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Chronic Depression Shrinks Brain's Capacity for Memory, Emotion

The hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and emotion, shrinks in people with recurrent and poorly treated depression, a global study has found.

The findings highlighted the importance of treating depression early, particularly in teenagers and young adults, the study concluded.

Fifteen research institutes around the world, including from the US, Europe and Australia, collaborated to combine the results of their existing, smaller studies comparing the hippocampuses of depressed and healthy people.

This allowed them to examine the brain magnetic resonance imaging data of 8,927 people, 1,728 of whom had major depression and the rest of whom were healthy.

The researchers found 65% of the depressed study participants had recurrent depression and it was these people who had a smaller hippocampus, which is near the centre of the brain and is involved with long-term memory, forming new memories, and connecting emotions to those memories.

The findings of the largest international study to compare brain volumes in people with and without major depression were published in the medical journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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New Study: Athletes Should Drink Water When Thirst Starts

New guidelines from an international panel of experts on sports-related health suggest that the best bet for athletes concerned about dehydration is to drink when they are thirsty, lest they over-hydrate their bodies and develop a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia, or EAH.

EAH occurs when drinking too much overwhelms the kidney's abilty to excrete the excess water and sodium in the body becomes diluted, causing cells to swell, which can be life-threatening. The greater threat than dehydration, researchers said, is over-hydration.

"The risks associated with dehydration are small," said Dr. James Winger, a sports medicine physician at Loyola University Medical Center, in a press release. "No one has died on sports fields from dehydration, and the adverse effects of mild dehydration are questionable. But athletes, on rare occasions, have died from overhydration."

Winger was one of several experts to gather at the 2015 CrossFit Conference on Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia in Carlsbad, California, in February 2015 to revamp guidlines on sports-related hydration concerns.

"Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration," the researchers wrote in the new guidelines. Because an athlete can afford to lose 3 percent or so of body weight due to water loss during competition, slight dehydration should not affect athletic performance.

Hydration guidelines have long been based on consuming approximately 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes while exercising, and many athletes are pushed by coaches to drink more fluids to avoid dehydration, as well as muscle cramps and heat stroke. Neither cramps nor heat stroke are caused by dehydration, according to Winger.

"The evidence is firm that every single death from exercise-associated hyponatremia is avoidable," said Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, an associate professor of exercise science at Oakland University, in a press release. "We can consciously control the amount of fluid that enters our body and must reconsider, re-educate and reinforce appropriate fluid intake and intravenous fluid guidelines."


Summer Tomatoes, Dog Park to Open, Amos Wells and July 4


Survey: S.C. Lawmakers Ready to Move Flag

A survey of South Carolina legislators shows there's enough support to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds if all supporters cast a vote.

The Post and Courier newspaper, the South Carolina Press Association and The Associated Press asked all lawmakers how they intend to vote. At least 33 senators and 83 House members say the flag should go.

That appears to meet the two-thirds majority needed from both chambers to move the battle flag. That rule is part of the 2000 compromise that took the flag off the Statehouse dome and put a square version beside a monument to Confederate soldiers.

The flag push follows the shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston. The pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was among the dead.


Obama Plan Would Extend Overtime for 5 Million Workers

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday announced a proposal that would make nearly 5 million more workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that would touch nearly every sector of the U.S. economy and could face legal challenges.


Obama in an editorial posted on the Huffington Post website said the proposal would more than double the maximum income a salaried worker can earn and still be eligible for overtime pay to $50,440, or $970 a week. The current threshold is $23,660.

"Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve," Obama wrote.

It was not immediately clear if Obama would also move to narrow an existing exemption from overtime pay protections for low-level white collar workers, as many observers had expected.

Obama said he would discuss more details of the proposal later this week in Wisconsin, and U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was scheduled to hold a press conference on the proposal on Tuesday.

When the proposal is published, it will set off a comment period during which business groups are expected to argue that the rules would not have their intended effect of putting more money in U.S. workers' pockets and could kill jobs.


County Awarded Funding to Remove Blighted Structures

Anderson County has been selected as one of 20 governmental entities in South Carolina to be awarded funding from S.C. Housing under the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP).
The NIP is designed to help stabilize property values and prevent future foreclosures for existing property owners in strategically targeted areas through the removal of blighted structures. The Pelzer Heritage Commission will be working with Anderson County on the NIP as a non-profit partner.

“This is a game-changing announcement”, said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “Blighted properties are one of the items of most concern to our constituents. We have made great strides in dealing with these blighted structures over the past few years through our standard demolition program, and thanks to the NIP and S.C. Housing we can now make some major progress in a short period of time.”

“We’re pleased to be partnering with Anderson County on this important project”, said Dianne Lollis, President of the Pelzer Heritage Commission. “Blighted vacant and abandoned residential structures are a huge problem in Pelzer and the surrounding area, and I’m glad that we can partner up and help deal with these properties not only here in Pelzer but all throughout Anderson County.”

Anderson County has received approval for up to $2,496,284 in funding from the NIP. Funds will be used to demolish and green substandard and blighted residential properties in eleven target areas throughout the County

• Appleton-Equinox
• Belton Area
• Broadway
• Gossett Street
• Homeland Park
• Honea Path Area
• Iva Area
• Morningside-Orr Mill
• Pendleton Area
• Piedmont Area
• Williamston-Pelzer-West Pelzer

Properties will be acquired through the voluntary consent of the property owner. Public meetings will be scheduled in these target areas prior to site selection and blight elimination activity.
The NIP assists communities by acting as a catalyst to stimulate redevelopment and revitalization in areas suffering from blight, stabilizing property values and assisting in foreclosure prevention and the preservation of existing neighborhoods. NIP is a joint venture of the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority and the SC Housing Corp. (SCHC), a not-for-profit corporation. NIP is made possible by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund.


Leap-Second Will Extend Tuesday by One Second

The Earth's rotation is slowing ever so slightly. To keep the world's clock in synch with Earth's circadian rhythm, time-keepers are forced to squeeze in an extra second now and again.

On Tuesday, June 30, the last minute of the day will feature an extra second. A 61-second minute will mark the transition from Tuesday to Wednesday, the world over. The last leap second was added in 2012.

"Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that," NASA's Daniel MacMillan explained in a statement.

Of course, analog clocks will have to be adjusted manually. But for digital clocks synched to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the additional second will be added automatically.

UTC time -- the system that governs most civil times systems around the world -- is regularly synched with the Earth's rotation. But it's governed by an atomic clock which measures the length of a second based on changes in the amount of radiation emitted by caesium atoms.

But because the Earth's rotation is slowing every so slightly, while atomic decay remains constant, the system has to be periodically recalibrate.

There is always some worry that manipulation of the UTC system will cause problems for digital and Internet-based programs that rely on regular time to function. But on the many previous occasions when extra seconds have been added-in, anomalies have been minor in nature and fixed relatively quickly.

Still, the adjusted time does require some computer server systems to adapt. Google has developed a program to slowly work in slivers of the extra second into their computer systems over the course of the day.

But writing the code to enable said adaptation requires some preplanning -- a warning -- and scientists can't always predict when the next leap second will be necessary.

"The leap second is a hiccup in the time scale that's not predictable," John Lowe, an expert in time-keeping at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told Slate. "If you're writing code right now you know when every leap day is going to occur all the way into the future. But leap seconds can't be predicted. There's five or six months of advanced notice, but that can be a problem for long-term programs that are already written."


High Court Upholds Gerrymandering of Voting Districts

The U.S. supreme court has ruled that states can appoint independent commissions to draw the boundaries of congressional districts, rejecting a challenge by Arizona Republicans in a decision that could have wide-ranging effects on the partisan congressional redistricting practice known as gerrymandering.

The court’s decision affirms the constitutionality of an Arizona state ballot measure approved by voters in 2000 that allowed an independent commissioner to determine congressional districts in the state.

State legislatures determine congressional district boundaries after each census, as dictated by the constitution, but the Arizona measure sought to undo this model, which is widely understood as a tool for partisan lawmakers to divvy up districts to favor the political party in power – also known as gerrymandering.

The supreme court ruled 5-4 that the elections clause of the US constitution does not disallow such commissions from being created.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion that the clause “doubly empowers the people” for redistricting purposes.

“They may control the State’s lawmaking processes in the first instance, as Arizona voters have done, and they may seek Congress’ correction of regulations prescribed by state legislatures,” she wrote.

Two Republicans, two Democrats and an independent commissioner formed the committee, which Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature challenged in 2012. The supreme court agreed in 2014 to consider the case and on Monday decided that this system falls within the constitutional guidelines for determining congressional boundaries, and that the commission does not harm the state legislature.

The supreme court’s oral arguments for the case in March focused on what precisely a “legislature” is – and its decision could have changed the look of the state house. California has a similar commission, and this ruling effectively affirms its validity as well.

Chief justice John Roberts dissented from the majority opinion and was joined by justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Scalia and Thomas also wrote dissents.


U.S. Has 2nd Largest Spanish Speaking Population

The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a new study published by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes.

The report says there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus a further 11.6 million who are bilingual, mainly the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants. This puts the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).

Among the sources cited in the report is the US Census Office which estimates that the US will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making it the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.

By state the highest concentration is in the former Spanish colonies of the south and south-west, with New Mexico top at 47%, followed by California and Texas (both 38%) and Arizona (30%). Some 18% of New Yorkers speak Spanish while only 1.3% of West Virginians do. Perhaps surprisingly, more than 6% of Alaskans are Spanish speakers.

The report, El español, una lengua viva – Spanish, a living language – estimates that there are 559 million Spanish speakers worldwide, a figure that includes 470 million native speakers and those with some command of the language.


Supreme Court Says EPA Erred in Air Toxic Standards Rule

The Supreme Court on Monday said the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency erred by not considering costs when it issued landmark 2011 regulations controlling emissions of mercury and other toxins from power-company smokestacks.

The court’s 5-to-4 decision halts further implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule, which required hundreds of coal-burning plants to install equipment to control mercury, a substance linked in multiple studies to respiratory illnesses as well as birth defects and developmental problems in children.

But the decision’s immediate impact could be muted, as many of the country’s electricity utilities had already taken steps to comply with the rules ahead of a deadline next year. EPA officials said the agency was reviewing its options while also noting that the justices focused on a cost-accounting procedure, and not on the agency’s ability to regulate toxic smokestack emissions through the Clean Air Act.

“EPA remains committed to ensuring that appropriate standards are in place to protect the public from the significant amount of toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities and continue reducing the toxic pollution from these facilities,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, which included Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.


The State: KKK Rally Planned in Columbia July 18

Read more here:

Time Running Out for Local Support for Soldiers Campaign

Upstate residents have an opportunity to send a special Independence Day ‘thank you’ to local Soldiers deployed overseas. The campaign will officially kick off on this week, with all bins in place by June 8. Collection points will be in Anderson County & City of Simpsonville Government Buildings and Library branches.

Additional collection locations will be listed at the following through Thursday:  

Residents are encouraged to drop off any of the following items:

Deodorant (not gel), shaving cream (yes, gel), disposable razors (twin or triple blades), shampoo (not with conditioner), tooth paste, body soap, hand wipes (pocket size), body powder (sample size – for feet), hand sanitizer, hand lotion, sun block, Pre-paid phone cards, Batteries (AA & AAA), playing cards, word puzzle books, yo-yos, Frisbees, paperback books (westerns, mysteries, suspense – in good condition), dominoes, checkers, Yahtzee, other board games, footballs, hand-held games, air fresheners, Ziploc bags (gallon- to protect socks on field missions), Nerf balls, Kool-Aid singles/sugar free (for bottled water), beef jerky, Pop Tarts, Rice Krispie treats, sunflower seeds, peanuts, chewing gum, cereal bars/granola bars, energy bars, hard candy, Skittles and/or Whoppers candy, instant soup in a cup, instant oatmeal, fruit cups, Pringles or any canned chips, store bought cookies (Oreos, Moon Pies), hot chocolate, coffee singles, and individual blue sugar packets.

On Thursday, bins will be collected and prepared for shipment.  Collection totals will be announced during a very special“Honoring Our Heroes” concert by Darryl Worley on July 4th at the Charter Amphitheater in Simpsonville. The evening will also include the Special Forces Association Parachute Team and Independence Day Fireworks. Admission is FREE for all Veterans and First Responders (with ID). Regular admission is $20 per car load.

“I think this is a great project,” said Anderson County Council Vice-Chairman Ken Waters. “During my deployment, I was always glad to get wheat thin snack crackers from my wife since they were impossible to find overseas. It took three long weeks for those packages to arrive, but they meant so much. Sometimes it's just little things that make the days go by faster for the troops. Let’s make sure that Anderson County Soldiers get a nice reminder of our gratitude for their sacrifice. It will be several weeks after July 4th when our packages end up in the hands of our Soldiers, but let us show them that on Independence Day, they were in our thoughts and our prayers as we celebrated the Freedom that their sacrifice provides.”

“This is a wonderful way to thank our troops for their service, while making their deployment away from home a little more bearable,” said Anderson County Director of Communications Angela Stringer. “Upstate Soldiers have always played an integral role in every U.S. troop deployment since WWII, with many of our local soldiers serving multiple deployments. Many have spent holidays away from their families. It is especially fitting that Upstate communities have come together to honor our Soldiers while we celebrate the Independence that their service and sacrifice has purchased for us. We are thankful for those businesses who have already signed up to participate as Collection Locations and especially to Darryl Worley for his willingness to be a major player in this project. We encourage all Upstate residents to donate items and help us send a very special thank you to our deployed Soldiers for their sacrifice. Stay tuned for further details regarding the concert and performances.”
Tickets to the “Honoring Our Heroes” concert are on sale now.


Pelzer to Get $400,000 EPA Grant at Wednesday Event

The Pelzer Heritage Commission (a non-profit group) has been awarded a total of $400,000 in EPA brownfield cleanup funding to be used for work at the old Pelzer Mill dump on the Saluda River.

A check presentation event will be held this Wednesday at noon at the Community Building in the Monkey Park in Pelzer behind Bi-Lo.   Barbara Alfano from the EPA Atlanta office will be there to do the presentation.