Los Angeles Moves To Dismiss 66,000 Marijuana-Related Convictions.

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Los Angeles Moves To Dismiss 66,000 Marijuana-Related Convictions.

Los Angeles County courts may soon throw out nearly 66,000 marijuana-related convictions of residents dating back more than 50 years.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has asked a judge to dismiss and seal the records of 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases as early as 1961, as well as, 3,700 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases.

Lacey, who is caught in a tight race for the district attorney seat against two progressive candidates, called it a marker of the sweeping change that can occur when government partners with technology leaders.

“We believe it is the largest effort in California to wipe out old criminal convictions in a single court motion,” she said in a news conference on Thursday.

The move comes about a year and a half after Lacey agreed to partner with Code for America in a pilot program that uses an algorithm to identify convictions that qualify for resentencing or dismissal under the state’s Proposition 64.

The voter-approved measure legalized recreational marijuana and mandated resentencing for those with felony conviction for the cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana and sales and/or transport of marijuana. It also included dismissing misdemeanor possession charges.

As a result, prosecutors throughout the state have been under pressure to meet a July 1, 2020, deadline to expunge or reduce all eligible convictions.

“I also took the will of the voters one step further,” Lacey explained. “I expanded the criteria to go above and beyond the parameters of the law to ensure that many more people will benefit from this historic moment in time.”

Those who were eligible under the pilot program, included persons 50 years of age or older, anyone who was convicted under the age of 21, anyone who has not been convicted of a crime in the past 10 years, anyone with a conviction who successfully completed probation and for cannabis convictions.

“We’re making a motion to seal it because we realize that’s the issue,” Lacey said. “When you go to apply for a job, you go to apply for housing and your record comes up, even though we’ve expunged it, that may not give you help.”

Approximately 53,000 people will have their convictions wiped out, according to Code for America. Of those, the district attorney’s office reports approximately 32% are black or African American, 20% are white, 45% are Latinx, and 3% are other or unknown.

Other counties, including San Fernando, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa, also participated in the Code for America pilot program, called Clear My Record.

In all, the nonprofit group says it has helped clear and seal more than 85,000 cannabis-related convictions in California.

Prior to the test program, only those who petitioned the court could have their records expunged or sealed. A process long criticized for being time-consuming, expensive and confusing. As a result, “only 3% of those eligible for relief under Proposition 64 have received” relief, according to Code for America.

Source: https://n.pr/3bxurqv

The medications that change who we are.

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The medications that change who we are.

They’ve been linked to road rage, pathological gambling, and complicated acts of fraud. Some make us less neurotic, and others may even shape our social relationships. It turns out many ordinary medications don’t just affect our bodies – they affect our brains. Why? And should there be warnings on packets?

“Patient Five” was in his late 50s when a trip to the doctors changed his life.

He had diabetes, and he had signed up for a study to see if taking a “statin” – a kind of cholesterol-lowering drug – might help. So far, so normal.

But soon after he began the treatment, his wife began to notice a sinister transformation. A previously reasonable man, he became explosively angry and – out of nowhere – developed a tendency for road rage. During one memorable episode, he warned his family to keep away, lest he put them in hospital.

Out of fear of what might happen, Patient Five stopped driving. Even as a passenger, his outbursts often forced his wife to abandon their journeys and turn back. Afterwards, she’d leave him alone to watch TV and calm down. She became increasingly fearful for her own safety.

Then one day, Patient Five had an epiphany. “He was like, ‘Wow, it really seems that these problems started when I enrolled in this study’,” says Beatrice Golomb, who leads a research group at the University of California, San Diego.
Alarmed, the couple turned to the study’s organisers. “They were very hostile. They said that the two couldn’t possibly be related, that he needed to keep taking the medication, and that he should stay in the study,” says Golomb.

Ironically, by this point the patient was so cantankerous that he flatly ignored the doctors’ advice. “He swore roundly, stormed out of the office and stopped taking the drug immediately,” she says. Two weeks later, he had his personality back.

Others have not been so lucky. Over the years, Golomb has collected reports from patients across the United States – tales of broken marriages, destroyed careers, and a surprising number of men who have come unnervingly close to murdering their wives. In almost every case, the symptoms began when they started taking statins, then promptly returned to normal when they stopped; one man repeated this cycle five times before he realised what was going on.

According to Golomb, this is typical – in her experience, most patients struggle to recognise their own behavioural changes, let alone connect them to their medication. In some instances, the realisation comes too late: the researcher was contacted by the families of a number of people, including an internationally renowned scientist and a former editor of a legal publication, who took their own lives.

We’re all familiar with the mind-bending properties of psychedelic drugs – but it turns out ordinary medications can be just as potent. From paracetamol (known as acetaminophen in the US) to antihistamines, statins, asthma medications and antidepressants, there’s emerging evidence that they can make us impulsive, angry, or restless, diminish our empathy for strangers, and even manipulate fundamental aspects of our personalities, such as how neurotic we are.

In most people, these changes are extremely subtle. But in some they can also be dramatic.
Back in 2011, a French father-of-two sued the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, claiming that the drug he was taking for Parkinson’s disease had turned him into a gambler and gay sex addict, and was responsible for risky behaviours that had led to him being raped.

Then in 2015, a man who targeted young girls on the internet used the argument that the anti-obesity drug Duromine made him do it – he said that it reduced his ability to control his impulses. Every now and again, murderers try to blame sedatives or antidepressants for their offences.

If these claims are true, the implications are profound. The list of potential culprits includes some of the most widely consumed drugs on the planet, meaning that even if the effects are small at an individual level, they could be shaping the personalities of millions of people.

Research into these effects couldn’t come at a better time. The world is in the midst of a crisis of over-medication, with the US alone buying up 49,000 tonnes of paracetamol every year – equivalent to about 298 paracetamol tablets per person – and the average American consuming $1,200 worth of prescription medications over the same period. And as the global population ages, our drug-lust is set to spiral even further out of control; in the UK, one in 10 people over the age of 65 already takes eight medications every week.

How are all these medications affecting our brains? And should there be warnings on packets?

Golomb first suspected a connection between statins and personality changes nearly two decades ago, after a series of mysterious discoveries, such as that people with lower cholesterol levels are more likely to die violent deaths. Then one day, she was chatting to a cholesterol expert about the potential link in the hallway at her work, when he brushed it off as obviously nonsense. “And I said ‘how do we know that?’,” she says.

Filled with fresh determination, Golomb scoured the scientific and medical literature for clues. “There was shockingly more evidence than I had imagined,” she says. For one thing, she uncovered findings that if you put primates on a low-cholesterol diet, they become more aggressive.

There was even a potential mechanism: lowering the animals’ cholesterol seemed to affect their levels of serotonin, an important brain chemical thought to be involved in regulating mood and social behaviour in animals. Even fruit flies start fighting if you mess up their serotonin levels, but it also has some unpleasant effects in people – studies have linked it to violence, impulsivity, suicide and murder.

If statins were affecting people’s brains, this was likely to be a direct consequence of their ability to lower cholesterol.

Since then, more direct evidence has emerged. Several studies have supported a potential link between irritability and statins, including a randomised controlled trial – the gold-standard of scientific research – that Golomb led, involving more than 1,000 people. It found that the drug increased aggression in post-menopausal women though, oddly, not in men.

In 2018, a study uncovered the same effect in fish. Giving statins to Nile tilapia made them more confrontational and – crucially – altered the levels of serotonin in their brains. This suggests that the mechanism that links cholesterol and violence may have been around for millions of years.

Golomb remains convinced that lower cholesterol, and, by extension, statins, can cause behavioural changes in both men and women, though the strength of the effect varies drastically from person to person. “There are lines of evidence converging,” she says, citing a study she conducted in Sweden, which involved comparing a database of the cholesterol levels of 250,000 people with local crime records. “Even adjusting for confounding factors, it was still the case that people with lower cholesterol at baseline were significantly more likely to be arrested for violent crimes.”.

But Golomb’s most unsettling discovery isn’t so much the impact that ordinary drugs can have on who we are – it’s the lack of interest in uncovering it. “There’s much more of an emphasis on things that doctors can easily measure,” she says, explaining that, for a long time, research into the side-effects of statins was all focused on the muscles and liver, because any problems in these organs can be detected using standard blood tests.

This is something that Dominik Mischkowski, a pain researcher from Ohio University, has also noticed. “There is a remarkable gap in the research actually, when it comes to the effects of medication on personality and behaviour,” he says. “We know a lot about the physiological effects of these drugs – whether they have physical side effects or not, you know. But we don’t understand how they influence human behaviour.”

Mischkowski’s own research has uncovered a sinister side-effect of paracetamol. For a long time, scientists have known that the drug blunts physical pain by reducing activity in certain brain areas, such as the insular cortex, which plays an important role in our emotions. These areas are involved in our experience of social pain, too – and intriguingly, paracetamol can make us feel better after a rejection.

And recent research has revealed that this patch of cerebral real-estate is more crowded than anyone previously thought, because it turns out the brain’s pain centres also share their home with empathy.

For example, fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans have shown that the same areas of our brain become active when we’re experiencing “positive empathy” –pleasure on other people’s behalf – as when we’re experiencing pain.

Given these facts, Mischkowski wondered whether painkillers might be making it harder to experience empathy. Earlier this year, together with colleagues from Ohio University and Ohio State University, he recruited some students and spilt them into two groups. One received a standard 1,000mg dose of paracetamol, while the other was given a placebo. Then he asked them to read scenarios about uplifting experiences that had happened to other people, such as the good fortune of “Alex”, who finally plucked up the courage to ask a girl on a date (she said yes).

The results revealed that paracetamol significantly reduces our ability to feel positive empathy – a result with implications for how the drug is shaping the social relationships of millions of people every day. Though the experiment didn’t look at negative empathy – where we experience and relate to other people’s pain – Mischkowski suspects that this would also be more difficult to summon after taking the drug.

“I’m not entirely junior anymore as a researcher, and to be honest, this line of research is really the most worrisome that I’ve ever conducted,” he says. “Especially because I’m well aware of the numbers [of people] involved. When you give somebody a drug, you don’t just give it to a person – you give it to a social system. And we really don’t understand the effects of these medications in the broader context.”

Empathy doesn’t just determine if you’re a “nice” person, or if you cry while you’re watching sad movies. The emotion comes with many practical benefits, including more stable romantic relationships, better-adjusted children, and more successful careers – some scientists have even suggested that it’s responsible for the triumph of our species. In fact, a quick glance at its many benefits reveals that casually lowering a person’s ability to empathise is no trivial matter.

Scientists have known for a while that the medications used to treat asthma are sometimes associated with behavioural changes, such as an increase in hyperactivity
Technically, paracetamol isn’t changing our personalities, because the effects only last a few hours and few of us take it continuously. But Mischkowski stresses that we do need to be informed about the ways it affects us, so that we can use our common sense. “Just like we should be aware that you shouldn’t get in front of the wheel if you’re under the influence of alcohol, you don’t want to take paracetamol and then put yourself into a situation that requires you to be emotionally responsive – like having a serious conversation with a partner or co-worker.”

One reason medications can have such psychological clout is that the body isn’t just a bag of separate organs, awash with chemicals with well-defined roles – instead, it’s a network, in which many different processes are linked.

For example, scientists have known for a while that the medications used to treat asthma are sometimes associated with behavioural changes, such as an increase in hyperactivity and the development of ADHD symptoms. Then, more recently, research uncovered a mysterious connection between the two disorders themselves; having one increases the risk of having the other by 45-53%. No one knows why, but one idea is that asthma medications bring on ADHD symptoms by altering levels or serotonin or inflammatory chemicals, which are thought to be involved in the development of both conditions.

Sometimes these links are more obvious. Back in 2009, a team of psychologists from Northwestern University, Illinois, decided to check if antidepressants might be affecting our personalities. In particular, the team were interested in neuroticism. This “Big Five” personality trait is epitomised by anxious feelings, such as fear, jealousy, envy and guilt.

For the study, the team recruited adults who had moderate to severe depression. They gave one third of the study’s participants the antidepressant paroxetine (a kind of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)), one third a placebo, and one third talking therapy. They then checked to see how their mood and personalities changed from the beginning to the end of a 16-week treatment.

“We found that massive changes in neuroticism were brought about by the medicine and not very much at all by the placebo [or the therapy],” says Robert DeRubeis, who was involved in the study. “It was quite striking.”

The big surprise was that, though the antidepressants did make the participants feel less depressed, the reduction in neuroticism was much more powerful – and their influence on neuroticism was independent of their impact on depression. The patients on antidepressants also started to score more highly for extroversion.

It’s important to note that it was a relatively small study, and no one has tried to repeat the results yet, so they may not be totally reliable. But the idea that antidepressants are affecting neuroticism directly is intriguing. One idea is that the trait is linked to level of serotonin in the brain, which is altered by the SSRIs.

While becoming less neurotic might sound like an appealing side-effect, it’s not necessarily all good news. That’s because this aspect of our personalities is something of a double-edged sword; yes, it’s been associated with all kinds of unpleasant outcomes, such as an earlier death, but it’s also thought that anxious over-thinking might be helpful. For example, neurotic individuals tend to be more risk-averse, and in certain situations worrying can improve a person’s performance.

“What [the American psychiatrist] Peter Kramer warned us about was that when some people are on antidepressants, what can happen is that they begin not to care about things that people care about,” says DeRubeis. If the results do hold up, should patients be warned about how their treatment might change them?

“If I were advising a friend, I would certainly want them to be on the lookout for those kinds of undesirable effects, just like they would naturally be looking out for other side-effects, like whether they’re gaining weight, and so on,” says DeRubeis.

At this point it’s worth pointing out that no one is arguing that people should stop taking their medication. Despite their subtle effects on the brain, antidepressants have been shown to help prevent suicides, cholesterol-lowering drugs save tens of thousands of lives every year, and paracetamol is on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential drugs because of its ability to relieve pain. But it is important that people are informed about any potential psychological side-effects.

The matter takes on a whole new urgency, when you consider that some personality changes can be dramatic. There’s solid evidence that the drug L-dopa, which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease, increases the risk of Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs) – a group of problems that make it more difficult to resist temptations and urges.

Consequently, the drug can have life-ruining consequences, as some patients suddenly start taking more risks, becoming pathological gamblers, excessive shoppers, and sex pests. In 2009, a drug with similar properties hit the headlines, after a man with Parkinson’s committed a £45,000 ($60,000) ticket scam. He blamed it on his medication, claiming that it had completely changed his personality.

The association with impulsive behaviours makes sense, because L-dopa is essentially providing the brain with a dose of extra dopamine – in Parkinson’s disease the part of the brain that produces it is progressively destroyed – and the hormone is involved in providing us with feelings of pleasure and reward.

Experts agree that L-dopa is the most effective treatment for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and it’s prescribed to thousands of people in the US every year. This is despite a long list of possible side effects that accompanies the medication, which explicitly mentions the risk of unusually strong urges, such as for gambling or sex.

In fact, DeRubeis, Golomb and Mischkowski are all of the opinion that the drugs they’re studying will continue to be used, regardless of their potential psychological side-effects. “We are human beings, you know,” says Mischkowski. “We take a lot of stuff that is not necessarily always good in every circumstance. I always use the example of alcohol, because it’s also a painkiller, like paracetamol. We take it because we feel that it has a benefit for us, and it’s OK as long as you take it in the right circumstances and you don’t consume too much.”.

But in order to minimise any undesirable effects and get the most out of the staggering quantities of medications that we all take each day, Mischkowski reiterates that we need to know more. Because at the moment, he says, how they are affecting the behaviour of individuals – and even entire societies – is largely a mystery.

Source: https://bbc.in/2IyVQMc


New Study: Crime Shows Are A ‘PR Machine’ For Law Enforcement.

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New Study: Crime Shows Are A ‘PR Machine’ For Law Enforcement.

Crime dramas are the cornerstone of primetime television, but according to Color of Change’s groundbreaking report, the genre is reinforcing policies and attitudes surrounding the criminal justice system that hurt people of color the most. In fact, the report suggests that the amount of negative bias and misinformation in crime procedurals makes them a “PR machine” for law enforcement and the criminal justice system as a whole.

The report, entitled Normalizing Injustice: The Dangerous Misrepresentations That Define Television’s Scripted Crime Genre, revealed that out of 26 procedurals, important topics such as racial bias in policing and the judicial system went largely unchallenged or under-explored. People of color, especially Black women, were generally not cast as victims of crimes in the series, despite being victimized in real life by violence. In fact, the report cites something showrunners, network executives and producers are to have said to their writers when writing about victims: “Viewers will change the channel if we make the crime victim Black, so you’ll have to rewrite those characters and make them white instead.”

Meanwhile, people of color were usually painted as the perpetrators of crimes. Characters who represented advocate groups such as Black Lives Matter were often portrayed as naive, misinformed crusaders instead of informed fighters for justice. And more often than not, Black judge characters were used as figureheads to dispense white perspectives about law and the criminal justice system.

In the 26 series studied, all but 5 were helmed by white male showrunners. At least 78 percent of the writers on all 26 shows were white, with only nine percent of Black writers counted. To break the numbers down even further, 20 out of the 26 series had either just one Black writer or none at all. The series also found that law enforcement was routinely shown to commit more wrongful actions than the characters designated as the perpetrators. Across 18 of the 26 series studied, the “Good Guy” to “Bad Guy” ratio of wrongful actions was 8 to 1. More people of color were also shown as perpetrators across the 26 series.

In relation to onscreen diversity versus diversity in the writers’ room, the study’s Racial Integrity Index found that series with characters of color had mostly white writers’ rooms, meaning that the cultural and racial backgrounds of the characters onscreen were missing behind the scenes.

“If these TV shows are overwhelmingly showing the victims to be white, and in particular avoiding showing that women of color, particularly Black women are oftentimes victims, what they are doing is they are taking away the power…of who should have their story told,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change.

Robinson said that the results have profound effects on how viewers think about how race and gender play a part in the criminal justice system.

“Unfortunately…these shows are constantly telling the public and painting a picture of white people being harmed by Black people in ways that are not actually existing in society,” he said. “What we’re building is a false understanding of what the problem is, and then we get false solutions built on public demand for things that are not actually problems. These shows do a whole lot of damage about race, but one of those damages is to make invisible the challenges that Black people face in communities and also taking away the power and voice of Black people to be the deciders of their own fate.”

“…The narratives that are coming out of Hollywood–for profit–are fueling some of the incentives that we’re seeing in our country, fueling people’s understanding of what they think justice should look like. It also makes it harder for us to push back against injustice,” he continued. “Police on these shows are constantly doing bad things but are either being rewarded or are able to give a speech about why they had to do it, [meaning] we are building the mental model for juries, for folks who vote for district attorneys. In order to keep us safe, things are going to be messy and some communities are going to have their rights trampled on, but it’s a means to an end. That can happen when communities are not seen as powerful.”

Some of that damage is coming from characters who look like the communities affected. Judges and law enforcement officers who are Black are used by writers to justify the injustice that happens within a show’s story. Robinson said that the effect helps audiences believe that the actions taken by the criminal justice system “must be fair” if a Black character is endorsing them. The characters, he said, are a “symbolic use of Blackness…Black visibility as a stand-in for actual justice and actual truth.”

“A lot of these shows have worked to diversify their casts…what we oftentimes see are people of color in all sorts of roles and in the last couple of years, people of color in law enforcement,” he said. “However the writers’ rooms haven’t actually changed. So you have justice written by white writers put through the mouths of elderly, stately Black judges, or police officers who never speak out against what’s happening in the system. As a result, it paints a very false picture.”

On a personal note, for him, seeing advocates portrayed as uninformed vigilantes is discouraging, but unsurprising.

“As a person who has been a lifelong advocate, I am used to the caricature of people who do this work. I am also aware of when a game or a situation is rigged. And the shows employ and uplift those from law enforcement to be the voice in the room,” he said. “If you only allow one side of the story to be told, if you only allow Bugs Bunny to tell his story, you know how everyone else is going to be framed.”

There are solutions Color of Change recommends for showrunners who want to create more inclusive shows based on the actual realities of racial bias in the criminal justice system. Solutions include hiring more writers of color and writers with specific knowledge of the show’s subject matter, reaching out to advocacy groups as consultants and doing proper research of the subject matter.

“These shows…and all those who are profiting from it, have made a choice. The report’s goal is to both expose that and to hopefully give more power to people on the inside because we know there are people on the inside who want want to do the right thing to push for the right thing and push for change. [We want] to give them more power and more data to do that well,” he said. “And then the goal…over time is that we are going to run campaigns. We are going to push back against these depictions and folks won’t be able to say that they didn’t know, that there wasn’t any information out there, that they aren’t making a choice, that they aren’t choosing profit over the real depictions of people’s lives and that it could have real harm.”

“For years we have been in writers’ rooms working with storytellers and producers and we’re going to continue to do that,” he continued. “For folks who want to work with us and want to invite us in and want to engage with us and…bring real people into the writers’ rooms from district attorneys to community leaders to people working on the front lines, we want to make sure we are there to do that. We’re going to be hosting salons and other things and we hope to engage with more people in the industry.”

Along with working with more writers’ rooms and networking more throughout Hollywood, Robinson said that Color of Change will provide an outlet for viewers to speak out and “push back against these narratives and tell stories about how these narratives have impacted their lives.”

“For us, all of that is going to be critically important to moving us forward,” he said.

Source: http://bit.ly/3cHOBiU

Something in Deep Space Is Sending Signals to Earth in Steady 16-Day Cycles.

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Something in Deep Space Is Sending Signals to Earth in Steady 16-Day Cycles.

A mysterious radio source located in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth is pulsing on a 16-day cycle, like clockwork, according to a new study. This marks the first time that scientists have ever detected periodicity in these signals, which are known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), and is a major step toward unmasking their sources.

FRBs are one of the most tantalizing puzzles that the universe has thrown at scientists in recent years. First spotted in 2007, these powerful radio bursts are produced by energetic sources, though nobody is sure what those might be. FRBs are also mystifying because they can be either one-offs or “repeaters,” meaning some bursts appear only once in a certain part of the sky, while others emit multiple flashes to Earth.

Pulses from these repeat bursts have, so far, seemed somewhat random and discordant in their timing. But that changed last year, when the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB), a group dedicated to observing and studying FRBs, discovered that a repeater called FRB 180916.J0158+65 had a regular cadence.

The CHIME/FRB team kept tabs on the repeating burst between September 2018 and October 2019 using the CHIME radio telescope in British Columbia. During that period, the bursts were clustered into a period of four days, and then seemed to switch off for the next 12 days, for a total cycle of about 16 days. Some cycles did not produce any visible bursts, but those that did were all synced up to the same 16-day intervals.

“We conclude that this is the first detected periodicity of any kind in an FRB source,” the team said in a paper published on the preprint server arXiv in late January. “The discovery of a 16.35-day periodicity in a repeating FRB source is an important clue to the nature of this object.”

Scientists recently tracked down this particular FRB to a galaxy called SDSS J015800.28+654253.0, which is a half a billion light years from Earth. That may seem like a huge distance, but FRB 180916.J0158+65 is actually the closest FRB ever detected.

But while we know where it is, we still don’t know what it is. To that point, the beat of the FRB suggests that it might be modulated by its surroundings. If the source of the FRB is orbiting a compact object, such as a black hole, then it might only flash its signals toward Earth at a certain point in its orbital period. That scenario could potentially match this recognizable 16-day cycle.

It’s also possible that we are witnessing a binary system containing a massive star and a super-dense stellar core known as a neutron star, according to a study published on arXiv on Wednesday by a separate team that looked at the same data. In that model, the neutron star would emit radio bursts, but those signals would be periodically eclipsed by opaque outflowing winds from its giant companion.

Another scenario is that the FRB rhythm isn’t tempered by another object, and is sending out the pulses directly from the source. Scientists have previously suggested that flares from highly magnetized neutron stars, called magnetars, might be the source of some FRBs. But since magnetars tend to rotate every few seconds, a 16-day cycle does not match the expected profile of a magnetar-based FRB.

Ultimately, the CHIME/FRB team hopes to find similar patterns in the handful of known repeating bursts to see if these cycles are common. The researchers also plan to keep a careful eye on FRB 180916.J0158+6 while it is active in order to spot any other details that might point to its identity.

FRBs have baffled scientists for more than a decade, but new facilities such as CHIME are revealing new details about these weird events every year. While we still don’t know what is blasting out these bizarre signals, the discovery of a clear tempo from one of these sources provides a significant lead for scientists to follow.

Source: http://bit.ly/2vR1EOt

Indian health minister claims cancer is caused by sins from a past life.

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Indian health minister claims cancer is caused by sins from a past life.

An Indian health minister has sparked outrage after claiming cancer is caused by sins in a past life.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, who holds office in the Assam state government, said people could also develop the disease through “divine justice” if their parents had sinned.

The minister’s comments drew anger from cancer sufferers, their families, and from political opponents of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, of which he is a member.

Indian news agency PTI quoted Mr Sarma as saying in a speech: “God makes us suffer when we sin.

“Sometimes we come across young men getting inflicted with cancer or young men meeting with accidents.

“If you observe the background you will come to know that it’s divine justice. Nothing else. We have to suffer that divine justice.

“In this lifetime or in our previous life, or perhaps my father or mother, perhaps that young man did not do but his father has done something wrong.”

Many took to social media to criticise the remarks.

Journalist Smita Sharma tweeted: “I don’t tweet about personal issues. But I have to say this-my niece was only 11yrs old when she lost her father to cancer.

“Innumerable families have gone through the unspeakable pain & trauma of Cancer. I wouldn’t wish it even upon worst enemies. Shame on you Mr.Min @himantabiswa.”

Newsreader Supriya Shrinate‏ added: “Too enraged to resist tweeting. Shame on you @himantabiswa I pity you and your mindset.

“You are too insensitive to be an elected rep. Cancer is traumatic for patients and families. How will you pay for this sin? Awfully sick man.”

Attempting to clarify his remarks following the backlash, Mr Sarma tweeted: “I simply asked a new batch of teachers to work sincerely and work for [the] poor.

“In that context I argue that if we do not work sincerely in next life we might face karmic deficiency and that may lead to sufferings. What is insensitive about this?

“Go through my speech. I never said that sin cause cancer.it was a speech to motivate teacher. Serve [the] poor or otherwise you may face karmic deficiency and suffer in next life.”

Cancer is a growing problem in India, where a lack of awareness has partly led to a five per cent increase in diagnoses among women, according to a report released this year by Ernst & Young.

The study found 2,000 Indian women are diagnosed with a form of the disease every day, with 60 per cent detected at a late stage.

Source: http://bit.ly/2Tyes41

More U.S school-age children die from guns than on-duty U.S police or global military fatalities.

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More U.S school-age children die from guns than on-duty U.S police or global military fatalities, study finds.

Gun deaths of school-age children in the United States have increased at an alarming rate, with 38,942 fatalities among 5- to 18-year-olds from 1999 to 2017, according to a new study by Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

Indeed, spikes in gun deaths over the past decade amount to epidemics, researchers said.
“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who diein the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms,” said Dr. Charles Hennekens, the study’s senior author and an academic adviser at the medical college.
The study, to be published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that children are being gunned down in staggering numbers, with the death rate six to nine times higher than other developed nations.
The gun deaths included 6,464 children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old (an average of 340 deaths per year), and 32,478 deaths in children between 15 and 18 years old (an average of 2,050 deaths per year), according to the study.

Maximilian Steubl of Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, participates in a gun control rally on March 14, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Of the deaths, 86% involved boys, the study found. Black children accounted for 41% of those killed, though in recent years they’ve comprised just 14% of the US populationUS census data show.
“Among blacks, the annual average percent change of 9.5% for firearm-related mortality among 5 to 14-year-olds from 2013 to 2017 exceeded the 7.8% for overall deaths among 15 to 24-year-olds during the early years of the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic from 1987 to 1995,” the study said.
The research should have public policy implications, Hennekens said.
“We need more analytic studies on this, but in the meanwhile, we believe that trying to combat the epidemic of homicide due to firearms without addressing firearms is like combating the epidemic of lung cancer due to cigarettes without combating cigarettes,” he said.
“To me, it’s tragic that this is going on.”

Racial inequities have emerged, study finds

Black children between 5 and 14 years old began to experience statistically significant increases in gun deaths in 2013, the study found. And from 2013 to 2017, racial inequalities in firearm deaths between blacks and whites jumped significantly.
The study found these listed causes of death among the children: 61% from assault32% from suicide5% accidental; and 2% undetermined.
In the 5-to-14-year-old age groupaccidents accounted for 12.8% of cases (830 deaths); suicide, 29.6% cases (1,912 deaths); assault, 54.8% cases (3,545 deaths); and undetermined, 2.7% (177 deaths), according to the study.
For those 15 to 18 years old, the cause of death was listed as accidental in 3.5% of cases (1,121 deaths); suicide, 32.9% (10,688 deaths); assault, 62.3% (20,247 deaths); and undetermined, 1.3% (422 deaths).
The study used data from the Multiple Cause of Death files of the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
The researchers found statistically significant increases in gun deaths beginning in 2009, with what they termed an epidemic among 5- to 14-year-olds. A second epidemic, beginning in 2014, involved those in the 15-to-18-year-old age group.
The epidemics continued through 2017, the most recent year of available US mortality data.
The study said the epidemic poses clinical, public health and policy challenges. It singled out the 1996 Dickey Amendment as a major factor prohibiting analytic studies on the issue.
In 1996, Congress removed $2.6 million — the amount the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent on gun research the year prior — from the CDC’s budget and passed the so-called Dickey Amendment, named after late Republican Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas.
Critics said the amendment ultimately led to the CDC halting gun violence research.
A study last year in the New England Journal of Medicine found that death by gunshot was the second-highest cause of death in the United States in 2016 among children and adolescents, ages 1 to 19.
The United States led the world in 2016 in the rate of firearm deaths in youth among countries with available data. The rate in the US was 36.5 times higher than in a dozen comparable high-income countries around the world; the rate of firearm deaths was five times as high compared with a sampling of low- to middle-income countries.

Legalizing gay marriage has caused a dramatic drop in LGBT suicide rates.

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Legalizing gay marriage has caused a dramatic drop in LGBT suicide rates.

In June 2015 The Supreme Court of the United States declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

The legalization of gay marriage granted over 1100 statutory provisions to same-sex couples, many of them granting rights and privileges previously only afforded to heterosexual couples.

After the decision, President Barack Obama said the ruling will “strengthen all of our communities” by offering dignity and equal status to all same-sex couples and their families.

He called it a “victory for America.

“However, the law didn’t just benefit same-sex couples who want to get married, it also had a dramatic affect on LGBT youth. Two years after the legalization of gay marriage, the suicide attempt rate among LGBT youth declined significantly according to the Associated Press.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for U.S. teens. LGBT teens are five times more likely to make an attempt than their straight peers.

The study was conducted with over 26,000 LGBT youth participants in the 32 states where gay marriage was legalized up through the 2015 Supreme Court decision. The study found that suicide attempt rates dropped 7% among all students and 14% among gay kids after same-sex marriage was legalized in each state.

Part of the drop in suicide attempts by kids who didn’t publicly identify that they were gay could be because they were closeted or questioning.

There was no change in states where same-sex marriage wasn’t legalized.

While the change in suicide attempts doesn’t prove there’s a direct connection, researchers believe that the law made LGBT kids feel “more hopeful for the future.” They also believe the measures increased tolerance among their straight peers while reducing the stigmatization felt by gay kids.

A study out of Denmark and Sweden published in 2019 found similar results among married gay couples.

Same-sex marriage was made legal in 2009 in Sweden and 2012 in Denmark.

The study found that couples in same-sex unions saw a 46% decline in suicide suicide, compared to 28% of those in heterosexual unions.

“Although suicide rates in the general populations of Denmark and Sweden have been decreasing in recent decades, the rate for those living in same-sex marriage declined at a steeper pace, which has not been noted previously,” researchers noted.

These studies show the power that societal recognition can have on stigmatized minority groups. When one is protected by the “law of the land” it means a lot more than what happens in a courtroom or at city hall.

It shows that you are accepted by the community and protected by those in power. For to love flourish — whether it’s loving oneself or sharing it with a partner — first it must first be protected.

Source: http://bit.ly/32GKGhE

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