Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poor sleep ruins marriages, study says

For the study, presented today at Sleep 2011, the 25th anniversary meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis, 35 healthy, married couples wore actigraphs -- bracelets that measured the time it took each partner to fall asleep after going to bed and the total time each slept over 10 days. The couples also kept a diary in which they recorded positive and negative interactions with their spouse, says ABC News.

Women have a new reason to get help with their insomnia - poor sleep might be damaging their marriages.

After a bad night's sleep women - but not men - tend to have more negative interactions with their spouses, a new study shows.

"Other research has shown that sleep disturbance and deprivation has profound effects on mood, irritability and frustration tolerance," said the study's lead author, Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. "And the person you're most likely to take it out on is not your boss or some random person, but your spouse", reports

Cell phones and cancer link

Youths using cell phones do not face a higher risk of brain cancer, a new study says. However, two California scientists who have looked at the report say that's not the whole story, according to Public News Service.

Scientists say the study is important, because it is the first of its kind to focus on children.
The study's authors compared the cellphone habits of nearly 1,000 children in Western Europe, including 352 with brain tumors and 646 without. Kids who used cellphones were no more likely to develop a brain tumor than others, according to the study of children ages 7 to 19, published online Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, says USA Today.

In the past two decades, cellphone use has soared among children in developed countries, with one study suggesting that most youths start to use mobile phones by age 9 or 10. Children have a developing nervous system, and cellphone emissions penetrate deeper into their brains. Studies have indicated that the outer brain tissue of children ages 5 to 8 may absorb twice the amount of cellphone energy absorbed by adult brains.

Public health data indicate no increase in brain tumors among children in the U.S. and many parts of Europe, whether from cellphone usage or any other cause. The latest research "shows that a large and immediate risk of cellphones causing brain tumors in children can be excluded," said Martin Roosli, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, reports

Friday, July 29, 2011

Secondhand smoke, hearing loss linked

Compared to teens with non-smoking parents, adolescents who are exposed to secondhand smoke are two times more likely to develop levels of hearing loss in the long run.

New York University School of Medicine researchers studied any possible relationship between exposure to tobacco smoke at home and the risk of developing hearing loss in 11,533 US teenagers.

The teens with higher blood levels of cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, were more likely to have sensorineural hearing loss -- a condition most often caused by problems with the cochlea, the snail-shaped hearing organ in the inner ear.

About 12 percent of the exposed kids had mild to severe hearing loss in one ear, compared to less than eight percent of kids without smoke exposure, according to the findings published in the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

"More than half of all children in the U.S. are exposed to secondhand smoke, so our finding that it can lead to hearing loss in teenagers has huge public health implications," said study co-author Anil Lalwani.

Researchers believe children may need to be screened more regularly for hearing problems because more than 80 percent of the affected teens in the study were not aware of having any hearing problems.

Further studies are needed to determine how exactly exposure to tobacco smoke causes hearing difficulties, the scientists added.

Vegetarian diet prevents diverticulitis

People who follow a high-fiber and meat-free diet are in much lower risk of common bowel disorder called diverticular disease, a new study says.

Oxford University researchers found that those who follow vegetarian diets are about 30 percent less likely to develop diverticular disease than their meat-eating peers.

Diverticular disease occurs due to development of pouches or diverticula in the intestine, usually the large intestine or colon. The condition is more common in countries such as the US and the UK where people's diet is generally low in fiber.

Diverticula usually cause no symptoms but when becoming inflamed, they are called diverticulitis and may cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, fever, irregular bowel habits, and bloating.

Dr. Francesca Crowe and his colleagues recorded dietary habits of more than 47,000 adults, and followed them for 12 years to detect those who might develop diverticular disease.

According to the new findings published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), individuals who consumed around 25 grams of dietary fiber each day were less likely to be admitted to hospital or die from diverticular disease than people whose daily meals included less than 14 grams of fiber.

However, the researchers did not recommend people to adopt a solely vegetarian diet to lower their risk of diverticular disease but urged them to follow a healthier diet including more fiber and less meat.

"Overall the opportunity for preventing the occurrence of diverticular disease and other conditions, such as colorectal cancer, probably lies in the modification of diet, at either a population or an individual level," the researchers suggested.

The new research adds new evidence to previous findings about possible benefits of vegetarian or high fiber and less meat diets.

However, it is not strong enough to show a cause and effect relation between the studied dietary choices and lower risk of diverticular disease, which needs more sophisticate studies.

MOSCOW, July 29 (Itar-Tass) — Russian media writes about possibility of worsening of relations between Russia and the USA. Features of a possible coolness in the Russian-American relations are emerging, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. After the information about the sanctions against officials on the Magnisky list, American media spoke about possible involvement of Russia’s special services in explosions in Georgia. Russia’s permanent representative at NATO Dmitry Rogozin made it clear on Thursday that the anti-missile system in Europe is aimed against Russia. Experts warn about an attempt of the USA’s conservative circles to go back to the times of the Cold War.

MOSCOW, July 29 (Itar-Tass) — Russian media writes about possibility of worsening of relations between Russia and the USA. Features of a possible coolness in the Russian-American relations are emerging, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. After the information about the sanctions against officials on the Magnisky list, American media spoke about possible involvement of Russia’s special services in explosions in Georgia. Russia’s permanent representative at NATO Dmitry Rogozin made it clear on Thursday that the anti-missile system in Europe is aimed against Russia. Experts warn about an attempt of the USA’s conservative circles to go back to the times of the Cold War.

Commenting on the situation around the Magnitsky list, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the Russian side will not leave without a response “the unfriendly steps” of the USA and “will undertake adequate measures to protect sovereignty of the country and rights of Russian citizens against illegal actions of foreign states.”

The Washington Times newspaper launched another sensation. Officials of the presidential administration told reporters anonymously about the CIS secret report, where the Russian intelligent service /GRU/ is claimed as involved in organisation of the explosion by the USA’s Embassy in Tbilisi in September of 2010 and in several other similar incidents.

The newspaper addressed Director of the Institute of USA and Canada of Russia’s Academy of Sciences Sergei Rogov for comments on the present Russian-American relations. He said that the political situation in America is changing and, following the victory in the Congress elections last November, the republicans – opposing the rebooting – undertook a counterattack.

“They start saying that it is time to finish the rebooting and to start pressing Russia regarding human rights, democracy and other issues of home policy. At the same time, they demand from the administration reconsidering of the START and refusing from any cooperation on anti-missile systems,” the expert explained. He added that there are circles in the USA, which are still adamant that Russia remains the major enemy and that it is necessary to build up pressure on it, and not to reach agreements.

Sergei Rogov said that absence of further progress in the Russian-American relations will emerge the situation, where there are forces seeking to ruin all achievements.

This comment, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports, confirms Dmitry Rogozin’s words, published on Thursday, about his meetings in the USA with representatives of the Republican Party. For example, he named Senator Kail as “monster of the Cold War” and warns that if such people come to power, it will end the “rebooting.”

The Novye Izvestia, in its turn, stress that Moscow’s response to America’s Magnitsky list turned out to be tough.

“I can confirm that at the order of the president the foreign ministry is working out measures against the USA citizens, which are analogous to those announced by the Department of State,” the newspaper quotes Russia’s presidential Press Secretary Natalia Timakova as saying. “The Russian side is bewildered at the Department of State’ s decision to undertake unusual functions, to actually announce guilt and to introduce any measures against Russian citizens before the investigation is over and a verdict is announced by the Russian justice.”

At the same time, Chairman of the presidential Permanent Chamber on human rights Valery Borshchev doubts the foreign ministry will be able to make up a list of the kind. “I do not think that it will be so easy to spot people in the USA, who are accused of serious crimes and at the same time travel across the world without problems,” he said.

S'pore cannot do without foreign talent

SINGAPORE: Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore would not be able to punch above its own weight if it were to depend on talent from its own population.

He was speaking at a dialogue to wrap up the two-day South Asian Diaspora convention in Singapore on Friday.

DBS Bank's CEO Piyush Gupta posted a question to Mr Lee, asking just how big the issue of attracting foreign talent in Singapore is, having noted that it was a hot topic during the recent General Election.

Mr Lee felt it was an issue among Singaporeans even before the election.

Mr Lee said: "For some time, the Singaporean has felt the competition from talented foreigners. But these are people who have come here to become our citizens and I am a firm believer that the more talent that you have in a society, the better the society will grow.

"If Singapore depends on the talent it can produce out of three million people, it's not going to punch above its weight.

"It's because we have been drawing talent from across the globe - South Asia, Northeast Asia, China, India and beyond that - you have a vibrant economy which is way beyond what three million Singaporeans with the talent they can produce can do.

"So you've got to accept the discomfort, which the local citizens fear that they are competing unequally for jobs. (It) cannot be helped.

"But without them, the jobs will not be there to begin with. So welcome talent and we'll continue to welcome talent."

When asked how the political problem associated with the foreign talent issue could be managed, Mr Lee said: "You just have to assuage it.

"What is the choice - slow growth with no input of talent or faster growth with input of talent and the feeling that some of the top jobs are going to the foreigners? You may get no jobs at all if there were no growth."

Several participants at the convention also took the opportunity to tap Mr Lee's views on the importance of governance and meritocracy for the success of a country. One common question raised during the dialogue was how Mr Lee would have governed India, if the country was handed to him.

Mr Lee replied: "First, what sort of Indian would I be? A northern Indian? A southern Indian? That identifies you with the interest of a particular group.

"Or a Bombay Indian, which is the most cosmopolitan of all. But it may well be that a Bombay Indian doesn't represent Indians at all, so it's a problem India has to face.

"It is important whoever leads India should find acceptance with the widest group of Indians possible. But I think it is very difficult for any Indian leader to find more than 40 per cent of Indians believing he represents them."

Mr Lee also noted that Indians speak nearly 300 different languages, but in China, 90 per cent of the people speak the same language and that makes it a much easier country to lead than India.

- CNA/ck

Asean visa free travel moves closer

Asean has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate the easing of visa requirements for Asean nationals traveling within the region, as outlined in the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity.

The commitment to relax visa conditions in the region was stipulated in the Joint Communiqué of the 44th Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali, Indonesia recently.

Changing entry require-ments for Asean nationals will allow more freedom of movement within the region, allowing people to travel more easily whether for business or pleasure. Over time this can only enhance the understanding and solidarity that people within the region feel towards neighbouring states and peoples.

Asean leaders agreed to task a Senior Official Meeting (SOM) with the relevant immigration authorities and foreign affairs officials from the respective countries to study the implementation of a progressive visa relaxation.

They will also discuss the possible establishment of an Asean common visa for non-Asean nationals and report to the 19th Asean Summit. The leaders also noted the Asean Tourism Ministers' discussions in January 2011, which included talks on a single visa being included in the Asean Tourism Strategic Plan for 2011-2015.

Director General of the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Asean Department Dr Khiane Phansourivong told Vientiane Times this week that bearers of diplomatic passports and official passports don't need visas when traveling to other Asean nations.

Currently, Lao citizens still require a visa to visit Indonesia but are exempt for the remaining nine Asean countries. However, when the bilateral agreement takes effect Lao citizens will be exempted from visa requirements in Indonesia.

Dr Khiane said if the Asean visa free area and the Asean common visa for non-Asean nationals eventuate it will attract more trade, investment, and international tourists to the region; as well as strengthen business investment and cross-border relations within the region itself.

However Dr Khiane said that the timeframe for the implementation of the visa free project was far from clear, as officials have to examine the laws and regulations of each member-state, and consider the possible ramifications it could have on the different countries in the region.

Asean nations aim to establish an Asean Community by 2015, with the concept based on three separate pillars which will help to integrate the region – an Asean Security Community (ASC), an Asean Economic Community (AEC) and an Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

The ASC aims to maintain regional peace and stability by developing a cooperative framework to deal with both conventional and unconventional security threats.

The AEC is aimed at enhancing regional economic cooperation to ensure Asean's prosperity and well-being.

The ASCC promotes harmonious regional relationship and cultural understanding.
Asean is home to nearly 600 million people and its aggregate GDP was US$1.9 trillion in 2010.
The Asean member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
By Times Reporters (Latest Update July 29, 2011)