Before ringing in 2014, Americans take a look back on the top moments of 2013


See what Americans think of the past year, how they plan to celebrate the holiday and what they will remember most about the year that is about tonewyear27n-2-web

WASHINGTON — Ready to ring in the new year, Americans look ahead with optimism, according to a new AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve poll. Their ratings of the year gone by? Less than glowing.

What the public thought of 2013:

GOOD YEAR OR GOOD RIDDANCE?

On the whole, Americans rate their own experience in 2013 more positively than negatively, but when asked to assess the year for the United States or the world at large, things turn sour.

— All told, 32% say 2013 was a better year for them than 2012, while 20% say it was worse and 46% say the two years were really about the same. Young people were more apt to see improvement: 40 % of people under age 30 called 2013 a better year than 2012, compared with 25 % of people age 65 or older.

— The public splits evenly on how the year turned out for the country, 25% saying it was better than 2012, 25% saying it was worse. As with most questions about the state of affairs in the U.S. these days, there’s a sharp partisan divide. Democrats are more apt to say the U.S. turned out better in 2013 than 2012 (37%) than are Republicans (17%).

— Thinking about the world at large, 30% say 2013 was worse than 2012, while just 20% say it was better.

But the outlook for the new year is positive: 49% think their own fortunes will improve in 2014, 14 % are anticipating the new year to be a downgrade from the old: 34% say they don’t expect much to change.

Top 10 Movies of 2013: ‘Gravity,’ ‘American Hustle,’ ‘Captain Phillips’ among a satisfying mix of best films

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Sandra Bullock and George Clooney run into trouble in space in “Gravity.”

This year delivered a perfect mix of satisfying big movies and indies, taking us from the sea to the stratosphere and through history. Here are the 10 best.

1.  “Gravity” Alfonso Cuaron’s adventure drama is mesmerizing and expansive, with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney fitting perfectly into all the technological wonder. Popular entertainment at its smartest. And at 90 minutes, this baby is tight as a drum.

2.  “12 Years a Slave” The journey of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) through a horrific America he knew of but didn’t understand became our journey as well in director Steve McQueen’s unflinching drama. Extraordinary performances from Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender.

3.  “American Hustle” David O. Russell’s cool, funny caper about character reinvention taken from the Abscam scandal of the ’70s. Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper are caught in a fever dream; Jennifer Lawrence is a deliciously loose cannon.

4.  “Her” Joaquin Phoenix’s lonely divorcé finds the love of his life in Samantha, his computer’s operating system. Writer-director Spike Jonze makes the film (and the vocal performance of Scarlett Johansson) a link between the cranial and the carnal.

5. “The Spectacular Now” Director James Ponsoldt’s quiet drama is such a beautiful evocation of teenage emotions that it goes beyond being a story of tentative love between two kids (Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley). Instead, this adaptation of a young adult novel is a for-the-ages film about a vulnerable moment in life.

6. “Before Midnight” We saw Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine meet in their 20s in “Before Sunrise” (1995), then reconnect in “Before Sunset” (2004). Now, it’s like we’re visiting old friends. All three films combined comprise one of the great cinematic love stories.

7. “Captain Phillips” A movie about hell at sea and varying viewpoints on masculinity, this nail-biter was taken from a true story. Somali pirates board a shipping transport, eventually taking its skipper (Tom Hanks, below) hostage. Paul Greengrass’ no-nonsense film knocks the wind out of you.

8. “Fruitvale Station” The ache of watching the final 24 hours of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), an innocent young Bay Area man killed by police early on New Year’s Day 2009, is palpable in director Ryan Coogler’s debut. This outstanding work makes you angry and mournful and, most of all, makes you feel.

9.  “The Wolf of Wall Street” Maestro Martin Scorsese goes gonzo in this real-life tale of New York greed and amorality, with a great Leonardo DiCaprio performance and a deliriously vicious comic tone.

10. “Short Term 12” Brie Larson is wonderful in a movie about twentysomething employees at a home for at-risk teens. Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton based the film on his own experiences, and the movie’s heartfelt approach wraps around you.
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Americans – Why Do You Keep Refrigerating Your Eggs?


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By Dr. Mercola

If you’re an American, you probably store eggs in the refrigerator – and wouldn’t think of doing it any other way.

Yet, the US is one of the only countries where chicken eggs are kept refrigerated. In much of Europe, for instance, eggs are often stored right on the counter, at room temperature.

But then, US eggs would be illegal in Europe due to an egg-washing process that may actually make them more susceptible to contamination with bacteria like Salmonella.

In the US, Eggs Are Refrigerated to Help Reduce Salmonella Risks

If an egg is infected with salmonella, the bacteria will multiply more quickly if the egg is stored at room temperature instead of in the refrigerator, particularly if they’re stored for longer than 21 days.1 This is why, in the US, public health agencies advise keeping your eggs in the fridge.

And the truth is, the way most eggs are raised in the US – in industrial concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs – the risk of salmonella contamination rises.

In CAFOs, egg-laying hens are often crammed into tiny quarters with less space to stand upon than the computer screen you are looking at. Disease is rampant, and the birds ARE filthy — not because of their nature, but because we have removed them from their natural habitat and compromised their innate resistance to disease.

Eggs from such large flocks (30,000 birds or more… and some actually house  millions of hens) and eggs from caged hens have many times more salmonella bacteria than eggs from smaller flocks, organically fed and free-ranging flocks.

They’re also more likely to be antibiotic-resistant strains, due to the flock’s routine exposure to such drugs. It is because of these disease-promoting practices that the US also employs egg washing – a technique that’s actually banned in Europe.

Why Are American Eggs Washed, When Egg Washing Is Banned in Much of Europe?

When you have eggs from tens of thousands of chickens – or more — all under one roof, there’s a good chance they’re going to get feces and other contaminants on them. The US solution, rather than reducing the size of the flocks and ensuring better sanitation and access to the outdoors, is to wash the eggs. But this isn’t as innocuous as it sounds.

As the eggs are scrubbed, rinsed, dried, and spritzed with a chlorine mist, its protective cuticle may be compromised. This is a natural barrier that comes from the mother hen that lays the egg, and it acts as a shield against bacteria.

It even contains antimicrobial properties. US egg-washing strips this natural protectant from the egg, which may actually make it more likely to become contaminated. According to European Union (EU) guidelines:

“Such damage may favor trans-shell contamination with bacteria and moisture loss and thereby increase the risk to consumers, particularly if subsequent drying and storage conditions are not optimal.”

Industrial egg washing, by the way, is banned in much of Europe, not only because of potential damage to the eggs’ cuticles but also because it might allow for more “sloppy” egg-producing practices. The chief executive of Britain’s Egg Industry Council told Forbes:2

In Europe, the understanding is that [prohibiting the washing and cleaning of eggs] actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmers’ best interests then to produce the cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.”

In the US, of course, you’d have no way of knowing whether your bright-white grocery-store eggs were covered in filth before they arrived in your kitchen. Plus, about 10 percent of US eggs are treated with mineral or vegetable oil, basically as a way to “replace” the protective cuticle that’s just been washed off.

Unfortunately, since an eggshell contains approximately 7,500 pores or openings, once the natural cuticle has been removed what’s put ON your egg goes INTO your egg. Meaning, whatever the eggshell comes into contact with can cross over this semi-permeable membrane and end up in your scrambled eggs, from chlorine to mineral oil to dish soap — to salmonella.

The Other Reason Why the EU Recommends Constant Room Temperature Egg Storage

European egg marketing regulations state that storing eggs in cold storage and then leaving them out at room temperature could lead to condensation, which could promote the growth of bacteria on the shell that could probably get into the egg as well. As io9 reported, the EU therefore advises storing eggs at a constant non-refrigerated temperature:3

EU guidelines therefore stipulate that eggs should be transported and stored at as constant a temperature as possible – a temperature between 66.2 °F and 69.8°F in the winter and between 69.8°F and 73.4°F in the summer.”

So, despite what you may have heard, eggs that are fresh and have an intact cuticle do not need to be refrigerated, as long as you are going to consume them within a relatively short period of time.

In the US, refrigeration of eggs became the cultural norm when mass production caused eggs to travel long distances and sit in storage for weeks to months before arriving at your superstore. The general lack of cleanliness of CAFOs has increased the likelihood that your eggs have come into contact with pathogens, amplifying the need for disinfection and refrigeration.

So, IF your eggs are very fresh, and IF their cuticle is intact, you do not have to refrigerate them. According to Hilary Thesmar, director of the American Egg Board’s Egg Safety Center:4

“The bottom line is shelf life. The shelf life for an unrefrigerated egg is 7 to 10 days and for refrigerated, it’s 30 to 45 days. A good rule of thumb is one day at room temperature is equal to one week under refrigeration.”

Eggs purchased from grocery stores are typically already three weeks old, or older. USDA-certified eggs must have a pack date on the carton, and a sell-by date. Realize that the eggs were often laid many days prior to the pack date.

Most grocery-store eggs in the US should not be left unrefrigerated because they’ve had their cuticles essentially washed off. If your eggs are fresh from the organic farm, with intact cuticles, and will be consumed within a few days, you can simply leave them on the counter or in a cool cupboard.

Are US Organic Eggs Washed?

Organic flocks are typically much smaller than the massive commercial flocks (typically by an order or two of magnitude) where bacteria flourish, which is part of the reason why eggs from truly organic free-range chickens are FAR less likely to contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella. Their nutrient content is also much higher than commercially raised eggs, which is most likely the result of the differences in diet between organic free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.

As far as washing, detergents and other chemicals used for “wet cleaning” organic eggs must either be non-synthetic or among the allowed synthetics on the National List of allowed non-agricultural substances, which can include chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and others. Some farmers report rinsing eggs very quickly in water, just to dislodge any debris, and believe this is adequate. Others use a dry brushing process — no liquids at all — just a brush, sandpaper, or a loofah sponge.

Since most organic egg producers are typically interested in producing high-quality eggs, many of them—especially small, local farming operations—have implemented gentle washing methods that don’t compromise the cuticle. However, you certainly can’t tell by looking at them what type of washing process they may have gone through. The only way to know if your eggs have been washed or oiled (and using what agents) is to ask the producer — and the only way to do that is to buy from small local farmers you have direct contact with.

Locally Raised Eggs Are Usually Best

The key here is to buy your eggs locally; this is typically even preferable to organic eggs from the grocery store. About the only time I purchase eggs from the store is when I am travelling or for some reason I miss my local egg pickup. Finding high-quality organic eggs locally is getting easier, as virtually every rural area has individuals with chickens. If you live in an urban area, visiting the local health food stores is typically the quickest route to finding the high quality local egg sources.

Farmers markets and food coops are another great way to meet the people who produce your food. With face-to-face contact, you can get your questions answered and know exactly what you’re buying. Better yet, visit the farm — ask for a tour. If they have nothing to hide, they should be eager to show you their operation.

Eggs ARE a Highly Nutritious Food

The issue of whether or not to refrigerate your eggs becomes a moot point if you’ve been scared into believing that eggs are bad for your health. I want to address this briefly, as there is a major misconception that you must avoid foods like eggs and saturated fat to protect your heart. Eggs are an incredible source of high-quality protein and fat—nutrients that many are deficient in. And I believe eggs are a nearly ideal fuel source for most of us. The evidence clearly shows that eggs are one of the most healthful foods you can eat, and can actually help prevent disease, including heart disease. For example, previous studies have found that:

  • Consumption of more than six eggs per week does not increase the risk of stroke and ischemic stroke5
  • Eating two eggs a day does not adversely affect endothelial function (an aggregate measure of cardiac risk) in healthy adults, supporting the view that dietary cholesterol may be less detrimental to cardiovascular health than previously thought6
  • Proteins in cooked eggs are converted by gastrointestinal enzymes, producing peptides that act as ACE inhibitors (common prescription medications for lowering blood pressure)7
  • A survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with “bad” dietary habits, such as use of red meat, animal fats, fried foods, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage, and cheese8

As for how to eat your eggs for optimal health, ideally the yolks should be consumed raw, as the heat will damage many of the highly perishable nutrients in the yolk. Additionally, the cholesterol in the yolk can be oxidized with high temperatures, especially when it is in contact with the iron present in the whites and cooked, as in scrambled eggs, and such oxidation contributes to chronic inflammation in your body.

However, if you’re eating raw eggs, they MUST be organic pastured eggs. You do not want to consume conventionally raised eggs raw, as they’re much more likely to be contaminated with pathogens. The next best option to raw is to eat them soft-boiled or gently cooked “sunny side up” with very runny yolks. One final caveat: I would strongly encourage you to avoid all omega-3 eggs, as they typically come from chickens that are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Omega-3 eggs are also more likely to perish faster than non-omega-3 eggs.

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17 Incredibly Moving Photos of Terminally Ill Dogs & Their Owners


Her name is Sarah Ernhart. She provides photography services (which she calls Joy Sessions) to owners of terminally ill pets to create lasting memories a dog in their final days.

We think her work is AWESOME. Share if you do too ►

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HEARTBREAKING LAST PHOTOS  OF PETS WITH THEIR OWNERS

HEARTBREAKING LAST PHOTOS  OF PETS WITH THEIR OWNERS

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Countdown: 7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe


Common Medical Misconceptions

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Popular culture is loaded with myths and half-truths. Most are harmless. But when doctors start believing medical myths, perhaps it’s time to worry.

In 2007, a study published in the British Medical Journal looked into several common misconceptions, from the belief that a person should drink eight glasses of water per day to the notion that reading in low light ruins your eyesight.

“We got fired up about this because we knew that physicians accepted these beliefs and were passing this information along to their patients,” said Aaron Carroll, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “And these beliefs are frequently cited in the popular media.”

Click on for the top 7 most common medical myths — debunked. 

Myth: Shaved hair grows back faster, coarser and darker

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Fact: A 1928 clinical trial compared hair growth in shaved patches to growth in non-shaved patches. The hair which replaced the shaved hair was no darker or thicker, and did not grow in faster. More recent studies have confirmed that one.

Here’s the deal: When hair first comes in after being shaved, it grows with a blunt edge on top, Carroll and Vreeman explain. Over time, the blunt edge gets worn so it may seem thicker than it actually is. Hair that’s just emerging can be darker too, because it hasn’t been bleached by the sun.

Myth: You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day

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Fact: “There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water,” said Dr. Rachel Vreeman, a pediatrics research fellow at the university and co-author of the journal article.
Vreeman thinks this myth can be traced back to a 1945 recommendation from the Nutrition Council that a person consume the equivalent of eight glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day. Over the years, “fluid” turned to water. But fruits and vegetables, plus coffee and other liquids, count.

Myth: Fingernails and hair grow after death

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Fact: Most physicians queried on this one initially thought it was true. Upon further reflection, they realized it’s impossible. Here’s what happens:

“As the body’s skin is drying out, soft tissue, especially skin, is retracting,” Vreeman said. “The nails appear much more prominent as the skin dries out. The same is true, but less obvious, with hair. As the skin is shrinking back, the hair looks more prominent or sticks up a bit.”

Myth: We use only 10 percent of our brains

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Fact: Physicians and comedians alike, including Jerry Seinfeld, love to cite this one. It’s sometimes erroneously credited to Albert Einstein. But MRI scans, PET scans and other imaging studies show no dormant areas of the brain, and even viewing individual neurons or cells reveals no inactive areas, the new paper points out. Metabolic studies of how brain cells process chemicals show no nonfunctioning areas.

The myth probably originated with self-improvement hucksters in the early 1900s who wanted to convince people that they had yet not reached their full potential, Carroll figures. It also doesn’t jibe with the fact that our other organs run at full tilt.

Myth: Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight

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Fact: The researchers found no evidence that reading in dim light causes permanent eye damage. It can cause eye strain and temporarily decreased acuity, which subsides after rest.

Myth: Eating turkey makes you drowsy

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Fact: Even Carroll and Vreeman believed this one until they researched it. The thing is, a chemical in turkey called tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness. But turkey doesn’t contain any more of it than does chicken or beef.

This myth is fueled by the fact that turkey is often eaten with a colossal holiday meal, often accompanied by alcohol — both things that will make you sleepy.

Myth: Cellphones are dangerous in hospitals

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Fact: There are no known cases of death related to this one. Cases of less-serious interference with hospital devices seem to be largely anecdotal, the researchers found. In one real study, cellphones were found to interfere with 4 percent of devices, but only when the phone was within 3 feet of the device.

A more recent study, this year, found no interference in 300 tests in 75 treatment rooms. To the contrary, when doctors use cellphones, the improved communication means they make fewer mistakes.

“Whenever we talk about this work, doctors at first express disbelief that these things are not true,” said Vreeman said. “But after we carefully lay out medical evidence, they are very willing to accept that these beliefs are actually false.”

 

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8 Things We Won’t Miss When Pot is Legal Everywhere


An increasing number of citizens have realized that the government has better things to do than tell us what we can and cannot put into our bodies.

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Last year, residents of Colorado and the state of Washington voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Now, according to a new Gallup Poll, fully 58 percent of Americans believe that pot should be available in a way that’s similar to tobacco, beer, wine, and alcohol, which arguably cause more harm than marijuana. That’s a 10-point increase over last year and the latest indicator that the federal war on weed, which officially began in 1937, is finally drawing to a close. Given the directions things are headed in this country, here are eight things nobody will miss when pot is finally legal everywhere in the U.S.

1. Vapid anti-drug commercials like the famous “I learned it by watching you!” public-service announcement, in which a son tells an outraged father how he became familiar with pot. The dad seems to be successful and they’re in a nice house so….what’s the problem again?

2. Ritual apologies by world-class athletes such as swimmer Michael Phelps for smoking dope at a private party. Despite winning 14 Olympic gold medals and completely rewriting his sport’s record books, in 2009 Phelps promised his “fans and the public it will not happen again.”

3. Breath-taking personal hypocrisy by politicians such as Barack Obama who laugh about their own pot smoking (he’s not the only one, the last three presidents have tried it) while increasing funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other drug-war operations. As a presidential candidate, he joked to a gathering of fawning journalists, “When I was a kid, I inhaled….That was the point.”

4. Long federal prison sentences for legitimate business owners like Aaron Sandusky.  He ran a medical marijuana dispensary in California that was in full compliance with state laws, but he still got busted by the Obama administration’s Justice Department and is now serving a 10-year stint.

5. Reading about politicians such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brushing off parents whose children’s illnesses can be treated effectively with marijuana. Two-year-old Vivian Wilson’s Dravet’s Syndrome responds to a form of pot that doesn’t even get you high but is unavailable in New Jersey. When Wilson’s father asked Christie why he hadn’t implemented the medical marijuana reform already passed by the legislature, the governor huffed that “it’s simple for you, it’s not simple for me.”

6. Tendentious arguments that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Researchers long ago gave up on the idea that smoking pot inevitably – or even commonly – leads users to harder stuff. Yes, most heavy drug users have used pot. But most pot smokers never develop a taste for or a problem with other drugs.

7. The 658,000 arrests for simple possession of marijuana made annually. That’s equivalent to the population of Boston being handcuffed every year for carrying the wrong plant. What a waste of police resources – and an unconscionable disruption of people’s lives.

8. Hearing about no-knock drug raids gone tragically wrong, like the one in Atlanta that killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnson in 2006. After three cops broke into her home without identifying themselves, Johnson fired a gun in defense and was shot to death by the cops, who then planted three bags of marijuana in her residence to cover up their mistakes.

Legalizing pot won’t create a problem-free country any more than tearing down the Berlin Wall solved all the problems in East Germany or ending de jure segregation fixed race relations in the U.S. But it would reflect the will of an increasing number of citizens who realize the government has better things to do than tell us what we can and cannot put into our bodies. And it will also consign many terrible things about contemporary America to the dust heap of history.

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