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The Edge of Health

Depression Alone Rarely Causes Suicide

August 13th 2014

woman headache head bowed

In his stand-up and best-loved comedies, including Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams was known for his rapid-fire impersonations and intensely playful energy. His most critically acclaimed work, however, including his Oscar-winning turn in Good Will Hunting, married humor with sharp introspection and appreciation for melancholy.
Reports of his death from apparent suicide on August 11 at the age of 63 prompted much speculation about the actor’s personality and mental health. Williams had been seeking treatment for severe depression, and many commenters have labeled that as the reason for his death. Whereas the majority of people who commit suicide have depression, less than four percent of people with depression eventually take their lives. Clearly, more factors are at work as causes of suicide than depression alone. The severity of mood disorders, past suicide attempts and substance abuse are all thought to increase the risk. Recent evidence also suggests that the mixed depressive state of bipolar disorder can be a particularly dangerous time that can often go undetected or masquerade as depression and irritability. Read more ..

The Race for Alt Energy

American Southerners Have a Different Take on Energy's Environmental Impact

August 13th 2014

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Southerners are less likely than Americans in other parts of the country to believe that energy affects the environment by at least a fair amount, according to the latest findings of the University of Michigan Energy Survey.

A joint effort of the U-M Energy Institute and Institute for Social Research, the quarterly survey gauges consumer perceptions and beliefs about key energy-related concerns including affordability, reliability and impact on the environment.

When asked if energy affects the environment, "not at all," "a little," "a fair amount" or "a lot," 69 percent of Southerners chose the latter two answers. The choices of "a fair amount" or "a lot" were given by 77 percent of consumers in the Midwest, 79 percent in the West and 82 percent in the Northeast. Read more ..

The Healthy Edge

Good Family Values Lessen Risk of Addiction

August 13th 2014

Urban teens whose parents provide high levels of emotional support are more likely to avoid binge drinking and marijuana use, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Researchers examined the family dynamics and parental support among 850 high school students identified as at-risk for dropout, based on a grade point average of 3.0 or lower at the end of 8th grade. Data were collected at four stages every 12 months over four years.

Students responded to statements such as "family members criticize each other" and "we fight in our family," as well as "my mother/father enjoys hearing about what I think" and "I rely on my mother/father for moral support." Read more ..

The Way We Are

Central American Immigrants are Both Pulled and Pushed to the United States

August 12th 2014

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Central American immigrants head north atop a Mexican train

The tens of thousands of Central Americans who have crossed over the border in south Texas seeking asylum over the past year left their homelands to escape poverty and violence. But they also have been drawn to the United States by the idea that they would be allowed to stay. Even though many of them, in fact, face deportation after their expensive, difficult and dangerous journey, they say they had no choice but to try.

A man, who calls himself Eddy, fled his hometown in Guatemala with his three-year-old daughter in fear for their lives. “There is a lot of crime, drug trafficking and kidnapping of children. The drug traffickers have a lot of power,” he said.

The same fear drove Alma Ciro and her two children from their home in crime-plagued Honduras. “It is an ugly situation. There is crime, a lot of unemployment because there are few employers, and there are men who chase the girls leaving school. This happened to my daughter,” she said. Read more ..

Africa on Edge

Eritrea Faces Youth Drain

August 11th 2014

African immigrants at Lampedusa island italy

A new report said a lot of young people are leaving Eritrea due to authoritarian rule, growing dissatisfaction and long-term national service. The International Crisis Group has called for both domestic and international action to reduce the youth drain.

Many young Africans are leaving the continent hoping to find jobs and opportunities elsewhere. But the International Crisis Group said the youth exodus from Eritrea is acute.

It said the Eritrean government’s demand to “sacrifice individual ambition for the greater good of the nation” is causing people to leave.

Dr. Cedric Barnes, ICG’s Horn of Africa Project Director, said, “The primary driver at the moment seems to be because people are fed-up with the national service, where people are required to either join the army or work for the government in various capacities for very little money and with no prospect of being released. We are seeing people voting with their feet, as it were, to avoid these demands.” Many risk their lives doing so. Read more ..

Inside Kenya

'Green Loans' Help Kenya's Farmers

August 10th 2014

African subsistence farming

A quarter of Kenya's population are farmers. Few of these 10 million have ever received training on how to improve their production or how to expand their businesses with financing. Most of these farmers shun the idea of a loan after seeing neighbors lose livestock or whole farms when they can't keep up with repayments to loan sharks. 

Now a new company is offering cash for conservation measures, though, in the hope that so-called "green loans" will help farmers with better borrowing terms, while teaching them how to protect Kenya's most fertile soils and ensure that the country can keep feeding itself.
Fifty-year-old Samuel Karioki has been farming since he left school, harvesting the same vegetable crop each season. But this year, Karioki's neat rows of cabbages are bursting into one another, and he is expecting a bumper crop of potatoes. After years of struggle, his success is thanks to a $90 loan that he used to buy top quality seeds and fertilizer for the first time. Read more ..

The Battle for Baghdad

Who are the Yazidi People of Iraq?

August 9th 2014

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Islamic militants this week encircled thousands of members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, prompting the Obama administration to carry out humanitarian air drops to the refugees who fled their homes to Mount Sinjar. Here are answers to six questions about the Yazidi people, religion, and history.

Who Are The Yazidis?

The Yazidis are socio-religious group that is traditionally rural -- namely farmers or shepherds -- and whose members are primarily native Kurdish speakers. Their numbers worldwide likely do not exceed 1 million.

The traditional community leader, who carries the title “mir,” or “prince,” resides in the town of Ain Sifni, east of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. The main Yazidi temple is nearby in the valley of Lalish, considered a holy site among the Yazidis. The famous British mystery writer Agatha Christie once described the temple as one of the most beautiful places she had ever seen. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Latino Students Most Segregated in California

August 8th 2014

Latino kids in school

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos.

Immigrants from Latin America believe that coming to the United States means a better life for their children. But many find themselves living in dangerous places and with a bleak future, said Gary Orfield, co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project.

“They are the places where the gangs are concentrated, the crime is concentrated, there is no real job market and the schools are what we call 'dropout factories,'” said Orfield. In the United States, the public school a student attends depends on where the child lives. Those in more affluent neighborhoods usually attend better public schools. Read more ..

The Islamic State

Iraqi Christians and Yazidis Flee Genocide at the Hands of the Islamic State

August 7th 2014

Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in northern Iraq's Nineveh province, was assaulted by the military forces of the so-called Islamic State on August 6. The entire population of the town, amounting to between 50,000 to 60,000 souls, have now fled to neighboring Kurdistan and settled around the city of Erbil. In June of this year, the people of Qaraqosh had fled in terror when the city of Mosul was overwhelmed by the army of the Islamic State, but approximately 80 percent of them had since returned.

The most recent flight of Christians came when the Sunni Muslim jihadis of the Islamic State fired mortars into Qaraqosh and killed two children and a 30-year-old woman. The flight of Assyrians was precipitated also by the retreat of Kurdish forces from the Nineveh Plain. With no one left to defend them, the Assyrians followed the retreating Kurdish forces. The situation of the Assyrian refugees is critical. There are thousands who fled on foot and are stranded on the roads without food or water. Many are elderly, handicapped or otherwise disabled people.


The Islamic State

The Islamic State Beheads Christians in Iraq while Advancing towards Baghdad

August 7th 2014

Syriac Orthodox Bishop George Saliba of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli denounced Muslims as enemies of Jesus, while accusing them of a long history of violence and persecution of Christians. "What is happening in Iraq is a strange thing, but it is normal for Muslims, because they have never treated Christians well, and they have always held an offensive and defaming stand against Christians," said Bishop Saliba according to Elnashra.com "We are not calling for armament and war; we don't have the capacities," Saliba said. "We used to live and coexist with Muslims, but then they revealed their canines [teeth]."

The bishop accused Muslims of centuries of violence against Christians, while he condemned the attacks on the Christians of Iraqi Mosul. "[They don't] have the right to storm houses, steal and attack the honor of Christians," Saliba said. "Most Muslims do this, the Ottomans killed us and after that the ruling nation-states understood the circumstances but always gave advantage to the Muslims." Saliba also said Muslims are raised to have bad feelings about Christians, saying "Islam has never changed, and Muslims have been educated on the bad treatment of Christians."

"We are not surprised by these behaviors, but we [put hopes] on some Muslims brothers who do not support such behaviors, despite them being a minority." Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Stagnating Wages Weigh upon Americans' Economic Mood

August 7th 2014

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Stagnating wages are weighing on Americans' optimism as the economy regains its footing after years of gradually expanding.

Economists say that even though the labor market is improving, along with other areas of the economy, the main source of consumers unease is the lack of real wage growth.

"Most people have a job, and their perspective on the economy is determined by whether they got a raise, and if so, how big,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Analytics.

“Unfortunately, wages have been growing at no more than the rate of inflation since the recession. In other words, living standards are going nowhere.” Read more ..

Sudan on Edge

South Sudan Food Insecurity Deepens

August 6th 2014

Hungry African Widow/Children

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says it has less than half the funding it needs to help ensure food security in parts of South Sudan. The agency wants to send emergency livelihood kits to farmers, fishers and pastoralists as the risk of famine grows.

The FAO has appealed for $108-million for its revised Crisis Response Plan. But so far it’s received just $42-million. Jeff Tschirley, who’s in charge of the agency’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, said conflict is complicating the humanitarian crisis.

“The situation started off badly in December when the violence started. But in the last six weeks we’ve seen a very sharp deterioration in the food security situation. More than a third of the population is at level four or level five in the index that we use to measure food security. And there’s a significant risk of an impending food crisis.” The conflict has taken a severe toll on South Sudan. Read more ..

China Rising

The End of Consensus Politics in China

August 5th 2014

New hires to Chinese military

Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign is the broadest and deepest effort to purge, reorganize and rectify the Communist Party leadership since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the rise of Deng Xiaoping two years later. It has already probed more than 182,000 officials across numerous regions and at all levels of government. It has ensnared low-level cadres, mid-level functionaries and chiefs of major state-owned enterprises and ministries. It has deposed top military officials and even a former member of the hitherto immune Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest governing body. More than a year after its formal commencement and more than two years since its unofficial start with the downfall of Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, the campaign shows no sign of relenting.

It is becoming clear that this campaign is unlike anything seen under Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Both carried out anti-corruption drives during their first year in office and periodically throughout their tenures as a means to strengthen their position within the Party and bureaucracy and to remind the public, however impotently, that Beijing still cared about its well being. But that was housekeeping. This appears to be different: longer, stronger, more comprehensive and more effective. Read more ..

Islam on Edge

Identity and Loyalty in Islam and the Middle East

August 4th 2014

Iraq ISIL double file of militants

Westerners strive to solve problems. When people appear obstinate, we often indignantly say, "Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?" This is alien to Middle Eastern and Islamic culture. Middle Easterners cope with problems for which they know there are no solutions-akin to living with a chronic illness. 

Islam, for example, does not recognize the equality of all people. Muslims are the rightful rulers of the Muslim world. Non-Muslims who believe in God and who have a revelation from God before Islam do have the right to live in Muslim societies. They are called "dhimmis" which means, "protected people," who can live in the Muslim world, albeit in positions of political and social inferiority. To be sure, they might become important. There have been Christian Foreign Ministers in Egypt (Butros Ghali) and Jordan (Marwan Mu'ashar), but Christians know they cannot hope to rule their countries. This is most clear in Egypt, where the Copts, native Christians descended from the ancient Egyptians, cannot aspire to become Egypt's president because that position is reserved for a Muslim.  Read more ..

The Edge of Medicine

Traditional Burial Practices Hamper Fight with Deadly Ebola Virus

August 3rd 2014

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World Health Organization officials say traditional burial practices are among the obstacles that are making it difficult to control the worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa's history.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said health and relief workers have been trying to educate families in the affected region about how to bury their loved ones without exposing themselves to the virus.

He said people who touch the dead could be putting themselves at risk.

"At the moment when a person died from Ebola, this is the moment when the person is the most infectious and when the viral load is the highest," he said.

Dangerous practice

Jasarevic has been working with local officials in Guinea and Sierra Leone. In many cultures, he said, families wash the bodies of their loved ones before burial, but this practice is dangerous for Ebola victims because of the presence of bodily fluids.

"Usually there is the point just before the death, there is bleeding," he said.

Jasarevic also said their could be vomit or diarrhea.

Peter Schleicher, a Red Cross operations manager in Liberia, said another obstacle for relief workers in affected communities is fear, explaining that people in some communities have prevented trained health professionals from safely burying Ebola victims.

"We got a report back from one of our teams in the field that they have now been blocked by the angry community and they have been denied access," he said. Schleicher said the team members were told to turn back to keep from putting themselves at risk. Read more ..

Anti-Semitism in Europe

UK Retail Chain Tesco Bans Israeli Products

August 2nd 2014

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Tesco, the UK’s largest food retailer, has strongly rejected claims that the Gaza crisis is forcing it to stop selling Israeli produce and products, saying that in the case of Israeli dates packaged under its own label it had decided to stop selling them in September “for commercial reasons.”

According to the grocery chain, the dates are grown in Israel but packaged in the West Bank.

“It is clearly marked as “West Bank (Israeli settlement produce)” so customers are fully aware of what they are buying,” a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. “As part of our regular review of our range, we will not be selling this product for much longer.”

The spokesman said that in line with the recent request from the British government on “origin of food” labeling, the dates have to be marked and sold as such, and as Tesco customers have been asking for such information, the company has to supply it. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Pro-Palestine Marchers Expected in Washington DC

August 1st 2014

Various Muslim organizations and other groups in solidarity with the Palestinian cause are calling for a mass demonstration to be held on August 2 in Washington DC. The so-called ‘National March in D.C. to Stop the Killing in Gaza’ will assemble at the White House at 1 PM local time. According to the AnswerCoalition.org, transportation from around the country is being arranged. A social media campaign has also emerged, with a Facebook page and Twitter hashtags.

A number of different groups are co-sponsoring the march. Among them are:

- ANSWER Coalition

- American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

- American Muslim Alliance (AMA)

- Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition

- CODEPINK

Broken Government

Public Trust in Affordable Care Act is at its Lowest Ebb

August 1st 2014

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Negative views of ObamaCare abruptly hit an all-time high this month, erasing six months of gradual increases in the law's popularity.

Fifty-three percent now see the Affordable Care Act in a negative light compared with 45 percent last month, according to a monthly tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The marked change appears to be among people who previously did not have an opinion of ObamaCare or refused to express it who now see the law unfavorably.

The reform has struggled since its inception to gain traction with the public, with negative views outpacing positive ones since late 2012. Supporters note that some people who oppose the law feel it did not go far enough. Read more ..

Broken Government

Border Detention Facility Workers Exposed to Contagion

August 1st 2014

Some Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees have become sick after exposure to contagious diseases at detention facilities housing child immigrants, according to an inspector general report.

The report found “many” of the children detained after crossing the border needed treatment for communicable diseases, including tuberculosis, chicken pox and scabies.

The report was issued Thursday by DHS Inspector General John Roth. It highlighted one instance at a Del Rio facility in Texas in which Customs and Border Patrol employees reported contracting scabies, lice and chicken pox. At other facilities in Santa Teresa, N.M., and Clint, Texas, employees said they could have been exposed to tuberculosis. Read more ..

The Race for Alt Energy

High-Temperature Superconductivity Discovery Paves Way For Energy Superhighways

July 30th 2014

Traffic Jam

Physicists at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) working with Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory claim to have identified the 'quantum glue' that underlies a promising type of superconductivity. The discovery is a step towards the creation of energy superhighways that conduct electricity without current loss. The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a collaboration between theoretical physicists led by Dirk Morr, professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and experimentalists led by Seamus J.C. Davis of Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The earliest superconducting materials required operating temperatures near absolute zero, or 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. Unconventional 'High-temperature' superconductors function at slightly elevated temperatures and seemed to work differently from the first materials. Scientists hoped this difference hinted at the possibility of superconductors that could work at room temperature and be used to create energy superhighways. Read more ..

Aging with Grace

Elderly African-Americans Fall Less Often Than Others

July 30th 2014


A University of Michigan study examining how race and ethnicity predicts the frequency of falls by older people shows that African Americans are less likely to fall than others.

"Millions of older adults living in community settings are just one bad fall away from a nursing home," said Emily Nicklett, an assistant professor of social work and the study's lead author. "Identifying risk and protective factors can inform falls prevention interventions and policies."

Nicklett and colleague Robert Joseph Taylor, the Sheila Feld Collegiate Professor of Social Work, and faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research, examined data on falls incidence and frequency from the Health and Retirement Study from 2000 to 2010. The study followed nearly 10,500 African American, Latino and non-Hispanic white older adults.

Functional limitations, including difficulty walking across the room or preparing meals, and health problems such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes, also predicted greater odds of experiencing a fall for adults 65 and older, the study showed. Read more ..

The UN on Edge

Planning Post-2015 Development

July 29th 2014

Nigerian baby with cap

The U.N. Millennium Development Goals are due to expire at the end of next year. Debate is underway on what should replace them. One U.N. official says they should be based, in part, on the findings of the 2014 Human Development Report.

The eight Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000. Nearly 190 countries at the time committed to achieving them by 2015. They include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; promoting gender equality; reducing child mortality and improving maternal health; and fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Much success has been made since the goals were set, but progress is not equal among the MDGs. With their expiration near, the question arises: what next? The Human Development Report – released July 24th in Tokyo -- calls for reducing vulnerabilities in society and building resilience. Read more ..

Africa on Edge

Young African Leaders to Branch Out in US

July 28th 2014

Obama with baseball bat

Hundreds of Africa's emerging leaders are gathered in Washington for a three-day summit that includes a meeting with President Barack Obama. The summit is a highlight of a six-week U.S. fellowship that has given about 500 young Africans a chance to sharpen their skills through coursework and professional development. Some participants plan to remain in the United States to learn more about how they can help their home countries.

Zimbabwe's Rumbidzai Dube, a lawyer and human rights defender, is among those staying. She wants to learn more about how to help victims of human trafficking.

“I have been wanting to work in the field of human trafficking for a very long time. And because a lot of people in Zimbabwe do not see this as an issue, there is very little buy-in, even from international NGO’s [non-governmental organizations]," she said.  Read more ..

The Way We Are

Manhattan’s Catholic Churches Face Consolidation, Possible Closures

July 27th 2014


Some Catholic churches in Manhattan could be closed as the Archdiocese of New York implements a strategic plan to consolidate the churches. Shifting populations, limited resources and fewer priests are among the factors driving the consolidation. At one midtown church facing possible closure, parishioners pray for a miracle.

The Church of the Holy Innocents is the only church in Manhattan offering a high Latin Mass every day of the week. It is such a rarity that many travel across the New York metropolitan region for the daily 6:00 pm service. Edward Hawkings makes the trek every day despite his disabilities, because the Mass inspires his soul.

“The Mass takes us to a different place. We concentrate at the Mass. It requires a great concentration. It lifts us up. It brings us to a different level, removes us from the world,” said Hawkings. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Poll Show Almost 90 Percent of Israelis Oppose Kerry Plan for Hamas

July 27th 2014

Soldiers at desks

Public opinion in Israel is solidly against ending Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip according to a poll released Sunday. The poll was conducted by respected pollster Mina Tzemach among 504 respondents, a representative sample of the Hebrew-speaking Israeli adult population. It was sponsored by strategist Roni Rimon, who once worked with Likud and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but now insists he took it at his own initiative for his own curiosity.

When asking about a potential cease-fire, the poll gave two choices. The first endorsed a cease-fire because "Israel had enough achievements, soldiers have died, and it is time to stop." The second said Israel cannot accept a cease-fire because "Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered." Read more ..

Human Rights on Edge

Euthanasia is a Good Option for the Poor, says Lithuanian Health Minister

July 26th 2014

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Euthanasia might be needed for poor people who cannot access palliative care, the new Lithuanian Health Minister has suggested. Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė was sworn earlier this month, but already she has made waves by backing an open discussion of the legalisation of euthanasia.

Without making any specific proposals, she told local media that Lithuania was not a welfare state with palliative care available for all and that euthanasia might be an option for people who did not want to torment relatives with the spectacle of their suffering.

The minister has also raised the idea of euthanasia for children. She noted that this option had been approved for Belgian children after a long public debate. It was an option which might be appropriate in Lithuania as well after public debate. Read more ..

Higher Education on Edge

Why Are Campus Administrators Making So Much Money?

July 26th 2014

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Americans committed to better living for bosses can take heart at the fact that college and university administrators—unlike their faculty (increasingly reduced to rootless adjuncts) and students (saddled with ever more debt)―are thriving.

In 2011, the last year for which figures are available, 42 private college and university presidents received more than a million dollars each for their work. Robert Zimmer (University of Chicago) was the best-paid, at $3,358,723. At public colleges and universities, nine top administrators garnered more than $1 million each in 2012-2013, with the best-paid, E. Gordon Gee (Ohio State University), receiving $6,057,615.

Since then, it’s likely that the number of millionaire campus presidents has increased, for their numbers have been growing rapidly. Indeed, in 2012-13, the number of public university presidents receiving at least $1 million for their services more than doubled over the previous year. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Cyber Security and Hacktivism in Latin America: Past and Future

July 26th 2014

Computers/Nerd Silhouette

Along with the opportunities brought by the proliferation of the personal computer and societal penetration of the Internet across the world, came the enormous increase of cyber crime – a global evil that impacted an estimated 556 million victims in 2012. Cyber crime has most commonly manifested itself in Latin America and the Caribbean through computer hacking techniques such as malware, phishing, and denial of service (DoS) attacks. According to a study on cybercrime by the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry, phishing alone affects about 2,500 regional banks and accounts for $93 billion USD in annual losses.

But not all cyber crimes are economically motivated. Hacktivism, a term combining hacking and political activism, has become extremely popular in recent years, largely because of the global organization Anonymous. Their establishment as a hacktivist group came in 2008 when they launched “Project Chanology,” a protest movement that digitally attacked the Church of Scientology for “us[ing] Internet censorship to spread misinformation about their practices.” Read more ..

The Edge of Medical

Biopiracy Emerges The New Plague of the Developing World

July 26th 2014

Medical bag

Developed nations have a long history of exploiting indigenous populations for their own personal benefit. Whereas the ill treatment was once centered on acquiring land and natural resources, the latest developments suggest a new form of abuse: biopiracy. News of the exploitation of an Ecuadorian indigenous group at the hands of a coalition of American-based organizations has recently come to light. Though the intricate details have yet to be fully divulged, it was discovered that U.S.-based Coriell Medical Institute and Harvard University colluded with oil-drilling company Maxus Energy Corporation in the drawing of thousands of blood samples from the native Huaorani tribe in Ecuador.

The real depravity of this issue lies in the way in which the medical samples were obtained. Fewer than 20 percent of the participants signed an authorization for the procedure, and all were further under the impression that their blood was being extracted to conduct personal medical examinations. However, tribe members never received any results. Instead, these DNA samples were sold to medical labs in eight different countries, including the Harvard University Medical School in the United States, generating profits for the Coriell Institute. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

July 25th 2014

Illegal migrant children sleeping in ICE facility

Kathy Babcock’s involvement with immigration issues began with a knock on her door.

Three days after she moved to Green Valley, Arizona, two Mexican migrants who had crossed the border knocked, asking for food and water.

“We had no idea what was going on here,” said Babcock, who had recently moved from the San Francisco area to the retirement community, which is located about 70 kilometers from the border. “We gave them food and water and $10 and pointed them north.”

She soon became involved with a group called the Green Valley Samaritans, whose mission “is to save lives in the desert,” she said, noting their group has about 100 active volunteers, almost all of them retirees, and is funded by donations.​

Like Babcock, many of the dozens of organizations and volunteer groups that work along the U.S.-Mexico border became involved, and continue to operate, because of the immigration concerns they see occurring in their own backyard. The groups have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the United States. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Election Surprises Tend to Erode Trust in Goverment

July 24th 2014

us voters

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often have less trust in government and democracy.

And the news media may be partly to blame, according to Barry Hollander, author of the study and UGA professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"You need the trust of those in a democracy for democracy to be successful," said Hollander. "We have become more fragmented in our media diet and that leads to hearing what we want to hear and believing what we want to believe despite all evidence to the contrary, such as polls. Our surprise in the election outcome makes us angry, disappointed and erodes our trust in the basic concept of democracy-the election. And that can threaten our trust in government." Read more ..

The Way We Are

Brain's Dynamic Duel Underlies Win-Win Choices

July 24th 2014

MRI Brain Scans

People choosing between two or more equally positive outcomes experience paradoxical feelings of pleasure and anxiety, feelings associated with activity in different regions of the brain, according to research led by Amitai Shenhav, an associate research scholar at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University.

In one experiment, 42 people rated the desirability of more than 300 products using an auction-like procedure. Then they looked at images of paired products with different or similar values and were asked to choose between them. Their brain activity was scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). After the scan, participants reported their feelings before and during each choice. They received one of their choices at the end of the study. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Israel Sets up Field Hospital for Wounded Gazans

July 23rd 2014

Israeli Rescue team in Haiti

Israel Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz confirmed reports Sunday afternoon that the IDF is going to set up a field hospital near the Erez Crossing at 8 p.m. Sunday evening to treat wounded Palestinians.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major Yoav Mordechai said that the field hospital will treat mainly women, children and the elderly hurt during the current war in Gaza. In addition, he said in a statement, those whose injuries require additional care can be transferred to Israeli hospitals.

The IDF field hospital in Haiti in 2010.

The announcement coincided with Israel’s allowing the entry into Gaza of a truckload of medical supplies which, according to Palestinian Authority Health Minister Jawad Awwad, had been delayed for two days. It preceded a request from Hamas for a two-hour “humanitarian ceasefire” – a request Israel has granted. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Extra Exercise Helps Depressed Smokers Kick the Habit Faster

July 22nd 2014

cigarette in ashtray

 People diagnosed with depression need to step out for a cigarette twice as often as smokers who are not dealing with a mood disorder. And those who have the hardest time shaking off the habit may have more mental health issues than they are actually aware of.

Those insights were among the collective findings recently published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research by a team of researchers based in part at Concordia University.

While nearly one in five North American adults are regular smokers, a figure that continues to steadily decline, about 40 per cent of depressed people are in need of a regular drag. The statistic motivated the researchers to investigate what was behind that higher percentage.

The findings revealed that those who struggle with mental illness simply have a tougher time quitting, no matter how much they want to. The anxiety, cravings or lack of sleep that accompany typical attempts to quit cold turkey will have them scrambling for the smokes they might have sworn off earlier that evening. A person without clinical depression is better equipped to ride things out. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Mindfulness Movement a ‘Revolution’ for Stressed Americans

July 21st 2014

woman headache head bowed

It used to be done mainly at spiritual retreats and in yoga centers, but now mindfulness meditation is practiced in offices, schools, prisons and even the U.S. military.

Although it’s been around for decades, the mindfulness movement is being called a revolution. Advocates say it reduces anxiety, and it can have spiritual benefits.

A visit to the dentist’s office can cause nervousness and anxiety. But being a dentist is no picnic either, said Dr. Alona Bauer.

“There’s definitely stress. You work in a small environment and it’s very exact. It’s very precise. Plus you’re managing the patient. So there’s great stress right there,” said Bauer.

So Bauer practices mindfulness meditation at a Yoga center in downtown Washington. Hugh Byrne has been teaching mindfulness since 2000. He said it’s about focusing on the present. “Some forms of meditation are about clearing the mind of thoughts. Mindfulness isn’t about clearing away thoughts. It’s just about being aware of them,” said Byrne. Read more ..

The Edge of Ecology

Fog Collector Transforms Maasai Water-Harvesting in Kenya

July 19th 2014

Kenya Kids

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle.  But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks.  In the village of Kiserian, the Maasai community is embracing a new piece of water-harvesting technology with marked results.

In the early morning in Kiserian, a town 30 kilometers from Nairobi, the Lotuno family go about their daily chores - with their matriarch, Hannah, checking on the health of her flock.

"I wake up as early as 5 a.m. to tend to the cattle before they are taken out to pasture," she said." I then check on the sheep's health and I tend to the sickly ones.  For them to be productive they need lots of water."

Kiserian is dominated by Maasai cattle herders.  During dry spells, they must go far to find enough water and pasture for their animals. Anthony Purkei is a community organizer who said lack of water is a major issue. "We experience a lot of problems because we depend on livestock in our livelihood.  So when there's drought, our cattle die as a result of there's no water and this area where we live is Kajiado County," he said. "We experience a lot of drought during the year as a result of climate change."  Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Egypt's Gaza Truce Move Highlights Bid To Break Islamists

July 18th 2014

General Al-Sisi

Egypt's attempts to pressure Hamas into accepting a truce plan offering few concessions for the group to end the latest fighting with Israel show Cairo's determination to finish the job it began at home - crushing Islamists it sees as a threat.

Egypt has always regarded itself as the most effective mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This time Cairo was slow to react to warfare in Gaza and when it did its ceasefire proposal appeared designed to isolate Hamas - an offshoot of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood - rather than secure an immediate end to the bloodshed.

Hamas leaders complained that they were frozen out of talks and not consulted on the Egyptian initiative, and that it did not address their demands, such as an end to an economically crippling blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. Egypt's army toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood - a close Hamas ally - a year ago and then mounted one of the fiercest crackdowns on Islamists seen in decades. Read more ..

The Automotive Edge

Car Cockpit of the Future

July 17th 2014

new cars close up

Automotive engineering services and technology company Audio Mobil has for the first time lifted the veil on its research vehicle Car-ICT3 - a technology platform to develop and test innovative connectivity and HMI approaches. With this platform, the company demonstrates an HMI concept centred on the user requirements of the connected car. Another innovation is the partitioning of the vehicle into separate infotainment user zones.

Audio Mobile's HMI model is not a vague futuristic study: The company claims that the concept is a near-series implementation. The research vehicle is based on 25 years of experience in developing communication technologies for cars. Despite being an almost invisible low-profile company, Audio Mobil is involved in HMI and ergonomics research for several major OEMs and lists Audi, BMW and Daimler as reference customers. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Despite the Missiles, It's Business as Usual in Israel

July 15th 2014


This morning my husband and I woke up early. After the volley of missiles last night we were in two minds about whether to send our eight-year-old to summer camp in Ramat Ha’Kovesh, and whether our 16-year-old really should be teaching surfing on a Tel Aviv beach while missiles rain down across the country.

Yesterday evening, he was on the beach with all the children from his surf camp when the siren went off. They ran for cover to a nearby building, and my son, stepping out for a second, saw the missile high above the sky in Tel Aviv shot down by Israel’s anti-missile system Iron Dome.

Last night we also experienced our first siren in the village where we live near the Green Line. We’d never expected to have a siren here – we are surrounded by Israeli-Arab villages, and the West Bank is just over the hill. Nevertheless it sounded and by the time we’d finished debating whether or not it was necessary to go to our secure room, the alarm was over.

You can’t live in a country as small as Israel and not be directly affected by what is happening here. This is a sustained and coordinated attack on a huge swath of the country. I may feel far from the action in my home and office, but my husband works in Tel Aviv, the staff of ISRAEL21c is dotted all over – from near Jerusalem to Jaffa, I have relatives and friends all over the country, and meetings are scheduled in all sorts of places. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Hamas Blows Out its Own Power

July 14th 2014

Hamas rocket in Gaza

In what seems to have become a routine, the Hamas continues to fire rockets at civilian targets all across Israel throughout the day and night, as the IDF continues to attack terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip. More than 130 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel yesterday. At least 102 rockets struck Israel. 22 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

A rocket fired from Gaza hit electricity infrastructure in Israel that supplies power to Gaza, cutting power to about 70,000 people in Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah. The Israel Electric Company (IEC) decided for the time being not to fix the power line, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom have instructed the company not to put the lives of IEC workers at risk. Hamas is known to snipe at Israelis working on the fence near to Gaza. The power line will be fixed when the security situation allows it, the company said. Read more ..

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