Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Climate change behind mysterious kidney disease: Study
A mysterious kidney disease that has killed over 20,000 people in Central America since 2002, and now spreading to other countries including India, may be caused by chronic, severe dehydration linked to global climate change, says a new study.
 
"This could be the first epidemic directly caused by global warming," said one of the researchers Richard Johnson, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in the US.
 
So far, the manual labourers on sugar cane plantations in the hotter, lower altitudes of Central America's Pacific coast have been hit hardest by the disease. It has also been reported among farmworkers, miners, fishermen and construction and transportation workers in the region.
 
"Some districts of Nicaragua have been called the `land of widows' due to the high mortality rates occurring among the male workers from chronic kidney disease," Johnson pointed out.
 
The epidemic was first described in 2002 and has been dubbed Mesoamerican Nephropathy.
 
Theories abound about what may be causing it, including exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic chemicals. But Johnson believes the actual culprit is chronic recurrent dehydration.
 
His research team studied sugar cane workers in Nicaragua and El Salvador. They found that the labourers routinely worked in conditions exceeding the recommended heat standards of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 
 
And even though some of them drank up to one to two litres per hour, the researchers found they still suffered serious dehydration on a daily basis.
 
One of the major side-effects of this dehydration was hyperuricemia or excess uric acid levels in the blood. 
 
In one study, sugar cane workers in El Salvador had uric acid levels of 6.6 mg per decilitre in the morning which increased to 7.2 mg in the afternoon. 
 
And 21 of 23 people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) had hyperuricemia.
 
Dehydration also activates a pathway in the kidney which generates fructose that, when metabolised, produces uric acid. 
 
Johnson's team also found that these dehydrated workers had high concentrations of uric acid crystals in their urine. 
 
The uric acid crystals are thought to trigger tubular damage and fibrosis in the kidneys.
 
The study suggests that this epidemic may be gaining momentum now because global warming is increasing the risk of dehydration.
 
Johnson said that this kind of CKD is now being observed in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Egypt.
 
He recommends improving work conditions and hydration practices among those most at risk for developing the disease.
 
The study was published in the the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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What Can Be Done Right Now to Fix the Legal System for Debt Collection
America’s out-of-date, unfair laws for collecting debts could be dramatically improved by these simple steps
 
Laws governing debt collection lawsuits and garnishments are often antiquated, poorly thought out and place the burden on debtors to know their rights. Below are ideas for commonsense reforms. 
 
1. Lower How Much Can Be Taken from Debtors’ Wages
 
The federal law limiting wage seizures to 25 percent of after-tax income passed in 1968. Lawmakers appear to have pulled this percentage out of a hat. Some states protect more of a worker’s pay – and four (Texas, Pennsylvania and the Carolinas) prohibit garnishment for most debts – but most allow the federal level. Federal surveys show that low-income workers can’t afford to lose a quarter of their pay.
 
2. Restrict How Much Can Be Taken from Debtors’ Bank Accounts
 
The 1968 federal law is so old that it is silent on the subject of bank account garnishments, which are now a common form of collection for collectors. As a result, a plaintiff can seize no more than a quarter of a worker’s pay, but if that paycheck is deposited into a bank account, the entire amount can be seized.
 
3. Provide Clear Notice to Debtors about Laws That Protect Them
 
When states do provide legal protections for debtors – such as allowing those with children to keep more of their pay under a “head of family” exemption – the burden is typically on the debtor to assert these protections. But there’s frequently no clear notice provided to debtors that the protections exist.
 
4. Limit Attorneys’ Fees to Reflect Actual Work on a Suit
 
When companies sue, they often request an “attorney’s fee,” which is routinely granted and added to the judgment. The fees are usually set at arbitrary, fixed amounts, even though attorneys may spend only a few minutes on a suit. In 2013, we reported that one subprime lender in Mississippi added an attorney fee equal to one-third of the principal balance to each suit, even though the attorney was a company executive.
 
5. Cut Interest on Judgments to a Reasonable Level
 
Under Missouri law, lenders can request that judgments grow at the contracts’ rate of interest. Particularly when high-cost lenders sue, this can result in what one St. Louis judge called a form of “indentured servitude”: A debt can balloon at triple-digit interest even as the debtors’ wages are seized. A $1,000 loan can become a $40,000 debt, forcing the debtor to declare bankruptcy or make payments for a life.
 
6. Improve Enrollment in Programs to Help Low-Income Debtors
 
Some common plaintiffs, such as utility companies and non-profit or public hospitals, have an obligation to serve the public. These sorts of entities often have a program of some kind to help lower-income patients or customers, and yet, as ProPublica has documented repeatedly, debtors often don’t know about these programs.
 

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Saradha scam: Ex-minister's wife Manoranjana sent to CBI custody
Former union minister and Congress leader Matang Sinh's estranged wife Manoranjana -- who was arrested in connection with the Saradha scam -- was on Thursday sent to five days custody of the CBI by a court here.
 
Manoranjana along with Kolkata-based entrepreneur and chairman of the now-defunct Xenitis Group, Santanu Ghosh were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday for their alleged complicity in the multi-crore-rupee scam.
 
Rejecting their bail plea, the court sent the duo to CBI custody till October 13.
 
According to the CBI, they were "involved in a criminal conspiracy with Saradha group head and scam kingpin Sudipta Sen and misappropriated huge amounts running into crores of rupees".
 
The CBI had arrested Matang Sinh in January and charge-sheeted him for several offences including cheating and criminal conspiracy.
 
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had since 2014 been quizzing Manoranjana -- who along with many other high-profile names -- has been accused of complicity in the scam by Sudipta Sen in his 2013 tell-all letter to the CBI.
 
Manoranjana, a former journalist, had allegedly sold her shares in an audio-visual channel to the Saradha Group.
 
She had also purportedly taken Sen to the lawyer-wife of a former union minister for settling a deal, Sen claimed in the letter.
 
Ghosh, said to have made several business transactions with the tainted group, was arrested in June 2014 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
 
He was subsequently granted bail in August last year by a city court.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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