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The Edge of Medicine

Teenagers' Psychopathic Traits May Not be Cast in Stone

September 20th 2013

Click to select Image

Most youths are concerned about other people’s feelings, they feel bad or guilty when they have done something wrong and they adhere to social rules. A small group of youths, however, does not. These youths express psychopathic personality traits that are associated with adult psychopathy, a serious personality disorder that is linked with antisocial behavior and criminality. A study conducted by Selma Salihovic and her research team at Örebro University in Sweden shows that for this small group of youth, psychopathic traits remain quite stable over a period of four years. Their findings are published in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment.

While other recent studies have tried to describe the relative stability of adolescent psychopathic traits, Salihovic and her colleagues are the first to examine the long-term and joint development during adolescence of three defining, yet separate, characteristics that are hallmark of psychopathy. These characteristics, which include traits such as lack of remorse or guilt, manipulativeness and irresponsible behavior, are associated with juvenile delinquency, future antisocial behavior and violence. Read more ..

Russia on Edge

Russia’s Reaction Against Gay Rights Starts in St. Petersburg

September 18th 2013

Gay Pride

Kirill Kalugin, a St. Petersburg gay activist, recently tested Russia’s new ban on gay rallies. He chose national paratroopers’ day, in front of the world famous Hermitage Museum.

“In general, being openly gay in Russia isn't very safe, but when you're an activist, you get used to feeling unsafe,” Kalugin, age 22, said in an interview later. Kalugin was protesting Russia’s new law that bans “homosexual propaganda.”

He said, “The government showed the people who's the new 'enemy.' They chose one of the weakest groups in society that can't protect its own rights. And the law actually restricts any objective discussion of the issues.” A few blocks away from the Hermitage, at the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, Vitaly Milonov dismisses Kalugin as a publicity seeker. Milonov wrote Russia’s first gay propaganda ban. Now, this legislator leads Russia’s reaction against gay rights. Read more ..

The Edge of Healthcare

FAO Issues Avian Flu Warning

September 17th 2013


Avian flu continues to pose serious health threats to both human and animal health, especially as the flu season approaches. That’s the warning issued Monday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The FAO is calling on the international community to be vigilant for any signs of H5N1 and the new H7N9 avian flu. The former has been around for years, but H7N9 was first reported in China only last April. About 130 human infections were confirmed. Many of those patients had reported contact with poultry. Most had severe respiratory illness. Forty-four people died.

FAO senior animal health officer Ian Douglas saID timing of the warning is important. “We’ve had over a decade of experience with H5N1 avian influenza virus and generally speaking we’ve seen this pattern of increase of incidence of the disease with the coming of cooler weather following summer. The experience with H7N9 version of avian influenza virus is much more limited. But whilst the number of human cases of that infection have declined, there is the possibility that it could reemerge and become a more prevalent infection.” While both strains can jump from poultry to humans, there is a difference between the two. Read more ..

Cameroon on Edge

Voter ID Card Controversy Mars Cameroon Campaign

September 16th 2013

File Folders

Campaigning for parliamentary and local elections is officially underway in Cameroon, amid controversy over the alleged fabrication and buying of fake voter cards ahead of the September 30 poll.

Loudspeakers placed at strategic locations and in populous neighborhoods of Cameroon’s capital blare campaign messages by 35 political parties running in council and parliamentary elections this month.

This message by one opposition party, the National Union for Democracy and Progress, promises to unite the country and keep it out of conflict.

Meanwhile, Denis Kemlemo, a candidate with the main opposition Social Democratic Front, says he will focus on reviving the economy.  “Our economy is failing due to the adoption of unrealistic budgets, absence of true social justice and snail pace development.  It is for this reason that we are begging for your support during these upcoming parliamentary and council elections to help bring the change that we desperately need,” he said. But the campaigns have been overshadowed by a simmering controversy over voter registration.   Read more ..

Ethiopia on Edge

Ethiopia Cuts Child Mortality by Two-Thirds

September 15th 2013

Hungry African Widow/Children

The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, says Ethiopia has achieved one of the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality by more than two-thirds.

Ethiopia reduced its under-five mortality rate by 67 percent between 1990 and 2012, meeting the target for one of the Millennium Development Goals on child survival.  The announcement came after UNICEF released its latest report on child survival Friday.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu welcomed the positive results, but admitted that despite the improvements Ethiopia is still considered a high-mortality country:

“If you look at the absolute number of children dying in Ethiopia, it is still huge.  We have committed to end all preventive child deaths in a generation by 2035.  And we have developed a roadmap to reach that ambitious target," said Admasu. Read more ..

The Way We Are

NYC's Ground Zero Recovery Museum Comforts, Informs

September 15th 2013

Twin Towers 9/11

Wednesday marks the 12th anniversary of September 11, 2001 when two planes slammed into the towers of New York's World Trade Center, killing more than 2,000 people. The National September 11 Memorial Museum is to open next year and will revisit the story of that horrific morning. Images and stories of the recovery effort at Ground Zero, as emergency personnel and volunteers worked to find human remains and artifacts, are less well known.

At less than 93 square meters, the Ground Zero Museum Workshop is smaller than many of Manhattan’s one-bedroom apartments, but its contents hold meaning far larger than its small space.

Gary Marlon Suson created the museum as a way to share photographs and artifacts he collected as Official Ground Zero photographer during the recovery efforts in the months following the attacks. They tell a story of heroism and persistence that contrasts with the violence of 9/11 itself. 

"I decided why not open up my own tiny museum so people could use it as a tool of healing through learning the history of the special stories that happened inside Ground Zero," he explained. Suson said while September 11th looms large in modern American history, the recovery's intimate moments move him the most.  Read more ..

The Way We Are

Young People Choose Education Based on Parent's Background

September 14th 2013

university students and laptops

Even though Danish students have equal access to education, their choice of studies is still influenced by social class. Young people from working class backgrounds are motivated by studies with a clear job profile and high income, while prestige and studies with a strong identity appeal to young people of parents with university degrees when choosing which studies to pursue. This is what researchers from the University of Copenhagen conclude in a new study.

Students who have chosen to study medicine, architecture, economy and sociology often come from homes where the parents have completed higher education, whereas business studies and pharmacy often appeals to young people with a working class background. This is documented by a research team from the University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University in a new study. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

World Bank Issues Regional Health Reports

September 13th 2013

Nigera Mid-wives

The World Bank has released new reports outlining the health challenges facing six major regions. Those challenges include not only many types of disease, but road accidents as well. The bank says the reports will help policymakers develop evidence-based health programs after the Millennium Development Goals expire.

The World Bank has released the reports in conjunction with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Timothy Evans is the bank’s director of Health, Nutrition and Population.

“What we see when we look beyond the global picture is that there’s a lot of regional specificity to trends in the burden of disease. And so the regional focus just allows us more detail and attention to what’s happening in different regions of the world.” He said the world is too diverse to have a one-size-fits-all health plan. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Heart Patients More Likely to Take Medication When in Single Pill

September 12th 2013

Lots of Pills

Many patients who have heart disease or who have suffered a stroke don’t take their medications as regularly as prescribed. One study shows that a number of stroke patients stop taking their pills within three months after having a stroke. A new study in Britain finds that if patients with heart disease can take a single pill instead of several pills, they are more likely to stay on their medication.

Patients at risk for heart attack or stroke may be taking a lot of pills. Some could reduce blood pressure. Other pills could control cholesterol. Still others might be prescribed to prevent a heart attack.

Henryk Pycz, who has both high blood pressure and diabetes, participated in a study to see if he could do better in managing his health by reducing the number of pills he had to take. "When I was taking the medication consisting of a variety of tablets, I'd have either five, six or seven tablets to take," he said. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Daughter of Auschwitz Kommandant Modeled for Balenciaga, Worked at Jewish-owned Shop for 35 Years

September 11th 2013

Rudolf Hoess at Nuremburg

One of the daughters of Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Höss once capitalized on her beauty to walk the runway as a model for dress maker Balenciaga, then, in the U.S., worked for a Jewish shop owner in Washington, D.C. for 35 years, The Washington Post reports.

Brigitte Höss, 80, who refused to allow her married name to be published, has spent much of her life trying to forget her family history. “It was a long time ago,” she told the Post. “I didn’t do what was done. I never talk about it—it is something within me. It stays with me.”

Rudolf Höss, her father, designed and presided over Auschwitz, where 1.1 million Jews were killed, along with 20,000 gypsies and tens of thousands of Polish and Russian political prisoners. He was later captured and handed over to the Polish, who executed him.

Brigitte managed to leave Germany and make a new life for herself in Spain in the years following the war, working for Balenciaga for three years. There she met an Irish-American engineer working for a Washington-based communications company.

In 1972 they moved to Washington. While working for a small boutique she was approached by a Jewish lady, who, enamored with her style, asked her to come and work in her fashion salon.

Soon after she was hired, Brigitte got drunk with her manager and confessed that her father was Rudolf Höss. The manager told the store’s owner, but the owner told Brigitte that she could stay, as she had not committed any crime herself—despite the fact that the store owner and her husband were Jewish and had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Brigitte worked at the store for 35 years. The son of the owners of the store told the Post that his parents had employed Brigitte out of a sense of “humanity.” Read more ..

Egypt's Second Revolution

Deliberate Muslim Brotherhood Violence in Cairo Fostering the "Victimization and Martyrdom" Narrative

September 11th 2013

Muslim Brotherhood bus burning 10 2012

One of the main contributions of the Brotherhood to the political-social Islamic revival of these last generations was the development of the concept of the western "crusader" cultural threat to the Muslim world. According to this concept, the Muslim world is under siege and is facing an existential threat which can only be solved with the reestablishment of the greater Islamic state founded on the principles of exclusively Sharia rule. The Muslim Brotherhood developed an integrated approach, where the strategic conflict for the reestablishment of the Islamic state in all or most of the territory that was under Islamic rule over the course of history, is combined with self-defense in face of the war waged against Islam by the western culture and its champions.

This self-defense is an uncompromising Jihad against the enemy, a war for all intents and purposes and by any means. It starts by introducing the centrality of Islam in Muslim society through advocacy, education and culture, and moves to the Jihad - either organized as a war, or as what Western political culture define as terrorism. Read more ..

The Glass Ceilling

Women Veterans Face Stereotypes on and Off the Battlefield

September 9th 2013

The Pentagon

The fight to feel like a veteran weighs substantially on female soldiers returning from war, though their numbers have been historic, with more than 280,000 returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade.

A News21 demographic analysis shows that 17.4 percent of post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are women. More than a quarter of those women are black, almost twice the proportion found in the entire U.S. population.

Yet, these same women are less likely to find a job than male veterans and more likely to be a single parent with children to support, interviews and records show. They return to a nation that historically defines “veteran” as male, which in the post-9/11 era has meant a lack of female-specific resources at VA facilities across the country. A 2013 Institute of Medicine report found that women in combat-support roles, like men, experience intense warfare and constant threats on their lives, but the implications of this trauma for women has been overlooked. Read more ..

Bahrain on Edge

Bahrain's Challenge to U.S. Diplomacy

September 8th 2013

Bahrain enraged protesters

On September 3, Bahrain announced another limitation on its very limited democracy, which allows elections but not political parties. The new rule was clear, at least in Bahrain-speak: the island's political "societies" need to ask for permission to meet with foreign diplomats at least three days in advance and, if permission is granted, accept that a government-nominated observer will also attend. The new regulation was no doubt aimed at Shiite opposition groups, which withdrew from parliament in 2011 after a government clampdown on violent demonstrations led neighboring Saudi Arabia to intervene with tanks and soldiers to bolster the government of the Sunni monarch, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

The restrictions, which also apply to undefined foreign political organizations, appear to be a consequence of a rare joint meeting of the (appointed) upper and (elected) lower houses of parliament held in July. That meeting resulted in twenty-two recommendations that included restricting contacts with foreign diplomats and banning rallies in the capital. Since the Shiite resignations two years ago, the national assembly has been perceived as reflecting hardline views in the royal family, particularly those of the prime minister and king's uncle, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, who is believed to be behind the latest change. Read more ..

Cameroon on Edge

Cameroon Struggles With Universal Education

September 7th 2013

Student at Blackboard-Togo

It has been 13 years since Cameroon instituted free primary education to meet one of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.  But the program has led to a shortage of funds to pay teachers and many are refusing to teach or have abandoned their schools, despite threats of dismissal from the government.

Many teachers at a Catholic school called College de la Retreat in the heart of Yaounde are returning.  Classes began this week in schools around Cameroon for the 2013-2014 school year.

Most schoolgoers like Blandine Mbassi said they are happy to return.  The nine-year-old class-six pupil, whose dream is to become a medical doctor, said they had their first lectures in some subjects. "Mathematics, French, English, science.  I want to be a doctor," Mbassi said. Read more ..

Education on Edge

College Students Spark Creativity in Kids

September 6th 2013

Science students

Children in a Washington neighborhood are excited about building things they designed.

They are participating in a hands-on learning workshop offered by SparkTruck, created by students from Stanford University. Last year, they launched what they call an educational build-mobile and took it on a two-month trip across the country, offering workshops to nearly 3,000 children along the way.

Now, in their second year, they were joined by students from three other California colleges. “We are trying to bring creativity and design workshops to kids all over, and bring them prototype tools and materials," said Bengi Kuroda from the Art Center College of Design, "and show them that all these things are accessible to them even if they don’t have them at school.”

The children start by brainstorming ideas. Then they build a prototype of whatever they've dreamed up. “I made a flying cyclops, just one eye," said Owen Whitman, a workshop participant. "I had a lot of fun making new stuff and learning...how electricity works.” Read more ..

The Edge of Innovation

Philippines Bicycle Company Says Its Products Protect Environment

September 5th 2013

filipino coal miner

Can bicycles help the Philippines reduce poverty and protect the environment at the same time? A social entrepreneur who owns a company called Bambikes says his line of high-end bicycles made of locally grown bamboo can do just that.

Bryan Benitez McClelland is passionate about bicycles. Like many others who head out onto the streets of Makati City, the 29-year old Filipino-American rides a bike. But his is made of bamboo.   

“So bamboo is a pretty incredible material. In the plant kingdom it grows really rapidly and absorbs tons of carbon dioxide. From that perspective, it’s a very renewable resource. And then in the performance level, its got the characteristics of naturally vibration dampening pole structures, which really absorb the road chatter and road buzz and makes for a super smooth ride,” he said.

In 2010, McClelland founded Bambikes, a company that turns locally sourced bamboo into bike frames. The Bambikes workshop is located in the countryside, in the town of Victoria, 130 kilometers from Metro Manila. Out here, the bamboo is harvested from farms and the wild. Bambike’s workers cut, treat and process the material into specialized bike frames. The finished products are not cheap. They start at around $1,200. McClelland said much of the profit, however, goes back into this poor community.   Read more ..

South Africa on Edge

South Africa’s 'Strike Season' Underway

September 4th 2013

Striking mine workers Sep 2012

South Africans call it the strike season. It happens every two years when wage negotiations take place in different economic sectors and cripple them with labor walkouts. This year, strike season is affecting the mining, construction and automobile sectors. The only thing out of the ordinary this time is the exceptionally high pay demands from competing unions, at a time when companies are struggling in a tough international environment.  

The confederation of South African trade unions, COSATU, has long been a key player in national politics. It is now going through a difficult transition, however, with increased infighting. At the top, its longtime secretary-general and president are at loggerheads, while some of its member unions are losing ground in several sectors, from mines to transportation. Vic Van Vuuren, the director of the International Labor Organization in South Africa, explained.

“There is a move at the shop floor level, where workers are disillusioned about what is happening within COSATU, and are starting to form their own breakaways. That in itself is leading to a shop floor debate where the unions are trying to get better deals with their members and leading to very high demands,” said Van Vuuren. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

Killing Mosquitoes Early On

September 3rd 2013

mosquito bites knuckle

Targeting mosquitoes in their early stages of life has the potential to greatly boost malaria control efforts and prevent thousands of new infections every year. A new study looks at the effectiveness of – what’s called -- larval source management or LSM. It’s estimated malaria causes 660,000 deaths every year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Currently, the main malaria preventive measures are long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets and the indoor spraying of homes. But mosquitoes are building up resistance to the chemicals. That’s one reason why researchers reviewed 13 studies of LSM from Eritrea, Kenya, The Gambia, Mali, Tanzania, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Greece.

Lucy Tusting -- an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine -- is the lead author of what’s called The Cochrane review. “This research was important because a number of malaria endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere are currently using larval source management. But there’s a real lack of consensus on how effective the method can be and in which settings it’s appropriate. And few studies have so far been conducted to rigorously evaluate the intervention,” she said. Read more ..

Violent America

Violence Against Teenage Girls Leads to Less Education and Fewer Earnings

September 2nd 2013

Dating violence in adolescence not only takes a physical and emotional toll on young women, it also leads to less education and lower earnings later in life, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

A young woman’s educational performance may be hindered by her partner’s actions, such as destroying books or homework or causing injuries that prevent her from going to school.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, reinforce the need for programs and efforts to support victims’ education and career development throughout their lives, said Adrienne Adams, lead researcher on the study and MSU assistant professor of psychology.

Adams previously worked in a domestic violence shelter and saw first-hand the economic barriers faced by abuse victims.

“It was woman after woman coming into the shelter trying to find a job and a house she could afford – trying to reestablish life on her own,” Adams said. “Many women would end up going back to their abusive relationship because they couldn’t make it on their own financially.” Read more ..

Tanzania on Edge

Child Gold Miners Work in Hazardous Conditions in Tanzania

September 2nd 2013

India child labor

The international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, HRW, warned children as young as eight years old are working in small-scale gold mines in Tanzania, a job that is putting their health and even their lives at risk.

The dangers faced by the children were highlighted in a report recently released by HRW after an extensive investigation into the lives of children who work in small-scale and informal mines.

“We found that there are thousands of children working in these small-scale gold mines and they do work in very hazardous conditions.  They risk  injury, for example, when working in very deep unstable pits which sometimes collapse.  And we interviewed some children who were actually themselves involved in accidents,” explained Juliane Kippenberg, a senior researcher for HRW. She also pointed out that the children carry loads that are far too heavy for their young age, causing damage to their spines, and the children are exposed to the toxic metal mercury when separating the gold from the ore. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

World Bank Approves Loan To Sugar Plantation Amid Concerns About Kidney Disease

September 1st 2013


A mysterious kidney disease that is afflicting Central American agricultural workers has been raising growing alarms among governments, and in April the region’s health ministers jointly declared that the ailment was among their top public health priorities.

Yet only weeks after the health ministers issued their declaration, the World Bank approved a new loan to expand a sugar plantation in Nicaragua, renewing its support for an industry whose workers have been devastated by the disease. The $15 million loan to the Montelimar plantation in Nicaragua is estimated to create 1,300 new rural jobs, according to World Bank documents.

Over the last two years, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has examined how a rare type of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is killing thousands of agricultural workers along Central America’s Pacific Coast, as well as in Sri Lanka and India. Scientists have yet to definitively uncover the cause of the parallel epidemics, which have caused tens of thousands of deaths worldwide and are suspected to be linked to dehydration and toxic exposure.

ICIJ’s initial report, Island of the Widows, focused on a leading Nicaraguan sugar plantation that received substantial loans in 2006 from the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation. Sick former workers from the plantation filed a complaint to the IFC’s ombudsman alleging that the loan violated the Bank’s guidelines by failing to consider the epidemic. The complaint resulted in a recently concluded study of the epidemic’s causes by a team from Boston University, which found that there was still not enough evidence to get to the bottom of the mystery.


The Edge of Health

Access to Fresh Produce and Good Nutrition Reduces Diabetes Risk for African-Americans

August 31st 2013

Click to select Image

Trying to find a produce store or a large grocer in an economically depressed neighborhood is about as easy as finding an apple in a candy store. Lack of access to good nutrition impacts racial and ethnic minorities and recent immigrants disproportionately. Poor nutrition combined with higher stress can contribute to other health problems, including type 2 diabetes.

But a new University of Michigan study may help explain how to cope with this stress and perhaps curb some of these health problems.

Rebecca Hasson, assistant professor at the U-M schools of Kinesiology and Public Health, found that overweight and obese African-American children and teens who successfully adapt to mainstream American culture—while maintaining strong ties with their own—could reduce stress and stress eating. In turn, this could reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. Read more ..

The Edge of Justice

Black Oakland Youth Arrested, But Not Charged, In Stunning Numbers

August 31st 2013

Southside of Chicago

African-American youth in Oakland, Calif. are arrested — but then not charged — at “vastly disproportionate” rates compared to others, which raises troubling questions about police interactions with some of the city’s most vulnerable young people, according to a report released this week by civil rights advocates.

During a five-year period between 2008 and 2012, black children represented 29 percent of Oakland’s school-age population but 78 percent of the more than 13,680 juveniles arrested — mostly by city police — and referred to the Alameda County Probation Department, according to the study, “From Report Card to Criminal Record.”

“Shockingly,” the report also says, more than half of those arrests did not lead to charges or further involvement by probation officials. Black kids represented 78 percent of the youths whose arrests were not “sustained” in the end, according to an analysis of information obtained by the report’s authors. Read more ..

The Defense Edge

Suicide Rate for Veterans Far Exceeds That of Civilian Population

August 30th 2013

Soldier Crying

Veterans are killing themselves at more than double the rate of the civilian population with about 49,000 taking their own lives between 2005 and 2011, according to data collected over eight months by News21.

Records from 48 states show the annual suicide rate among veterans is about 30 for every 100,000 of the population, compared to a civilian rate of about 14 per 100,000. The suicide rate among veterans increased an average 2.6 percent a year from 2005 to 2011, or more than double that of the 1.1 percent civilian rate, according to News21’s analysis of states’ mortality data. Nearly one in every five suicides nationally is a veteran — 18 to 20 percent annually — compared with Census data that shows veterans make up about 10 percent of the U.S. adult population. Read more ..

American History

Martin Luther King's Dream Still Eludes America

August 29th 2013

Click to select Image

A quarter of a million people rallied “For Jobs and Freedom” at the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, and tens if not hundreds of thousands will do so again at this year’s fifty-year commemorations of the event.

The March for Jobs and Freedom came one hundred years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Recognizing the unfulfilled promises facing African Americans, King wanted President John F. Kennedy to issue a second proclamation to open the way to full civil and voting rights. But he demanded more than that: King and March organizers could not separate civil rights from people’s economic needs, and we should not do so today.

At the time of the 1963 march, most Southern states prohibited African Americans from voting. Segregation laws and practices in many parts of the country prohibited African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Mexican Americans from using restaurants, parks, libraries, and even cemeteries reserved for so-called “white” Americans. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Palestinian Girl Given a Lease on Life from Israeli Hospital and Doctors

August 28th 2013

Click to select Image

Facing life-long paralysis, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl from the Gaza Strip regained her ability to breathe on her own following a successful surgery at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern NY. A Jewish surgeon, Dr. Mark Ginsburg – a staff physician at the Catholic hospital – was assisted by Israeli surgeons at the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem to implant a phrenic nerve pacemaker for Maria Amman. The girl had been paralyzed from the neck down, unable to breathe without a ventilator since 2006.

The phrenic nerve pacemaking device sends electrical signals to Maria’s diaphragm, thus enabling her to respire on her own. Dr. Ginsburg (58) has performed the procedure at least 100 times in a number of different countries, including Brazil and Israel, and at Good Samarian Hospital in the United States. Only 50 of these life-saving procedures are performed each year. Since 2007, Dr. Ginsburg has operated about a half dozen times at Hadassah Medical Center on patients from Alyn Hospital and other Israeli hospitals. He met Maria in 2011 during one of his visits. Read more ..

The Medical Edge

Perception of Marijuana as a 'Safe Drug' is Scientifically Inaccurate

August 27th 2013


The nature of the teenage brain makes users of cannabis amongst this population particularly at risk of developing addictive behaviors and suffering other long-term negative effects, according to researchers at the University of Montreal and New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Of the illicit drugs, cannabis is most used by teenagers since it is perceived by many to be of little harm. This perception has led to a growing number of states approving its legalization and increased accessibility. Most of the debates and ensuing policies regarding cannabis were done without consideration of its impact on one of the most vulnerable population, namely teens, or without consideration of scientific data. While it is clear that more systematic scientific studies are needed to understand the long-term impact of adolescent cannabis exposure on brain and behavior, the current evidence suggests that it has a far-reaching influence on adult addictive behaviors particularly for certain subsets of vulnerable individuals. Read more ..

The Edge of Healthcare

Treated Bed Nets Critical to Eradicating Debilitating Tropical Disease

August 26th 2013

mosquito biting

Inexpensive bed nets treated with insecticide may hold the key to eradicating a debilitating disease that threatens one-fifth of the world's population - mainly those living in Southeast Asia and Africa.

Scientists say they have been able to demonstrate that the most common cause of the tropical disease elephantiasis can be virtually eradicated - even in lieu of medication - if those at risk sleep under nets treated with chemicals that kill mosquitoes.

Lisa Reimer, a lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, was part of the team in Papua New Guinea studying progress over several years in eliminating the disease, caused by tiny worms most frequently injected into people by mosquitoes. Reimer states that she was surprised at how effective anti-malaria bed nets laced with insecticide could be at combating lymphatic filariasis - whose most horrifying symptom, elephantiasis, is the massive swelling of skin and tissue. Read more ..

Islam's War Against Jewry

Anti-Semitism in Sweden Forces Jews to Question their Future

August 25th 2013

Rabbi Namdar-Chabad-Sweden

Attacks against Jews in Malmoe, Sweden's third largest city, have left members of the community questioning their future in a place known for its "multiculturalism." Jewish people have lived in Malmoe for over two centuries, often arriving in the south Swedish port city - a safe haven for generations - after fleeing persecution and intolerance in other parts of Europe.

But though waves of immigration over the past two decades have made the area more diverse, hate crimes appear to be on the rise and many people -
paradoxically - say they feel less secure. Highlighting a problem many Swedes had thought long relegated to history, the US special envoy for anti-Semitism even visited Malmoe last year. Read more ..

Broken Bookselling

Authors, Readers Band Together to Stop Goodreads “Bullying” and Even Rape Claims

August 24th 2013

Shadowy Computer User

Who knew the book industry was filled with such venom, such mayhem, such…death threats?

Book discovery and discussion site Goodreads has been the battlefield recently for a game that is causing concern among both authors and readers alike. According to some reports from actual users, there are roving bands of “bullies” on the site, some of them actual moderators approved by Goodreads, who seek out titles to destroy with artificially low rankings and ratings. How is it artificial? Because some of the books haven’t even been published yet, and ARCs were not sent out. (Goodreads terms of service allows this pre-release ranking to demonstrate a reader’s interest level based on a blurb about the book.)

After author Lauren Howard made the decision recently to pull her debut novel from publication after a firestorm of hatred–including what she claims to have been rape and death threats–more information on this level of behavior surfaced from other sources. Read more ..

The Battle for Egypt

Morsi Supporters Fail to Muster on Cairo Streets, Reuters Reports

August 23rd 2013

Wounded Egyptian Protester

Reueters reported: "Mass protests called by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood mostly failed to materialize on Friday as the movement reeled from a bloody army crackdown on followers of ousted President Mohamed Mursi. Troops and police had taken relatively low-key security measures before the "Friday of Martyrs" processions that were to have begun from 28 mosques in the capital after weekly prayers."

The news service also reported, "But midday prayers were canceled at some mosques and there were few signs of major demonstrations unfolding in Cairo.

"We are not afraid; it's victory or death," said Mohamed Abdel Azim, a retired oil engineer who was among about 100 people marching slowly from a mosque near Cairo University. They intend to strike at Muslims," the grey-bearded Azim said. "We'd rather die in dignity than live in oppression. We'll keep coming out until there's no one left."

"Some marchers carried posters of Mursi, who was toppled by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on July 3 after huge demonstrations against his rule. "No to the coup," they chanted."


The Way We Are

U.S. Journalist Kicked Off Russian TV For Discussing Antigay Laws

August 22nd 2013

Gay Pride

The Kremlin-funded network RT abruptly pulled an American journalist off the air for talking about the Russian government's antigay laws instead of the topic at hand.

The drama unfolded as James Kirchick, a gay journalist who has written for "The New Republic" and "The Washington Post," among other publications (including RFE/RL), was being interviewed from Stockholm by the Moscow-based television station for a panel discussion about U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning.

When the host turned to Kirchick for his thoughts, he pulled on a pair of rainbow-colored suspenders and quoted the American playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein as saying, "Being silent in the face of evil is something we can't do."

"You know, being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network, I'm going to wear my gay-pride suspenders and I'm going to speak out against the horrific antigay legislation that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has signed into law, that was passed unanimously by the Russian Duma, that criminalizes homosexual propaganda, that effectively makes it illegal for people to talk about homosexuality in public," Kirchick says. The puzzled RT host responds, "Yes..?" and Kirchick continues, saying, "We've seen a spate of violent attacks on gay people..." before the host jumps in again to suggest they get back to the discussion about Manning. Read more ..

The Medical Edge

Disease Caused by Repeat Brain Trauma in Athletes May Affect Memory, Mood, Behavior

August 21st 2013

MRI Machine

New research suggests that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease associated with repeat brain trauma including concussions in athletes, may affect people in two major ways: initially affecting behavior or mood or initially affecting memory and thinking abilities. CTE has been found in amateur and professional athletes, members of the military and others who experienced repeated head injuries, including concussions and subconcussive trauma.

"This is the largest study to date of the clinical presentation and course of CTE in autopsy-confirmed cases of the disease," said study author Robert A. Stern, PhD, "However, the overall number of cases in the study is still small and there may be more variations in CTE than described here."

For the study, scientists examined the brains of 36 male athletes, ages 17 to 98, diagnosed with CTE after death, and who had no other brain disease, such as Alzheimer's. The majority of the athletes had played amateur or professional football, with the rest participating in hockey, wrestling or boxing. Read more ..

The Battle for Egypt

Islamist Mob Parades Nuns in Cairo as Prisoners of War After Looting Church

August 20th 2013

Islamist Protest PostMorsi

A mob marched nuns through the battle-torn streets of Cairo ‘like prisoners of war’ in the latest outrage against Egypt’s Christian minority. Sister Manal, principal of a Franciscan school in suburban Cairo, watched for six hours as a mob looted the building, knocked the cross off the gate and replaced it with a black banner resembling the flag of Al Qaeda. The classrooms were then burned to the ground and the women taken away, attracting a crowd of abusive onlookers.

Police told Sister Manal that the nuns had been targeted by hardline Islamists, convinced that they had given Muslim children an inappropriate education.

‘We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us,’ she said. ‘At the end, they paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us.’ Read more ..

South Africa on Edge

Year After South African Mine Shooting, Residents See No Change

August 19th 2013

Striking mine workers Sep 2012

In South Africa, August 16, 2012, will be remembered as the date of one of the country's most violent police confrontations since the apartheid era.  Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.  The miners were striking to demand a significant pay raise and improved conditions.  Officials say that since then, progress has been made: a commission is investigating the incident and the miners have been granted some raises.  A year later, residents believe things have changed for the worse, not better.

Many South Africans said this scene reminded them of the apartheid days.  Not since those dark days, they say, have they seen police shooting wildly into a crowd of black workers.

But this happened in 2012, when miners held an illegal strike at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.  They were led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which challenged the powerful National Union of Mineworkers. Read more ..

Montenegro on Edge

Bankruptcy, Layoffs, And Lawsuits Plague Montenegrin Aluminum Plant

August 19th 2013

Euro Bills

The no-holds-barred conflict over a key piece of Montenegro's economy has just taken a billion-euro turn for the worse. That much became clear in a video press conference from Moscow for journalists in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica.

Yury Moiseyev, the former director of the Podgorica Aluminum Plant (KAP), said the plant's Russian shareholder that he represents was preparing an enormous lawsuit against the Montenegrin government, seeking compensation for alleged unfulfilled promises and lost profits.

"The government of Montenegro did not give us the chance to realize our plans for developing the plant and we, of course, are applying to arbitration courts. We have hired several law firms," Moiseyev said.

"We at present have submitted a lawsuit [in Podgorica] for 93 million euros ($123 million) and we will be filing with [an arbitration court in] Frankfurt a complaint on the falsification during the privatization of KAP, of the lack of fulfillment of the civil agreement. So far, preliminarily, we set the sum of damages at 1 billion euros." Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Computer Exposure Leads To Fears Of 'Digital Dementia'

August 18th 2013

Teenager texting

In South Korea, doctors call it "digital dementia." The Asian country is one of the world's most wired societies, with 95 percent of the population connected to the Internet. There, young people in their late 20s and early 30s regularly show up at clinics exhibiting many of the symptoms usually associated with mental disorders in the elderly. Those symptoms include memory problems, an inability to concentrate, and sleeplessness.

The young patients' difficulties, the doctors say, come from high exposure levels to digital screen media, ranging from televisions to computers to game consoles to smart phones. And while no one has yet calculated how many young Koreans are affected, the phenomenon is adding fuel to the already contentious debate between neuroscientists over the health risks of using digital media. Manfred Spitzer, the head of the Psychiatry Department at Ulm University in Germany, is among those who believe the overuse of computers damages the development of children's brains. Read more ..

Russia on Edge

The Beginning Of A Journey: The Straights Fighting For Russia's Gays

August 17th 2013

Gay Pride

As a heterosexual former army medic in the tough tank-producing town of Nizhny Tagil, Valentin Degteryov never imagined he'd be risking his life to champion gay rights.

But that all changed this year after he saw a series of videos, made by a local nationalist gang, showing gay men being bullied and tormented.

Degteryov, 43, launched an online campaign to shame the group that made the videos. He appealed repeatedly for the police to arrest them. He sent images of the abuse to international gay rights groups to rally support abroad. His outspoken stance earned him threatening phone calls and nationalists have offered to pay a bounty to anyone who beats him up. But Degteryov wasn’t deterred. If anything, he became more vocal. "In reality, strength lies with the people who don't fear the fascists and the scum in this country -- with people who will fight for the rights of any person," he says. "Homosexuals are people too, just like me." Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Community-based Innovation Thrives in Hackerspaces

August 16th 2013

Computers/Nerd Silhouette

Community workshops dubbed "hackerspaces" originated in Germany more than a decade ago. After a slow start, they're now appearing in cities around the world, including United States.

In North America, the word "hacker" most commonly refers to someone who illegally breaks into computer networks. But hackerspaces are social clubs for activities that include tinkering, machine tooling, and 3-D printing. Some hackerspaces market themselves under the more benign-sounding label of "maker space," which are now drawing attention as private incubators for entrepreneurship. 

"Our original name had the word 'hack' in it," said Justin Burns, who co-founded a hackerspace now called OlyMEGA, short for Olympia Makers, Engineers, Geeks and Artists. "Those of us in the know knew what it meant, felt like it was a positive term, but it was not perceived that way on the outside." Read more ..

The Way We Are

Obesity Kills More Americans Than Previously Thought

August 15th 2013

Obese man

Obesity is a lot more deadly than previously thought. Across recent decades, obesity accounted for 18 percent of deaths among Black and White Americans between the ages of 40 and 85, according to a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This finding challenges the prevailing wisdom among scientists, which puts that portion at around 5 percent.

"Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe," says first author Ryan Masters, PhD. "We expect that obesity will be responsible for an increasing share of deaths in the United States and perhaps even lead to declines in U.S. life expectancy."

While there have been signs that obesity is in decline for some groups of young people, rates continue to be near historic highs. For the bulk of children and adults who are already obese, the condition will likely persist, wreaking damage over the course of their lives. Read more ..

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