In New York, 41 people were arrested Wednesday for blocking the gates of a gas storage facility in a campaign against the Texas-based company Crestwood Midstream, which plans to expand methane gas storage near a lake that provides drinking water to 100,000 people.

"Today we had 40 people blockading this gate, among them many teachers … This is the kind of education that the whole world needs right now,” says biologist and activist Sandra Steingraber of We Are Seneca Lake. Watch her statement on Democracy Now! today.

This Article is not about Headlines

Publishers have long resorted to A/B testing to determine what catchy headline will garner the most traffic. In doing so though, they may be overlooking something rather critical: how well readers eventually understand what’s being published.

A new study in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied demonstrates how headlines affect how we perceive an article’s content:

Information presented in news articles can be misleading without being blatantly false. Experiment 1 examined the effects of misleading headlines that emphasize secondary content rather than the article’s primary gist. We investigated how headlines affect readers’ processing of factual news articles and opinion pieces, using both direct memory measures and more indirect reasoning measures. Experiment 2 examined an even more subtle type of misdirection. We presented articles featuring a facial image of one of the protagonists, and examined whether the headline and opening paragraph of an article affected the impressions formed of that face even when the person referred to in the headline was not the person portrayed. We demonstrate that misleading headlines affect readers’ memory, their inferential reasoning and behavioral intentions, as well as the impressions people form of faces. On a theoretical level, we argue that these effects arise not only because headlines constrain further information processing, biasing readers toward a specific interpretation, but also because readers struggle to update their memory in order to correct initial misconceptions.

As Maria Konnikova points out in the New Yorker, “The headline, it turns out, had done more than simply reframe the article. In the case of the factual articles, a misleading headline hurt a reader’s ability to recall the article’s details.”

So too using photos that don’t fit the headline. For example, if the story is about a robbery and is illustrated with an image of the victim, readers come away with a negative impression of him or her rather than the perpetrator.

The study’s behind a paywall, check Konnikova’s article for her analysis.

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Maldives declares state of emergency as disaster deprives entire population of water

The state of emergency has been declared in Male, the capital of the Maldives island chain, much of which has been deprived of drinking water since Dec. 5 when the city’s sole water and sewage treatment plant burned.

“I think the situation is more serious than the government admits” one resident, who requested anonymity, told local news agency Minivan News.

The Maldivian government announced Monday that there could have been no fall back plan for such a disaster.

Male is one of the most densely populated places in the world at a rate of 130,000 people in an area about two kilometers square. Faced with the shortage, people attacked shops selling mineral water, according to local media reports.

According to Maldivian Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Hussain Shareef, Maldives 130,000 Male residents of Malé consume around 14,000 metric tonnes of water a day. The water treatment plant, when fully functional, was able to produce 20,000 tonnes, Shareef said.

The Maldives has appealed for aid from India, Sri Lanka, the US and China.

Indian authorities transported water in by air this Friday, and dispatched a Navy ship with two water purification systems on board, capable of producing 20 tons of drinking water per day.

Water was also provided by aircraft from neighboring Sri Lanka, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, as reported by the news website Minivan News. An American ship is en route with drinking water, and China has promised to help, the ministry said.

A Chinese vessel is carrying 960 tonnes of fresh water is en route, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry. China’s Foreign Ministry has also stated that 20 tonnes of bottled water was sent on two civilian flights Saturday.

For their part, Maldivian authorities tried to revive the activity of the plant, but according to Minivan News, repairs could take up to five days.

“We had water on tap for about an hour this morning, and it is hardly enough,” added Minivan’s source. Water was distributed free to residents by security forces, but only those able to show a Maldives ID card could benefit, thus excluding foreign workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. This limitation was denounced local political activists.

By James Haleavy

A hearty congratulations to part-time Atlanta resident Sir Elton John (@eltonjohn) and his longtime partner David Furnish (@davidfurnish), who married today in England. As you probably already know, John and his Elton John AIDS Foundation (@ejaf) has giving generously to Birmingham-based charities (AIDS AIabama, Birmingham AIDS Outreach).

Source: @eltonjohn

#eltonjohn #davidfurnish #weddingday #news #headlines #loveandmarriage #congrats #shoutout #photofinish #equinoxbham

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What causes cell division? Neither of the prevailing theories, but rather an extraordinarily simple quantitative principle of cell-size control, according to UC San Diego scientists

How do cells control their size? What causes them to divide? Contrary to what many biologists have expected, evidence supporting an answer to one of the most fundamental and longstanding problems of biology has been accomplished by UC San Diego researchers. The study surprised even the researchers: a simple quantitative principle explains the phenomena without regard for either of the currently prevailing theories.

“Life is very robust and ‘plastic,’ much more than what biology textbooks tell us. Bacteria probably do not care when they should start replicating their genomes or dividing,” Dr. Suckjoon Jun, assistant professor of physics and molecular biology at the University of California, San Diego and one of the lead authors of the study, told The Speaker.

Dr. Suckjoon Jun

“Simple mathematical principles help us understand fundamental biology, just like in physics.”

How do cells control their size? What causes them to divide?

Biologists had previously posited two possible solutions: either a cell reaches a certain size, at which it divides into two smaller cells; or after a certain time has passed, the cell divides. The two theories have been known as “sizer” and “timer.”

The results surprised the researchers as well: “adder.”

“The results were completely unexpected,” Jun told us.

Rather than either sizer or timer paradigms, cells were found to add a constant volume each generation, regardless of their newborn size.

“This ‘adder’ principle quantitatively explains experimental data at both the population and single-cell levels, including the origin and the hierarchy of variability in the size-control mechanisms and how cells maintain size homeostasis,” the researchers concluded, whereas in past research based on “sizer” and “timer” theories led to difficult-to-verify assumptions or population-averaged data and varied interpretations.

Time and size, while variable in some organisms, do not even factor into the existence of “perfect adders” in the newly found and “extraordinarily simple” quantitative principle of cell-size control.

“It seems most bacteria we have studied so far, and more data is coming out of other labs, appear to be perfect adder,” said Jun. “Some higher organisms, such as yeast, do care about size more than bacteria do. For example, small-born yeast cells add more mass than large-

born cells to reach division. That is, how much mass they add since birth is sensitive to how big the baby cell was. Nevertheless, the way they reach the target size, generation after generation, works exactly same as the perfect adders such as bacteria, which is quite nice and surprising.”

The growth of cells follow the growth law, the researchers found, and grow exponentially at a constant rate.

Jun explained the challenge that had stood in the way of understanding this aspect of cell division in the past: “Two biggest obstacles have been (one) dogmas that cells somehow must actively sense space or time to control cell size, and (two) technology that did not exist until recently, which now allows monitoring the growth and division patterns of tens of thousands of individual cells under tightly controlled environment.”

The research team developed a tiny device that isolates individual genetic materials.

The tool allowed the researchers to observe thousands of individual bacterial cells–Gram-negative E. coli and Gram-positive B. subtilis–over hundreds of generations. The researchers manipulated the conditions in which the cells lived. A wide range of tightly controlled steady-state growth conditions were experimented with.

According to the researchers, the new method allowed them to produce statistical samples about a thousand times better than had previosly been available.

“We looked at the growth patterns of the cells very very carefully, and realized that there is something really special about the way the cells control their size,” explained Jun.

“No one has been able to answer this question,” Jun said in their press release, noting that this was even the case for the E. coli bacterium, possibly the most extensively studied organism to date.

The research holds the promise of better informing the fight against cancer, since one of the most important problems in the fight is the process of runaway cell division.

The reports, “Cell-size maintenance: universal strategy revealed” and “‘Cell-size control and homeostasis in bacteria” were completed by Suckjoon Jun, Massimp Vergassola and Sattar Taheri-Araghi, and were published in the journal Current Biology .

By Justin Munce
Images: the work of the researchers

The JournoList

The House of Representatives averted a government shutdown, narrowly passing a $1.1 trillion spending bill despite strenuous Democratic objections to controversial financial provisions.

Congress now has until Wednesday night, if needed, to complete work on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep most government agencies operating through next summer.

The $1.1 trillion budget includes significantly less funding than was requested for several progressive efforts, including homelessness support and prevention.

Big metro areas are mostly booming after the recession, and everywhere else is still digging out.

A Kansas program designed to test welfare applicants for drug use—supported by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is known for boasting over enrollment cuts to the state’s program for low-income families—has resulted in only 20 drug tests in the four months since it began.

The Affordable Care Act is expected to provide around $10 billion in subsidies this year to make health insurance affordable for low- and middle-income people. But a quirk in the law is denying subsidies to a significant number of low-income people, especially those with families.

Health officials in Wyoming released a report urging the state to expand Medicaid coverage, adding to the list of Republican-led states advocating for the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Kansas Republicans blocked a proposal to create a special panel to investigate possible ethics violations in the operation of KanCare, the state’s $3 billion privatized Medicaid program.

More disabled Iowans are being added to waiting lists for state assistance, despite $6 million that legislators earmarked last spring to reduce the number of those waiting for help.