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bananas's Journal
bananas's Journal
October 29, 2015

Could Better Placebo Response Lead to Better Antidepressants?


Could Better Placebo Response Lead to Better Antidepressants?

Study participants with major depression who responded to placebo were more likely to later respond to an actual antidepressant than participants who failed to respond to sham treatment. Researchers published their findings in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study involved 35 people with major depression. Participants agreed to try what they believed was a new depression drug for 2 weeks before they received an actual antidepressant.

Using position emission tomography (PET) scans, researchers found that participants who reported an improvement in depressive symptoms after initial treatment with a placebo pill also showed a stronger mu-opioid response in regions of the brain involved in emotion and depression. The mu-opioid system, researchers explained, is considered the brain’s natural painkiller system.

What’s more, these participants were also more likely to experience symptom improvement after receiving an active antidepressant. Researchers reported that placebo response predicted almost half the variation in symptom improvement by the end of the antidepressant trial.

“This is the first objective evidence that the brain’s own opioid system is involved in response to both antidepressants and placebos, and that variation in this response is associated with variation in symptom relief,” said researcher Marta Pecina, MD, PhD, a research assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

“This finding gives us a biomarker for treatment response in depression—an objective way to measure neurochemical compounds involved in response. We can envision that by enhancing placebo effects, we might be able to develop faster-acting or better antidepressants.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


1. Peciña M, Bohnert AS, Sikora M, et al. Association between placebo-activated neural systems and antidepressant responses: neurochemistry of placebo effects in major depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Sept. 30. [Epub ahead of print].

2. Placebo power: depressed people who respond to fake drugs get the most help from real ones [press release]. Newswise: Charlottesville, VA; Sept. 28, 2015.

October 29, 2015

Rosetta finds oxygen on comet 67P in 'most surprising discovery to date'

Source: The Guardian

Oxygen revealed to be fourth most abundant gas in the comet’s atmosphere, contradicting long-held theories of comet formation


The finding is puzzling because oxygen is highly reactive and scientists do not expect it to hang around for long in space. “We had never thought that oxygen could ‘survive’ for billions of years without combining with other substances,” said Altwegg.

Working with André Bieler at the University of Michigan, Altwegg showed that oxygen levels around the comet remained high over seven months of observations from September 2014 to March 2015. Because the surface of the comet is constantly being shed, the finding suggests that oxygen is present all through the body.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/oct/28/rosetta-finds-oxygen-on-comet-67p-in-most-surprising-discovery-to-date

October 29, 2015

New DMCA rules mean you can fiddle with your tablets, routers, cars (as if you weren't anyway)

Source: The Register

The Librarian of Congress in America has updated the list of technologies that hackers can tinker with without breaking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Under the terms of the DMCA, the Librarian must revise the list of devices and technologies that can be investigated and altered by people using them. In the past this has led to a ban on a ban on smartphone unlocking (now rescinded) and other idiocies.

The latest list [PDF], however, shows welcome signs of sanity. Tablets are now on the list of devices that can be legally examined and customized by their owners, and smart watches, and televisions. Wi-Fi routers have also been added to the list, allowing security researchers to check for hidden flaws and backdoors.

Let's be honest: researchers were already doing this, but now it's officially totally OK with Uncle Sam.


Read more: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/28/new_better_dmca_rules/

October 28, 2015

REI closing on Black Friday for 1st time in push to #OptOutside

Source: USA Today

Outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer REI is canceling Black Friday this year. No promotions, no hourly sales, no doorbusters, no waiting in line.

In an unprecedented move for the modern-day holiday shopping season, REI's 143 stores will be closed the day after Thanksgiving. The co-op business plans to launch a campaign Tuesday encouraging people to forgo shopping to spend time outside instead. With the hashtag #OptOutside, REI will ask people to share what they're doing on Black Friday on social media.

REI is taking direct aim at the frenzied consumerism that dominates the holidays with a message to do the exact opposite of what Black Friday demands.

"Any retailer that hears this will be startled by the idea," says REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, who admits he was apprehensive about closing at first. "As a co-op ... we define success a little differently. It's much broader than just money. How effectively do we get people outside?"


Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/10/26/rei-closing-on-black-friday-for-first-time-in-its-history/74627872/

October 25, 2015

Exclusive: UK nuclear deterrent to cost 167 billion pounds, far more than expected

Source: Reuters

The overall cost of replacing and maintaining Britain's nuclear deterrent will reach 167 billion pounds ($256 billion), much more than expected, according to a lawmaker's and Reuters' calculations based on official figures.

If the figure is confirmed, it is likely to spur critics who say Britain should not be committing to spending billions of pounds on defense at a time when they say deep cuts under the government's "austerity" policies are hurting families.

Some military officials also say the money would be better spent on maintaining the army and on more conventional technology, which have also faced cuts.

Until now, Prime Minister David Cameron's government has said replacing the ageing fleet of four submarines which carry nuclear warheads to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent would cost an estimated 15-20 billion pounds.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/25/us-britain-defence-trident-exclusive-idUSKCN0SJ0EP20151025

October 21, 2015

Your daily 'blue marble': New Nasa site features images of the Earth from Al Gore's satellite

I posted some news stories about this yesterday in LBN: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141237977

Some background information not mentioned in those articles:

The "Earthrise" and "Blue Marble" photos of the Earth by the Apollo crew had a major influence globally on people's awareness of environmental and social issues:


In Life 's 100 Photographs that Changed the World, wilderness photographer Galen Rowell called Earthrise "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."[9] Another author called its appearance the beginning of the environmental movement.[10]


Counterculture activists had been among the first to cherish these images as icons of a new global consciousness.[9] The Apollo 17 image, however, released during a surge in environmental activism during the 1970s, became a symbol of the environmental movement, as a depiction of Earth's frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space.[1] NASA archivist Mike Gentry has speculated that The Blue Marble is among the most widely distributed images in human history.[2]

Vice President Al Gore proposed this satellite to keep that perspective alive:

It was originally developed as a NASA satellite proposed in 1998 by then-Vice President Al Gore for the purpose of Earth observation.


The Bush Administration put the project on hold shortly after George W. Bush's inauguration.[11]


It will take full-Earth pictures about every two hours and be able to process them faster than other Earth observation satellites.[7]


Originally known as Triana, named after Rodrigo de Triana, the first of Columbus's crew to sight land in the Americas, the satellite's original purpose was to provide a near-continuous view of the entire Earth and make that live image available via the Internet. Gore hoped not only to advance science with these images, but also to raise awareness of the Earth itself, updating the influential Blue Marble photograph taken by Apollo 17.[9] In addition to an imaging camera, a radiometer would take the first direct measurements of how much sunlight is reflected and emitted from the whole Earth (albedo). This data could constitute a barometer for the process of global warming. The scientific goals expanded to measure the amount of solar energy reaching Earth, cloud patterns, weather systems, monitor the health of Earth's vegetation, and track the amount of UV light reaching the surface through the ozone layer.


And now that satellite is in place and operating:

Your daily 'blue marble': New Nasa site features high-resolution images of the Earth each day taken from one million miles away

- Site features images taken from the Deep Space Climate Observatory around 12 to 36 hours earlier

- Image sequence will show the Earth as it rotates, revealing the whole globe over the course of a day

- New site also features an archive of the probe's images, which are searchable by date and continent

By Ellie Zolfagharifard For Dailymail.com

Published: 18:42 EST, 19 October 2015 | Updated: 18:49 EST, 19 October 2015


October 20, 2015

Worker's Cancer Linked to Fukushima Blast for First Time

Source: Bloomberg

Japan’s health ministry confirmed for the first time that leukemia found in a worker at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant is a result of the March 2011 atomic disaster.

The male was in his 30s while working at the Fukushima facility north of Tokyo between October 2012 and December 2013, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.


“First signs of big trouble ahead for Tepco as radiation exposure looks to be taking its toll on workers’ health,” Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based global head of Japan equity sales at BGC Capital Partners Inc. said in an e-mail. “Tepco could be facing huge lawsuits if and when radiation leaks are linked to health issues.”


A study published by Toshihide Tsuda, a professor at Okayama University, earlier this month found that cases of thyroid cancer have increased among children and adolescents in Fukushima Prefecture since the accident.


Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-20/japan-confirms-worker-s-leukemia-linked-to-fukushima-blast-nhk

October 20, 2015

See EPIC Views of Rotating Earth Daily from NASA’s New DSCOVR Observatory Website

Source: Universe Today

At long last, beautiful new high resolution views of the rotating Earth can be seen daily by everyone at a new NASA website – all courtesy of images taken by NASA’s EPIC camera on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft. And as seen in the time-lapse animation above, they provide a wonderful new asset for students everywhere to learn geography that’s just a finger tip away!

The EPIC camera, which stands for Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), is located a million miles away on the DSCOVR real time space weather monitoring satellite and is designed to take full disk color images of the sunlit side of our home planet multiple times per day.

The EPIC NASA images are literally just a finger tip away. They can all be easily viewed at NASA’s new EPIC camera website which went online today, Monday, October 19, 2015.

To see the daily sequence of rotating images, visit the EPIC website link: http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/


Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/122952/see-epic-views-of-rotating-earth-daily-from-nasas-new-dscovr-observatory-website/

October 19, 2015

Homan Square revealed: how Chicago police 'disappeared' 7,000 people

Source: Guardian

Exclusive: Guardian lawsuit exposes fullest scale yet of detentions at off-the-books interrogation warehouse, while attorneys describe find-your-client chase across Chicago as ‘something from a Bond movie’

Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

From August 2004 to June 2015, nearly 6,000 of those held at the facility were black, which represents more than twice the proportion of the city’s population. But only 68 of those held were allowed access to attorneys or a public notice of their whereabouts, internal police records show.

The new disclosures, the result of an ongoing Guardian transparency lawsuit and investigation, provide the most detailed, full-scale portrait yet of the truth about Homan Square, a secretive facility that Chicago police have described as little more than a low-level narcotics crime outpost where the mayor has said police “follow all the rules”.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/19/homan-square-chicago-police-disappeared-thousands

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