February 20th, 2012
By: Mark Greenblatt
The Food and Drug Administration will launch a safety investigation of a new product that allows consumers to inhale caffeine through a lipstick-sized portable device, rather than drinking it.
AeroShot delivers 100 milligrams of caffeine per use, and comes in bright colored packages that describe it as “pure energy,” and “breathable energy anytime, anyplace.”
The manufacturer, Breathable Foods Inc., put it on the market in New York, Massachusetts, and in France late last month.
“You could easily overdose or succumb to toxicity associated with the caffeine ingestion,” Dr. Bruce Goldberger told ABC News. “You could mix it with alcohol in a social setting and also I’m troubled by its availability, potentially at home where young children can get a hold of it.”
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he shares those concerns.
“A new product like AeroShot raises questions that need to be answered before allowing consumers, especially teens and kids, to use and abuse it,” he said. “The AeroShot caffeine-inhaler is being marketed as a party enhancer; it can facilitate excessive drinking and its effects have never been examined by independent regulators to determine their impact on the human body and in combination with alcohol, especially for adolescents.”
The inventor of AeroShot, Harvard biomedical professor David Edwards, says his product is as safe as a cup of coffee, which provides roughly the equivalent dose of caffeine.
“I think that we are absolutely welcoming a dialogue with the FDA,” he said. “As I say, this is a new way of delivering food in your mouth, and we’re confident that as they look at the product that they will confirm what we hold, that the product is both safe and follows FDA regulations.”
Edwards was able to bring Aeroshot to the market without an FDA review being required because it is sold as a dietary supplement. ABC News asked Edwards if he or his company had done any studies of the health effects of AeroShot on children or teenagers.
“The answer is no, we did not do tests on children,” he said, explaining that children and teenagers are not part of his target market. “We need to be really clear what a company responsibly does to test the safety of their product, and we’ve followed those safety regulations.”
Edwards says his product delivers a lower dose of caffeine than many energy drinks or caffeine pills currently on the market, and says it comes in a controlled, smaller dose of caffeine.
Edwards says demand for the product is eclipsing anything he could have ever anticipated, and increasing.
ABC News found the product on store shelves throughout New York and around college campuses. We visited three delis near Columbia University — two sold us their shelf stock, while the third store was already sold out.
“I would try it during something like finals week,” said Thalia Dergham, a Columbia University student. Dergham said, though, that she would likely not be a regular consumer of the product outside of high stress times.
Other students were not so willing.
“It looks intense,” said Kristin Simmons, a Columbia University art history and visual arts major. “It looks like one of those monster Red Bull drinks.”
After announcing its review, the FDA is now likely to examine the health effects of inhaling the caffeine on at-risk populations, along with looking into the potential health effects of use when combined with alcohol.
“FDA will review information brought to the agency’s attention about this product,” the agency said in a statement. “As with any complaint or concern we receive about FDA-regulated products, we will consider whether a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act has occurred and, if so, whether regulatory action is warranted in light of FDA’s enforcement priorities and resources.”
The product’s manufacturer has come under fire for a round of advertisements that seem to show its use by younger men and women who are out at nightclubs, where alcohol may be present.
ABC News asked the inventor of the product about those ads. Edwards said the product itself is safe and fundamentally sound, but there is ongoing discussion within his company about how to market it and where to sell it.
“Speaking as an innovator, you’re not developing a product thinking of targeting people that it’s going to hurt. And so on the contrary, the motivation of this product was to actually create a healthier and more accessible way of having caffeine, when you need it, as opposed to overdoing yourself often when you don’t need it.”
For The Full Report Go To ABC News
January 27, 2012
By Jonathan Benson
Standardized testing is a common method by which colleges and universities evaluate the competency of applying high school students. But an increasing amount of students are cheating on such tests, which has caused lawmakers in New York to consider actually harvesting “digital DNA” from students and applying it to special ID cards that students would be required to furnish both before and after taking the SAT or ACT exams to prove their identities.
The digital DNA card idea was birthed after a major cheating scandal at Great Neck North High School on Long Island. Students struggling with their studies and the standardized test protocol apparently hired Sam Eshaghoff, a former student who performed well on his own SAT exam, to take the test for them in exchange for cash.
Dr. James Hayward from the applied DNA sciences lab at Stony Brook University, which is currently working on perfecting digital DNA technology, claims it is “absolutely unbreakable for securing the identity of a student taking the SAT exam.” He explained to lawmakers in Albany, NY, recently that a student’s identity code is wirelessly uploaded to an IT “cloud,” which allows test proctors to remotely access it and verify that it matches both that student’s digital DNA card and his or her actual image.
January 23, 2012
CBS New York
Since the SAT and ACT cheating scandals broke wide open on Long Island, lawmakers have pledged to come up with unique cutting edge ways to combat identity theft.
On Monday, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan got the exclusive first look at what politicians will see first hand in Albany on Tuesday afternoon, and what could soon be implemented at a high school near you.
Inside the applied DNA sciences lab at Stony Brook University researchers are hard at work inventing and perfecting a system that can prevent cheating on SAT and ACT exams.
“A novel system that’s absolutely unbreakable for securing the identity of a student taking the SAT exam,” said Dr. James Hayward.
January 18, 2012
New York Post
By Mary Kay Linge
Big Brother is joining the battle of the bulge.
A group of Long Island students will soon be wearing controversial electronic monitors that allow school officials to track their physical activity around the clock.
The athletics chair for the Bay Shore schools ordered 10 Polar Active monitors, at $90 a pop, for use starting this spring. The wristwatchlike devices count heartbeats, detect motion and even track students’ sleeping habits in a bid to combat obesity.
The information is displayed on a color-coded screen and gets transmitted to a password-protected Web site that students and educators can access.
The devices are already in use in school districts in St. Louis and South Orange, NJ — and have raised privacy concerns among some parents and observers.
But Ted Nagengast, the Bay Shore athletics chair, said, “It’s a great reinforcement in fighting the obesity epidemic. It tells kids, in real time, ‘Am I active? Am I not active?’ We want to give kids the opportunity to become active.”
The monitors are distributed by Polar Electro, of Lake Success, LI, the US division of a Finland firm.
In the South Orange-Maplewood School District, where earlier versions of the devices have been used for two years, upper-grade students’ marks in phys ed are based in part on heart-rate monitors and activity sensors.
Teachers use hand-held computers to collect data from each student’s wrist monitor during class, then upload the information to the school computer system for storage and long-term tracking.
But privacy advocates and parents worry that schools are using electronic monitors in phys ed without families’ knowledge or consent.
January 12, 2012
In a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss an unusual outbreak of tics among female students at Le Roy High School, a state health official steadfastly refused to reveal the cause of the outbreak.
Citing not just HIPPA as a reason for keeping the diagnosis of 11 girls private, Dr. Gregory Young said that as a matter of principle he didn’t want to see the girls “labelled” by what their doctor has found.
Young, from the NYS Department of Health, said the cause (or causes) isn’t related to the environment; it isn’t anything a person “catches”; it doesn’t come from exposure to something, or from anything ingested. Nor does the cause stem from prescribed drugs or illicit drugs.
State health officials know what is behind the outbreak, but Young would not disclose it. Yet he tried to reassure parents that it’s safe to send their children to school.
In all, according to Young — though some in the audience disputed the number — at least 11 girls have come down with the “tic manifestations” (Young cautioned against calling it a syndrome).
The doctor’s explanation, and a stone barrier he put up regarding the cause, didn’t go over well with parents or students.
James Dupont Jr. spoke passionately about the need for officials to be more forthcoming about what physicians have found. Dupont complained that although Young said the cause has been diagnosed, nobody’s told him what caused his daughter to develop tics.
After he spoke, he went into hallway and was mobbed by reporters.
“We all have to respect that (keeping medical information private), but I tell you what, if my daughter had a diagnosis and I knew that, as a parent, I would tell you — because I’m not a doctor and I don’t care about HIPPA,” Dupont said. “I care about getting these kids better or finding what’s causing it so it doesn’t get any worse.”
Later, from the back of the auditorium, Dupont called out Young on his repeated insistance that a diagnosis has been completed for the 11 students.
Dupont asked parents in attendance whose daughters had developed tics to raise their hands. More than a half dozen adults raised their hands. Then Dupont asked how many had been told by their daughters’ doctors what caused the tics. Several said they had not been given a diagnosis.
October 28, 2011
The Daily Ticker
By Daniel Gross
Most of the coverage of today’s economic difficulties focuses on older folks. How will the mid-career people who lost their jobs during the deep recession of 2008-2009 find new posts? Will the Baby Boomers, and whether they will be able to rely on Social Security and Medicare? What can be done to help homeowners and families caught up in the mortgage mess?
In a recent cover story in New York, Noreen Malone offers a sharply reported take on a demographic group that is often overlooked: twenty-somethings. As Malone and I discuss in the accompanying video, today’s twentysomethings, while they may have fewer financial and familial obligations than their parents, and more time to prepare for a straightened future than the Baby Boomers, face their own unique challenges.
Here are some of the tough economic data points facing the “It Sucks to Be Us” generation:
Entering the workforce in a tough time has long-term impacts. Since the average workers get 70 percent of total raises in their first decade as a worker, “having stagnant or nonexistent wages during that period means you hit that springboard at a crawl,” Malone writes. Seventeen years after entering the workforce, people who graduate college during a recession earn 10 percent less than those embarking on their careers during good economic towns. “In hard, paycheck-shrinking numbers, the salary lost over that stretch totals around $100,000.”
Students today leave college with far more debt than they did in past years. The Class of 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loans. “I almost don’t even blink when someone says I have $100,000 in debt, just from undergraduate.” According to one measure, “student loans have surpassed credit cards as the largest source of debt in the country.”
Tough economic times mean twenty-somethings have a difficult time launching into independence — and that has an economic impact. They’re more likely to rely on families and parents for support, thus cutting back on the old folks’ ability to save, spend, and invest. ” Thirty-nine percent of us in a 2010 National Journal poll were getting financial help from relatives, including a full quarter of those with full-time jobs,” Malone writes.
The slow formation of households is holding back recovery in the housing market: “The median age of first marriages has crept up by about a year since 2006—a statistically huge increase—and the overall marriage rate is at an all-time low. The number of women between 20 and 34 rose by about a million between 2008 and 2010, but the number of children born to the group dropped by 200,000.”
A college degree used to be insurance against a tough job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for college graduates over the age of 25, the unemployment rate is about 4.5 percent. But for recent college grads, Malone says, the rate is closer to 14 percent.
September 13th, 2011
The Washington Post
The number of borrowers defaulting on federal student loans has jumped sharply, the latest indication that rising college tuition costs, low graduation rates and poor job prospects are getting more and more students over their heads in debt.
The national two-year cohort default rate rose to 8.8 percent last year, from 7 percent in fiscal 2008, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Education.
Driving the overall increase was an especially sharp increase among students who borrow from the government to attend for-profit colleges.
Of the approximately 1 million student borrowers at for-profit schools whose first payments came due in the year starting Oct. 1, 2008 — at the peak of the financial crisis — 15 percent were already at least 270 days behind in their payments two years later. That was an increase from 11.6 percent among those whose first payments came due the previous year.
At public institutions, the default rate increased from 6 percent to 7.2 percent and from 4 percent to 4.6 percent among students at private not-for-profit colleges.
“I think the jump over the last year has been pretty astonishing,” said Debbi Cochrane, program director for the California-based Institute for College Access & Success.
Overall, 3.6 million borrowers entered repayment in fiscal 2009; more than 320,000 had already defaulted last fall, an increase of 80,000 over the previous year.
The federal default rate remains substantially below its peak of more than 20 percent in the early 1990s, before a series of reforms in government lending. But after years of steady declines it has now risen four straight years to its highest rate since 1997, and is nearly double its trough of 4.6 percent in 2005.
Troubling as the new figures are, they understate how many students will eventually default. Last year’s two-year default rate increased to more than 12 percent when the government made preliminary calculations of how many defaulted within three years. Beginning next year, the department will begin using the figure for how many default within three years to determine which institutions will lose eligibility to enroll students receiving government financial aid.
The figures come as a stalled economy is hitting student borrowers from two sides — forcing cash-strapped state institutions to raise tuition, and making it harder for graduates to find jobs. The unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for college graduates remains substantially lower than for those without a degree. But many student borrowers don’t finish the degree they borrow to pay for.
The Department of Education has begun an income-based repayment plan that caps federal loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income. And new regulations the Obama administration has imposed on the for-profit sector have prompted those so-called proprietary colleges to close failing programs and tighten enrollment. Both developments could help lower default rates in the future.
Administration officials took pains to praise the for-profit sector for recent reforms, but also said flatly that those schools — along with the weak economy — are largely to blame for the current increases. Among some of the largest and better-known operators, the default rate at the University of Phoenix chain rose from 12.8 to 18.8 percent and at ITT Technical Institute it jumped from 10.9 percent to 22.6 percent.
“We are disappointed to see increases in the cohort default rates for our students, as well as students in other sectors of higher education,” said Brian Moran, interim president and CEO of APSCU, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which represents the for-profit sector. He said for-profit schools were taking remedial steps, including debt counseling for students, to bring down the rates.
“We believe that the default rates will go down when the economy improves and the unemployment rate drops,” he said.
ITT, owned by ITT Educational Services, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Chad Christian, a spokesman for Phoenix, owned by Apollo Group, Inc., said colleges throughout the country are seeing increased default rates due to the economy.
“We are committed to helping our students understand and manage financial aid debt levels,” Christian said.
The department emphasized that it eventually manages to collect most of the money it’s owed, even from defaulters. But that’s part of the reason federal student loan defaults are so hard on borrowers — they can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Defaulting can also wreck students’ credit and keep them from being able to return to school later with federal aid.
“There are very few avenues for escaping that,” Cochrane said. Also, “many employers these days are starting to check credit so it can hurt your job prospects.”
According to calculations by TICAS and using the latest available figures, in 2008 average debt for graduating seniors with student loans was $20,200 at public universities, $27,650 at private non-profits and $33,050 at private for-profits.
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Today, Kevin gives you his take on the Norwegian tragedy and how the media isn’t giving you all the accurate details. Plus, get Kevin’s predictions about where the economy is going and the indications that inflation is coming in a huge way!
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July 12, 2011
Indiana is the latest US state which will not require its schoolchildren to learn joined-up, or cursive, writing.
But students will have to learn basic typing skills, which education officials say are more useful in the modern employment world.
The move is part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which aims to ensure consistency in US education and makes no mention of handwriting.
But critics say writing well is a vital skill for life and builds character.
US schoolchildren currently learn to write with joined-up writing from about the age of eight.
But under the core standards – which were released in June 2010 and have been adopted by nearly all US states – there is no requirement for them to do so.