A new study suggests that growing up poor affects brain development at an early age, and those brain changes can have huge effects on academic achievement. Researchers from Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracked nearly 400 children and young adults in a longitudinal study over the course of six years, between 2001 and 2007. Every two years, the researchers met with the participants, whose socioeconomic backgrounds ranged from far below the poverty line to far above it.
The early days of the Obama administration were a chaos of uncertainty, between the historic housing bust, historic market crash, and historic armada of stimulus. But one thing was clear about the U.S. economy in 2008 going forward: Healthcare would keep on keeping on, in its insatiable way, adding more jobs, soaking up more tax dollars, and demanding a growing share of an American family's budget. In the worst recession in 80 years, it was the one industry that seemed truly recession-proof.
Presidential candidates, the Christian Right, and the entire state of Indiana are still reeling from the fallout over Indiana’s recent attempt to enact a broad “religious freedom” law designed to allow for LGBT discrimination. And despite the national outrage over that law, similar fights are brewing in Arkansas and Louisiana. Most of the conversation around these state-level policies, which are modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), centers on the legislation’s discriminatory effect on LGBT citizens. Indeed, the people who drafted Indiana’s law were quite specific about the fact that it was intended to allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT individuals based on their sexual orientation.
The information war about marijuana may have turned a new page with the federal government’s acknowledgment of a recent study that found the plant can significantly reduce aggressive types of brain tumors when combined with radiation treatment, endorsing what medicinal marijuana advocates have long affirmed as its healing properties. A team of researchers from St. George’s University of London recorded reductions in high-grade glioma masses — a deadly form of brain cancer — in mice. The mice’s tumors shrank after they were exposed to radiation in tandem with two marijuana compounds: THC, which creates the “high feeling,” and CBD, which has no psychoactive side effects.
In an obvious attempt to persuade the Supreme Court that the latest Obamacare lawsuit would not sow massive disruption, three Republican Senators recently wrote an op-ed headlined, “We have a plan for fixing health care.” The text that follows is a refutation of the headline. It runs a mere 508 words, unusually short for an op-ed, and only a few sentences of which even purport to describe an actual plan. They “will give states the freedom and flexibility to create better, more competitive health insurance markets offering more options and different choices,” but they don’t say what those choices would be, or how any of it would be funded. Their plan would not be designed for the benefit of “the bureaucrats in Washington,” which is a shame for the bureaucrats.
Here's some good news: the latest report from the CBO has reduced its estimate of the cost of Obamacare. This is due partly to a slight decrease in the number of people CBO expects to be covered, but mostly due a lower estimate of the cost of insurance premiums. Thanks to this, federal subsidies are estimated at $209 billion less over a ten-year period, and the cost of CHIP and Medicaid is estimated at $73 billion less. However, there are also reductions in expected revenues from Obamacare's excise tax, so the net reduction amounts to $142 billion over ten years. The table below tells the story. Sarah Kliff has more details here.
There are few political careers more varied than James Webb’s. He served in Ronald Reagan’s administration — first as assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, and then as secretary of the Navy from 1984 to 1988. After leaving politics to write, he returned in 2006 as the Democratic Party’s great veteran hope: a war hero and ex-Reagan official who opposed the Iraq War and never seemed weak doing it. He upset an incumbent to take a Senate seat in Virginia, and then, six years later, at the outset of an election he likely would have won, he retired from the Senate. No reelection campaign. No talk of higher office. He just seemed finished with Washington. But in recent months, Webb has begun exploring a presidential campaign.
Do you like watching Internet videos and then drawing broad, sweeping, pseudoscientific conclusions about the people involved? If so, congratulations, you might be qualified to join the Pentagon’s secret team investigating the nonverbal cues of powerful world leaders. Yesterday, following Freedom of Information Act requests by a group of news organizations including Politico, the Pentagon released two studies, both published here in full for the first time, analyzing Vladimir Putin's inner demons—or at least those inner demons that you can observe from watching a ton of publicly available videos.
Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), asked Monday to comment on the ongoing measles outbreak, at first opted not to affirmatively recommend that parents vaccinate their children. Instead, the likely presidential candidate said parents should have "some measure of choice" in deciding whether their children are vaccinated, according to multiple reports.
Sitting recently on his brick back patio here, Michael Schiavo called Jeb Bush a vindictive, untrustworthy coward. For years, the self-described “average Joe” felt harassed, targeted and tormented by the most important person in the state. “It was a living hell,” he said, “and I blame him.” Michael Schiavo was the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman from the Tampa Bay area who ended up at the center of one of the most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars. The fight over her death lasted almost a decade. It started as a private legal back-and-forth between her husband and her parents. Before it ended, it moved from circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to the U.S.
You don’t generally think of Bill and Melinda Gates as pundits. But with their foundation pouring billions of dollars into global development, in effect the two are in the (highly data-driven) prediction business: placing bets on which investments will change the world the most. In their annual letter, released today, the two hazard some fairly specific guesses about the biggest changes in the world over the next 15 years, from cutting the number of childhood deaths in half and reducing deaths in childbirth by two-thirds to eradicating polio and a farming revolution to make Africa self-sufficient.
For the first time in a decade, the number of people struggling to pay their medical bills has started to decline, according to a new survey released on Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund. The researchers attributed the historic drop to the number of people gaining insurance under the health care reform law. Between 2012 and 2014 — as Obamacare’s main coverage expansion took effect — the Commonwealth researchers found that the number of people who had issues paying for health treatment dropped from 41 percent to 35 percent. Over the same time period, the people who skipped out on health services because they couldn’t afford them declined from 43 percent to 36 percent:
Fifteen children have died from complications of the flu so far this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted, as it officially declared the illness an epidemic. The number of states reporting a high amount of “influenza-like” illness activity has increased from 13 to 22 since last week’s report from the agency, with outbreaks in every region of the country.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon struck down a rule change issued by the Department of Labor that would have extended minimum wage and overtime pay protections to home care workers come January. In 1974, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — the law requires American employers to pay their workers at least the minimum wage and extra pay for overtime hours — was expanded to cover domestic workers. Yet a carve-out was included for those who provide “care and fellowship” to the elderly and disabled in their homes. That exemption became so broadly interpreted as to deny basic labor rights from those who feed, clothe, and bathe clients, as well as give them medical care.
Politically, Obamacare has had a terrible past few weeks. First there was inaccurate enrollment data (the administration wrongly included dental plans). Then there were Jon Gruber's comments on "the stupidity of American voters." And it was capped off with Sen. Chuck Schumer saying that passing the law was a mistake. That led to headlines like: "Dark days ahead for Obamacare," "The Obamacare controversy grows" and my own "Obamacare's terrible, horrible, no good very bad month."
Every day seems to turn up opportunities to abuse science in new and perverse ways, especially when it comes to health. You open a newspaper or news site, and you read about a health claim making the rounds: a diet that will give you the energy of a teenager, an exercise routine that will elongate your legs, a policy that will protect Americans from scary viruses. Many of these claims — even the ones that come from the lips of the most esteemed doctors and public officials — aren't backed by any good evidence. Some even run in the opposite direction of what the best-available evidence tells us.
The Senate has confirmed Vivek Murthy as United States Surgeon General, overcoming fierce opposition from the National Rifle Association that has blocked the doctor's nomination since February. Obama nominated Murthy, co-founder of the pro-Obamacare group Doctors for America, in November 2013. At 37, he will be the country's youngest surgeon general, and the first of Indian-American descent. The NRA, however, has long opposed Murthy's nomination.
On Friday, October 24th, during the busy lunch hour in the school cafeteria of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, in Marysville, Washington, Jaylen Fryberg opened fire on his classmates, killing one student and wounding four others, three of whom later died from their injuries. Then he killed himself. Just a week earlier, Fryberg had been crowned prince of the school’s homecoming court—he was a community volunteer, student athlete, and all-around “good kid.” But within hours of the shooting, that picture had changed. Quickly, media outlets analyzed his tweets, Facebook page, Instagram account, and his text and Facebook messages. He was “full of angst” and “anguished.” One media report concluded that “he just wasn’t in the right state of mind.
Surgeon Martin Salia, who had contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, died Monday in a Nebraska hospital, becoming the second person to die of the virus in the U.S. Meanwhile, an estimated 540,000 people have died of cancer so far this year, and another 100,000 from conditions related to obesity. But a Gallup poll released Monday found that Americans consider Ebola a more urgent health problem than either cancer or obesity. Respondents ranked only healthcare costs and healthcare access higher than Ebola.
A team of U.S. and French scientists say they have developed a new tool that can specifically tell when environmental contamination comes from waste produced by hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. In peer-reviewed research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on Monday, the researchers say their new forensic tool can distinguish fracking wastewater pollution from other contamination that results from other industrial processes — such as conventional oil and gas drilling. Fracking is a controversial oil and gas well stimulation technique that uses a great deal of water, mixed with chemicals, to extract oil and gas from miles deep underground. Once the rock is fractured by the high pressure fluid, fossil fuels follow the fracking fluid to the surface.