Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Underweight Individuals More Likely to Die Than Overweight Ones -

Underweight Individuals More Likely to Die Than Overweight Ones - 

Underweight individuals are more likely to die than overweight ones, according to a new research study put out by Canadian scientists. They have found that the chance of dying is 1.2 times for overweight people, but the risk goes up to 1.8 for those who are considered underweight. So anyone that is considered to be under a healthy weight just might be at more of a drawback than their overweight companions.

Dr. Joel Ray, who works for St. Michael’s Hospital and his group examined over 50  studies that connected to people’s body mass index or BMI and deaths that occurred from any reason. Furthermore, the information on stillbirths along with the weight of newborns in Ontario was included in the study.

During the investigation, the researchers discovered that underweight adults who had a BMI that was under 18.5 have a 1.8 times more chance of dying than people who have a normal BMI that runs between 18.5 and 24.9. Yet, for individuals who were overweight with BMI that was 30 to 34.9 have a 1.2 times greater chance of dying. People who are morbidly obese and have a BMI that is above 35 have 1.3 times the chance of dying.

Health professionals say that heavy drug and/or alcohol use, smoking, mental health, poor nourishment, low income standing, poor self-awareness and care all as being the usual causes for individuals being underweight. BMI shows not only what the body’s fat is but also how much muscle mass it has.

Dr. Ray stated that researches want to continue using BMI in both health and public health care plans, it has to be taken into account that a truly healthy and vigorous individual is someone that not only has a sensible quantity of body fat but also has satisfactory amounts of muscle and body for his or her body type.

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health.

It seems that managing weight always seems to focus on too much weight and being obese, with the worry of high cholesterol, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes seen as  diseases that can be prevented. However this new research shows that people who are on the underweight side of body mass index have a higher risk of early death than people who are in the healthy weight area. That number also beats the chance that obesity plays in earlier death.

However, BMI has also been considered controversial, as a way to measure a person’s weight, even though it is still used as a major health measure. The body mass index examines weight when measured to height.

Dr. Ray stated that caution has to be used when the BMI used but the index’s calculation had a comprehensive basis for the research study. He added that if physicians continue to focus on the troubles of additional body fat, then there will be a need to change  BMI with a more appropriate kind of measure, such as measuring the circumference of the waist.

Underweight individuals have been found to be more likely to die than overweight ones, according to a new research study put out by Canadian scientists. They have found that the chance of dying is 1.2 times for overweight people, but the risk goes up to 1.8 for those who are considered underweight.

Read more -

Too many diet drinks may cause heart problems in postmenopausal women -

Too many diet drinks may cause heart problems in postmenopausal women - 

The largest study of its kind suggests postmenopausal women who drink two or more diet drinks a day may be more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

According to research conducted by a team at the University of Iowa, women who consumed two or more a day were 30% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die from related disease than women who never or only rarely consume diet drinks.

"We were interested in this research because there was a relative lack of data about diet drinks and cardiovascular outcomes and mortality," Dr. Ankur Vyas, the lead investigator of the study, said.

For the study, researchers divided a group of women into four consumption groups: two or more diet drinks a day, five to seven diet drinks per week, one to four diet drinks per week, and zero to three diet drinks per month. They were monitored for nearly nine years.

Vyas says the association between diet drinks and cardiovascular problems raises more questions than it answers.

"We only found an association, so we can't say that diet drinks cause these problems," Vyas said, adding that there may be other factors about people who drink more diet drinks that could explain the connection.

"It's too soon to tell people to change their behaviour based on this study; however, based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship, if one truly exists," he adds. "This could have major public health implications."

About one in five people in the U.S. consume diet drinks on a given day, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and studies have found artificially sweetened drinks to be associated with weight gain in adults and teens, and seem to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which makes both diabetes and heart disease more likely.

Read more -

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pet cats infect humans with TB for first time... -

Pet cats infect humans with TB for first time... - 

In the first ever recorded cat-to-human transmission, two people in England have contracted tuberculosis from pet cats thought to have ventured into badger setts.

Two people in England have developed tuberculosis (TB) after contact with pet cats in the first ever recorded cases of cat-to-human transmission, officials have said.
The two human cases are linked to nine cases of the Mycobacterium bovis infection in cats in Berkshire and Hampshire last year, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Both people were responding to treatment.
Veterinarians believe domestic cats could be catching the disease by venturing into badger setts or from rodents that have been in badger setts.
According to PHE, transmission of the bacteria from infected animals to humans can occur by inhaling or ingesting bacteria shed by the animal or through contamination of unprotected cuts in the skin while handling infected animals or their carcasses.

However, PHE said it believed the risk of transmission from cats to humans was "very low".
Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore, a researcher in feline medicine who has been studying the presence of TB in cats, warned that people had become complacent about watching for the warning signs of the disease because there have been relatively few cases in recent years.
“We’ve all become rather complacent because we haven’t been seeing TB for so many years but bovis is back with a little bit more significance,” she said.
“It’s important we don’t get blinkered and think it’s only badgers and cattle that get infected. This is a bacteria that is not very fussy about who it infects.”
She said she had dealt with cases in which dogs had also passed on Mycobacterium bovis to humans.
Nine cases of Mycobacterium bovis infection in domestic cats in Berkshire and Hampshire were investigated by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) and PHE last year.
PHE said it had offered TB screening to 39 people identified as having had contact with the nine infected cats.
Of these, 24 people accepted screening. Two were found to have active TB and there were two cases of latent TB, which means they had been exposed to TB at some point but did not have an active infection.
Both people with active TB disease have confirmed infection with Mycobacterium bovis.
PHE said there have been no further cases of TB in cats reported in Berkshire or Hampshire since March 2013.
Analysis of the samples of active TB from the humans and the infected cats by the AHVLA showed the Mycobacterium bovis was "indistinguishable".
This "indicates transmission of the bacterium from an infected cat", PHE said.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

SURVEY: 5% Check FACEBOOK During Sex... -

SURVEY: 5% Check FACEBOOK During Sex... - 

A full 5 percent of folks have checked Facebook during lovemaking, a new survey finds.

I'm not sure if I should be disturbed or impressed by such an apparent mastery of multitasking. If this is what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when constructing Facebook and his vision of a world where everything is shared, I definitely would never have accepted all those friend requests from family members.

Of course, checking status updates and tapping on chatheads is the least of today's mid-coital distractions, according to the survey conducted i the UK for condom maker Durex by OnePoll, which did not share its methodology or the sample size used. It also found that 12 percent had answered a phone call during sex and 10 percent had read a text in the midst of the act.

I don't consider myself a guru in the fields of either sex or social media, but I am confident enough to say that combining the two probably means you're doing one of them wrong.

While the Durex study seems to be far from scientific, it does reflect a trend. A more formal national study found young Britons having less sex today than in the past, with social media perhaps partly to blame.

For its part, Durex is going all John and Yoko-style on the problem by encouraging everyone to spend the hour between 8:30 and 9:30 in bed on March 29 without any lights on, including those that emanate from the screens of our favorite devices.

It's a romantic notion and an interesting way to sell more condoms, but more importantly, it's a way to at least temporarily reduce the volume of selfies that no one else should ever have to look at.


Monday, 24 March 2014

New York Uses Toll Tags to Track Motorists - even when the drivers are no where near a toll booth -

New York Uses Toll Tags to Track Motorists - even when the drivers are no where near a toll booth - 

New York traffic agencies are tracking motorists across the state by connecting to their toll tags mounted to their windshields, even when the drivers are no where near a toll booth.

Both the New York City Department of Transportation and Transcom, a traffic management agency, admitted that for nearly 20 years they have been using antennas to connect to E-ZPass toll tags in vehicles driving across more than 3,000 miles of public, non-toll roads, not just in New York but neighboring states as well.
“We’re being watched in ways that I think none of us would have imagined,” Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told WBGO.org. “It’s happening without any public scrutiny, without any decision that’s consistent with checks and balances.”
A privacy advocate discovered the massive size of the program after he created a device that alerted him every time his toll tag connected to an antenna.
“I took my E-ZPass and figured out how to let me know when it was transmitting,” he stated. “Then I reverse engineered the E-ZPass protocol radio.”
Even when he drove down roads no where near a toll booth, his device went off multiple times. He realized that the agencies were purposely installing toll tag readers hidden under regular traffic signs to track drivers as they drove through.
Not surprisingly, the E-ZPass terms and conditions state nothing about the tracking program which was not previously announced to the public.
“New Yorkers have a right to know what the purpose is, whether it’s improper and the right to insist that our elected officials reign in this practice,” Liberman also said.
Unfortunately, elected officials across the country are doing the exact opposite.
As we reported in January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing for new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems – known as V2V for short – which would allow them to “talk” to each other through GPS data under the guise of “accident prevention.”
An official at the Government Accountability Office, David Wise, even said that the V2V could be used to track individuals.
“Privacy is a real challenge,” he stated.
But bureaucrats are completely unconcerned about privacy, especially if violating it means additional revenue from taxing drivers for every mile driven.
And these surveillance programs aren’t just limited to private vehicles. Last week, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced its plan to install thousands of audio and video recorders on its commuter trains.


New app helps you avoid your exes -

New app helps you avoid your exes - 

After moving to New York, Brian Moore could not stop running into his ex-girlfriend. There were four awkward and unplanned encounters in six months, to be exact.
So while most social apps are about connecting with friends, family or good-looking strangers, Moore began to wonder if a mobile tool could use the same readily available location information to help you avoid certain people.
That's how he and Chris Baker were inspired to create Cloak, a free iPhone app that pulls in location check-ins from your contacts' Instagram and Foursquare accounts. It maps out the positions of people you know based on their most recent social posts so you can give them the slip.
Cloak's tagline is "Incognito mode for real life." You might say it's an anti-social network.
Click on a bubble on the map, and you'll see a person's name, his or her location and about how long ago he or she checked in there. If it was a while ago, the image will appear faded, like a ghost.
"We feel like we've reached the point of social fatigue -- too many networks with too much information, all the time," Baker says. "It's OK to turn off and pick up a copy of 'Walden' and just be alone."
The app lets people set up push alerts for acquaintances they'd prefer to avoid such as exes, frenemies or annoying co-workers. If someone wants to drop off the grid completely, he can set up these notifications for everyone in his social networks -- presumably while sneaking through dark alleys or hiding behind sunglasses and a hat.
The app only works with Foursquare and Instagram for now, so it has limited usefulness if your friends aren't active on those networks. But the developers hope to add Facebook soon. They say Twitter's location information is still weak, but they may add that service as well someday.
Dodging friends isn't necessarily an anti-social activity. Baker says there are plenty of times a person might want to avoid being seen, such as while on a first date or during a quick run to the grocery store in pajamas. Anyone playing hooky, recovering from plastic surgery or carrying on a clandestine relationship might also find the app useful.
For some digital users, the move away from always-on oversharing is a natural progression. After years of being on our phones 24/7, getting constant updates from our social networks and broadcasting our every social outing, many of us crave a break. All that contact online can leave us wanting more privacy in real life.
"Twitter and Facebook ... are like giant auditoriums where we put on 'public performances.' And those have grown exhausting. That's why Snapchat felt so refreshing," Moore says.
The app is still young, but Moore says users have already found creative, social ways to use it. Some are exploring Instagram images by using the map, while others have set up alerts for people they do want to see.
In theory, someone could use the app purposefully to run into people who'd rather be ignored. To prevent any unwanted abuse of your location information, lock down your privacy settings and don't share your whereabouts unless you're comfortable with people knowing exactly where you are.
"Social has had its moment in the sun. Now people are beginning to revolt," Baker says.


Friday, 21 March 2014

Hawaii law lets police have sex with prostitutes... -

Hawaii law lets police have sex with prostitutes...

Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations, touching off a heated debate.

Authorities say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act. Critics, including human trafficking experts and other police, say it's unnecessary and could further victimize sex workers, many of whom have been forced into the trade.

Police haven't said how often — or even if — they use the provision. And when they asked legislators to preserve it, they made assurances that internal policies and procedures are in place to prevent officers from taking advantage of it.

But expert Derek Marsh says the exemption is "antiquated at best" and that police can easily do without it.

"It doesn't help your case, and at worst you further traumatize someone. And do you think he or she is going to trust a cop again?" asked Marsh, who trains California police in best practices on human trafficking cases and twice has testified to Congress about the issue.

A Hawaii bill cracking down on prostitution (HB 1926) was originally written to scrap the sex exemption for officers on duty. It was amended to restore that protection after police testimony. The revised proposal passed the state House and will go before a Senate committee Friday.

It's not immediately clear whether similar provisions are in place elsewhere as state law or department policy. But advocates were shocked that Hawaii exempts police from its prostitution laws, suggesting it's an invitation for misconduct.

"Police abuse is part of the life of prostitution," said Melissa Farley, the executive director of the San Francisco-based group Prostitution Research and Education. Farley said that in places without such police protections "women who have escaped prostitution" commonly report being coerced into giving police sexual favors to keep from being arrested.

The Hawaii bill aims to ratchet up penalties on johns and pimps. Selling sex would remain a petty misdemeanor.

Hawaii state Rep. Karl Rhoads listens during a House floor session at the Capitol in Honolulu on Wed …
During recent testimony, Honolulu police said the sex exemption protects investigations and should remain in place.

"The procedures and conduct of the undercover officers are regulated by department rules, which by nature have to be confidential," Honolulu Police Maj. Jerry Inouye told the House Judiciary Committee. "Because if prostitution suspects, pimps and other people are privy to that information, they're going to know exactly how far the undercover officer can and cannot go."

Read more -

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Obamacare Provider Knows When Clients Visit the Bathroom - "Telemedicine” sensors to “revolutionize” medicine -

Obamacare Provider Knows When Clients Visit the Bathroom - "Telemedicine” sensors to “revolutionize” medicine - 

FOX 13 News

Obamacare provider Humana knows when its clients visit the bathroom, sleep, walk, open the medicine cabinet or use the fridge under a new “telemedicine” program that allows constant monitoring of individuals in their home.

Ernestine Marshall’s apartment is fitted with several sensors that are monitored in real time by Humana employees in Pinellas County. If anything untoward is detected, Marshall receives a phone call. She also gets a monthly visit from a field agent.
“The diabetic and MS patient’s home is outfitted by insurer, Humana, with sensors that keep track of when she opens her medicine cabinet, her fridge, sleeps, walks, and uses the bathroom,” reports Fox 13.
“I didn’t know how closely they were watching me until I received a phone call, and I was like, whoa! Ok!” said Marshall, who thinks it is “wonderful” that she is constantly being monitored.
Experts think the new program will “revolutionize medicine,” greatly reducing the need to visit doctors and cutting costs.
The report failed to address privacy concerns about an individual having their every behavior monitored in real time, nor did it raise the concern of whether or not similar measures could be implemented to a lesser extent under Obamacare.
Although such pervasive monitoring is not part of the Affordable Care Act, critics have expressed concerns that Obamacare could become increasingly invasive as its rollout expands.
The Federal Data Services Hub, which forms the core of Obamacare, will interact with numerous different government agencies, including the Social Security Administration, the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration, Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense, the Peace Corps, as well as state Medicaid databases.
The hub will also collect data on millions of Americans in order to determine eligibility for benefits and exemptions from federal mandates, a database that could represent the, “largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic,” according to Stephen Parente, a University of Minnesota finance professor.
Critics have also charged that Obamacare turns doctors into government agents who will be required to ask invasive questions about people’s sex lives. Concerns have also been raised about the potential for social workers to conduct home visits under Obamacare that could be used as a justification to harass families.


Facebook's New 'DeepFace' Program Is Just As Creepy As It Sounds -

Facebook's New 'DeepFace' Program Is Just As Creepy As It Sounds - 

Facebook owns the world's largest photo library, and it now has the technology to match almost all the faces within it. Yes, even the ones you don't tag.

Facebook announced last week that it has developed a program called "DeepFace," which researchers say can determine whether two photographed faces are of the same person with 97.25 percent accuracy.

According to Facebook, humans put to the same test answer correctly 97.53 percent of the time -- only a quarter of a percent better than Facebook's software.

The takeaway: Facebook has essentially caught up to humans when it comes to remembering a face. The program was developed by three in-house Facebook researchers and a professor at Tel Aviv University.

As an example, the developers show in a paper on the program that DeepFace can successfully recognize that this is Academy Award winner Sylvester Stallone.


'March Madness' most popular time to get vasectomies... -

'March Madness' most popular time to get vasectomies... - 

The first week of March Madness is also the most popular week of the year for men to get vasectomies, according to Texas urologist Dr. Grant Fowler.
Dr. Fowler said men have to take a couple of days off to have the procedure, which coincides nicely with basketball games that are on all day.
Some urology clinics even offer free pizza for men to get their vasectomy during March Madness, according to Fowler.
He added that he is performing fewer such surgeries today than he did during the recession.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Watch a 45-mile-wide asteroid blot out a star tonight -

Watch a 45-mile-wide asteroid blot out a star tonight - 

Erigone asteroid.png

An asteroid the size of Rhode Island will briefly blot out one of the brightest stars in the sky overnight tonight (March 19-20), and you can watch the rare celestial event live online, weather permitting.

At around 2:05 a.m. EDT Thursday morning, a 45-mile-wide asteroid 163 Erigone will eclipse Regulus, as seen from a swath of North America, making the 22nd-brightest star in the sky disappear for a few seconds.

This "occultation" will be visible from the ground only to people in a narrow corridor in northeastern North America. However, the online Slooh Space Camera will offer live views of the eclipse during a show that begins at 1:45 a.m. EDT Thursday. You can follow it at www.slooh.com or watch the asteroid-Regulus webcast here -

Gun tattoo in Maine prompts heavy police response -

Gun tattoo in Maine prompts heavy police response - 


Police armed with assault rifles descended on a Maine man's home after members of a tree removal crew he'd told to clear off his property reported that he had a gun.

Turns out the "gun" the tree crew had seen on Michael Smith of Norridgewock was just a life-sized tattoo of a handgun on his stomach.

Smith, who works nights, was asleep when the tree crew contracted by a utility to trim branches near power lines, woke him up at about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

He went outside shirtless and yelled at the workers to leave. When he's not wearing a shirt, the tattoo looks like a gun tucked into his waistband.

Smith tells the Morning Sentinel the tattoo has never been a problem before.

"I got plans today. I didn't want to get shot," Smith reportedly said.

Police didn't charge him.

Smith reportedly said that he does not regret getting the life-size handgun tattoo and recalled a time he was arrested once on a warrant for an unpaid fine.

"I said, 'Yeah, I got this gun on me all the time. It's tattooed on,'" he told the arresting officer.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sugars found in tequila may protect against obesity, diabetes -

Sugars found in tequila may protect against obesity, diabetes - 

Tequila shots may do more than lighten the mood at a party; the drink may be beneficial for your health as well.

According to researchers from Mexico, natural sugars derived from the agave plant, called agavins, greatly protected a group of mice against diet-induced obesity and type 2 diabetes, MedPage Today reported.  

In a new study presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) annual meeting in Dallas, mice were distributed into seven groups.  One group received a diet of plain water, while the other groups received water supplemented with either aspartame, glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave syrup or agavins.

The mice that consumed agavins showed a reduction in food intake and weight and a decrease in blood glucose levels.  These findings were similar to the control group that received standard water.

Because agavins act as dietary fibers and do not raise blood sugar, the researchers believe the ingredient could be used as an alternative sweetening agent.

"We believe agavins have a great potential as a light sweetener," Mercedes G. L√≥pez, of the Centro de Incetagcioan y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico wrote in the ACS abstract. "They are sugars, highly soluble, with a low glycemic index and a neutral taste…This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people."

The alcoholic beverage tequila is made from the blue agave plant, primarily around the Mexican city of Tequila.  However, Lopez noted that agavins are not widely available and not as sweet as regular sugars.


Study: Playing Tetris reduces food, nicotine cravings -

Study: Playing Tetris reduces food, nicotine cravings - 

Playing a game of Tetris can reduce the strength of food and nicotine cravings, according to a new study.

"Craving is a common problem for people trying to quit junk food, smoking or other drugs," coauthor Jackie Andrade said in an email.

"It is unpleasant and makes people feel that they have to wait until the right moment to quit," said Andrade, from Plymouth University in the UK.

Researchers had used visual games to interrupt cravings before, but only when they had induced those cravings first, she said. For this study, people's cravings happened - or did not happen - naturally.

"Naturally occurring cravings might be harder to disrupt because they are triggered by internal states like hunger," Andrade said. "We chose Tetris because we wanted a task that would be interesting, demanding and highly visual."

She and her team had 119 college-aged, primarily female, students describe what, if anything, they were craving, and how badly. Then they instructed the students to play Tetris for three minutes.

For half of the students, selected at random, the game worked fine. For the other half, only a load screen and error message displayed and they could not play.

Then all of the students filled out the craving questionnaire again.

Two thirds of them reported craving something at the beginning of the test: 58 wanted food or a drink, 10 wanted caffeine and 12 wanted nicotine. The remaining 39 didn't crave anything initially.

Cravings got weaker over time for everyone. But they weakened faster and to a greater extent among participants who played Tetris, the authors wrote in the journal Appetite.

For instance, one tool they used measured craving strength on a scale from 1 to 100. Among people who reported initially craving something, the strength of those cravings fell from 59 to 45 for Tetris players, on average, and from 58 to 55 in the comparison group.

Researchers think this works because concentrating on the various Tetris shapes distracts the brain from picturing food, or whatever else a person wants.

"When we want something really badly, it is hard to think about anything else - and the experience is a very sensory one," said David Kavanagh, from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. "It engages our imagination."

"That can be a real torture," he said. "But it also gives us a hint about how we can deal with cravings: if we can do something that engages the same brain functions, we can blunt the craving, and make it easier to resist the temptation."

Kavanagh was not involved in the new study but has done similar research.

Any visual or multisensory activity might have the same effect as Tetris, Andrade said. She found in an earlier study that making shapes out of plastic led to a similar outcome.

But the researchers did not measure how long the reduction in cravings lasted, and it might not be very long, she said.

However, people trying to lose weight could try incorporating Tetris into their lives, Andrade said.

Lotte van Dillen, from the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands, agreed.

"I think it is important that people are motivated to play the game for it to be an effective tool to fight cravings," van Dillen, who was not involved in the research, told Reuters Health. "And as a positive side effect you may actually become a very skillful player."


Sunday, 16 March 2014

STUDY: Unflattering Selfies Contributing To Increase In Plastic Surgery... -

STUDY: Unflattering Selfies Contributing To Increase In Plastic Surgery... - 

If you’ve ever looked at a photo of yourself online and cringed, you might not be surprised by a new study that suggests “selfies” are contributing to an increase in the number of people seeking plastic surgery.
According to a study done by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), one in three plastic surgeons saw a rise in procedures from patients claiming to be unhappy with how they look on social media. Thirteen percent of doctors surveyed identified increased photo sharing and patients’ dissatisfaction with their looks online as a “rising trend” in the cosmetic surgery industry.
Additionally, doctors cited a 10 percent increase in rhinoplasty in 2013 from 2012, a seven percent increase in hair transplants and a six percent increase in eyelid surgery.
What’s even more disturbing, though, is that 58% of surgeons surveyed said they saw an increase in requests for cosmetic surgery and injectables in patients under the age of 30, with women looking to keep their skin looking younger longer and men seeking things like rhinoplasty, acne scar removal and chin implants.
“Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone app Selfie.im, which are solely image based, force patients to hold a microscope up to their own image and often look at it with a more self-critical eye than ever before,” said Edward Farrior, MD, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, in a release. “These images are often the first impressions young people put out there to prospective friends, romantic interests and employers and our patients want to put their best face forward.”
Their best surgically-enhanced face forward, that is.

Read more -

Friday, 14 March 2014

US Issues Travel Alert For Russia, Warns Of "Potential Military Clashes (Either Accidental Or Intentional)" -

US Issues Travel Alert For Russia, Warns Of "Potential Military Clashes (Either Accidental Or Intentional)" - 

Just out from the State Department, which in the aftermath of the most recent failure by John Kerry to resolve the Ukraine situation, appears to be escalating to populism and engaging the general public. The best part in the warning is the following clarification: "all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional)." Somehow we have a feeling we may be seeing a spike in "accidental military clashes" over the next week.

From the State Department:

Russian Federation Travel Alert - Events in Ukraine

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine and the potential for increased public demonstrations and anti-American actions in Russia in connection with Russian actions in the Crimea.  The Department of State also alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the heightened military presence and on-going military exercises of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation along the border region with Ukraine.  This Travel Alert expires on June 13, 2014.  The Department of State strongly recommends that all U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive pertinent safety and security information. 

The U.S. government currently has no information concerning active military conflict inside Russia as a result of regional tensions or of any threat specific to U.S. citizens.  However, all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional), or other violence, and the potential for threats to safety and security.  Media accounts note there has been a sizable Russian military build-up in those regions and there are reports of an increased presence of Russian neo-Nazi and radical nationalist and extremist groups in those regions.

U.S. citizens considering travel to Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of current political tensions and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.  

The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens should avoid all public demonstrations, whether properly authorized by local officials or not, and avoid any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures.  Demonstrations related to the conflict may appear anywhere throughout Russia, at any time.  These demonstrations may increase the possibility of confrontation and violence.  Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.  

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Read more -

Hawaii tries to ban eating cats and dogs -

Hawaii tries to ban eating cats and dogs - 

Hawaii tries to pass bill banning eating cats and dogs, who would have thought this was a problem in paradise?

Animal lovers in Hawaii packed a legislative hearing room Thursday with poodles and pugs, asking lawmakers to ban the practice of eating cats and dogs in the state.
The House Committee on Agriculture later advanced SB 2026, a bill to ban the practice.
The Humane Society of the United States says dog slaughter for human consumption is happening across Hawaii. The group receives at least two reports a year of dogs or cats being slaughtered for food, but it says it’s hard for law enforcement to catch animal slaughterers.
“When we do get these reports of cases of dog or cat slaughter, unless they’re caught in the act, law enforcement is not able to really prosecute,” said Inga Gibson, Hawaii senior state director for the Humane Society, which pushed for the bill.
Eating meat from cats and dogs is considered acceptable in other countries, including parts of Asia. And while many Americans eat pigs or cows, consuming meat from those animals is vilified elsewhere.
The Oahu Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said dogs and cats are considered members of many families.
One woman, Sara Knaus, cradled a Pomeranian as she read a note that her son wrote to lawmakers.
“I love my dog too much and all dogs should be loved, not eaten,” Knaus read. Dogs can help people with disabilities, she said, noting the letter was the first thing that her son, who has autism, had ever written.
Dogs also sacrificed their lives for the country while working with the military, said Jane Shiraki, a Honolulu resident.
“Dogs are people too, because they have the ability to experience emotions,” Shiraki said. “Please protect these animals.”
Rep. Romy Cachola emphasized that his family members have pets, but he questioned the need for a new law when one is already in place.
“I cannot understand why we’re doing this,” Cachola said.
Rep. Jessica Wooley, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, said the bill tightens existing law.
“There are cases every year, and they’re not able to prosecute fully because of the way the law is currently written,” Wooley said.
The committee amended the bill to include all pets, not just cats and dogs. Cachola and Rep. Clift Tsuji voted against the measure, and several other lawmakers expressed reservations.


Python stuck after eating dog chained to kennel... -

Python stuck after eating dog chained to kennel... - 

A large python has swallowed a pet dog that was chained up inside its kennel in a backyard in northern NSW.
The dog's owner received a "nasty shock" when she approached the kennel to let her Chihuahua-Maltese cross off its chain, only to find a carpet python in its place with a large bulge in its body and the dog's chain emerging from its mouth.

Volunteers from the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) were called to the home in Caniaba, near Lismore, on Thursday morning and arrived to find the 2.5-metre snake still lying in the kennel.
WIRES Northern Rivers secretary Sue Ulyatt said the volunteers cut the chain and observed the python, which is about 50 years old, for 24 hours to see if it would regurgitate the chain.
However, when it didn't, the python was taken to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where it would be examined by a veterinarian to see if it would require surgery.
Python eats dog in Lismore. Facebook Wires Northern Rivers
The dog owner was shocked to find a python in her dog's kennel. 
Mrs Ulyatt said the dog's owner was upset but calm when she rang the wildlife service's hotline on Thursday morning.
"She realised that she had made a dreadful mistake. She hadn't thought about the possibility of a snake taking the dog," she said.
"The lady went out to let dog off the chain, but instead of the dog being on the chain, it was large carpet python.
"It's only the second incident like this we've had in over 10 years. Usually it's the other way around, the snake comes off second best."
Mrs Ulyatt said the incident occurred on a rural property, and carpet pythons were very common in the area.
The python would have strangled the dog before swallowing it whole, she said, and estimated such a meal would sustain a python for about a month.
Mrs Ulyatt said the woman was trying to do the responsible thing by chaining up her dog at night so it did not stray and potentially attack and kill wildlife.
"Chaining up a dog in a wildlife area is certainly a responsible thing to do, but the dog was too small. It should have been inside," Mrs Ulyatt said.
If the snake does undergo surgery, it will remain under care for "quite some time" before being released into the wild, Mrs Ulyatt said.
Thursday morning's incident is the latest in a string of captivating encounters this month involving pythons devouring other animals.

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Saudi cleric issues Fatwa against All-you-can-eat Buffets... -

Saudi cleric issues Fatwa against All-you-can-eat Buffets... - 

A Saudi cleric named Saleh al-Fawzan has issued fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets in Saudi Arabia. He made the statement on a Saudi Quranic TV station.

Fawzan said the value and quantity of the food sold should be pre-determined before hand.

"Whoever enters the buffet and eats for 10 or 50 riyals without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia (Islamic) law," Fawzan was quoted on al-Atheer channel.

The fatwa attempts to add plate piling eateries to the long list of things outlawed by religious edicts. It has been the subject of condemnation and debate on social media channels.

While some twitter users slammed the cleric's fatwa by using the hashtag "prohibiting-open-buffet" (in Arabic) others tweeted supporting it.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Amazon Accused of Cheating Customers Through Shipping Costs -

Amazon Accused of Cheating Customers Through Shipping Costs - 

Amazon claims that a $79 annual membership for Amazon Prime provides free two-day shipping on "millions" of items, but for some products, the company is accused of encouraging sellers to inflate shipping prices, according to two recent lawsuits.

“The bottom line is the free shipping that Amazon offered to its Prime members wasn’t free,” said Kim Stephens, attorney for one of the plaintiffs, adding that he was “shocked” by Amazon’s alleged pricing practices.

Marcia Burke of Alabama says she became an Amazon Prime member and used its "free shipping" service at least 18 times in 2010, according to her lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Seattle. Prime-eligible products are designated on Amazon's website.

In what she hopes will be certified as a class-action lawsuit, Burke accuses Amazon of encouraging third-party vendors to increase their prices to Prime members by the amount they charged others for shipping, without revealing that a portion of those alleged "inflated" prices was for shipping fees, the lawsuit claims.

"For example, if the price of an item is advertised for $10 with $3.99 shipping and the [vendor] wishes to match or top their price, the [vendor] would charge $13.99 or higher," Burke alleges in the suit.

These sellers raise their prices to match or top their competitor’s total price, as items are sorted by price on Amazon's site, Burke alleges in the lawsuit.

A spokesman for Amazon, Erik Fairleigh, declined to comment due to the firm's policy related to active litigation.

In the time period that the lawsuit covers, Oct. 24, 2007 to Feb. 22, 2011, the main benefit for Prime members was the free two-day shipping. Starting Feb. 22, 2011, Amazon increased Prime’s appeal by including extras, such as movie and television streaming and Kindle e-book borrowing, the lawsuit states.

“An item included in its stated price the cost of shipping, but you thought you were getting it free,” Stephens said.

Stephens explained that a customer who was not a Prime member often paid less for a product and its shipping.

“But together they would roughly equal the cost Amazon is charging Prime members for so-called free shipping,” he said.

Burke is suing for breach of contract, and she is seeking a refund of all annual Prime membership fees for customers in the 2007-2011 period and treble damages under the Washington Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits "unfair or deceptive" acts in trade and commerce.

Amazon's annual membership program has tens of millions of members worldwide, according to the company's quarterly earnings announcement in January. During that announcement, the company said it is "working hard to increase capacity for the Prime program," after it was "so popular that Amazon limited new Prime membership signups during peak periods" in December.

Without paying for the annual subscription, non-Prime customers typically are charged by vendors for shipping that can be five to eight days, with higher costs for two-day shipping.

Amazon charges these vendors a referral fee that's a percentage of the price of Prime-eligible products, the lawsuit states, and Amazon deducts as a referral fee a percentage of the item price, excluding any taxes collected through Amazon tax collection services.

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Rio to ban cosmetic surgery -- for dogs, cats! -

Rio to ban cosmetic surgery -- for dogs, cats! - 

Lawmakers in Rio de Janeiro, where plastic surgery is all the rage, have approved draft legislation banning cosmetic surgery for dogs and cats, Brazilian media said Wednesday.

Conservative lawmaker Graca Pereira is behind the move to ban procedures such as tail docking -- the cutting off of part of an animal's tail -- and removal of cat claws, as well as ear cropping for dogs.

Last July, Brazil's national council of veterinary medicine published a resolution in its official journal urging such procedures be made illegal and that vets performing them be struck off the register.

In January, Sao Paulo state banned animal testing for cosmetic products -- although not for medicines.

Last October, a group of animal rights protesters stormed a laboratory in Sao Roque, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, and freed 200 Beagle dogs being used in pharmaceutical tests.

The dogs had had their coats shorn and one was discovered dead, frozen in liquid nitrogen. Some showed signs of mutilation.


Peeing In Pools Can Create Dangerous Neurotoxin Cocktail -

Peeing In Pools Can Create Dangerous Neurotoxin Cocktail - 

The next time you jump in a pool, think twice before you skip a trip to the bathroom. The chemical stew could harm more than just your reputation.
Scientists say peeing in pools is more than just socially frowned upon, it can be hazardous to your health.
It’s something that Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps admit to doing, and it made for a funny scene in the movie “Grown Ups.”
We had UC Davis chemistry professor Matthew Augustine examine a study from Purdue and China Agricultural universities.
“I had not heard about it before, but it completely makes sense,” he said.
Researchers found that when uric acid—a compound in our urine—combines with chlorine, the result is two potentially dangerous chemical byproducts.
“Not only do you make a nerve toxin, you make another toxin that’s known to be tear gas,” he said.
You heard him right: You pee in a pool, and you essentially turn it into a weapon of mass destruction.
“It’s been noticed that lifeguards, avid swimmers have had sickness, nausea and essentially all of the symptoms you would expect to get from a nerve agent,” he said.
Howard Chew and the swimmers at Davis Swim And Fitness say they haven’t experienced any of those symptoms.
But Augustine says there’s a surefire way to significantly cut the risk.
“Don’t pee in the pool,” he said.
Those chemicals can also potentially affect the lungs, heart, central nervous system and other organs.
It’s worth noting that one in five American adults admit to peeing in a public pool.


Elderly couple kicked out of Culpeper Va. McDonald's Update - Southern hospitality - Free Lunch Everyweek For Ever -

Elderly couple kicked out of Culpeper Va. McDonald's Update - Southern hospitality - Free Lunch Everyweek For Ever - 

Carl and Barbara Becker are loving Shawn's Smokehouse BBQ Company.
  Three weeks after getting booted out of the Culpeper McDonald's because they supposedly stayed too long, the long married couple - both in their 80s - enjoyed an elaborate lunch on the house Wednesday at the locally owned eatery on Sperryville Pike in the town of Culpeper.
  "I think it's delightful," said Mrs. Becker, enjoying ribs, chicken, brisket, BBQ, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, baked beans and more. "This was special."
 In fact, BBQ Company owner Shawn Moss has offered the Beckers free lunch every week for the rest of their lives. He personally served the couple Wednesday.
  "We wanted to show there is still good Southern hospitality around," Moss said. "Culpeper is a great area, and has a lot of great restaurants. We want to keep the good name around here."
  News about what happened to the local grandparents at McDonald's on Feb. 21 spread fast after Mr. Becker, a World War II veteran, sent a letter to the editor at the Star-Exponent that published earlier this month. Since then, news stations in Washington, D.C. and beyond picked up the story that is also all over social media sites like Facebook.
  According to the Beckers, they were asked by a manager to leave the restaurant on James Madison Highway they often frequented in between lunch and dinner because they had overstayed an arbitrary 30-minute time limit.
  The manager approached them after Mrs. Becker complained when an employee started sweeping while they were still eating, kicking up dust.
  Culpeper McDonald's Franchisee Bob Drumheller, in a statement Wednesday, said there is no 30-minute limit to dining in his establishment.
  "I care deeply about the comfort and satisfaction of all my customers and members of our community, especially our veterans like Mr. Becker," he said. "I have reached out to Mr. Becker and his wife to extend my apologies for this misunderstanding and welcome them back to our restaurant any time. My organization invites all customers to come in and enjoy our McDonald's with the understanding that we do not have a 30-minute limit policy. Our focus will continue to be to serve our customers and our community by providing a welcoming experience."
  Mrs. Becker, of Rixeyville, said Wednesday that she accepted Drumheller's apology.
  "But I told him I am still not coming back to your store," she said. "I told him it needed some reformulating and the managers need training - they don't treat people right."
 Mrs. Becker said they were shocked when they were asked to leave, and in disbelief by the ridiculousness of it all.
  "We kind of looked at each other and laughed, then we laughed some more because what are you going to do? You're not going to cry when you are told to leave, you leave, but you feel about this high," she said, holding her fingers about an inch apart.
  The fact that other customers stay much longer using the free high speed Internet available on site never seemed to bother the McDonald's employees, added Mr. Becker, a former English teacher and retired engineer who served with the U.S.  Army Air Force from 1945 to 1947.
  The 87-year-old enlisted at age 16 in Evansville, Indiana where he attended high school.
  "All the guys were doing it, so we went down and signed up - that was just what you do," he said. "I don't think you ever thought of it as duty - it's just something you do."
  Everybody was involved in the war effort at the time, Mrs. Becker added. Her husband, before he enlisted, collected metal while she collected kapok fiber from trees, used in making life jackets.
  "The patriotism was much different than it is today," she said.
  As for Southern hospitality, Shawn Moss wants to keep that intact in Culpeper. His mother, Sue Moss, working side by side with her son, whole-heartedly agreed.
  "To me, you do everything you can to make your customers feel comfortable and happy and leave with a feeling that the food was great and the people were nice," said the longtime caterer.
  Mrs. Becker said Shawn is "a real sweet fella." The BBQ shop owner is further capitalizing on the good deed by launching a Wednesday's "scrunch time" for all local seniors, offering free coffee in between lunch and dinner hours.  The Beckers came up with the term to describe their weekly visits to the Culpeper McDonald's, now a thing of the past.
  "Our scrunch time is about 2:30 so we were not really disturbing the restaurant and you can get as much time as you want, more than half an hour and you won't get kicked out," Mrs. Becker said.
  She added, "I feel like I should take a bunch of timers to McDonald's with a list and have everyone sign in and they get their timer so when it rings after half-hour you get up and go. There is something amiss in that Culpeper store."
  She said they would continue to eat at the McDonald's in Warrenton, 16 miles from their home. Drumheller also owns that restaurant in addition to the McDonalds in Luray, Bealeton and Opal.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Students Charged After Photo Of Dog Forced To Drink Beer Upside Down Emerges -

Students Charged After Photo Of Dog Forced To Drink Beer Upside Down Emerges - 

Authorities say two students at a New York state college were charged with animal abuse after a dog was held upside down over a keg and forced to drink beer.
Police say one of the College at Brockport students held the black Labrador retriever over a keg and apparently forced the animal to drink from the tap during an off-campus party Saturday at a house in the village, located 17 miles west of Rochester.
Another student took a photo and posted it on a Twitter account featuring stories and pictures from parties thrown by students enrolled at state colleges in New York.
The two men, both 20, were charged with torturing and injuring an animal. They were issued appearance tickets for town court.
The dog was taken by the local dog warden.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Elderly couple kicked out of Culpeper Va. McDonald's for sitting too long -

Elderly couple kicked out of Culpeper Va. McDonald's for sitting too long - 

An elderly couple got the boot from their local McDonald's for sitting too long. However, management and the owner are not answering the question if there really is a 30-minute sitting limit at the Culpeper fast food restaurant?

Carl Becker, 87, a World War II veteran, and his wife Barbara Becker, 81, say they both were at the Culpeper McDonald's on Feb. 21, 2014 about 2:30 p.m. The location is a place the pair has frequented for years when they were approached by the manager.

"And he says you two are going to have to leave. He said your half hour is up and we need to clean this floor," says Barbara Becker. The restaurant was not crowded at the time, she says, and that the two were stunned. This was the first time they had ever been asked to leave a McDonald's.

"We've never, ever, ever been kicked out of a McDonald's," she says adding that they've have been patrons of the fast food chain for decades and since their own children were kids. The couple has six children ranging in age from 43-61 and 14 grandchildren with one on the way due March 10.

"Now our grandchildren are McDonald's lovers," she says adding that they spend lots of time at McDonald's because they are on a fixed income and it's affordable. Her husband loves getting the chicken sandwich, she says and that it's a treat for the both of them to just eat, talk and enjoy each other's company.

Carl Becker wrote a letter to the editor of the Star Exponent about the incident.

But Barbara Becker says, "We were kicked out unnecessarily and we're just not that kind of people." The couple has been back to a McDonald's since the incident but not the Culpeper location. The restaurant owner has reached out to the couple.

Bob Drumheller, the owner of the McDonald's Culpeper franchise, issued a statement:

"I care deeply about the comfort and satisfaction of my customers. My organization takes these matters seriously, and is investigating the customer's claims. I have also reached out to the customer to extend my apologies for this misunderstanding. Our focus will continue to be on serving our customers and providing them a welcoming experience."

Read more -