— Seth D. Michaels 🌲 (@sethdmichaels) August 9, 2017
The New York Times published a draft of the report on Monday night. Power Plant A coal-fired power plant in Arizona John Fowler/Flickr The New York Times published a draft of a long-awaited government report on climate change on Monday night and the picture it paints is dire. Though the copy obtained by The New York… Continue Reading →
Sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand declined by 50-60% between 1973 and 2011, according to a new study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Surprisingly, the study, which analysed data on the sperm counts of 42,935 men, found no decline in sperm counts in men from Asia, Africa and South America, although there was limited data from these areas.
Overall, this is a very disturbing report. There has been a longstanding debate among scientists as to whether sperm counts have decreased or not. But what’s different about this study is the quality of the analysis. It was done in a systematic manner, accounting for several of the problems that had affected previous studies, such as the method used to count sperm and comparing studies performed sometimes decades apart. As such, most experts agree that the data presented is of a high quality and that the conclusions, although alarming, are reliable.
So what is going on? There has been concern for a number of years about an increase in abnormalities in male reproductive health, such as testicular cancer. The decline in sperm counts is consistent with these increases and this adds weight to the concept that male reproductive health is under attack and is declining rapidly.
In fact, if the data on sperm counts is extrapolated to its logical conclusion, men will have little or no reproductive capacity from 2060 onwards. The most rational explanation for the decline in male reproductive health is the changes in the environment. Current research suggests that the male foetus is particularly susceptible to exposure to pollutants and so changes that occur early in foetal life can have a very significant effect on the adult.
What can be done?
The simple answer is that we need much more research to find out why this decline in sperm count is happening. We cannot be complacent about the potential negative effect on fertility and must now urgently rally to substantially increase the research effort into male reproductive health.
Also, although the prevailing evidence shows a decline in reproductive health, not all studies show this; there are some geographical differences. It will be critical to determine what the key differences between geographical regions are – such as genetic differences and exposure to specific pollutants – so we can then examine treatment strategies to limit these negative effects.
If it’s the foetus that is mainly affected, what can the adult man do? Even in adults, exposure to chemicals, such as bisphenol A, which are thought to affect fertility, can have a negative effect, so men should limit their exposure to toxic chemicals. This includes stopping cigarette smoking. Also, a healthy lifestyle is very important as there is a known link between obesity and reduced sperm count.
Breaking news coming from the Washington Post Saturday night regarding Russian hacking. No, this isn’t election hacking. This time it is much worse. Now they are in the nuclear and energy companies systems. U.S. government officials have confirmed that the cyber intrusions into the networks were fishing expeditions designed to “assess their networks.” The Washington Post… Continue Reading →
Last year saw an alarming spike in the number of fatal motorcycle accidents in the state of Colorado. According to statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), 125 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2016, a 15 percent increase over the year before.
There has been a steady increase in motorcycle fatalities over the past several years in the state. In 2012, 16.7 percent of the total vehicle fatalities in the state were motorcyclists. Last year, that percent was 20.6. Out of approximately 120,000 vehicle crashes last year, almost 2,400 were motorcycle accidents.
As motorcycling becomes more popular, the risk of more victims also increases. Over the past four years, the number of motorcycles registered in the state has gone from about 184,000 to 194,000.
In response to the number of motorcycle crashes, the CDOT is trying to raise awareness and is offering training classes for motorcyclists. Two of the most common causes of these accidents is the lack of bike handling skills and distracted driving. The state has declared distracted driving an epidemic, causing more than 40 motor vehicle accidents in the state every single day.
Many motorcyclists are frustrated with the attitude of other vehicle drivers on the road and an apparent lack of consideration for the motorcyclists’ safety. Several motorcycle advocacy groups have formed in the state to help educate other drivers that they are sharing the road with motorcycles.
Last month, one of those groups, BikerDown, held a Motorcycle Safety Awareness Day, complete with signs reminding vehicle drivers to “Look Twice, Save a Life.” The non-profit organization helps injured motorcyclists and their families recover after a bike crash, providing resources like wheelchair accessibility, therapy, financial management, and funeral processions.
Not only is it important for motorcyclists to follow the rules of the road and drive defensively, but it is also necessary for all vehicle drivers to respect the fact that we all share the road and to be aware that their inconsiderate driving behaviors can actually kill someone.
Attorney Amy Gaiennie spoke about the increase in motorcycle fatalities in the state, commenting, “Not only is it important for motorcyclists to follow the rules of the road and drive defensively, but it is also necessary for all vehicle drivers to respect the fact that we all share the road and to be aware that their inconsiderate driving behaviors can actually kill someone.”
Here is the full text of the Senate bill…
When will Donald get the notion in his head that he won the election?
He does not have to campaign anymore. Now he is proposing an immigration law that is already in place…
President Trump in a rally on Wednesday evening said immigrants who enter the United States should not be eligible for welfare benefits for five years, though such a law has already existed for 20 years.
“The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The president said his administration would be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”
But such a law is already in effect and has been in place since 1996.
Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit” for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country…”
I try very hard not to go the route of ad hominem attacks on his advisors, but, for real, who is driving this bus?
The 2014 numbers, the latest available for every state and the District of Columbia, reflect a 64 percent increase for inpatient care and a 99 percent jump for emergency room treatment compared to figures from 2005. Their trajectory likely will keep climbing if the epidemic continues unabated.
The report, released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), puts Maryland at the very top of the national list for inpatient care. The state, already struggling with overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids, has seen the spread of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which can be mixed with heroin or cocaine and is extraordinarily powerful. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this year declared a state of emergency in response to the crisis.
The roots of the problem of opioid addiction are as old as history, but, the recent spike in opioid addiction and overdoses are attributed to two main factors, pain becoming a vital sign that a doctor looks at during an examination (remember the introduction of the smiley face posters for pain) and an extended release version of oxycodone released in 1996.
Fifteen years ago, a report by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a nationally recognized medical society which accredits hospitals, stressed that pain was vastly undertreated in the United States. The report recommended that physicians routinely assess pain at every patient visit. It also suggested that opioids could be effectively and more broadly used without fear of addiction. This latter assumption was entirely mistaken, as we now understand. The report was part of a trend in medicine through the 1980s and 1990s toward treating pain more proactively.
The report was heavily publicized, and today it is widely acknowledged that it led to massive – and sometimes inappropriate – increases in the use of prescription opioid drugs to treat pain.
With more opioids being prescribed by well-meaning doctors, some were diverted from the legal supply chain – through theft from medicine cabinets or trade on the black market – to the street for illicit use. As more opioids leaked out, more people started to experiment with them for recreational purposes…
The second major factor was the introduction of an extended release formulation of the potent opioid oxycodone in the 1996. You may know this drug by its brand name, OxyContin. In fact, you might have been prescribed it after having surgery.
The drug was designed to provide 12-24 hours of pain relief, as opposed to just four hours or so for an immediate release formulation. It meant that patients in pain could just take one or two pills a day rather than having to remember to take an immediate release drug every four hours or so. This also meant that OxyContin tablets contained a large amount of oxycodone – far more than would be found in several individual immediate release tablets.
And within 48 hours of OxyContin’s release on the market, drug users realized that crushing the tablet could easily breach the extended-release formulation, making the pure drug available in large quantities, free from harmful additives such as acetaminophen, which most recreational and chronic abusers find irritating, particularly if they inject it intravenously. This made it an attractive option for those who wanted to snort or inject their drugs. Surprisingly, neither the manufacturer nor the Food and Drug Administration foresaw this possibility.
When one looks at the states that have the highest death rates for opioids, one can easily correlate this to the high number of prescriptions per 100 people. West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky have a rate of 96 to 143 prescriptions written to people. New Hampshire has a rate 72 to 81 prescriptions per 100 people. These numbers just astonished me. But, the sources of people that abuse these drugs vary widely.
Most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative. However, those who are at highest risk of overdose (using prescription opioids nonmedically 200 or more days a year) get them in ways that are different from those who use them less frequently. These people get opioids using their own prescriptions (27 percent), from friends or relatives for free (26 percent), buying from friends or relatives (23 percent), or buying from a drug dealer (15 percent). Those at highest risk of overdose are about four times more likely than the average user to buy the drugs from a dealer or other stranger.
What will the Trump administration do about the opioid crisis? Well, not much that will be productive.
The White House is calling for a 95 percent funding cut for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the agency leading the charge against the country’s opioid epidemic, according to sources knowledgeable about the White House’s draft budget for the coming fiscal year. ONDCP is responsible for coordinating drug prevention programs across federal agencies and was slated to fund President Donald Trump’s much-lauded opioid commission.
The budget would slash ONDCP’s $380 million budget to $24 million. It would eliminate the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which coordinates local, state, and national efforts to reduce drug trafficking and has a $250 million annual budget. It would also cut the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, which funds community-based youth substance abuse prevention programs. The budget calls both programs “duplicative of other Federal programs.” The budget is a “passback” draft: it was cleared by the White House budget office last week, but will still need to be approved by Congress.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to “spend the money” to address the opioid epidemic, but his proposed budgets and policies thus far would drastically cut federal funding to tackle the issue.
Being lied to about these disasters? I realize the people who live there are dependent on the fishing industry, but Gulf seafood is most likely unsafe to eat:
Scientists have already reported finding what they called a 1,235-square-mile “bathtub ring” of oil on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico left over from the huge 2010 BP oil spill.
Now it appears this ring is part of a washroom set: A different team of scientists has found that up 10 million gallons of oil have created what can be called only a “bath mat” beneath the sediment of the gulf’s floor.
First the ring. David Valentine and colleagues from the University of California at Santa Barbara wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October that about 10 million gallons of the spilled oil settled on the gulf’s floor. Its size: about the size of the state of Rhode Island.
But what about the rest? As much as 200 million gallons of oil were spilled after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., exploded off the coast of New Orleans, killing 11 workers on the rig, injuring 17 more, and allowing oil to gush into the gulf for nearly three months.
All that oil has been hard to find. But a team of scientists led by Jeff Chanton found between 6 million and 10 million gallons buried in the sediment at the bottom of the gulf about 60 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta. Chanton is a professor of oceanography at Florida State University.
The Antarctic Ice Sheet is draining huge quantities of water out to sea. When climate scientists look at Antarctica, they see a ticking time bomb. If the ice sheet melts, it will raise sea levels by tens of feet, flooding coastal cities around the globe. For now, the southern continent is relatively stable, but it’s starting… Continue Reading →