Dwindling tropical rainforests mean lost medicines yet to be discovered in their plants : The Conversation

Destruction of rainforests through wildfires or deforestation may harm human health. As these forests disappear, we may be losing precious medicinal plants that hold treatments for various diseases.

Source: Dwindling tropical rainforests mean lost medicines yet to be discovered in their plants : The Conversation

ITV Programme on Black Victorian Heroine Mary Seacole

Beastrabban\'s Weblog


ITV tonight are broadcasting a documentary about Mary Seacole, one of the Victorian heroines you don’t hear about. The blurb in the Radio Times for the documentary runs

In the Shadow of Mary Seacole

The contribution of Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse of Scottish and African descent, to caring for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War has been increasingly acknowledged over recent years. Actor David Harewood embarks on a highly personal journey of discovery as he follows the creation of a statue of the woman who has always been a heroine to him.

The programme’s on at 10.40 today, 18th October 2016.

Seacole was as big a heroine in her time as the nurse everyone’s heard of, Florence Nightingale. There were mass petitions and crowds gathered to see her honoured, and it’s a very sore point with many Black activists that she has been so comprehensively forgotten. They see…

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Iraqi boy lost family, arms to Pentagon, now facing racism in Britain

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video says about itself:

Exclusive: Ali Abbasblames Britain and the US for troubles in Iraq

23 June 2014

12 year old Ali Abbas lost both of his arms and was severely burnt in a US missile strike on Baghdad. His mother and father and other members of his family were killed.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

‘Why don’t you go back to your country?’ UK border official allegedly asks man orphaned in the UK-US invasion of Iraq

Ali Abbas, who as a 12-year-old lost both arms and 16 family members in a US airstrike, says he was brought close to tears by a UK official

Adam Lusher

The orphan whose family was killed and who was himself maimed by a missile fired by Western forces in the Iraq War has said he was brought close to tears by a British border official who told…

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‘British government killing disabled people’

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from Britain says about itself:

Atos and the DWP are killing disabled people

1 March 2014

Atos and the DWP are killing disabled people

10,600 disabled people died within 6 weeks of their benefits being stopped in 2011, after which the data was declared vexatious and withdrawn from the public domain.

Estimates suggest 40,000 have died unnecessarily including many suicides.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 15 June 2015

Publish austerity death rates!

A PETITION launched by campaign group Change.org has called on the Courts and Tribunal Service to force the release of data on the number of disabled people who lost their lives because of government austerity measures.

The petition demands that it orders the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publish the figures upon the Freedom of Information (FoI) act. Over 81,000 people have already signed the petition which urges the…

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Why we (and my mum) are so glad the world is waking up to what autism is

Original post from The Guardian


‘One of the common misconceptions surrounding autism is the difference between a temper tantrum and a meltdown, a ‘loud, uncontrollable emotional outburst resulting from neurological overload’.’ Photograph: Getty
‘One of the common misconceptions surrounding autism is the difference between a temper tantrum and a meltdown, a ‘loud, uncontrollable emotional outburst resulting from neurological overload’.’ Photograph: Getty

My first few years on this beautiful Earth were somewhat less than beautiful. I had been diagnosed with autism. One of the common misconceptions surrounding autism is the difference between a temper tantrum and a meltdown, a “loud, uncontrollable emotional outburst resulting from neurological overload”. My childhood was full of these. And I mean full. Multiple times, every day, the slightest thing would set me off and I would become so incredibly angry and violent – destroying any possessions within reach and even those that weren’t – that it might have looked to an outside like Bruce Banner hulking out.

And there was nothing my mum could do about it, because she had absolutely no idea what was causing it. She just had to try to calm me down as best she could, or, failing that, restrain me so I could not cause any damage to things – or people.

It makes me extremely sad to admit that there were multiple bruises, bite marks and tears, and yet nobody knew what was wrong. We saw numerous specialists and consultants who gave wildly differing opinions. We had observations at home several times, and one specialist involved told my mum in no uncertain terms that it was, basically, all her fault. She lacked “consistency”. He was of the belief that when a child doesn’t learn to obey you should simply continue on as you were, because they would learn from consistency and eventually come around. My mum was also told that she should send me into care, for the sake of my sister. Not until I was nine did we get a diagnosis that made actual sense.

I was diagnosed with what was at the time called “pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified” (PDD-NOS), otherwise known as atypical autism. In 2013, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) replaced the four previously separate diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, PDD-NOS, and childhood disintegrative disorder, with one single condition: autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

This change was made because it is a very complex disorder, and often patients do not fit into neat little subsections. Some patients, like me, have more extreme symptoms characteristic of one subsection, and less extreme ones relating to another. ASD treats the whole thing as a spectrum disorder, making it easier to diagnose and give advice on a case-by-case basis. You may sometimes hear people joke that “everyone is on the autism spectrum” to some degree, and while that is not strictly true, many are. And that why it’s so important to make all the information we have on this disorder available – to help parents, teachers, and friends.

The Guardian recently published an article about a study which is investigating whether parental training can improve the course of ASD in children. This article made both me and my mum extremely happy. She said that it would show that she had been right all those years ago, to continue to try to find different ways of dealing with my behaviours when all the “experts” were telling her to just continue with the same thing, day after day, despite the fact that it clearly wasn’t working.

And although the study is still going on, I for one can vouch for the fact that parents who learn to adapt and respond to ASD behaviour can help tremendously. I am no longer prone to extreme violent outbursts (there are times when I still get very angry, and to my shame may still threaten violence if I am unbelievably worked up, but haven’t damaged anything or hurt anyone in years.) These days, I depend on daily routine, and can get very agitated if things have to be rearranged, but I am hoping that will also improve, although I have accepted this as a part of my life.

What I want people who are reading this to realise – whether they are on the spectrum or they know someone who is – is that they should never, ever give up hope. I’m not saying you can have a perfectly ordinary life, free from all your symptoms. What I am saying is that your symptoms won’t necessarily be as bad in the future as they are at present, and one day you might be able to manage them really quite well. Never give up hope.  ………..’

Parents who smoke are screwing up their kids even more than we thought

Original post from Salon

‘……….A new study found that children with parents who smoked were twice as likely to develop heart disease

A new study published this week in the journal Circulation has found that children who had a parent who smoked cigarettes– even when the children weren’t in the room –were almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as an adult as children with nonsmoking parents.

Researchers tracked more than 1,500 Finnish children over 20 years. First collecting data between 1980 and 1983, measuring the level of cotinine in their blood. Cotinine is left behind in the blood after nicotine exposure. The researchers then followed up again in 2001 and 2007 to measure the level of carotid plaque in the now grown adults. Those children who had measured with higher levels of cotinine also had higher levels of carotid plaque, as an adult. A build-up of the plaque can lead to heart disease.

“This paper adds to the evidence base that exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood increases risk of heart disease,” said Stanton Glantz of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, more children are exposed to secondhand smoke than are nonsmoking adults, with most of the exposure occurring at home. About 22 percent of all children under the age of 18 are exposed to smoke in the home.

In a statement, lead author Costan Magnussen of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research said that parents “may be able to reduce some of the potential long-term risk for their children by actively reducing their children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.”


Joanna RothkopfJoanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on science, health and society. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email jrothkopf@salon.com……..’