Archive for September, 2016

An estimated 180,890 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. The disease will also take the lives of 26,120 patients. But according to a new 10-year study conducted on more than 1,500 men in the United Kingdom, those who are diagnosed may want to hold off on starting aggressive treatment right away.Typically, men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are given several options: Have surgery to remove all or part of the gland, undergo radiotherapy to reduce any tumors, or take a “watch and wait” active monitoring approach, which involves additional screenings and biopsies but no treatment, as the cancer can grow so slowly that it often doesn’t present a medical problem for those who have it. The study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that men who received treatment ― either surgery or radiotherapy ― were better able to limit their cancer from spreading. But this didn’t necessarily mean immediate treatment led to better overall outcomes. Among the men who took a “watch and wait” approach, nearly half didn’t need any additional treatment. As a result, they avoided the negative side effects that come with surgery and radiation, such as bowel and urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction and life-threatening cardiovascular issues. Indeed, no matter what approach the men were randomized to, they weren’t likely to die of either the cancer itself, cancer treatment or other causes after ten years. That said, the patients in this study are still being followed because deaths from prostate cancer are usually measured after 15 to 20 years. “This paper really underscores that an active surveillance approach is good for many patients, but there are some who still need upfront treatment,” said Dr. Timothy J. Daskivich, a urologic oncologist and director of health services research for the Cedars-Sinai department of surgery in Los Angeles. “Time will tell if we can sort these patients out in the future.”While some men will need immediate treatment, further developments that help urologists identify low-risk and high-risk patients will be key to making sure that only men who need it the most will have to undergo surgery or radiation.How outcomes differed according to the treatmentThe Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) trial recruited U.K. men ages 50 to 69 from 1999 to 2009. Of 2,664 men who received a diagnosis of prostate cancer, 1,643 agreed to be randomized to any one of three of the most common prostate cancer treatments: active monitoring (545 men), radical prostatectomy (553 men) or radiotherapy (545 men).The men were not further classed into low- or high-risk groups based on the features of their tumor or the levels of prostate-specific antigens in their blood. This is what the researchers found: There was no difference in death rates. The scientists followed up with the men after a median of 10 years and found that while there were less prostate cancer-specific deaths in the groups that got radiation or surgery, the difference was not significant, and all groups had at least a 98.8 percent survival rate when it came to prostate cancer-specific deaths. In all, the death rate from prostate cancer across all groups was about one percent after a median of ten years.There was a difference in the rate of cancer spread. Of the men who were randomized to the active monitoring group, 112 experienced disease progression, including cancer spread, which was higher than in the surgery and radiation groups (46 and 46, respectively). While there appears to be a slight advantage to getting treated immediately after a prostate cancer diagnosis to avoid cancer progression, longer-term follow up is needed to see if these results are significant, the researchers wrote. What this means for U.S. menIn an opinion piece that accompanied the study, Dr. Anthony V. D’Amico of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute concluded that when compared with surgery or radiation, active monitoring leads to increased cancer spread, and that active monitoring should only be an option for men who already have another life-shortening disease that is expected to result in death after less than 10 years. Daskivich, who was not involved with the study, was more optimistic about active monitoring’s place in prostate cancer care, and included “low-risk” men among those who should consider active monitoring instead of surgery or radiation, even though the study didn’t stratify men according to high or low risk cancers. However, doctors still need more tools that help them confidently sort patients according to risk.“It’s all about treatment selection ― picking out patients who have higher risk disease who should get treated upfront, and those who have lower risk features who don’t need to be treated and managed with active surveillance,” said Daskivich. “That’s going to be the challenge in the coming years.”The results of the study won’t change much for most middle-aged men in the U.S., Daskivich

Source: Treating Prostate Cancer Is Often No Better Than Doing Nothing | Huffington Post

After three months, more than a third of study participants grew back more than half of their lost hair

Source: Arthritis drug Xeljanz may help with the hair loss condition alopecia – CBS News

A hangover-free future is once again being promised, this time courtesy of a controversial former drug czar. The Independent reports David Nutt—who was fired by the British government after claiming horse riding was more dangerous than ecstasy—developed about 90 compounds of something he’s calling “alcosynth” and is testing out two for wide-scale alcohol replacement, which he says will happen by 2050.More From Newser Scientists Find Earth’s Oldest Civilization Key to Extinction of Ancient Bear: Vegan Diet Earth’s Message to Aliens Coming to Humans Soon”They’ll dispense the alcosynth into your cocktail and then you’ll have the pleasure without damaging your liver and your heart,” Nutt says. He says the two alcosynth compounds being tested—one is bitter, the other mostly flavorless—work well in everything from a mojito to a Tom Collins. Alcosynth will get you buzzed—though Nutt says they’ve capped how drunk you can get on it—without the side effects of nausea, headache, or dry mouth. “We know where the good effects of alcohol are mediated in the brain, and can mimic them,” he says. “And by not touching the bad areas, we don’t have the bad effects.” A nontoxic alcohol that doesn’t let drinkers get blotto could save a lot of money, Time reports.The CDC estimated that over-consumption of alcohol cost US taxpayers up to $223.5 billion in 2006. But it could be years before alcosynth is available for your next party, according to the Adam Smith Institute.The libertarian think tank tells Sky News over-regulation will slow the release of what is essentially a new drug. (This study finds there is one proven way to prevent a hangover.)This article originally appeared on Newser: ‘Alcosynth’ Promises the Buzz Without the Hangover

Source: ‘Alcosynth’ promises the buzz without the hangover | Fox News

Drug deaths over the past 15 years have been rising so rapidly that experts say they’ve rarely, if ever, seen anything like it.

This is America on drugs: A visual guide

Updated 11:28 AM ET, Fri September 23, 2016

In modern history, few things have caused such a sharp spike in US deaths as drug overdoses.

CNN reached out to every state for the latest statistics on drug deaths, with half providing data from 2015. It found that drugs deaths continue to rise rapidly in many states.

FATAL ADDICTIONS

Epidemiologists in several states blame the increasing number of drug-related deaths on greater use of heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
“If you look at the cause of death, we just don’t normally see increases like this,” said Robert Anderson, the chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Care Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TOP CAUSE OF ACCIDENTAL DEATHS

Drugs are the leading cause of accidental death in this country. Fatal overdoses surpassed shooting deaths and fatal traffic accidents years ago.
For perspective on how fast drug deaths have risen, Anderson said, consider the sharp rise in heart disease in the early half of the 20th century. It took about 50 years for the rate of heart disease to double. It took drug deaths a fraction of that time.
The only thing comparable might be the HIV epidemic when it first reached the United States in the late 1980s, when there were no drugs to treat it. But unlike with HIV, where demonstrators took to the streets to demand help, the drug epidemic often happened out of the spotlight.
That might be because drug deaths have disproportionately hit small towns and rural America, mainly in Appalachia and in the Southwest, far away from the eye of the national media. It became a particularly dangerous problem for middle-age white men and women.

HEROIN’S DEADLY EFFECT

Heroin-related deaths increased 439% from 1999 to 2014. As of 2014, heroin-related deaths had more than tripled in five years and quintupled in 10 years.
In 2014, opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths — 61% of all US drug overdose deaths — and 10,574 were related to heroin, in particular. Data from 2014 reflects “two distinct but interrelated trends,” the CDC notes, a longterm increase in overdose deaths due to prescription opioids and a surge in illicit opioid overdose deaths, mostly related to heroin.

NATIONWIDE EPIDEMIC

In 2010, West Virginia moved into the top spot on the list of states with the highest number of drug deaths. From 2014 to 2015 alone, the number of deaths in that state increased by 12%. New Hampshire saw a 24% increase in deaths in that same time period.
How to get help

Struggling with addiction or know someone who is? Here are several organizations that help addicts beat back their habits and regain their lives.

The state that has struggled the longest is New Mexico. Its Rio Arriba County has the highest number of drug deaths for a single county in the United States, according to data analysis of more than 15 years of records from the CDC and state departments of health. Looking at drug death data from 1999 to 2014, New Mexico most often holds the No. 1 spot for the highest number of deaths.
The sharp uptick in deaths seems to coincide with Americans’ increasing use of drugs like illicit fentanyl.
Pop star Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in April. The pain reliever is often given to cancer patients and is more than 100 times as strong as morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

STATE HIT THE HARDEST

Appalachia has struggled with a number of high-profile overdose cases recently.
West Virginia is home to six of the top 20 counties in the country with the largest concentrations of drug-related deaths. Kentucky has the most, with nine counties on that list. Ohio has also been hard-hit by the epidemic.

Source: This is America on drugs: A visual guide – CNN.com

The Interior Department says Native Hawaiians can now choose whether to form a unified government, which could eventually enter into formal government-to-government relations with the U.S.

Source: Native Hawaiians Now Have A Pathway To Form A Government : The Two-Way : NPR

Colombia’s Civil War is Finally Over

Colombia’s FARC rebel group voted unanimously to approve a peace deal with the government on Friday, declaring an end to the five-decade war.

Source: Colombia’s Civil War is Finally Over

Most Work Emails Not Important [STUDY]

Do you remember how we got work done before we had to deal with 100 emails a day?  I do. We were empowered to make decisions and those decisions were implicitly backed up by our managers.

Source: Most Work Emails Not Important [STUDY]

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any individual. For your individual planning and investing needs, please see your investment professional.

Jonathan DeYoe has been a financial advisor in San Francisco for the past two decades, giving him a first-row seat to the unprecedented explosion of wealth creation ushered in by tech industry. Here are his 10 best pieces of money advice.  

1. Put your money where your happiness is.

It is an incredible understatement to say the San Francisco Bay Area is an expensive place to live. Whether you come from money or just joined Facebook, you will have to make trade-offs to keep your head above water here — make the tradeoffs that are appropriate for you.

You don’t have to drive a Tesla, you aren’t required to live in a rad pad in the Mission, and you don’t need designer duds or the newest iGadget. Give up the trappings of success that hold no personal meaning for you and focus your financial resources on activities and affordable luxuries that build your particular brand of happiness, like a rock-climbing course and killer burritos.

2. Invest in yourself early and often.

If you are an engineer or scientist, you must stay on top of your technical game, but don’t hesitate to spend money on coaching or classes to develop your communication and leadership skills, as well.

If you are a professional, constantly hone your craft. Read broadly within your industry, enroll in continuing education, obtain advanced professional designations, and find opportunities to network with new people.

The dollars you dedicate to increasing your intellectual capacity and enhancing your ability to work well with others can boost your income substantially. Lifelong learning and professional development both lead to long-term success. The sooner you embark upon rigorous self-improvement, the longer you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors, so invest in yourself now.

3. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Equity compensation in the form of RSUs and stock-options can be a wonderful addition to your income and asset base. Over the years, I have seen many folks become wealthy through their company stock programs.

However, I have watched just as many stock compensation packages go up in smoke. Never forget that your stock has NO real value until you are fully vested and someone is willing to give you cash money for it on the open market. Just because a VC gives your company a sky-high valuation does not mean you’ll receive that valuation if (not when) the stock ever trades publicly.

Do not borrow against your stock. Do not pledge your stock as collateral to buy a massive house on Russian Hill. Do not count your stock among your REAL assets until it is actually part of your real assets. Better yet, don’t even count the eggs in your basket until you’ve hatched and sold them.

4. Get your foot in the front door.

Yes. The cost of housing in the Bay Area is ridiculous! When I read a 2015 San Francisco Chronicle article claiming that a Mountain View, California, resident was renting a tent in their backyard with bathroom access but no kitchen privileges for $900, I knew that we had all gone off the deep-end.

Today the median sales price for San Francisco homes is over $1.1 Million! No one is happy about real estate prices in the greater Bay Area, but if you are planning to stay here for five to seven years or more, consider buying a home. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or close-in. Alameda and Contra Costa counties are still relatively affordable. Just get your foot in the front door.

If you stay on the sidelines, don’t be surprised if the market continues to run away from you. Expect rare short-term dips, like we saw in 2008-2009, to effervesce quickly due to decades of housing policy that limited building.

And while many cities have strong rent-control laws, remaining a renter means your housing costs will continue to grow — perhaps pricing you out of the rental market and into that tent in someone’s backyard.

5. Turn a passion into a side hustle into a business.

First and foremost, do not neglect your day job. If your 9-to-5 office gig pays the bills and affords you ample pocket money, pursuing your passion for cooking by taking a second job as a sous-chef in a neighborhood restaurant won’t help you get ahead. You will burn out.

Nonetheless, there are hundreds of creative ways to capitalize on your hidden and not so hidden talents. My 11-year-old son bakes pies for neighbors, cat sits, and walks dogs. If you like baking or pets, why not?

You prefer to drive? Try Lyft or Uber. You love to write? Start a blog and learn how to drive traffic with social media. You’re a crack web designer? Register on freelance sites like Upwork or Hired.com. You have a spare bedroom? You get the idea!A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files Finding a side hustle — like driving for Uber or Lyft — is a great idea, so long as you’re passionate about it and it won’t burn you out.Thomson Reuters

6. Create a financial road map.

Where do you want to go in life? As with any journey, if you have a specific destination in mind, you will need to take specific steps to get there. Planning your route is essential.

No one can afford to experience everything they want, but you can accomplish what is most important to you by creating a financial road map. Decide what tradeoffs you’re willing to make to achieve your goals. Take staycations until you’ve saved the down payment on a new house? Live with your old car six more months so that you can afford that new motorcycle next year? Drive Uber on week-ends to cover the cost of coding classes?

Where are you now? In debt? $20,000 away from that down payment? Underemployed? No need for shame. Accept your today and plan for a better tomorrow. What tradeoffs will you make? How much do you need to save? How are you going to get where you want to be? Planning makes things happen for you! NOT planning lets them happen to you.

7. Make your health a priority.

There are actually significant financial benefits to being healthy.

It probably comes as no surprise that healthier people have higher energy levels, improved resistance to illness, improved moods, higher self-esteem, better brain function, reduced fatigue, and less anxiety. But research indicates that healthier people may earn more and spend less, as well.

Good health while you’re young gives you the energy and focus to work harder and smarter, which can lead to better raises and more promotions, which translates into increased lifetime earnings. And good health later in life means fewer doctors visits, fewer medications, and hopefully decreased long-term care expenses as you age.

8. Save at least 10% of every dime you make.

Or, as the familiar saying goes, “Pay yourself first.”

Once you got your first “real” job and started earning more, you probably started spending more, too. If that trend continues every time you get a promotion or better job, you will never get ahead. At some point, you must make a conscious decision to save a specific portion of your income every single month. These savings will form the foundation upon which your entire financial life can be built.

Start by saving at least 10% of your gross salary every paycheck, and increase your savings 1% each year until you are saving 20% of your income. Use those initial savings to establish a cash emergency fund with six months to two years of living expenses. At the same time, take advantage of the tax breaks and “free” money you get from participating in your company’s 401(k) matching program. Next, pay-off your high interest debt. Then max out your 401(k), ROTH, and IRA combo, after consulting with your tax professional. The final step is to save even more in a taxable investment account and/or pay down your low interest debts.

9. Invest 90% of your liquid assets in an appropriately allocated, broadly diversified, and annually rebalanced basket of publicly traded securities.

I expect I will get some healthy Bay Area blow-back for this statement: Your investing prowess will not lead to “outperformance” in the long run.

Timing the markets, stock selection, and economic predictions may be an enduring part of the investment landscape, but none of those strategies offer a repeatable process for financial success. Luck often plays a much bigger role than skill when it comes to investment performance.

There is plenty of research on portfolio construction available to anyone willing to look. There is no evidence to support the idea that recent past performance will persist into the future or that folks dedicated to the timing and selection have been or will be successful doing so. Stock-picking requires repeated luck. Asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing rely on something we can control, our consistent behavior, patience, and discipline.

10. Always be mindful of the big picture.

The course of human social and economic history expresses itself in a very long upward trend. That upward trend is often punctuated by short-term market upheavals, which are amplified by Wall Street and the financial press.

Stock markets and the financial media constantly over-correct in both directions in a seemingly endless cycle. Upside yields to downside. Excitement leads to despair. The good news? Today’s losses sow the seeds of future gain. You can’t consistently predict short-term outcomes because the economic and market details are ever-changing. Nonetheless, the big picture remains the same. Instead of reacting and over-reacting to the markets whims, be mindful of the big picture and stick to your thoughtfully constructed investment program and financial plan.

Jonathan K. DeYoe, AIF and CPWA, is the author of Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend. He is the founder and president of DeYoe Wealth Management in Berkeley, California, and blogs at the Happiness Dividend Blog. Financial planning and investment advisory services offered through DeYoe Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment adviser.

Source: Best pieces of money advice from a San Francisco wealth advisor – Business Insider

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO at Gallup, who presides over endless surveys of American consumers and businesses and knows a thing or two about them, has a message for the media and the political establishment that seem to be clueless: this meme about the recovering economy – “It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week,” he says – “I don’t think it’s true.”In an article posted on Gallup’s website, he made his case: The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today. Ten percent of 250 million adults in the U.S. is 25 million people whose economic lives have crashed. What the media is missing is that these 25 million people are invisible in the widely reported 4.9% official U.S. unemployment rate. Let’s say someone has a good middle-class job that pays $65,000 a year. That job goes away in a changing, disrupted world, and his new full-time job pays $14 per hour — or about $28,000 per year. That devastated American remains counted as “full-time employed” because he still has full-time work — although with drastically reduced pay and benefits. He has fallen out of the middle class and is invisible in current reporting.And these “Invisible Americans,” as he calls them, are facing the “disastrous” emotional toll often associated with a sharp loss of household income. It hits “self-esteem and dignity,” and produces an “environment of desperation.” Even many American with good jobs and incomes are just “one degree” away from the misery of those with falling wages, or the underemployed or unemployed.Clifton names three metrics that “need to be turned around or we’ll lose the whole middle class”: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the total U.S. adult population that has a full-time job has been hovering around 48% since 2010 — this is the lowest full-time employment level since 1983. The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S. exchanges has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years — from about 7,300 to 3,700. Because firms can’t grow organically — that is, build more business from new and existing customers — they give up and pay high prices to acquire their competitors, thus drastically shrinking the number of U.S. public companies. This seriously contributes to the massive loss of U.S. middle-class jobs. New business startups are at historical lows. Americans have stopped starting businesses. And the businesses that do start are growing at historically slow rates.“Free enterprise is in free fall — but it is fixable,” he says. It all depends on small businesses. They need to thrive again. They’re “our best hope” for the economy to pick up some speed. And once they’re thriving again, they can “restore the middle class”: Gallup finds that small businesses — startups plus “shootups,” those that grow big — are the engine of new economic energy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 65% of all new jobs are created by small businesses, not large ones.But small businesses as a group are not doing well. Over the past three decades, the US averaged nearly 120,000 more business births than deaths per year. But between 2008 and 2011, according to Census Bureau data, on average 420,000 businesses were born per year, while on average 450,000 died. That the core of the US job creation machine has been faltering is not a sign of a healthy or even a “recovering” economy.Clifton’s sobering message – that a big part of American households and therefore consumers are still in serious disarray in part due to the problems small businesses are facing – appears to be getting totally lost among the media hype, including the deafening razzmatazz about the 5.2% jump in “household income,” reported last week by the Census Bureau, and widely misconstrued by the media.This disarray is even worse, once it’s parsed, as the Census Bureau has done, by men and women. Because men’s median income, adjusted for inflation, is now lower than it had been in 1974!

Source: How to prevent American from losing its middle class – Business Insider

Children and teenagers who are obese have different microorganisms living in the digestive tract than their lean counterparts

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and is rapidly increasing among industrialized nations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity rates have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Obesity affects 17% of children and teens nationwide, and in 2012 alone more than one-third of children and adolescents were classified as overweight or obese. Moreover, obesity is associated with an estimated $14.1 billion in additional prescription drug, emergency room visit, and outpatient visit costs each year, according to the Endocrine Society’s Facts and Figures Report.

Now, a new study led by researchers at Yale University has found a connection between gut microbiota and fat distribution in children and teenagers. The investigators found that children and adolescents who were obese had different microorganisms living in their digestive tract than their lean counterparts.

“Our findings show children and teenagers with obesity have a different composition of gut flora than lean youth,” explained senior study investigator Nicola Santoro, M.D., Ph.D., associate research scientist in the department of pediatrics at Yale University. “This suggests that targeted modifications to the specific species composing the human microbiota could be developed and could help to prevent or treat early-onset obesity in the future.”

The findings from this study were published recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in an article entitled “Role of Gut Microbiota and Short Chain Fatty Acids in Modulating Energy Harvest and Fat Partitioning in Youth.”

The Yale team managed to examine the gut microbiota and weight in 84 children and teenagers who were between 7 and 20 years old. The participants included 27 youth who were obese, 35 who were severely obese, 7 who were overweight, and 15 who were healthy weight. Researchers analyzed the participants’ gut microbiota. The participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure body fat partitioning, provided blood samples, and kept a 3-day food diary.

The researchers discovered eight groups of gut microbes that were linked to the amount of fat in the body. Four of the microbial communities tended to flourish in children and teens with obesity compared to their normal-weight counterparts. Additionally, smaller amounts of the other four microbial groups were found in participants who were obese compared to children and teenagers of normal weight. The gut microbiota found in youth who were obese tended to be more efficient at digesting carbohydrates than the gut flora of teenagers and children of normal weight. “A significant association was found between the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio, and the abundance of Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria with body mass index, visceral and subcutaneous (SC) fat,” the authors wrote. “Plasma acetate, propionate, and butyrate were associated with body mass index and visceral and SC fat and with hepatic de novo lipogenesis. Moreover, the rate of carbohydrate fermentation from the gut flora was higher in obese than in lean subjects.”

Also, the children with obesity tended to have higher levels of short-chain fatty acids in the blood than children of normal weight. The study found short-chain fatty acids, which are produced by some types of gut bacteria, are associated with the production of fat in the liver.

“Our research suggests that short-chain fatty acids can be converted to fat within the liver and then accumulate in the fat tissue,” Dr. Santoro remarked. “This association could signal that children with certain gut bacteria face a long-term risk of developing obesity.”

Source: Obese Kids Have Fat Flora | GEN News Highlights | GEN

There will never be a horse like Mr. Ed, the talking equine TV star. But scientists have discovered that the animals can learn to use another human tool for communicating: pointing to symbols. They join a short list of other species, including some primates, dolphins, and pigeons, with this talent. Scientists taught 23 riding horses of various breeds to look at a display board with three icons, representing wearing or not wearing a blanket. Horses could choose between a “no change” symbol or symbols for “blanket on” or “blanket off.” Previously, their owners made this decision for them. Horses are adept at learning and following signals people give them, and it took these equines an average of 10 days to learn to approach and touch the board and to understand the meaning of the symbols. All 23 horses learned the entire task within 14 days. They were then tested in various weather conditions to see whether they could use the board to tell their trainers about their blanket preferences. The scientists report online in Applied Animal Behaviour Science that the horses did not touch the symbols randomly, but made their choices based on the weather. If it was wet, cold, and windy, they touched the blanket-on icon; horses that were already wearing a blanket nosed the “no change” image. But when the weather was sunny, the animals touched the blanket-off symbol; those that weren’t blanketed pressed the “no change” icon. The study’s strong results show that the horses understood the consequences of their choices, say the scientists, who hope that other researchers will use their method to ask horses more questions.

Source: Horses can use symbols to talk to us | Science | AAAS

Not that most Americans have a choice in the matter.

America is one of the few developed industrial nations that does not guarantee paid sick leave by law because they want to be like China.

Eligible workers in the USA are allowed to take up to 12 weeks off for illnesses or a new baby without fear of losing their job – under the Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 – and many companies will allow their staff a few days’ sick leave as part of their employee benefits package.

But for millions of low-paid workers, the rule is simple – if you don’t show up for work you lose a day’s pay.

But it could also cause them to be fired. There is little protection for workers in the USA like there is in the EU.  Americans are too stupid to pay attention to anything beyond sports and sluts. 

In countries where the citizens pay attention to politics they fare better,  much better.

Sick leave and pay are most generous in the Netherlands, where workers can be absent for up to two years, while receiving 70% of their salary, according to a report in February for employment agency Glassdoor.

The least generous sick leave in the EU is in the UK, where workers are paid a flat rate of about £88 a week for 28 weeks.

EU countries also guarantee 20 paid vacation days a year, plus public holidays. Some EU countries go further.

Sweden, France and Denmark all offer 25 days’ paid leave a year as minimum – the highest entitlement. Spain is the best place for public holidays with 14.

There is no statutory minimum for paid holiday in the US, although the average is about 10 days in practice, plus public holidays. Polls suggest unused vacation is at an all-time high.

The UK government is facing calls from trade unions and the Labour opposition to protect paid leave and workers’ rights when the country negotiates its exit from the EU.

Media captionThe BBC asked people in Washington DC how many days they took off last year and watched them write that number down on a board.

America’s national vacation problem

Nearly a quarter of US adults have been fired or threatened with the sack for taking time off to recover from illness or to care for a sick loved one, according to Family Values at Work, which campaigns for paid leave.

This climate is particularly tough for women, who are still the main caregivers for young children and elderly relatives, says Leanne DeRigne, whose research suggests some families could be spending more on medical bills because they are delaying treatment rather than taking time off.

It can also have serious repercussions for public health.

Image copyright Getty Images

In February, Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle partly blamed a 2015 outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug on employees who had come to work sick at branches in Boston and Simi Valley, California.

The company, which employs 50,000 people across the US, now requires employees to stay home from work on paid sick leave for five days after their symptoms have disappeared.

But even when they are entitled to sick leave, many Americans don’t take it. More than a quarter of workers surveyed in 2014 by public health agency NSF said they always go to work when they are ill.

The hard-driving, long hours culture of the American workplace is no place to risk being seen as a slacker.

“Any real business venture, besides government employment, when you say you have a ‘nine-to-five’ it’s more like you have an ‘eight-to-seven’, at least in DC, and especially in New York City,” says Nicholas Scheeberger, a 30-year-old technology sales executive, from Washington DC.

“It’s like an unspoken understanding. Your boss isn’t going to tell you you need to stay and work extra, but if you are the guy that gets in at nine and goes home at five every day, you are probably not going to last.”

Image copyright Getty Images

Scheeberger says he had no problem with the lack of paid leave when he worked as a bartender – casual employment suits those marking time between “real jobs”, who make most of their income from tips.

Now that he has an office job, he has two weeks’ vacation and “seven to 10 sick days” – but there is pressure not to use the entitlement.

“Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of people who call in when they are hungover. But it’s more – even if you are sick and there is something of importance, you absolutely need to be at work.”

If there is a big client meeting or seminar, he adds, “unless you are on your deathbed, chances are you are going to work”.

Polls suggest the American public are strongly in favour of paid sick leave – but progress towards it has been slow.

Image copyright Getty Images

Some states, such as California and New York, have passed their own laws. As a result, an estimated 11.3 million American workers now have the right to some form of paid leave.

Hillary Clinton has vowed to introduce 12 weeks’ paid family leave and sick leave if she wins the presidential election. Donald Trump has yet to comment on the issue, although he has backed paid maternity leave.

The Obama administration’s attempts to introduce paid leave ran into stiff opposition on Capitol Hill.

Republicans argued it would hurt small businesses and lead to job losses – and scoffed at the idea that America could learn lessons from supposedly less hard-working European nations.

Documents show that in the ’60s, the sugar industry funded Harvard researchers who, examining risk factors of heart disease, dismissed concerns about sugar and doubled down on the dangers of fat.

Source: 50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat

There are also natural compounds that elevate sirtuins—one is resveratrol, which is already sold as a dietary supplement today. Another is called NAD. NAD—Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide—is one of the most compelling bits of chemistry related to aging. Its presence in the body is directly correlated with the passage of time: An elderly man will have about half the levels of NAD is his body as a young person. There’s no amount of healthy eating or exercise that can stop the decline. But in a scientific

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

If a restaurant charged you $40 for coffee. Surely you’d be upset. But you let hospitals do it to you all the time.

It turns out that hospitals inflate specific prices  in ways that aren’t transparent to the patient, according to a new study that appeared Sept. 7 2016 in the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that many hospitals charged more than 20 times the cost of some services, particularly for certain services like CT scans and anesthesiology. The researchers said that the pattern of charging suggests that hospitals strategically look for surreptitious ways to boost revenue.

“Hospitals apparently mark up higher in the departments with more complex services, because it is more difficult for patients to compare prices in these departments,” Ge Bai, who led the study and is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, said in a statement. [7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe]

Other high-tech services with exorbitant markups include MRI, electrocardiology (tests of the heart’s electrical patterns) and electroencephalography (tests of the brain’s impulse patterns), according to the findings. The services that had fees that were more in line with their actual costs to hospitals included “old-school” physical therapy and nursing, the researchers found.

The markups occurred in all types of hospitals, both private and nonprofit, the researchers said. Yet hospitals with the highest markups, on average, tended to be for-profit hospitals with strong power within their markets, because of either their system affiliations or their dominance of regional markets. In other words, those hospitals that can mark up prices, do mark up prices, according to the researchers.

The pricing can have serious consequences for the payer, the researchers said. For example, hospitals whose costs for a CT scan run at about $100 may charge a patient $2,850 for a CT scan, the study found.

“[The markups] affect uninsured and out-of-network patients, auto insurers and casualty and workers’ compensation insurers,” said Gerard Anderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a co-author on the study.

“The high charges have led to personal bankruptcy, avoidance of needed medical services and much higher insurance premiums.”

In their study, based on 2013 Medicare and other data from nearly 2,500 U.S. hospitals, the researchers compared a hospital’s overall charge-to-cost ratio, which is the ratio of what the hospital charged compared to the hospital’s actual medical expense. The charge is recorded on a document called a chargemaster, which is an exhaustive list of the prices for all hospital procedures and supplies.

In 2013, the average hospital with more than 50 beds had an overall charge-to-cost ratio of 4.32 that is, the hospital charged $4.32 for every $1 of its own costs. However, at most hospitals that they examined, the researchers found that the charge-to-cost ratio was far higher in departments that were technologically advanced. The highest was in the CT department, with an average ratio of 28.5. [5 Amazing Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Biotech]

While understanding that hospitals need to generate revenue, the researchers recommend a cap on markups and consistency from department to department. They also suggest more transparency, by requiring hospitals to provide patients with examples in clear language of rates from area hospitals or what Medicare would pay.

“There is no regulation that prohibits hospitals from increasing revenues,” Bai told Live Science. “The problem is when they raise rates on people that have no ability to say no because they have an emergency and cannot compare prices.” This includes uninsured and out-of-network patients, “because they don’t have bargaining power against hospitals,” Bai added.

“We realize that any policy proposal to limit hospital markups would face a very strong challenge from the hospital lobby,” Anderson said. “But we believe the markup should be held to a point that’s fair to all concerned ? hospitals, insurers and patients alike.”

The researchers noted that Johns Hopkins Hospital has a charge-to-cost ratio of 1.3, among the lowest 1 percent of the sample studied. Maryland, the state in which the hospital is located, in general has the lowest ratios of any other state, they said.

Some of the infections could be tied to increasing antibiotic resistance. The vast majority of what may be preventable infections, however, could be controlled with targeted disinfection and better surveillance of water systems, say researchers involved with the study.

Source: Infections linked to water supply increasing healthcare costs, study says – UPI.com

Archival documents reveal how the sugar industry secretly funded heart disease research by Harvard professors

Archival documents reveal how the sugar industry secretly funded heart disease research by Harvard professors

 

The sugar industry has a long history of skewing nutrition science, a new report suggests. By combing through archival documents from the 1950s and 1960s, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), report that the sugar industry sponsored research that turned attention away from the sweetener’s link to heart disease and toward fat and cholesterol as the bigger culprits.

The documents the researchers reviewed in their report, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, included correspondence between the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) and nutrition professors at the Harvard School of Public Health. The letters discussed the SRF’s effort to respond to growing research linking sugar to coronary heart disease.

In 1954, SRF then-president Henry Hass gave a speech to the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists that highlighted opportunities for the sugar industry to expand by encouraging people to adopt a low-fat diet. He said:

“Leading nutritionists are pointing out the chemical connection between [Americans’] high-fat diet and the formation of cholesterol which partly plugs our arteries and capillaries, restricts the flow of blood, and causes high blood pressure and heart trouble… if you put [the middle-aged man] on a low-fat diet, it takes just five days for the blood cholesterol to get down to where it should be… If the carbohydrate industries were to recapture this 20 percent of the calories in the US diet (the difference between the 40 percent which fat has and the 20 percent which it ought to have) and if sugar maintained its present share of the carbohydrate market, this change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of sugar more than a third with a tremendous improvement in general health.”

What appears to have happened next were efforts by the SRF to increase skepticism over sugar’s link to heart troubles. In 1967, an SRF-funded report led by Harvard nutrition professors was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report reviewed the available evidence that linked various nutrients to heart disease and argued that epidemiological and animal studies that linked sugar with heart disease were limited, and suggested the available science wasn’t up to snuff. The review also highlighted studies that linked saturated fat to heart problems, without the same critiques. The review was published in the journal without disclosing the sugar industry’s funding or role in making the study happen in the first place. (Later, in 1984, the NEJM began requiring disclosure of conflicts of interest.)

The Sugar Association—which is the current name of the SRF—released a statement saying, in part: “We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today. Beyond this, it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.”

 

It’s not the first time researchers have found links between sugar industry connections and nutrition science. The same team of UCSF researchers behind the new study previously used sugar industry documents to reveal how advocacy groups influenced federal cavity prevention recommendations.

“What struck me was that I thought the evidence the researchers summarized in the review was stronger and more consistent for a sugar effect [on coronary heart disease] than for a fat effect,” says study author Stanton Glantz of UCSF. “No matter how good the evidence was linking sugar to heart disease, there was something wrong with it. But for fat, the evidence was fine. They set up a false dichotomy.”

In an editorial published alongside new study, Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU, writes that the Harvard professors who conducted the review knew what the funders wanted and provided those findings. “Whether they did this deliberately, unconsciously, or because they genuinely believed saturated fat to be the greater threat is unknown,” Nestle writes. “But science is not supposed to work this way. The documents make this review seem more about public relations than science.”

Study author Cristin Kearns of UCSF says she was surprised by the complexity of the sugar industry strategy. “It was such a sophisticated way to protect the industry’s interests so early on,” she says. “It’s overwhelming to unravel the different ways the industry has influenced this debate. The scope is probably much greater than we imagined.”

For its part, the Sugar Association said, in statement: “The Sugar Association is always seeking to further understand the role of sugar and health, but we rely on quality science and facts to drive our assertions.”

Source: How the Sugar Lobby Skewed Health Research | TIME

Now that Walmart and your dumbass has sent all our money to China.  Chinese and Russian naval forces began joint exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, adding a new twist to ongoing tensions over Chinese island-building in the region.

The eight-day exercises will highlight marine corps units in “live-fire drills, sea crossing and island landing operations, and island defense and offense exercises,” Chinese navy spokesperson Liang Yang said in a report from China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
Aside from the marines, Chinese and Russian surface ships, submarines, planes, helicopters and amphibious armored equipment would be used, Liang said.

The Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs arrives for exercises with the Chinese navy.

Russia has sent some of its best vessels, including the Ropucha-class landing ship, and the Udaloy-class destroyer” to participate in the exercises, according to Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV.
The 7,500-ton Udaloy-class destroyers are designed for anti-submarine warfare, while the 4,000-ton Ropucha-class landing ships are designed to carry up to 24 armored vehicles directly onto beaches.

Contested waters

The China-Russia naval exercises are an annual event, with previous versions taking place in the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea, among other locations.
But this year’s event in the South China Sea takes on new significance after a landmark ruling against China’s claims in the region.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration found China had unlawfully restricted fishing access around the Scarborough Shoal, a small but strategic reef and fertile fishing ground 130 miles (200 kilometers) west from the Philippine island of Luzon.
Then last week the Philippines military released images of Chinese ships it said were capable of dredging sand around the reef.
Beijing has denied it is reclaiming land, saying that while Chinese coast guard vessels patrol the waters around the shoal, which it calls Huangyandao, they were there for “law enforcement.”

Russian and Chinese officers greet each other at the beginning of eight days of military exercises.

Territorial hotspots

Scarborough Shoal is only one point of tension in the South China Sea.
China claims almost all of the sea, including islands more than 800 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the Chinese mainland, despite objections from neighbors including the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.
Tensions have ratcheted up in the past two years as China has reclaimed land in massive dredging operations in the Spratly Islands, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses.
In recent months, Beijing has reacted angrily to US freedom of navigation operations in the region, scrambling fighter jets and boats and denouncing the nation’s navies as “threatening Chinese sovereignty.”
When China announced the current naval exercises in July, it said it “does not target any third party,” according to the Xinhua report.

A group of six Gulf Arab countries expressed “deep concern” Monday over a bill passed by the U.S. Congress that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia over the attacks.  Israel was not included as one of the states that could be sued.

The head of the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif al-Zayani, said in a statement that the legislation runs against the principles of international law and sets a dangerous precedent for foreign relations.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation last Friday, following earlier passage by the Senate. The White House has signaled President Barack Obama would veto the proposed law over concerns that it could open the U.S. up to similar lawsuits from other countries.

The legislation could also further strain relations between Washington and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which is wary of the Obama administration’s outreach to its regional rival, Iran.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on the planes that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Washington, D.C. area and Pennsylvania were Saudi nationals.

Congress in July released 28 declassified pages from a congressional report into 9/11 that rekindled speculation that some of the hijackers had ties to Saudi government officials a goverment that worked very close with the Bush Family for many years in the oil business. Later Kangaroo court U.S. investigations into the attacks were unable to substantiate the allegations.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the release of the declassified files, saying they contained no surprises and should end speculation of official Saudi involvement. But the kingdom has strongly objected to the proposed legislation allowing 9/11 lawsuits, which would give victims’ families the right to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts over any role that the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks.

The United Arab Emirates, which has the second-largest economy in the GCC after Saudi Arabia, issued its own statement echoing the Gulf bloc’s concerns Monday.

“This law is not equal with the foundations and principles of relations among states, and represents a clear violation given its negative repercussions and dangerous precedents,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the federation’s foreign minister.

The seven-state Emirates federation is one of Washington’s closest Arab allies. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were Emirati.

Besides Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

In its own statement, Qatar said the 9/11 legislation “violates international law, particularly the principle of sovereign equality between states.” The head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, added his criticism too, saying the law would contradict “established norms of the international law,” according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

 

Source: Gulf States Hit Back at Sept. 11 Saudi Lawsuit Legislation – The New York Times

Source: Mars rover Curiosity views spectacular layered rock formations

The MEGA-plate allows scientists to watch bacteria adapting to antibiotics before their eyes.

Source: Stunning Videos of Evolution in Action – The Atlantic

The White House and federal regulatory agencies need to unsnarl the tangle they’ve created around Zika prevention. We need a clear and reasonable roadmap for the testing and approval of the critical new biological control agents for mosquitoes.

Source: Why Are The Feds Blocking Technologies To Control The Mosquitoes That Spread Zika Virus?

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – It’s the start of the school year which means teens will be busy with homework, sports practice and other after school activities.

Sometimes the pressure to keep up and fit in can be overwhelming. It’s probably no coincidence that September is Teen Suicide Awareness Month.

Recently we learned of yet another teen suicide in West Michigan, this time in Cedar Springs.

Christy Buck from the Mental Health Foundation talks with Health Reporter Valerie Lego about how to know the signs of suicide and how to help because many times they are kids who might get straight A’s, who seem to have it all together.

Watch the full interview in the video above. For more information click here.

Sometimes the pressure to keep up and fit in can be overwhelming.

Source: Signs of suicide and how to know if your teen needs help

A roundup of news from around the country.

Source: S.C. officer who fatally shot unarmed teen a year ago will be fired – The Washington Post

Richard Jenkins created Saildrone’s autonomous boats to assess fish populations, study the oceans and more, but his grander vision concerns climate change.

Source: No Sailors Needed: Robot Sailboats Scour the Oceans for Data