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While You Were Sleeping: September 2013 

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A study conducted on 1,300 moms and their children, who were breastfed for between less than a month to more than a year, found that each month of breastfeeding bolstered a 0.3-point increase in intelligence by age 3, and a 0.5-point increase by age 7. Another 2010 study published by the journal Pediatrics, in testing 10-year olds who were breastfed for six months or more outscored their formula-fed peers in reading, writing, and math. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while three out of four new moms start out breastfeeding, less than half continue for six months or more and just 15 percent breastfeed exclusively for six months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding benefits both moms and their newborns. Breast milk is loaded with nutrients and antibodies that strengthen immune systems. Breastfeeding is also found to protect moms against chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and asthma.
Source: ABC News

Starting August 1, the North Carolina legislature agreed to give $10 million to 7,000 victims forcibly sterilized between 1929 and 1974. The state's eugenics program was among the most extensive and long-running of its kind. Since the early 20th century, more than 60,000 Americans who were in institutions, deemed feeble-minded, had unfit human traits, or were children of abandoned alcoholics were victims of forced vasectomies or hysterectomies by the government. Thirty-three states had forced sterilization programs, with California's being the largest with a record of sterilizing 20,000 people. Only about 200 North Carolinians have come forward, with their compensation amounting to about $50,000.
Source: CNN

In order to combat vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries—a malady which causes the death and blindness of over a million children each year—German scientists have develop and harvested Golden Rice in the Philippines. This genetically modified grain contains extra genes that allow it to produce beta-carotene, which humans convert to vitamin A. The researchers started the initiative in 1993 and were just weeks away from submitting the crop to authorities for a safety evaluation when about 400 protestors attacked the trial field and uprooted all of the plants. The members of the dissenting organization, Sikwal-GMO, said they oppose the crop because they believe global agrochemical corporations are behind Golden Rice, and that it poses a danger to health and biodiversity. Nonetheless, researchers maintained they would persist in their efforts to bring the project to fruition.
Source: BBC News (UK)

In late July, Halliburton, the oilfield services company, has agreed to plead guilty to destruction of critical evidence after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. The company said it would pay the fine of $200,000, and will be subject to three years of probation for the explosion that killed 11 workers and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches. All three oil companies charged in the oil spill including BP and Transocean—the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig—have pleaded guilty. Halliburton had recommended that BP, the British oil company, use 21 metal centralizing collars on the well before drilling, but BP chose to use only six. After the accident, during an internal investigation, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed differences between using six and 21 collars. After investigation Halliburton continued to say that BP was neglectful to follow its advice. The presidential commission that investigated the accident reported that Halliburton officials knew before the explosion that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable, but still went ahead with the cementing. After the oil spill, Halliburton made a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Source: New York Times

A survey published by Science took the first ever view of raw data from 60 quantitative studies gathering evidence that suggests high temperatures increase interpersonal violence with more than a 50 percent increase in intergroup violence. For every one standard deviation of warmer temperatures, the median frequency of interpersonal violence—murder, rape, assault, etc.—rose by 4 percent. The study also found that case studies of places with exceptionally high or low rainfall—particularly those that impact agricultural production—leads both to interpersonal and intergroup violence. The Syrian civil war is a recent example of the correlation between climate and conflict. It's not just isolated hot days that spur increased violence; the study found increased conflict in warmer-than-usual periods over timespans ranging from an hour to thousands of years.
Source: Mother Jones

Over 1,100 haikus will travel to Mars on NASA's spacecraft MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) in November. In a competition announced in May by the University of Colorado called "Going to Mars," individuals could submit poetry for a chance to be included on the DVD that would be carried aboard the spacecraft during its mission to study the red planet's upper atmosphere. Entries followed the classic three-line poetic structure of the haiku. The first-place winner United Kingdom's Benedict Smith, won with 2,031 votes: It's funny, they named / mars after the God of war / have a look at Earth. Due to the popular response to the competition the contest organizers decided to ship off any haiku with two or more votes to Mars, instead of the top three.
Source: Slate

Though Apple stores typically attract young job seekers in their mid 20s who are enthusiastic to work for the global retailer, life as an employee is far from hunky-dory. On a regular basis, workers must wait in line for about 30 minutes after every shift in order to have their bags checked for stolen goods. Last month, former workers filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple alleging that the company owes them wages for this additional time spent in the workplace, which amount to $1,500 a year. Though many people assume Apple workers must reap the benefits of working for a company that last year sold $16 billion in merchandise, employees make an average of $11.91 an hour and work in perpetually hectic environments. Store technicians are only permitted to spend 10 to 15 minutes with each customer, which often amounts to helping multiple people at a time—a circumstance that also doesn't allow for many state-mandated breaks. In 2009, Apple was named in a lawsuit for alleging that they violated California labor laws, prompting the company to add a feature to workers' computers that requires them to affirm they had taken their two 10-minute breaks before punching out for the day. However, employees said many of them check the box even if they haven't because taking a break would mean overburdening their colleagues. Other stores have implemented attendance policies that threaten workers with getting fired if they miss more than four days of work in a 90-day period, no matter the reason. Though Apple expects workers to stay with the company for an average of six years, most quit after about two due to these issues and the job's lack of upward mobility.
Source: New York Times

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