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Entries in brain science (23)

Thursday
Jul112013

Senate Promises New Abortion Bill DOA | Immigration Reform & Taxes | PA's Kane Won't Defend Gay Marriage Ban

1. Republicans around America have made abortion the nation’s biggest political issue. Anticipating that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) will sponsor the Senate verson of the House-passed bill that limits abortions at 20 weeks, a key date when a woman first has reliable sonograms about the health of her fetus, Democratic Senators went on the offensive yesterday, portraying the proposed abortion limits as ‘political showboating’.

“I can tell you this: No matter who introduces it, it is not going anywhere in the Senate,” Sen. Patty Murray said. “We are not going to let it come up in the Senate. There is no reason for it. This is settled law. We are not going to be sidetracked by a debate on women’s health yet again.”

Rubio is in a tight spot with social conservatives, who are angry with his support of immigration reform. Sponsoring the bill in the Senate is one way of appeasing those same social conservatives.

2. Immigration reform would boost state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion annually, concludes a new study conducted by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan research organization. If allowed to work legally, undocumented immigrants would participate fully in all the federal, state and local tax systems. Presently undocumented immigrants contributed $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010.

- The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concludes the immigration reform bill would shrink the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade.
- Rather than lower wages for US workers, a study by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project that found an increase in immigrant workers may lead to a boost in wages for U.S-born workers.

75 percent of Americans agree that immigration reform will benefit the economy.

3. Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane (D) says she will not defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed this week by the ACLU that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, reports the Washington Post.

“Kane is named as a defendant in the suit, along with the state’s governor Tom Corbett (R-Penn.). Kane is the first woman and the first Democrat ever elected to the position of Pennsylvania state attorney general, which became an elected office in 1980.”

When a similar occurrence happened in Ca. with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and then attorney general Jerry Brown (D), a third party stepped in to defend the law.

A new survey focused on the re-election of Gov. Tom Corbett is in serious jeopardy, with only 24 percent of all voters and 43 percent of Republicans believing that he deserves a second term. AOC supports Rep. Allyson Schwartz in her bid for to become the first woman governor of Pa.

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4. Americans are split pretty evenly on whether the decline in religious affiliation in America is a good thing, bad one or generally irrelevant, reports Pew Research. The more religious persons polled in a nationwide survey of 4,006 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points felt the strongest about the trend being a bad one for society.

At a top level analysis, 48 percent of US adults surveyed say that America’s declining religiosity is a bad thing. Eleven percent say it’s a good thing, with 39 percent saying it doesn’t matter.

One segment worth noting is Hispanic Catholics, with only 36% saying the trend is bad for society and 48% saying the trend does not matter.

5. Despite the title of Brian Resnick’s ‘How Power Corrupts the Mind’ and it often does — one shouldn’t conclude that it always does, says Pamela Smith, a power researcher at the University of California San Diego.

“There is a tendency for people to assume power holders are uncaring, they’re cold, they don’t care about the little people,” says Smith. But it depends on who has the power.

“You put someone in an experiment, temporarily, in a high-powered role, and what you find is that people who say they have pro-social values, the more power they have, the more pro-social they are. The people who say they have more self-centered values tend to be more selfish the more power they have.”

Read Smith’s ‘You Focus on the Forest When You’re in Charge of the Trees’.

Tuesday
Jul022013

Thousands Pour Into Austin, Texas Abortion Fight | Gabby Gifford Fires Gun & Presses On For Gun Control

An estimated 5-6,000 abortion rights supporters converged on Austin, Texas yesterday, as lawmakers returned for a second special session called by Texas Governor Rick Perry. The Republican majority body is expected to pass abortion legislation that galvanized American women last week, after Fort Worth Democrat state Sen. Wendy Davis led an 11-hour filibuster against the bill. The Texas Tribune reports that a group of about 100 backers of the bill held a press conference inside the capitol.

The Texas Tribune also shares an important article How Public Opinion Fueled Senate’s Abortion Fight, interpreting recent polls in Texas as AOC analyzed them.

Taken together, these polling numbers convey broad support for some specific restrictions focusing on procedures. We don’t find more than token support for drastically reducing or eliminating access. In June 2013, 79 percent of Texans indicated that abortion should be available to a woman under varying circumstances. As for Davis’ core constituency, 59 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of liberals think that it should always be legal and available. As for the GOP: 20 percent of female Republicans think that abortion should always be legal, compared with 11 percent of male Republicans. But maybe more important for future electoral fortunes, there exists a 19-point gap among female and male independents regarding the opinion that abortion should always be available, 41 percent to 22 percent; and one of the most supportive groups of all is suburban women, 45 percent of whom think the procedure should always be legal.

1. Former Arizona Reb. Gabrielle Giffords aimed and fired a gun at a Las Vegas target firing range yesterday. Giffords sent the firing shot of her seven-day “Rights and Responsibilities Tour” as a proud gun owner who seeks sensible gun legislation in America. Giffords and husband Mark Kelly are trying to revive stalled background-check legislation, which failed in the US Senate in April. 

“Some might consider me an unlikely advocate for gun rights because I sustained terrible injuries in a violent shooting,” Giffords wrote in an Op-Ed published Monday in USA Today. “But I’m a patriot, and I believe the right to bear arms is a definitive part of our American heritage.”

2. Jeep leads a list of America’s most patriotic brands, writes USA Today. Jeep beat out Coca-Cola, Levis, Harley-Davidson and Disney in the top 25 list, in a survey of 4,500 consumers.

“As marketers traditionally operate on the Independence Day theory that a patriotic, flag-waving call-to-emotion will motivate consumers to behave more positively toward their brands, we wanted to see which brands actually led when it came to that particular value,” says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, in a statement.

Jeep resonates deeply as a symbol of American ruggedness and sense of adventure.

3. Records of the actions of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan as archbishop of Milwaukee in 2003 suggest that he had a full understanding of the seriousness of sex abuse cases in America. Dolan moved to protect church assets from any future claims, while moving to push out problem priests and even paying them to leave the priesthood. 

“The impact on his various victims has been significant,” Dolan wrote then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has yet to even locate all of the potential victims that could come forward for assistance. Our new found awareness of the severity of damage caused by sexual abuse at the hands of clergy makes it impossible for us to ignore this situation.”

575 sex abuse plaintiffs are suing the archdiocese in bankruptcy court.

4. Twelve-year-old Maddy Paige had a very respectable season, playing football as a defensive end at Georgia’s Strong Rock Christian private school in Locust Grove, Ga. Paige was excited to return next fall, until the school ended her football future, saying “Our official policy is that middle school girls play girl sports and middle school boys play boy sports. “

Maddy’s mother says private conservations with school officials told another story. “In the meeting with the CEO of the school, I was told that the reasons behind it were… that the boys were going to start lusting after her, and have impure thoughts about her,” she said. “And that locker room talk was not appropriate for a female to hear, even though she had a separate locker room from the boys.”

Facebook is on the move for Maddy Paige.

5. The human brain’s ‘garbage truck’ could hold a key to treating Alzheimer’s and other health disorders. What scientists do know is that the body’s lymphatic system performs the task of ridding it of toxic and damaging molecules. However, the lymphatic system doesn’t extend to the brain.

Researcher Maiken Nedergaard, M.D. and her team used new imaging technology called two-photon microscopy that allows us to peer deep within a living brain. They observed an extensive plumbing system responsible for flushing waste using cerebral spinal fluid.

Tuesday
Jun182013

Clintons Launch 'Too Small to Fail' For US Kids Infants To Age 5 | Charles Saatchi Accepts Caution

1. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is the first sitting member of Congress to back a grassroots effort to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton president in 2016. McCaskill posted this statement on the website of the political action committee Ready for Hillary.

 

McCaskii was an Obama supporter in 2008. “Regardless of who you supported for president back then, we can all agree today that there is nobody better equipped to be our next president than Hillary Clinton,” McCaskill said.

“It’s important that we start early, building a grass-roots army from the ground up, and effectively using the tools of the Internet – all things that President Obama did so successfully – so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”

AOC also supports Hillary Clinton for 2016 and also Allyson Schwartz in her bid to unseat Pa Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014.

2. A new poll released by Quinnipiac University puts Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz in the lead of hopefuls to unseat GOP Gov. Tom Corbett in 2013. Schwartz beat the sitting governor by 10 points, 45 percent to 35 percent.

Schwartz also had the most support among a mostly unknown field of Democrats vying to run against Corbett, with 18 percent of respondents saying they’d vote for her. No other candidate had more than 5 percent support.

The National Journal reports about the poll in which 48% of Keystone State voters said they disapprove of Corbett’s performance as governor.

“Asked if Corbett deserves to be reelected, 52 percent of voters, including 25 percent of Republicans, said he doesn’t deserve a second term, while only 32 percent said he should be reelected.”

3. Hillary Clinton is a longtime advocate for children and a supporter of the concept that Americans as a whole have a vested interest in the nation’s children. Now Clinton has joined a new initiative ‘Too Small to Fail’, created to explore ways that parents, businesses, and communities can promote the positive development of kids  who are newborns to age 5.

“The campaign will help publicize research on the relationship between babies’ and toddlers’ experiences and brain development. It will provide guidance to parents on simple steps to enhance children’s health and early learning opportunities. And it aims to secure commitments from private businesses, both through financial investments and through structures that help working parents spend quality time with their children,” writes Christian Science Monitor.

4. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has named Judith A. Salerno as its new president and CEO. Salerno will succeed the group’s founder, Nancy G. Brinker, in running the embattled, embroiled in controversy organization.

Salerno is the executive director and chief operating officer at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Previously, she was deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, where she oversaw more than $1 billion in research on issues such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“Judy’s years of proven leadership in public policy and research make her the right choice to lead all aspects of Komen’s mission,” Linda Custard, the board chairwoman, said in the statement. “We are delighted that she will be heading our leadership team and guiding Komen now and into the future.”

5. British ad tycoon, now art collector Charles Saatchi has accepted a ‘police caution’ after published photos showing him grabbing his wife Nigella Lawson’s throat.

Saatchi, 70, came to fame helping Margaret Thatcher become Britain’s prime minister in 1979. Under British law, a caution is a formal warning given to someone who admits the offense. There is no penalty, but the caution can be used as evidence of bad character in a future legal proceeding for a different crime.

Police grilled Saatchi for five hours yesterday, over a week after receiving a complaint about the incident.

Read Sarah Ditum’s excellent piece for the New Statesman: Nigella Lawson pictures: We must not look away from domestic violence, but we can do more than just gawp.