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While You Were Sleeping: May 2012 

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Native Saugertisian Jimmy Fallon tweeted on March 30 that his childhood home in the Hudson Valley is up for sale.
Fallon’s post read: “My childhood home in Saugerties, NY is for sale. Please someone cool buy it! Great place to grow up.” The comedian’s former home is currently vacant. In Fallon’s March 16 “Tonight Show” appearance, he spoke about recently helping his parents to move out.
Source: Twitter, Westwood Metes & Bounds Realty

A study released in the April issue of American Sociological Review revealed that distrust in science by conservatives has increased dramatically. A Gallup poll showed that in 2012 only 30 percent of conservatives believed global warming is occurring versus 50 percent two years earlier. In contrast, there was almost no change shown in the opinions of liberals on the believing in global warming, with 74 percent in 2010 versus 72 percent in 2008. The study also found that Americans with moderate political views are even more skeptical of science. Moderates tend to be less educated than liberals or conservatives and are therefore more alienated from science.
Source: Los Angeles Times

Findings from a Virginia Tech study show that seven-and eight-year-old football players collect more than 750 hits to the head over the course of a season. Researchers placed instrumented helmets on the peewee players, providing the first quantitative assessment of the risk that young brains are exposed to in youth football. Lead researcher Stefan Duma, who has been studying head impacts among college players at Virginia Tech for nine seasons, notes that some of the impacts seen in youth football are equal in force to some of the bigger hits at the college level.
Source: Stone Phillips Reports

According to the annual community-powered eel census conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation, the number of American eels migrating in the Hudson River this year is likely to break records. Every spring, juvenile eels—just two inches in length—migrate 1000 miles from the Sargasso Sea to the Hudson River. On March 23, Scenic Hudson staff counted more than 2,700 baby eels in a single night’s migration. Once migrated, the eels live in upstate rivers and streams for decades before returning to the sea.
Source: Watershed Post

On March 26, Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens announced that Entergy will pay a $1.2 million civil penalty for violations of the Clean Water Act, Chemical Bulk Storage Regulations, and Navigation Laws at Indian Point. The violations occurred in November 2010, when the main transformer at Indian Point failed, resulting in an explosion and fire, causing the petroleum used to cool the transformer to be released into the Hudson River.
Source: Read Media

According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt is not only affecting recent graduating classes but America’s seniors as well. The data indicate that Americans age 60 and over collectively owe $36,000 in student loans. Some seniors are still in debt from loans they took out for their own schooling in their 20s, while others are still paying off loans they co-signed for their children or grandchildren. Students who graduated in 2010 had the highest-ever average of $25,250 in student debt. Seniors and recent graduates are similar in the way that they both face challenging job markets and higher rates of unemployment, which makes it more difficult to pay off loans.
Source: Time

A recent study suggests a link between maternal obesity and a heightened risk of autism in children. The research studied over 1,000 children aged two to five and found that mothers who are obese prior to pregnancy have a 1 in 53 chance of having an autistic child. According to associated press, that is a 67 percent increase from the 1 in 88 children diagnosed with autism normally. High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic conditions may present a heightened risk for developmental disorders for the child, researchers from the University of California, Davis, and Vanderbilt University revealed. The reason for the link is still unexplained but theories include improper insulin production may affect the transportation of blood sugar to the fetus, which would harm its brain development. The study also indicated a doubled risk of autism for mothers living close to a freeway during the last trimester.
Source: Slate

Scientists are calling for cuts in commercial fishing to protect populations of forage fish such as sardines and herring, and the natural predators who depend on them. According to the report “Little Fish, Big Impact,” the fishing of these species has increased, and now accounts for 37 percent of all fish harvested worldwide, up from about 8 percent 50 years ago. These fish are mainly ground and processed for use as animal feed or nutritional supplements and as feed for the aquaculture industry, which produces about half of human-consumed fish and shellfish. Forage fish prove to be an important link on the food chain, as they feed on plankton and then are consumed by larger fish like tuna and cod, as well as by seabirds and dolphins. The report suggests that they are worth more than $11 billion as a wild source of feed for larger, commercially valuable fish.
Source: New York Times

US honeybees remain in a dire state of health, with large annual die-offs that have become known as Colony Collapse Disorder. The deaths are related to corn crops that are planted with seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides produced by the German chemical company Bayer. Neonics have also been used in significant portions of the soy, wheat, cotton, sorghum, and peanut seed markets. This year’s corn crop is expected to cover over 94 million acres—the most in 68 years. The bees are affected by the pesticides in two ways: in large doses that occur at the time of seed planting, when neonic dust is spread in growing areas—killing the bees immediately—and in tiny doses of neonic-infused pollen that bees bring back into hives, which slowly attacks the bees’ immune systems and disrupts their nesting abilities.
Source: Mother Jones

A recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found that the food stamp program, one of the largest antipoverty efforts in the country, reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009. According to USDA figures, enrollment in the program grew substantially during the recession and immediately after, rising by 45 percent from January 2009 to January of this year. The stimulus package urged by President Obama created a significant rise in funding for the program. With the elections this year food stamps have come under increased scrutiny by Republican candidates, who see the program as creating an entitlement society. In response to seeing a “food stamps accepted here” sign outside a gas station, Congressman Allen West (R-FL) called the increase in food stamp use a “highly disturbing trend,” and said, “This is not something we should be proud to promote.” The program has lifted the average poor person’s income about six percent closer to the poverty line.
Source: New York Times

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