Archive for September, 2011

Current Cigarette Smoking Prevalence Among Working Adults — United States, 2004–2010

September 30, 2011 Comments off

Current Cigarette Smoking Prevalence Among Working Adults — United States, 2004–2010
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Cigarette smoking is among the most important modifiable risk factors for adverse health outcomes and a major cause of morbidity and mortality (1). Current cigarette smoking prevalence among all adults aged ≥18 years has decreased 42.4% since 1965, but declines in current smoking prevalence have slowed during the past 5 years (declining from 20.9% in 2005 to 19.3% in 2010) and did not meet the Healthy People 2010 (HP2010) objective to reduce cigarette smoking among adults to ≤12% (1–3). Targeted workplace tobacco control interventions have been effective in reducing smoking prevalence and exposure to secondhand smoke (4,5); therefore, CDC analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data for 2004–2010 to describe current cigarette smoking prevalence among currently working U.S. adults by industry and occupation. This report describes the results of that analysis, which found that, overall, age-adjusted cigarette smoking prevalence among working adults was 19.6% and was highest among those with less than a high school education (28.4%), those with no health insurance (28.6%), those living below the federal poverty level (27.7%), and those aged 18–24 years (23.8%). Substantial differences in smoking prevalence were observed across industry and occupation groups. By industry, age-adjusted cigarette smoking prevalence among working adults ranged from 9.7% in education services to 30.0% in mining; by occupation group, prevalence ranged from 8.7% in education, training, and library to 31.4% in construction and extraction. Although some progress has been made in reducing smoking prevalence among working adults, additional effective employer interventions need to be implemented, including health insurance coverage for cessation treatments, easily accessible help for those who want to quit, and smoke-free workplace policies.

Associations between pre-pregnancy obesity and asthma symptoms in adolescents

September 30, 2011 Comments off

Associations between pre-pregnancy obesity and asthma symptoms in adolescents
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

What is already known on this subject

  • The increased and high prevalence of children’s asthma symptoms, worldwide, is unexplained.
  • Rapidly changing environmental factors that go beyond genetic predisposition are likely to explain the increase in asthma prevalence.

What this study adds

  • Prenatal exposure to maternal overweight and obesity is an important risk of asthma symptoms later in life through to adolescence, after controlling for numerous relevant confounders.
  • Our results suggest that maternal overweight and obesity prior to pregnancy may programme the risk of asthma symptoms in their adolescent offspring and be a new target for prevention of adolescents’ asthma and wheeze if the associations are causal.

See: Overweight Mothers Increase Asthma Risk for Their Children (Science Daily)

New From the GAO

September 30, 2011 Comments off

New GAO Reports (PDFs)
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Streamlining Government: Key Practices from Select Efficiency Initiatives Should Be Shared Governmentwide.  GAO-11-908, September 30.
Highlights –
Podcast available –

2. Decennial Census: Census Bureau and Postal Service Should Pursue Opportunities to Further Enhance Collaboration.  GAO-11-874, September 30.
Highlights –

3. Veterans Disability Benefits: Clearer Information for Veterans and Additional Performance Measures Could Improve Appeal Process.  GAO-11-812, September 29.
Highlights –

4. Defense Logistics: Department of Defense Has Enhanced Prepositioned Stock Management but Should Provide More Detailed Status Reports.  GAO-11-852R, September 30.

5. Climate Monitoring: NOAA Can Improve Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network.  GAO-11-800, August 31.
Highlights –

6. Energy Star: Providing Opportunities for Additional Review of EPA’s Decisions Could Strengthen the Program.  GAO-11-888, September 30.
Highlights –

SPLC Study Finds that More than Half of States Fail at Teaching the Civil Rights Movement

September 30, 2011 Comments off

SPLC Study Finds that More than Half of States Fail at Teaching the Civil Rights Movement
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center

Though the civil rights movement is one of the defining events of U.S. history, most states fail when it comes to teaching the movement to students, a first-of-its-kind study released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center has found.

The study – Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education 2011 – examined state standards and curriculum requirements related to the study of the modern civil rights movement for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It was conducted by the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program and includes a forward by noted civil rights activist and historian Julian Bond.

The study compared the requirements in state standards to a body of knowledge that reflects what civil rights historians and educators consider core information about the civil rights movement. It found that:

  • A shocking number of states – 35 – received grades of “F.”
  • Sixteen states, where local officials set specific policies and requirements for their school districts, have no requirements at all for teaching about the movement.
  • Only three states received a grade of “A” – Alabama, New York and Florida – and even these states have considerable room for improvement.
  • Generally speaking, the farther from the South – and the smaller the African-American population – the less attention paid to the movement.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Top 20 Games to Watch – Gamers Make Their Holiday Wish Lists

September 30, 2011 Comments off

Top 20 Games to Watch – Gamers Make Their Holiday Wish Lists
Source: Nielsen

Which video game titles top gamers’ wish lists this year? Nielsen’s Top 20 Games to Watch reveals the most anticipated games of the 2011 holiday season, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 the most coveted among active U.S. gamers. The list was developed by examining a variety of consumer measures from Nielsen’s Video Game Tracking survey, including the top five titles active gamers are considering for purchase.

To help narrow the focus of this analysis, Nielsen filtered the field to those titles releasing on at least one of the three major consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii) during the timeframe of late August to late November. This year’s list underscores the various interests of gamers—as well as the strength of video game brands. All but one of the Top 20 titles stem from a franchise, with brands such as Madden NFL and The Legend of Zelda dating back more than 20 years. Deep Silver’s Dead Island represents the lone new IP included on this year’s list.

Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, an expected juggernaut for this holiday season, is desired by more than one quarter (27%) of active gamers. Microsoft’s Gears of War 3 and EA’s Madden NFL 12 follow closely behind; both titles were selected by nearly one out of every five (19%) active gamers. Apart from Gears of War 3 for Xbox 360, other platform exclusives expected to resonate strongly with consumers in the coming months include Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Wii and Sony’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception for PS3.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Annual Report FY 2010

September 30, 2011 Comments off

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Annual Report FY 2010 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Inspection Service

U .S . Postal Inspectors across the country safeguard every element of the postal system— including the hundreds of thousands of postal employees who process and deliver the mail and the millions of customers who use it . Postal Inspectors protect thousands of postal facilities and millions of dollars in postal assets—including vehicles, equipment, products, and revenue streams. In the past fiscal year, Postal Inspectors initiated more than 6,000 investigations and arrested over 6,000 suspects for crimes involving the mail or against the Postal Service.

The Postal Inspection Service continues to meet its overall goal of assuring the security of the Postal Service . About 46 percent of Inspectors’ arrests in FY 2010 related to mail theft—a total of 2,775 suspects . Postal Inspectors arrested approximately 1,000 suspects on mail fraud charges, and analysts prepared 76,955 responses to mail fraud complaints . Revenue-protection efforts by Postal Inspectors over the past year identified in excess of $110 million in postal revenue losses. I was proud to attend a DOJ press conference this past year with Attorney General Eric Holder and representatives from other law enforcement agencies to announce the results of Operation Broken Trust.

Our contribution to this 3½-month sweep targeting fraudulent investment schemes covered 37 mail fraud cases, including 11 Ponzi schemes, affecting more than 36,000 postal customers who suffered $600 million in losses . Results like this demonstrate the viability of our work in increasing the trust and confidence of postal customers through our investigations of fraudulent activity involving the mail

The Level and Nature of Autistic Intelligence II: What about Asperger Syndrome?

September 30, 2011 Comments off

The Level and Nature of Autistic Intelligence II: What about Asperger Syndrome?
Source: PLoS ONE

A distinctively uneven profile of intelligence is a feature of the autistic spectrum. Within the spectrum, individuals with Asperger syndrome differ from patients with autism in their early speech development and in being less likely to be characterized by visuospatial peaks. While different specific strengths characterize different autistic spectrum subgroups, all such peaks of ability have been interpreted as deficits: isolated, aberrant, and irreconcilable with real human intelligence. This view has recently been challenged by findings of autistic strengths in performance on Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM), an important marker of general and fluid intelligence. We investigated whether these findings extend to Asperger syndrome, an autistic spectrum subgroup characterized by verbal peaks of ability, and whether the cognitive mechanisms underlying autistic and Asperger RPM performance differ. Thirty-two adults with Asperger syndrome displayed a significant advantage on RPM over Wechsler Full-Scale and Performance scores relative to their typical controls, while in 25 children with Asperger syndrome, an RPM advantage was found over Wechsler Performance scores only. As previously found with patients with autism, children and adults with Asperger syndrome achieved RPM scores at a level reflecting their Wechsler peaks of ability. Therefore, strengths in RPM performance span the autistic spectrum and imply a common mechanism advantageously applied to different facets of cognition. Autistic spectrum intelligence is atypical, but also genuine, general, and underestimated.

See: The Level and Nature of Autistic Intelligence II: What About Asperger Syndrome? (Science Daily)