By Sarah Knapton
The number of Brits reporting to be sleep deprived has jumped 50 per cent with many more now using smartphones and computers before bed which can disrupt sleep, the University of Hertfordshire has found.
The number of sleep deprived Brits has risen by 50 per cent in a year as people increasingly use smartphones and computers before bed.
Nearly six in ten people in Britain now get seven hours of less sleep a night putting them at risk of cancer, diabetes and heart attacks, it has been warned.
Academics at the University of Hertfordshire found that 80 per cent of people are making it worse by using technology before sleeping which exposes them to disruptive blue light.
Blue light is present in morning light so late night gadget use can trick the body into speeding up the metabolism and making sleep more difficult.
Professor Roger Bowley unlocks his car from various distances, using waves from his key, brain and a big bottle of water.
The incredible story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit – Anna Breytenbach, “animal communicator”.
This is a very touching story about an angry and sad black panther who had been badly treated in the zoo where he previously had been. See the heartwarming story of a miraculous transformation to a much more healthy black panther and hear his story.
By Tara MacIsaac
WASHINGTON—You’re more easily distracted than you think.At the annual USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, self-described deception specialist Apollo Robbins revealed how he manipulates weaknesses in human perception. He can also control people’s minds—using insights into the human psyche.
1. Flicker Test
Similar photos with multiple differences were displayed on a large screen during Robbins’s presentation at the festival. He had audience members raise their hands based on the number of differences they perceived between the photos. The varying perceptions showed that many people can fail to see sometimes very obvious changes in their surroundings if their attention is divided.
Apollo Robbins (C) shows volunteers cards, demonstrating to the rest of the audience that people can’t see what they’re looking for if their attention is diverted elsewhere—the volunteers are looking for the card on Robbins’s forehead and it takes them a long time and many hints to realize it’s there. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)
2. Saccadic Eye Movements
Robbins had the audience look at their two index fingers. With this concentration on fixed points, the space in between is actually filled by a memory image. A person becomes blind to what’s presently there.
Magicians induce saccadic eye movement, the rapid movement of eyes between fixed points, to hide their tricks from subjects.
Audience members look at their index fingers as directed by Apollo Robbins as he illustrates a principle of human perception at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., April 27, 2014. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)
A study on human perception as it is manipulated by magicians lead by Stephen L. Macknik at the Barrow Neurological Institute and published in Nature in 2008 states: “Change-blindness studies have shown that dramatic changes in a visual scene will go unnoticed if they occur during a transient interruption, such as a blink, a saccadic eye movement or a flicker of the scene, even when people are looking right at the changes. However, observers can also miss large gradual changes in the absence of interruptions.”
The study noted that magicians have long intuitively manipulated perception, and watching their methods can further science’s understanding of consciousness and cognition.
3. Getting Close
Apollo Robbins gets close to a volunteer so he can nab the volunteer’s wallet and watch and perform other sleight-of-hand tricks. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)
The more intimate the relationship is between two people, the more comfortable they are getting physically close to each other. People have comfort zones around them—they start to feel uncomfortable if people they don’t know get too close.
A magician tries to subtly get in close without the person feeling anything is unusual, without the person really noticing. This is how Robbins managed to steal the wallet of an audience member.
But how he managed to take the credit cards out of the wallet, seal them in an envelope, and put them into a zipped up pouch inside his jacket remains a mystery—or at least a feat so amazing it stunned the audience even as Robbins demystified illusions.
4. Leading a Person to Make Certain Choices
Robbins uses psychology to predict what choices a person will make and to guide him or her toward the choices that will fit the trick.
He showed a slide in which four different objects were presented to a volunteer.
A slide shown at the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival by Apollo Robbins. A volunteer in the film was asked to choose one of the four objects before him. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)
The volunteer was asked to select one of the objects. A cup was lifted under which was an object identical to the one chosen. The object under the cup wasn’t put there by slight-of-hand after the volunteer made the choice. It was there all along on the premise that the volunteer would choose that particular object.
How did Robbins know which object would be chosen?
One of the four pieces was dramatically different from the rest. The volunteer is less likely to pick that one, as it seems like the obvious choice. Robbins then stokes some suspicion in the volunteer by the way he shuffles the other three pieces, subtly guiding the volunteer to choose the yellow piece.
The volunteer is most likely to choose the piece the magician seems to direct him away from. The volunteer’s desire to make the choice independently actually plays into the magician’s trick.
Even after explaining his technique, Robbins successfully guided an audience member to make the choices he wanted in another trick.
Apollo Robbins (L) has a volunteer choose a number from a phone book, illustrating the subtle ways in which he can guide people to make the choices he wants them to while they believe they are acting independently. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)
He had a young woman pick a phone number out of a phone book. He directed her through a series of choices, seeming to allow her complete freedom. He had her open to a seemingly random page and gave her the option of flipping to other pages. She declined, deciding to stay on that page. He offered her a choice between the left or the right page. She chose the left. He asked her to choose one of the four rows on the page. She chose the second, and he implied that she was thwarting his attempts to guide her.
He ran his finger along the row and had her tell him when to stop and whether he should his finger up or down.
He got eight other volunteers to hold yellow envelopes on the stage. When the woman eventually picked a phone number, the eight volunteers pulled numbers out of their envelopes. The numbers in the envelopes displayed in order the telephone number she had chosen.
Volunteers display numbers they pulled out of envelopes revealing the exact 8-digit number seemingly chosen at random from a phone book by another volunteer. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)
Epoch Times was a media sponsor of the annual USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., April 26–27, 2014. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. See more articles on the USA Science & Engineering Festival.
Learn how to handle stressful situations with confidence and skill
By Peter Andrew Sacco
Some people associate the concept of mental toughness with aggression, violence, or anger. Mental toughness is the ability to stand firm in the positive and proactive thoughts that you have created for yourself and remain determined to follow through into creating positive feelings and actions.
It is a commitment to doing what is right because you know it will make your life better. The truest and toughest battles most people will ever fight are the battles that start and finish in their minds.
The best method for improving mental toughness and maintaining it is to apply these basic yet simple principles. If you practice these simple suggestions and boost your motivation to discipline your mind because you truly want to see positive change in your life, then you will be able to handle stressful situations with confidence and skill.
1. Don’t blow things out of proportion. Try to keep things in perspective; don’t magnify them into being worse than they are or have to be.
When things go bad repeatedly over a period of time, we may start to stereotype every bad thing that happens as “Murphy’s law.” Everything bad or unfortunate that can happen will happen. Do you know why? You are continually using the same negative magnifying glass to look at them.
Some individuals take minute situations and blow them into catastrophes. Always ask yourself this simple question, “What difference will this make a year from now?”
2. Try to avoid all-or-nothing thinking. When you think in terms of extremes, you set ourselves up for failure. Basically, you will always need to be perfect to avoid failure.
For example, you want to do well, but when something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, you view the outcome as bad. As a result, you extrapolate the performance into who you are—making yourself a “bad” person because your performance was bad.
In order not to “be bad” you try too hard to be good, leading yourself to make further mistakes because of the added pressure you’ve placed on yourself. Perfectionism makes it hard to be perfect!
3. You can’t please everyone all of the time. If you try to keep everyone happy, thinking everyone will like you, then you are in for a major shock. When you try to be a people-pleaser, you submit to others and become passive, deviating from your main goal—being assertive, which helps you accomplish your goals.
As soon as you become passive, you are more inclined to dislike certain people and situations because you have compromised yourself and no longer feel comfortable.
Catering to the needs and whims of others will get you quickly on your way to becoming a procrastinator—not only to their demands, but also for what you would like to achieve.
I heard a statistic that asserts that 10 percent of the people you meet will never like or accept you no matter who you are, what you do for them, and so on. So focus on the other 90 percent, but be sure to never have your rights or needs taken away or compromised.
4. Don’t bog yourself down with “uncertainty questions” such as, “Why me?” “When will things change?” “Will any good breaks ever come my way?” Oftentimes, when things go bad, you seek answers of an absolute nature. Let’s face it, not all questions have answers you can understand.
When you question yourself, you sometimes analyze things to death, causing stress. Did you know that when you ask questions of a negative nature, you tend to focus on negative experiences and create corresponding visual experiences? If you believe in the law of attraction and affirmations, this theory will hold true when you are asking yourself a question.
If you are placing your focus on something negative, since “like attracts like,” you will be bringing more negativity your way.
Did you know some experts claim that your memory file cabinets get compromised when you dwell on negative experiences? It takes twice as much energy to dwell on the negative than on the positive. Perhaps that is why you are so tired.
5. Take one day at a time. Enjoy the present moment and be in the moment. There are always enough worries in today, so why spend energy on thoughts of tomorrow?
Too many people want instant change. In fact, we are all changing instantly, because our bodies (cells) and the situations around us are always changing and evolving. People want to see tangible results instantly. But that is not how it works.
The exercise in mental toughness is to develop moment-to-moment awareness. Focus on your thoughts. Hit the delete button whenever a negative one comes on the screen and replace it with a positive one immediately. How does one do this? Keep your thoughts focused on the present. It will take practice, but you will succeed at it with time, but not months or years.
Disclaimer: This is in no way designed to diagnose, classify, or treat mental health problems or addictions. You should always consult with a licensed or trained professional when seeking an actual diagnosis or assessment.
Dr. Peter Sacco has been working with individuals in private practice and support groups since 1995. He specializes in anger-management classes, overcoming addictions, individual coaching, and counseling. He teaches courses in addiction studies, police studies, criminal psychology, and education at universities and colleges in the United States and Canada. Petersacco.com
Water is the origin of life. It can increase your energy, improve your complexion, and keep your eyes looking clear. Water also carries nutrients to every cell in the body, helps the kidneys cleanse the body of toxins, improves circulation, and lubricates joints.
For centuries, Chinese medicine has advocated drinking clean water for optimal health. There are several ways to make the water you drink on a regular basis safer.
1. Run Your Tap Before Drinking
After sitting idle in the pipe all night, tap water is prone to carry a higher amount of bacteria. Always let the water run for a few minutes before drinking it. The water will be much cleaner. The running water from the first five minutes can be collected for washing or for watering plants.
2. Keep Bottled Water Cool
Plastic bottles contain plasticizers to improve the plastic’s flexibility and durability. If bottled water is stored for too long, a small amount of plasticizer will mix with the water. When consumed, the smell of plastic can be easily discerned. Bottled water should be stored in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
3. Boil Water Lightly
Water that is kept boiling for an extended period of time or was boiled multiple times is problematic.
Tap water contains organic and inorganic matter. If tap water is boiled for a long time, the concentration of matter will increase. For example, the amount of lead in tap water is within established safety limits; however, lead does not get boiled out of water, so the longer the water is boiled, the more concentrated lead becomes as the water evaporates.
Chlorine is usually used to sterilize tap water. Once a small amount of a pollutant in the water is compounded with chlorine, a type-A carcinogen variant can form. The longer the water is boiled, the more carcinogens are created.
The best thing to do when boiling water is to take it off the heat once it starts to boil. Dump out previously boiled water and start with fresh water for each boil. Most bacteria and viruses are killed when the water starts boiling and cannot survive at temperatures higher than 175 Fahrenheit.
4. Drink Boiled Water Soon
When boiled water is left for an extended period of time, the nitrogen-bearing compounds in it will decompose into nitrites, which are known carcinogens.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that boiled water be consumed on the same day it was heated.
5. Taste-Test Your Mineral Water
Many people believe mineral water is the best water. In fact, not all mineral water is actually suitable for drinking. For example, if the fluorine content of water from a mineral spring is very high, like one in a suburb of Tianjin City in China, it can cause long-term issues like osteofluorosis (skeletal changes caused by too much fluorine intake) and dental fluorosis (mottling of tooth enamel from excessive fluorine).
The mineral content of natural mineral water is very critical. If the content is right, the water will taste refreshing. Mineral water that tastes metallic or earthy should be avoided.
6. Drink More Than Just Purified Water
While water filters do absorb bacteria and viruses that may exist in the water, the activated charcoal used in most water purifiers can also remove and deplete beneficial minerals from the water, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Since these minerals are beneficial to human health, it is not recommended to drink only purified water.
Headquartered in New York City, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television was founded by Chinese-Americans to serve as a unique bridge between East and West.
New research shows that the extreme air pollution in China could severely impact agriculture and food supplies, because it is blocking out the light plants need for photosynthesis.
He Dongxian at China Agricultural University found that chilli and tomato seeds grown in Beijing took over two months to sprout due to pollutants reducing light levels in the greenhouse by about 50 percent. In comparison, seeds grown in the lab under artificial light took around 20 days to germinate.
If the smog continues, He told the Guardian her findings suggest Chinese agriculture will suffer conditions “somewhat similar to a nuclear winter.”
Describing the greenhouse plants, He said, “They will be lucky to live at all. Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic,” according to the South China Morning Post.
“A large number of representatives of agricultural companies have suddenly showed up at academic meetings on photosynthesis in recent months and sought desperately for solutions,” she added. “Our overseas colleagues were shocked by the phenomenon because in their countries nothing like this had ever happened.”
This past week, nearly one-quarter of China has been enveloped by a thick haze, including Beijing, which is on an unprecedented orange alert, with red being the most dangerous to health.
The Yanzhao Evening News reported that a man in Hebei Province is suing local authorities for failing to deal with the smog, and also seeking compensation.
His lawyer refused to comment, because this is the first such case of a citizen suing the regime over air pollution, making it a sensitive issue.
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By Tara MacIsaac
Here’s a look at what your dog’s breed may say about you. Researchers at Bath Spa University surveyed 1,000 dog owners, compiling data about the owners’ personality traits and their dogs’ breeds.
The researchers presented their findings to the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in 2012.
Stanley Coren, a psychologist and author of “Why We Love the dogs We Do,” also discussed the connection between owner personality traits and dog breeds, in an interview with Modern dog Magazine.
WASHINGTON—Using videos that claim to teach toddlers, or flash cards for tots, may not be the best idea. Simply talking to babies is key to building crucial language and vocabulary skills—but sooner is better, and long sentences are good.
So says research that aims to explain, and help solve, the troubling “word gap”: Children from more affluent, professional families hear millions more words before they start school than poor kids, leaving the lower-income students at an academic disadvantage that’s difficult to overcome.
That gap starts to appear at a younger age than scientists once thought, around 18 months, said Stanford University psychology professor Anne Fernald.
And research being presented this week at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggests that it’s not just hearing lists of words that matters as much as rich, varied language with good grammar that trains babies’ brains to learn through context.
Instead of just saying, “Here’s an orange,” it would be better to say: “Let’s put the orange in this bowl with the banana and the apple and the grapes.”
“It’s making nets of meaning that then will help the child learn new words,” Fernald explained.
“The advice I give mothers is to have conversations with your babies,” added Erika Hoff, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University. “Children can hear lots of talk that goes over their head in terms of the meaning, and they still benefit from it.”
Income Word Gap
The research comes amid a growing push for universal preschool, to help disadvantaged youngsters catch up. But it also raises the question of whether children from low-income, less educated families need earlier intervention, such as preschool that starts at age 3 instead of 4, or higher quality day care or even some sort of “Let’s talk” campaign aimed at new parents to stress talking, singing, and reading with tots even before they can respond. That can be difficult for parents working multiple jobs, or who may not read well or who simply don’t know why it’s important.
Scientists have long known that before they start kindergarten, children from middle-class or affluent families have heard millions more words than youngsters from low-income families, leaving the poorer children with smaller vocabularies and less ready to succeed academically. Fernald said by some measures, 5-year-olds from low-income families can lag two years behind their peers in tests of language development.
Brain scans support the link, said Dr. Kimberly Noble of Columbia University Medical Center. Early experiences shape the connections that children’s brains form, and kids from higher socio-economic backgrounds devote more “neural real estate” to brain regions involved in language development, she found.
Language Quality Matters
How early does the word gap appear? Around age 18 months, Stanford’s Fernald discovered when she compared how children mentally process the language they hear. Lower-income kids in her study achieved at age 2 the level of proficiency that more affluent kids had reached six months earlier.
To understand why language processing is so important, consider this sentence: “The kitty’s on the bench.” If the youngster knows the word “kitty,” and his brain recognizes it quickly enough, then he can figure out what “bench” means by the context. But if he’s slow to recognize “kitty,” then “bench” flies by before he has a chance to learn it.
Next, Fernald tucked recorders into T-shirts of low-income toddlers in Spanish-speaking households to determine what they heard all day—and found remarkable differences in what’s called child-directed speech. That’s when children are spoken to directly, in contrast to television or conversations they overhear.
One child heard more than 12,000 words of child-directed speech in a day, while another heard a mere 670 words, she found. The youngsters who received more child-directed speech processed language more efficiently and learned words more quickly, she reported.
But it’s not just quantity of speech that matters—it’s quality, Hoff cautioned. She studied bilingual families and found that whatever the language, children fare better when they learn it from a native speaker. In other words, if mom and dad speak Spanish but aren’t fluent in English, it’s better for the child to have a solid grounding in Spanish at home and then learn English later in school.
Next, scientists are testing whether programs that teach parents better ways to talk to tots really do any good. Fernald said preliminary results from one of the first—a program called Habla Conmigo, Spanish for Talk With Me, that enrolls low-income, Spanish-speaking mothers in San Jose, Calif.—are promising.
Fernald analyzed the first 32 families of the 120 the program will enroll. Mothers who underwent the eight-week training are talking more with their toddlers, using higher-quality language, than a control group of parents—and by their second birthday, the children have bigger vocabularies and process language faster, she said Thursday.
By Tara MacIsaac
We are engulfed by electromagnetic fields all day everyday, and the fields are only getting stronger as technology progresses and spreads. The health effects are of increasing concern, as it has been shown they not only affect individuals, but also harm DNA passed along to offspring.
Wi-Fi routers, cell phones, cordless phones, baby monitors, electric blankets, alarm clocks—all of these devices are damaging, says electrical engineer and environmental consultant Larry Gust. He discussed the dangers and how people can protect themselves in a video presented by Electromagnetic Health this week.
Here’s a look at the health effects, recommended maximum levels of exposure, the levels most people are exposed to, and tips on how to protect yourself.
Health Effects Overview
Dr. Martin Blank, who studies the effects of electromagnetic radiation at Columbia University, pointed out in a 2012 lecture uploaded to YouTube that the damage to DNA disrupts normal cell growth and protein production.
He cited studies that have shown DNA damage causes cancer. Illustrating the impact of the field emanated from a simple daily device, he said it has been shown electric blankets greatly increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage.
Electric field health effects:
-Muscle and nerve pain
-Bed wetting in children
Radio frequency health effects:
-Inability to concentrate
Electric, Magnetic Field Exposure
Recommendations for the maximum exposure in electric fields vary from about 3 volts per foot at the upper end of the spectrum to 1.5 volts or fewer per foot at the lower end. The typical bedroom has 3 to 9 volts per foot.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the maximum level for a magnetic field in a home should be 3 to 4 milliGauss.
In Marin, Calif., a 4-year-old girl had an 80 milliGauss field around her bed and in the play yard she frequented, recalled Gust. She was lethargic, had no appetite, and had rectal bleeding. As soon as the field was cleared, her symptoms vanished.
Maximum Recommended Levels of Radio Frequency Exposure
The BioInitiative Report was produced by a working group of doctors. Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany co-edited it. The Building Biology Report was released by the International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology, a non-profit research and advisory institution.
Typical Radio Frequency Exposure Levels
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Romantic love tends to light up the same reward areas of the brain that are activated by cocaine. But new research shows that selfless love—a deep and genuine wish for the happiness of others—actually turns off the brain’s reward centers.
“When we truly, selflessly wish for the well-being of others, we’re not getting that same rush of excitement that comes with, say, a tweet from our romantic love interest, because it’s not about us at all,” says Judson Brewer, adjunct professor of psychiatry at Yale University now at the University of Massachusetts.
As reported in the journal Brain and Behavior, the neurological boundaries between these two types of love become clear in fMRI scans of experienced meditators.
The reward centers of the brain that are strongly activated by a lover’s face (or a picture of cocaine) are almost completely turned off when a meditator is instructed to silently repeat sayings such as “May all beings be happy.”
Such mindfulness meditations are a staple of Buddhism and are now commonly practiced in Western stress reduction programs.
The tranquility of this selfless love for others—exemplified in such religious figures such as Mother Teresa or the Dalai Llama—is diametrically opposed to the anxiety caused by a lovers’ quarrel or extended separation. And it carries its own rewards.
“The intent of this practice is to specifically foster selfless love—just putting it out there and not looking for or wanting anything in return,” Brewer says.
“If you’re wondering where the reward is in being selfless, just reflect on how it feels when you see people out there helping others, or even when you hold the door for somebody the next time you are at Starbucks.”
Source: Yale University
Originally published on www.futurity.org
Several influenza viruses, including bird flu and swine flu, that have rapidly spread to eight Chinese provinces, including the two municipalities Beijing and Shanghai, are steadily gaining pace from day to day and causing national panic. At least 181 human cases of influenza viruses with 38 fatalities have been confirmed since January, according to data compiled from reports by local authorities.
As of Feb. 9, 179 cases of H7N9 bird flu have been reported with 37 fatalities, alongside one fatal case of H1N1 swine flu and one case of H10N8 bird flu. The 179 recorded cases in first 40 days of this year has surpassed China’s official total number of 146 cases of H7N9 in 2013, which included 45 fatalities.
The first recognized case of H7N9 human infection emerged in east China last March. The virus re-emerged in October and has rapidly spread since January, primarily in southeast China. According to China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), on average, five to seven cases of H7N9 are reported daily, with numbers increasing.
Zhejiang Province has reported the most cases–77 cases with 12 deaths have been confirmed. Li Lanjuan, professor and chief physician at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine predicts a large rise in infections this winter.
“The H7N9 flu virus is known to be more active in the winter. There will be an increasing number of cases in the coming months in Zhejiang, even bigger than the cases being reported,” Li was quoted by Zhejiang News Online.
According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), as of Jan. 28, the case fatality rate of all confirmed cases in 13 provinces and municipalities in east China, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), and Taipei CDC is 22 percent, but many cases are still hospitalized.
As the H7N9 death toll rises, there has been growing panic among the public.
“Everyone is now panicking over the bird flu,” said Shen Jianmin, a resident in Zhejiang. “Worried about a deadly influenza pandemic, people wear masks and don’t eat poultry or meat.”
Among the 37 confirmed fatalities is a 31-year-old surgeon from the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Hospital. His death from the bird flu was identified on Jan. 18, with the source of infection unknown.
Shanghai resident Ms. Li told Epoch Times: “Even the doctor as a patient couldn’t be treated successfully, to say nothing of ordinary people.”
Ms. Li was also doubtful about the accuracy of reported fatalities. “The government has definitely not reported the real death toll,” Li said. “Now all the major hospitals in Shanghai are full of patients with flu-like symptoms. We’re really scared of the spread of bird flu, even not daring to go to a hospital for treatment of minor illnesses,” she added.
A female doctor at the hospital where the surgeon died, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Because the H7N9 virus is more transmissible and harder to detect than H5N1 bird flu, we doctors even fear the prospect of human-to-human transmission of this virus.”
Mr. Ye, a resident from Guangdong, the province with the second most cases–60 with 13 deaths have been recorded since August of last year, told Epoch Times: “Increased cases of the bird flu raise concerns about the potential of more widespread infections and transmission to humans. So live chicken sales are banned here and even restaurants have removed chicken dishes from their menus.”
Beijing resident Mr. Yuan told Epoch Times that people are scared at the mere mention of the bird flu. They don’t even dare to eat chicken and eggs, and try to stay home for fear of getting bird flu, he said.
Multiple cases of family cluster infections have also been reported, indicating human-to-human transmission. If the virus mutates into a form that can directly pass between humans, it could result in the disease spreading rapidly, causing global epidemics, according to Chen Taoan, former director of the Information Division of Shanxi’s CDC.
According to the U.S. CDC, there are three types of influenza viruses, classified A, B and C. Only influenza type A and B viruses that routinely spread in people are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.
Type A influenza viruses are further divided into subtypes on the basis of two proteins on the surface of the virus, the hemaglutinin or “H” protein and the neuraminidase or “N” protein. There are 18 known H subtypes (H1 to H18) and 11 known N subtypes (N1 to N11), possibly generating 198 different combinations of these proteins such as H1N1 and H7N2.
According to the WHO and CDC, wild aquatic birds, in particular certain wild ducks, geese, and swans are the natural hosts for all known influenza A viruses. Type A influenza viruses infect a range of avian species and mammals like pigs and horses, whereas type B and C infections are largely restricted to humans.
They indicate that the majority of the currently identified subtypes of influenza A viruses are maintained in wild avian populations. Humans are generally infected by virus of the subtypes H1, H2 or H3, and N1 or N2. However, humans can also be infected with influenza viruses that are routinely circulating in animals, such as avian influenza virus subtypes H5N1 and H9N2 and swine influenza virus subtypes H1N1 and H3N2.
“Usually these human infections of zoonotic influenza are acquired through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, and do not spread very far among humans. If such a virus acquired the capacity to spread easily among people either through adaptation or acquisition of certain genes from human viruses, it could start an epidemic or a pandemic,” the WHO said.
H7N9 has been identified as one of the most lethal influenza viruses. “When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said last April.
One of the biggest problems with H7N9 is that the source of human infections has not been identified yet. In their paper published on May 2013 in The Lancet, Chinese researchers revealed that the H7N9 virus, based on past experience and epidemiological investigation, might be carried by infected poultry, but about 40 percent of the patients have not been in contact with poultry. The finding implies that it’s harder to prevent further spreading of the infection.
Because the H7N9 virus does not appear to cause clinical symptoms in infected poultry, clear links between infections in poultry and human cases have been difficult to establish, according to the WHO.
The absence of illness symptoms in birds carrying the H7N9 virus also makes it impossible to detect whether birds are infected, showing experts few signs as to where the flu might spread, and making the virus extremely difficult to detect, according to a research paper published on January 2014 in Chinese Medical Journal cmj.org.
“It could be that the infected animals might not shed the virus for more than a few days, so it is a matter of chance if you test and find it. It might be that they are not sampling enough animal species, and they may have to take a look at the less common species of birds being sold in Chinese markets,” the paper quoted Ho Pak-leung, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.
Many people have speculated about the official number of H7N9 cases reported by Chinese authorities.
According to the female doctor in Shanghai who spoke to Epoch Times on condition of anonymity, Chinese official data are used for maintaining social stability and to prevent panic among the public. Therefore, authorities will often withhold the true number of infected people from the public.
“The Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau has instructed us to ‘report what you ought, and do not report what you ought not,’ for this is a big thing, creating an international impact,” the doctor added.
Zhu Xinxin, a former editor at Hebei People’s Radio Station, told Epoch Times about the official Chinese media reports of the epidemic situation.
“Sporadic cases are currently being reported by different provinces and municipalities, without the total number of cases published by the state. This is a measure commonly employed by the Chinese communist regime. They tend to see the Chinese New Year as a big sales occasion that helps boost the gross domestic product (GDP).
“If they report the true scale of the epidemic, they fear this will cause widespread public alarm. Consequently, the national industrial production chains would be hard hit and domestic market sales would then slide downward to a large extent, causing weak economies being devastated. Then a major economic panic may sweep the nation with declining GDP.”
A female employee who answered the phone at China CDC said that since the second half of last year, the authorities have adopted a degrading tactic to tackle H7N9 in China; they use a monthly reporting system in line with state guidelines, instead of daily incident reports.
Asked about the actual fatality rate, the woman said: “January data will be released on Feb. 10. The true tally in January is much greater than that in those provinces. I can’t answer that, though.”
According to another employee at China CDC, there have been more human cases of H7N9 in Beijing, but the true number is not clear.
MONTREAL—The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behavior, environment, and genetics.
“The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, ” Lacourse said. “However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behavior.”
Over the past 25 years, research on early development of physical aggression has been highly influenced by social learning theories that suggest the onset and development of physical aggression is mainly determined by accumulated exposure to aggressive role models in the social environment and the media.
However, the results of studies on early childhood physical aggression indicate that physical aggression starts during infancy and peaks between the ages of 2 and 4. Although for most children the use of physical aggression initiated by the University of Montreal team peaks during early childhood, these studies also show that there are substantial differences in both frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors over time.
By Michelle Yu
An aging population and growing focus on health in the United States has fueled the growth of a $28 billion vitamin and nutritional supplement market, and it is expected to continue to grow at about 3 percent a year.
Over half of American adults are popping vitamins and supplements. They may not be aware they are eating products made in China, or made using raw materials from China.
China has captured over 90 percent of the Vitamin C market in the United States, according to the Seattle Times. Think about how many labels advertise added Vitamin C. Vitamin C goes into many food and drink products—almost all processed food for humans as well as pets contains Vitamin C.
The consumer has no way of knowing the added vitamin C comes from China, because there is no rule requiring labeling the country of origin for ingredients.
This may raise quite a few eyebrows as Chinese food safety scandals make headlines every day.
Here are five facts any consumer of vitamins should know.
1. Only 2 percent of all imported vitamins and other supplements are inspected. Why? Vitamins and supplements are classified as “food” by law and therefore not subject to the tough regulatory scrutiny of prescription drugs.
2. China’s top vitamin and supplement production areas are among the most polluted in the country (and thus in the world).
Vitamins and nutritional supplements usually use agricultural products as key raw materials. The top vitamin exporting province, Zhejiang, has an alarming level of soil pollution from heavy metal. As matter of fact, one-sixth of China’s farmlands are heavily polluted.
For example, rice planted in several key agricultural provinces was reported to contain excessive Cadmium, a metal commonly found in batteries, coloring, and the industrial waste from making plastic. It may cause serious kidney disease.
Irrigation water is a nightmare: Half of the country’s major water bodies are polluted, as are 86 percent of city water bodies. Pollution is largely caused by the country’s numerous factories, which rarely have equipment for treating pollution. Seventy to 80 percent of the country’s industrial waste is directly emitted into rivers.
3. Even those labeled as “organic” are not safe, since USDA organic standards place no limit on levels of heavy metal contamination for certified organic foods.
4. Approximately 6,300 Americans nationwide complained about adverse reactions to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2012, according to FDA statistics. But the actual number may be more than eight times higher, some experts say, because most people don’t believe health products can make them sick. While not all such problems would be caused by pollution in China, that pollution may have played a role.
5. Worst of all, China-made vitamins are everywhere, and even those who do not consume vitamins and supplements can hardly escape. Many vitamins end up as ingredients in items like soft drinks, food, animal feed, and even cosmetics.
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