The Lookout
  • Report: Mental health of U.S. soldiers in a freefall

    New York Magazine reporter Jennifer Senior has a wrenching report on the growing mental-health crisis among American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    With military suicide rates rising to unprecedented heights—to the point where more soldiers are now dying by their own hand than in combat—Senior finds that many soldiers end up combating their own mental afflictions in isolation. Often, she notes, they end up falling out of social networks of support, dependent on a bevy of prescription anti-depressants and sleep aides to make it through each day.

    A spokesman at Fort Drum, home to the 10th Mountain Division here in New York State, tells me by e-mail that one-quarter of its 20,000 soldiers have "received some type of behavioral health evaluation and/or treatment during the past year." Defense Department spending on Ambien, a popular sleep aid, and Seroquel, an antipsychotic, has doubled since 2007, according to the Army Times, while spending on Topamax, an anti-convulsant medication often used for migraines, quadrupled; amphetamine prescriptions have doubled, too, according to the Army's own data. Meanwhile, a study by the Rand Corporation has found that 20 percent of the soldiers who've deployed in this war report symptoms of post-traumatic stress and major depression. The number climbs to almost 30 percent if the soldiers have deployed more than twice.

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  • AP04060406750A comprehensive analysis of 33 studies finds that teaching kids social and emotional skills leads to an average 11 percentile-point gain in their academic performance over six months compared to students who didn't receive the same instruction.

    That's a big jump, equivalent to a student at the middle of a class's performance curve moving into the top 40 percent of his or her peers, Sarah Sparks at EdWeek notes. The study's authors, led by Joseph Durlak, suggest the dramatic gain could be rooted in the physiology of the brain; social-skill instruction "may affect central executive cognitive functions," he notes—and improvement there helps kids to gain greater control over their impulses and actions.

    The classes emphasize self control, responsible decision-making, and how to form and keep positive relationships with friends and authority figures. One lesson plan from the "Caring School Community" program asks kids to think about "some things you can do if you're not included in a game"—or if you see someone else on the playground who is left out. Many of the programs have an anti-bullying focus.

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  • A natural gas well grows in a national forest

    gas drilling in forestWhat happens when an industry increasingly prone to safety mishaps and public controversy gets drilling rights in a national forest?

    The nonprofit investigative group Pro Publica gives a bracing answer, by digging into a U.S. Forest Service report on a natural gas drilling project in West Virginia's 4,700-acre Fernow Experimental Forest. In summarizing the Forest Service's findings, Pro Publica points up an impressive litany of environmental damage: The drilling killed off roughly 1,000 trees, while the natural-gas industry's controversial slate-fracturing gas-discovery process known as "fracking" released toxic chemicals into the ground and onto the surrounding land that could well render the immediate area virtually uninhabitable for native wildlife.

    Reports Pro Publica:

    According to the report, a well blowout . . . accidentally sprayed that fracking fluid onto surrounding land and trees, browning leaves and killing ground cover. After drilling was complete, Berry Energy, which owns the well, also sprayed some 80,000 gallons of wastewater into the forest. The briney liquid shocked about 150 trees into shedding their leaves. A year later, half of those trees still had no foliage. This disposal method, called land application, is legal in West Virginia with conventional wells, Schuler said, but is not allowed for wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale.

    Schuler said the scientists were surprised that the trees lost their leaves. Drillers normally spray the waste over a larger area but the scientists asked Berry to contain the application, which meant spreading the salts and chemicals on a smaller piece of land. The soil in that area was left with high levels of chloride, calcium and sodium. Animals were attracted to the area, likely because of the high salt content of the soil.

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Pagination

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  • Accused Kansas Shooter In Wheelchair For Court Appearance
    Accused Kansas Shooter In Wheelchair For Court Appearance

    Suspect Could Face the Death Penalty For Shooting Rampage, Prosecutor Says

  • Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry survivors

    By Jungmin Jang and Narae Kim MOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds of people, most of them teenagers from the same school, still missing after a South Korean ferry capsized 36 hours ago. The vessel, carrying 475 passengers and crew, capsized on Wednesday during a journey from the port of Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju. Another 179 passengers have been rescued, leaving 282 unaccounted for and possibly trapped in the vessel.

  • Vibrant colors for latest Giorgio Armani makeup collection
    Vibrant colors for latest Giorgio Armani makeup collection

    The Italian luxury brand is preparing for the arrival of summer with the bold and intense shades of its new makeup collection, Bright Ribbon. For the new line, Giorgio Armani Beauty's international makeup artist Linda Cantello created a palette of bright hues ranging from orange to dark purple, with plenty of pinks in between. Altogether, the collection includes six new colors. Armani's Rouge Sheer lip color, based on a translucent formula, and Nail Lacquer, a gel-textured polish, are both available in coral, mandarine, soft pink, electric pink and dark purple.

  • Jenny McCarthy & Donnie Wahlberg Engaged!
    Jenny McCarthy & Donnie Wahlberg Engaged!

    Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg are engaged!

  • FATHER OF FOUR IS SELFISH TO PUT HIS HEALTH AT RISK

    DEAR ABBY: I am a 34-year-old wife and mother of four. I'm concerned about my husband. He is 44 and drinks at home every evening after work. I don't mind him having a few cans of beer, but he drinks between six and 12 a day. He refuses to see a doctor for checkups or when he is sick. I am worried about his health. The drinking could have an impact, and I would like him to have a physical exam to put my mind at ease. I tell my husband I want him to take care of himself to live longer for our children's sake (our youngest is 4). ...

  • uFly fires flight simulator who appeared on CNN

    TORONTO (AP) — A Canadian flight simulator business fired an instructor who figured prominently in CNN's coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, saying he showed up late to his regular job and "shamed Canadians" by dressing like a teenager.

  • Team Hoyt to Run Last Boston Marathon
    Team Hoyt to Run Last Boston Marathon

    Father-and-Son Marathon Team to Run Final Boston Marathon

  • Russia: deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions
    Russia: deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

    GENEVA (AP) — Russia's foreign minister says top diplomats have agreed to take immediate steps toward calming tensions in Ukraine.

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