WBEZ | Science http://www.wbez.org/news/science Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ebola vaccine hailed as 'Game Changer' in fight against the virus http://www.wbez.org/news/ebola-vaccine-hailed-game-changer-fight-against-virus-112536 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/gettyimages-465767054-22_custom-ac47fdbbb7bce665fbab3fe81bb9cc874c66ebde-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Doctors Without Borders is calling it a &quot;champagne moment.&quot; The World Health Organization says it&#39;s a &quot;game changer.&quot;</p><p>In a small trial, an experimental vaccine protected 100 percent of participants who were at high risk for the virus. Although the results are preliminary, they offer new hope of finally stamping out the virus in West Africa &mdash; and preventing the next epidemic.</p><p>&quot;There was nothing, nothing against Ebola that could protect people,&quot; says Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director general at the World Health Organization, who helped to lead the trial. &quot;This is the very first intervention against Ebola.&quot;</p><div class="bucketwrap internallink insettwocolumn inset2col " id="res428079008"><div class="bucket img"><div class="bucketblock">&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Previous studies showed it was safe. In April, WHO and Doctors Without Borders started testing its effectiveness in Guinea. The trial is ongoing, but the team published initial results Thursday in <em>The Lancet</em>.</p><p>The vaccine stops Ebola in its tracks, Kieny says.</p><p>&quot;When we talked with our colleagues who are responding to Ebola [cases], they told us, &#39;It&#39;s strange. There are many cases in a community. And we vaccinate, and the cases seem to disappear.&#39; &quot;</p><p>In fact, there are so few cases in Guinea right now that Kieny and her team couldn&#39;t use the standard method for testing a vaccine. The team had to come up with a whole new design for the trial. The strategy uses what&#39;s called ring vaccination.</p><div class="bucketwrap internallink insettwocolumn inset2col " id="res428173999"><div class="bucket img"><div class="bucketblock">&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>When a case crops up, the team rushes to the person&#39;s home. Then&nbsp;they give the vaccine to the people are at very high risk of getting Ebola &mdash; those who are close to the sick person.</p><p>&quot;So this can be the neighbors, the family, the coworkers,&quot; Kieny says. &quot;This forms what is called a ring. These are the people that form the community around the case.&quot;</p><p>Over the past few months, Kieny and her team identified about 4,000 people in these so-called rings who were eligible for the vaccination. They divided them up into groups. Half got vaccinated immediately, and the others had to wait three weeks for the shot.</p><p>The results were striking. In the group that got the vaccine immediately, no one got Ebola.</p><p>&quot;No cases anymore. Finished zero,&quot; Kieny says. &quot;So this provides an estimate of efficacy, of course, of 100 percent.&quot;</p><p>That sounds amazing &mdash; even unbelievable. And it actually is, Kieny says.</p><p>The problem is there were only 16 cases of Ebola<strong> </strong>in the group that didn&#39;t get the vaccine immediately. That&#39;s way too small of a number to say how well the vaccine works, she says.</p><p>But statistical analysis suggest the vaccine&#39;s efficacy is at least 70 percent, Kieny says. That protection level is still good enough to stop the spread of the disease.</p><p>&quot;I think it is very encouraging to see these very positive, preliminary results of this vaccine trail from Guinea,&quot; says Dr. Jesse Goodman, infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University, who once lead vaccine development at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.</p><p>Goodman says we need to be cautious about the study. More data are needed to nail down the vaccine&#39;s efficacy. And there were a few issues with the design of the experiment that could have skewed the results.</p><p>&quot;But nonetheless,&quot; he says, &quot;the strength of the difference between the groups that were vaccinated early and late suggests strongly to me that this vaccine is working.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/07/31/428017319/ebola-vaccine-hailed-as-game-changer-in-fight-against-the-virus?ft=nprml&amp;f=428017319" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ebola-vaccine-hailed-game-changer-fight-against-virus-112536 Chicago's plastic bag ban is full of holes http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-31/chicagos-plastic-bag-ban-full-holes-112530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/plastic bagsDay Donaldson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On August 1, Chicago joins the more than 130 cities and counties in the US with bans on plastic bags.</p><p>Chain stores more than 10,000 square feet in size will no longer be able to offer customers those flimsy plastic bags we&rsquo;re all used to.</p><p>There are three types of bags that are OK under the new law and two of them are technically plastic. So, what&rsquo;s going on here?</p><p>Joining us to sift through what&rsquo;s under the ban &mdash; and whether the new law is good to begin with &mdash; are two people on opposite ends. Jordan Parker is an environmentalist and executive director of Bring Your Bag Chicago and Jonathan Perman represents the American Progressive Bag Alliance, the trade association for manufacturers and recyclers of plastic bags and plastic film.</p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-31/chicagos-plastic-bag-ban-full-holes-112530 #TheEmptyChair amplifies conversation about sexual assault http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/theemptychair-amplifies-conversation-about-sexual-assault-112522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CK9bKN8WUAE47aV.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/07/35-women-and-theemptychair.html">cover story</a> of this week&#39;s <em>New York</em> magazine is getting a lot of attention.</p><p>It features 35 women seated in chairs and one empty chair. The women are all dressed in black, looking straight ahead with both hands resting on their knees. It is a stark image, and all the more compelling because each of them is openly and by name accusing Bill Cosby of horrendous acts. Some say they were drugged and raped; others recount stories of narrowly escaping sexual assault.</p><p>But what has really hit a nerve is the empty chair in the photo. The chair has sparked a powerful conversation online, including a viral hashtag <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TheEmptyChair&amp;src=tyah">#TheEmptyChair</a>.<br /><br />NPR&#39;s Renee Montagne spoke to <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/authors/137975988/hanna-rosin">Hanna Rosin</a>, author of <em>The End of Men: And The Rise of Women</em>, about the significance of the hashtag and how it&#39;s shedding light on a movement of people speaking publicly and frankly about experiences with sexual assault.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Interview Highlights</span></strong></p><p><strong>On the symbolism of the empty chair</strong></p><p>It serves so many purposes. First, it&#39;s a rebuke, like a classic rebuke. You know, here ... history, America, the patriarchy, whatever you want to call it, has made it difficult for women to speak their truth. So there&#39;s a chair that represents silence, something that didn&#39;t happen. It&#39;s also the opposite of that, which is an invitation, you know: &quot;Come sit in this chair.&quot; ... Social media, the hashtag &quot;EmptyChair&quot; basically is saying, &quot;All of you, it&#39;s time to speak up now. Walk up to this chair, sit down like the rest of us. There&#39;s a sisterhood here, waiting to greet you and share your stories.&quot;</p><p><strong>On the visual effect of the cover</strong></p><p>This is technically a story about Bill Cosby, but when you look at the cover, visually it transmits something different. There are women of all ages, ranging from 40 to 80; there are women of all races on this cover. There are women of all visual styles; they&#39;re all wearing black, but they&#39;re not wearing the same dress. ... So what this is saying is assault can happen to anyone. Here&#39;s a historical archive, not just of Bill Cosby&#39;s actions, but of women who have been assaulted generally.</p><p><strong>On what struck her about the hashtag</strong></p><p>I guess what struck me is the phenomenon that you can trace people&#39;s stories back to them. You know, Twitter is completely public. This is not a private forum for women to gather together. This is not one woman sort of clearing her throat and bravely coming forward. This is people under their own names, under their Twitter handles, saying this happened to me or a version of this happened to me or even just cheering the women on.</p><p><strong>On whether #TheEmptyChair moment will last</strong></p><p>I think this moment is going to last. ... [It] is unresolved and very interesting and, right now, intention. I&#39;m not talking about the Bill Cosby story anymore. ... The way this story has come out, apart from the Cosby story, is sexual assault on campus. And right now I think you have this moment where woman feel simultaneously very vulnerable. ... There&#39;s been so much news about sexual assault on campus. That&#39;s a story that really has invigorated the feminist movement in the last couple of years. On the other hand, women also feel empowered. ... The best <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/columbia-student-who-carried-mattress-everywhere-ends-protest/">example of this is Emma Sulkowitz</a>, a recent graduate of Columbia University. ... She wants people to pay attention to her abuse. ... She&#39;s also owning her abuse, turning it into art, really identifying herself with it and using it to make a statement.</p><p><strong>On how #TheEmptyChair connects to issues of sexual assault on campus</strong></p><p>The cover and the empty chair tie this whole story together. Because the cover is historical &mdash; you see that the women are a bit older. And then the empty chair ties into social media &mdash; that taps into the sexual assault on campus movement. So you&#39;ve got ... a kind of feminist history put together from beginning to right now.</p></p> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/theemptychair-amplifies-conversation-about-sexual-assault-112522 Working at the Gitmo US military base might cause cancer http://www.wbez.org/news/working-gitmo-us-military-base-might-cause-cancer-112509 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RTXORXN.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Signs at the war court compound warn that the water isn&#39;t potable. The tents and containers where many live sit atop a former dumping ground for jet fuel.&nbsp;</p><p>Now some of the military and civilian personnel claim this environment might be causing those who work at the base to develop cancer.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;They say the jet fuel could have been a source of carcinogens and there might be asbestos in an old building that was initially used to house the trials,&quot; says Reuters investigative reporter David Rohde, who was the first to write about the issue.&nbsp;</p><p>The alleged cancer link is raised in a complaint a Navy Reserve attorney filed recently with the Pentagon. The complaint argues that environmental problems at the war court compound on the military base might be behind seven recent cases of cancer in civilian and military personnel, including three deaths in the last 13 months. That&#39;s out of a group of 200 people who worked in the area.&nbsp;</p><p>Detainees are housed a significant distance away from the war court, and the complaint does not allege that they have been exposed to carcinogens.&nbsp;</p><p>Rohde admits it&#39;s notoriously difficult to prove an environmental link to cancer. The US Navy says it&#39;s launched its own investigation into the cancer deaths.&nbsp;</p><p>An alleged cancer cluster is far from the only reason the detention center at Guantanamo continues to remain controversial. Last weekend the Obama administration floated a revised plan for shuttering the facility, suggesting it might try to move to US prisons approximately a dozen detainees considered &quot;too dangerous to release,&quot; while speeding up the discharge of 52 others already cleared for release. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Will the plan work? &nbsp;</p><p>Rohde says, &quot;That&#39;s one of the biggest legacy questions of Obama&#39;s presidency.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/working-gitmo-us-military-base-might-cause-cancer-112509 Planned Parenthood controversy proves complicated for Democrats http://www.wbez.org/news/planned-parenthood-controversy-proves-complicated-democrats-112501 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/gettyimages-482208094_wide-d6b4bf495f6d8dddc7f8c85a0d3e2b3a7ad8aaf7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw2xi9mhmuo">latest</a>&nbsp;in a series of undercover sting videos features a woman who says she worked for a company that harvested organs from fetuses aborted at Planned Parenthood.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZUjU4e4fUI">Planned Parenthood leaders say</a>&nbsp;the videos are heavily edited and that they&#39;re not making money from facilitating fetal tissue donation for medical research. But the controversy over the videos is becoming a campaign issue &mdash; for both Democrats and Republicans.</p><p>At an anti-Planned Parenthood rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Kentucky senator and GOP presidential hopeful Rand Paul referred to a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjxwVuozMnU">video</a>&nbsp;released earlier this month by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. It shows a Planned Parenthood doctor meeting over lunch with activists posing as representatives of a company that handles fetal tissue donations.</p><p>&quot;This callous disregard expressed over wine and cheese should inflame and infuriate us all, and we should stop once and for all any penny of money going to Planned Parenthood,&quot; Paul said.</p><p>Paul is proposing legislation to cut funds to Planned Parenthood. Federal funding for abortions already is illegal in most cases, but the organization receives public money for services like health screenings for low-income women.</p><p>Also taking the mic at the rally was Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Cruz directed his jabs at the Democratic frontrunner.</p><p>&quot;I call upon our friends in the mainstream media to ask Hillary Clinton if she is pleased that she has so much passionate support from Planned Parenthood, an entity that appears to be a national criminal enterprise,&quot; Cruz said.</p><p>Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has insisted that the organization has broken no laws. She told&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/cecile-richards-undercover-video-controversy-32692756">ABC News</a>&nbsp;this weekend that the videos are a product of a &quot;three-year effort to entrap doctors.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Planned Parenthood does not at all profit from fetal tissue donation, which is an important ... element of health care research in this country,&quot; Richards said.</p><p>As the videos have been released online, Clinton has largely defended Planned Parenthood as a longtime provider of health care for low-income women.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hillary-clinton-defends-planned-parenthood-amid-video-controversy/">At a campaign stop</a>&nbsp;in South Carolina on July 23, Clinton said the attacks on the organization are an attack on women&#39;s Constitutional right to an abortion.</p><p>&quot;And I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has been the object of such a concerted attack for so many years,&quot; she said.</p><p>After a third sting video was released Tuesday, Clinton said in an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150729/NEWS0605/150729073">interview</a>&nbsp;with the New Hampshire&nbsp;Union Leader&nbsp;newspaper that she had seen pictures from the videos and found them &quot;disturbing,&quot; but reiterated her support for Planned Parenthood&#39;s record as a provider of family planning and health services.</p><p>Other Democratic presidential hopefuls aren&#39;t exactly lining up to defend the organization. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has said that Richards was right to apologize for the &quot;tone&quot; of a Planned Parenthood doctor featured in one of the videos.</p><p>It&#39;s a tricky issue for the left, says political scientist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.drake.edu/polsci/facultystaff/rachelcaufield/">Rachel Caufield</a>&nbsp;of Drake University in Des Moines.</p><p>&quot;It creates an environment where the pro-choice supporters have to be in a position to justify some of the practices of Planned Parenthood,&quot; she said. &quot;[Sanders] took a more measured tone and was less willing to defend Planned Parenthood outright, [and] recognized that this is not a practice that Americans are accustomed to hearing about and not something that they&#39;re particularly comfortable with.&quot;</p><p>Regardless, Americans are going to hear more about it. Paul has promised the Senate will take up his proposal to defund Planned Parenthood before leaving for the August recess. The issue also is likely to come up in next week&#39;s Republican debate in Cleveland.</p></p> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/planned-parenthood-controversy-proves-complicated-democrats-112501 How Chicago ranks on infections acquired in hospitals http://www.wbez.org/news/how-chicago-ranks-infections-acquired-hospitals-112496 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3831365675_4d741b80b8_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some of Chicago&rsquo;s biggest hospitals get low ratings when it comes to protecting patients from infections. That&rsquo;s according to a new analysis from <em><a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/hospitalinfections2015" target="_blank">Consumer Reports</a>.</em></p><p>The report says Northwestern Memorial, Presence Resurrection and University of Chicago Medical Center all performed worse than the national baseline when it came to hospital-acquired infections. These infections kill roughly 75,000 Americans a year.</p><p>Rankings were based on data from 3,000 hospitals. The hospitals reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2013 and 2014. They included rates for Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), C.diff (clostridium difficile), central line infections, surgical site infections and catheter infections.</p><p>A spokesperson for Univeristy Chicago Medicine responded to the report saying that &quot;one rating system should not be the only piece of information used to make decisions about where and how to get care.&quot;&nbsp; The representative further wrote, &quot;Based on Medicare&rsquo;s scores of hospital-acquired infections and injuries, we were judged to be the safest academic medical center in the Chicago area and safer than the majority of academic medical centers in the country.&quot;</p><p>Doris Peter directs the <em>Consumer Reports</em> health rating center. She said that Chicago didn&rsquo;t do much worse than other big city hospitals, and, in fact, had at least one bright spot. It was Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, which was given a high rating overall and specifically high ratings for avoiding central line and MRSA infections.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a call to hospitals to pay attention to the data and implement procedures including reducing antibiotic prescribing in the hospital,&rdquo; Peter said. &ldquo;But there are lots of other hospital quality measures to think about including mortality and readmission, which we also factor in our overall ratings.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>The analysis was the second piece in a three-part investigative series the magazine is doing on antibiotic resistance.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-chicago-ranks-infections-acquired-hospitals-112496 A sense of self: What happens when your brain says you don't exist http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/sense-self-what-happens-when-your-brain-says-you-dont-exist-112498 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/self-identity_wide-593012d29d82fcf11be24fb6d9d317a3cef5496c-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Science journalist Anil Ananthaswamy thinks a lot about &quot;self&quot; &mdash; not necessarily&nbsp;himself, but the role the brain plays in our notions of self and existence.</p><p>In his new book,&nbsp;<em>The Man Who Wasn&#39;t There</em>,&nbsp;Ananthaswamy examines the ways people think of themselves and how those perceptions can be distorted by brain conditions, such as Alzheimer&#39;s disease, Cotard&#39;s syndrome&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19132621">body integrity identity disorder</a>, or BIID, a psychological condition in which a patient perceives that a body part is not his own.</p><p>Ananthaswamy tells&nbsp;Fresh Air&#39;s&nbsp;Terry Gross about a patient with BIID who became so convinced that a healthy leg wasn&#39;t his own that he eventually underwent an amputation of the limb.</p><p>&quot;Within 12 hours, this patient that I saw, he was sitting up and there was no regret. He really seemed fine with having given up his leg,&quot; Ananthaswamy says.</p><p>Ultimately, Ananthaswamy says, our sense of self is a layered one, which pulls information from varying parts of the brain to create a sense of narrative self, bodily self and spiritual self: &quot;What it comes down to is this sense we have of being someone or something to which things are happening. It&#39;s there when we wake up in the morning, it kind of disappears when we go to sleep, it reappears in our dreams, and it&#39;s also this sense we have of being an entity that spans time.&quot;</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Interview Highlights</span></strong></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On how to define&nbsp;&quot;self&quot;</span></p><p>When you ask someone, &quot;Who are you?&quot; you&#39;re most likely to get a kind of narrative answer, &quot;I am so-and-so, I&#39;m a father, I&#39;m son.&quot; They are going to tell you a kind of story they have in their heads about themselves, the story that they tell to themselves and to others, and in some sense that&#39;s what can be called the narrative self. ...</p><div id="res427154370"><aside><div><p>We can think back to our earliest memories. We can imagine ourselves in the future, and whatever perceptions arise when we remember or when we imagine, whatever emotions arise, they again feel like they&#39;re happening to the same person. So all of these things put together, in some sense, can be called our sense of self.</p></div><p>There are also other ways of thinking about the self. For instance, you and I right now are probably sitting on our chairs, and we have a sense of being a body that is in one place and we can feel sensations in our body. ...</p></aside></div><p>We can think back to our earliest memories. We can imagine ourselves in the future, and whatever perceptions arise when we remember or when we imagine, whatever emotions arise, they again feel like they&#39;re happening to the same person. So all of these things put together, in some sense, can be called our sense of self.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On&nbsp;Cotard&#39;s&nbsp;syndrome, in which a person believes he or she is already dead</span></p><p>Cotard&#39;s syndrome was something that was first identified by a French doctor in the late 1800s. His name was Jules Cotard, and it&#39;s named after him. It&#39;s a constellation of symptoms ... and the most characteristic symptom is the situation where people say that they don&#39;t exist. This is a perception that they have, and you cannot rationalize, you cannot really give them evidence to the contrary and expect them to change their mind. It is a complete conviction that they have that they don&#39;t exist. ... It&#39;s very, very paradoxical. It poses a great philosophical challenge to people who are trying to understand what it means to say &quot;I exist&quot; or &quot;I don&#39;t exist.&quot; It also makes you wonder about all the other things that we are certain about, like you and I probably are very certain that we exist, well, these people are just as certain that they don&#39;t. So it makes you question about perceptions that arise in the brain and somehow, in this case, the delusion is so complete and so convincing that you really cannot shake their conviction that they are dead.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On what brain imaging of a patient with&nbsp;Cotard&#39;s&nbsp;syndrome shows us<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/28/426753409/a-sense-of-self-what-happens-when-your-brain-says-you-dont-exist?ft=nprml&amp;f=426753409#" title="Enlarge">i</a></span></p><div id="res426757011" previewtitle="Anil Ananthaswamy is a consultant for New Scientist Magazine."><div><div><p>What seems to be happening is that there is a network in the brain that is responsible for internal awareness, awareness of our own body, awareness of our emotions, awareness of our self-related thoughts, and in Cotard&#39;s, it seems like that particular network is tamped down. In some sense, their own experience of their body, in all its vividness, in experience of their own emotions in all its vividness, that&#39;s compromised very severely. In some sense they&#39;re not feeling themselves vividly. It&#39;s as simple as that. But, then there&#39;s something else that&#39;s happening in the brain. It seems like parts of the brain that are responsible for rational thought are also damaged. First of all, what might be happening is a perception that arises in their brain saying that they are dead because they&#39;re not literally perceiving their own body and body states and emotions vividly and then that perception &mdash; irrational though it is &mdash; is not being shot down.</p></div></div></div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On&nbsp;body integrity identity disorder, which causes a person to believe that a body part is not his or her own</span></p><p>It really is a very disturbing condition in the sense that it&#39;s not something you would normally ever experience. ... If you look at your hand, there is no doubt in your mind that it is your hand. Now imagine you looked at your hand and it didn&#39;t feel like yours and it didn&#39;t feel like yours for 20, 30 years; it could be a very debilitating thing. It seems to be like that for people experiencing or suffering from BIID. They do take extreme measures. It&#39;s basically a mismatch between the internal perception they have of their own body and the physical body and what&#39;s intriguing and interesting in terms of the self is that what is most important for our sense of self, our bodily self, is the internal perception of it. You can look at your body and you can see your hand or leg that is fully functional, and yet if it doesn&#39;t feel like yours. The feeling is the much more important part of one&#39;s self, not the fact that you can see it and you can function with this leg.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On a patient with BIID who got his leg amputated</span></p><p>I talked to him a few times before the operation trying to find out what it was really that he was suffering from and he really felt like this leg, part of his leg, was not his, it was really something he didn&#39;t want. He would try a whole range of things to make it seem as if he didn&#39;t have it. He would fold his leg and pretend it wasn&#39;t there, he would push it to one side, it really seemed to ruin his life. I remember asking him once, &quot;So what does it exactly feel like?&quot; He says, &quot;It feels like my soul doesn&#39;t extend into that part of my leg.&quot; ...</p><p>One way to kind of understand might be happening in BIID is actually to look at the converse problem. Most people by now will be really well aware of this phenomenon called phantom limbs [syndrome] where you actually have an amputation because of some unfortunate accident or infection and you lose an arm or a leg. Many people continue to feel that the limb still exists and some people even feel pain in that imaginary limb. What that&#39;s telling you is what you are perceiving as your limb is actually some representation of the limb in your brain, not the physical limb.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On how Alzheimer&#39;s disease affects the narrative self</span></p><p>Alzheimer&#39;s disease ... unfortunately literally erases a very important part of our sense of self, which is the narrative that we have in our heads about who we are. This narrative is something that the brain constructs and we&#39;re not even aware that it&#39;s actually a constructed thing. When we just think of ourselves, we have this expansive narrative inside us about who we are and what Alzheimer&#39;s unfortunately does is it puts a stop to the narrative forming. So because short-term memory formation is impaired, it becomes harder and harder for a person with Alzheimer&#39;s to start having new memories, and once you stop having or forming new memories, these memories don&#39;t get incorporated into your narrative. So, in some sense, your narrative stops forming. As the disease progresses it starts eating away at the existing narrative. It starts basically destroying a whole range of memories that go toward constituting the person that you are. ...</p><p>In terms of talking about the self, what this is telling you is that the self is multilayered. There&#39;s a narrative component to it, and what Alzheimer&#39;s seems to be doing is destroying the narrative component to the point that the person really cannot recognize anyone. ... We really don&#39;t know what the situation is from the perspective of the person suffering from Alzheimer&#39;s, especially late stage Alzheimer&#39;s.</p></p> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 23:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/sense-self-what-happens-when-your-brain-says-you-dont-exist-112498 NASA zooms in on Pluto, for closest views yet http://www.wbez.org/news/science/nasa-zooms-pluto-closest-views-yet-112375 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pluto-nasa_custom-3714afd707636546c412637a8ab29afa3fac24db-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>▲ LISTEN </strong><em>Michelle Nichols, master educator at the Adler Planetarium, joins </em>Morning Shift&#39;<em>s Tony Sarabia to talk about NASA&#39;s trip to Pluto and why this an important advancement in space technology.</em></p><p>New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they&#39;re already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet &ndash; such as its size. NASA&#39;s New Horizons probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to send photos and data about Pluto back to Earth.</p><p>NASA is set to release more images and data gleaned from New Horizon&#39;s closest approach to Pluto, which was achieved just before 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, when it was about 7,800 miles from the planet. We&#39;ll update this post with news from the space agency, which is still compiling data that was already sent back to Earth &mdash; and is awaiting new information from the flyby.</p><p>A trove of information is expected to be released Tuesday &mdash; particularly tonight, after NASA reconnects with the New Horizons craft that&#39;s been focused on gathering information about Pluto rather than communicating with Earth.</p><p>In addition to a delay of more than 4 hours (due to the probe&#39;s distance from Earth), information will trickle back to NASA at a rate that would frustrate many Internet users.</p><p>Alice Bowman, the New Horizons mission operations manager, says the data rate is around 1,000 bits per second, with a maximum of around 4,0000 bits. That&#39;s just a fraction of the traditional 56K speed of U.S. dial-up accounts.</p><p>A key revelation that&#39;s already come out about Pluto concerns its size &mdash; NASA says its diameter is 1,473 miles, or 2,370 kilometers, ending a debate that has raged since the planet&#39;s discovery in 1930.</p><p>&quot;Pluto&#39;s newly estimated size means that its density is slightly lower than previously thought, and the fraction of ice in its interior is slightly higher,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nasa.gov/feature/how-big-is-pluto-new-horizons-settles-decades-long-debate">NASA says</a>. &quot;Also, the lowest layer of Pluto&#39;s atmosphere, called the troposphere, is shallower than previously believed.&quot;</p><p>More details about Pluto&#39;s unusual characteristics will no doubt add to a debate among scientists over how to categorize it because of its small size and other factors.</p><p>&quot;Pluto also orbits at a funny angle compared to the other planets,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/13/421840110/planet-or-not-icy-pluto-to-finally-get-its-day-in-the-sun">as NPR&#39;s Geoff Brumfiels has reported</a>. &quot;And there are a whole lot of other Pluto-like things cluttering up the outer reaches of the solar system.&quot;</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/14/422840586/nasa-zooms-in-on-pluto-for-closest-views-yet">NPR&#39;s The Two-Way</a></em></p></p> Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/nasa-zooms-pluto-closest-views-yet-112375 Drug addicts sent from Puerto Rico may be victims of ID theft in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joel%20%281%29.JPG" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Joel says he was never able to retrieve the personal documents that Segunda Vida, a 24-hour group for addicts in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, took from him. Later, he learned that his identity was being used by someone else when his unemployment benefits were frozen.(WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><div>After we aired a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">story</a> about Puerto Rican drug addicts who were sent to unlicensed 24-hour group treatment programs in Chicago, we heard from lots of listeners. They were disturbed by one particular detail in reporter Adriana Cardona-Maguigad&rsquo;s investigation: that the groups routinely confiscate addicts&rsquo; identifying documents, and sometimes don&rsquo;t return them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In fact, in a tension-filled scene in Cardona-Maguigad&rsquo;s story, she accompanied one man to retrieve his documents from one of these treatment programs, a place called Segunda Vida.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/213554791&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></div><blockquote><div><strong>Listen: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325#playlist">More stories and conversations about the pipeline of addicts from Puerto Rico to Chicago</a></strong></div></blockquote><div><p>Our listeners wrote us to ask: What are these groups doing with the addicts&rsquo; papers? If they&rsquo;re really trying to keep those documents safe, as Cardona-Maguigad was <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/transcript">told</a> by a founder of Segunda Vida, then why would they keep the papers even after an addict leaves? Could they be selling these addicts&rsquo; identities on the black market?</p><p>It turns out, where Puerto Ricans are concerned, there&rsquo;s added reason for suspicion. Puerto Ricans&rsquo; identities are especially valuable, because they&rsquo;re U.S. citizens -- with Social Security numbers -- and Spanish names.</p><p>In a federal case against an alleged Puerto Rican identity <a href="http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/50-individuals-charged-puerto-rico-allegedly-trafficking-identities-puerto-rican-us">trafficking ring</a>, law enforcement agents found that a set that included a birth certificate and Social Security card could fetch up to $2,500 on the black market. With that, an undocumented immigrant from South or Central America could obtain work authorization, a line of credit or even a U.S. passport.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>I started hanging out in the same Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood where Cardona-Maguigad found many addicts in her story. I thought, if I could just ask a few of them to share their Social Security numbers with me, we could find out what&rsquo;s happening with their personal information. Most of the men I found refused to share that data. They told me they&rsquo;d gotten their documents back when they left the treatment programs, and they didn&rsquo;t have reason to suspect foul play.</p><p>But then I met Joel.</p><p>He can&rsquo;t recall when he was sent to Chicago for treatment, but he, too, dropped out of rehab at Segunda Vida. Most mornings, I found him loafing around outside, making friendly chit-chat with other street characters. But he&rsquo;s still very much lost in the haze of his heroin addiction.</p><p>&ldquo;When you go back to this, you get totally lost,&rdquo; he told me one day, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even know what day it is.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;It appeared I was working in Alabama&rsquo;</span></p><p>I&rsquo;m not using Joel&rsquo;s last name, to protect his identity. At 34, he said the only identification he carries is a photocopy of an Illinois state ID. Like others who went to Segunda Vida for treatment, he surrendered his documents to the people running the program. Confiscating identifying papers is common practice at these kinds of unofficial treatment facilities. When he left, he said he didn&rsquo;t get his documents back. He tried, returning to the residence several times, but eventually he gave up.</p><p>Later, Joel learned that his identity was being used by someone else. He discovered it when he found that his unemployment benefits had been frozen.</p><p>&ldquo;When I went to the unemployment office I was told that they had to stop payment because it appeared I was working in Alabama and I had additional income there,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joel shared his Social Security number with me, and with it, I got a rundown of his earnings over the years. What I found were classic signs of identity theft.</p><p>First, Joel said he hasn&rsquo;t held a steady job in years. He recalled working at a corrugated paper factory in Chicago and some brief stints canning jalapenos and olives. But his record shows continuous earnings for nearly a decade -- roughly $30,000 a year since 2006. Plus, the earnings swing erratically. One year it&rsquo;s as high as $52,000, and another, it&rsquo;s less than $16,000. And a lot the work is with temporary staffing agencies and food processing companies -- two industries known for hiring undocumented immigrants.</p><p>Because it looked suspicious, I took what I found to a man named George Rodriguez. Rodriguez described himself as a founder of Segunda Vida and a former addict himself. He denied that the program ever sold addicts&rsquo; identities, and said people always get their papers when they leave.</p><p>Clearly that was not the case with Joel. And soon I found that he&rsquo;s not the only one in this situation. In fact, the next guy I met had an even wackier story.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;My credit was ruined&rsquo;</span></p><p>Juan, 40, was told that the rehab program that he went to &ldquo;lost&rdquo; his papers.</p><p>&ldquo;They kept my papers, my Social Security card, my ID, my birth certificate, everything,&rdquo; he said in Spanish.</p><p>Then last year, he tried to get a car loan. That&rsquo;s when he got his first inkling that something was up with his personal information.</p><p>&ldquo;They said no because my credit was ruined,&rdquo; he said.</p>So I took Juan&rsquo;s Social Security Number, too, and showed what I found to several experts. Here&rsquo;s a snapshot:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image%20%281%29.png" title="Juan, a drug addict from Puerto Rico, arrived in Chicago in 2003. That same year, earnings associated with his Social Security Number rose dramatically." /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div><p>&ldquo;Wow. Well. I know they say America&rsquo;s the Land of Opportunity, but, boy, has his income jumped since arriving on the mainland,&rdquo; said William Kresse, a professor at Governors State University and an expert on identity theft, on seeing Juan&rsquo;s incomes.</p><p>The first red flag Kresse identified was the year that Juan&rsquo;s income jumped significantly.</p><p>&ldquo;Suddenly in 2003, the year that he was brought to the Chicago area, it jumps to almost $30,000, and then almost $44,000. And, oh my goodness, $116,000, almost $168,000,&rdquo; said Kresse. &ldquo;Yeah, this is remarkable.&rdquo;</p><p>There were even earnings during times that Juan was in jail for theft and residential burglary. His records paint a frenetic picture, of a guy processing beef in Washington state, removing snow in Illinois, working at a Wendy&rsquo;s fast food restaurant and holding thirteen other jobs&hellip; all in a single year.</p><p>There are some things we can&rsquo;t say for sure. We can&rsquo;t say that Juan and Joel&rsquo;s identities were sold by the drug rehab programs. We can&rsquo;t say that everyone who&rsquo;s gone to one of these programs is a victim of identity theft. We can&rsquo;t even say for sure that Juan and Joel didn&rsquo;t sell their identities themselves. I asked, and they both said they didn&rsquo;t. But federal law enforcement officials have found that some Puerto Rican addicts do that for a bit of cash.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938">Sheriff calls on feds to investigate Puerto Rican agencies that send addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>That said, Bill Kresse said there is still enough here to warrant further action.</p><p>&ldquo;Definite red flags to show that there&rsquo;s probable cause to go ahead with a further investigation, in fact a criminal investigation into this,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The numbers alone should justify a criminal investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>Kresse wasn&rsquo;t the only one to say this. We found lots of officials who said there&rsquo;s enough here to warrant concern. A federal prosecutor. A former Chicago police officer. Two former FBI agents. Someone with the Social Security Administration. The Illinois Department of Human Services. They agree that if these treatment places are organized schemes to set up vulnerable drug addicts for identity theft, somebody should go after them.</p><p>But nobody agrees on who should look into it.</p><p>Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan&rsquo;s office said it&rsquo;s a matter for Chicago Police or the FBI. Chicago Police and the FBI said there&rsquo;s nothing to investigate if victims don&rsquo;t report a crime. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn&rsquo;t talk about whether it&rsquo;s investigating something. And the Social Security Administration said it lacks jurisdiction to investigate identity theft.</p><p>So we know we have something. We just don&rsquo;t have anyone willing to investigate it.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/3512712648/36dee91a3ceeb66e8253372b9e042d0c_400x400.jpeg">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More stories and conversations about the pipeline of addicts from Puerto Rico to Chicago<a name="playlist"></a></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/121617509&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325 Could Chicago be in for a long hot summer? http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-be-long-hot-summer-112238 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/corn crops.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://climateillinois.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/so-far-fifth-wettest-june-on-record-for-illinois/">Near record rainfalls</a> in parts of Illinois this June have set the stage for what could be many muggy nights ahead, in part because of the type of crops we grow in the state.</p><p>David Changnon, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University, <a href="http://www.niu.edu/geog/directory/dave_changnon_research.shtml#2004a">studies how dense Illinois corn and soybean crops can raise dew point temperatures</a>. He worries what might happen if the moisture from these crops, coupled with evaporation from this year&rsquo;s wet soil, meets high summer temperatures this year. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We could have incredible amounts of <a href="http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleevapotranspiration.html">evapotranspiration</a>,&rdquo; Changnon said. &ldquo;Not just evaporation of water from the soil at the surface but our corn and soybean plants will begin to transpire a great deal of water into the lower atmosphere. In those situations it prevents the air temperature from dropping below that dew point, which limits how much cooling you can have at night.&rdquo;</p><p>In his 2004 paper on this subject, Changnon noted that the greatest increases in extreme daily dew point temperatures occurred in the Midwest in the second half of the last century. This period coincided with a doubling of corn and soybean crops in the area. In the years since, local cultivation of these crops has only increased.</p><p>And according to Changnon, these factors could combine with hot temperatures to reduce the number of Midwest summer days that fade into cool nights. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So now you have not only hot muggy days, but you also have warm muggy evenings, which makes it very difficult if you don&rsquo;t have air conditioning to sleep and get around,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Chagnon notes that high temperatures and record high dew points also prevailed during Chicago&rsquo;s steamy summer of 1999 and deadly summer of 1995 when more than 700 died in the heat.</p><p>&ldquo;In both of those summers we had big heat waves in July &lsquo;95 and the end of July &lsquo;99 where temperatures in the Chicagoland area got close to 100 degrees if not exceeded them for a couple of days,&rdquo; Chagnon said. &ldquo;On those days we had dew points in the upper 70s, and we even set an all-time record at Midway of a dew point of 83 degrees.</p><p>&ldquo;It was those dew points that limited the ability for the atmosphere to cool down at night and that&rsquo;s what really caused the problem for most people who don&rsquo;t have air conditioning systems in their homes or apartments, especially for the elderly,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Changnon notes that we also had heavy June rainfall in 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;Luckily it was accompanied by fairly cool temperatures, so it wasn&rsquo;t that much of a problem,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"><em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 07:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-be-long-hot-summer-112238