Archive for July, 2016

Source: Vaping Puts Potentially Cancerous Chemicals In User’s Bodies

It is common knowledge that antidepressants can take weeks or even months to start working. But it has been a mystery why antidepressants take so long to take effect. But now there is a ray of light in the darkness. The slowness with which antidepressants take effect has been correlated with the slowness of a mechanism quite apart from the binding of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, with serotonin transporters. This binding can occur within minutes. SSRIs, it turns out, also act through another process, the redistribution of G proteins, the slowness of which correlates with the delay in lifting depression through SSRIs.

The new finding comes from researchers based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. These researchers, led by neuroscientist Mark Rasenick, Ph.D., long suspected that the delayed drug response involved certain signaling molecules in nerve cell membranes called G proteins. Previous research by Dr. Rasenick’s group showed that in people with depression, G proteins tended to congregate in lipid rafts, areas of the membrane rich in cholesterol. Stranded on the rafts, the G proteins lacked access to a molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which they need in order to function. The dampened signaling could be why people with depression are “numb” to their environment, Dr. Rasenick reasoned.

In the lab, Dr. Rasenick bathed rat glial cells, a type of brain cell, with different SSRIs and located the G proteins within the cell membrane. He found that SSRIs accumulated in the lipid rafts over time—and as they did so, G proteins in the rafts decreased.

Details of this work appeared July 18 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, in an article entitled, “Antidepressants Accumulate in Lipid Rafts Independent of Monoamine Transporters to Modulate Redistribution of the G protein, Gαs.”

“Since antidepressants appear to specifically modify Gαs localized to lipid rafts, we sought to determine whether structurally diverse antidepressants, accumulate in lipid rafts,” wrote the article’s authors. “Sustained treatment of C6 glioma cells, which lack 5HT [5-hydroxytryptamine, or serotonin] transporters, showed marked concentration of several antidepressants in raft fractions, as revealed by increased absorbance and by mass fingerprint.”

The scientists noted that closely related molecules that lacked antidepressant activity did not concentrate in raft fractions. Following up on this observation, the scientists determined that at least two classes of antidepressants accumulate in lipid rafts and effect translocation of Gαs to the nonraft membrane fraction where it activates the cAMP-signaling cascade.

“The process showed a time-lag consistent with other cellular actions of antidepressants,” said Dr. Rasenick. “It’s likely that this effect on the movement of G proteins out of the lipid rafts toward regions of the cell membrane where they are better able to function is the reason these antidepressants take so long to work.”

“Determining the exact binding site could contribute to the design of novel antidepressants that speed the migration of G proteins out of the lipid rafts, so that the antidepressant effects might start to be felt sooner.”

The authors of the article concluded that analysis of the structural determinants of raft localization could not only help to explain the hysteresis of antidepressant action, but also lead to design and development of novel substrates for depression therapeutics.

Dr. Rasenick already knows a little about the lipid raft binding site. When he doused rat neurons with an SSRI called escitalopram and a molecule that was its mirror image, only the right-handed form bound to the lipid raft. “This very minor change in the molecule prevents it from binding,” explained Dr. Rasenick, “so that helps narrow down some of the characteristics of the binding site.”

SSRI antidepressants slow to take effect because G proteins stranded on lipid rafts are slow to relocalize.

Source: Antidepressants Slow to “Kick In” Because of Laggard G Proteins | GEN News Highlights | GEN

The gluten-free craze has proven to be one of the more controversial dietary movements in recent memory.

While there are those who diagnosably suffer from celiac disease and must avoid gluten or face a variety of horrible symptoms, there are also those who pursue a gluten-free diet for vague “health” reasons despite not experiencing any negative effects. And in the middle, there are many people who haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease or allergies but claim that gastrointestinal woes, fatigue, and other symptoms disappear when they’re on a gluten-free diet.

Now, a new study says that the gluten-sensitive and gluten-intolerant aren’t all just making it up.

A new study published in the journal Gut (great name) found a biological explanation for why some people may experience discomfort when eating foods containing wheat, rye, or barley, a condition that until now has baffled researchers. A research team at the Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Bologna in Italy found that even if patients don’t exhibit the telltale scientific markers of celiac or wheat sensitivity, they can still experience celiac-like stomach and intestinal pain, as well as mood swings, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and other symptoms after eating wheat and similar grains.

These patients suffer from what’s known as non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS). In the study, researchers found that NCWS patients showed signs that they were experiencing body-wide inflammatory immune responses after eating wheat and other grains—a problem that celiac patients, despite extensive intestinal damage from the disease, didn’t experience. The researchers linked the overactive immune reactions to the elevated movement of “microbial and dietary components from the gut into circulation, in part due to intestinal cell damage and weakening of the intestinal barrier.”

“Our study shows that the symptoms reported by individuals with this condition are not imagined, as some people have suggested,” said study co-author Peter H. Green, the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, in a press release. “It demonstrates that there is a biological basis for these symptoms in a significant number of these patients.”

The immune reaction would explain the swift onset of symptoms for those that suffer from NCWS— about 1 percent of the US population, or 3 million people, according to Columbia research (previous studies have suggested that the number may be as high as 6 percent)—after digesting wheat and similar grains. When the researchers put self-identified NCWS patients on a gluten-free diet for six months, the immune reactions and signs of intestinal damage went back to normal, and patients stopped experiencing symptoms.

The researchers say their findings will help them develop methods of diagnosing NCWS and find new ways to treat the condition. Next up, they’re going to be looking into what triggers the initial intestinal damage in people with NCWS.

Maybe they could team up with the researchers at the University of Alberta, who developed a pill last summer (currently going through clinical trials) to help gluten-intolerant people digest foods that contain wheat.

The wheat and gluten-intolerant are looking at you, science, for their eventual return to the joys of pizza and pasta.

A new study found a biological explanation for why some people become ill after eating certain gluten-y foods, even if they don’t have celiac disease.

Source: Science Now Proves that Wheat Sensitivity Is Actually a Thing | MUNCHIES

There are big “no trespassing” signs affixed to most of our electronics.

If you own a gaming console, laptop, or computer, it’s likely you’ve seen one of these warnings in the form of a sticker placed over a screw or a seam: “Warranty void if removed.”

In addition, big manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Apple explicitly note or imply in their official agreements that their year-long manufacturer warranties—which entitle you to a replacement or repair if your device is defective—are void if consumers attempt to repair their gadgets or take them to a third party repair professional.

What almost no one knows is that these stickers and clauses are illegal under a federal law passed in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

To be clear, federal law says you can open your electronics without voiding the warranty, regardless of what the language of that warranty says.

This counterintuitive fact has far-reaching implications as manufacturers have stepped up their attempts to monopolize the device repair market.

One of four “warranty void if removed” stickers on the PS4. Image: iFixit

The Xbox One has a sticker that, if broken or removed, implies to Microsoft that a third party has opened the device. The Playstation 4 has various stickers that must be broken to open the device that explicitly state that tampering with them invalidates the warranty. iPhones and MacBooks don’t have a warranty-voiding sticker, but Apple Geniuses are trained to look for clues that would tip the company off to the fact that the device has been opened. Apple has also been known to refuse service on devices that have been opened.** Each of those company’s warranty agreements advise against or forbid* opening the device.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

These warranty agreements and stickers exist almost entirely to help manufacturers maintain a monopoly on repairing the devices that they sell us—for example, most people won’t attempt the relatively simple process of replacing a broken iPhone screen (which is not covered by warranty) if they believe that in doing so, Apple will refuse to replace the headphone jack if it malfunctions (which is covered by warranty).

“Manufacturers threaten to do things they cannot do legally but 99.9 percent of consumers have no idea of their actual rights”

However, warranty conditions that forbid consumers from opening or repairing their devices are illegal under a provision of the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that forbids “tying,” meaning the conditions of the warranty “tie” the consumer to using a specific service or specific types of parts, experts told Motherboard.

“Apple and others have crafty attorneys that know darned well that Magnuson-Moss exists as do anti-trust laws against ‘tying agreements.’ The contracts are very clever and appear to be within the law—but are anything but in practice,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, a group lobbying for right to repair laws around the country, told me. “Manufacturers threaten to do things they cannot do legally but 99.9 percent of consumers have no idea of their actual rights.”

The Xbox One security sticker. Image: iFixit

The MMWA is a relatively obscure statute that is most famous for creating “lemon law” for cars. If you’ve ever heard about it before, it’s probably in the context of car warranties: a warranty cannot be voided simply because someone uses aftermarket parts in their device or car.

But the law applies to all consumer devices that cost more than $15, including electronics. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission issued a new guidance that explains the law’s bans on the types of warranties that are common in consumer electronics.

“Generally, the MMWA prohibits warrantors from conditioning warranties on the consumer’s use of a replacement product or repair service identified by brand or name,” the FTC wrote. This means that there can be no such thing as an “unauthorized” repair or an “unauthorized” replacement part.

The statute itself states “for example, a provision in the warranty such as, ‘use only an authorized ABC dealer’ or ‘use only ABC replacement parts,’ is prohibited where the service or parts are not provided free of charge pursuant to the warranty.”

“If you replaced the screen yourself with an appropriate one, then they could not claim that voided the warranty”

The car warranty is a good way to visualize the way the MMWA works. If you replace your Honda transmission with a used one you bought off your neighbor or one manufactured by a third party, Honda can’t refuse to replace the engine if it blows while under warranty, so long as the aftermarket transmission didn’t directly cause the engine to fail.

The burden is on the manufacturer—not the consumer—to prove that the aftermarket part caused the failure in the other part of the car. With a smartphone, this means that if you do a successful repair on one part of the phone, the manufacturer can’t refuse to replace another part of it if it breaks down the line. For example, if you crack the screen (not covered by warranty), replace it, and, months later, the charging port malfunctions, Apple must prove that your screen repair somehow contributed to the charging port failure. (Of course, manufacturers aren’t required to fix things that you break—they just can’t stop you from fixing it yourself or having someone else fix it.)

Of course, without government intervention, much of this is theoretical. Manufacturers can get away with their warranty policies because no one ever challenges them on it—it’s much easier to buy a new phone than spend months in court over a couple hundred bucks.

“If you replaced the screen yourself with an appropriate one, then they could not claim that voided the warranty,” Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, told me. “However, it would be something too costly to litigate and this is why pro-consumer laws, which allow for the recovery of attorney fees and court costs in cases like this, are so important.”

The FTC has shown that it’s willing to use MMWA to go after manufacturers for misleading warranties, though I was unable to find an example of the FTC enforcing it against an electronics company. In the agreement for cars in BMW’s MINI division, the company noted that “regular maintenance of your vehicle … performed by your MINI dealer” was a condition of the car’s warranty. Last year, the FTC issued a formal complaint against BMW under the MMWA and eventually settled with the company. Under the terms of the settlement, BMW is expressly forbidden “from representing that, to ensure a vehicle’s safe operation or maintain its value, owners must have routine maintenance performed only by MINI dealers or MINI centers” and “must provide affected MINI owners with information about their right to use third-party parts and service without voiding warranty coverage.”

“The manufacturers know that the litigation costs would be prohibitive in any given single case”

Representatives for Apple, Microsoft, and Sony’s Playstation division did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. To be clear, not every manufacturer puts this type of language in their warranty agreements (look up the warranty information for your devices if you’re interested), but such language is also found in medical equipment and other electronics.

Frank Dorman, a spokesperson for the FTC, told me that warranty-voiding stickers appear on their face to be a violation of the MMWA.

“The stickers could be deceptive by implying consumers can’t use parts the warrantor doesn’t pre-approve, which violates the anti-tying provisions of MMWA,” Dorman told me.

The FTC’s interpretation of the MMWA “makes clear that the mere use of an aftermarket (or recycled) component is not alone a sufficient justification for warranty denial.”

Warranties and the Right to Repair

So why do manufacturers continue to put these stickers inside their devices and this language in their agreements? These warranty agreements and stickers need to be looked at in the wider context of the repair industry—most electronics warranties are short (either 90 days or a year), and most electronics don’t malfunction within their warranty period. Most devices that need to be repaired are either already out of warranty or have a user-caused problem such as a crack on the screen or water damage, which are not covered by warranties. But stickers and these agreements create the illusion that electronics are mysterious black boxes that shouldn’t be opened by anyone who isn’t authorized to by the manufacturer.

Electronics manufacturers (and auto manufacturers) have been working to secure a monopoly on repairing their own products using a variety of means. They ask the Library of Congress to make certain types of repair illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. At the state level, they lobby against fair repair bills that would require them to sell replacement parts to consumers and repair shops. They ask the Department of Homeland Security to raid independent repair shops to confiscate “counterfeit” parts (many of which are not proprietary) that are imported from China. They use non-standard screws to keep people out of their products. They write deceptive warranty agreements and put threatening stickers on their products.

The evidence suggests that these stickers and agreements have the desired effect of making consumers afraid to open their electronics. There are dozens of frantic forum posts and Yahoo Answers questions from people who opened their devices and are worried they voided their warranties. There are people who sell replacement warranty stickers, and tutorials about complex methods of removing them without breaking them. A YouTube video about building a specialized knife to remove these stickers has more than 100,000 views.

Lehto says that the manufacturers are unlikely to change warranty language on their own, and it’s unlikely anyone is going to bring a suit against a major company over a device that costs a few hundred dollars.

“The manufacturers know that the litigation costs would be prohibitive in any given single case,” he said. “But it might be ripe for a class action if there are legitimate problems being denied for warranty coverage by someone. That might be where this is headed someday.”

*Microsoft: “Microsoft is not responsible and this warranty does not apply if Your Xbox One or Accessory is … opened, modified, or tampered with (including, for example, any attempt to defeat any Xbox One or Accessory technical limitation, security, or anti-piracy mechanism, etc.), or its serial number is altered or removed … [or is] repaired by anyone other than Microsoft,” the Xbox One warranty states.


Apple: Apple’s iPhone warranty is less explicit, but has this message in bold: “Important: Do not open the Apple Product. Opening the Apple Product may cause damage that is not covered by this Warranty. Only Apple or an AASP should perform service on this Apple Product.” Apple is also known to refuse to service phones that have been opened by their owners or by third party repair professionals.

**Lehto tells me that Apple’s iPhone warranty is a very clever piece of legal writing.

“‘May’ and ‘should’ mean they recommend it but are not forcing a particular behavior,” he told me. “If they were to deny warranty coverage because someone opened the phone or did previous work, the question then becomes: What is the basis of their denial? Is it that the phone was opened or that when opened, someone tampered with the phone in a way that cause a defect or malfunction? If the latter, they are good.”

So Apple’s specific warranty language may fall within the bounds of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, but there have been cases where Apple has refused to work on a device (even for a fee) because it had been opened. The FTC notes that the act is violated “if its warranty led a reasonable consumer exercising due care to believe that the warranty conditioned coverage ‘on the consumer’s use of an article or service identified by brand, trade or corporate name” and in a blog post says that “warranty language that implies to a consumer that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of select parts or service is deceptive.”

It’s illegal for Sony, Apple, Microsoft, and others to void a warranty just because you repaired your electronics yourself.

Source: How Sony, Microsoft, and Other Gadget Makers Violate Federal Warranty Law | Motherboard

It was 23 years ago that Charl Van Wyk was sitting peacefully in the congregation at St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa, when terror struck.

As Van Wyk has told WND, “The moment of chaos and carnage unfurled is forever etched in my mind.”

On July 25, 1993, while young people were singing in front of the congregation, Van Wyk heard a noise at a front door leading into the sanctuary. A group of attackers stepped through the doorway and lobbed grenades affixed with nails at the congregation. Then they opened fire with their assault rifles.

It took a few seconds to grasp what was happening, but when Van Wyk realized what danger the church was in, he dropped to his knees and drew his .38 special revolver from his ankle holster. Although he was in the fourth row from the back of the large sanctuary, he aimed as best he could and fired two rounds at the attackers.

He then crawled to the aisle and dashed for a back door, hoping to get behind the attackers and shoot them at close range to prevent further bloodshed.

But as he rounded the corner outside the building, he saw the terrorists already at their getaway car. He fired his last three rounds, and the terrorists jumped into their vehicle and raced off.

The attackers, who were members of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, killed 11 people and wounded 58. They had also planned to lob petrol bombs into the sanctuary, where there were an estimated 1,000 people.

However, they abandoned that phase of the attack when they realized someone in the congregation was shooting back at them.

It may be a cliché, but Charl Van Wyk has proven it true – the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun (and grenades and petrol bombs) is a good guy with a gun.

Van Wyk chronicled his harrowing ordeal, as well as the aftermath and implications, in the book and DVD versions of “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.”

Today, gun rights are under attack in America and around the world. Van Wyk, whose Christian mission work focuses on Africa, argues Christians have a duty to resist anti-gun laws and those who pass them.

“If a thug in government, or on the streets, wants to take my life or someone else’s, or rape my wife or daughter, he needs to dodge my bullets!” Van Wyk told WND. “In Africa we often see the rape of women and children by rebel and government soldiers. The Christian man does not only have a right, but also a duty, to resist these wicked men with lethal force.

“To protect our families is to honor God. Basically, God’s laws trump human laws!”

Can Christians use guns to defend themselves? Yes, they can — and they must. Get your copy of “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense” from the WND Superstore today.

Van Wyk remarked more Christian men should pray, “Lord, make me fast and accurate!” instead of being “spineless cowards who make the working environment of the bad guy safer.”

He said historically Christians believed not only were murderers guilty of law breaking, but also those who did not protect the lives of victims of violence as best they could. He wonders where that doctrine would leave most of today’s Christian men.

“We are to help the suffering with our resources; how can we stand by and watch the murder of the innocent?” he asked rhetorically. “In the Christian life, cowardice is a crime!”

The hero said resisting the wicked is actually part of a Christian’s God-ordained witness to them.

“During the war between Northern and Southern Sudan, Northern Muslim soldiers defected to the Southern Christian army because of their fighting tenacity and the godly manner in which they treated their POWs,” Van Wyk revealed. “Have we ever considered that the way in which we fight, and how we treat our enemies, can be a witness to them?”

He stressed the importance of teaching one’s children these ideas about self-defense, because public education systems and the media bombard young minds with commands not to offend anyone, but to “endure evil and be a doormat for the wicked.”

Van Wyk did his part to educate the public by helping to found Gun Owners of South Africa. He noted crime is out of control in South Africa, but the South African government is bent on disarming the population, thus taking away the ability of citizens to defend themselves from criminals.


bc_shooting_back“Women in South Africa are feeling particularly vulnerable because of the extremely high incidence of rape and murder,” Van Wyk stated. “They have started a division of GOSA called ‘Girls on Fire,’ through which they are educating women on the advantages and rights of female firearm ownership in South Africa.”He said “Girls on Fire” launched in 2015 with a “16 Days of Action for No Violence Against Women and Children” education campaign. The goal is to enable and empower women to stop being victims who have to protest the current state of affairs and start protecting themselves and their families.

Ultimately, women face the same reality as men, according to Van Wyk.

“When a bad guy has a gun, only a good guy with a gun can resist him,” he said. “Not much else will do the job.”

Can Christians use guns to defend themselves? Yes, they can — and they must. Get your copy of “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense” from the WND Superstore today.

Video: Pope demands protection for Christians after Pakistan attack



It was 23 years ago that Charl Van Wyk was sitting peacefully in the congregation at St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa, when terror struck. As Van Wyk has told WND, “The moment of chaos and carnage unfurled is forever etched in my mind.” On July 25, 1993, while young people were singing […]

Source: ‘Dodge my bullets!’ Church-massacre hero pushes self-defense

One study that was published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases in 2004 found a 100% correspondence of fibromyalgia with SIBO. (4) Researchers have finally linked fibromyalgia to the health of the gut! One study showed a 100% connection between fibromyalgia and small intestine bacterial overgrowth, the direct result of an imbalanced inner ecosystem. In a double blind study, participants were asked to take a lactulose breath test, the gold standard when it comes to measuring overgrowth in the small intestine, which checks the breath for the presence of hydrogen. Bacteria produce hydrogen gas or methane as they feed. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that 100% of the participants with fibromyalgia had abnormal test results. They also found that the more abnormal the test results, the more pain a fibromyalgia volunteer was in. The degree of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine has a direct relationship with the severity of fibromyalgia

Source: The Hidden Cause of Fibromyalgia: A Natural Remedy for Pain ‐ All Body Ecology Article

XMRV virus

Source: Infection as One Possible Cause of Fibromyalgia

XMRV virus

Source: Infection as One Possible Cause of Fibromyalgia

Researchers at the Whittemore Peterson Institute in United States have discovered an infectious virus in a significant percentage of people with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The virus, known as Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a retrovirus, which means it inserts its DNA right into your cell’s genetic makeup. Once infected, the virus … Continued

Source: Virus Linked to Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue – Brian Barr

Source: No Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus–related Virus Detected in Fibromyalgia Patients

New-Found Virus XMRV


Source: New-Found Virus XMRV

The prevalence of oral health problems and cognitive decline are both higher among older adults, but are they linked? A new study suggests they may be, but calls for more research.

Source: Oral health and cognitive decline may be related – Medical News Today

Studies show social anxiety is often linked to an overactive amygdala, a part of the brain which is commonly overstimulated in patients with chronic Lyme disease. When the amygdala is overstimulated, emotional responses to external situations completely bypass the neo-cortex of the brain and go straight from the thalamus to the amygdala [1]. Typically, emotional response to situations is sent from the thalamus to the part of the brain responsible for conscious thought, the neo-cortex, where it can be analyzed for a rational response before it is sent to the amygdala for us to act upon –both physically and physiologically. However, in people with Lyme disease, emotional responses take a shortcut from the thalamus straight to the amygdala –which is dubbed the “fear center” of the brain for a very good reason. Naturally, when we feel fear that seems both beyond our control and comprehension, our fear is only amplified ten-fold. As a result, we begin to completely alienate ourselves from all activities and social interactions with the potential to cause anxiety because we feel powerless to control it should it arise.

Source: Herbal Remedies for Lyme-Induced Social Anxiety

Lyme disease survivor and book author Shelley White shares about the link between social anxiety and Lyme disease, along with some remedies for reducing anxiety. –

Source: Herbal Remedies for Lyme-Induced Social Anxiety

Source: Kolasa: Using turmeric for inflammation – Daily Reflector

Source: Is Fibromyalgia Syndrome a Myth? No, But It Just Might Be a Sleep Disorder

Source: One Of The World’s Top Aging Researchers Has A Pill To Keep You Feeling Young | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Read about a Canadian study reporting that two current fibromyalgia drugs, when used in combination, offer superior relief to patients.

Source: 2 Fibromyalgia Therapies Better Used Combo Treatments, Study Says

Did you know that eliminating certain foods from your diet might help ease pain? A pain management specialist answers some key questions about how it works.

Source: Should You Switch to an Elimination Diet to Fight Chronic Pain?

Research suggests it’s a disease of the central nervous system

Source: Fibromyalgia: Maligned, Misunderstood and (Finally) Treatable – Scientific American

Advancement in Fibromyalgia Research

Kim Penix reviews a University of Michigan clinical study dealing with pain and the fibromyalgia patient. –

Source: Advancement in Fibromyalgia Research

Source: High-pressure oxygen can effectively treat fibromyalgia: New treatment for pain syndrome reduces or eliminates need for medication — ScienceDaily

Using new microscope techniques, researchers at a biopharmaceutial company have found that fibromyalgia is caused by excess nerve endings surrounding certain blood vessels in the skin.

Source: Breakthrough In Fibromyalgia Research: Pain Is In Your Skin, Not In Your Head

The Hall Tax is on its way out, but Tennessean non-filers are getting audit letters from the state Department of Revenue, demanding five years back taxes.

Source: Tennessee To Become Income-Tax-Free State No. 8 – Forbes

Brexit is a signal that everything isn’t okay, like Bear Stearns was. If we don’t pay attention, and the EU breaks up, it would mean a major global collapse.

Source: An event of this magnitude could trigger a great global collapse – Business Insider

What are the most addictive drugs? This question seems simple, but the answer depends on whom you ask.

Source: The five most addictive substances on Earth – and what they | Cosmos

Source: Why getting stuck without a job is mostly a matter of bad luck – The Washington Post

An interesting implication of the following chart is the predicted sustainable withdrawal rate of only 3.12% for a retiree in January 2000. At that point, market valuations had reached a historical peak (about 50% higher than seen in the historical period when we could estimate the sustainability of the 4% rule). With […]

Source: How Are People Who Retired In The Year 2000 Doing Today? – Forbes

The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of cancers like breast and colon cancer. But research suggests that there is no “safe” level of consumption

Source: Alcohol linked to at least seven cancers – not just liver cancer | New Scientist

A proposed law inspired by a Green Beret’s heroic defense of a sexually abused Afghan boy has blown the lid off a systemic problem in the embattled nation, and one the Taliban has exploited in its quest to regain control.

Source: Afghan child sex tradition spotlighted by Green Beret now Taliban attack ruse | Fox News

Here’s what you need to know before marrying a woman.

Source: 3 Things Men Need to Know Before Marrying a Woman

Being called a racist tweetSocial media users make racially-charged hashtags trend highlighting divisions within US society.

Source: ‘What have white people ever done for us?’ – BBC News

The thousand-hour life span of the modern incandescent dates to 1924, when representatives from the world’s largest lighting companies—including such familiar names as Philips, Osram, and General Electric (which took over Shelby Electric circa 1912)—met in Switzerland to form Phoebus, arguably the first cartel with global reach. The bulbs’ life spans had by then increased to the point that they were causing what one senior member of the group described as a “mire” in sales turnover. And so, one of its priorities was to depress lamp life, to a thousand-hour standard. The effort is today considered one of the earliest examples of planned obsolescence at an industrial scale.

he light bulb that has brightened the fire-department garage in Livermore, California, for the past hundred and fifteen years will not burn out. Instead, it will “expire.” When it does, it certainly won’t be thrown out. It will be “laid to rest.”

“You have to use the correct terminology,” Tom Bramell, a retired deputy fire chief who has become the Livermore light’s leading historian, told me. The bulb has been on almost continuously since 1901, he said; in 2015, it surpassed a million hours in service, making it, according to Guinness World Records, the longest-burning in the world.

Bramell so cuts the figure of a firefighter that he has smoke-colored eyes and hair, and a permanent hack from smoke inhalation (“I do a bag of cough drops a day”). His circumlocution around the bulb’s eventual, inevitable end reflects the reverence in which it is held by Livermoreans and its more far-flung fans, who keep vigil over the light online. The bulb, he said, has outlived three webcams so far. It was manufactured sometime around 1900 by Shelby Electric, of Ohio, using a design by the French-American inventor Adolphe Chaillet. Its essential makeup is something of a mystery, because it is hard to dissect a light that is always on. (Shelby bulbs of the same vintage have been studied, but the company was experimenting with a variety of designs at the time.) What’s known for sure about the Livermore bulb is that it has a carbon filament of about the same human-hair thickness as the ones, typically made of tungsten, that are found in modern bulbs. It was made to be a sixty-watt bulb, though it currently illuminates the Fire Department Station 6 garage with only about the brightness of a nightlight.

More intriguingly, the light bulb is of the incandescent variety—the same type that many consumers now revile for its short life span. Had you plugged in a typical drugstore incandescent on January 1st of this year and left it on full time, it would likely have died by around February 12th. These bulbs commonly burn for about a thousand hours, or approximately half as long as the average bulb did in the early nineteen-twenties. “We don’t build things today to last,” Bramell said—speaking for, I would guess, almost all of us.

Building bulbs to last poses a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. Paradoxically, this is the very problem that the short life span of modern incandescents was meant to solve.
Building bulbs to last poses a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. Photograph by David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty

That truism has lately come into question, however, thanks to the widespread adoption of durable, light-emitting-diode light bulbs. L.E.D.s use semiconductor technology to achieve long life spans—bulbs that promise a fifty-thousand-hour design life are not uncommon. Current penetration in the consumer-lamps market (as the bulb business is known) is seven per cent worldwide, and is expected by lighting analysts to reach fifty per cent by around 2022. In the first quarter of 2016, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, L.E.D.-lamp shipments in the U.S. were up three hundred and seventy-five per cent over last year, taking more than a quarter of the market for the first time in history.


This would seem to be a good thing, but building bulbs to last turns out to pose a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. And, paradoxically, this is the very problem that the short life span of modern incandescents was meant to solve.

The thousand-hour life span of the modern incandescent dates to 1924, when representatives from the world’s largest lighting companies—including such familiar names as Philips, Osram, and General Electric (which took over Shelby Electric circa 1912)—met in Switzerland to form Phoebus, arguably the first cartel with global reach. The bulbs’ life spans had by then increased to the point that they were causing what one senior member of the group described as a “mire” in sales turnover. And so, one of its priorities was to depress lamp life, to a thousand-hour standard. The effort is today considered one of the earliest examples of planned obsolescence at an industrial scale.

When the new bulbs started coming out, Phoebus members rationalized the shorter design life as an effort to establish a quality standard of brighter and more energy-efficient bulbs. But Markus Krajewski, a media-studies professor at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, who has researched Phoebus’s records, told me that the only significant technical innovation in the new bulbs was the precipitous drop in operating life. “It was the explicit aim of the cartel to reduce the life span of the lamps in order to increase sales,” he said. “Economics, not physics.”

Phoebus is easily cast as a conspiracy of big-business evildoers. It even makes an appearance as such in Thomas Pynchon’s weird-lit classic “Gravity’s Rainbow”: the shadowy organization sends an agent in asbestos gloves and seven-inch heels to seize diehard bulbs as they approach their thousandth hour of service. (“Phoebus discovered—one of the great undiscovered discoveries of our time—that consumers need to feel a sense of sin,” Pynchon writes.) In its day, however, the shift to planned obsolescence was in keeping with the views of a growing body of economists and businesspeople who felt that, unless you dealt in coffins, it was bad business and unsound economics to sell a person any product only once. By the late nineteen-twenties, the repetitive-sales model had become so popular that Paul Mazur, a partner at Lehman Brothers, declared obsolescence the “new god” of the American business élite.

Giles Slade, in his book “Made to Break,” traces the term “planned obsolescence” to a 1932 pamphlet, circulated in New York, titled “Ending the Depression through Planned Obsolescence.” The term gained currency in 1936, through a similarly themed essay in Printer’s Ink, “Outmoded Durability: If Merchandise Does Not Wear Out Faster, Factories Will Be Idle, People Unemployed.”

This Depression-era argument, which one marketing writer of the era summed up as a “sound and genuine philosophy in free spending and wasting,” became the foundation of the modern consumer economy, so much so that we heard it again during the Great Recession, in 2007, when prominent political leaders suggested that shopping presented a solution to the crisis. The prospect of repetitive consumption is now built into almost everything we buy, and obsolescence has become, as Slade puts it, “a touchstone of the American consciousness.”

With the advent of L.E.D. bulbs, we now have perhaps the first mass-consumer product of the twenty-first century to challenge planned obsolescence. After a long technological incubation, L.E.D.s surpassed the energy efficiency of comparably bright incandescent lighting in the nineteen-nineties. Today, hardware-store-variety L.E.D. bulbs are commonly advertised at a twenty-five-thousand-hour design life, which is also the benchmark for federal Energy Star labelling; after that length of time they will have lost more than thirty per cent of their brightness. Plug one in on January 1st and it will wane by about May 15th the following year. Under more ordinary usage—each of the sixty-seven bulbs in a typical American household is turned on for an average of only 1.6 hours daily—it would, in theory, at least, stay bright for more than forty-two years. Incentives for the purchase of L.E.D.s are now offered in forty-eight states, and the U.S. Department of Energy considers the widespread adoption of the technology to offer the greatest potential impact on energy conservation in the country.

But does their increased prominence mean that, sometime between the Phoebus cartel and now, we found the business model for stuff that lasts? “That’s the billion-dollar question,” Fabian Hoelzenbein, a London-based lighting market analyst, told me.

The lighting industry has a term, “socket saturation,” that describes the point at which enough short-lived incandescent bulbs have been replaced by durable L.E.D. bulbs that light-bulb sales as a whole begin to decline. Market-analysis firms such as I.H.S. Technology and Strategies Unlimited predict that socket saturation will be felt across the global market in 2019. Parts of Asia, including China, may already be feeling the effect.

Although the lamps market will bring in an estimated thirty-eight billion dollars this year, L.E.D.-bulb makers are already reacting to the spectre of declining sales. One response, echoing the path of incandescents, is the emergence of cheaper bulbs with shorter life spans. Last year, for example, the lighting-industry giant Philips introduced a sixty-watt, ten-thousand-hour L.E.D. that sells for five dollars. But a profusion of new manufacturers, most of them in Asia, has driven cost and quality much lower than that. (California is the only state in the federation with a minimum-longevity standard for L.E.D. lamps—ten thousand hours, effective January 1, 2018.) “You can buy bulbs on eBay that are of such low quality that, when you screw them in, you can actually get a shock,” Hoelzenbein said. He’s heard reports from China of people buying bargain L.E.D. light bulbs by the kilogram, knowing some would last and others might not work at all.

A second approach is to get out of the lamps market altogether. At the end of May, Philips spun off Philips Lighting into a stand-alone company, acknowledging in the I.P.O. documents that the traditional lamps market will decline. Germany’s Osram—another of the world’s biggest lighting brands—has also calved off its two-billion-dollar lighting business to form an independent company, Ledvance, which is now for sale. And last October, G.E., the company founded by Edison, made a similar move, breaking up G.E. Lighting to leave behind a rump firm—the light-bulb division, essentially—that would be easy to sell off.

Watching companies that have been selling bulbs since before the Phoebus cartel turn their backs on the light-bulb business is startling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting out of lighting entirely. Instead, a more sophisticated L.E.D. industry is under development, focussed on placing L.E.D.s in products where obsolescence remains the rule of the day, and on expanding the ways that lighting is used. Osram will continue to provide L.E.D. components, for example, in sectors such as the automotive and electronics industries. And while G.E. appears set to leave residential lighting behind, it will continue to develop its commercial-scale L.E.D. business with “smart” products, such as streetlights that alert authorities whenever a built-in sensor detects gunshots in the area.

Smart lighting is buzzy in the household market as well. Philips was a pioneer here, with Hue, a system it introduced in 2012 that allows you to, for example, gradually brighten your room to wake you up or set off explosions of light to accompany your gaming, drawing on a palette of (allegedly) sixteen million colors. The newly independent Philips Lighting is planning to use earnings from the declining lamps market to fund further innovation in smart-lighting systems. Sony’s recently released Multifunctional Light, meanwhile, turns fixtures into a locus for the Internet of Things, connecting to speakers, security systems, and other devices. Oh, and it also lights up a room.

“Lighting is the perfect medium for you to insert the other connectivity products to fill the house, because you use light everywhere,” Philip Smallwood, the director of L.E.D. and lighting research for Silicon Valley-based Strategies Unlimited, told me. He compared the direction that smart lighting is headed to the technological revolution that saw telephones turn into multitasking security blankets of connectedness.

But smart phones are also paramount symbols of product obsolescence—easy to break (though this wasn’t always the case), hard to repair, and constantly being updated. A study in Europe found that the average person disposes of his smart phone after 2.7 years, a service life barely longer than that of T-shirts or flip-flops. If the business model for L.E.D.s shifts toward mass-market bulbs of lower price and life span alongside “lightified products” that are subject to digital-age upgrade cycles, then the technology’s potentially radical challenge to repetitive consumption will—like the long-lasting incandescent bulb—end up being comfortably absorbed by consumer culture.

All of this would amount to little more than a business-school case study of history quirkily repeating itself, if it weren’t for the fact that finding an economic model for products that last is increasingly seen as critical to environmental sustainability.

“My starting point is, get the economics right,” Tim Cooper, a design professor who heads the sustainable-consumption research group at Nottingham Trent University, told me. It’s already possible to buy durable products, he said—Miele washing machines, Vitsoe shelving, Jaguar cars. But, because such products command premium prices, they remain niche goods; by Cooper’s estimate they make up less than five per cent of the market. To truly change a light bulb will require policy changes—whether regulatory, market-based, or voluntary within industries—that support longer product lifetimes.

In a 2010 book that he edited, “Longer Lasting Products,” Cooper suggests possible ways to accomplish this: Minimum standards of durability, repairability, and upgradeability. A decrease in taxes on labor and an increase on energy and raw materials, to help make it cheaper to repair or recondition things and more expensive to make new ones. Sales-tax rates based on product lifetimes. Longer consumer guarantees and warranties. Labelling programs or rating schemes that let consumers know how long stuff will last.

The economic model to aim for, Cooper said, is founded on people buying fewer, but better, products, and paying more across those products’ lifetimes. The manufacture of quality goods would employ more people, and the goods would sell at higher prices. A dramatic expansion of the repair-and-servicing sector, the secondhand market, and the sharing economy would provide additional levels of commercial activity. And while consumers would likely end up spending less money on stuff over all, that would free up income for services and investment.

Such visions date back at least to 1982, when an O.E.C.D. report urged governments to address the volume of solid waste by encouraging more durable products, but they remain little studied or implemented. Almost thirty-five years later, Cooper, who has been researching product durability since the early nineties, couldn’t name any instances when national governments or world bodies implemented policies to promote longer life spans. (I wrote about outdoor retailer Patagonia’s seemingly incongruous attempt to address consumerism last year.) Politically speaking, the reason is obvious: even advocates such as Cooper describe the transformation of a consumer economy fuelled by obsolescence as a “radical, systemic change” that is likely, at least in the short term, to slow economic growth. “This may be unacceptable to governments, which use economic growth as their primary performance indicator,” Cooper notes, rather dryly, in “Longer Lasting Products.”

The first international academic conference on product durability took place last year, in Nottingham, England; also in 2015, a consortium of environmental organizations, ranging from the California-based repair wiki iFixit to European government agencies, issued a joint call for longer-lasting goods. Sustainability thinkers increasingly recognize that the efforts of industrialized nations to “decouple” economic growth from its environmental impacts have not succeeded. Despite a conspicuous boom in energy-efficient, recyclable, biodegradable, and nontoxic products on the market, resource exploitation continues to intensify—the footprint of annual global consumption now exceeds the replacement rate of the planet’s resources by one and a half times. (It would be four times if everyone on Earth consumed like the average American.) Perpetual, consumer-driven growth has proven staggeringly difficult to disentangle from impacts like pollution, resource depletion, energy consumption, and waste. Even purchasing eco-friendly products quickly becomes a zero-sum green game if we constantly buy more of them.

“We’re at the start of the policy process, but it’s looking quite promising,” Cooper said. “For many years I was a bit on my own.” The most important change that he advocates might also be the most difficult: a culture shift away from the pursuit of novelty, disposability, short-term value, and du jour fashion and technology. “What drives the throwaway culture? Well, often people want to have the newest and the latest,” he said. “But there are people who want to have the oldest and the best.”

The Livermore light is cosseted and cloistered today, dangling almost sixteen feet off the floor of the fire-station garage. But that wasn’t always the case. Sitting in Sanctuary Ultra Lounge, the bar that now operates out of the former fire hall on Livermore’s main street, Bramell recalled the days when the bulb hung over a workbench and whole crews would slap it—“bong!”—for good luck as they headed out on calls.

Today, every Livermore firefighter learns the tale of the bulb’s origin as part of crew orientation, which has given them a better-than-average appreciation for the tension between product lifetimes and the modern consumer economy. “It’s common sense to us that manufacturers have to put a finite life on products,” Bramell told me. “You wish at the same time that you’d have a product that would last forever.”

Source: The L.E.D. Quandary: Why There’s No Such Thing as “Built to Last” – The New Yorker

The “beauty” of methylene blue is that side effects are “minimal” at low doses. He cautioned, however, that if the drug were to become widely used, new safety issues could crop up. The findings were published online June 28 in the journal Radiology.

Source: Old Drug Boosts Brain’s Memory Centers | Health Care | US News

A new map based on brain scan data collected by the Human Connectome Project. The data revealed 180 new regions. Credit Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen

The brain looks like a featureless expanse of folds and bulges, but it’s actually carved up into invisible territories. Each is specialized: Some groups of neurons become active when we recognize faces, others when we read, others when we raise our hands.

On Wednesday, in what many experts are calling a milestone in neuroscience, researchers published a spectacular new map of the brain, detailing nearly 100 previously unknown regions — an unprecedented glimpse into the machinery of the human mind.

Scientists will rely on this guide as they attempt to understand virtually every aspect of the brain, from how it develops in children and ages over decades, to how it can be corrupted by diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

“It’s a step towards understanding why we’re we,” said David Kleinfeld, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research.

Scientists created the map with advanced scanners and computers running artificial intelligence programs that “learned” to identify the brain’s hidden regions from vast amounts of data collected from hundreds of test subjects, a far more sophisticated and broader effort than had been previously attempted.

While an important advance, the new atlas is hardly the final word on the brain’s workings. It may take decades for scientists to figure out what each region is doing, and more will be discovered in coming decades.

“This map you should think of as version 1.0,” said Matthew F. Glasser, a neuroscientist at Washington University School of Medicine and lead author of the new research. “There may be a version 2.0 as the data get better and more eyes look at the data. We hope the map can evolve as the science progresses.”
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The first hints of the brain’s hidden geography emerged more than 150 years ago. In the 1860s, the physician Pierre Paul Broca was intrigued by two of his patients who were unable to speak.

After they died, Broca examined their brains. On the outer layer, called the cortex, he found that both had suffered damage to the same patch of tissue.

That region came to be known as Broca’s area. In recent decades, scientists have found that it becomes active when people speak and when they try to understand the speech of other people.
The left hemisphere of the brain’s cerebral cortex, showing areas with high myelin in red and yellow, and areas with low myelin in indigo and blue. Credit Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen

In the late 1800s, a group of German researchers identified other regions of the cortex, each having distinct types of cells packed together in unique ways. In 1907, Korbinian Brodmann published a catalog of 52 brain regions.

Neuroscientists have relied on his hand-drawn map ever since, adding a modest number of new regions with their own research. “This is the standard for where you are in the brain,” said Dr. Glasser.

Three years ago, Dr. Glasser and his colleagues set out to create a new standard. They drew on data collected by the Human Connectome Project, in which 1,200 volunteers were studied with powerful new scanners.

The project team recorded high-resolution images of each participant’s brain, and then recorded its activity during hours of tests on memory, language and other kinds of thought.

In previous attempts to map the cortex, scientists typically had looked only at one kind of evidence at a time — say, the arrangements of cells. The Human Connectome Project has made it possible to study the brain in much greater detail.

In addition to looking at the activity of the brain, the scientists also looked at its anatomy. They measured the amount of myelin, for example, a fatty substance that insulated neurons. They found sharp contrasts in myelin levels from one region of the cortex to the next.

“We have 112 different types of information we can tap into,” said David C. Van Essen, a principal investigator with the Human Connectome Project at Washington University Medical School.

Using these variables, the scientists trained a computer with data from 210 brains to recognize discrete regions of the cortex. Once the computer profiled the distinctive combinations of myelin, activity and other characteristics, they tested it on 210 other brains.

The computer pinpointed the regions in the new brains 96.6 percent of the time. The scientists found that only a small number of features were required to map the brain. That means that researchers will be able to use their method to map an individual’s brain in a little over an hour of scanning.

The map produced by the computer includes 83 familiar regions, such as Broca’s area, but includes 97 that were unknown — or just forgotten.

In the 1950s, for example, German researchers noticed a patch on the side of the brain in which neurons had little myelin, compared with neighboring regions. But the finding was soon neglected.
A brain scan showing the pattern of brain activation in the left hemisphere when listening to stories while in a scanner. Credit Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen

“People tended to ignore it, and it was lost in the literature,” said Dr. Van Essen.

The computer rediscovered the odd territory, and Dr. Van Essen and his colleagues found that it becomes unusually active when people listen to stories. That finding suggests the region, which they call 55b, is part of a language network in the brain, along with Broca’s area.

In other parts of the cortex, the scientists were able to partition previously identified regions into smaller ones. For example, they discovered that a large region near the front of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, actually is made up of a dozen smaller zones.

The region becomes active during many different kinds of thought, ranging from decision-making to deception. It’s possible that each of the newly identified smaller parts is important for one of those tasks.

The computer program developed by the scientists became so adept at mapping the cortex that it could identify hidden regions even when they took on unusual shapes. Twelve of the research subjects, for example, have a 55b region that’s split into two isolated patches. (The researchers don’t know whether this affects how the subjects use language.)

Other neuroscientists hope that the new map will sharpen their experiments, allowing them to discover how the brain’s cogs mesh.

“The next big step is seeing what this can do for us in terms of buying more power,” said Emily S. Finn, a graduate student at Yale University who has used Human Connectome Project data to find links between brain activity and intelligence.

Dr. Kleinfeld predicted that other researchers will find ways to verify the new map’s accuracy. Genetic testing, for example: If 180 regions of the cortex really are distinct, then the neurons in each should share a distinct combination of active genes.

“You can imagine going to these 180 regions, taking a punch of tissue, and seeing if you can really genetically differentiate them,” said Dr. Kleinfeld.

Many experts believe that the brain, on closer inspection, will turn out to be an even greater collective of regions that somehow cooperate for the common good.

“It’s very clear that many of those regions are likely to be composed of smaller pieces,” said Danielle S. Bassett, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Van Essen said that he and other scientists will be using the map to track the development of young brains and to look for changes caused by disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

“We shouldn’t expect miracles and easy answers,” he said, “but we’re positioned to accelerate progress.”

Data from 1,200 brain scans performed as part of the Human Connectome Project allowed researchers to unveil the brain’s hidden geography.

Source: Updated Brain Map Identifies Nearly 100 New Regions – The New York Times

The Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States quashed an independent investigation in 2014 into sexual and possible criminal misconduct by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis and ordered church officials to destroy a letter they wrote to him protesting the decision, according to a memo made public on Wednesday.

The detailed memo was written by an outraged priest, the Rev. Dan Griffith, who was working in the top ranks of the archdiocese and was the liaison to the lawyers conducting the inquiry. He wrote that the ambassador’s order to call off the investigation and destroy evidence amounted to “a good old fashioned cover-up to preserve power and avoid scandal.”

The document offers a grave indictment of the conduct of the Vatican’s ambassador, and will probably put pressure on Pope Francis to discipline him and Archbishop Nienstedt. The former ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, served as Pope Francis’ representative to the church until he retired in April.

Archbishop Nienstedt stepped down as leader of the Twin Cities archdiocese last year amid lawsuits and criminal inquiries into his handling of priests accused of sexually abusing children. But he remains an archbishop in good standing, and recently celebrated Mass at a California retreat for prominent Catholics.

With sexual abuse victims clamoring for Francis to take action against negligent bishops, the pope recently announced that an array of Vatican departments should keep bishops accountable.

“All roads of concealment and cover-up lead to Rome,” said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who represents 350 suspected victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He spoke at a news conference on Wednesday in which he made the memo public.

This memo, and many other documents, were made public Wednesday as the result of a legal agreement between the archdiocese and the Ramsey County attorney, John Choi.

Mr. Choi agreed to dismiss the criminal case against the archdiocese in exchange for its admission that it failed to protect three children from sexual abuse by a priest, Curtis Wehmeyer. The archdiocese and the county attorney had reached a civil settlement in December, but on Wednesday it was amended to say, “The Archdiocese failed to keep the safety and well-being of these three children ahead of protecting the interests of Curtis Wehmeyer and the Archdiocese.”

Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, who replaced Archbishop Nienstedt last year, apologized in a letter on Wednesday, and said: “I know that words alone are not enough. We must do better.”


Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, pleaded guilty in 2012 to molesting two children. Credit Minnesota Department of Corrections, via Associated Press

The archdiocese agreed to an additional year of oversight of its child protection efforts by the county attorney’s office and the court, until the year 2020.

In 2012, Father Wehmeyer pleaded guilty to child molestation and possessing child pornography, and it later emerged that diocesan officials had known for years of concerns about his sexual conduct. But he was not only retained, he was promoted, in 2009, to pastor of a parish.

The case brought new scrutiny to the archdiocese and prompted other people to come forward with abuse allegations. And it led indirectly to the archdiocese’s commissioning an inquiry of its own leader, Archbishop Nienstedt.

Father Griffith’s startlingly frank 11-page memo on the history of that investigation was addressed to two bishops in the diocese: Lee A. Piché and Andrew H. Cozzens. In a brief statement released Wednesday, Father Griffith said: “My memo speaks for itself. I stand by it.” He also said he had confidence in Archbishop Hebda.

The memo states that after the investigation uncovered embarrassing evidence about the archbishop, the pope’s representative in Washington ordered it cut short. It says that when bishops sent a letter objecting to that decision, the nuncio told them to destroy the letter. Father Griffith said in his memo that “destruction of evidence is a crime under federal law and state law.”

In February 2014, the archdiocese hired an outside law firm, Greene Espel, to investigate Archbishop Nienstedt. The existence of the investigation did not become public until July 2014, after it ended, and the memo was written a few days later.

The purpose of the inquiry, the memo said, was to investigate allegations of sex and sexual harassment by the archbishop, primarily with other priests or seminarians. But it was also to look into what the memo depicts as a close relationship with Father Wehmeyer, “which may have affected his judgment regarding Wehmeyer’s past misconduct.”

“Given the significant judgment errors in the Wehmeyer case, I believed this to be one of the most serious issues of the investigation, a conclusion also reached by our investigators,” the memo says.

The Greene Espel lawyers took affidavits from 11 credible witnesses who had known the archbishop, the memo said, containing evidence of “sexual misconduct; sexual harassment; reprisals in response to the rejection of unwelcome advances.” The lawyers “stated they had at least 24 more leads to pursue.”

The memo also said that many of the witnesses mentioned that Archbishop Nienstedt may have had sexual relations with a Swiss Guardsman in Rome.

Efforts to reach Archbishop Nienstedt were unsuccessful.

Bishops Piché and Cozzens, with Archbishop Nienstedt, traveled to Washington in April 2014 to discuss the initial findings with the papal nuncio, Archbishop Viganò. The memo offers the first account of what took place in that meeting to be made public, albeit secondhand, because the memo’s author was not present. The nuncio “ordered you to have the lawyers quickly interview Archbishop Nienstedt and wrap up the investigation,” it says. “The nuncio said that the lawyers were not to pursue any further leads.”

A newly released document says the envoy destroyed evidence in a 2014 investigation into sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Source: Minnesota Priest’s Memo Says Vatican Ambassador Tried to Stifle Sex Abuse Inquiry – The New York Times

Authorities say a Florida police officer shot and wounded an autistic man’s caretaker following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself

Source: Police in Fla. shoot caretaker next to autistic man playing in street – CBS News

“The conception that the tick has to be attached for 48 hours to inject the bacteria is completely outdated,” she said. “There are studies that show that an attachment of 15 minutes can give you anaplasmosis,10 minutes for the Powassan virus, and for the different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, we have no idea.”

Dr. Nevena Zubcevik described her findings on Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment, and its effect on the brain, to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital physicians and members of the public last week. — Barry Stringfellow

This past Friday, Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, attending physician at Harvard Medical School and co-director of Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown (SRH) traveled to one of the nation’s front lines in the public health battle against Lyme disease to speak to a group of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital physicians. “I wanted to do this presentation by Skype because of all the ticks you have here,” she joked.

Dr. Zubcevik was at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) to speak at grand rounds, a weekly meeting of clinicians, which on this day was open to the public, resulting in an overflow crowd at the Community Room just off the hospital lobby.

Over the course of the hour, she shared the most recent findings that she and her colleagues have made on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, in particular on the 10 to 15 percent of patients who suffer long-term symptoms, defined by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). She discussed the protean nature of tick-borne diseases, the importance of public awareness, and the urgent need for the medical community to step up its game.

“Graduating medical students and doctors really aren’t educated about the gravity of this epidemic,” she said. “There’s a gap there that needs to be filled. We’re all responsible to educate our young doctors about what this entails.”

Dr. Zubcevic said the recent revelation that actor, singer, and songwriter Kris Kristofferson was cured of dementia once he was properly diagnosed with Lyme disease should be a lesson for medical professionals on how pervasive the disease is, and how often it is overlooked.

“Sudden-onset dementia should really be a red flag for Lyme [disease], especially in people with compromised immune systems,” she said.

“Everyone over 50 has a compromised immune system.”

Dr. Zubcevik said that doctors and parents should know that Lyme presents differently in children than it does in adults. “71 percent of the time, headache is the most common symptom in children,” she said. “Mood disturbance, fatigue, and irritability are also frequent symptoms in children. If they are acting out in school all of a sudden, get them tested.”

Dr. Zubcevik cited a particularly compelling example of undiagnosed Lyme disease where a 29-year-old male had been institutionalized four times for schizophrenia. After a series of tests, and in concert with a psychiatrist, Dr. Zubcevik began a course of daily antibiotics on him. “The first month he could remember what he had for breakfast,” she said. “The second month he could read a chapter of a book, and after six months he was back to normal. He could tolerate light and sound again, which he couldn’t before.”


Tick truths challenged

Dr. Zubcevik said recent research debunks several commonly held beliefs about the transmission and treatment of tick-borne diseases.

“The conception that the tick has to be attached for 48 hours to inject the bacteria is completely outdated,” she said. “There are studies that show that an attachment of 15 minutes can give you anaplasmosis,10 minutes for the Powassan virus, and for the different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, we have no idea.”

Dr. Zubcevic said the notion that children, infants, or pregnant women should not be given doxycycline is also outdated. “Dermatologists have prescribed doxycycline to kids for years to treat acne; why not for such a debilitating disease?”

She also said the two-day course of doxycycline, often prescribed for people who find a tick embedded on their body, has little or no prophylactic value. “It should be 100 to 200 milligrams of doxycycline twice a day for 20 days, regardless of the time of engorgement,” she said. “It is not a two-day thing.”

The blood tests currently used to detect the presence of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium are the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the Western blot test.

Dr. Zubcevik said research has shown there are 10 different strains of Lyme disease in the United States, and many of them do not test positive on the traditional Western blot or ELISA tests. In a previous email to The Times, she wrote that with current testing, 69 out of 100 patients who have Lyme disease may go untreated.

“The bull’s-eye rash only happens 20 percent of the time,” she said. “It can often look like a spider bite or a bruise. If you get a bull’s-eye it’s like winning the lottery. Borrelia miyamotoi, which we have a lot in Massachusetts, will not test positive on either test. That’s a huge problem, so the CDC is moving toward a different kind of test.”

Borrelia miyamotoi also has the potential to spread rapidly, since it’s transmitted directly from mother to offspring. Nymphal deer ticks need to feed on a mammal, most likely the white-footed mouse, to contract the virulent Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.

In addition to Lyme disease, Islanders are also vulnerable to coinfections such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia, which can also go undetected. “Babesiosis is a malaria-like disease that can persist for months or even years,” she said. “Patients who can’t catch their breath are a red flag for babesiosis.”


Double whammy

Dr. Zubcevik described deer tick nymphs as “the perfect vector” because of their diminutive size — the size of the “D” on a dime — and because of the analgesic in their saliva that often makes their bite almost undetectable.

The bacteria they inject are equally crafty.

“Borrelia burgdorferi is an amazing organism; I have a lot of respect for it,” she said. “It is a spirochete, meaning it can corkscrew into tissue as well as travel in the bloodstream. It can do whatever it wants. It’s twice the speed of a [white blood cell], which is our fastest cell. It’s so strong it can swim against the flow of the bloodstream.”

Dr. Zubcevik said there are videos that show a white blood cell pursuing a spirochete, which evades capture by drilling into tissue.

“It’s really easy to see why this adaptive bug can avoid the immune system,” she said.

Dr. Zubcevik said doxycycline stops the bacteria from replicating, but it doesn’t kill them. The rest is up to the body’s immune system, which is the reason some people suffer for so long.

“There’s a lot of neurotoxicity, which is why people feel so bad all over. It’s like a toxic warfare going on inside the patient’s body.”


Controversy continues

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker rejected the legislature’s controversial budget amendment that would have required insurance companies to cover the cost of long-term antibiotic treatment which chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) advocates maintain is the most effective treatment for their symptoms. The Massachusetts Infectious Disease Society, representing more than 500 infectious disease specialists, does not recognize CLD, and urged the governor to reject the amendment, asserting that long-term intravenous antibiotic therapy can be dangerous and possibly lead to “superbugs” that are immune to current treatments.

The CDC also does not recognize CLD or the use of long-term antibiotics for PTLDS. “Regardless of the cause of PTLDS, studies have not shown that patients who received prolonged courses of antibiotics do better in the long run than patients treated with placebo,” the CDC website states. “Furthermore, long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease has been associated with serious complications.”

However, the website also says, “Recent animal studies have given rise to questions that require further research.”

Dr. Zubcevik diagnoses the condition with a different name — “persistent symptoms related to Lyme disease.”

“I’m new to this field,” she said. “For me there’s no controversy. We have to innovate, we have to find solutions. [SRH] has connected with top scientists from all around the country. Studies show that after treatment in mice, dogs, and monkeys, Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria are still there. This has also been shown in human tests.”

Citing the work of Dr. Ying Zhang at Johns Hopkins Lyme Center, she said the most likely effective remedy will be a combination of several antibiotics. In a previous interview with The Times, Dr. Zhang said he has worked on an effective PTLDS treatment for six years, and that current Lyme disease treatments may not clear bacterial debris, or “persisters,” which may be one of the possible causes of PTLDS. Dr. Zhang said that his work on tuberculosis (TB) is his primary focus; however, advances in fighting TB, e.g. using new combinations of drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have yielded promising results in the fight against “persisters.”

“There’s also a need to develop a more sensitive test,” he said.


Patient advocate

Although she started out at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital focusing on the neuropathy of concussions, Dr. Zubcevik branched out into treating people with Lyme disease in part because both maladies can cause similar cognitive impairment. “I heard Lyme disease patients say they can’t remember what they had for breakfast, or they get lost driving home,” she said. “It sounded the same as concussion symptoms, so we started doing PET scans.”

Positron emission tomography, or PET scan, is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance that shows brain functioning. Dr. Zubcevik said PET scan of a patient with persistent Lyme disease symptoms showed a brain colored in blue and purple hues, where a healthy brain presented with shades of yellow and green. She showed an image of the patient’s brain after six months of intravenous antibiotics, which was dominated by shades of yellow and green.

Dr. Zubcevik told the hospital gathering that many patients she sees have been suffering the physical, mental, and emotional effects of the disease for so long, they have lost the will to live. “I literally have patients who were just done,” she said. “They couldn’t go on. The first thing I do is validate their experience, and tell them, ‘I believe you.’ Sometimes they start crying because somebody finally listened. Some patients show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder because they’ve been ignored for so long. Marriages dissolve all the time because one spouse thinks the other is being lazy. Many chronically ill patients end up alone.”

Treatment at SRH borrows from many different disciplines. In addition to medication, it can include nutrition counseling, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, mental health counseling, and referrals to infectious disease and other specialists as necessary.

Dr. Zubcevik said that the program was initially funded by a donation from a patient who was treated shortly after the clinic opened. “We’re always looking for more funding,” she said.

The current wait list at Spaulding is about four months.


Prevention, prevention, prevention

“Once patients are doing better, I will call harass them on the weekend to check if they are taking the proper precautions,” Dr. Zubcevik said. “Are they using repellant? Are they doing daily checks? Are they treating their dogs? I don’t want to do another PICC line [intravenous drug access] or PET scan.”

Dr. Zubcevik also said many people need to know proper tick removal — using tweezers to grab the head of the tick, not at the body.

“Don’t don’t squeeze the belly of the tick, it will inject the bacteria into your bloodstream. Do not use oils; it can make the tick vomit the bacteria into the bloodstream. If the tick is deeply embedded, go to the doctor.”

More information on SRH can be found at

More information on tick-borne disease prevention can be found on the Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health Tick-Borne Disease webpage.

Numerous videos on Lyme disease prevention, including Dr. Zubcevik’s presentation, are available on the MVTV website.

Source: Visiting physician sheds new light on Lyme disease – Martha’s Vineyard Times

Shocking New Role Found for the Immune System: Controlling Social Interactions

In a startling discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the immune system directly affects – and even controls – creatures’ social behavior, such as their desire to interact with others.

So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions? The answer appears to be yes, and that finding could have significant implications for neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

“The brain and the adaptive immune system were thought to be isolated from each other, and any immune activity in the brain was perceived as sign of a pathology. And now, not only are we showing that they are closely interacting, but some of our behavior traits might have evolved because of our immune response to pathogens,” explained Jonathan Kipnis, chair of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience. “It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system.”

Evolutionary Forces at Work

It was only last year that Kipnis, the director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, and his team discovered that meningeal vessels directly link the brain with the lymphatic system. That overturned decades of textbook teaching that the brain was “immune privileged,” lacking a direct connection to the immune system. The discovery opened the door for entirely new ways of thinking about how the brain and the immune system interact.


Images of normal brain activity, left, and of a hyper-connected brain. (Images by Anita Impagliazzo, UVA Health System)Normal brain activity, left, and a hyper-connected brain. (Images by Anita Impagliazzo, UVA Health System)

The follow-up finding is equally illuminating, shedding light on both the workings of the brain and on evolution itself. The relationship between people and pathogens, the researchers suggest, could have directly affected the development of our social behavior, allowing us to engage in the social interactions necessary for the survival of the species while developing ways for our immune systems to protect us from the diseases that accompany those interactions. Social behavior is, of course, in the interest of pathogens, as it allows them to spread.

The UVA researchers have shown that a specific immune molecule, interferon gamma, seems to be critical for social behavior and that a variety of creatures, such as flies, zebrafish, mice and rats, activate interferon gamma responses when they are social. Normally, this molecule is produced by the immune system in response to bacteria, viruses or parasites. Blocking the molecule in mice using genetic modification made regions of the brain hyperactive, causing the mice to become less social. Restoring the molecule restored the brain connectivity and behavior to normal. In a paper outlining their findings, the researchers note the immune molecule plays a “profound role in maintaining proper social function.”

“It’s extremely critical for an organism to be social for the survival of the species. It’s important for foraging, sexual reproduction, gathering, hunting,” said Anthony J. Filiano, Hartwell postdoctoral fellow in the Kipnis lab and lead author of the study. “So the hypothesis is that when organisms come together, you have a higher propensity to spread infection. So you need to be social, but [in doing so] you have a higher chance of spreading pathogens. The idea is that interferon gamma, in evolution, has been used as a more efficient way to both boost social behavior while boosting an anti-pathogen response.”

Understanding the Implications

The researchers note that a malfunctioning immune system may be responsible for “social deficits in numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders.” But exactly what this might mean for autism and other specific conditions requires further investigation. It is unlikely that any one molecule will be responsible for disease or the key to a cure. The researchers believe that the causes are likely to be much more complex. But the discovery that the immune system – and possibly germs, by extension – can control our interactions raises many exciting avenues for scientists to explore, both in terms of battling neurological disorders and understanding human behavior.


Postdoctoral researcher Anthony J. Filiano, left, and Jonathan Kipnis, chairman of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience.Postdoctoral researcher Anthony J. Filiano, left, and Jonathan Kipnis, chairman of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

“Immune molecules are actually defining how the brain is functioning. So, what is the overall impact of the immune system on our brain development and function?” Kipnis said. “I think the philosophical aspects of this work are very interesting, but it also has potentially very important clinical implications.”

Findings Published

Kipnis and his team worked closely with UVA’s Department of Pharmacology and with Vladimir Litvak’s research group at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Litvak’s team developed a computational approach to investigate the complex dialogue between immune signaling and brain function in health and disease.

“Using this approach we predicted a role for interferon gamma, an important cytokine secreted by T lymphocytes, in promoting social brain functions,” Litvak said. “Our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of social dysfunction in neurological disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, and may open new avenues for therapeutic approaches.”

The findings have been published online by the prestigious journal Nature. The article was written by Filiano, Yang Xu, Nicholas J. Tustison, Rachel L. Marsh, Wendy Baker, Igor Smirnov, Christopher C. Overall, Sachin P. Gadani, Stephen D. Turner, Zhiping Weng, Sayeda Najamussahar Peerzade, Hao Chen, Kevin S. Lee, Michael M. Scott, Mark P. Beenhakker, Litvak and Kipnis.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants No. AG034113, NS081026 and T32-AI007496) and the Hartwell Foundation.

Many people look for quick fixes to get rid of abdominal fat – but what actually works?

Source: Belly fat: What’s the best way to get rid of it? – BBC News

Toxic shock? Perfume Illness?

A lot of things caused Susie pain: scented products, pesticides, plastic, synthetic fabrics, smoke, electronic radiation – the list went on. Back in “the regular world”, car exhaust made her feel sick for days. Perfume gave her seizures.

Then she uprooted to Snowflake, Arizona.

“I got out of the car and didn’t need my oxygen tank,” she said, grinning at me in the rearview mirror. “I could walk.”

There are about 20 households where she now lives. Like Susie, most of the residents in Snowflake have what they call “environmental illness”, a controversial diagnosis that attributes otherwise unexplained symptoms to pollution.

My knees knocked together as she swerved on to another dirt road. Mae, a Guardian film-maker, was busy shooting scenery from the front seat. We’d come for four days to find out why dozens of people chose to make their homes here, and Susie had agreed to host us only if we did not seek outside opinion from psychiatrists regarding their condition.

“He’s got it bad,” she said, nodding at a neighbor’s driveway. The sign out front read: “NO UNINVITEDS”.

My eyes darted on barbed wire cattle fences and dead Juniper trees. White mountains swam in the distance. We stopped, and Susie motioned for Mae to open a gate decorated in yellow Christmas tinsel.
Deb Schmeltzer has been living out of her truck for the past five years. She says the aluminum in the truck is preferable to homes with fragrances, wi-fi and electricity.
Deb Schmeltzer has been living out of her truck for the past five years. She says the aluminum in the truck is preferable to homes with Wi-Fi and electricity. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

The idea that modern conveniences cause pain dates to the mid-19th century. In 1869, doctor George Beard published several papers blaming modern civilization and steam power for ailments such as “drowsiness, cerebral irritation, pain, pressure and heaviness in the head”.

According to him, other indications of chemical sensitivity included “fear of society, fear of being alone, fear of contamination … fear of fears … fear of everything”.

He called the illness neurasthenia. Susie called it being “sensitive to the whole world”.

Susie had warned us that Deb, a sort-of-roommate who lived in her driveway, was extremely sensitive to scents. In order to protect her, we’d agreed to various terms: we would not a get rental car or stay at a motel, because those were places where chemical cleaners were used. We would wear Susie’s clothes, and sleep at Susie’s house. She also made us swear not to get any perms before we came, which made me think she had been in the desert for a long time.

For weeks, Mae and I avoided makeup, lotion, perfume, hair products, scented detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets. We used fragrance-free soap and shampoo, as well as a natural deodorant, which, according to the description on the box, was basically a rock picked off the ground with a cap on it.

Despite our best efforts, Deb’s sensitive nose picked up our body odors. For her, we reeked like a Bath and Body Works store flooded with vodka – or as she put it, “floral, with chemical solvents. You’re fragrant.”

Snowflake was not easy to get to. I’d risen at dawn, vomited on a tiny six-passenger plane, and walked one mile down a busy highway in a town called Show Low (160 miles from Phoenix) to get to Susie’s car.

“We’ll do our best to get you cleaned,” Susie promised us. “I got lots of hydrogen peroxide.”
In order to wear sunscreen without fragrances, writer Kathleen Hale was given a mixture of zinc oxide and safflower oil by Susie Molly to avoid the sun.
In order to wear sunscreen without fragrances, Kathleen Hale was given a mixture of zinc oxide and safflower oil by Susie Molloy to avoid the sun. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

It was decided that the best way to get us straight from the car into the shower, where we could wash the outside world’s chemicals away, was to enter the house completely naked. So we took off our clothes and marched without dignity across the gravel driveway.

“You can have first shower,” Mae said, wrapping herself in a towel. We had only known each other for a few hours.

Susie’s bathroom, like the rest of her one-room, off-grid house, was wallpapered in heavy duty Reynolds wrap. Above the toilet, a small, sealed window looked out at the desert. I scrubbed off with a bar of olive oil soap and inhaled the metallic scent of hard water. It was the only thing I could smell.

Someone knocked. Mae reluctantly asked if I wore underwear. “We’re playing dress-up!” Susie shouted from the other room.

I realized what Mae actually meant was, Did I wear Susie’s underwear? I hesitated for a moment, considering the alternative: going commando in a sandy environment.

“Hey, Kathleen!” Susie yelled. “Do you?”

“I wear underwear,” I called.

Later, we gathered in the kitchen. Deb is sensitive to grains, GMO foods, preservatives and all artificial flavoring and coloring, so we ate cabbage soup for dinner.

Afterward, Mae and I ducked behind a curtained-off partition to consider our sleeping arrangements: two metal cots, one broken, and zero blankets, (because blankets are absorbent and, according to local logic, our pores were still “off-gassing” dangerous chemicals). Nighttime in the desert is freezing, and Susie’s house did not have heating. I wanted to be unconscious and regretted my semi-recent decision to start weaning off sedatives.

Asked whether she might at least have some padding to cover the iron springs, Susie retreated outside, shouting over her shoulder, “FYI, the rats here are aggressive.” She returned with dirt-caked bathmats. “There,” she said, turning off the lights. “Comfy.”

That night Mae and I, who were complete strangers just the day before, had to hold each other for warmth. I reminded myself that whatever discomfort we felt paled in comparison to how Susie and Deb had suffered in the regular world.
Susie Molloy collects Native American pottery that fills the Arizona landscape near her home in Snowflake. Molloy was one of the first people to move to the remote area to escape modern life.
Susie Molloy collects Native American pottery that fills the Arizona landscape near her home in Snowflake. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

Susie grew up in forested northern California, and spent most of the 1970s in the Bay Area, working odd jobs and traveling with her boyfriend. As friends started dropping like flies from an illness nobody could understand, Susie endured respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms. It hurt her feelings when doctors suggested she might just have anxiety.

While the Aids epidemic kicked into crisis mode, Susie’s symptoms got worse, intensifying whenever she smelled smoke or saw power lines. Unable to function, she moved back home, where, through an autodidactic game of trial and error, she identified what triggered her worst symptoms. She slept on her parents’ porch, or on the bathroom floor, because those were the only places she could breathe. Her mother collected rain for her to drink.

Now using a wheelchair, she returned to San Francisco to pursue a master’s degree in disability policy. She launched the Reactor, an environmental illness advocacy newsletter, which circulated via an underground network of hypersensitive people throughout the country. An environmentally ill reader told Susie the air where he lived was “clean enough for him to manage” and in 1994, Susie followed him to Snowflake, where the tiny community (only a handful of people at the time) immediately rallied around her. Within a year, her father and neighbors pooled their resources to build her a house – “a little, safe place”.

Meanwhile, across the country, Deb’s life had never felt more dangerous.

Like Susie, her initial thought was Aids. After ruling that out, she juggled endless skepticism. Even those who believed she felt ill wrote it off, saying she’d bounce back.

Deb had always been strong. As a child living on Lake Michigan, she sailed and played sports. After attending Michigan Technological University, she worked for nine years as the only female metallurgical engineer at Bendix aircraft; her specialty was failure analysis.

When she and her husband became pregnant, Deb kept working, inhaling zinc and cadmium – nobody told her not to – but all she could smell were her co-worker’s cologne and aftershave. Scented products sent her body into crisis. She vomited a lot.

After giving birth in 1992, Deb left work to parent full time. She lived in a moldy house with a smoky furnace. Infections blow-torched her sinuses, turning into migraines that hit her like an ax. Her weight plummeted to 75lbs. Doctors said she was anorexic.

Finally, Deb couldn’t take it anymore. She left Michigan when her daughter was 16 and became itinerant, sleeping in her truck, because unlike plastic or drywall, metal emitted no chemical fumes and was safe.

The same word-of-mouth network eventually led Deb to Snowflake, where she performed chores for the environmentally sick in exchange for food. By the time Susie spotted her boiling out clothes for a neighbor, Deb had been living in her truck for five years and needed a place to park. The two women became a domestic duo. Deb cooked “clean food” for Susie on the hot plate. They made each other laugh, and protected one another. Susie remained compassionately straight-faced when Deb finally admitted she hadn’t seen her daughter in seven years.

By the age of 67, Susie had finally put her master’s degree to use, although not in the way she had originally intended. She had become Snowflake’s unofficial welcome wagon, local therapist and advocate. She sat with men and women who were sick with something no one else believed in, and she believed them. She fielded at least five long phone calls a night from the bedridden and lonely, talking to them for as long as they needed company. She helped people with the arduous paperwork involved in collecting government aid. She reassured them that their illness wouldn’t kill them – it would only “hurt, a lot”.

Everyone we met loved her, and got tears in their eyes when they said so.

Historically speaking, settlers’ reasons for uprooting typically establish the hierarchy of wherever they resettle. Puritans relocated for religious reasons, so the devout became popular. Forty-niners rushed in search of gold, and those that struck it gained status.

But people came to Snowflake to nurture disease, and so, here, illness acts like a social currency. Being “normies”– a mostly derogative term meaning that chemical fragrances and electricity didn’t (yet) cause us debilitating pain – not only dropped Mae and I into a category of people who had historically hurt, abandoned, and misdiagnosed everyone we were about to meet, it also ranked us as lepers.

Luckily, I was about to become very sick.
Mae Ryan with Kathleen Hale: ‘They wanted to know how they could be sure that we weren’t just another pair of journalists here to play games’.
Mae Ryan with Kathleen Hale: ‘They wanted to know how they could be sure that we weren’t just another pair of journalists here to play games.’ Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

On day two, I woke with a headache, and Mae’s hair in my mouth. My headache was snowballing into nausea. I was starting to feel familiar, flu-like symptoms which pave the way for emotional darkness.

I had begged to write about Snowflake because I identified with the idea of sick people retreating to the middle of nowhere to find peace. Almost two years earlier, I had a mental breakdown and retreated to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. Medication and therapy brought me back to reality. I felt I recognized the urge to leave everything behind.

In the almost two years since my mental breakdown, sticking to the to-do list they gave us at the psychiatric hospital (sleep; eat; take medication) had, at the very least, made me feel in control.

Now, each item had been compromised thanks to our sleeping arrangements, the unsatisfying house staple (cabbage), and my personal desire to, at some point, become pregnant with a baby that did not resemble an octopus.

“I’m starting to think now might not have been the best time to start tapering off psychotropic drugs,” I said to Mae, who barely heard me.

“There’s a situation,” she replied.

In the kitchen, Susie and Deb revealed that trust issues had developed between us. The night before, Mae and I decided to charge her camera battery, and apparently it had kept Susie awake.

“But we could hear her snoring,” I said.

“You hurt her,” Deb said.

They wanted to know how they could be sure that we weren’t just another pair of journalists here to play games – to test their disease with shenanigans, and make fun of them?

Deb said we couldn’t fool her.

As proof, she relayed a story about how, once, when her daughter was “10 or 12” they’d gone together to the grocery store.

“I lost track of her and her friend,” Deb said, smirking proudly, “and then I found them, and I could smell it. They claimed, ‘No, no, no,’ but I knew they’d gone and done perfume samples. So, we’re in the car, and they’re giggling to themselves, and I told them to get out.”

That was the end of the story.

“Did you make them get out of the car?” I said

“Well, yeah,” she said, looking confused. “We were only about three miles from home.” She turned the car around “eventually”. But I couldn’t help seeing it from the daughter’s point of view: a friend had come over, they’d been left on the highway.

I worried we were about to get kicked out, too.

Deb said, in order to trust us going forward, we had to promise we weren’t going to write anything but a positive piece that would clearly inform readers of the clinical validity of environmental illness.

“We can’t promise that,” Mae said.

A general silence fell over the aluminum foil room. Deb, who had been pretty emotionless up until now, looked like she might cry. Our chance at writing a story seemed to be disintegrating. So I cleared my throat and prepared to overshare in order to hopefully diffuse things.

“I’ll tell you a secret,” I said.
The walls in Susie Molloy’s home are covered in aluminum foil to mask any fragrances that may emit from the building materials.
The walls in Susie Molloy’s home are covered in aluminum foil to mask any fragrances that may emit from the building materials. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

I told Susie and Deb that I knew how it felt, at least a little bit, “to be sick, and have nobody believe you”, I explained how, four or five years earlier, my hair started falling out, and I had this awful, burning sensation on the back of my scalp that was so intense I used a bag of ice as a pillow, and how I felt nauseous all the time, and tired, and cried a lot. The word “diarrhea” had already been introduced a number of times by Susie and Deb to describe their own symptoms, so I plugged that in, too.

They softened. When I got to the part about how every other doctor I saw that year said I was fine, physically speaking, and had referred me to a psychiatrist, they scoffed knowingly and protectively. They asked what my environment had been like; I thought they meant emotionally so I told them how I moved to New York for this guy, James, and we signed a lease together, broke up after one month – then I lost my job, and had no savings – “la-la-la”.

Susie cut me short: “No, your physical environment.” I remembered, with a lurch, that our apartment had been downwind from a dry cleaners. I used to go stand next to its vents because the detergent smelled great compared to the chicken slaughter plant down the street.

Susie and Deb looked like they wanted to high-five. My depression had been a symptom of environmental illness.

“They use all sorts of chemical agents to clean slaughterhouses,” Deb said excitedly. “When you left, did the symptoms go away?”

“No, but they started to, a little, when this doctor friend of mine said to try eliminating gluten.”

“The gluten, that’s what happened with me!” Susie said. “That’s one of the things I found I was sensitive to. It’s commoner than people think.”

“For me, personally, it was a placebo,” I said carefully, clocking their disappointed looks. They cringed even more when I used the word “psychosomatic”.

“The gluten-free thing helped for a long time, especially with the shitting my pants problem – I think just controlling my environment probably helped. But the scalp burning didn’t go away until a dermatologist prescribed me antidepressants.”

“That’s not me saying the symptoms weren’t real,” I continued – and in my nervousness that I’d once again offended them, I then farted so shrilly that Mae laughed in shock.

Susie just shrugged and Deb remained completely impassive, as if maybe she hadn’t heard, which was not possible. Chemicals bothered them, but bodily functions were fine.

Given the progress made by discussing my medical history, I publicized my current headache. Susie scrambled to get me Tylenol, and Deb graciously explained that this was yet another sign my body was dumping toxins from the regular world.

My illness had immediately elevated my status in the household. “Here you go,” Deb said, handing me a mug. Susie tapped pills into my palm.

After almost 24 hours of being told I stank and generally being treated like a contagious freak, I was so grateful for these ministrations that I went to hug them. Susie acquiesced, but Deb said I was still too fragrant for us to embrace.

“But I changed my mind,” she said to Mae. “I’ll let you film me, if you want.”
Steen, a neighbor, says he is allergic to computers, wi-fi, electricity and ink on paper so he must print off his emails, air them out to dry for 24 hours and then read them. He only responds to emails via hand written letter.
Steen, a neighbor, says he is allergic to computers, Wi-Fi, electricity and ink on paper so he must print off his emails, air them out to dry for 24 hours and then read them. He only responds to emails via handwritten letters. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

Susie and Deb, like most of their neighbors, receive disability checks. But welfare has not made them complacent. It isn’t easy to apply for disability when you suffer from an illness that most refuse to recognize. And even if you do receive some aid, the checks could stop at any moment. All it takes is one Arizona bureaucrat looking at your file and deciding that your sickness is made up.

Over and over again, residents emphasized to me that they wanted to work, they missed working – they had no identity now, they said, no sense of self worth. Many, like Deb, were former chemical engineers. They were smart, easily bored, and embarrassed by what they worried some might misconstrue as laziness, or mooching. I believed them when they said they wanted jobs. I also believed that they were far too sick to work. Many spent entire days in bed, eyes cinched against the blinding pain caused by their illness.

“People here suicide themselves,” Susie said, as we trudged around the desert, collecting rocks. Our boots crunched on petrified rabbit shit. Susie told us about a friend with environmental illness who had killed himself a few months prior.
Green Bank: the town that banned Wi-Fi
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“He wasn’t depressed or anything, he just couldn’t take it anymore, so he starved himself,” she said. Apparently it was common, around Snowflake, for people to kill themselves. Susie estimated that it happened around twice a year, which, given the shifting population, I pointed out as an epidemic.

“We bury our own dead,” she said.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

Many of the people we met had finally found doctors who believed them. Before, in the regular world, after enduring years of humiliating check-ups and stints in the emergency room, they relegated the medical profession to enemy status. Now, they spoke adoringly of their physicians, most of whom practiced integrative health – a blend of western science, holistic healing and one-on-one therapy. As long as I framed environmental illness as a physical phenomenon, Snowflakers were happy, even eager, to communicate. But they got angry if I broached their illness, even obliquely, as a psychological phenomenon. They had spent years feeling sick and battling skeptics. The last thing they wanted was to be told by an outsider, who had just met them, that they were crazy.

I didn’t blame them. Later, breathing through another stomachache, I scanned my notes, rereading scrawled concerns based on various conversations about the potential that everyone we met had some form of extreme PTSD, either from being sick, witnessing a nationwide health crisis, or – as had cropped up in one or two of the conversations – from being sexually assaulted.

When I asked Susie whether she took any medications for her environmental illness, she cackled, at first, like a little girl, and said, “None of your business!”

“I do, though,” she continued after a pause. “For seizures.”

Certain psychiatric drugs double as anti-seizure medications, so I rattled off a few familiar brand names. Susie nodded at one I took. I wondered if we had the same thing, whatever that was.
Susie Molloy hangs up her clothes to dry after washing them in fragrance free detergent. Molloy was one of the first people to move to Snowflake.
Susie Molloy hangs up her clothes to dry after washing them in fragrance-free detergent. Molloy was one of the first people to move to Snowflake. Photograph: Mae Ryan for the Guardian

On our last morning in town, Deb intercepted me in the driveway to explain how fragile I was. She had been thinking about my symptoms – the headache, my history of so-called depression and my menstrual cycle which started two weeks early on our second day there.

“My therapist says it’s just stress,” I said. “I feel like maybe we recognize something in each other. We just want to call it different things.”

She shook her head. “You have environmental illness, I can sense it.”

In a quiet, tentative voice, she explained to me that there was, in fact, an objective, scientific way to test me for environmental illness; she could do it right then and there.

The procedure would be relatively painless, but I couldn’t mention the specifics in my piece.

“I feel like this will sound more ominous than it is if I leave out the details,” I said as we went through with it.

“People will think we’re crazy,” she said.

“I am crazy,” I said.

“No,” she said.

After we finished, I lingered in the doorway while Deb searched the dark house for her glasses. I was no longer permitted indoors because I had changed back into my own clothes, and the scents emanating from my regular world apparel had already caused Deb’s ears to swell, making it hard for her to hear. It was time to go, but Deb said the apparatus she used to diagnose environmental illness wasn’t working, so she would have to be in touch. I wrote down my phone number and email address.

“Can I give you a hug goodbye?” I said.

“Not in those clothes,” she said.

As Susie ferried us back into society, beef cattle glared at us from the ditches, and calves stumbled in the road. Susie told us she didn’t see any overlap between mental and environmental illness. Certain substances were physically poisonous, and that was the end of it.

“If someone is reckless or careless about exposures that will cause issues for you, that is, to some measure, assaultive,” Susie said.

“Assault, that’s a strong word,” Mae said.

“Yep,” Susie said. “That’s why I say it.”

At the airport gate, I remembered the emergency Valium in my bag, and all of my stress went away. But it wore off on the flight, and by the time I got home, I felt the sadness in my blood. I almost hoped Deb’s test would work – that she would find something scientific to substantiate how shitty I sometimes felt.

A few days later, Deb and Susie put me on speakerphone, because holding the receiver to their head triggered neurological problems. Once again, they wanted me to tell them exactly what I would write about them. They worried I might make fun of them. I told them that wasn’t my intention, but that I tended to tell the truth, at which point Deb told me that my test results had shown her that I was sick.

“But I can help you.”

“We can help you shave off a couple years of fruitless effort,” Susie added.

“What’s wrong with me?” I said.

Deb promised she would tell me, eventually. But only after she read this piece.

“Isn’t that, like, blackmail?” I said.

Susie and Deb started to laugh, softly and shrewdly.

I’m still waiting for my results.

This article was amended on 12 July 2016 to reflect that the Arizona town of Show Low is formatted as two words, not one, and is pronounced phonetically.

Many people look for quick fixes to get rid of abdominal fat – but what actually works?

Source: Belly fat: What’s the best way to get rid of it? – BBC News

Nobel Prize winner Rod MacKinnon found that pungent and spicy tastes can hinder neurological misfires that cause muscle cramping. He and others developed the spicy drink, Hotshot, to help.

Source: A New Way to Prevent Muscle Cramps – WSJ


Among the many things New Yorkers pride ourselves on is food: making it, selling it and consuming only the best, from single-slice pizza to four-star sushi. We have fish markets, Shake Shacks and, as of this year, 74 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Yet most everything we eat is fraudulent.

In his new book, “Real Food Fake Food,” author Larry Olmsted exposes the breadth of counterfeit foods we’re unknowingly eating. After reading it, you’ll want to be fed intravenously for the rest of your life.


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Think you’re getting Kobe steak when you order the $350 “Kobe steak” off the menu at Old Homestead? Nope — Japan sells its rare Kobe beef to just three restaurants in the United States, and 212 Steakhouse is the only one in New York. That Kobe is probably Wagyu, a cheaper, passable cut, Olmsted says. (Old Homestead declined The Post’s request for comment.)

Fraudulence spans from haute cuisine to fast food: A February 2016 report by Inside Edition found that Red Lobster’s lobster bisque contained a non-lobster meat called langostino. In a statement to The Post, Red Lobster maintains that langostino is lobster meat and said that in the wake of the IE report, “We amended the menu description of the lobster bisque to note the multiple kinds of lobster that are contained within.”

Moving on: That extra-virgin olive oil you use on salads has probably been cut with soybean or sunflower oil, plus a bunch of chemicals. The 100 percent grass-fed beef you just bought is no such thing — it’s very possible that cow was still pumped full of drugs and raised in a cramped feedlot.

Unless your go-to sushi joint is Masa or Nobu, you’re not getting the sushi you ordered, ever, anywhere, and that includes your regular sushi restaurant where you can’t imagine them doing such a thing, Olmsted says. Your salmon is probably fake and so is your red snapper. Your white tuna is something else altogether, probably escolar — known to experts as “the Ex-Lax fish” for the gastrointestinal havoc it wreaks.

Escolar is so toxic that it’s been banned in Japan for 40 years, but not in the US, where the profit motive dominates public safety. In fact, escolar is secretly one of the top-selling fish in America.

The food industry isn’t just guilty of perpetrating a massive health and economic fraud: It’s cheating us out of pleasure.

“Sushi in particular is really bad,” Olmsted says, and as a native New Yorker, he knows how much this one hurts. He writes that multiple recent studies “put the chances of your getting the white tuna you ordered in the typical New York sushi restaurant at zero — as in never.”

Fake food, Olmsted says, is a massive national problem, and the more educated the consumer, the more vulnerable to bait-and-switch: In 2014, the specialty-foods sector — gourmet meats, cheeses, booze, oils — generated over $1 billion in revenue in the US alone.

“This category is rife with scams,” Olmsted writes, and even when it comes to basics, none of us is leaving the grocery store without some product — coffee, rice or honey — being faked.

The food industry isn’t just guilty of perpetrating a massive health and economic fraud: It’s cheating us out of pleasure. These fake foods produce shallow, flat, one-dimensional tastes, while the real things are akin to discovering other galaxies, other universes — taste levels most of us have never experienced.

“The good news,” Olmsted writes, “is that there is plenty of healthful and delicious Real Food. You just have to know where to look.”

‘Safety isn’t a niche’

One of the most popular, fastest-growing foods in America is olive oil, touted for its ability to prevent everything from wrinkles to heart disease to cancer. Italian olive oil is a multibillion-dollar global industry, with the US its third-largest market.

The bulk of these imports are, you guessed it, fake. Labels such as “extra-virgin” and “virgin” often mean nothing more than a $2 mark-up. Most of us, Olmsted writes, have never actually tasted real olive oil.

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Old Homestead in NYC lists “Kobe Beef” on its menu, but that’s not precisely true. The luxurious Japanese meat can be found at only three restaurants in the country, including 212 Steakhouse in Midtown.Photo: Shutterstock

“Once someone tries a real extra-virgin — an adult or child, anybody with taste buds — they’ll never go back to the fake kind,” artisanal farmer Grazia DeCarlo has said.

“It’s distinctive, complex, the freshest thing you’ve ever eaten. It makes you realize how rotten the other stuff is — literally rotten.”

Fake olive oil, Olmsted claims, has killed people. He cites the most famous example: In 1981, more than 20,000 people suffered mass food poisoning in Spain. About 800 people died, and olive oil mixed with aniline, a toxic chemical used in making plastic, was blamed.

In 1983, the World Health organization named the outbreak “toxic oil syndrome,” but subsequent investigations pointed to a different contaminant and a different food — pesticides used on tomatoes from Almeria. (Olmsted stands by his reporting.)

Some of the most common additives to olive oil are soybean and peanut oils, which can prove fatal to anyone allergic — and you’ll never see those ingredients on a label. Beware, too, of olive oil labeled “pure” — that can mean the oil is the lowest grade possible.

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Some of the most common additives in olive oil are soybean and peanut oils, which can prove fatal to anyone allergic — and are often missing from labels.Photo: Shutterstock

“No one is checking,” Olmsted writes.

How do we find the real thing? Olmsted recommends a few reliable retailers, including Oliviers & Co. in New York and New Jersey. Otherwise, look for labels reading “COOC Certified Extra Virgin” — the newly formed California Olive Oil Council’s stamp — or the international EVA and UNAPROL labels.

In terms of scope and scale, there’s an even greater level of fraud throughout the seafood industry. “Imagine if half the time you pulled into a gas station, you were filling your tank with dirty water instead of gasoline,” Olmsted writes. “That’s the story with seafood.”

He cites a 2012 study of New York City seafood done by scientists at Oceana, a nonprofit advocacy group. They discovered fakes at 58 percent of 81 stores sampled and at all of the 16 sushi restaurants studied, and this goes on throughout the United States. If you see the words “sushi grade” or “sashimi grade” on a menu, run. There are no official standards for use of the terms.

Red snapper, by the way, is almost always fake — it’s probably tilefish or tilapia. (Tilapia also doubles for catfish.)

“Consumers ask me all the time, ‘What can I do?’ and all I can say is, ‘Just don’t ever buy red snapper,’ ” Dr. Mark Stoeckle, a specialist in infectious diseases at Weill Medical College, told Olmsted. “Red snapper is the big one — when you buy it, you almost never get it.”

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Red snapper is almost always fake — it’s probably tilefish or tilapia, which can also double for catfish.Photo: Shutterstock

Farmed Cambodian ponga poses as grouper, catfish, sole, flounder and cod. Wild-caught salmon is often farmed and pumped up with pink coloring to look fresher. Sometimes it’s actually trout.

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to properly sear scallops? It’s because they’ve been soaked in water and chemicals to up their weight, so vendors can up the price. Even “dry” scallops contain 18 percent more water and chemicals.

Shrimp is so bad that Olmsted rarely eats it. “I won’t buy it, ever, if it is farmed or imported,” he writes. In 2007, the FDA banned five kinds of imported shrimp from China; China turned around and routed the banned shrimp through Indonesia, stamped it as originating from there, and suddenly it was back in the US food ­supply.

Seafood fraud puts pregnant women at risk; high levels of mercury in fish are known to cause birth defects. Allergic reactions to shellfish have been known to cause paralysis.

“All the gross details you have heard about industrial cattle farming — from the widespread use of antibiotics and chemicals to animals living in their own feces and being fed parts of other animals they don’t normally consume — occurs in the seafood arena as well,” Olmsted writes. “Only it is much better hidden.”

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Red Lobster’s lobster bisque contains a non-lobster meat called langostino.Photo: Shutterstock

Corruption in the seafood industry is so rife that in 2014, President Obama formed the Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Seafood Fraud. In the meantime, Olmsted has some suggestions.

Look for the reliable logos MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) for wild-caught fish and BAP (Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices) for farmed, he says.

The most trusted logo is “Alaska Seafood: Wild, Natural, Sustainable.” Alaska’s system mandates complete supervision of chain of custody, from catching to your grocery store.

Perhaps most surprising of all: Discount big-box stores such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Walmart are as stringent with their standards as Whole Foods.

“When customers walk into a store, they don’t expect to have to pay a premium for safe food,” Walmart exec Brittni Furrow said in 2014. “Safety isn’t a niche.”

Your grass-fed cow was drugged

One of the simplest things we can do, Olmsted writes, is to look for products named after their geographical location. Grated Parmesan cheese is almost always fake, and earlier this year, the FDA said its testing discovered that some dairy products labeled “100% Parmesan” contained polymers and wood pulp.

That’s all the FDA did: You can still buy your woody cheese at the supermarket.

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The term “grass-fed” does not ensure free-range meat.Photo: Shutterstock

Parmigiano-Reggiano, however, derives its name from Parma, the region in Italy that’s produced this cheese for over 400 years. If you buy it with that label, it’s real.

Same with Roquefort cheese and Champagne from France, and San Marzano tomato sauce, Bologna meat and Chianti from Italy, and Scotch whisky from Scotland. Still, Olmsted strongly advises looking for the label PDO — Protected Designation of Origin, the highest guarantee of authenticity there is.

As for our own lax labeling standards, Olmsted is outraged. Ninety-one percent of American seafood is imported, but the FDA is responsible for inspecting just 2 percent of those imports. And in 2013, the agency inspected less than half of that 2 percent.

“The bar is so low,” he says. “Congress could not have given them less to do, and they still fail. They’re not clueless. They know. They’re actually deciding not to do it. They say they don’t have the budget.”

When it comes to beef, Olmstead reports that the USDA is no better; the agency repealed its standards for the “grass-fed” designation in January after pressure from the agriculture industry.

All that stamp now means, he says, is that in addition to grass, the animals “can still be raised in an industrial feed lot and given drugs. It just means the actual diet was grass rather than corn.”

If you don’t have access to a farmer’s market, Olmsted says that Eli’s and Citarella in New York are reliable providers of true grass-fed beef.

“Go up to the counter and ask them where the grass-fed beef comes from,” he says. “They need to know. In New York in particular, you have access to a lot of specialized gourmet stores, and you can source stuff locally. You can’t do that in most of the country.”

ong the many things New Yorkers pride ourselves on is food: making it, selling it and consuming only the best, from single-slice pizza to four-star sushi. We have fish markets, Shake Shacks and, as

Source: Everything we love to eat is a scam | New York Post

INFLAMMATION: The Cardiac Killer


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Source: The Cardiac Killer

High blood pressure is the most important controllable risk factor

The researchers looked at the proportion of strokes caused by specific risk factors to determine the extent to which eliminating each risk would reduce the impact of stroke. Eliminating high blood pressure was estimated to reduce risk by nearly 48 percent, the findings showed.

The investigators also calculated potential reductions for eliminating other risk factors:

  • Physical inactivity: 36 percent,
  • Poor diet: 23 percent,
  • Obesity: 19 percent,
  • Smoking: 12 percent,
  • Heart causes: 9 percent,
  • Diabetes: 4 percent,
  • Alcohol use: 6 percent,
  • Stress: 6 percent,
  • Lipids (blood fats): 27 percent.
The combined reduction for all 10 risk factors was 90.7 percent across all regions, age groups and among both men and women. The study authors noted, however, that the importance of various risk factors vary in different regions. For example, high blood pressure causes about 39 percent of strokes in North America, Australia and western Europe, but nearly 60 percent in Southeast Asia.

Source: 9 Out of 10 Strokes Could Be Prevented, Study Finds | Health Care | US News

Source: How Our Immune Systems Are Directly Tied To Our Personalities

As part of the research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Virginia, scientists keyed in on an immune system molecule called interferon gamma. This particular immune system molecule is activated in certain animals – including humans – when they want to be social. Scientists conducting the immune system experiments blocked the interferon gamma molecule, inhibiting from activating, and the results were eye-opening. When the immune system molecule was blocked, the brains of the mice became ‘hyperactive,’ and that the mice no longer tended towards socialization with their cage mates, something that mice – being incredibly social creatures – are usually prone to do. The conclusions were quickly assessed: manipulation of the immune system had a direct effect on behavior.Conversely, when the scientists discontinued their blockage of the immune system molecule, allowing it to once again operate freely in the brain, the mice calmed down and returned to their normal, social behavior.

One of the study’s authors, Johathan Kipnis, chair of the University of Virginia’s Department of Neuroscience, commented on the findings.

“It’s like a little airport in a small city suddenly becomes a major hub and so there’s a mess of traffic congestion in the air. ‘Same thing happens with the brain, so the brain cannot function properly.”

The question of why our immune systems and our personalities are so interconnected was also broached by the authors of the study. They have postulated that the connection may actually be an evolutionary mechanism built in to help a species survive. The linkage exists, encouraging social creatures to interact and yet boosting our immune systems at the same time to protect both the individual and the group.

As of now, the immune system experiment has only been conducted on mice, but there is a belief that the immune system – personality connection also exists in humans. This linkage is now leading scientists to believe that they may be on the verge of breakthroughs in how to best treat people with neurological disorders like schizophrenia and autism.

Further study will examine how directly the correlation between the immune system and behaviors reacts in both directions. That is, the recent study from the University of Virginia suggested that manipulating the immune system directly effects behavior.

But, does changing one’s behavior – as has long been postulated by scientists – actually alter the immune system? The correlation between so-called “happy” individuals and stronger immune systems, and “sad” or “depressed” individuals and weaker immune systems has been supposed for years… and it now appears that the immune system molecule isolated by the authors of this study – published in Nature – could be the smoking gun in that supposition.

Source: Where To Buy The Anne-Marie Striped Swimsuit If You Want To Copy Taylor Swift’s Patriotic One-Piece — PHOTOS | Bustle

The bikini is turning 70 and is still turning heads. The iconic two-piece bathing suit was the creation of French engineer Louis Reard.

Source: Bikini Atoll Revolutionized the Swimsuit 70 Years Ago – NBC News

The bikini is turning 70 and is still turning heads. The iconic two-piece bathing suit was the creation of French engineer Louis Reard.

Source: Bikini Atoll Revolutionized the Swimsuit 70 Years Ago – NBC News

Source: 25 Unbelievable Private Jets Owned by Celebrities. We Saved The Best For Last – Page 26 of 26 – WorldLifestyle

Author Jennifer Weiner is encouraging women to put on a swimsuit, snap a selfie and then go have fun this summer.

Source: Jennifer Weiner’s #WearTheSwimsuit movement inspires women –