Sunday, 22 October 2017

Study of lead and copper accumulation by selected botanical species in urban environment

This article may be a bit academic for most readers but I included it because it showed me that the so-called advanced nations are not the only one doing detailed research into pollution.

an article by Djédoux Maxime Angaman, Yao Sadaiou Sabas Barima, Zamblé Fidèle Tra Bi, Kobenan Pierre N'gouran and Bini Kouamé Dongui (Jean Lorougnon Guédé University, Daloa, Ivory Coast, Côte d'Ivoire) published in World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development Volume 13 Number 3 (2017)


The aim of this study is to quantify lead and copper concentrations deposited on plant species exposed in different habitats of Abidjan in order to assess air quality of Abidjan. Five species were used Barleria prionitis, Cassia surattensis, Duranta repens, Ficus benjamina, Jatropha interrigima and exposed in parks, main roads, industrial and residential zones.

Leaf samples were collected and the concentrations of copper and lead were carried out by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Roads generally showed high levels of copper and lead and the highest values reached 13 mg.g−1 and 7.5 mg.g−1 respectively. While the lowest were found in Parks with the values 2 mg.g−1 for Cu and 0.5 mg.g−1 for Pb.

These results suggest that the major source of pollution were car exhaust. However, C.surattensis at roadsides showed the highest deposition of Cu and Pb. A significant positive correlation between lead and copper concentration in three leaves species, Cassia surrattensis (r = 0.974; p = 0.0043), Duranta repens (r = 0.824; p = 0.0057) and Jatropha interrigima (r = 0927; p = 0.00001) were found.

The Most Debilitating Disease in the World Isn't Just in Your Head

a post by Scotty Hendricks for the Big Think blog

Article Image
Depression. Photo Diego Fornero []

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new condition as the leading cause of of poor health and disability around the world, which has seen an 18% spike in diagnoses over the past few years. A condition that most of us have encountered in our lives either through personal experience or the difficulties of a friend or loved one. And, in a new twist, this condition is a mental disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder, more commonly known as depression now affects more than 300 million people across the globe, causing a lack of self-esteem, the inability to enjoy activities that previously brought pleasure, low energy, pain, and in severe cases delusion and hallucination. Between 2-7% of individuals with depression will go on to commit suicide.

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Poor choice? Smith, Hayek and the moral economy of food consumption

an article by Simon Glaze and Ben Richardson (University of Warwick, Coventry, UK) published in Economy and Society Volume 46 Issue 1 (2017)


This paper explores the moral economy of food in the United Kingdom via discourses on food bank usage and obesity. It argues that both of these markers of malnutrition were interpreted under the Conservative-led governments of David Cameron (2010–2016) as failings of personal responsibility and identified primarily with the working class, advancing the assumption that poor people make poor choices.

Based on a critique of this account, our wider contribution is two-fold.

First, we identify the Hayekian lineage of the discourse of personal responsibility, highlighting its utility in facilitating a form of neoliberal market consent through its insistence on self-reliance.

Second, we stake out an alternative to this conceptualization through a discussion of Adam Smith’s notion of self-command, which we call interpersonal responsibility.

Distances, multinational organisational learning, and firm performance: a new perspective

an article by Philipp Metz (Dresden University of Technology, Germany) published in International Journal of Business Environment Volume 9 Number 2 (2017)


In the international business literature, the impact of organisational learning on firm performance in the multinational context is broadly discussed. However, oversimplifications and inconsistencies in theories and empirical analyses to explain the phenomenon hinder overall understanding of a supposed beneficial influence.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss when multinational organisational learning generates positive implications for firm performance, in contrast to an observable taken-for-granted positive impact inherent in current research.

Drawing on distance dimensions' influence, I revisit the assumptions of the effect of traditional geographic, cultural, and psychic distances on the positive impact of multinational organisational learning on firm performance and offer revised assumptions of the effect of newly identified, contemporary strategic, communication, and content distances. I thus address the importance of the strategic roles of organisational units, their connectivity, and perceptions of various knowledge contents.

The implications for further research and practice are also discussed.

Not All Depression Is Alike: Tips to Improve Situational Depression

a post by Christiana Star for the World of Psychology blog

The word depression is used in different contexts. Some people claim it for minor problems like being disappointed, hurt or discouraged. Others use it to describe feelings of such heaviness and dejection that they are barely able to function. Symptoms may be so severe that it becomes a life-long debilitating condition where clinical interventions are warranted to redress chemical or hormonal imbalances within the body.

A more common form of depression is very much linked to external circumstances that overwhelm a person’s ability to process and deal with life’s challenges. Difficult experiences or chronic stress can shake one’s sense of self, reduce options, shatter plans and dash hopes for the future. This easily opens the door to feeling lost, worthless and depressed. Hidden within such feelings may be other emotions like anger, fear of the future, disappointment, grief, despair, regret or guilt. Unexamined and unexpressed, they only increase the inner anguish and loss of joy.

This kind of stress-induced or situational depression can rarely be improved by addressing the depressive symptoms alone. It requires a two-pronged approach:

  • Engaging in activities that can lighten depressive symptoms.
  • Making adjustments to the stressful situation that induced it in the first place. If that is not possible, modifying how the challenge is viewed and dealt with.

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Saturday, 21 October 2017

The labour market consequences of refugee supply shocks

an article by George J. Borjas and Joan Monras (Harvard University, NBER and IZA; Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros (CEMFI) and IZA) published in Economic Policy Volume 32 Issue 91 (July 2017)


The continuing inflow of hundreds of thousands of refugees into many European countries has ignited much political controversy and raised questions that require a fuller understanding of the determinants and consequences of refugee supply shocks. This paper revisits four historical refugee shocks to document their labour market impact.

Specifically, we examine:
  • The influx of Marielitos into Miami in 1980;
  • the influx of French repatriates and Algerian nationals into France at the end of the Algerian Independence War in 1962;
  • the influx of Jewish émigrés into Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s; and
  • the exodus of refugees from the former Yugoslavia during the long series of Balkan wars between 1991 and 2001.
We use a common empirical approach, derived from factor demand theory, and publicly available data to measure the impact of these shocks.

Despite the differences in the political forces that motivated the various flows, and in economic conditions across receiving countries, the evidence reveals a common thread that confirms key insights of the canonical model of a competitive labour market: Exogenous supply shocks adversely affect the labour market opportunities of competing natives in the receiving countries, and often have a favorable impact on complementary workers.

In short, refugee flows can have large distributional consequences.

JEL Classification: J2, J23, J30, J61, J68

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The benefits of central bank digital currency

a column by Michael Bordo and Andrew Levin for VOX: CEPR’s Policy Portal

Central banks across the world are considering sovereign digital currencies. This column argues that these currencies could transform all aspects of the monetary system and facilitate the systematic and transparent conduct of monetary policy. In particular, a central bank digital currency can serve as a practically costless medium of exchange, a secure store of value, and a stable unit of account. To achieve this, the currency would be account based and interest bearing, and the monetary policy framework would target true price stability.

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