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September 20, 2011 | By Mark K. Matthews, Washington Bureau
If NASA ever wants to send astronauts to Mars, it first must solve a problem that has nothing to do with rockets or radiation exposure. A newly discovered eye condition found to erode the vision of some astronauts who have spent months aboard the International Space Station has doctors worried that future explorers could go blind by the end of long missions, such as a multiyear trip to Mars. Although blindness is the worst-case scenario, the threat of blurred vision is enough that NASA has asked scores of researchers to study the issue and has put special eyeglasses on the space station to help those affected.
September 12, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Watching just a short bit of the wildly popular kids TV show "SpongeBob SquarePants" has been known to give many parents headaches. Psychologists have now found that a brief exposure to SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and the rest of the crew also appears to dampen preschoolers' brain power. Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson, both of the University of Virginia's department of psychology, wanted to see whether watching fast-paced television had an immediate influence on kids' executive function -- skills including attention, working memory, problem solving and delay of gratification that are associated with success in school.
July 26, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots Blog
Forgotten how to do something you just learned yesterday? Consider the possibility that last night's sleep was punctuated by mini-awakenings, robbing you of the ability to commit that new skill to memory. You might have gotten eight hours of sleep, and may not even feel tired. But when sleep is interrupted frequently--as it is in a wide range of disorders, including sleep apnea, alcoholism and Alzheimer's disease--the ability to learn new things can be dramatically impaired, says a new study conducted on mice.
July 2, 2011 | By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
It was his green tongue that helped give away Jimmy Candido Flores when police arrived at the fatal accident scene near Chico. Flores had run off the road and killed a jogger, Carrie Jean Holliman, a 56-year-old Chico elementary school teacher. California Highway Patrol officers thought he might be impaired and conducted a sobriety examination. Flores' tongue had a green coat typical of heavy marijuana users and a later test showed he had pot, as well as other drugs, in his blood.
June 24, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
The Supreme Court on Thursday put an extra burden on crime labs, declaring that a man accused of drunken driving has the right to demand that a lab technician testify in person about a blood test that showed he was impaired. The 5-4 decision was the latest to extend the reach of a defendant's constitutional right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him. " And once again, the outcome was driven by an unusual coalition of conservative and liberal justices. Two years ago, the court said a crime lab technician was a witness for the prosecution and, therefore, must be available to testify.
June 23, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Reporting from Hollywood, Fla. -- Drunk or impaired drivers cause plenty of problems on the nation's roadways. And, according to the first study of its kind, a frightening number of drivers are not fit to drive.   Researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and two other institutions set out to randomly sample drivers' sobriety in the 2007 U.S. National Roadside Survey. Authorities stopped drivers at 300 locations in 48 states during four periods on Friday and Saturday nights.
June 1, 2011 | By Ian Millhiser
How times have changed. In 2005, when Democrats balked at confirming some of then-President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, Senate Republicans widely declared that filibustering a judicial nominee violates the Constitution. Late last month, however, Senate Republicans embraced the tactic, almost unanimously joining a filibuster of professor Goodwin Liu's nomination to a federal appeals court. And sadly, it worked: Last week, Liu asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination. Republicans justified their apparent belief that what's unacceptable in a Republican administration is perfectly fine in a Democratic administration by demonizing Liu, insisting he would rewrite the Constitution to achieve liberal ends.
October 16, 2010 | Steve Lopez
The man on the other end of the phone wanted me to go to a dispensary and buy three-sixteenths of an ounce of high-grade dope and another three-sixteenths of an ounce of medium-grade. My wife overheard part of the conversation, and when I hung up she had a question. "Who was that ?" she asked. "The city attorney," I said. Before I explain, let's review some history. As some of you may recall, I went to a Glendale doctor about a year ago seeking relief from lower back pain, and, of course, to have a first-hand look at the blossoming medicinal marijuana industry.
October 5, 2010 | Wire reports
The Carolina Panthers released receiver Dwayne Jarrett on Tuesday, hours after his second arrest on a charge of driving while impaired in less than three years. The Panthers replaced him with David Clowney , who was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets to help a depleted receiving corps Jarrett, the former USC standout, did little to boost his stock before his latest legal trouble. Jarrett managed only 35 catches and one touchdown in four seasons in Carolina, and the Panthers (0-4)
September 7, 2010
In storyteller Garrison Keillor's corner of Minnesota, all the children may be "above average. " But a study of older Minnesotans in the county surrounding the famed Mayo Clinic suggests that the ones who stay "above average" mentally are more likely to be female, to have completed more education, and to have been married at some point. The study, published Tuesday in Neurology , aims to refine what we know about age-related cognitive decline. Starting in 2004, it tracked 4,398 Minnesotans aged 70 to 89 to see how that population's mental state weathered advancing age and to determine who was most likely to develop a condition called mild cognitive impairment -- a greater-than-average decline in mental performance that often progresses to dementia, including the dementia of Alzheimer's Disease.
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