Very funny (but deadly serious) spoof of drug commercials.
Video posted by NealF @ YouTube.
(Running time: 5m:26s)
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Monday, 15 March 2010
Thursday, 11 March 2010
[Daily Mail | Wednesday, 10 March, 2010.]
Assisted suicide for anyone over 70 who has simply had enough of life is being considered in Holland. Non-doctors would be trained to administer a lethal potion to elderly people who "consider their lives complete." The radical move would be a world first and push the boundaries even further in the country that first legalised euthanasia. The Dutch parliament is to debate the measure after campaigners for assisted suicide collected 112,500 signatures in a month.
Euthanasia has been available for the terminally ill in Holland since 2002 in cases of "hopeless and unbearable suffering" certified by two doctors, but this would be a far bigger step. Supporters say it would offer a dignified way to die for those over 70 who just want to give up living, without having to resort to difficult or unreliable solitary suicide methods. They might include widows and widowers overwhelmed by grief, those unwilling to face the frailties of extreme old age or people determined to "get out while they’re ahead" and meet death on their own terms.
The assistants who administered the deadly cocktail of sedatives would need to be certified, campaigners said. And they would have to make sure that patients were not acting on a whim or due to a temporary depression, but from a heartfelt and enduring desire to die.
But critics say there is scope for the elderly to come under untoward pressure from unscrupulous relatives. Many religious groups oppose any form of suicide on principle. And the Royal Dutch Medical Association - which played a key role in supporting the nation's euthanasia law - fears patients would use the policy as a way of getting around their own doctors.
Although Switzerland allows assisted suicide in cases where someone is not terminally ill, the Dutch measure would go further. Several European countries allow some assistance to terminally ill people who wish to die. Belgium has followed the Dutch euthanasia model, while Britain and France allow terminally ill people to refuse treatment but stop short of allowing active euthanasia. Around 2,500 euthanasia cases were reported in the Netherlands in 2009, rising gradually in the past decade as doctors have become more willing to disclose the practice. (Full story here.)
[By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press | Wednesday, 10 March, 2010.]
Up to half the food aid intended for the millions of hungry people in Somalia is being diverted to corrupt contractors, radical Islamic militants and local U.N. workers, according to a U.N. Security Council report.
The report blames the problem on improper food distribution in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been plagued by fighting and humanitarian suffering for nearly two decades, according to a U.N. diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not yet been released.
Transporters in Somalia must truck bags of food through roadblocks manned by a bewildering array of militias, insurgents and bandits. Kidnappings and executions are common and the insecurity makes it difficult for senior U.N. officials to travel to the country to check on procedures. Investigators could end up relying on the same people they are probing to provide protection.
The U.N. diplomat told The Associated Press that "a significant diversion" of food delivered by the U.N. food program is being diverted to cartels who were selling it illegally. The findings of the report were first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday Some 3.7 million people in Somalia - nearly half of the population - need aid. (Full story here.)
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
[By Alexandra Williams, Daily Telegraph | Wednesday, 3 March, 2010.]
Called the Hotshot, the condom has been produced after government research showed 12- to 14-year-olds did not use sufficient protection when having sex. The study, conducted on behalf of the Federal Commission for Children and Youth, interviewed 1,480 people aged 10 to 20. It showed more 12- to 14-year-olds were having sex, in comparison with the 1990s.
The Hotshot condoms, which cost 7fr60 (£4.70) for a packet of six, have been created by Lamprecht A.G., a leading condom manufacturer in Switzerland. The company has said the U.K. would be "top priority" if they expanded abroad, considering that it has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.
Nysse Norballe, a spokesman for the company, said: "At the moment we are only producing the Hotshot in Switzerland. But the U.K. is certainly a very attractive market since there is a very high rate of underage conception. The U.K. would definitely be top priority if we marketed abroad." (Full story here.)
[By Brian McVicar, Grand Rapids Press | Thursday, 4 March, 2010.]
To the little boy's mother, it was just a 6-year-old boy playing around. But when Mason Jammer, a kindergarten student at Jefferson Elementary in Ionia, curled his fist into the shape of a gun Wednesday and pointed it at another student, school officials said it was no laughing matter.
They suspended Mason until Friday, saying the behavior made other students uncomfortable, said Erin Jammer, Mason's mother. School officials allege Mason had displayed this kind of behavior for several months, despite numerous warnings. "I do think it's too harsh for a six-year-old," said Jammer, who was previously warned that if Mason continued the practice he would be suspended. "He's six and he just likes to play."
Jammer says her son isn't violent, and there are other, more effective ways of teaching him not to make a gun with his hand. "Maybe what you could do is take his recess away," suggested Jammer, adding her son doesn't have toy guns at home. He's only six and he doesn't understand any of this." (Link.)
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Monday, 8 March 2010
[By Linda Carroll, MSNBC | Friday, 5 March, 2010.]
You’ve accepted the idea that TV makes you dumber. You know there are lots of more edifying things you could be doing with your time than cheering on the contestants on "Survivor."
And unless you’re working out to an exercise video, you know those hours sprawled out in front of the screen are going to make you fatter - not to mention the impact of all that junk food you’ve been tempted to scarf down during the commercial breaks.
But you’ll be surprised to learn the host of other bad things TV can do to you.
1. TV makes you deader.
TV-viewing is a pretty deadly pastime, research suggests. No matter how much time you spend in the gym, every hour you spend in front of the TV increases your risk of dying from heart disease, according to a recent report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Australian researchers studied 8,800 adult men and women for an average of six years and found that every hour spent in front of the TV translated into an 11 percent increase in the risk of death from any cause, a 9 percent increase in the risk of death from cancer and an 18 percent increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. So, compared to people who watched less than two hours of TV a day, those who watched four or more hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from any cause and an 80 percent higher risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. And that was true even among people who didn’t smoke, were thin, ate healthy diets and had low blood pressure and cholesterol.
2. TV makes you drunker.
TV may make you drink more. When it comes to drinking, we’re apparently very susceptible to what we see on TV, according to a report published in Alcohol and Alcoholism. To discover whether what we view actually affects drinking habits, researchers rounded up 80 male university students between the ages of 18 and 29 and plunked them down in a bar-like setting where the students were allowed to watch movies and commercials on TV. The researchers found that men who watched films and commercials in which alcohol was prominently featured immediately reached for a glass of beer or wine and drank an average of 1.5 glasses more than those who watched films and commercials in which alcohol played a less prominent role.
3. TV can make your kid pregnant.
Teens who watched a lot of TV that included sexual content were twice as likely to get pregnant, according to a study published in Pediatrics. Once a year for three years, Rand Corporation researchers surveyed 1,461 youngsters — ages 12 to 17 at the beginning of the study — about TV-viewing habits and sexual behavior. Boys were asked if they had ever gotten a girl pregnant and girls were asked if they had ever been pregnant. To get a handle on how much sexually charged TV kids were watching, the researchers asked teens if and how often they viewed 23 specific programs.
Another study showed that kids who watch two or more hours of TV a day start having sex earlier, according to a report in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers followed 4,808 students for a year. The kids — all ages 15 or younger — had never had sex at the beginning of the study. Among kids with parents who disapproved of teen sex, those who watched two or more hours of TV per day were 72 percent more likely to start having sex by the end of the study. The researchers said they weren’t surprised to find no TV effect among kids with parents who didn’t care about teen sex since those kids were at high risk of early sex anyway.
4. TV weakens your bones.
Hours spent watching TV can set a kid up for later problems with brittle bones, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Until we hit 25 or so, we accumulate bone in a kind of savings account. The more bone we build when we’re younger, the less likely we are to develop the brittle-bone disease osteoporosis.
To see whether TV watching might impact kids’ bone growth, researchers followed 214 3-year-olds for four years. The children’s height and weight were checked every four months, along with their activity levels. At each checkup, parents were asked about their kids’ TV-viewing habits. The more TV kids watched, the less bone they grew, regardless of how active they were at other times.
5. TV makes you less engaging.
A recent study found that when the TV is on — even if it’s just in the background — parents interact less with their kids. To learn more about TV’s effects, researchers brought 51 infants and toddlers, each accompanied by a parent, to a university child study center, according to the report published Child Development. Parents and kids were observed for half an hour in a playroom without a TV and then for a half hour with the TV tuned to an adult program such as "Jeopardy!" When the TV was on, parents spent about 20 percent less time talking to their children. And when parents did pay attention to their kids, the quality of the interactions was lower: With a program on in the background, parents were less active, attentive and responsive to their youngsters.
[By Jennifer LaRue Huget, Washington Post | Monday, 1 March, 2010.]
A study in the March issue of Psychological Bulletin, a journal of the American Psychological Association, shows that playing violent video games increases violent thinking, attitudes and behaviors among players. And it does nothing to promote positive social behaviors.
Psychologist Craig Anderson of Iowa State University and his team analyzed existing studies of 130,000 people from the U.S., Europe and Japan. His findings held for players in Western and Eastern cultures, for male and female players and for players of various ages. They also contradict some earlier studies, whose findings the current authors say are tainted by "selection bias" - the method by which they selected studies to analyze.
The new study notes that while violence in movies and TV shows has long been examined for its potential impact on viewers' proclivity for violence, video gaming, a much newer phenomenon, has not yet been so fully explored.
In its review of data, the new research found that exposure to violent video games was associated with aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition and aggressive "affect." It desensitizes users and is associated with lack of empathy and a lack of "prosocial" behavior. (Full story here.)
[BBC Radio 3 | Sunday, 21 February, 2010.]
War games are as old as military history but something has begun to change as war and play converge to create what some call the "military entertainment complex." Ken Hollings pushes the button on this latest phenomenon.
Men have always played at and with soldiers. Gaming has been an essential part of warfare and by the 19th Century it had been developed into the sophisticated "Kriegspiel," derived from the still influential theories of Von Clausewitz and played at military colleges in both Europe and America. These war games then became real games for table-top strategists by the early 20th Century. A remarkable synergy developed between colleges of war and devisers of such games, particularly in America. And in the think tanks of the RAND Corp. gaming theory was used intensively to plot the future of war and nuclear destruction.
But from the late 1970s computer strategy games started to form a powerful loop between gamers and warriors. With the creation of the SIMNET, the military began to develop hugely powerful simulators and now convergence is taking place between military and the entertainment industry. Some say we are living in what Stanford Professor Tim Lenoir has called "the military entertainment complex," with military functions increasingly taking place online, using simulation for training and in the treatment of soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. But is this new realm of war truly a revolution - the shape of things to come - or just more virtual bangs for real bucks? (Link.)
[By Paul Steinhauser, CNN | Friday, 26 February, 2010.]
A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.
The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.
According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey. (Link.)
[By Bruno Waterfield, Daily Telegraph | Friday, 26 February, 2010.]
National leaders are concerned Mr. Van Rompuy, who had been expected to take a back seat role, is attempting to expand his position. Germany and France backed his candidature on the understanding he would act as an E.U. "chairman" rather than a high-profile leader.
But the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty has triggered bitter in-fighting between Mr. Van Rompuy, Baroness Ashton, the foreign minister, and the Commission over who is in charge of representing Europe on the global stage.
Diplomats are increasingly worried that amid the turf wars there is a danger of Brussels "mission creep" as squabbling EU chiefs try to enlarge their empires at the expense of each other and national sovereignty. National governments, led by Germany, are incensed by an attempt by Mr. Van Rompuy to take on new powers he claims were agreed at an informal summit two weeks ago.
There has been particular anger over a letter he sent to E.U. leaders following the chaotic Feb 11 meeting in Brussels that was dominated by the economic crisis in Greece and talk of a European bail-out. Despite the fact that the meeting only lasted three hours, with Greece the main topic of discussion, Mr Van Rompuy insisted that eight to ten specific points were agreed, a view that has been disputed by most E.U. leaders.
One of the points of the classified letter, seen by The Daily Telegraph, gives Mr. Van Rompuy the right to lead the E.U.'s negotiating team at G20 summits, usurping the role of national governments and the Commission. "There was agreement to take better account of the international dimension. This includes a thorough preparation of the E.U. position for G20, allowing me to effectively and forcefully represent the E.U.'s positions in this important forum," said the letter.
One senior E.U. diplomat said the Lisbon Treaty clearly ruled Mr Van Rompuy out of a major G20 role. "G20 is primarily for national governments. The Commission represents the E.U. on economic or financial matters covered by the internal market," he said. "Van Rompuy only speaks if there is a foreign policy dimension, which is very unlikely. This was not discussed, let alone agreed." (Full story here.)