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In A Down Economy, Drinking Goes Up

Alcohol Consumption
© redOrbit

Researchers from the University of Miami and the University of Colorado find a connection between macroeconomic conditions and excessive alcohol drinking

Previous studies have found that health outcomes improve during an economic downturn. Job loss means less money available for potentially unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, according to existing literature on employment and alcohol consumption. A new study by health economist Michael T. French from the University of Miami and his collaborators has concluded just the opposite - heavy drinking and alcohol abuse/dependence significantly increase as macroeconomic conditions deteriorate.

French and his team found that binge drinking increased with a rise in the state-level unemployment rate. Driving while intoxicated and alcohol abuse and dependence also increased for both genders and across ethnic groups. The study is relevant considering that many economists predict the unemployment rate in the United States to remain above pre-crisis levels for several years.

"The study is timely, technically advanced, and original," says French, professor of health economics, director of the Health Economics Research Group at the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of this study. "We are one of the first to show that, even though incomes decline for most people during an economic downtown, they still increase problematic or risky drinking."

Question

Denmark Is Happiest Country, U.S. Misses Top 10

How Happy
© OECD calculations based on Gallup World Poll
Data refer to 2010 except for 2008 for Iceland and Norway; and to 2009 for Estonia, Israel, Switzerland and South Africa.
A new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that Danish people are the happiest among those in the 40 countries that were studied. Depending on the happiness scale used, Americans rank somewhere between No. 12 and No. 19 in the results.

In the "How's Life?" initiative, the results of which were published online Oct. 12, the OECD used data from 2010 Gallup world polls to calculate the happiness and well-being of people in 40 different countries, and investigated which factors have the strongest influence on people's happiness.

On a scale of 0 to 10, citizens of Denmark rated their life satisfaction at 7.8, on average. Citizens of Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, Israel and Finland were next most satisfied, followed by people in Ireland, Austria, and the United States, where people rated their life satisfaction at 7.2. Chinese and Hungarian people reported the lowest overall life satisfaction, both at 4.7.

Blackbox

Radiation hotspot in Tokyo linked to mystery bottles under a house?

A radiation hotspot has been detected in Tokyo seven months into Japan's nuclear crisis, but local officials said on Thursday that the high readings appeared to be coming from mystery bottles stored under a house, not the tsunami-crippled Fukushima atomic plant.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, struck by a devastating quake and tsunami in March, has released radiation into the atmosphere that has been carried by winds, rain and snow across eastern Japan.

Officials in Setagaya, a major residential area in Tokyo about 235 km (150 miles) southwest of the plant, said this week it found a radioactive hotspot on a sidewalk near schools, prompting concerns in the country's most populated area far from the damaged nuclear plant.

The radiation measured as much as 3.35 microsieverts per hour on Thursday, higher than some areas in the evacuation zone near the Fukushima plant, the centre of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

But the local government found several bottles under the floor of a nearby house emitting high levels of radiation.

"A measuring device, when pointed at them, showed very high readings. Radiation levels were even exceding the upper limit for the device," Setagaya Mayor Nobuto Hosaka told a news conference.

Light Sabers

US: Facing Cuts, a City Repeals Its Domestic Violence Law

The startling vote came up at a City Council meeting here on Tuesday, provoked by a run-of-the-mill budget dispute over services that had spun out of control: decriminalize domestic violence.

Three arms of government, all ostensibly representing the same people, have been at an impasse over who should be responsible for - and pay for - prosecuting people accused of misdemeanor cases of domestic violence.

City leaders had blamed the Shawnee County district attorney for handing off such cases to the city without warning. The district attorney, in turn, said he was forced to not prosecute any misdemeanors and to focus on felonies because the County Commission cut his budget. And county leaders accused the district attorney of using abused women as pawns to negotiate more money for his office.

After both sides dug in, the dispute came to a head Tuesday night.

By a vote of 7 to 3, the City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.

Attention

US: CDC Official Accused of Child Molesting, Bestiality

An official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was arrested for allegedly molesting a child and bestiality, according to police in DeKalb County, Ga.

Kimberly Lindsey, 44, a deputy director at CDC, is charged with child molestation and bestiality for two incidences involving a 6-year-old child. Lindsey's live-in boyfriend, Thomas Westerman, 42, is also being charged with child molestation.

The pair is accused of involving the child in their sex acts, including allowing the boy to spank Lindsey's nude buttocks and let him use an electric sex toy on her, according to warrants issued for their arrests.

Bizarro Earth

US: Virginia - Treehouse faces demolition in dispute with Fairfax County

Image
© WTOP / Hank Silverberg
The treehouse Mark Grapin built for his sons sits in his Falls Church backyard. In a dispute with Fairfax County, he may be forced to remove it.
Falls Church, Virginia - It seemed like a great idea -- build a treehouse on his property for two growing boys. But for one local man, it's turning into a big, expensive lesson in government red tape.

Mark Grapin thought his two sons would love the treehouse.

He called Fairfax County before starting to find out the rules for the Broyhill Park neighborhood in the Falls Church area of the county.

Attention

US: Georgia's Missing Children

Missing Children
© Credit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Missing from Georgia: KATELIN MARIE COOK

Lisa Irwin from Missouri is still missing, and she is one of thousands of people who disappear each year across the country. Of the 80 children missing in Georgia, three are from our area.

The mysterious disappearing case of baby Lisa Irwin is sparking national conversation about missing children everywhere, as law enforcement in Missouri frantically search for the child.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children (those younger than 18) are reported missing each year. That's an average of 2,000 children per day. More than 80 are missing from Georgia, as listed on the Center's website. Three of those kids are, sadly, from Norcross.

Twenty-five percent of these children, or 200,000, are abducted by family members, according to the Center. Some 58,000 were abducted by non-family members, and 115 children are taking in "stereotypical" kidnapping cases. Those are the cases where children are likely to be kept overnight by strangers,held for ransom, transported more than 50 miles away, killed or permanently kept.

People

Why the Elites Are in Trouble

wall street protest
© Ozier Muhammad / The New York Times
A group of people listen to a man talk about economic theories as the Occupy Wall Street protest continues in Zuccotti Park in New York, on October 9, 2011. The movement has inspired more than 200 Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, seeking volunteers for protests and fostering discussion.

Ketchup, a petite 22-year-old from Chicago with wavy red hair and glasses with bright red frames, arrived in Zuccotti Park in New York on Sept. 17. She had a tent, a rolling suitcase, 40 dollars' worth of food, the graphic version of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" and a sleeping bag. She had no return ticket, no idea what she was undertaking, and no acquaintances among the stragglers who joined her that afternoon to begin the Wall Street occupation. She decided to go to New York after reading the Canadian magazine Adbusters, which called for the occupation, although she noted that when she got to the park Adbusters had no discernable presence.

The lords of finance in the looming towers surrounding the park, who toy with money and lives, who make the political class, the press and the judiciary jump at their demands, who destroy the ecosystem for profit and drain the U.S. Treasury to gamble and speculate, took little notice of Ketchup or any of the other scruffy activists on the street below them. The elites consider everyone outside their sphere marginal or invisible. And what significance could an artist who paid her bills by working as a waitress have for the powerful? What could she and the others in Zuccotti Park do to them? What threat can the weak pose to the strong? Those who worship money believe their buckets of cash, like the $4.6 million JPMorgan Chase gave a few days ago to the New York City Police Foundation, can buy them perpetual power and security. Masters all, kneeling before the idols of the marketplace, blinded by their self-importance, impervious to human suffering, bloated from unchecked greed and privilege, they were about to be taught a lesson in the folly of hubris.

Info

7 Population Milestones for 7 Billion People

Population
© JeremyRichards / Shutterstock.com
No one knows where the world's 7 billionth baby will be born, but some international groups say that India is a good candidate, because the population is 1.2 billion strong and birthrates are still high in some areas.
This year marks the seventh "billion-person" milestone in the planet's history. On or around Oct. 31, 2011, the world's 7 billionth person will be born, the United Nation estimates.

Even more staggering is that of the 7 billion people on Earth, about 1.4 billion of them will be old enough to have observed the arrivals of the 6 billionth, 5 billionth, 4 billionth and 3 billionth people in the world. About 42.5 million people could have blown the party horn for the birth of the 2 billionth baby.

Yes, population has risen very quickly over the last century. Demographers do expect a decline in the population growth rate, but absolute numbers will continue to rise, likely hitting 9 billion by 2050. Meanwhile, we look back at history's past population milestones, asking: "How has the world changed?"

Info

Countries With Most Twins Identified

Twins
© Felix Mizioznikov |Shutterstock
Some countries, such as Benin in central Africa, have high twinning rates compared with places such as Asia, new research is showing.

When it comes to having twins, not all regions are created equal. Central Africa snags the record for the highest twin birthrate, while Asia and Latin America have much lower rates of twinning, according to a new international study and global twins database.

The central African country of Benin has the highest national average of twinning, with a whopping 27.9 twins per 1,000 births, the researchers added.

The findings may help answer questions about the causes of twinning, which may range from a mother's age, height and diet to genetic factors that are passed down through the maternal line, as well as mortality differences between boys and girls in certain regions.

Tallying twins

Twins have long fascinated the world, even making their way into myth and religion, from Castor and Pollux, the brothers from Greek mythology and basis for the constellation Gemini, to the epic tales of the Hero Twins in the sacred ancient Mayan book known as "Popol Vuh." Identical twins have proven vital in science as well, in particular with questions about nature and nurture - since they are genetically identical, any differences seen between them can reveal the effects that environment might have on individuals.

Until now, scientists had a very incomplete picture of the number of twins around the world. Reliable national information on twinning was only available from highly developed countries with good birth registrations. Data from less developed regions were often weak or lacking all together.