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Treatment with 'friendly' bacteria could counter autism in children

PROBIOTIC bacteria given to autistic children improved their concentration and behaviour so much that medical trials collapsed because parents refused to accept placebos, a scientist revealed yesterday.

The effect of the bacteria was so pronounced that some of the parents taking part in what was supposed to be a blind trial realised their children were taking something other than a placebo.

Comment: More information about probiotics is available here:
Gut Flora: A Digestible Account of Probiotics

Magnify

Red blood cells impenetrable to malaria parasite

For people carrying a mutation that causes the rare genetic disease - pyruvate kinase deficiency - it's not all bad news. The mutation also protects against malaria.

About one in 20,000 people have two copies of a genetic mutation that prevents red blood cells from producing energy and causes anaemia. Patients with the condition often die young.
Stop

French law to block anorexia websites

In image-conscious France, it may soon be a crime to glamorise the ultra-thin. New legislation aims crack down on websites that advise anorexics how to starve - and could be used to hit fashion industry heavyweights, too.

The French parliament's lower house has adopted the groundbreaking bill that would make it illegal to incite extreme thinness.

It recommends fines of up to 45,000 euros ($A76,805) and three-year prison sentences for offenders. It next goes to the Senate in the coming weeks.
Monkey Wrench

Assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure

The traditional face of survivalism is that of a shaggy loner in camouflage, holed up in a cabin in the wilderness and surrounded by cases of canned goods and ammunition.

It is not that of Barton M. Biggs, the former chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley. Yet in Mr. Biggs's new book, Wealth, War and Wisdom, he says people should "assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure."
Attention

Credit Crunch? The Real Crisis Is Global Hunger

Never mind the economic crisis. Focus for a moment on a more urgent threat: the great food recession that is sweeping the world faster than the credit crunch. You have probably seen the figures by now: the price of rice has risen by three-quarters over the past year, that of wheat by 130%. There are food crises in 37 countries. One hundred million people, according to the World Bank, could be pushed into deeper poverty by the high prices.

But I bet that you have missed the most telling statistic. At 2.1bn tonnes, the global grain harvest broke all records last year - it beat the previous year's by almost 5%. The crisis, in other words, has begun before world food supplies are hit by climate change. If hunger can strike now, what will happen if harvests decline?

Comment: Yes, the article is surreal. The trouble is, Monbiot is writing about the final chapter of a train wreck that has been in the making for thousands of years. There is so much wrong about the way modern society is organized, that approaching from his position of trying to work out what to eat and what not to eat completely misses the fundamental point.

We are prisoners in a system that was set up to bring us where we are now. It is a system run by, and using a model of people who cannot consider long-term goals. They have no inner life that would permit them to imagine the consequences of what they do. Even then, they have no conscience, no ability to feel for another human being.

What we see today is the result of such individuals running the show, and no amount of tinkering a la Monbiot is going to fix it. Only getting down to the root of the problem, that is, understanding the true nature of the rulers of our planet, the psychopaths and other deviants, seeing the system they have constructed and how it has infiltrated itself into each of us, into how we think and act, and rooting this poison out of ourselves and our leaders out of their posts of authority, has any hope of improving our lot.

Health

Mental disorders widespread in Lebanon - study

A significant proportion of Lebanese people have experienced at least one mental disorder at some point in their lives, according to a new study, with war exposure increasing the likelihood of onset.
Health

Second West Nile virus case reported in Mississippi

The state Department of Health reported today one additional human case of West Nile virus for 2008. The new case is in Madison County
Attention

Scientists Scared as Nanotechnology and Nanoparticles Become Common in Consumer Products

Valued for it's antibacterial and odor-fighting properties, nanoparticle silver is becoming the star attraction in a range of products from socks to bandages to washing machines. But as silver's benefits propel it to the forefront of consumer nanomaterials, scientists are recommending a closer examination of the unforeseen environmental and health consequences of nanosilver.
Bomb

Nebraska: Senators attempt to force-fluoridate towns

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Legislature has advanced a bill that would require fluoride be added to water over the objection of some lawmakers who say the substance is poisonous.

Comment: So, despite:

1) the evidence being presented against fluoridation, and
2) the fact that most communities are already being fluoridated, and
3) many communities have previously chosen to opt-out of fluoridation,

the authoritarians such as Sen. Johnson are trying to introduce legislation to make fluoridation mandatory for all towns over 1000 people. Does this suggest some sort of agenda that might not be in the people's best interest? Even a - dare it be said - conspiracy of some sort?

Pills

Vitamin Supplements 'may shorten your life'

Research has suggested vitamin supplements do not extend life and could even lead to a premature death. A review of 67 studies found "no convincing evidence" that antioxidant supplements cut the risk of dying.

Scientists at Copenhagen University said vitamins A and E could interfere with the body's natural defences. "Even more, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase mortality," according to the review by the respected Cochrane Collaboration.
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