Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a roundup of news articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:


1. A writer traces illnesses back to the womb, Dec. 27, 2010,
Brief Intro:"The idea led to her acclaimed new book, “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives” (Free Press). Divided into nine chapters that mirror the nine months of Ms. Paul’s own pregnancies, it explores the notion that heart disease, diabetes and perhaps other illnesses may have their origins during pregnancy."

2. New drug strategy shows promise against HIV, Dec. 22, 2010, Health Day
Brief Intro:"Scientists are reporting early but promising results from a new drug that blocks HIV as it attempts to invade human cells."

3. Nutrition: At home, influence wanes on child diets, Dec. 27, 2010,
Brief Intro:"Researchers reviewed 24 studies on parent and child dietary habits, using statistical techniques to combine their results. Their analysis, being published in the February issue of The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found only a weak correlation between what parents and their children eat.

They also found that the association diminished over time — later studies generally showed a weaker connection than earlier ones between child-parent pairs. The authors acknowledge that their conclusions were based on limited data, that only three of the studies were conducted in developing countries, and that methodologies varied."

Vulnerable populations

1. Anti-bias agency cracks down on the use of credit and criminal checks in job screenings, Dec. 27, 2010, Chicago Tribune
Brief Intro:"The federal agency that enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws is warning employers they could be sued if they refuse to hire blacks or Latinos because of a bad credit history or a criminal record."

2. Hispanics leave Connecticut town as FBI probes complaints of police abuse, racial profiling, Dec. 26, 2010, Chicago Tribune
Brief Intro:"Racial profiling allegations began swirling about two years ago in East Haven, a predominantly Italian-American seaside suburb of about 28,000 people 70 miles northeast of New York City. Hispanics make up only about 7 percent of the population, but their numbers had been growing as the peaceful, small-town setting and thriving businesses attracted newcomers from Mexico and Ecuador."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Breadcrumb tutorial and training sessions

As I have blogged about a couple of Breadcrumb projects that I have worked on, I decided to create a tutorial to help others make use of the tool to make their own learning applications. You can view a tutorial presentation on my Slideshare account (or a WebEx recording I've posted onto YouTube). The tutorial will provide you with an introductory overview of Breadcrumb and tips for working on your first idea. You'll also learn about advanced coding techniques to add hosted images, videos and quizzes to your mobile learning app.

If you are a CFL member interested in additional Breadcrumb training, I have scheduled sessions for February 2011. Click on this link for more information. These classes are free but space is very limited.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest that have been published within the last 7-10 days:

Brief Intro: "The Obama administration and Walgreens on Friday announced a partnership to provide free flu shot vouchers to 350,000 uninsured Americans and others with inadequate health benefits."

2. Depression during pregnancy might affect baby, HealthDay, Dec. 14, 2010:
Brief Intro:"Babies born to mothers who are depressed during pregnancy have higher levels of stress hormones, decreased muscle tone and other neurological and behavioral differences, a new study finds."

3. Thousands on HIV drugs desperate amid budget woes, Associated Press, Dec. 16, 2010:
Brief Intro: Cash-strapped states are cutting back on a program that provides free medicine to people with HIV, leaving thousands of patients to wonder where their drugs will come from and stirring fears of a return to the days..."

Brief Intro:"With the lame-duck Congress winding down and a $5.7 billion gap in financing looming for next year’s Pell grants — and a further $8 billion gap for the following year — there is growing uncertainty about the future of the grants, the nation’s most significant financial-aid program for college students."

2. Los Angeles schools to seek sponsors,, Dec. 15, 2010:
Brief Intro:"Facing another potential round of huge budget cuts, the Los Angeles school board unanimously approved a plan on Tuesday night to allow the district to seek corporate sponsorships as a way to get money to the schools.

The district is not the first to look for private dollars as a way to close public budget gaps — districts in Sheboygan, Wis., and Midland, Tex., for example, have offered up naming rights for their stadiums for years. But the Los Angeles school district is by far the largest to do so, and officials say the plan could generate as much as $18 million for the schools."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Childhood: A Caffeine Buzz From Soft Drinks

An article in the New York Times discusses a small study completed by an urban pediatric clinic that suggests that children younger than 12 may be routinely drinking so much caffeine that it could interfere with their sleep. The source was almost exclusively caffeinated soft drinks. About 78% of the 228 children in the study consumed caffeine - with children 5-7 consuming about 52milligrams per day and children 8-12 consuming about 109 milligrams.

The study was published online in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Senate Blocks Bill for Young Illegal Immigrants

A recent article in the New York Times reported that the Dream Act was voted down in the Senate 55-41. The bill would have created a path for citizenship for children brought to the U.S. as illegal immigrants by requiring them to meet a set list of requirements that included completing two years of college or service in the military along with the passage of a criminal background check.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Children Are Caught in the Cycle of Poverty

An article in the New York Times cites figures produced by The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness that shows 1.35 million children are homeless nationwide. Children make up a quarter of the U.S. population but account for 36% of all people in poverty, according to a report from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

The effects of poverty on children can range from poor performance in school and poor mental health. Facing such disadvantages so early in life and with no intervention, these children will find it difficult to transcend these obstacles and as adults may perpetuate the cycle.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Creating a Black History Month Learning App with Breadcrumb

I have been doing some more experimenting with Google Labs Breadcrumb, the mobile learning design interface. Since developing my first mobile app using the tool, I've learned how to add images and pop-up windows that can launch videos and websites without having the user leave the learning application itself. Here is a Black history month learning application I created that makes use of short quizzes to test user learning, window launching to play a YouTube video of Dr. King's famous "I have a Dream" speech, and a final resource window that provides a listing of other sites that users may want to visit to learn more.

*If you have an Android phone, go ahead and scan the code to load it onto your phone or click on the highlighted link up above to view it in your browser.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of news articles of interest that have been published within the past 7-10 days:

1. Proximity to freeways increase autism risk, study finds, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 16, 2010
Brief Intro: "Children born to mothers who live close to freeways have twice the risk of autism, researchers reported Thursday. The study, its authors say, adds to evidence suggesting that certain environmental exposures could play a role in causing the disorder in some children."

2. A cure for HIV?, WebMD
Brief Intro:"The first and only person ever to be cured of HIV/AIDS is a leukemia patient treated in Berlin with HIV-resistant stem cells.

Although the Berlin patient was treated in 2007, researchers are only now officially using the word "cure." That's because extensive tests -- including analyses of tissues from his brain, gut, and other organs -- detect no sign of lingering HIV."

3. Call for fast-food moratorium unlikely to succeed in Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Dec. 15, 2010

Brief Intro:"Bing spokesman Dan Lijana said the mayor "supports initiatives to ensure Detroiters are living healthy lifestyles," but is reluctant to make policies that would hamper development in a city that needs the economic boost from new business.

The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is pushing the moratorium, acknowledges that its efforts elsewhere have been met with silence."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

6 health care systems team up on cost/care project

According to a recent article published in the Washington Post, six health care systems serving more than ten million patients around the country will begin to share data in hopes of helping other providers improve quality while reducing costs. The group plans to focus on conditions and treatments for which there are wide variations in quality and outcomes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Those with lower education/income have a larger risk for heart failure

According to a MSNBC article, those with less education have a greater risk for developing heart failure. The study followed more than 18,600 Danish participants for two decades and found that those with the most education were 39% less likely to be admitted to a hospital for chronic heart failure compared to those with the least education. The researchers believe that heart failure prevention for lower income people needs to begin earlier in life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The new hungry: College-educated, middle-class cope with food insecurity

An article on CNN discuses the new faces of food insecurity. The article covers how a growing group of middle and working-class individuals are now becoming food-insecure. The figures show that about 1 in 6 Americans are now having issues feeding one or more of their household within the last year due to money issues.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cells reprogrammed to treat diabetes

In a recent article published in USNWR, researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center described their findings of converting sperm-producing cells to insulin-producing cells to replace diseased ones in the pancreas. The new technique is edging closer to provide the amount of insulin needed to cure diabetes in humans.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. U.S. gets 'unsatisfactory' grade on women's health, WebMD, December 9, 2010
Brief Intro: "The nation and most states continued to receive a grade of “unsatisfactory” on key issues affecting women’s health in an updated report released today by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)."

2. 1.5 million to be notified that their insurance is below standard,, December 9, 2010
Brief Intro: " The Obama administration on Thursday outlined what must be in the notices sent to people with limited-benefit plans, which cap coverage for medical care, sometimes to as little as $2,000 a year. The law bans annual limits entirely in 2014, but restricts them in the meantime: the current limit is $750,000 annually."

3. US life expectancy dips, Chicago Sun-Times, December 9, 2010
Brief Intro:"

Life expectancy in the United States fell slightly in 2008, even though deaths from heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases continue to drop, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

Americans born in 2008 can expect to live 77.8 years on average, about a month less than the all-time high of 77.9 years reached in 2007, the CDC reported."

1. House backs legal status for many young immigrants,, December 8,2010
Brief Intro:"The bill, known as the Dream Act, passed the House by a vote of 216 to 198. But a vote in the Senate on opening debate on the bill was scheduled for Thursday, and the measure seemed likely to fail there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Doctors slash patients' lab-test costs

An interesting article on the CNN website details how a doctor decided to push forward to find an innovative way to help his clients who had trouble paying for expensive laboratory tests. Dr. Doug Lefton connected with LabCorp and PrePaidLab LLC and was able to develop a relationship that helped cut the costs for lab tests dramatically. For example, a lipid panel in Lefton's area can cost close to $150 for someone who is uninsured. Patients can now get the same test for $18. The test results are sent securely to both the patient and the doctor so that both can review the results before the patient's next visit.

Except in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, anyone in the U.S. can use this service. There are no income guidelines. In my opinion, this sounds like a win-win for helping the underserved gain access to the tests they need to properly manage their health.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google Breadcrumb

I had the opportunity to check out Google's Breadcrumb development interface. The tool allows users to create simple text mobile learning applications without any programming experience. Here is a sample learning story that I created using the tool. You can also use the QR code available on the right to add this story to your Android phone.
I think that this is an excellent way for those interested in getting their feet wet in creating a mobile/web learning application, but may not have the programming experience or funds to hire a professional developer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Mission to Transform Baltimore’s Beaten Schools

A recent article in the New York Times discusses a mission to transform Baltimore's under performing schools. In 2007, the school board hired Dr. Alonso to head up the reorganization of the school system, which required the closing of some schools and the laying off of staff. While some disagree with Dr. Alonso's methods, since he was hired the school dropout rate has fallen by half.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Senate Passes Sweeping Law on Food Safety

According to a recent article published in the New York Times, the Senate passed an overhaul of the nation's food safety system that would strengthen the FDA and is meant to keep unsafe foods from reaching markets and restaurants.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Embracing incentives for efficient health care,, 11/28/2010
Brief Intro: "Spurred by incentives in the federal health-overhaul law, hospitals and doctors around the country are beginning to create new entities that aim to provide more efficient health care. But these efforts are already raising questions about whether they can truly save money, or if they might actually drive costs higher."

2. Hospital train heals Argentina's poor, Yahoo News, 11/28/2010
Brief Intro: "Children from this desperately poor village in northern Argentina rushed to welcome a special hospital train rolling into town, their only chance to receive specialized care for a year."

Vulnerable Populations
1. Putting down textbooks to provide for triplets,, 11/27/2010
Brief Intro: A young teenage mother becomes pregnant with triplets and has to forgo finishing her Associate's degree to care for her children.

1. NAACP educational summit to look at return of segregation,, 11/29/2010
Brief Intro: "The nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization wants to sound the alarm on school resegregation, and is hoping a national educational summit will bring attention to what its members consider a huge problem, according to a news release from the NAACP."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Treating childhood epilepsy with a fat-focused diet

An interesting article in the New York Times discusses how a husband and wife have decided to treat their son's epilepsy using a special fat-focused diet. Their son, Sam, suffered up to 130 seizures a day before being put on a diet that has drastically reduced the level of carbs he took in daily. The diet tricks the boy's body into starvation and uses his body's fat stores for fuel - a process called ketosis - which has an antiepileptic effect.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Podcast: Interview with Juliane Schneider (Metadata)

This month's podcast is with Juliane Schneider, Metadata Librarian at the Countway Library of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. This interview will help listeners learn about metadata and how it can be effectively utilized to help clients find what they need.

*Link to article referenced in podcast:

*The above podcast link is a WAV file. If you need MP3, click here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New York Asks to Bar Use of Food Stamps to Buy Sodas

According to an article published in the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg is looking to ban the purchase of sodas with food stamps. The request was made to the USDA and is part of an aggressive anti-obesity push by the mayor that has included advertisements, stricter rules on food sold in schools, and an unsuccessful attempt to impose a tax on the product.

The request was a ban for two years to study whether or not it would have a positive impact on health and whether a permanent ban was merited.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Study: Paying Cash, Not Credit, Leads to Healthier Food Choices

According to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, paying with cash instead of plastic leads to more careful spending and healthier food choices. Researchers followed the grocery shopping habits of 1,000 households for six months, tracking what they bought and how they paid for it. The study found that those who used debit/credit cards more frequently tended to make unplanned/impulsive purchases that included more unhealthy foods.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a review of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Preemie births inch down, but still a big problem,, 11/17/2010
Brief Intro: According to a report from the March of Dimes, premature births have inched down from 12.8% of U.S. babies born in 2006 to 12.3% in 2008.

2. 'Tooth Angels' provide free dental care to Maine students,, 11/16/2010
Brief Intro: A group of dental hygienists are traveling across Maine to provide students in need with free dental care.

Vulnerable Populations
1. Unemployment benefits extension introduced in house,, 11/17/2010
Brief Intro: A bill introduced into the House on Wednesday would give the unemployed three more months to file for extended jobless benefits. The legislation would extend the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits to Feb.28 instead of the current deadline of Nov. 30th. This would spare the benefits of 4 million people.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Study: Walking Is a Brain Exercise Too

In a recent Time article, a study published in Neurology has found that walking may improve memory in old age. The researchers tracked the physical activity of 299 healthy men and women with an average age of 78. Their activity ranged from walking 0 blocks to 300 blocks per week. Nine years later, the participants underwent brain scans and those that walked more had more brain mass than those who had walked less. Four years after this, the volunteers were tested for dementia. 116 people from the group had shown signs of dementia, but those who had walked about 7 miles per week (72 city blocks) had half the cognitive issues than those who had walked the least.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Hispanic Mortality Paradox

In a recent Time article, the author discusses the Hispanic mortality paradox. While the Hispanic population has several characteristics that are usually associated with a shorter life (more obesity/poverty and lower education), the life expectancy of a Hispanic baby born in 2006 was 80.6 years - which is 2.5 years longer than whites, 7 years longer than African-Americans and almost three times the national average.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk

According to an article in U.S. News and World Report, a study recently published in the journal of Diabetes Care found that people with a daily habit of one or two sugar sweetened beverages were more than 25% likelier to develop type 2 diabetes than were similar individuals who had no more than one sugary drink per month. Those who drank sweetened drinks at a rate of one per day also had a 20% higher rate of developing metabolic syndrome.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vision clinic opens for underserved Latinos

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Eye Institute has started its Chicago Vision Outreach program to provide service to the underserved. Many of the patients in areas targeted by the program have not seen a regular doctor in years and have underlying or undiagnosed conditions such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. Those targeted by the program are usually uninsured and would have to go to Cook county hospital in order to receive care. With waiting times of about 6 months to a year for an appointment, patients were somtimes gambling with diseases that could cause them to go blind before they received the care they needed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here are articles of interest that have been published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Walgreens tackles food deserts,, November 12, 2010
Brief Intro: Walgreens is participating in an experiment that will help people in food deserts by selling fresh fruits and vegetables in ten locations.
2. Battle lines drawn over Medicaid in Texas,, November 11, 2010
Brief Intro: Some Republicans in the Texas legislature are floating the idea of opting out of the federal Medicaid program, as they believe that state's participation in that program and CHIP is helping to bankrupt the state.

1. Proficiency of Black students is found to be far lower than expected,, November 9, 2010
Brief Intro: A new report called "A Call for Change," has been released by the Council of the Great City Schools group, shows that the achievement gap between both black and white students is worse than expected. The report, which focuses on Black males shows that only 12% of fourth grade Black boys are proficient in reading - compared to 38% of White boys. In math, only 12% of eighth grade Black boys are proficient compared to 44% for White boys.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

D.C. schools dinner program aims to fight childhood hunger

According to an article in The Washington Post, D.C. public schools have started offering an early dinner to approximately 10,000 students, many of which are now receiving 3 meals a day from a school system looking to expand efforts to curb childhood hunger and poor nutrition. The program, which is estimated to cost the school system about $5.7 million this year, comes at a time of heightened concern about childhood poverty in the city. The dinner initiative has three goals: hedging against childhood hunger, reducing alarming rates of obesity and drawing more students to after-school programs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Groups take aim at disparities facing African-Americans

According to a recent article in The News Gazette, groups from three systems that help children in trouble - schools, child-welfare agencies, and juvenile justice- gathered together to see how they could eliminate disproportionality. With less than 22% of Champaign County children being African-American, the group makes up 63% of out-of-school suspensions in Urbana, 60% of child-welfare cases, 81% of discipline referrals in the Champaign schools, and 82% of juvenile detention admissions within the county, the groups are looking for ways to help eliminate the disparities faced by African-American families.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New study explores why black women might be less likely to breast feed

According to Kiddada Green from the Black Mothers Breast Feeding Association, there are three reasons why black mothers may be more averse to breast feeding their babies:
1. Psychological effect of historical influences - the separation of mother and child during slavery, the slave woman being asked to nurse her mistresses children, and slave women having to return to the fields quickly after giving birth.
2. African-American women are discouraged for a number of reasons from breast feeding.
3. Lack of support

Her organization was organized in order to create a support system for mothers in order to motivate them to begin breast feeding and encouraging mothers to keep up the practice.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Documentary of Interest: I can't do this but I CAN do that

A recent HBO documentary takes a look at children with learning disabilities and their families. There are eight learning disabled children profiled in the documentary that have learned to use their strengths in order to overcome their challenges.

The film provides viewers with a better understanding of what challenges those labeled as learning disabled or differently abled learners face. As one of the children in the film states, "It's not a learning disability, its a learning difference. If people think you have a disorder, their expectations drop tremendously. I can do better than that."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Podcast: Interview with Jason Eiseman (Technology)

As a new feature for this blog, I am creating podcasts to help keep readers informed about important topics within the nonprofit, information, and technology fields. For the first interview podcast, I decided to check-in with Jason Eiseman, who is the Emerging Technology Librarian at the Yale Law School Library.

Jason shares his views on technology and libraries and provides resource recommendations that you can use to keep ahead of the curve. You can view his personal blog, Jason the Content Librarian, here.

*The above podcast link is in WAV format. If you need MP3, click here.

Friday Roundup

These are articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Gene variations may explain HIV control, USNWR, November 5, 2010
Brief Intro: Researchers say that rare variations in an immune system protein may explain why some people may continue to remain healthy, despite infection.

2. U.S. obesity rate may hit 42% by 2050, USNWR/Health Day, November 5, 2010
Brief Intro: A research team from Harvard and MIT have predicted that adult obesity rates will continue to rise for another 40 years before leveling out. With these rates, the team predicts that 42% of the adult population will be obese.

3. Wyoming and W. Va lead in chewing tobacco use,, November 4, 2010
Brief Intro: Wyoming tops the nation in chewing tobacco use, with 1 in 6 adult men making use of the product. In both Wyoming and W. Va, approximately 9% of adults, both men and women, make use of chewing tobacco. The report, created by the CDC, is one of the government's first attempts to collect state level statistics on smokeless tobacco.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New poll reveals confusion about children with learning disabilities

A recent learning disability poll conducted by Roper uncovered troubling misunderstandings about the definition, root causes, and key influences about children who may learn differently. The president of the Tremaine Foundation felt that the poll's findings, "threaten our children's futures and undermine efforts to improve educational outcomes for all."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hispanics cite bias in survey

In a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, more than 6 in 10 Latinos in the United States say discrimination is a major problem, a significant increase in the last three years.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Smaller brain region may fuel weight gain in teens

A new study suggests that the smaller size of an impulse-control region in the brain may predispose children to gain weight. Or, the obesity itself may influence brain size, which in turn may fuel uninhibited eating. The researchers noted that the study only shows an association and not a cause-effect link.

The study was presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Meeting this week in New York City.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moms' literacy pivotal to kids' academic success

According to a HealthDay News article, improving mothers' literacy skills may boost the success of low-income children in schools, according to a new study. The study examined data from 2,350 students, aged 3 to 17, and their families in 65 Los Angeles communities.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal of Demography.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Obesity traced to early eating habits,, October 29, 2010
Brief Intro: Canadian researchers have found that food behaviors developed in early childhood may contribute to obesity. The study, published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, suggests parents may be rewarding children for certain types of behavior. The research team recruited 1,730 4 and 5-year old Canadian children for the study.

2. Foodmakers pledge to fight obesity with clear package labels,, October 28, 2010
Brief Intro: The Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association announced a new voluntary labeling system. By developing a clear and easy to read label, it is hoped that it will help customer understanding and help parents and other shoppers identify and select products that contribute to a healthy diet, according to Ms. DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.

1. In sharp rise, 47 city schools may close over performance,, October 28, 2010
Brief Intro: The New York City Department of Education said that up to 47 schools may be closed for poor performance. The schools face a potential "phase-out", which means that the schools will stop accepting students and loses one grade per year until it ceases to exist.

2. School Diversity: The problems with economic integration, Yahoo News (, October 28, 2010
Brief Intro: In an article by Andrew Rotherham, he discusses the challenges of economic integration in education. In his opinion, he says that the U.S. has spent decades bringing low-income children to good schools. He believes that it may be best to realize the limitations and practical constraints of these approaches.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can too much screen time end up hurting kids?

British researchers studied more than 1,000 kids between the ages of 10-11. Over 7 days, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire that asked how long they spent in front of the TV and computer and asked questions about their emotional, behavioral and peer-related problems. The odds of significant psychological difficulties were about 60% higher for children spending more than 2 hours a day in front of either screen compared to kids who spent less time. The effect was seen regardless of sex, age, stage of puberty, or level of educational or economic deprivation.

You can read more on this article on

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Washington state compiles list of chemicals toxic to children

Under new rules proposed by Washington state, manufacturers of children's products would be required to report whether toys, jewelery, apparel, and other items contain certain harmful chemicals, according to a recent article published on State officials came up with the 59 chemicals of concerns from approximately 2,000 chemicals that cause cancer and harm fetal development, among other factors. The chemicals on the list are toxic and have been found in children's products or have been present in human tissues, such as blood or breast milk.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Benefits of raising bilingual children

According to a recent article on the BBC News, bilingual children may be less easily confused and less likely to develop Alzheimer's when they grow up. According to the work of Agnes Kovacs and Jacques Mehler, infants brought up by parents who spoke different languages did better in a puppet game by adjusting more quickly to changes. They were also quicker in anticipating on which side of the screen the puppet in the game would appear on, based on speech clues.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Senate panel examines how chemicals affect kids' health

A recent article on CNN details how a Senate panel is examining how chemicals used in everyday life affect the health of children. The subcommittee is examining how chemicals affect children, especially those developing in the womb. Several studies have shown that hundreds of toxic chemicals are found in mothers, and subsequently, their babies after birth.

A surprising find by a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, Environmental Working Group, found an average of 232 chemicals in the cord blood of babies born in 2009.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. New vaccine a game changer for polio, BBC, October 26, 2010
Brief Intro: Dr. Bruce Aylward, the Director of World Health Organization's Polio Eradication Initiative, tells the BBC World News Service that a new vaccine is changing the fight against polio.

2. Health insurance companies drop NM policies for individuals, small groups, The New Mexico Independent, October 26, 2010
Brief Intro: Four health insurance companies (National Health, Aetna, John Alden, and Principal), have notified the New Mexico Division of Insurance that they will no longer write individual of small group plans in New Mexico. Some companies discontinuing coverage may or may not renew their customers' existing policies.

3. 1 in 3 Americans could have Diabetes by 2050, RTT News, October 26, 2010
Brief Intro: A new report from the CDC suggests that the national diabetes rate could skyrocket by the year 2050 if the obesity rate continues to rise.

1. Making things hard to read 'can boost learning', BBC, October 22, 2010
Brief Intro: According to an article published in the international journal Cognition, researchers at Princeton University recruited 28 volunteers for a study to determine if difficult to read font can improve learning and information retention. Researchers found that those given a more difficult to read font actually recalled 14% more of what they had read.

The research team then decided to tested their results on 222 Chesterland, Ohio students that were between 15-18 years old. They found that students given the harder-to-read materials actually scored higher on classroom assignments than their control group counterparts.

2. Year-round school gains ground around U.S., MSNBC, October 27, 2010
Brief Intro: The Indianapolis School Board are soon scheduled to make a decision about whether or not they should adopt year-round classes. If the measure is approved, pupils would go to school in cycles of eight to ten weeks, with three to five weeks off after each, throughout the year. According to Indianapolis Superintendent Eugene White, the new plan would add 20 class days to the school year and provide more frequent, shorter breaks that would allow the students to come back refreshed but retain more of what they have been taught.

Report paints portraits of costliest patients

In a recent New York Times article, a recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality took a look at data collected to analyze the 2 million most expensive stays in short term non-federal hospitals during 2008. Fifty-four percent of the patients were male with an average age of 58, and they were more likely to live in the Western half of the United States. The five most common diagnoses were: sepsis, clogged coronary arteries, heart attack, respiratory failure, and complications arising from the use of a medical device, implant or graph.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Evaluating school leaders

A recent article in Time takes a look at how school leadership should hold teachers accountable for student outcomes. A recent report by New Leaders for New Schools, concluded that "most principal evaluation systems tend to focus too much on the wrong things, lack clear performance standards, and lack rigor in both their design and attention to implementation." The report offers four principles to create the conditions for principles to lead in the first place. They are:

1. Base principal evaluations largely on student outcomes
2. Ensure that the central office staff, i.e., the district employees who support and oversee schools, are likewise held accountable for principal effectiveness
3. Create demanding performance expectations and real accountability and allow for professional growth and improvement
4. Ensure that the evaluation system itself can be modified and improved over time

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More working families getting food stamps

According to a recent Time article, more working families are getting food stamps. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has shown that 30 states have adopted rules that make it easier to qualify for food stamps since 2007. In all, 38 states have loosened eligibility standards. With more than 1 in 8 Americans on food stamps, participation in the program has jumped about 70% from 26 million in 2007. The nation's economic down turn is credited for helping push up participation numbers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bitter taste receptors in lungs

According to a recent Time article, a group of researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered bitter taste receptors on human lungs. The interesting part of this find is that when exposed to bitter substances, these receptors resulted in a swift and thorough relaxation of lung muscles that allowed for freer breathing.

The discovery may lead to the development of new medications for asthma patients.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Employers may win U.S. health law exemption

According to an article on Bloomberg, employers may be allowed to switch health insurers and still be shielded from costly coverage changes called for in recent health care legislation. Under the health law passed in March, companies who change plans must provide added services like preventive care. Talks are taking place to determine whether employers should be able to avoid the new requirements, even with a new insurer, as long as benefit levels stay the same.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Using psychology in the school lunch line

According to an article on, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $2 million initiative that will fund food behavior scientists to find ways in which they can use psychology to improve kids' use of the federal school lunch program and fight childhood obesity. With almost a third of children and teens obese, schools are looking for ways to help students make healthy choices themselves, as other methods have backfired or proved to be ineffective.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is small always better in education?

According to a NYTimes article, Brockton High School has been successful in a school-wide effort to improve performance in a school that originally had only a quarter of students passing state-wide exams and 1 in 3 students dropping out. This year, with Brockton surpassing 90% of Massachusetts high schools in state educational tests, many are looking to learn more from a school whose large scale success seems to be an exception to the opinion that smaller is better.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Emergency care becoming the new primary care?

On CNN's On The Chart blog, the author focuses on the possibility that emergency care has become the new primary care center in America. Citing September's issue of Health Affairs, it appears that less than half of the 345 million annual visits for acute-care problems take place with one's personal physician. Nearly a third of these visits occur in the E.R., with an enormous chunk of these occurrences not really fitting a true definition of the word "emergency".

The author believes that providing health insurance for a country's people is a basic tenet of a civilized society and questions the priorities of those who are looking to chip at the recently passed health care legislation.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Diabetes risk and magnesium

According to a new study released in Diabetes Care, study participants who had a higher intake level of magnesium were less likely to develop the disease. The study looked at both men and women between 18-30 years of age and followed the participants for 20 years. Out of the 4,497 participants, 330 developed diabetes. People who had the highest level of magnesium intake were 47 percent less likely to have developed diabetes compared to those with the lowest intake.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. New health care changes are only the beginning,, Sep. 23, 2010
Brief Intro:"The Armstrongs' story is familiar to many young adults and their families, and the frustration of being uninsured is taking its toll on people of all age groups. Thursday, six months after the Affordable Care Act was enacted, several provisions go into effect. Health officials are hoping this first wave of changes will "put consumers in charge of their health care." This week, President Obama unveiled a website to help provide critical information to consumers regarding the legislation."

2. Insurers scramble to comply with new rules,, Sep. 22, 2010
Brief Intro:"The first big wave of new rules under the federal health care law goes into effect on Thursday, leaving many insurers scrambling to get ahead of the changes."

3. Chronically ill, and covered,, Sep. 22, 2010
Brief Intro:"Joe and Mary Thompson had agreed to adopt Emily before her birth in 1999, and it never occurred to them to back out when she was born with spina bifida. But that same year, their residential remodeling business in Overland Park, Kan., went under, prompting job changes that left the family searching for health coverage with a child who was uninsurable."

4. Obese kids face bias from parents,, Sep. 23, 2010
Brief Intro:"Studies have shown parents are less likely to help overweight or obese offspring pay for college but researchers from the University of North Texas in Denton have also found parents may be less willing to help their overweight child buy a car."

1. City reports nearly a fivefold increase in students repeating a grade,, Sep. 23, 2010
Brief Intro: "The number of New York City elementary and middle school students who failed to move on to the next grade skyrocketed this school year, as weak students faced a higher bar on state tests and the broadening of the city’s tough promotion policy.

Nearly five times as many students in the third through eighth grades are being required to repeat a grade this year compared with last year, the city announced on Thursday. The weakest performance was in the eighth grade: 5,017 students, or 8 percent of all eighth graders, were held back."

Vulnerable Populations
1. Some Obama allies fear school lunch bill could rob food stamp program,, Sep. 23, 2010
Brief Intro:"At issue is how to pay for additional spending on the school lunch program and other child nutrition projects eagerly sought by the White House. A bill that the House is expected to consider within days would come up with some of the money by cutting future food stamp benefits.

When the Senate passed the bill in early August, Mrs. Obama said she was thrilled. But anti-hunger groups were not. They deluged House members on Thursday with phone calls and e-mails expressing alarm."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A call for providing e-readers to students

A short article on PBS' Need to Know blog discuses how Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York is calling for the provision of e-readers to public students. By Weiner's estimation, the use of digital textbooks could save public schools thousands of dollars by eliminating the purchase of print books that cost about $137/pupil in Weiner's home city of New York.

The switch to e-readers would of course be a big boon to manufacturers who are trying to reach a textbook market worth almost $10 billion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The cost of obesity

An interesting article on MSNBC takes a look at the cost of obesity for both men and women. George Washington University researchers found that the annual cost of obesity for women was $4,789 for a woman and $2,646 for a man. Items factored in include employee sick days, lost productivity and even more gasoline. This outweighs the costs of just being overweight, $524 for women and $432 for men.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is Child Obesity an Infectious Disease?

In USNWR, an article discusses the possibility of childhood obesity being linked to a cold virus. The new report in Pediatrics that focused on the possibility, found that children exposed to the adenovirus 36 were more likely to be obese than those who were never infected. About 22 percent of the children with the antibodies were obese compared to 7 percent of normal-weight children.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Vision Test

This short film is an excellent tool that helps the viewer think about the biases one may have when it comes to selecting both males and females of different races to be the next president, a business owner, a supervisor, or a mate for their own children. The film closes out with a vision test for the viewer to determine what their biases are when it comes to the question of what is more American when it comes to religion, art, and historical leaders.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Roundup

These stories have been published in the last 7-10 days and have been categorized under subjects of interest.

1. Recession raises poverty rate to a 15 year high,, September 16, 2010

Brief Intro:"With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, four million additional Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, with the total reaching 44 million, or one in seven residents. Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance."

2. Census: 1 in 7 Americans lives in poverty, Yahoo News, September 16, 2010

Brief Intro:" The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s as the recession threw millions of people out of work last year, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty.

The overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, the Census Bureau said Thursday in its annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households. The report covers 2009, President Barack Obama's first year in office."

1. Teaching doctors about nutrition and diet,, September 16, 2010

Brief Intro: "Research has increasingly pointed to a link between the nutritional status of Americans and the chronic diseases that plague them. Between the growing list of diet-related diseases and a burgeoning obesity epidemic, the most important public health measure for any of us to take may well be watching what we eat.

But few doctors are prepared to effectively spearhead or even help in those efforts. In the mid-1980s, the National Academy of Sciences published a landmark report highlighting the lack of adequate nutrition education in medical schools; the writers recommended a minimum of 25 hours of nutrition instruction. Now, in a study published this month, it appears that even two and a half decades later a vast majority of medical schools still fail to meet the minimum recommended 25 hours of instruction."

2. Can exercise make kids smarter?,, September 15, 2010

Brief Intro:"Previous studies found that fitter kids generally scored better on such tests. And in this case, too, those children performed better on the tests. But the M.R.I.’s provided a clearer picture of how it might work. They showed that fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply. Since both groups of children had similar socioeconomic backgrounds, body mass index and other variables, the researchers concluded that being fit had enlarged that portion of their brains."

3. Number of insured drops for first time,, September 16, 2010

Brief Intro:"The number of people with health insurance in the United States dropped for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday.

There were 253.6 million people with health insurance in 2009, the latest data available, down from 255.1 million a year earlier."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Struggling to Survive

This documentary takes a look at Letcher County in Kentucky that had considered a living wage proposal in 1999. Many of the businesses state that they can't afford to pay a living wage to their employees. The Living Wage bill failed to pass but there are plans to bring the bill back up for another vote before the newly elected Fiscal Court.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Immersion

This film takes a look at Moises, a ten year old student in a new school who struggles to communicate in his new school with limited access to his native language. The student portrayed in the film is exceedingly bright, but with his limited English skills and no access to English as a second language programs at his school, his educational experience is negatively affected.

I highly recommend this film to those who are interested in learning more about the educational experiences of students who are non-native speakers of English.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Day Job

This Media That Matters short documentary takes a look at who the day laborers are. Many of the day laborers have children to support, but are finding it increasingly harder to find work. Sometimes fights breakout with men not having worked for two or more weeks. While the film states that the median wage for a day laborer is $10 an hour, many of the workers find that the people who hired them at the wage negotiated prior to the job, end up giving them much less once the job is done.

This film is highly recommended for those who want to learn more about the day laborer population.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Uninsured in the Mississippi Delta

This short Media That Matters documentary takes a look at the uninsured in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta region is one of the most impoverished and uninsured areas in the nation. The film focuses on those people who are working but are making too much for Medicare, but too little to buy their own insurance. Greenville, MS, has the highest rate of uninsured households in the country with 34% of households lacking coverage. Those who lack coverage usually wait until the condition becomes serious before seeking aid as they can't afford the doctor's visit to resolve the issue at the very beginning.

This film is highly recommended for those who want to learn more about the obstacles to health care that the working poor face today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here is a listing of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

1. B vitamins shown to slow progression of dementia,, September 9, 2010

Brief Intro: "Daily tablets of large doses of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with memory problems and may slow their progression toward dementia, data from a British trial showed on Wednesday,

Scientists from Oxford University said their two-year clinical trial was the largest to date into the effect of B vitamins on so-called "mild cognitive impairment" -- a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia."

2. Pre-teen brothers battle obesity: One family's story,, September 9, 2010

Brief Intro: "Last spring, Doubrava decided to take action, thanks in part to the help of a Cleveland Clinic program that targets the heaviest kids and their families.

She banned soda from her family’s refrigerator and cut out fast food and high-fat snacks. She filled bowls with fruit and platters with vegetables and she sent everyone outside for long walks and bicycle rides."

3. Too little sleep raises obesity risks in children,, September 8, 2010

Brief Intro: "Children aged four and under who get less than 10 hours of sleep a night are nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese five years later, according to a U.S. study. Researchers from the University of California and University of Washington in Seattle looked at the relationship between sleep and weight in 1,930 children aged 0 to 13 years old who took part in a survey in 1997 and again five years later in 2002.

For children who were four years old or younger at the time of the first survey, sleeping for less than 10 hours a night was associated with nearly a twofold increased risk of being overweight or obese at the second survey."

4. Kids eligible for, absent from, U.S. health programs,, September 8, 2010

Brief Intro: "An estimated five million uninsured children in the United States were eligible for Medicaid or the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but were not enrolled in either plan, according to a new report.

The study published Friday in the journal Health Affairs recommended policy reforms and broader efforts to get uninsured children into government medical programs, including the use of income tax data for automatic enrollment."


1. Teachers get chance to fix poorer schools,, September 6, 2010

Brief Intro: "Shortly after landing at Malcolm X Shabazz High School as a Teach for America recruit, Dominique D. Lee grew disgusted with a system that produced ninth graders who could not name the seven continents or the governor of their state. He started wondering: What if I were in charge?"

2. Feds are investigating Arizona's stance on teacher fluency,, September 8, 2010

Brief Intro: "Arizona's superintendent of public instruction says the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice are investigating whether the state discriminates against teachers whose first language isn't English, according to the Associated Press.

The AP news comes from a story published by The Arizona Republic. It says that in April, state education officials began telling school districts to fire teachers who weren't fluent in English. However, state officials have contested that version of events to me, as I've reported on this blog. State officials sent me a copy of a protocol that shows they monitor the fluency of teachers of English-language learners."

Race and Culture

1. Anger flares in L.A. after fatal police shooting,, September 8, 2010

Brief Intro: "City officials and Guatemalan leaders have moved to calm feelings and quell anger after the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan construction worker by a Los Angeles police officer set off two nights of violent protests in a neighborhood populated largely by Central American immigrants.

On Monday and Tuesday nights, people perched on rooftops in the Westlake district were seen hurling objects at officers in riot gear as they sought to control crowds of as many of 300 people who were yelling and waving fists. The Rampart police station was pelted with rocks, bottles and eggs, officials said,"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Racial violence in Philadelphia school

A recent MSNBC article describes the racial violence occurring between Asian and African-American students at a Philadelphia high school. According to some, the friction has been caused not because of racial hatred but because of simmering resentment against the perceived benefits for Asian students. The resentment came to a head one day with close to 30 Asian students being injured by mostly African-American students. Past attacks had been reported to school officials and police, but students said that nothing had changed.

Most students blame the attacks on a small group of trouble-makers and don't endorse the violent actions that have been taken against another minority group. In the wake of this violence, the school has established 50-50 programs that bring together groups of Asian and African-American students to participate in school-sponsored group outings. In addition, more bilingual trainers and diversity training has been added.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Florida's Foreclosure Courts

According to a NYT article, Florida has set up special foreclosure courts to reduce the backlog of foreclosure cases by 62% in a year. Attorneys who represent those that are being foreclosed on have complained that the courts favor the institutions rather than the homeowners. According to April Charney, an attorney with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, you only get a five-minute hearing on the case and likened the new system like "a factory".

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Employers pass on more health costs to workers

According to a recent article in the New York Times, a survey has shown that employers are passing on more of the health costs to employees. The employee contribution towards family coverage rose an average of 14% or $500 more than what employees paid last year. Workers now pay close to $4,000 for a family policy, which translates into a jump of 47% since 2005.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Documentary of Interest: I am Sean Bell

This short film by Media That Matters takes a look at the plight of young black males and the fears and hopes they possess in a city where the lives of young black men are often cut short. This film interviews young African-American males on their opinions of the Sean Bell incident and how the incident has affected them in their everyday lives.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here are articles of interest that have been published within the last 7-10 days:

1. Majority of Caesareans done before labor, August 31, 2010, New York Times
Brief Intro: "A new study suggests several reasons for the nation’s rising Caesarean section rate, including the increased use of drugs to induce labor, the tendency to give up on labor too soon and deliver babies surgically instead of waiting for nature to take its course, and the failure to allow women with previous Caesareans to try to give birth vaginally."

2. Returning to classrooms and to severe headaches, August 30, 2010, New York Times
Brief Intro: "Doctors say frequent headaches and migraines are among the most common childhood health complaints, yet the problem gets surprisingly little attention from the medical community. Many pediatricians and parents view migraines as an adult condition. And because many children complain of headaches more often during the school year than the summer, parents often think a child is exaggerating symptoms to get out of schoolwork."

3. Child's ordeal shows risks of psychosis drugs for young, September 1, 2010, New York Times
Brief Intro: "More than 500,000 children and adolescents in America are now taking antipsychotic drugs, according to a September 2009 report by the Food and Drug Administration. Their use is growing not only among older teenagers, when schizophrenia is believed to emerge, but also among tens of thousands of preschoolers.

A Columbia University study recently found a doubling of the rate of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for privately insured 2- to 5-year-olds from 2000 to 2007. Only 40 percent of them had received a proper mental health assessment, violating practice standards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry."

4. Improving access to health care data, September 1, 2010, JAMA
Brief Into: "The April 2010 release of the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS’) Open Government strategy was a major step forward in expanding health data access. The DHHS developed the strategy in response to President Obama's Open Government Directive.."

Vulnerable Populations
1. Deal would provide dialysis to illegal immigrants in Atlanta, August 31, 2010, New York Times
Brief Intro: "Thirty-eight end-stage renal patients, most of them illegal immigrants, would receive the dialysis they need to stay alive at no cost under a rough agreement brokered Tuesday among local dialysis providers and Atlanta’s safety-net hospital, Grady Memorial."


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Documentary of Interest: No One Bothered

This short documentary takes a look at a homeless couple in England and their living experience. The film provides a good lesson of the kinds of hurdles that the homeless endure everyday while out on the streets.

Documentary of Interest: Denied

The short film follows cancer patient, Sheila Wessenberg, as she tries to fight her cancer while having no insurance. As a cancer patient, Sheila finds herself with no insurance as insurance plans are reluctant to take her due to her preexisting condition. At the beginning of her illness, she was covered under her husband's medical insurance, but as a contract worker, his contract was not renewed. They were under COBRA for awhile, but could no longer pay the premiums.

Sheila ultimately had to drop out of chemotherapy and was told by her doctor to go to the county hospital. She went in for another checkup and was told the cancer had spread but the nurse on the phone told her that they could not help her as she did not have insurance.

I highly recommend this video to those interested in learning more about the serious barriers uninsured patients face.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pediatric group issues new flu shot guidelines

According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that all adolescents and children 6 months of age and older should receive the annual trivalent influenza vaccine this flu season. Two influenza vaccines were recommended last year but only one trivalent vaccine is being recommended for this flu season.

CNN Article: A teacher shares his opinions on how to fix public schools

Bryon Ernest, an award-winning teacher, was interviewed by CNN for his opinions of how the public school system should be fixed. His nine ideas include:
1. Quality teachers should be in the classroom
2. Stop the testing obsession
3. Promote digital literacy
4. More teacher collaboration
5. Find alternative sources of funding
6. Improve parent-teacher relationships
7. Year-round schooling
8. Embrace creativity and risks
9. Meet basic needs

Friday, August 27, 2010

This is a listing of articles of interest that has appeared within the last 7-10 days.

1. Health care gap may raise rates of colorectal cancer death in Blacks, Health Daily, August 27,2010
Brief Intro: "Unequal health care may explain why black colorectal cancer patients have a much higher death rate than white patients, a new U.S. study suggests."

2. Calorie counts are coming to the menu,, August 25, 2010
Brief Intro: "The Food and Drug Administration unveiled some ideas Tuesday on how it plans to implement requirements under the new federal law overhauling health care for better nutritional labeling on the menus of restaurant chains with 20 or more locations."

3. Drug prices climb faster than inflation again,, August 25, 2010
Brief Intro: "Last year, the average retail price for brand-name medicines popular with Medicare patients rose 8.3 percent, according to the latest analysis performed for the AARP."

Race and Society
1. Hundreds of millions in Katrina funds remain unspent,, August 20, 2010
Brief Intro: "Five years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 200,000 Louisiana homes, the state program established to help families rebuild still hasn’t paid out more than three-quarters of a billion dollars and has come under fire from a federal judge for discriminating against black homeowners."

2. State Island grapples with attacks against Mexicans,, August 20, 2010
Brief Intro: "Police are investigating a string of at least 10 alleged hate crimes in the borough's Port Richmond area since April — all violent, and all perpetrated against Mexicans."

3. School drops race-based rules for student elections,, August 27, 2010
Brief Intro:"Following an uproar over a policy it said was designed 30 years ago to achieve racial equality, a school district in a Mississippi town on Friday scrapped a system of student elections where race determined whether a candidate could run for some class positions, including president."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frontline Documentary: The Vaccine War

The Vaccine War takes a look at vaccines and the groups both for and against child vaccination. With parents deciding to opt out of vaccinating their children against many diseases that have not been seen in a generation or more. With many parents fearing that vaccine additives may cause autism in their children, some parents are believing that it is a better bet to hold off on some vaccines rather than run the risk of autism. When this happens the question becomes whether or not these parents are putting other children at risk for diseases their own children may catch due to not being vaccinated.

This documentary is recommended for those who are interested in hearing both sides of the inoculation debate.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Prison Lullabies

This documentary takes a look at four women who are being held at the Taconic Correctional Facility in New York. These women, who have been charged with dealing, prostitution and struggling with drug addiction, have found themselves arrested while pregnant. At Taconic, the facility allows pregnant women to keep their babies for the first 18 months while attending classes to help with anger management, basic child care and drug counseling.

Participating in a work release program, all of the women face challenges while making the adjustment to life after prison. Some are successful and others wind up back in the correctional facility. The toll it takes on the children is very visible, with some not even remembering who their mothers were.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Paradise Regained

This documentary is a story about Milton Reed, an artist who was hired by Chicago project residents to paint murals within their apartment walls. The artwork made the residents feel happy even while being surrounded by poverty and violence.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Exiled in America

This nine minute short documentary details how a legal resident who is the mother of five children was deported to Mexico. The mother, who had resided in the U.S. for 25 years was a driver in a car accident with some of her friends. After being taken to the hospital, she was told that she was being charged with transporting illegal immigrants. She served 4 months in federal prison and was deported to her hometown in Mexico. Leaving behind 5 children who ranged in age from 24 years to 14 years old.

Due to an immigration law in 1996, immigration judges no longer had the power of discretion when it came to decisions on deportation. The result was the deportation of even legal residents for minor infractions.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here are some articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days.

ADHD risk may be tied to pesticide exposure before birth, MSNBC, Aug 19,2010
Brief intro: "Children whose mothers were exposed to widely-used pesticides such as malathion during pregnancy may be at increased risk of developing an attention disorder by age 5, a new study shows."

CDC: More U.S. teens getting vaccinated, MSNBC, Aug 19, 2010
Brief intro: "More U.S. teens are getting recommended vaccines against certain cancers, meningitis and infectious diseases, government researchers reported on Thursday."

State sued over prenatal services, Omaha World-Herald, Aug 19, 2010
Brief into: "Eight months pregnant and with a history of gestational diabetes, an Adams County woman faces birth complications and brain and heart defects in her baby.

She went to court Thursday seeking to reverse the state’s decision to end government-paid, prenatal services for illegal immigrants and some other low-income women."

Race and Society

Three of Four Americans Say Race Relations Are Same or Worse, Investor's Business Daily, August 18, 2019

Brief Intro: "Americans hoped that race relations in the U.S. would improve with Barack Obama in the White House. But a majority of those surveyed in the latest IBD/TIPP poll see no difference, and more of those who do see a change think it’s been for the worse."

Reconciliation After Accusation of Bias, New York Times, August 17, 2010

Brief Into: "Shirley Sherrod, who lost her Agriculture Department job over misconstrued comments she made about race, is publicly making amends with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People after its president condemned her for the remarks."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ColorLines: Race and Economic Recovery

This 28 minute documentary reviews how the economic recovery has helped some and left others in the dust. Those left behind in the recovery include those who are lacking either in education or skills and are finding it hard to find employment that will allow them to adequately support their families. The role of race is reviewed in the hardships that many of these people are experiencing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HBO Documentary: Hard Times at Douglass High

This documentary takes a look at Douglass High School, a school where 50% of students fail to graduate. The school's staff struggle to raise achievement scores of students who are regularly at 4-5 years below grade level. The school eventually fails to meet adequate yearly standards and the city and state wrestle for control. This documentary is recommended for those who are interested in learning more about education inequalities.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Documentary of Interest: Prom Night in Mississippi

For those of you interested in documentaries on race, I would like to suggest Morgan Freeman's documentary "Prom Night in Mississippi". Mr. Freeman along with Paul Saltzman worked together to document a small town's high school prom. The thing that makes this year's prom unique is the fact that Mr Freeman volunteered to pay for it if the school agreed to hold a prom for both the white and black students to attend. Previously, both white and black students attended proms separately. Its interesting to see that it is the parents and not the students who seem to have the biggest issue with the racially integrated prom.

Monday, August 16, 2010

HBO Documentary: If God is willing and da creek don't rise

On August 23rd at 9PM, HBO will be showing a documentary entitled "If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don't Rise". The movie is a follow-up to Spike Lee's, When the Levees Broke". In this new work, Lee documents the successes and failures of trying to restore housing, education, economic growth and law & order in New Orleans.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Weekly Roundup

Here is a roundup of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:


San Francisco proposal would limit toys in kids meals, USA Today, August 13, 2010
Brief Intro: "In San Francisco, newly proposed legislation would ban toys from most kids meals sold at McDonald's, Burger King and other chains unless the meals meet more stringent calorie and sodium limits. The legislation also would require fruit or veggies in each meal."

US Typhoid cases linked to tropical fruit, San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2010
Brief Intro: "A San Francisco woman stricken with typhoid fever may be part of a rare outbreak of the disease linked to a frozen tropical fruit product used to make milkshakes and smoothies, San Francisco public health officials said Friday."

Eat an Apple (Doctor's orders), New York Times, August 12, 2010
Brief Intro: "Doctors at three health centers in Massachusetts have begun advising patients to eat “prescription produce” from local farmers’ markets, in an effort to fight obesity in children of low-income families. Now they will give coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to promote healthy meals."

Schools are given grade on how students do
, New York Times, August 9, 2010
Brief Intro: "In most school systems, what happens to students like Ms. Croslen after they obtain their diplomas is of little concern. But the New York City Department of Education acknowledges that despite rising graduation rates, many graduates lack basic skills, and it is trying to do something about it.

This year, for the first time, it has sent detailed reports to all of its high schools, telling them just how many of their students who arrived at the city’s public colleges needed remedial courses, as well as how many stayed enrolled after their first semester. The reports go beyond the basic measure of a school’s success — the percentage of students who earn a diploma — to let educators know whether they have been preparing those students for college or simply churning them out."

House OKs emergency bill to halt teacher layoffs, USNWR, August 10, 2010

Brief Intro: "Summoned back from summer break, the House on Tuesday pushed through an emergency $26 billion jobs bill to protect 300,000 teachers, police and others from election-year layoffs. President Barack Obama was to sign the measure by day's end"

Research shows a good kindergarten education makes dollars and sense, USNWR, August 12, 2010

Brief Intro: "Harvard University economist John Friedman says he and a group of colleagues found that students who progress during their kindergarten year from attaining an average score on the Stanford Achievement Test to attaining a score in the 60th percentile can expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than students whose scores remain average."

Race and Society

Dr Laura Schlessinger apologizes for use of N word, Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 13, 2010

Brief Intro: "On Tuesday, Schlessinger received a call from a black woman asking how to handle racist comments from her white husband's friends. The caller also asked if the N-word is offensive.

Schlessinger said "black guys use it all the time," and repeated the word a few times, but she never directed it at the caller. When the caller objected, Schlessinger said, "Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any black comedians."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Saving money with school and service cuts

Faced with some of the lowest tax collections on record, many state, county and city governments are looking to make tough choices to deal with tight budgets. Examples of these choices include student furloughs in Hawaii, cutting of a county bus service in Georgia, and the shutting off of street lights in Colorado. Cuts of police forces and darkened streets provide citizens with the perception that they will no longer enjoy the safety they had once come to expect.

You can read more by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An additional benefit of breast feeding

Three researchers at the University of California have found that while a large part of human milk cannot be digested by babies, one of the major benefits of breast milk is providing the baby with beneficial bacteria to coat their intestine. This coating protects the baby's gut from noxious bacteria.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Should citizenship be granted automatically at birth?

According to a recent New York Times article, Senator Lindsay Graham has proposed the idea of altering the 14th amendment to make sure that unauthorized immigration is discouraged. In an interview with Fox News, Graham said, " We can’t just have people swimming across the river having children here — that’s chaos." But, according to a Pew Hispanic Center study released last year, children of illegal immigrants are usually members of families that have resided in the U.S. for a number of years. The study also found that about four million American citizen children have at least one parent that is an illegal immigrant.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Removal of the "D"grade

In the Mount Olive school district in New Jersey has done away with the letter grade "D". Students are now only allowed to earn an A, B, C or F. Superintendent, Larrie Reynolds, who worked to remove the D's did so in order to raise the bar and ensure his students work harder. Some teachers have expressed concern over the new plan as they believe more students will wind up failing.

To read more, click on this link to get to the article.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Roundup - Current Awareness

Here is a listing of articles of interest published within the last 7-10 days:

Parents of autistic kids at risk for divorce, WebMD, August 6, 2010
Brief Intro: "Parents of children with autism may be more likely to divorce when their children reach adolescence or young adulthood than parents of children without this or other developmental disabilities, finds a new study in the August issue of the Journal of Family Psychology."

Rotavirus vaccines save poorest children, Reuters, August 6, 2010
Brief Intro: "The vaccines prevented between 39 percent and 48 percent of infections in some of the poorest countries in the world, where more than 400,000 children die from rotavirus every year."

Florida confirms 24 cases of dengue fever in Key West, CNN, August 3, 2010
Brief Intro: "
The Florida Department of Health confirmed an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever acquired in the Key West area."

Districts seek lucrative naming rights deals for facilities,, August 6, 2010
Brief Intro: "The Hempfield School District made the deal to help pay for the campus facility, which opened in 2008. It’s just one of many such arrangements that have been struck at Hempfield and at dozens of other schools across the country — including a handful of elementary schools — as education budgets fall further behind in the stagnant economy."

Sales tax holiday helpful to more than just parents, according to the Illinois Education Association
,, August 6, 2010
Brief Intro: "Statistics from the National Education Association show that teachers spend an average of nearly $1,400 a year out of their own pockets on school supplies for their classrooms. A new teacher spends even more. On average, a new teacher will spend $770 on classroom supplies. A veteran teacher will spend $395. And, that doesn't count the additional $962 average per year teachers spend on materials for their classrooms."

Diversity debate convulses elite high school, New York Times, August 4, 2010

Brief Intro: "But instead, the school is in turmoil, with much of the faculty in an uproar over the resignation of a popular principal, the third in five years. In her departure speech to teachers in late June, the principal cited several reasons for her decision, including tensions over a lack of diversity at the school, which had been the subject of a controversial graduation address the day before by one of the school’s few African-American students."