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Mon, 27 Mar 2023
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Health & Wellness


Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior - A Book Review

Christopher Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior, Harvard University Press, 1999

All men seek to rule, but if they cannot rule they prefer to be equal.
Harold Schneider, 1979.

All animal societies can be placed on a continuum from despotic to egalitarian and this placement reflects the social rigidity or level of control that dominant individuals can express over subordinates. In societies resting closer to the despotic end of the spectrum, the alpha-animal usually has access to the most resources and is able to bully other societal members. In contrast, societies residing closer to the egalitarian end of the spectrum have societal members that control the resource exploitation of dominant animals through the formation of coalitions. In this way, egalitarian social structures resemble what we can call a reverse hierarchy, as it is a system where coalitions of individuals suppress (i.e. dominate) the domineering tendencies of would-be dominant animals.


Australian girl's "miracle" immune switch

An Australian teenage girl has become the world's first known transplant patient to change blood groups and take on the immune system of her organ donor, say doctors.


Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

©AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos
The hand of a woman is covered in mud as she makes mud cookies on the roof of Fort Dimanche, once a prison, in Port-au-Prince, Friday, Nov. 30, 2007. Rising prices and food shortages threaten the nation's fragile stability, and the mud cookies, made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening, are one of very few options the poorest people have to stave off hunger.


Doctors Told to Stop Giving Antibiotics for Colds

Doctors in Britain will soon be told to stop prescribing antibiotics for coughs, colds and sore throats. Overuse of the drugs is fuelling the spread of deadly antibiotic-resistant super bugs. A new government program aims to diminish the use of the drugs.

Most colds, coughs and flu are caused by viruses, which cannot be treated with antibiotics since antibiotics only work on bacteria.

Overuse of antibiotics has been blamed for the rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis. If antibiotic use is not curbed, doctors could run out of effective treatment for some diseases.

* The Telegraph January 9, 2008


Scientists discover way to reverse loss of memory

Scientists performing experimental brain surgery on a man aged 50 have stumbled across a mechanism that could unlock how memory works.

The accidental breakthrough came during an experiment originally intended to suppress the obese man's appetite, using the increasingly successful technique of deep-brain stimulation. Electrodes were pushed into the man's brain and stimulated with an electric current. Instead of losing appetite, the patient instead had an intense experience of déjà vu. He recalled, in intricate detail, a scene from 30 years earlier. More tests showed his ability to learn was dramatically improved when the current was switched on and his brain stimulated.


Pro-Vaccine Propaganda Continues: "Under the tongue is best place for vaccines"

A needle free way to help lick the forthcoming influenza pandemic has been proposed: "under tongue" vaccination.

We could all be sticking out our tongues at doctors in a few years: as well as helping to appease needle phobic patients, the "sublingual" route could used to protect against a wide range of infections and, as a bonus, generates wider protection in the body.

Joo-Hye Song of the Mucosal Immunology Section, International Vaccine Institute, IVI, Seoul, and colleagues report tests of the method today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A solution of the vaccine is applied to the floor of the mouth and, thanks to the the high density of blood vessels in the mucous membranes there, immune system cells capture the vaccine and migrate quickly through the body, without the vaccine being degraded, as in the stomach.

Comment: In light of the Signs Supplement: The Flu Vaccine Threat, the reader might not find this such an appealing idea.

Sublingual bio-warfare? No thanks.


The Predator's Gaze: Scientists explore the frightening world of psychopaths

Derry Mainwaring-Knight holds a special place in the annals of con artistry. Fresh out of an English prison in 1984 after serving time for a rape conviction, Mainwaring-Knight convinced a church rector to enlist in his battle against the spread of devil worshippers. The articulate, ingratiating ex-convict offered to start an organization that would purchase and destroy artifacts linked to satanism and black magic.

Within a few months, the dazzled rector had emptied his own pockets and obtained money for Mainwaring-Knight's campaign from many devout church members, including prominent politicians and businesspeople. Mainwaring-Knight collected nearly $400,000 as well as a Rolls-Royce automobile. He spent the money on himself and his girlfriends.


H5N1 Flu Spread to additional species in Calcutta Suburbs

In the affected district of Howrah, avian flu spread to Panchla in addition to Sankrail. Reports from the district said a fox and other birds like falcon were found dead there.


CDC Suppressed Toxic Trailer Warnings

As CBS News first reported last spring, FEMA has been under heavy fire for failing to acknowledge then adequately address health problems like respiratory illness associated with the toxic chemical formaldehyde found in travel trailers that became home for hundreds of thousands of survivors of Hurricane Katrina. More than 143,000 families have lived in the toxic trailers, and more than 40,000 still do.

Now, CBS News has learned, the public health fiasco reaches beyond FEMA - into the one of the nation's most respected agencies.


Indonesia bird flu deaths hit 100

The human death toll from bird flu in Indonesia has risen to 100 - almost half of the total worldwide fatalities.

Two Indonesians from the outskirts of Jakarta succumbed to the H5N1 strain of the disease over the weekend, said Joko Suyono of the National Bird Flu Centre.

Indonesia is the nation worst affected by bird flu and has struggled to contain the virus.