Technology and Society
|Tony Trueman||April 14th 2015|
Facebook can help people recover from mental health problems but it needs to be used cautiously and strategically as it can also make symptoms worse, new research shows.
Dr Keelin Howard told the British Sociological Association's annual conference in Glasgow on April 15 that users she interviewed found their paranoid, manic and depressive symptoms could worsen as well as improve.
Dr Howard, of Buckinghamshire New University, carried out research with 20 people aged 23-68 who had experienced conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
She told the conference that social media like Facebook could provide a source of social support and connection that were important for recovery. Some participants were positive about Facebook, saying it helped them recover by making them feel less alone, allowing them to express themselves and be part of an online community. Read more ..
The Edge of Climate Change
|David Biello||April 13th 2015|
Crickets chirp and bees buzz from sedum flower to flower atop the post office in midtown Manhattan during a visit to the 9th Avenue facility on a perfect New York City fall day. On a sprawling roof that covers most of a city block a kind of park has been laid, sucking up carbon dioxide and other air pollution, filtering rainfall, making it less acidic.
Such verdant roofs may form part of an effective strategy for both cooling buildings and helping combat climate change, according to recent research. Other solutions cited in a study include white roofs that reflect more sunlight back to space or hybrid roofs that combine aspects of white and green, or planted, roofs. Read more ..
Qatar on Edge
|Onn Winckler||April 12th 2015|
Middle East Quarterly
Most states do not divulge all demographic parameters of their population. At times, this data is unavailable due to the weakness of the regime as is the case with many sub-Saharan African countries and, more recently, with Yemen, Syria, and Iraq due to their prolonged civil wars. In other countries, such as the United States, Belgium, and France, there is a lack of data on the religious composition of the population due to official separation of church and state.
While none of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have ever published the religious composition of their indigenous populations, Qatar has lagged further behind: It does not even make public the total size of its indigenous population, considered "a national secret." As the online editor of a Qatari-based business publication was told when approaching the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA) for the data: "We regret to inform you that the required data is not available." Read more ..
Turkey on Edge
|Burak Bekdil||April 10th 2015|
Middle East Forum
In 2008, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's official news agency, Wafa, reported that Israel had released poison-resistant rats to drive Arab residents of Jerusalem out of their homes. Scientists are still trying to understand how rats are trained to distinguish between Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of a city.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia announced that it had "detained" a vulture carrying an Israeli leg band. The griffon vulture was carrying a GPS transmitter bearing the name of Tel Aviv University, and was condemned for being a part of a "Zionist espionage plot." We are still waiting to hear if the bird was beheaded or sentenced to life in prison. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Matthias Poppel||April 9th 2015|
Matthias Poppel, chief operating officer for EnOcean GmbH claims that all of the technologies are in place to allow the Internet of Things to flourish. All that is needed are the standards and the vision to overcome the fragmented nature of the applications space.
A major challenge implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) is deploying large numbers of sensor and actuator nodes and connecting them in a suitable way. The characteristics of energy-harvesting wireless technology make it the perfect fit to bridge the last mile in an IoT network: small devices working without cables and batteries allowing a simple installation as well as quite easy gradual up-scaling in the number of deployed units. At the same time, the components require minimal service and maintenance effort. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
News24 and agencies
Kenya has suspended the licences of 13 Somali remittance firms following the massacre at a Kenyan university last week, Somalia's central bank governor said on Wednesday, and Kenyan media reported that dozens of bank accounts had been frozen.
The killing of 148 students by Somalia's al-Shabaab at Garissa, about 200km from the border, has piled pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta to deal with the Islamists who have killed more than 400 people in Kenya in the last two years.
Kenya's biggest selling Daily Nation newspaper said on Wednesday that the government has "frozen the accounts of 86 individuals and entities suspected to be financing terrorism in the country", including Somali remittance firms. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Jean-Pierre Joosting||April 6th 2015|
Read more ..
In the spirit of Lord of the Rings, could a ring, in this case a clever piece of technology, become a powerful tool for controlling everything. Ring from Logbar Inc., CA is a wearable input device that lets the user perform a multitude of tasks such as gesture control of smart appliances and devices, send texts, pay bills and so on. The company is currently running a kickstarter campaign and to get the device mass produced, with shipping expected to start in 2014.
Ring uses a Bluetooth Low Energy signal to connect to smart devices. Basically Ring detects the movement of the finger that is inside and identifies the gesture being made. Gestures can be performed anytime and anywhere. A lot of the companies IP is in the development of this gesture recognition technology with a particular focus on the accuracy of recognition and power consumption.
|Rodger Baker and John Minnich||March 24th 2015|
Last week, China's anti-corruption campaign took a significant turn, though a largely overlooked one. The Supreme People's Court released a statement accusing former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, the highest-ranked official thus far implicated in China's ongoing anti-corruption campaign, of having "trampled the law, damaged unity within the Communist Party, and conducted non-organizational political activities." In Chinese bureaucratic speak, this was only a few steps shy of confirming earlier rumors that Zhou and his former political ally and one-time rising star from Chongqing, Bo Xilai, had plotted a coup to pre-empt or repeal the ascension of Chinese President and Party General Secretary Xi Jinping. Thus, the court's statement marks a radical departure from the hitherto depoliticized official language of the anti-corruption campaign. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Laurel Thomas Gnagney||March 17th 2015|
Increasing the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products will prevent or delay tobacco use by adolescents and young adults, particularly those ages 15 to 17, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.
The committee that conducted the study included Rafael Meza, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Patrick O'Malley, research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
The team estimated the likely reduction in tobacco-use initiation that would be achieved by raising the minimum age of legal access (MLA) to tobacco products to 19, 21 or 25 years old. They used two tobacco-use simulation models to quantify the accompanying public health outcomes. Read more ..
Palestinians on Edge
|Michael Johnson||March 13th 2015|
Palestinian Authority security forces arrested up to 100 Hamas members during a series of raids in the West Bank over the past two weeks. The detentions mark only the latest setback in Fatah-Hamas relations following the adoption of an unity agreement last spring.
According to Middle East Monitor, many of the Palestinians arrested include "university professors, schools teachers, doctors, imams" with some previously spending time in Israeli jails. Additionally, the PA has failed to disclose a reason for the arrests or charged any Hamas members publicly.Hamas leaders call the detentions arbitrary and politically motivated, saying that the PA feels threatened by Hamas's rising popularity in the West Bank. Meanwhile, other Hamas officials said that Fatah is "part of the occupation system and is only working to preserve [Israel's] security." However, it remains unclear if the crackdown is related to recent PLO deliberations to end security cooperation with Israel over Jerusalem's withholding of tax revenues from the cash-strapped PA. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Jennifer Santisi||February 28th 2015|
Researchers are investigating new directions in the science of spending. Four presentations during the symposium "Happy Money 2.0: New Insights Into the Relationship Between Money and Well-Being," delve into the effects of experiential purchases, potential negative impacts on abundance, the psychology of lending to friends, and how the wealthy think differently about well-being. The symposium takes place during the SPSP 16th Annual Convention in Long Beach, California.
Research published in the journal Psychological Science has shown that experiential purchases--money spent on doing--may provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). Participants reported that waiting for an experience elicits significantly more happiness, pleasantness and excitement than waiting for a material good. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Anav Silverman ||February 19th 2015|
Following the terror attacks in Copenhagen, where a Jewish man was killed last weekend, a group of young Muslims in Norway are organizing a peace rally at an Oslo synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath this upcoming Saturday, February 21.
One of the rally organizers, Yousef Assidiq told Tazpit News Agency that it was important for him to let those who wish to harm Jews know that they will have to get by him first. “I want to say on Saturday that if anyone wants to attack Jews either verbally or physically, that they will have to go through me first. An attack on Jews is an attack on me and on all Muslims,” Assidiq told Tazpit.
According to the Facebook page for the event, the participants will be forming a human ring around the synagogue in order to protect the Jewish worshippers inside. “When Jews are afraid to wear the kippa, the Star of David, and are afraid to go to the synagogue, then it feels like an attack on me,” said Assidiq. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Jonathan Sacks||February 16th 2015|
Jobbik, otherwise known as the Movement for a Better Hungary, is an ultra-nationalist Hungarian political party that has been described as fascist, neo-Nazi, racist, and anti-semitic. It has accused Jews of being part of a “cabal of western economic interests” attempting to control the world: the libel otherwise known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fiction created by members of the Czarist secret service in Paris in the late 1890s and revealed as a forgery by The Times in 1921.
On one occasion the Jobbik party asked for a list of all the Jews in the Hungarian government. Disturbingly, in the Hungarian parliamentary elections in April 2014 it secured over 20 per cent of the votes, making it the third largest party.
Until 2012 one of its leading members was a politician in his late 20s, Csanad Szegedi. Szegedi was a rising star in the movement, widely spoken of as its future leader. Until one day in 2012. That was the day Szegedi discovered he was a Jew. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Greta Guest||February 15th 2015|
About a third of all people who were single at some point in the last 10 years have used dating websites, and a quarter of those have married or entered long-term relationships.
University of Michigan research breaks new ground on how people make romantic choices by analyzing troves of data from a major online dating site.
Perhaps it's fitting that the first step to unraveling how people screen options, think and act when looking for romance online comes from a marriage of sorts between marketing and sociology.
Fred Feinberg, U-M professor of marketing and statistics, joined Elizabeth Bruch, U-M professor of sociology and complex systems, and Kee Yeun Lee of Hong Kong Polytechnic University to dig through user data from a dating website to reveal what people actually do—not what they say they do—when it comes to romance. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Alison Bruzek||February 15th 2015|
Early adopters of technology are usually assumed to be the young and eager. But an increasing number of gadgets are designed not for the stereotypical technophile but for the elderly person. And why not? Between 2010 and 2050 the U.S. population of people aged 65 and up will more than double, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts.
Smart, networked sensors and monitors—part of what is known as the Internet of Things—could help make seniors more independent by letting doctors or relatives keep tabs from afar. “We have received significant interest from elder care providers who are seeking to keep the elderly in their homes rather than moving them to assisted-living centers,” says technologist Jason Johnson, chair of the Internet of Things Consortium. The market for remote patient monitoring is expected to grow from $10.6 billion in 2012 to $21.2 billion in 2017, according to research firm Kalorama Information.
Among the new systems to enter the market is a set of sensors called Lively. The sensors can be placed on cabinets, drawers or appliances to track activity patterns and send data to loved ones.
Other technologies have a slightly different aim—to help those who live in senior communities remain in the most independent setting possible. The eNeighbor remote-monitoring system, marketed by Healthsense, uses sensors throughout the residence to detect motion (including falls) and to chart bed rest. eNeighbor can also provide reminders for medication or make distress calls in case of an emergency. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Martin Barillas||February 12th 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
A candlelight vigil was held on the evening of February 11 night on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for three Muslim students shot to death in what friends and family insist was a hate crime. Thousands of students gathered on the grounds of the university to pay tribute to newlyweds Deah Shaddy Barakat and his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and Yusor's sister, 19-year-old Razan Abu-Salha, who were murdered on February 10 at an apartment complex outside the campus.
A neighbor, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, has been charged with first-degree murder in the connection with the killings. Police assert that a long-simmering dispute over parking space at the complex sparked the shootings, but Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the slain women, said on February 11 he believes the shootings to be a hate crime. He said Hicks had confronted his daughter and her husband a few times while carrying a gun on his belt. Hicks had declared himself an atheist in several Facebook postings and had also depicted firearms. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|George Friedman||February 11th 2015|
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by French President Francois Hollande, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 6. Then she met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Feb. 9. The primary subject was Ukraine, but the first issue discussed at the news conference following the meeting with Obama was Greece. Greece and Ukraine are not linked in the American mind. They are linked in the German mind, because both are indicators of Germany's new role in the world and of Germany's discomfort with it.
It is interesting to consider how far Germany has come in a rather short time. When Merkel took office in 2005, she became chancellor of a Germany that was at peace, in a European Union that was united. Germany had put its demands behind it, embedding itself in a Europe where it could be both prosperous and free of the geopolitical burdens that had led it into such dark places. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Kate Crawford||February 7th 2015|
Many of us now expect our online activities to be recorded and analyzed, but we assume the physical spaces we inhabit are different. The data broker industry doesn’t see it that way. To them, even the act of walking down the street is a legitimate data set to be captured, catalogued and exploited. This slippage between the digital and physical matters not only because of privacy concerns—it also raises serious questions about ethics and power.
Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an article about Turnstyle, a company that has placed hundreds of sensors throughout businesses in Toronto to gather signals from smartphones as they search for open wi-fi networks. The signals are used to uniquely identify phones as they move from street to street, café to cinema, work to home. The owner of the phone need not connect to any wi-fi network to be tracked; the whole process occurs without the knowledge of most phone users. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Jared Wadley||February 5th 2015|
Immigrant Hispanic parents spank their young children less often than U.S.-born Hispanic parents, a new University of Michigan study found.
The findings show that cultural values may help Hispanic immigrants maintain positive parenting practices and parent-child relationships, despite, on average, greater financial pressures and other factors often associated with greater use of spanking.
Prior studies reported that Hispanics, when compared with whites and African-Americans, were generally less likely to use physical or psychological aggression against young children. However, other studies have not analyzed the link between culture and spanking when it involves Hispanic immigrants to the United States.
In this new U-M study published in the February issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, researchers found that immigrant parents are more likely to endorse traditional gender roles and attend religious services more frequently than their U.S.-born counterparts. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Julien Happich||February 2nd 2015|
At Cicor's first Innovation Insights Symposium held in Zurich end of January, the focus was very much on smart wearables for health monitoring. According to recent market figures from Soreon Research, the smart wearables market for healthcare alone could grow from USD 2 billion today to over USD 40 billion by 2020, that is at a vertiginous 65% compounded annual growth rate. In these figures are included not only the wearable devices (from sensor-laden bracelets to shoe-soles or hearing aids) but also the software and associated services. And listening to the panel of speakers present during the event, big data is where the true value is.
According to Christian Stammel, Founder and CEO of business accelerator company Wearable Technologies AG, the hardware is going to be commoditized so much that over the next 10 years, it could probably represent only 20% of the actual wearable value, while the other 80% would be in the data analysis. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Amy Mast||February 1st 2015|
Americans are just as concerned about energy's impact on the environment as they are about its affordability, according to first-year results of the University of Michigan Energy Survey.
Consumers also express much greater sensitivity to higher gasoline prices than they do to higher home energy bills.
Conducted quarterly, the U-M Energy Survey takes an academically rigorous look at consumers' individual concerns about energy, what it costs their households and their beliefs about its affordability, reliability and environmental impact. The survey is fielded in conjunction with the U-M Surveys of Consumers, the same longstanding survey that generates the widely reported index of consumer sentiment.
"This new survey is unique in how it examines personal concerns about energy as consumers view it in their everyday lives," said survey director John DeCicco, research professor at the U-M Energy Institute. "This careful approach differs from surveys that prompt consumers for their responses on the often politically driven energy debates of the day." Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Michael Cook||January 29th 2015|
Today, January 27, is Holocaust Memorial Day, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Russian troops. Lieut. Ivan Martynushkin, of the Red Army, was one of the first to enter the camp. The guards had fled and only about 7,500 prisoners remained, peering fearfully through the barbed wire. They spoke a Babel of languages.
"We saw emaciated people -- very thin, tired, with blackened skin," Martynushkin, now 90, told Radio Free Europe. "They were dressed in all sorts of different ways -- someone in just a robe, someone else with a coat or a blanket draped over their robe. You could see happiness in their eyes. They understood that their liberation had come, that they were free."
The handful of survivors were the lucky ones. About 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau, about one million of them Jews. The Nazi extermination machine transported them from all over Europe by train. Upon arrival most of them were marched to gas chambers and their bodies were incinerated.
There is something peculiarly terrible about Auschwitz. It has become a place of pilgrimage but I doubt if most people could say what draws them there. No doubt some are just curious. Others must be drawn by a desire to make atonement in a small way for the evil done there. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Laura Bailey||January 25th 2015|
Why did fans and sponsors such as Nike drop Lance Armstrong but stay loyal to Tiger Woods? Probably because Armstrong's doping scandal took place on the field, unlike Wood's off-the-field extramarital affairs, according to new studies.
A series of studies conducted by University of Michigan doctoral student Joon Sung Lee suggests that when fans and consumers can separate an athlete's immoral behavior from their athletic performance, they're much more forgiving than if the bad behavior could impact athletic performance or the outcome of the game.
The latter happened with Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, which fans viewed as performance-related, a reasoning strategy called moral coupling, said Dae Hee Kwak, co-investigator of the study and assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology.
Armstrong's career suffered tremendously, and Nike eventually dropped him. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|Soeren Kern||January 24th 2015|
Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of "no-go" areas in European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims.
Many of the "no-go" zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law. Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in these areas and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.
The "no-go" areas are the by-product of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their European host nations.
In Britain, for example, a Muslim group called Muslims Against the Crusades has launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities – including what it calls "Londonistan" – into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence. Read more ..
Edge of Tolerance
|Martin Barillas||January 24th 2015|
Cutting Edge Contributor
For the first time since the Second World War, the Grande Synagogue of Paris - the most prominent synagogue in the French capital - Paris was shuttered when Jews would otherwise be attending Friday Sabbath services. On January 9, a Muslim terrorists seized hostages at a Jewish market in the Vincennes neighborhood of the French capital, prompting Jewish shops throughout the city to close their doors as a precaution. According to Dr. Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “The Jewish community feels itself on the edge of a seething volcano.” The rise of anti-Semitism in recent years has prompted French Jews to leave the country, while many have emigrated to Israel.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Samuels said “Hostages in a kosher supermarket held [up] by an African jihadist, who reportedly already killed two victims… The scenes are out of a war movie.”
“But the war is undeclared as long as the sickness is not publicly named as a state of emergency. A culture of excuse exonerates the perpetrators as ‘disaffected, alienated, frustrated, unemployed.’ No other group of frustrated unemployed has resorted to such behavior.” Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|George Friedman||January 15th 2015|
In his latest novel, French writer Michel Houellebecq presents a controversial situation: The year is 2022, and France has become an Islamicized country where universities have to teach the Koran, women have to wear the veil and polygamy is legal. The book, which created a stir in France, went on sale Jan. 7. That day, a group of terrorists killed 12 people at the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Also on Jan. 7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met British Prime Minister David Cameron in London. Although the formal reason for the meeting was to discuss the upcoming G-7 summit, the two leaders also discussed Cameron's proposals to limit migration in Europe. Finally, a much less publicized event took place in Germany that day: A group of politicians from the Euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party met with members of Pegida, the anti-Islam protest group that has staged large protests in Dresden and minor protests in other German cities. Read more ..
The Edge of Tolerance
|Dan Levin||January 8th 2015|
Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization, announced Thursday that the group had surpassed the two million member mark. This news comes just over two-and-a-half years after the group reached one million members.
"We've come a long way since we began CUFI with 400 Christian leaders back in 2006. And I can say without hesitation that while reaching two million members is no small accomplishment, we've only just begun. We will continue to grow and to speak out with an ever-louder voice for Zion's sake," said CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Jean-Pierre Joosting||January 6th 2015|
Created in China, the takee1 holographic smartphone, the brainchild of Estar Technology Group Co., Ltd., has won the 2015 CES Innovations Award. The honor reflects the international recognition of the world's first "holographic smartphone" and is a testament to Chinese innovation capabilities in the smartphone market.
The CES innovation award review process is a very strict one, with the products that are submitted judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, independent engineers and members of the trade media who seek to identify outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products.
With the holographic display, air touch and eye-tracking technologies, the takee1 smartphone claims to be the world's first mobile device to integrate smart holographic technology. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Stephanie Baehman||January 3rd 2015|
When health care providers take patients' perspectives into consideration, patients are more likely to be actively engaged in their treatment and more satisfied with their care. This is called patient-centered care, and it has been the central focus of the curriculum at the University of Missouri School of Medicine since 2005. Recently, MU researchers have developed a credible tool to assess whether medical students have learned and are applying specific behaviors that characterize patient-centered care.
The researchers first worked with real patients to identify a list of specific behaviors that demonstrated physicians were providing patient-centered care. By defining these detailed, specific patient-centered behaviors, the researchers have been able to tailor the educational experience at the MU School of Medicine to help students gain these skills. Read more ..
|Edwin Black ||December 21st 2014|
|Robert Wolfe, RIP|
My most distinct memory of Robert Wolfe was that day in October of 1999 when he stood in the dreary, grey rain outside a heretofore unknown archive in Sindelfingen, Germany, a suburb of Stuttgart. He was attempting to gain entry when the archive unexpectedly shuttered its doors and refused him. With the chilled drizzle running rivulets down his cheeks, Wolfe summoned an intense inner anger, born of decades of devotion to documenting Nazi history. He shook with disbelief and demanded they open the door. They would not. No matter. Despite that refusal, Wolfe persevered, and the information was revealed.
Who was Robert Wolfe? Wolfe was the irreplaceable chief archivist for captured Nazi documents at their main repository, the National Archives and Record Administration in Washington, D.C. He died just before dawn December 10, 2014, at the age of 93.
Wolfe, who lived in Alexandria, VA, left behind his gentle German-born wife, Ingeborg. They met when she was an office manager in Occupied Germany where Wolfe was stationed. During Wolfe’s archival career, Ingeborg traveled with him extensively. Two sons also survive Wolfe, one in Virginia and the other in Florida. The pragmatic Wolfe ruled out any funeral in his final instructions. His wish for interment at Arlington Cemetery will be granted in spring 2015.
With Wolfe’s death, a legacy also dies.
Wolfe set the standard, hammered together the ethical strictures, and single-handedly galvanized a generation of Holocaust and Nazi-era historians and authors — including me. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Sabine Guinsbourg||December 20th 2014|
Women whose loved ones are critical of their weight tend to put on even more pounds, says a new study on the way people's comments affect our health.
Professor Christine Logel from Renison University College at the University of Waterloo led the study, which appears in the journal Personal Relationships.
"When we feel bad about our bodies, we often turn to loved ones--families, friends and romantic partners--for support and advice. How they respond can have a bigger effect than we might think," said Professor Logel, who teaches social development studies.
The study found that women who received a higher number of what the researchers called acceptance messages about their weight saw better weight maintenance and even weight loss than their counterparts who did not receive this positive messaging from their loved ones. Read more ..
The Edge of Justice
|Dan Levin||December 18th 2014|
The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ) presented its 2014 Pursuit of Justice award on December 15, 2014, to renowned criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Shearith Israel, in New York City. Attorney Brafman joined a lengthy list of distinguished lawyers and judges who previously received the AAJLJ’s award including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Aharon Barak (of the Supreme Court of Israel), Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the State of New York Judith Kaye, and former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman. The award is presented by the AAJLJ to an attorney, judge, or law professor, who shares and epitomizes the Association's commitment to justice and advocacy for human rights. Read more ..
|Michael Cook||December 15th 2014|
Two of the leading voices in bioethics have a fascinating head-to-head confrontation on the euthanasia of severely disabled infants in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Udo Schuklenk, of Queen's University, in Canada, the co-editor of the journal Bioethics, and Gilbert Meilaender, of Valparaiso University, in Indiana, discuss the ethics of, in Schuklenk’s words, “what would amount to postnatal abortion”.
The arguments of both men are familiar, but succinct and quotable.
Arguing from a quality-of-life standpoint, Schuklenk writes that “Once we have concluded that death is what is in the best interest of the infant, it is unreasonable not to bring about this death as painlessly and as much controlled in terms of timing by the parents as is feasible.” Read more ..
|Chuck Leddy||December 13th 2014|
Reif said the ongoing pursuit of racial equality and social justice “is one of the world’s great challenges. … Recent events have shown us, again, that terrible fault lines of race are still a major issue in our society. It would be naïve to think that we at MIT are somehow immune to these problems: MIT is a microcosm of our broader society. It shares many of its flaws, as well as its virtues.”
Reif noted that the protesters “are asking us to listen, to collaborate, and to act.”
“Black Lives Matter”
Less than two hours later, inside Building E51, some 400 members of the MIT community — including about 100 who overflowed Wong Auditorium — participated in a dialogue on race at MIT that featured a panel discussion, as well as smaller group sessions. Read more ..
|John Newton ||December 7th 2014|
The leader of the Syriac Catholic Church has lashed out at Western governments, charging that they ignore the plight of displaced Christians in Iraq because they represent no economic stakes.
In an interview in the French capital with international charity Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Joseph III Younan of Antioch and All the East said that the Western world had been largely silent about the situation facing Christians in northern Iraq.
He said: “The international policy-makers, when it comes to minorities, have no policies to help those who have neither the numbers, nor the riches to make them attractive. And we have no oil—that is to say, we do not offer any economic advantages.”
The prelate that he come to “France and Europe to bring the voice of these communities who were persecuted, forced into exile and deprived of everything because of their Christian faith.” “Unfortunately the supposedly ‘civilized’ Western world is rather silent,” he added. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Michael Cook||December 6th 2014|
The Quipu Project is an interactive documentary about women and men who were sterilised in Peru in the mid-1990s by population controllers, often without informed consent. Using VOIP telephone lines and a web interface, researchers are gathering testimony from women in isolated communities high in the Andes. Many are illiterate and speak only Quechua, the principal indigenous language.
In the video, Francisca Quispe Pontenciano recalls the circumstances which led to her sterilisation. It makes painful listening.
This horrific story is hardly known outside of Peru. “I was working for Amnesty International in Peru in the 1990s and nobody knew this was going on,” Matthew Brown, of the University of Bristol, in the UK, told Prospect. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Diane Swanbrow||December 2nd 2014|
Older adults who live in retirement or senior housing communities are more likely to have unmet needs for help than are older adults who live in traditional housing, according to a new study.
About 2.5 million older adults live in these settings, nearly as many as the 3 million who live in residential care settings, including nursing homes.
"Unmet needs are common among older adults with limitations across all kinds of settings," said Vicki Freedman, research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. "But some needs, like those related to grocery shopping, laundry and making hot meals, are more likely to go unmet for those in retirement or senior housing communities.
The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, appears in a special issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences that highlights research findings from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, based on data from more than 8,000 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older. The NHATS is designed to provide a deeper understanding of national trends in late-life functioning, and the consequences of late-life disability for individuals, families, and society. Read more ..
Edge of Tolerance
|Dorian Jones ||November 29th 2014|
Pope Francis is in Istanbul on his three-day visit to Turkey. The Pontiff visited important religious sites ahead of talks with head of the Orthodox Christian church as part of reunification efforts.
The pope started his two-day visit to Istanbul visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque. He was guided by Istanbul’s chief Mufti who recited Koranic verses about the Virgin Mary.
Turkish media reports the pontiff asked for permission to pray. The act was interpreted as a gesture of reconciliation between the faiths, a key part of the pope’s visit. But Vatican officials chose to describe the act as a “silent moment of adoration of God.”
Pope Francis then visited the Hagia Sofia, for a thousand years, Christianity's most important church that later came under the Ottomans for 500 years as a mosque. The building has been a museum since the formation of the Turkish secular republic. Read more ..
The Way We Were
|George Friedman||November 27th 2014|
The first winter took many of the English at Plymouth. By fall 1621, only 53 remained of the 132 who had arrived on the Mayflower. But those who had survived brought in a harvest. And so, in keeping with tradition, the governor called the living 53 together for a three-day harvest feast, joined by more than 90 locals from the Wampanoag tribe. The meal was a moment to recognize the English plantation's small step toward stability and, hopefully, profit. This was no small thing. A first, deadly year was common. Getting through it was an accomplishment. England's successful colony of Virginia had had a massive death toll — of the 8,000 arrivals between 1607 and 1625, only 15 percent lived.
But still the English came to North America and still government and business leaders supported them. This was not without reason. In the 17th century, Europe was in upheaval and England's place in it unsure. Read more ..
Media on Edge
|David Meyers||November 26th 2014|
Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times bureau chief in Israel, has launched an unprecedented attack on pro-Israeli critics of her journalism, declaring that there “is a very active and very noisy group of advocates who has decided that tearing apart coverage of the conflict is a good tool of advocacy.”
Rudoren was speaking at a conference held at Israel’s Bar Ilan University last weekend which focused on media coverage of Operation Protective Edge, launched against the Hamas regime in Gaza by the IDF over the summer in response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israeli population centers. Read more ..
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