing him with a baton after getting busted for smoking marijuana at a Brooklyn subway station in October 2008. A jury cleared the officer accused in the attack as well as two others charged with covering up the alleged assault.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Ian Tomlinson

London newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson died after police officer Simon Harwood hit him with a baton and knocked him to the ground as he walked away from police during a G-20 protest in 2009. Harwood will stand trial in October for manslaughter, according to The Guardian.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Abner Loiuma

Abner Loiuma became a symbol of unchecked police force after the Haitian immigrant was sodomized with a broomstick by cops in a New York City police station in 1997. The officer responsible for the attack, Justin Volpe, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Cops gone wild 1 Caught lying!

Christopher Long

A New York City police officer was acquitted of assault and harassment after being videotaped knocking over cyclist Christopher Long during a “Critical Mass” bike ride through Times Square in 2008. Patrick Pogan resigned from the police force and was found guilty of filing false documents after video emerged that contradicted his claim that Long swerved into him.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Cops gone wild 5 DEAD

Kelly Thomas

FILE – This July 5, 2011 file still frame from security camera video, released May 7, 2012, by the Orange County District Attorney, shows an altercation between Fullerton police officers and Kelly Thomas at the Fullerton, Calif., bus depot. Thomas died days later. Two officers, Manuel Ramos, and Jay Ciccinelli, are on trial charges related to his death. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Orange County District Attorney, File)

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Cops gone wild 3 Cold blooded killing!

Oscar Grant BART shooting

Oscar Grant was shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer early on New Year’s Day 2009 in Oakland, Calif. Cellphone footage shows BART cops struggling with Grant and forcing him to lay facedown on the platform after reports of a fight on the train. Officer Johannes Mehserle was seen shooting Grant in the back once, killing him. He was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter, but acquitted of second degree murder.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Cops gone wild 2

Anthony Abbate

Off-duty Chicago police officer Anthony Abbate was sentenced to two years probation and anger management classes after being captured on video beating a female bartender in 2007.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

Police Gone Wild 1

William Cozzi

Chicago police officer William Cozzi was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison after he was caught on camera in 2005 handcuffing a man to a wheelchair and beating him in a hospital. Cozzi claimed the victim — a man who was seeking treatment for stab wounds — had attacked him.

via Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

POMONA, Calif. (AP) — An arrest warrant was issued Monday for a rookie Los Angeles policeman suspected of killing a man during a fight in Pomona while he was off duty.

The murder warrant is for Henry Solis, 27, who should be considered armed and dangerous, according to a statement from Pomona police.

Solis’ Volkswagen Jetta was found Sunday about four blocks from where the shooting occurred, and he may be driving a 1992 brown or tan Ford pickup truck with license plate number 4J79703, police said.

Solis is suspected of shooting Salome Rodriguez, 23, of Ontario, around 3:30 a.m. Friday during a fight near Third and Main streets in this city east of Los Angeles. He died at a hospital.

The men had both gone to a downtown bar called the Viva Tequila Lounge and Nightclub and got into a confrontation after leaving, Pomona police Lt. Ronald McDonald told the Los Angeles Times.

Rodriguez worked at a warehouse and was out with co-workers Thursday night, relatives told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Rodriguez also was a missionary with St. Vincent Catholic Church in Los Angeles, said his mother, Lidia Angelica Rodriguez.

Solis, who joined the LAPD in June, didn’t show up for work after the shooting. He is a probationary officer at the Devonshire Division in the San Fernando Valley.

Solis had “no disciplinary issues” since joining the LAPD, Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Times.

Rodriguez’s mother urged Solis to surrender.

“Why are you running?” she told the Daily Bulletin. “Just turn yourself in. I can’t believe someone with a badge and a gun could do that to him.”

Henry Solis, LA Cop, Suspected Of Killing Man During Off-Duty Fight.

TaurineTaurine plays a major role in good liver function via detoxification and the formation of bile. Inadequate levels of taurine are common in many patients with chemical sensitivities and allergies. Taurine is the major amino acid required by the liver for the removal of toxic chemicals and metabolites from the body. Impaired body synthesis of taurine will reduce the ability of the liver to detoxify environmental chemicals such as chlorine, chlorite bleach, aldehydes produced from alcohol excess, alcohols, petroleum-based solvents and ammonia. Recent findings are demonstrating, that taurine is one of the major nutrients involved in the body’s detoxification of harmful substances and drugs, and should be considered in the treatment of all chemically sensitive patients. Taurine is helpful for high blood cholesterol and gall bladder problems, alcohol withdrawal, hepatitis and jaundice.

via Positive Health Online | Article – A Healthy Liver and Weight Loss.

at the local courthouse, the running of which has been handed over to private contractors by the city.



via Atlanta garbage man thrown in jail after getting to work too early and annoying residents | Daily Mail Online.

“IT’S like coffee times ten,” raves one enthusiast. “I use it a couple of times a week and problems solve themselves. At the end of the day, I haven’t wasted hours on frivolous websites. At the end of the week, my apartment is clean.” This marvel of productivity is not a new energy drink or an experimental wonder drug but a simple electrical device that he built at home for less than $10. Whenever this physicist feels like an extra burst of motivation, he places electrodes on his skull and sends a jolt of electricity into his brain.

The currents, which are typically applied for ten to 20 minutes, are hundreds of times smaller than the seizure-inducing shocks used in electroconvulsive therapy. Plans to make such transcranial direction current stimulation (tDCS) machines are freely available online and their components can be bought at hobbyist stores. Kits cater to those lacking soldering skills, and now companies are emerging offering nicely designed and packaged brain zappers for mainstream consumers.

Not everyone using tDCS is seeking to become more efficient in their daily life. Some hope to enhance their concentration for study or video gaming; others want to boost their memory, speed up learning or induce meditative calm. Yet more are trying to self-medicate for conditions such as depression, chronic pain and motor, sensory or neurological disorders. The benefits might sound implausible, but there is some science to support them. The idea goes back a long way. Scribonius Largus, a first-century Roman physician, prescribed the shock of an electric ray for headaches, and in the 19th century electrical pioneers such as Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta toyed with crude bioelectric experiments. It was not until the 1960s, however, that the first rigorous studies of electrical brain stimulation took place.

Directing the flow

The theory behind tDCS is that a weak direct current alters the electric potential of nerve membranes within the brain. Depending on the direction of the current, it is said to make it easier or more difficult for neurons in a brain circuit to fire. Position the electrodes correctly and choose the right current, so the idea goes, and you can boost or suppress all kinds of things. Some researchers have reported that tDCS can reduce pain, ease depression, treat autism and Parkinson’s disease, control cravings for alcohol and drugs, repair stroke damage, and accelerate recovery from brain injuries, to say nothing of improving memory, reasoning and fluency. Remarkably, some effects seem to persist for days or even months. And the closer that scientists look at tDCS, the more they seem to find. Scientific papers about the technology appear at an ever-faster rate.

Hardly surprising, then, that DIY brain hackers want in on the action. Christopher Zobrist, a 36-year-old entrepreneur based in Vietnam, is one of them. With little vision he has been registered as blind since birth due to an hereditary condition of his optic nerve that has no established medical treatment. Mr Zobrist read a study of a different kind of transcranial stimulation (using alternating current) that had helped some glaucoma patients in Germany recover part of their vision. Despite neither the condition nor the treatment matching his own situation, Mr Zobrist decided to try tDCS in combination with a visual training app on his tablet computer. He quickly noticed improvements in his distance vision and perception of contrast. “After six months, I can see oncoming traffic two to three times farther away than before, which is very helpful when crossing busy streets,” he says.

Online communities dedicated to tDCS are full of similar stories. More still claim to have gained cognitive enhancements that give them an edge at work or play. Users follow the latest scientific papers avidly and attempt to replicate the results at home, discussing the merits of different currents, waveforms and “montages” (arrangements of the electrodes on the skull).

Happiness and health may always be more than just a 9-volt battery away

Dissenting voices are rare. Here and there are tales of people who experienced headaches, nausea, confusion or sleeplessness after tDCS, while temporary visual effects and mild skin burns are fairly common. There have been no reports of seizures, serious injuries or deaths. But that does not mean it is without risk, says Peter Reiner, co-founder of the National Core for Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia. He says DIY users may place electrodes incorrectly, thus stimulating the wrong part of their brain, or reverse the polarity of current, potentially impairing the very things they are trying to improve. No one really knows how tDCS interacts with chemical stimulants or recreational drugs like marijuana, or with pre-existing conditions like epilepsy. Even something as fundamental as being left-handed can alter the functional organisation of the brain. And if the benefits of tDCS can persist for weeks, perhaps its side-effects can linger, too. Many neuroscientists are particularly worried that the use of tDCS by children and young adults could affect their long-term neural development.

Some of these concerns can be addressed by manufacturing tDCS devices to make it difficult, or impossible, to exceed recommended currents or to apply the electrodes incorrectly. One such product already exists. The V2, made by Transcranial, a London company, is advertised as a $199 pocket-sized controller that pairs with a $99 headset intended to help with concentration and reaction speed while videogaming. Donning the headset automatically positions the electrodes on the left and right temples, and both the duration and maximum current are capped. A second headset provides a different montage aimed at improving performance and motivation while exercising.

In reality, however, there is no guarantee that even slick products are any safer than a pocket-money brain stimulator assembled at home from a 9-volt battery, electrodes, a few wires and other components. Unlike the tDCS machines used for medical trials and clinical research, consumer versions may not have been assessed by any official body for safety or effectiveness. If the maker insists they are for use only by healthy adults to enhance cognition or leisure activities and make no diagnostic or therapeutic claims, such “wellness” devices have slipped under the regulatory radar of both the Medical Devices Directive in Europe and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America.

That worries some experts. A recent paper from the Institute for Science and Ethics at the University of Oxford points out that consumer tDCS products are mechanically and functionally equivalent to medical neurostimulation devices that require licensing. Why regulate the version that is likely to be operated responsibly by health professionals, and not the one freely available to unskilled and inexperienced users? The Nuffield Council on Bioethics agrees, recommending in 2013 that the European Commission should consider regulating all such gadgets under its medical devices regime, regardless of the purposes for which they are marketed.

The Institute for Science and Ethics proposes a graded regulation system that errs on the side of consumer choice for tDCS devices, requiring comprehensive, objective information about risks and benefits to allow users to make informed decisions. But it wants supplying brain zappers to children to be made illegal. Last year the FDA allowed transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) machines for headache relief as it rated them as low-to moderate-risk devices. TENS devices use a different waveform to tDCS and target cranial nerves rather than the brain itself, but they rely on a similar controller and head-mounted electrodes. Before allowing new TENS products to be sold, the FDA now wants to see evidence that the components are not likely to cause injury, that the controller can reliably provide the correct output, that there are no thermal or mechanical hazards, and that clinical data demonstrate the device is safe and effective as a headache treatment. Recent draft FDA guidelines for wellness devices suggest tDCS machines may eventually be regulated in a similar way.

Going underground

The University of British Columbia’s Dr Reiner doubts that any manufacturer today can provide such information for tDCS. Even if they could, the cost of gathering it would make consumer devices more expensive. “When you can make a tDCS device yourself for less than $20, we would advise strongly against heavy regulation because it will only drive the technology underground,” he says.

Proving the effectiveness of brain stimulation will be difficult. Although it may well do something, exactly what is open to question. As the hype around tDCS grows, some neuroscientists are starting to question whether the technology really is the panacea it appears to be.

In 2013 Teresa Iuculano and Roi Cohen Kadosh of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford split volunteers up into three groups and asked them to learn a made-up mathematical notation system. The first two groups received tDCS to different parts of the brain previously associated with numerical understanding and learning, while a non-functional “sham” device was used on the third group as a control. After a week, all three groups were tested on how well they had learned the new notation system, and whether they could use it in practice. The first group showed an improvement in learning compared with the control group, but a decrease in their ability to apply their knowledge, while the second group experienced the opposite result. This suggests that the brain is actually rather well balanced: boost performance in one cognitive realm through stimulation, and aptitude in another will naturally diminish.

There is also the possibility that a variation in individual responses to tDCS will overshadow any general effects. In a study published last year, Dr Cohen Kadosh set up two groups: one of people who were anxious when presented with mathematical problems, and another who had confidence in their ability to breeze through numerical quizzes. When treated with tDCS to their prefrontal cortices, the nervous individuals improved their reaction time on simple arithmetical problems and showed reduced levels of stress. Given the same treatment, the confident group had longer reaction times and no less stress. “If you can get exactly the opposite results with a different population, that shows DIY brain hackers and companies marketing stimulation to improve gaming or other abilities are not on the right track,” says Dr Cohen Kadosh. “We need to understand how the brain works in different people.”

Felipe Fregni, director of the Laboratory of Neuromodulation at Harvard Medical School, says tDCS has been shown to accelerate the learning of new skills. But he agrees that individual variation is important, noting that younger people sometimes do not improve as much as older subjects, and that people at later stages of learning may even experience detrimental effects. “The more science you know, the more confused you can become of what really is the effect of tDCS,” says Dr Fregni.

One advantage of the deluge of scientific papers is that they can be subjected to meta-analysis, whereby studies can be statistically combined to tease out new discoveries. Last year, Jared Horvath, a neuroscientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, published a meta-analysis of 30 measurements taken during tDCS studies, including neural responses, oxygen levels and electrical activity in the brain. Surprisingly, he found that tDCS had a reliable effect on only one: the electrical response of muscles to stimulus, and even that has steadily declined in studies over the last 14 years. Mr Horvath believes this indicates that the response has historically been measured poorly and that it too will eventually disappear as techniques mature.

Equally troublesome is a meta-analysis of the cognitive and behavioural effects on healthy adults that Mr Horvath subsequently carried out. As before, he included only the most reliable studies: those with a sham control group and replicated by other researchers. It left 200 studies claiming to have discovered beneficial effects on over 100 activities such as problem solving, learning, mental arithmetic, working memory and motor tasks. After his meta-analysis, however, tDCS was found to have had no significant effect on any of them.

If tDCS alters neither the physiology of the brain nor how it performs, thinks Mr Horvath, then evidence suggests it is not doing anything at all. Marom Bikson, a professor of biomedical engineering at City University of New York, disagrees. “I can literally make you fall on your butt using the ‘wrong’ type of tDCS,” he says. Dr Bikson thinks the biggest challenge for tDCS is optimising techniques, such as the dose.

Mr Horvath notes that many papers measure 20 or more outcomes, with brain stimulation showing a weak effect on one or two. “But in the title and abstract, that’s all they talk about,” he says. “No one mentions the tons of effects that tDCS didn’t have an impact on but that technically it should have if it is doing what the researcher thinks it is.”

Another problem might be the small sample size, sometimes as few as ten or 15 people. Mr Horvath says future studies should use at least 150 subjects. There is, of course, the possibility that Mr Horvath’s analyses are flawed. His paper included only one-off sessions, while many scientists believe the effects of tDCS accumulate with repetition. However, too few multiple-session studies exist for a valid meta-analysis. Dr Cohen Kadosh points out that individual variations could make the technology look as though it is doing nothing when in fact it has real but opposing effects in different people. Mr Horvath insists that his analysis allows for this possibility.

Critics might also wonder why Mr Horvath omitted tests where tDCS seems to have been most effective, in alleviating, for instance, clinical conditions such as depression. He admits that would be useful but says, “If something doesn’t demonstrate any type of effect in healthy people, it becomes incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to argue why it would work within a clinical population.”

Not all neuroscientists are defending the status quo. “I’m not surprised that he found no effect from conventionally applied tDCS,” says Jamie Tyler, a professor at Arizona State University and one of the founders of Thync, a Silicon Valley startup that recently unveiled a smartphone-controlled tDCS device. Thync tried to replicate some basic tDCS findings on cognition but could not do so. Dr Tyler now believes that tDCS may not directly stimulate the brain at all but instead modulates cranial nerves in the skull, like the headache-busting TENS technology. He designed the Thync device, a pocket-sized unit with disposable pre-shaped electrodes, to target these nerves with the aim of generating either relaxed or energetic mental states.

A shot of caffeine

Dr Tyler recently published a study of 82 people with a control. Its results suggest that Thync’s device can reduce psychophysiological stress by altering skin conductivity (a measure used in pseudoscientific lie detectors), stress enzymes and heart rate variability. He likens Thync’s “modified tDCS” programs to ingesting either a third of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and says no effect has been found on cognitive processes like working memory. While Thync’s stimulator is not yet available to the public, the firm was willing to give your correspondent a pre-launch trial.

The Thync device attaches with one sticky electrode on the right temple and one behind the right ear. The unit is controlled via a smartphone app, with the user able to adjust the intensity but not the duration of the session. At first, the unit generated a barely perceptible crawling feeling on the skin near the electrodes, building gradually to a pronounced tingling sensation. Over the 20-minute session, the strength of the signal varied up and down according to a preset routine. It felt itchy at times and, at its most powerful, caused muscles in the forehead to spasm alarmingly. Although the experience was not altogether unpleasant, any extra energy or focus proved, alas, elusive. Dr Tyler acknowledged that perhaps one in four people do not perceive any immediate benefit from the device.

Even for those who find themselves susceptible to its charms, the challenges for a product like Thync are formidable. The cognitive enhancements of a strong cup of tea or a glass of vintage Burgundy are well established. And partaking of them can be socially acceptable, deliciously enjoyable and rapidly achieved. None of these can be said of a disconcerting gizmo that needs half an hour to work and causes eyebrows to raise, both literally and socially.

Regardless of their questionable utility and effectiveness, tDCS gadgets are too novel, cheap and alluring to simply dismiss. Consumer-wellness devices like Thync may appeal to those who cannot use caffeine or alcohol for medical or religious reasons, and there will always be healthy overachievers seeking to supercharge their cognition for study or work. More importantly, tDCS presents the tantalising promise of relief from some medical conditions for which traditional therapies are either ineffective or unaffordable. As the University of Melbourne’s Mr Horvath says, “If there are ten percent of people who are feeling a huge effect, even if that’s placebo, who are we to say no to them?”

If people want to experiment with tDCS, there seems to be no reason to prevent them, provided it is done in the safest way possible. Devices could be regulated lightly with a view to safety rather than effectiveness, and neuroscientists encouraged to design future studies with more rigour. Happiness and health may always be more than just a 9-volt battery away, but brain hacking looks like it is here to stay.

Neurostimulation: Hacking your brain | The Economist.

hey seem as common as squawking gulls, and true Angelenos may not even bother to look up when one of the LAPD’s 17 helicopters rattles their windows, its spotlight searching for a car-jacked Camry or an assault suspect hiding under a jacaranda.

In a city of 469 sprawling square miles, few doubt that more bad guys would get away without the nation’s largest police helicopter fleet to help chase them.

Now the LAPD is pioneering the use of helicopters to stop crimes before they start.

Tapping into the data-driven policing trend, the department uses heat maps, technology and years of statistics to identify crime “hot spots.” Pilots then use their downtime to fly over them, on the theory that would-be criminals tend to rethink their nefarious plans when there’s an airship hovering overhead.

What some see as an innovative tool for keeping the peace, however, others call a deafening intrusion.

As iconic as palm trees, LAPD helicopters — “ghetto birds” as Ice Cube calls them — have played a “good cop-bad cop” role in popular culture for decades. The benign “whirlybirds” that flew out of a San Fernando Valley airport on crime-solving missions in the 1950s TV series of that name became ominous “helicopter gunships” in dystopian author Mike Davis’ “City of Quartz,” and omnipresent LAPD “spinners” in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.”

The Los Angeles Police Department began exploring the deterrent approach a few years ago with a new model called predictive policing that deployed officers and patrol cars to areas where data suggested crime was more likely to occur.

Criminologists say the use of helicopters is a natural, if highly unusual, expansion of that policing strategy.

So far, LAPD officials say, the stats show the strategy is having a positive effect. Months of data show that the number of serious crimes reported in the LAPD’s Newton Division in South L.A. fell during weeks when the helicopters conducted more flights.

“It’s extremely cutting edge,” says Capt. Gary Walters, who heads the LAPD’s air support unit. “It’s different. It’s nothing that we’ve ever done before with this specificity.”

During the week of June 21, 2013, the helicopter unit flew 36 times over Newton, which saw 125 crimes reported in that period. During another week in July, the number of flights rose to 91 and the recorded crimes dropped to 86.

The most pronounced difference came last September. During the week of Sept. 13, when the helicopter unit flew over Newton 65 times, the division recorded 90 crimes. A week later, the number of flights dropped to 40 and the number of reported crimes skyrocketed to 136, with rises seen among almost all types of crime, including burglary, car theft and thefts from vehicles.

Craig Uchida, a policing consultant who analyzes data for the LAPD and offers advice on crime prevention strategies, says it is too early to prove a definitive link between the flights and drops in crime. But the results so far, he said, are encouraging.

“Certainly it provides another layer and blanket of security for our folks,” says Capt. Ed Prokop, who until recently oversaw the Newton Division.

And the preventative flights sometimes yield unexpected results.

In March 2014, a pilot was checking a hot spot where, on Friday nights, crooks had been stealing vehicles, burglarizing cars and assaulting people, says Sgt. Tony DeMolina, a veteran LAPD pilot. While watching for such activity, the pilot spotted something else: strobing light spilling from an illegal rave inside a massive warehouse.

The ravers would park their cars in nearby alleys — easy prey for would-be thieves. After the raves ended, DeMolina said, the attendees would themselves become targets.

But few agencies use as methodical an approach as the LAPD.

Professor Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina, a policing expert who has studied the use of police helicopters in Miami and Baltimore, says the choppers can deter crime in the short-term but criminals will likely return when they’re not around.

“You are deterring the criminals but you aren’t getting rid of them and their intent,” he says. “Those criminals could strike in a different time and place.”

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, an associate professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, agrees that helicopters have a “great deterrent value.” But, he says that during a time of increased public concern over police militarization, a loud and visible helicopter could make residents feel like the police are an occupying force.

Police departments increasingly say that one of their goals is to “engage the community” and a hovering helicopter can get in the way of that, Ferguson says. “[Americans] are sending a message that they don’t want our police militarized, they don’t want that occupying army feel. And the use of helicopters fits in that frame.”

Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Southern California chapter, said using helicopters to monitor neighborhoods could set a problematic precedent for how the LAPD conducts other surveillance.

Critics challenged the LAPD last year when it received two drones from Seattle police. The department does not use the drones — they remain locked away until the Police Commission decides if and how they might be used — but they have still sparked privacy concerns.

“If this experience is successful,” Bibring says of the helicopters, “this could be a preview of how one day the LAPD could use drones for this purpose.”

Walters, commander of the LAPD’s air support unit, says the program was recently expanded to include the department’s Devonshire Division in the San Fernando Valley.

Cmdr. Sean Malinowski, who helped develop the predictive policing model the LAPD now uses, says the helicopter project represents how innovative policing has become. He says there is “untapped potential” for similar projects.

“The future of this thing is going to be how creative cops can be in using predictive or other data-driven strategies,” he says. “That gets people pumped up to do something different. It kind of injects life into the crime fighting.”


LAPD uses its helicopters to stop crimes before they start – LA Times.

Powdered Alcohol Wins U.S. Approval – WSJ.

“Virtually everything about Alzheimer’s and other dementia appears to be mitigated by physical exercise,” he said. “I think that this study serves to make that case even more compelling.”

The bottom line, Fleischman said, is to do some kind of safe and enjoyable movement daily to protect motor function from brain injury that may occur as you get older.

The message she said she gives patients is: “You do not have to be marathon runners.”

via Exercise’s Effect on Brain May Boost Mobility in Old Age – US News.

The technique works by stimulating microglial cells, which form part of the brain’s immune system, to engulf and absorb the plaques.

via Can ultrasound fight Alzheimer’s? Mice study hints at new weapon | Reuters.

How The Sugar Industry Continues To Subvert Public Health Policies.

Medical experts in Australia have concluded that an alternative form of medicine called homeopathy doesn’t have enough evidence to support its effectiveness.

via Homeopathy Is Not an Effective Treatment, Experts Say | TIME.

If it was some africian girl getting part of her sex organs cut off there would be killings in the street. But cut off some little white boys dick and all is well!

Proof there is something in the water in flordia that makes all their brains just fucking turn upside down.

DELRAY BEACH — In what is believed to be a first in the nation, a Palm Beach County judge on Tuesday ordered the arrest of a Boynton Beach woman because she refuses to have her son circumcised.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen signed the arrest warrant for 30-year-old Heather Hironimus after telling her attorney Thomas Hunker that her concerns about her 4-year-old son’s welfare were irrelevant.

“Is she in the courtroom or not?” the judge asked.
hand holding scalpel photo

Explaining that Hironimus and her son had sought refuge at an unspecified domestic violence shelter to block the boy’s father from carrying out plans for the circumcision, Hunker admitted she had decided not to attend the hearing.

Her absence defied an order Gillen signed Feb. 25, ordering Hironimus to bring the boy to court on Friday to be turned over to his father, Dennis Nebus. When she didn’t appear, Gillen gave her until 2 p.m. Monday to appear in court with her son.

Exactly how the dispute will unfold is unclear. Once she is arrested, she will be brought before Gillen, Hunker said. It is likely the child will be turned over to Nebus. Gillen has given him authority to have the circumcision done without Hironimus’ approval.

Nebus’ attorneys declined comment. But, Hunker said, Hironimus is scared both for herself and her son.

“She doesn’t believe she should be incarcerated for protecting her child,” he said.

The strange and convoluted case has spawned international headlines and the attention of self-described “intactivists,” who are against the forced circumcision of children. Carrying signs declaring, ““His Body, His Right,” and “Whose Penis? Whose Body? Whose Rights?” about 15 activists gathered outside the South County Courthouse to support Hironimus, who has used social media to publicize her son’s plight.

The now controversial case began as a simple paternity lawsuit. Three months after his son was born in October 2010, Nebus went to court to claim his parental rights. Nebus, 47, of Boca Raton, and Hironimus never married.

In 2012, the two signed a parenting agreement. Hironimus agreed her son could be circumcised as long as Nebus paid for it.

Soon after, she had second thoughts about allowing her son to undergo the procedure. After various court hearings, Gillen in May ruled that the agreement trumped her reservations. The 4th District Court of Appeal upheld his decision without comment.

The agreement, Gillen wrote, is clear and unambiguous. “Mother agrees to and shall timely execute any and all documents reasonably necessary to effectuate the circumcision of the minor child,” he wrote, quoting the agreement.

Before reaching his conclusion, he heard from pediatric urologist Charles Flack. The physician testified that while the procedure wasn’t medically necessary it’s advisable. Penile cancer only afflicts uncircumcised men. Further, uncircumcised men are at a greater risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The procedure, Flack testified, lasts only 17 minutes and causes little discomfort.

Men who gathered outside the courthouse disagreed. Carl Silverman, who drove from his home in Royal Palm Beach to participate in the protest, said he still remembers the pain of the circumcision he had done as an infant. “From my earliest days, I remember a searing pain down there,” he said.

Mothers who gathered with their children for the protest said the operation would be particularly traumatic for Hironimus’ son, who is not being named by court order. “(He’s) 4 1/2 years old and I know he does not want this,” said Kristen Shockley, of Boynton Beach, who said she is friends with Hironimus. “He’ll remember it. I know I remember things that happened to me when I was four.”

Attorney Andrew DeLaney, who wrote a paper on female genital mutilation and male circumcision while in law school at St. John’s University and has been watching the case unfold from his home in Texas, said Gillen’s decision seems draconian given the passage of time and the mother’s current wishes.

“A reasonable judge, in my opinion, would void the agreement due to the change of circumstances and recognize that it is not in the best interests of this boy to force the mother into consenting to the procedure at this point,” he said.

But, others said, a court order is a court order. The agreement, approved by Gillen, is just that. It can’t be flaunted by those who signed off on it and now have second thoughts.

Further, the medical community appears to be on Gillen’s side. While stopping short of mandating circumcision, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November issued guidelines saying the benefits of circumcision far outweigh the risks. In the guidelines, it urges doctors to tell parents of males the benefits of the procedure.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said protestors opposed the forced sterilization of children. They oppose the forced circumcision of children.

Warrant issued for Florida woman who won’t allow son’s… |

Trial Results Seldom Posted to as Required | Medpage Today.

BBC News – Anthropocene: New dates proposed for the 'Age of Man'.

BBC News – Chameleon colours 'switched by crystals'.

Most Clinical Trial Results Not Reported on Time to Government – US News.

Five Myths – The Washington Post

Five Myths – The Washington Post.

Radley Balko is the author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” and blogs for The Washington Post at The Watch.

America’s police forces are in the spotlight. After the police shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, as well as this past week’s decision by a grand jury not to indict the officer caught on video choking New York resident Eric Garner , who later died, Americans from the White House to the streets are debating or protesting police militarization, body cameras, lethal force — and whether enough is done to hold bad cops accountable.

It’s essential that we base these discussions on good data and sound presumptions. Police officers are human and fallible, just like the rest of us. How they behave and react in the aggregate is a product of the policies, procedures and guidelines set by police leadership, elected officials and ultimately the public. Here are five common misconceptions about policing today:

1. The job of a police officer is increasingly dangerous.

According to FBI statistics, 27 police officers were feloniously killed in 2013, the lowest raw number in more than 50 years. (The previous low was 41 in 2008.) If we go by officer homicides as a percentage of active-duty police, it was probably the safest year in a century. The number of cops killed on duty has been falling since the mid-1990s, consistent with the overall drop in violent crime in America. Assaults against police officers have been in decline as well.
Myths of 2014
View Photos
Fact or fiction? A collection from Outlook’s popular Five Myths series.

We will probably see news stories in the coming weeks about a sharp increase in cops killed this year vs. 2013. Approximating from data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, it is likely that about 50 police officers will be killed this year. That’s certainly a sharp increase over the 27 last year, but even if that toll is reached, it would still be one of the lowest since the early 1960s and in line with the general decline since the mid-1990s. The average number of cops feloniously killed per year over the past decade: 51.1.

2. YouTube videos and cellphone footage prove that today’s cops are out of control.

Most criminologists believe that today’s police departments are more professional than ever before. Cops tend to get more training, and departments are guided by defined rules and procedures. Most decent-size police agencies have internal affairs departments, and a growing number of cities have installed citizen review boards.

That hardly means there are no problems in policing today, of course, or that these developments suffice to safeguard civil liberties. But it’s likely that the ubiquity of cellphone cameras and the diffusive power of social media are simply making us more aware of rule-breaking cops, rather than showing that there are more of them than before.

But even if there may be fewer rogue cops who abuse their authority and use force outside the bounds of department rules, it’s also true that, as a matter of policy, police use more force today than they have in the past. SWAT tactics, for example, are increasingly used for credit card fraud and other low-level offenses, administrative warrants, or even regulatory enforcement. Use-of-force training today puts less emphasis on conflict resolution and deescalation, if they are addressed at all. The problem isn’t cops breaking the rules — the rules themselves are the problem.

3. With more criminals wielding heavy-duty weapons, police must militarize to catch up.

Multiple studies, including from the Justice Department, have shown that the guns used in homicides, including the killing of police officers, overwhelmingly tend to be small-caliber handguns. Moreover, gun ownership has increased over the past 20 years — the same period in which both the violent crime rate and the killing of police officers have been in decline.

One version of this argument advanced recently by Vox and the New Republic is that we can’t demilitarize the police without gun control. But even if it were true that criminals were arming themselves with bigger guns, it isn’t clear that gun control would demilitarize the police. First, gun-control legislation would probably not do much to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals, particularly in the short term. Second, the argument assumes that the law enforcement community would accept such a bargain. That seems unlikely. Polls consistently show that large majorities of police officers oppose gun control, although big-city chiefs and the heads of some big police organizations support such policies. The NRA in particular includes a lot of cops in its membership and recently ran an article in favor of police militarization in its flagship magazine.

New gun-control laws may have other merits, but it’s unlikely that they would slow down the militarization of U.S. police.

4. Aggressive, confrontational policing is the best way to control crime.

Proponents of police militarization sometimes point out that the trend has occurred at the same time that crime has dropped dramatically — therefore, militarization must be working. But criminologists are still debating what has caused the decline in crime since the mid-1990s. In New York, crime fell without mass incarceration. In San Diego, it dropped without the “broken windows” policing employed in New York.

Moreover, the most notable manifestation of militaristic policing is the SWAT team. According to Eastern Kentucky University criminologist Peter Kraska, the number of annual SWAT deployments in the United States jumped more than 1,500 percent between the early 1980s and 2000. Yet according to Kraska’s data and a study this year from the American Civil Liberties Union, 60 to 80 percent of SWAT raids are to enforce warrants for drug crimes — and drug crimes are the one class of crime that hasn’t dropped since the 1990s.

The good news is that in places where it’s been tried, “community policing” — which stresses de-escalation; community involvement; and solutions that don’t always involve more arrests, more raids and more street sweeps — has succeeded.

It happened in the early 1970s in Washington, where crime fell under the leadership of Police Chief Jerry Wilson, a community-policing advocate, while it increased just about everywhere else. In California, by the time Police Chief Joseph McNamara retired in 1991, he had used community policing to make San Jose the safest big city in America — with a police force that per capita was one of the smallest in the country. More recently, as my Washington Post colleague Philip Bump pointed out this past week, the number of stop-and-frisks in New York City has dropped by an incredible 94 percent since 2011 — with no noticeable effect on the crime rate.

5. Tasers and other “less lethal” weapons allow cops to use less force.

New technology and new weapons are only as good as the policies guiding their use. Tasers were initially touted as a substitute for lethal force, a way for cops to subdue violent suspects without killing them. Over time, however, they have become a compliance tool — used to quell dissent, move nonviolent protesters and punish people for talking back. A 2011 National Institute of Justice study found that cops use their Tasers too often and in inappropriate circumstances.

While there is no national data on Taser use, a 2012 Chicago Tribune report found that Taser use by suburban police doubled between 2008 and 2011. A 2011 New York Civil Liberties Union study found that nearly 60 percent of police Taser incidents in that state did not meet expert-recommended criteria for using the weapon. It’s also worth noting that Amnesty International has documented more than 500 cases in which a suspect died after being shocked with a Taser.

It would be one thing if all those stun gun barbs were being fired in place of bullets. But according to FBI statistics, the number of justifiable homicides by police has been increasing since about 2000. That data is also incomplete, but to the extent that it’s flawed, it probably undercounts such incidents.

Five myths about America’s police – The Washington Post.

It is one of the profound ironies of climate change that a state besieged by its effects — where coastal islands face existential threats and daily floods render major thoroughfares difficult to navigate — is also populated by powerful politicians who express deep suspicion of the relevant science.

This is Florida, the state of Sen. Marco Rubio (R), who said last year he doesn’t “believe human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate.” This is Florida, the state of former governor and Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who in 2009 called himself a global warming “skeptic.” And this is Florida, the state of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has punted on the issue. “Well, I’m not a scientist,” he told the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo last year when asked if he was becoming less skeptical of man-made climate change.

According to a Sunday report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, Scott’s aversion to discussions of man-made climate change has been brought to bear on a department charged with protecting a state that already exhibits many of the changes scientists predict will overtake other coastal regions. Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as reported by writer Tristram Korten, have been restricted from using the term “climate change” or “global warming” in official correspondence.

[Why this Florida scientist had to remove the term ‘climate change’ from her study]

[Things just got very hot for climate deniers’ favorite scientist]

The investigative reporting outfit called it an “unwritten policy,” which was “distributed verbally statewide” and has “affected” how one of the largest departments in the state, armed with a $1.4 billion budget and 3,200 employees, does business. “The irony is clearly apparent,” Korten told The Washington Post on Sunday night. “Florida is a peninsula with 1,200 miles of coastline, and when it comes to climate change, we’re the canary in the coalmine. And we’re relying on the state government to protect us and to plan for these changes.”

The report, published in the Miami Herald, was bolstered by the testimony of numerous former employees and e-mails from around the state. Kristina Trotta, who used to work in the DEP’s Miami office, said she was told during a 2014 meeting that she couldn’t employ terms such as “climate change” and “global warming.” “We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said. “… The regional administrator told us that we are the governor’s agency; this is the message from the governor’s office. And that is the message we will portray.”

In a brief interview with The Washington Post, Trotta said in some ways the ban wasn’t a surprise. She was familiar with Scott’s reservations on climate change. But in other ways, she was blown away. “It was a surprise, given what a clear threat climate change is to coral reefs and also to the state of Florida in general,” she told The Post.

It’s unclear how the alleged order came down. One state spokesman told the investigative outfit that “there’s no policy on this.”

The Post got the same answer. “DEP has no such policy in place,” department spokesman Dee Ann Miller wrote in an e-mail late Sunday night, pointing to myriad ways the state has monitored and studied rising sea levels and how they will affect coastal communities. “The department constantly monitors changes we identify in Florida ecosystems and works with other local and state agencies to ensure Florida’s communities and natural resources are protected.”

She didn’t use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in her response and declined to respond when asked whether she was aware of any unwritten policy that forbids those terms.

John Tupps, a spokesperson for Gov. Rick Scott, told the Washington Post “there is no policy in existence. … Allegations and claims made in the [Florida investigative article] are not true. This policy, it doesn’t exist.”

[This animation of shrinking sea ice is a startling illustration of climate change]

Korten, for his part, said some state officials stymied his efforts when he started asking specific questions. “Our story doesn’t say how deep this goes into the state government,” he said. “I called them repeatedly for comment and e-mailed, and no one would comment.”

If the findings are accurate, Florida offers a cautionary tale of how politics can bog down an urgent scientific call to action. Reports, such as one last year by the National Climate Assessment, call South Florida “uniquely vulnerable to Sea Level Rise. … There is an imminent threat of increased inland flooding during heavy rain events in low-lying coastal areas such as southeast Florida, where just inches of sea level rise will impair the capacity of storm water drainage systems to empty into the ocean.”

In some southern parts of the state, such as Miami Beach, sea rise is no longer something to debate, but something to deal with daily. The city, expected to spend $400 million to combat rising tides in the next five years, already has invested in a new drainage system that officials hope will keep the streets dry for the next three decades.

But the fact that the state’s highest elected office may have reservations about climate change has outraged some local academics. “You have to start real planning, and I’ve seen absolutely none of that from the current governor,” University of Miami geologist Harold Wanless told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. “It’s beyond ludicrous to deny using the term climate change. It’s criminal at this point.”

This post was updated after publication to reflect a statement provided by a spokesperson for Gov. Rick Scott.

[Throw Florida’s apparent rejection of the phrase ‘climate change’ onto the pile of anti-climate politics]
Terrence McCoy writes on foreign affairs for The Washington Post’s Morning Mix. Follow him on Twitter here.

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The legislative equivalent of sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and proclaiming, “I don’t wanna hear it!” Classy.
3/10/2015 6:48 PM PST
Could Gov. Rick Scott and his administration be so ignorant that they would ban the use of descriptive words and phrases commonly used in the discussions and debates on the subject at hand? <<<<^^^^ I dunno. I banned them from the first paragraph of this post, and nobody's under water because of it. Just in case there is a list of banned words & phrases, Gov. Scott, I'd like suggest a few more to add to the list: snorkel swimming lessons shark repellent Arks - 15% off - While they last. Gainesville oceanfront property LikeReplyShare christinecordaro 3/10/2015 3:35 PM PST This is just like the Mad Hatter in Through the Looking Glass!! But that's OK-let them remain in their state of denial and when the seas sweep over Florida, obliterating it forever, we will hear them praying to their non-exixteng god! And best of all, we won't have to worry about Florida screwing up any more elections! LikeReplyShare dalyplanet 3/10/2015 4:35 PM PST It that the plot of your climate fiction book idea? LikeReply Cj Gorele 3/10/2015 3:12 PM PST I have just finished shoveling my drive-way for the last 3 hours. When is 'global Warming' coming? LikeReplyShare The-Q 3/10/2015 3:02 PM PST Meanwhile... unarmed young black men are gunned down without ever having said the words " “climate change” and “global warming.” LikeReplyShare Waterloo1 3/10/2015 2:59 PM PST Thanks to denial power, Republican ice sheets and glaciers are growing back every day while Democrat ones melt helplessly . LikeReplyShare Idliketosay 3/10/2015 10:30 AM PST Wanna hear something even better? Our illustrious representatives have today voted out of committee for floor discussion a Bathroom Safety bill that forbids the use of public bathrooms by transvestites. No w I ask you. . .have we nothing better to do? have we nothing better to spend our money on but more cops to check our bathroom etiquette??? And how in H are they going to enforce this bill? What a bunch of doofuses--your republicans at work. . .or play??? Whichever, it's way out in right field. . . LikeReplyShare Waterloo1 3/10/2015 2:57 PM PST Pursuing transvestites is fun. Climate change is complex and scary. So which issue offers opportunity for clear demagoguery ? The transvestites win again !

Threatened by climate change, Florida reportedly bans term ‘climate change’ – The Washington Post.

Daylight saving time strikes again Sunday at 2 a.m., at least for every state outside Hawaii and Arizona. Though DST has been part of life in the United States since World War I, its origin and effects remain misunderstood, even by some of the lawmakers responsible for it. Here are some common myths.
Rachel Feltman runs The Post’s Speaking of Science blog. View Archive

1. Daylight saving time was meant to help farmers.

Many of us heard, at some point in elementary school, that DST was developed because of farming. The idea that more daylight means more time in the field for farmers continues to get airtime on the occasional local news report and in state legislatures — “Farmers wanted it because it extends hours of working in the field,” Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn offered after filing a bill that would abolish DST. Even Michael Downing, who wrote a book about DST, has said that before researching the subject, “I always thought we did it for the farmers.”

In fact, the inverse is true. “The farmers were the reason we never had a peacetime daylight saving time until 1966,” Downing told National Geographic. “They had a powerful lobby and were against it vociferously.” The lost hour of morning light meant they had to rush to get their crops to market. Dairy farmers were particularly flummoxed: Cows adjust to schedule shifts rather poorly, apparently.
Myths of 2014
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Fact or fiction? A collection from Outlook’s popular Five Myths series.

Daylight saving time, in this or any other country, was never adopted to benefit farmers; it was first proposed by William Willett to the British Parliament in 1907 as a way to take full advantage of the day’s light. Germany was the first country to implement it, and the United States took up the practice upon entering World War I, hypothetically to save energy. How did farmers end up being the mythical source of DST? Downing suggests that because they were such vocal opponents, “they became associated into the popular image of daylight-saving and it got inverted on them. It was just bad luck.”

2. The extra daylight makes us healthier and happier.

That additional vitamin D is good for us, right? Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) thinks so. “In addition to the benefits of energy savings, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity, Daylight Saving Time helps clear away the winter blues a little earlier,” he said in a statement last year. “Government analysis has proven that extra sunshine provides more than just smiles. . . . We all just feel sunnier after we set the clocks ahead.” Gwyneth Paltrow agrees, opining to British Cosmopolitan in 2013: “We’re human beings and the sun is the sun — how can it be bad for you? I think we should all get sun and fresh air.”

A little more vitamin D might be healthy, but the way DST provides it is not so beneficial to our well-being. Experts have warned about spikes in workplace accidents, suicide and headaches — just to name a few health risks — when DST starts and ends. One 2009 study of mine workers found a 5.7 percent increase in injuries in the week after the start of DST, which researchers thought was most likely due to disruption in the workers’ sleep cycles. An examination of Australian data found a slight uptick in male suicides in the weeks following time shifts, to the effect of half an excess death per day, which the researchers blamed on the destabilizing effect of sleep disruption on people with mental health problems. And some physicians warn that changes in circadian rhythm can trigger cluster headaches, leading to days or weeks of discomfort.

The literature on these health effects is far from conclusive, but spring sunshine does not outweigh the downsides of sleep disruption across the board.

3. It helps us conserve energy.

Congress passed the Energy Policy Act — which extended DST by a month — in 2005, ostensibly to save four more weeks’ worth of energy. “An annual rite of spring, daylight saving time is also a matter of energy conservation. By having a little more natural daylight at our disposal, we can help keep daily energy costs down for families and businesses,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who co-sponsored the legislation along with then-Rep. Markey, said in a 2013 statement.

But in a follow-up study on the effects of the extension, the California Energy Commission found the energy savings to be a paltry 0.18 percent at best. Other studies have indicated that people may use less of some kinds of energy, such as electric lights, but more of others. More productive daylight hours might be meant to get you off the couch and recreating outside, but they’re just as likely to lead to increased air-conditioner use if you stay home and gas guzzling if you don’t.

A study in Indiana actually found a slight increase in energy use after the entire state adopted DST (for years, only some counties followed it), costing the state’s residents about $9 million; the researchers believed that more air conditioning in the evening was largely to blame. That’s a far cry from the $7 million that Indiana state representatives had hoped residents would save in electricity costs.

4. DST benefits businesses.

We know that businesses think daylight saving time is good for the economy — just look at who lobbied for increased DST in 2005: chambers of commerce. The grill and charcoal industries, which successfully campaigned to extend DST from six to seven months in 1986, say they gain $200 million in sales with an extra month of daylight saving. When the increase to eight months came up for a vote in 2005, it was the National Association of Convenience Stores that lobbied hardest — more time for kids to be out trick-or-treating meant more candy sales.

But not all industries love daylight saving time. Television ratings tend to suffer during DST, and networks hate it. “Come March, when daylight savings time and the HUT [households using television] level goes down in the early evening, it really takes its toll on the 8 o’clock hour, particularly for comedies,” Kevin Reilly, then chairman of Fox Entertainment, said in 2014, explaining his decision to cut the network’s 8 p.m. comedy hour.

Airlines have also complained loudly about increased DST. When DST was lengthened, the Air Transport Association estimated that the schedule-juggling necessary to keep U.S. flights lined up with international travel would cost the industry $147 million. DST hurts other transportation interests, too: Amtrak is known to halt its overnight trains for an hour when clocks change in November so they don’t show up and leave from their 3 a.m. destinations early. In the spring, trains have to try to make up lost time so they can stick to the schedule.

DST might also cost employers in the form of lost productivity. A 2012 study found that workers were more likely to cyberloaf — doing non-work-related things on their computers during the day — on the Monday after a DST switch. Study participants who lost an hour of sleep ended up wasting 20 percent of their time.

5. Standard time is standard.

Guess what time we’re on for eight months of the year? Daylight saving time. In what universe is something that happens for only one-third of the time the “standard”? Even before the 2007 change, DST ran for seven months out of 12.

In fact, some opponents of DST aren’t against daylight saving time per se: They think it should be adopted as the year-round standard time. Because it basically already is.

Five myths is a weekly feature challenging everything you think you know. You can check out previous myths, read more from Outlook or follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter.

5 myths about daylight saving time – The Washington Post.

For centuries, boys were top of the class. But these days, that’s no longer the case.

A new study by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, examined how 15-year-old boys and girls performed at reading, mathematics and science. Boys still score somewhat better at maths, and in science the genders are roughly equal. But when it comes to the students who really struggle, the difference is stark: boys are 50% more likely than girls to fall short of basic standards in all three areas.

Why are girls performing better at school than their male classmates?

First, girls read more than boys. Reading proficiency is the basis upon which all other learning is built. When boys don’t do well at reading, their performance in other school subjects suffers too.

Second, girls spend more time on homework. On average, girls spend five and a half hours per week doing homework while boys spend a little less than four and a half hours. Researchers suggest that doing homework set by teachers is linked to better performance in maths, reading and science. Boys, it appears, spend more of their free time in the virtual world; they are 17% more likely to play collaborative online games than girls every day. They also use the internet more.

Third, peer pressure plays a role. A lot of boys decide early on that they are just too cool for school which means they’re more likely to be rowdy in class. Teachers mark them down for this. In anonymous tests, boys perform better.

In fact, the gender gap in reading drops by a third when teachers don’t know the gender of the pupil they are marking.

So what can be done to close this gap? Getting boys to do more homework and cut down on screen-time would help. And offering boys a chance to read non-fiction would help too: they’re keener on comics and newspapers. But most of all, abandoning gender stereotypes would benefit all students. Boys in countries with the best schools read much better than girls.

And girls in Shanghai excel in mathematics. They outperform boys from anywhere else in the world.

The female body: Shape-shifting

Brian Buntz

Popularized by the Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev, long wave theory holds that decades of economic progress follow from technological breakthroughs such as was the case with the development of the steam engine, the railway, electrical and chemical engineering, automobiles, and computing technology.

In the most recent period, the microprocessor is the single most important technology, making possible everything from personal computers and smartphones, to smart bionic limbs and wireless-enabled medical devices. Indeed, much of our very culture now seems to revolve around the microprocessor.

Perhaps another technology will emerge as a key driver of medical technology in years to come. And medicine could be one of the principal industries to benefit from the next decades-long technological period, which we could be on the cusp of entering now. The Slovak theorist Daniel Smihula refers to the next decades-long phase as the post-informational technological revolution, and expects it to begin between 2015 and 2020.

A 2010 Allianz report also forecasted a wave of medical technology innovation playing a central role in the next long-term technological phase, arguing that such periods typically emerge after major financial crashes or periods of economic stagnation, and that the Great Recession may be one such example of that. Kondratiev himself believed in a long-term boom–bust cycle, asserting that the Great Depression would not spell the end of capitalism but give rise to a new period of economic success in the West. Stalin apparently disagreed and had the theorist shot by a firing squad.

Whether long-wave theorists are right about the early 21stcentury giving rise to another technological megacycle, there is a definite need for a new wave of innovation in healthcare—in part because the world’s graying population. By 2050, the population percentage in the United States that is over 65 stands to roughly double—and nearly triple in Asia and Latin America. Add to that growing pressures to contain healthcare costs and an uptick in chronic diseases, and we’ve got a big problem on your hands.

If Kondratiev’s grand vision is true, there is a good chance that much of the prognosticating about the future of medical technology will seem myopic by comparison. For one thing, a lot of projections about healthcare’s future are based on applications of electronics. And while electronics will undoubtedly play an integral in an ever-widening number of medical technologies, long-wave theory holds that one technology revolution lays the groundwork for the next. So it is possible that the innovation made possible by electronics could give rise to other technological fields that would characterize the next era. Contenders could include fields like nanotechnology, genomics, biotechnology, or 3-D printing, any of which may ultimately catalyze a wave of long-term medical innovation.

Such a shift may be already underway. The Economist just penned an article stating that the U.S. healthcare system is a “wasteful and inefficient industry, is in the throes of great disruption.” Similar upheaval can be seen elsewhere.

Perhaps revolution is a good word to describe the next period of technological evolution in medicine. While there is clearly a need for novel devices that make healthcare more precise and efficient, any new technology that threatens entrenched medical business models must battle against those who would preserve the status quo.

Economist article below:

THE best-known objective of America’s Affordable Care Act of 2010—commonly known as Obamacare—was to ensure that the 40m-plus Americans who lacked health insurance could get it. Less widely appreciated, but at least as important, are the incentives and penalties the law introduced to make the country’s hideously expensive and poorly performing health services safer and more efficient. Economists are debating how much credit Obamacare should get for a recent moderation in the growth of health costs, and for a fall in the number of patients having to be readmitted to hospital (see article). Whatever the answer, many companies see the disruption unleashed by the reforms as the business opportunity of a lifetime.

One of the biggest shifts under way is to phase out the “fee for service” model, in which hospitals and doctors’ surgeries are reimbursed for each test or treatment with no regard for the outcome, encouraging them to put patients through unnecessary and expensive procedures. Since Obamacare they are increasingly being paid by results—a flat fee for each successful hip replacement, say. There are also incentives for providers which meet cost or performance targets, and new requirements for hospitals to disclose their prices, which can vary drastically for no clear reason


Millions of people are now looking for health insurance on the new public exchanges set up under the reforms. And Obamacare has come into effect at a time when American employers, who often provide health cover for their workers, are seeking to cut its cost by encouraging them to shop around on private exchanges, and by offering less generous plans.


The upshot is that there are growing numbers of consumers seeking better treatment for less money. Existing health-care providers will have to adapt, or lose business. All sorts of other businesses, old and new, are seeking either to take market share from the conventional providers, or to provide the software and other tools that help hospitals, doctors, insurers and patients make the most of this new world.


Patients are increasingly having to pay higher “deductibles” out of their own pockets, before the insurance kicks in, to keep the cost of the cover down. So for minor ailments and simple tests, it makes sense for such patients to go to one of the increasing numbers of walk-in clinics, staffed by well-qualified nurses, on the premises of retail pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens (see chart). The prices are clear, the care is cheap and the service is quick. Walgreens has a partnership with Theranos, a diagnostics firm, which offers customers a range of tests from a tiny drop of blood. Walmart, a giant supermarket chain with many in-store pharmacies, also intends to become one of the leading sellers of affordable health services, says Alex Hurd, its product-development chief.



For injuries and illnesses that are more serious but not immediately life-threatening, lots of “urgent-care centres” are being opened as an alternative to going to a hospital emergency unit. Private-equity firms are pouring money into independent chains of centres. Merchant Medicine, a consulting firm, reckons that between them, these chains now have just over 1,500 urgent-care centres, up from about 1,300 at the start of 2013. The market is still fragmented but a national brand could emerge from one of the largest chains, such as Concentra or MedExpress.


Some hospital operators, seeking to cut their costs of care, and choosing to be among the disrupters rather than the disrupted, are also opening urgent-care centres. Aurora Health Care, a Wisconsin-based chain of hospitals and clinics, now has more than 30 of them.


Hospital operators are now facing a classic “innovator’s dilemma”, as described by Clay Christensen, a Harvard business professor. If they persist with their high-cost business model even as their customers discover that cheaper alternatives are good enough, they will be in trouble. According to Strata Decision Technology, an analytics firm, many hospital groups saw what was coming and started to cut their costs well before the provisions of Obamacare started to bite. One of the fastest movers is Advocate Health Care, a hospital operator from Illinois, which says it now earns two-thirds of its revenues from value-based payments.


The largest chains of for-profit hospitals, such as Tenet Healthcare, HCA and Community Health Systems, are rather profitable. They have trimmed their costs, been conservative with capital and, thanks to Obamacare raising the number of Americans with health insurance, now have more patients and fewer bad debts. However, credit-rating agencies are worried about the prospects for the not-for-profit hospitals, which are 60% of the total. With lower margins, and less capital to make investments, they have become targets for takeover, says Jim Bonnette of The Advisory Board Company, another consulting outfit.


As a result further consolidation in the hospital business is likely. This could mean greater efficiency and lower costs. But if antitrust authorities are not vigilant, it may lead in the longer term to a concentration of market power. If so, the benefits from the efficiencies being wrung out of the hospital system may end up in the pockets of shareholders rather than saving patients and insurers money.


Obamacare is also encouraging the creation of all sorts of health-related advisory and intermediary companies that help care providers, insurers and patients save money. A company called Vitals approaches employees on behalf of their company’s health plan, and offers them cash rewards, and a taxi, if they agree to be treated at a cheaper provider. The sums to be saved can be astonishing: a new cost-comparison tool created by Blue Cross Blue Shield, a big alliance of private health insurers, has found that a colonoscopy with a biopsy costs $8,489 at one clinic in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but just $928 at another provider in Greensboro, only 50 miles (80km) or so away.


Cohealo offers a “sharing economy” solution for hospitals and clinics wanting to make the best use of expensive equipment, in much the same way as Airbnb helps people with spare rooms fill them with paying guests. Doximity is trying to be a Facebook for doctors, letting them refer patients and discuss treatments securely without the blizzard of faxes they rely on today. Grand Rounds is a sort of medical an online matchmaker that pairs patients with specialists. As in other industries, administrators are being tempted to switch to renting software and data storage in the online “cloud”: Athenahealth, a seller of medical back-office software, is trying to get doctors and hospitals to move patients’ health records onto its cloud-based service.


Preliminary diagnosis


For supporters of Obamacare, it is clear that the reforms are empowering patients, driving public and private health insurers to achieve better value, forcing existing providers to shape up and providing opportunities for disruptive newcomers. Digital technology is also helping to increase transparency about prices, making it easier to share information and increase efficiency. For some analysts it all adds up to a “new health economy”—as PwC, a consulting firm, puts it—the most significant re-engineering of the American health system, by far the world’s costliest, since employers began providing cover for their workers in the 1930s.


And the revolution has only just begun. The Obama administration recently set a target of making 50% of Medicare payments value-based, rather than fee for service, by the end of 2018. America’s largest private payers have a target of 75% by 2020. So hospitals do not have long to shape up. Some will have their profits squeezed, and customers stolen by new rivals. Some may close, or be taken over. But for other businesses, from supermarket and pharmacy chains to digital-health startups, there will be billions to be made.

Health care in America: Shock treatment | The Economist.

SugarCRM has confirmed the acquisition of IP and other assets, noting that it will be rolling Stitch’s technology into its core Sugar application. “We’ve made Sugar an indispensable tool for customer-facing employees,” said Larry Augustin, SugarCRM CEO, in a statement issued Monday. “Sugar gives them the right information, when they need it, even before they ask. Incorporating Stitch will make Sugar an even smarter, better-informed customer relationship management system, and put information at mobile users’ fingertips no matter where they are.”

via Confirmed: SugarCRM Buys Mobile Startup Stitch, Shuts It Down | TechCrunch.

SugarCRM has confirmed the acquisition of IP and other assets, noting that it will be rolling Stitch’s technology into its core Sugar application. “We’ve made Sugar an indispensable tool for customer-facing employees,” said Larry Augustin, SugarCRM CEO, in a statement issued Monday. “Sugar gives them the right information, when they need it, even before they ask. Incorporating Stitch will make Sugar an even smarter, better-informed customer relationship management system, and put information at mobile users’ fingertips no matter where they are.”

via Confirmed: SugarCRM Buys Mobile Startup Stitch, Shuts It Down | TechCrunch.

When it came to exhibitionism, there was no signiificant difference between men and women, suggesting that they tend to be equally vain or self-absorbed.

via Are men more narcissistic than women? – Daily Dose.

Women with close male relatives with prostate cancer are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, a new study confirms.

These findings, from the large Women’s Health Initiative, reinforce the results of a 1994 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the authors write.

“This is not the first study to examine this relationship, but it is one of the larger to date, if not the largest study,” said lead author Jennifer L. Beebe-Dimmer of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.

Cancer is a disease of the DNA, she said, and family clustering indicates that breast and prostate cancers may have genes in common,

via More evidence breast cancer and prostate cancer cluster in families | Reuters.

The findings were presented at the 97th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society and confirmed the findings of previous animal studies demonstrating that oxytocin reduces food intake.

“Our results are really exciting,” says lead investigator Dr. Elizabeth Lawson of Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. “Further study is needed, but I think oxytocin is a promising treatment for obesity and its metabolic complications.”

via ‘Love hormone’ nasal spray could reduce calorie intake in men Medical News Today.

It turned out that these genetically identical twins looked surprisingly different beneath the skin and skull. The sedentary twins had lower endurance capacities, higher body fat percentages, and signs of insulin resistance, signaling the onset of metabolic problems. (Interestingly, the twins tended to have very similar diets, whatever their workout routines, so food choices were unlikely to have contributed to health differences.)

The twins’ brains also were unalike. The active twins had significantly more grey matter than the sedentary twins, especially in areas of the brain involved in motor control and coordination.

Presumably, all of these differences in the young men’s bodies and brains had developed during their few, brief years of divergent workouts, underscoring how rapidly and robustly exercising — or not — can affect health, said Dr. Urho Kujala, a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Jyvaskyla who oversaw the study.

via One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn’t –

Software isn’t greedy or fearful

As anyone who has had money in a wild bull or bear market can attest, investing can be an emotional affair: the panic that comes when everything suddenly plummets; the sense of missed opportunity as the market soars. When one of our stocks suddenly takes a dive, we doubt our original hypothesis about its value. This is why stop-losses – the practice of putting a ceiling on losses by triggering an automatic trade out of a falling position – are so prevalent, even though they go against principles of value. Sooner or later, all but the coolest investors let their emotions get the best of them and try to time the market, selling stocks before the market drops and buying again right before it rises.

via Thankfully, Software Is Eating The Personal Investing World | TechCrunch.