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Wed, 12 Aug 2020
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EU to ban traditional barometers

Euro MPs have signalled the end of traditional barometers, in a move to ban the sale of products containing mercury across the EU.

The parliament's environment committee rejected a bid to exclude barometers from the ban, which will also affect thermometers and blood pressure gauges.

The draft law is designed to phase out the use of a substance harmful to health and the environment.

It still has to be approved by the full parliament, and by EU ministers.

Evil Rays

Pot-Plant Cancer Alert ; Using Pesticide Sprays in the Home 'Could Double Risk of Brain Tumours'

USING pesticides on house plants could more than double your risk of developing a brain tumour, a study suggests.

Those who use fly sprays, weedkillers and other chemical treatments on their pot-plants are 2.25 times more likely to develop brain cancer, the findings show.

Around 5,000 Britons are diagnosed with brain tumours each year.

Some can be removed by surgery, but others can cause death quickly.

Magic Wand

Borderline personality disorder shows improvements with intensive psychotherapy

An intensive form of talk therapy, known as transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP), can help individuals affected with borderline personality disorder (BPD) by reducing symptoms and improving their social functioning, according to an article in the June issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, a premier psychiatry journal.

BPD, a chronic and disabling condition affecting about 1% of the United States population, has long defied psychologists and psychiatrists seeking to treat the illness. Affecting day-to-day functions, symptoms of the illness include unstable relations with others, pervasive mood instability, chaotic variation in self-image, self-destructive behavior, impulsive behaviors (such as sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, or gambling), and intense, uncontrolled rages.

In the new study, Mark F. Lenzenweger, distinguished professor of psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and colleagues at the Weill College of Medicine, Cornell University, examined three treatments applied to carefully diagnosed BPD patients for a period of one year.

Magic Wand

The roots of grammar: New study shows children innately prepared to learn language

To learn a language, a child must learn a set of all-purpose rules, such as "a sentence can be formed by combining a subject, a verb and an object" that can be used in an infinite number of ways. A new study shows that by the age of seven months, human infants are on the lookout for abstract rules - and that they know the best place to look for such abstractions is in human speech.

In a series of experiments appearing in the May issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Gary Marcus and co-authors Keith Fernandes and Scott Johnson at New York University exposed infants to abstractly structured sequences that consisted of either speech syllables or nonspeech sounds.

Once infants became familiar with these sequences, Marcus and his colleagues presented the infants four new unique sequences: Two of these new sequences were consistent with the familiarization "grammar," while two were inconsistent. For example, given familiarization with la ta ta, ge lai lai, consistent test sentences would include wo fe fe and de ko ko (ABB), while inconsistent sentences would include wo wo fe and de de ko (AAB). They then measured how long infants attended to each sequence in order to determine whether they recognized the previously learned grammar.

Attention

Economic impact of hunger affects all Americans

While thirty-five million Americans feel the physical effects of hunger each day, every household and individual in our nation feels the economic effects. So finds a new study released today by the Sodexho Foundation and researchers affiliated with Harvard University School of Public Health, Brandeis University and Loyola University.

The study, titled "The Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger: Estimated Annual Burden to the United States," finds that the U.S. pays more than $90 billion annually for the direct and indirect costs of hunger-related charities, illness and psychosocial dysfunction and the impact of less education/lower productivity. These costs are borne by all Americans.

Distributed on an individual basis, it means that on average, each person residing in the U.S. pays $300 annually for the hunger bill. Distributed on a household basis, it means that the annual cost is closer to $800 each year. And calculated on a lifetime basis, each individual's bill for hunger in the nation is nearly $22,000.

Attention

Animation Footage Removed After Triggering Seizure Reports

Animated footage is being removed from the official website promoting the 2012 London Olympics amid claims it has triggered seizures.

The footage showed a diver plunging into a pool.

A London 2012 spokeswoman said: "We have just been notified of the problem and we have taken immediate steps to remove the animation from the website.

"We will now re-edit the film."

Graham Harding, an expert in epileptic photo sensitivity, told the BBC: "We now know of eight cases of which seizures have occurred.

"What it appears has happened is that the flash rate of the diving sequence contravenes the OFCOM guidelines."

Red Flag

US senators seek jump in US TB control spending

WASHINGTON - A group of U.S. senators on Tuesday sought $300 million in U.S. spending to combat tuberculosis while new tests confirmed that the U.S. man at the center of an international TB alarm is not highly infectious.

Attention

Are chemicals behind drop in boys' birth rate?

'Gender-bending' chemicals could be to blame for a worrying drop in the proportion of boys born in the U.S. over the past 30 years, scientists have claimed.

Crusader

Autism vaccine claims to get their day in court

Science has spoken when it comes to the theory that some childhood vaccines can cause autism. They don't, the Institute of Medicine concluded three years ago.

Soon, it will be the courts turn to speak.

More than 4,800 claims have been filed against the federal government during the past six years alleging that a child contracted autism as a result of a vaccine. The first test case from among those claims will be the subject of a hearing that was to begin Monday in a little-known "People's Court" - the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. A special master appointed by the court will hear the case.

For the parents filing a claim, there is the potential for vindication, and for financial redress.

The test case addresses the theory that the cause of autism is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in combination with other vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal. That preservative, which contains a form of mercury, is no longer in routine childhood vaccines. However, it is used in influenza vaccines.

Health

Drugmaker to pay if cancer treatment fails

A British-based drugmaker has made a groundbreaking offer to the National Health Service to cover the cost of a £25,000 cancer drug if a patient using it failed to show adequate progress.

The NHS would only pay for the new drug, Velcade, when patients responded well to it, under a joint proposal from Janssen-Cilag the drugs maker, and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the body that recommends which treatments the NHS should adopt.