Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 29 January 2016

Sleep deprivation could lead to diabetes -

Sleep deprivation could lead to diabetes - 

Our sleep deprived lives could lead to a rise in getting diabetes, according to a new study. 

The study, published in Diabetes Care and conducted by the University of Chicago, found that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing diabetes, particularly affecting people who work long hours.

People who are tired will eat more because they want to get energy from somewhere. "This could mean consuming sugar or other foods that can spike blood sugar levels,“ Dr Maarouf, the diabetes education director of the Stark Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, told WebMD. 

She explains: “I really push people to eat properly throughout the day and get their blood sugars under control so they sleep better at night. If you get your blood sugar under control, you will get a good night sleep and wake up feeling fabulous with lots of energy.”

Author of the study, Dr Josiane Broussard, an assistant research professor at the department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, said:  "In this short-term study, we found that two long nights spent catching up on lost sleep can reverse the negative metabolic effects of four consecutive nights of restricted sleep."

Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. A lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance, which means your body finds it harder to break down sugars. As well as leading to weight gain, when you’re tired, there’s insulin resistance, which means the body can’t break glucose down into energy. If you’re tired and insulin can’t do its job properly, then sugar levels can build to such a point that the insulin could harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. 

However, the study is encouraging, says Dr Broussard: "It shows that young, healthy people who sporadically fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk if they catch up on sleep during the weekend."

The University of Chicago study recommends sleeping two nights of extended sleep, or more than 8.5 hours to lower the risk of diabetes. 


Dogs may have evolved to handle our bad tempers - they limit their eye contact with angry humans -

Dogs may have evolved to handle our bad tempers - they limit their eye contact with angry humans - 

Man’s best friend has a clear strategy for dealing with angry owners — look away.

New research shows that dogs limit their eye contact with angry humans, even as they tend to stare down upset canines. The scientists suggest this may be an attempt to appease humans, that evolved as dogs were domesticated and benefited from avoiding conflicts with humans.

To conduct the tests the University of Helsinki researchers trained 31 dogs to rest in front of a video screen. Facial photos — showing threatening, pleasant and neutral expressions — were displayed on the screen for 1.5 seconds. Nearby cameras tracked the dogs’ eye movements.

Dogs in the study looked most at the eyes of humans and other dogs to sense their emotions. When dogs looked at expressions of angry canines, they lingered more on the mouth, perhaps to interpret the threatening expressions. And when looking at angry humans they tended to avert their gaze. Dogs may have learned to detect threat signs from humans and respond in an appeasing manner, according to researcher Sanni Somppi. Avoiding conflicts may have helped dogs — which are the most popular pet in the United States — develop better bonds with humans.

The researchers also note that dogs scan faces holistically to sense how people are feeling, instead of focusing on a given feature. They suggest this indicates that dogs aren’t sensing emotions from a single feature, but piecing together information from all facial features just as humans do.


6 Cities in Michigan have EVEN HIGHER LEVELS OF LEAD than Flint -

6 Cities in Michigan have EVEN HIGHER LEVELS OF LEAD than Flint - 

As the nation rightly focuses on Flint’s ongoing water crisis, other cities in the state of Michigan face even higher levels of lead contamination. The alarming pervasiveness of potentially toxic drinking water extends across the United States.

The Detroit News reports that “Elevated blood-lead levels are seen in a higher percentage of children in parts of Grand Rapids, Jackson, Detroit, Saginaw, Muskegon, Holland and several other cities, proof that the scourge of lead has not been eradicated despite decades of public health campaigns and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to find and eliminate it.”

Of over 7,000 children tested in the Highland Park and Hamtramck areas of Detroit in 2014, 13.5 percent tested positive for lead. Among four zip codes in Grand Rapids, one in ten children had lead in their blood. In Adrian and south-central Michigan, more than 12 percent of 640 children tested had positive results.

These overall numbers are higher than Flint’s, where Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha found lead in up to 6.3 percent of children in the highest-risk areas;while The Guardian reported Dr. Hanna-Attisha has also said the rate is as high at 15 percent in certain “hot spots,” the size of those samples was not listed. Even so, the overall figures across Michigan are lower than in previous years. In 2012, children tested across Michigan had lead in their blood at a rate of 4.5 percent, about five times less than the rate ten years prior, which reached an alarming 25 percent. In spite of the decrease in recent years, however, thousands of children in Michigan are still affected.

“In 2013, that level sank to 3.9 percent and fell again to 3.5 percent in 2014. But that is still 5,053 children under age 6 who tested positive in 2014,” theDetroit News explained. “Each had lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter. (Though no amount is considered safe, 5 micrograms is the threshold that experts say constitutes a ‘much higher’ level than most children.)” One Detroit zip code had a rate of 20.8 percent of children who tested positive in 2014, and 20.3 percent the following year.

The outrage in Flint is especially warranted because of the pronounced effects of lead on children. Lead, a known toxin, is associated with bothphysical and mental ailments, and according to one Detroit teacher, has harmed the cognitive abilities of students.

Kieya Morrison, a veteran kindergarten teacher, who now teaches preschool, described a recent student known to have elevated levels of blood in her system. The girl experienced difficulties grasping simple cognitive tasks, like differentiating between a triangle and a square. “She had cognitive problems. She had trouble processing things,” Morrison said. “She could not retain any of the information.” The University of Michigan recently found a link between lead in children and lower academic test scores.

Michigan’s lead problem “…is still an issue. It’s not going away,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, lead levels are elevated across the United States. Anti-Media reported this week on Sebring, Ohio, where a similar lead crisis spawned official cover-ups. For years, discoveries of lead in public water supplies have made headlines, even if these finding were not national news. In 2008, the Los Angeles school district’s water supply was found to have levels of lead hundreds of times higher than the allowable. In 2015, officials could not guarantee they had adequately purified the water. In another example, in 2010, New York City tested 222 older homes known to have lead pipes, and found 14 percent had lead levels higher than the allowable limit.

Vox noted that in 2014, “Nine counties nationwide told the CDC that 10 percent or more of their lead poisoning tests came back positive. Four of them are in Louisiana, two in Alabama, and the rest scattered across West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Oklahoma.”

The problem extends beyond anecdotal cases or any specific region. As Huffington Post reports, millions of lead pipes — like the ones that contaminated the water in Flint — are still in service across the United States:

“There are roughly 7.3 million lead service lines in the U.S., according to an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency, down from 10.5 million in 1988. Service lines are the pipes connecting water mains to people’s houses. They’re mostly found in the Midwest and Northeast.”

Jerry Paulson, emeritus professor of pediatrics and environmental health at George Washington University, told the Detroit News how common the problem is:

“This is a situation that has the potential to occur in however many places around the country there are lead pipes,“ he explained. “Unless and until those pipes are removed, those communities are at some degree of risk.”

Paul Haan of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, an organization that works to eliminate household hazards to improve children’s health, warns that the levels of lead in Michigan children’s blood continue to rise, citing weekly statewide reports from pediatricians. In spite of his efforts to help reduce contaminants, he pointed out a dismal flaw in the process:

“The problem is,” he said, “we’re still using kids as lead detectors.”


Too much exercise makes harder to lose weight - burning up calories backfires as body adapts to higher activity levels -

Too much exercise makes harder to lose weight - burning up calories backfires as body adapts to higher activity levels - 

Gym bunnies who spend hours working out in an attempt to shed unwanted flab are wasting their time, research suggests.
The body adapts to higher activity levels - changing metabolism so that fewer calories are burned, the US study indicates.
Researchers measured the daily energy expenditure and activity levels of more than 300 men and women.
Those with moderately active levels – such as a daily walk to work, and a trip to the gym twice a week – were found to burn about 200 calories more per day than those living couch potato lifestyles.

But after a certain threshold – described by scientists as a “sweet spot” – the extra time working up a sweat made no difference to the amount of calories burned.
Experts said it might explain by those who embark on gym routines in a bid to weight loss often see weight loss hit a plateau after a few months.
"The most physically active people expended the same amount of calories each day as people who were only moderately active"
Dr Herman Pontzer, City University of New York
Lead scientist Dr Herman Pontzer, from the City University of New York, said the findings showed that exercise alone was not enough to prevent or reverse weight gain.
He said he decided to explore the link between activity and energy expenditure after working among a community of traditional hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania.
He said: "The Hadza are incredibly active, walking long distances each day and doing a lot of hard physical work as part of their everyday life.
"Despite these high activity levels, we found that they had similar daily energy expenditures to people living more sedentary, modernised lifestyles in the United States and Europe. That was a real surprise."
The study measured the activity and food consumption of more than 300 men and women over a week.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Lizard found in kindergartner's salad becomes new class pet - 3-inch green anole lizard named "Green Fruit Loop" -

Lizard found in kindergartner's salad becomes new class pet - 3-inch green anole lizard named "Green Fruit Loop" -

A central New Jersey elementary school science class has a new pet after a lizard was discovered in a student's salad after being refrigerated for days.

Riverside Elementary School science teacher Mark Eastburn tells NJ.com the 3-inch green anole lizard was found in a bundle of tatsoi greens last week by a kindergartner.

The lizard had been cold and lifeless after being confined in a refrigerator for days. The lizard has since been warmed and lives in a cage in Eastburn's class.

The lizard, dubbed "Green Fruit Loop," came from Florida.

The tatsoi had been bought from Whole Earth Center in Princeton.

A store produce manager says greens are cleaned as they're stocked and that the lizard must've been tucked away in a leaf.

Read more -

Monday, 25 January 2016

Coyotes running at cars near San Francisco could be 'high on magic mushrooms' -

Coyotes running at cars near San Francisco could be 'high on magic mushrooms' - 

Coyotes behaving strangely and charging at cars near beach towns in the San Francisco Bay Area could be hallucinating from ingesting "magic" mushrooms, it has been reported.

At least two of the animals appeared to be repeatedly running at cars near Stinson Beach and Bolinas, two Pacific Ocean coastal communities about 25 miles (40km) from San Francisco. The coyotes stare down passing cars, often causing drivers to stop to avoid hitting them. The animals then run at the cars, snapping and sniffing before moving off. "It's a terrifying, yet beautiful, thing to behold," a witness told the Pacific Sun.

The Marin County Humane Society has launched a probe into the bizarre behaviour. "We're trying to figure this out," said spokeswoman Lisa Bloch.

Experts quickly discounted rabies. Though the illness causes strange behaviour, it's extremely rare in the region, and infected animals die quickly. The attacks have been going on for weeks.

The coyotes could be "tripping their tails off" eating mushrooms, in the words of the Sun, a theory not discounted by animal experts. Coyotes have been photographed munching on fly agaric mushrooms (amanita muscaria) in the wild. The speckled red-capped toadstool, believed to be the mushroom Alice in Wonderland eats, has psychoactive, hallucinogenic properties.

Ingestion of the mushroom has a long history of use in the shamanistic practices of Siberia and northern Europe, as well as in India and Iran, where it was once revered as a sacred hallucinogen.

Both coyotes and domestic dogs eat mushrooms, and can suffer from "neurological excitability", seizures and even death from toxic mushrooms. Bloch has been counselling dog owners recently on how to protect their pets from poisonous mushrooms.

The charging coyotes may also have been motivated by a driver who once fed them, experts fear, and now they're chasing vehicles in a hunt for more food. The Humane Society is continuing to investigate and is asking drivers who witnesses the aggressive coyotes or experiences a challenge from one of the animals to report the incident immediately.

Coyotes were eradicated in Marin County in the 1950s because of the threat they posed to cattle. Now there are as many as 750,000 of the animals in California, including throughout Marin County.


Saturday, 23 January 2016

35 China restaurants under probe for seasoning food with Opium Poppies - to get customers addicted -

35 China restaurants under probe for seasoning food with Opium Poppies - to get customers addicted -

Five restaurant owners are being prosecuted, and 25 are under criminal investigation, according to the Chinese Drug and Food Administration.

Opium poppy capsules and powders have been banned in China since 2013.

Adding the powder to dishes is said to add flavor, just like MSG or other food additives used in Chinese cooking.

So, what were these owners thinking? Poppy products like powders can cause individuals to fail drug tests and, in large amounts, get addicted. It's not clear if these owners were trying to get customers addicted.

However, one restaurant owner used the substance in his food to get customers hooked in 2014. The owner was later arrested, according to local media.

Read more -

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Study finds scented candles may release a dangerous cocktail of cancer-causing agents -

Study finds scented candles may release a dangerous cocktail of cancer-causing agents - 

The cost of using scented candles to keep your house smelling fresh could be much higher than just the price tag on those expensive Yankee Candles.

A professor at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science teamed up with the BBC Two series "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" to measure levels of "volatile organic chemicals" making their way through six houses in the English city of York over five days.

Researchers asked each resident to write down any scented candles, air fresheners and cleaning products they used and how often, and then tested the air in each home.

The team says the chemical it found the most of was limonene, a substance used to give products that citrus smell. The homes that used the most scented candles and cleaning products also had the highest levels of that chemical.

Now, limonene itself isn't particularly dangerous, but when it's released into the air, it reacts with ozone to create formaldehyde -- yes, the same formaldehyde used in embalming.

And that's definitely not good, considering the National Cancer Institute has said formaldehyde is associated with several types of cancer.

Fortunately, the researchers say you can control the amount of limonene in the air by using fewer scented products and opting for fragrance-free cleaning agents.

Judging by the risk-to-reward ratio here, it might be best to do that.

Read more -

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Hundreds of tiny spiders, lice and more crawling through US homes, study says - 579 types of arthropods in 50 houses -

Hundreds of tiny spiders, lice and more crawling through US homes, study says - 579 types of arthropods in 50 houses - 

If you’re ever feeling lonely at home, you can now rest assured that you are far from alone. The average home is crawling with more than 100 species of invertebrates, such as spiders, lice and centipedes, according to research conducted by US scientists.

In what’s thought to be the first study to quantify exactly what is scurrying or flying around the standard American home, researchers scoured 50 houses and found they were inhabited by 579 different types of arthropods, as well as humans. Arthropods are invertebrate animals with segmented bodies and jointed limbs, such as insects and spiders.

The homes, on average, each had around 100 arthropod species. The most commonly found species were flies, spiders, beetles, ants and book lice. Cobweb-producing spiders were found in 65% of the homes.

Matthew Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, said he was amazed at the variety of species found in what he stressed were “clean and normal” homes in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“We were pretty surprised with what we found, such as the smallest wasp in the world, which is just 1mm long,” he said. “I saw a lot of things in homes that I had never seen in the wild before, things we’ve previously tried to trap. There is a weird species of beetle, called telephone pole beetles, where the babies can produce babies. And tiny crickets called ant-loving ants because they are found near ant nests. I’ve never seen one of those before.”

A team of entomologists found the species just by looking from floor to ceiling in each room, without prying open drawers or ripping up carpets. In one home, the presence of several flesh flies led to the discovery of a rotting rodent carcass killed by a pet cat.

The houses picked for the research were detached homes measuring up to 5,000 square feet in size. Apartments were ruled out for the research due to the shared bugs within apartment buildings.

Many of the small animals found in homes come in from outside and promptly die, while others live the life of predators.

“There are lots of cobweb spiders and also the house centipede, which is a really creepy looking creature to some people but I find them fascinating,” said Bertone. “They are very fast and if you’re a cockroach, you’re likely to be on their menu. Most of these things aren’t pests, they peacefully co-habit with people.

“I never thought I’d see such biology in homes that were clean, not filled with junk, just normal homes. My hope is that this doesn’t freak people out but people need to know their houses aren’t sterile environments.”

The research, led by Bertone with the aid of the California Academy of Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was published in the journal PeerJ. The entomologists hope to build upon the research by learning more about the role that each species plays in the home and the significance of living so closely to them.

Read more -

10% of U.S. College Graduates think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court of the United States -

10% of U.S. College Graduates think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court of the United States - 

Nearly 10% of college graduates surveyed in a poll believe Judith Sheindlin, aka "Judge Judy," serves on the Supreme Court.

Sheindlin is an American lawyer made popular as the judge on a court show by the name of "Judge Judy." The show features Sheindlin handling small disputes in a courtroom, but Sheindlin does not serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The poll, conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in August 2015 but released in January 2016, concluded from the 1,000 surveyed that college graduates "are alarmingly ignorant of America's history and heritage."

The survey also found 28.4% of college graduates correctly identify the father of the Constitution as James Madison. About 59% of college students surveyed believe the father of the Constitution was Thomas Jefferson, who was actually the principal writer for the Declaration of Independence.

It also found that almost 60% of college graduates couldn't correctly identify a requirement for ratifying a constitutional amendment and 40% of college graduates didn't know that Congress has the power to declare war.

Additionally, the poll revealed that less than 50% of college graduates surveyed know that presidential impeachments are tried before the U.S. Senate.


Study: Expensive Hotels Have More Germs -

Study: Expensive Hotels Have More Germs - 

Think that fancy five-star hotel you just booked is cleaner than others? According to a new study, think again.

The new study titled “Hotel Hygiene Exposed” finds that the average hotel room has more bacteria than a typical home, airplane, or school.

“We’re definitely not trying to scare anyone,” project manager for Travelmath told Yahoo Travel.

Travelmath used teams of researchers armed with cotton swabs, and plastic bags to test rooms in nine different hotels.

They say they tested three-star, four-star, and even five-star hotels in a variety of locations for the study.

Their results show that all the hotel rooms had a lot of bacteria, and the four-star and five-star hotels actually tended to be dirtier than the less luxurious three-star hotels.

In the Travelmath study, each team swabbed the same four surfaces in each hotel room, the bathroom counter, the remote control, the desk, and the phone.


Monday, 18 January 2016

Cosmic first: Zinnia flower blooms aboard space station -

Cosmic first: Zinnia flower blooms aboard space station - 

Successfully growing flowers in space brings explorers one step closer to growing fresh produce on long space missions.

For the first time, a zinnia flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Successfully growing flowers brings cosmic explorers closer to growing flowering food crops, like tomatoes, on longer space missions in the future.  

On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored zinnia to blossom.

This wasn’t the first time flowering plants have blossomed in space, though. There have been many, according to NASA, from wheat, to barley, to brassicas and peas, grown more than a decade ago on the Russian Mir space station and on the ISS.

Recommended: Five groups making private space flight a reality
Regardless, the zinnia bloom was a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shriveled. 

But even the space mold held some interest to researchers, so it was collected and frozen so it can be returned to Earth for study. 

For NASA scientists back on Earth, the flowering experiment, called “Veggie,” will allow them to better understand how plants grow in microgravity. For the astronauts in space, growing the quick-sprouting zinnias is important practice for growing produce on a future mission to Mars.

“I think having this fresh food source available is going to be critical,” Gioia Massa, a project scientist at NASA Kennedy Space Center and the brainchild behind Veggie, told The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview in November.

Astronauts eat mostly food that has been freeze-dried for long storage. Fresh fruits and vegetables do show up occasionally at the space station with other supply deliveries, but they run out quickly.

"The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits," Massa said in a NASA announcement.

Astronauts started experimenting with Veggie in 2014, when they grew red romaine lettuce in the same system that’s now growing the zinnias: trays of water with bags of seeds in a type of calcined clay used on baseball fields, used to increase aeration to help the plants grow. The growing plants are lit by LED lights and fertilized by an automatic release.

The first batch of lettuce didn’t grow due to “drought stress,” as the Veggie team reported. But astronauts learned from their watering mistakes and grew another batch of lettuce successfully in summer 2015. Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, with Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, celebrated in August by indulging in their freshly harvested space lettuce.

The lettuce experiment was an important precursor to the flowering zinnia, which is more challenging to cultivate.

“The zinnia plant is very different from lettuce,” said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager, in a NASA blog post.

“It is more sensitive to environmental parameters and light characteristics. It has a longer growth duration, between 60 and 80 days. Thus, it is a more difficult plant to grow, and allowing it to flower, along with the longer growth duration, makes it a good precursor to a tomato plant,” he said.

Astronauts are planning to try growing tomatoes in 2018.

Until then, they will keep experimenting with other crops. This year a SpaceX spacecraft will deliver seeds for two sets of Chinese cabbage, and one set of red romaine lettuce, said NASA.


El Chapo's craving for Tacos may have led to his capture - doomed by a suspiciously large taco order -

El Chapo's craving for Tacos may have led to his capture - doomed by a suspiciously large taco order - 

Actor and just all-around enigma Sean Penn might not have lead to the downfall of Joaquín Guzmán Loera (a.k.a El Chapo). Instead, it might have been his craving for tacos. The notorious Mexican drug kingpin was recently captured after escaping prison and leading local authorities on a six-month country-wide man hunt. According to the New York Times, after months hiding out in the “remote wilds,” he arrived in the city of Los Mochis to a home. However, the authorities had trailed one of the men who had helped Guzmán escape prison to the area.

The Mexican marines were already suspicious of the house where “construction crews had been hard at work” and telephone intercepts appeared to show that someone “big was about to arrive.” It was a very, very large taco order, however, that officially tipped authorities off that El Chapo was in town. Two blocks away from the house, a “big order of tacos was picked up after midnight… by a man driving a white van, like the one believed to be driven by” one of Guzmán’s associates. The next morning they raided the house.

There’s no details regarding what kinds of tacos El Chapo went H.A.M. on, but perhaps it was one of these regional specialities. Regardless, can you really blame the man? Tacos might be one of a handful of foods that taste better than freedom. If you need some convincing, here’s a good list of tacos to start with.


The FBI and Memphis Police Admit Their Involvement in the Assassination of MLK -

The FBI and Memphis Police Admit Their Involvement in the Assassination of MLK - 

Nearly 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the FBI and Memphis Police Department have sparingly released information implicating themselves or members of their agencies in facilitating and directly causing the untimely death of Dr. King. Although the Justice Department officially claims James Earl Ray assassinated MLK, a civil suit later determined that a Memphis cop was involved in a conspiracy to murder the civil rights leader.

During a rainstorm on February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers in Memphis lost their lives when the truck’s compactor accidentally triggered. On that same day, 22 black sewer workers were sent home without pay while their white coworkers received compensation. Less than two weeks later, over a thousand black sanitation workers went on strike wearing placards reading, “I AM A MAN.”

On March 18, 1968, Dr. King spoke at a rally in Memphis promising to lead a march later in the month supporting the striking sanitation workers. According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, a black civil rights group named the Invaders sabotaged the March 28 demonstration by distributing hundreds of two by two sticks attached to placards into the hands of impressionable black children caught breaking store windows. The Invaders allegedly incited violence against Dr. King’s orders of peaceful resistance.

Because of the violence perpetrated during the March 28 demonstration, the city of Memphis filed a formal complaint against Dr. King and his associates within the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). On the last day of his life, Dr. King spent most of his time with Dr. Ralph Abernathy of the SCLC. While Rev. Andrew “Andy” Young of the SCLC had convinced U.S. District Court Judge Bailey Brown to allow Dr. King to organize a peaceful march scheduled for April 8, Dr. King was preparing for dinner with Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King’s Memphis PD security detail had been withdrawn, a black Memphis PD detective posted near the Lorraine Motel had been removed, and two black firemen in a station near the Lorraine Motel were transferred shortly before the assassination. Former Memphis PD Detective Jerry Williams had been assigned to Dr. King’s security detail twice before his final visit in 1968. Det. Williams asserted on Dr. King’s final visit that no black officers had been assigned to his security detail. The day before Dr. King’s death, Inspector Don H. Smith requested to remove his detail. The request was granted.

Accounts differ regarding Dr. King’s final words. According to FBI documents, Dr. King was discussing the weather with his chauffeur, Solomon Jones Jr., when the fatal shot struck. Rev. Jesse Jackson instead recalls Dr. King chastising him for not wearing a tie. Dr. King then turned to musician Ben Branch, who was standing beside Jackson, and said, “Make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord.’ Play it real pretty.” According to Jackson, those were his final words.

Since revealing its illegal COINTELPRO harassment of Dr. King and the existence of at least 5 paid informants who reported to their Memphis Field Office, the FBI also disclosed that Dr. King’s trusted friend and renowned photographer, Ernest Withers, had been secretly working as an FBI informant. In addition to the FBI informants, a black undercover Memphis PD officer named Marrell McCollough had infiltrated the Invaders in 1968. McCollough stood in the parking lot of the Lorraine Motel on the night Dr. King died. He claimed to have been the first person to reach the body.

Although the Invaders had been removed from the Lorraine Motel a few hours earlier, undercover MPD officer Marrell McCollough remained on the premises until Dr. King’s death. McCollough claimed he spent the day shopping with Rev. James Bevel and Rev. James Orange of the SCLC. Standing in the parking lot of the Lorraine Motel, McCollough witnessed Dr. King’s assassination then ran up the stairs to view the body. ABC News confirmed McCollough went on to join the CIA, and he later testified on March 12, 1978, to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

While recalling Dr. King’s final moments, Rev. Billy Kyles who was standing beside Dr. King on the balcony admitted decades later, “Only as I moved away so he could have a clear shot, the shot rang out.” Kyles has denied working as an FBI informant, even though he was accused of being a confidential Memphis PD informant.

In 1999, civil trial King v. Jowers determined former Memphis PD officer Loyd Jowers had been complicit in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King. In December 1993, Jowers appeared on ABC’s Prime Time Live confessing to his participation in Dr. King’s assassination. Jowers admitted he believed MPD Lt. Earl Clark fired the shot that killed Dr. King, not James Earl Ray. Although the U.S. government claims that Jowers fabricated his allegations, they have also admitted responsibility in attempting to ruin Dr. King’s marriage and persuading him to commit suicide.


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Counterfeiters Perplexed By Canada's Plastic Money -

Counterfeiters Perplexed By Canada's Plastic Money - 

Canada's plastic money is stumping counterfeiters. The RCMP estimate the number of fake bills passed on to retailers in 2015 dropped by 74 per cent compared with the previous year.

That doesn't mean people have given up trying to copy Canada's banknotes — it's just that even their best attempts to make fake cash are falling well short.

Regina Police Const. Scott Wolfe hasn't seen much counterfeit currency since the Bank of Canada introduced polymer money four years ago, but he did have a case last fall.

"When we first touched the bill you could tell it wasn't the polymer feel. It was paper. We could see they had cut out the security window from a real $5 bill and pasted it to a $50 and $100 bill," said Wolfe.

The face in the hologram didn't match the face on the bill and the edges were uneven. Even so, the money was successfully passed on to retailers, perhaps in a dimly lit bar or sandwiched between two authentic notes.

Wolfe said people passing counterfeit bills often pay for an inexpensive item with a high-value bill in order to get lots of change in authentic currency.

Read more -

Friday, 15 January 2016

French drug trial leaves one brain dead and five critically ill -

French drug trial leaves one brain dead and five critically ill -

The French health minister, Marisol Touraine, said 90 people in total

had taken part in the trial and received some dosage of the drug;
others had taken a placebo. All trials on the drug have been suspended
and all volunteers who have taken part in the trial are being called

The ministry said the test was carried out by the Biotrial clinic for

Bial, which “specialised in carrying out clinical trials”.

The trial was intended to test for side-effects of the new drug but

all trials at the clinic have been suspended and the French state
prosecutor has opened an inquiry.

Touraine said the drug was a so-called FAAH inhibitor meant to act on

the body’s endocannabinoid system, which deals with pain. Earlier
reports suggested that the drug contained cannabinoids, an active
ingredient found in cannabis plants, but the minister said it did not
contain the drug or any derivatives of it.

Touraine said the study was a phase one clinical trial, in which

healthy volunteers take the medication to “evaluate the safety of its
use, tolerance and pharmacological profile of the molecule”.

Medical trials typically have three phases to assess a new drug or

device for safety and effectiveness. Phase one entails a small group
of volunteers and focuses only on safety. Phase two and three are
progressively larger trials to assess the drug’s effectiveness,
although safety remains paramount.

Testing had already been carried out on animals, including

chimpanzees, starting in July, Touraine said.

Bial said it was committed to ensuring the wellbeing of test

participants and was working with authorities to discover the cause of
the injuries, adding that the clinical trial had been approved by
French regulators.

Every year, thousands of volunteers, often students looking to make

extra money, take part in such trials. Mishaps are relatively rare,
but in 2006 six men were treated for organ failure in London after
taking part in a clinical trial into a drug developed to fight
auto-immune disease and leukaemia.

The men now apparently have a higher risk of cancer and autoimmune

diseases tied to their exposure to the experimental drug.

Dr Ben Whalley, a neuropharmacology professor at Britain’s University

of Reading, said standardised regulations for clinical trials were
“largely the same” throughout Europe. “However, like any safeguard,
these minimise risk rather than abolish it,” Whalley said. “There is
an inherent risk in exposing people to any new compound.”

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Ebola death in Sierra Leone hours after WHO declares outbreak over -

Ebola death in Sierra Leone hours after WHO declares outbreak over - 

Sierra Leone officials have confirmed a death from Ebola, hours after the World Health Organization declared the latest West Africa outbreak over.
The country was declared free of the virus on 7 November, and the region as a whole was cleared when Liberia was pronounced Ebola-free on Thursday.
Tests on a person who died in northern Sierra Leone proved positive, an Ebola test centre spokesman told the BBC.
The WHO has warned, however, that more flare-ups are expected.
How Ebola changed the world
Mapping Ebola
The Sierra Leone death occurred earlier this week.
Ebola test centre spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis told the BBC that the patient had died in the Tonkolili district. He had travelled there from Kambia, close to the border with Guinea.

The tests were conducted by British health experts. The BBC's Umaru Fofana in the capital Freetown said health officials were now urgently seeking those who had come into contact with the victim.
Close to 4,000 people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone, and 11,000 people across the region, since December 2013.
Liberia was the last country to see the end of active transmission of Ebola. But it had been declared clear twice before, only for the infection to re-emerge.
A country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time.


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Travelers cry fowl as 'Comfort Turkey' gets a seat on a plane - ruffles feathers about 'emotional support' animals -

Travelers cry fowl as 'Comfort Turkey' gets a seat on a plane - ruffles feathers about 'emotional support' animals - 

If you think that air travel has gone to the birds, it has -literally.

We're talkin' turkey, as in that big Thanksgiving bird, one of which recently was spotted aboard a Delta flight acting as a "support animal," and that's causing a flap over how passengers are using, and abusing, comfort animal rules.

So how can a turkey get on a plane?  Simple.  The passenger provided proper documentation proving the fowl was indeed their emotional support animal, so Delta let the bird on board, and even gave it its own seat.

Reddit user biggestlittlepickle posted the picture, saying that his neighbor, a flight attendant, took this snapshot of the poultry on a plane. unclelimpy, another Reddit user who is friends with the Delta pilot on that flight, followed with another shot of the turkey receiving VIP treatment as it was rolled through the airport on a wheelchair. It even looks like it was enjoying the ride.

Turkeys aren't the only animals used as emotional support animals on flights.  Horses, pigs and--yes, dogs are regularly used.

In 1986, Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act, allowing service animals to fly on planes and ensuring they can't be removed simply on the grounds that other passengers object. That turkey, or other emotional support animals, requires documentation from a mental health professional. It can't walk about the cabin and can't do their business during the flight (after 8 hours the animal's owner must plan for the clean disposal of waste), something that must be a written guarantee from the human passenger. They also can't block aisles or take up seats near the emergency doors.

It's good to know that Delta and other U.S.-based carriers prohibit unusual service animals, such as snakes and other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders, as written in the federal guidelines of The Air Carrier Access Act. While Delta prohibits farm poultry, it allows domestic birds, and the turkey, well --apparently is a domestic bird.

In a statement to USA Today, Delta said by letting the turkey fly, they complied with the Air Carrier Access Act. "While we can't always accommodate all pets, Delta employees made a judgment call based in part on extensive documentation from the customer. We review each case and make every effort to accommodate our customers's travel needs while also taking into consideration the health and safety of other passengers."

Travel expert George Hobica, president of the website Airfarewatchdog.com, says these animals are all well and good until something happens.

"The problem with animals of any kind on planes, of course, is possible allergic reactions by other passengers and the possibility that an animal will bite a crew member or another passenger (there have been instances of this happening) or have an accident on the plane, perhaps even forcing an emergency landing if it's bad enough and passengers become ill as a result."

More of a concern is the growing trend of passengers faking emotional support needs and gaming the system to get around paying exorbitant pet fees.  Service animals are free, while shipping pets can cost hundreds of dollars. 

SOAR president Captain Tom Bunn, a former commercial pilot who now helps people manage their fear of flying, says it's all too easy to get a therapist to write a note. And websites are popping up that provide emotional support vests and necessary letters for fees ranging from $59 to $200.

"Any therapist can sign off on any kind of animal," he said.  "Science has proven that when dogs look at you with total devotion, it produces oxytocin, a hormone that shuts down the fear mechanism.  The turkey, I don't think so."

Bunn rarely uses dogs or other support animals in his therapy, opting instead for visualization techniques that would bring on the flow of oxytocin.  

He says support animals do help for jittery fliers, but when the system gets abused, it's not good for anyone.

"When I saw that turkey on Twitter, I thought here we go," he said. "Some people are going to very annoyed that they paid several hundred dollars to fly with a turkey."

It's likely airline executives feel the same way. But airlines face fines as high as $150,000 for refusing requests for legitimate support animals, and as those requests increase, so does the threat of a lawsuit.

According to Bunn, until the Department of Transportation changes guidelines, there's only one solution.

"The airlines and everyone on board will have to live with it,"says Bunn.


Urine Test to Predicts Alzheimer's -

Urine Test to Predicts Alzheimer's - 

A simple urine test may one day predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease, a devastating condition that affects 5.1 million Americans over the age of 65.

Researchers for the study, which was published by Scientific Reports, observed mice who were given chemical treatment meant to mimic the abnormal brain activity of people with Alzheimer's.

These mice had a urine odor distinct from the urine of mice who were not given the chemical.

The difference in odor was detectable even before researchers could identify plaque build-up in the mice's brains, an indicator meant to simulate Alzheimer's symptoms.

This suggests that the odor is due to a genetic change rather than a developmental one, signaling that the disease may be detectable earlier than previously thought.

"While this research is at the proof-of-concept stage, the identification of distinctive odor signatures may someday point the way to human biomarkers to identify Alzheimer's at early stages," said study author Dr. Daniel Wesson, a neuroscientist at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in a press release.

While there is currently no test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, presence of an early biomarker could allow physicians to slow the progression of the disease and explore alternative avenues for treatment.


This Plant Grows Eggplants and Potatoes at the Same Time - is nicknamed the “Egg and Chips” plant -

This Plant Grows Eggplants and Potatoes at the Same Time -  is nicknamed the “Egg and Chips” plant - 

A hybrid plant nicknamed “Egg and Chips” is capable of growing both eggplants and potatoes at the same time, yielding up to four eggplants and two kilograms of white potatoes during a harvest.

The plant is ideal for a kitchen garden or vegetable patch, and though it relies on a grafting procedure, has not been genetically modified. The plants “are great fun for kids and really capture the imagination, but the result is more than just a novelty, promises Thompson and Morgan, the U.K.-based seed manufacturer behind the dual-cropping plant.

Egg and Chips can be grown indoors or outdoors, and will reach a height of approximately 20 inches. Flowering will take place between July and August. Thompson and Morgan recommends you plant Egg and Chips in a greenhouse or sunny sheltered position, in a large-enough container to allow both plants to develop. For best results using a pot, choose a container that will hold at least 40 liters of compost.

Thompson and Morgan has previously created another hybrid called the Tomtato, a plant that grows tomatoes and potatoes. 


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Dirty scopes needlessly infected scores of patients, investigation finds -

Dirty scopes needlessly infected scores of patients, investigation finds - 

Scores of patients were needlessly infected with potentially deadly bacteria after medical scope procedures because of repeated failures by the device manufacturers, regulators and hospitals to report outbreaks, according to a U.S. Senate investigation released Wednesday.

The investigators said they had found 25 outbreaks -- including two in Los Angeles -- linked to a device known as a duodenoscope, far more than previously reported. 

And they said that numerous flaws in the federal government’s oversight of medical devices are continuing to put patients at risk “with life-threatening consequences.” 

“Patients should be able to trust that the devices they need for treatment are safe and effective,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who initiated the probe after dozens of patients were sickened at a Seattle hospital.

“Unfortunately this investigation makes clear that current policies for monitoring medical device safety put patients at risk, and in this case, allowed tragedies to occur that could have, and should have, been prevented.”

The report details how Olympus Corp., the leading maker of the device, knew of the potential flaws in the scope in spring 2012 because of an independent investigation of an outbreak in the Netherlands.

But Olympus – and the federal Food and Drug Administration – did not warn American hospitals about the potentially lethal problem with the device until February 2015 after The Times reported about a superbug outbreak at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center where dozens of patients were potentially exposed and three died.

The investigators said that at least 141 patients in a myriad of cities were infected during that three-year delay.

The FDA began to investigate the scopes in September 2013, but "wasted valuable time" in seeking data from Olympus and two other manufacturers on whether they could show their devices could be properly cleaned, according to the report.

They also faulted hospitals where the outbreaks occurred for not filing required injury reports, which could have helped stop the infections.

The FDA requires manufacturers to file reports of injuries tied to their devices. The system -- known as Maude -- was designed to help give an early warning about defective devices.

Olympus filed some reports months late. And in most of the reports, the company suggested that something other than its scope, including poor cleaning procedures by hospitals, were to blame.

The FDA also strips all hospital names and locations from the reports, making it difficult for the public to track the outbreaks.

Deborah Kotz, an FDA spokeswoman, said Wednesday that stopping the risk of device-related infections “is a top priority” for the agency.

“The FDA has taken several actions to address the issue of duodenoscope-related infections and will continue to work to protect patients while ensuring access to these important devices for those who may benefit from minimally invasive procedures,” Kotz said.

Mark Miller, an Olympus spokesman, said Wednesday that the company had been cooperating with the investigators for several months.

“Although we do not agree with all of the report’s conclusions,” Miller said, “we are closely reviewing the recommendations in the report as part of Olympus’ ongoing efforts to increase patient safety associated with use of Olympus duodenoscopes.” 

Olympus, which is headquartered in Japan, sells 85% of the duodenoscopes used in American hospitals.

The duodenoscope is used in a procedure known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Doctors thread the flexible scope down a patient's throat, into the digestive tract to diagnose and treat cancers, gallstones and other conditions.

Other manufacturers of the scope are Pentax and Fujifilm.

A spokeswoman for Pentax said Wednesday that the company was working with Congress and regulators to reduce the risk of infection from scopes.

And Fujifilm spokeswoman Diane Rainey said: "The protection of the health and safety of all patients remains the No. 1 priority of Fujifilm, and we are committed to working together with all stakeholders, including patients, hospitals, regulators and lawmakers, to ensure the long-term sustainable use of duodenoscopes."

The FDA has said it decided not to recall the scopes because there is no other device to perform ERCP -- a procedure that can avoid dangerous surgeries. 

The investigators said that at least three independent investigations had questioned the new design of recent models of the duodenoscope. In those devices, a tiny internal channel was sealed with the intention of keeping blood and other infectious material out so that it did not have to be cleaned.

The Senate investigators called for the FDA to quickly evaluate the scope’s sealed design, saying it “is now evident” that such models can “trap and transmit bacteria” even after cleaning.

The agency should consider “a phased recall” of the devices, the investigators said, so that they can be repaired or modified and properly disinfected.

They also called for the FDA to stop relying on manufacturers and hospitals to report injuries caused by devices. Instead, the system should be strengthened, they said, so the devices have unique identifying numbers that can be tracked in pharmacy insurance claims and electronic health records.

And because most hospitals had failed to report the outbreaks to regulators, the investigators called for those injury reports to be required as a condition of participating in Medicare.

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