Archive for the ‘Daily life’ Category
TYD sends along a link to this NY Times article by Anahad O’Connor:
People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.
The findings are unlikely to be the final salvo in what has been a long and often contentious debate about what foods are best to eat for weight loss and overall health. The notion that dietary fat is harmful, particularly saturated fat, arose decades ago from comparisons of disease rates among large national populations.
But more recent clinical studies in which individuals and their diets were assessed over time have produced a more complex picture. Some have provided strong evidence that people can sharply reduce their heart disease risk by eating fewer carbohydrates and more dietary fat, with the exception of trans fats. The new findings suggest that this strategy more effectively reduces body fat and also lowers overall weight.
The new study was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It included a racially diverse group of 150 men and women — a rarity in clinical nutrition studies — who were assigned to follow diets for one year that limited either the amount of carbs or fat that they could eat, but not overall calories.
“To my knowledge, this is one of the first long-term trials that’s given these diets without calorie restrictions,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who was not involved in the new study. “It shows that in a free-living setting, cutting your carbs helps you lose weight without focusing on calories. And that’s really important because someone can change what they eat more easily than trying to cut down on their calories.”
Diets low in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein have been commonly used for weight loss since Dr. Robert Atkins popularized the approach in the 1970s. Among the longstanding criticisms is that these diets cause people to lose weight in the form of water instead of body fat, and thatcholesterol and other heart disease risk factors climb because dieters invariably raise their intake of saturated fat by eating more meat and dairy.
Many nutritionists and health authorities have “actively advised against” low-carbohydrate diets, said the lead author of the new study, Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “It’s been thought that your saturated fat is, of course, going to increase, and then your cholesterol is going to go up,” she said. “And then bad things will happen in general.”
The new study showed that was not the case. . . .
Very interesting column by Ismael Hossein-Zadeh in The Asia Times Online, pointed out by my friend Jack in Amsterdam. As Jack says, Marx’s analysis seems spot-on, but it doesn’t follow that his prescriptions will work: as with any idea, it must be tried, and in this case, it didn’t pan out. But if the analysis is right, we need a better prescription. The article begins:
Many liberal economists envisioned a new dawn of Keynesianism in the 2008 financial meltdown. Nearly six years later, it is clear that the much-hoped-for Keynesian prescriptions are completely ignored. Why? Keynesian economists’ answer: “neoliberal ideology,” which they trace back to President Reagan.
This study argues, by contrast, that the transition from Keynesian to neoliberal economics has much deeper roots than pure ideology; that the transition started long before Reagan was elected President; that the Keynesian reliance on the ability of the government to re-regulate and revive the economy through policies of demand management rests on a hopeful perception that the state can control capitalism; and that, contrary to such wishful
perceptions, public policies are more than simply administrative or technical matters of choice – more importantly, they are class policies.
The study further argues that the Marxian theory of unemployment, based on his theory of the reserve army of labor, provides a much robust explanation of the protracted high levels of unemployment than the Keynesian view, which attributes the plague of unemployment to the “misguided policies of neoliberalism.” Likewise, the Marxian theory of subsistence or near-poverty wages provides a more cogent account of how or why such poverty levels of wages, as well as a generalized predominance of misery, can go hand-in-hand with high levels of profits and concentrated wealth than the Keynesian perceptions, which view high levels of employment and wages as necessary conditions for an expansionary economic cycle. 
Deeper than ‘Neoliberal ideology’
The questioning and the gradual abandonment of the Keynesian demand management strategies took place not simply because of purely ideological proclivities of “right-wing” Republicans or the personal preferences of Ronald Reagan, as many liberal and radical economists argue, but because of actual structural changes in economic or market conditions, both nationally and internationally. New Deal- Social Democratic policies were pursued in the aftermath of the Great Depression as long as the politically-awakened workers and other grassroots, as well as the favorable economic conditions of the time, rendered such policies effective. Those favorable conditions included the need to invest in and rebuild the devastated post-war economies around the world, the nearly unlimited demand for US manufactures, both at home and abroad, and the lack of competition for both US capital and labor.
These propitious circumstances, along with the pressure from below, allowed US workers to demand respectable wages and benefits while at the same time enjoying higher rates of employment. The high wages and the strong demand then served as a delightful stimulus that precipitated the long expansionary cycle of the immediate post-war period in the manner of a virtuous circle.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, both US capital and labor were no longer unrivaled in global markets. Furthermore, during the long cycle of the immediate post-war expansion US manufacturers had invested so much in fixed capital, or capacity building, that by the late 1960s their profit rates had begun to decline as the enormous amounts of the so-called “sunk costs,” mainly in the form of plant and equipment, had become too high. 
More than anything else, it was these important changes in the actual conditions of production, and the concomitant realignment of global markets, which occasioned the gradual reservations and the ultimate abandonment of the Keynesian economics. Contrary to the repeated claims of the liberal/Keynesian partisans, it was not Ronald Reagan’s ideas or schemes that lay behind the plans of dismantling the New Deal reforms; rather, it was the globalization, first, of capital and, then, of labor that rendered Keynesian-type economic policies no longer attractive to capitalist profitability, and brought forth Ronald Reagan and neoliberal austerity economics.  . . .
And Jack offers this news story as an illustrative example of the situation we’re now in.
Although corporations love to talk about free competition, they in general loathe competition and wish all their competitors would go away. Where they like competition is among their suppliers: they want competition there. Corporations particularly dislike government competition, since government can provide services without the requirement that they show a continually increasing profit. Alan Holmes reviews telecom efforts in an article at The Center for Public Integrity:
Janice Bowling, a 67-year-old grandmother and Republican state senator from rural Tennessee, thought it only made sense that the city of Tullahoma be able to offer its local high-speed Internet service to areas beyond the city limits.
After all, many of her rural constituents had slow service or did not have access to commercial providers, like AT&T Inc. and Charter Communications Inc.
But a 1999 Tennessee law prohibits cities that operate their own Internet networks from providing access outside the boundaries where they provide electrical service. Bowling wanted to change that and introduced a bill in February to allow them to expand.
She viewed the network, which offers speeds about 80 times faster than AT&T and 10 times faster than Charter in Tullahoma according to advertised services, as a utility, like electricity, that all Tennesseans need.
“We don’t quarrel with the fact that AT&T has shareholders that it has to answer to,” Bowling said with a drawl while sitting in the spacious wood-paneled den of her log-cabin-style home. “That’s fine, and I believe in capitalism and the free market. But when they won’t come in, then Tennesseans have an obligation to do it themselves.”
At a meeting three weeks after Bowling introduced Senate Bill 2562, the state’s three largest telecommunications companies — AT&T, Charter, and Comcast Corp. — tried to convince Republican leaders to relegate the measure to so-called “summer study,” a black hole that effectively kills a bill. Bowling, described as “feisty” by her constituents, initially beat back the effort and thought she’d get a vote.
That’s when Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T’s Tennessee operations, leaned toward her across the table in a conference room next to the House caucus leader’s office and said tersely, “Well, I’d hate for this to end up in litigation,” Bowling recalls.
The threat surprised Bowling, and apparently AT&T’s ominous warning reached her colleagues as well. Days later, support in the Tennessee House for Bowling’s bill dissolved. AT&T had won.
“I had no idea the force that would come against this, because it’s just so reasonable and so necessary,” Bowling said.
AT&T and Phillips didn’t respond to emails asking for comment.
A national fight
Tullahoma is just one battlefront in a nationwide war that the telecommunications giants are fighting against the spread of municipal broadband networks. For more than a decade, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc., and CenturyLink Inc. have spent millions of dollars to lobby state legislatures, influence state elections and buy research to try to stop the spread of public Internet services that often offer faster speeds at cheaper rates. . .
Police offers routinely seize cellphones and video equipment that captures their bad behavior. The key is to get the information into the cloud so that even if physical equipment is taken, the video itself is still available. This is discussed in a Democracy Now! program. The blurb:
Cases like Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and Michael Brown have helped fuel demands for police accountability. We are joined by a guest who has advice for the growing number of people filming police abuse with their smartphones and video cameras, particularly with respect to how to properly preserve such video. Yvonne Ng is senior archivist for WITNESS, a group that trains and supports people using video in their fight for human rights. She co-authored their resource, “Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video.” Watch part two of this interview.
And, from the interview:
We provide resources on how to film, like how to film during a protest, but it’s just as important to think about what you’re going to do after you film, so that what you’ve done can make the most difference it can. So, that’s really where the archiving comes in. The point of archiving is to help ensure that your video is preserved, intact and is ready to be used when you need it.
So, there are a number of things that activists can do. And as you know, archiving can—when you get really into it, can get quite complex, but there’s a lot of very basic practices that anyone can do to ensure that their video survives intact and can be used. And we know that this is possible because we’ve worked with activists in Syria, who are facing enormous challenges—daily bombardment, insecurity, a lack of access to basic resources—and they have been able to successfully implement some of these practices.
From the guide:
Who is this Guide for?
- You are a human rights activist, a small or grassroots human rights organization, or media collective;
- You are creating or collecting digital video to document human rights abuses or issues, and;
- You want to make sure that the video documentation you have created or collected can be used for advocacy, as evidence, for education or historical memory – not just now but into the future….
- But you are not sure where to begin, or you are stuck on a particular problem.
If this is you, then this Guide is for you.
- Do you want your videos to be available in the future?
- Do you want your videos to serve as evidence of crimes or human rights abuses?
- Do you want your videos to raise awareness and educate future generations?
If the answer is yes, it is important to begin thinking about archiving before it is too late.
Still not sure? Here is what might happen if you do not take steps to archive:
- Your videos may be accidentally or deliberately deleted and lost forever.
- Your videos may exist somewhere, but no one can find them.
- Someone may find your videos, but no one can understand what they are about.
- Your videos cannot be sufficiently authenticated or corroborated as evidence.
- Your videos’ quality may become so degraded that no one can use them.
- Your videos may be in a format that eventually no one can play.
What is Archiving?
Archiving is… a general term for the range of practices and decisions that support the long-term preservation, use, and accessibility of content with enduring value. In this Guide, our focus is on your digital videos.
Archiving is … an ongoing process that begins when a video is created and continues infinitely into the future.
Archiving is…a process that can be incorporated into your existing video workflows.
Archiving is … a way to ensure your videos are available, findable and playable long into the future.
Archiving is NOT… a one-time action.
Archiving is NOT… putting your videos on a hard drive and leaving it on a shelf.
There’s much more at the link. The above is just an intro.
Quite an amazing article in the Washington Post by Emily Badger:
BALTIMORE — In the beginning, when they knew just where to find everyone, they pulled the children out of their classrooms.
They sat in any quiet corner of the schools they could claim: the sociologists from Johns Hopkins and, one at a time, the excitable first-graders. Monica Jaundoo, whose parents never made it past the eighth grade. Danté Washington, a boy with a temper and a dad who drank too much. Ed Klein, who came from a poor white part of town where his mother sold cocaine.
They talked with the sociologists about teachers and report cards, about growing up to become rock stars or police officers. For many of the children, this seldom happened in raucous classrooms or overwhelmed homes: a quiet, one-on-one conversation with an adult eager to hear just about them. “I have this special friend,” Jaundoo thought as a 6-year-old, “who’s only talking to me.”
Later, as the children grew and dispersed, some falling out of the school system and others leaving the city behind, the conversations took place in McDonald’s, in public libraries, in living rooms or lock-ups. The children — 790 of them, representative of the Baltimore public school system’s first-grade class in 1982 — grew harder to track as the patterns among them became clearer.
Over time, their lives were constrained — or cushioned — by the circumstances they were born into, by the employment and education prospects of their parents, by the addictions or job contacts that would become their economic inheritance. Johns Hopkins researchers Karl Alexander and Doris Entwisle watched as less than half of the group graduated high school on time. Before they turned 18, 40 percent of the black girls from low-income homes had given birth to their own babies. At the time of the final interviews, when the children were now adults of 28, more than 10 percent of the black men in the study were incarcerated. Twenty-six of the children, among those they could find at last count, were no longer living.
A mere 4 percent of the first-graders Alexander and Entwisle had classified as the “urban disadvantaged” had by the end of the study completed the college degree that’s become more valuable than ever in the modern economy. A related reality: Just 33 of 314 had left the low-income socioeconomic status of their parents for the middle class by age 28.
Today, the “kids” — as Alexander still calls them — are 37 or 38. Alexander, now 68, retired from Johns Hopkins this summer just as the final, encompassing book from the 25-year study was published. . .
And by all means, read the whole thing: it’s not just about these kids, it’s about the cultural landscape of the city: who lives on the good cultural clusters, who on the marginal, and the devastating effects of a bad cultural cluster.
But of course it can be interrupted in a generation were there the will. But those who occupied privileged niches will be loath to change.
This is just exactly the sort of incompetence and bureaucratic bumbling to protect one’s job at all costs that you see in the early Moscow detective novels by Martin Cruz Smith. It’s the exact same thing, only different language, different time, different country. A translation, of sorts.
And if the deaths in that prison are so bad, I hate to think what their lives are like.
UPDATE: Soviet-style bungling seems to be fairly common. I suppose most of the time the cover-ups work.
Joanna Rothkopf reports in Salon:
The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recently concluded its 85th Session during which time it considered seven state reports, including one on the United States.
The report praised many progressive steps the U.S. has taken to ensure equality, including the termination of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, the adoption of the Fair Sentencing Act and the adoption of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
However, the number of issues the report raises is pretty abominable. CERD expressed concern over the following problems:
- Lack of a national human rights institution
- Persistent racial profiling and illegal surveillance
- Prevalence and under-reporting of racist hate speech and hate crimes
- Disparate impact of environmental pollution in low income and minority communities
- Restrictive voter identification laws leading to unequal right to vote
- Criminalization of homelessness when homeless people are disproportionately minorities
- Discrimination and segregation in housing
- De facto racial segregation in education
- Unequal right to health and access to health care
- High number of gun-related deaths and “Stand Your Ground” laws, which disproportionately affect members of racial and ethnic minorities
- Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
- Increasingly militarized approach to immigration law enforcement
- Violence against women occurs disproportionately more frequently for women from racial/ethnic minorities
- Criminal justice system disproportionately arrests, incarcerates and subjects to harsher sentences people from racial/ethnic minorities
- Youth from racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately prosecuted as adults, incarcerated in adult prisons, and sentenced to life without parole
- Non-citizens are arbitrarily detained in Guantanamo Bay without equal access to the criminal justice system, while at risk of being subjected to torture
- Unequal access to legal aid
- Lacking rights of indigenous peoples (the report lists numerous different concerns)
- Absence of a National Action Plan to combat racial discrimination
In a press conference convened Friday, CERD committee vice chairman Noureddine Amir highlighted the death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown: . . .