July, 19 2010
Scans of the calf muscles in a group of frequent heel wearers found muscle fibres were, on average, 13% shorter than in those who avoided high heels.
The Journal of Experimental Biology study also found high heels led to stiffer tendons in the calf.
Some time spent in flatter footwear as well as stretching exercises would help to combat the effect, experts said.
Anecdotally it has long been said that regularly wearing high heels shortens the calf muscle.
Study leader Professor Marco Narici, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said in the 1950s secretaries who wore high heels complained that they struggled to walk flat-footed when they took their shoes off.
But no-one has looked at what is actually happening in the muscle.
From a group of 80 women, the team selected 11 volunteers who had regularly worn 5cm heels for two years or more and who felt uncomfortable walking flat-footed.
An MRI scan showed that there was no difference in the size of the calf muscles in the heel wearers compared with a group of women who wore flat shoes.
But an ultrasound scan revealed that the muscle fibres were indeed shorter in the women who wore heels.
When the women were asked to lie on their front on a couch, the researchers noticed that the angle of the heel in the stiletto wearers was greater due to their shortened calf.
In the final part of the study, they found that the high-heel wearers’ tendons were much thicker and stiffer than in those who stuck to flat shoes.
This causes discomfort when walking on flat feet because the tendon cannot stretch sufficiently, Professor Narici said.
Yet he does not think women need to give up their high heels.
“Fashion is intended to be uncomfortable and none of the women in the study planned to give up their high heels,” he said.
“We want to give practical advice and I would recommend just doing a few stretching exercises to counteract some of these changes.”
He said one useful tip was for high heel wearers to stand on tip toes on a step, and using a handrail for balance to lower their heels as far as they can before raising them up again.
Sammy Margo, physiotherapist and spokesperson for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said the study backed what they suspected.
“The advice we would give is not to wear heels or flat shoes all the time but to wear a variety of heel heights to get the calf muscles working through the greatest range of movement.
“But I can’t say we are seeing a higher incidence of calf problems in women who wear high shoes.”
July, 19 2010
The Education & Labor Committee
For millions of families, the meals their children receive at school or in child care are their only chance at a healthy meal all day. In 2008, more than 16 million children lived in homes without access to enough nutritious food. America’s children should not have to go hungry – they should have access to healthy foods year round that will help them thrive physically and academically.
We expect children to come to school prepared to learn but hunger and poor nutrition can present major barriers to their success in the classroom. And, since hunger does not take a summer vacation, providing children with year round access to healthier, nutritious foods means children won’t go hungry just because school is out.
The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act (H.R. 5504) will dramatically improve children’s access to nutritious meals, enhance the quality of meals children eat both in and out of school and in child care settings, implement new school food safety guidelines and, for the first time, establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. (Original bill text)
This new legislation, which was amended and passed by the Committee on July 14, 2010, will answer President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to reduce childhood hunger and support school and community efforts to reduce childhood obesity. (Supporters of H.R. 5504)
Specifically, these new investments in child nutrition will:
Improve Access to School Meal Programs
- Increase the number of eligible children enrolled in the school lunch programs by using Medicaid/SCHIP data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications and requiring states to establish and execute a plan to increase rates of direct certification.
- Provide enhanced universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility.
- Increase children’s access to healthy school breakfasts by providing competitive grants to school districts to start up or improve their program.
Improve Access to Out of School Meal Programs
- Ensure fewer children go hungry year round by providing meals for over 225,000 children through seamless meal service for children in school based and community based summer and after-school programs, and in low income rural areas.
- Improve access for children in home-based child care by reducing administrative costs for sponsors of child care meal programs.
Help Schools and Child Care Improve the Quality of Meals
- Assist schools in meeting meal requirements proposed by the Institute of Medicine by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 6 cents per meal — the first real increase in over 30 years.
- Enhance funding for nutrition education in schools to support healthy eating and school wellness.
- Promote stronger collaboration and sharing of nutrition education between child care programs and WIC programs.
Encourage Public/Partnerships in Communities
- Connect more children to healthy produce from local farms by helping communities establish local farm to school networks, establish school gardens and use more local foods in school cafeterias.
- Leverage public and private partnerships to help reduce childhood hunger and promote community-wide strategies to improve child nutrition and wellness.
Improve Food Safety Requirements for School Meals Programs
- Ensure school meals are safe for all students by extending food safety requirements to all areas in which school food is stored, prepared, and served.
- Support improved communication to speed notification of recalled school foods consistent with GAO recommendations.
- Ensures all foodservice employees have access to food safety training to prevent and identify food borne illness such as through web-based training.
Streamline Program Administration and Support Program Integrity
- Increase efficiency, improve program administration, support services and program access and modernize the WIC program by extending period of certification for children, increasing support for breastfeeding, and transitioning from paper food vouchers to an electronic benefit program.
- Strengthen School Meal program integrity and remove program silos in after school meal programs by simplifying program rules and affording schools greater flexibility for addressing program costs.
July, 19 2010
The Wall Street Journal
If it seems as if the tax code was conceived by graphic artist M.C. Escher, wait until you meet the new and not improved Internal Revenue Service created by ObamaCare. What, you’re not already on a first-name basis with your local IRS agent?
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates inside the IRS, highlighted the agency’s new mission in her annual report to Congress last week. Look out below. She notes that the IRS is already “greatly taxed”—pun intended?—”by the additional role it is playing in delivering social benefits and programs to the American public,” like tax credits for first-time homebuyers or purchasing electric cars. Yet with ObamaCare, the agency is now responsible for “the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.” And without “sufficient funding” it won’t be able to discharge these new duties.
That wouldn’t be tragic, given that those new duties include audits to determine who has the insurance “as required by law” and collecting penalties from Americans who don’t. Companies that don’t sponsor health plans will also be punished. This crackdown will “involve nearly every division and function of the IRS,” Ms. Olson reports.
Well, well. Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon. The IRS says it hasn’t figured out how much extra money and manpower it will need but admits that both numbers are greater than zero.
Ms. Olson also exposed a damaging provision that she estimates will hit some 30 million sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations, two million farms and one million charities and other tax-exempt organizations. Prior to ObamaCare, businesses only had to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase. But starting in 2013 they will also have to report the value of goods they buy from a single vendor that total more than $600 annually—including office supplies and the like.
Democrats snuck in this obligation to narrow the mythical “tax gap” of unreported business income, but Ms. Olson says that the tracking costs for small businesses will be “disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance.” Job creation, here we come . . . at least for the accountants who will attempt to comply with a vast new 1099 reporting burden.
In a Monday letter, even Democratic Senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Evan Bayh (Indiana) denounce this new “burden” on small businesses and insist that the IRS use its discretion to find “better ways to structure this reporting requirement.” In other words, they want regulators to fix one problem among many that all four Senators created by voting for ObamaCare.
We never thought anyone would be nostalgic for the tax system of a few months ago, but post-ObamaCare, here we are.
July, 19 2010
Putting a bottle of olive oil into your shopping trolley is about to become more expensive because of Europe’s financial crisis.
In an unexpected spin-off from the Eurozone contagion hitting Mediterranean countries, Greek producers uncertain about the future of the debt-laden state are hoarding stocks of olive oil rather than selling them on the open market.
As a result, and because of growing demand for olive oil worldwide, prices have risen 20 per cent in a year, according to Britain’s biggest olive oil brand, Filippo Berio. Its managing director, Walter Zanre, warned there would be further increases in the cost of the oil, widely used by Britons for frying and as a salad dressing. Greece is the world’s third-largest olive oil producer, after Spain and Italy. “Greek growers consider stocks of olive oil in tanks to be a safer bet than cash in a Greek bank,” Mr Zanre told The Grocer magazine.
“Greece is a source of high quality extra virgin oil and this is putting additional pressure on prices. At some point the oil will have to be sold but in the short term it could cause a spike in prices.”
A spokeswoman for Filippo Berio’s distributors, RH Amar, said: “The economic climate in Spain is unstable and if the growers decide they can afford to use their oil as cash in the bank, prices are likely to spike as a result.”
Olive oil is already much more expensive than vegetable and seed oils, which have fallen in price this year following large rises last year. At Britain’s biggest supermarket, Tesco, yesterday a litre of Napolina extra-virgin olive oil cost £6.49 and a litre of Filippo Berio olive oil was £3.20, against £1.20 for a litre of rapeseed oil.
Even before the latest rises, there were concerns that some olive oils did not represent good value. In a taste test last year, the consumer group Which? found Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Felippo Berio and Bertolli Original merited an ordinary three stars out of five, while Asda and Napolini were “below average” with two stars.
Marks & Spencer’s and Morrison’s oils were given the withering tag “leave on the shelf”. By contrast, Which? gave Aldi and Lidl’s budget extra-virgin oils four stars, branding them exceptional value at £3.30 a litre.
This week laboratory analysis suggested that many “extra virgin” olive oils sold in the United States were not the top-grade extra-oils their labels purported.
Researchers at the University of California analysed popular brands and found 69 per cent of imported oils did not meet the international standards that define pure, cold-pressed olive oils that deserve the term extra-virgin.
Dan Flynn, executive director of its Olive Oil Centre, which conducted the study in partnership with the Australian Oils Research Laboratory, said: “Consumers, retailers and regulators should really start asking questions.”
The North American Olive Oil Association, which represents most olive oil importers, questioned the objectivity of a study financed in part by California olive oil producers.
Speaking about the US market, Mr Flynn said there have long been questions about the quality of some of the olive oil being sold as extra virgin.
Production of extra-virgin oil is time-consuming and expensive and there are suspicions that some unscrupulous companies blend extra-virgin olive oil with cheaper, refined olive oil, or with seed or nut oils.
July, 19 2010
By: Patrick Kingsley
If you’re reading this article in print, chances are you’ll only get through half of what I’ve written. And if you’re reading this online, you might not even finish a fifth. At least, those are the two verdicts from a pair of recent research projects – respectively, the Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen – which both suggest that many of us no longer have the concentration to read articles through to their conclusion.
The problem doesn’t just stop there: academics report that we are becoming less attentive book-readers, too. Bath Spa University lecturer Greg Garrard recently revealed that he has had to shorten his students’ reading list, while Keith Thomas, an Oxford historian, has written that he is bemused by junior colleagues who analyze sources with a search engine, instead of reading them in their entirety.
So are we getting stupider? Is that what this is about? Sort of. According to The Shallows, a new book by technology sage Nicholas Carr, our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual information. Round-the-clock news feeds leave us hyperlinking from one article to the next – without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content; our reading is frequently interrupted by the ping of the latest email; and we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts.
Which all means that although, because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other. And so, as Carr writes, “we’re losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we’re in perpetual locomotion”.
Still reading? You’re probably in a dwindling minority. But no matter: a literary revolution is at hand. First we had slow food, then slow travel. Now, those campaigns are joined by a slow-reading movement – a disparate bunch of academics and intellectuals who want us to take our time while reading, and re-reading. They ask us to switch off our computers every so often and rediscover both the joy of personal engagement with physical texts, and the ability to process them fully.
“If you want the deep experience of a book, if you want to internalise it, to mix an author’s ideas with your own and make it a more personal experience, you have to read it slowly,” says Ottawa-based John Miedema, author of Slow Reading (2009).
But Lancelot R Fletcher, the first present-day author to popularise the term “slow reading”, disagrees. He argues that slow reading is not so much about unleashing the reader’s creativity, as uncovering the author’s. “My intention was to counter postmodernism, to encourage the discovery of authorial content,” the American expat explains from his holiday in the Caucasus mountains in eastern Europe. “I told my students to believe that the text was written by God – if you can’t understand something written in the text, it’s your fault, not the author’s.”
And while Fletcher used the term initially as an academic tool, slow reading has since become a more wide-ranging concept. Miedema writes on his website that slow reading, like slow food, is now, at root, a localist idea which can help connect a reader to his neighbourhood. “Slow reading,” writes Miedema, “is a community event restoring connections between ideas and people. The continuity of relationships through reading is experienced when we borrow books from friends; when we read long stories to our kids until they fall asleep.” Meanwhile, though the movement began in academia, Tracy Seeley, an English professor at the University of San Francisco, and the author of a blog about slow reading, feels strongly that slow reading shouldn’t “just be the province of the intellectuals. Careful and slow reading, and deep attention, is a challenge for all of us.”
So the movement’s not a particularly cohesive one – as Malcolm Jones wrote in a recent Newsweek article, “there’s no letterhead, no board of directors, and, horrors, no central website” – and nor is it a new idea: as early as 1623, the first edition of Shakespeare’s folio encouraged us to read the playwright “again and again”; in 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche described himself as a “teacher of slow reading”; and, back in the 20s and 30s, dons such as IA Richards popularised close textual analysis within academic circles.
But what’s clear is that our era’s technological diarrhoea is bringing more and more slow readers to the fore. Keith Thomas, the Oxford history professor, is one such reader. He doesn’t see himself as part of a wider slow community, but has nevertheless recently written – in the London Review of Books – about his bewilderment at the hasty reading techniques in contemporary academia. “I don’t think using a search engine to find certain key words in a text is a substitute for reading it properly,” he says. “You don’t get a proper sense of the work, or understand its context. And there’s no serendipity – half the things I’ve found in my research have come when I’ve luckily stumbled across something I wasn’t expecting.”
Some academics vehemently disagree, however. One literature professor, Pierre Bayard, notoriously wrote a book about how readers can form valid opinions about texts they have only skimmed – or even not read at all. “It’s possible to have a passionate conversation about a book that one has not read, including, perhaps especially, with someone else who has not read it,” he says in How to Talk About Books that You Haven’t Read (2007), before suggesting that such bluffing is even “at the heart of a creative process”.
Slow readers, obviously, are at loggerheads with Bayard. Seeley says that you might be able to engage “in a basic conversation if you have only read a book’s summary, but for the kinds of reading I want my students to do, the words matter. The physical shape of sentences matter.”
Nicholas Carr’s book elaborates further. “The words of the writer,” suggests Carr, “act as a catalyst in the mind of the reader, inspiring new insights, associations, and perceptions, sometimes even epiphanies.” And, perhaps even more significantly, it is only through slow reading that great literature can be cultivated in the future. As Carr writes, “the very existence of the attentive, critical reader provides the spur for the writer’s work. It gives the author the confidence to explore new forms of expression, to blaze difficult and demanding paths of thought, to venture into uncharted and sometimes hazardous territory.”
What’s more, Seeley argues, Bayard’s literary bluffing merely obscures a bigger problem: the erosion of our powers of concentration, as highlighted by Carr’s book. Seeley notes that after a conversation with some of her students, she discovered that “most can’t concentrate on reading a text for more than 30 seconds or a minute at a time. We’re being trained away from slow reading by new technology.” But unlike Bath Spa’s Greg Garrard, she does not want to cut down on the amount of reading she sets her classes. “It’s my responsibility to challenge my students,” says Seeley. “I don’t just want to throw in the towel.”
Seeley finds an unlikely ally in Henry Hitchings, who – as the author of the rather confusingly named How to Really Talk About Books You Haven’t Read (2008) – could initially be mistaken as a follower of Bayard. “My book on the subject notwithstanding,” says Hitchings, “I’m no fan of bluffing and blagging. My book was really a covert statement to the effect that reading matters. It’s supposed to encourage would-be bluffers to go beyond mere bluffing, though it does this under the cover of arming them for literary combat.”
But Hitchings also feels that clear-cut distinctions between slow and fast reading are slightly idealistic. “In short, the fast-slow polarity – or antithesis, if you prefer – strikes me as false. We all have several guises as readers. If I am reading – to pick an obvious example – James Joyce, slow reading feels appropriate. If I’m reading the instruction manual for a new washing machine, it doesn’t.”
Hitchings does agree that the internet is part of the problem. “It accustoms us to new ways of reading and looking and consuming,” Hitchings says, “and it fragments our attention span in a way that’s not ideal if you want to read, for instance, Clarissa.” He also argues that “the real issue with the internet may be that it erodes, slowly, one’s sense of self, one’s capacity for the kind of pleasure in isolation that reading has, since printed books became common, been standard”.
What’s to be done, then? All the slow readers I spoke to realise that total rejection of the web is extremely unrealistic, but many felt that temporary isolation from technology was the answer. Tracy Seeley’s students, for example, have advocated turning their computer off for one day a week. But, given the pace at which most of us live, do we even have time? Garrard seems to think so: “I’m no luddite – I’m on my iPhone right now, having just checked my email – but I regularly carve out reading holidays in the middle of my week: four or five hours with the internet disconnected.”
Meanwhile, Jakob Nielsen – the internet guru behind some of the statistics at the beginning of this article – thinks the iPad might just be the answer: “It’s pleasant and fun, and doesn’t remind people of work.” But though John Miedema thinks iPads and Kindles are “a good halfway house, particularly if you’re on the road”, the author reveals that, for the true slow reader, there’s simply no substitute for particular aspects of the paper book: “The binding of a book captures an experience or idea at a particular space and time.” And even the act of storing a book is a pleasure for Miedema. “When the reading is complete, you place it with satisfaction on your bookshelf,” he says.
Personally, I’m not sure I could ever go offline for long. Even while writing this article I was flicking constantly between sites, skimming too often, absorbing too little; internet reading has become too ingrained in my daily life for me to change. I read essays and articles not in hard copy but as PDFs, and I’m more comfortable churning through lots of news features from several outlets than just a few from a single print source. I suspect that many readers are in a similar position.
But if, like me, you just occasionally want to read more slowly, help is at hand. You can download a computer application called Freedom, which allows you to read in peace by cutting off your internet connection. Or if you want to remove adverts and other distractions from your screen, you could always download offline reader Instapaper for your iPhone. If you’re still reading, that is.
July, 19 2010
By: David Gutierrez
The HIV drug Videx (sold generically as didanosine) may cause fatal liver problems, the FDA has warned.
Since the drug’s initial approval, the agency has received 42 adverse event reports linking Videx and its delayed release version Videx EC to a rare liver disorder known as non-cirrotic portal hypertension. In four of these cases, patients died from liver failure or severe bleeding. Only three patients were able to fully recover from the condition, and all of those needed a liver transplant. Patients had been undergoing treatment with the drug for anywhere from months to years.
Although it has not yet been proven that the drugs caused the liver disorder, the FDA noted that there is definitely an association between the two.
In non-cirrotic portal hypertension, blood flow through a major vein in the liver becomes constricted, causing blood to back up into the esophagus. Veins in the throat can become so enlarged that they rupture, leading to serious and potentially fatal bleeding.
Although the FDA stated that the benefits for HIV patients still outweigh the risks, it warned that Videx patients should be closely monitored for any signs of portal hypertension. Furthermore, it noted that “the decision to use this drug … must be made on an individual basis between the treating physician and the patient.”
Videx was first approved in 1991, and the delayed release version was approved in 2000. The drug is a type of antiretroviral drug known as a nucleoside analogue, and slows the proliferation of HIV to prolong the onset of AIDS and extend the life of patients.
It has previously been linked to other forms of liver damage, especially in combination with other antiretroviral drugs including hydroxyurea and ribavirin.
According to a spokesperson for manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squib, worldwide sales of the drug amounted to $71 million in 2009.
July, 19 2010
By: Ethan A. Huff
A group of retired military officials recently expressed concern that school lunches are a threat to national security. According to them, the food being fed to children at public schools is making them “too fat to fight”, leaving a potentially considerable gap in military recruitment.
“Mission: Readiness”, the non-profit group of over 130 retired military leaders that is calling for healthier federal food for children, is expressing support for new legislation that would outlaw junk food from schools so that more children will qualify to enroll in the military.
The group believes that “national security” is America’s top priority, so it is doing everything it can to increase military enrollment, even if that means supporting and passing federal food restriction legislation.
According to the group’s report, roughly 75 percent of all young Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service because they do not finish high school, have criminal records, or they are not physically fit enough to serve.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, the number of states with 40 percent or more of the young adult population being overweight or obese has jumped from one to 39 in just ten years. Currently in three states, more than half of the young adult population is overweight.
Mission: Readiness is calling on Congress to amend the Child Nutrition Act to include three new policies:
- Permit the USDA to adopt updated nutrition standards that would eliminate high-calorie, low-nutrition junk foods from public schools.
- Provide additional funding to improve the quality of food at public schools and increase the number of children who have access to it.
- Administer school-based programs to teach parents how to teach their children to adopt better eating and lifestyle habits.
Sadly, the motivation for such legislation does not seem to be for the actual benefit of the children themselves, but rather to fuel the endeavors of the military-industrial complex. And while there are some good proposals for switching to healthier food in public schools, threatening proposals to further increase federal control over people also seem to be present in the push.
Supporting healthier food for children is always a good thing, but it’s important to lead the charge as a free and independent people, rather than simply grant increased power and control to federal bureaucrats. Remember, if they have the power to give it, they have the power to take it away.
July, 19 2010
By: S.L. Baker
The vegetable known as the beetroot in Great Britain (and usually called the table beet, garden beet, red beet or just plain beet in the U.S.) has been studied in recent years for its health-building properties. For example, scientists have found it is rich in the nutrient betaine, which reduces the blood concentration of homocycsteine, a substance linked to heart disease and stroke. Now a study just published in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension journal concludes drinking beet juice lowers high blood pressure quickly and effectively — and could be a natural approach to helping prevent cardiovascular problems.
British scientists at the Queen Mary University of London found that drinking beet juice lowered blood pressure to healthy levels within 24 hours. In fact, it was just as effective as prescription nitrate tables in treating hypertension. In a previous study two years ago, the same research team had first observed that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure — now they’ve figured out exactly why.
It turns out that the organic form of nitrate found in beet juice is the key to its blood pressure lowering benefits. Study author Amrita Ahluwalia, Professor of Vascular Biology at Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute, said the investigators were able to prove the nitrate was the cause of beet juice’s beneficial effects on cardiovascular health because they showed beet nitrate increased levels of the gas nitric oxide in the circulation. Nitric oxide is a type of biological messenger in the body. It signals smooth muscle tissue to relax, induces vasodilation and increases blood flow, leading to a lower blood pressure.
“We gave inorganic nitrate capsules or beetroot juice to healthy volunteers and compared their blood pressure responses and the biochemical changes occurring in the circulation,” Professor Ahluwalia said in a statement to the press. “We showed that beetroot and nitrate capsules are equally effective in lowering blood pressure indicating that it is the nitrate content of beetroot juice that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure. We also found that only a small amount of juice is needed — just 250ml — to have this effect, and that the higher the blood pressure at the start of the study the greater the decrease caused by the nitrate.”
“The research will be welcome news to people with high blood pressure who might now be able to use a new ‘natural’ approach to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease (including stroke and heart attacks) — the world’s biggest killer,” the researchers added in the media statement.
July, 19 2010
My FOX New York
By: Adrian Carrasquillo
The Health Departments has detected high levels of the dangerous West Nile Virus in every borough except Manhattan.
The number of mosquitoes testing positive for the virus is unusually high at this point in the season though there have been no human cases as of yet.
The agency issued an alert on Friday to medical providers throughout the city, asking them to be on the look out for possible cases of West Nile virus and to report them. Next week, the Health Department will conduct adult mosquito control spraying in affected residential and non-residential areas of Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx to reduce mosquito populations
“Warm standing water is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, so with the three heat waves that we’ve already had this summer, it is vitally important to make sure standing water is reduced to help prevent mosquito breeding,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “This summer it is especially important to take simple personal steps to reduce exposure to mosquitoes, especially for persons 50 years or older. The best way to reduce risk is to wear repellent outdoors in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.”
Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes
- Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
- Make sure windows have screens, and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
- Eliminate any standing water from your property, and dispose of containers that can collect water. Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.
- Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
- Report standing water by calling 311 or visiting NYC.gov
- If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away. The most common symptoms are headache, fever and extreme fatigue.
July 19, 2010
By: Alexander Bolton
Senate and House Democrats are headed for a clash this week over funding for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) races to clear the schedule for long-awaited energy reform legislation.
The Senate and House are squabbling over $22.8 billion House appropriators added to the supplemental bill. House lawmakers note that it’s fully paid for with offsets, such as $11.7 billion in rescissions to government programs that no longer need funding.
Senate Democratic leaders, however, doubt the House bill can pass their chamber with the extra spending, including $10 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to save 140,000 school jobs over the next year.
Senate passage is complicated by a pending veto threat from President Obama. He objects to the House proposal to pay for the education fund by rescinding money for the administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative, which rewards academically improved schools with grants.
A Senate Democratic aide said leaders will nevertheless schedule a vote on the House legislation. If it fails, the aide said, “we’ll have to figure out what to do.”
Senate sources say Reid is scheduling the vote to prove to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) it can’t pass the upper chamber. Reid could then ask the House to accept the Senate version, which costs $58.8 billion and provides $33 billion for the troops.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Senate Republicans on Tuesday that if Congress didn’t approve the funds by month’s end, he could not pay the troops, according to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
But even before that spending showdown takes place, Senate Democrats have to address unemployment benefits and small-business legislation.
At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, Carte Goodwin will take the oath of office to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), giving Democrats control of 59 Senate seats. The Senate will move immediately to cut off a Republican filibuster of legislation to extend jobless benefits through November. The legislation will also extend, by three months, the filing deadline for the homebuyers tax credit, a proposal sponsored by Reid.
The initial deadline to claim the tax credit was June 30, but many homebuyers with contracts missed it because of a backlog in paperwork. The problem is especially acute in states with high foreclosure rates, such as Nevada.
Democratic leaders expect to have 60 votes to file cloture and advance the bill once Goodwin joins their caucus. Reid scheduled a vote on a similar measure before the July 4 recess. It fell one vote short after Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) voted for it.
Republicans could insist on using the full 30 hours of post-cloture time mandated by Senate rules if they want to wreck the Democrats’ carefully planned schedule. But Reid thinks he can work out an agreement with Republicans to move quickly to the small-business and supplemental bills.
“The Republican leader and I are working on a way to move forward on small business,” Reid told colleagues late last week. “I think we have a pretty good path of what we’re going to do on that. After we finish that, it’s my intention to move to the supplemental appropriations bill.”
Reid said he would need to file another motion to cut off a filibuster of the military spending bill, but added, “I think we can work out the time on that so it doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time.”
Time is of the essence, as Reid has pledged to begin the energy debate the week of July 26. That would give Democrats two weeks to pass energy reform and confirm Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan by the August recess, scheduled to begin Aug. 6.
The recess is scheduled to last five weeks, giving lawmakers facing tough reelections — including Reid — plenty of time to campaign. The House is scheduled to begin its recess on July 30.
Reid has warned that he may cut a week off the Senate recess if the legislative pace slows.
“As everyone knows here, we’re going to be here four or five weeks,” Reid told colleagues, referring to the work period that began on July 12. “The two leaders, Democrat and Republican, were betting on four weeks rather than five weeks, but we’ll need a little cooperation to get that done.”