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I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 11.17.50 AMIf you’re a sucker for fad diets based on the latest nutritional miracle, you’d better read John Bohannon’s expose of how he was able to fool millions of people into thinking that eating chocolate promotes weight loss, at io9:

“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily”, page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being.

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Wrongfully Treating Academic Debate as Anti-Semitism

Shannon Kringen (CC BY 2.0)

Shannon Kringen (CC BY 2.0)

Saree Makdisi writes at the Los Angeles Times:

The principle of academic freedom at our universities is under attack by those seeking to shield Israel from criticism by silencing dissent, shutting down discussion and imposing a stifling atmosphere of intimidation at the University of California, in particular.

A coordinated set of petitions, including a letter signed by 57 rabbis, asks UC administrators to adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as a means to “accurately identify” and “publicly condemn” it in campus debate, protest and discussion. That problematic definition conflates principled criticism of Israeli policies with genuine anti-Semitism; if the university accedes to this demand, such criticism — and academic freedom — could be suppressed by administrative fiat.

The State Department definition explicitly draws on a formulation provisionally adopted by a European Union body but long since discarded. It stretches the concept of anti-Semitism to include “demonizing” Israel, comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis and “denying Israel the right to exist.”

Such emotionally charged language attempts to preempt criticism of Israeli policies.

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The TPP is Not a Trade Agreement

Dave Johnson writes at Campaign for America’s Future:

“Trade” is a propaganda word. It short-circuits thinking. People hear “trade” and the brain stops working. People think, “Of course, trade is good.” And that ends the discussion.

Calling TPP a “trade” agreement lets the pro-TPP people argue that TPP is about trade instead of what it is really about. It diverts attention from the real problem. It enables advocates to say things like, “95 percent of the world lives outside the U.S.” as if that has anything to do with TPP. It lets them say, “We know that exports support American jobs” to sell a corporate rights agreement. It enables them to say nonsense like this about a corporate rights agreement designed to send American jobs to Vietnam so a few “investors” can pocket the wage difference: “Exports of U.S.

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Inmate Eats the Jail Cell, Costing the State $1 Million in Medical Bills

Lamont Cathey

Lamont Cathey

A man arrested for breaking into a pizza parlor has habitually consumed pieces of metal such as screws, drawing pins, and even leather while in jail. His medical bills have cost the state $1.3 million. I suppose that’s one way to get back at the man…

Sumitra via Oddity Central:

17-year-old Lamont Cathey, who was jailed for breaking into a pizza parlour in Chicago, is proving to be a costly inmate to handle. For the past 16 months, mentally disturbed Cathey has been consuming metal objects – ranging from toe screws to needles, to drawing pins, and even strips of leather. He has been rushed to the prison’s hospital 24 different times to have these items removed, costing the State a whopping $1.3 million!

Cathey used to be a promising basketball player until he was accused of stealing money from a safe at a pizzeria over a year ago.

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Scientist Created Drones That Fly Autonomously and Learn New Routes

Drone manufactured by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd. Credit: Image courtesy of Investigación y Desarrollo

Drone manufactured by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd.
Credit: Image courtesy of Investigación y Desarrollo

Skynet is born.

Investigación y Desarrollo via ScienceDaily:

Drones say goodbye to pilots. With the goal of achieving autonomous flight of these aerial vehicles, the researcher José Martínez Carranza from the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) in Mexico, developed a vision and learning system to control and navigate them without relying on a GPS signal or trained personnel.

Mexican José Martínez, structured an innovative method to estimate the position and orientation of the vehicle, allowing it to recognize its environment, hence to replace the GPS location system for low-cost sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and camcorders.

The main idea was to avoid the use of GPS and opted for the use of video cameras on board of the vehicle for visual information and applying an algorithm to locate and orient the drone during its flight to use such information.

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Roads Melting, Death Toll Soaring as ‘Unprecedented’ Heatwave Grips India

This was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Jon Queally’s posts here.

The deathtoll related to an ongoing and “unprecedented” heatwave in India has soared to nearly 1,200 people, according to the nation’s health ministry on Wednesday, with no respite for hundreds of millions of people expected until at least the weekend.

According to officials quoted in the Hindustan Times, most of the victims have been construction workers, the elderly or the homeless. In regions across the subcontinent this week, temperatures have sweltered populations with thermometers pushing towards 50°C (or 122°F) and high levels of humidity stifling air quality. In response, India’s Meteorological Department has issued what are called “red box” warnings for various states where the maximum temperatures are expected to remain above 45°C.

“This year, the heatwave condition is unprecedented and there has been a large number of deaths. The Health Ministry is likely to come up with an advisory soon for all the states and common people,” a senior health Ministry official told the Press Trust of India (PTI).

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You Are Totally Wrong About Genetically Altered Food

“You Are Totally Wrong About Genetically Altered Food” screams the cover of Newsweek, below, with a feature story inside entitled “GMO Scientists Could Save the World From Hunger, If We Let Them.”

newsweek gmo

Is the story’s author, Tom Parrett, right? Arguments against in the comments please:

…Biotech crops are already well-established around the world. The U.S. has approved about 100 genetically modified plants for use in agriculture. Virtually all cotton in India, a vital economic staple for the country, is GM, as is 90 percent of cotton grown in China. Four out of every five harvested soybeans on earth are genetically modified. Corn worldwide is 35 percent genetically modified. Bangladesh is considering a GM eggplant that could double its harvest by protecting it from worms. Food writer Mark Bittman recently pointed out that we’ve been happily eating harmless genetically modified, virus-resistant papayas for years, and that’s Mr. Natural talking.

But some countries are balking.

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Did Market Leninism Win the Cold War?

Cold War IIllustration: Quick Magazine  bunky's pickle (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cold War IIllustration: Quick Magazine |  bunky’s pickle (CC BY-SA 2.0)

John Feffer writes at TomDispatch:

Imagine an alternative universe in which the two major Cold War superpowers evolved into the United Soviet Socialist States. The conjoined entity, linked perhaps by a new Bering Straits land bridge, combines the optimal features of capitalism and collectivism. From Siberia to Sioux City, we’d all be living in one giant Sweden.

It sounds like either the paranoid nightmare of a John Bircher or the wildly optimistic dream of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, however, this was a rather conventional view, at least among influential thinkers like economist John Kenneth Galbraith who predicted that the United States and the Soviet Union would converge at some point in the future with the market tempered by planning and planning invigorated by the market. Like many an academic notion, it didn’t come to pass.

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Mental health care access for teens improving, but less for communities with disparities

infographic_healthcareavailability2014

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University of Michigan Health System via EurekAlert:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Teens in the U.S. have more availability of mental health care than they did two years ago, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan National Voices Project, but access is not equal in all communities.

The University of Michigan National Voices Project was commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to facilitate a five year study to gauge opportunities for children and teens at the local level in communities across the U.S. The National Voices Project surveys over 2,000 adults across the U.S. who work and/or volunteer on behalf of children and teens.

In a 2014 National Voices Project survey, 40 percent of adults said teens in their communities had lots of availability for mental health care. In a 2012 survey, only 30 percent of adults reported lots of availability. In comparison, 59 percent of adults in 2014 said that teens had lots of availability for primary care.

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