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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  • Angelina Jolie's Wedding Dress Details
    Angelina Jolie's Wedding Dress Details

    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt surprised the world with news of their wedding, which took place last weekend in Correns, France at Chateau Miraval – and now, everyone is wondering what the bride wore on her big day! According to E! News, the actress, 39, wore a white dress for the ceremony. The source went to say that Angelina also wore a veil and, "definitely wore something that once belonged to [her mother] Marcheline Bertrand. The designer for Angelina's dress has yet to be revealed.

  • Daughter: Joan Rivers is in 'serious condition
    Daughter: Joan Rivers is in 'serious condition

    NEW YORK (AP) — Joan Rivers remained in serious condition in a New York City hospital Friday, one day after going into cardiac arrest at a doctor's office.

  • Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis
    Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis

    By Alexei Anishchuk and Richard Balmforth LAKE SELIGER Russia/KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine called on Friday for full membership in NATO, its strongest plea yet for Western military help, after accusing Russia of sending in armored columns that have driven back its forces on behalf of pro-Moscow rebels. Russian President Vladimir Putin, defiant as ever, compared Kiev's drive to regain control of its rebellious eastern cities to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two. Speaking to young people at a summer camp, Putin told his countrymen they must be "ready to repel any aggression towards Russia." He described Ukrainians and Russians as "practically one people," language that Ukrainians say dismisses the very existence of their thousand-year-old nation. Kiev and Western countries say the reversal was the result of the arrival of armored columns of Russian troops, sent by Putin to prop up a rebellion that would otherwise have been near collapse.

  • Cameron promises tough action to fight militants
    Cameron promises tough action to fight militants

    LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Friday to plug gaps in Britain's armory to combat terror, describing the extremist threat posed by the Islamic State group as being more dangerous than even that of al-Qaida.

  • The most disappointing rumor about the iPhone 6 may have just been confirmed
    The most disappointing rumor about the iPhone 6 may have just been confirmed

    There’s no shortage of hype for the upcoming iPhone 6 although that doesn’t mean the device won’t be disappointing in some ways. The most disappointing rumor we’ve heard about Apple’s upcoming flagship phone is that it will only feature 1GB of RAM at a time when most high-end smartphones have long moved onto using 2GB of RAM or more. FROM EARLIER: Here’s an iPhone 6 leak that will leave you disappointed MacRumors takes a look at the newest leaked picture of the iPhone 6’s A8 processor and says that it appears the chip will only have 1GB of RAM after all. How does MacRumors know this? One of its forum members pointed out that the leaked photo appears to show that

  • Miley Cyrus Is Not Wearing Clothes On Her Latest Magazine Cover
    Miley Cyrus Is Not Wearing Clothes On Her Latest Magazine Cover

    Miley Cyrus usually looks like she’s not wearing any clothes, but on the upcoming issue of V Magazine she is actually not wearing any clothes. She’s naked on top of a pile of stuffed animals on the magazine’s “Rebel Issue,” shot by Karl Lagerfeld, and the concept of it fits Miley perfectly.

  • Court: Man can't build road across neighbor's land

    A state appeals court has ruled against a landowner who wanted to access his landlocked property by building a road through a neighbor's land, the latest decision in a long-running dispute about how the ...

  • Police officer resigns, another is fired after Ferguson incidents
    Police officer resigns, another is fired after Ferguson incidents

    By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - A police officer has resigned after pointing a rifle at protesters during racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, and another has been fired for inappropriate social media posts stemming from the two weeks of civil unrest, officials said on Friday. Violent protests erupted in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed black 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, drawing global attention to the state of race relations in the United States. Police and demonstrators in Ferguson clashed nightly for days after the shooting, with authorities coming under fire for mass arrests and the what critics said were the use of heavy-handed tactics and military gear. At a protest on Aug. 19, Ray Albers, a police officer in the neighboring community of St. Ann, pointed his rifle at a Ferguson protester during a heated verbal exchange, an episode that was captured on video and widely circulated on social media.

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