Archive for February, 2013

The prominence of Mafia in Southern Italy hinders the implementation of victim–offender mediation

February 28, 2013

Victim−offender mediation in areas characterized by high levels of organized crime

From European Journal of Criminology

This paper provides some reflections on the feasibility and implementation of victim– offender mediation (VOM) in countries or geographical areas characterized by particularly serious types of criminality, such as Mafia-like organized crime. It uses Italy as a case study and considers why Southern Italy struggles to implement VOM yet it is successful in the Northern territory.  The study outlines that Southern Italy is a regional context deeply affected by organized crime and the Mafia subculture. This article proposes some working hypotheses concerning the improvement of VOM in areas where criminality is strongly linked to Mafia-type organizations. Difficulties for mediation may be related to the pre-existing mediatory role played historically by Mafia leaders. For mediation to have any chance of success in South European countries, a truly secular and modern culture of restoration must be promoted, based on an informed awareness of the past. It is argued that the presence of hostile conditions should not preclude the success of restorative justice and mediation and concludes that even tough obstacles can be overcome. The study offers anthropological and juridical perspectives not yet investigated.

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Reviewing patterns of drug epidemics to consider cost effective intervention programs

February 27, 2013

Drug generations in the 2000s: An analysis of arrestee data

From Journal of Drug Issues 

Much empirical evidence indicates that the popularity of various drugs tends to increase and wane over time producing episodic epidemics of particular drugs. Drug epidemics lead to the rise of drug generations. For the past two decades, drug epidemics have been studied extensively. This article examines the drug generations present in the 2000s among arrestees in the 10 locations served by the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring–II program (ADAM). This article first reviews the drug epidemics framework and then presents how the drug generations framework follows from it. At all 10 locations, the findings show that crack use is still common among older arrestees but not among arrestees born more recently. Marijuana is the drug most common among younger arrestees. Patterns of drug use can have important implications for the development of timely, targeted drug abuse interventions. Drug scholars, analysts and policy makers need to be aware of trends in drug use to develop appropriate and cost effective programs.

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Study reveals vitamin D deficiency related to ethnicity

February 26, 2013

Relationship of total 25-OH vitamin D concentrations to Indices of Multiple Deprivation: geoanalysis of laboratory results

From Annals of Clinical Biochemistry

 

This significant UK study examines vitamin D deficiency. It recognizes that such deficiency is widespread. The laboratory information system was searched to create a data-set of vitamin D concentrations which was then linked to economic and ethnicity data using postcodes. Geography is the key to virtually all national statistics. It provides a structure for collecting, processing, storing and aggregating data. The study reveals the variables determining vitamin D status. Findings outline that vitamin D deficiency is related to ethnicity; it does not appear to be related to economic status contrary to widespread belief, except in cases of severe vitamin D deficiency.

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Are the weight loss and sport performance ingredients caffeine and DMAA safe for human use?

February 21, 2013

Safety profile of caffeine and 1,3dimethylamylamine supplementation in healthy men

From Human and Experimental Toxicology

Supplements containing DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) have been the center of some controversy, particularly in the UK, recently. It was revealed that an inquest found that Claire Squires, 30, who collapsed and died on the final stretch of the London marathon last April had DMAA in her system. The coroner said she died of cardiac failure caused by extreme exertion, possibly complicated by DMAA toxicity. Until now, no investigation has determined the safety profile of chronic intake of caffeine or DMAA, alone or in combination, within the same study design. In this study a total of 50 young and healthy men completed 12 weeks of daily supplementation with either a placebo, caffeine (250 mg/day), DMAA (50 mg/day), or caffeine (250 mg/day) + DMAA (50 mg/day). To allow for familiarization, during week one of the study, subjects ingested one half of the required dosage. The following variables were measured before and following 6 and 12 weeks of treatment: body mass/composition, resting respiratory rate, blood pressure, 12-lead electrocardiogram, urinalysis, complete blood count, metabolic panel, lipid panel, and oxidative stress, inflammatory, and cardiac biomarkers. Results indicate that caffeine and DMAA, alone or in combination, does not result in a statistically significant change in any of the measured outcome variables.

“Much concern has been raised regarding the use of DMAA by humans, particularly in light of two case reports indicating severe adverse outcomes following oral ingestion of what appeared to be extremely high dosages of this ingredient. The present study included a relative small and recommended dosage of DMAA and caffeine in young and healthy men. When used at the provided dosages, initial findings indicate no adverse outcomes with regards to the selected safety measures. These findings do not suggest that the stimulants used in this study are safe for consumption by those who are older and/or unhealthy, particularly if they are used at much higher dosages. Further research would be helpful to extend these findings, as well as to determine the safety profile of these stimulants (and others) in populations distinct from that studied in the current investigation.”

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Tourists face health risks from contact with captive sea turtles

February 20, 2013

Health implications associated with exposure to farmed and wild sea turtles

From JRSM Short Reports

Tourists coming into contact with sea turtles at holiday attractions face a risk of health problems, according to this study. Encountering free-living sea turtles in nature is quite safe, but contact with wild-caught and captive-housed sea turtles, typically through handling turtles in confined pools or through consuming turtle products, carries the risk of exposure to toxic contaminants and to zoonotic (animal to human) pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Symptoms, which may take some time to emerge, can resemble gastrointestinal disorders or flu but people more severely affected can suffer septicaemia, pneumonia, meningitis and acute renal failure. The editors conclude with the warning: “People should avoid food derived from sea turtles and perhaps also other relatively long-lived species regardless of their role in the food chain as all these animals potentially have more time in which to accumulate hazardous organisms and toxins and present an increased risk of animal-linked human pathology.”

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Celebrating 50 years: Information Science at the University of Sheffield

February 18, 2013

From Journal of Information Science

Special Issue

This issue of the Journal of Information Science celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the founding at the University of Sheffield of what was then called the Postgraduate School of Librarianship. Over time the School has changed its name on three occasions. These changes in name have been accompanied by substantial changes in the size and the composition of the School. The research conducted is not only broad in scope but is also of very high quality, as is attested by the School’s achievements in the Research Assessment Exercises that have been conducted in the UK at regular intervals since 1989. The focus on research is reflected in this special issue: no less than eight of the 12 papers are based on work carried out for taught-course (MA or MSc) or research (MPhil or PhD) degrees. It is hoped that the 12 articles in this special issue will provide the reader with at least a flavor of the information science research that is currently underway in the School.

 

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Romantic jealousy and relationship closeness

February 14, 2013

Jealousy and relationship closeness

Exploring the good (reactive) and bad (suspicious) sides of romantic jealousy

From SAGE Open

With Valentine’s day upon us we are encouraged to think of romance, hearts and flowers. However this paper explores something less romantic, the role of jealousy within relationships. Jealousy is commonly experienced at some point in most romances. It is a complex emotion that is considered to have mainly negative qualities—even to be a personal deficiency when at its most extreme expression. This study confirms a hypothesis from the Emotion-in-Relationships conceptual model, which predicts that greater interdependence between relationship partners—or closeness—creates the potential for jealousy. The study aims to better define the positive side of romantic jealousy in addition to its more negative attributes. the research gathered data from questionnaires completed by over 200 college students in premarital relationships.  The psychometric findings strongly support a multidimensional model of romantic jealousy. Results clearly distinguished emotional/reactive jealousy as mostly “good” and cognitive/suspicious jealousy as “bad.” It indicates that jealousy need not be viewed so negatively when it is as a justifiable emotional response to potentially losing a valued relationship. The key lesson from this study is that being ready to become jealous over relationship-threatening events is itself a signal that the relationship is worthy of such a strong emotional reaction. Without jealousy, close relationships might be more pleasant, but would they be as meaningful?

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If Romeo and Juliet had mobile phones

February 13, 2013

From Mobile Media & Communication

This study looks at how the Mobile Revolution has promoted networked individualism – connectivity that is not bound up in solidary groups. Mobile phones have played a key role in the developed world’s transformation from group-bound societies to networked societies in which people move among sparsely knit networks of diverse others. The authors wonder how Romeo and Juliet’s situation would have differed with access to mobile technology affording personal communication rather than the household-centered communication of the Montagues and the Capulets. Nowadays, Juliet would routinely text or call Romeo. There is little doubt that in their case the course of true love would have been more connected, it is possible they might have lived happily ever after.

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Is ‘gene talk’ used to shift responsibility for ‘fat’ problems?

February 12, 2013

The role of genes in talking about overweight: An analysis of discourse on genetics, overweight and health risks in relation to nutrigenomics

From The Public Understanding of Science

This study looks at how it is evident from everyday talk that information about genetic susceptibility empowers people to live healthily and how people account for the relation between food, health and genes in everyday life. It uses discourse analysis to study accounts of overweight in six group interviews with people who are and who are not overweight. The  indirect focus on behavioral explanations as the norm and the related treatment of gene explanations as implying a denial of personal responsibility for one’s overweight shows the extent to which gene accounts are still connected with attributions of responsibility and blame and the need for self-discipline. The normative orientation to being relaxed about possible health risks and the allied resistance to health fanaticism has also been found in other studies. A nutrigenomics test that reveals genetic susceptibilities for overweight will possibly be treated as an invested account, that is, as an explanation of overweight that is informed by an interest in avoiding personal responsibility and/or blame. Unlike studies that look at how people cognitively understand science, this research shows how ‘gene talk’ can be deployed to shift responsibility for overweight problems, or how it can be drawn upon asymmetrically so as to allow thin children to eat fatty food. It is not the perception of genes per se, or health risks for that matter, but the way these notions are put to use in everyday talk. A gene-based ‘wellness’ focus on health may prove to be a helpful account for preventive behavior, that is, more in tune with the broader everyday notion of health. The article concludes by outlining that as long as the relation between genes and behavior is reproduced as a pure dichotomy, there is little chance of turning gene talk from a blaming device into an accountable and nuanced incentive for healthy behavior.

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The failures of governance that have led to the “Great Recession” and the end of public trust

February 7, 2013

Plutocracy, bureaucracy, and the end of public trust

From Administration & Society

This article examines the failures of governance in the American financial system that contributed to the financial and economic crisis of 2007-2008. it offers critical insight about immense concentration of power and wealth, decades of deregulation and failures of governance, and resulting mistakes and misdeeds in government agencies and private firms that have led to a loss of public trust. The analysis here draws heavily from two recent government reports – the “Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States” and a U.S. Senate report titled “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse”. It is a complex story worth exploring in some detail for the sake of understanding how things went so terribly wrong in a system so vital to the livelihood of a nation and its millions of inhabitants.

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