Thursday, July 23, 2015

Υouth unemployment is still unrelenting across Europe

According to Eurostat, youth unemployment is still unrelenting across Europe. In March 2015, the most recent month where data is available for all 28 EU nations, Spain had the worst unemployment rate for people under 25 years of age, 49.9 percent. Greece was only marginally better off with 49.7 percent.

At the very opposite end of the scale, Germany and Austria had the very best youth unemployment rates with 7.2 and 9.9 percent respectively. Across all 28 countries, 4.8 million young people were unemployed in March 2015 - 20.9 percent in total.

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The countries that imprison the most people

Last Thursday, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit a federal prison. His visit to the El Reno Correctional Institution was part of a week long focus on reforming the US criminal justice system and possibly reducing the country's huge prison population.

Across the world, there are approximately 10.2 million people in prison with the US accounting for a quarter of them, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies. When it comes to prisoners per 100,000 of the population, the Seychelles comes first with 868 (though it only has 786 prisoners in total). The United states has 2.2 million prisoners - 698 per 100,000 people.

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Countries with the highest migrant percentages worldwide

Which countries have the highest migrant percentages worldwide? FiveThirtyEight put an interesting list together using United Nations data showing that 3.2 percent of the world's population live in a country other than the one in which they were born. When protectorates and unincorporated territories like the Falkland Islands and Macau are excluded from the list, the top 10 is led by the Vatican City. Nobody is born in the the tiny city state, making it the country with the highest migrant percentage worldwide.
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Pregnancies that end in miscarriage or abortion do not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer

A study coordinated by Cancer Research UK scientists and published in The Lancet1 has shown that pregnancies that end in miscarriage or abortion do not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
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An international collaboration, led by a team in Oxford, re-analysed original information from 53 epidemiological studies from 16 countries, including previously unpublished data.
The research included 44,000 breast cancer patients who took part in studies where any history of abortion had been recorded before their cancer was diagnosed.
The researchers compared the chances of developing breast cancer in women with and without any record of having had an abortion. This comparison gives the 'relative risk', where a value of 1.0 or less means no adverse effect on the risk of developing breast cancer. The relative risk of breast cancer for women who have had a miscarriage is 0.98. For women who have had an induced abortion the relative risk of breast cancer is 0.93.
Professor Valerie Beral, Director of the Cancer Research UK's Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, says: "This review of the worldwide evidence has shown that pregnancies that end in an abortion do not increase a woman's chances of developing breast cancer later in life."
The group also reviewed data on a further 39,000 breast cancer patients who took part in a less reliable type of study. In these other studies women were questioned after their diagnosis of breast cancer about whether they had ever had an abortion. Their replies were then compared with those from women who did not have breast cancer.
But, it is possible that women with breast cancer would be more likely than other women to report any induced abortions that they have actually had.
For this reason such studies could, and on average did, produce misleading results that were not compatible with the other, more reliable studies.

Professor Sir Richard Peto, of Oxford University, says: "Studies can give misleading results if women are asked about previous induced abortions only after they are diagnosed with breast cancer. This may be because, on average, women with breast cancer are more likely than other women to disclose any prior abortions."
Professor Sir Richard Doll, also of the University of Oxford, says: "Some previous reviews on abortion and breast cancer have reached mistaken conclusions because they mixed together data from reliable and unreliable types of study.
"This is the first time that so much information has been brought together and the findings are more reliable than ever before."
  1. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer "Breast cancer and abortion: collaborative reanalysis of data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 83000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries." The Lancet363 pp.1007-16

First evidence of farming in Mideast 23,000 years ago

Until now, researchers believed farming was "invented" some 12,000 years ago in the Cradle of Civilization -- Iraq, the Levant, parts of Turkey and Iran -- an area that was home to some of the earliest known human civilizations.

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A new discovery by an international collaboration of researchers from Tel Aviv University, Harvard University, Bar-Ilan University, and the University of Haifa offers the first evidence that trial plant cultivation began far earlier -- some 23,000 years ago.

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The study focuses on the discovery of the first weed species at the site of a sedentary human camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was published in PLOS ONE and led by Prof. Ehud Weiss of Bar-Ilan University in collaboration with Prof. Marcelo Sternberg of the Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants at TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University, among other colleagues.

"While full-scale agriculture did not develop until much later, our study shows that trial cultivation began far earlier than previously believed, and gives us reason to rethink our ancestors' capabilities," said Prof. Sternberg. "Those early ancestors were more clever and more skilled than we knew."

Evidence among the weeds

Although weeds are considered a threat or nuisance in farming, their presence at the site of the Ohalo II people's camp revealed the earliest signs of trial plant cultivation -- some 11 millennia earlier than conventional ideas about the onset of agriculture.

The plant material was found at the site of the Ohalo II people, who were fisher hunter-gatherers and established a sedentary human camp. The site was unusually well preserved, having been charred, covered by lake sediment, and sealed in low-oxygen conditions -- ideal for the preservation of plant material. The researchers examined the weed species for morphological signs of domestic-type cereals and harvesting tools, although their very presence is evidence itself of early farming.

"This uniquely preserved site is one of the best archaeological examples worldwide of the hunter-gatherers' way of life," said Prof. Sternberg. "It was possible to recover an extensive amount of information on the site and its inhabitants."

"Because weeds thrive in cultivated fields and disturbed soils, a significant presence of weeds in archaeobotanical assemblages retrieved from Neolithic sites and settlements of later age is widely considered an indicator of systematic cultivation," according to the study.

Early gatherers

The site bears the remains of six shelters and a particularly rich assemblage of plants. Upon retrieving and examining approximately 150,000 plant specimens, the researchers determined that early humans there had gathered over 140 species of plants. These included 13 known weeds mixed with edible cereals, such as wild emmer, wild barley, and wild oats.

The researchers found a grinding slab -- a stone tool with which cereal starch granules were extracted -- as well as a distribution of seeds around this tool, reflecting that the cereal grains were processed for consumption. The large number of cereals showing specific kinds of scars on their seeds indicate the likelihood of those cereals growing in fields, and the presence of sickle blades indicates that these humans deliberately planned the harvest of cereal.

The new study offers evidence that early humans clearly functioned with a basic knowledge of agriculture and, perhaps more importantly, exhibited foresight and extensive agricultural planning far earlier than previously believed.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Mediterranean lifestyle may decrease cardiovascular disease by lowering blood triglycerides

Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Evidence suggests that elevated levels of triglycerides (fats) in the blood after meals, known as postprandial lipemia (PPL), is associated with an increased risk for hardening of the arteries -- a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Numerous population studies have associated the Mediterranean lifestyle -- marked by high intake of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), fiber, legumes, dairy and fish; moderate alcohol intake; and increased amounts of better quality sleep -- with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Now, a new review article published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism explores the effects of the "ingredients" of Mediterranean lifestyle as a whole, specifically on PPL.

Through an extensive review of existing research on the Mediterranean lifestyle, the authors found that many of its features do contribute to positive effects on cardiovascular health. "It seems that most components of the Mediterranean lifestyle may reduce PPL, an important CVD risk factor, with the exception of wine. Although olive oil is a main component of this pattern, preliminary results of studies of several other components -- such as fish, legumes, herbs and physical activity -- are very promising," the researchers wrote. "Studies are needed in order to investigate whether the effect of the Mediterranean lifestyle and its components on PPL mediate the overall well-established protective role of this lifestyle."

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Physiological Society (APS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

1 in 3 women has an abortion, and 95% don't regret it

More than half of women were using contraception when they became pregnant, and 47,000 women die every year as a result of the complications of unsafe abortions where it's illegal.

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Women in mainland Britain have had access to safe legal abortion since the Abortion Act was introduced in 1967, yet the facts around it can remain hazy and unclear.
Discerning fact from fiction is a minefield, exacerbated by anti-choice groups who spread medically-inaccurate propaganda linking abortion to everything from breast cancer and infertilityto psychological trauma.
Stories posted on social media app Whisper are helping set the record straight, with women around the world finding the confidence to speak anonymously about their lack of regret and reaffirming their confidence in making the right decision.
A new study from the US has also shown that 95% of women don’t regret having an abortion.

Bortion in mainland Britain can be accessed for free through the NHS or paid for privately. It is carried out during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy after two doctors have signed agreeing that the case meets certain criteria, such as the risk to the physical or mental health of either the woman or the child if the pregnancy were to continue. The majority of doctors have firmly rejected any calls to reduce this 24 week limit because a number of serious abnormalities cannot be detected until the 20-week scan.
But not all women around the world enjoy the same rights and access. Even just across the water in Northern Ireland where regulation is still underpinned by the nineteenth century ‘Offences against the Person Act’, abortion outside very limited conditions, carries the harshest criminal penalty in Europe—life imprisonment for the woman and anyone assisting her.

Women have abortions for many different reasons.

The reasons women choose to have abortions vary widely and are deeply personal, as counsellors on our 24hr confidential helpline One Call (0345 300 8090) will attest. Many are already mums, some are devoutly religious and some have been advised to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy for medical reasons or severe foetal abnormalities. Sadly today, despite the fact that one in three women will have an abortion, hardly anyone talks about the issue. Instead, it is labelled as a ‘problem’ for the ‘reckless and feckless’, ignoring the fact that women having abortions are of all ages and backgrounds, and from every walk of life.