Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Pill to switch off hunger possible as 'anti-appetite' molecule discovered -

Pill to switch off hunger possible as 'anti-appetite' molecule discovered - 

Dieters could soon benefit from a pill that switches off hunger after scientist found that fibre reacts with the gut to produce an 'anti-appetite' molecule

A pill that switches off hunger is on the horizon after scientists discovered an ‘anti-appetite’ molecule which tells the body to stop eating.
Researchers at Imperial College discovered that people feel full when eating fruit and vegetables because fibre releases acetate into the gut.
They believe that a pill derived from acetate could be created to help people cut down on food without experiencing any cravings.
One in four adults in England is obese and that figure is set to climb to 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women by 2050.
Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion in the next 36 years.

Large amounts of acetate are released when plants and vegetables are digested by bacteria in the colon. The scientists tracked the molecule and found that it eventually ended up in the hypothalamus region of the brain, which controls hunger.
The new study suggests obesity has become an epidemic because we have replaced the healthy diet of the past with processed food, which does not react with gut bacteria to produce acetate. So the brain does not receive a signal telling it to stop eating.
The average diet in Europe today contains about 15 g of fibre per day. In Stone Age times it was around 100g per day.
"Unfortunately our digestive system has not yet evolved to deal with this modern diet and this mismatch contributes to the current obesity epidemic,” said Professor Gary Frost, of Imperial College.
Although scientists say their research should encourage more people to eat more fruit and vegetables, they also believe it could pave the way for new drugs to help dieters.
Prof Frost added: "Our research has shown the release of acetate is central to how fibre suppresses our appetite and this could help scientists tackle overeating.
"The major challenge is to develop an approach that will deliver the amount of acetate needed to suppress appetite but in a form that is acceptable and safe for humans.
"Developing these approaches will be difficult but it is a good challenge to have and we are looking forward to researching possible ways of using acetate to address health issues around weight gain.”
The study analysed the effects of a form of dietary fibre called inulin which comes from chicory and sugar beets and is also added to cereal bars.
Experiments on mice found those fed on a high fat diet with added inulin ate less and gained less weight than animals given a lot of fat diet with no inulin.
They also noticed that the acetate acculmulates in the hypothalamus of the brain where it triggers a series of chemical events which fire neurons and suppress hunger.
The research also showed when acetate was injected into the bloodstream, the colon or the brain it reduced the amount of food eaten by the mice.
Prof Jimmy Bell, of the Medical Research Council, Cambridge, who collaborated in the research, said: "It is exciting we have started to really understand what lies behind fibre's natural ability to suppress our appetite and identified acetate as essential to the process.
"In the context of the growing rates of obesity in western countries, the findings of the research could inform potential methods to prevent weight gain."
Acetate is only active for a short amount of time in the body so an ‘acetate pill’ would need to be able to mimic the chemical’s slow release into the gut.
Prof David Lomas, chair of the MRC's population and systems medicine board, said it is becoming increasingly clear the interaction between the gut and the brain plays a key role in controlling how much food we eat.
He added: "Being able to influence this relationship, for example using acetate to suppress appetite, may in future lead to new, non surgical treatments for obesity."

Read more -

Friday, 25 April 2014

Phone Cleaning Could Be The Best Kind Of Spring Cleaning You Do -

Phone Cleaning Could Be The Best Kind Of Spring Cleaning You Do - 

As the dust gets swept out of corners and the closets get cleared of clothes, it's probably your one most important material possession that's still in need of some spring cleaning — your phone, of course.

The virtual holder of all your information is a great spot for clutter to gather as well, and unless you've hit your memory max recently, you likely haven't bothered looking at half of what's on there.

Kulveer Taggar, the CEO of Agent, an app that helps make everyday tasks easier via your phone, says people can make their phones faster and more organized in very little time.

There's plenty of advice online, not to mention apps that can assist, that prompt you toward cleaning up your mobile device (and yes, that goes for tablets too). We've amassed it together for your spring cleaning pleasure, so take 20 minutes out of your weekend and trash some of the apps and contacts you've been hanging on to for way too long. Just because it's digital doesn't mean it can't weigh you down.

Clean Up Your Apps
Remember that game you tried and hated, and then immediately forgot about? It's still sitting there on your phone, taking up memory and waiting for your next bout of boredom. Don't let it win (because you certainly can't win it), and just delete it. Now. The same goes for that budget app you always "intended" to use and the travel guide to Madrid from your Spain trip four years ago. You can always download it again if you need it.

Change Location Permissions
Depending on your phone philosophy, you may or may not let apps access where you are at all times. But if you've distractedly pushed "allow" on a few too many, it can drag down your phone, and in some cases, invade your privacy. Go through the list of apps that use location services, and make sure you're OK with all of them.

Go Through Contacts
No, you don't need the phone number for your old roommate's ex-girlfriend — if you really want to get in touch her, that's what Facebook is for. Because many phones automatically save contacts when you, for example, email someone new, clearing out the list is a good way to pare down on the essentials. You can also create groups so that you only see certain numbers when you want them.

Check On Notification Settings
Like location permissions, push notifications can happen without you noticing them when you download apps. And maybe you've gotten lazy about getting rid of them, even if they're annoying. But it can be worth your while to stop the clutter of their pop-up messages, if only just for your mental health.

Delete And Back Up Pictures
No, you don't need the 10 takes it took before getting that perfect sunset shot. So this is actually a two-step process. First, go through your pictures and delete any extraneous shots that are still lingering there. Next, get to a computer and back up what's left. And then delete them all and start fresh (though if you want to hang onto a few sentimental shots of your kids/food/best night out ever, we understand).

Look For Background Refreshers — And Stop Them
For many apps on new phones, there's a setting called "background app refresh" or "background source refresh" that allows apps to keep pulling in new data (and using yours in the meantime) while they're open in the background. Check to make sure the ones that have permission to do that are ones you want.

Clear The Cache
Who knew? Your phone has a cache, just like your computer (which makes sense, given that you use an Internet browser for both). Androids have an app called, usefully, the App Cache Cleaner, which can get rid of the cached files and free up memory. Meanwhile, for iPhones, go to "Settings" for any browsers you use and hit "clear cache."

Do The Updates
Those software updates you're sent every once in a while (we're looking at you, iOS) aren't there just to annoy you with design changes. They can also (a) make your phone work better, and (b) make your phone more secure. So if you've been putting off downloading the new system, take a deep breath and dive in.

Optimize The Battery
There are many, many ways to drain your battery throughout the day, but there are also almost as many ways to optimize it. If you haven't already, change settings on things like brightness, and minimize your screen brightness to the shortest available time, advises PC World. Again, an app like Battery Optimizer for Android can help you, and other suggestions, like turning off Bluetooth unless you need it, can help. Check out PC World's full list here.

Get It Literally Clean
And while you're at it, it's probably a good idea to literally clean your phone on the outside too. Studies find that 2,700 to 4,200 units of bacteria are on your phone at any given time, according to Time, and yes, they can result in illness. How-To Geek describes how to do this quickly and easily using distilled water, cotton swabs and a microfibre cloth — just remember to take the case off too!


Fukushima Didn’t Just Suffer 3 Meltdowns … It Also Suffered Melt-THROUGHS and Melt-OUTS -

Fukushima Didn’t Just Suffer 3 Meltdowns … It Also Suffered Melt-THROUGHS and Melt-OUTS - 

We reported in May 2011 that authorities knew – within days or weeks – that all 3 active Fukushima nuclear reactors had melted down, but covered up that fact for months.

The next month, we reported that Fukushima’s reactors had actually suffered something much worse: nuclear melt-throughs, where the nuclear fuel melted through the containment vessels and into the ground. At the time, this was described as:

The worst possibility in a nuclear accident.

But now, it turns out that some of the Fukushima reactors have suffered even a more extreme type of damage: melt-OUTS.

By way of background, we’ve noted periodically that scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are.

And that highly radioactive black “dirt” has been found all over Japan.

It turns out that the highly radioactive black substances are likely remnants of the core.

The Journals Environmental Science & Technology and Journal of Environmental Radioactivity both found (hat tip EneNews) that the highly radioactive black substances match fuel from the core of the Fukushima reactors.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees.

Indeed, “hot particles” with extremely high levels of radiation – 7 billion, 40 billion , and even 40 billion billion Bq/kg – have been found all over the Fukushima region, and hundreds of miles away … in Tokyo.

Let’s put this in perspective. The Atlantic notes:

Japanese regulations required nuclear waste with 100 or more bq/kg of Cesium to be monitored and disposed of in specialized containers.


The new government limit for material headed for landfills is 8000 bq/kg, 80 times the pre-Fukushima limit.

So the hottest hot particle found so far is 5 million billion times greater than the current government limits of what can be put in a landfill.

In other words, the core of at least one of the Fukushima reactors has finally been found … scattered all over Japan.

How did material from the cores get dispersed so far? Remember, there was a huge explosion at reactor number 1 , and an even bigger explosion at reactor number 3.


The secret of longer life: eat raw fish and drink green tea -

The secret of longer life: eat raw fish and drink green tea - 

A new study has revealed Japanese women's diets - rich in raw fish and green tea - are helping them to live considerably longer than British women

If you are searching for the key to a long and healthy life, it seems Japanese women may have the answer. 

A new study has revealed their diets rich in raw fish and green tea are helping them to live considerably longer than British women. 

Eschewing the Western staples of dairy and bread sees Japanese women live to the ripe old age of 86.4 years on average, much more than British women who live to just 82.7 years. 

Research by the Office for National statistics found that there could be 'potential for further increases' in life expectancy for women in the UK, if they adopted the lifestyle of their Asian counterparts, The Times reports. 

The Japanese diet is rich in wholegrains, vegetables and soy - and Japanese women consume around 25 per cent fewer calories than British women. 

They eat on average three servings of fish a week, with smaller, daintier portions. 

It is believed that using chopsticks also slows down the eating process, giving the body time to realise what has been consumed, and therefore eat less. 

According to the league table, Japanese men have an average life expectancy of 79.9 - not too dissimilar to that of British men, who live on average to 78.9. 

The figures were revealed in an international compendium of data published by the ONS. 

It compares figures on population, education and economy. 


New App connects clients with nearby prostitutes using GPS... -

New App connects clients with nearby prostitutes using GPS... - 

A new app called Peppr was launched in Germany this month to connect potential clients with nearby prostitutes using GPS.

It is like a cross between the car-ordering service app Uber and the dating app Tinder. Clients log into the app and type in what they want: body type, eye color, personality traits, and the maximum price they are willing to pay.

Pia Poppenreiter, the creator of the app, says she wanted to create a tool that prevented sex workers from waiting in the cold to find clients. Poppenreiter says she pre-interviews people who wish to use the app to make sure they are working voluntarily and independently in the business.

"We have a short conversation to get the feeling that this is voluntary and they are independent sex workers," she said. "We try to ask them -- you kind of find out in a conversation whether they're doing it on a voluntary basis -- we ask them what they did before, whether they've always worked voluntarily and so on."

Unlike many other countries, prostitution is legal in Germany.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

DOCTOR: Going To Gym DAILY Won't Erase Potentially Deadly Effects Of Sitting All Day... - Sitting the New Smoking? -

DOCTOR: Going To Gym DAILY Won't Erase Potentially Deadly Effects Of Sitting All Day... - Sitting the New Smoking? - 

The average worker spends over five hours and 40 minutes sitting at their job every day and a new study says it’s bad for your health, with some claiming the long-term effects of sitting can be as bad as smoking.
Dr. Michael Jensen, from the Mayo Clinic, joined KDKA Radio’s Larry Richert and John Shumway to talk about a study he and his colleagues conducted.
To find out whether the test subjects in the study were sitting or not, Dr. Jensen says one of his colleagues, Dr. James Levine, invented underwear that can “tell whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying down essentially every half second of the day.”
With the data they gathered and studied, they came to the conclusion that people need to move around more. Dr. Jensen says they found, “that people who are overweight tend to spend a lot more time sitting then people who have not gained weight.”
Dr. Jensen says that a trip to the gym for 30 minutes or an hour may not be enough to combat all the time spent sitting.
“It’s not going to prevent risk for disease and weight gain if that’s all you do is go to the gym for 30 minutes or an hour and spend all of the rest of your day sitting.”
According to Dr. Jensen, “sitting is independently associated with greater risk of dying of heart disease [and] diabetes, even when you try to account for exercise.”
What is the solution to this? Dr. Jensen and his colleagues say that standing at work at least part of the time has positive health benefits.
The doctor admits, “that there certainly are people that have trouble with their legs, and it’s not going to be practical for them to be standing up a lot.” But he adds, “thankfully, most people can spend more time standing and not suffer from it.”
There are studies that claim prolonged sitting is responsible for 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer in the United States. Those are startling numbers, but Dr. Jensen says you should take some of those studies, “with a grain of salt.”
He says, “unlike the [study we] did where we objectively measured sitting, standing and walking, many of [the other studies] are self-report.”
A self-report relies a lot of the test subjects own reports.
He adds that the information gathered in a self-report, “tends to be bias and [the subject] may overlook a number of things that go into [the cause]. For example, people who sit a lot may have a number of other unhealthy lifestyles that [makes] it impossible to take account for.”
The bottom line is that less time spent sitting at work may help you reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Read more -

What Google Autocomplete Tells Us About America

What Google Autocomplete Tells Us About America - 

“Why does Obama suck?”

If you’re not sure, ask Google. It seems that millions of Americans already have asked this question, along with:

“Why does the government want to kill us?”, and

“Can the government take your gold?”

These are among the jewels of Google autocomplete– instantly displaying results from the most popular searches.

Try it yourself. The results vary slightly based on geography, but if you type, for example, “Obama is “, I get the following:

obama is Check out what Google autocomplete tells us about America

Not exactly the hope and change he was looking for I suppose.

(Canadians and Brits, don’t feel left out. Google tells us that Stephen Harper is “the anti-christ” and David Cameron is “a lizard”.)

While I’m sure we can all appreciate the humor, the reason these searches show up instantly in Google is because so many people are looking.

For example, when I type “Is America”, Google completes it with the most popular hit– “Is America doomed”…

is america Check out what Google autocomplete tells us about America

Typing in “Why does the government” conjures all sorts of interesting queries, ranging from:

- need to collect taxes?
- want to kill us?
- lie?
- restrict seditious speech?

Or, typing “Why does the Federal Reserve. . . “, Google asks, “still exist?” Good question.

On the topic of the dollar, Google tells us “the dollar is” collapsing, dead, crashing, dying, devalued, not backed by gold, losing value, etc.

The dollar is Check out what Google autocomplete tells us about America

Apparently more and more people are starting to question the value and worth of their currency.

They’re starting to have second thoughts about a system in which we award a tiny banking elite with totalitarian control of the money supply.

And they’re starting to realize that that their government is corrupt, far too powerful, and overrun with liars and thieves.

In fact, for proof, I typed “does homeland s”, and Google completes with:

“Does Homeland Security pay well?” – and -
“Does Homeland Security hire felons?”

does homeland s Check out what Google autocomplete tells us about America

So it seems that convicted felons are looking for highly paid government employment. Perfect.

This is rather fitting given that typing “Will Ob” (not even the full word) returns “Will Obama declare martial law?”

Will Ob Check out what Google autocomplete tells us about America

People are certainly wondering.

Getting to this point of mistrust has taken years of endless warfare. The embarrassing failures of Obamacare. NSA and IRS scandals. Constant stories of police brutality. Higher taxes. Higher consumer prices.

It didn’t happen overnight. But over time, people have lost confidence not only in individual politicians, but in the system itself.

The institution of government is now viewed as the problem, not the solution. And this represents a complete breakdown in the social contract.

From the Romans to the Ottoman Empire to the Venetians, history is full of examples which show that once societies lose confidence in the system, substantial change and turmoil often follows.

I suspect that if Google had been around in the mid-1780s, autocomplete would probably tell us things like “Why does the King Louis” suck? And, “Will France” collapse?

It did. And when the French stormed the Bastille in 1789, they entered a 26-year period of revolution, civil war, hyperinflation, and genocide.

I’m not suggesting that we’re in for exactly the same fate. But we would be foolish to presume that this lost confidence and mistrust is a consequence-free environment.


Spy device live-Tweets private conversations... - Conversnitch -

Spy device live-Tweets private conversations... - Conversnitch - 

A tiny new spy device aims to automatically transcribe and Tweet overheard conversations. It's called Conversnitch.

Brian House and Kyle McDonald are behind the eavesdropping device.

They say it bridges the gap between (presumed) private physical space and public space online.

One of the creators, Kyle McDonald, released a video of the device being connected to a table lamp at a bank, in a hanging lamp at a McDonald's, in a library light, and even a street lamp in a New York City park.

The device needs to have continuous access to an Internet-connected wireless network to work. It continually records 10 second samples, analyzes for interesting audio and uploads a transcribed version of it.

Their Twitter feed shows conversations they say have been captured by their device.

They say, "Information moves between spaces that might be physical or virtual, free or proprietary, illegal or playful, spoken or transcribed" is all game for their device.
McDonald told Wired that Conversnitch is just a taste of the real privacy threats facing Americans in an age of the sweeping NSA surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden.

The creators have released the documentation on how to build the device on the software development site GitHub and say the plans are completely free to use for any purpose.

Read more: - 

Airport installs restroom for dogs... - complete with real grass and miniature fire hydrants -

Airport installs restroom for dogs... - complete with real grass and miniature fire hydrants - 

Detroit Airport introduced a new service dog relief area complete with real grass and miniature fire hydrants.
The facility, being called "Central Bark" by airport employees, features two boxes of grass--one artificial and one with real grass--and tiny fire hydrants for a doggie target, of sorts.
After the doggies are done doing their business, owners can push a button that releases a shower of water to clean the patches. Owners are responsible for picking up solid wastes, though.
Before the new facilities were installed, owners of service dogs had to take their helpers outside the terminal, an inconvenience at best and a security bother at worst.
"When you can't get outside, when you don't have enough time to go through TSA coming back through, it's a wonderful convenience for our dogs," said Deb Davis of Paws with a Cause, who attended the "ribbon biting" ceremony.
"Now it's so much more of a convenience and so much healthier for our pets to travel comfortably," she continued
The dual grass patches were a project of Delta Airlines in conjunction with airport officials.


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

DIRTY MONEY - Scientists find 3,000 types of bacteria living on cash -

DIRTY MONEY - Scientists find 3,000 types of bacteria living on cash - 

Talk about dirty money: Scientists are discovering a surprising number of microbes living on cash.

In the first comprehensive study of the DNA on dollar bills, researchers at New York University's Dirty Money Project found that currency is a medium of exchange for hundreds of different kinds of bacteria as bank notes pass from hand to hand.

By analyzing genetic material on $1 bills, the NYU researchers identified 3,000 types of bacteria in all—many times more than in previous studies that examined samples under a microscope. Even so, they could identify only about 20 percent of the non-human DNA they found because so many microorganisms haven't yet been cataloged in genetic data banks.

Easily the most abundant species they found is one that causes acne. Others were linked to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning and staph infections, the scientists said. Some carried genes responsible for antibiotic resistance.

"It was quite amazing to us," said Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology where the university-funded work was performed. "We actually found that microbes grow on money."

Their unpublished research offers a glimpse into the international problem of dirty money. From rupees to euros, paper money is one of the most frequently passed items in the world. Hygienists have long worried that it could become a source of contagion.

"A body-temperature wallet is a petri dish," said Philippe Etienne, managing director of Innovia Security Pty Ltd., which makes special bank-note paper for 23 countries.

Central banks and state treasurys usually worry more about counterfeiting and durability than microbiology, several currency experts said. With nearly 150 billion new bank notes circulated every year around the world, governments spend nearly $10 billion annually to provide people with notes that are fit to hold.

A U.S. one-dollar bill, printed on a cotton-linen blend, lasts little more than 21 months. In all, the U.S. Federal Reserve System is spending $826.7 million on new money this year to make 7.8 billion bank notes with a total face value of $297.1 billion.

Read more -

Monday, 21 April 2014

Composing Only 5% of the World Population, Americans Take 50% of All Pharmaceutical Drugs -

Composing Only 5% of the World Population, Americans Take 50% of All Pharmaceutical Drugs - 

While Americans comprise only 5 percent of the world population, we consume an incredible 50 percent of Big Pharma’s drugs, as explained in Jeff Hays’ documentary film, Doctored. Make no mistake. These drugs are meant to keep us imprisoned in poor health, not heal us. It’s time to kick the drug habit America. Tell the drug pushers – Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Roche, GlaxoSmith Kline, Abbott, Astra-Zeneca, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Sanofi (along with the FDA and CDC) that you are going cold turkey, and learn what true health really means.
Sadly, Americans are more familiar with names like Abilify, Nexium, Humira, Plavix, Crestor, Advair Diskus, Enbrel, and Cymbalta, the top selling drugs of Big Pharma, than  names like Aloe barbadensis, Curcuma longa, Allium sativum, Moringa oleifera, Vitis vinifera L, all indigenous plants that have healed millions around the world.
You’ve likely heard the phrase before – just a dozen huge corporations are keeping Americans popping pills while they rake in billions, but have you really thought of what these numbers translate into, in terms of real health?
Annual sales for just one drug, Humira, was $9.3 billion. That puts Abott squarely at the top of the list as one of the most successful drug companies of all time.
One drug. One year. $9.3 billion.
This particular drug is meant to inhibit cancerous tumor growth, but there are dozens of natural remedies for the same purpose. Consider: turmeric, papaya leaf, grape seed extract, ginger, cannabis, and a host of other inexpensive plants can treat cancer. Here are 4 cancer fighting foods. Cost – around $3 per day per item.
Or the ‘what if’ scenarios:
Getting out in nature heals tremendously. What if that $9.3 billion were used to create more green spaces, to keep more natural forests, and to install community good health gardens in every city?
What if that $9.3 billion were used to clean up the environmental messes from fracking, oil drilling, oil spills, mining, nuclear meltdowns, chemtrails, pesticide and herbicide spraying, chemical dumping, and more, that cause cancer to begin with?
What if we hired comedians to visit patients with cancer, using the proven technique of laughter therapy to treat many diseases, cancer among them?
Our money and our health is wasted on these companies, but we have to unplug from the drugs. We are overworked, under-nourished, over-fed, and lied to. You don’t need another pill. What really needs to pop is the illusory bubble that Big Pharma is the answer.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Social Media Causing A ‘Distancing Phenomena’ To Take Place -

Social Media Causing A ‘Distancing Phenomena’ To Take Place - 

With over 73 percent of online adults now using a social networking site, social media has dramatically impacted the world in both positive and negative ways. It has left many people to wonder how and if social media can mentally affect people.
Lemoyne College professor of psychology Krystine Batcho believes that social media has made changes for the better and also not so great for society.
“Overall we’ve benefited greatly from social media as a society,” Batcho said. “But I think there are a lot of fears of what’s happening that we’ve made interactions with other people too impersonal and a distancing phenomena is taking place.”
Batcho explained that what a person does in cyberspace is quite different than what someone can do face-to-face in an actual conversation.

“Cyber-bullying is a great example of how social media communication differs from face-to-face,” Batcho, who has been a licensed psychologist in New York state for over 30 years, stated. “Studies suggest that it takes place in a more extreme way over social media because the authors feel no responsibility.”
In recent years, there have been several instances where teens and adults have committed suicide because of being bullied over social media by their peers, Batcho added.
“They probably wouldn’t engage in bullying activity if they were face- to-face because of the consequences if they were caught in person by authority figures,” she said. “There’s a lot of ambiguity with social media, especially with the next generation developing social media skills.”
In addition to cyber-bullying via social media, Batcho noted that social media usage by teens and younger kids sparks a greater fear for some in society.
“The greater fear of what’s perhaps taking place is that kids are not learning how to behave in a face-to-face conversation,” Batcho explained. “What could be happening in cyberspace may not translate to real life. What you do you in cyberspace is quite different than what you do face-to-face and kids may be losing those important social skills.”
Michael S. Broder, Ph.D., who is a renowned psychologist and bestselling author, agrees with Batcho.
“I think that with kids, it’s a lot easier to communicate certain things online than it is to in person,” Broder said. “Easier, I mean kids who have a problem relating socially have found a way to avoid learning those skills and I don’t think that’s a good thing at all.”
Broder, who is the author of Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential, added that using social media can have numerous negative outcomes that can affect a person’s mental health.
“The bullying, the things that happen that have unintended consequences, sexting in conversations over social media, and sending nude pictures around, are all things that are permanent once online,” Broder explained. “It’s sent all over the place and these are things that can haunt you 20 to 30 years later. That’s the downside of it and I don’t think there has to be regulations, but parental supervision. Kids don’t seem to think long term when they do those kinds of things.”
Broder, an expert in cognitive behavioral therapy, shared that he has seen several situations where social media has mentally affected people, including some of his adult patients.
“I’ve certainly seen situations where people have had adverse effects when things that they posted and thought that they were going to be seen by just their community of friends, somehow winds up getting more main stream than that it,” Broder said. “It can happen easily and I’ve seen people have real regrets about it.
“I had somebody tell me once in a session, that they really thought Facebook was a good thing, but she thinks they should outlaw it because it cost her her reputation at work,” he added.
According to a Pew Research study, 63 percent of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day with 40 percent doing so multiple times throughout the day. The study also found that roughly 71 percent of online adults are Facebook users as of December 2013.
Batcho feels that there’s no doubt social media, including sites like Facebook, can mentally affect some people.
“There’s no doubt that when social media is used in place of real connections, that it can mentally cause a number of things to happen to them,” she stated. “Many people are talking about an addiction to social media and that people have become dependent on it. It has brought on anxiety and has made some people feel nervous or worried when they can’t access it.”
She added that when people start to view social media relationships in place of or better than real life experiences it could be used as an escape from reality.
“The greater the social media use over time, the life satisfaction decreases,” Batcho asserted. “I think why we have conflicting evidence at the moment is because we have to analyze the dynamics taking place. So for one person, social media could be very beneficial, but for another it could have a very negative impact on them. You have to think about what is motivating the internet experiences people are having in the first place to predict whether they will benefit or not on the relationship.”
Batcho explained that psychologically, real-life interactions and social media interactions do not meet the same needs when compared.
“Real life interactions add a whole extra layer to how people benefit with relationships for other people than cyber ones,” Batcho said.
Both Batcho and Broder agree that social media has more positive benefits for society than negatives citing how news is communicated globally through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and also that people can connect with others across the globe.
“Social media has allowed us to reach far beyond the ordinary fear,” Batcho said. “You can suddenly make social connections with people all over the world, people who share different world views, religions, values, and politics. I think the benefits trump the dangers or risks.”


When ‘Liking’ a Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue -

When ‘Liking’ a Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue - 

Might downloading a 50-cent coupon for Cheerios cost you legal rights?

General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, “join” it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways.

Instead, anyone who has received anything that could be construed as a benefit and who then has a dispute with the company over its products will have to use informal negotiation via email or go through arbitration to seek relief, according to the new terms posted on its site.

In language added on Tuesday after The New York Times contacted it about the changes, General Mills seemed to go even further, suggesting that buying its products would bind consumers to those terms.

“We’ve updated our privacy policy,” the company wrote in a thin, gray bar across the top of its home page. “Please note we also have new legal terms which require all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration.”

The change in legal terms, which occurred shortly after a judge refused to dismiss a case brought against the company by consumers in California, made General Mills one of the first, if not the first, major food companies to seek to impose what legal experts call “forced arbitration” on consumers.

“Although this is the first case I’ve seen of a food company moving in this direction, others will follow — why wouldn’t you?” said Julia Duncan, director of federal programs and an arbitration expert at the American Association for Justice, a trade group representing plaintiff trial lawyers. “It’s essentially trying to protect the company from all accountability, even when it lies, or say, an employee deliberately adds broken glass to a product.”

General Mills declined to make anyone available for an interview about the changes. “While it rarely happens, arbitration is an efficient way to resolve disputes — and many companies take a similar approach,” the company said in a statement. “We even cover the cost of arbitration in most cases. So this is just a policy update, and we’ve tried to communicate it in a clear and visible way.”

A growing number of companies have adopted similar policies over the years, especially after a 2011 Supreme Court decision, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, that paved the way for businesses to bar consumers claiming fraud from joining together in a single arbitration. The decision allowed companies to forbid class-action lawsuits with the use of a standard-form contract requiring that disputes be resolved through the informal mechanism of one-on-one arbitration.

Credit card and mobile phone companies have included such limitations on consumers in their contracts, and in 2008, the magazine Mother Jones published an article about a Whataburger fast-food restaurant that hung a sign on its door warning customers that simply by entering the premises, they agreed to settle disputes through arbitration.

Companies have continued to push for expanded protection against litigation, but legal experts said that a food company trying to limit its customers’ ability to litigate against it raised the stakes in a new way.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story

What if a child allergic to peanuts ate a product that contained trace amounts of nuts but mistakenly did not include that information on its packaging? Food recalls for mislabeling, including failures to identify nuts in products, are not uncommon.

“When you’re talking about food, you’re also talking about things that can kill people,” said Scott L. Nelson, a lawyer at Public Citizen, a nonprofit advocacy group. “There is a huge difference in the stakes, between the benefit you’re getting from this supposed contract you’re entering into by, say, using the company’s website to download a coupon, and the rights they’re saying you’re giving up. That makes this agreement a lot broader than others out there.”

Big food companies are concerned about the growing number of consumers filing class-action lawsuits against them over labeling, ingredients and claims of health threats. Almost every major gathering of industry executives has at least one session on fighting litigation.

Last year, General Mills paid $8.5 million to settle lawsuits over positive health claims made on the packaging of its Yoplait Yoplus yogurt, saying it did not agree with the plaintiff’s accusations but wanted to end the litigation. In December 2012, it agreed to settle another suit by taking the word “strawberry” off the packaging label for Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, which did not contain strawberries.

General Mills amended its legal terms after a judge in California on March 26 ruled against its motion to dismiss a case brought by two mothers who contended that the company deceptively marketed its Nature Valley products as “natural” when they contained processed and genetically engineered ingredients.

“The front of the Nature Valley products’ packaging prominently displays the term ‘100% Natural’ that could lead a reasonable consumer to believe the products contain only natural ingredients,” wrote the district judge, William H. Orrick.

He wrote that the packaging claim “appears to be false” because the products contain processed ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin.

Arbitration experts said courts would probably require General Mills to prove that a customer was aware of its new policy before issuing decisions denying legal action against the company.

The policy is so broadly written, lawyers say, that it is likely to raise interesting legal questions.

For instance, on Tuesday an order was placed through the company’s online store for a Cheerios bowl, before General Mills posted the notice about the change to its legal terms on its home page.

At no point did the order system suggest changes had been made to the legal terms governing the buyer. It offered a link to the company’s privacy policy, and two opt-out boxes for receiving promotional materials through email.

Whether a court would rule that, under the new policy, the buyer of the bowl could not sue General Mills was unclear, since the General Mills home page now included a message about the changes it had made to its legal terms.

“A transaction has taken place that, according to General Mills, includes an agreement to submit to informal negotiation or arbitration in the event of a dispute,” Mr. Nelson said.

He said he did not think a court would agree to enforce the policy if a consumer merely visited a General Mills website, “but we really don’t know.”

“You can bet,” he said, “there will be some subpoenas for computer hard drives in the future.”


Friday, 11 April 2014

REPORT: More women turn to small dogs instead of childbirth... -

REPORT: More women turn to small dogs instead of childbirth... - 

America’s next generation of youngsters should be called “Generation Rex.”
If you’re wondering why playgrounds around the city are so quiet and dog runs are packed, a new report has an answer: More and more US women are forgoing motherhood and getting their maternal kicks by owning handbag-size canines.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women, reports the business-news site Quartz.
Dog-crazy New York ladies told The Post that they aren’t surprised by the findings — and that they happily gave up diaper changes, temper tantrums and college funds for the easy affection of their doggy “child.”

“I’d rather have a dog over a kid,” declared Sara Foster, 30, a Chelsea equities trader who says her French bulldog, Maddie, brings her more joy than a child.
“It’s just less work and, honestly, I have more time to go out. You . . . don’t have to get a baby sitter.”
The federal data behind the report show that over the past seven years, the number of live births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 29 in America has plunged 9 percent.
At the same time, research by the American Pet Products Association shows the number of small dogs — under 25 pounds — in the United States has skyrocketed, from 34. 1 million in 2008 to 40.8 million in 2012.

“Women are not only having fewer children but are also getting married later. There are more single and unmarried women in their late 20s and early 30s, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most small dogs,” market researcher Damian Shore told Quartz.
Asked if he thought the drop in baby births and the rise in puppy ownership was a coincidence or if women these days were really making dogs their little bundles of joy, Shore said, “There’s definitely some replacement happening there.”
Dog lovers interviewed by The Post said the trend has long been going on in the city, where single women with pocket pooches have been a standard for years.
Mary Smith, 25, of Murray Hill, said her 6-month-old French bulldog, Toliver, brings her as much joy as a baby would.
“Dogs are better! Look at Toliver! He’s great, except he snores a lot. He even has his own Instagram,” Smith said during a walk with the pooch. “A dog is easier to transport than a child. It’s less final than having a child.”


Thursday, 10 April 2014

In Medical First, Scientists Implant Lab-Grown Vaginas in Humans -

In Medical First, Scientists Implant Lab-Grown Vaginas in Humans - 

For the first time in history, scientists have successfully implanted lab-grown vaginal organs in human patients.

The organs, grown with the patients’ own tissue, were implanted between June 2005 and October 2008 in four teenage girls who each lacked or had an underdeveloped vagina and uterus, the result of a rare genetic condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome.

Years after the two-hour procedures, annual follow-up visits showed that the surgeries had been a success: The new organs functioned normally, including during sex, and their tissue was indistinguishable from the native tissue that had already been there.

The findings offer hope not only for those with MRKH syndrome, but also for those suffering from vaginal cancers or injuries.

“This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that vaginal organs can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which took part in the procedures. “This may represent a new option for patients who require vaginal reconstructive surgeries. In addition, this study is one more example of how regenerative medicine strategies can be applied to a variety of tissues and organs.”

If ultimately approved by the FDA – a prospect that still remains years away – the operation may even become an option for men seeking a sex change.

The process was carried out by specialists from medical centers in both the U.S. and Mexico. First, doctors took a biopsy of each patient’s external genitals, extracting muscle and epithelial cells, or cells that line the body’s cavities.

They then sent the samples to a manufacturing facility, where the cells were expanded and placed on biodegradable material that was hand-sewn “into a vagina-like shape,” each “tailor-made” to fit each patient, a release on the findings said.

Previous research in Atala’s lab had shown that once these so-called "scaffolds" are implanted in the body, blood vessels and nerves form and cells expand to create tissue. The cells also build a “permanent support structure – gradually replacing the engineered scaffold with a new organ,” the release said.

Surgeons carried out this part of the procedure five or six weeks after the biopsies. At the HIMFG Tissue Engineering Laboratory in Mexico City, which has a partnership with the Wake Forest medical center, they carved a canal in the patients’ pelvises, then sutured the scaffolds to their reproductive structures.

It’s similar to the methods Atala and his team used to build replacement bladders for nine children starting in 1998, and implant lab-built urethras in young boys. And it worked. ​​​​​​​​​​

"They now have their own organ, made out of their own tissue, so the body did recognize it as being their own. In fact, the organ grew as the patients grew," Atala tells U.S. News. "We followed this very closely: did yearly X-rays, visualized them yearly with endoscopy, did biopsies, did sexual function questionnaires yearly, and they were still in the normal range eight years later."​

The procedure is still a long way from becoming common practice, and Atala's team declined to estimate its cost.

"Even if we were able to add up the cost of materials and researchers’ time, the costs to treat these first four patients wouldn’t correspond to what the treatment would cost if it is one day commercially available," they say in an emailed statement to U.S. News.

For the four women, though, and the doctors who performed the procedure, "It was very rewarding," Atala says. "With these conditions that they had, it's not just the anatomical defect, it's also the overall emotional well-being for them – for any patient – who has this type of challenge."

The new procedure he and his team used could offer some advantages over current treatments for MRHK, which call for dilating existing tissue or using reconstructive surgery to create completely new vaginal tissue, at times by using skin grafts of tissue that lines the abdominal cavity.

This method can be rife with problems: The so-called vaginal “substitutes” frequently lack a muscle layer, which can lead to a contracting or narrowing of the vagina. As many as 75 percent of pediatric patients suffer complications from the procedure, most often due to narrowing or contracting.

The new procedure has been in the works since the early 1990s, when Atala and his team first explored lab-built vaginas in rabbits and mice.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

US households are on track to withdraw a whopping $430 billion from US corporate stocks. i.e., sell -

US households are on track to withdraw a whopping $430 billion from US corporate stocks. i.e., sell - 

When it comes to the conventional wisdom of who owns the bulk of corporate stock in the US equity market, the consensus is simple: at 36% of total, the answer is the US household. This is shown in the chart below.

As an aside we disagree from this simplistic analysis because as is well known, the "Household" category, which is pulled from the Fed's quarterly Flow of Funds report, is merely a placeholder plug, designed to balance out all the other member categories. What is less known is that entities such as hedge funds use extensive "off the books" leverage (just ask Citadel and its nearly 9x regulatory leverage) to hold far more equities than their capital allows them. Which means that in reality the US household owns far less stock than is believed.

But even if one takes the Fed's data at face value, what becomes clear is that having owned virtually the entire stock market in 1945, households are now down to nearly their lowest fractional ownership in history, with the rest alloted to mutual, pension and retirement funds.

And it is only going to get worse.

According to a recent analysis by Goldman, in 2014 the US household is on track to withdraw a whopping $430 billion from US corporate stocks. i.e., sell. This will be the biggest net outflow by the Household group, which has constantly withdrawn cash from equities over the past decade, since the last market peak.

It is understandable why: with baby boomers retiring in droves, and with interest income non-existent, investors are forced to liquidate positions in order to generate, well, liquidity.

Perhaps a more disturbing question is why is the household outflow not bigger? After all it surpassed $1 trillion during the last market peak. Could it be because households just don't have all that much equity left in a market which is now dominated by a mere tiny fraction of the entire US population?

But the biggest question is with household pulling cash out, who will provide the offsetting inflow into stocks? The answer: corporations of course - the same entity that injected a record $500 billion in stocks in the form of buybacks is set for another bumper year of net inflows, and according to Goldman companies are on par to match their 2013 buyback activity by buying back some $450 billion of their own stock in the coming year.

This also expains why for one more year, there will be no capex rise - quite simply in order to maintain the illusion of the stock market ponzi, corporations have to keep buying back ever greater amounts of their own stock in order to keep reducing the denominator in the EPS fraction and perpetuate the myth that Net Income is growing when in reality only the number of outsanding shares is declining. So for all those hoping for that so long overdue CapEx bounce, may we interest you in some 1000+ forward PE multiple stocks.

After all in a ponzi which has already likely passed its Minsky moment, the only "trade" that works is to bet on the greatest fool of all, the Fed.

Read more -

Baltic Dry Collapses To Worst Start To A Year On Record -

Baltic Dry Collapses To Worst Start To A Year On Record - 

If you listen very carefully, you will still hear absolutely nothing from any talking-heads of the utter collapse that the last few weeks have witnessed in the Baltic Dry shipping index. The Baltic Dry has dropped 12 days in a row and plunged back to $1061 - its lowest since August 2013. This is the worst start to a year on record... must be the weather.

The Baltic Dry has dropped 12 days in a row and is now back to its lowest levels since August 2013... and almost post-crisis lows...

Which is the worst start to a year since records began 30 years ago...

he last time we saw a year start like this was 2012 which saw massive concerted co-ordinated central bank easing in Q3 to save us all... it seems that is not coming anytime soon this time...


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Nursing home routinely hired strippers for elderly residents... -

Nursing home routinely hired strippers for elderly residents... - 

The elderly residents of a Long Island nursing home saw their shuffleboards replaced by washboard abs when they were subjected a low-rent Chippendale’s striptease in the facility’s rec room, a new lawsuit claims.
The son of one resident — 85-year-old Bernice Youngblood — was shocked when he showed up for a visit and found a picture of his mom stuffing dollar bills — which are supposed to be locked away in her commissary account — into a dancer’s briefs.
The image also showed several of Youngblood’s fellow residents at the East Neck Nursing Center in West Babylon looking on with a mix of shock and delight as the dancers bumped and grinded for their amusement.
Youngblood’s family immediately expressed their outrage to the staff — but were ignored, according to the suit.
“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],” the suit states.
Her family attorneys, John Ray and Vesselin Mitev, lawyers names must stay in copy state in the complaint that her son, Franklin Youngblood, found the offensive photograph among her belongings during a January visit.
The irate son confronted a nurse, but the staffer lunged at him and tried to snatch the picture away, the suit states.
A nurse later told another of the victim’s sons that the strip show was an “entertainment event” for the patients and was done in “good faith,” according to the suit.
“Hiring male stippers to perform for the defendant’s nursing-home patients was a serial occurrence,” the suit claims.
“Bernice Youngblood has lived 85 years as a traditional Baptist, hard-working, lady . . . And now she has been defiled,” Ray said.
Youngblood’s family also asked why his mother was holding dollar bills in her hand when her cash was supposed to be kept under lock and key in a commissary account — but was again blown off, the papers state.
The “vile” incident was done “all for the perverse pleasure and enjoyment of the Defendant’s staff,” the suit claims.
Youngblood’s attorneys argue she “lacks the mental and physical capacity” to protect herself.
The facility did not immediately return a call for comment.


The Father Of High Speed Trading Speaks: "The Market We Created Is A Casino; A Complete Mess; A Rigged Game" -

The Father Of High Speed Trading Speaks: "The Market We Created Is A Casino; A Complete Mess; A Rigged Game" - 

While simplistic economist hacks and conflicted industry practitioners who stand to lose their entire revenue stream should HFT be liquidated, not to mention pagreview trolling journos, are suddenly not only experts in HFT, but are convinced allegations that high frequency trading rigs markets are blown out of proportion, here is what one of the actual pioneers of, and erstwhile legends in, computerized trading - the billionaire founder of Timber Hill and Interactive Brokers Thomas Peterffy - the man NPR dubbed the "father of high-speed trading" has to say.

The following excerpt is courtesy of Scott Patterson's book Dark Pools: The Rise of the Machine Traders and the Rigging of the U.S. Stock Market, which largely covers the same subject matter as Michael Lewis (and well before), and which has been profiled here previously.

* * *

On the morning of October 11, 2010, Thomas Peterffy stepped onto the dais of the ornate Opéra Salon on the ground floor of the Inter-continental Le Grand Hôtel in Paris. It was a gala event, the fiftieth annual meeting of the World Federation of Exchanges. Attendees included Bill Brodsky, chairman of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the NYSE's Duncan Niederauer, Christine Lagarde, French minister for the economy and future head of the International Monetary Fund, Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld, and Atsushi Saito, CEO of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The speaker who would set off the most fireworks was Peterffy, the founder of Timber Hill, one of early users of Island. He looked out over the podium at the upturned faces of his peers and grimaced.

Peterffy had become extremely disillusioned with the market he'd helped create. It wasn't just the deceptive tactics of firms like Trillium, it was the unregulated speed traders who were picking off his own firm's orders, with no firm obligation to stick in the market during tough times. The stock market had been turned into a Wild West of dueling algos -- and some firms, it seemed, had special advantages. Like Haim Bodek at Trading Machines, Peterffy was steamed that his orders were getting clipped time and time again. He wasn't going to take the abuse without fighting back.

He cleared his throat, adjusted his glasses, and launched into his speech.

"An exchange used to be a place, yes, a physical place, where people would come together to buy or sell, hoping to achieve the best price for themselves," he said. "The more the exchange was able to attract all of the buy and sell interests in a product, the more the prices on the exchange would reflect the true state of supply and demand."

It was the old mantra: liquidity breeds liquidity. But something had changed.

"In the last twenty years came computers, electronic communications, electronic exchanges, dark pools, flash orders, multiple exchanges, alternative trading venues, direct access brokers, OTC derivatives, high-frequency traders ... Reg NMS in the U.S. -- and what we have today is a complete mess."

He looked out at the crowd. Dead silence. Peterffy hadn't bothered to warm the audience up with a joke, a humorous anecdote. He cut straight to the point -- and most in that room didn't like what he was saying.

"It is not so much anymore that the public does not trust their brokers. They do not trust the markets, the exchanges, or the regulators either. And why should they, given our showing the past few years? To the public the financial markets may increasingly seem like a casino, except that the casino is more transparent and simpler to understand."

Visible tension spread through the room. Did Thomas Peterffy just call the market a casino? That was an attack they might have expected from the likes of Arnuk and Saluzzi or Senator Ted Kaufman -- but from the founder of Timber Hill and Interactive Brokers, the godfather of electronic trading?

Peterffy, of course, was fully aware that his words seemed to contradict his own history.

"I must confess to you that I was an ardent proponent of bringing technology to trading and brokerage. Unfortunately, I only saw the good sides. I saw how electronic trading and record-keeping could be used to force people to be more honest, to make the process more efficient, to lower transaction costs and to bring liquidity to the markets. I did not see the forces of fragmentation and the opportunity for people to use technology to keep to the letter but avoid the spirit of the rules -- creating the current crisis."

He gazed out at his audience. Peterffy wasn't shocked to see the stern faces, the shaking heads and averted eyes. He was certain that he'd become their enemy -- and he had little hope that they would listen. The computer-trading elite would never admit that the markets they'd created were deeply flawed. Still, he kept hammering away.

"It is vitally important that we bring an end to this crisis of trust before it spreads any further. That we bring back order, fair dealing, and trust in the marketplace. The financial markets of ... the world's developed countries are at a turning point. Technology, market structure, and new products have evolved more quickly than our capacity to understand or control them. The result has been a series of crises over the past few years that have caused many investors to lose confidence or to think that the whole system is a rigged game."

After Peterffy finished speaking, there was silence. Then a scattered handclap. And then the room burst into loud applause.

Everyone realized: Peterffy had actually done it -- he'd come out and said what so many were thinking, what they all knew deep down. The market was a complete mess. And the old guy was the only one with the balls to stand up there and call a spade a spade.

* * *

Peterffy's full speech can be read -