WBEZ | Science http://www.wbez.org/news/science Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A checkup on Chicago’s health data http://www.wbez.org/news/checkup-chicago%E2%80%99s-health-data-112847 <p><div>Four years ago, in a sweaty Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-17/health/ct-met-healthy-chicago-20110817_1_health-care-breast-cancer-public-health" target="_blank">Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched</a> a bold new plan he called <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/cdph/CDPH/PublicHlthAgenda2011.pdf" target="_blank">Healthy Chicago</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Joined by the health commissioner, the mayor pinpointed 16 key health issues--including teen pregnancy, smoking, stroke death, breast cancer and asthma. They set 2020 &nbsp;progress goals for each of those health issues and promised yearly--even monthly--updates on where Chicagoans stood.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;By having a clear mission with clear priorities and having a way to measure them and make sure we are not only setting goals but achieving them...we will have the greatest impact on our public health,&rdquo; Emanuel said at the time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But four years later--about halfway into the 2020 plan--health department officials say they still don&rsquo;t know where we stand on most of them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The era of big data brought big promises from the Emanuel administration, but, for a host of reasons, delivering on pledges to post timely health updates didn&rsquo;t happen.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Over time what we&rsquo;ve realized is that the data were not always available in a timely fashion,&rdquo; said &nbsp;Health Commissioner Julie Morita who took office this spring. Today, she says, she can update about seven of the original 16 goals. On the others, there&rsquo;s just not enough information.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For instance, the <a href="https://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/CDPH/HealthyChicagoAnnualReport2013.pdf" target="_blank">most recent data the department released</a> on stroke deaths, birth weight, birth rate and breast cancer came from 2009. The most recent data it has on produce consumption, teen smoking, dating violence and blood pressure comes from 2011.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And this information isn&rsquo;t just interesting for journalists who want to keep tabs on city promises, it can be critical to smart funding decisions and, more important, for tracking disease.</div><div>Dr. David Ansell leads the <a href="http://www.chicagobreastcancer.org/" target="_blank">Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force</a>, which is trying to close the breast cancer mortality gap between black and white patients in Chicago. But he&rsquo;s had to rely almost entirely on data from the federal government. That&rsquo;s because, Ansell and others report, essential local health information is getting bottlenecked at the state level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s almost impossible to get the data from the state cancer registry,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And I think it&rsquo;s a major public health problem&hellip;. It&rsquo;s almost as if they have the data but they don&rsquo;t share it in a way that&rsquo;s useful. This is a matter of life and death because the goal is to improve the life conditions of the people in Chicago and state--and its absence is a travesty.&rdquo;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HC%20chart.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 375px; width: 600px;" title="These charts showed where Chicago was and where we wanted to be in 2020 but most of them can’t be updated with the current data available. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><div>Illinois Department of Public Health director Nirav Shah points out that the Illinois Cancer Registry has<a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/press13/6.6.13_Cancer_Registry_Receives_Highest_Award.htm" target="_blank"> earned awards</a> as recently as 2013 for 2010 data collection. But he also says he wasn&rsquo;t aware of concerns about data bottlenecks in his department. And, he explains, data sharing is a complicated process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Even after data are reported, such as for cancer, they have to then be collected in accordance with federal standards for privacy and quality,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We have to make sure that the data are maintained in a secure fashion and that nothing gets out the door that shouldn&rsquo;t get out the door. And that the data on file are of high quality that they have not been duplicated. They also have to be checked for accuracy. That process is not an easy one, and it does take some time.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Indeed, privacy and duplication concerns play a role in slowing the data. But many say methods for addressing them are getting better and faster. Indeed, several local initiatives are underway to improve speed, compatibility and accessibility of health data. But they may not bear fruit for a few years,</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the meantime, Health Commissioner Morita is working on Healthy Chicago 2.0, a program that will be unveiled later this year. She says it will create a new set of health priorities for the city, and this time, ensure that systems are in place to actually keep track of the progress.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The plan will also have the benefit of new data generated by the department itself. Late last year CDPH launched the first Healthy Chicago survey. It was done with more than 2,500 residents who answered a battery of health questions by phone.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I feel like it&rsquo;s a recognition of the need to have timely data in areas of concern,&rdquo; Morita said. &ldquo;So we can definitely allocate our resources in the appropriate places.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While a 2,500-person survey can sound puny, health data experts say that a well-conducted survey of that size could actually be very valuable. Currently a lot of our information comes from the national &nbsp;Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which only captures a few hundred Chicagoans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Plus, Morita says, after this first baseline year, subsequent annual surveys will be able to tell us how Chicago&rsquo;s doing year-to-year. And eventually, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ll be able to get down to the community level so we can have health estimates on disease right down to the community level. So we&rsquo;re really looking forward to having that information available in a timely manner.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org.?subject=Chicago%E2%80%99s%20health%20data%20checkup">meng@wbez.org.</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/checkup-chicago%E2%80%99s-health-data-112847 Legionnaires' outbreak contained at Calif. prison; new cases in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/legionnaires-outbreak-contained-calif-prison-new-cases-illinois-112829 <p><p>The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires&#39; disease at California&#39;s San Quentin prison is holding steady at six, one of three outbreaks of Legionnaires&#39; around the country that have sickened dozens and killed 20.</p><p>Another 95 San Quentin inmates are under observation because of respiratory illness,<a href="http://cdcrtoday.blogspot.jp/2015/09/san-quentin-state-prison-legionnaires_2.html"> state officials said</a>, but they have not been diagnosed with Legionnaires&#39; disease. The inmates are being treated at San Quentin&#39;s medical unit.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ve got transmission control,&quot; Dr. Steven Tharratt, director of health care operations for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201509010900">KQED&nbsp;Forum</a>Tuesday.</p><p>Administrators at the Marin County prison are restoring some services that had been suspended, including preparation of hot meals. Inmates had been receiving boxed meals for the past several days. Last Friday, officials confirmed the first case of Legionnaires&#39; disease at the prison. The number of cases had grown to six by Sunday.</p><p>In New York City, health officials announced Wednesday that they had detected Legionnaires&#39; bacteria in the water in one building in the Melroses Houses complex in the South Bronx, where four people have fallen ill. Other buildings there are being tested. Since July there have been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/diseases/cdlegi.shtml">124 cases of Legionnaires&#39; disease</a>&nbsp;at various locations the South Bronx; 12 people have died.</p><p>And in Quincy, Ill., the death toll from a Legionnaires&#39; outbreak has risen to eight, health state officials&nbsp;<a href="http://dph.illinois.gov/news/legionnaires%E2%80%99-disease-cases-quincy">reported&nbsp;</a>Wednesday. Forty-one people have been diagnosed. Earlier cases were associated with a state veterans home there, but four new cases, including one death, are not, authorities said.</p><p>Here&#39;s what you need to know about the disease:</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_368131846448.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 236px; width: 360px; float: right;" title="A large grouping of Legionella pneumophila bacteria (Legionnaires' disease). Legionnaires' disease has been reported in a handful of states in the summer of 2015, leading to multiple deaths and more than 100 illnesses. The unrelated cases are part of a typical pattern seen with a disease that tends to appear in warm weather and is mostly dangerous for people who are already sick or weakened. (Janice Haney Carr/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)" /></p><p><strong>What Is Legionnaires&#39; Disease?</strong></p><p>Legionnaires&#39; disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. It is not spread person-to-person. Instead, it is present in water, especially warm water, and is carried by steam and mist. San Quentin officials had shut down many plumbing systems, and suspended cooking &mdash; because steam from cooking could carry the bacteria and infect people.</p><p>According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/legionella.html">Centers for Disease Control</a>, the bacteria are &quot;one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.&quot;</p><p><strong>Who Is At Risk?</strong></p><p>The CDC says that 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. every year with Legionnaires&#39; disease. (By comparison, far more people are sickened every year by the more-common&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/facts.html">pneumococcal pneumonia;</a>&nbsp;it affects 900,000 people.)</p><p>Those most at risk of becoming seriously ill are:</p><ul><li>People over age 50</li><li>Smokers</li><li>Those with chronic lung disease</li><li>People with weakened immune systems</li></ul><p><strong>How Is It Treated?</strong></p><p>While Legionnaires&#39; can be fatal, it is generally successfully treated with commonly available antibiotics.</p><p><strong>Can It Be Prevented?</strong></p><p>Since the Legionella bacteria are waterborne, everything from water storage towers to plumbing to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/swimming/resources/legionella-factsheet.pdf">hot tubs</a>&nbsp;needs to be properly disinfected. Samples have been collected at San Quentin, officials say, but the source of the contamination has not yet been identified. Lab tests on those samples take about two weeks to process. In the meantime, officials are hopeful that cutting off water supplies at San Quentin stopped the outbreak.</p><p>&quot;We believe the transmission of the organism was stopped last week,&quot; Tharratt said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_760804016.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 360px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Dr. Stephen Thacker, right, of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, interviews Thomas Payne in Chambersburg, Pa. Hospital, Aug. 4, 1976. Payne was one of the Legionnaires who became ill after attending a state convention in Philadelphia. He is slowly recovering, although over 20 other Legionnaires have died from the mysterious disease. (AP Photo)" /><strong>Why Is It Called Legionnaires&#39;?</strong></p><p>In 1976, 2,000 members of the American Legion were gathered for a big conference in Philadelphia. Many became sick with a mysterious respiratory illness. The outbreak launched a massive public health investigation, which<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC358030/">&nbsp;resulted in identification&nbsp;</a>of a new family of bacteria.</p><p>(On a historical note, in the early 1980s, those fighting for a similar public health response to another mysterious disease &mdash; one that was striking gay men &mdash; were sorely disappointed. As early as 1982,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Randy-Shilts-warned-early-about-baffling-2795293.php">there were already significantly more deaths</a>&nbsp;from what came to be called AIDS than had died in the 1976 Legionnaires&#39; outbreak.)</p><p><strong>Where Else Have Legionnaires&#39; Outbreaks Happened Recently?</strong></p><p>As noted, Legionnaires&#39; disease is a fairly common illness. The Associated Press noted these outbreaks around the country this summer, in addition to the Illinois and New York outbreaks:</p><ul><li>Two isolated illnesses occurred &mdash; one at Illinois&#39; Stateville prison last month, the other in July at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.</li><li>High levels of Legionella bacteria were found last week in the water system at a substance abuse treatment unit in Arizona at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, leading authorities to relocate 20 patients. The bacteria were discovered during routine testing and no illnesses have been reported, spokeswoman Jean Schaefer said.</li><li>A building at a GlaxoSmithKline drug manufacturing plant in Zebulon, N.C., was closed temporarily in August after Legionella bacteria were found in the external cooling towers there; no one was sickened.</li></ul><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/03/437212873/legionnaires-calif-prison-outbreak-contained-new-cases-in-illinois"><em>via NPR&#39;s Shots</em></a></p></p> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/legionnaires-outbreak-contained-calif-prison-new-cases-illinois-112829 The Brits have a sperm shortage — but they have a plan http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-02/brits-have-sperm-shortage-%E2%80%94-they-have-plan-112814 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/5396420759_9d5b2675db_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><aside><p>In Britain,&nbsp;as in many countries,&nbsp;there is&nbsp;a growing demand for sperm donors from couples who are unable to conceive on their own. Increasingly, demand is outstripping supply.</p><p>Last year, the British government came up with a solution: Set up a national sperm bank to&nbsp;make it easier for couples to get access to medically checked sperm.</p><p>But it has not been easy finding suitable donors.</p><p>A year later, and with more than 600 applicant donors,&nbsp;the bank&nbsp;still has just nine approved donors. According to&nbsp;Laura Witjens,&nbsp;the executive director of the bank, that should be a cause for celebration, rather than&nbsp;disappointment. &quot;I recognize that people say &#39;Nine? That&#39;s not a lot,&quot; She says. &quot;But I like to turn it round, and say: &#39;At this stage to have nine? Wow!&quot; It&#39;s a great place to be&quot;.</p><p>Part of the problem stems from the extreme difficulty of finding men whose sperm can withstand the demands of the donor process. Freezing and defrosting the samples destroys 80 to 90 percent of even successful donors&#39; sperm.</p><p>There is also the time and commitment required from each donor. Samples need to be taken several times a week for two or three months. That&#39;s followed by blood tests.</p><p>But perhaps the biggest difficulty in recruitment lies in the British law regarding donor anonymity. Under current rules, there is none. In the future, British children conceived from donated sperm will be able to trace and contact their biological father once they reach adulthood. Given the limited number of approved donors in the national bank, that could mean that each donor has the potential to be contacted by a large number offspring over the next few decades.</p><p>Witjens concedes that this may make some men reluctant to become donors, but &nbsp;she says it also forces her team to think more carefully about how to appeal to &nbsp;donors.</p><p>&quot;It would be easy to go for the cheeky advertising, and I know that would get a response,&quot; she explains. &quot;But there is a moral component. We don&#39;t necessarily need a superman, we need ordinary men, doing an extraordinary thing: Be willing to help childless couples.&quot;</p></aside><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-09-02/brits-have-sperm-shortage-they-have-plan" target="_blank"><em>The World</em></a></p></p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-02/brits-have-sperm-shortage-%E2%80%94-they-have-plan-112814 A push to make flying safer for people with peanut allegies http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-09-01/push-make-flying-safer-people-peanut-allegies-112797 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/7786200802_f5d1850df9_z.jpg" style="height: 403px; width: 540px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;" title="A coalition of allergy organizations is pushing to require airlines to carry EpiPens to treat someone who goes into anaphylactic shock. (flickr/Anita Hart)" /></div><p>Flying presents a particular set of challenges for people with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. Even touching an armrest with residue on it can cause someone with an allergy to go into anaphylactic shock, where the airway closes and the person is unable to breathe.</p><p>A coalition of allergy organizations &ndash; the Food Allergy Research and Education, the Asthma and Allergy Network, and The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America &ndash; is now pushing for legislation to make traveling a bit safer. They want all airlines to carry EpiPens or other epinephrine auto-injectors that could be used to treat someone having a severe allergic reaction.</p><p>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Robin Young talks with&nbsp;Lianne Mandelbaum, the mother of a child with a peanut allergy and the founder of No Nut Traveler, about how airlines could make travel safer.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<em> <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/09/01/airline-peanut-allergy-bill" target="_blank">Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></p> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-09-01/push-make-flying-safer-people-peanut-allegies-112797 Wind-powered 'Strandbeests' wend their way to Massachusetts http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-08-31/wind-powered-strandbeests-wend-their-way-massachusetts-112782 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0831_strandbeests-624x383.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Wind-powered mechanical creatures called Strandbeests (&ldquo;beach animals&rdquo;) have landed in the United States for a visit. Designed by Dutch artist Theo Janson, the Strandbeest is made of PVC pipes and material sails. Wind propels their sails to make their multiple feet walk sideways.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Strandbeests will make their first major U.S. stop at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and then head to Chicago and San Francisco. But first they had a few pop-up appearances, including one at Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts. George Hicks of<em> Here &amp; Now</em> contributor WBUR paid a visit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-3e4SD5uXGA?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash;<a href="https://artery.wbur.org/2015/08/28/strandbeests-boston" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now</em></a></div></p> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-08-31/wind-powered-strandbeests-wend-their-way-massachusetts-112782 Shooters quicker to pull trigger when target is black, study finds http://www.wbez.org/news/science/shooters-quicker-pull-trigger-when-target-black-study-finds-112771 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-149080274_wide-97ed703ed929b5e20f4434b9a35c6db9f7c46940-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they&#39;re shooting at is black?</p><p>A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.psychology.illinois.edu/people/ymekaw2">Yara Mekawi</a>&nbsp;of the University of Illinois and her co-author,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.psychology.illinois.edu/people/bresin2">Konrad Bresin</a>, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.</p><p>&quot;What we found is that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103115000992">it does</a>,&quot; Mekawi tells NPR&#39;s Arun Rath. &quot;In our study we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot black targets with a gun, relative to white targets with a gun. And ... people were more trigger-happy when shooting black targets compared to shooting white targets.&quot;</p><p>That is, shooters weren&#39;t just&nbsp;<em>faster</em>&nbsp;to fire at black targets; they were also&nbsp;<em>more likely</em>to fire at a black target.</p><div align="center"><hr align="center" size="2" width="100%" /></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Interview Highlights</span></p><p><strong>On the kinds of studies they were analyzing</strong></p><p>Our inclusion criteria was pretty much that they used what&#39;s called a first-person shooter task. ... Participants are generally told that police officers are often put in high-stress situations where they have to make very quick shooting decisions.</p><p>And so they are presented with images of targets from various races that either have a gun or have some kind of neutral object. So, sometimes it&#39;s a soda can; other times it&#39;s a cellphone. And what they&#39;re told is, to make the decision to shoot when they see a target with a gun.</p><p>They are given less than a millisecond to respond, and if they don&#39;t respond quickly enough, they get a little error message saying, &quot;Please make the decision faster.&quot;</p><p><strong>On an additional finding: a correlation between such bias and permissive gun laws</strong></p><p>[We] coded the cities in which the data was collected by how permissive the gun laws were. And we used the Brady Law campaign, which gives basically states a score ... being very permissive, this means that, you know, they didn&#39;t require background checks in the same way that other, more strict states might or have other limitations on who&#39;s allowed to purchase a gun. ...</p><p>Basically, what we found was that in states that had relatively permissive gun laws, the shooting threshold for black targets was lower than for white targets.</p><p><strong>On theories for why this bias was evident</strong></p><p>One theory states, essentially, that when people view images of black targets with a gun, it&#39;s what&#39;s called &quot;stereotype-consistent,&quot; which means that it&#39;s something that you expect. And so people typically respond to things more quickly when they&#39;re congruent, when they make sense to be together. So that&#39;s one theory.</p><p>Another theory is that it could be something to do with threat. It could be that individuals perceive black targets as being more threatening. And so they inhibit their shooting behavior less because they&#39;re more threatened. So you can think of it as kind of a threatened response.</p><p><strong>On the implications for law enforcement</strong></p><p>I think, generally speaking, what this highlights is that even though a person might say &quot;I&#39;m not racist&quot; or &quot;I&#39;m not prejudiced,&quot; it doesn&#39;t necessarily mean that race doesn&#39;t influence their split-second decisions.</p><p>One implication could be that there could be that there should be education about the fact that these biases exist and that they could be outside of one&#39;s control. So even if you think that you&#39;re not prejudiced, you&#39;re not biased, that doesn&#39;t necessarily mean that that&#39;s true in terms of split-second decisions that you might make in the real world.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/29/435833251/shooters-quicker-to-pull-trigger-when-target-is-black-study-finds">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/shooters-quicker-pull-trigger-when-target-black-study-finds-112771 Oliver Sacks was a boundless explorer of the human brain http://www.wbez.org/news/oliver-sacks-was-boundless-explorer-human-brain-112779 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/oliver-sacks-getty_wide.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and best-selling author who explored the human brain one patient at a time, has died of cancer. He was 82.</p><p>Sacks was best known for his books&nbsp;The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat&nbsp;andAwakenings, which became a 1990 feature film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.</p><p>Sacks cared for, and wrote about, people with unusual brain disorders that left them catatonic &mdash; or haunted by Irish lullabies, or unable to recognize their own spouses. In a 2007 NPR interview, he said, &quot;While I&#39;ve always wanted to get people&#39;s stories, I also like to know what&#39;s going on in the brain, and how this wonderful two or three pounds of stuff in the head is able to underlie our imagination, underlie our soul, our individuality.&quot;</p><p>Sacks&#39; ability to combine science and storytelling eventually led to prestigious academic posts and best-selling books. But his career got off to a rocky start.</p><p>&quot;The first part of Oliver&#39;s life was a challenge,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://faces.med.nyu.edu/about-us/faculty/orrin-devinsky-md/">Orrin Devinsky</a>, a professor of neurology at New York University, where Sacks worked for many years. &quot;He tried to make it as a scientist and didn&#39;t do well.&quot;</p><p>Sacks was born in London. Both of his parents were doctors, and Sacks himself went to medical school at Oxford. But when results of the final anatomy exam were posted, Sacks saw he had scored near the bottom.</p><p>So he went to a local pub. After four or five hard ciders, Sacks headed back to school and asked to take an optional essay exam to compete for the university prize in anatomy. By that time, the exam had already started.</p><p>&quot;So Oliver literally staggered into this room with about 15 or 20 students busily writing into their blue books and asked the professor if he could take the essay exam,&quot; Devinsky says. &quot;And the professor looked at him kind of like: Are you sure you are in the right place?&quot;</p><p>He was. Even though Sacks arrived late and left early, his essay on brain structure and function won the university prize.</p><p>Writing would open doors for Sacks his entire life.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/wesat/features/2001/sacks/011110.sacks.html">He told NPR in 2001</a>&nbsp;that even as a child, he wrote constantly in a journal.</p><p>&quot;Rendering into words is absolutely an instinct with me,&quot; he said. &quot;I used to be called &#39;Inky&#39; when I was a boy. I was always sort of covered with ink. I still sort of write my books by hand. I&#39;m not very fond of computers.&quot;</p><p>Sacks also didn&#39;t like cellphones and other devices that he saw as impediments to human interaction. &quot;Oliver was living in the late 19th century in many ways,&quot; Devinsky says. &quot;In all the good ways.&quot;</p><p>After medical school, Sacks left London for California. There, he completed a residency in neurology and lived a pretty wild life.</p><div id="res436043567" previewtitle="Sacks with his 250cc Norton motorcycle in 1956."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Sacks with his 250cc Norton motorcycle in 1956." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/08/30/oliver-motorcycle_custom-cb6ee15e97cbcb1c598b1621c1c2d0787c61cf50-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 339px; width: 500px;" title="Sacks with his 250cc Norton motorcycle in 1956. (Charles Cohen/Random House)" /></div><div><p>In his autobiography,&nbsp;On the Move, Sacks describes having casual sex with men at a YMCA in San Francisco, becoming a body builder at LA&#39;s Muscle Beach and using staggering amounts of recreational drugs.</p></div></div><p>Sacks also liked to risk death while riding his motorcycle through Topanga Canyon. &quot;He would go down the canyon with his eyes closed sometimes,&quot; Devinsky says. &quot;He would go through lights sometimes at rapid speed feeling he could make it and dodge all the cars.&quot;</p><p>In 1965, Sacks moved to New York City, where he focused on writing and medicine. He was known for spending an enormous amount of time with each patient and learning the intimate details of each person&#39;s story.</p><p>Devinsky says from time to time he would send one of his own patients to Sacks for a consultation. &quot;And then I would get this four-page, five-page, six-page note back with historical features of the person&#39;s life, insights into their neurological disorder, fitting pieces together that I&#39;d never even seen the pieces, let alone put them together,&quot; Devinsky says.</p><p>In 1973, Sacks became a star with the publication of his book&nbsp;Awakenings. It&#39;s the story of a group of patients who contracted sleeping sickness and fell into a trancelike state.</p><div id="res436042011" previewtitle="Sacks in his apartment in the West Village of New York City in 2001."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Sacks in his apartment in the West Village of New York City in 2001." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/08/30/oliver-1_custom-1c6786deacfe2db46a84b743c981c863d07e6126-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 500px;" title="Sacks in his apartment in the West Village of New York City in 2001. (Erica Berger/Corbis)" /></div><div><p>The book inspired&nbsp;<a href="http://medhum.med.nyu.edu/view/12843">a play by Harold Pinter</a>&nbsp;and, in 1990, a feature film in which Sacks was played by the late Robin Williams. The two became good friends during the filming, and Williams talked about Sacks while promoting&nbsp;Awakenings&nbsp;on&nbsp;The Tonight Show:</p></div></div><p>&quot;He&#39;s an amazing man,&quot; Williams said. &quot;He&#39;s about 6 foot 4 inches. He&#39;s like a combination of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Albert Schweitzer. And he also looks like Santa Claus, &#39;cause he&#39;s got this big beard. ... And the amazing thing is, as big as he is and as strong as he is, he is this very gentle and compassionate man who is brilliant.&quot;</p><p>After&nbsp;Awakenings, Sacks would go on to write several best-selling books about people with unusual brains, including&nbsp;An Anthropologist on Mars,&nbsp;The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat&nbsp;and&nbsp;Musicophilia. He also wrote about his own odd brain, which was unable to recognize faces and had to adapt to losing vision on one side when a tumor appeared in his right eye.</p><p>Sacks talked about this cancer, a melanoma, in 2010 on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/">Fresh Air</a>. &quot;Although I&#39;m sorry this happened to me and is happening to me, I feel I might as well use it and investigate it and write about it and just speak of myself as I would speak about one of my patients.&quot;</p><p>In his autobiography, which came out this year, Sacks for the first time revealed many intimate details of his own life: his fraught relationship with his mother, his acid trips and his homosexuality.</p><p>In February, Sacks&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opinion/oliver-sacks-on-learning-he-has-terminal-cancer.html">wrote an op-ed</a>&nbsp;in&nbsp;The New York Times&nbsp;announcing that the cancer in his eye had spread to his liver. In the piece, he pledged to spend his remaining days deepening friendships, saying farewell to those he loved and writing.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/30/436016985/oliver-sacks-was-a-boundless-explorer-of-the-human-brain?ft=nprml&amp;f=436016985" target="_blank">NPR Shots</a></em></p></p> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 10:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/oliver-sacks-was-boundless-explorer-human-brain-112779 Is an artificial tree part of the solution to climate change? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-31/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-112776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chemtree.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Here&#39;s the skinny: CO2 traps heat. There&rsquo;s about 40 percent&nbsp;more of it in the atmosphere today than there was in the millennia of human history before the Industrial Revolution, and that number is rising fast, since we just can&rsquo;t seem to curb our thirst for fossil fuels.</p><p>So what if there were a simple solution? What if we had a way to suck that excess&nbsp;CO2 right back out of the sky?</p><p>Well, actually, we do, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chbe.gatech.edu/faculty/jones" target="_blank">Chris Jones</a>, a chemical engineer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.</p><p>&ldquo;These are our best ways of capturing CO2 from the air,&rdquo; Jones says as he walks under a canopy of trees on the school&rsquo;s campus. &ldquo;Trees evolved over millions of years to do this very efficiently.&rdquo;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/xIMG_2101b%20crop.jpg?itok=cbzXoNg1" style="height: 333px; width: 500px;" title="Physicist Klaus Lackner stands beside a miniature greenhouse in his lab at ASU's Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, in which he's testing out the properties of his &quot;artificial tree. Lackner says he expects a square mile of artificial trees could suck as much as ten million tons of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere.(PRI/Ari Daniel)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>Thing is, we just don&rsquo;t have enough trees to fix our CO2 problem. In fact, the earth has fewer acres of trees every year. But Jones says that even if we planted trees everywhere we could, they still wouldn&rsquo;t be able to pull enough CO2 out of the air to offset our emissions.</p><p>Which for Jones means one thing. &ldquo;We have to come up with a chemical tree that can effectively extract CO2 out of the air,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Essentially mimic nature, only do her one better. The technical name for the idea is direct air capture. And it is a tall order &mdash; to improve on trees, which have been honed by millions of years of evolution. In fact, some say the technology will never be efficient or cheap enough. To which Jones and some of his colleagues reply, that&rsquo;s ridiculous.</p><p>&ldquo;People in the past said heavier than air flight is impossible, and all you needed to do is look at a bird and you know that&rsquo;s wrong,&rdquo; says&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/klaus-lackner/" target="_blank">Klaus Lackner</a>, the director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/" target="_blank">Center for Negative Carbon Emissions</a>&nbsp;at Arizona State University in Tempe.</p><p>&ldquo;Capture from air is not impossible. All you need to do is look at a tree and you know it&rsquo;s possible.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Prototypes and pasta cutters</span></strong></p><p>Chris Jones&rsquo; approach to the challenge is a ceramic cube about half the size of a loaf of bread and almost as light, hollowed out by hundreds of tiny square tunnels. If you hold it up to the light, you can see through it.</p><p>&ldquo;All of us who own a car own one of these,&rdquo; Jones says. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re in the catalytic converter in our car. Normally, these are used to clean up the exhaust coming out of our engine.&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/xIMG_3930b.JPG?itok=7NI6Mj6W" style="float: left; height: 224px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The artificial trees Georgia Tech chemical engineer Chris Jones is working on look nothing like actual trees. They're ceramic cubes full of tiny corridors, similar to the catalytic converter of a car, but coated with a material that absorbs carbon dioxide instead of carbon monoxide. (PRI/Ari Daniel)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>The ones in our cars are designed to hold onto pollutants like carbon monoxide. The tunnels of Jones&rsquo;s cube are coated with a material his team has developed that grabs onto carbon dioxide. As air flows through it, the lattice gradually fills up with CO2.</p><p>Jones has a pilot plant in California where he has 600 of these bricks stacked together into a block about the size of a semi-tractor trailer stood up on its end. The system uses fans to blow air onto the bricks, and steam to remove the captured CO2 so the bricks can be reused. The prototype sucks down about 1,000 tons of CO2 per year.</p><p>By itself, that&rsquo;s an inconsequential amount. But it is a start. Klaus Lackner&rsquo;s group at Arizona State is taking a different approach. It starts with a cream-colored piece of fabric that Lackner&rsquo;s colleague&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/allen-wright/" target="_blank">Allen Wright</a>&nbsp;describes as almost &ldquo;leathery &hellip; kind of like a very, very dense sponge.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a material that bonds with CO2, and is usually used to purify liquids like wine and beer. Wright and Lackner used a pasta cutter to cut some of the fabric into thin strips &mdash; angel hair size &mdash; then wove the ribbons into a central rod. What they ended up with looks like a duster.</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/961646068%281%29.jpg?itok=o-b9CF4X" style="float: right; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 450px;" title="This pilot plant in California holds 600 of Jones's bricks. He says the prototype sucks down about 1,000 tons of CO2 per year. (Global Thermostat)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>&ldquo;These are nature-inspired shapes &mdash; pine-tree looking pieces,&rdquo; Lackner says, &ldquo;where contact with the wind is very, very natural.&rdquo;</p><p>Lackner says the eventual goal is to build devices much like a tree that would stand passively in the wind and absorb CO2 as the air blows over them.</p><p>No fans are necessary with their approach.</p><p>The material sheds the CO2 when it gets wet, so Lackner and his colleagues have also been working on ways to discharge the gas so it can be stored or reused later.</p><p>He says a full-scale version of the system &mdash; one with tree-like structures spaced out like a forest &mdash; is still 20 or 30 years away, but that initial results show real promise. Eventually, he believes, a square mile of artificial trees could suck up as much as ten million tons of CO2 per year.</p><p>That&rsquo;s still a far cry from the 1.5 trillion tons or so that we need to take out of the air to reset our atmosphere, but again, it is a start.</p><p>And lots of other people around the world are barking up the same artificial tree.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Daring to dream</span></strong></p><p>The biggest hurdle right now is engineering these and other materials so they can grab enough CO2.</p><p>&ldquo;The technical challenge&rdquo; says Chris Jones at Georgia Tech, is &ldquo;to make it more efficient and optimize the process so that we can reduce the overall costs.&rdquo;</p><p>Jones says it&rsquo;s his job to get the cost down to the point where policymakers have no choice but to say yes to the technology.</p><p>That could take a long time &mdash; remember Klaus Lackner&rsquo;s estimate of 20 to 30 years to perfect his artificial tree.</p><p>But Lackner says costs are likely to fall dramatically. He points to the examples of wind turbines, which are 40 times cheaper today than 50 years ago, and photovoltaic panels, which are 100 times cheaper than they were half a century ago.</p><p>The first step was to show that direct air capture of CO2 was possible, and that&rsquo;s been done.</p><p>&ldquo;We can reverse the CO2 concentration in the air,&rdquo; Lackner says. &ldquo;We cannot reverse the melting of a glacier. We&rsquo;re already way too late. But we will do it.&rdquo;</p><p>And the carbon dioxide will be waiting for us when we do.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-30/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-these-guys-think-so" target="_blank">The World</a></em></p></p> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-31/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-112776 How do you talk about a gunman who wants to go viral (and knows how)? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-27/how-do-you-talk-about-gunman-who-wants-go-viral-and-knows-how-112753 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/SlainVAjournalists.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Wednesday morning, Vester Lee Flanagan shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two reporters from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wdbj7.com/" target="_blank">WDBJ7</a>, a CNN affiliate. The shooting was captured on film because Parker was filming a live interview, but a second video surfaced shortly after &mdash; recorded and posted by Flanagan himself.</p><p>Shortly after the attack,&nbsp;Flanagan &mdash; who was known by his colleagues as Bryce Williams &mdash; faxed a rambling 23-page manifesto to&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/shooting-alleged-gunman-details-grievances-suicide-notes/story?id=33336339" target="_blank">ABC News</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;all but pitched&nbsp;his attack as a news story. He also&nbsp;posted the video on his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with negative comments about the two victims.&nbsp;</p><p>Flanagan&rsquo;s accounts were deleted soon after he posted the video, but the incident has raised questions about the role social media plays in these tragedies, as well as society&rsquo;s response to them.</p><p>Zeynep Tufekci is a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/27/opinion/the-virginia-shooter-wanted-fame-lets-not-give-it-to-him.html?gwh=4CDE10D20FEA38B7B355BCB35FA33411&amp;gwt=pay&amp;assetType=opinion" target="_blank">writes about the internet and society</a>. She says there are definitely parallels between how Flanagan used social media to broadcast the shooting and how ISIS uses it.</p><p>When the first ISIS beheading video surfaced, it was all over social media, she says. But then there was a backlash.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of us said, &lsquo;They&#39;re killing for publicity, and we&#39;re giving them publicity.&#39;&nbsp;The next time it happened, I got a lot of warnings from my friends. I gave some myself. I said, &lsquo;Let&#39;s not share this. Let&#39;s instead share pictures of the victims.&rsquo; Mass media also adopted a lot of this attitude, and now when ISIS does a ghastly murder on video it doesn&#39;t go viral on my social media,&quot; she says.</p><p>Tufekci says these types of videos are meant to sensationalize the murders in the hopes of getting other troubled people to join or copy them.&nbsp;</p><p>And the limited research available suggests that it may work. A 2002 survey of 81 juvenile offenders in Florida found that more than a quarter of them had committed a &lsquo;copycat crime,&rsquo; inspired by something they had seen in the media.&nbsp;</p><p>Recognizing this motivation just might put the power back in the social media users&rsquo; hands.</p><p>&ldquo;We can really approach it differently, and learn from how we learned to react to ISIS,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If somebody is killing for publicity, denying them that publicity is a crucial component of trying to dampen that effect.&rdquo;</p><p>Many prominent Twitter users seem to agree with that sentiment.</p><p>Guardian Columnist&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/JessicaValenti/status/636559476162756608" target="_blank">Jessica Valenti tweeted</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;Please do not tweet the shooter&rsquo;s name or link to his social media profiles. Yes, he taped the murders. No, no one should watch it.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/attackerman/status/636559764537872384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" target="_blank">Spencer Ackerman</a>, another Guardian reporter, tweeted, &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have a professional reason to watch a snuff video, I encourage you to neither view it nor share it.&rdquo;</p><p>Even Brent Watts, a meteorologist at WDBJ7, chimed in.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Our <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WDBJ?src=hash">#WDBJ</a> crew was literally ambushed this morning. Please DO NOT share, or post the video.</p>&mdash; Brent Watts (@wattsupbrent) <a href="https://twitter.com/wattsupbrent/status/636562587807817728">August 26, 2015</a></blockquote><p>Obviously, people who want to see these types of videos can find them. It is the internet, after all.&nbsp;But&nbsp;Tufekci says it&#39;s still important not to post them.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s a very different effect between something existing on a seedy corner of the internet for somebody already troubled, versus mainstream attention, which is what the next troubled person is seeking and will be inspired by,&quot; she says.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-27/how-do-you-talk-about-gunman-who-wants-go-viral-and-knows-how" target="_blank"><em>The World</em></a></p></p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-27/how-do-you-talk-about-gunman-who-wants-go-viral-and-knows-how-112753 Tax on sugary drinks gets pushback http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/tax-sugary-drinks-gets-pushback-112752 <p><p dir="ltr">Just weeks after Chicago Ald. George Cardenas&rsquo; proposed a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, the soda industry shot back with a battery of testimonials.</p><p dir="ltr">They came from an industry funded group called the<a href="http://illinoisbeverage.org/chicago-coalition-against-beverage-taxes-launches-opposition-to-discriminatory-beverage-tax/"> Chicago Coaltion Against Beverage Taxes</a>. And among its members is the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Omar Duque leads the chamber and says its members would be &ldquo;adversely affected by the tax&rdquo; because it would drive soda sales down.</p><p dir="ltr">But that&rsquo;s exactly why Esther Sciammerella of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition supports a tax.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We see the increases in obesity in children and adults in the Hispanic community, and the issue of diabetes and metabolic syndrome has become epidemic,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So we advocate drinking water, not soda.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="The proposed tax on sugary drinks would fund obesity prevention programs, but the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes says soda taxes don't better public health. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/HKNfY0sCT1cBDGupbjiw643iZ_PT5_P6HVlAG1TU2CQh3aMsZruWsf9-2AmnRNTlPjR3i2vOIuZb4Id3RDqEgi3-KRaYMH-pwn76XmRpVefHSeBk3Rq3XkVG2CT99CUK1MzvMyw" style="text-align: center; font-family: Arial; font-size: 14.6666669845581px; white-space: pre-wrap; border: none; transform: rotate(0rad); height: 241px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The proposed tax on sugary drinks would fund obesity prevention programs, but the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes says soda taxes don't better public health. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Duque says he recognizes that Latinos suffer from high levels of sugar-related disease. &nbsp;But he doesn&rsquo;t think a local soda tax--that builds on sugar taxes already in place--would help.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our particular opposition is specifically focused around the fact that studies show that punitive taxes around this don&rsquo;t solve the issue,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;An excise tax on sugared beverages would drive down product sales, but it would not really push the needle to reduce obesity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">As evidence, he cites taxes on sugary beverages in Arkansas and West Virginia, which have some of the highest obesity rates in the nation. But Elissa Bassler of the Illinois Public Health Institute--which is also backing a<a href="http://iphionline.org/2015/03/heal-act-reintroduced-makes-a-splash/"> state soda tax</a> to fund Medicaid--believes the comparison is inappropriate.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The [soda] taxes in those states are much much lower and they don&rsquo;t go to fund prevention programs like the proposals in Chicago and Illinois&rsquo;,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The proposed city soda tax would fund health programs in Chicago Public Schools. And supporters of the state tax say it could raise $600 million for Medicaid and obesity prevention each year.</p><p dir="ltr">For many, soda taxes are complicated issues in low-income minority communities. According to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/163997/regular-soda-popular-young-nonwhite-low-income.aspx">2013 Gallup data,</a> whites drink sugary soda only about half as often as minorities. &nbsp;And those who make more than $75,000 a year are half as likely to drink regular soda as those who make less than $30,000 a year.</p><p dir="ltr">So Bassler concedes that the excise tax could affect the pocketbook of low-income minorities more than others.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But we need to remember [minorities] are also disproportionately targeted by the marketers for sugary drinks,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And those are the communities that are most impacted by the health problems attributable to excess consumption of sugary drinks.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes is not the first such coalition funded by the soda industry. Similar groups crop up in most places taxes are proposed. A <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/nyregion/behind-soda-industrys-win-a-phalanx-of-sponsored-minority-groups.html?_r=0">2013 New York Times investigation</a> also detailed millions in soda industry funding to minority groups who would later come out vocally against soda taxes.</p><p dir="ltr">Duque says Coca-Cola is, and has been a dues-paying member of his organization for around 20 years. But he says that has nothing to do with his opposition to the tax.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are not being paid off to be part of this,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We represent businesses in our community, that hire people and have a positive impact in the communities in which they operate and their employees live. They&rsquo;re telling us that they would be adversely affected by this tax. The more we can help these business to continue to operate and be profitable, the more of an impact we&rsquo;re going to have on our economy.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, Sciammerella of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition questions those priorities.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What is the positive role of businesses who are not helping the health of the community?&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m pro-health and helping people to be less sick. What good are profits if they come with the consequence of increased illness in the community?&rdquo;</p><p><br /><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/tax-sugary-drinks-gets-pushback-112752