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While You Were Sleeping: April 2010 




Scientists warn that a century of whaling may have released 100 tons of carbon due to the stored carbon in the whales bodies. Dr. Andrew Pershing from the University of Maine described whales as the “forests of the ocean.” He added that when they die they release the stored carbon into the air instead of its sinking to the ocean floor, where the carbon would get stored for perhaps hundreds of years. The scientists discovered that over 100 years the whales released as much carbon as driving 128,000 Humvees continuously for 100 years.
Recently, a Santa Monica sushi restaurant, The Hump, was charged with criminal contempt after serving the endangered sei whale as sushi—a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison and a maximum fine of $100,000 for an individual and $200,000 for an organization.
Source: BBC News

The United States is the laziest country in the world according to the Daily Beast. Each country was rated on caloric intake per day (provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), television viewing (from the OECD Society at a glance and OECD Communications Outlook), aversion to playing sports (from the OECD Society at a glance), and Internet usage (provided by ComScore).
Source: The Daily Beast

After being laid off from work when a steel mill in Lackawanna, NY, three men had heart attacks—two of them were fatal. Research suggests that layoffs produce negative health effects, including a shortened life span. The paper, by Till von Wachter, a Columbia University economist, and Daniel G. Sullivan, director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, studied male workers during the 1980 recession. They concluded death rates of seniority-male workers jumped by 50 to 100 percent. Even 20 years later, deaths were 10 to 15 percent higher. Another paper published last year by Kate W. Strully, a sociology professor at SUNY Albany, found a laid-off worker had an 83 percent greater chance or developing diabetes, arthritis, or psychiatric issues such as depression. The exact connection is still being studied, but most researchers lean towards a mix of stress paired with changes in lifestyle, such as lack of excerise and increased smoking and drinking.
Source: New York Times

In February, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 to block operation of a nuclear reactor after 2012, marking the first closing of a nuclear reactor in 20 years. Vermont Yankee, constructed in 1972, was leaking tritium. The Vermont Senate cited radioactive leaks, misstatements in testimony by plant officials, and other problems. So far, no radioactive material has turned up in the drinking water.  Vermont Yankee’s fate could influence nuclear power nationally, challenging arguments that similar plants are clean, well run, and worth building. The vote came just more than a week after President Obama announced a new federal loan of $8.3 billion to assure construction of a twin-reactor plant in Georgia.
Source: New York Times

Research funded by the US Department of Justice estimates that one out of five college women will be sexually assaulted. Statistics show that more than 80 percent of those victims stay silent. Twenty years ago, Congress passed a disclosure law, now known as the Jeanne Clery Act, which was supposed to force schools to report all crime that happens on campus. But between 1998 and 2008 the Department of Education has ruled against just five universities out of 24 complaints, and no punishment was given in those cases. In its whole history it has fined offending schools just six times and most fines have been small. The biggest—$350,000—was levied against Eastern Michigan University. The schools are going for prevention over punishment. Due to possible false accusations, which occur 3 to 6 percent of the time, counseling and alcohol treatment are more likely than expulsion.
Source: NPR

An atheist campus group at University of Texas has created a “Smut for Smut” campaign where they will exchange hard-core porn for your Bible. Atheist Agenda’s goal is to highlight that the Bible contains as many discriminating and offensive ideas as pornography, such as “A woman is worth half a man.”
Source: www.boingboing.net

According to a study from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, public-service ads intended to curb binge drinking may actually increase it. The five-part study was based on 1,200 interviews with undergraduate students. The students were shown ads based on Canadian public service announcements focusing on emotions like shame and guilt to stop excessive drinking. This method, commonly used with smoking, drugs, and STDs, was found to increase drinking in some cases. Kellogg marketing professor Nidhi Agrawal said the reason is “defensive processing,” which causes the confronted individual to disassociate themselves. Ms. Agrawal suggested PSA makers place ads in positive surroundings and focus on how to avoid situations that lead to a set issue rather than its consequences.
Source: Advertising Age

Bank of America is getting rid of overdraft fees on purchases made with debit cards. Instead, if a customer tries to make a purchase on their debit card without enough money in their account their transactions will simply be declined. The decision could cost the bank tens of millions a year in revenue and force other banks to follow suit. Debit purchases account for roughly 60 percent of overdrafts at Bank of America, which is the nation’s largest issuer of debit cards. According to the economic research firm Moebs Services, about $20 billion is made from overdraft fees on debit purchases and ATM transactions—often on purchases only a few dollars like a cup of coffee.
Source: New York Times

Bicycling enthusiasts are hoping a new Google Map program offering bicycling directions sparks a change in mass transit as a whole. For now, bicyclists can google routes in Chicago and 149 other US cities. To account for variations in bikers abilities, Goggle officials say their new program offers step-by-step biking directions that factor in the length of the trip, changes in elevation, and even fatigue, to determine an estimated time for trips. Currently, the program features recommended cycling routes for point-to-point travel, maps that show bike trails, on-street bike lanes, and bike-friendly roads, and shows locations where you can take a break or find bike shops en route.
Source: Chicago Tribune

A new analysis of death rates by the American Cancer Society indicates that cancer is causing one-third fewer deaths than it did 40 years ago. For 15 of the 19 cancers studied, rates have dropped. The biggest cause for this drop is linked to prevention and detection rather than treatment methods—due to less smoking and more people receiving mammograms, Pap smears, and colonoscopies.
Source: Ars Technica

A truckload of prescription drugs worth $75 million was stolen from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut, in March. The burglary took place in the early morning and was not discovered until that afternoon by an employee. The burglars reportedly scaled the walls, cut a hole in the roof, rappelled down, and disabled the alarm. It is not known what specific drugs were stolen, but according to Edward Sagebiel, a spokesman for Eli Lilly, “several dozen pallets were taken from products that range across their portfolio.”
Source: www.courant.com

click to enlarge STR New / REUTERS
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