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October 10, 2006, 9:54 PM CT

Paints Bleak Scene In Iraq

Paints Bleak Scene In Iraq
Is the Iraq that Americans see today on their TV screens--rife with escalating violence that seems to verge on civil war--the inevitable result of the U.S. invasion to depose Saddam Hussein? Or did critical mistakes doom our best intentions to establish a democracy?

Those questions, posed by MIT visiting scholar Barbara K. Bodine, jumpstarted a conversation between two prominent journalists appearing in a panel titled "Reporters' Notebook: The US in Iraq," a MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) Starr Forum hosted by CIS on October 3.

"It's fashionable in some circles to say now: 'If only we had committed more resources to the occupation effort,'" said Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, and author of the recently published "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," an account of life in the U.S. enclave in Baghdad, the Green Zone.

But Chandrasekaran speculates that perhaps the United States tried to do too much, too soon: "We needed to have had a smaller footprint there, to be less ambitious." For example, the United States didn't want to impose "just any old democracy." Officials wanted a secular, federalist democracy with an American-style free market, he said. They tried to institute bank sector reform, a flat tax, even laws on microchip design and intellectual property.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 10, 2006, 9:30 PM CT

Hispanic Heritage Winner Sets Sights High

Hispanic Heritage Winner Sets Sights High Eletha Flores Photo / Michael Malysko
Setting high goals and achieving them is crucial, says Freshman Eletha Flores of Maryland, the recipient of the 2006 Hispanic Heritage Foundation's National Youth Award for Engineering and Mathematics.

More than 13,000 high school students from across the country applied for the awards. Only nine students were selected in the various categories. MIT freshman Luis Flores (no relation) also received one of the awards in the sports category. The award winners receive $8,000 plus a laptop computer.

Eletha Flores' commitment to excellence started early. "Either I go all the way or I don't do it," said Flores, who set her sights on MIT at the beginning of her high school career. "I knew it was the top engineering school in the country".

Throughout high school, Flores maintained a 4.2 grade point average and consistently challenged herself with summer programs such as MIT's Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) and an internship in space robotics at NASA.

As the middle child between two brothers and a child of divorce, her time at home was not always easy, Flores said, adding that her high school was not as challenging as she might have wished. Still, she found hardship motivating. "It gave me such a perspective on what life could be".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 9, 2006, 10:08 PM CT

Teens And Cigarette Ads

Teens And Cigarette Ads
Today alone, more than 4,400 U.S. teenagers will start smoking, according to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Many of these adolescents will be lured to cigarettes by advertisements and movies that feature sophisticated models and actors, suggesting that smoking is a glamorous, grown-up activity. However, teens who are savvier about the motives and methods of advertisers may be less inclined to take to cigarettes, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study indicates.

Teens with above-average smoking media literacy (SML) are nearly half as likely to smoke as their less media-literate peers, according to the lead study in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The results not only suggest that SML training could be an effective intervention to decrease teen smoking, but they also provide some of the first quantitative evidence linking SML to smoking.

"Many factors that influence a teen's decision to smoke like peer influence, parental smoking and risk-seeking tendency are difficult to change," said the study's lead author, Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., assistant professor in the School of Medicine's division of general internal medicine. "However, media literacy, which can be taught, may be a valuable tool in efforts to discourage teens from smoking".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 9, 2006, 8:54 PM CT

Weaknesses In High-tech Immigration

Weaknesses In High-tech Immigration
Legislation pending before Congress "would admit foreign computing and engineering (C&E) workers in numbers much greater than historical trends or casual assumptions about future employment levels," according to a recent study from Georgetown University, commissioned by IEEE-USA.

The August report from Georgetown's Institute for the Study of International Migration concluded that the estimated number of new high-tech visas available under the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006" (S.2611) over the next 10 years could be 1.88 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of new C&E workers needed by our economy over the decade is 1.25 million.

Thus, Congress was considering authorizing enough high-skill visas to fill every C&E job created in the United States over the next decade and still have 630,000 visas left over.

"The report calls into question Congress' approach to high-skill immigration reform," IEEE-USA President Ralph W. Wyndrum Jr. said. "Its analysis provides needed context to the immigration numbers being discussed on Capitol Hill".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

October 6, 2006, 5:10 AM CT

Emotionally Ambivalent Workers Are More Creative

Emotionally Ambivalent Workers Are More Creative
People who experience emotional ambivalence -- simultaneously feeling positive and negative emotions -- are more creative than those who feel just happy or sad, or lack emotion at all, as per a new study.

That's because people who feel mixed emotions interpret the experience as a signal that they are in an unusual environment and thus respond to it by drawing upon their creative thinking abilities, said Christina Ting Fong, an assistant professor at the University of Washington Business School. This increased sensitivity for recognizing unusual associations, which happy or sad workers probably couldn't detect, is what leads to creativity in the workplace, she added.

"Due to the complexity of a number of organizations, workplace experiences often elicit mixed emotions from employees, and it's often assumed that mixed emotions are bad for workers and companies," said Fong, whose study appears in the recent issue of the Academy of Management Journal. "Rather than assuming ambivalence will lead to negative results for the organization, managers should recognize that emotional ambivalence can have positive consequences that can be leveraged for organizational success".

For her research, Fong conducted two studies. In the first, she asked 102 college students to write about certain emotional experiences in their lives with the goal of invoking in them feelings of happiness, sadness, neutrality or ambivalence. She then had them complete a usually used measure of creativity called the Remote Associates Test that explored their ability to recognize common themes among seemingly unrelated words. The results demonstrated that while there were no differences among happy, sad and neutral individuals, people who were feeling emotionally ambivalent performed significantly better on this creativity task.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 6, 2006, 5:01 AM CT

Methamphetamine Use On The Rise

Methamphetamine Use On The Rise Methamphetamine pills
Image courtesy of
It's cheap, addictive and can harm your smile for life. Its use is also rapidly increasing both nationally and world-wide. It is methamphetamine. As per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 12 million Americans age 12 and older reported they had tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) advises it is imperative that the public and dental professionals learn about the severe oral health effects the drug is having on a number of users' mouths.

As per a report that will appear in the November/December 2006 issue of General Dentistry, the AGD's clinical, peer-evaluated journal, methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that produces prolonged euphoria and is relatively easy to make, inexpensive to purchase and distribute. Its use is on the rise and can have serious adverse affects on one's oral health, including highly visible widespread cavities and rampant decay.

Meth abuse patients may have a higher tolerance for anesthetics, experience unpleasant effects due to drug interactions or have anxiety regarding dental therapy which combined with meth use can cause serious problems. Their teeth have been described as "blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, or falling apart," as per information in the study obtained from the American Dental Association (ADA). Some teeth are in such poor condition that they are unsalvageable and must be extracted.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 10:27 PM CT

Remains Of St. Louis Founder's Home

Remains Of St. Louis Founder's Home Pierre Laclede
Archaeologists believe they have found the Illinois home of the founder of St. Louis.

What had been thought to be a priest's residence near the French colonial village of New Chartres, in present-day southern Illinois, "appears instead to have been owned by a series of merchants during the mid-1700s, before it was sold to a young merchant from New Orleans Pierre Laclede, the founder of the city of St. Louis".

So says Robert Mazrim, an archaeologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and director of the French Colonial Heritage Project. The project is sponsored by the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program and the Sangamo Archaeological Center. ITARP is a joint program of the university and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Initially, the archaeological remains of a large 18th-century structure on the heritage project's Ghost Horse Site were thought to have possibly been those of a residence of a priest affiliated with Ste. Anne's Church.

"But several artifacts found in the cellar may have been part of Laclede's property and supplies, including Spanish majolica brought upriver from New Orleans, and a lead seal from a bale of men's stockings perhaps destined for a store in St. Louis".

Mazrim's recent examination of the features and artifacts from the site, which ITARP excavated on a small scale in 1998, "resulted in a reconsideration of Ghost Horse," Mazrim said.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 10:14 PM CT

Experimental Ragweed Therapy

Experimental Ragweed Therapy
Americans accustomed to the seasonal misery of sneezing, runny noses and itchy, watery eyes caused by ragweed pollen might one day benefit from an experimental allergy treatment that not only requires fewer injections than standard immunotherapy, but leads to a marked reduction in symptoms that persists for at least a year after therapy has stopped, according to a new study in the October 5 issue of The New England Journal (NEJM) (NEJM). The research was sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network, which is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), both components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

"As many as 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies caused by airborne pollens produced by grasses, trees and weeds," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Finding new therapies for allergy sufferers is certainly an important research goal".

"This innovative research holds great promise for helping people with allergies," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "A short course of immunotherapy that reduces allergic symptoms over an extended period of time will significantly improve the quality of life for many people".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 9:49 PM CT

How Young Adult Children Of Immigrants Assimilate

How Young Adult Children Of Immigrants Assimilate Image courtesy of
While the vast majority of young adult children of immigrants experience upward economic and social mobility, a new study finds that a significant minority are suffering from lower levels of education, lower incomes, higher birth rates and higher levels of incarceration. Furthermore, it is the U.S.-born children of Mexican, Haitian and West Indian immigrants who experience these problems in the largest proportions.

The study, led by sociologists Ruben G. Rumbaut of UC Irvine and Alejandro Portes of Princeton University, appears online this week in the Migration Information Source. The largest and longest-running study of children of immigrants yet conducted, the study also confirms the critical importance of education.

"The greatest educational disadvantage is found among children of Mexican immigrants and Laotian and Cambodian refugees in our sample - close to 40 percent of whom did not go beyond a high school diploma," said Rumbaut. "Education is the key to successful upward mobility among children of immigrants, so the discrepancies that emerge in educational achievement among immigrant groups tend to persist in trends for income, employment and incarceration".

The scientists also point to the influence of human capital (the skills and education of immigrant parents) as well as family structure, racial prejudice and government policies toward certain immigrant groups - especially the undocumented - that influence this "downward assimilation" process.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 4:51 AM CT

Sirius vs XM

Sirius vs XM
Looking at the animated version of this graphic too long may make you ill, but it does nicely illustrate the very different schemes that Sirius and XM chose in their efforts to blanket North America in audio and data, including, of course, our recent marine weather. Both schemes seem to work fine around the U.S., particularly on boats with their naturally wide open sky views, but how far offshore, north, and south can you receive Sirius or XM? A lot of cruisers would like to know, but the company Web sites seem vague on the subject. For one thing, I don't think they themselves are positive about their footprint edges, and don't want to over promise.

Another issue is that XM and Sirius may broadcast into countries where they are not licensed to, and where someone thinks they should be. You may recall a long period when Canadians could only subscribe to satellite radio using U.S. addresses, even though most could get it fine. XM and Sirius were not bragging about their Canadian coverage then! Both Audio services are now licensed in Canada but, head's up, Sirius Weather isn't yet. Which brings us to some legalese in the Raymarine Sirius literature suggesting that your expensive weather receiver might not work if you go outside U.S. territorial waters. Not true; I checked!.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

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