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While You Were Sleeping: February 2012 

The gist of what you may have missed.

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Controversial Atlanta ad campaign "Strong4Life," which addresses the growing issue of childhood obesity, uses harsh tactics to give parents a reality check. The ads, modeled after antismoking and antidrug campaigns, aim to shock the audience with stark, black-and-white photos and videos of obese children. One features a young girl speaking directly into the camera: "My doctor says I have hypertension," she says. "I'm really scared." Georgia has the second-highest obesity rate in the US after Mississippi, and an increasing number of children suffer from Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and are in need of knee replacements. According to some public health officials, the campaign could potentially have more negative than positive effects on its target audience. Peer disapproval can lead to low self-esteem and decrease the likeliness of children to exercise in fear of bullying, according to Rodney Lyn of Georgia State University's Institute of Public Health.

Source: National Public Radio

Beginning last March, a series of 11 minor earthquakes shook the Youngstown area of Ohio. According to seismologist John Armbruster of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the quakes were caused by a well used to dispose wastewater from oil and gas extraction—hydrofracking. The Youngstown well that opened in 2010 was injected daily with thousands of gallons of brine, the chemical used in drilling operations. The well was shut down by its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, on December 30 for safety concerns.

Source: Washington Post

A new US government study shows that long-term marijuana smoking does not inhibit lung function. The recent research is one of the most extensive to date on whether marijuana causes pulmonary damage. The researchers followed approximately 5,000 regular marijuana users over two decades. Dr. Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied marijuana for over 30 years and was not involved in the study, said, "There is no significant relationship between marijuana exposure and impairment in lung function." Marijuana's active ingredient, THC, has anti-inflammatory effects, leaving it significantly less harmful than tobacco smoke.

Source: New York Times

Queen of Southern cooking and Food Network star Paula Deen revealed on January 17 that she has Type 2 diabetes. The 64-year-old, who emphasizes recipes with ingredients high in fat, sugars, and salts, will be teaming up with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to promote a new diabetes drug and launch a program called Diabetes in a New Light. Deen has received criticism for pushing high-calorie foods from other major media figures including Barbara Walters, and Anthony Bourdain. Deen in her defense, says that she cooks affordable meals for the average family who struggles to get food on the table. Her son Bobby Deen is hosting "Not My Mama's Meals," which premiered on January 4, a cooking show featuring healthy versions of his mother's recipes. In a possibly related story, Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies and Sno Balls, filed for bankruptcy.

Source: The Daily

In January, a video of four US marines urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan was leaked to the press. Texas Governor Rick Perry, then on the campaign trail, defended the Marines and criticized the Obama administration for overreacting to the widely circulated video. Perry said the Marines should be punished appropriately for their "mistake," but considering it a criminal act is a "bad message."

Source: Reuters

In impoverished urban areas where humans are more scarce, packs of feral dogs and cats run wild. The exact number of feral dogs and cats in the US is unknown, but there are certainly well over 100 million. The Harrisburg police force offered one solution to the rapidly growing issue in an internal memo that leaked to the public, which suggested that the officers shoot the dogs instead of bringing them to the shelters.

Source: Salon

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on January 6 that an amendment banning the use of the Sharia law in Oklahoma courts was discriminatory and unnecessary. The amendment sought to prevent the state's courts from looking "to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures" and singled out Sharia law. In its ruling, the Denver-based 10th Circuit stated that the appellants could not pose an actual problem and that there had never been an instance where the Sharia law had been used in Oklahoma courts. The measure, known as State Question 755, was approved with 70 percent of the vote in 2010.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Doctors can receive payments sometimes into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in exchange for providing advice and giving lectures to pharmaceutical companies. These doctors often practice medicine differently, engaging in riskier methods, such as prescribing powerful antipsychotic drugs to children. The recent health-care reform law requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose the payments they make to doctors for research, consulting, food, travel, and entertainment. The Obama administration expects the new law will benefit patients and prevent conflicts of interest between doctors and drug-making companies. Under the new standards, manufacturers of prescription drugs and devices will have to report if they pay a doctor to help develop, assess, and promote new products.

Source: New York Times

On December 16, President Obama announced the formal withdrawal of combat troops in Iraq, officially ending the nine-year conflict. As of December 31, according to Iraq Body Count, the number of Iraqi civilian deaths since the 2003 US invasion was 114,309.

Source: Iraq Body Count

  • Controversial ads, Obama's withdrawal plan,and marijuana might not be that bad.


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