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Researchers believe that the settlers burned the forests in order to make room for cattle pastures.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to the latest study, a large part of the forests in Madagascar were destroyed by human settlers. Contrary to popular belief, humans were destroying our planet’s forests long before they started the Industrial Revolution. It seems that the oxygen producing trees were standing in the way of the settlers which needed broader spaces for cattle grazing more than 1000 years ago.

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts University and MIT found a link between human settlers and the permanent loss of large forest areas in Madagascar. According to the evidence they found, the settlers actually burned down the forests in order to make room for their cattle.

The team reached these conclusions after analyzing the composition shift in carbon and calcium in the stalagmites from the Madagascar region. In just a century, the ratios of carbon isotopes typical for shrubs and trees changed to those that are consistent with the presence of wide areas of grasslands.

The researchers stated that the transformation was too sudden to be attributed to climate change or any natural occurring phenomenon. This means that the changes were more than probably made by the human settlers.

Madagascar was colonized approximately 3,000 years in the past. For the first 2,000 years, the human tribes were the hunter-gatherer type. But then they slightly began to introduce cattle into their diet. As the herds grew, they needed more space and more pastures to feed upon.

That is probably the moment in which the settlers decided that the forests should be replaced with grasslands. According to the researchers, the most probable deforestation techniques that they used were slashing and burning.

This new evidence bears great significance not only for anthropologists who have new and exciting evidence on how the tribes of settlers in Madagascar evolved over the years but also for climate change researchers who are now able to draw a more precise timeline of the human intervention upon the environment.

A great part of the forests in Madagascar were destroyed by human settlers more than a thousand years ago. This means that the human race didn’t start massively affecting the environment at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but far earlier in the past.

With such clues about human interference, climate change researchers could draw up a more precise timeline for the moment in which massive interferences took place and up until the present moment.

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One in Three lawyers battles with alcoholism, depression or anxiety.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to the latest studies, one in three lawyers battles with alcoholism. It seems that Ally McBeal was more of a reality show that we thought as one in three lawyers battles with the same problems as the skinny, well-dressed character and her band of misfit lawyers.

According to a new study that was founded by the Bar Association of America and the Betty Ford Hazelden Foundation, one in three lawyers battles with alcoholism. It seems like the men and women of law appear to be strong and fearless only in front of a jury, or a judge, but in real life, there aren’t able to object to anxiety, depression and alcoholism.

To be a lawyer is not easy. You have to convince clients to let you represent them, then you have to convince a jury, or a judge that your clients are innocent, your family that you actually meant to come home to dinner and so on. It is a life in which you constantly have to convince others of things that you may not truly believe in yourself. And this causes high amounts of stress that ultimately leads to depression and alcoholism.

A recent survey that analyzed around 12,000 active lawyers from 19 states in the United States of America has discovered that the highest rate of drinking problems are associated with lawyers that are below the age of 30. This category of lawyers ranked highest with 31.9 percent.

The next category is comprised out of those who are junior associates at big law firms. Among the members of this category, an astonishing 31.1 percent preferred to have a cap, or two before heading out home.

The results of the study could be influenced by the fact that Americans in their late twenties and early thirties prefer to drink more than those who are in their late thirties. But it could also be because young lawyers who are struggling to make a career and a name for themselves are much more stressed than older ones who already have a secure partner or associate position at a firm.

Many young practitioners also have to deal with a great amount of student debt and a difficulty in finding a secure job. These problems are also on the plate of young doctors, but it seems that lawyers prefer to drink twice as much as doctors. So the young age and the educational debt are not contributing factors.

According to the authors of the study which was published in the magazine “Journal of Addiction Medicine”,

“Attorneys experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations.”

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The Corpse Flower not only emits a smell similar to that of decomposing bodies, but it also has a warm temperature.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A specimen of corpse flower bloomed at Minnesota University after seven years of waiting. The flower, which got its name from the putrid smell it emits when in bloom. The event is very rare in the life of the exotic flower and it bears great significance for the botanical researchers at the Minnesota University.

The corpse flower is scientifically known as the “Amorphophallus titanium”, which is Latin for “giant misshapen phallus”. When the plant was first brought to the public’s attention in the documentary series “Private Life of Plants” by David Attenborough, the name seemed rather inappropriate, and could not be used on public television.

The logical solution was to find a new common name for the giant, foul-smelling plant. And because, when in bloom, it carries an odor similar to the ammonia released by rotting meat, the crew decided to name it the “Corpse Flower”.

The plant’s original name was chosen because the flower has a single unbranched spike inflorescence. It is believed to be the largest one in the world. The spadix, or the cluster of flowers, is engulfed by a supersized leaf, also known as the spathe, similar to the cuckoo pints and the calla lilies.

The leaf bears great resemblance to a palm tree as it can grow to up to 20 feet in height and it can live for nearly a year.

The “Corpse Flower” is a much-suited name for the “Amorphophallus titanium”, not only because of the foul stench it emits, but also because, when in bloom the spadix is colored in a bright red shade that resembles meat. And that is not all, the flower also has a human-like warm temperature that allows it to spread the putrid aroma for a significant distance.

The “Amorphophallus titanium” is a carnivorous plant. That explains the smell. Just as the “Rafflesia arnoldii”, it uses the powerful smell, color, and temperature to attract insects like sweat bees, burying beetles, flesh flies, even small necrophagous animals. They serve as both food, and pollinators, if they are able to escape.

The strange giant foul smelling flower is usually found in the western region of Sumatra. Because of its odd looks and the pungent aroma it spreads, the Corpse Flower is a valuable possession for both botanic gardens and collectors.

News that the Corpse Flower bloomed at Minnesota University has attracted plenty of curious eyes and noses. A public exhibition has already debuted on the 1st of February and the people interested in witnessing the strange plant’s odor can do so between 9 AM and 3:30 PM.

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Children with cancer could suffer less side effects if they have proton therapy

(Mirror Daily, United States) – It is known that cancer therapy can be harmful to patients but a new type of proton therapy is better for treating children with cancer.

The new type of treatment works just as well as the traditional X-ray therapy, but the proton radiotherapy has less side effects.

Since real cures for cancer haven’t been discovered yet, most patients rely on radiation therapy for their treatment, hoping it will kill all the infection in their body. However, while killing the cancer, the radiation also affects the body, having many side effects patients have to deal with from hair loss to fatigue and nausea. While adults may be more resistant in dealing with the side-effects, children are more sensitive and less likely to “embrace” radiation sessions.

According to a recent study, this new type of proton therapy, focused on the target area rather than radiating the whole body as traditional photon therapy, presents fewer side effects. The study was conducted on 59 kids with medulloblastoma. This is a type of tumor that appears in the cerebellum. The participants in the study were aged 3 to 21 and have received this type of proton radiotherapy between 2003 and 2009.

All of the patients suffered surgery in which much of the tumor has been removed. Moreover, all of them had chemo before, during and after proton therapy. From the 59, 12 had died during the study from the tumor and another has passed away from a traumatic brain injury.

One of the most significant side effects of the proton therapy was loss of hearing. However, it occurred in fewer patients than it occurs when photon therapy is used. Moreover, the effects this therapy has on cognitive abilities are less severe. Plus, the patients didn’t suffer from any heart, digestive or lung problems, nor seizures or tumor side effects, which are likely to occur with traditional photon therapy.

The hormone levels were affected similarly to how they are affected by photon therapy. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that proton therapy has fewer side effects than photon therapy while proving to be as effective as traditional radiation. The main reason is probably that it only targets the affected area of the body or brain, without going through the entire body.

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Not only will we have a drone delivering our package but also a robot that receives them

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Although we know about the company’s project Wing, up until now there were no news on how it will work and now Google reveals a new delivery system.

A drone delivery project called Project Wing was announced by Google back in 2014 when they also produced a patent, which has been granted on Tuesday. The patent referred to a “delivery receptacle” which should accept packages brought by drones and proceed to move the packages to a secure location.

Many companies are interested in starting to deliver packages via drones, including retailers like Amazon or Walmart. The Google delivery project is said to start by 2017. However, it doesn’t only depend on the companies, but also on the Federal Aviation Authority which has to approve the use of commercial drones. Until that, pretty much any project concerning drone-powered deliveries is on hold.

But besides the actual drone hovering over cities with your package, Google brings something new to the idea, a robot which will receive your package. Given the fact that we spend few time at home and the chances of us being there at the precise moment of the drone’s arrival are scarce, a robot intercepting the delivery could actually prove to be of great help.

In this way, you will know your package is not simply delivered at your door or on your lawn but it is actually received and maybe even put away into a safe place until you get home. The receptacle robot has infrared beacons which it uses to connect to the drone, guiding it to the delivery spot.

This system should be able to make secure deliveries, making sure the drone doesn’t get lost and that your package is safely placed wherever you want, for example in the garage. Now, although the patent was approved, Google hasn’t officially announced the “delivery receptacle” and therefore there is no guarantee the delivery system will exist and work in this form.

However, at least we got a glimpse of what Google has in project for the future and hopefully they will get approval to use commercial drones by 2017 and our packages will be delivered soon and safe.

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Saturated fats are one of the main concerns in the American diet.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – The eight edition of the dietary guidelines address cholesterol, saturated fats and sugar. The guidelines did not change significantly ever since the seventh edition that was released in 2010, but they focus more on dietary cholesterol, added sugars, saturated fats and they also included the consumption of coffee as a healthy habit.

According to the latest edition of the dietary guidelines aimed at the American people, coffee is not an enemy anymore, but rather an ally of a healthy lifestyle, if consumed with moderation. The FDA advises that the caffeine intake shouldn’t surpass 400 mg a day. But they do make a note that people who don’t usually drink coffee shouldn’t take it up just because it is now considered healthy.

The 2015-2020 dietary guidelines address cholesterol, saturated fats and sugar as the main concerns the American people should have when calculating their dietary requirements and planning a meal. The novelty of the new dietary guidelines is the fact that dietary cholesterol is no longer considered a health threat.

The previous guidelines limited the consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day, but the latest issue says that it is no longer considered a factor in the process of building a healthy lifestyle. While they do say there is a need of additional research on the link between blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol level, it seems that nutritionists and dietitians are not blaming it anymore for the heart problems of the American people.

But that doesn’t mean that fast food restaurants should be assaulted by people thinking it’s ok to eat food high in cholesterol. The dietary guidelines focus on the ever increasing intake of trans fats and saturated fats in the American plates. Cholesterol may have been removed, for now, from the list of dietary enemies of the blood vessels, but saturated fats are still responsible for hypertension, blood clots, diabetes and even stomach problems, like gastritis.

The last on the list of novelty subjects on which the dietary guidelines focused in the 2015-2020 edition is sugar. It is a well-known fact that the majority of processed foods, drinks and desserts that are on the present moment available on the American market are packed with added sugar.

Only a single Coke can contains approximately 7 teaspoons of added sugar, if you also count the sugar in the morning coffee, in the dough from which the morning bagel was made, from the slice of pizza and the ketchup on top you had for lunch and the from the dressing you drizzled on top of your salad at dinner you get an astonishing result.

Food in America is packed with added sugar, which is why the average citizen consumes almost double the daily recommended dose.

The new dietary guidelines address cholesterol, saturated fats and sugar. The FDA recommends the people to change their diets slowly to avoid stressing out the body.

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Mother, grandmother, and (grand)daughter

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Giving birth can be one of the greatest joys in a woman’s life, if she’s to ignore the ‘many hours of insufferable pain’ part. But when you can’t deliver, modern world has made it so that you still can have children. In one of the weirdest examples of modern ART techniques, a Texas grandmother delivers her own granddaughter.

Kelley and Aaron McKissack wanted desperately to have a baby, but nature just wasn’t on their side. After multiple attempts at conceiving, attempts which all terminated in miscarriages, as well as after extensive rounds of unsuccessful fertility treatments, the couple finally gave up on Kelley delivering.

However, they did not give up on having a child of their own, and adoption was not an option for the Texan couple; so, they did what any rational couple would do, and decided to have Kelley’s mother deliver the baby for them.

Presumably not wanting to involve anyone outside the family except for the press and various teams of medics in their whole pregnancy situation, the two McKissacks continued Kelley’s infertility treatments, and eventually approached Kelley’s mother, Tracey, to see if she would deliver their baby for them.

The woman did not hesitate for a second.

After going through the necessary preparations, and after waiting for the embryo developed from her daughter’s egg and her son-in-law’s sperm to be ready, Tracey Thompson became artificially inseminated at the age of 54.

Despite the woman’s strict adherence to the necessary lifestyle changes implied by a pregnancy, the term was unfortunately not devoid of complications.

A C-section had to be performed urgently, as the baby’s heart stopped at point during the delivery process. Besides that, the 6 pound 11 ounces (grand)daughter was born without any other health complications.

The mother and the grandmother decided to name the baby after both of them, because family reunions could apparently still get more awkward for little baby Kelcey.

The McKissack family wanted to make their story know to the press (again, because it wasn’t already awkward enough), as they felt that the whole world should know about the miracles offered by ART therapies.

Of course, despite the slightly mocking tone of this article, what happened to the McKissack family was actually a huge blessing for them.

After Kelley suffered three miscarriages, the last one on Christmas Day in 2014, the family decided to go with someone they actually trusted; everything was done with the child’s best intentions in mind.

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Meat labels will no longer contain information on the meat’s origins

(Mirror Daily, United States) – After retailers were asked to include various details such as the animal’s origins, now the meat labeling law gets repealed.

Labels contain, as they should, many details about the product you’re buying. It is also well-known that labels lie. Theoretically, they don’t, actually, except some companies have a very specific choice of words which may not be clear enough for everyone, hence the misunderstanding.

The problem with labels is that consumers want to know what the product contains, where it is from, when it was made, when it expires and so on. On the other hand, producers are not always so keen on giving these pieces of information.

This is why the meat industry has been fighting against the meat labeling law for over a decade and has finally convinced the Congress to repeal the law. The Congress didn’t have much of a choice since the World Trade Organization was ruling against that law and even authorized both Mexico and Canada to begin economic retaliation worth over $1 billion against the U.S.

The government stopped asking for the labels as soon as the law was passed. The main difference for consumers is that they will no longer learn the origins of the meat. The label used to mention where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, sometimes the three happening in different countries.

Why was this important? Their purpose was to avoid the spread of mad cow disease from meat or cattle that was imported. Although the labels were first required to show this piece of information in 2002, only in 2009 did all packages contain this information.

Of course, now the Congress was caught in the middle. The meat industry finally got what it wanted whereas consumers were highly unsatisfied knowing they might be deceived in the future by labels which will no longer specify where the meat is from.

Fortunately, some other label information will stick such as genetically modified ingredients. So, although you will not know where your pork is coming from you will at least know how natural or artificial it is.

All in all, despite doing things easier for meat producers, consumers are getting worried and health issues might be raised once again at some point, if producers are planning to share less information on their products’ labels.

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Small drug capture from the Sinaloa cartel

(Mirror Daily, United States) – 2015 turned out to be a very good for marijuana enthusiasts, as the stigma associated with consuming or growing the green medicinal herb has started to fade away little by little. And more evidence to confirm that has come in early this year, as it turns out that Mexican drug cartels are affected by US marijuana legalization.

As more and more states are starting to accept marijuana at least in a medicinal capacity, it would seem that the cartels that usually make profits from selling marijuana over the border are having some serious monetary issues.

As recently as 2008, over two thirds of the marijuana used nationwide throughout the United States came from over the border. Now, with some states approving cannabis for recreational use, and others for medical use, that quantity has reduced to one third.

That’s right – the small to medium successes achieved by our increasingly more open-minded citizens in the field of legal medical or recreational marijuana has led to an over 50% reduction in the amount of marijuana smuggled from Mexico by violent, money-hungry cartels.

Even more impressive is the fact that the US’s progress in the field has led to a 70% drop in Mexican marijuana process.

For example, the market crashed so hard that growers from the extremely dangerous Sinaloa Cartel reported the amount of money made per kilogram of weed dropping from $100 to $30.

As cannabis comprises about 30% of the profit made by drug cartels like the Sinaloa, official Mexican representatives claimed a huge drop in the smuggling, production and even profit made by such overtly violent groups.

All of these facts have determined Mexican officials to seriously consider the legalization of the recreational and medical drug that is marijuana.

One of their biggest pro legalization arguments is, of course, that it would deal a huge blow to nation-wide drug cartels.

Making the plant a legally cultivatable resource would not only deal a hard blow to cartel drug runners, but it would also offer a number of financial benefits, such as a large number of jobs, as well as tax revenue.

Mexico has been trying, without too much success, for a while now, to convince their citizens to stop cultivating illegal plants, but with the new motion that is to legalize or just decriminalize cannabis, they might not have to try anymore.

However, they do bring up one more important point: If the plant is legalized or decriminalized in Mexico, but the legal repercussions remain in effect over the border, drug cartels will have reasons to smuggle the drug over the borders.

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Returning gifts may prove difficult if you don’t know some rules

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Christmas is all about giving and receiving presents but it happens that we don’t like what we receive so here are some tips on how to return holiday gifts.

These past few days were spent by many of us among family and friends sharing besides love and the Christmas table, many presents. There were also gifts we received from Secret Santas at work or school and maybe some of them were not exactly what we expected. Either because we don’t really like this sort of things, either because they don’t suit us, or we need another size of that great snowman sweater uncle Louie gave us.

The solution is returning the gifts to the store and buying something else instead. But stores don’t make easy for you to give back your presents so you have to make sure you know the rules, therefore we offer you some advice on how to return holiday gifts.

Although policies on returns differ from one retailer to another, you have to keep in mind that having the receipt is the most important thing. Sure, it’s not nice to know how much your uncle Louie spent on your sweater but this is the best way to ensure you can return it.

You should also know how much time you have to return your gift. Sometimes, the time period in which you can return your gifts does not only vary by store but also by item. For example, electronics usually have to be returned within two weeks from purchase.

Another precious rule of the gift return policy is: do not remove the tags. If we’re talking about items with tags, you should not take them off until you are sure you are going to keep the present. If there are no tags and we’re talking about devices, don’t open the package. Opening the package or removing the tag will make it more difficult or even impossible for you to return the gift.

Moreover, it’s good to make sure you choose a not so crowded day to make the return. You’ll definitely not be the only one returning gifts and besides there are also shoppers, the staff of each store has to deal with so avoid interacting with them when they’re cranky and their Christmas spirit is all gone.

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