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The Edge of Healthcare

Horn of Africa Polio Outbreak Thwarts Global Eradication Effort

September 11th 2013

Nigeria Polio vaccination

The global community came tantalizingly close earlier this year to ridding the world of polio.  But then in May, the eradication effort took a powerful blow. The virus turned up again in the Horn of Africa, first in Somalia. 

The Banadir region of Somalia, which includes a Mogadishu refugee camp, is thought to be the so-called “engine” of the Horn of Africa polio outbreak.

In June, three-year-old Mohamed Naasir became ill.  His mother, Khadija Abdullahi Adam, said soon after one leg became permanently disabled. “My son was fine, but he started having a high fever which lasted for almost four days," she explained.  "I gave him medicine, but there was no change.  The following morning he said to me ‘Mom, I can’t stand up.’”

The virus has spread at a rapid pace, triggering massive vaccination efforts. Earlier in 2013, polio was confined to three so-called “endemic countries” -- Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- where the virus has never been snuffed out.  Combined there were fewer than 100 cases in those three countries. Read more ..

The Way We Are

Growing Demand Drives Illicit Global Animal Trade

September 10th 2013

Bonobo chimp

Thai and American officials are reporting progress in a combined effort to curb the global trade in illicit wildlife. But they say the problem is growing because of increased demand worldwide for endangered animals and lucrative parts of their bodies.

Thai authorities are trying to make a dent in what has become a multibillion dollar illicit business, taking endangered animals from their natural habitats and selling them or parts of them on the black market.

For the past several years, Thailand has had ally on the law enforcement front to combat the trade, the United States government. A key official on the American side is William Brownfield, the State Department's assistant secretary responsible for the global fight against illegal drugs and organized crime, who investigates, arrests, prosecutes and incarcerates illicit traders. “Illegal wildlife traffickers are definitely criminals," Brownfield said. Read more ..

The Edge of Charities

Some Charities Claiming to Support Veterans Spend Heavily on Overhead

September 9th 2013

Soldier Crying

Over four years, as increasing numbers of veterans returned home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a charity called Disabled Veterans Services of Pompano Beach, Fla., reported raising more than $8 million in cash and nearly $4 million in donated goods that it claimed would help disabled and homeless veterans.

But barely a nickel of each dollar the charity raised in cash went directly to help veterans, a News21 analysis shows. Although it claimed to have sent about $2.5 million in donated drugs and medical supplies to a Boston homeless shelter, the shelter said it received just one shipment worth about $210,000.

Another charity, Help Hospitalized Veterans of Winchester, Calif., spent only 25 cents of every dollar it raised on arts-and-crafts kits and “craft care specialists” as “diversion therapy for veterans facing extended hospitalization.” Most of the rest of the money, according to the charity’s filings with the Internal Revenue Service, paid for mass mailings soliciting more money and urging Americans to volunteer at veterans’ hospitals and become pen pals with patients. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

New Holocaust Study Says Surviving Trauma Can Make Men Live Longer

September 8th 2013

Holocaust survivors

Perhaps the most memorable words about struggle and resilience come from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

A surprising new study looking at World War II appears to draw the same conclusion, saying male survivors of the Jewish Holocaust lived longer than peers of the same age who escaped Europe before the war.

The research, published by the U.S.-based Public Library of Science, compares the lives of 55,000 Polish Jews who emigrated to Israel before and after the war.

What it discovers is that men who lived through the Holocaust as boys or young men lived as much as 18 months longer than those who didn't -- an astonishing finding that co-author Avi Sagi-Schwartz says could be attributed to a phenomenon known as "post-traumatic growth." Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Return Of Chemical Warfare Resonates Among Survivors In Iran, Iraq

September 7th 2013

Dead Syrians

Hoshmand Morad vividly remembers the day his city suffered the deadliest chemical-weapons attack ever carried out on a civilian population.

The air suddenly smelled of apples. Pink, white, and yellow clouds cast a pall over the city. Dead bodies littered the road.

These are childhood memories for Morad, who was just 6 years old when his native city of Halabja, in Iraq's Kurdish region, was targeted in a chemical bombing campaign carried out by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's air force. Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 5,000 residents of the city were killed and 10,000 injured in the March 16, 1988, attack. Many died instantly from the effects of the sarin, VX, and mustard gases believed to have been used. Others suffered from severe blisters and vomiting before succumbing, according to eyewitnesses and various reports. Read more ..

The Edge of Healthcare

TB Origins Found in Africa

September 6th 2013


The origins of humans have been traced to Africa. And now, so have the origins of tuberculosis. New research shows the evolutionary trees of both humans and TB have grown side-by-side.

TB bacteria originated in Africa at least 70,000 years ago. That’s the finding of a team of researchers led by Professor Sebastien Gagneaux of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. But why study the history of TB?

Gagneaux said, “At the end of the day, it’s a certain kind of historic question and there have been long discussions about where TB came from originally. That’s on the one hand. On the other hand, the idea is that by learning from the past and how infectious disease evolves over time, this potentially could give us some clue about the future of the TB epidemic.” To trace the origins of TB researchers relied on genetic material, which is relatively easy to come by. Read more ..

Egypt’s Second Revolution

Egyptian Courts Crack Down on Islamist Protesters

September 5th 2013

Brotherhood Demo Post-Coup

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will go on trial for inciting violence against protesters last year, announced the the country’s top prosecutor earlier this week. The Egyptian Army’s ongoing detention of Morsi, held incommunicado since a coup in early July, shows the military’s renewed willingness to use the judiciary to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Fourteen other co-defendants, including senior Brotherhood figures, will also be charged for provoking violence outside the Presidential Palace last December. At the time, thousands of anti-Morsi demonstrators had gathered near the palace to voice their discontent over a new Islamist-drafted constitution. Morsi asked the Republican Guard and police minister to restore order, but they refused. The president’s aides allegedly enlisted their supporters to break up the sit-ins; Morsi supporters used weapons and firebombs to disrupt the demonstrators, leaving 10 peaceful protesters dead. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

The Chemical Watershed as Momentum Shifts Again in Syrian Civil War

September 5th 2013

Syrian Chemical Weapons

Two and a half years after the beginning of the uprising, Damascus has become an eerily empty city. The streets were deserted last Friday evening in the remaining regime-controlled districts -- from Bab Tuma in the east to Mezzeh in the west -- where there is still electricity, running water and phone service.

The Syrian capital was bracing itself for the worst. Last Thursday alone, over 10,000 people reportedly fled across the border into Lebanon, and hundreds of families of soldiers have left their apartments.

The headquarters of the intelligence agencies had been largely vacated and, according to one guard on duty, nearly all Alawite officers and generals had headed for the port city of Tartus and the surrounding area. Read more ..

The Edge of Climate Change

Warmer Planet Fuels More Wildfires

September 4th 2013


A warmer planet is helping to fuel more wildfires in the United States, according to a new study. Environmental scientists at Harvard University predict that by 2050, wildfire seasons will be three weeks longer, up to twice as smoky, and will burn a wider area in the western part of the country.    

Fires in the Western United States have gotten worse since the 1970s. Scientists at Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences looked at past weather conditions and wildfires to find out why.
“In some regions, like the Rocky Mountains, really temperature is the driving force, but elsewhere variables like relative humidity can play a role," said Loretta Mickley, an atmospheric chemist and co-author of the study. "If one year is particularly moist, for example, in the Great Basin, Nevada, Utah area, then that will foster a lot of vegetation growth and then the following year all that vegetation can feed wildfires and their spread.” Read more ..

The Edge of Sport

Female Athlete Breaks Record with Cuba to US Swim

September 3rd 2013

Ocean scene

U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida without the protection of a shark cage. 

Diana Nyad swam for about 53 hours, covering a distance of 177 kilometers from Hemingway Marina in Havana, Cuba to Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida.   

Onlookers crowded around the 64-year-old swimmer when she came ashore in Key West. Nyad's lips were swollen, and she appeared exhausted, dazed and determined when she addressed the crowd. 

"I've got three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you are never too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team," said Nyad. Medics then escorted the record-breaker off the beach to receive medical attention.  Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Autotalks to Get Cars 'Talking' On the Road by 2015

September 2nd 2013

Traffic Jam

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems are the latest trend in road safety, as they warn drivers of impending hazards. The roads could become a great deal safer thanks to new Israeli technology.

For drivers, overtaking a truck is always a risk. Now, the latest craze of the auto technology arena, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems – or, cars that can “talk” to one another in real time – is promising to lessen that risk and heighten road safety.

Autotalks, founded and headquartered in Israel, has become a world leader in V2V as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology, which enables, for example, traffic lights and other infrastructure to respond to an emergency vehicle’s needs.

In 2008, Israeli entrepreneurs Nir Sasson and Onn Haran founded Autotalks to fill a need in the automotive industry. They implemented a sophisticated wireless technology in a smart chipset that allows cars to exchange data. Read more ..

Broken Immigration

Rubio Heckled Over Immigration Reform At Conservative Summit In Florida

September 1st 2013

US/Mex Border fence

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) faced hecklers angry with his leadership on immigration reform at a Friday Tea Party summit in his home state. According to reports, Rubio was met with cries of "No amnesty!" as he gave an address during the opening session of the Americans for Prosperity's Defending the American Dream Summit in Orlando.
The Florida senator joined a handful of other potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, at the summit on Friday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will keynote Saturday's closing session.

Rubio didn't once mention immigration reform during his speech, focusing instead on themes of limited government and criticism of Obama's policies, most prominently his healthcare law. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Ethnic Armenians In Syria Brace For Missile Strikes

August 31st 2013

Bombing in Syria Mar 2012

As the United States and its allies lay plans for what many believe will be a sustained missile strike inside Syria, the sizable ethnic Armenian community in that country is bracing for the worst.

Zhirayr Reisian, a spokesman for the Syrian diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, said Armenian Service that the estimated 100,000 ethnic Syrians in Aleppo were aware of the dangers that could lie ahead but were trying to continue with normal life.

"After all, we are residents of this city and this country. We are part of the people of this country," Reisian said. "If something is going to happen to all, it will also happen to us. If something happens, we are sure to use our means to be helpful with whatever we can to anyone who suffers and is in need of help." Syrian Armenians interviewed say they have begun preparing for possible missile strikes, and many say they will take shelter in the basement of their buildings, if necessary. Read more ..

Defense on Edge

'Hello, Hello, Dmitry': Fabled Cold War Hotline Turns 50

August 30th 2013


It is sometimes hard to separate the myth from the reality of the Moscow-Washington hotline, which turned 50 years old on August 30.

The hotline is not a telephone that sits in the offices of the two most powerful leaders in the world and can be picked up personally by either for urgent calls. That image comes from movies which, in America at least, have commonly portrayed the hotline as a red phone -- red being the color for emergencies.

A popular U.S. film in 1964, "Dr. Strangelove," showed the American president phoning the Soviet premier, with the main concern being if they could hear each other: "Hello, hello, Dmitry. Listen, I can't hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? That's much better, yes. Fine, I can hear you now Dmitry, clear and plain and coming through fine. I am coming through fine, too, eh? Good. Well then, as you say, we are both coming through fine. Good." Read more ..

The Toxic Edge

Increasing Mercury Levels in Pacific Fish Stocks

August 29th 2013

Click to select Image

University of Michigan researchers and their University of Hawaii colleagues say they've solved the longstanding mystery of how mercury gets into open-ocean fish, and their findings suggest that levels of the toxin in Pacific Ocean fish will likely rise in coming decades. Using isotopic measurement techniques developed at U-M, the researchers determined that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury, called methylmercury, found in the tissues of deep-feeding North Pacific Ocean fish is produced deep in the ocean, most likely by bacteria clinging to sinking bits of organic matter. The study also confirmed that the mercury found in Pacific fish near Hawaii likely traveled through the air for thousands of miles before being deposited on the ocean surface in rainfall, said U-M environmental scientist Joel Blum. Read more ..

Russia on Edge

Russian Artist Who Painted Putin In Lingerie Flees, Fearing Arrest

August 29th 2013


A Russian artist who painted President Vladimir Putin in lingerie stroking the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said threatening phone calls and the fear of arrest compelled him to flee St. Petersburg for France.

In a telephone interview with Konstantin Altunin he said does not want to return to Russia.

"Today, I appealed to the French prefecture in Paris because I have no other [option]. I would gladly get [local residence and work permits] so that I can be useful to France and to work and pay taxes," he said. "But now, I am forced to request political asylum because I fled very quickly without luggage or money."

On August 26, police seized several of Altunin's paintings that poked fun at the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and lawmakers who promoted controversial legislation against "gay propaganda." Altunin defended his artistic freedom and described the Russian authorities' response to his paintings as "very unpleasant and very ugly." Read more ..

Broken Healthcare

Healthcare Costs Will Mushroom as Injured Veterans Age

August 28th 2013


Jerral Hancock wakes up every night in Lancaster, Calif., around 1 a.m., dreaming he is trapped in a burning tank. He opens his eyes, but he can’t move, he can’t get out of bed and he can’t get a drink of water.

Hancock, 27, joined the Army in 2004 and went to Iraq, where he drove a tank. On Memorial Day 2007 — one month after the birth of his second child — Hancock drove over an IED. Just 21, he lost his arm and the use of both legs, and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Department of Veterans Affairs pays him $10,000 every month for his disability, his caretakers, health care, medications and equipment for his new life.

No government agency has calculated fully the lifetime cost of health care for the large number of post-9/11 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with life-lasting wounds. But it is certain to be high, with the veterans’ higher survival rates, longer tours of duty and multiple injuries, plus the anticipated cost to the VA of reducing the wait times for medical appointments and reaching veterans in rural areas. Read more ..

Egypt's Second Revolution

Political Islam Unpopular in Egypt

August 27th 2013

Coptic Christian mourners

The head of Egypt’s weekly Christian newspaper calls the ouster of former president Morsi a people’s coup, not a military takeover. Youssef Sidhom says his country is in a struggle against political Islam.

Sidhom is editor-in-chief of the Sunday weekly called Watani, which translates to “My Homeland.” He says after “decades of oppression” under former ruler Hosni Mubarak, he – along with many Egyptians – believed the Muslim Brotherhood had the right to try to govern the country in the interests of all Egyptians. However, Sidhom said that did not happen.

“Months and months had elapsed when they failed to do so. And there has been during the past year of the rule of President Morsi an accumulating level of bitterness and anger on [the] part of Egyptians -- that the Muslim Brotherhood are only clever in taking power in their hands and ousting every other political faction.” He said by late June, many Egyptians had rejected Mr. Morsi’s policies.

“Egyptians enormously went down to the streets – whether Christians or Muslims – saying enough is enough and we’re not taking any more of the rule of Morsi. And I have to admit they were very lucky that their anger, which erupted, was sided by the Egyptian military,” he said. Read more ..

Inside Israel

Tibetan Monks Chant Prayers of Peace in Jerusalem

August 26th 2013

Tibetan Monks Peace Prayers2

The sounds of Tibetan monks chanting, an Iranian playing the santoor, western African style music, Rastafarian and reggae beats, as well as some Israeli rock, among other musical genres could recently be heard pulsating from Jerusalem's Tower of David in the Old City.

The international and local rhythms made up the beats of the second annual Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival part of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, whose musical venues were located in different parts of the city including the YMCA, Tzidkiyahu's Cave, and Hebrew University.

The three day festival (August 20-23) attracted at least 1,000 visitors each night to the Tower of David according to director, Eilat Lieber. "It was very important for me to bring this unique festival to the Tower of David," Lieber told Tazpit News Agency. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Forget the Red Line and Engage in Syria

August 26th 2013

Dead Syrians

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Bashar Assad's regime in Syria all but certainly used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of civilians, including dozens of women and children. That was just one day after the first anniversary of President Obama's warning that Assad's use of chemical weapons was a "red line" that would "change my calculus."

The red line has proved to be a hollow threat. Both prior to and after Obama's August 2012 statement, credible reports gave strong reason to think that such weapons had been used. Indeed, after this latest outrage, the administration has not only refused to blame Assad, it announced that it would bring the matter to the United Nations Security Council, a time-tested recipe for further inaction.

The administration's reluctance to get involved in Syria is wholly understandable. Such an arbitrary humanitarian trigger for military involvement makes little sense. After all, to date more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed, mostly by bullets, artillery and missiles. Why should Washington change its policy just because the Assad regime altered its modality of killing? Is the murder of 1,000 innocents with sarin gas worse than that of 100,000 with conventional weapons? Read more ..

Inside Politcs

'America Votes' spent nearly $1 million on Wisconsin recall

August 25th 2013

Gov Scott Walker

America Votes, a national liberal nonprofit group with significant union funding, made the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin recall elections a top priority, providing a major cash infusion to a handful of groups that helped organize the efforts.

Documents show the nonprofit gave a combined $940,000 to four organizations that tried to boot Republican Gov. Scott Walker and several other GOP lawmakers out of office.

America Votes, which aims “to coordinate and promote progressive issues,” raised $11.1 million from July 2011 through June 2012 and spent $9.6 million, according to an IRS filing obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Of the total, $725,400 went to the Greater Wisconsin Committee and $150,000 went to We Are Wisconsin, a nonprofit launched shortly after Walker announced his controversial legislation that restricted collective bargaining. America Votes also gave nearly $45,000 to Citizen Action of Wisconsin and $20,000 to Wisconsin Progress. Read more ..

Broken Labor

OSHA Rule Targets Worker Exposure to Silica

August 24th 2013

Health and Human Services Washington D.C.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Friday proposed a long-awaited rule to control worker exposures to silica, a toxic mineral that can cause the deadly lung disease silicosis, lung cancer and other ailments.

The rule could save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis each year, OSHA chief David Michaels told reporters in a conference call. Tiny silica particles are unleashed through activities such as sandblasting, concrete-cutting and a form of oil and gas drilling called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“This proposal is long overdue,” Michaels said. “OSHA’s current standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers’ health.” The agency estimates that 2.2 million workers, most of them in construction, are exposed to silica in the United States. The rule will likely take “many months” to become final, Michaels said, with public hearings planned for March. Read more ..

US and Afghanistan

Afghan President Hopes for US Help for Families of Bales' Victims

August 24th 2013

Staff Sgt Robert Bales

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the life sentence handed to an American soldier convicted of massacring 16 Afghan civilians “will not replace the loss” that his nation has suffered.  Speaking in Kabul Saturday, he also said he is in no hurry to sign a security pact with the United States that Washington insists is needed before the bulk of U.S. forces leave the country in 2014.

President Karzai spoke to reporters in the Afghan capital, a day after a military jury sentenced U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales to life in prison without the possibility of release.

The Afghan leader said he did not favor capital punishment, but even if the American soldier had been given the death penalty it would not turn back the clock.

“A life sentence to him or a death sentence to him will not bring back our children that he killed, will not bring back the happiness of those families and will not replace the loss that the Afghan nation suffered. We are more in trying to bring an end to the sufferings of the Afghan people rather than seeking revenge that will not bring back the lost children of ours,” he said. Read more ..

Ancient Days

Researchers Reveal Mysteries of Caveman Cuisine

August 23rd 2013

Cave painting, Altamira, Spain

Thank God for bad Stone Age chefs, says archaeologist Hayley Saul at the University of York. “We like dirty pots. People who can’t cook very well," she said. "They burn food onto their pots, that’s what we’re after.”

It’s from those charred remnants of prehistoric dinners that she and her colleagues isolated the first evidence of a spice used in cooking. They found microscopic traces of garlic mustard in crusts on 6,000-year-old pots found in Germany and Denmark.

Garlic mustard grows wild today throughout Europe and western Asia. And it’s an invasive species in North America. “The leaves smell like garlic, but the seeds taste like mustard,” Saul explained. “Hence the name garlic mustard.” Prehistoric use of spices has been hard to study because plants decompose quickly and are not usually preserved. But when plant cells decay, they leave behind petrified outlines of themselves in silica. Studying these outlines, Saul found modern garlic mustard seed was an excellent match. Read more ..

The Environment on Edge

Scientists Work to Save Disappearing Kelp Forests

August 22nd 2013


Underwater kelp forests are sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, but - like the verdant jungles on land - the vast beds of seaweed are disappearing, hurting fisheries and coastal communities worldwide.  A project off the coast of California is helping to restore them.

Divers are working in the waters off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in places known as barrens, which once were home to thriving kelp forests. Today, these parts of the seabed are thick with sea urchins, creatures that have proliferated because of pollution and other human activities. The divers are killing some of urchins to thin the population, which is sickly and malnourished.  This restores the natural balance, says David Witting of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

“That will allow the kelp to establish itself," he said. "Once there's a healthy kelp forest system, the urchins tend to feed off of the broken-off pieces of adult kelp, rather than foraging on the juvenile kelp.” Scientists regularly head out to sea for the restoration work on the 60-hectare project. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Drought Called a Factor in Syria’s Uprising

August 21st 2013

mexico drought

Two-and-a-half years ago, a group of children in the Syrian city of Dara’a triggered one of the bloodiest conflicts in the 21st century when they painted some anti-government graffiti on a school wall in the ancient farming community.

The children were quickly detained and tortured, leading to widespread protests in the city that were met with harsh repression.  The government’s brutal response led to a nationwide revolt that has now stagnated into a bloody stalemate with no end in sight. 

Dara’a is a mostly agricultural community in a region that has suffered an unrelenting drought since 2001. Some experts say it’s no accident that Syria’s civil war began there. In 2009, the United Nations and other international agencies found that more than 800,000 Syrian farmers and herdsmen had been forced off their lands because of drought, with many crowding into cities like Dara’a.  Additionally, thousands of illegal wells were drilled, drastically lowering the nation’s ground water supply. Read more ..

The Environment on Edge

Houston Sprawl Leaves Wildlife Stranded

August 20th 2013

cougar/American mountain lion

Houston, Texas, and its surrounding suburbs are growing fast and sprawling out into natural forest areas that are the habitat for many species of indigenous wildlife. Local leaders as well as environmentalists are seeking some sort of balance between growth and preservation of nature.  But time is running out.

On a ranch in the woods northwest of Houston, several young deer who were left orphaned when their mother was killed, are growing to maturity within a safe, fenced-off area.

Nearby,  at the Friends of Texas Wildlife Center northwest of Houston, volunteers help care for a variety of injured animals. There, a red-tailed hawk is recovering from what may have been a collision with a glass window.

Center Director Lisa Wolling is helping him exercise his wings so he can be returned to his natural world. "He needs to be in this flight area to be able to [be in] flight condition and get his endurance back up," she said. Animals throughout this area are facing a crisis as developers build more homes and more roads to link them to Houston. Read more ..

The Edge of Medicine

Plastic Surgeons’ Pro Bono Surgery Frees Young Orange County Woman from Daily Bullying

August 19th 2013


Twenty-seven year old Sarah Simmering has dealt with an enormous, disfiguring tumor on her nose since she graduated from college. The benign tumor, known as Rhinophyma, grew hideously large over time and caused years of daily ridicule and bullying. Renowned Newport Beach facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Kevin Sadati, heard about Sarah’s story from a colleague and was inspired to help change this young woman’s life.

Following Sarah’s college graduation, the tumor on her nose was controlled by medication; however, soon medications were no longer enough to suppress the growth of the mass on her face. She was not able to join the work force due to her condition, and a lack of money and medical insurance prevented Sarah from receiving effective medical treatment. Read more ..

Israel and Palestinians

To Get an Israeli-Palestinian Agreement, U.S. Needs to Re-engage

August 18th 2013

Obama Peres Biden

Having coaxed Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table after an unprecedented drought of talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry can claim at least a measure of vindication for his seemingly single-minded focus on the peace process. But now that negotiations have commenced, that same single-mindedness could prove the talks' undoing and the unraveling of Kerry's achievement.

In approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry was wise to put aside the settlements-first approach that bedeviled the Obama administration's first term. The process that Kerry has put together appears instead to pick up, structurally speaking at least, where the 2007-2008 "Annapolis process" between then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas left off. Read more ..

Islams' War Against Christianity

Muslims Burn 47 Churches in Egypt

August 17th 2013

Coptic woman weeping at funeral

As the death toll from recent violent clashes in Egypt continues to climb with 556 now reported dead and thousands more injured Australia's Egyptian community remains in shock.

"We who stand for 80,000 Christian Egyptians in Australia are deeply saddened by events and the tragic loss of life in Egypt on Wednesday. No matter the difference in our political or religious stance, it is unacceptable to see such bloodshed and the destruction of public buildings and churches throughout Egypt," the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Australia, Bishop Anba Suriel and Bishop Daniel said in a joint statement this morning.

Egypt is under a state of emergency and facing a humanitarian disaster with security forces firing on protesters supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Heavily armed police have opened fire on men, women and children in Cairo and regional centres. Read more ..

Inside Politics

Investors, Companies Fuel Super PAC Tied to Boehner

August 16th 2013

Money Bands=Happiness

Hamburger chain White Castle, the for-profit education provider Apollo Group and a firm connected to a controversial high-stakes gambler and golf course developer were among the largest donors to a super PAC dedicated to keeping Republicans in control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

These three corporate contributions amounted to about 30 percent of the $557,000 raised by the Congressional Leadership Fund in the first six months of the year, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of campaign finance records.

The GOP super PAC’s largest donation so far this year — $125,000 — came from John W. Childs, the founder and chairman of a Boston-based private equity firm that specializes in leveraged buyouts. Childs was one of the top bankrollers of super PACs during the 2012 election cycle, giving $4.2 million to pro-Republican groups. Read more ..

The Edge of Faith

Mysterious 'Angel' Priest Identified

August 15th 2013

car door

A mystery was solved when the so-called “angel priest,” who anointed a young woman trapped in her wrecked vehicle on August 4, was identified. Rev. Patrick Dowling of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, stepped forward. According to the Catholic News Agency on August 12, Fr. Dowling said of the incident “I thank God and the amazingly competent rescue workers." He continued, “I thank them for making me welcome in such a highly charged situation and allowing me to minister as a priest.” Besides anointing the victim of the vehicular accident, Fr. Dowling also anointed several emergency workers on the scene as they rescued Tulane University sophmore Katie Lentz.
Reports that a man dressed as a Catholic priest had suddenly appeared on the scene after Lentz had requested prayers circulated worldwide. Speculation was varied, since the emergency workers on the scene said that the priest left the scene just as suddenly as he had appeared. 
Lentz was involved in a serious accident near Center MO and was trapped in her crumbled Mercedes-Benz automobile. Rescuers had spent nearly an hour trying to cut into the sturdy vehicle and remove Lentz. As her vital signs began to wane, Lentz asked for prayers. Suddenly, there was a priest who appeared who said "I will."

Iraq on Edge

For Maliki, Retaining Power Trumps Iraqi Unity

August 14th 2013

Nouri al-Maliki

After almost eight years in power, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is showing signs he never wants to leave.

During his time in office, he has increasingly concentrated authority in his own hands by fostering a patronage system of high-level civil servants and security officials who owe their positions to him. The appointments provide him a loyal power base but are raising mistrust between him and his political partners.

"Considering the ongoing political struggle, Maliki, by concentrating most powers in his hand, has put himself in an unenviable position. The Defense, Interior, and National Security ministries as well as the Intelligence Agency and secret service are all in his hands," says Wasat al-Hashimi, head of the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies in Baghdad.

"The man does not have sufficient military experience to run such difficult portfolios. Lack of trust may be another important reason. Due to a deep crisis of confidence between Maliki and leaders of the other political factions, he trusts no one." Read more ..

Broken Education

Remembering When Right Was Right And Left Was Wrong

August 13th 2013

Russian girl

Growing up in the southern Kazakh village of Temirlan, Dina got used to a series of daily corrections.

She'd pick up a fork with her left hand. Someone would move it to her right. At school, she'd work on a lesson holding a pencil in her left hand. Her teachers, worried, would urge her to switch to the "normal" side.

"I was also trying to write with my right hand, but it didn't work," she says. "I was the only one in my school who was left-handed. So it was a hard time, because everyone was calling me a lefty. 'Solaqay' -- that's in Kazakh. It literally means a person who writes with their left hand, but at that time it did have some negative connotations." Dina is one of an estimated 900 million people worldwide who are "sinistral," or predisposed to using their left hand, rather than their right, for writing and most manual functions. Natural-born left-handers are believed to make up as much as 13 percent of the human population. Read more ..

Iraq on Edge

UN Reports on Iraq’s Deadliest Month in Years

August 12th 2013

Baghdad bomb

Iraqis witnessed the bloodiest month in years this past July, according to the latest United Nations report. A total of 1,057 people were killed and another 2,326 wounded during the escalating sectarian violence not seen since the peak of the insurgency in 2008. After June experienced a relative decrease in violence, the latest statistics demonstrate a return to a death toll exceeding that of this past May.

“I reiterate my urgent call on Iraq’s political leaders to take immediate and decisive action to stop the senseless bloodshed, and to prevent these dark days from returning,” said UN Deputy Special Representative for Iraq Gyorgy Busztin. A total of 4,137 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the year.

Referring to the ceaseless attacks as “security setbacks,” Prime Minister Maliki vowed to remain steadfast. “Iraq is in a confrontation that we will not lose,” he said on Al Iraqiya state TV. Maliki also blamed unspecified "neighboring countries" of backing militants involved with violence, but did not reach out to other religious minorities to ease the unrest. Read more ..

Healthcare and Industry

California Cities Seek $1 Billion Settlement for Lead Paint-Related Health Care Costs

August 11th 2013

medical malpractice law

In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised to 535,000 its estimate of the number of American children with potentially dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

But for U.S. communities combating the lead hazards, there might never be any money from the group some say is most responsible for creating the problem: The companies that made lead pigment used in the old, flaking paint still coating millions of dwellings.

The industry could be on the verge of defeating the last major legal assault by municipalities and states seeking damages to fund lead removal. Apart from one settlement, the industry has successfully defended roughly 50 lawsuits by states, cities, counties and school districts over the last 24 years.

Now, in a bench trial under way in San Jose, Calif., the industry is seeking a final victory in a case brought by 10 public agencies, including the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego, as well as Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties. The suit seeks to force the defendants to inspect more than 3 million California homes, and to remove any lead paint hazards that are discovered, at an estimated cost of more than $1 billion. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Syrians Find Innovative Ways to Stay Connected Online

August 10th 2013

Tablet Use

Since the conflict in Syria began more than two years ago, the country has intermittently plunged into cyber-darkness. But activists in Europe and in Syria are using innovative means to stay online and to stay in touch with loved ones.

Since the civil war began, the nation's weak communications infrastructure has been made worse by government shut-offs aimed at choking the insurgency.

"After the Revolution, people started using the Internet more intensively," explained Hozan Ibrahim, a Syrian activist who escaped from the country after being tortured by the Assad regime. He's now based in Berlin. "They wanted to participate. Not in the activism, but to learn about what was going on. The number of Facebook profiles, for example, have doubled three or four times. Same with Skype and e-mail and so on," he noted. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syrians Find Innovative Ways to Stay Connected Online

August 9th 2013

Iranian women with mobile


The Digital Edge

Bluetooth Essential to the Internet of Things

August 8th 2013

Minneapolis skyline

Researcher estimates that the installed base of Bluetooth-enabled devices alone reached 3.5 billion in 2012 and is forecast to grow to almost 10 billion by 2018. This doesn't take into account many other technologies such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and cellular.

The emergence of standardized ultra-low power wireless technologies is one of the main enablers of the Internet of Everything (IoE) with Semiconductor vendors and standards bodies at the forefront of the market push, helping to bring the IoE into reality. 2013 is seen by many as the year of the IoE, but it will be many years until it reaches its full potential. The next 5 years will be pivotal in its growth and establishment as a tangible concept to the consumer. Read more ..

Russia on Edge

Behind Russia's Migrant Raids, Bribes And Opportunism

August 7th 2013

Migrant Workers

If the past week is any indication, the plight of Russia's illegal migrants may be about to go from unenviable to impossible.

Police in Moscow in the past week arrested 1,400 immigrants from Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Syria, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Egypt. More than 600 have been forced into a sweltering tent camp to await deportation.

Russian migration authorities, meanwhile, have called for more than 80 detention centers to be built nationwide, signaling that the battle against illegal workers is gathering steam. Observers say the sweep is aimed at currying favor with nationalist-minded Russians ahead of regional elections next month.

But critics like Mohammad Majumder, the president of the Russian Federation of Migrants, say the move overlooks the real problem with migration -- the rampant cycle of corruption and bribes that it perpetuates among police, bureaucrats, and middlemen charging exorbitant fees in exchange for legal documents. Read more ..

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