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Sat, 05 Dec 2020
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Russia bans specimen exports

Russia has banned the export of medical specimens after the country's spy agency allegedly uncovered a Western plot to manufacture a biological weapon that would make Russians sterile.

In a decree that appeared to reflect the Russian state's growing suspicion of all things Western, the Federal Customs Service forbade the shipment of all human blood, hair, DNA and bone marrow out of the country.

While officials gave no formal explanation for the ban, Russia's most respected broadsheet suggested that the customs service had been ordered to act after the Federal Security Service, the KGB's successor, handed an alarming report to President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

Attention

DNA Research With Terror Risk: Scientists Report Altering Bacterium To Make It More Infectious

Researchers in Germany reported Thursday that they had altered the DNA of a disease-causing bacterium so that it can infect a species it cannot normally sicken.

Experts called the development a double-edged advance. Although the research could deepen scientists' understanding of human diseases, it also could speed development of novel bioterror agents.

The change in infectiousness - the first of its kind ever engineered from scratch - poses no direct threat to human health, scientists said, because the microbe already causes a human disease - the food-borne illness called listeriosis.

The change allows that microbe to sicken mice, a species that it has no natural capacity to infect.

Question

Is that just a mole... or early signs of skin cancer? Looking for - and how to spot - signs of trouble

We all have at least some moles on our skin. But many of us might not know which moles are normal, and which could be signs of trouble. This year, more than one million Americans will get some form of skin cancer,* and in many of those cases, moles could have served as early warning signs.

Before Amber Holly lets her kids go out and play, they slather on a handful of sunscreen. As a kid, Amber never did. Now, she's had 28 moles removed from her skin - six on her back proved to be cancerous.

"I should have had them taken off before, but I just didn't think anything of it. I can't see them if they're changing colors because they were on my back," says Holly.

Recycle

Vacuum Cleaning Largely Ineffective At Removing Dust Mite Allergen

This is particularly true of worn carpets where the study results indicate vacuum cleaning may in fact change the distribution of dust mite allergen within the carpet, rather than removing allergen from all depths equally.

Woolcock Researcher Jason Sercombe said that given that carpets are a major reservoir of dust mite allergen and vacuum cleaning is the most common method of allergen control, the results are particularly relevant to professionals interested in limiting people's exposure to common allergens.

"The results also help to explain why many trials aimed at reducing people's exposure to indoor allergens - some even going so far as to install new furniture - have had limited success.

Sheeple

FDA Says Avoid Toothpaste Made in China

WASHINGTON - The government warned consumers on Friday to avoid using toothpaste made in China because it may contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze. Out of caution, the Food and Drug Administration said, people should throw away toothpaste with labeling that says it was made in China. The FDA is concerned that these products may contain diethylene glycol.

Magnify

Lost documents shed light on Black Death

For centuries, rats and fleas have been fingered as the culprits responsible for the Black Death, the medieval plague that killed as many as two thirds of Europe's population.

But historians studying 14th-century court records from Dorset believe they may have uncovered evidence that exonerates them. The parchment records, contained in a recently-discovered archive, reveal that an estimated 50 per cent of the 2,000 people living in Gillingham died within four months of the Black Death reaching the town in October 1348.

Red Flag

Thinking straight while seeing red?

Anger is that powerful internal force that blows out the light of reason. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anger is appropriately blamed for flawed thinking since it tends to alter perception of risk, increase prejudice, and trigger aggression. But is anger always destructive" Three recent experiments published in the latest issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, an official publication of The Society for Personality and Social Psychology suggest it's not. Anger can actually prompt more careful and rational analysis of another person's reasoning.

Bomb

Wide range of sleep-related disorders associated with abnormal sexual behaviors, experiences

A paper published in the June 1st issue of the journal SLEEP is the first literature review and formal classification of a wide range of documented sleep-related disorders associated with abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences. These abnormal sexual behaviors, which emerge during sleep, are referred to as "sleepsex" or "sexsomnia".

"It seems that more and more reports are surfacing of abnormal sexual behaviors emerging during sleep," said Carlos H. Schenck, MD, a senior staff psychiatrist at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and the lead author of the review. "While people may think this type of behavior is humorous, in reality it can be disturbing, annoying, embarrassing and a potentially serious problem for some individuals and couples. Despite their awareness of the condition, many sufferers often delay seeking help, either because they don't know that it's a medical disorder or for fear that others will instead judge it as willful behavior. This paper highlights the expanding set of sleep disorders and other nocturnal disorders known to be associated with abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences, or the misperception of sexual events. The legal consequences are also described and discussed."

Key

Expertise improves shoot,no-shoot decisions in police officers and lessens potential for racial bias

From three experiments of video simulations of shoot-no shoot decision scenarios with police officers, community members and college students, researchers from the University of Chicago, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Denver determined that training and experience is effective in minimizing decisions based on stereotyped views.

This finding is reported on in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The research, which was funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, shows that police officers' decisions about whether to shoot or not to shoot a suspect are less susceptible to racial bias than decisions of community members. The authors say that an officers' training/expertise yields faster responses, greater sensitivity to the presence of a weapon and reduced tendencies to shoot a suspect because of his or her race. At the same time, suspect race did affect the speed with which both police officers and community members could formulate their decisions.

Using a video simulation of a shoot/don't shoot task, the first experiment compared the speed and accuracy of 113 officers from around the United States, 124 Denver police officers and 135 community members from Denver. The simulation involved armed and unarmed White and Black men appearing in a variety of background images. Participants were instructed to respond to armed targets with a shoot response and to unarmed targets with a don't shoot response as quickly as possible.

Health

The Age of Autism: Quite the coincidence

It's amazing the coincidences one comes across while reporting about autism:

The autism rate rises in tandem with increasing numbers of vaccines that contain a known neurotoxin, ethyl mercury.

Public health authorities say that's coincidence.

Parents say their children became autistic after receiving mercury-containing vaccinations, sometimes several shots in one day.

Pediatricians call that coincidence, too.