Is Enough Being Done to Prepare Veterans for Civilian Jobs? – By Andrew Soergel March 20, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EDT

Unemployment rates among veterans are declining, but former service members are still struggling to enter the labor force.

A soldier salutes the flag on June 15, 2011, during a welcome home ceremony for troops arriving from Afghanistan to Fort Carson, Colorado.

A soldier salutes the flag on June 15, 2011, during a welcome home ceremony for troops arriving from Afghanistan to Fort Carson, Colorado.

Holly Mosack intended to go into the Army Reserve once she graduated from Northwestern University in 1997. A Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship helped pay Mosack’s way through college, but a three-week stint at the U.S. Army Airborne School between her junior and senior years changed her course.

“While it was only three weeks, that’s just where I fell in love with the Army and the people,” says Mosack, who after her senior year was commissioned as an officer in the Army. “Just being around the soldiers is what I love.”

Fast-forward to 2004. Mosack had just concluded a seven-year military career and was in the process of what many veterans describe as the daunting transition into the civilian labor force.

[READ: The Biggest Problem Veterans Still Face]

“That transition was very difficult. My life was the military. The people I knew were the military,” Mosack says. “While I knew I had some credentials – I went to Northwestern, a great school – I didn’t have the confidence. What can I do in this civilian world? I got this degree in journalism several years ago. I don’t think I want to go into that. What am I going to do?”

Many veterans ask that very same question upon entering the civilian world. The Labor Department on Wednesday estimated 21.2 million veterans were living in the U.S. at the end of 2014, making up about 9 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population – those who are not on active military duty or in mental health facilities or jails – at least 18 years of age.

And while the military has some programs in place to help with reacclimation, the career counselors and guidance afforded to the average college student as they shape the rest of their lives far exceeds the help many veterans of the same age receive, especially if their military skill sets don’t translate well into the civilian labor force. Many veterans need to fend for themselves to get a job while adjusting to life back home.

“They do have a transition process. Every service member goes through this – how to write a resume and whatnot,” says Mosack, who is now a director of employee communications at Advanced Technology Services, a company that specializes in improving workplace productivity, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

“But you’re so used to, when you’re in the military, those processes. When you go to the doctor, you don’t have a copay. You don’t have to do anything,” she says. “You’re kind of catered to, and when it comes time to find a job, people are expecting that same help, and it’s not there. And I think that sends a lot of veterans into a world of panic once they’re getting out.”

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Circadian Surprise: How Our Body Clocks Help Shape Our Waistlines – Allison Aubrey MARCH 10, 2015 4:18 AM ET

We’ve long known about the master clock in our brains that helps us maintain a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.

Biological clocks

But in recent years, scientists have made a cool discovery: We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies — from our pancreas to our stomach to our fat cells.

“Yes, there are clocks in all the cells of your body,” explains Fred Turek, a circadian scientist at Northwestern University. “It was a discovery that surprised many of us.”

We humans are time-keeping machines. And it seems we need regular sleeping and eating schedules to keep all of our clocks in sync.

Studies show that if we mess with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle — say, by working an overnight shift, taking a transatlantic flight or staying up all night with a new baby or puppy — we pay the price.

Our blood pressure goes up, hunger hormones get thrown off and blood sugar control goes south.

We can all recover from an occasional all-nighter, an episode of jet lag or short-term disruptions.

But over time, if living against the clock becomes a way of life, this may set the stage for weight gain and metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

“What happens is that you get a total de-synchronization of the clocks within us,” Turek says, “which may be underlying the chronic diseases we face in our society today.”

So consider what happens, for instance, if we eat late or in the middle of the night. The master clock — which is set by the light-dark cycle — is cueing all other clocks in the body that it’s night. Time to rest.

“The clock in the brain is sending signals saying: Do not eat, do not eat!” says Turek.

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Pump Up The Bass, Feel Like A Boss – by REBECCA HERSHER August 09, 2014 5:12 PM ET

Hearing 50 Cent's "In Da Club" made music-listeners feel more powerful.

Hearing 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” made music-listeners feel more powerful.


Pump-up songs make us feel capable and powerful. Athletes know that intuitively — batters swagger out to raucous walk-up songs, stars like Serena Williams and Lebron James warm up with headphones on (except when, in James’s case, the headphones come off to blast Wu-Tang Clan in the locker room).

But what is it about a good pump-up song that makes us feel invincible? According to a new study, the answer is in the bass.

A research team at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business began with what we know about music and power. Past studies had shown, for example, that heavy metal and hip-hop music are linked to dominance and aggression, which are associated with feeling powerful.

So the team, led by Adam Galinsky and his student Dennis Hsu, did a series of tests to isolate exactly what it is about certain music that makes us feel powerful. First, they asked people to listen to dozens of songs and answer questions about how powerful they felt while they listened.

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Earth may have underground ‘ocean’ three times that on surface – Melissa Davey The Guardian, Thursday 12 June 2014 23.53 EDT

Three-quarters of the Earth's water may be locked deep underground in a layer of rock, scientists say

After decades of searching scientists have discovered that a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, potentially transforming our understanding of how the planet was formed.

The water is locked up in a mineral called ringwoodite about 660km (400 miles) beneath the crust of the Earth, researchers say. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University in the US co-authored the studypublished in the journal Science and said the discovery suggested Earth’s water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity, rather than being deposited by icy comets hitting the forming planet as held by the prevailing theories.

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” Jacobsen said.

“I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades.”

Jacobsen and his colleagues are the first to provide direct evidence that there may be water in an area of the Earth’s mantle known as the transition zone. They based their findings on a study of a vast underground region extending across most of the interior of the US.

Ringwoodite acts like a sponge due to a crystal structure that makes it attract hydrogen and trap water.


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Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy – 17 April 2014 Last updated at 17:09 ET

This man does not like to be disturbed while he’s running the US

An old man in a suit looks up from his newspaper and brandy.

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here’s how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

“A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time,” they write, “while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time.”

On the other hand:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

They conclude:

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn’t surprised by the survey’s results.

“American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media),” he writes. “The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious ‘electoral’ ‘democratic’ countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now.”

This is the “Duh Report”, says Death and Taxes magazine’s Robyn Pennacchia. Maybe, she writes, Americans should just accept their fate.

“Perhaps we ought to suck it up, admit we have a classist society and do like England where we have a House of Lords and a House of Commoners,” she writes, “instead of pretending as though we all have some kind of equal opportunity here.”

Would March Be Less Mad If Players Were Paid? – by ALAN GREENBLATT March 29, 2014 5:37 AM

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at Mar 29, 2014 6.18


Would March Madness be terribly different if the players were paid?

Probably not. The college basketball tournament might become more professionalized, but it wouldn’t look much different from what we’re seeing right now.

“I don’t see it changing one iota,” says ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas.

Last week’s National Labor Relations Board ruling that football players at Northwestern University should be able to form a union triggered dire warnings from the NCAA that the ideal of the student-athlete would be forever corrupted if players were treated as employees and paid as such.

But for fans, the reality is that the game wouldn’t change. The real question is how the pie would be sliced, with players suddenly demanding a share of the take.

“It’s another NCAA scare tactic,” says Bilas, who played basketball at Duke University. “They’re saying it’s going to crumble when they talk about giving the athletes a penny over their expenses, and it’s wrong.”

The Game’s Already For Sale

It’s hard to imagine March Madness getting any more commercial.

The tournament is already a billion-dollar event, with as many Burger King and AXE body wash commercials as television can carry.

“Any time we cover an NCAA tournament event, the NCAA will not allow you to sit courtside with beverages that do not have the label from one of their sponsors,” says Kenneth Blackistone, a sportswriter who teaches journalism at the University of Maryland.

Fans would still be able to buy jerseys emblazoned with team names and the numbers of their favorite players — with those players maybe seeing a cut.

It’s possible that ticket prices could go up, but that’s been happening for years anyway, as coaching salaries have soared into the multi-million-dollar range.

And it’s not like the pro version of the sport will suddenly be dominated by big-money programs — the Stanford Facebookers or the Kansas Koch Brothers — or at least no more than it’s dominated by big money programs already.

As things stand, plenty of players from top programs go pro early. Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that University of Kansas center Joel Embiid will enter the NBA draft this year as a freshman.

“Paying them could keep them in college longer,” says Rick Eckstein, a sports sociologist at Villanova University.

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Marijuana news: Pot and the teen brain – By Noelle Crombie – January 30, 2014 at 7:40 AMw11


This morning’s marijuana news roundup comes to you from the southern Oregon city of Ashland, where I’ll be covering the first of two marijuana industry conferences this week.

A few headlines caught my eye this morning:

CNN has a story on cannabis and the teen brain. Writer Randye Hoder talks with a couple of Northwestern University medical researchers who say teens are vulnerable to marijuana’s harms. The drug, they say, can impact teens’ ability to solve problems and think critically. It’s a message, Hoder writes, that’s getting lost in “the pro-legalization fervor.”

Hoder writes:

Use of pot among adolescents, which had declined from the late 1990s through the mid-to-late 2000s, is again on the rise, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One likely reason: “The percentage of high-schoolers who see great risk from being regular marijuana users has dropped,” over time, the agency points out. 

That perception, however, is all wrong. In a study published last month, Smith and his colleagues found that teens who smoked a lot of pot had abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory — a predictor of weak academic performance and impaired everyday functioning — and that they did poorly on memory-related tasks.

Could Nevada be among the next states to legalize marijuana? Legalization advocates in that state are laying the groundwork for legalizing recreational cannabis, reports The Las Vegas Sun.
Staff writer Andrew Doughman reports:

Touting the benefits of regulating and taxing what is now an underground industry in Nevada, advocates say they’re confident they’ll have the money and votes required to pass an initiative similar to the one that Colorado voters approved in 2012.

“Based on the dynamics we’re seeing in Colorado with full adult use being legal, it seems a natural fit for Nevada,” said Joe Brezny, executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association and officer with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, the Nevada political action committee organized to get the legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot.

Two months after federal raids on marijuana businesses, The Denver Post reports that many of the operators who were apparently targeted by investigators are back in business.

Several stores raided by armed federal agents have reopened. Some cultivation warehouses that were swept clean are again filled with marijuana plants. Nobody named in the search warrants has been arrested or even publicly accused of wrongdoing. At least three of those targets say they are baffled why the feds showed up at their doors.

A couple more headlines from The Oregonian before you go:

Marijuana opponents pay for anti-pot billboards near Super Bowl
Follow me on Twitter for updates from today’s marijuana business conference. (@NoelleCrombie)

— Noelle Crombie