Overweight middle-aged adults at greater risk for cognitive decline later on

The adverse affects of being overweight are not limited to physical function but also extend to neurological function, according to research in the latest issue of The Journals of Gerontology…

“One of the unanticipated consequences of improved medical management of cardiovascular disease is that many obese individuals reach old age,” said Journal Editor Luigi Ferrucci, MD, PhD, of the National Institute on Aging. “We need a better understanding of the causes and consequences of obesity in older individuals — especially when obesity is associated with sarcopenia.”

A study headed by Anna Dahl, MS, of Sweden’s Jönköping University, found that individuals with higher midlife body mass index (BMI) scores had significantly lower general cognitive ability and significantly steeper decline than their thinner counterparts over time. These statistics were compiled from a study of Swedish twins that took place over the course of nearly 40 years, from 1963 to 2002; the results were the same for both men and women…

Similarly, changes in weight also signify declines in overall health. A team of researchers led by Alice M. Arnold, PhD, of the University of Washington, Seattle, found that such fluctuations are significant indicators of future physical limitations and mortality in the elderly. Arnold and her colleagues used data from the Cardiovacscular Health Study…They discovered that a history of cyclically losing and gaining weight increased a person’s chance of having difficulty with activities of daily living — bathing, dressing, eating, etc. — by 28 percent.

I, uh, forgot what I was going to say…

They didn’t finish the moat!

The State Department’s announcement on Tuesday that it had selected a design by the Philadelphia firm KieranTimberlake for its new embassy in London was not exactly uplifting news.

The proposed building — a bland glass cube clad in an overly elaborate, quiltlike scrim — is not inelegant by the standards of other recent American Embassies, but it has all the glamour of a corporate office block. It makes you wonder if the architects had somehow mistaken the critic Reyner Banham’s famous dismissal of the embassy’s 1960 predecessor on Grosvenor Square — “monumental in bulk, frilly in detail” — as something to strive for.

The project as a whole, however, is a fascinating study in how architecture can be used as a form of camouflage. The building is set in a spiraling pattern of two small meadows and a pond that have as much to do with defensive fortification as with pastoral serenity: an eye-opening expression of the irresolvable tensions involved in trying to design an emblem of American values when you know it may become the next terrorist target.

It’s hard to think of a project, in fact, that more perfectly reflects the country’s current struggle to maintain a welcoming, democratic image while under the constant threat of attack…

The abundance of green space contributes to the design’s environmentally friendly image. Circuitous paths weave through the park, which in renderings is full of young professionals. The main entry plaza for the building, which extends along the edge of the pond before slipping under one side of the colonnade, is conceived as a lively public space.

But the real function of these landscape elements is to serve as camouflaged security barriers. The northern pond is a reflecting pool — but also a castle moat. To the south, a concrete wall frames the outer edge of the lower meadow, which can be patrolled by guards.

Above it, walled off by a second barrier, the higher meadow can be used for occasional embassy events but will otherwise be closed to the public. To get to the plaza, visitors will have to pass first through a high-security entry pavilion, much as they do to enter the current embassy.

A result is an architectural sleight of hand. And the effect is likely to be oddly disquieting: an array of clearly visible public zones that will actually be inaccessible to the public.

Next time the Republicans are in power they’ll probably finish the moat. That may even be a necessity. Perhaps, Vauxhall Station will be the entrance to the British Green Zone.

Is Italy becoming part of Albuquerque?

A Milan court convicted three Google executives on Wednesday for violating the privacy of an Italian boy with autism by letting a video of him being bullied be posted on the site in 2006.

Google said it was confident it would avoid formal investigation by the European Commission. It said the Milan verdict “poses a crucial question for the freedom on which the internet is built” as none of its employees had anything to do with the video.

“They didn’t upload it, they didn’t film it, they didn’t review it and yet they have been found guilty,” said Google’s senior communications manager, Bill Echikson, in Milan.

The court convicted senior vice-president and chief legal officer David Drummond, former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes and global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer. Senior product marketing manager Arvind Desikan was acquitted…

The complaint was brought by an Italian advocacy group for people with Down’s Syndrome, Vivi Down, and the boy’s father, after four classmates at a Turin school uploaded a clip to Google Video showing them bullying the boy…

The video was filmed with a mobile phone and posted on the site in September 2006.

Google argued that it removed the video immediately after being notified and cooperated with Italian authorities to help identify the bullies and bring them to justice.

It says that, as hosting platforms that do not create their own content, Google Video, YouTube and Facebook cannot be held responsible for content that others upload…

Why Albuquerque? Because not only does New Mexico lead the nation in lawsuits per capita, the Duke City hosted the famous McDonald’s million-dollar lawsuit for injuries sustained when a little old lady spilled her hot coffee in her lap – in her car – and was injured because it was hot coffee.

No one in America is supposed to take responsibility for their individual acts. Apparently, there are judges in Italy who think the medium is not only the message; but, the guilty party.

It’s like the lawsuits against firearms manufacturers for letting bullets come out the gun barrel when someone pulls the trigger.

Now that the Village Idiot is out of office, Wall Street returns to funding the Republican Party

U.S. banks and investment firms transferred their political contributions to Republicans in 2009 as Democrats in Washington put the focus on big bonuses, huge profits and tight lending, The Washington Post reports.

The securities and investment industry gave 2 to 1 to Democrats in early 2009 but sent nearly half its donations to Republicans by year’s end, according to data complied by the Center for Responsive Politics for the Post.

The commercial banking industry and its employees gave nearly twice as much to Republicans during the last three months of 2009, the newspaper reported…

Obama drew a larger share of Wall Street financial backing than his Republican rival, John McCain, in the 2008 presidential campaign, according to the newspaper, and analysts noted the Democrats still pulled in more money overall than Republicans from Wall Street in 2009.

The shift toward Republicans came later in the year — as the financial reform debate heated up — and was most evident among commercial banks, which have traditionally tilted Republican, the report said.

The report cited JP Morgan Chase, headed by Obama supporter Jamie Dimon, as having scaled back its giving to Democrats.

“The bank and its employees, who doled out nearly $500,000 in federal contributions last year, went from giving 76 percent of the money to Democrats in the first quarter to giving 73 percent to Republicans in the fourth,” the newspaper said.

Face it. George W. Bush was an embarrassment to all but the most ignorant and bigoted Americans. John McBush wasn’t going to be enough of a change.

Wall Street types aren’t about to accept responsibility for their dedication to greed at the cost of nearly destroying the world’s economy. They will not readily accept oversight or honesty as necessary qualities for doing business.

They will dedicate every penny they can spare to returning their most obedient lapdogs to power.

The newest crusade: Saving kids from hot dogs

Whoa! Are you crazy? I’m not gonna put that thing in MY mouth!

The American Academy of Pediatrics says they’re interested in designing a choke-proof hot-dog that won’t be a hazard to children.

“If you were to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, you couldn’t do much better than a hot dog,” said Gary Smith, the policy’s lead author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, to news-medical.net.

In a policy statement, “Prevention of Choking Among Children,” the AAP recommends that food manufacturers “should design new food and redesign existing foods to avoid shapes, sizes, textures and other characteristics that increase choking risk to children.” …

The AAP also cites foods like hard candy, peanuts, whole grapes, popcorn, [and] chunks of peanut butter.

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some cracker jacks
Please oh please
But not any hotdogs, they might strangle me….

God, I just love this 21st century thing.

Drones tested by the Coast Guard for the Gulf of Mexico

The unmanned aerial vehicles that fly sorties over Afghanistan and Pakistan are coming to Florida to fly over the Gulf of Mexico.

But their missions here will be quite different: The Coast Guard wants to use them for drug interdiction and search and rescue…

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Homeland Security Department, has been using Predator B drones to monitor the nation’s northern and southern borders since 2005…

The drones used domestically are not armed. They’re equipped only for surveillance and tracking. But can they surveil and track objects on water?

That’s what the Coast Guard needs to find out. That’s why the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection jointly developed a maritime version of the Predator B. Its name: the Guardian. And it’s more advanced than the drones that patrol the nation’s borders, the admiral said.

“The Coast Guard has helped develop a prototype Predator that uses a maritime radar that moves beyond the sensors you have for land targets,” Allen said. “It just brings in another level of technology to counter the drug threat…”

Allen said test flights should begin in March at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A successful test should lead to the acquisition of a fleet.

Here comes Coast Guard gamers!

China regulators roadblock Hummer deal

Tengzhong could use an offshore vehicle to buy General Motor’s Hummer brand if it fails to win Chinese regulatory approval for the ambitious but controversial plan that has met with cooling government appetite.

Machinery maker Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co, with no experience in the auto industry, had started communicating with the regulatory bodies after closing the deal with GM in October 2009.

The partners had to push back the deadline of the deal to the end of February from a previous date of Jan 31…

“Tengzhong has not given up hope yet to win government approval, but buying Hummer through an offshore investment vehicle could be an option if it can’t get the green light,” said a source.

Support from the government has been critical for Chinese firms that have embarked on a series of deals to pick up distressed assets from a global auto industry reeling from overcapacity and sharply depressed demand during the recession.

Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC), China’s fifth-ranked automaker, closed its $200 million purchase of technology platforms from GM’s Saab in just two weeks.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group’s bid to buy Ford’s Volvo car unit is also believed to enjoy government support.

It’s worth a chuckle – without analyzing all the details – to note that even China ain’t thrilled about becoming home to the Hummer.