While You Were Sleeping: March 2014 | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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While You Were Sleeping: March 2014 

A gist of what you may have missed.

  • © Thomas Mukoya / Reuters
An illegal cockfighting operation, described as one of the largest rings in the history of New York State, was shut down in the Ulster County town of Plattekill last month. The fights took place from Ulster all the way to Kings and Queens Counties, abusing nearly 30,000 birds raised in Plattekill. Roosters and chickens were given performance-enhancing drugs and sharpened razors replaced their sharp spurs. Overall, 70 people were taken into custody, nine people were arrested for felonies, and thousands of birds were rescued.
Source: New Paltz Times

CVS Caremark, the country's largest drugstore chain in overall sales, has announced that it will stop selling all tobacco products by October of this year. Though this means a $2 billion loss in yearly revenue, the chain has decided that it doesn't make much sense to sell cigarettes—an obvious health hazard—in a pharmacy committed to providing health care. The chief executive of CVS, Larry J. Merlo, claims the choice to ban tobacco in stores "was really more of a discussion about how to position the company for future growth."
Source: New York Times

We spend most of our time draining our iPhones' battery, and our iPhones may be returning the favor. According to new research, nighttime smartphone use not only makes it harder to fall asleep at night, but can also exhaust the user by the following afternoon. In two studies monitoring workers' sleeping habits and workplace activity after spending the night fondling their phones, findings concluded that smartphone usage was associated with fewer hours of sleep, "depleted reserves of self-control," and a less engaged work day. Leslie Perlow, Harvard Business School professor and author of Sleeping With Your Smartphone, has revealed that executives became more excited about work after getting the chance to "disconnect" from their mobile devices before bed.
Source: Wall Street Journal

It's safe to say most of us think of comedians as a bit wacky—and now there's research to prove it. The British Journal of Psychiatry has revealed that comedians have high levels of psychotic personality traits, after analyzing hundreds of stand-up men and women from Australia, Britain, and the United States. Compared to a control group of people with noncreative jobs, the comedians displayed much higher scores on four types of psychotic characteristics. Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford, leader of the study, stated that comedians have similar cognitive manners of people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but in lesser forms. Therefore, small doses of madness can reward people with new and original ideas. The funniest people out there are easily able to produce unique material through traits like manic thinking, cognitive disorganization, and introverted personality traits (particularly antisocial behavior and a tendency to avoid intimacy), as well as impulsive nonconformity.
Source: Reuters

Kain Colter, quarterback of the Northwestern University football team, has asked to be represented by a labor union—a first in the history of college sports. "Right now the NCAA is like a dictatorship," said Colter. "The only way things are going to change is if players have a union." Colter's efforts have been rebuffed by NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy, who stated, "This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education." If the National Labor Relations Board decides to certify the union, student-athletes in private colleges would be represented under the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA). CAPA's goals include better concussion and medical protections, and for scholarships to cover the full cost of students' college attendance. College sports generate $5.15 billion in revenues a year for schools.
Source: ESPN

According to a new major study, the first five years of a child's life sets the stage for his or her future weight. One third of 7,738 overweight kindergarteners were obese by the time they hit eighth grade. Ruth Loos, professor of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, explained, "The main message is that obesity is established very early in life, and that it basically tracks through adolescence to adulthood." The researchers who conducted the study stated that the cause of obesity "may be a combination of genetic predispositions to being heavy and environments that encourage overeating." In considering these findings, the fight against obesity must be started at an extremely young age, even before a child enters kindergarten.
Source: New York Times

Due to a recent boycott of lethal drugs, death row inmates have been facing longer deaths. According to a survey of death sentences taking place in Texas over the past three years, lethal injections now take twice as long after the utilization of the compound drug pentobarbital in July 2012. Executions with the former standardized three-drug cocktail took 10 minutes, whereas pentobarbital causes death after anywhere from 12-30 minutes. The drug scarcity is a result of various political entities, most notably the Europe Union, passing legislation criminalizing the sale of drugs for use in capital punishment. Unable to attain pentobarbital, Louisiana is considering using the same two-drug method used to kill Dennis McGuire, a convicted murderer who took up to 25 painful minutes to die in Ohio in January. McGuire's family is suing the state of Ohio based on witnesses' descriptions of his "cruel and inhumane death." Such suits are typically dismissed by courts.
Source: Guardian

Russian environmentalist and Sochi Olympics critic Yevgeny Vitishko was handed a three-year prison sentence while athletes were handed gold medals. He was initially sentenced to 15 days in jail on a charge of "hooliganism" for cursing in public. Later in Krasnodar—capital of the region where Sochi is located—the court ruled Vitishko had violated a sentence similar to parole for a previous crime in which he spray painted graffiti on a fence. Members of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International protested the arrest. Yulia Gorbunova, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, commented, "The case against Vitishko has been politically motivated from the start. It became clear they were trying to silence and extract retribution against certain persistent critics of the preparations for the Olympics." Vitishko co-authored a report critiquing Olympic preparations, such as building ski runs on land taken from the Sochi National Park.
Source: New York Times
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