• Africa drought endangers 500,000 children

    The lives of half a million children in the Horn of Africa are at risk, international aid agencies said on Friday, as the worst drought in decades forces thousands of people to flee their homes each day. High food prices and the driest years since the early 1950s have pushed many poor families in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti into desperate need, UNICEF said. "We have over two million children who are malnourished. Half a million of these children are in a life-threatening condition at this stage -- a 50 percent increase over 2009 figures," UNICEF spokesman Marixie Mercado told a news briefing. Child malnutrition rates in some camps are at least 45 percent, triple the emergency threshold, Mercado said. Child mortality rates are also very high. "At one camp in Ethiopia it is above the emergency threshold of four deaths per 10,000 children per day and that is also the case in the Turkana district of Kenya," she said. >> Read the Full Article
  • Dr. Helen Caldicott: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Much Worse Than Chernobyl

    Although several months have passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami occurred in Japan, the resulting nuclear power plant crisis, and the effect on the world environment is still far from over. The health risks caused by the meltdown of nuclear fuel rods in at least three reactors actually melting down will be felt for hundreds of years to come. >> Read the Full Article
  • Incredible Images from the Land of the midnight sun

    What is it like to live in a place where there is never-ending sunlight? BBC Assistant Producer Willow Murton describes how when days have no end, the midnight sun becomes a state of mind.I pull off my eye mask and open my eyes. The sun shines bright above me. I look at my watch. Three o’clock in the morning? I sit bolt upright, lifting my head from the make do pillow. Reindeer hair sticks to my cheek. Simon the sound recordist mutters as he rigidly stares out ahead of us. Beth the researcher alongside us is, like me, struggling with sleep deprivation and the daylight. I am still trying to focus my eyes in the dazzling night of the Arctic summer. Suddenly I see the figures along the ice edge. Five men, spread out along the horizon, all poised, waiting...watching for their target. Simon swears. We aren't hunters but we know the rules. We mustn't do anything, we mustn't move, cannot move from our dogsled bed. I spot our tripod and camera, no cameraman anywhere nearby. I am filled with a dreadful nauseous realization – this could be the moment that we have spent over a year working towards. Months of careful negotiations and awkward logistics all for us to sleep through our only possible chance of filming a narwhal hunt. We can only sit and watch in confused disbelief... At that moment, the silhouette of a whale crests the ice edge. I wonder how on earth I am going to explain this to the team back in Cardiff. Surreal scenes like this are surely what you are supposed to wake from rather than wake up to. It's late Spring in Northern Greenland, there is no reference to time as the sun never sets so the days blend into each other. In the full glare of the midnight sun this is a place where anything seems possible and where dreaming and being seem to meet. >> Read the Full Article
  • 4th of July Parades, Fireworks, and Waste

    It's not the Fourth of July without a parade and fireworks — plus lots of trash and some not-so-healthy toxins and pollutants. Rhode Island prides itself on hosting the oldest parade in the nation. The Bristol tradition draws some 100,000 spectators, who leave behind about 64 tons of trash, according to the Department of Public Works. Progress has been made in recent years to control waste by requiring vendors to haul out their own garbage. Stapling paper yard-waste bags to trees and telephone poles along the parade route also has encouraged spectators to help with the clean up of bottles, cups, balloons and other debris. "We flood the parade route with those bags and it's a huge help," said Jim Sylvester of Bristol's DPW. None of the waste, however, is sorted for recyclables. It's not well known, or at least not well publicized, that fireworks — from sparklers to professional displays — leave behind a fair amount of waste, while releasing noxious gases and heavy metals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Red Wine and Exercise

    Wine has its proponents as well its opponents. Long-term spaceflight induces hypokinesia and hypodynamia, which results in a number of significant physiological alterations, such as muscle atrophy, force reduction, insulin resistance, substrate use shift from fats to carbohydrates, and bone loss. Resveratrol, a natural polyphenol, could be used as a nutritional countermeasure to prevent muscle metabolic and bone adaptions according to a new study. A chemical in red wine called resveratrol has been shown to have both cardioprotective and chemoprotective effects in animal studies. Low doses of resveratrol in the diet of middle-aged mice has a widespread influence on the genetic levers of aging and may confer special protection on the heart. Specifically, low doses of resveratrol mimic the effects of what is known as caloric restriction - diets with 20–30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet. Resveratrol is produced naturally by grape skins in response to fungal infection, including exposure to yeast during fermentation. As white wine has minimal contact with grape skins during this process, it generally contains lower levels of the chemical. Other beneficial compounds in wine include other polyphenols, antioxidants, and flavonoids. >> Read the Full Article
  • Motion Affer Effect

    The motion after-effect is a visual illusion experienced after viewing a moving visual stimulus for a time (seconds to minutes) with stationary eyes, and then fixating a stationary stimulus. The stationary stimulus appears to move in the opposite direction to the original (physically moving) stimulus. The motion aftereffect is believed to be the result of motion adaptation. For example, if one looks at a waterfall for about a minute and then looks at the stationary rocks at the side of the waterfall, these rocks appear to be moving upwards slightly. The illusory upwards movement is the motion aftereffect. This particular motion aftereffect is also known as the waterfall illusion. Why does it happen, though? Is it because we are consciously aware that the background is moving in one direction, causing our brains to shift their frame of reference so that we can ignore this motion? Or is it an automatic, subconscious response? Davis Glasser, a doctoral student in the University of Rochester's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences thinks he has found the answer. The results of a study done by Glasser, along with his advisor, Professor Duje Tadin, and colleagues James Tsui and Christopher Pack of the Montreal Neurological Institute, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In their paper, the scientists show that humans experience the Motion Aftereffect even if the motion that they see in the background is so brief that they can't even tell whether it is heading to the right or the left. >> Read the Full Article
  • Europe's E. coli outbreaks possibly linked to Egyptian seeds

    Imported fenugreek seeds from Egypt may be the source of highly toxic E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France that have killed at least 48 people, according to initial investigations by European scientists. More than 4,000 people across Europe and in North America have been infected in the deadliest outbreak of E. coli so far recorded, which started in early May. Almost all of those sickened lived in Germany or had recently travelled there. The German outbreak and a smaller cluster of E. coli centered around the French city of Bordeaux have both been linked to sprouted seeds. Experts from the Sweden-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Italy-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said initial investigations suggested that "the consumption of sprouts is the suspected vehicle of infection in both the French cluster and the German outbreak. >> Read the Full Article
  • Diabetes: A Global Epidemic?

    According to a major international study which analyzed global data on diabetes since 1980, the prevalence of diabetes has gone up or at best remained unchanged in every part of the world for the last 30 years. The number of people with the disease has more than doubled during that period to 347 million adults. The increase can be attributed to population growth, aging, and to an overall higher prevalence. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cinnamon and Alzheimer

    Alzheimer's, the degenerative brain disorder that disrupts memory, thought and behavior, is devastating to both patients and loved ones. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in eight Americans over the age of 65 suffers from the disease. Now Tel Aviv University has discovered that an everyday spice in your kitchen cupboard could hold the key to Alzheimer's prevention. Cinnamon is a type of spice that is widely used for making various things such as eatables, beverages, pharmaceuticals and liquors. Apart from these commercial things, cinnamon is also one of the common household spices. We generally use cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder for cooking. An extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the Alzheimer disease. >> Read the Full Article
  • Canada, other countries block Chrysotile asbestos from U.N. hazardous list

    Chrysotile asbestos will not be listed as a hazardous industrial chemical that can be banned from import after countries including Canada and Ukraine blocked consensus, a United Nations spokesman said Friday. The decision was taken at a meeting of states that have ratified the Rotterdam Convention despite the treaty's scientific review body having recommended the inclusion of "white" asbestos on health grounds, a U.N. spokesman said. "Several countries declared in plenary problems they had with the inclusion of chrysotile (asbestos), including Canada, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam," U.N. spokesman Michael Stanley-Jones told a news briefing in Geneva. Australia, Chile and the European Union (EU) were among those seeking the inclusion of chrysotile on the 2004 treaty's trade "watch list" of chemicals and severely hazardous pesticides which exporters must share information on. >> Read the Full Article