Daily Archives: April 21, 2018

Microplastics found in most bottled water tested in global study


Published on Mar 15, 2018

The perception of bottled water being clean and pure is being challenged by a global investigation that found the water tested is often contaminated with tiny particles of plastic

Nationwide Student Walkout Marks 19th Anniversary of Columbine Massacre

Apr 20, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, school staffers and their supporters are expected to walk out of their classes today to protest gun violence. Plans for today’s walkout began with an online petition started by 16-year-old Connecticut high school sophomore Lane Murdock, who spoke last month in New York City during another nationwide day of student walkouts.

Lane Murdock: “This is an uphill climb. We have a lot of powerful people against us. And they’re going to want infighting. They’re going to want division. They’re going to want us to look at our differences so they can take us down easier. And we’re not going to let that happen. This is about people—gay, straight, black, white, religious, nonreligious—coming together so their kids don’t have to be afraid to go to school.”

Today’s protest comes on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, and less than a month after the historic March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., which saw hundreds of thousands flood the National Mall to demand an end to gun violence.


Dick’s Sporting Goods to Destroy Assault-Style Rifles It Didn’t Sell

Apr 20, 2018

Meanwhile, Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced it plans to destroy the assault-style rifles and accessories that were left over after the company implemented a ban on the sale of assault-style rifles at its 35 Field & Stream stores nationwide. The destruction of the firearms comes as a number of companies and banks are facing widespread pressure from youth activists to cut their ties to the weapons industry and the NRA, the National Rifle Association.

Trump Admin Aims to Expand Sale of Armed Drones Globally

Apr 20, 2018

The Trump administration also announced Thursday a new policy aimed at expanding the sale of armed drones, particularly the large armed drones such as the Predator and the Reaper. Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro said the policy change will allow U.S. weapons companies to increase their direct sales of armed drones to so-called authorized allies and partners. This comes as a new report from the Security Assistance Monitor revealed that Trump approved an unprecedented $82 billion in arms sales during his first year in office.

Trump Admin Moves to Open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Oil Drilling

Apr 20, 2018

The Trump administration moved Thursday to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management issued a notice of intent to begin an environmental impact analysis about the effects of oil exploration and drilling in the refuge, which is rich in biodiversity and has been home to indigenous people for thousands of years. The Trump administration reportedly wants to begin issuing leases for oil drilling in the pristine Arctic area as early as next year.

Innovation Hub | Great Minds, Great Conversations | The History Of A Forgotten Plague

The influenza ward of a U.S. Army camp hospital in France. Credit: U.S. Army Medical Corps

Marc Sollinger April 06, 2018

The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people. It infected a third of the world’s population. But it’s likely that, if you’re thinking of the most important events of the 20th century, the Spanish Flu probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Why is that? To find out, and to explore exactly how it reshaped society, we talked with Laura Spinney, author of the book “Pale Rader: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.”

Three Takeaways

  • Spinney believes that one of the reasons the Spanish Flu has been somewhat forgotten is that it does not easily lend itself to narrative. In comparison, World War I had colorful characters, along with a well-defined beginning, middle, and an end.
  • The Spanish Flu impacted the course of human history, sometimes in surprising ways. Spinney points out that if pregnant women were infected and survived, the affected children were diminished cognitively and physically. “[They were] less likely to graduate, less likely to earn a good wage, and more likely to go to prison… So, the effects of what happened to them in the womb lasted for the whole of the 20th century. That generation is only just passing now.”
  • It’s not a question of “if” the next major flu pandemic will strike, it’s a question of “when”. As to whether it will be on the same scale as the Spanish Flu, that’s up in the air. We’re more connected than we were in 1918, there are more people on the planet, and we have an older population, but we also have a more robust medical arsenal to respond to the disease. However, according to the World Bank, “an outbreak today like the 1918 Spanish flu would kill more than 33 million people in 250 days.”

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Innovation Hub | Great Minds, Great Conversations | Why The Rich Don’t Want To See Themselves As Rich

Marc Sollinger

April 20, 2018

(AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin)

Let’s say that you make more than $500,000 a year. You have a million bucks in the bank. Maybe you have a second home in the Hamptons. You’re rich, right? Well, to most people, it certainly looks that way. But even if you’re part of the 1%, you might not think of yourself as that wealthy. Rachel Sherman is a professor of sociology at The New School and the author of Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence. She interviewed 50 wealthy New Yorkers about their attitudes toward their money. What she found was surprising, and impacts the lives of even those who might not have a million dollars in the bank.

Three Takeaways

  • Sherman actually had a lot of trouble getting people to talk about money. It was “more private than talking about sex,” according to one interviewee. And this discomfort surrounding wealth manifested itself in other ways. Sherman notes that another interviewee actually hid price tags on clothing and household items from her nanny.
  • This unease about affluence reflects society’s complicated and contradictory ideas around wealth. Consider how Bill Gates, with his self-made fortune and foundation, is viewed, as opposed to someone like Paris Hilton, whose public image is far more extravagant. According to Sherman, Americans simultaneously desire to be wealthy and are often skeptical of those who are rich.
  • Reluctanceto talk about money is extremely important, especially for public policy. There’s a “silence around talking about class,” Sherman says, “and that helps us imagine that class privilege doesn’t exist. It helps wealthy people manage how uncomfortable they are with inequality.” Sherman believes that this discomfort surrounding wealth – the desire for the rich to see themselves as not actually all that rich – is distracting us from bigger questions about entitlement and distribution.

More Reading

  • If you think there’s a gap between middle class folks and the wealthy, check out the gap between the wealthy and the super wealthy.
  • A while back, we talked with David Callahan, who says that the rise of philanthropy among billionaires is having some unintended consequences.
  • Turns out, the same families that were rich in 15th century Florence, are still rich in 21st century Florence.

Innovation Hub | Great Minds, Great Conversations | Can Music Improve Your Health?

Kara Miller meets with Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services patient Louisa Solano to talk about what’s on her iPod. (Photo Credit: Nathan Lamb/Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services)

ABBA, Patsy Cline, and Frank Sinatra are filling the earbuds of elderly people all over America. Why? Eldercare services and nonprofit organizations are increasingly using music as a therapeutic tool to stir up memories and soothe anxiety. Innovation Hub takes a look at the science behind these programs, as well as the lives that they’re changing.

Three Takeaways

  • Temple University music therapy professor Wendy Magee says that singing and music-related trivia can be enough to spark a person’s memory. She has worked with “people who, if you said to them, ‘What’s your name?’ they weren’t able to actually able to respond with their name. But if you started singing to them, they could complete the last word of a song.”
  • Music & Memory is a nonprofit that uses music to help seniors connect with their past – and improve their mood. Founder Dan Cohen says music engages our brain more than any other part of our senses, including sight and smell. “When someone is listening to their favorite music, the brain is lighting up lights up in many parts… And it is taking advantage of the parts of the brain that are still very functional,” Cohen says.
  • Innovation Hub talked with Elsie Stern, a patient who uses Music & Memory at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services. She says that music from groups like ABBA not only remind her of younger days when she would go out dancing, but it also helps ease her anxiety.

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