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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Chilling conversations

Talking about Charlottesville with alt-right students

A Nazi flag flies during the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, Pivotal. A turning point. A venue for strong ideas.

These are some of the terms that college students used to describe the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that claimed the life of Heather Heyer, a counter-protester who died when a man drove his car into a crowd.

Some students, who used these terms during interviews I conducted for a book I’m writing about politically engaged college students, identify with the alt-right, a white nationalist movement.

The Charlottesville rally took place on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, 2017.

Many people across the country were alarmed by the white nationalist rally, condemning President Donald Trump for failing to condemn the rally strongly enough, and commenting that there were “fine people on both sides.” 

But for college students who identify with the alt-right, one of the biggest regrets they have about Charlottesville is that they weren’t there.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sheldon Whitehouse takes the lead in Supreme Court challenge

Five Democratic senators taking on the Supreme Court
Image result for sheldon whitehouse & supreme courtA tone of ritualized obsequiousness pervades most briefs filed in the Supreme Court of the United States. Judges are powerful and at the Supreme Court level, unaccountable.

They wield enormous, arbitrary power not just over litigants but over the lawyers who appear in their courtrooms. So when most lawyers speak to a court, they speak with a painful awareness of the arbitrary control separating the bar from the bench.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), however, is not most lawyers.

Whitehouse is one of five senators (the others are Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)) who filed a brief earlier this week in a Second Amendment case the Supreme Court’s Republican majority could use to dismantle what remains of America’s gun regulations.

Whitehouse is also the lead (and only) counsel on the brief.

The brief itself is less a legal document than a declaration of war. Though parts of it argue that the high court lacks jurisdiction over this case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, the thrust of the brief is that the Supreme Court is dominated by political hacks selected by the Federalist Society, and promoted by the National Rifle Association — and that if those hacks don’t watch out, the American people are going to rebel against them.

New York State Rifle, Whitehouse writes, “did not emerge from a vacuum.” Rather, “the lead petitioner’s parent organization, the National Rifle Association (NRA), promoted the confirmation (and perhaps selection) of nominees to this Court who, it believed, would ‘break the tie’ in Second Amendment cases.”

That promotional effort includes $1.2 million Whitehouse says the NRA spent on television advertisements supporting the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

Wisdom from Superman, circa 1950

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American icons, beware

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Not tonight

Love hormone has stomach-turning effect in starfish
Queen Mary University of London

blue planet ii GIF by BBC AmericaA hormone that is released in our brain when we fall in love also makes starfish turn their stomach inside out to feed, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London.

Oxytocin, more commonly known as the 'love hormone', is important for sexual reproduction in humans, other mammals and even nematode worms, but this study shows that in the common European starfish (Asterias rubens) it is important for feeding.

The findings, published in the journal BMC Biology, could play an important role in controlling the feeding behavior of the crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), which feeds on coral and is having a devastating impact on the Australian Great Barrier Reef.

Based on this study the researchers know that oxytocin-type molecules have been acting in the nervous systems of animals for over half-a-billion years.

Apples and tea

Flavonoid-rich diet protects against cancer and heart disease, study finds
Edith Cowan University

Image result for apples and teaConsuming flavonoid-rich items such as apples and tea protects against cancer and heart disease, particularly for smokers and heavy drinkers, according to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU).

Researchers from ECU's School of Medical and Health Sciences analysed data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort that assessed the diets of 53,048 Danes over 23 years.

They found that people who habitually consumed moderate to high amounts of foods rich in flavonoids, compounds found in plant-based foods and drinks, were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

No quick fix for poor habits

Lead researcher Dr Nicola Bondonno said while the study found a lower risk of death in those who ate flavonoid-rich foods, the protective effect appeared to be strongest for those at high risk of chronic diseases due to cigarette smoking and those who drank more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day.

Can experts determine who might be a mass killer?

Three questions answered
Arash Javanbakht, Wayne State University

Editor’s Note: After mass shootings, people naturally search for answers. We also want to find the root cause. 

One subject that often arises is mental illness. 

People, and politicians, raise questions about “red flags,” or warning signs a person might commit a violent act, and whether someone could have intervened to stop a mass murderer. 

Psychiatrist Arash Javanbakht answers some questions about mental illness, mass murder and whether it’s possible to prevent horrific shootings.

1. Is a person who commits mass murder mentally ill?

Not necessarily. 

In psychiatry, we do not have diagnostic criteria for a mass murderer, terrorist or violent person. 

There are psychiatric conditions that may include anger, aggression, impulsivity, violence, or lack of remorse or empathy among their symptoms. But there is no one illness that would be found in all mass murderers, or murderers in general.

On the top of the list of the conditions that may lead to violent acts are substance use and personality disorders, specifically antisocial personality disorder. 

This condition, commonly known as “psychopathy” among the public, entails disrespect for social norms and law; deceitfulness; impulsivity; aggression; lack of responsibility; and remorse. 

It is highly prevalent among the criminal and prison population, and less often treated in the psychiatric clinic. That is because no one comes to the clinic asking us to fix their “lack of conscientiousness.”

Another condition is when a psychotic person has paranoid or persecutory delusions with a conviction that others are there to harm them. These conditions are rare. 

In general, most of the psychiatric conditions that affect nearly a fourth of the population, such as depression, anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, hair picking, etc., do not increase the risk of violence toward others.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Local Planned Parenthood condemns Trump’s new attack on LEGAL immigrants

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England opposes Trump racist ‘public charge’ rule

Image result for public charge ruleThe Trump-Pence administration’s Department of Homeland Security released its final public charge rule, a harmful rule designed to keep families separated and to dissuade immigrants from accessing health care and meeting other basic needs.

Under this new rule, people could be denied visas, green cards, and entry into the United States simply because they have received any one of a broad range of public benefits they are legally allowed to access, including health care, nutrition assistance, and housing assistance.

The rule will likely take effect on or around October 15, 2019.

Compare your cat to Donald Trump

free cat comic

Arp 87: Merging Galaxies from Hubble


This dance is to the death.

Along the way, as these two large galaxies duel, a cosmic bridge of stars, gas, and dust currently stretches over 75,000 light-years and joins them.

The bridge itself is strong evidence that these two immense star systems have passed close to each other and experienced violent tides induced by mutual gravity.

As further evidence, the face-on spiral galaxy on the right, also known as NGC 3808A, exhibits many young blue star clusters produced in a burst of star formation.

The twisted edge-on spiral on the left (NGC 3808B) seems to be wrapped in the material bridging the galaxies and surrounded by a curious polar ring.

Together, the system is known as Arp 87 and morphologically classified, technically, as peculiar.

While such interactions are drawn out over billions of years, repeated close passages should ultimately result in the death of one galaxy in the sense that only one galaxy will eventually result.

Although this scenario does look peculiar, galactic mergers are thought to be common, with Arp 87 representing a stage in this inevitable process.

The Arp 87 pair are about 300 million light-years distant toward the constellation Leo.

The prominent edge-on spiral galaxy at the far left appears to be a more distant background galaxy and not involved in the on-going merger.

Some good news for RI state workers

Rhode Island's pension system outperforms most peers for second year in a row

Rhode Island's pension system continues to improve its relative investment performance when compared to similarly sized public pension funds, outperforming 78% of its peers in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2019.

Leading market intelligence firm, InvMetrics, found that Rhode Island performed in the top quartile among public pension funds over $1 billion, according to a report from New England Pension Consulting, which serves as a consultant to pension plans throughout the country, including Rhode Island.

Rhode Island's performance continues to steadily improve compared to its peers, marking the second consecutive fiscal year in which the plan outperformed the median in its peer group. This recent success stands in contrast to historical performance, in which Rhode Island often lagged its peers. 

Save the whales, the elephants....and us

As Elephants and Whales Disappear, They Take Valuable Cancer Clues With Them
By Doug Johnson

whale encounter GIFAround noon one August day in 2011, a familiar dorsal fin rose from the sea off the coast of Massachusetts. Flecked with tiny white scars, it belonged to Salt, a female humpback whale who scientists had been studying since the 1970s and who was named for those distinctive markings.

Aboard the research vessel Shearwater, Jooke Robbins — director of humpback whale research at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts — loaded a crossbow with a dart, modified with a specialized tip and yellow float, and took aim. 

The bolt went flying. It hit its target but, by design, bounced harmlessly off the whale's bulk, taking with it only a few cubic millimeters of flesh — almost like a mosquito bite, relative to the whale's size.

Robbins and her team collected the sample, preserved it in liquid nitrogen, then sent it away to be analyzed. 

Now, eight years later, a team supported by the Arizona Cancer Evolution Center (ACE) at Arizona State University has discovered that Salt and other cetaceans — the group of mammals that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises — evolved clever ways of dealing with cancer, including an array of tumor-suppressing genes. The team published its findings in May in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The findings, along with similar work on elephants, suggest that somewhere, hiding in the genetic code and evolutionary history of large mammals, there could be a new cancer treatment for humans. 

But if the researchers are correct, their window to study these megafauna may be closing as humans continue to threaten the animals’ populations and the biodiversity of their habitats.

Team Trump: ‘The Only Good Forest Is A Dead Forest’

Forest Service Weighs Plan to Lay Waste to Tens of Thousands of Acres of Old-Growth Trees
By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief 

Team Trump: ‘The Only Good Forest Is a Dead Forest’

The evil genius of the people Donald Trump brought into our government so America could become a polluter’s paradise is really something to behold.

The latest Team Trump move would turn our national forests into polluter playgrounds. Companies that want to mow down old-growth trees so they can get at pockets of oil, coal or uranium are about to get pretty much everything they’ve always dreamed about. And roadless areas are marked for new roads extending miles into wilderness areas.

The way it’s being done is, in a perverse sort of way, admirably clever.

They call their plan to re-interpret how the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act applies to our national forests “streamlining” to make government more efficient. 

Their abuse of language is working, too. Many of the more than 29,000 people and organizations that have filed comments on the proposal embrace the Trumpian language.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

How about a raid targeting the bosses?

Targeting Migrants in the Workplace
By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

Image result for ICE workplace raidsPerhaps to avoid giving the impression that the Trump Administration was getting soft on immigrants by having the president go to El Paso to console the victims of a mass shooting aimed at Latinos, Immigration and Customs Enforcement chose the same day to carry out the largest workplace raid in more than a decade.

The more than 600 people taken into custody at several sites in Mississippi were not apprehended while engaged in criminal activity, but rather in the course of supporting their families by performing some of the most unpleasant and dangerous work in the U.S. economy: poultry processing.

There were no arrests of managers at the companies involved – which included Koch Foods and Peco Foods, whose spokespeople insisted they carefully screened new hires using the E-Verify system. 

This came as no surprise, as employers are rarely prosecuted for immigration offenses, whether or not they use E-Verify, or if they are lax in applying the system.


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Salve ai Figli d'Italia


No safe level

Routine hits playing football cause damage to the brain
Carnegie Mellon University

michigan football GIFNew research led by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Rochester Medical Center indicates that concussions aren't the sole cause of damage to the brain in contact sports. 

A study of college football players found that typical hits sustained from playing just one season cause structural changes to the brain.

The researchers studied 38 University of Rochester players, putting accelerometers -- devices that measures accelerative force -- in their helmets for every practice and game. The players' brains were scanned in an MRI machine before and after a season of play.

While only two players suffered clinically diagnosed concussions during the time they were followed in the study, the comparison of the post- and pre-season MRIs showed greater than two-thirds of the players experienced a decrease in the structural integrity of their brain. Specifically, the researchers found reduced white matter integrity in the midbrain after the season compared to before the season. 

Furthermore, and indicating the injury was specifically related to playing football, the researchers found the amount of white matter damage was correlated with the number of hits to the head players sustained.

The study is published in the journal Science Advances.

"Public perception is that the big hits are the only ones that matter. It's what people talk about and what we often see being replayed on TV," said senior study author Brad Mahon, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon and scientific director of the Program for Translational Brain Mapping at the University of Rochester. 

"The big hits are definitely bad, but with the focus on the big hits, the public is missing what's likely causing the long-term damage in players' brains. It's not just the concussions. It's everyday hits, too."

Three strikes for Watchaug Pond

Health Department recommends Camp Watchaug closure for the third time this season
By Will Collette

The bacterial count in the water at Camp Watchaug has exceeded safe levels for the third time this season.

Yesterday, it was the YMCA's Camp Fuller in South Kingstown that registered alarm with state health officials.

This summer, we've seen the state seesaw between closures and re-openings at South County swimming areas, salt water as well as fresh.

I would offer this observation: it seems that swimmers are the main variable. 

It seems to me that one remedy would be to offer people who want to swim in areas susceptible to high bacterial counts more portable toilets. And maybe some signs saying something to the effect of "Don't Crap Where You Swim"

This recurring problem also has a tie-in with one of the latest pseudo-issues that's got Charlestown Planning Czar Ruth Platner and the Charlestown Citizens Alliance knickers in a twist.

That's the imagined re-opening of Burlingame's old North Campground. According to DEM, that's not going to happen without consultation with Charlestown and may not happen at all. 

Here is the statement, with a link to DEM's park plan, that the department issued to quell "information that’s been shared recently on social media and in emails." In other words, all the alarmist stuff Platner and the CCA have been spreading.

Here's the DEM statement:

Newport Naval War College professor details the ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump sycophants

‘They’re screwed and know it’
Image result for Naval War College Professor Tom NicholsThe conservative National Review, a longtime cornerstone of the conservative movement’s intellectual wing, quickly fell in with President Donald Trump after his election, and most recently has published a series of pieces clashing with Never Trump conservative Max Boot over the American right’s white supremacy problem — calling him and his supporters “self-loathing whites … paralyzed by intersectional deference.”

As another Never Trump conservative, Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols, put it, this is a microcosm of the “Trump-compliant right’s” realization that there is no way to divorce their supposed principles from Trumpism — and the future of their place in conservative thought looks bleak.

Nichols wrote this series of interconnected Tweets:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Federal appeals court rejects Trump claim that kids in cages are not entitled to soap, toothbrushes and showers

Court rules: "Assuring that children eat enough edible food, drink clean water, are housed in hygienic facilities with sanitary bathrooms, have soap and toothpaste, and are not sleep-deprived are without doubt essential to the children's safety."
Image result for kids in cagesRead the full decision HERE.

Rights groups expressed relief on Thursday after a federal court dismissed a Trump administration appeal which argued that safe and sanitary conditions for detained immigrant children does not include providing basic hygiene necessities such as toothbrushes, soap, showers, and towels.

That the court decision was necessary underscores the cruelty of the Trump White House, said observers.

"The government of the United States of America was fighting against having to provide toothbrushes, soap, and showers to children," tweeted Andy Donohue, managing editor of Reveal.

In its opinion (pdf), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals strongly rejected the Trump administration's argument that certain basic necessities may not be required in some circumstances.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As if it needs explaining, it is this kind of conduct by the Trump administration that has led to the rise of the Jewish-led NEVER AGAIN campaign. Trump's prison camps, especially those for children, have led people of conscience to engage in protests such as the one earlier this week at the Wyatt private prison in Central Falls. - Will Collette

Happily ever after

Progressive comic about the fourth little piggy, Donald Trump

The crazy keeps coming...

Pic of the Moment

Eastern Equine Encephalitis comes to Rhode Island

DEM and RIDOH announce first findings of EEE collected in RI this year
mosquito GIF
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that mosquito samples collected in Central Falls August 6 produced the state's first positive findings of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

A positive finding for a mosquito-borne disease does not mean anyone has contracted the disease, but it does highlight the need to take precautions. 

People have the most important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from being bitten by mosquitoes. 

Using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and minimizing outdoor time from dusk to dawn – peak biting times for many mosquitoes – all are excellent precautions.

A total of 28 traps were set across Rhode Island on August 5. The traps yielded 147 pools, or samples, of mosquitoes collected statewide. 

Pools collected in Central Falls contained two separate mosquito species that are known to bite mammals and tested positive for EEE. None of the 147 pools came back positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). 

Test results are pending for traps set yesterday, August 14, and will be included in future announcements. Typically, positive test results trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

To date, there have been no findings of WNV in Rhode Island. The 265 positive EEE mosquito pools in Massachusetts from Bristol and Plymouth counties, coupled with multiple findings of both EEE and WNV in mosquitoes from eastern Connecticut, indicate this clearly is a higher-than-average risk summer for mosquito-borne diseases. 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced August 10 its first human case of EEE. Aerial spraying began in the commonwealth last week. 

Mosquito-borne virus isolations are more prevalent during late summer and early fall. DEM traps mosquitoes and the RIDOH State Health Laboratories test them weekly. DEM issues advisories on test results from late June through September, with additional reports as needed.

See below for measures that all Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.

All we are saying is give peas a chance

With bitter foods, what you eat determines what you like to eat
University at Buffalo

broccoli GIFIntroducing plant-based foods to a diet is a common-sense approach to healthy eating, but many people don't like the taste of vegetables, bitter greens, in particular.

But give that broccoli a chance.

Doing so won't just change your mind; it will actually change the taste of those foods, according to a new University at Buffalo study.

What sounds at first like a culinary parlor trick is actually a scientific matter based on specific proteins found in saliva. These proteins affect the sense of taste, and diet composition, at least in part, determines those proteins.

Saliva is a complex fluid containing around 1,000 specific proteins. Identifying all the players is a work in progress, but everything we eat is dissolved in saliva before it interacts with taste receptor cells and all these proteins are candidates for influencing stimuli before food is tasted.

Immigrant labor vital to the operation of Trump properties

Border chief explains why there have been no ICE raids at Trump properties
By Riley Beggin

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan dodged questions about reports of undocumented workers at Trump Organization properties Sunday morning.

On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Morgan why Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which Morgan led until early July, hadn’t conducted any raids or investigations into Trump’s eight properties given reports that the clubs and hotels employ undocumented people.

“You really can’t say that for sure,” Morgan said. “There are investigations going on all the time that you’re unaware of. ... Of course it’s going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that’s going on.”

The question came days after a massive ICE raid on a Mississippi chicken processing plant. The worksite raid was one of the largest of its kind in US history; 680 people suspected to be unauthorized workers were abruptly arrested and separated from their families.

Tapper asked why employers who hire undocumented workers are not always punished along with the workers themselves; the host cited Syracuse University’s immigration records research that found only 11 people and no companies were prosecuted for employing undocumented workers between the spring of 2018 and 2019. 

During the same time frame, 85,727 people were prosecuted for entering the US illegally.

Morgan responded that an investigation into the business that employed the undocumented workers in Mississippi is ongoing.

Among the companies that have not been prosecuted for employing undocumented laborers, however, are those owned by President Trump, despite the Trump Organization having reportedly hired undocumented workers for decades.

What we know about hiring at Trump properties

Multiple news outlets have reported on the Trump Organization’s longstanding reliance on the very people the president often discusses with derision: undocumented immigrants.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

UPDATED: In Central Falls, private prison employees attack peaceful protesters

Never Again Providence protest outside Wyatt ends in violence as correctional officers attack protesters; Officer suspended
By Steve Ahlquist UpRiseRI

Photo from Never Again Action
One minute the sitting protesters were laughing, chanting, praying or singing as they waited for the Central Falls Police Department to arrest them for blocking the entrance to a parking lot across the street from the Wyatt Detention Center.

The next minute, protesters and bystanders were rolling out of the way of a black pickup truck that managed to hit at least four protesters, sending two of them to the hospital. One of those sent to the hospital was Jerry Belair, a lawyer.

The protest, organized by Never Again Providence, targeted the Wyatt due to the prison’s contract with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), highlight ICE’s inhumane treatment of immigrants here in Rhode Island and across the country, and “work to shut down ICE’s deportation machine for as long as possible.” 

This was the second protest Never Again Providence staged outside the Wyatt.

The Wyatt is a for profit prison.

After the pickup truck hit several protesters, more protesters surrounded the truck, some linking arms to prevent the vehicle from moving forward. the correctional officer inside the vehicle spoke on his communication equipment and waited.

UPDATE: Captain Thomas Wentworth, shown in photo (left) as the driver of the truck, has been placed on administrative leave, according to the Wyatt prison. Central Falls Police have put out a call for witnesses to come forward and give statements. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Justin Price (R-Richmond), South County's shame, introduced H5690 which would “provide that a person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way shall be immune from civil liability for such injury.” It seems that Price had EXACTLY this kind of situation in mind. Fortunately, this wingnut's bill never got out of committee.   - Will Collette

Seconds later around a dozen more correctional officers approached the vehicle and the protesters, telling people to “Back up!” and strong arming people back.

There were some altercations between the correctional officers and protesters. Then one or two correctional officers used pepper spray indiscriminately on the crowd. Even some of the correctional officers seem to have been affected by the spray.

One protester was taken to the hospital due to the pepper spray: 74 year old Ellen Bar-Zemer, one of the 18 people arrested at the previous Never Again Providence action outside the Wyatt.

Several people were incapacitated by the pepper spray, and the truck passed into the parking lot. The correctional officers formed a line across the entrance.
“If they’ll use this kind of violence on us,” asked former State Representative Aaron Regunberg, “think about what the defenseless detainees inside are subjected to, every day.”

Depends on who you ask

How to spot fake news. Seriously.


Why so many ticks?

A tick detective wants to understand what drives tick abundance
David Allen, Middlebury

What question are you trying to answer with your work?

David Allen: I want to understand what drives blacklegged, or deer, ticks’ abundance and infection rate with the Lyme disease bacteria. 

We broadly understand what is necessary for the tick to live in an area, but have a harder time explaining why there are such tremendous differences in tick abundance in certain locations and during certain years.

Exactly how do you measure tick abundance?

Allen: We measure it by what is called “drag cloth sampling.” We drag a 1 meter by 1 meter white cloth along the forest floor. Ticks that are searching for a host, which we call questing, will attach to the cloth as it passes over them. 

At each of our plots we drag the cloth along the forest floor for 200 meters and check it every 10 meters. This is the standard way to measure tick abundance.

What spurred you to study ticks?

Allen: I grew up in Vermont in the 1980s and 1990s. During that time I do not remember ever seeing a blacklegged tick or knowing anyone with Lyme disease. When I returned to the state in 2012 to teach at Middlebury College, I would get lots of ticks when hiking. My research was spurred by this rapid and dramatic change in the tick population here.

Why is your work important to the public?

Allen: The incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases has increased dramatically in recent years. If scientists in general could better predict where ticks are the most abundant, we could target tick control strategies or at least create prevention messaging to people in those areas, and then hopefully start to decrease the rate of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Blacklegged ticks can carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease in the nymphal stage when they can be hard to see on skin. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What’s important about ticks that most people don’t know?

Allen: Ticks have three life stages: larva, nymph and adult. The second two life stages can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. When most people think about ticks they picture the adult life stage. For the blacklegged tick this is about the size of a sesame seed. 

I think that most people don’t have a good picture of what a nymphal tick looks like and how small it is. Nymphs are responsible for most transmission of Lyme disease to people, because they are so hard to see when they are feeding on you.

What has been the most surprising finding of your work?

Allen: I am surprised by how much tick abundance can vary across locations or years. We have found that in two sites, just three miles away from each other, one can have 20 times more ticks than the other. And then going from one year to the next, the same location can increase or decrease in abundance by four times.

What do you hope to study further?

Allen: We just started to study the small mammal community. Blacklegged ticks take a single blood meal at each life stage. During the larval and nymphal life stages, these blood meals are typically from small mammals, like mice or chipmunks. 

It is from these animals that the ticks acquire the Lyme disease bacteria. My students and I have just started tracking the populations of these small mammals to better understand how they contribute to tick abundance and infection.

Any stories from the field?

Allen: We bait the small mammal traps with a mixture of oats and peanut butter. It turns out that bears find this just as tasty as the mice do. One time after setting out 100 traps, we returned the next morning to find them all thrown about. Some were dented or even pierced through with bear claw markings.

David Allen is an assistant professor in biology at Middlebury College who studies the ecology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Another reason for moderation

1-2 caffeinated drinks not linked with higher risk of migraines; 3+ may trigger them
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Image result for migraines and caffeineIn a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) evaluated the role of caffeinated beverages as a potential trigger of migraine. 

Led by Elizabeth Mostofsky, ScD, an investigator in BIDMC's Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit and a member of the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH, researchers found that, among patients who experience episodic migraine, one to two servings of caffeinated beverages were not associated with headaches on that day, but three or more servings of caffeinated beverages may be associated with higher odds of migraine headache occurrence on that day or the following day.

"While some potential triggers -- such as lack of sleep -- may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex, because it may trigger an attack but also helps control symptoms," said Mostofsky. 

"Caffeine's impact depends both on dose and on frequency, but because there have been few prospective studies on the immediate risk of migraine headaches following caffeinated beverage intake, there is limited evidence to formulate dietary recommendations for people with migraines."

Cheater, cheater

Human Behavior Lab studies cheating as innate trait
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

Image result for trump cheats at golf
Not surprisingly, Trump routinely cheats at golf.
Is cheating a product of the environment or a character trait?

Dr. Marco Palma, director of the Human Behavior Lab at Texas A&M University and professor in the department of agricultural economics, and Dr. Billur Aksoy, assistant professor of economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, took a closer look at cheating during periods of relative economic abundance and scarcity to determine whether cheating for monetary gain is a product of the economic environment.

During the experiment, they found evidence that cheating is more likely caused by an individual's propensity to cheat than external factors.

Famous criminals' propensity for cheating has been attributed to their circumstances and being a product of an impoverished upbringing, Palma explained. So to test this theory, researchers selected a remote community in Guatemala for a field experiment to help determine whether scarcity, or impoverished situations, truly influence a person's propensity to cheat and lie.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Video game link is fake science

Stop blaming video games for mass killings
Christopher J. Ferguson, Stetson University

video games 80s GIF by RETRO-FIENDIn the wake of the El Paso shooting on Aug. 3 that left 22 dead and dozens injured, a familiar trope has reemerged: Often, when a young man is the shooter, people try to blame the tragedy on violent video games and other forms of media.

This time around, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick placed some of the blame on a video game industry that “teaches young people to kill.” 

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California went on to condemn video games that “dehumanize individuals” as a “problem for future generations.” 

And President Trump pointed to society’s “glorification of violence,” including “gruesome and grisly video games.”

shooting video games GIFThese are the same connections a Florida lawmaker made after the Parkland shooting in February 2018, suggesting that the gunman in that case “was prepared to pick off students like it’s a video game.”

But, as a researcher who has studied violent video games for almost 15 years, I can state that there is no evidence to support these claims that violent media and real-world violence are connected.

As far back as 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that research did not find a clear connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior. 

Criminologists who study mass shootings specifically refer to those sorts of connections as a “myth.” 

And in 2017, the Media Psychology and Technology division of the American Psychological Association released a statement I helped craft, suggesting reporters and policymakers cease linking mass shootings to violent media, given the lack of evidence for a link.

Which one is the Second Amendment?

Progressive comic about ignorance of the second amendment

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Celebrate 10 years of good, clean environmental reporting

Sept. 19 // 5:30-8:30 p.m.
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Everything at this ultra-green party will be eaten, imbibed, recycled, reused, or composted.
All proceeds will be upcycled to support our nonprofit newsroom.

The evening will feature:

A drink (on us) at the bar.

Appetizers and light dinner buffet
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Schmoozing with ecoRI News staff, board, and other readers.

Raffle and silent auction with goods from local businesses, including
passes to Rock Spot Climbing gym,

Chance to win a nearly-new Electra bike donated by one of our readers.

A few words from ecoRI News board member Mike Stanton,
a former Providence Journal reporter who teaches journalism
at the University of Connecticut, about why local journalism matters.

— and —

Premiere of a short film produced by Shed Light Productions
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