Clear The Air: Scented Candles, Air Fresheners Can Be Irritating

I can’t even walk down the super market aisles that they have these room fresheners and scented candles on without gasping for air.

The same goes for many perfumes.

Many of these perfumes are worse than cigarette smoke when it comes to triggering a reaction.

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/07/142107203/clear-the-air-scented-candles-air-fresheners-can-be-irritating?sc=fb&cc=fp

by Scott Hensley
November 8, 2011

Mary, a 46-year-old flight attendant, had a persistent runny nose that was sometimes so bad she had trouble doing her job.

She’d tried antihistamines, nasal sprays and “allergy drops” prescribed by a specialist. None of them helped.

Then she saw Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist, who found Mary wasn’t allergic to the usual household suspects — dust mites, animal dander, pollen and molds. Instead, she turned out to be sensitive to air fresheners she’d been using at home and exposed to in hotels. She’s not alone.

Fineman, the president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, told Mary’s story over the weekend at the annual meeting of the medical group to highlight an increasingly common problem. “I’ve been seeing more and more people coming in to my office who have allergy-type symptoms that are triggered by these air freshener-type products,” Fineman told Shots in an interview before the talk.

Patients complain about congestion, sniffles or a runny nose, he said. Headaches or sinus pressure are other typical symptoms.

It can be tough for patients and their doctors to figure out the cause.

One reason is that the sources of irritating chemicals are so ubiquitous. Plug-in air fresheners, sprays and scented candles seem to be everywhere. And the volatile organic compounds, key irritants in those products, can also come from building materials and furnishings, such as a new carpet.

About 19 percent of the population reported health effects from air fresheners, according to data cited by Fineman. For people with asthma, the figure was more than one-third.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/07/142107203/clear-the-air-scented-candles-air-fresheners-can-be-irritating?sc=fb&cc=fp

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American economy deliberately allowed to fail?

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The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen

From Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/07/one-per-cent-wealth-destroyers

Our common treasury in the last 30 years has been captured by industrial psychopaths. That’s why we’re nearly bankrupt

guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 November 2011

If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves – that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive – are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. This means crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren’t responsible. Many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.

The findings of the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel economics prize, are devastating to the beliefs that financial high-fliers entertain about themselves. He discovered that their apparent success is a cognitive illusion. For example, he studied the results achieved by 25 wealth advisers across eight years. He found that the consistency of their performance was zero. “The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.” Those who received the biggest bonuses had simply got lucky.

Such results have been widely replicated. They show that traders and fund managers throughout Wall Street receive their massive remuneration for doing no better than would a chimpanzee flipping a coin. When Kahneman tried to point this out, they blanked him. “The illusion of skill … is deeply ingrained in their culture.”

So much for the financial sector and its super-educated analysts. As for other kinds of business, you tell me. Is your boss possessed of judgment, vision and management skills superior to those of anyone else in the firm, or did he or she get there through bluff, bullshit and bullying?

In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses’s scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/07/one-per-cent-wealth-destroyers

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Michigan’s Children Speak Out Against Republican Pro-Bullying Legislation

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Net Neutrality Is Under Attack… Again

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-franken/net-neutrality-is-under-a_b_1082225.html

Sen.
Posted: 11/8/11

This week, the free and open Internet millions of Americans have come to depend on is under attack.

In a procedural move, Senate Republicans are trying to overturn the rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put in place late last year to help protect net neutrality — the simple idea that all content and applications on the Internet should be treated the same, regardless of who owns the content or the website. The House already pushed through this dangerous legislation, which would effectively turn control of the Internet over to a handful of very powerful corporations.

I sincerely hope the Senate doesn’t follow suit, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure this terrible legislation never reaches the President’s desk.

While millions of Americans have become familiar with the concept of net neutrality, it’s important that we’re all on the same page. Net neutrality isn’t a government takeover of the Internet, as many of my Republican colleagues have alleged. It isn’t even a change from what we have now. Net neutrality has been in place since the very beginning of the Internet.

This isn’t a radical concept — it’s what each and every one of us experiences every time we use the Internet. Right now, an e-mail from a friend arrives in your inbox just as quickly and reliably as an advertisement from Amazon.com. Consumers can go online and make a reservation at a small fishing lodge in Ely, Minnesota just as quickly as they can at the Hilton.

But many Republicans want to change that so that the large corporations they represent can increase their profit margins at the expense of small businesses and consumers.

To illustrate why net neutrality is so critical to innovation on the web, I like to tell the story of a small online startup that launched in 2005 above a pizzeria in San Francisco. It had a product that now seems simple: it allowed people to upload videos so others could stream them. It was called YouTube — you may have heard of it.

At the time, Google had a similar product — Google Video — but it wasn’t as easy to use, so consumers took their business to YouTube. The site took off and, less than two years after it launched, YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.6 billion. Not a bad payday.

But it wouldn’t have been possible without net neutrality. If Google had been able to pay Comcast and other large Internet service providers to prioritize its data — and make YouTube’s videos load more slowly — YouTube wouldn’t have stood a chance. Google’s inferior product would have won.

Last year, the FCC took action to protect net neutrality, establishing a set of rules designed to preserve the status quo — the rules under which YouTube and thousands of other start-ups flourished. While those rules didn’t do nearly as much as I would have liked to protect consumers, encourage innovation, and keep the Internet fully free, they at least laid a foundation to preserve the basic principles of net neutrality.

These are the rules Republicans in the House have already voted to overturn. This week, my Republican colleagues in the Senate will attempt to short circuit the legislative process by forcing a procedural vote and ignoring the FCC’s expertise on this issue. They hope to abolish net neutrality and give their supporters in big telecom what they want: an unfair advantage over small businesses and bigger profits at the expense of consumers.

I’ve said that net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. It’s true. If Republicans have their way, large corporations won’t just have the loudest voices in the room. They’ll be able to effectively silence everyone else.

Every small business they’d prefer not to compete with. Every blogger who publishes something they don’t like.

We have to stop them.

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The Story of Stuff – Consumption

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Health Tab for Climate Change: $14 Billion

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/11/health-tab-climate-change-14-billion

By Kate Sheppard
Tue Nov. 8, 2011

Climate change-related disasters caused $14 billion in health costs in first decade of the 2000s, according to a new paper published this week in the journal Health Affairs. The paper looks at six case studies of weather events in the US, all of the type predicted to increase or grow more severe as climate change progresses, like hurricanes, floods, and heat waves. It then determines the cost of disease, injury, and death related to those events.

Each individual event can be pricey. Ozone pollution in the US over the period of 2000 to 2002 cost $6.5 billion in emergency room visits, missed days at work or school, or early deaths (a particular concern for the elderly and people with preexisting respiratory conditions). The California heat wave in 2006, during which record temperatures were recorded all over the state over a two-week period, cost $5.4 billion. A lot of those costs came from hospitalizations and ER visits for problems like dehydration and heat stroke.

Sure, going to the hospital is pricey. But dying isn’t free, either. The researchers used the EPA’s value of a statistical life—a rough estimate of how each individual life costs—of $7.9 million.

$14 billion is a pretty big number for just 10 years. But that’s only looking at a handful of specific incidents. There are also costs associated with climate change that don’t stem from extreme events—things like increased problems related to asthma or allergies, or even problems like kidney stones, as we reported last year.

 “Health has been unfortunately absent and not at the front and center in the discussion of what climate change is all about,” Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist in the health and environment program at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the lead author on the paper, told Mother Jones. “It really is a problem with a human face. I think this work draws out dimension that hasn’t been drawn out previously.”
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