Iceland Wants to Help Journalists Expose Real Threats

Iceland continues on it’s quest to be the ‘Switzerland of data‘ and is extending its program to do so for journalists. Part of the country’s plan to become a haven for people exposing the immoral and questionable behaviour of powerful people is already in action. Iceland is quickly achieving its goal of not only protecting data but also protecting people who analyze and process that data.

The motivation for Iceland to lead this charge comes out of a first-hand knowledge of how devastating a lack of transparency can be. Iceland’s financial crash of 2008 was catastrophic to the country, and few had answers until Wikileaks began publishing documents the local reporters were legally blocked from airing. The general public, justifiably feeling robbed, saw Wikileaks as the purveyor of important knowledge that they were being denied.

While there is much to do, IMMI has not been without successes. In 2013, IMMI helped pass the Information Act, which helped broaden the public’s access to information as well as source protection, thus nudging some of IMMI’s core goals forward. A few days after our meeting, IMMI joined with other organizations to repeal Iceland’s 75-year-old blasphemy law, making blasphemy no longer an illegal act in the country.

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Enter an Endangered Animal and Learn of Their Plight

Evelyn Roth Inflatable Animals

Artist Evelyn Roth is using classroom sized animals to spread the word about endangered animals. She has created bright and cheerful looking versions of animals that are endangered to provide a pop-up space for kids to learn all about these animals. Her work is presently travelling the world and educating children.

“The designs interact with the people inside to make a fascinating, enjoyable and engaging intimate atmosphere where people are inspired to listen and learn and are subconsciously imprinted with the stories.’’

Roth returned from Hawaii this week after being commissioned to create a Southern Right Whale and two Monk Seals to highlight the plight of these endangered animals to the local community.

“The Monk Seal colony on Kauai in Hawaii is the last remaining colony in the world,’’ Roth said.

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Eating Less Meat is Getting More Popular

Having a vegetarian or vegan diet can be difficult for some people even though such a diet can make you happier than meat eaters. The message that eating less meat is being heard though – the benefits of a reduced meat diet are huge.

By eating less meat you can: save wildlife, save the environment, live longer, and even help save our forests.

To help people eat less meat (even though it’s already easy) there’s a new movement that people can identify with: reducetarian.

According to Mintel’s report, though, the rise of vacillating, part-time vegetarians who are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption is more significant than the growing number of categorical, self-identifying “vegetarians” or “vegans.” This has led to an evolution on the supermarket shelves—the number of food products carrying a “vegetarian” claim has apparently doubled to 12 percent, while one in eight meat buyers would now consider buying half meat and half vegetable protein across a week’s shopping. Even the less obviously meat-containing products like chocolate or sweets are playing to this growing market, with 11 percent now alleging to be animal-free.

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Finally Americans Are Eating Less

The obesity problem in the USA may start to shrink. After years of constantly increasing they caloric intake Americans seem to be getting the message that eating too much can be bad for you. This is the first year that caloric intake has decreased and hopefully it’s a trend of things to come.

As calorie consumption has declined, obesity rates appear to have stopped rising for adults and school-aged children and have come down for the youngest children, suggesting the calorie reductions are making a difference.

The reversal appears to stem from people’s growing realization that they were harming their health by eating and drinking too much. The awareness began to build in the late 1990s, thanks to a burst of scientific research about the costs of obesity, and to public health campaigns in recent years.

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The Science Behind How Nature Changes Your Brain

Talking a walk amongst plants is good for you in many ways, but why? This questions recently bothered some neuroscientists and they set out to answer it. It turns out that exposure to nature changes the way blood flows in our brain in a way that makes us feel better.

Then the scientists randomly assigned half of the volunteers to walk for 90 minutes through a leafy, quiet, parklike portion of the Stanford campus or next to a loud, hectic, multi-lane highway in Palo Alto. The volunteers were not allowed to have companions or listen to music. They were allowed to walk at their own pace.

Immediately after completing their walks, the volunteers returned to the lab and repeated both the questionnaire and the brain scan.

As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people’s minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged.

But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

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