Monday, April 12, 2010

[socialactionfoundationforequity:2405 Make Birth Control, Not War

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Make Birth Control, Not War

The human tendency toward war is based on biology, but the right
family planning policies can redirect the world toward peace.

By Thomas Hayden and Malcolm Potts

The evolutionary roots of warfare run deep, but improved family
planning can foster a global biology of peace. Related Stories

Close your eyes for a moment and cast your mind back to the dominant
news stories of early 2010. The economy in tatters? Certainly. Global
stalemate on climate negotiations and unbreakable gridlock in
Congress? Of course. And don't forget the terror — on Christmas Eve,
2009, a lone Nigerian man boards an airplane in Lagos and travels some
18 hours toward Detroit in what can only have been a dizzying
combination of anxiety, fear and elation, and a grandiose sense of his
own destiny. It all ends with a little ineffectual fumbling in the
underpants, cut short by the heroism of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's
fellow passengers.

The official response to the underwear bomber reveals the usual
inability of large bureaucracies to connect the dots or take
meaningful action on real threats. Instead of understanding and
reassessment, we get yet another late, inappropriate and costly
escalation in airport security and political infighting about the
treatment of Abdulmutallab — all of it embedded in an unacknowledged
but resolute refusal to see the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, the real killing continues to elude the headlines. It is on
the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in Afghanistan's Helmand Province
where allied Western soldiers struggle with the almost impossible task
of attacking the Taliban without killing civilians. It is in Darfur
and the Congo, where death tolls are in the millions, not the
thousands, and it is in Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims meet.
Here is primeval warfare in full abundance, where bands of men are
knit together by ancient bonds of shared violence. They are motivated
to kill their neighbors systematically and deliberately, not just by
lust for land and resources but also by hatred of the "other" and a
too-seldom acknowledged love of war and warring ways. It is in these
places, and scores of others where the violence simmers just below the
surface, that people live close to one of the darkest realities of
human nature.

Humans — human males, really — are not peaceful animals. They are in
fact a spectacularly violent species, and very nearly uniquely so.
Despite high-minded modern wishes and the received wisdom of three
generations of anthropologists and sociologists, warfare is not an
aberration in human development, nor is it a learned, culturally
determined behavior. War and its ancillary behaviors — including
racism, slavery, mass rape and the subjugation of women — are not
cultural problems and thus do not have neat, sociological solutions.
Along with terrorism, these most destructive of human behaviors derive
clearly and directly from our biology, bequeathed to us by an
evolutionary pathway that we share with just one other extant species,
the chimpanzees.

War, simply put, is in our genes. It is a complex behavior built up
out of a series of emotions and impulses that are, in general,
expressed more in men than in women, and more in young men than in
old. It arose early in our evolutionary history because the most
violent of our pre-human male ancestors had more offspring than their
more peaceful or timid competitors; it has been with us as long as we
have been a species and in all probability will be with us as long as
we remain one. Our warlike impulses cannot be stopped with enhanced
airport imaging, extrajudicial treatment of terrorism suspects or any
attempt at a literal "war on terror."

From biology, medicine, history, literature, political theory,
sociology and evolutionary psychology, a clear picture emerges: War is
a biological behavior. As robust science demonstrates — and common
sense and the experience of warriors around the world and throughout
history attest — war is part of the human condition. But does this
mean that war is inevitable and peace an unattainable dream?

Emphatically, and demonstrably, no. Most of the world, despite
economic challenges, is remarkably peaceful, and as improbable as it
seems, the past century has actually been the most peaceful in known
human history. The last soldiers who experienced the horrors of trench
warfare in France have died, the guns are silent in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, and the leaders of Pakistan and India are trying to talk
to one another. The Vikings, who once personified the merciless terror
of war for an entire continent, have become the Scandinavians, as
resolute as anyone in the quest for tolerance at home, and peace and
openness around the world.

Crucially, war's deep roots in our evolutionary past do not condemn us
to a future as filled with warfare as our history has been. On the
contrary, recognizing and accepting the centrality of war in human
nature sheds new light on real, practicable policy prescriptions that
can help make war less common in the future and less brutal when it
does occur. Humans are complex, adaptable animals. And all genes,
behavioral or not, are influenced by their environments. If humans
truly want peace, they must seek to understand the biology of war and
use that understanding to devise policies — chief among them, improved
access to family planning services that can control some demographic
drivers of war — so as to help the biology of peace win out.

The idea that warlike violence is not innate actually arose just
recently. It can be traced back to Rousseau, and found full-throated
proponents in Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Ashley Montagu and other post-
World War I anthropologists. Understandably shocked by the horrors of
trench warfare and poison gas, these generally clear-minded academics
sought evidence to distance humankind from such barbarism, and they
found it — or so they thought — in an updated notion of the Noble
Savage and the idea that civilization represents a fall from some
earlier state of grace. But archaeologists such as Steven LeBlanc of
Harvard and Lawrence Keeley of the University of Illinois at Chicago
have found supposedly peaceful societies riddled with violence.
Careful investigation reveals histories of murder and long-standing,
pervasive and brutally lethal warfare in Mead's Pacific Islanders, the
Copper River Inuit, the !Kung people of the Kalahari and many other
purportedly "peaceful" societies. As LeBlanc writes in his clarifying
2003 book, Constant Battles, "Prehistoric warfare was common and
deadly, and no time span or geographic region seems to have been

Remarkably, the idea that violence and warfare are the fault of
culture, not biology, remains widespread in academic circles. As
recently as 1986, 20 international scholars drafted the Seville
Statement on Violence at a UNESCO meeting asserting that, among other
things, "It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other
violent behavior is genetically programmed into our human nature."
Several scientific associations, including the American associations
of psychology, of anthropology and of sociology, voted to endorse the
Seville Statement. But true science proceeds by observation,
experiment and debate, and not by endorsing written statements. And
the evidence — which we examined fully in our recent book, Sex and
War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a
Safer World — reveals a very different story.

In 2009, fossil hunters in Ethiopia found "Ardi," a nearly complete
skeleton of a 4.4 million-year-old ape with a brain slightly larger
than that of a chimpanzee. She lived in an open savannah and walked
upright, even though she still had an opposable toe, as chimps do, to
climb trees. Identified as Ardipithecus ramidus, like other fossils
such as the famous "Lucy," Ardi is not a "missing link" in the sense
of a literal ancestor, but a cousin, a nearby branch on the tree of
human evolution. Yet all the apes have a common ancestor, and Ardi is
almost certainly descended from the branch of the ape family that gave
rise to chimps and humans. We suggest that this chimp-human ancestor
lived in small bands of related males who controlled a defined
territory — just as do chimpanzees and virtually every hunter-gatherer
society ever studied. And we suggest that war began when those
ancestral males first banded together and, as present-day chimpanzees
and more recent hunter-gatherers still do, left their territory, found
a member of another troop and set about killing it in the most vicious
way possible.

At its most basic, we define war as a form of organized violence in
which groups of males band together and intentionally set out to kill
members of their own species. Many species are violent, of course, and
may appear to enjoy hunting and killing "for sport," as humans do.
Quite a few predators hunt and kill in packs or coordinated teams. But
it is exceedingly rare that they should intentionally hunt and kill
members of their own species, as opposed to the occasional and largely
accidental deaths that result from male mating competitions. Wolves
may do so on occasion, and hyenas, and perhaps one or two other
species. But when it comes to warring behavior as a regular, integral
part of life, no species come close to human beings and chimpanzees.
Taken with the reality that war has been a constant feature of human
behavior around the world and throughout time, this commonality of
humans and the chimps suggests very strongly that war is an inherited
behavior that first evolved in a common ancestor we shared more than 7
million years ago.

So how did war first evolve? As Jane Goodall, Richard Wrangham and
others have shown, we share with chimps, our closest living biological
relatives, the bizarre propensity to attack and kill others of our own
species. Chimpanzees live, as humans did for the vast majority of
evolutionary time, in male-dominated social groups in which the males
are all blood relatives and only females move between troops. The
dominant males largely monopolize mating opportunities and take the
best food and other resources. Younger males are left either to work
their way up the in-group hierarchy or attempt surreptitious matings
with females of their own troop or others — high-stakes strategies
that often end in a beating or worse. But, in a unique evolutionary
innovation, these young males can also band together and launch
attacks on isolated members of neighboring out-groups, ultimately
eliminating these "enemies" and securing the territory, resources and
females they require to survive and pass on their genes.

Today, we see remarkably similar patterns of territorial raiding,
brutal attacks and, ultimately, campaigns of extermination in both
humans and chimpanzees. Just as the most successfully violent alpha
male chimpanzees have more mates and more offspring than the losers,
genetic surveys show that the great human warriors of history have
left outsized impacts on the human gene pool. One study published in
2003 estimated that Genghis Khan has 16 million living descendants
worldwide. It takes little imagination to see the evolutionary benefit
of warfare to Khan and his cohorts, and it leads to the uncomfortable
realization that we are all, by definition, the descendants of the
victors in conflicts over resources, territory and the right to mate.

We are all descended, in other words, from particularly successful
rapists, murderers and brigands. Human males today bear the marks of
this legacy in the behaviors and impulses that still spur us on to
lethal conflict — including the widespread and devastating association
between war and rape — even when other solutions are both available
and preferable.

There is no doubt that other apes, like people, can be empathetic.
They will help one another or slow down a march so a sick or wounded
animal can catch up. In her important 2009 book Mothers and Others:
The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
of University of California, Davis, underscores the ability of human
mothers to assist one another in the long, arduous task of raising
children. How can such intensely social, empathic animals also kill
other members of their own species? We postulate that the key that
unlocked the full fury of war was an evolved psychological mechanism
that allows us to dehumanize (or "dechimpanzize") those we would
attack. Tragically, human history is replete with episodes of
dehumanizing behavior.

A famous Stanford prison experiment shows that nice young students
randomly assigned in a psychology experiment to be "prison guards"
will adopt and exploit these roles in a couple of days and emotionally
abuse people randomly assigned to play the role of "prisoners." The
study lasted only a few days, but the behavior was little different
from that of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib abusing Iraqi prisoners.
Dehumanizing our enemies is not an aberration — it is default human
behavior. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, reporting from
the Congo, recently described a woman who, while she was being raped
by soldiers, screamed to warn her neighbors. In revenge, her
assailants cut off one leg with a machete, cooked the meat and ate it
while the woman almost bled to death and her children looked on. When
they tried to force her child to eat her mother's flesh, he refused,
saying "shoot me." They did. Seemingly, the human ability to
dehumanize others knows no limits — and most certainly has not
disappeared from our shared evolutionary repertoire.

We go into more detail on the potential mechanisms for our evolved
ability to dehumanize and kill our fellow humans in our book. But for
a flavor of those root causes, let us suggest that the male sex
hormone, testosterone, is in some ways the ultimate weapon of mass
destruction. Testosterone levels are highest in men aged 19 to 30, a
span that tracks closely the age distribution of convictions for
violent crimes. Testosterone levels rise not just among men playing
team sports but also their fans — and one need look no further than
the passionate partisanship of team sports to see the "in-group"
versus "out-group" dynamic that underlies both the camaraderie and
cruelty of warfare. Women also secrete testosterone, but at about one-
tenth the male level. Intriguingly, women's testosterone output does
not change in response to competition.

In 2008, the world suffered the biggest economic collapse since the
Great Depression. Like war, the global financial crisis had many
specific and technical causes. But it was ultimately driven, in the
words of one financial adviser in the City of London, by "a lot of
alpha males with testosterone streaming out of their ears." This
apparently flippant remark was actually an insightful analysis of the
global crisis. Evolutionary psychologists Coren Apicella from Harvard
and colleagues found that men with high testosterone levels make
riskier investments, and others have observed that women make better
investment managers over the long term than do men. The multimillion-
dollar bonuses Wall Street bankers pay themselves, which for good
reason infuriate the rest of society, can be best understood as a
(predominantly male) troop displaying intense internal loyalty and
total blindness to the outside world.

Six months after the publication of Sex and War, we were comforted to
read two papers in Science. Two separate studies — Samuel Bowles
writing one, and Adam Powell, Stephan Shennan and Mark Thomas the
other — used different methodologies from ours but came to the
conclusions we had.

Bowles, an economist and behavioral scientist who studies altruistic
behavior, used a computer model of between-group competition together
with a database of archaeological and ethnographic rates of adult
mortality from warfare. His study supports the notion of "parochial
altruism," in which humans developed the ability to be altruistic
within an in-group, however defined, and callously violent to those
outside it. In fact, Bowles' work suggests that the human compassion
and altruism most people value today was made possible by the
existence of warfare — that cooperation for both defense and offense
within the group allowed the most successfully violent of our
ancestors to flourish.

Powell and his co-authors focus on the evolution of technological and
cultural complexity, as evidenced by the appearance of art,
sophisticated tools — including such potential weapons as bows,
boomerangs and spear-throwers — and long-distance trade. Their main
purpose is to explain patterns of "modern" behavior in Africa and
Eurasia. But in the process, they show convincingly that population
growth and other demographic features may hold the key to some of our
most complex behaviors.

Each particular war and battle has its own history and specific sets
of grievances, turning points and precipitating triggers and
personalities. But there is also a set of factors — social, political
and environmental — that many wars and violent conflicts have in
common. In fact, these shared characteristics are so common that
statistical modeling of social, economic and environmental conditions
can result in stunningly accurate predictions of armed conflict and

Briefly, the factors that seem most likely to increase the probability
of open war or armed conflict include:

• Environmental stress and/or resource limitation.

• Extreme economic disparity within or between groups and lack of
opportunities, especially for young men.

• Subjugation of women and a culture of male dominance.

• A high proportion of young males relative to older males.

All of these factors interact in one way or another with the warlike
biology of the human male, and each is influenced quite directly by
population growth rate, and as a result, population age structure or
the relative ratios of young to old in a society.

We argue in Sex and War that our warring behaviors are essentially a
hangover from our evolutionary past. It also seems clear that these
behaviors have been rendered wildly maladaptive in the dual modern
contexts of stable societies with social norms that condemn wild
warring on the one hand and allow weapons of mass destruction on the
other. (With simple technology, the impulses of war can kill hundreds
or thousands; with nuclear and biological weapons, they can
potentially kill us all.)

But the problem with evolved traits is that they neither know nor care
when they're no longer wanted. And as catastrophically troublesome as
our warrior genes often are today, the conditions in which they rose
to prominence also persist. Our prescription for a more peaceful
future follows directly from that observation: To limit the damage
from unchecked warfare, humanity must understand and limit the
physical, cultural and demographic conditions that make it most likely
to occur.

War is the ultimate zero-sum game. Whether one side or another wins,
and no matter what short-term economic stimulation comes to pass, war
represents a squandering of resources and the greatest imaginable
waste of human effort, ingenuity and life. We cannot argue that wars
are never justifiable or necessary. But whatever utility this unique
set of behaviors once had, human culture and morality have moved
beyond the point where wars of extermination are acceptable, and
killing technologies have become far too deadly, and indiscriminately
so, for our warring impulses to be given free rein.

But can humans change? The answer, thank goodness, is that we can —
and in fact we already have. As mentioned earlier, the 20th century
was more peaceful than any other, both in terms of the number of
people directly involved in warfare and in the percentage of adult
males dying in armed conflict. As just one example, the Soviet Union
suffered the greatest casualties of World War II — perhaps 15 million
died, representing 8 percent of the population. As unimaginably
horrific as those losses were, they are small compared to violent
death rates in hunter-gatherer societies. Among the hunter-gatherers
of New Guinea, studies show, from 5 to 30 percent of adults typically
die from raids and wars; in the Yanomamo of the northern Amazon basin,
a staggering four out of 10 adults have participated in killing
another person and 20 percent of people over 40 have lost a parent,
child or sibling to violence.

Just as there are many factors that initiate wars, there are also many
factors that can in theory be tweaked or refined to make war less
likely. The clarifying lens of biology helps show that one factor
influences them all: The population growth rate turns out to be a
crucial component in the biology of war, for reasons both direct and

Foremost, growing populations are young populations, and young men are
the true engines of war. They provide the recklessness and bravery,
the intense inward loyalty and outward hostility, and the other raw
behavioral "material" that can be shaped easily into small, tightly
bonded fighting units, which in turn can be built up into armies of
millions with each soldier still fighting, ultimately, for the men at
his side. At the same time, women in rapidly growing populations are
women spending a great deal of time having and raising children — and
not, usually, taking an equal role in politics at any level outside
the home. Careful statistical studies show that the probability of
violent conflict increases as the ratio of young men in a society
rises above that of older men, and that the probability of war falls
as the percentage of women involved in local politics rises.

More tangentially, growing populations stress their environments and
lead to competition for increasingly scarce natural resources. The
link between environmental instability and violent conflict is made
frighteningly clear in a 2009 study by researchers at Stanford
University, New York University, Harvard University and the University
of California, Berkeley. Extrapolating from historical correlations of
temperature rise and increased armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa,
the researchers project that expected climate change alone could spur
a 60 percent increase in armed conflicts by 2030. That projection, if
it came true, would translate to an additional 459,000 deaths from war
in just two decades, and that is without taking population growth into
account — in the fastest-growing region of the world.

Growing populations, especially in poorer areas, also tend to
overburden existing infrastructure and outstrip the available
employment. This leads to high operating costs for businesses and lost
opportunities for individuals. Educational opportunities are lost for
the same reasons, and in many cultures, it is girls who lose out first
when education is rationed.

There is no one solution to the problem of war. But biology suggests —
and quantitative studies support — the notion that if testosterone is
the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, then the birth control pill
may be the ultimate prescription for peace.

It is sobering to think of how many millions of our forebears died of
sword and siege and famine, but it is also heartening to realize that
humans have already found many ways to rein in our most violent
impulses. In light of the true, root, biological causes of warfare, it
becomes obvious that there is much more humans can and should be doing

Let's look again at some of the main predictors of war in the light of
one particularly well-known conflict, the alternating battles and
standoffs between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Young men, in
general, are motivated to fight for resources, or in revenge for those
killed, or because they feel a sense of injustice, and those emotional
cues surely help motivate young Palestinians to risk their lives
firing rockets at Israel, or to become suicide bombers on Israeli
streets. Israel's desire to stop such attacks is understandable.

Interestingly, the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasser
Arafat showed very clearly what it takes to truly stop terrorism. In
1972, the terrorist group Black September, based in Beirut, gained
world attention by killing Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic
Games. But Arafat had his eye on the possibility of gaining observer
status at the United Nations. Afraid Black September might launch more
high-profile raids and undermine his U.N. ambitions, the PLO flew
eligible young female volunteers to Beirut and offered militant
members of Black September $3,000, an apartment with a TV, long-term
employment and $5,000 if they married and had a child. The offer was
overwhelmingly accepted, and Black September as a terrorist movement
collapsed almost overnight.

Since the Six-Day War in 1967, the population of the Occupied
Palestinian Territory has grown from just over 1 million to 3.9
million. The average woman there has about five children, and the U.N.
estimates that by 2050 the Palestinian population could reach a mind-
boggling 8.8 million to 11.8 million. Two-thirds of the current
population is under age 25, giving rise to an unemployed, volatile,
testosterone-fueled group of young men — an endless source of
terrorists. Adding to their frustrations, and their motivation to lash
out, Arab society discourages premarital sex, and unemployed men don't
have the resources needed to marry.

The world is not going to pay young Palestinians to marry. But we do
have options. Gaza has few jobs and virtually no natural resources.
Already, Palestinians pull more water out of the ground than falls
from the sky, and their drinking water is increasingly saline.
Palestinians also have a strong entrepreneurial tradition, however,
and, like Singapore in the 1960s and 1970s, could build a future in
their overcrowded space by living by their brains. Israel may
understandably want to build a wall around Gaza, but without the free
flow of goods, capital and ideas — and education at all levels for
both sexes — the problem of Palestinian terrorism will get worse, not

In the early 1990s, one of us spent time in Gaza working with an Arab
colleague to develop family planning services. Palestinian women
wanted help from the international community, but no government or
donor would provide the modest support needed to improve access to
family planning. That opportunity to improve the lot of Gazans was
lost, and the situation has deteriorated to the point where today's
radical Palestinians claim, "the Palestinian womb is the one weapon
that Palestinians have." In a tragic sense, they are right. But as a
strategy for building a better future, rapid population growth could
not be more wrong.

There is a popular notion that education and rising economic fortunes
lead to decreasing family size. We argue elsewhere that, conversely,
decreased family size is actually a prerequisite for economic growth
and social stability. We suggest that the cases of China, South Korea
and Thailand, and even post-revolution Iran, present particularly
powerful examples. In each of these cases, governments realized early
on that rapid population growth threatened their continued peace,
stability and prosperity. In China by coercive means, and more by top-
down social consensus building in South Korea, Thailand and Iran,
these countries were able to slow population growth rates
dramatically, and each has had a more prosperous-than-expected outcome
as a result.

Other problems persist of course. But even in Iran, with its
incongruously antagonistic government and truncated economy, the
benefits of slowing population growth are plain to see. There are now
more women in the University of Tehran than men, and while Iran's
chaotic president may support terrorist groups, young Iranians are not
strapping on explosive vests and killing people — they are marching
peacefully in the streets demanding more openness, democracy and

In his 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Barack Obama
noted, quite correctly, that "security does not exist where human
beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the
medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot
aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family." He did
not, however, mention his single most significant contribution to
world peace to date: reversing the Bush-era policy of refusing U.S.
development funds to any agency supporting the availability of family
planning. And it doesn't matter whether the goal is specifically to
build peace — that result will come if the policies succeed and women
in the most impoverished areas of the world are simply able to
determine their own family size.

We have argued that offering women a range of family planning is
always associated with falling family size. This assertion has
recently been validated by the analysis of what might be called a
natural experiment. In Kenya between 1970 and the early 1990s,
considerable emphasis was put on improving access to family planning,
and average family size fell from 8 to 5. But then the focus was taken
off of family planning, and health professionals migrated to work on
the AIDS epidemic.

Kenya's fertility decline stalled as contraceptive use fell, and
unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions increased dramatically. In
1990, it was estimated that the population of Kenya would grow from
23.5 million then to 54 million in 2050. As a result of the stalled
fertility decline, today's estimate for 2050 population has been
raised to 83 million. Already, the ethnic violence following the
disputed presidential election of December 2007 has undermined
generations of peaceful coexistence and friendship within Kenya;
population increases of this magnitude could well turn Kenya into a
failed state like its neighbor, Somalia. If population growth is not
slowed again in Kenya, the results will be as horrifying as they are
avoidable: Ethnic violence related to diminished access to resources
will increase, and a once shining light for stability and prosperity
in Africa will have been snuffed out for generations because of the
lack of attention to family planning over the past 15 years.

In fact, we have just come through a "lost decade" of family planning
— and by extension, a lost decade for building peace in the world.
Especially in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East, this
lost emphasis on both domestic and international family planning
programs is already having tragic consequences. The latest research
shows that a "contraception gap" between rich and poor — already a
common phenomenon around the world — is widening in those countries
where the poor are already most vulnerable. (The wealthy have always
been more able to find ways to separate sex from reproduction.) As the
unmet demand for family planning continues to rise throughout the most
impoverished nations, so too will the disparities in family size
between rich and poor. Inevitably and as a direct consequence, the
inequalities in education, health, employment and income will also
continue to widen, infrastructure will continue to crumble, and the
risk of food insecurity, environmental catastrophe and devastating
warfare will continue to rise.

Ultimately, the decision to support family planning efforts comes down
to making a moral choice. The profound success of humanitarian aid
efforts and improved nutrition and health care for many in the
developing world is greatly to be admired and celebrated. But in
decreasing infant mortality, we have engendered a grim unintended
consequence — millions of women throughout the developing world are
now able to bear healthy children safely, but have no access to safe
and effective contraception.

A prominent evolutionary biologist recently shared with one of us his
recent realization that when it comes to vaccination and other means
of preventing tropical illness, "to provide these measures without
providing family planning assistance is tantamount to homicide/
genocide." As important as it obviously is to work for greater health
and longer life, we could not agree more emphatically that to do so
without also giving people the ability to determine family size is to
condemn them to an increased likelihood of overpopulation, poverty and
environmental degradation, as well as a dramatic and quantifiable
increase in the likelihood of bloody conflict.

It is not just perverse and foolhardy from a national security
standpoint to pursue policies that increase the likelihood of famine,
unemployment and war; it is morally wicked, on a historically vast
scale, to condemn untold hundreds of millions of fellow humans to
longer lives of decreasing opportunity and increasing misery. This is,
of course, not an argument against health care and hygiene throughout
the developing world, and it is emphatically no brief for eugenics or
forced or coercive abortion, sterilization or contraception.

It is, rather, the strongest possible argument for the immediate,
universal provision of the means of family planning and maternal
health care, so that women throughout the world can have the freedom
to choose the family size that's best for them. Those individual
choices, made freely and without coercion, will inevitably lead to
more stability, peace and prosperity. If those millions of women are
denied the means to choose for themselves, then choice will diminish
for the rest of us. We will all have continued population increase, a
devastated environment and the looming prospect of a future just as
bloody and war-filled as our past.

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi

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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2406 Teen Drinking Linked to Benign Breast Disease

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Teen Drinking Linked to Benign Breast Disease

Study Shows Alcohol Use by Teenage Girls May Raise Risk of
Noncancerous Breast Lumps
By Denise Mann

WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Laura J. Martin, MDApril 12, 2010 --
Teenage and adolescent girls who regularly consume alcohol may be at
greater risk for developing benign breast disease in their 20s than
their teetotaling counterparts, Harvard researchers report in the May
issue of Pediatrics. Benign breast disease or noncancerous lumps,
bumps or cysts in the breast are known risk factors for breast cancer.

"These findings raise concern because alcohol intakes by college
students has increased greatly in recent years, whereas drinking by
adult women is one of few known dietary risk factors for breast
cancer," conclude the researchers, who were led by Catherine S.
Berkey, ScD, a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a
research associate at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. "If
future work confirms our findings, then clinical efforts to delay the
onset of alcohol consumption may prevent some cases of benign breast
disease and breast cancer."

Girls were aged 9 to 15 when the Growing Up Today Study began. They
answered questionnaires from 1996 to 2001, and then again in 2003,
2005, and 2007. The questions about alcohol consumption in the
previous year were a part of the 2003 survey.

During the 2005 and 2007 surveys, the participants were asked about
benign breast disease; 147 women said they had been diagnosed with it
and 67 of these women said this diagnosis was confirmed with a biopsy.

Those participants who drank alcohol six to seven days per week were
more than five times as likely to develop benign breast disease as
their counterparts who abstained. The teens and adolescent women who
drank three to five days per week had three times the risk of
developing benign breast disease as their counterparts who did not
drink alcohol, the study showed.

Exactly how alcohol use during the teen years raises risk for benign
breast disease is not fully understood, but the researchers speculate
that alcohol use may increase levels of the female sex hormone
estrogen, which may foster the development of benign lumps, bumps, and
cysts in the breasts.

"The breasts of young girls are very active and if you give them extra
hormones or alcohol, then they can respond by creating lumps and bumps
and things in the category of benign breast disease, and if you keep
this going, it can increase the risk of breast cancer," says Marisa
Weiss, MD, the president and founder of advocacy group and the author of several books, including Taking
Care of Your Girls: A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-
Betweens. "You are laying the foundation for your future breast health
during adolescence," says Weiss, who is also the director of Breast
Radiation Oncology and the director of Breast Health Outreach at
Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Penn.

"The habits that you develop as an adolescent are likely to turn into
lifelong habits, and we know that drinking in adult women is a risk
factor for breast cancer," she says.

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi

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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2404 Maternal deaths down in poor countries: Study

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Maternal deaths down in poor countries: Study

Maternal death rates in Canada, U.S., Norway a surprise
ReutersApril 12, 2010

A woman holds her child as she waits to vote at a polling station in
Terekeka, Central Equatoria state, south Sudan April 12,
2010.Photograph by: Goran Tomasevic, ReutersWASHINGTON - Deaths of
women in and around childbirth have gone down by an average of 35 per
cent globally, according to a study using new methods, but are
surprisingly high in the United States, Canada and Norway.

The researchers said on Monday their findings show it is possible to
save women's lives if countries want to and said their analysis should
point to ways to do so.

The AIDS pandemic alone, they said, killed more than 61,000 women in
and around the time of childbirth in 2008, most of them in Africa.

"These findings are very encouraging and quite surprising. There are
still too many mothers dying worldwide, but now we have a greater
reason for optimism than has generally been perceived," said Dr.
Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
at the University of Washington, who led the study.

The findings contradict work done by the World Health Organization,
which reported last May that mothers and newborns are no more likely
to survive now than 20 years ago.

Murray and colleagues took every bit of data they could find on deaths
of women from records in 181 countries and plugged this information
into a computer model.

"We estimated that there were 342,900 deaths worldwide in 2008, down
from 526,300 in 1980," they wrote in their report, published in the
Lancet medical journal.

They found the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes has
dropped by more than 35 per cent globally in the past 30 years.

"One of the most surprising results is the apparent rise in the
maternal mortality rate in the USA, Canada, and Norway," they added.
But it can partly be because U.S. death certificates recently started
asking about pregnancy, they added.

But this does not explain why U.S. maternal deaths are double the
rates in Britain, triple the rates in Australia and four times the
rate in Italy, they said.

In the United States the rate rose from 12 deaths per 100,000 live
births in 1980 to 17 in 2008. In Canada, the rate hovered between 6
and 7 for the whole time and Norway's rose from 7 per 100,000 in 1980
to 8 per 100,000 in 2008.

The United States is currently embroiled in reforming its health care
system, where more is spent per capita than in comparable developed
countries but with poorer results, as demonstrated by maternal and
newborn death rates and high rates of diabetes and heart disease.

China, Egypt, Ecuador and Bolivia made some of the most progress in
lowering maternal death rates, Murray's team found.

In China, the rate fell from 165 per 100,000 to 40 per 100,000.

"Progress overall would have been greater if the HIV epidemic had not
contributed to substantial increases in maternal mortality in eastern
and southern Africa," they added.

Nearly one out of every five maternal deaths or a total of 61,400 in
2008, were associated with AIDS infections.

About 80 per cent of all deaths of pregnant women or new mothers were
in 21 countries, with half of all such deaths in just six countries —
India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo.

"Finding out why a country such as Egypt has had such enormous success
in driving down the number of women dying from pregnancy-related
causes could enable us to export that success to countries that have
been lagging behind," Murray said.

© Copyright (c) Reuters

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi

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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2403 A Report On Conflict Resolution; Seminar Held At Leimakhong

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A Report On Conflict Resolution; Seminar Held At Leimakhong

By: RS Jassal

HQ 59 Mtn BDE organized the Seminar at HQ 57 Mtn Div under aegis of
Maj. Gen DS HOODA, VSM ** on 15th Mar, 2010 which can be said a maiden
attempt by the Armed Forces who by virtue of decades involvement to
counter insurgency have virtually become a part of the conflict.
Despite the fact, they are component of the Govt. machinery but are
being projected as occupational Forces by UGs and their frontal
organizations to establish their point that SF's are a separate


The rising economic aspirations of the people and deepening
disparities in resources conflicting socio-political problems regions
specific with socio-ethnic revivalism abetted by external powers
inimical to India has encouraged various UG outfits to generate
violence in each of the North-eastern states thus thwarting any
unitary or set piece solution. The same is more true for the state of
Manipur. The diversity of Manipur in terms of geo-physcialitites,
ethnicities, religions and cultures is matched may be only by that of
India. The resolution of conflict in this state may have many lessons
for rest of the country. Constitutional provisions for tribal's to
settle in valley & denial to valley people do the same in Hills and
congestion on valley land has further vitiated the situation and
implementations of central developmental projects


If one views the current state of affairs in Manipur dispassionately,
one sees that the conflict and resultant violence has somewhat become
institutionalised. Violence is no longer a means to an end but is
becoming an end in itself. The continuing cycle of violence has thrown
many regions of the state into an abyss of non-governance from which
it seems it will be difficult to recover. The complex web on enduring
conflict in the state has many facets.

There are myriad insurgent groups in the valley region fighting not
only each other but also combating the security forces as well, either
individually or collectively. Tacit alignment between ideologically
diverse groups is the order of the day. Most of these groups are today
completely detached from the ideology which was the very basis of
their inception. Some of the insurgent groups in the hill areas have
entered into a suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with the
government. Although the SoO was supposed to be a transitory step
towards final conflict resolution, it is on the threshold of becoming
an end in itself providing some sort of legitimacy to Kuki groups to
carryon with their own agenda. There is a state of ambiguity about the
Naga insurgents as regards disposal of their ultimate demand, who are
on a cease fire (CF) agreement with the government of India. The
security forces have also lost some of their shine as harbingers of
peace due to some isolated but highly publicised cases of fake
killings, some excesses and custodial deaths. There is increasing
public demand for the removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act of
1958, without protection of which SF's would not like to operate under
this murky situation and lastly the mutual suspicion not trusting one
and other that still exists between various ethnic communities. This
is a potential flash point that may ignite latent animosities between
various communities if not carefully & strictly handled. Also, it has
made task of ISI, Taliban & Maoists extremists easier to harden UG's
stand on their respective agendas thus blocking any workable solution.

Considering the multitude of complexities, conflict resolution in
Manipur lies beyond the set piece conventional solution though of
thought as a simplistic looking conflict. Since the contours of the
peace process in some cases still remains illusive, there is a growing
perception in the civil societies that the various players in the
ongoing conflict are insensitive to the prolonged suffering of the
general populace, whether it is the insurgent groups, and the state
machinery. Since the common man is the worst affected, it is felt that
they must have a say in the peace process and must be one of the final
arbitrators in any conflict resolution mechanism. Their voice needs to
be heard and any initiative towards finding lasting peace must be led
by the people. It was with this purpose that the "Red Shield Division"
held a seminar on "Prospects of Peace in Manipur" on 15th Mar, 2010


Very broadly, the purpose of the seminar was to collate different
views & to analyse the nature of existing conflict and explore the
prospects of resolution with a view to ushering in enduring peace in
the state. The uniqueness of the seminar laid in the fact that it was
organised by the Army, which has been combating insurgency in the
state for the past few decades and hence has become an inseparable
part in the ongoing conflict. While no single seminar or discussion
can find the ultimate solution, this seminar, hoped to provide a
platform to the people to air their grievances and views which is an
essential step to understand the contours of the conflict in its

It was first time that speakers from different ethnicities having deep
stakes in peace as well divergent apprehensions on conflict resolution
outcome(s) once reached at by the Govt. with UG's presented their
views on varied subjects like in one session Topic was grouped under
Understanding Ethnicity and Alienation with sub tropics, The Ethnic
Diversity of Manipur, Manipur as a multi ethnic political unit,
Changing socio political dynamics in Hill Areas of Manipur, Alienation
of Manipur- causes and Amelioration . In second session Topic- Role of
various Institutions in the Peace process with sub topics as Media in
Internal Conflict Situations, Role of Security Forces, Role of Civil
Society Organizations, Role of Tribal Bodies and Youth in meeting
local Aspirations and third session Topic An Approach to Conflict
Resolution with sub topics Empowering the people, Narrowing the Ethnic
Divide, Inclusive Development and the Hearts and Mind approach to
Security were included covering wide spectrum affecting the people. If
one goes by the division, allocation & dealing of subjects, it was a
real fast track compact attempt in one go to get on to the roots of
the problem to reach possible analysis of past & current appreciation
whether socio- economic – anomalic conditions lead to current
political conflict among various set of people or self imposed
political ideologues on who dominated will dominate/- by one or the
other amongst similar type of people but mainly Majority Community in
focus thus fanned by a select group of intellectuals who are
proceeding with their loads of political contingencies manifested
through the UGs outfits and Human Rights Activists.


The aim of the seminar was to invite free and frank expression of
opinions, to suggest directions to the intellectuals, political
pundits and social activist's to sharpen awareness stimulations of the
people on dangers of foreign threats if these internal conflicts are
not resolved with rational understanding of the situation which was
well brought out by the author as speaker on the surreptitious
activities of the Chinese and ISI in breaking of our extremities
within our borders and through UG links with Mao-ist Communist
extremists. If people's conflicts within state are resolved, there can
be a real unity. Unity & understanding alone can resolve many issues &
set the irritants at rest. Once the Internal Security is better
achieved the Armed Forces can be relieved of internal security to
enable them attend to security of IBs only and application of AFSPA
will go redundant. Then only UG outfits can come to negotiation table
with the State. SF's are part & parcel and from within same societies
was well brought out. Since this was the first attempt, spectacular
results were not anticipated but a good start was definitely aimed.
However it was sufficiently proved that Armed Forces were now better
disposed to operate amongst own people with truly a human face. To
that extent it was a great success.


Maj Gen DS Hooda , VSM ** in turn well said that Poverty,
unemployment, lack of connectivity, inadequate health care and
educational facilities , feelings of neglect and non-participation in
governing their own affairs have contributed to the insurgency in the
region. Inadequacies in governance and administration, public
perceptions of widespread corruption and lack of accountability have
also contributed in equal measure to the creation of feelings of
alienation in large sections of the local population. Lt. Gen NK
Singh, AVSM,VSM GOC 3 Corps who stayed throughout at in overseeing the
proceedings summed up very aptly that role of Security Force is to
ensure secure environs for everybody. Insurgency or terrorism is a
political weapon and often the result of accumulated anger due to
political, economic, and social causes; hence people must make use of
RTI, Act to check institutional wrong doings at various levels. He
said "Corruption and extortion are endemic and seem to have become a
way of life. There are multiple interest groups who are propagating a
brand of divisive politics which has given rise to multiple
perceptions. The challenge of Manipur is perhaps to manage perceptions
that construct everyday life"
He further said for Security Forces to operate within own people
without protection from Acts like AFSPA is not advisable. However he
suggested to Commanders at all levels to ensure proper & judicious
utilization of the AFSPA clauses as & when need arises to use as such
and also exhorted Commanders to ensure the protection of law adhering
citizens & treat them with dignity & compassion. He said he was happy
to notice reaction from the participants & felt there was need of
carrying forward the initiative especially through younger generations
through class room exercises as Manipur is gripped seriously with
menace of corruption, AIDS & unemployed youth plussed with peculiar
socio- cultural- politico problems due to societies being governed by
unequal perforced laws operating in Hills & Valley. In fine, Maj. Gen
DS Hooda, VSM** & his team deserves appreciation for having made this
dream come true with their untiring effort, vision & painstaking
planning of the event. In further exercise(s) audience needs to be
invited from schools & colleges and more time allotted for
interactions to instill national spirit in Youth coming up as future
citizens. Last, not the least, it was interesting to observe how
speakers remained defensive besides one or two going aggressive in
their own style. Prof. Gangmumei, Sadananda & Amar Yumnam provided
maturity touches to the subjects conducted by them. This was a good
trend to sharpen the visions and to aware the people that SF's &
civilians are head and tail of the same coin.

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi

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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2402 Suicidal Risks Comparable for Different Antidepressant Agents

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Suicidal Risks Comparable for Different Antidepressant Agents

Megan Brooks

April 12, 2010 — When initiating antidepressant therapy in children
and adolescents, there appears to be no clinically meaningful
variation in the risk for suicidal acts by antidepressant agent within
the class of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or among different
classes of antidepressant.

These findings are from a 9-year cohort study published online April
12 and appearing in the May issue of Pediatrics.

"Our finding of equal event rates among antidepressant agents supports
the decision of the Food and Drug Administration to include all
antidepressants in the black box warning regarding potentially
increased suicidality risk for children and adolescents beginning use
of antidepressants," Sebastian Schneeweiss, MD, ScD, of Harvard
Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues note in their

"The results of the new study are not surprising," Mark Olfson, MD,
MPH, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University/New York
State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, who was not involved in
the study, told Medscape Psychiatry.

"Previous research suggests that at most there are only slight
differences in safety risk among different types of antidepressants.
However, the new study extends our understanding of this important
issue by including a far wider range of antidepressants than were
included in earlier studies. The results support the concept that
large safety differences do not exist among the most commonly
prescribed antidepressants," Dr. Olfson said.

The study population comprised all British Columbia residents, 10 to
18 years old, who started taking an antidepressant between January 1,
1997, and December 31, 2005 (n = 20,906). Eighty percent of the study
population (n = 16,774) had no previous antidepressant use.

During the first 12 months of treatment, the researchers identified
266 attempted and 3 completed suicides — an event rate of 27.04
suicidal acts per 1000 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI],
23.9 – 30.5 suicidal acts per 1000 person-years).

They failed to see any significant differences in rate ratios (RRs) in
analyses comparing fluoxetine with citalopram (RR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.54
– 1.76), fluvoxamine (RR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.46 – 2.43), paroxetine (RR,
0.80; 95% CI, 0.47 – 1.37), and sertraline (RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.56 –

"These findings suggest that paroxetine is not significantly more or
less safe than other commonly prescribed antidepressants," Dr. Olfson

Tricyclic antidepressants showed risks similar to those of SSRIs (RR,
0.92; 95% CI, 0.43 – 2.00). Because of the small number of subjects
receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors, the researchers did not
attempt to compare the risk of suicidal acts between these agents and

On the basis of the current findings, Dr. Olfson told Medscape
Psychiatry, "Once the decision has been made to start an
antidepressant, safety considerations should not weigh heavily in
antidepressant choice. Instead, the clinical focus should shift to a
consideration of antidepressant efficacy and tolerability."

He also noted that "despite the best evidence to the contrary, some
physicians remain skeptical that antidepressants increase risk of
suicidality in their child and adolescent patients. The new study does
not address these lingering doubts."

Dr. Schneeweiss and colleagues "went to great lengths to level the
playing field among antidepressant groups. Nevertheless, they cannot
exclude the possibility that one group has greater unmeasured
background risk than another group and that this unmeasured difference
conceals real differences in the safety of the individual
antidepressants," Dr. Olfson emphasized.

Dr. Schneeweiss and coauthors have disclosed no relevant financial
relationships. Dr. Olfson reports having received a research grant
through Columbia University from Eli Lilly & Company and one from
Bristol Myers Squibb, both concerning treatment of adult

Pediatrics. 2010;125:876-888.

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi

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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2401 Re: U.S. Tries to Keep Summit Nuclear

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World Leaders Meet on Nuclear Terrorism Threat
Published: April 13, 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World leaders meet in Washington on Tuesday for
the biggest summit hosted by the United States since 1945, and they
will have just one item on the agenda -- stopping terrorists from
getting a nuclear bomb.

President Barack Obama, who is hosting the 47-nation summit, says
nuclear terrorism is the single biggest threat to global security. He
wants to galvanize countries to take action to prevent terrorist
groups from getting their hands on nuclear material that could be used
to make a bomb.

Some nations are skeptical about the seriousness of the threat,
however, and view it as an American preoccupation after al Qaeda's
attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said on Monday that al
Qaeda had made it a top priority to acquire the expertise and material
to make a nuclear bomb, which he warned would allow them to "threaten
our security and world order."

Washington is concerned about the security of hundreds of tons of
highly enriched uranium and plutonium scattered about the globe in
nuclear reactors, research facilities and military installations that
may be vulnerable to theft.

After the end of the Cold War, Washington worked with Moscow to
improve often poor security of nuclear material in Russia and former
Soviet republics. Now it wants to broaden the focus of these efforts
and to persuade countries to take more responsibility for cracking
down on nuclear trafficking.

According to a draft summit communique, leaders will pledge to work
toward safeguarding all "vulnerable nuclear material" within four
years and to take steps to stamp out nuclear smuggling.

U.S. officials have sought to emphasize the historical nature of the
summit, the biggest gathering on U.S. soil since a conference in 1945
that created the United Nations.

"I think it's an indication of how deeply concerned everybody should
be with the possibilities of nuclear traffic, and I think at the end
of this we're going to see some very specific, concrete actions that
each nation is taking that will make the world a little bit safer,"
Obama said on Monday.


The first tangible results of the summit came as Obama held a series
of meetings with foreign leaders, including Ukrainian President Viktor
Yanukovich, who announced Ukraine would get rid of its stockpile of
highly enriched uranium by 2012.

The move by Kiev is designed to make it harder for terrorists to get
hold of nuclear material. Ukraine will also convert its civil nuclear
program to operate on low-enriched uranium, Yanukovich said.

Also on Monday, Canada announced it would return a significant amount
of spent nuclear fuel to its place of origin

-- the United States, which may also take some of Ukraine's Russian-
origin nuclear material.

The summit is the culmination of a hectic period of nuclear diplomacy
for Obama.

Last week he signed a new treaty to cut U.S. and Russian nuclear
arsenals and unilaterally announced the United States would limit its
use of nuclear weapons, a plan that came under heavy fire from his
conservative critics.

Iran and North Korea, which are both locked in stand-offs with the
West over their nuclear programs, are not on the agenda of the summit
and were not invited to attend.

The White House has repeatedly stressed that the summit is narrowly
focused on nuclear terrorism, but many were watching to see what
emerged from Obama's meeting on Monday with Chinese President Hu
Jintao, whose country has close economic ties with Iran and has been
reluctant to impose tougher sanctions on it.

Obama stressed to Hu the need to act urgently against Iran's nuclear
program, and Hu agreed that Beijing would help craft a U.N. sanctions
resolution. There was no sign though that China would accept the
tougher sanctions sought by Obama.

In addition to China's Hu, summit attendees include Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Also represented are India and Pakistan, which never signed the 1970
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but have atomic arsenals, and Israel,
another NPT holdout that is presumed to have atomic weapons but has
never confirmed it.

(Writing by Ross Colvin, editing by Vicki Allen)

On Apr 12, 8:41 pm, Avnish Jolly <> wrote:
> US hosts nuclear security summit
> The summit comes days after the US signed a nuclear treaty with
> Russia
> Leaders from more than 40 countries are gathering in the US for a
> summit called by President Barack Obama to look at measures to improve
> nuclear security.
> It is a major plank of Mr Obama's nuclear disarmament and non-
> proliferation agenda.
> Ahead of the two-day Washington summit, he said groups like al-Qaeda
> would not hesitate to use nuclear devices.
> Israel, India and Pakistan, which have not signed the non-
> proliferation treaty, are attending the summit.
> Part of the thinking behind this gathering is to get an international
> consensus on the scale and nature of the threat, and to try to reduce
> the risk of it happening, says the BBC's Nick Childs.
> It is estimated there are around 1,600 tonnes of highly enriched
> uranium in the world - the type used in nuclear weapons - and that
> virtually all of it is held by the acknowledged nuclear weapons
> states, most of it in Russia.
> This is an unprecedented gathering - Mr Obama will hope for an
> unprecedented outcome
> Jonathan Marcus
> BBC diplomatic correspondent
> Obama's ambitious summit
> Could terrorists get the bomb?
> There are also about 500 tonnes of the other key ingredient of a
> nuclear weapon - plutonium.
> In total, that is enough to make 120,000 nuclear weapons.
> There is another concern: less potent nuclear material to make what is
> known as a "dirty bomb" that could cause devastating contamination if
> not actual destruction in a major city, our correspondent says.
> Much international, largely US-funded, effort has attempted to clamp
> down on the threat of nuclear leakage from Russia in particular, but
> it remains a concern.
> One key particular focus at the moment is nuclear security in
> Pakistan.
> Syria left out
> Leaders or other representatives of 47 states are attending the two-
> day summit in Washington.
> India, China and Pakistan are among those coming to Washington for one
> of the biggest gatherings of world leaders in the US in decades.
> Neither North Korea nor Iran, two states with disputed nuclear
> ambitions, have been invited to the summit. The two countries are
> viewed by the US as violators of the non-proliferation agreement.
> Syria was also left off the invitation list because the US believes
> Damascus has nuclear ambitions, the Associated Press news agency
> notes.
> Israel is being represented at the summit only by a deputy prime
> minister amid reports that its government is worried that Turkey and
> Egypt might use the occasion to raise the issue of its nuclear
> arsenal.
> Ahead of the summit, President Obama is holding bilateral meetings
> with a handful of international leaders.
> Last week, the US and Russia signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction
> Treaty, reducing each country's deployed nuclear arsenal to 1,550
> weapons.
> Earlier in the week, Mr Obama approved a new nuclear policy for the
> United States, saying he planned to cut the nuclear arsenal, refrain
> from nuclear tests and not use nuclear weapons against countries that
> did not have them.
> On Apr 11, 8:23 pm, Avnish Jolly <> wrote:
> > U.S. Tries to Keep Summit Nuclear
> > The Wall Street Journal, 11th April, 2010
> > WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama, ahead of a two-day nuclear security
> > summit, tipped his hand early on the lengths he would compromise on
> > other ideals to advance his nuclear agenda, meeting with an array of
> > world leaders Sunday with questionable credentials but vital roles to
> > play in securing nuclear weapons and materials.
> > His first day of meetings included a coveted, one-on-one session with
> > Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan's strong man who has ruled that
> > former Soviet republic since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
> > Mr. Nazarbayev has been criticized by human-rights activists for
> > corruption and repression, but he has been praised by Obama
> > Administration officials for voluntarily giving up the massive nuclear
> > arsenal left behind in the 1990s by the receding Soviet empire. He is
> > now seeking Mr. Obama's backing to house a nuclear fuel bank, where
> > non-nuclear powers can obtain enriched uranium for nuclear power
> > plants without having to build their own nuclear enrichment plants,
> > which could also be used to build atomic weapons materials.
> > The U.S. president will also be meeting with the heads of two of the
> > newest declared nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, which angered the
> > international community when they tested their first weapons in 1998.
> > Securing their arsenals, especially Pakistan's, has become a primary
> > concern for the administration in the face of Islamist insurgencies in
> > the region. He will also meet with Jacob Zuma, the mercurial president
> > of South Africa who has clashed with U.S. officials over AIDS policy.
> > The U.S. president is seeking to reward South Africa for voluntarily
> > giving up its nuclear weapons program after the collapse of the
> > apartheid regime.
> > "The threat of nuclear terrorism has increased," Secretary of State
> > Hillary Clinton said on ABC's This Week. "And we want to get the
> > world's attention focused where we think it needs to be with these
> > continuing efforts by Al Qaeda and others to get just enough nuclear
> > material to cause terrible havoc, destruction, and loss of life
> > somewhere in the world."
> > Leaders from 46 countries are descending on Washington for a two-day
> > summit the Obama administration hopes will kick-start efforts to make
> > all nuclear materials secure from smugglers and terrorists within four
> > years.
> > The conference, which officially begins Monday evening, is the third
> > act in a monthlong effort by the White House to give momentum to
> > nuclear disarmament, following a new nuclear military doctrine
> > released by the Pentagon on Tuesday and an arms-control treaty with
> > Russia signed on Thursday.
> > But a series of high-profile foreign-policy challenges could
> > overshadow the administration's nonproliferation efforts this week. At
> > least two of those involve China, whose president, Hu Jintao, will
> > hold talks with President Barack Obama just before the summit starts.
> > China, Iran's largest market for oil, has resisted supporting stiff
> > new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Beijing has also
> > resisted pressure to revalue its currency, a move that Washington says
> > would make U.S. exports more competitive.
> > Meanwhile, the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
> > to withdraw from the summit at the last minute, in order to avoid
> > questions about his country's undeclared nuclear arsenal, has caused
> > ripples before the summit has begun.
> > Senior administration officials said they are working to keep the
> > summit narrowly focused on nuclear security, saying they expect
> > several countries to announce moves similar to that of Chile, which
> > last month began shipping its highly enriched uranium to the U.S. for
> > safekeeping.
> > "You can be sure that the president will devote 100% of his time to
> > this summit and to guiding it and keeping it on track, on theme, on
> > message," said U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones.
> > Senior administration officials acknowledged that discussions on the
> > formal sidelines of the summit are likely to stray from the agenda,
> > particularly in formal bilateral meetings Mr. Obama is holding with
> > other leaders.
> > Mr. Hu's meeting with Mr. Obama is expected to garner the most
> > attention, coming soon after Beijing reacted angrily to administration
> > decisions to sell arms to Taiwan and host the Dalai Lama at the White
> > House, though U.S.-China relations have warmed in recent weeks, and
> > U.S. officials have expressed the hope that Mr. Hu's decision to
> > attend the summit could foreshadow a new willingness to cooperate on
> > Iranian sanctions and on currency revaluation.
> > Despite the potential distractions, senior administration officials
> > said that in addition to promises from individual countries to secure
> > or rid themselves of weapons-grade nuclear materials, they expected
> > the summit to produce a communiqué that would commit participants to
> > strengthen nuclear safeguards.
> > Related
> > Iran Shipper Evades U.S. Blacklist
> > The work of the summit, the officials said, will be on Tuesday, when
> > Mr. Obama will lead two separate two-hour plenary sessions, the first
> > focusing on national commitments to secure nuclear material and the
> > second dealing with international conventions that are aimed at
> > strengthening nuclear controls.
> > Gary Samore, the top arms-control official at the National Security
> > Council, said both sessions will focus on the two fuels that most
> > concern international proliferation experts—separated plutonium and
> > highly enriched uranium—because they are the two materials that can be
> > used to make nuclear explosives.
> > "If we're able to lock those down and deny them to nonstate actors,
> > then we have essentially solved the risk of nuclear terrorism," Mr.
> > Samore said.
> > Write to Peter Spiegel at Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi

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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2399 CHANGE Launches New Websites

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--- On Mon, 12/4/10, Melane Boyer <> wrote:

From: Melane Boyer <>
Subject: CHANGE Launches New Websites
Date: Monday, 12 April, 2010, 23:04

The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) is pleased to announce the launch of our new CHANGE, Prevention Now!, and PEPFAR Watch websites. Each site now features a streamlined, user-friendly interface; new content and analysis; and our updated logo and branding theme. The new designs are structured to make information and analysis about women's and girl's sexual and reproductive health and rights in U.S. foreign policy easily accessible.
While you'll see some differences, you'll see that the content is still characterized by the depth, breadth, and quality that you've come to expect from us. You'll find our newest publications, analyses, research, news, on-the-ground stories, and resources tailored to the needs of advocates, policy makers, and media. 
On the new site, you'll find:
  • Information about our core issue areas, including quick facts, publications, opportunities for action, current news, and links to additional resources.
  • A user-friendly library of our publications, and external publications that relate to our issues. 
  • An enhanced "About Us" section that focuses on our history, growth, and accomplishments. 
  • A press center designed to meet all media needs in one place.
  • Links to our Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Prevention Now! and PEPFAR Watch Web sites.
  • An increased focus on photos that feature the women and girls that are at the center of our advocacy efforts.
Take a visit and let me know what you think. The exact address to each site is included below, in addition to the hyperlinks above. We're excited to share this new and expanded resource with you. 
Many thanks,
Melanie Boyer
Communications Director
202-393-5930 x15

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi
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[socialactionfoundationforequity:2398 Child Health News Update

Buzz It
--- On Tue, 13/4/10, Editor <> wrote:

From: Editor <>
Subject: Child Health News Update
Date: Tuesday, 13 April, 2010, 4:21

Problems reading this email? Click here to browse online.
Latest Child Health News

Obese children have stiffer arteries than leaner counterparts
Children with more body fat and less endurance than their fitter, leaner counterparts have stiffer arteries at a young age, Medical College of Georgia researchers said.

Transgenic mouse model study confirms passage of maternal thyroid hormones to fetus
Until now there were only indirect evidence of the transfer of thyroid hormones from mother to fetus through the placenta during pregnancy. That event is very important because the maternal thyroid hormones appear to play a key role in the development of the nervous system and other organs of the fetus; so it's true that in case of maternal thyroid disease, such hypothyroidism, have a direct bearing on the unborn child with reduction, also significant, to its Q.I..

EDNOS categorization for young people needs to be reconsidered
Diagnostic cutoffs for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa may be too strict, a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital has found. Many patients who do not meet full criteria for these diseases are nevertheless quite ill, and the diagnosis they now receive, "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified," may delay their ability to get treatment.

Largest Canadian paediatric academic health sciences centre adopts Medworxx Learning Management System
Medworxx Inc., provider of healthcare solutions for patient flow, compliance and education, is pleased to announce that The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has adopted the Medworxx Learning Management System. The Medworxx Learning Management System (LMS) will be the eLearning platform for all of SickKids' 5000 employees, supporting their blended learning model comprised of online training, classroom training, and on the job training.

Dangers of BPA: South Florida children need protection
Something must be done to protect the children of South Florida from this dangerous chemical says one student ready to bring the facts to the Broward County Commission. The government's recent announcement that the EPA is considering the addition of Bisphenol-A (BPA) to their list of "Chemicals of Concern," is a step in the right direction, but long overdue, according to high school junior and BPA researcher, Wendi Oppenheim.

Grand opening festivities of Brain Balance Achievement Center in Norwalk
The Brain Balance™ Achievement Center in Norwalk, CT celebrates Grand Opening; Hires Adam Kluger Public Relations to help promote its drug-free program that helps children with AD/HD, Dyslexia, Autism and other learning disabilities become more focused, improve their academic performance and enhance their communication and social interaction skills.

Persisting red, itchy, watery eyes in children may be signs of serious conditions
When a child develops red, watery eyes, it could be just allergies - or it may be the sign of a more serious eye condition, according to a leading pediatric ophthalmologist.

Asthma-like symptoms in infants and toddlers is often RAD
Your child is wheezing. Your child must have asthma, right? Not always, says Julie Koehler, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice in Butler University's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and clinical pharmacy specialist in family medicine at Clarian Health.

World first - newborn receives xenon gas in bid to prevent brain injury
In a world first, xenon gas has been successfully delivered to a newborn baby in a bid to prevent brain injury following a lack of oxygen at birth. This pioneering technique was developed by Professor Marianne Thoresen of the University of Bristol and carried out at St Michael's Hospital, part of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

Researchers find better way to predict treatment outcomes in young leukemia patients
Researchers from the Children's Cancer Hospital at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center may have found a way to more accurately predict treatment outcomes in young leukemia patients using information from a common and simple complete blood count test, also known as a CBC.

Remediable conditions influence health, development and growth of young children
Pediatric researchers from Boston Medical Center, in partnership with other Children's HealthWatch investigators in Minneapolis, Little Rock, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, have found that the cumulative effects of crowded and unstable housing and uncertain supplies of food and heat act together to decrease the chances of normal growth and development and good physical health among infants and toddlers.

The Kids Food Adventure with Chef Jehangir Mehta created to promote positive eating habits for children
Whole Foods Market, the leading natural and organic foods supermarket, and Chef Jehangir Mehta, "The Next Iron Chef" runner-up and executive chef/owner of Graffiti Food & Wine Bar in New York City, have joined forces to create The Kids Food Adventure with Chef Jehangir Mehta, a series of hands-on classes to encourage parents and children to be more adventurous with food while making healthy choices.

Study finds link between autism and social influence
Social influence plays a substantial role in the surging number of autism diagnoses, according to a study published in the American Journal of Sociology.

Millions of children in developing world have no access to clean water, latrines at school, report finds
A report, released this week by UNICEF during the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development conference, documents the challenges many schoolchildren in developing countries face in accessing safe drinking water and sanitation, United Press International reports (4/6).

Kids who walk are on track to better health
Children who walk to school are more physically active in their day-to-day activities around their neighbourhood than those children who are driven to school, a new study finds.

Potential toxicity of zinc nanoparticles in sunscreen products
Scientists are reporting that particle size affects the toxicity of zinc oxide, a material widely used in sunscreens. Particles smaller than 100 nanometers are slightly more toxic to colon cells than conventional zinc oxide. Solid zinc oxide was more toxic than equivalent amounts of soluble zinc, and direct particle to cell contact was required to cause cell death. Their study is in ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.

Study shows benefits of oxytocin nasal spray in children with ASD
Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disorders usually diagnosed in childhood. Children with ASDs have impairments in social interactions and communication, and a tendency towards repetitive behaviors. A hallmark of autism is a difficulty in understanding and reciprocating the emotion of others.

Meltdown Station provides educational material to help children learn healthy lifestyle skills
With the childhood obesity epidemic finally at the front line, first lady Mrs. Obama has taken the initiative to do something about it, but what is she doing? The first lady Mrs. Obama started the Let's Move! Initiative and stated in a press conference "that the goal of the program is to reverse the trend toward childhood obesity in one generation."

UNC Charlotte researcher improves lives of families and children affected by birth defects
Birth defects remain a leading cause of death in the first year of life. According to the March of Dimes, every 3 to 4 minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. About 1 in every 33 infants is affected by birth defects.

Unique collaboration in fetal medicine among Columbus' healthcare professionals
The Columbus Fetal Medicine Collaborative has been formed by Mount Carmel Health System, OhioHealth, The Ohio State University Medical Center and Nationwide Children's Hospital joining together to provide optimal outcomes for high-risk expectant mothers and their babies with suspected fetal abnormalities.

Autism experts, parents and professionals to attend ARI's Defeat Autism Now! Conference
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new estimates that one in every 110 children (1 in 70 boys) is diagnosed with autism. Autism has become more common in our children than cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Autism affects children from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds and places a tremendous economic burden on affected families and society at large, costing up to $3.2 million per child for a lifetime of care and over $35 billion in annual societal cost.!-Conference.aspx

Parents lack understanding of causes, signs and symptoms of dehydration in children
Dehydration is a condition that can have a significant impact on children and, if left untreated, may lead to serious complications and hospitalization. A national survey of more than 800 parents with children between the ages of one month and 10 years found that three out of five parents reported needing to know more information about dehydration, such as when to see a physician, warning signs, and treatment, if their child became sick - pointing to a greater need for awareness and education around the condition and its treatment.

Intermittent exotropia will lead to nearsightedness in most children
Intermittent exotropia, a condition in which the eyes turn outward while looking at an object, occurs in about 1% of American children and is less common than esotropia, where the eyes turn inward. In an article published in the March 2010 issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN, followed 135 patients with intermittent exotropia over a 20-year period and found that slightly more than 90% of these children became nearsighted by the time they reached their 20s.

Researchers discover two genetic regions that influence birth weight
New research uncovers two genetic regions that influence birth weight. One of the regions is also associated with type 2 diabetes, which helps to explain why small babies have higher rates of diabetes in later life.

Researchers develop new mouse model of VUR to study chronic kidney disease in children
Kidney damage associated with chronic reflux is the fourth leading cause of chronic kidney disease and is the most common cause of severe hypertension in children. Doctors and researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital have developed a new mouse model of vesicoureteral reflux, a common childhood condition that can lead to chronic kidney disease in children.

HRV devices reduce respiratory symptoms in children: Study
Houses today are so well sealed that they can trap humidity and pollutants indoors as a result of insufficient ventilation. Recently, a team of Canadian scientists led by Dr. Tom Kovesi, a pediatric respirologist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Canada, performed a randomized double-blind, placebo controlled trial to determine whether use of heat recovery ventilators would increase home ventilation and therefore reduce the risk of lower respiratory tract illness in young children.

Parents fail to warn children about sexual abuse perpetrated by relatives and known individuals
Despite evidence to the contrary, parents who talk to their children about sexual abuse incorrectly identify strangers as the most likely source of abuse, according to a team of researchers led by Esther Deblinger, PhD, co-director of the CARES (Child Abuse Research Education and Services) Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey(UMDNJ)-School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Therapeutic swing for autism-spectrum disorder sheds metallic particles directly into eyes of children
The presence of metallic foreign bodies in the eye is an uncommon injury in children, so much so that two children with autism presenting with this injury led to detective work by two physicians that found the common cause.

Stimulant medication normalizes brain function in children with ADHD: Study
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting children and adolescents. Children with ADHD are excessively restless, impulsive, and distractible and experience difficulties at home and in school. Problems inhibiting behavior are a common theme for ADHD symptoms.

Promising treatment for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders
A unique treatment program at Canisius College offers hope to children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (Asperger's, high-functioning autism, and PDDNOS), which are characterized by lifelong impairments in social-communicative functioning and narrow and repetitive behaviors and interests.

Traffic-related pollution near schools contributes to pediatric asthma
Living near major highways has been linked to childhood asthma, but a new study led by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California suggests that traffic-related pollution near schools is also contributing to the development of asthma in kids.

IAN survey gives grandparents a voice in autism research community
Today, the Interactive Autism Network,, the nation's largest online autism research project, announces results of the Grandparents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Survey, finding that nearly one-third of grandparents who participated were the first to raise concerns about their grandchild's development.

LCA: Few possess genetic mutation necessary for positive outcome from gene therapy
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a congenital retinal dystrophy present in approximately 1 of 80,000 births. It is estimated that about 3,000 people in the United States are living with LCA and will likely become blind in their lifetimes. Recently, there has been progress in gene therapy for this condition.

Obesity can be detected in infants as young as 6 months: Study
Obesity can be detected in infants as young as 6 months, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Community forum to discuss statewide efforts to improve children's health in Pennsylvania
In recognition of National Public Health Week, Secretary of Health Everette James today hosted a community forum at Owen J. Roberts Middle School and High School in Chester County to discuss statewide efforts to improve the health of Pennsylvania's children.

Children with FASD show high prevalence of developing epilepsy
Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder show a very high prevalence of developing epilepsy and having seizures, according to a national study by Queen's University researchers.

Newer treatments, closer monitoring of childhood cancer may improve longevity
Although more children today are surviving cancer than ever before, young patients successfully treated in the 1970s and 80s may live a decade less, on average, than the general population, according to a study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health.

University of Wisconsin-Madison uses ultrasensitive detector to find fetal heart rhythm problems
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the most powerful magnetic detectors in the world is helping screen high-risk pregnant patients for rare but very serious fetal heart rhythm problems. Thanks to a collaboration with The Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and Hope Children's Hospital, Chicago, the ultrasensitive detector measures magnetic signals coming from the tiny beating hearts of fetuses.

Childhood cancer survivors may not survive long says new study
Children who have survived a cancer are at a higher risk of an early death says two new studies. The first report published in the April 6th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, said that there was a cumulative effect of the disease, a childhood cancer and its treatment on the risk of death in 15 year old patients who have been cancer free for at least 5 years.

Peer interaction may provide a learning opportunity for autistic children
The numbers are startling: New research now indicates that that 1 in 110 children in the United has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Socially deprived children appear to benefit from foster care
Socially deprived children removed from orphanages and placed in foster care appear to experience gains in growth and intelligence, catching up to their non-institutionalized peers on many measures, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the June print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi
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