Mark Williams-Thomas

Mark Williams-Thomas 

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former policeman and managing director of WT Associates, a PR company specialized in child protection, media handling and advice for high profile cases, urged Portuguese police to ditch the case against the McCann – a case that he classified as “ludicrous” – and follow another lead that he thinks could take PJ to the real kidnapper.

The managing director of PR company WT Associates, who is usually introduced to Sky News viewers only as a “child protection expert” or “crime expert”, criticised Polícia Judiciária for not paying attention to “such a strong line of inquiry”. The PR expert referred that, even if “over 90% of murders are domestic-related”, he can’t “accept that Gerry and Kate as parents of the child could have been involved in her murder.”.................

...............The fact that one of the officers accused in Chief-Inspector Gonçalo Amaral casts “huge doubt” to the managing director of WT Associates, who believes that Mr. Amaral should be ousted from the investigation of Madeleine’s case: “”Even if we work on the basis that he is innocent, given this allegation against him, he shouldn’t have anything to do with the Madeleine investigation”, the PR expert told to Sky News.

Questioned yesterday, September 14, about his business relationship, as a expert also in media handling and advice for high profile cases, Mr. Mark Williams-Thomas initially confirmed that his company had a contract to provide services to the McCann. Asked to confirm some details of that business relationship, he changed his initial answer and denied any relationship, admitting only that he has “been in contact with the press officers for the family.” more
More Williams-Thomas drivel at Anorak

ODSP Employment Supports... or NON-Support?

The following are two letters which will illustrate some of the difficulties faced by someone who has a disability, wants to work, was working, and was having a hard time keeping up because of there being too many barriers in society.

I'm removing the names because there is nothing to be gained by playing the blame game.

The purpose of this Blog and the sharing of these letters, is to show that it's not always the person who has a disability that's at fault for not working. Barriers can have a huge impact on ones life so, until they are removed, it's very hard to understand why the government and people in society expect us to work.

I had a full-time job for 18 months and was fully off ODSP and other forms of government assistance.

When I saw the warning signs of burn-out because new barriers were developing in my community that would affect my ability to keep up with the daily essential tasks of life, I reached out and asked for help - reasonable help. Below are some letters that will show me reaching out to ask for help and how, 7 months later, the employment supports specialist failed to take appropriate action and it led to the end of my job.

This was the first letter I wrote asking for help to keep my job. I was having a lot of difficulties keeping up in life due to barriers to the wheelchair, etc…..

Dear [Employment Supports Director at ODSP - Jan 2009],

I have been working full time for over 1 year now but the barriers to the rest of my life are taking their toll.  Before I completely give up my job and go back to ODSP I want to ask if there is anything you can suggest which may be able to help.

The issue is an inability to go to one area of town to buy groceries and the other basic essentials of life.  There are simply not enough hours in the day to get out and buy everything that I need.  Further almost everything associated with health care and my disability puts the onus back on me to do research, be home to receive a delivery at a time that is convenient for them, make repeated follow up phone calls to call back because they don't remember, or maybe aren't allowed, to return a phone call to me, etc.

To get a new wheelchair, a tray or something else that will help to lessen the physical toll on my body from being incorrectly positioned is also an onus that has been passed back to me.  I am to do the research and get back to the worker because they say the things I need are no longer covered by ADP.  I can pay with my employer health plan, but I don't have a clue how to give them the answers they need if I can't view or try out the equipment before I buy.

In the evening the Access Bus is almost impossible to get especially when I have no idea what store will have food in it when arrive in the evening.  I waste more time on the city buses looking for stores that are not sold out of the things on my list, or a clothing store that is accessible so I can buy clothes for work.

At work I am exhausted or having "melt-downs because the stress of being up half the night trying to figure out how I can buy the things that I need is taking a toll. I have thought of trying to ask for a new shift.... nights so I can receive a delivery during the day or take advantage of some of the things out there, but people who can\t be flexible at work are being fired and I am scared of taking this risk.  I am not sure what my rights are to ask for shift accommodation so I am a little nervous asking to change to a night shift.

Could you please advise me on my rights and/or offer suggestions on how I can overcome these barriers so I won't have to quit my job and return to ODSP?  Please advise.

Thank you.

The outcome of this was to suggest that I could get an employment supports specialist, paid for by ODSP, to help me with job RETENTION. I got the employment supports person right away (in early February) because I wanted to keep my job.

By July, nothing had been done so I write this long letter to educate her on barriers and the impact thereof. NOTE: how I keep asking her to do her job, try to turn this into a positive, and ask for her help to salvage my job

From: me
Subject: Long letter - vital to read to ensure employment retention
To: [Employment Support Specialist’s name removed]
Received: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 12:22 PM

Dear [name removed],

I hired you under employment supports to assist with employment retention, but I don't believe this is happening.  In fact, it is completely the opposite.

To start with, you met with my employer last week and did not include me. You then apparently worded things in such a way that the employer feels it is no different for me to rearrange my disability supports after work, than for a parent to rearrange their child care service.  If this is the case, then it is obvious that you have no understanding of the limits of a disability.  The limits are huge.

For example:

I can't realistically own a vehicle because the cost of modifying it is prohibitive.  I would also need to take mandatory training on the use of hand controls in Ottawa before I can be licensed to drive it. The training is no longer available in Kingston. For this reason, I have no choice but to live with the limits of transit.

It takes me 45 minutes to go to the grocery store on Kingston Transit (the Access Bus is not always available) and, the number of routes I can take, has a limit.  Not all routes are accessible yet. Further, I am the one who has to get off, wait for the next bus, and pay for another fare, if a passenger is wearing perfume and I have to get off because of an asthma attack.

Able-bodied passengers can at least call a taxi or accept a ride from a friend or a family member because they can get into a car.  They also have the choice, in many cases, of catching another bus sooner because part of its route overlaps the first route.  This means they can get to their destination and, potentially accomplish more in a day.

The accessibility of stores is another matter.  I can shop in about 10% of the stores in Kingston due to accessibility. They are either overcrowded, have steps or some other barrier.  The 24-hour Metro (formerly the A & P) has a barrier to prevent grocery carts from being stolen. It also prevents a wheelchair from getting in. There is an over-ride on the door that will allow it to be opened by an employee, but in order to get their attention; I had them install a wireless doorbell. The problem is the button keeps getting broken or stolen so they won't replace it anymore.

I do not have the help of someone else to do my outside day-to-day tasks so it is vital that this limit is accommodated.  Yesterday I made the mistake of choosing to shop at Price Chopper's instead of No Frills (a store that I know is always well stocked with food), because of its proximity to my doctor's office.  It was sold out of celery, bread, and several other items on my grocery list, so it was a complete waste of time.  I had to waste another 2 1/2  hours on the bus going to No Frills later and give up on a few other errands that were less of a priority.  At least with this shift, I can do the other errands after work because the stores will still be open and the buses will still be running every half hour instead of an hour. My new shift will leave me with no time to run an errand like this - before or after work - because the stores will be closed by the time the bus gets me there.

If I could scrap the wheelchair and just walk, believe me, and there would be no pinning me down.  I would buy a bicycle, a normal priced car, or phone a friend with a car and ask for a drive.  I would also have the flexibility to shop in any store of my choosing because there would be no barriers to getting in.  But this is sadly, not an option.  I have to live with what I have.

The human rights code states there is a duty to accommodate a disability unless it can be proven that to do so would create an undue hardship for the employer.

So far, I have not been given any indication that leaving my shift at 8 - 4 pm would cause a financial hardship. It would be inconvenient, but it would not be costly.

Their only reason for not continuing to accommodate the agreed upon shift is that I am not trained on the appropriate lines. Well, why not?  I have copies of emails that I wrote to supervisors as far back as March 1st specifically requesting the test so I could be properly certified. It never got done. Eventually, they started to use different excuses like I was taking too long on the calls, or they couldn't allow me to take time off the phones because they were too busy, but the busy is out of my control. The length of time I take on the calls is something I have been asking for coaching on since day one.

I have had this and I have followed every bit of advice. More recently, the calls I specifically ask to review in the QA (quality assurance) feedback meetings, is that there is very little I could have done differently to shorten the call so the excuse that I take too long on my calls is a little hard to understand under the circumstances.

When I contacted ODSP and ultimately you, it was to ask for assistance to retain my job because it felt like there wasn't enough understanding of what a disability can be. The fact that I can't stand up or network with any of my peers is a huge limitation to being able to share knowledge and remember everything, so I would think, with the help of someone to better explain the impacts of having a disability, some accommodation can be made.  My hope was that you would have the time to listen long enough to fully understand the situation, then work with me, in a co-operative approach, to trouble shoot ways to help me keep up.  Instead, it feels like you believe you are the authority on my limitations and I can just work harder and give up more, to bend to needs of others.

I am a human who has a set limit on how much I can do. By having a disability, I already have more than the average person has to take on to remain independent in this world.  To have no vehicle and no help from family or friends as well, is too much.

Now, after reading all this, I will ask you again, to assist with finding a way to help me keep my job. I will not be able to keep it if my shift changes to 11:15 am - 7:15 pm or even 10 am to 6 pm, for that matter.  I will have to give up even more, and, for the reasons explained above, I can’t.  Not if I want to continue to take care of my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

The human rights code puts the onus on the employer to prove that it would cause them undue hardship to accommodate me.  Therefore, with your support, I would like to negotiate that we ask for a 1 or 2 day investment to test me for the lines I need to be able to take on so I can keep the 8 am to 4 pm shift. The amount of time necessary would be no more than is being given to anyone else, but it would allow me to keep the appropriate accommodation so I can keep my job.

I look forward to your reply.

[Signed by ME]

This was the Employment Supports Specialist’s response to my asking for her to help me with the very same things I was asking for in the beginning when I wrote ODSP Employment Supports and asked for their help in January.

After 7 long months of no helpful action, I tried to write a constructive letter to explain what the barriers were that I was facing, what their impact was, and then ask for her help to liaison with my employer, get the training done, and keep the shift time that was working well for me.

By going to ODSP and closing my file she did irreparable damage because ODSP has a rule that, when a file is closed by the client or a worker, it must stay closed for one full year.

In other words, her inaction and, ultimately the unprofessional way she closed my file with ODSP, cost me my full time job. By her firing of me, I’d lost even more credibility with my employer and I had no idea what words were exchanged between them because she was choosing to meet with my employer without me being present in the room.  What hurts the most was I reached out asking for help to keep my job.  Seven (7) months later her actions caused me to lose the job, I was forced to go back onto ODSP, and she got paid for NOT doing what she was hired to do.

Subject: Re: Long letter - vital to read to ensure employment retention
Received: Friday, July 17, 2009, 1:56 PM

Good Afternoon [me],

I have read your letter and given careful consideration to your points and requests. I feel you would be better served by another service provider and therefore I will be closing your file with [name removed] Job  Placement  Services.

I have been in contact with [name removed], Employment Support Specialist at ODSP and I advised her that I would be closing your file.  You can contact her to get a list of service providers to interview and hire from.

[my name removed] I wish you well in your future endeavours and hop you will be better serviced by a different provider.


[name removed]

Please Read my Other Blogs:

Back to school? Tips for keeping your family healthy!

With kids — and adults! — heading back to school, now is a perfect time to start getting ready for flu season. Here are the top six things you can do to keep you and your family healthy this fall:

1. Get your flu shot as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a seasonal flu shot every year. This year, the flu shot covers two new strains of the flu, which means that last year’s shot won’t cover you for the types of flu that are predicted to be most common this fall. If you don’t know where to go to get your flu shot, check out HealthMap’s Vaccine Finder to find a location near you!

2. Make sure your children are up to date on their other shots. Your child’s school will provide you with a list of required vaccinations that is based on CDC immunization schedules for children and teens.

Childhood vaccinations are especially important this year because the U.S. is experiencing large outbreaks of diseases that can normally be prevented with vaccines. For example, 46 states have reported higher than average cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 2012. Pertussis is a serious disease that can be deadly, especially for young children.

3. Make sure you are also up to date on your shots. Did you know that adults sometimes need booster shots, too? For example, the Tdap vaccine is a common adult booster shot that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. It’s recommended that adults get one Tdap booster, especially if they will be around newborn babies or if it’s been more than 10 years since their last booster shot.

If you’re not sure if your immunizations are up to date, you should talk to your health care provider. CDC also has a vaccine quiz that can help you figure out what shots you might need to get.

4. Practice good hand hygiene — and teach your family to do the same. We have lots of great fact sheets about hand-washing for children and adults!

5. Stay home if you are sick. If you have children, make a plan for how you’d care for them if they have to stay home from school.

6. Sign up for Flu Near You. Do you know that APHA is partnering on a cool flu reporting tool that lets you detect and report symptoms of flu? All you have to do is sign up at, and once a week you’ll get an email that asks, “How are you feeling?” After you fill out a 10-second survey about your symptoms, you will see a map of your area that shows if people around you have flu-like illness. This is a great way to be a disease detective and learn about flu in your community.

What steps are you taking to keep you and your family healthy this year? Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments!

Friday is World Rabies Day

On September 28, the State of Maine will celebrate the sixth annual World Rabies Day. Although Maine has not had a case of human rabies since 1937 due to reporting and effective control measures, the threat of rabies remains.

Last month, Maine CDC was notified of a domestic dog that tested positive for rabies. This is the first case of rabies in a domestic dog in Maine since 2003. This case reminds us of the importance of keeping pets up-to-date on rabies vaccine and avoiding contact with wild animals to prevent the spread of rabies. The dog was infected with a variant of the rabies virus that circulates most commonly in raccoons and is predominant in the eastern United States.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals. The virus is spread when infected animals bite or scratch a person or another animal. The virus can also be spread if saliva or tissue from the brain or spinal cord of a rabid animal touches broken skin or gets into the mouth, nose or eyes of a person or another animal.

All mammals are susceptible to rabies infection, but only a few wildlife species are important reservoirs for the disease, including raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. While wildlife are more likely to be rabid than are domestic animals in the United States, domestic animals can be infected when they are bitten by wild animals.
Rabies in humans is preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound with soap and water right away, and contact your healthcare provider to find out if you need to be treated for a rabies exposure. Usually, medical care can be delayed if rabies can be ruled out in the biting animal either through a confinement period for domestic animals or rabies testing for wild animals.

All Mainers are encouraged to consider ways in which they can prevent the spread of rabies including:
  • Vaccinate your pet cats and dogs against rabies; it is the law.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or other animals that you do not know.
  • Bat proof your home. Wildlife biologists can provide tips on how to bat proof your home without harming bats but preventing them from entering your home.  
For more information, contact your local animal control officer or Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821. Stop by at our World Rabies Day Table in the lobby of KeyBank Plaza on Water Street in Augusta from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, September 27.

Health tips: Quality magnifiers can help sharpen low vision

When a patient is diagnosed with low vision, this means vision impairment that is not correctable by standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery. This vision loss can affect an individual’s independence and quality of life, but it doesn’t have to.

There are many tools available for these individuals to remain independent and continue to do things they enjoy — like reading, writing, crocheting, etc. Many people with low vision don’t know about the resources that are available to them.

Low vision aids keep getting better each year with newer technology. Quality low vision aids can only be purchased through low vision specialists and dealers. Magnifiers purchased from the local drugstore are meant for people with healthy eyes and good vision; these magnifiers only have a minimal amount of the power that low vision magnifiers provide.

A hand-held low vision magnifier comes with or without lights, with or without a base and in many different powers. Hand-held electronics that can be easily taken in a pocket or purse are great for viewing prices, reading a menu, writing checks and viewing books. These handy magnifiers have different contrast adjustments and a variety of powers.

Another option is a CCTV, which is a device for writing and reading that allows a much larger field of view than hand-held devices.

Lighting is another important factor in dealing with low vision. A good light directed onto what you are reading can improve what you are able to see.

If you have been diagnosed with low vision and are wondering which piece of equipment would be best for you, an evaluation with a low vision specialist is the right place to start. Always continue to have routine eye exams and monitor Amsler grids as instructed by your doctor. Call your eye care provider if you notice any changes in your vision.

Get Ready Day 2012 a success

Sept. 18 was the sixth annual observance of APHA’s Get Ready Day. Held during National Preparedness Month, Get Ready Day helps Americans raise awareness in their communities about emergency preparedness. Organizations and advocates around the country helped promote this year’s observance.

Here at APHA, the Get Ready team held two community outreach events in Washington, D.C.: a grocery store event and a blood drive with the American Red Cross.

For our first event, we worked with a local grocery store to plan an event where we could talk to shoppers about building an emergency stockpile and answer questions about emergency preparedness. We set up a booth at the front of the store and talked to shoppers about stocking up on water and canned goods, preparing for bad weather and talking to children about emergencies. Our team spoke with hundreds of shoppers, handed out more than 200 copies of our free fact sheets, and gave away other goodies, like a T-shirt and an emergency preparedness backpack from the American Red Cross. By all accounts, it was a success.

APHA staff share preparedness tips with Safeway shoppers

The Get Ready team also organized a blood drive with the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross holds blood drives year-round, but keeping a good supply of blood becomes really important when a natural disaster strikes. The blood drive was a great way for APHA staff and community members to help others and make a personal contribution.

APHA's Executive Director is all smiles after donating blood
Best of all, both events were relatively easy to set up, and fun to participate in. If you’re already thinking about what you can do for next year’s Get Ready Day — Sept. 17, 2013! — that’s great. We have an event guide to help you plan, and as always, lots of free fact sheets for you to share.

The Antikythera Mechanism The 2,000 Year Old Astral Computer

Now I know that on occasion I may wax rapturous about certain things, but I like to think that it is not without reason. Typically was a recent post on the modern wonder, 3D printers, 3D Printers Simply Amazing and believe me, they simply are.

But that which has brought about the latest bit of praise, for all of  its incredible complexity, its staggering sophistication and its mathematical genius, isn't a product of our modern scientific world, it is the two thousand year old product of ancient Greece.

This is not the first time I have watched this BBC4 production, and I find it no less amazing the second time around, staggering in fact. And no more staggering than that which is revealed at the thirty eight minute mark, it is, for want of a better expression, a fuck off moment, a moment where you say, fuck off, I'm not having that, not two thousand years ago I'm not.


What is the Antikythera Mechanism?
The antikythera mechanism is currently housed in the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens and is thought to be one of the most complicated antiques in existence. At the beginning of the 20th century, divers off the island of Antikythera came across this clocklike mechanism, which is thought to be at least 2,000 years old, in the wreckage of a cargo ship. The device was very thin and made of bronze. It was mounted in a wooden frame and had more than 2,000 characters inscribed all over it. Though nearly 95 percent of these have been deciphered by experts, there as not been a publication of the full text of the inscription.

These are big images should you wish a better view.

Today it is believed that this instrument was a kind of mechanical analog computer used to calculate the movements of stars and planets in astronomy. It has been estimated that the antikythera mechanism was built around 87 B.C and was lost in 76 B.C. No one has any idea about why or how it came to be on that ill-fated cargo ship. The ship was Roman though the antikythera mechanism was developed in Greece. One theory suggests that the reason it came to be on the Roman ship could be because the instrument was among the spoils of war garnered by then Roman emperor Julius Caesar. X-rays of the device have indicated that there are at least 30 different gears present in it. British historian Derek Price has done extensive research on what the antikythera mechanism may have been used for. It was not until 1959 that Price put forth the theory that the device was used in astronomy to make calculations and predictions. In 1974, Price presented a model of how the antikythera mechanism might have functioned. When past or future dates were entered into the device it calculated the astronomical information related to the Sun, Moon, and other planets. Some of these findings have been confirmed by more recent researches undertaken by scholars and scientists. However, the full extent of the instrument’s functions still remains unknown. Price had also suggested that the antikythera mechanism might have been on public display in a museum or a public hall. Some others have also come up with their variants of the ancient computer, based on Price’s model. Australians Allan Bromley and Frank Percival devised one such model as did Michael Wright, curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum, London.

A joint project is also underway to further study this astounding example of the advancements of technology in ancient times. Known as the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, it is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, X-Tek Systems, UK, and Hewlett-Packard, USA. This project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and supported by the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece. Since the study started more progress has been made. More than 80 fragments of the mechanism have now been discovered. An official announcement on the results obtained so far is expected to be made at a conference to be held in Athens in December 2006.

Tip of the hat to jonewscientist for the upload.

How it works.

H/T Maren.


For the first time, lack of sleep has been associated with more aggressive breast cancers, according tofindings published in the August issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
The study was conducted in 101 women with early-stage estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer who were assessed with the Oncotype DX test, which guides treatment in early-stage breast cancer by predicting the likelihood of recurrence.
The worst scores on the recurrence probability test were found in women who reported having the least sleep at night. Specifically, having fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night during the 2 years before the diagnosis was associated with a greater risk for recurrence.
However, this association between less sleep and breast cancers that are more aggressive and more likely to recur was strong only in postmenopausal women (P = .0011), not in premenopausal women (P = .80).
"This is the first study to suggest that women who routinely sleep fewer hours may develop more aggressive breast cancers than women who sleep longer hours," said lead author Cheryl Thompson, PhD, in a press statement. She and her coauthor, Li Li, MD, PhD, are from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
The study findings are limited by the "relatively modest sample size," the authors acknowledge.
Nevertheless, the study adds to the literature on sleep duration and breast cancer. Four previous studies, all of which assessed breast cancer risk and did not specifically look at breast cancer aggressiveness, have had "mixed results," according to the authors. Three of these have suggested that sleep can reduce the risk for breast cancer and 1 found no association at all.
Medscape Medical News asked Simone P. Pinheiro, ScD, from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for her opinion on this study.
Before joining the FDA, Dr. Pinheiro was the lead author of the large prospective study that "did not find convincing evidence to support an association between habitual duration of sleep and subsequent development of breast cancer" (Cancer Res. 2006;66:5521-5525). However, information on habitual sleep duration was obtained prior to the development of breast cancer in that study, she emphasized.
The study by Drs. Thompson and Li "suggests" a "significant inverse correlation" between sleep duration and breast cancer aggressiveness among women diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Pinheiro noted.

"These results could also reflect the effect of subclinical (not yet diagnosed) breast cancer on sleep duration," she said in an email. In other words, a woman's nascent breast cancer might have caused sleep disturbance, she explained.
So, is lack of sleep a new risk factor for aggressive breast cancers?
The authors believe it might be. "Our data suggest that lack of sufficient sleep may cause biologically more aggressive tumors," they write. But they note that "further work will need to be done to more thoroughly characterize the biology underlying this epidemiological association."
Less Sleep and Recurrence Scores Defined 
All of the study participants are enrolled in a larger 412-patient case–control breast cancer study. As such, they were recruited at diagnosis and asked about lifestyle matters, including average sleep duration in the previous 2 years. Many of the breast cancer patients in the study underwent Oncotype DX testing.
The authors designated 3 levels of nightly sleep: 6 hours or less, 6 to 7 hours, and 7 or more hours.
Using previously published data on the recurrence probability test, they determined that scores below 18 predict a low risk for recurrence, scores of 18 to 30 predict an intermediate risk, and scores of 31 or higher predict a high risk.
Overall, less sleep was found to be correlated with a higher score. Risk for recurrence was intermediate in patients who slept 6 hours or less (mean recurrence score, 27.8) or 6 to 7 hours (mean recurrence score, 18.0) and low for patients who slept 7 or more hours (mean recurrence score, 16.4).
Thus, getting an average of less than 7 hours of sleep a night was associated with an intermediate risk and getting 7 or more hours was associated a with low risk. However, this finding was only statistically significant in the subset of postmenopausal women.
The lack of a strong association in premenopausal women is explainable, say the authors.
"It is well known that there are different mechanisms underlying premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancers," they explain. "Our data suggest that sleep may affect carcinogenic pathway(s) specifically involved in the development of postmenopausal breast cancer, but not premenopausal cancer."
The positive findings in postmenopausal women remained statistically significant after adjustment for possible confounders, including age, physical activity, smoking status, and body mass index.
"Effective intervention to increase duration of sleep and improve quality of sleep could be an underappreciated avenue for reducing the risk of developing more aggressive breast cancers and recurrence," said Dr. Li in a press statement.
This study adds to the literature on lifestyle factors that can affect breast cancer and its related risk. These studied factors are increasingly diverse and include night-shift worklight in the bedroom, and more obvious variables such as obesity.

Universal childhood immunizations

Public Law 2009-595 went into effect on January 1. This law reinstated the universal status of childhood immunizations in Maine. As part of this legislation the Maine Vaccine Board (MVB) was formed to help the State of Maine reinstate its universal purchase of vaccines for children under age 19. The MVB assures the necessary flow of vaccine purchase funds by collecting payments from health plans, insurance companies, and other payers and remitting the funds to the state. Through the Maine CDC's Childhood Vaccine Program, the State purchases vaccines at favorable rates and distributes them to providers at no charge.

This means that all Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended vaccines are now available to all Maine children under age 19 at no cost to the child’s family or to providers in the State of Maine.

This program has many benefits for Maine citizens:
  • reduces out-of-pocket vaccine costs for parents
  • improves vaccination rates in Maine children
  • lowers costs of vaccines through a public-private partnerships
  • lowers vaccine costs in provider offices
  • improves vaccine access by creating a single-tier system in provider offices
  • most importantly, will improve vaccine rates by offering combination vaccines to reduce missed opportunities.
For more information:

My Get Ready Story: Knowing the importance of preparing for hurricanes

As a part of National Preparedness Month, APHA’s Get Ready campaign asked people to share their preparedness stories with us. Our first story is from Carol L., of Satellite Beach, Fla. Carol tells us how her family gets ready for hurricanes:

Image: Hurricane Andrew making landfall
on the Florida coast,
August 24, 1992 - Courtesy
NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection

“Every year on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, residents prepare ahead for the hurricane season. A few years ago, a hurricane did major damage that knocked out power for a week.

Luckily, we had volunteers who helped us through the days. Different banks and insurance companies delivered bags of ice to those who needed it. EMTs and National Guard members checked to make sure everyone was healthy. Those who had battery-operated saws volunteered to clear the roads. Residents pitched in to help their neighbors.

Now, we have a list that we post in our laundry room of all the supplies we need to purchase before the season starts. All emergency gadgets are tested to make sure they are in working condition. We have purchased a butane stove. We do not purchase a large amount of food for the freezer. Instead, we leave room to store ice that will keep things cool for a while. We have a good supply of our prescriptions. We also have a plan for evacuation in case we are told to leave the barrier island. Our cars' gas tanks are kept full. The county has assigned buildings that we can use for a few days. Some of the buildings accept pets; others are for those medically impaired. We are ready but we are very happy when the storm passes out to sea.”

How do you get ready for emergencies? Share your story in the comments or send us an email!


After ten years of gestation it has suddenly run up and tapped me on the shoulder. It seems so long ago now when I said to the person who was to become the Wartime Housewife "I want to do a book on English Towers". "Yes", she said, "And you could call it Preposterous Erections". Oh how we laughed, but lo and behold here it is. And what fun I've had. Climbing hills, spotting 'Twr' on Ordnance maps, being told of them in evening pub conversations. Once or twice I came across extraordinary erections that weren't towers exactly, but I couldn't resist including them. An immense pale green coal hoist in Goole, a white cloche-shaped folly high above a Cheshire town. And something new and utterly brilliant that appeared just in time to close the book with. Amazingly I've been asked to go on about them at this year's The Times Cheltenham Literary Festival. I'll be in a tent in Montpellier Gardens on October 9th at 4 o'clock, and in Quinns Bookshop in Market Harborough between 6 and 8 on Friday October 12th. You'll need tickets for Cheltenham, nothing for Quinns.

If all this wasn't enough, in a few weeks time the Goldmark Gallery are issuing a limited edition hardback. I'll be posting about it soon, but there'll be only 500 hardback copies, of which 100 will have a pocket containing a set of tower stamps and a signed Preposterous Erections cappricio print containing seventeen of the towers. After all this I shall need to go and lie down. Preferably on top of a tower somewhere with suitable company.

More Thoughts on Macronutrient Trends

I had a brief positive exchange with Gary Taubes about the NuSI post.  He reminded me that there's an artifact (measurement error) in the USDA data on fat consumption in the year 2000 when they changed assessment methods.  Here are the USDA data on macronutrient consumption since 1970, corrected for loss (28.8%) but not corrected for the artifact:
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Seeing Red

In 1979 I had the idea of creating a red poster, just for fun. It was simple; all I had to do was collect anything that was red of a convenient size, (pillar and telephone boxes were out), and arrange them on a photographer's studio floor. For weeks I rummaged through draws, trawled supermarkets, hung around waste bins. Friends used to my sudden and inexplicable passions either gave me things or lent them. Finally photographer Mike Brown let me into his vast studio in Leicester and I started laying mountains of stuff out on the floor. The camera had to be on a special rig above it all and I spent hours saying things like: "Just move that lightbulb one centimetre to the left of the child's shoe". This is the result, and very excitedly we thought of doing a yellow one, a green one- you get the idea. Well, it didn't happen, and the original print got lost. Until a couple of weeks ago when it resurfaced in a designer's plan chest in Gravesend and I'm thinking of doing a print of it. The plan chest went on e-bay, the print came to me. So thankyou Maggie, you're a star. A Red Star of course.

Kurt Eichenwald’s "500 Days" And the 9/11 Neocon Disaster

I can't even begin to parse this twenty minute Democracy Now interview with author Kurt Eichenwald, I would be typing forever. Suffice to say, it's just one jaw dropping revelation after the other.

As I said in a tweet yesterday: Essential viewing, a must watch.

Enough said, drive on!

"500 Days": Author Kurt Eichenwald’s New Account of How Bush Admin Ignored Warnings Before 9/11

Newly disclosed documents provide further evidence the administration of George W. Bush ignored repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden’s plans to attack the United States. In "500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” author and journalist Kurt Eichenwald fleshes out how the Bush administration dismissed a number of warnings of an al-Qaeda attack against the United States beginning in the spring of 2001, instead focusing on alleged threats from Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Transcript

This from No More Mister Nice Blog:

Why did the administration do nothing? It sure looks as if it's because a key faction in the administration had a theory and didn't want anyone confused by the facts:

An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat.

And we know, of course, these folks didn't change their minds even after it was clear that Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. They still thought Saddam was the main threat. They just couldn't let that idea go. more

Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI)

Some of you may have heard of an ambitious new nutrition research foundation called the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI).  In this post, I'll explain what it is, why it matters, and how I feel about it-- from the perspective of an obesity researcher. 

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Which God Is That Mitt, The One From The Planet Kolob?

I had already dismissed this speech of Romney's with the disdain it deserved, when I tweeted: I've never read so much shite in all my life. What an arsehole. But something reared its head recently that causes me to post the thing, if only for posterity.

And it is worth preserving, because I think you would have to go a long long way to find a more insidious bit of hucksterism than this display by Romney.

Mitt Romney's Virginia speech heavy on religion

By Ginger Gibson

Mitt Romney wants to be clear: He’s not taking “God” off the nation’s money or out of his party’s platform.

In a not-so-veiled attack on President Barack Obama, Romney on Saturday delivered a speech thick with religious overtones and heavy on promises to increase military spending.

While Romney never argued that Obama was trying to remove God from the nation’s currency, he argued that the election is the only way to ensure the words remain.

The Republican presidential nominee recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said he would not remove God from the nation’s conversation.

“The pledge says ‘under God.’ I will not take God out of the name of our platform. I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart,” Romney said to loud cheers. “We’re a nation that’s bestowed by God.”

Republicans have heavily criticized Democrats after the word “God” was left out of the party platform and then returned during this week’s national convention. Obama has never proposed taking “God” off the nation’s currency.

Adding to the event’s religious theme, controversial television minister Pat Robertson was seated on stage directly behind Romney.

Returning to the campaign trail on Friday after spending several days hunkered down in Vermont doing debate preparations, Romney delivered a new stump speech that departed from his usual economy-heavy addresses.

Most of the speech was framed around the Pledge of Allegiance, which he juxtaposed against his own campaign promises and attacks against President Barack Obama.

“For me, the Pledge of Allegiance and placing our hand over our heart reminds us of the blood that was shed by our sons and daughters fighting for our liberty and sharing liberty with people around the word,” Romney said. “The promises that were made in that pledge are promises I plan on keeping if I’m president and I’ve kept them so far in my life.”

He then took several of the lines and used them as a jumping off point to explain his positions.

“One nation, indivisible,” he repeated.” I will not divide this nation. I will not apologize for America abroad and I will not apologize for Americans here at home.”

Next, he focused on the line, “with liberty and justice for all.”

“I will not forget that for us to have liberty here, for us to be able to protect ourselves from the most evil around the world, for us to share liberty with our friends around the world, we must have a military second to none, so strong no one would ever think of testing it,” he said.

The crowd of nearly 3,000 cheered when Romney pledged not to cut military spending — the Hampton Roads area of Virginia has a large presence of active duty military members and military contractors.

Romney has come under criticism from Democrats for not mentioning the troops or Afghanistan in his nomination acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention.

While he continued to not offer specifics on what he would do about the situation in Afghanistan, he mentioned the troops in his remarks here.

“Our troops have been stretched to the breaking point in the conflicts they’ve been enduring, and our hearts go to those that are in far-off places today particularly those in Afghanistan who are in harm’s way. We love them, we respect them, we honor their sacrifice,” he said.

He also pledged to expand the number of ships and aircraft being purchased and the size of the active duty enlistment. He also criticized Obama for the sequestration saga.

“It’s unthinkable to Virginia, to our employment needs, but it’s also unthinkable to the ability and the commitment of America to maintain our liberty, with liberty for all,” Romney said. “If I’m president of the United States we’ll get rid of those sequestration cuts and rebuild America’s military might.”

He continued expanding on the “justice for all” line, adding his own deficit and economic pledges.

“With justice for all,” he repeated “I don’t think it’s just for the next generation for us to pass on massive debts that we have amassed and pass on a $16 trillion in debt.”

Obama’s campaign responded to Romney’s remarks by tying him to Iowa Rep. Steve King, who he stumped with on Friday, and Robertson.

“It’s disappointing to see Mitt Romney try to throw a Hail Mary by launching extreme and untrue attacks against the President and associating with some of the most strident and divisive voices in the Republican Party, including Rep. Steve King and Pat Robertson,” Obama spokesman Lis Smith said. “This isn’t a recipe for making America stronger, it’s a recipe for division and taking us backward.” Politico

Try and spot the not tooo subliminal message ladies.

Halloween Party Favor and Treat Bag 2012 Ideas from HGTV

Send Halloween guests home with one of these adorable party favors or treat bags. Our free printable labels, embellishments and photo booth accessories will make it a snap to throw a kid-pleasing monster mash.

Indulge Their Sweet Tooth

Kids love lollipops, especially old-fashioned swirly ones. To make these easy party favors, remove original packaging and pop the lollipops into clear cellophane bags. Tie a bow to close each bag, then finish with a printed and punched tag design, template attached below.

Thank Them for "Popping" By

With so much candy around at Halloween parties, a salty snack will hit the spot. Whip up some homemade kettle-popped corn or one of our popcorn recipes below and place in scallop-edged cups. Embellish with dimensional scrapbooking stickers (found at craft stores) or one of our free printables. If you're sending a cup home with your party guests, wrap it in cellophane and tie with ribbon so the popcorn will stay fresh.

Go a Little Batty

Easily turn wooden clothespins into cute Halloween bag clips. Download our bat-shaped template, print it onto card stock, cut out, then attach it to the clothespin with hot glue or double-sided tape. Fill a clear bag with Halloween candy or gumballs and attach the clip for a fun favor

Cupcakes To Go

Everyone loves cupcakes, especially kids! Place cupcakes in paper or plastic bowls and wrap with cellophane for a portable container they can take with them. Add one of our free printable Halloween tags to dress it up.

Follow the Ball

This classic game with a Halloween twist is sure to provide tons of fun for the kids. Give each child a set of three white paper bowls with "eyes" made by hole-punching black paper and attaching the punched dots with glue. Give kids a gumball and show them how to play the game with a partner by hiding the gumball under one of the ghosts, moving the ghosts around and having his/her partner guess which ghost has the gumball.

Candy Favor Boxes

Premade Halloween boxes are a quick-and-easy option to fill with candy or small toys. Embellished with one of our printable tag designs, party guests or trick or treaters will be excited to open them to see what's inside.

Put Chocolate Under Wraps

Kids love candy bars after all, who doesn't? For a super simple party favor, use one of our printable wrapper designs to dress up a classic candy bar to match the party decor. Just print the template onto standard copier paper, then cut out the design and use double-sided tape to attach the Halloween wrapper to a chocolate bar.

Candy-Corn-Colored Gumball Necklace

All you need to make this sweet necklace is gumballs, ribbon and a few tools. Use a skewer to puncture each gumball, one side at a time. Thread ribbon through a large needle and slide through gumball, tying a knot between each as you go. Add a ribbon bow for a little extra finishing touch.

Spooktacular Sodas

Being a party guest is thirsty work, and what kid could resist these dressed-up soda bottles? Chill sodas prior to the party and embellish right before it starts with our printable black-and-white striped paper and a punched tag. Tie on a straw with twine; open bottles if guests will be enjoying them during the party, or leave the caps on if they'll be taking them home as a favor.
Rock Star Kids love rock candy sticks.

Place them by the door and they won't be able to resist taking one for the road as they leave the party. To add a little embellishment, cut strips from our printable black-and-white striped paper, attach with double-sided tape and cut into a flag shape. Display on a white platter so the colors pop.


Mason Jar Favors

Mason jars are everywhere these days and they're a great, affordable party favor. For Halloween, fill with white candy to make a ghost or orange candy to make a pumpkin. Top with a circle cut from our printable black-and-white striped paper and replace the lid. Use decals or stickers to create the ghost or pumpkin face. Tie on one of our printable tags with twine to complete the look.


Them Bones, Them Bones

Mini candy bones give these marshmallow treats a crunchy texture kids love. To create them, skewer a regular-sized marshmallow onto a 6-inch lollipop stick. Dip into melted chocolate and, while the chocolate is still warm, roll in candy bones. For perfect presentation, display in small cupcake liners and top each stick with a little black bow.

Trick-or-Treat Tubes

These clear tubes are turning up at parties everywhere not only because they're adorable, but because they're so easy! Just fill with candy or gumballs and top with a printable Halloween flag design.

Cookie Monster

Another simple idea is to send your guests home with a sweetly packaged cookie. Whether you bake them at home or purchase them at the bakery, kids will be happy to have a sweet treat to enjoy after the party. Place cookies in Halloween-themed bags, wrap in twine and attach a printable Halloween tag.

Halloween Linen Sacks

These small linen sacks came pre-printed with their Halloween designs, but you could easily dress up plain sacks with foam stamps or a stencil and craft paint. Fill with candy and toys for the party guests to take home

Before and after corset photos from Buzzfeed

Before and after corset photos from Buzzfeed:

Protect Your Groundwater Day

Nearly 2/3 of Maine people get their drinking water from groundwater, so we have a large stake in protecting our groundwater quality and quantity in Maine. We can all use this day to begin doing our part for protecting one of our most important natural resources — our groundwater!

Some things you can do to help protect our groundwater:
  • Properly maintain your septic system: make sure to have your septic tank pumped every 3 to 5 years and check for signs that your septic system is not working
  • Handle gasoline, motor oil, fertilizers, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals with care, making sure not to dump them on the ground or pour them down the sink. When you’re done with them, dispose of them properly at a recycling center
  • Inspect your heating oil tank and its piping to make sure it’s not leaking, starting to corrode or rust, or in danger of tipping over
  • Don’t throw away or flush unused or unwanted medications down the drain. Instead, properly and safely dispose of them by using Maine’s Safe Medicine Disposal for ME free medication mailback program
Public drinking water systems regularly monitor and test the drinking water they provide, but if you have your own well, you should have your water tested every year for bacteria, nitrates and nitrites, and every 3-5 years for naturally occurring arsenic, radon, and uranium.
For more information on Protect Your Groundwater Day, or to learn more ways you can protect groundwater, visit For information on public water systems visit the Drinking Water Program website at For more information on private wells, visit

Calories and Carbohydrate: a Natural Experiment

In the lab, we work hard to design experiments that help us understand the natural world.  But sometimes, nature sets up experiments for us, and all we have to do is collect the data.  These are called "natural experiments", and they have led to profound insights in every field of science.  For example, Alzheimer's disease is not usually considered a genetic disorder.  However, researchers have identified rare cases in which AD is inherited in a simple genetic manner.  By identifying the genes involved, and what they do, we were able to increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the disease.

The natural experiment I'll be discussing today began in 1989 with the onset of a major economic crisis in Cuba. This coincided with the loss of the Soviet Union as a trading partner, resulting in a massive economic collapse over the next six years, which gradually recovered through 2000. 

Read more »

Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Newborn screening saves lives, prevents disabilities and saves money. In the last five decades, newborn screening has become a well-defined, nationwide early identification program. Every year, 4 million infants born in the United States are screened shortly after birth for hearing loss and certain genetic, endocrine, and metabolic disorders. Each year, approximately 12,000 infants will be identified with one of these disorders.

The goal of newborn screening is to identify infants who appear healthy at birth, but who may have one of these disorders which can cause severe illness or death. Through early identification and treatment, newborn screening provides an opportunity for significant reductions in morbidity and mortality while reducing health care costs associated with treatment of lifelong debilitating conditions.

For more information, visit or get information on newborn screening in Maine.

Announcing APHA’s Get Ready Cat Preparedness Photo Contest

Do you love animals and emergency preparedness as much as we do? Then we’ve got a contest for you!

From now until Sept. 30, send us photos of your feline friends to enter APHA’s Get Ready Cat Preparedness Photo Contest. We’re looking for the best pictures of your cute kittens and trouble-making cats. We will add some funny captions and share your cat’s message about emergency preparedness with the world. The winning photos will go into our Get Ready calendar.

Check out our gallery of preparedness cat photos to get an idea of what we’re looking for. You can also read the frequently asked questions and the rules and regulations pages to find out more.

When you’re ready to send us your great pictures, you can enter the contest by following these directions.

We can’t wait to see what you and your cats come up with!

Brighton Rocks

And so to Brighton. Well, Hove, actually. Although you never really go to one without the other. We turned up on Hove Lawns at 8.30 in the morning, for a reason that I'm sure will be expounded upon soon by the inestimable Wartime Housewife. For the first time in years I was able to just relax and take it all in. Being so early meant the light was just right for snapping Nash & Georgie's Holiday Pavilion. And oh what light. This time of the year means the sun's lower, perfect for photographing all those extravagant terraces and squares by father and son architects Amon and Amon Henry Wilds, and for picking out the details in shop windows in The Lanes. I chatted to a bloke who was doing the music for a film on Cezanne (only in Brighton), and he was revisiting the town after having lived here for ten years or so. "You have to watch it", he said, "It gets very seductive". I know what he means. It's any number of towns for me. The Brighton of Graham Greene's novel and the 1947 film Brighton Rock still showing through, the Brighton of the Len Deighton-scripted film of Oh! What a Lovely War that one uses to put back the vandalised West Pier. Piper aquatints, Southdown buses. The air, the light, the people. And that so pertinent quotation by Keith Waterhouse: "Brighton always looks like it's helping the police with their enquiries".

DIY Curtains and Shades 2013 Ideas

Do-it-yourself curtains and drapes are easier to make than you might think. With a little bit of fabric, a staple gun and some creativity, you can fashion an interesting look for your home.
These projects can all be done without making a single stitch.
Napkin Cafe Curtains
Turn patterned cloth napkins into a kicky pair of curtains by joining their edges with jeans rivets spaced every 2 inches. Then add large grommets or rivets along the tops of the panels and thread onto a curtain rod. You can buy rivet and grommet kits at fabric stores. To install, cut a small hole in the fabric, insert both pieces of the rivet or grommet, and use the tool that comes in the kit to press them together.

Towel Window Treatment
Use kicky kitchen dish towels for fun window treatments. Simply clip drapery hooks to the top edge of a dishtowel and hang from a cafe curtain rod. The towels are easy to remove for washing and can also be changed out seasonally. Plus, when you've decided to move on to a different window treatment, the towels can be used for their original purpose of drying dishes.
Buttoned Up
The buttons and burlap that jazz up these plain white tab-top cafe curtains come right off when it's time to wash them. That's because the buttons are attached with magnets rather than sewn on. Tie hemp cord through each button, then glue a magnet onto the back. Cut burlap into a strip 1-1/2 inches wide and pull off a few of the long threads to fringe the edge. Lay the burlap on top of the curtain and hold it in place with a magnetic button at each tab.
Trimmed Tablecloths
Romance a window with a pretty curtain made from a tablecloth. Look for a square or rectangular one with tassels, ruffles, or scallops they'll add instant detail that you don't have to sew on. Cut the tablecloth into two panels. (A 60-inch square cloth is handy because you can just cut it in half.) Hem the cut edges with iron-on seam tape, and hang with drapery clips.
Wrapped Windows
Made from shawls found for $8 each, these panels are an inexpensive alternative to custom window treatments. Cut away the fringe from one end of each shawl and hot-glue decorative trim along the raw end. Hang from clip rings.
Floor-Length Tab-Top Panels
Velvet ribbon in three sherbet shades turns plain white tab-top curtains into an elegant treatment. To create the look, lay out the panels and attach horizontal bands of ribbon with fabric glue. To make the ties at the top, cut the tabs off, then cut six evenly placed, 1-inch horizontal slits across each panel. Finish by cutting V shapes out of the ends of each tie.

Tip: Washable fabric glue will be strong enough to withstand a washing machine and will remain clear and flexible.
Rickrack Panels
Add drama to a room by hanging tab-top panels embellished with a grid of ribbon and rickrack. Choosing natural colors and textures keeps the boldness of the pattern in check. Measure carefully and plan ahead for proper ribbon placement. Each X design extends from side to side and repeats three times from top to bottom. Glue down all the caramel-color ribbon first, then center and glue on lengths of lime green rickrack. Finish by gluing a large button at each intersection. For a nicely finished edge, cut the ribbon 1 inch longer than needed, wrap it around the edge of the curtain, and glue it on the back. Finish the look with a button of your choice. We chose a wooden button to complement the caramel-color ribbon.

Tip: Before adding embellishments, first press the draperies to remove all wrinkles and creases. Accurate positioning of ribbons and trims will be easier on a smooth surface.
Ribboned Romans
Confining the embellishment to the edges of this Roman shade keeps the look clean. As the shade is raised, the ribboned edges fall into graceful pleats. We combined several different widths and colors of ribbon. After planning the design, stretch the shade out on a flat surface and glue the ribbons around the outside edges one layer at a time. Allow the ribbons to extend an inch beyond the shade width so they can be folded over and glued to the back for a finished look.
Stenciled Curtain Panels
Dress up purchased panels with a fun stencil. Lay a panel out flat, with kraft paper underneath it to absorb extra paint. Place the stencil on the panel and use fabric paint to paint on the design.