Researchers prove behavioral problems in young children from consuming soft drinks

destruction, aggression

Americans buy more soft drinks per capita than people in any other country. These drinks are consumed by individuals of all ages, including very young children. Although soft drink consumption is associated with aggression, depression, and suicidal thoughts in adolescents, the relationship had not been evaluated in younger children. A new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics finds that aggression, attention problems, and withdrawal behavior are all associated with soft drink consumption in young children.

Shakira Suglia, ScD, and colleagues from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, University of Vermont, and Harvard School of Public Health assessed approximately 3,000 5-year-old children enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a prospective birth cohort that follows mother-child pairs from 20 large U.S. cities.

Mothers reported their child’s soft drink consumption and completed the Child Behavior Checklist based on their child’s behavior during the previous two months. The researchers found that 43% of the children consumed at least 1 serving of soft drinks per day, and 4% consumed 4 or more.

Aggression, withdrawal, and attention problems were associated with soda consumption. Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence, and paternal incarceration, any soft drink consumption was associated with increased aggressive behavior. Children who drank 4 or more soft drinks per day were more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, get into fights, and physically attack people. They also had increased attention problems and withdrawal behavior compared with those who did not consume soft drinks.

According to Dr. Suglia, “We found that the child’s aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day.” Although this study cannot identify the exact nature of the association between soft drink consumption and problem behaviors, limiting or eliminating a child’s soft drink consumption may reduce behavioral problems.

Dr. Suglia makes the critical point. Though researchers haven’t yet identified the qualitative link between drinking this crap – and self-destructive behavior – the correlation is specific. “Aggressive behavior scores increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day”.

‘Nuff said.

Taliban destroy poppy fields in raids on Afghan opium growers

Taliban fighters have destroyed fields of opium poppies in eastern Afghanistan this spring, the first time since 2001 the hardline Islamist group is known to have clamped down on the cultivation of a drug that provides a big part of its funding.

While the insurgents appear to have dug up a relatively small area of poppies in a remote area near the border with Pakistan, the move was so unusual it won a chorus of praise from the Afghan government and international organisations, whom the Taliban consider their enemy, as well as senior clerics.

“They just did what the constitution ordered,” said Wasifullah Wasifi, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Kunar, where the eradication took place…

The country representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, confirmed that the Taliban had uprooted poppy fields in Kunar, and said he hoped the “rare event” might presage a stronger approach to controlling drug production…

Afghanistan has for years produced the vast majority of the world’s opium, with only a brief break in 2001 when the Taliban government, which had previously relied on the crop to bolster its coffers, unexpectedly dug up most of the country’s poppy fields.

But opium production has flourished since the group was toppled by US-backed forces in 2001, even though it has been widely condemned by clerics as un-Islamic…

Funds flow to insurgents and corrupt members of the government. The crop can also be a key source of income for poor farmers, who insurgents sometimes rely on for food, shelter, recruits or other support.

RTFA for lots of anecdotal description. It ain’t a big deal [yet] in terms of quantity. Politically, it’s startling our military “experts”.

Whole Foods decides to sell only sustainable seafood — Trawler operators pissed off!

Standing on the deck of his rusted steel trawler, Naz Sanfilippo fumed about the latest bad news for New England fishermen: a decision by Whole Foods to stop selling any seafood it does not consider sustainable.

Starting Sunday, gray sole and skate, common catches in the region, will no longer appear in the grocery chain’s artfully arranged fish cases. Atlantic cod, a New England staple, will be sold only if it is not caught by trawlers, which drag nets across the ocean floor, a much-used method here.

“It’s totally maddening,” Mr. Sanfilippo said. “They’re just doing it to make all the green people happy…”

Mr. Sanfilippo is full of crap! Ask folks who grew up subsistence fishing in New England – as I did. Or the fisherman with a small family boat line fishing? We all hated the damn trawlers, what they did to the fishing grounds, their indiscriminate bottom scraping.

Whole Foods says that, in fact, it is doing its part to address the very real problem of overfishing and help badly depleted fish stocks recover. It is using ratings set by the Blue Ocean Institute, a conservation group, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. They are based on factors including how abundant a species is, how quickly it reproduces and whether the catch method damages its habitat.

“Stewardship of the ocean is so important to our customers and to us,” said David Pilat, the global seafood buyer for Whole Foods. “We’re not necessarily here to tell fishermen how to fish, but on a species like Atlantic cod, we are out there actively saying, ‘For Whole Foods Market to buy your cod, the rating has to be favorable.’ ”

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Think the Feds ain’t scraping Twitter? Ask a couple of Brits who were barred from the United States

Their vacation trip to Los Angeles came to a screeching halt

Holidaymakers have been warned to watch their words after two friends were refused entry to the US on security grounds after a tweet.

Before his trip, Leigh Van Bryan wrote that he was going to “destroy America”. He insisted he was referring to simply having a good time – but was sent home…

Trade association ABTA told the BBC that the case highlighted that holidaymakers should never do anything to raise “concern or suspicion in any way”. Don’t even fart out loud if you’re passing through the TSA.

The US Department for Homeland Security picked up Mr Bryan’s messages ahead of his holiday in Los Angeles.

The 26-year-old bar manager wrote a message to a friend on the micro-blogging service, saying: “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.”

The Irish national told the Sun newspaper that he and his friend Emily Bunting were apprehended on arrival at Los Angeles International Airport before being sent home. “The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist,” Mr Bryan said…

In another tweet, Mr Bryan made reference to comedy show Family Guy saying that he would be in LA in three weeks, annoying people “and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up”…

After the interview, Homeland Security’s reported: “Mr Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe.

The fact remains that TSA and Homeland InSecurity not only are missing a sense of humor – they have few if any brains. The same people who learn to read and write based solely on phonics appear to have learned what they know of civil liberties at the white American Legion bar on a Friday night.

Panetta brags that Imperial US military still the world’s largest

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cautioned global rivals on Sunday not to misjudge U.S. plans to slash military spending over the next decade, saying America would still field the world’s strongest military and nobody should “mess with that…”

Pressed on whether the United States could take out Iran’s nuclear sites without using nuclear weapons, Dempsey would only say: “I absolutely want them to believe that that’s the case…”

The tough talk comes days after President Barack Obama unveiled a new military strategy that calls for a smaller force as the United States cuts $487 billion in projected defense spending over the next decade in an effort to deal with the nation’s $14 trillion debt…

Dempsey said he worried that some countries might misunderstand the debate Americans are having over changing strategy and the need to cut defense spending…”There may be some around the world who see us as a nation in decline, and worse, as a military in decline. And nothing could be further from the truth,” Dempsey said…

Panetta said U.S. rivals should not misunderstand the situation…”I think the message that the world needs to understand is: America is the strongest military power and we intend to remain the strongest military power and nobody ought to mess with that,” he said…

Congress missed a deadline for reaching a compromise that could have stopped the new defense cuts, but it could still take action to override the spending reductions before they are due to go into force next year.

Obama, in unveiling the new defense strategy at a Pentagon news conference on Thursday, noted that even with the $487 trillion in cuts to projected spending, the defense budget would continue to grow in nominal terms.

He also said the U.S. defense budget would still be by far the world’s largest – roughly the size of the 10 next-biggest defense budgets combined.

Phew. I was worried the retired generals and admirals infesting the infrastructure of the military-industrial complex might be forced to make do on their pensions.

BTW – don’t you love it when the “peacemakers” we elected can’t help but brag to the rest of the world how easily we can kill and destroy everyone?

Recall of Excedrin, Bufferin, NoDoz and more!

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Pharmaceutical company Novartis on Sunday voluntarily recalled a number of over-the-counter drugs — including certain bottles of Excedrin and Bufferin — because of complaints about mislabeled and broken pills…it urged U.S. consumers to “either destroy or return unused” products that are part of the recall.

The items involved in the voluntary recall include Excedrin and NoDoz products with expiration dates of December 20, 2014, or earlier, as well as Bufferin and Gas-X Prevention products with December 20, 2013, or earlier expiration dates.

“(Novartis) is taking this action as a precautionary measure, because the products may contain stray tablets, capsules or caplets from other Novartis products, or contain broken or chipped pills,” the company said.

The moves follows Novartis’ decision to suspend operations at, and shipments from, its Lincoln, Nebraska, facility. The company said this was done “to accelerate maintenance” and make other improvements, adding that it currently “is not possible” to determine when the plant will reopen…

While Novartis announced Sunday’s recall, it said that it did so “with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” This came about after an internal review and assessment of complaints identifying “issues such as broken gelcaps, chipped tablets and inconsistent bottle packaging.”

If you want to see a detailed list – and I really recommend you do so – of products associated with the recall, please click on the link and go here.

Vatican gets to burn their own books for blasphemy

Whatever you do, don’t smoke the seeds!
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Thousands of copies of a new book about the Catholic Church’s teachings will have to be pulped after a translation error suggested that the Vatican had radically changed its views on contraception.

The book was officially launched on Wednesday at the Vatican, but the event was overshadowed by the embarrassing error, which will mean that around 30,000 copies will have to be scrapped.

The book, called YouCat – short for Youth Catechism – was originally written in German and contains a question and answer format about whether Catholic couples are entitled to plan the size of their families by “regulating conception”.

The answer provided was yes, because the Church sanctions ‘natural family planning’, in which married couples chart a woman’s menstrual cycle to determine when she might be capable of conceiving.

But in the Italian edition of the book, the question was translated as whether married couples could “use contraceptive methods.”

Again the answer was yes, implying that the Church had overturned its entrenched opposition to condoms, the pill and all other forms of contraception…

The translation mistake is just the latest in a series of public relations debacles to hit the Holy See.

In November, ambiguities in the translation of a book about the Pope, Light of the World, suggested that he believed that condoms were morally justifiable in some circumstances, for instance in preventing the transmission of a deadly disease such as Aids between a prostitute and a client.

Of course, the Holy Roman Catholic isn’t about to open the door to modern knowledge, ethics or understanding. Leaving the 14th Century behind might be too much of a shock. Might even lose a few gold bars along the way.

Doctors heeding the call for books to Afghanistan

Nearly three decades of war and religious extremism have devastated medical libraries and crippled the educational system for doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Factions of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, singled out medical texts for destruction, military medical personnel say, because anatomical depictions of the human body were considered blasphemous.

“They not only burned the books, but they sent monitors into the classroom to make sure there were no drawings of the human body on the blackboard,” said Valerie Walker, director of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ms. Walker is helping lead an ambitious effort by American doctors and nurses, both civilian and military, to restock Afghanistan’s hospitals, clinics and universities with medical textbooks and other reference materials.

The project, called Operation Medical Libraries, began modestly in 2007 with a plea for books from a U.C.L.A. medical graduate serving in the Army. It has since been embraced by 30 universities and hospitals, more than a dozen professional organizations and scores of individual doctors and nurses…

Like most others involved in the program, Dr. Maldonado heard about it from a colleague. And word has spread among medical officers stationed in Afghanistan, who act as volunteer points of contact to shepherd books to the libraries…

By Ms. Walker’s estimate, 27,000 medical texts have reached Afghanistan through Operation Medical Libraries, but she adds that the number is probably much higher. Donors can contribute directly by visiting the project’s Web site to find a military volunteer’s address, then shipping the books on their own.

Please, join in. Collect books. Get folks to collect and ship them to the Project.

RTFA. Reflect on the “joys” that fundamentalist religions almost inevitably bring to whatever part of the world is under their subjugation.

Cold plasma demonstrates clean doom for bacteria

Researchers have demonstrated a prototype device that can rid hands, feet, or even underarms of bacteria, including the hospital superbug MRSA.

The device works by creating something called a plasma, which produces a cocktail of chemicals in air that kill bacteria but are harmless to skin. A related approach could see the use of plasmas to speed the healing of wounds…

Plasmas are known as the fourth state of matter, after solid, liquid, and gas. They are a soup of atoms that have had their electrons stripped off by, for example, a high voltage.

The new research focuses on so-called cold atmospheric plasmas.

Rather than turning a whole group of atoms into plasma, a more delicate approach strips the electrons off just a few, sending them flying…

The resulting plasma is harmful to bacteria, viruses, and fungi – the approach is already used to disinfect surgical tools…

Professor Gregor Morfill said that more testing of the devices is necessary before they end up in widespread use, but he said that there is already significant interest from industry.

RTFA. The systems have been miniaturized enough to be battery-operated and portable.

Cripes, I can see them supplanting underarm deodorant sticks someday.