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Pension warning: Britons could gain £7,000 by ‘shopping around’ – act now

Pension warning: Britons could gain £7,000 by ‘shopping around’ - act now

A PENSION warning has been issued to Britons as up to £130million of yearly income through annuities is being “lost”. As a result, individuals are missing out on significantly higher income for the remainder of their lives – something which can have a palpable impact on a day-to-day basis.

Read more here Daily Express :: Finance Feed

As the Taliban gain ground, how long can the U.S. Embassy in Kabul stand?

The situation in Afghanistan is grim. An occupying army is withdrawing its last troops, bombs are besieging Kabul and the country appears on the verge of a civil war. U.S. diplomats believe they can’t count on the shaky Afghan government to survive, much less protect them.

It’s Jan. 30, 1989, two weeks until the last Soviet forces leave, and U.S. officials have just closed the American Embassy in Kabul, while promising “the United States will return.” But they wouldn’t reopen the diplomatic mission until January 2002, after the U.S. came back to Afghanistan with its own troops to topple the Taliban regime.

Today, the future of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is once again in doubt. The last U.S. troops have left Bagram air base, the sprawling compound that has been the epicenter of the U.S. military presence there for the last two decades. And by the standards of an embassy “Emergency Action Plan,” parts of which were seen by POLITICO, U.S. diplomats already face a dire situation likely to worsen as a resurgent Taliban takes on a weak Afghan government.

Some U.S. intelligence estimates reportedly project that the government in Kabul could fall in as little as six months after the U.S. withdrawal, which could be finished in days. On a visit to Washington last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said his country faces an “1861 moment,” a reference to the dawn of the U.S. Civil War.

“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it is on,” Gen. Austin Miller, the commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, warned Tuesday in a news conference. “That should be a concern for the world.”

This time, how long the U.S. keeps its diplomats in Afghanistan is a more complicated question than in the past.

Three decades ago, Americans lost interest in Afghanistan once the occupying Soviet military left, pushed out in part by U.S.-backed militias. Now, there’s a recognition that America can’t ignore a country whose chaos in the 1990s spawned the plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and where more than 2,000 U.S. troops have lost their lives in the 20 years since.

The State Department remains highly risk averse given the U.S. political battles that erupted over the 2012 tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, but it’s also accustomed to running embassies in violence-ridden places such as Iraq. U.S. officials know that a diplomatic withdrawal from Kabul would send a terrible signal to other countries that have worked alongside Washington to try to stabilize Afghanistan over the past two decades. That includes other members of the NATO military alliance, which is in the latter stages of unconditionally withdrawing roughly 10,000 troops from the country by President Joe Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline.

“This decision is a dynamic — constantly changing,” said Ron Neumann, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. “As long as the Afghans are not losing the war ultimately, there’s a real reluctance to pull out [of] the embassy, because it will trigger a stampede.”

Biden insists that although he’s withdrawing the last U.S. combat troops, America is not abandoning Afghanistan economically or diplomatically, and that it will still fund the Afghan military and help the country on a humanitarian level.

However, once the troop withdrawal is done, the U.S. military mission will shift from training the Afghan security forces to protecting U.S. diplomats and building a new relationship with Kabul, Pentagon officials say.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul at the moment does not have an official ambassador; it is led by Ross Wilson, a veteran U.S. diplomat who carries the title of chargé d’affaires.

Biden plans to leave roughly 650 troops behind to provide security for diplomats at the U.S. Embassy, a facility that has been expanded and fortified significantly since 1989. The embassy compound covers some 36 acres in a central part of the Afghan capital, and it includes a mix of various-sized office and residential buildings, some of which stand out with their yellow and rust-colored exteriors. Access to the site is heavily restricted.

The embassy was placed on “ordered departure” in April, meaning non-essential staff were sent away, but even now roughly 4,000 people work at the facility, including Afghan employees, diplomats and contractors. Roughly 1,400 are Americans, a senior U.S. Embassy official in Kabul said. In recent days, the embassy has faced a major outbreak of Covid-19 that has added to staffers’ difficulties.

The Biden administration also is working on plans to temporarily relocate thousands of Afghan interpreters who worked for the United States to one or more other countries as they await American visas. Those Afghans face threats from the Taliban.

Scott Weinhold, the assistant chief of mission at the embassy, pointed out that many of the people working there are accustomed to operating in difficult conditions.

“I think people in a way are almost redoubled in their energy to try to help partners and the people that they work with, because you see the concern among our Afghan contacts, and especially a lot of our women contacts, about what’s coming,” he said. “People are really focused on how do we help them, how do we try to assist the key people that may be at risk.”

Every U.S. embassy is supposed to have an Emergency Action Plan, which typically contain a set of “decision points” that lay out scenarios in which U.S. officials should consider moves to increase protection of America’s diplomats.

POLITICO obtained a version of the Kabul embassy’s decision points that appears to be about three years old; the current ones are classified. The decision points seen by POLITICO nonetheless remain relevant to conditions today, covering an array of dangerous situations, both man-made and natural.

Some are relatively obvious, such as “a terrorist attack within Kabul or the surrounding environs and/or violent confrontations that threaten the security perimeter of the Embassy” — risks that the diplomatic mission has prepared for and faced for a long time.

Others, though, lay out conditions likely to arise or be exacerbated in the event of a civil war or a Taliban strangulation of Kabul.

For instance, one decision point comes if there are “anticipated long-term or actual disruption of utilities, fuel, water, goods, and services (including means of communications), which eliminates [the embassy’s] ability to maintain safe and healthy conditions for staff.”

Another comes if “the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates such that security forces in Kabul are diminished or otherwise unavailable, weakening the host government’s ability to respond to … requests for security support.”

Some of the decision points POLITICO viewed seem downright prescient. One warns of “an outbreak of disease with pandemic potential” as a scenario for which to prepare.

Just because a situation described by a decision point becomes a reality, it does not mean that U.S. diplomats will be sent home or that the embassy will be shut down. Not even the collapse of the Afghan government would necessarily trigger an embassy closure. But top embassy officials are expected to use moments described by the decision points to evaluate the overall situation and take mitigating measures. Those can include everything from reducing staff to holding a town hall for employees.

James Cunningham, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2012 to 2014, recalls how one day a rocket flew into a room above him at the embassy. He downplays it now: “It was only one rocket, and it didn’t do anything except burn up some old computers.” The embassy was in lockdown but resumed business after the attack ended, he said.

Cunningham also cautioned against assuming that the Taliban will immediately try to seize Kabul and overthrow the Afghan government once U.S. troops are gone.

“They may well decide it’s not in their interest to do that,” Cunningham said, noting that’s especially the case if the militant group wants to “have a relationship with the international community.” Besides, he added, many Afghans resent the Taliban and will fight against their return to power.

According to the embassy’s Emergency Action Plan, one key decision point comes if “ground and/or air access” to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul is “disrupted and/or commercial flights become limited or stopped.”

If the airport cannot be secured, a major point of access to the land-locked country by diplomats, contractors and aid groups could be cut off. The U.S. military on Friday quietly handed over Bagram air base to the Afghan security forces, eliminating most of the U.S. ability to provide air support to and leaving the coalition headquarters at Kabul as the only remaining U.S. military presence in the country.

Officials are still working out the details of a potential security arrangement between the United States and Turkey for the Hamid Karzai International Airport, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday.

Under the agreement, Turkish forces, which currently number about 600, would remain in place to secure the Kabul airport. However, the negotiations are complicated by tensions between Washington and Ankara over issues such as the U.S. support to the Syrian Kurds and Turkey’s purchase of Russian antiaircraft systems.

Turkey is looking for other nations to contribute forces to the mission to secure the airport. A few hundred American troops will reportedly remain temporarily to help Turkish forces provide security.

Taliban fighters have made significant gains in recent weeks, overrunning the demoralized Afghan security forces in many areas, often without a fight. Surrendering Afghan forces have abandoned large caches of U.S.-supplied weapons, including ammunition and armored Humvees, as well as night-vision devices and other equipment, according to an analysis by Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal.

Since Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the Taliban have taken over 80 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, and now control 157, according to Roggio. Many of the gains are in Afghanistan’s north, threatening multiple provincial capitals. The Taliban have historically been strongest in Afghanistan’s south.

In the years since 1989, the United States has waxed and waned when it comes to the risks it is willing to take with its diplomats.

The United States reestablished an embassy in Baghdad in 2004, more than a year after invading Iraq and overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein. As in Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad — which is now a massive compound roughly the size of Vatican City — has faced constant security threats, particularly in the chaotic years after the invasion. In early 2005, two Americans died when insurgents successfully targeted the embassy with a rocket.

Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States shut down its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra, citing Iranian security threats. It warned it might close the embassy last year, too, unless the Iraqi government did more to fend off rocket attacks targeting the facility. But the embassy has stayed open.

One incident likely to have factored into the Trump-era moves was the 2012 death of four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in an attack by militants in the city of Benghazi. That tragedy became political fodder for Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton, who was then secretary of State and expected to run for president.

The political fighting over Benghazi rattled the State Department; it’s one of, though not the only, reason many U.S. diplomats today operate in strict, almost isolated conditions in certain countries considered hardship posts, veterans of the Foreign Service say. (U.S. diplomats assigned to Libya work out of Tunisia.) There have been calls in recent years, including from lawmakers, to reverse that bunker mentality.

When it comes to Afghanistan, a collapse of the government may take longer than observers expect.

Three decades ago, the Soviet-backed Afghan government, led by Mohammad Najibullah, held out for a few years after the Soviet military withdrawal, thanks in large part to continued economic and military aid from Moscow. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant an end to that assistance, and Najibullah was out of power by April 1992.

Afghan rebel groups, however, fought one another, bringing about years of chaos that largely ended when the ultraconservative Islamists of the Taliban managed to take over much of the country.

The Taliban in 1996 tracked down Najibullah, who had been in staying in a U.N. compound in Kabul. They killed him and hung his beaten body from a traffic control tower near the presidential palace, a warning to Afghans and foreigners of the dark days to come.

Author: Nahal Toosi and Lara Seligman
Read more here >>> Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

June Jobs Report Shows an 850,000 Gain, Better Than Expected

Hiring jumped in June.

Cumulative change in jobs since before the pandemic

–20

–15

–10

–5 million

April

June

Sept.

Jan. ’21

April

–6.8 million since February 2020

152.5 million jobs in February 2020

Data is seasonally adjusted.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

By Ella Koeze

Hiring leapt back up in June as employers added 850,000 workers, the government reported Friday. It was the strongest gain in 10 months and a fresh sign that the labor market’s recovery is gaining momentum.

The unemployment rate rose slightly, to 5.9 percent, the Labor Department said.

The report follows several promising economic developments this week. Consumer confidence, which surged in June, is at its highest point since the pandemic’s onset last year. Stocks closed out the first half of the year at record highs, and businesses’ plans for capital investments are rising. The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the economy was on track to recover all the jobs lost in the pandemic by the middle of next year.

“I think it’s a very solid and strong report and very encouraging that we’re seeing over the last few months continued increase in the net job creation,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist for Oxford Economics. She noted that the totals fell below the one million mark that the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, has said he would like to see. Still, she added, “the momentum is moving in the right direction.”

At the moment, 6.8 million fewer jobs exist than before the pandemic. Millions of people have dropped out of the labor force, however, and “job openings far outnumber the applicants,” said Karen Fichuk, chief executive of the staffing company Randstad North America. “It is truly across the board right now.”

Aside from ever-present concerns about pay and benefits, workers are particularly interested in jobs that allow them to work remotely at least some of the time. According to a Randstad survey of more than 1,200 people, 54 percent say they prefer a flexible work arrangement that doesn’t require them to be on-site full time.

Health and safety concerns are also very much on the minds of workers whose jobs require face-to-face interactions, the survey found.

The portion of the unemployed who have been out of work for six months or more rose.

Share of unemployed who have been out of work 27 weeks or longer

10

20

30

40

50%

Jan. ’20

Jan. ’21

42.1%

Data is seasonally adjusted.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

By Ella Koeze

“This is a trickier phase of the recovery,” said Sarah House, a senior economist with Wells Fargo. Last year, millions of workers were only temporarily laid off and able to slot back into their previous positions with little delay once reopening began.

Now, employers and workers are “having to make new matches and new connections, and that just takes more time,” she said.

Economists also point to a widespread reallocation of labor — like rounds of musical chairs on a mammoth scale — in which workers are re-evaluating their options. During the pandemic, many workers who had held restaurant and retail jobs may have taken positions in warehouses and manufacturing plants.

At the same time, the appetite for pandemic-driven jobs such as couriers and grocery store workers are ebbing as sectors like leisure and hospitality ramp up. A big chunk of June’s gains — 343,000 — were in that sector.

The education sector also showed a big pickup in hiring, although economists caution that seasonal adjustments could inflate the estimated gains. That is because there is normally a large drop in the number of teachers when schools let out for the summer. Accounting for that traditional decline may be complicated by the fact that not as many educators were working because of pandemic-related school closings.

Becky Frankiewicz, president of the staffing company ManpowerGroup North America, said that with so many employers in search of workers, “the core challenge now is enticing workers back to the work force.”

Governors in 26 states have moved to end distribution of federal pandemic-related jobless benefits even though they are funded until September, arguing that the assistance — including a $ 300 weekly supplement — was discouraging people from returning to work.

In states where benefits have already been cut off, though, recruiters have not seen a pickup in job searches or hiring. “I would have expected to see more people engage at a higher rate in the work force when the federal subsidies were ended,” Ms. Frankiewicz said. “We have not seen that correlation yet.”

The online job site Indeed surveyed 5,000 people in and out of the labor force and found that child care responsibilities, health concerns, vaccination rates and a financial cushion — from savings or public assistance — had all affected the number looking for work. Many employers are desperate to hire, but only 10 percent of workers surveyed said they were urgently seeking a job.

And even among that group, 20 percent said they didn’t want to take a position immediately.

Are you looking for work or workers?

Author: Patricia Cohen
Read more here >>> NYT > Top Stories

EU chaos as Swexit becomes reality while eurosceptics gain ground: 'Changing rapidly'

Sweden slams EU on call for states to determine minimum wage

Sweden‘s political landscape is changing at rates never before seen. This week, the country plummeted into a full-blown crisis after a clash over housing policy resulted in a fragmented parliament. Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven saw 181 lawmakers vote against him.

He now has a week to decide whether to call a snap election or resign and move towards building a new governing coalition.

As the country’s once stable political position crumbles, the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) have made serious gains in both influence and attention.

Countries Europe over have seen right-wing, nationalist parties gain traction in recent years, with the coronavirus pandemic having sped-up the process.

SD are, like other right-wing parties on the continent, vehemently opposed to the EU and increasingly confident in voicing criticism.

EU news: Brussels could be left red-faced as Sweden’s anti-EU party gains ground (Image: GETTY)

Sweden: The country’s parliament descended into chaos this week (Image: GETTY)

In return for this SD and its leader Jimmie Åkesson have gained a surge in popularity from the public and a handful of Swedish politicians.

Mr Åkesson recently persuaded three other opposition party chiefs that they will need his support to take power from Mr Löfven in an election.

If successful, SD could push an anti-EU agenda to the heart of Sweden’s parliament, raising fears among Brussels top brass.

Speaking to Politico, Tommy Möller, a political scientist at Stockholm University told of how immediate change could arrive.

JUST INFrexit fury as EU law bans French food labels: ‘Want us to eat s***!’

Stefan Löfven: The Prime Minister’s place in Sweden’s politics is now unclear (Image: GETTY)

He said: “This is definitively a formative moment within Swedish politics.

“The landscape is changing rapidly.”

SD first entered parliament in 2010.

Back then, the party looked doomed to fail.

As Mr Åkesson gained momentum, former Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s prime minister from 2006 until 2014, called SD a “xenophobic force” and refused to discuss policy with them at all.

It is true that SD was previously a messy mix of unsavoury elements.

When Mr Åkesson joined the party in 1995 it included several neo-Nazi figures.

Since becoming leader in 2005 he has purged the party of people who have made racist statements.

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Jimmie Åkesson: The SD party leader has soared in popularity in recent years (Image: GETTY)

Sweden Democrats: Åkesson delivering a speech at a party conference in 2018 (Image: GETTY)

SD really gained popularity in 2015 amid Europe’s migration crisis and a resulting spike in the number of asylum seekers entering Sweden.

This caused a change in approach for the Moderates, as well as their long-time partners the Christian Democrats, and the Liberals.

Ulf Kristersson, who became Moderate leader in 2017, initially rejected collaboration with SD.

However, since narrowly losing an election to Mr Löfven in 2018, he has slowly shifted direction, becoming increasingly clear over recent months that he is now ready to seek SD backing to avoid another defeat.

Brexit seats: Sweden gained an extra seat within the European Parliament following Brexit (Image: Express Newspapers)

The series of events falling into SD’s hands look grave for the EU.

In 2018, Peter Helmut, a local Swedish Democrat warned that the bloc’s behaviour over Brexit may trigger Sweden’s own departure.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: “We don’t have any faith in the EU.

“We don’t think they should tell us what to do in Sweden, the laws and so forth.

Brussels: Löfven pictured with Emmanuel Macron in Brussels (Image: GETTY)

“Yes, we want to leave the EU. You call it Brexit, we call it Swexit.

“Why are there problems in the talks? It’s not Britain. It’s the EU that makes the problem.”

According to Politico’s ‘Poll of Polls’, SD is currently in third place at 19 percent, compared to Mr Löfven’s Social Democrats which is on 25 percent.

Mr Kristersson’s Moderates trail slightly behind at 22 percent, revealing just how small the margins are between the vastly different parties.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Obesity Paradox Challenged: Weight Gain Does Not Protect Cognition

In contrast to previous research, a new study suggests that weight gain in older adults does not preserve cognition — and may actually be detrimental.

The findings challenge the “obesity paradox” in cognition, which suggests that overweight or obesity in older adults protects cognitive function.

Judith M. Kronschnabl

In the current study, weight loss associated with cognitive decline was largely reflective of progressive physical deterioration, whereas weight gain linked to small positive effects was found in underweight people or after illness-related weight loss, signalling recovery, said study investigator Judith M. Kronschnabl, MA, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging at Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Germany.

However, “persistent weight gain or weight gain at already high levels of [body mass index (BMI)] eventually becomes detrimental,” Kronschnabl told Medscape Medical News.

“It has been suggested that higher weight or weight gain in older age may become beneficial for keeping up cognitive performance [but] we find no evidence for this,” she added.

“Accordingly, such a wrong belief should not contribute to physicians’ reluctance in advising” patients with obesity or overweight to reduce excess bodyweight, Kronschnabl said.

The findings were published online April 21 in PLOS ONE.

Worldwide Prevalence

World Health Organization data show the prevalence of overweight status and obesity among older people has increased worldwide. Another major concern is the aging population and the associated increase in rates of cognitive decline, including dementia.

Although past research has shown that overweight and obesity are associated with poorer cognition in children and younger adults, studies on this association among older adults have provided conflicting results.

Some studies have shown improved reasoning, visuospatial processing speed, and cognitive flexibility among older people who are overweight or obese compared with those of normal weight. However, other studies have shown a negative association between body weight and cognition, much like the relationship observed among children and young adults.

In the current research, investigators examined the relationship between weight change and cognition in older adults using an international population. They also attempted to minimize the methodological problems found in previous studies, which included their cross-sectional design and vulnerability to survivor bias.

The researchers examined data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, which includes participants aged 50 years or older. Data are collected every 2 years in this study, and the current researchers examined four waves of data.

Participants who were eligible for the current analysis had been observed at least three times and included 32,467 women and 25,922 men from 15 countries.

Cognition was assessed with a modified version of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, which evaluates immediate and delayed word recall. These measures were chosen because fluid cognitive skills are affected first and are most noticeable in cognitive aging.

BMI was used to measure height-adjusted body weight, and participants’ reported reasons for weight loss were recorded.

Because BMI does not provide information about body composition, the researchers supplemented the data with handgrip strength, which correlates with lean body mass. Adding this information helped to distinguish between weight loss resulting from a reduction in fat mass and weight loss resulting from a reduction in muscle mass.

In addition, the investigators examined participants’ self-reported physical activity, identified comorbidities that could result in weight changes such as Parkinson’s disease or stroke, and recorded demographics.

Small BMI Effects

Results showed that BMI explained little of the variation in cognitive performance — either between participants or within participants over time. The effect sizes of BMI on cognition were small. A one-unit increase in BMI changed predicted cognition by 0.007 standard deviations or about 0.03 additional words in the combined immediate and delayed recall task.

No significant positive effect of weight gain on cognition was found in men or women. Weight loss was associated with a significant negative effect on cognition in women (-0.0106; standard error, 0.0026; P < .001) but had no significant effect in men.

When the researchers added grip strength, reported diseases, and physical activity to the analysis, the effect of weight loss on cognition was reduced significantly in both the women (-0.0086; standard error, 0.0026; P < .001) and men (-0.0092; standard error, 0.0034; P < .01).

The researchers then divided the study population into two groups according to age, with 65 years as the cut point. The mean age was 60 years in the younger group and 76 years in the older group.

Among women, weight gain without prior weight loss did not affect cognitive performance. However, weight gain had a beneficial effect on cognition when it followed high levels of weight loss.

For example, following a seven-unit decrease in BMI, a one-unit increase in BMI was associated with an increase in cognitive performance by approximately 0.04.

The previously observed positive effect of weight gain on cognition in women likely resulted from a recovery effect, the researchers note.

Methodological Pitfalls

In the current study, there was no significant interaction in men between weight gain and cognition, with or without previous weight loss.

When investigators examined weight gain effect on cognition, stratified by BMI, they found that weight gain might have cognitive benefits at low BMI. However, the beneficial effect decreased and became harmful as BMI increased.

Among men, weight loss had particularly harmful effects on cognition in those who were underweight. For example, BMI decrease among men with a BMI of 15 was associated with a decrease in cognition of approximately 0.09; but weight loss had no effect on those who were overweight.

“With our study, we were able to empirically address the possible methodological pitfalls that have been known and discussed in the literature before using a large longitudinal data set, where we observe respondents multiple times up to 10 years,” Kronschnabl said.

Restricting the cognitive testing in the study to immediate and delayed word recall prevents the researchers from drawing conclusions about the effects of body weight change on cognitive performance in other cognitive domains, she added.

“However, we know from previous studies that not all cognitive domains are affected the same through aging,” she said. “Particularly episodic memory, as measured by recall, is affected first and more pronounced, while crystallized skills like verbal skills have been shown to remain relatively stable over the life course.”

In addition, impairments in episodic memory are good predictors of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Such impairments correlate with blood-based markers of neural plasticity such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Kronschnabl said.  

“Excellent Analysis”

Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News David Knopman, MD, professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, said that, from the perspective of an analytic epidemiologist, “this is an excellent and thoughtful analysis.”

Dr David Knopman

The apparent protective effect of being overweight on late-life cognition, which previous studies have noted, was a consequence of the way in which relative risks were calculated, Knopman noted.

Comparison groups of participants with normal weight also included those with low weight resulting from chronic disease, who are more likely to develop cognitive impairment because of those chronic diseases, he added.

“The contribution of this article is to show with longitudinal BMI data that it is indeed weight loss that is indexing those chronic diseases. As the authors clearly point out, weight gain and weight loss are not symmetric,” Knopman said.

A similar “paradox” is found in hypertension. This comorbidity appears to be neutral or to provide slight benefits for cognition in older age because the comparator group of individuals without high blood pressure often includes those with hypotension resulting from systemic or neurological disease, Knopman noted.

Clinicians should bear in mind that obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, lower back problems, gait difficulty, and obstructive sleep apnea, he added.

“This study removes the false expectation that obesity somehow protects against dementia. It does not. All of these statements can be made regardless of adult age,” Knopman concluded.  

PLOS ONE. Published online April 21, 2021. Full text

Kronschnabl and Knopman have reported no relevant financial relationships.

For more Medscape Neurology news, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Crypto bounce sees Waves, Internet Computer gain 80–110% on rebound

The ripples created by the cryptocurrency market crash which saw $ 1.1 trillion evacuate the global market cap in a matter of days continued to reverberate on Wednesday, as a majority of coins experienced notable rebounds.

After losing 64% of its value since May 12, when the coin price fell from $ 40.50 to $ 14.43, the multi-purpose blockchain project Waves (WAVES) experienced a 95% bounce early on Thursday morning. The coin price climbed to $ 28.09 shortly prior to publication, in effect paring the coin’s weekly losses to just over 25% for the time being.

Another strong bounce was witnessed with recent market cap top 10 entrant, Internet Computer (ICP). The ICP coin price soared to over $ 600 just after it commenced trading on May 10. By May 19 the coin price had fallen to $ 100 — a loss of 81%.

By Thursday morning Internet Computer had rebounded to the tune of 117%, climbing to a coin price of $ 217. The coin’s daily trade volume rose to its highest value to date, with over $ 1.6 billion worth of ICP changing hands on the day.

Bounces like these are not unexpected during tumultuous times in the cryptocurrency market, and many day-traders rejoice in the opportunities afforded them by such attractive, yet dangerous, volatility.

Bitcoin’s (BTC) bounce was less pronounced; the BTC coin price still managed to gain close to 30% on its then value of $ 31,000, as it climbed back to over $ 40,000.

The coin price of recent gainer Dogecoin (DOGE) sank 67% over the course of the previous seven days, dropping to the $ 0.23 range after peaking at $ 0.73 just days earlier. Dogecoin’s 78% rebound from $ 0.23 to $ 0.420 was notable on Thursday, as it saw the coin price return to a humorous peak previously set by traders on April 20, or 4/20 day.

Author: Cointelegraph By Greg Thomson
This post originally appeared on Cointelegraph.com News

Cardano smashes new all-time high following 14% gain

Cardano’s ADA cryptocurrency surged on Sunday, bringing the smart contract platform back into elite territory in terms of market capitalization rankings. 

ADA charted 14% growth to reach $ 1.83 on major exchanges, marking a new all-time high. It was last seen hovering just below $ 1.80, having gained 14% on the day, 31% on the week and over 47% in the past month.

At current values, Cardano has a market cap of $ 57.8 billion, flipping Tether (USDT) for sixth spot on the market leaderboard, according to Coingecko. Cardano’s market ranking could be seen as high as fifth on CoinMarketCap. 

Cardano’s ADA cryptocurrency has charted significant growth in 2021. Chart: TradingView

ADA was also outperforming in Bitcoin (BTC) comparative, having risen 16% against the largest cryptocurrency. ADA remains well below its all-time high when measured in Bitcoin.

Cardano is being supported by a confluence of technical, fundamental and sentiment-driven indicators, as investors gear up for the next leg of the bull market. As Cointelegraph recently reported, the resumption of ADA’s uptrend was confirmed after the cryptocurrency breached the $ 1.48 resistance late last week. Price action puts the immediate upside target at $ 2.00, followed by $ 2.25.

In terms of fundamental developments, digital currency exchange Kraken announced last week that ADA staking was now available on its platform. Kraken users can now easily fund their ADA staking accounts to receive rewards of up to 6%, with payouts being delivered weekly.

The next major milestone in Cardano’s multi-year development roadmap is the Alonzo upgrade, which is set to introduce smart-contract capability on the blockchain. Input Output Hong Kong, the development arm behind Cardano, explained last month that Alonzo is being “gradually deployed to the mainnet via several testnests.” Early adopters and partners will be able to test features of the upgrade throughout May and June.

Author: Cointelegraph By Sam Bourgi
This post originally appeared on Cointelegraph.com News

Martin Compston endured 'miserable' time in lead up to Line of Duty 6 due to weight gain

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

The new series of Line of Duty has been a complete whirlwind for fans of the show, with the highly-anticipated final airing on Sunday. Ahead of the last episode, stars of the BBC show Vicki McClure and Martin Compston, discussed the fan reaction and backstage gossip behind the sixth season, with the latter revealing he struggled to get into his character’s suits after putting on weight during lockdown.

The third UK lockdown seemed to be a tough one for many of us, with the winter days and dark evenings making it more tedious than ever.

And for Martin, it’s been quite a turbulent time as he had to put himself through a “miserable” couple of weeks of dieting in order to fit back into his alter-ego Steve Arnott’s swanky suits.

Chatting on the Jonathon Ross show which airs on Saturday, Martin described the AC-21 officer as “the overdressed w****r in the call centre”, among other things.

“[I’d] Just finished filming The Nest. Had my top off a fair bit in that!” he tells the host about his latest BBC thriller, before moving onto the sizing drama.

READ MORE: Adrian Dunbar ‘confirms’ Kate alive as Line of Duty fans spot clue

“I’m usually a 32 [chest], got down to 30, now I’ve got these tailored suits for Line of Duty. We start filming, lockdown happens, up to about a 34…” he explains his fluctuating weight.

He laughs: “I couldn’t get them on. I couldn’t even get the shirts buttoned.

“Two weeks of hours on an exercise bike, eating soup, water… miserable.”

But tight suits or not, Martin is still very much on thousands of fans radar for romance, as he discusses some of the very personal messages he receives regularly.

The Scottish actor also has to master the cockney London accent, something he admits he finds really difficult.

“It can be hard, that dialogue on its own would be hard anyway, throw the accent in there,” he explains, referring a 30-page scene they filmed where he was trying to remember his lines as well as juggle the accent at the same time.

“When we’re away from it for a long time, when I do that voice I can hear him, it’s like a costume.”

As a way to tackle this issue, the BBC star reveals he has someone record his lines for him to listen to, a savvy coping mechanism that works a treat.

“I walk about all day with him in my ears. It’s just graft. I’m not naturally good at accents,” he smiles.

“I need to work harder, which then makes me better because I’m not complacent with it.”

He confesses it’s “intimidating” working with his “amazing” co-stars without throwing the accent into the mix, but all that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

He adds: “Speaking to the wife and stuff I’ll drop it, I very much stay in it [on set].”

The Jonathon Ross Show airs Saturday at 9.35pm on ITV and the finale of Line of Duty series six airs on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.

Texas will gain 2 seats in Congress as residents of color drive population gains

Author: Alexa Ura
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) — Texas will continue to see its political clout grow as it gains two additional congressional seats following the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.

Thanks to its fast-growing population — largely due to an increase in residents of color, particularly Hispanics — the state’s share of votes in the U.S. House of Representatives will increase to 38for the next decade. The new counts reflect a decade of population growth since the last census, which determines how many congressional seats are assigned to each state.

More detailed data, which lawmakers need to redraw legislative and congressional districts to reflect that growth, isn’t expected until early fall. But census estimates have shown it’s been driven by people of color.

Through 2019, Hispanics had accounted for more than half of the state’s population growth since 2010, a gain of more than 2 million residents. And though it makes up a small share of the total population, estimates showed the state’s Asian population has grown the fastest since 2010. Estimates have also shown the state’s growth has been concentrated in diverse urban centers and suburban communities.

With its gain of two seats, the state’s footprint in the Electoral College will grow to 40 votes. But Texas will remain in second place behind California for the largest congressional delegation and share of Electoral College votes.

The state’s political heft has been growing steadily for decades. Texas has gained at least one additional congressional seat after every census since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. It’s gained two or more seats after every census since 1980.

Texas has doubled its congressional delegation in the last century

Because of its population growth over the last century, Texas has never lost a seat in Congress. The state has gone from 18 Congressional districts in 1910 to 38 based on its population count following the 2020 census.

The state’s congressional delegation is currently made up by 22 Republicans and 13 Democrats, with one vacant seat following the recent death of Republican Ron Wright.

Congressional and state House and Senate districts need to be reconfigured before the 2022 elections to account for the new population figures, and spread residents across districts that were drawn to be close to equal in population 10 years ago but are now significantly out of balance.

But the Census Bureau is running far behind schedule in reporting detailed results because of delays forced by the coronavirus pandemic and interference from the Trump administration. The detailed population numbers lawmakers need to redraw districts to reflect the state’s growth will be delivered by Sept. 30 — far past the end of the 2021 legislative session that ends next month.

This will almost certainly require Gov. Greg Abbott to call lawmakers back to the Capitol for a rare special session in the fall to draw new political maps. The litigation that will inevitably follow is likely to upend the election schedule for the 2022 primaries, when voters pick winners from each party to face off in the general election.

Decade after decade, federal courts have found that Texas lawmakers discriminated against voters of colors during their mapmaking by working to intentionally dilute the power of their votes, and their maps have regularly violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. The 2021 round of political mapmaking will be the first in nearly half a century without federal oversight that was meant to shield voters of color living in states with a long history of discrimination like Texas from discriminatory maps.

Texas’ original maps from 2011 were eventually ruled unconstitutional and federal judges found lawmakers purposefully diminished the voting strength of voters of color in the Texas House and in several congressional districts. Court fights over the maps resulted in the 2012 primary elections being pushed back by more than two months even without any census-related delays at the time. Under the state’s current schedule, the filing deadline for candidates hoping to be on the 2022 primary ballot is Dec. 13.

Gerrymandering in Texas

While people of color played a critical role in Texas’ securing two new seats, Texas Republicans have frequently been accused of purposely drawing district lines dilute POC voices in elections.

NBC DFW reports Texas has been found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 every decade. According to NBC DFW, while the Texas population grew by 4 million from 2000 to 2010, not a single new district map was created for Black and Hispanic residents.

It’s even more surprising considering that 90% of the 4 million were Black and Hispanic.

“Given the history of practicing partisan gerrymandering and a Republican-controlled state legislature, Texan lawmakers are likely to draw the final maps in favor of Republicans, which may potentially play a role in helping the Republicans take back the House in 2022,” wrote Zijia Eleanor Song.

Local response

Texas Democrat Rep. Lloyd Doggett reacted to the news Monday afternoon, taking the opportunity to swipe at what he calls Republican gerrymandering in the state.

“With these two additions, there is no valid reason for Texas Republicans to engage again in extreme partisan gerrymandering that distorts the true diversity of our state and divides communities of interest, though there is every reason to believe that, in the current political climate, they will,” said Doggett.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Texas will gain two seats in Congress as residents of color drive population gains

Author: Alexa Ura
This post originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed