BIG OIL VS. TREE-HUGGERS
Senators, environmentalists, religious leaders, labor advocates and Native Indians gathered in a scenic park near the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to protest the Bush administration's efforts to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The rally drew a crowd of about 500, some from as far away as the Yukon, to prevent the Senate from passing legislation being debated this week that would permit drilling in the 19 million acres that is home to caribou and polar bears and considered one of the last great swaths of wilderness in the world.
"Make no mistake about it," Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., a former vice presidential candidate, told a cheering audience. "This was a test run by the Bush administration ... to see if they could break the back and the will of the environmental movement."
The crowd was filled with demonstrators carrying signs reading, "Don't Plunda the Tundra" and "Caribou and Oil Don't Mix." Many protesters carried stuffed eagles, bears, and wolves toy animals with fact sheets attached to them that were handed out by environmentalists groups. Many were dressed in costume, some dressed in oil barrel costumes, some wearing moose hats, and even one person dressed as a polar bear holding the American flag.
"I promise you," Lieberman said, "with all your steadfast support, the U.S. Senate will say 'no.'"
Whether that will happen, however, is uncertain -- with 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans and one independent in the chamber.
Opponents of Arctic refuge drilling have some bipartisan support. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said in a statement released at the rally that drilling would do nothing to help the nation's energy consumption. "The fastest, cheapest, and cleanest step we could take toward reducing our nation's (dependency) on foreign oil would be to improve the fuel efficiency of America's auto fleet, particularly our gas guzzlers, SUVs and minivans," she said.
Supporters of the plan say it'll create jobs as well as contribute to national security. Given the crisis in the Middle East, they said it's becoming increasingly important for Americans to search for other oil resources to ease dependency on foreign oil.
But Lieberman said drilling in the Arctic refuge, located along Alaska's North Slope, would decrease America's dependency on foreign oil by only two percent.
Michael Shanahan, spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, told UPI that they think "it would be possible to tap oil reserves and safely without environmental harm."
Sandra Newman -- councilor for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Indians in Old Crow, Yukon -- disagreed, saying any oil drilling directly threatens the Gwitchin Indians' way of life.
(Thanks to Katrina Woznicki, UPI Science News)
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved legislation that, while aimed at providing parents with a "cyberspace sanctuary" for their children, might also create a domain devoid of many features that make the Internet useful.
By a unanimous voice vote, the committee sent H.R. 3833 -- the .Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 -- to the full House. The bill would require creation of a .kids.us domain on the Internet to help parents monitor their children's activities, said the measure's co-sponsors, Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and John Shimkus, R-Ill.
Markey said it would be "a cyberspace sanctuary for content suitable to children under the age of 13, and will be devoid of content that is harmful to minors."
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said the bill would detour children around "a sea of pornography."
"Children should not have to wander through a red-light district to get to their school or playground in the physical world, and the Internet should be no different," he said.
Other provisions, however, could greatly reduce the attractiveness of sites within the domain -- regardless of how kid-friendly they might be. For instance, site operators would be prohibited from offering "two-way interactive and multi-user services" in the domain, unless they certified the services would not compromise kids' safety or security. Committee members said the measure is meant to keep children away from pedophiles and other predators. However, since current technology cannot prevent an adult from masquerading as a child, certifying a service's safety would be nearly impossible -- the provision's real-world effect would eliminate chat, instant messaging and e-mail from .kids.us addresses.
(Thanks to Scott R. Burnell, UPI Science News)
THE HEAD HONCHO
Workers have more trouble with incompetent bosses than abusive ones. That's according to a study by an Ohio State University professor.
"Nobody likes abuse, but employees can find ways to work around abusive managers," said sociology professor Randy Hodson, who presents his findings in a new book, "Dignity at Work." He said what's worse is incompetence and mismanagement. "Employees don't want to be involved with chaotic, mismanaged workplaces where nothing gets done well and people feel like they can't be effective."
More than anything, Hodson said, people want to take pride in their work and feel a sense of accomplishment.
The professor and a group of graduate students analyzed 108 book-length studies of employees in various industries, including meatpacking, medical and transportation. He said mismanagement takes many forms such as failure to replace outdated or broken equipment in factories. As a result, employees often withhold "maximum effort," resorting to such behavior as absenteeism, playing dumb, sabotaging rules and procedures and subverting managers to demonstrate their disapproval. Moreover, employees rarely get along with abusive or incompetent managers.
"Although resistance is one answer to a lack of dignity in the workplace, we found that many workers go out of their way to be productive," Hobson said. "It feels good to do a superior job and that's part of what dignity means in the workplace -- there's dignity in a job well done."
(Thanks to UPI's Marcella S. Kreiter in Chicago)
A WORKOUT IN A BOTTLE
Someday it may be possible to get the benefits of exercise just by swallowing a pill.
Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., have discovered a biochemical pathway in muscles that could be replicated into a possible drug that mimics the effects of exercise.
The protein enzyme they've found -- called calmodulin-dependent protein kinase or CaMK for short -- is in charge of mitochondria, which are in every cell to change oxygen and other molecules into energy to help fuel cellular functions. Regular exercisers have far more mitochondria in their cells than sedentary people.
In the study, researchers took mice genetically engineered to produce an active form of CaMK in skeletal muscles. Among sedentary mice with active CaMK, the animals' muscles developed characteristics of muscles of animals that regularly exercised. Researchers said it appears CaMK turns on a gene that signals another protein called PGC-1. This particular protein activates hundreds of other genes that control mitochondria levels in cells.
Lead researcher Dr. R. Sanders Williams said it is possible this pathway could be reproduced in a drug that would imitate the effects of exercise. Such a drug could be of great benefit for people who struggle with physical activity, such as the elderly or patients with congestive heart failure. It might also help prevent development of diabetes and heart disease -- two diseases that can be kept at bay with regular exercise.
The findings are published in the April 12 issue of Science.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends people exercise 30 minutes daily, five days per week. Exercise not only strengthens muscles and improves metabolism, but it also have numerous effects on body chemistry, including brain chemicals. It also has been shown to improve mood.