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Archive for December 7th, 2010

US falls to average in education ranking

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States has fallen from top of the class to average in world education rankings, said a report Tuesday that warned of US economic losses from the trend.

The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.

[America’s smartest cities]

In Canada, 15-year-olds are more than one school year ahead of their US peers in math and more than half a school year ahead in reading and science, said the report released hours after President Barack Obama urged Americans not to rein in education spending, even in a tough economy.

The OECD report also noted that investment in education is paid back many times over.

Boosting US scores for reading, math and science by 25 points over the next 20 years would result in a gain of 41 trillion dollars for theUnited States economy over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010, the OECD said.

“Bringing the United States up to the average performance of Finland, the best-performing education system among OECD countries, could result in gains in the order of 103 trillion dollars,” said the report.

[Signs that the U.S. is Losing Influence]

“This is not to say that efforts should not be directed towards mitigating the short-term effects of the economic recession, but it is to say that long-term issues should not be neglected,” it said.

The first step towards helping the United States climb back up the education rankings to the top of the class would be to convince Americans “to make the choices needed to show that (they) value education more than other areas of national interest,” the report said.

Currently, 18 percent of US 15-year-olds do not reach an OECD-set level of of reading proficiency, compared to 10 percent in China-Shanghai and Hong Kong, which are compared with countries because of the size of their populations, said the report.

The United States has also fallen behind in the percentage of 15-year-olds who are enrolled in school, ranking third from bottom of the OECD countries, above only Mexico and Turkey.

Only eight OECD countries have a lower high school graduation rate than the United States, and in college education, the United States slipped from second to 13th between 1995 and 2008 — not because US college graduation rates declined, but because they rose so much faster in other OECD countries.

“These developments will be amplified over the coming decades as countries such as China and India raise their educational output at an ever-increasing pace,” the report said, stressing the need for Americans to invest in education.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101207/ts_alt_afp/educationusoecd

 

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Fave Dean Winchester Quotes

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Yule Lore (December 21st)

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.

Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

Deities of Yule are all Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses. The best known would be the Dagda, and Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda. Brighid taught the smiths the arts of fire tending and the secrets of metal work. Brighid’s flame, like the flame of the new light, pierces the darkness of the spirit and mind, while the Dagda’s cauldron assures that Nature will always provide for all the children.

Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Stones of Yule:
Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule:
Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

Spellworkings of Yule:
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Deities of Yule:
Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.

 

http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/yule.htm

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CAPTAIN JAMES SASSMASTER KIRK OF THE U.S.S.

EXCUSE ME BITCH

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MONDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) — Long-term use of a daily low-dose aspirin dramatically cuts the risk of dying from a wide array of cancers, a new investigation reveals.

Specifically, a British research team unearthed evidence that a low-dose aspirin (75 milligrams) taken daily for at least five years brings about a 10 percent to 60 percent drop in fatalities depending on the type of cancer.

The finding stems from a fresh analysis of eight studies involving more than 25,500 patients, which had originally been conducted to examine the protective potential of a low-dose aspirin regimen on cardiovascular disease.

The current observations follow prior research conducted by the same study team, which reported in October that a long-term regimen of low-dose aspirin appears to shave the risk of dying from colorectal cancer by a third.

“These findings provide the first proof in man that aspirin reduces deaths due to several common cancers,” the study team noted in a news release.

But the study’s lead author, Prof. Peter Rothwell from John Radcliffe Hospital and the University of Oxford, stressed that “these results do not mean that all adults should immediately start taking aspirin.”

“They do demonstrate major new benefits that have not previously been factored into guidelinerecommendations,” he added, noting that “previous guidelines have rightly cautioned that in healthy middle-aged people, the small risk of bleeding on aspirin partly offsets the benefit from prevention of strokes and heartattacks.”

“But the reductions in deaths due to several common cancers will now alter this balance for many people,” Rothwell suggested.

Rothwell and his colleagues published their findings Dec. 7 in the online edition of The Lancet.

The research involved in the current review had been conducted for an average period of four to eight years. The patients (some of whom had been given a low-dose aspirin regimen, while others were not) were tracked for up to 20 years after.

The authors determined that while the studies were still underway, overall cancer death risk plummeted by 21 percent among those taking low-dose aspirin. But the long-term benefits on some specific cancers began to show five years after the studies ended.

At five years out, death due to gastrointestinal cancers had sunk by 54 percent among those patients taking low-dose aspirin.

The protective impact of low-dose aspirin on stomach and colorectal cancer death was not seen until 10 years out, and for prostate cancer, the benefits first appeared 15 years down the road.

Twenty years after first beginning a low-dose aspirin program, death risk dropped by 10 percent among prostate cancer patients; 30 percent among lung cancer patients (although only those with adenocarcinomas, the type typically seen in nonsmokers); 40 percent among colorectal cancer patients; and 60 percent among esophageal cancer patients.

The potential impact of aspirin on pancreatic, stomach and brain cancer death rates was more problematic to gauge, the authors noted, due to the relative paucity of deaths from those specific diseases.

They also found that higher doses of aspirin did not appear to boost the protective benefit. And while neither gender nor smoking history appeared to affect the impact of low-dose aspirin, age definitely did: the 20-year risk of death went down more dramatically among older patients.

And while cautioning that more research is necessary to build on this “proof of principle,” the authors suggested that people who embark on a long-term, low-dose aspirin regimen in their late 40s and 50s are probably the ones who stand to benefit the most.

Dr. Alan Arslan, an assistant professor in the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and environmental medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, described the findings as “very significant.”

“[This] is the largest study to show that people who take aspirin for a long period of time have a reduced risk of death from many cancers, especially gastrointestinal cancers,” he noted.

“The take-home message for patients is that if someone is taking low-dose or regular aspirin, it may put them at a reduced risk of death from cancer,” Arslan added. “However, if someone is not already taking aspirin they should talk with their physician before starting. Aspirin has risks of side effects, including bleeding and stroke.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20101207/hl_hsn/dailyaspirinlinkedtosteepdropincancerrisk

 

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The Walking Dead

Kick ass show man.

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