An explosion of jellyfish populations (pictured above, Nomura jellyfish netted off the coast of Japan) across the globe is signaling a decline in the health of the world’s oceans, scientists say. The increased number of jellyfish reflects a combination of severe overfishing of natural predators (tuna, sharks, and swordfish), rising seatemperatures (ideal conditions for jellyfish breeding) caused by global warming, and pollution that has depleted oxygen levels in coastal shallows, killing other fish as jellyfish thrive. The jellyfish populations are becoming more pronounced in the Mediterranean, but problem areas include the Gulf of Mexico, the Black Sea, the Sea of Japan, the Yangtze estuary, and the coastlines of Australia, Hawaii, Namibia, and Britain.
Source: New York Times
The federal government is spending more money on veterans than it did after the demobilization of World War II. In 2007, expenditures hit $82 billion due to the rising cost of health care, the expense of caring for an aging population of Vietnam War veterans, and a new crop of severely wounded troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The figure exceeds the $80 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars spent in 1947 after most of the 16.1 million Americans serving in World War II left the service. There are currently 5.5 million veterans of all ages receiving VA health care.
Source: USA Today
A study conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University revealed that ABC, NBC, and CBS news anchors said more negative things about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama than Republican presidential candidate John McCain during the first six weeks of the general election
campaign. When network news people offered their opinions of the candidates during July, 72 percent of the statements made regarding Obama were negative, whereas only 57 percent of the statements made regarding McCain were negative. Obama has also received twice as much network time as McCain in the seven weeks after the end of the primary season, as found in a study conducted by the online Tyndall Report. Obama received 166 minutes of coverage, compared to 67 minutes of coverage for McCain.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Hundreds of people working in the military, government, and education are on a list of nearly 10,000 people who spent more than $7.3 million buying counterfeit high school and college degrees from a Spokane, Washington, diploma mill. Individuals on the list include high-ranking officials at NASA, the Department of Health, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Eight people who set up and operated the diploma mill were indicted and convicted of federal crimes, but the Department of Homeland Security is considering pursuing charges against an estimated 300 federal employees who bought counterfeit degrees.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women ages 15 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also a leading cause of death of pregnant women, mortality research shows, and African American and Native American women are at the highest risk for intimate-partner homicide. In addition, women who have experienced domestic violence are 80 percent more likely to suffer a stroke, 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, and 70 percent more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate-partner violence.
Source: Women’s eNews
Life expectancy is declining in parts of the US, according to a study published by the online journal Public Library of Science. Life-expectancy data was analyzed for all 3,141 counties in the US from 1961 to 1999, the latest year for which complete data has been released by the National Center for Health Statistics. Counties with significant declines in life spans were concentrated in Appalachia, the Southeast, Texas, the southern Midwest, and along the Mississippi River. Life-expectancy increases were mainly in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast. Since the last study, conducted in 1983, it was discovered that life spans rose with wealth and declined in counties where the proportion of African Americans was higher.
Source: New York Times
The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, a region with too little oxygen to support marine life, is nearly the largest on record this year, at 8,000 square miles—an area the size of Massachusetts. First studied in the early 1970s, the dead zone has doubled in size since 1985 due to hypoxia—very low levels of dissolved oxygen—a downstream effect of the nitrogen in fertilizers used for agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed. Intensified corn production, which relies heavily on fertilizer, has been a major factor in causing the entire Mississippi watershed, not just the Gulf, to suffer the effects of agricultural runoff, making half the streams and rivers unsafe for recreation or drinking.
Source: Washington Post
One out of every three working-age adults without health insurance in the US has received a diagnosis of a chronic illness, as estimated by the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The first detailed study of the health of the uninsured is based on an analysis of government health surveys from 2004 of adults ages 16 to 64 years old, and revealed that 11 million of the 36 million people without insurance had received a chronic illness. The most recent government estimate of the number of people in this country without health insurance is 47 million, meaning that there might be over 15 million people in the US right now with a chronic condition but no insurance to pay for medical care. About seven percent of the uninsured with a chronic illness who were surveyed said they typically went to a hospital emergency room for care.
Source: New York Times
Drug companies are hiking up the costs of a growing number of prescription drugs as much as 1,000 percent, increasing the costs for insurers, patients, and government programs. Last year, prices rose 7.4 percent on average for 1,344 brand-name drugs, and the average wholesale price of 26 brand-name drugs jumped 100 percent or more in a single adjustment, up 15 percent from 2004, researchers from the University of Minnesota say. Many of the drugs are older products that treat fairly rare but often serious or life-threatening conditions. Drug companies say the price increases are covering the costs of keeping the drugs on the market, but patients are eating the costs by being forced to pay increased insurance premiums when hospitals choose
not to cover the costs.
Source: USA Today