Forensic technique developed by Brisbane researcher helps identify missing soldiers


A forensic technique developed by a Queensland researcher is being used to identify the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War, speeding up the rate of identification and returning the fallen to their families.

University of Queensland forensic anthropologist Carl Stephan, who also is creating Australia’s first skeleton library, developed the chest radiograph comparison analysis technique during a five-year fellowship at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii from 2008-2013.

He now serves as a consultant to the agency.

In the US, the government makes that unofficial promise to everybody that you will be returned home.

Dr Carl Stephan, forensic anthropologist

The technique uses chest radiographs to identify remains that cannot be identified using DNA, because of the embalming process the bones were put through during original examinations in the mid-1950s.

Dental x-rays were not uniformly taken until the start of the Vietnam War, but most Korean War soldiers had chest radiographs to screen for tuberculosis.

“Before these guys joined the military they were taken to recruiting stations, and there were reports of doctors having to take lunch breaks just to let the x-ray machine cool down over lunch,” Dr Stephan said.

“They were photographing 500-700 people a day. And so the Department of Defense had all those records.

“My task [during the fellowship] was to develop some sort of method to use those radiographs to identify those individuals.”

Restoring damaged radiographs the first step

It was a big challenge because of the number of radiographs on file, and because they were not the same quality as x-rays today.

Most of the films were small — about 10cm by 12.5cm. And about a third of them needed to be restored.

“Even though the quality is a little less, you can still see all the shapes of the cortical bone, which is the thick bone on the outside,” Dr Stephan said.

“Because people use their arms in different ways, and they’ve got different genetics, the bones have a different shape between individuals.

“So we look for that shape, and if it’s the same, we can say with a good deal of confidence it’s a match to that person; and if they’re different, then we keep on looking.”

Disinterment ceremony at National Memorial Cemetery

Historical search narrows field

Identification starts with historical research.

More than 850 unknown soldiers were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, after the United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what became known as Operation Glory.

A man in a white lab coat looks closely as small x-rays on a horizontal lightbox.

“They start with an idea about the losses and where these skeletons were found, and they try to match them up as much as they can with this historical search,” Dr Stephan said.

“Then when they get to having some degree of confidence … [there’s an] exhumation, the bones will go to the lab and we’ll start looking at it.

“We’ll have a shortlist … it varies from case to case. In some cases it might be four to five guys, other times it might be 250.

“And after you go through that first cut when you’re looking at the bones, if you don’t find it’s any of those individuals, then that’s where we go out to use the computer automated search algorithm.

“We’ll see if we get any hits on these that might be the potential matches and go and look at them.”

Technique has applications outside war dead

Dr Stephan said there were always multiple lines of evidence used to identify an individual, including the historical data, a biological profile such as age, ancestry and stature, plus dental records.

The chest radiograph technique has also been used to identify remains from World War II, and in criminal cases.

There is a chance it could be used to identify Australian remains, if it turns out there are some Australian individuals buried in the National Memorial Cemetery.

“They do have some of the Australians’ chest radiographs on file, so comparisons could be made against them,” Dr Stephan said.

He said Australian authorities tended to go out to retrieve remains if someone came across them, but in terms of going out to specifically search, it did not happen to the same extent as it did in the US.

“In the US, the government makes that unofficial promise to everybody that you will be returned home,” he said.

“It’s an admirable ideal. They have 300 employees around the clock, full time, each year, working on this. It’s a massive operation.”

Soldier returned home after more than 60 years

One of the soldiers identified using Dr Stephan’s technique was buried in his hometown last month.

A black and white head and shoulders photo of a United States soldier.

Army Private First Class Aubrey D. Vaughn, of South Carolina, was part of a team overrun by Chinese communist forces in North Korea in 1951.

After the battle, the 20-year-old was reported missing in action. It was later reported he died while in captivity at a prisoner of war camp.

Vaughn’s remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery on May 18, 2015 and were identified using chest radiograph comparison analysis, anthropological analysis, circumstantial evidence and dental records.

His remains were returned to his family for burial with full military honours on April 12.

More than 7,800 American military personnel remain unaccounted for following the Korean War.

Does Sodium Intake Affect Mortality and CV Event Risk?


Sodium intake may not be associated with mortality or incident cardiovascular events in older adults, according to a study published Jan. 19 in the JAMA: Internal Medicine.

In the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, initiated in 1997, researchers assessed self-reported sodium intake from 2,642 Medicare beneficiaries, ages 71-80 years old. Participants were excluded for difficulties with walking or activities of daily life, cognitive impairment, inability to communicate, and previous heart failure (HF). At the first annual follow-up visit, researchers recorded food intake as reported by participants, specifically examining sodium intake. After 10 years, 34 percent of patients had died, while 29 percent and 15 percent had developed cardiovascular disease and HF, respectively.

The results of the study showed that there was no association between participant-reported sodium intake and 10-year mortality, incident HF or incident cardiovascular disease. Further, there was no indication that consuming less than 1,500 mg/d of sodium benefitted participants any more than consuming the recommended amount (1,500-2,300 mg/d). However, the study showed a slight potential for harm when participants had a sodium intake of greater than 2,300 mg/d, especially in women and African Americans.

The authors note that while the food frequency questionnaire used by participants at the first annual follow-up has limitations in its accuracy, “self-reported adoption of a low-salt diet was not associated with significantly higher risk for [any] events.” They conclude that moving forward, there is a need for further research and stronger evidence in order to create better recommendations for older adults.

– See more at: http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2015/01/16/15/47/does-sodium-intake-affect-mortality-and-cv-event-risk-acc-news-story?wt.mc_id=fb#sthash.vE0R3iGF.dpuf

U.S. government tried to cover up pandemic that killed 50 million


Have you noticed that, in the past few weeks, the mainstream media has stopped reporting on suspected cases of Ebola in the United States? That’s because they’ve been asked not to do so — at least until those suspected of having the virus test positive for it with a lab test. The implication is that the mainstream media — The Associated Press in particular — was asked to refrain from reporting on the suspected cases by the Obama Administration.

If so, that is far from the only example of federal government duplicity in dealing with pandemics and potential pandemics. As Washington’s Blog notes, citing a National Institutes of Health (NIH) report from 2005 called, “The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready?,” the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak that killed 50 million people worldwide was mishandled badly by our government, and governments around the world.

The context of the outbreak is very noteworthy. The year, 1918, was the final year of World War I, a near-global conflict concentrated largely in Europe and the Near East which decimated entire populations and after which 37 million were dead, wounded or missing (not including civilian deaths). Entire cities laid in ruin; local and national economies were in a shambles.

‘The first casualty is truth’

According to the NIH report:

In the United States, national and local government and public health authorities badly mishandled the [1918 Spanish Flu] epidemic [which killed up to 50 million people worldwide], offering a useful case study. …

Every country engaged in World War I tried to control public perception. To avoid hurting morale, even in the nonlethal first wave the press in countries fighting in the war did not mention the outbreak. (But Spain was not at war and its press wrote about it, so the pandemic became known as the Spanish flu).

The United States was no different. In 1917, California Senator Hiram Johnson, an isolationist Progressive-Party-member-turned-Republican, stated: “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” At the time, Congress passed a measure, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, that made it punishable by up to 20 years in prison to “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the government of the United States” — a blatant violation of the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

“One could go to jail for cursing or criticizing the government, even if what one said was true,” the NIH report said, noting that even a U.S. congressman was eventually put in jail for violating the law.

At the same time, the federal government launched a huge propaganda effort, which prompted one of the architects of it to remark, “Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms…. There is nothing in experience to tell us that one is always preferable to the other…. The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.”

As reported by Washington’s Blog, the NIH report further stated:

The combination of rigid control and disregard for truth had dangerous consequences. Focusing on the shortest term, local officials almost universally told half-truths or outright lies to avoid damaging morale and the war effort. They were assisted–not challenged–by the press, which although not censored in a technical sense cooperated fully with the government’s propaganda machine.

(Much like the press does today.)

Pattern was repeated in city after city

The result was that, as the Spanish Flu approached a city or town — “one could watch it march from place to place” — local officials initially advised the public not to be concerned, because public health officials would ensure that the town was protected from the virus.

When influenza appeared, officials almost always insisted it was the regular flu, not the feared and deadly Spanish Flu. And as the outbreak worsened, officials would advise the public, nearly every day, that the worst of it was past.

That pattern was repeated over and over again. Chicago is a case in point; the city’s public health commissioner said he would do “nothing to interfere with the morale of the community…. It is our duty to keep the people from fear. Worry kills more people than the epidemic.”

And that notion (“Fear kills more than the disease”) became the national mantra, in city after city.

Is the same pattern still being repeated, this time with the Ebola virus?

Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at www.BioDefense.com

Sources:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com

http://www.nap.edu

http://www.poynter.org

http://www.washingtonsblog.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/047560_pandemic_US_government_cover-up.html#ixzz3IUL32Wv0

5 Viruses That Are Scarier Than Ebola


The Ebola virus has now killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa. Although the mortality rate of the most recent outbreak isn’t as high as in previous events, it’s still the case that most people who become infected with Ebola will not survive. (The mortality rate is about 60 percent for the current outbreak, compared with 90 percent in the past, according to the National Institutes of Health.)

But despite this somber prognosis, health experts in the United States aren’t particularly worried about the threat of Ebola in this countryor in other developed countries.

Microscopic view of Ebola virus
“I see Ebola as a significant threat in the specific regions that it has been identified in, certainly central and west Africa,” said Cecilia Rokusek, a public health expert with Nova Southeastern University’s Institute for Disaster and Emergency Preparedness in Florida. “But in my opinion, it’s not an imminent threat for those in the United States.” [7 Devastating Infectious Diseases]

Indeed, other viruses pose a larger threat to U.S. citizens, according to Rokusek.

Although some of these viruses have far lower mortality rates than that of Ebola, they are more prevalent in developed nations, and kill more people annually than Ebola does. Here are five viruses that are just as dangerous (if not more so) than Ebola:

Rabies

Over the past 100 years, rabies has declined significantly as a public health threat in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately two people now die yearly in the United States from this virus, which is transmitted to people through saliva when they are bitten by infected animals, such as dogs or bats.

People who know they have been bitten by an animal should receive the rabies vaccine, which prevents infection by the virus, according to the CDC. But, especially in the case of bat bites, people may not always realize they have been bitten.

And rabies has one of the highest fatality rates of any virus; only three people in the United States are known to have ever survived the disease without receiving the vaccine after exposure to the virus.

Still, the disease remains a greater threat in other areas of the world than in the United States. Approximately 55,000 people die of rabies every year in Africa and Asia, according to the WHO.

HIV

Though the number of annual deaths related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has declined in recent years, an estimated 1.6 million people worldwide died of HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) related causes in 2012, according to the WHO. The virus attacks a person’s immune cells and weakens the immune system over time, making it very difficult for the infected individual to fight off other diseases.

About 15,500 people with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2010 in the United States, according to the CDC. In total, an estimated 650,000 people have died of AIDS in the United States since the disease was discovered in 1981. An estimated 36 million people have died worldwide from the epidemic.

Today, people with HIV do live longer than they used to, a trend that coincides with the increased availability of antiretroviral therapy, as well as the decline in new infections since the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1997. However, no cure for HIV exists.

Influenza

The flu may not sound very scary, but it kills far more people every year than Ebola does. The exact number of people who die each year from seasonal flu virus is the subject of much debate, but the CDC puts the average number of annual deaths in the United States somewhere between 3,000 and 49,000.

The large variation in yearly deaths arises because many flu deaths are not reported as such, so the CDC relies on statistical methods to estimate the number. Another reason for this wide range is that annual flu seasons vary in severity and length, depending on what influenza viruses are most prominent. In years when influenza A (H3N2) viruses are prominent, death rates are typically more than double what they are in seasons when influenza A (H1N1) or influenza B viruses predominate, according to the CDC.

A highly contagious virus, influenza sickens far more people than it kills, with an estimated 3 million to 5 million people becoming seriously ill yearly from influenza viruses. Worldwide, the flu causes an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Despite the relatively low mortality rate of the virus, public health professionals and doctors recommend annual flu shots to keep the risk of complications from influenza at bay.

“Healthy people should get their vaccines every year,” Rokusek told Live Science. “Studies have shown that the flu vaccine is an effective preventative measure.”

But flu vaccines, which offer immunity from influenza A and B viruses, do not protect against other forms of influenza, which can arise when the virus undergoes genetic changes. New strains of the flu result in higher than average mortality rates globally. The most recent influenza pandemic, the “swine flu” or H1N1 pandemic, killed between 151,700 and 575,400 people globally during 2009 and 2010, according to the CDC.

Mosquito-borne viruses

Spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, viruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever kill more than 50,000 people worldwide every year, according to estimates by the WHO and the CDC. (Malaria — which is also spread by mosquitos, but is caused by a parasite rather than a virus — kills more than 600,00 people yearly.)

At least 40 percent of the world’s population, or about 2.5 billion people, are at risk of serious illness and death from mosquito-borne viral diseases, according to the CDC.

Dengue fever, which is endemic to parts of South America, Mexico, Africa and Asia, claims approximately 22,000 lives every year, according to the CDC. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a deadly infection that causes high fevers and can lead to septic shock.

These diseases occur in regions neighboring the United States, making them a threat in this country.

“Dengue is very active in the Caribbean, and travelers to the Caribbean come back to the United States with dengue,” said Dr. Robert Leggiadro, a New York physician and professor of biology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]

People infected with dengue while traveling abroad can spread the disease at home when mosquitos bite them, and then bite other people, Leggiadro said.

Even more deadly than dengue is yellow fever, which mostly affects people in Latin America and Africa. The disease causes an estimated 30,000 deaths worldwide, according to the WHO.

Less deadly, but still dangerous is West Nile virus, a viral neurological disease that is spread by mosquitos that bite humans after feasting on birds infected with the virus. Although the vast majority of people infected with this virus will not show symptoms of West Nile, the disease has killed an estimated 1,200 people in the United States since it was first seen here in 1999, according to the CDC.

Rotavirus

Not everyone is at high risk of contracting rotavirus, but for children around the world, this gastrointestinal virus is a very serious problem. Approximately 111 million cases of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus are reported every year globally, according to the CDC. The vast majority of those affected by the virus are children under the age of 5, and about 82 percent of deaths associated with the virus occur in children in developing nations.

Globally, an estimated 440,000 children who contract the virus die each year from complications, namely dehydration. In the United States, a vaccine for rotavirus was developed in 1998, but was later recalled due to safety concerns. A newer vaccine, developed in 2006, is now available and is recommended for children ages 2 months and older.

Despite routine vaccinations for rotavirus in the United States, the CDC estimates that between 20 and 60 children under age 5 die every year from untreated dehydration caused by the virus.

While some parents in the United States have expressed concern about the complications that may arise as a result of vaccinating for rotavirus, Leggiadro told Live Science that vaccination for this and other preventable diseases is the best way to safeguard against diseases that, if left untreated, can be deadly.

Wikileaks Cables Confirm Existence of Extraterrestrial Life.


We’re already halfway through 2013 and the world continues to wake up to the fact that we are not alone in the universe. This year alone we’ve seen a tremendous step forward regarding UFO disclosure. In early May, researchers, activists, political leaders and high ranking military/agency personnel from around the world testified to the reality of the UFO/extraterrestrial phenomenon in front of several former United States members of congress. To watch an interview with the former 2008 presidential candidate and ex-congressman Mike Gravel (who participated in the hearings) click here. You can watch interviews with all of the senators that participated in the event here.

ufo

Prior to the recent hearing on UFOs and extraterrestrial life, we’ve had explosive statements made by NASA astronauts and professors, you can watch some of those statements here and here. Not only has the world heard from all of these credible people, its also been privy to official documentation released by dozens of governments worldwide that outline the reality of the UFO phenomenon. Documents indicate that UFOs are of concern to governments, and they put a significant amount of time, effort and resources into studying them. Apart from governments, agencies like the National Security Agency also released official files regarding UFOs, you can view some of these previously classified documents here.

It’s now a fact that UFOs are tracked on radar, performing maneuvers that defy our idea of physics. Jets are constantly scrambled to take a closer look at them. This is no longer a conspiracy theory, it’s a fact. Release of files began early in 2007 with the UK, among others. Since then they’ve released thousands of pages every year, with the latest ones published in June 2013 made available at the UK’s National Archives. You can view them here.

Behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense.
—Former CIA Director, Roscoe Hillenkoetter, 1960.
The UFO/extraterrestrial phenomenon is extremely top secret, access to this type of documentation and the deeper truth behind it is almost impossible. CIA directors, presidents and other high ranking officials barely have any access to these programs. That being said, all of the information that’s already out in the public domain is overwhelming. It makes you wonder how far down the rabbit hole this topic goes.

As most of the world today already knows, Wikileaks is an international, online, non-profit organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified material from anonymous sources. They’ve been a tremendous threat to the controlling elite for a number of years, and have gained the attention of major mainstream media outlets worldwide. For the most part, these mainstream media outlets have bashed Assange, pointing to the idea that the release of classified documents is a threat to national security. That’s not true, it’s more like a threat to the truth that the elite try to cover up on a daily basis that would threaten their ability to control the human race.

Since a large amount of official documentation has already been released, documents from the Wikileaks cables shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Assange has already mentioned that there are yet to be published cables that make reference to UFOs. This is no joke, below are quotations taken from official transcripts via the official Wikileak cables.

 

You can view it here: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/01/10DUSHANBE82.html

On January 13 Ambassador called on Dushanbe Mayor and Chairman of the upper house of Parliament Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev at his parliamentary office. The Mayor began the meeting with a lengthy discourse on Afghanistan, thanking the United States for its contributions and sacrifices there, and saying that U.S. activities there were very important “as we enter the third millennium and the 21st century.” Ubaidulloev thought the main task there was to build a sense of national identity among ethnically disparate groups, and said the United States was an example for this. He noted that “war is very dangerous”, and said “we know there is life on other planets, but we must make peace here first.
In a platitude-ridden meeting, Dushanbe Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev said upcoming elections would be free and fair, that contributions to the Roghun Dam were voluntary, and that the losses suffered by the United States in Afghanistan were felt by Tajiks as their own. Ubaidulloev asked for help in getting Tajik students admitted to Harvard University, but effectively declined to help find a new location for an American Corner in Dushanbe. He asserted the existence of life on other planets, caveating this by noting that we should focus on solving our problems on Earth. End Summary.
Not only do these cables raise an eyebrow, but a statement given by Julian Assange himself raises the need for further inquiry. The audio on the video is delayed. What points to this interview being real? For one, if you can read lips it’s not hard to follow. Secondly, it sounds exactly like Julian. Thirdly, multiple mainstream media outlets (Telegraph, CBS news and more) published the original version of the video which was taken down immediately. One of the mainstream media outlets was Forbes, you can view that poorly written article here in which you will see access to the video has been cut off. Articles written by major media outlets are usually very poor, and do their best to ridicule the subject of UFOs. The original version had perfect audio, the same sound and was in the same setting.

I have said in passing there is information about UFOs in Cablegate. And that is true, but these are only small passing references. Most of the material concerns UFO cults, and their behaviour in recruiting people. For instance, there is quite a large cable, which we’ll try and release in the next few days, concerning the Raelians, a UFO cult which has a strong presence in Canada and was of concern to the U.S. ambassador in Canada – Julian Assange

It’s not surprising that that the U.S. ambassador in Canada was concerned with this group. High level agencies are also concerned with abductees and ET contactees. Their mail is stamped in a special way, they are constantly surveyed by army intelligence, phone tapping and are also confronted by ‘men in black’ (intelligence officers). Agencies that are active in the UFO phenomenon keep close tabs on UFO/extraterrestrial activity outside of their sphere of influence. That being said, again, it’s no surprise that the U.S. ambassador had an interest in this ‘UFO cult.’ Anything extraterrestrial would be a concern to the elite, as they are the ones active in the cover up.

We are living in an extremely unique time, our world has become much more transparent than ever before. One aspect of multiple realizations is the UFO/extraterrestrial phenomenon, but it seems to branch into every aspect of our reality depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Our perception of life on other planets largely comes from external sources like television programming. As a result, many are filled with fear when giving thought to this subject. Hopefully as we move through the shift in consciousness the planet is currently experiencing, fear will dissipate as it will no longer serve the human race. This is undoubtedly one of the largest realizations in human history. The only thing that goes beyond it, in my opinion, is the realization of humanities infinite potential to create a new experience from a place of peace, love, co-operation and understanding.

“There is abundant evidence that we are being contacted, that civilizations have been visiting us for a very long time. That their appearance is bizarre from any type of traditional materialistic western point of view. That these visitors use the technologies of consciousness, they use toroids, they use co-rotating magnetic disks for their propulsion systems, that seems to be a common denominator of the UFO phenomenon.” – Dr Brian O’leary, Former NASA Astronaut and Princeton Physics Professor (source)

“Yes there have been crashed craft, and bodies recovered. We are not alone in the universe, they have been coming here for a long time” Apollo 14 Astronaut (source # 1) (source # 2)

“Decades ago, visitors from other planets warned us about the direction we were heading and offered to help. Instead, some of us interpreted their visits as a threat, and decided to shoot first and ask questions after. It is ironic that the US should be fighting monstrously expensive wars, allegedly to bring democracy to those countries, when it itself can no longer claim to be called a democracy when trillions, and I mean thousands of billions of dollars have been spent on black projects which both congress and the commander in chief have been kept deliberately in the dark.” –
Paul Hellyer, Former Canadian Defence Minister (source)

There is nothing to be afraid of.

Much Love

Sources:

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/01/10DUSHANBE82.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2011/02/07/wikileaks-ufo-cables-more-about-raelian-cult-than-alien-life/

http://ufos.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Cannabis goes on sale in Colorado


David Martinez, manager of 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, on 31 December 2013
Shops selling cannabis have been preparing for a huge influx of customers on their first day of trading

The US state of Colorado is making history by becoming the first to allow stores to sell cannabis.

As many as 30 stores around the state are expected to start selling the drug for recreational purposes from 1 January, dubbed Green Wednesday.

Colorado, along with Washington state, voted to legalise the use and possession of cannabis for people over the age of 21 in November 2012.

Washington is not expected to allow the sale of it until later in 2014.

Colorado and Washington are among 20 states to have approved marijuana use for medical purposes. The drug is still illegal under federal law.

‘Who knows?’

Store owners had stocked up, prepared celebrations and hired extra security in preparation for their opening on Green Wednesday.

“Start Quote

It’s almost the worst of both worlds”

Kevin Sabet Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Under the new law, cannabis will be sold like alcohol. Residents will be able to buy up to one ounce, while those from out of the state can purchase up to a quarter of an ounce.

Cannabis can only be smoked on private premises, with the permission of the owners.

The sale of the drug will be taxed in the same way as alcohol, and state officials have said they expected it to raise millions – the first $40m of which will be used for school construction, The Denver Post reports.

It was not clear exactly how many shops were expected to open on New Year’s Day, though around 30 were listed by The Denver Post.

A total of 136 stores have been given licenses to sell marijuana. Most of the shops are based in Denver. Some communities elsewhere in Colorado have exercised their right not to have the stores.

Supporters of legalising cannabis have praised Colorado’s move.

Rachel Gillette, of the Colorado branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the state “has found an exit strategy for the failed drug war and I hope other states will follow our lead”.

But critics say it sends the wrong message to the nation’s youth and fear it will lead to serious public health and social problems.

“There will still need to be a black market to serve people who are ineligible to buy on a legal market, especially kids,” said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “It’s almost the worst of both worlds.”

Angelina’s mastectomy… and other medical stories of 2013


With a baby cured of HIV and breakthroughs in dementia, it’s been a year where two of the great scourges of our time have been put on the back foot.

Meanwhile a vision of the future of medicine has emerged, with scientists growing miniature organs -including brains – and performing the first steps of human cloning.

BBC health and science reporter James Gallagher reviews the year in medical science.

HIV baby cure

HIV virus

One of the most remarkable stories of the year was a baby girl in the US seemingly being “cured” of HIV.

Her mother had an uncontrolled HIV infection and doctors suspected the baby would be infected too, so they decided to give antiretroviral drugs at birth.

Normally the drugs hold the virus in check, but the very early treatment seems to have prevented HIV taking hold.

The baby is now three, has been off drugs for more than a year and has no sign of infection.

However, as this analysis explains, a cure for HIV is still a distant prospect. Yet there have been other developments – two patients have been taken off their HIV drugs after bone-marrow transplants seemed to clear the virus.

HIV was once thought to be impossible to cure; now there is real optimism in the field.

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Post-menopausal pregnancy

Dr Kazuhiro Kawamura
Dr Kazuhiro Kawamura of the St Marianna University medical school holding the newborn

Going through an early-menopause used to be seen as the end of a woman’s reproductive life.

But this year a baby was born after doctors, in the US and Japan, developed a technique to “reawaken” the ovaries of women who had a very early menopause.

They removed a woman’s ovaries, activated them in the laboratory and re-implanted fragments of ovarian tissue.

Any eggs produced were then taken and used during normal IVF.

Fertility experts described the findings as a “potential game-changer”.

However, things will not change for women going through the menopause at a normal age as poor egg quality will still be a major obstacle.

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Angelina and Andy

Angelina Jolie and Andrew Marr

The cult of celebrity catapulted two diseases into the public eye this year – breast cancer and strokes.

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy after her doctors said she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime.

She has a mutation in her DNA, called BRCA1, which greatly increases the odds of both breast and ovarian cancer.

In a newspaper article she said: “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity…for any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options.”

BBC presenter Andrew Marr had a stroke after an intensive rowing machine session and a year of “heavily overworking”.

It put a spotlight on the standard of care for stroke patients and raised the question why do healthy people have strokes?

He says he’s “lucky to be alive” and is back presenting, although the stroke has affected “the whole left hand side of my body”.

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Lab-grown mini organs

Cross-section of miniature human brains termed cerebral organoids

This purple and green image is of a very special human brain which was grown from skin cells entirely in a laboratory.

The pea-sized “cerebral organoid” is similar to the brain of a nine-week-old foetus.

It has distinct brain regions such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and an early hippocampus, which would be heavily involved in memory in a fully developed adult brain.

Scientists hope the organoids, which are not capable of thought, will transform the understanding of the development of the brain and neurological disorders.

And it’s not just brains. Japanese researchers said they were “gobsmacked” at making tiny functioning livers in the same way.

They think transplanting thousands of these liver buds could help to reverse liver failure.

On a larger scale, researchers have made full-sized kidneys for rats which were able to make urine.

Their vision is to take a donor kidney and strip it of all its old cells to leave a honeycomb-like scaffold, which would then be used to build a new kidney out of a patient’s own cells.

Expect more from the “grow-your-own organs” field in the coming years.

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Dementia on the back foot

Brain
Loss of tissue in a demented brain compared with a healthy one

Understanding the billions of neurons which make up the human brain, one of the most complex structures in the universe, is one of the greatest challenges in medical science.

This year marked a major breakthrough in defeating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

A team of UK Medical Research Council scientists used a chemical to stop the death of brain cells, in a living brain, that would have otherwise died due to a neurodegenerative disease.

This is a first and a significant discovery. One prominent scientist said this moment would “be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer’s disease”.

Dementia has also become a major global priority in 2013 amid fears it is rapidly becoming the health and social care problem of a generation.

The G8 group of nations have pledge to fund research aimed at curing the disease by 2025.

It is just one aspect of a flood of money entering brain research.

President Obama has dedicated millions of dollars for mapping the connections in the brain and in Europe the billion pound Human Brain Project to simulate the organ using computers is now under way.

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Human cloning

Row of babies

Human cloning was used to produce early embryos which a group of US scientists described as a “significant step” for medicine.

It has been a long struggle to reach this stage, the same technique was used to produce Dolly the sheep way back in 1996.

No-one is considering attempting to let a cloned embryo develop.

Instead the cloned embryos were used as a source of stem cells, which can make new heart muscle, bone, brain tissue or any other type of cell in the body.

However, it is an ethically charged field of research and there have been calls for a ban.

Meanwhile, the first trial of stem cells produced from a patient’s own body has been approved by the Japanese government.

Scientists will use the cells to attempt to treat a form of blindness – age-related macular degeneration.

And a new era of regenerative medicine could be opened up by transforming tissue inside a living animal back to an embryonic state.

It’s an inherently dangerous thing to do; the tissues became cancerous in the experiments, but if it was controlled then it could be used to heal the body.

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A new role for sleep and body clock resets

Brain in a head

Scientists have found a new explanation for why we sleep – for a spot of housework.

As well as being involved in fixing memories and learning, it seems the brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day’s thinking.

They think failing to clear some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s diseases.

Meanwhile, a separate group of researchers think it may be possible to slow the decline in memory and learning as we age by tackling poor sleep.

And there is no doubt about the impact a poor night’s sleep has on the whole body. The activity of hundreds of genes was altered when people’s sleep was cut to less than six hours a day for a week.

Of course you could blame the moon after a “lunar influence” on sleeping patterns was discovered. It showed that the extra light from a full moon makes it harder to sleep.

There may be good news on the horizon for shift workers and jet setters who will be intimately familiar with the pains of having a body clock out of sync with the world around them.

A team at Kyoto University has found the body clock’s “reset button” inside the brain.

They tested a drug which let the body clock rapidly adjust to new timezones, instead of taking days. It brings the prospect of drugs to avoid jet lag much closer.

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Deadly infections new and old

Coronavirus

Two new viruses have attracted global attention and concern this year.

A new bird flu, H7N9, emerged in China infecting more than 130 people and causing 45 deaths.

However, most were confined to the beginning of the year when the virus first emerged. Closing live poultry markets in affected areas has largely cut the spread of the virus.

And Saudi Arabia is at the centre of an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. The animal source of the virus has not yet been confirmed, although camels are a likely culprit.

Meanwhile, polio has returned to war-torn Syria for the first time in 14 years.

And in the UK, an outbreak of measles infected 1,200 people – as a result of a drop in vaccination during the completely unfounded MMR-autism scare a decade earlier. The World Health Organization warned Europe risked failing to meet its pledge to eliminate measles by 2015.

Odds, ends and an impotent James Bond

The mobile app in action: Scanning the back of the eye

There were many interesting one-off stories this year too – some serious, some not…

A modified smartphone is being tested in Kenya to see if it can prevent blindness in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Doctors warned that antibiotics were running out and could lead to an “antibiotic apocalypse”.

Scientists claimed a milestone moment for cancer after finding 21 major mutations behind that accounted for 97% of the most common cancers.

There was a shift in understanding psychiatric disorders when it was shown autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia all shared several genetic risk factors.

A surgical knife which can sniff out tumours was developed to improve cancer surgery.

The iKnife

New teeth have been grown out of the most unlikely of sources, human urine.

A treatment to banish bald spots is a step closer after human hair was grown in the laboratory, however, there are still engineering challenges to get the hairs the same shape, size and as long as before.

Another thing to blame your parents and grandparents for…behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory.

A wheelchair was controlled with a pierced tongue.

The UK’s first hand transplant took place in Leeds while in China a severed hand was kept alive on an ankle.

Brain scans showed babies could decipher speech as early as three months before birth.

Lullabies may help sick children by reducing pain and improving their wellbeing.

And finally… James Bond’s sexual prowess was seriously questioned with doctors describing him as an “impotent drunk”.

James Bond
Doctors say James Bond, played here by actor Daniel Craig, has a drink problem

New Study Validates EFT’s Effectiveness.


Story at-a-glance

  • Energy psychology uses a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles
  • Recent research found that, compared to the control group, it significantly increased positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreased negative emotional states like anger and shame
  • Another recent review found statistically significant benefits in using energy psychology for anxiety, depression, weight loss, PTSD, phobias, athletic performance, cravings, pain, and more
  • A review published in the American Psychological Association’s journal found that EFT “consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions”

Although frequently overlooked, emotional health is critical for your physical health and healing. No matter how devoted you are to the proper diet and lifestyle, you’re unlikely to achieve optimal health if emotional barriers stand in your way.

Energy psychology uses a psychological acupressure technique based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture (which has been used to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years) but without the invasiveness of needles.

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is the most popular form of energy psychology and was developed in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering graduate specializing in healing and self-improvement. I routinely used EFT in my practice, and highly recommend it to optimize your emotional health.

The method involves tapping specific points on your head and chest with your fingertips while thinking about your specific problem—be it a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc.—and voicing positive affirmations. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist.1

The combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the emotional block from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance.

Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, your body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing.

While some still view energy psychology with suspicion, EFT has actually met the criteria for evidence-based treatments set by the American Psychological Association for a number of conditions, including post-traumatic distress syndrome (PTSD).2

Research Validates EFT’s Effectiveness

In a critical review published in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) journal Review of General Psychology3 last year, researchers found that EFT “consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions.”

Other recent studies demonstrate how EFT can accomplish remarkable progress in a very short amount of time for people with a history of trauma. For example:

1.    A 2009 study4 of 16 institutionalized adolescent boys with histories of physical or psychological abuse showed substantially decreased intensity of traumatic memories after just ONE session of EFT.

2.    An EFT study5 involving 30 moderately to severely depressed college students was conducted. The depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.

Most recently, a study published in the Energy Psychology Journal6 confirmed that the benefits from EFT are the result of the tapping process and not a placebo effect. The study included 20 college students who were divided into two groups. One group did EFT while the control group received mindfulness training. Before and after the sessions, positive and negative emotions were assessed.

This included enjoyment, hope, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, boredom, and mindfulness. Overall, the EFT group experienced significantly greater increases in positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, along with greater decreases in negative emotional states like anger and shame. The study concluded that:

“No significant change was found for mindfulness. Tapping on acupoints, combined with the vocalization of self-affirming statements, appears to be an active ingredient in EFT rather than an inert placebo. The results were consistent with other published reports demonstrating EFTs efficacy for addressing psychological conditions in students.”

Tapping Alters Conditioned Responses

Such findings come as no great surprise to other researchers in the field, such as Dr. Dawson Church, Ph.D., founder of the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare. Dr. Church told the Examiner:

“We learn early on to disassociate from our emotions. EFT is a way that people can feel safe and empowered to process their emotions. When we tap and use affirmative statements, we can actually change our old conditioned responses.”

Earlier this year, Dr. Church published a review7 of more than 40 different EFT studies evaluating the effectiveness of the method. In his paper, he cites studies demonstrating the method’s effectiveness for a wide range of emotional problems, including:

Phobias

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety

Depression

Pain

Weight loss and food cravings

Athletic and academic performance

Test anxiety

 

Dr. Church’s website, ResearchEFTUniverse.com,8 is a great resource if you want to learn more about EFT and the research that has been done on each of these ailments, as well as other problems. According to Dr. Church:

“EFT has been researched in more than 10 countries, by more than 60 investigators, whose results have been published in more than 20 different peer-reviewed journals… EFT research includes investigators affiliated with many different institutions.”

It’s worth noting that as a general rule, the research being done on EFT is done using the techniques originally developed by Gary Craig.9 An expanding list of similar techniques has sprung up since then, and while they might provide similar benefits, EFT is the only empirically validated treatment version. (The APA defines an empirically validated treatment as one for which there are two different controlled trials conducted by independent research teams.)

Operation Emotional Freedom

EFT has shown particular promise in the treatment of war veterans with post-traumatic stress.10 I want to highlight this aspect of its use as PTSD is hard to treat, and studies have shown drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics to be on par with placebo for the treatment of this condition.

The documentary film entitled Operation: Emotional Freedom,11 directed by Eric Huurre, follows a number of veterans and their families who went through intensive therapy using EFT. Gary Craig, along with other EFT practitioners worked very closely with veterans who were all suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety and a few were suicidal. The results were truly astounding. At the end of treatment, each one of them describes a new feeling of peace and hope that there is help and they were able to overcome emotional traumas experienced in combat.

The film offers a close look at the current state of health care for combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD, and examines the myths and misconceptions surrounding the chemical approach to treating emotional conditions and why drugs are not “the answer” that pharmaceuticals promise. (You can learn more about the efforts to assist veterans and their families through energy psychology on the film’s website, operation-emotionalfreedom.com.12)

Research performed by the Iraq Vets Stress Project13 also demonstrates the effectiveness of EFT. In a study that included 100 veterans with severe PTSD,14 90 percent of the veterans had such a reduction in symptoms that they no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD after six one-hour EFT sessions! Sixty percent no longer met PTSD criteria after just three EFT sessions. At the three-month follow-up, the gains remained stable, suggesting lasting and potentially permanent resolution of the problem.

How to Perform EFT

For a demonstration of how to perform EFT, please view the video below featuring EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman. This is a general demonstration that can be tailored to just about any problem. You can also find text instructions and photographs of where to tap on my EFT page. For when you’re on the go, there are at least four different EFT applications available in the iTunes store. The apps range from a simple recap of the EFTs Basic Recipe to a sophisticated virtual coaching app for specific mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

Bear in mind that while EFT is quite easy to learn and perform, I strongly encourage you to seek out a qualified therapist for more serious or complex issues. It is an art, and tapping for deep-seated issues typically require the kind of skill that only a well-seasoned practitioner will have. If you try to self-treat, you may end up falsely concluding that EFT doesn’t work, when nothing could be further from the truth… This is particularly pertinent if you’re trying to address trauma-based stress such as PTSD or grief following the loss of a loved one.

 

Cheques to be paid in via smartphone


woman photographs cheque
Account holders in the US can already pay in cheques via mobile phones
Plans have been announced to allow bank customers to pay cheques into their account by taking photos on their smartphones.

Rather than go to the bank in person, customers will be able to photograph the cheque, and send it electronically.

The government is to launch a consultation on the idea, with a view to making the necessary legal changes.

The technology will also allow cheques to be cleared in two days, rather than the six it takes at the moment.

Banks say the new transfer method will be more convenient, and more secure.

“Moving into a virtual world will actually create a more secure customer experience than the paper experience today,” said Antony Jenkins, the chief executive of Barclays.

Such photos would not be stored on the phone itself, so there should be no security risk if a phone was stolen.

“Start Quote

antony jenkins

I think people are going into branches less and less, particularly as a result of mobile banking”

Antony JenkinsChief executive, Barclays

Similar technology was introduced in the United States nine years ago, following the attack on the World Trade Centre.

A new law known as Check 21 was passed, to enable banks to process cheques electronically, rather than having to transport paper versions across the country.

Cheques

The government believes a change in the law in the UK would also promote the continuing use of cheques.

The UK Payments Council was originally planning to abolish all cheque payments by 2018, but was forced to change its mind after public opposition.

“We want to see more innovation so that customers see the benefits of new technologies,” said Sajid Javid, the financial secretary to the Treasury.

“We want cheques to have a crucial role in the ongoing success of the UK,” he added.

In 2012, 10% of all payments by individuals were made by cheque, and 25% of payments by businesses.

The industry says most younger account-holders already use electronic systems of payment, and rarely use cheques.

However all customers will still be able to pay in cheques by posting them to their bank, or by visiting their bank directly.

phone and cheque
Greater use of banking technology is hastening branch closures

Branch closures

Barclays is planning to launch a pilot programme for paying in cheques via phone from April 2014.

It hopes to launch a service for all its customers later in the year.

But the new technology is likely to raise further questions about the size of the branch network, as customers turn to banking via PCs and mobiles.

Last month Barclays announced 1700 further job losses in its High Street branches, as a direct result of mobile technology.

In the year to July 2013 it closed 37 branches, and it has hinted at more closures to come.

“I think people are going into branches less and less, particularly as a result of mobile banking, and that’s going to accelerate the process,” Antony Jenkins told the BBC.

The bank is in the process of moving eight of its branches into stores operated by Asda.

A spokesman said customers would always be able to pay their cheques in at a branch if they wanted to.

Man flu is no myth say scientists, with ‘manly’ men more susceptible


Men with high levels of testosterone have a secret flaw – less effective immune systems, researchers have discovered

Man flu may not be a myth after all, as scientist have found that men with high levels of testosterone have a hidden flaw – weak immune systems.

The discovery could explain why men are more susceptible than women to a whole range of bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections, researchers said.

It may also be the reason why men’s immune systems respond less strongly to vaccinations against influenza, yellow fever, measles and hepatitis, along with many other infectious diseases.

Those who take testosterone supplements in the quest to gain muscle meanwhile, could be making themselves more susceptible to illness.

“This is the first study to show an explicit correlation between testosterone levels, gene expression and immune responsiveness in humans,” said US lead scientist Professor Mark Davis, from Stanford University.

“It could be food for thought to all the testosterone-supplement takers out there.”

The researchers studied how the immune systems of 34 men and 53 women were stimulated by the flu vaccine.

The jab generated a bigger boost in protective antibodies in women, with further analysis revealing activity that, in high testosterone men, was associated with a weakened antibody response. Men with low testosterone were not affected the same way.

Testosterone’s anti-inflammatory properties may explain why it can weaken the immune system, said scientists writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prof Davies said the reason why testosterone weakens the immune system yet boosts muscle power and aggression, may be linked to the man’s evolutionary role.

Men are more likely than women to suffer injuries from competitive encounters, as well as their traditional roles of hunting, defence and potentially dangerous physical work, Prof Davies said. The dampening down the immune system makes male less susceptible to a potentially fatal over-reaction to infections, especially those from wounds.

“Ask yourself which sex is more likely to clash violently with, and do grievous bodily harm to, others of their own sex,” Prof Davis added.