THE WORLD NEWS
The need to nap is normal, researchers say. Somewhere between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., most people experience a lull in their alertness, and productivity decreases. The phenomenon is due, not to eating or culture, as had formerly been thought, but to a shift in the human biological clock.
At that time, people can fall asleep within a few minutes. While alertness and work performance did not increase for those who stopped for a midday nap, it did put them in a better mood. Children also were better behaved after a rest period, even though they might not have actually slept.
In some industrialized nations, where the fast-food meal has become a way of life, chicken or fish sandwiches and chicken “nuggets” are popular because many think of them as low-fat alternatives to the traditional hamburger. But such foods are sometimes cooked in oils high in saturated fat.
Besides, a fast-food chicken sandwich often contains a large percentage of chicken skin, so it “may contain as much fat as a pint and a half of ice cream, and a half-dozen chicken ‘nuggets’ have more fat than a hamburger,” says the International Herald Tribune, reporting on a recent study by the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Too much fat in the diet is linked to a high incidence of diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and obesity.
“A total of 110 journalists were killed because of their work in 2009, making last year the most lethal in the past decade” for this profession, says the International Press Institute, based in Vienna, Austria. In conflict areas, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia, there has been a “deliberate targeting of journalists” in recent years, says the report.
This has led to less press coverage and a “worrying vacuum in the understanding of . . . complex events” in these areas. Iraq was the most dangerous country for journalists over the past decade, followed by the Philippines, Colombia, Mexico, and Russia in that order.
Individualistic but Depressed
According to researchers, Britain is “the most individualistic society in the world, valuing the self over the group,” reports London’s Daily Telegraph. Another study found that Britons suffer some of the highest levels of depression and anxiety. Some experts believe that there is a connection.
Studies compared societies such as those found in the Western world with those of China and Taiwan. In the latter, the greater value given to social harmony over individuality seemed to protect people from poor mental health. In the West, “selfish society . . . is making us depressed,” states the Telegraph.
Earthquakes—“The Deadliest Disasters”
“Earthquakes caused the deadliest disasters in the past decade,” says the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Of those who died because of disasters in this period, almost 60 percent were killed by earthquakes.
This “natural hazard” continues to pose a serious risk, given that 8 of the 10 cities with the largest populations worldwide lie on earthquake-prone fault lines. The last ten years have seen more than 780,000 people killed in 3,852 events classified as disasters.
Fireworks and Respiratory Conditions
Fireworks displays may be spectacular, but the particles shot into the atmosphere can be dangerous to your health. To produce different-colored flashes, many fireworks contain metal salts—for example, strontium for red and barium for green.
Austrian researchers who tested samples of fallen snow before and after a New Year’s fireworks display found that the snow’s barium content increased some 500-fold. Since barium poisoning causes constriction of the airways, researchers say that inhaling the smoke from fireworks could aggravate respiratory problems, such as asthma.
Contented Cows, More Milk
“A cow with a name produces more milk than one without,” say scientists at Newcastle University, England. In fact, treating cows as individuals can increase their milk yields by almost 500 pints a year. Why?
“Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention,” says Dr. Catherine Douglas of the university’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.
“What our study shows is what many good, caring farmers have long since believed,” she explains. “By placing more importance on the individual, such as calling a cow by her name or interacting with the animal more as it grows up, we can not only improve the animal’s welfare and her perception of humans, but also increase milk production.”
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