Very little sexual risk-taking with no-cost contraception

U.S. researchers say they found little evidence to support concerns of increased sexual risk-taking with access to no-cost contraception.

Dr. Jeffrey F. Peipert, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed data of the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a study of 9,256 adolescents and women at risk for unintended pregnancy.

Participants were provided reversible contraception of their choice at no cost and were followed-up with telephone interviews at six and 12 months.

“We examined the number of male sexual partners and sexual intercourse frequency reported during the previous 30 days at baseline compared with six-month and 12-month time points,” the researchers wrote in the study.

All of the women, ages 15 to 45, were either sexually active with men or planning to become active when the study began — 5 percent were virgins.

The study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, found 3.3 percent reported more than one partner the previous month, down from 5.2 percent at the beginning of the study, while 16 percent increased the number of partners — most often from zero to one.

The study also found the median number of times women had vaginal intercourse rose from four times a month to six times a month.

However, despite the increase in the number of times the women has sexual intercourse from four times a month to six after receiving the free contraception, they did not result in greater sexually transmitted infection incidence at the 12-month point of the study.

About half of the women who said they were virgins at the beginning of the study were still virgins at the end of the study.

Of course, that 2.5% is sufficient to panic the average True Believer who thinks lying about abstinence is a better alternative.

Snowden urges tech industry to protect clients, customers

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents that revealed a vast network of surveillance by American government agencies, wants the technology industry to become serious about protecting the privacy of its customers.

Mr. Snowden, speaking Monday at the South by Southwest festival via videoconference, said the early technology adopters and entrepreneurs who travel to Austin every year for the event are “the folks who can fix this and enforce our rights…”

Mr. Snowden said that even the companies whose business models rely on collecting data about their users “can still do this in a responsible way.”

“It’s not that you shouldn’t collect the data,” he said. “But you should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary.”

Hundreds of people sat quietly as Mr. Snowden spoke. Mr. Snowden, who faces criminal charges of espionage and fled the United States last summer, spoke from Russia, where he is living.

Ultimately, the tech industry can help fix the problem, Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union said.

“Most regular people are not going to download some obscure security app,” he said. “They’re going to use the tools they already have,” which include Google, Facebook and Skype.

The technology community should pressure those companies to introduce security measures that are stronger and easier to use, Mr. Soghoian said.

We need services to include security by default,” he added.

Geeks or not, if you have sufficient experience online you’ve either learned to protect yourself – or you’re in line to be ripped off. Either by crafty crooks or your own government. For some of us, secure responses, cynicism born of years of emails from folks pretending to share lottery winnings 🙂 have built in an attitude anyone stuck into the human race should have learned by now. There is no free lunch. The corporate database miners have a responsibility IMHO to provide more protection for the folks who aren’t geekified enough to care to learn about precautions.

Bravo, once again, for Ed Snowden. Nice to see a conservative and libertarian who remembers when those used to be qualities that included concern for your fellow human beings.

Climate change felt in deep of Antarctic Bottom Water


In 1974, just a couple years after the launch of the first Landsat satellite, scientists noticed something odd in the Weddell Sea near Antarctica. There was a large ice-free area, called a polynya, in the middle of the ice pack. The polynya, which covered an area as large as New Zealand, reappeared in the winters of 1975 and 1976 but has not been seen since.

Scientists interpreted the polynya’s disappearance as a sign that its formation was a naturally rare event. But researchers reporting in Nature Climate Change disagree, saying that the polynya’s appearance used to be far more common and that climate change is now suppressing its formation.

What’s more, the polynya’s absence could have implications for the vast conveyor belt of ocean currents that move heat around the globe.

Surface seawater around the poles tends to be relatively fresh due to precipitation and the fact that sea ice melts into it, which makes it very cold. As a result, below the surface is a layer of slightly warmer and more saline water not infiltrated by melting ice and precipitation. This higher salinity makes it denser than water at the surface.

Scientists think that the Weddell polynya can form when ocean currents push these denser subsurface waters against an underwater mountain chain known as the Maud Rise. This forces the water up to the surface, where it mixes with and warms colder surface waters. While it doesn’t warm the top layer of water enough for a person to comfortably bathe in, it’s enough to prevent ice from forming. But at a cost—the heat from the upwelling subsurface water dissipates into the atmosphere soon after it reaches the surface This loss of heat forces the now-cool but still dense water to sink some 3,000 meters to feed a huge, super-cold underwater ocean current known as Antarctic Bottom Water.

Antarctic Bottom Water spreads across the global oceans at depths of 3,000 meters and more, delivering oxygen into these deep places. It’s also one of the drivers of global thermohaline circulation, the great ocean conveyor belt that moves heat from the equator towards the poles.

But for the mixing to occur in the Weddell Sea, the top layer of ocean water must become denser than the layer below it so that the waters can sink.

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