Category: Science and Other News

Are We Winning the War Against Diabetes?

Federal researchers on Wednesday reported the first broad national picture of progress against some of the most devastating complications of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations fell sharply over the past two decades.

The biggest declines were in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, which dropped by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 2010…

Beyond the declines in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, the study found that the rates of strokes and lower extremity amputations — including upper and lower legs, ankles, feet, and toes — fell by about half. Rates for end-stage kidney failure dropped by about 30 percent.

Unfortunately, diagnoses continue to increase: “The number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled over the period of the study and is now nearly 26 million.”

(Sabrina Tavernise & Denise Grady, New York Times)

Is The Health Care Spending Slowdown Over?

risingAmericans used more medical care in 2013 as the economy recovered, new reports show. Federal data suggests that health care spending is now growing just as quickly as it was prior to the recession.

“We’re at the highest level of growth since the slowdown began,” Paul Hughes-Cromwick, a senior health economist at the Altarum Institute, which tracks health spending. “You have to go back seven years to see growth like this.”

Sarah Kliff.

Did You Fill Out Your Tax Return Correctly?

Toy Businessman on a Pile of MoneyThe results for the EITC are not pretty. The Internal Revenue Services estimates that 21 to 25 percent of EITC payments were issued incorrectly during the fiscal year 2012, totaling from $11.6 to $13.6 billion in too much money being paid out to taxpayers. As a result, the Office of Management and Budget has labeled the EITC a “high-error” government program. Projections by the government show that the rate of error is expected to remain stubbornly high.

…[T]he IRS estimates that 21 percent of those who are eligible do not claim the credit at all. And so the EITC cuts both ways: both too much being handed out to taxpayers and too little.

Jia Lynn Yang.

Inequality Update

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The congressional district with the least income inequality is represented by Tea Party conservative Michele Bachmann and the one with the most inequality is represented by New Jerry Nadler, a liberal Democrat. And that’s not unusual: across the country, inequality is lower in Republican districts than in Democratic ones. (Francis Berry)

EPA Conducts Medical Tests on Human Subjects

The EPA actively recruits sick patients — suffering from obesity or asthma — and pays them to be subjected to diesel fumes in the glass cage shown below. According to a report by the EPA’s Inspector General:

The EPA obtained informed consent from the 81 human study subjects before exposing them to pollutants. While the consent forms met the requirements of 40 CFR Part 26, we found that exposure risks were not always consistently represented. Further, the EPA did not include information on long-term cancer risks in its diesel exhaust studies’ consent forms.

More on this story at NCPA’s Energy and Environment: Clearing the Air blog.

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Musical Chairs: Sebelius Out, Burwell In

800px-Judith_van_Westreenen_Stoelendans_LetteleSylvia Matthews Burwell…is a Clinton Democrat who spent the Bush years working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From 2011-2013, she led the Wal-Mart Foundation, which should make leftists nervous. Since April, 2013 she has been Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget…

Burwell was instrumental in closing government parks and monuments during the October, 2013 government shutdown, a move that cost the government more than it would have cost to keep them open with minimal staffing. She’s a political player who pretends to be a bureaucrat. (More)

To Be Governed

After a tree fell into a stream and caused flooding during a winter storm, Franklin Township, N.J., was barred from pulling the tree out until it had spent 12 days and $12,000 for the permits and engineering work that a state environmental rule required for altering any natural condition in a “C-1 stream.” The “Volcker Rule,” designed to prevent banks from using federally insured deposits to speculate in securities, was shaped by five federal agencies and countless banking lobbyists into 963 “almost unintelligible” pages. In New York City, “disciplining a student potentially requires 66 separate steps, including several levels of potential appeals”; meanwhile, civil-service rules make it virtually impossible to terminate thousands of incompetent employees. Children’s lemonade stands in several states have been closed down for lack of a vendor’s license.

From a review of Philip Howard, The Rule of Nobody, in the Wall Street Journal by Stuart Taylor, Jr.

The Birth Derth

Nearly half of all people now live in countries where women, on average, give birth to fewer than 2.1 babies — the number generally required to replace both parents — over their lifetimes. This is true in Melbourne and Moscow, São Paulo and Seoul, Tehran and Tokyo. It is not limited to the West, or to rich countries; it is happening in places as diverse as Armenia, Bhutan, El Salvador, Poland and Qatar. (NYT)

Good News and Bad News on Global Warming

The good news:

Natural worldThe United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change…

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

…According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

Are Medicinal Leeches Making a Comeback?

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They’re $13.50 apiece (shipping and Leech Mobile Home® extra).

Source: Leeches U.S.A.