AbledIssues/Psychology/Preventing Terrorist Radicalization and Recruitment

POSTED ON June 6th  - POSTED IN AbledIssues, Uncategorized
AbledIssues: Psychology: Preventing Terrorist Radicalization & Recruitment. Image: Photo shows two female forensic psychologists making a presentation on the subject. A photo of two women wearing burqas is project on the screen behind them.

Using Psychology to Understand & Prevent Terrorist Recruitment

Updated: June 06, 2017

As security forces continue their investigations into the  Manchester and London terrorist attacks, the larger debate over preventing radicalization and recruitment of ‘home-grown’ jihadis is being renewed.

The following report from June of 2016 by Andrea Korte on the American Association For The Advancement Of Science, is even more relevant this year.

Psychologists understand the forces that make people susceptible to recruitment and driven to radicalization, knowledge that can help prevent terrorist organizations from expanding their ranks, according to a 15 June gathering at the AAAS Pacific Division’s annual meeting at the University of San Diego.

Recruitment is a multifaceted process, said Jessica Mueller of Alliant International University during a symposium on the use of forensic psychological science to understand the causes and effects of terrorism that was sponsored by the Pacific Division Psychology Section.

Terrorist groups target human demands and necessities: “the need to belong, the need for money, the need for family,” Mueller said.

The radicalization of individuals – who come from a range of cultures and possess a diverse mix of ideological beliefs – begins to take hold as recruits adopt increasingly extreme ideals and aspirations – something Mueller calls “an essential process in formulating a terrorist’s mindset.”

“It solidifies their commitment to the cause,” she said.

Charity Vizcaino of the University of San Diego walked through the multi-step process by which terrorist organizations target and radicalizes recruits from the United States and other Western nations.

The first move often takes place when individuals are facing personal turmoil or experiencing feelings of discrimination or alienation. Such factors make them more receptive to new ideas, she said.

Social media and online sites provide such individuals an initial meeting place, a venue well recognized by jihadist militant groups as good recruiting ground.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, uses “positive framing” in its propaganda newspaper and on social media to draw in new followers, said Nick Davis of the University of San Diego. The group has claimed responsibility for attacks that killed 130 in Paris last year, 32 in Brussels in March and 49 people in the Orlando nightclub attack.

The organization recruits its members directly through social media, said Claudia Dominguez of the University of San Diego. Young women on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, identified based on their Muslim last names, are lured to Syria to fight alongside the militants as “jihadi brides,” she said.

The radicalization process deepens in its second phase when an individual seeks religious meaning. This is followed by what is called “frame alignment,” in which individuals connect with the public-facing agenda of the terrorist group, Vizcaino said.

Finally, the terrorist group socializes their new recruit through psychological conditioning, religious education, and ideological training.

“The individual experiences religious lessons and maybe activities with this group to facilitate indoctrination and then subsequent value changes,” Vizcaino explained.

Mueller cited the social psychology concept of in-groups and out-groups. Terrorist groups instill an “us-versus-them” attitude among their recruits, she said, to justify violence against the out-group: those who do not align with the values and goals of the terrorist organization.

Such findings can be used in the inverse to support de-radicalization efforts, the presenters said. Saudi Arabia and Europe have each launched programs to encourage radicalized recruits to disassociate with terrorist groups through a range of tactics. They engage family members in the process to appeal to the need of recruits to belong and become part of a community.

While more research must be done on the effectiveness of such programs, the presenters cited the importance of education in preventing radicalization in the first place.

They cited a program called Teachers Against Violent Extremism, started in Nairobi, Kenya, by teacher Ayub Mohamud. Mohamud trains teachers to equip students with skills to resist recruitment by terrorist groups. The panel called for more programs like this to be established, particularly in the United States.

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AbledTech.iPhone Warning.Do Not Click CrashSafari Links

POSTED ON January 26th  - POSTED IN AbledTech
AbledTech link box shows a photo of someone holding an iPhone with the CrashSafari.com url showing in the Safari browser. The headline reads: DOn't Click 'Crash Safari' links-Here's a fix.
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UPDATE: Apple claims it’s fixed | Temporary Workaround

 

Source: TheGuardian.com

An issue with Apple’s Safari web browser that caused it to suddenly crash for many iPhone, iPad and Mac users globally has now been resolved, the company said.

Safari users had found the service crashing and returning them to their device home screen when they attempted to use the app’s search bar to browse the web, according to widespread complaints on social media.

However, not all users appear to have been affected by the issue, with those who are still having problems being advised to clear their website data from within the settings app to complete the fix.

Many angry iPhone and Mac users have taken to social media to report that typing into the address bar is causing the application to suddenly close.

The bug, which doesn’t appear to be a problem for all users, seems to be connected to Apple’s Safari suggestions function, which responds to search requests and Url queries.

A temporary fix for the issue is for users to access settings on their Apple device, and under Safari, disable the suggestions function.

Photo from Apple shows Safari settings.

An alternative workaround is to enter private browsing mode. This can be done when opening a new tab in Safari. Browsing in private mode will turn the background of the browser black.

The other option is to download a separate browser application altogether, such as Google’s Chrome.

The Guardian has tested iPhones that are both unaffected and affected by the bug.

When a user types into the address bar, the text is sent to servers, which respond with autocomplete search terms, popular sites and other information.

This would suggest the bug’s origins are with the servers. Apple reports no current issues and has yet to respond to the Guardian’s request for comment, but is promising an explanation in due course.

It is unclear whether the bug is related to the 9.2.1 iOS update released earlier this month but it appears not, as all operating systems – various OS and desktop iterations – seem to be experiencing the issue.

Reports of the problem have spread across Reddit, Twitter, Apple forums and social media around the globe, with “Safari” trending on Twitter in various locations.

One user on a Mac forum wrote that: “70% of our Macs in our office have this issue, kind of wiped us out this morning.”

The Safari bug comes just days after a prank website, CrashSafari.com, was set up to reboot users’ devices. The website causes the browser to overload with a self-generated string of text, causing devices to shutdown.

‘History’ and URL Overload Will Crash Your iPhone

 

Source: NBC News By Devin Coldewey

Pranksters on the social web are sending people to a website that causes smartphones to crash — so you might want to hold off on clicking or tapping random links today.

Related: Apple (Kind of) Fixes iPhone-Crashing Text Message Bug

Don’t worry, it isn’t some critical bug that Apple or Google needs to patch — it’s just ordinary webpage components used maliciously to overload just about any browser.

The website, crashsafari.com (and crashchrome.com — needless to say, don’t visit either), adds numbers to the address bar as fast as it can — crashsafari.com/0, then /01, then /012, /0123, and eventually /0123456789101112131415… and so on. Each time it adds a number, that page is saved to your history — and it adds up fast.

How your browser history will look after visiting Crashsafari. This list goes on for many, many pages. Devin Coldewey / NBC News

This history and URL overload leads mobile browsers to crash and desktop ones to hang (You should still be able to force-quit the application if it’s stalling). “What were you expecting?” reads the only text on the page.

Clicking on the nefarious link could result to a major annoyance — unsaved data could be lost — but it’s unlikely to cause any lasting damage to your device.

The bug is old, but the joke is new, so exercise caution in following links until the jokers in your online acquaintance tire of sending friends’ phones into death spirals. Like any other joke link (a “Rickroll,” for example), this one may be disguised with an URL shortener like t.co or bitly.

READ MORE ON THIS STORY AT:  NBCNews

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AbledPeople-Daniel Kish-Why-Lily-Grace Hooper-needs-her-long-cane

POSTED ON November 22nd  - POSTED IN AbledPeople
AbledPeople Post-banner shows Daniel Kish standing on a round red-carpeted stage at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver. He has dark hair and is wearing a red polo shirt with black trousers and is holding a long white navigation cane. Behind him is a large 3D logo spelling out TED in backlit capital letters. The audience surrounds the stage. The headline reads: Daniel Kish: Why Lily-Grace should be allowed her long cane.

The Real-Life ‘Batman’ Fights For Lily-Grace Hooper’s Right To Use A Long Navigation Cane And Asks:“Who’s Really Getting In Whose Way?

 

Perhaps no one is better qualified to weigh-in and provide professional advice to both sides in the debate over a blind 7 year-old UK girl’s right to use a long navigation in school than Daniel Kish. He calls it a human right.

Daniel holds two Masters degrees, Life-Span Developmental Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino, and Special Education from Cal. State Los Angeles. Daniel also holds two current national certificates in orientation and mobility – Certificated Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), since 1996, and National Orientation and Mobility Certificant (NOMC), since 2005. He is the first blind person to obtain the COMS, and also the first to obtain both certificates.

Less formally, he’s known around the world as ‘The Real Life Batman‘ for his self-developed form of echolocation that he calls ‘FlashSonar™‘, a humanized form of sonar similar to that used by bats and dolphins to navigate in the dark by sending out high-pitched clicking sounds.

Why did Daniel develop this technique and what’s all of this got to do with Lily-Grace’s case? You’ll get the fascinating answers in the following video of Daniel’s presentation at the main international TED 2015 Conference in Vancouver. Then we’ll follow that with why he’s best qualified to comment on  what’s shaping up to be “Canegate” in Bristol, England, and the scientific justification for Lily-Grace’s use of a long cane.

Daniel Kish, Founder and President of 15 year-old Long Beach, California-based World Access For The Blind is speaking out on behalf of 7 year-old Bristol student Lily-Grace Hooper who was banned from using her white navigation cane at school because it may pose a danger to others.

Daniel asks the rhetorical question, Is the danger from the navigation cane or more from the ill-informed and ill-experienced ‘health and safety’ regulators?”

Daniel and his Perceptual Navigation Instructors have provided long-cane training and FlashSonarEcholocation training to thousands of students and families in the United States and around the world, and to over 60 students and families in the U.K through about two dozen workshops since 2007, including 12 children below the age of 4.

As Daniel says, “I regard perception as a sovereign right, not to be infringed upon because it may seem inconvenient.

I have found that blind people and their sighted peers, children and adults alike, learn to accommodate the longer cane when it is respectfully regarded as a part of natural function.

Blind students learn to consider the presence of their cane with respect to others, and sighted people learn to respect that presence. If these concerns persist in a given setting, some education provided to peers should resolve the matter.

Longer canes can become awkward in congested environments. Congested technique usually resolves this, and I find children accommodate this quite well. Concerns are sometimes raised about the cane getting in people’s way.

At the risk of sounding militant, who’s getting in whose way?”

It’s Daniel Kish’s passionate belief that any child who is blind from the early years should learn to use a long cane as soon as they can walk. He has met many parents desperate to help their young children, but unable to find the support they want in their local area. He has also met other parents with older children, who say they wish they had known of his approach sooner.

In his view, withholding cane training until age seven or above is likely to cause long-term damage to the child’s mobility and independence. He calls this “dependency training” because “it fosters dependency at the age when a child should be achieving self direction.”

Daniel explains, “I worked with an 18 month old child who would only crawl when not holding on to someone. However, when she was offered the adult cane, she began taking control of the cane within minutes to gauge surface gradients and the height of steps. Within half an hour, she had wrested the cane from her dad’s hand, and was given one more appropriate to her size.”

Here he explains his unconventional approach which he calls “perceptual mobility training”. He defines this as: “Engaging the whole brain in a developmentally natural manner that activates the perceptual imaging system by fostering self directed freedom of discovery. Rather than trying to push a contrived set of skills into the student, we stimulate the imaging system to manifest skills as they are needed. It is not a collection of skills that make perception happen; it is perception that compels skills to develop.”

The Perceptual Imaging System

“Perception occurs in two stages – awareness and imaging. Awareness simply refers to the stimulus knowledge that something is present to the senses. Imaging occurs when this awareness takes on form and substance in a person’s mind. An image doesn’t need to be visual; it can be tactile or auditory as well.

For example, a young boy moving his cane touched my shoe and said, ‘I just touched someone’s shoe.’ It is one thing to know that your cane has touched something, but something about the boy’s perception of the sensation told him, not just that he’d touched something, but that it was a shoe. The brain can build images drawn from any sensory input, and any experience.”

Choosing a cane for a small child

There are as many types of canes and ways to use them as there are body types and ways of moving. These are general guidelines based on over 15 years work with many thousands of students, teachers and families of every type in nearly 40 countries, and my expertise in perceptual development. I and other instructors adopting this approach have found that it successfully activates the brain’s recognition and acceptance of the cane as a natural perceptual extension.

We use what I call a perception cane, which has the following qualities:

Full length

A certain distance of perception is needed to activate the imaging system. For this the cane should be about as long as the child is tall. Sighted people use their eyes to scan several steps ahead.

A blind child, who has shorter arms and may move more quickly and erratically than an adult, will need a long enough cane to perceive advance information about the way ahead. This allows time for the brain to receive and process all the information it needs to make decisions on moving around.

Lightweight

The cane is a delicate instrument, like an antenna, and should be as light as possible. In order to be recognised and accepted by the brain as a natural perceptual extension, the cane should not be cumbersome or awkward.

I do not usually recommend roller tips or other heavy tips. A big tip may seem easier, but it can only go so far toward covering up technique that lacks finesse.

Conductivity

As a perceptual extension, the cane should convey as much information as possible with as much ease as possible. For children I generally recommend rigid, non-folding canes. They are generally lighter, sturdier, and more conductive. They are also less likely to lead to “folded cane syndrome” in which the cane spends more time folded and stowed away than actually in use. I also do not generally recommend foam cane grips, as these tend to insulate the hand from sensations.

For more information about long cane training or to book a workshop or consultation, call World Access For The Blind at +1 866.396.7035 or visit their Contact Us page.

You can also send a message at their Facebook page.

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AbledRights link box shows a photo of Kristy Hooper and her 7 year-old daughter Lily-Grace standing outside the gates of Pembroke Primary School in Bristol, England. Lily-Grace is holding her white navigation cane because she is blind. The headline reads: Bristol, UK: Blind child's Cane Banned. Click on the banner to go to the story.
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A screen grab of petition at Change.org reads: Petitioning Headmistress of Hambrook Primary School. Hambrook Primary School: Lily-Grace Needs Her Long, White Cane at School! The photo shows 7-year-old Lily Grace, walking outside the gates of the school, cane in hand, with her mother Kristy by her side. Click the banner to sign the petition which had 3,165 signatures as of this writing. It needs 1,835 more to reach 5,000.
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AbledRights-Blind Girl Told White Cane Is Too Risky For School

POSTED ON November 22nd  - POSTED IN AbledRights
AbledRights Post banner shows a photo of Kristy Hooper and her 7 year-old daughter Lily-Grace standing outside the gates of Pembroke Primary School in Bristol, England. Kristy is holding her blind daughter's white navigation cane. The headline reads: Bristol, UK: Blind girl told white cane is 'too risky' for school.

Health and safety “gone mad”: Blind Bristol girl banned from using walking cane in primary school

Source: Bristol Post by Michael Yong November 17, 2015 + Updates

A blind girl has been banned from bringing her walking cane to school for “health and safety” reasons. Lily-Grace Hooper, who is seven, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old, which left her virtually blind.

But her school, Hambrook Primary School, has now told the youngster she can no longer use her walking cane, because it could trip up teachers and other pupils at the school.

A risk assessment by Gary Learmonth from Sensory Support Service – done on behalf of the school – said the cane caused a high risk to other people around Lily-Grace, and that she should instead have full adult support “100 per cent” at all times.

But her furious mother, Kristy, is worried her daughter will become to dependent on having someone show her around, and said having a helper following her around will set her daughter apart from the rest of the pupils.

_____________________________________________________________________

LATEST UPDATE: From Kristy Hooper via Facebook: “It’s a stalemate.”

Kristy Hooper I am the lucky Mummy of Lily-Grace. I will fight for her right to inclusion! We may have the world’s support but not her classmates. Terribly sad situation. She has missed a whole week of school through no fault of her own. I have reached out to the head with hope of resolution. We have stalemate! There is a petition up please, please sign and support just use #LilyGraceHooper to find thank you all for your continued support xx Or find her page here https://m.facebook.com/Lily-Grace-1413976252233173/

You can also click on the banner at the bottom of this page to sign the Petition.

_____________________________________________________________________

Lily-Grace suffered a stroke days after she was born. As a result she lost her 3D vision, and became blind in her right eye. She can now only see lights and colours in her left.

Shortly before Christmas last year, she started using long wrapping paper rolls to help her get around the house after stumbling across them.

Since then, she had asked her mum for a stick for Christmas. The seven-year-old was given a long fibre-glass walking cane by Common Sense Cane, a charity for blind children earlier this year.

Lily-Grace started using the cane in school in April. Kristy said it had become “an extension of her daughter’s arm” and that it was vital she was allowed to use it.

She added: “It is a disability, but I want to celebrate it and make sure she can become independent.

“When the school told me she can no longer bring her cane into school, I just thought this must be health and safety gone mad.

“She hasn’t had any problems with any of the other students, and none of the parents have complained about it – in fact, they have all been very supportive.

“I don’t understand where the school is coming from. Lily-Grace has taken to the cane very quickly, and she needs it as she travels to school, walks to the playground, or just being in school.”

She added: “I am absolutely livid. What about the health and safety of my girl? I like school, they are a good school, but this really is very poor advice.

Leading charity for vision-impaired children, Blind Children UK, said it was imperative a child learned independence from a young age.

A spokesman said: “Using a cane teaches a child to keep themselves safe and can help them to become less reliant on others.

“Early intervention is vital to help a child with sight loss move around more confidently and grow towards greater independence as an adult.

“While a cane may not be suitable for every child or young person with sight loss, if they are taught how to use it by a trained habilitation specialist, then, in general, there shouldn’t be an issue with using one safely around school.”

The risk assessment said Lily-Grace should have full adult support at all times, and that she should use the hand rails to get about.

She also has been asked to “walk carefully over all surfaces” especially paving stones and wet drain covers – but without the use of her current cane.

Instead the risk assessment wants her to use a shortened cane, something her parents say is not suitable because she had become used to her current cane.

Hambrook Primary School’s head teacher, Jo Dent, said they would discuss the situation with Kristy.

She said: “The school’s mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment.

“We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions.

“We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion.

“The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure, until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.

“It was initially hoped that we would have this resolved within a day or two.”

UPDATE: Regulator rubbishes ‘health and safety’ claims which denied blind Bristol girl her white cane

Geoff Cox, who heads the HSE’s public sector team, also works with schools on safety.

He said: “There is nothing in health and safety regulations that would ban a child using a walking stick in school, or anywhere else for that matter.

“In cases like these people need to sit down and work out sensible and proportionate arrangements that will work in practice. I hope common sense prevails here.

“This is an example of someone using it the wrong way. I’ve never heard of it before.

“Children have to grow up to live independently and find their own way, and other children have to learn to live in a society where there are people with disabilities and how to give them space or help them.”

He hopes the school will now work with charity Blind Children UK so they can come to a solution.

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Regulator-rubbishes-health-safety-claims-denied/story-28193039-detail/story.html#ixzz3s7fJyLcx
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AbledPeople link box shows Daniel Kish standing on a round red-carpeted stage at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver. He has dark hair and is wearing a red polo shirt with black trousers and is holding a long white navigation cane. Behind him is a large 3D logo spelling out TED in backlit capital letters. The audience surrounds the stage. The headline reads: Daniel Kish: Save Lily-Grace's Long Cane. Click the box to go to the story.
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A screen grab of petition at Change.org reads: Petitioning Headmistress of Hambrook Primary School. Hambrook Primary School: Lily-Grace Needs Her Long, White Cane at School! The photo shows 7-year-old Lily Grace, walking outside the gates of the school, cane in hand, with her mother Kristy by her side. Click the banner to sign the petition which had 3,165 signatures as of this writing. It needs 1,835 more to reach 5,000.
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AbledConsumer-Supplemenets Linked To Liver Toxicity

POSTED ON November 21st  - POSTED IN AbledConsumer
AbledConsumer post banner shows composite screen grab of the product Jack 3D from the USPlabs LLC website. The headline reads: Supplements: Crackdown on products linked to liver toxicity.

U.S. Federal Agencies Crack Down On Supplement Fraud

 

Sources: Bloomberg Business News (David McLaughlin | Tom Schoenberg | Andrew Harris) | WebMD (Brenda Goodman, MA) November 18, 2015

Seven federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and the FDA, held an extraordinary joint press conference Tuesday to announce the civil and criminal indictments of more than 100 makers and marketers of dietary supplements.

At the center of the action, called the Dietary Supplement Sweep, was an 11-count criminal indictment against Dallas-based USPlabs. The company made weight loss and bodybuilding supplements blamed for dozens of liver injuries — some which required transplants — and several fatal heart attacks in young, apparently healthy adults, authorities say.

“The USPlabs case and others brought as part of this sweep illustrate alarming practices the department found — practices that must be brought to the public’s attention so consumers know the serious health risks of untested products,” says the DOJ’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer in a press release.

The allegations are the latest of a half dozen criminal and civil cases announced in the past week by the U.S. Justice Department, the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies — part of a campaign officials say has led to actions against more than 100 makers and marketers in the lightly regulated dietary supplements market.

USPlabs and a California company, SK Laboratories Inc., fraudulently sold products containing a stimulant called DMAA, documenting it as geranium powder, the U.S. said in its 11-count indictment against the companies and several individuals.

‘100% Synthetic’

“Lol stuff is completely 100% synthetic,” an SK Laboratories executive wrote to USPlab’s co-founders in a May 2009 e-mail cited in the complaint.

Spokesmen for USPlabs and SK Laboratories didn’t respond to messages seeking comment on the charges.

A statement by the Justice Department, early in the day, that it would announce a criminal action involving dietary supplements sent retailers’ shares plummeting. GNC Holdings Inc. fell as much as 27 percent and Vitamin Shoppe Inc. slid as much as 10 percent.

When the indictment was made public later in the day, neither company was charged or accused of wrongdoing.

The indictment notes that workout and weight-loss supplements are generally sold online and in big-box stores across the U.S., as well as through national retail chains. The names of those chains are blacked out in the indictment that was made public.

‘Redacted Version’

Other court documents, however, refer to GNC as one of the national retailers: GNC’s name inadvertently appeared in a version of the indictment that was filed earlier, prosecutors said in a sealed motion last week that sought permission to submit a newer and “minimally redacted version” of the indictment.

“Although the indictment does not directly accuse GNC of misconduct, this court should protect third parties from harm due to being named but not charged in indictments,” the government wrote in the sealed motion reviewed by Bloomberg News.

GNC shares recovered somewhat, closing down 6.4 percent at $29.07 in New York. Vitamin Shoppe closed at $28.19, a 4.9 percent decline.

A spokeswoman for GNC had no immediate comment. A spokeswoman for Vitamin Shoppe didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Justice Department’s action is part of a broader crackdown on supplements that contain ingredients other than those listed on the label or that make claims unsupported by adequate scientific evidence, it said in a statement.

‘Wakeup Call’

The indictments “should serve as a wakeup call to the supplement industry,” Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Mizer said at a Justice Department news conference announcing the charges. “This is just one step.”

The Justice Department also filed five civil suits in the past week against companies it said had misled consumers about their products’ ingredients or health benefits. These were investigated by the FDA and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, it said.

USPlabs was part of a conspiracy to import ingredients from China, under false certificates of analysis and false labeling, the Justice Department said.

USPlabs told some of its retailers and wholesalers that it used natural plant extracts in its Jack3d and OxyElite Pro products, according to the indictment, when it was using a synthetic stimulant made in a Chinese chemical factory.

 

READ MORE ON THIS STORY AT BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

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AbledHealth-Coffee-Studies

POSTED ON November 21st  - POSTED IN AbledHealth
AbledHealth post banner shows a cup of coffee as seen from above sitting on a chalkboard on which an electrocardiogram waveform has been drawn in chalk. The headline reads: Coffee Studies: Meta-analysis links lower risk of a sudden death.

Coffee could literally be a lifesaver

 

From CNN.com by Carina Storrs | November 16, 2015

Throughout the ages, coffee has been called a virtue and a vice for our health. The latest study comes down in favor of virtue: It says that drinking coffee, whether regular or decaf, could reduce the risk of death.

Researchers started with data from surveys of adults in the United States that asked how much coffee they consumed, as well as other foods and drinks, and then they looked at their rates of death and disease over the following two decades.

The study was large, including more than 200,000 women and 50,000 men.

At first, researchers did not see an obvious relationship between coffee consumption and death rates. Study participants who drank between less than a cup of coffee and three cups a day had 5% to 9% lower risk of dying than those who drank no coffee. Those who drank more than three cups a day did not see any benefit. The finding was murky, like previous studies, some of which suggested a benefit and some did not.

But when the researchers looked at coffee consumption only among people who said they never smoked, the relationship became clearer: Those who drank between less than a cup of coffee and three cups a day had 6% to 8% lower risk of dying than noncoffee drinkers. Those who drank three to five cups and more than five cups had 15% and 12% lower death rates.

“The lower risk of mortality is consistent with our hypothesis that coffee consumption could be good for you (because) we have published papers showing that coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes and (heart) disease,” said Ming Ding, a doctoral student in the Harvard School of Public Health department of nutrition. Ding is the lead author of the study, which was published on Monday in the journal Circulation.

It might have been hard to see the link between coffee consumption and lower death rates because coffee and smoking often go hand-in-hand, and any benefits associated with the first could have been canceled out by the second. Although the study participants were asked about smoking, there might have been a tendency, especially among heavy smokers, to underestimate the average number of cigarettes they smoked per day, Ding said.

CLICK HERE TO READ WHAT’S BEHIND THE LOWER DEATH RATE

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Parents, schools grapple with how to talk with children about Paris attacks

From CTVNews.Ca | AP By Colin Binkley | Nov. 17, 2015

The deadly attacks in France left schools and parents around the world grappling with what to say to children, and how to say it.

When classes resumed this week, many teachers struggled to decide whether to discuss what happened in Paris. Parents wondered whether to talk about the violence or how to explain it. From country to country, the topic was tackled in different, and similar, ways.

Many schools held moments of silence to honour the hundreds of people who were killed or injured while out simply enjoying a Friday evening. Some held open discussions about terrorism and the Paris attacks. Teachers of younger students often tried to shield them from the topic.

NEW YORK

At the Lycee Francais de New York, students were called into assemblies by grade to talk about the news and their reactions.

“We took a really careful approach,” said Elisabeth King, a spokeswoman for the French-language school in Manhattan. “It’s really about listening and alleviating fear.”

PARIS

In Paris, schools reopened Monday with normal routines. In one public school, a teacher drew a classroom of 7-year-old children to a corner, had them sit close together on the floor and explained there were attackers at a stadium. The teacher said there were more and more police every minute to protect people.

A French newspaper, Liberation, published a special children’s edition Monday.

LOS ANGELES

At Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, social studies teacher Daniel Jocz scrapped his lesson plan to discuss the attacks. He asked his 11th grade students if they had any questions, and then taught a primer on the history and politics of the Middle East and North Africa.

“I want them to have a clear picture of the complexity,” he said. “And I realize it’s a daunting task because many of them have not had any historical background.”

TORONTO

In Toronto, the school district’s director of education issued guidelines Monday to help teachers and parents address the subject with their students and children. Tips included addressing students’ concerns about the events and asking open-ended questions about their feelings.

“It is normal for people to try to make sense of things when a serious loss occurs. Allow your child to share his or her ideas and speculations,” Director Donna Quan said in the guidelines. “Help them to separate what they know from what they are guessing about.”

Experts say parents should avoid talking about the attacks with children younger than 6. For older children, parents should invite them to watch the news as a family and then discuss it, said Dr. Steven Berkowitz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania.

“For a lot of kids this is part and parcel of the world they’ve grown up in,” he said. “Often, kids may have less of a reaction to these events than we do as adults, and sometimes we’re surprised by that, and we shouldn’t be.”

Berkowitz said parents should take care to avoid passing their own anxiety on to their children.

“A lot of adults are pretty overwhelmed and scared by this, and they have to be aware of their own feelings,” he said. “If you’re feeling that way as an adult or caregiver, which is understandable, it’s important that you get support from somebody else and not put it onto the kids.”

In the U.S., individual schools decided how to respond to the news. The superintendent of schools in Hartford, Connecticut, distributed guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists to principals on how to help children cope with terrorism.

ITALY

In Italy, the minister of education asked schools and universities to devote a minute of silence and at least an hour of reflection to the attacks.

Minister Stefania Giannini said in a message that educators must help students “reject, today more than ever, any temptation toward xenophobia or racism.”

Associated Press writers Lori Hinnant in Paris, Charmaine Noronha in Toronto and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.

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AbledSurvival-How To Survive A Terrorist Attack

POSTED ON November 21st  - POSTED IN Uncategorized
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How to survive a terror attack: Run, don’t play dead

UPDATED: June 06, 2017

In the wake of the Manchester and London terrorist attacks, attention is focusing once again on the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Office’s (NaCTSO) guidelines of what to do if you’re caught in an area of a terrorist attack to increase your chances of survival.

The guidelines were first drafted after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November of 2015. The first attack on the Bataclan  concert venue prompted the video above on the right. The video above on the left soon followed in anticipation of such attacks happening in the UK.

The ‘Stay Safe’ guidelines outline different measures to put in place to try and protect company employees or family members in a terrorism situation.  They also advise that anyone caught in or near an attack should run from the scene and not play dead, but only if there is a clear and safe exit route with no risk of being hit by bullets, and to try and find protective cover behind a reinforced wall or brickwork and to remain silent.

Police and other emergency services should be alerted as soon as possible when it is safe to do so.

ISIS has issued threats of more attacks against the UK and France, as well as coalition members fighting against the terrorist group in Syria, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.

The NaCTSO guidelines make up part of the “Dynamic Lockdown Procedures” plan, which every business is advised to develop.

NaCTSO has said that companies should use CCTV and security guards to detect those undertaking “hostile reconnaissance” before an attack takes place.

“All opportunities to detect and deter threats at the attack planning phase should be taken,” the report states.

“Presenting a strong security posture through visible and effective activity, for example by staff awareness and reporting processes, efficient use of CCTV, deterrent communications and active security zones.”

The experts suggest that all staff are aware of the terror procedures and regular terror attack tests should be carried out.

 

STAY SAFE TIPS

 from the UK Government’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office

 

RUN

  • Try to escape if you can and insist others leave with you. Leave all belongings behind.

 

Hide

  • Find cover from gunfire behind substantial brickwork or heavy reinforced walls. Hide from view – if you can see the attacker, they may be able to see you. But remember bullets go through glass, brick, wood and metal.
  • Lock or barricade yourself in but try not to get trapped.
  • Be quiet, silence your phone and move away from the door.

 

Tell

  • When save call 999 and tell them the location of the suspects, that they look like, what weapons they have, if there are any casualties or hostages.
  • Stop other people entering the building.

When armed response officers arrive on the scene, the government advice is the following:

  • Follow officers’ instructions.
  • Remain calm.
  • Can you move to a safer area?
  • Avoid sudden movements that may be considered a threat.
  • Keep your hands in view.

Officers may:

  • Point guns at you.
  • Treat you firmly.
  • Question you.
  • Be unable to distinguish you from the attacker.

Officers will evacuate you when it is safe to do so.

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AbledResearch-Diabetes-Stem-Cell-Breakthrough

POSTED ON October 10th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions, AbledHealth, AbledResearch, AbledWellness
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A Giant Leap Forward Towards A Cure For Diabetes

Researchers never want to jinx their work by using black and white terms like ‘cure’, but Harvard stem cell researchers are tantalizingly close to what amounts to a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

For millions of diabetics around the world, this is the biggest hope yet that might bring an end to daily insulin injections, the thousands of times each year they have to prick their finger with a lancet to test their blood sugar levels, or having to wear external insulin pumps while also fearing the disease’s potential long-term side effects such as blindness, kidney disease, amputations, strokes and heart attacks.

Doug Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who leads the team of researchers at the lab that bears his name, says  “we are now just one-pre-clinical step away from the finish line.” That’s about as close to saying ‘cure’ as you can get without actually saying it.

And he’s got two good reasons for not wanting to over-state the possible outcomes before the definitive conclusions are reached – he has two grown children with Type 1 diabetes. When his, then, infant son Sam was diagnosed 23 years ago, Professor Melton dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease.

In work that has just been published in the journal Cell, the Melton lab researchers have, after 15 years of trying and failing and trying and failing, have finally made a giant leap forward in diabetes research by being able to use human embryonic stem cells to produce human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally-functioning beta cells.

As Professor Melton told the Harvard Gazette“There have been previous reports of other labs deriving beta cell types from stem cells. No other group has produced mature beta cells as suitable for use in patients,” he said. “The biggest hurdle has been to get to glucose sensing, insulin-secreting beta cells, and that’s what our group has done.”

Part of that hurdle is being able to produce those beta cells in the massive quantities needed, not only for cell transplantation, but also for pharmaceutical purposes. In this research, some stem cells came from human embryos, but Professor Melton’s team was able to reprogram human skin cells into a stem-cell-like-state  – a technique that is obviously more ethically acceptable.

The challenge with Type 1 diabetes is that it’s a metabolic response in the body’s immune system that goes rogue and kills off all the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. About 150 million beta cells are needed for transplantation into a single patient and the final pre-clinical step involves protecting those cells from the immune system by using an implantation device. The device Melton is collaborating on with Professor Daniel G. Anderson and his colleagues at MIT and the Koch Institute has, so far, protected beta cells implanted in mice from immune system attacks for many months while they continue to produce insulin.

The lab-grown cells, currently being tested in primates, are just one step – albeit a few years – away from being clinically-trialled in humans.

And what do the Melton offspring think of this? Their father who also is Co-Scientific Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology  — both of which were created more than a decade after he began his quest — said that when he told his son and daughter, they were surprisingly calm. “I think like all kids, they always assumed that if I said I’d do this, I’d do it,” he said with a self-deprecating grin.

Others are more willing to make a big deal about this. Richard A. Insel, M.D., the Chief Scientific Officer at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which along with the Helmsley Charitable Trust has contributed funding, says“JDRF is thrilled with this advancement toward large-scale production of mature, functional human beta cells by Dr. Melton and his team.”

Elaine Fuchs,  the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who is not involved in the work, hailed it as “one of the most important advances to date in the stem cell field.”

Jose Oberholzer, Associate Professor of Surgery, Endocrinology, and Diabetes, as well as Bioengineering, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Director of the Islet and Pancreas Transplant Program and Chief of the Division of Transplantation, called the discovery bigger than the discovery of insulin and says the work “will leave a dent in the history of diabetes. Doug Melton has put in a lifetime of hard work in finding a way of generating human islet cells in vitro. He made it. This is a phenomenal accomplishment.”

Felicia W. Pagliuca, Jeff Millman and Mads Gurtler of the Melton Lab are co-first authors on the Cell paper.

Other funding for the research, for which Professor Melton and his colleagues are extremely grateful, came from the National Institutes of Health, The Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the JPB Foundation, and Howard and Stella Heffron.

Description of Video

The beginning shows a spinner flask containing red culture media and cells, the cells being too small to see. Inside the flask you can see a magnetic stir bar and the flask is being placed on top of a magnetic stirrer. 

This is followed by a time-lapse series of magnified images showing how cells start off as single cells and then grow very quickly into clusters over the next few days. The size of the clusters is the same as the size of human islets at the end.

The final image shows 6 flasks, enough for 6 patients, spinning away. If you look closely, you can see particles spinning around, the white dust or dots are clusters of cells, each containing about 1000 cells.

Credit: Mikey Segel

AbledResearch photo shows Harvard's Xander University Professor Doug Melton whose team has announced a major breakthrough in Diabetes Research.
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Transcript of NPR Report

Copyright ©2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We’re going to turn now to health news of an advance that could eventually lead to a cure for diabetes. Before the discovery of insulin in the 1920s, diabetes was a feared disease that often led to a rapid death. Today, insulin injections to control blood sugar levels are a mainstay of therapy for Type 1 diabetes. They’re also used by many with the Type 2 form of the disease.

But insulin injections aren’t a cure. People can still suffer complications, including heart attacks and blindness. NPR’s Rob Stein reports on work by scientists at Harvard that could someday eliminate the need for injections.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: For Harvard cell biologist Doug Melton, the search for something better than insulin shots for diabetes has been a very personal quest.

DOUG MELTON: My six-month-old son Sam came down with diabetes some 20 years ago. And some years later, my 14-year-old daughter Emma also came down with Type 1 diabetes. Since that time, I don’t know how to say it except that I’d do what any parent would do, is to say that I’m not going to put up with this. And I want to find a better way.

STEIN: Now, Melton and his colleagues are reporting in the journal Cell that they finally found that better way. They figured out how to mass-produce the kind of cells that naturally produce insulin in the body – cells that could be transplanted into patients so their bodies could control their blood sugar normally.

MELTON: We are reporting the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells – the cell that can read the amount of sugar in the blood which appears following a meal and then squirt out or secrete just the right amount of insulin.

STEIN: They did this using human embryonic stem cells. They can be turned into almost any kind of cell in the body. But for 15 years the researchers tried and failed and tried and failed to find just the right mix of chemical signals that would coax human embryonic stem cells into becoming insulin cells. Finally, they came up with a recipe that works.

MELTON: A short way of saying this might be like if you were going to make a very fancy kind of new cake – like I do know, a raspberry chocolate cake with vanilla frosting or something. You pretty much know all the components you have to add. But it’s the way you add them and the order and the timing, how long you cook it, et cetera. The solution to that just took a very long time.

STEIN: And when Melton and his colleagues transplanted the cells into mice with diabetes, the results were clear and fast.

MELTON: We can cure their diabetes right away in less than 10 days. This finding provides the kind of unprecedented cell source that could be used for cell transplantation therapy in diabetes.

STEIN: Other scientists are hailing the research as a big advance.

MELTON: Well, it’s a huge landmark paper. I would say it’s bigger than the discovery of insulin.

STEIN: Jose Olberholzer is a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois.

JOSE OLBERHOLZER: The discovery of insulin is important and certainly saved millions of people. But it just allowed patients to survive but not really to have a normal life. The finding of Doug Melton would really allow to offer them really something that I would call a functional cure, you know. They wouldn’t really feel any more being diabetic if they got a transplant of these kinds of cell.

STEIN: Now, Melton and others caution there’s still a lot more work to do before they’re ready to try this in people with diabetes. For one thing, they need to come up with a way to hide the cells from the immune system, especially for people with Type 1 diabetes, so the immune system doesn’t attack and destroy the cell. Melton and his colleagues are working on that. And they think they may have come up with a solution – a kind of protective shell.

MELTON: We’re thinking about it as sort of like a teabag were the tea stays inside, the water goes and then the dissolved tea comes out.

STEIN: And so if you think about a teabag analogy, we would put ourselves inside this teabag.

STEIN: But that’s not the only problem. Some people have moral objections to anything that involves human embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human embryos. Daniel Sulmasy, a doctor and bioethicist at the University of Chicago shares that view.

DANIEL SULMASY: If, like me, someone considers the human embryo to be imbued with the same sorts of dignity that the rest of us have, then in fact this is morally problematic. It’s the destruction of an individual unique human life for the sole purpose of helping other persons.

STEIN: Melton says he’s also found a way to use another kind of stem cell – cells that don’t destroy any embryos. He’s trying to figure out if they work as well and hopes to start testing his insulin cells in people with diabetes within three years. Rob Stein, NPR News.

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Previous Breakthrough Discovery About New Hormone To Treat Type 2 Diabetes

In 2013, HSCI Co-Director Doug Melton and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment for type 2 diabetes. The researchers believe that the hormone might also have a role in treating type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.

Harnessing The Potential Of Stem Cells

HSCI Co-Director Doug Melton speaks at TEDxBeaconStreet in 2013 about the potential of stem cell biology for regenerative medicine, with a focus on finding new treatments for diseases such as diabetes.

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AbledConditions-Alzheimers Disease-UCLA Treatment Improves Memory

POSTED ON October 8th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
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Improvements Allowed Some Patients To Return To Work

 

A multi-discipline lifestyle intervention study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has produced some breakthrough results in slowing or reversing memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.

While it’s a small study, the implications could be huge. The findings come from a joint effort between UCLA’s Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The team implemented a 36-point lifestyle overhaul program that included dietary changes, use of specific supplements and medications, optimal sleep and increased brain stimulation. The results were so positive nine out of 10 patients showed remarkable memory improvements, and six patients were able to either return to work or demonstration significant performance improvements in their jobs.

The author of the resulting paper on the study, Dale Bredesen, Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology, Director of the Easton Center at UCLA, and Professor at Buck Institute says that current medications for Alzheimer’s aren’t working. “The existing Alzheimer’s drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimer’s disease is more complex. Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well – the drug may have worked, a single “hole” may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”

“It is noteworthy that the major side-effects of this therapeutic system are improved health and an improved body mass index, a stark contrast to the side effects of many drugs.”

While he admits the findings are anecdotal and the study group small, Professor Bredesen is optimistic, saying, “the current anecdotal results require a larger trial, not only to confirm or refute the results reported here, but also to address key questions raised, such as the degree of improvement that can be achieved routinely, [and] how late in the course of cognitive decline reversal can be effected.”

That last one is an important point. The one patient who did not show any improvement had been diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease.

Professor Bredesen also wants to find out whether this multi-faceted approach can be effective in patients with early onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (eFAD), which can develop in people as young as 30,  and he and his team are curious to know how long the improvements that have been shown in this study can be sustained.

You can read the full study published in the online edition of Aging.

Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research is part of the UCLA Department of Neurology which encompasses more than 26 disease-related research programs. This includes all of the major categories of neurological diseases and methods, encompassing neurogenetics and neuroimaging as well as health services research. The 140 faculty members of the Department are distinguished scientists and clinicians who have been ranked #1 in NIH funding for 9 consecutive years beginning in 2002. The Department is dedicated to understanding the human nervous system and improving the lives of people with neurological diseases, focusing on three key areas: patient/clinical care, research, and education. For more information, see http://www.neurology.ucla.edu/

The Buck Institute is the U.S.’s first independent research organization devoted to Geroscience – focused on the connection between normal aging and chronic disease. Based in Novato, CA, The Buck is dedicated to extending “Healthspan”, the healthy years of human life and does so utilizing a unique interdisciplinary approach involving laboratories studying the mechanisms of aging and those focused on specific diseases. Buck scientists strive to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke.  In their collaborative research, they are supported by the most recent developments in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and stem cell technologies. read more about this study at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

One Patient’s Treatment Regimen

Professor Bredesen’s approach is personalized to the patient, based on extensive testing to determine what is affecting the plasticity signaling network of the brain.

As one example, in the case of the patient with the demanding job who was forgetting her way home, her therapeutic program consisted of some, but not all of the components involved with Bredesen’s therapeutic program, and included:

(1) Eliminating all simple carbohydrates, leading to a weight loss of 20 pounds;

(2) Eliminating gluten and processed food from her diet, with increased vegetables, fruits, and non-farmed fish;

(3) To reduce stress, she began yoga;

(4) As a second measure to reduce the stress of her job, she began to meditate for 20 minutes twice per day;

(5) She took melatonin each night;

(6) She increased her sleep from 4-5 hours per night to 7-8 hours per night;

(7) She took methylcobalamin each day;

(8) She took vitamin D3 each day;

(9) Fish oil each day;

(10) CoQ10 each day;

(11) She optimized her oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush;

(12) Following discussion with her primary care provider, she reinstated hormone replacement therapy that had been discontinued;

(13) She fasted for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime;

(14) She exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-6 days per week.

The results for nine of the 10 patients reported in the paper suggest that memory loss may be reversed, and improvement sustained with this therapeutic program, said Bredesen. “This is the first successful demonstration,” he noted, but he cautioned that the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is needed.

Experts Caution More Study Is Needed

“It’s way too early to draw any conclusions from this,” said Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago. “It raises a lot of questions that should be explored in larger studies.”

Dr. James Galvin, a professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, echoed that sentiment.

“I’m not knocking the concept,” Galvin said. The factors the program targets — including diet, physical activity and chronic body-wide inflammation — are scientifically valid, he said.

But, Galvin added, it’s hard to evaluate the specific therapies, particularly the supplements, based only on these case reports.

“There’s not enough here to understand why these things were chosen, or how the doses were chosen,” Galvin said.

The supplements included curcumin, vitamins B12 and D3, fish oilcoconut oil, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 and ashwagandha — a herb used in traditional Indian medicine.

(Source: HealthDay)

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