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Up from dysfunction - Jan 31

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Move it, you just might get younger

Don Colburn, Portland Oregonian
Aging - A study suggests folks who exercise may be biologically younger than their peers who don't
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People who exercise regularly not only lower their risk of heart disease and other middle-age maladies, but also might be biologically younger than "couch potatoes" of the same age, a new study suggests.

No one claims that working out is the mythic Fountain of Youth -- just that it might help stave off the biological effects of aging.

Researchers said the finding sends "a powerful message" to help doctors "promote the potentially anti-aging effect of regular exercise." Federal health guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity -- enough to raise the heart rate and break a sweat -- five days a week.
(29 January 2008)


California to probe development of 'green' chemicals

Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times
Experts are unveiling ideas for a state effort to develop and use 'green' substitutes for toxic compounds.
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In an effort to reduce industry's reliance on toxic compounds, state environmental officials today will lay out a framework for transforming California into a leader in the development and use of "green" chemicals.

The proposals are an attempt to change the approach to environmental health from a chemical-by-chemical squabble to a wholesale shift in the way industry manufactures compounds used in products as varied as prescription drugs, plastic food packaging, pesticides, cosmetics and household cleaners.

State officials today will unveil the initial ideas for spurring innovation that could lead to nontoxic substitutes for many of the thousands of chemicals on which industries rely. The strategy, if adopted, would be the first in the nation.

About 80,000 compounds are used commercially in the United States, and many are polluting the water and air, accumulating in human bodies, spreading globally in the environment and harming wildlife. For nearly all of them, the effects on human health are unknown.
(31 January 2008)


From buses to blogs, a pathological individualism is poisoning public life

Madeleine Bunting, Guardian
Our shared spaces have become a bear pit. This ever-crumbling civility risks our wellbeing and points to a bleak future
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... [An experience at the Edmonton bus station] is the latest in a series of nasty experiences in different parts of Britain - this is not just an urban or London phenomenon - that I've witnessed (or of which I've been the object) that have left me shaken. It's the sheer gratuitousness of the aggression over minor driving misdemeanours or the fuck-you indifference of those whose behaviour is affecting others. Every time, children were present, sometimes aping their parents' gesticulations - learning how to abuse.

It's not just a run of my bad luck. One-third of respondents told the British Crime Survey, published last week, that they were worried about antisocial behaviour. Crime may be falling, but something more intangible and just as important is moving centre stage: a pervasive anxiety about a deterioration in the everyday interactions between strangers. Typically, the aggression erupts when someone gets in someone else's way. It's a pathology of individual entitlement. What's crumbling is the civility that is so essential to wellbeing, to trust and to the conviviality of our lives. We have failed to invest the resources, both material and cultural, in the places where we interact with strangers. Antisocial teenagers are simply playing out their own version of the aggression and indifference that has been meted out to them.

Take a big jump and switch from the shared physical spaces of streets to a very different shared public space - the internet - and a related phenomenon is being played out.
(28 January 2008)
Also at Common Dreams.

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