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Monday, July 15, 2019

Tariffs for Dummies

Daunting challenge

Can we feed 11 billion people while preventing the spread of infectious disease?
University of Notre Dame

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Rhode Island was dramatically changed by the
huge influx of Irish immigrants fleeing famine
Within the next 80 years, the world's population is expected to top 11 billion, creating a rise in global food demand -- and presenting an unavoidable challenge to food production and distribution.

But a new article published in Nature Sustainability describes how the increase in population and the need to feed everyone will also, ultimately, give rise to human infectious disease, a situation the authors of the paper consider "two of the most formidable ecological and public health challenges of the 21st century."

The article, "Emerging human infectious disease and the links to global food production," is the first to draw connections between future population growth, agricultural development and infectious disease.

"If we start exploring how increasing population and agriculture will affect human diseases, we can prepare for and mitigate these effects," said Jason Rohr, the Ludmilla F., Stephen J. and Robert T. Galla College Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. 

"We need to anticipate some of the problems that may arise from an explosion of human population in the developing world."

Image result for immigrant caravans
Hunger and hardship has forced thousands to seek asylum in the US,
despite hostility and brutal actions by the Trump administration
According to the article, the fastest area of population growth expected by the year 2100 will occur in the developing world where disease control, surveillance and access to health care already face significant challenges. 

Currently, some estimates suggest that infectious disease accounts for 75 percent of deaths in developing countries in tropical regions. 

Each year in the United States, an estimated 48 million people suffer from foodborne infections, and foodborne illnesses have been linked to imported food from developing countries -- where sanitation and food safety is lacking or poorly enforced. 

New cars are safer, but women most likely to suffer injury

Disturbing findings about seat belts
University of Virginia

crash test car GIFCars built in the last decade have been shown to be safer than older models, including in the most common types of crashes -- frontal collisions. 

However, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia's Center for Applied Biomechanics shows that women wearing seat belts are significantly more likely to suffer injury than their male counterparts.

Belted female auto occupants have 73% greater odds of being seriously injured in frontal car crashes compared to belted males (after controlling for collision severity, occupant age, stature, body mass index and vehicle model year). 

The difference in risk is greatest for injury to the lower extremities, but also occurs with several other types of injury.

Langevin Votes to prevent war with Iran

House passes National Defense Authorization Act

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At least 1 million were killed in the war between Iran and Iraq, 1980-1988. 
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, issued the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 2500, the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-197. 

Langevin voted to advance the bill out of the House Armed Services Committee in June.

“This year’s defense authorization provides funding for a strong national defense strategy that advances American interests at home and abroad. It includes a 3.1 percent pay raise for our service members, numerous provisions to support military families such as a repeal of the ‘Widow’s Tax’, and key investments to bolster our nation’s defense capabilities. In particular, the procurement of an additional Virginia-class submarine, to be manufactured in part at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Quonset Point, will help support Rhode Island’s robust defense industrial sector.
“During floor consideration, I supported Representative Ro Khanna’s amendment to make clear that there is no existing authorization for the President to go to war with Iran. The President’s reckless actions, especially his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, have escalated tensions with the Iranian regime. Today’s vote makes clear that the President cannot initiate a war unilaterally as that power is reserved to Congress in the Constitution. I hope the amendment’s passage will also serve to help smooth the path to diplomatic reengagement with Iran.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Shark porn

Lurking behind the clickbait, a story of risk and reality.
monterey bay aquarium sharks GIFOur story starts 103 years ago – not only before basic cable, but before Hollywood became Ground Zero for showbiz. The situation begins at the Jersey Shore.

On July 1, 1916, a 25-year-old man bled to death, pulled to shore in front of the Engleside Hotel in Beach Haven, a popular getaway spot for Philadelphians. 

Six days later and 45 miles to the north, a hotel bell captain was dismembered, and newspapers began to take notice. On July 12, a young boy and his attempted rescuer died in a tidal creek.

Sharks as man-eaters became a phenomenon for the first time, and shark-hunting became a macho competition. And it was literally overkill, since humans kill roughly a million sharks for every one human killed by sharks. More on that later.

In 1974, Peter Benchley, took the 1916 frenzy and added a fictionalized version of Frank Mundus, a party-boat skipper who fancied himself as the Captain Ahab of sharks. "Jaws" was such an instant best-seller that one only had a year to wait for the movie. It was a box office blockbuster.

As the story goes, young director Steven Spielberg tried to beg off the project. And years later, Benchley revealed his regrets about the whole thing, insisting that he loved sharks and had no intention of promoting their demise.

Good starting point

The Future of RI Bees

From RIDEM's Wild Rhode Island

Climate change takes its toll on butterflies

Decades-long butterfly study shows common species on the decline

monarch butterfly sky GIFThe most extensive and systematic insect monitoring program ever undertaken in North America shows that butterfly abundance in Ohio declined yearly by 2%, resulting in an overall 33% drop for the 21 years of the program.

Though the study was limited to one group of the insect class and one geographic area, the findings provide an important baseline for what’s happening more broadly with insect populations amid climate change and other human-caused disturbances, the study’s corresponding author said. 

The findings also are in line with those of butterfly monitoring programs in multiple European countries.

“These declines in abundance are happening in common species,” said Oregon State University researcher Tyson Wepprich, who led the study. 

“Declines in common species concern me because it shows that there are widespread environmental causes for the declines affecting species we thought were well adapted to share a landscape with humans. Common species are also the ones that contribute the bulk of the pollination or bird food to the ecosystem, so their slow, consistent decline is likely having ripple effects beyond butterfly numbers.”

Findings were published in PLOS ONE.

How to grow older and not lose your mind

Can computer use, crafts and games slow or prevent age-related memory loss?

Image result for use your brain or lose itA new study has found that mentally stimulating activities like using a computer, playing games, crafting and participating in social activities are linked to a lower risk or delay of age-related memory loss called mild cognitive impairment, and that the timing and number of these activities may also play a role. 

The study is published in the July 10, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a medical condition that is common with aging. While it is linked to problems with thinking ability and memory, it is not the same as dementia. People with MCI have milder symptoms. 

They may struggle to complete complex tasks or have difficulty understanding information they have read, whereas people with dementia have trouble with daily tasks such as dressing, bathing and eating independently. However, there is strong evidence that MCI can be a precursor of dementia.

The "good news" in Trump's terrible environment speech

Even Trump seems to understand people are concerned about climate change.
Image result for trump and the environmentIt’s hard to find the nuggets of good news in the media these days. Many people are so burnt out on the Trump news roller coaster, which goes around the clock, changes frequently, and often shocks and outrages, that the least painful option is to skip the news entirely.

Here’s some good news: Americans are starting to wake up about the climate crisis. 

More than half of Americans believe human-caused climate change is happening. More than six in ten Americans disapprove of Trump’s record on the climate. And while only 6 percent of Republicans see climate change as the single most important issue in the 2020 election, 27 percent of Democrats believe that it is.

It appears that the debate over the climate is shifting. Trump recently made an (awkward, cringey) speech about the environment, touting his own environmental record and falsely claiming — lying, really — that the U.S. is outperforming other nations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For the record, the Trump administration stripped scientific climate data off government websites, pulled out of the Paris accord, and rolled back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards on vehicles. 

Yet now he’s out talking about his excellent record on the environment? I suppose it’s good that he thinks he needs people to believe he has a good record there — even if that’s not a test he can pass by any measure.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Pence blames Dems even though they voted for $4.6 Billion in added funding for border

Pence visits carefully selected prison camp and even then saw appalling conditions

Vice President Mike Pence visited the border on Friday and blamed Congressional Democrats for the conditions there.
Monster! What kind of "Christian" can see these conditions and look away. This visit took place at a camp that was carefully selected by the Trump Administration. Also, why didn't Pence go to one of the childrens' camps?
Vice President Mike Pence blamed Democrats on Friday for the overcrowding in camps used to imprison migrants during a visit to the border, an accusation that generated anger from progressives at both the White House and the Democratic congressional leadership. 

"You gotta love it when Pence immediately puts complete blame for the horrors he saw on the Dems even after they threw money at monsters," tweeted journalist Lori Lou Freshwater.

In June, House Democrats passed a bill from the Senate that provided $4.6 billion to fund border security and the prisons. The legislation, which was opposed by left-leaning members of the caucus, has exposed a fissure in the party that continues to grow between the new and old guard of the party.

Conditions at the border, as Common Dreams has reported, are bad and getting worse. During his tour, Pence saw those conditions, including a room where hundreds of men were imprisoned behind fencing.

In the room, as The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey reported, the "stench was overwhelming."

"I'm embarrassed," activist Teymour Ashkan tweeted in response to Dawsey's reporting. "This is cruel and unusual punishment."

Me too

"Everything appears in order"

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Brown backs speculative medical research

Funds 5 biomedical technologies with potential for patient benefit, commercial viability

Image result for medical researchTwo researchers are developing a device to stabilize newborns being tested for meningitis. 

Another two are growing human tissue for post heart-attack repair. 

Others are focused on solutions aimed at diagnosing or treating diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis and back pain.

Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact (BBII) will award each of those five Brown University faculty research projects up to $100,000 to translate promising discoveries in biomedical research into product opportunities that may benefit patients and be commercially viable.

The five awards culminate the first full award cycle for BBII, a commercial development program launched by the University’s Division of Biology and Medicine in collaboration with the Office of Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing. 

The primary goal of BBII is to help bridge the “valley of death” — the gap between federal funding for research and when private investors are willing to invest — for biomedical research projects led by Brown faculty. 

Confused about what to eat?

Science can help
P.K. Newby, Harvard University

Do you feel like nutritionists are always changing their minds? Do you want science-based information about diet but don’t know whom or what to believe?

If you’re nodding in agreement, you’re not alone: More than 80% of Americans are befuddled.

Yet it’s a lament that’s getting quite tiring – if you’re a nutrition scientist, that is.

So much so that I refocused my career to shine scientific light on today’s critical food conversations, which have profound impacts on public health and the environment. My mantra: From farm to fork, what we eat matters.

In fact, did you know that 80% of chronic diseases are preventable through modifiable lifestyle changes, and diet is the single largest contributing factor?