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32 Inspirational Mother Teresa Quotes

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Mother Teresa, known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, is one of the most recognized humanitarian figures in recent memory.  From an early age, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to charity and helping those in need all around the world.  Even though much of her drive comes from her loyalty to her faith, her story and wisdom continues to inspire millions to this day even after her death in 1997.

Here are some of her most inspirational quotes:

1. “Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

2. “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

3. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

4. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

5. “There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.” – Mother Teresa

6. “We fear the future because we are wasting the today” – Mother Teresa

7. “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” – Mother Teresa

8. “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” – Mother Teresa

9. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

10. “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa

11. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa

12. “When you don’t have anything, then you have everything” – Mother Teresa

13. “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

14. “Live simply so others may simply live.” – Mother Teresa

15. “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?” – Mother Teresa

16. “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” – Mother Teresa

17. “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa

18. “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

19. “Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. ” – Mother Teresa

20. “True love is a giving, and giving until it hurts” – Mother Teresa

21. “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” – Mother Teresa

22. “The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.” – Mother Teresa

23. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

24. “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love” – Mother Teresa

25. “Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” – Mother Teresa

26. “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

27. “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person” – Mother Teresa

28. “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” – Mother Teresa

29. “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.” – Mother Teresa

30. “God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.” – Mother Teresa

31. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

32. “Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.” – Mother Teresa

Which quote resonated with you the most?  Comment below!

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Why Africa must become a center of knowledge again | Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

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How can Africa, the home to some of the largest bodies of water in the world, be said to have a water crisis? It doesn’t, says Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò — it has a knowledge crisis. According to Taiwo, a lack of knowledge on important topics like water and food is what stands between Africa’s current state and a future of prosperity. In a powerful talk, he calls for Africa to make the production of knowledge within the continent rewarding and to reclaim its position as a locus of learning on behalf of humanity. http://ift.tt/2wuQI8o Source: http://ift.tt/1c2EilT

7 Common Newsletter Problems Solved

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at why email newsletters are so important, what your email newsletter might look like, and how to choose the right service for you.

So is your newsletter up and running yet?

If the answer is “Yes”, is it working as well as you’d like?

If not, then read on.

I know a lot of bloggers find newsletters a bit daunting. And there are some really common problems that crop up again and again. Here are the seven I see most often:

Problem #1: You Know You Should Set Up a List, But You Haven’t Done It Yet

Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you that you need an email list. If you haven’t set yours up yet, it’s probably because you’re struggling to find the time or stuck in analysis paralysis.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Set aside some time this week. You don’t need a whole afternoon to set up your email list. You can do it in stages. If you can find just 15 minutes this week, that’s enough to get started. Take it step by step, and Google for instructions if you get stuck at any stage.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, use a free service. Mailchimp and MailerLite are both free up to 1,000 subscribers. If you find they’re not the perfect solution, you can move your list at a later stage. The important thing is to get started.

Problem #2: You’ve Set Up a List But You Haven’t Got Any Subscribers

So you’ve set up your list, but no-one’s subscribing. Before you do anything else, check that everything’s working. Open your website in a private/incognito browser window (or a different browser from your usual one) so you’re not logged in. Make sure your sign-up form appears, and that you can subscribe.

If everything works as expected, then:

  • Consider repositioning your email form. Most bloggers put it on the top right of their sidebar. If yours is somewhere different, people may be struggling to find it.
  • Try using a pop-up sign-up form.  Wordpress plugins such as Thrive Leads can do this, or you can use the forms offered by your email provider. Using one of these can dramatically increase your sign-up rate. And don’t worry about them getting in the way of your content and annoying your readers. You can set them to pop-up when a reader is about to leave your site.
  • Create an incentive for subscribers. Offer readers something special when they sign up. It could be a free download (such as an ebook, report, “cheat sheet” or printable), or an exclusive discount on your products.

 

Problem #3: You’ve Got Subscribers, But You Never Email Them

Maybe you’ve got everything set up well, with an attractive sign-up form that’s clearly visible and a compelling incentive. And you now have a handful of subscribers.

But you haven’t actually emailed them.

Perhaps you’re not sure what to write, or how often to email. Or maybe you think that with only 10 or 20 subscribers it’s not worth emailing anything at all.

It might help to:

  • Change your mindset. If 10 or 20 people want to hear from you, that’s a great start. Your early emails won’t be wasted. You can always reuse them, or link to them  in the future. (Most services archive your emails online.)
  • Create a content calendar for your email list. Rather than sending a link to your latest post or a weekly/monthly roundup of posts, use an editorial calendar to come up with some ideas ahead of time.

Problem #4: You Used to Email Your List, But Now it’s Gone Cold

In marketing, a ‘cold list’ is one that hasn’t received any emails in a while. Perhaps you sent out a weekly newsletter for six months, but then hit a busy spell and stopped emailing altogether. It happens to most bloggers at some stage, including me back in 2010.

This can be a scary situation.After such a long break, you may be worried your readers will unsubscribe, or even mark your emails as spam.

You can:

  • Reintroduce yourself to your readers. Acknowledge that it’s been a while since your last email (but don’t feel you need to apologise), and remind them who you are.
  • Run a survey to get to know your readers. This can be a great way to re-engage with old subscribers by focusing on what they want. (It’s exactly what I did when my list went cold in 2010.) And the results can be a fantastic source of ideas going forward.
  • Accept that some people will unsubscribe. Don’t be put off by readers unsubscribing. It just means they weren’t a good fit for your email list. If they’re not interested and never going to buy from you, it’s better they leave so they’re not costing you money.

Problem #5: Your Emails Aren’t Getting Opened, Delivered or Clicked On

Your email service will provide a report on how each mailout went – how many people opened your email, and how many clicked a link inside it.

And low numbers could mean something is wrong.

Note: It’s normal for your list to become less responsive as it grows. Some people may have changed email addresses, no longer be interested, and so on. (Here are some typical open and clickthrough rates.)

To turn things around:

  • Make there aren’t any technical problems. If you’re concerned your emails aren’t getting delivered, contact your email service’s technical support team and ask them to look into it.
  • Try out different subject lines for your emails. While some marketers use lines such as “Hey, what’s up?” and “Need your help” to entice people to open their emails, some readers find them downright annoying. With the ProBlogger weekly email, we use “ProBloggerPLUS” at the end of each subject line to make it clear what it is.
  • Change the sender name to make it clear who you are. For instance, with my emails I’m “Darren from ProBlogger”. Don’t use a generic name or partial email address (such as “info”) as the sender name.
  • Have clear calls to action in your emails. What do you want the reader to do after reading your email? Making your CTA clear, and providing a link where appropriate, should improve your clickthrough rate.

#6: You’re Becoming Too Self-Promotional

This can be a tricky problem to recognise. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake that some bloggers do make. I’m sure you can think of at least one email list you’ve unsubscribed from because you were getting pitched one product after another.

Take a look at your emails over the past month. Do you think the balance of promotion and content is reasonable? Would you keep subscribing to your list?

If you need to tweak things:

  • Come up with a short series of emails (perhaps three) designed purely to be helpful and useful to your readers. Send these out as your next emails.
  • Run a survey to find out what your readers would like to see in your newsletter, and do your best to deliver it.
  • Create a calendar for your promotions (including any affiliate promotions). Naturally you’ll want to promote your products over the longer term. But setting out different promotions on a calendar will help you avoid constantly pitching something.

#7: You’re Too Worried About Being “Pushy”

Some bloggers go too far the other way. Instead of being overly self-promotional, they don’t even mention they have anything for sale.

While you may get an occasional reader who hates  any sort of promotional content, most readers will be happy to hear about a product or service that could help them.

If you’re struggle to promote yourself:

  • Add a short message at the end of each email highlighting one of your products. You could mention a different product each week. You don’t need to use lots of “hype”. It’s often more effective to quote a customer testimonial than to praise the product yourself.
  • Run a sale for one of your products or services. Make it an exclusive sale just for your email list. People love to feel special, and get a bargain.

The worst mistake you can make with your email list is to do nothing at all. Every established blogger has a story about screwing something up with their list – not emailing for months, accidentally sending an email to the wrong list (it happened to us), or taking weeks to notice their sign-up sequence wasn’t working correctly.

Mistakes happen. But readers are usually very forgiving.

So get moving with your email list today. And leave a comment to let us know what you’ll be doing.

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What’s Your ‘Desert Island’ Copywriting Technique? Answers from Our Team

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EDITORIAL ROUNDTABLE

You’ve been shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, somewhere with blue skies and dazzling aquamarine waters. But after some time passes, no matter how big a fan of sushi you are, the appeal of your solitary paradise starts to wane.

You’ve amassed a fine collection of rocks — suitable for crafting, let’s say, a copywriting message. You’ll use your skills to entice a plane flying overhead to come down and rescue you — in exchange for the island you’ve found yourself on. (Finders, keepers.)

But you only have so many rocks, so you’ll need to commit to a single copywriting technique. Which do you choose?

Here’s how our editorial staff (and one clever outlier) answered.

Some entries edited for length, assuming there’s a limit to how much readable copy you can create with rocks. Because this exercise was all about plausibility.

Stefanie Flaxman, editor-in-chief

Scarcity

Where will you go when the shit hits the fan? Only a few safe hideaways still available. Secure your own desert island today.

Jerod Morris, VP of marketing

Urgency

Seems to me like a little leading with unity on this one, too.

Global warming is real, sea levels are rising. But you can still own this desert island today … before it’s gone forever. (Before they are all gone forever.)

Kelton Reid, VP of multimedia production

USP (Selling the Concept, Not the Product)

This one reminds me of Joe Sugarman’s fine book on ad copy

Imagine: no calls, no internet, no news, no traffic … no president.

Power down your computer, chuck your smartphone out the window, and land your plane. Your paradise awaits, and it’s right here, on your own desert island.

Chris Garrett, chief digital officer

Positioning

You’ll note that Chris was careful as always to translate his features into benefits. I let him get away with a few all-caps because … rocks.

Unlike other islands, THIS island has fresh, clean, flowing water, abundant delicious fruits, and tasty animals. Which means you will not dehydrate and starve while you luxuriate on the white sandy beaches. AND you can get it for the low, low price of a flight back to civilization.

Kim Clark, VP of operations

Call to action

Kim’s on our editorial group email list, despite the fact that, as far as I know, she doesn’t do any writing for us. That said, I thought her straightforward call to action was fitting for a number of reasons — not least of which being its suitability to the medium: rocks.

HELP!

Sonia Simone, chief content officer

Benefit in the headline

As usual, I went last, and this time I got stuck with the one everyone else avoided … writing a headline for this sucker. Here’s my attempt.

2 cheap and simple steps to get your own exclusive private island. Land now before it’s gone!

How about you?

Given a stretch of sand and some rocks (quite a few rocks, from some of these examples), what copywriting technique would you use?

Let us know in the comments. 😀

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My Incredibly Simple Guide To Stoicism – Learn Practical Wisdom You Can Use

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I’ve been inspired to learn about Stoicism for a while.

The problem I’ve had is that it’s one of those topics that people love to complicate. The reason for the complication is that many of the teachings that come from Stoicism are spoken in English from a long time ago. I personally don’t have the patience to read this type of writing for long periods.

That’s why I’m going to debunk Stoicism for you in stupidly simple terms. The wisdom you get will transform you. You’ll gain a different perspective that will help you in all aspects of life.

“Everyone is preaching advice, but no one is sharing wisdom – that’s what Stoicism is”

 

What is Stoicism?

It’s an ancient form of philosophy. It was made famous in recent years again by Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday from the USA. These two gentleman credit a lot of their success to the wisdom that Stoicism taught them.

Stoicism began on a stoa which means porch to you and I. A stoa is where the early teachings of Stoicism started.

Here is Stoicism broken down into insanely simple dot points:

– Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular

Stoicism doesn’t focus on the negative like modern-day self-help advice does. Stoicism is more a meditative practice that allows us to take the negative feelings we experience, and turn them into thoughts that give us peacefulness and perspective on life.

The most important part of learning Stoicism is having the right state of mind. Just like in life, the right state of mind can help us look at challenges in the best possible way.

At the crux of Stoicism is a list of reminders and words of wisdom that show how to live a good life. It’s not an argument about what is right and what is wrong. The Stoics had no time for this way of thinking.

Okay so now let’s skip ahead to the best lessons you can learn from Stoicism:

 

We don’t control events, but we do control what they mean.

This is a famous teaching from a lot of Tony Robbins work too. Everything that happens in your life can be controlled by your own mind to be good or bad. Once you understand this teaching, you can take back the power. You become less reactive and a lot calmer. You have the upper hand.

 

Disruptions to serenity cannot be avoided.

Tranquillity can never be reached by avoiding or blocking out distractions or horrible events. The way to get to that tranquil place is through your choices and judgment about those events and situations.

 

You must disrupt yourself.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done will lead you to be disrupted by someone or something who changes with the environment. Operating out of habit means you’ve stopped thinking and are mindlessly drifting through life. This means you’re not in control.

“When you lose control, your environment determines your results”

There’s a good chance that you’re going to think these results suck. The lesson here is break your habits, get out of your comfort zone and disrupt yourself like a cool, hip startup from Silicon Valley.

 

In good and bad times we have a choice.

Whether you’re in jail or an entrepreneur running the most successful startup on the planet, you have a choice. We all come from different backgrounds and we’ll all go through major highs, and painstaking lows. Through all of these different circumstances, we have a choice.

It’s having the freedom of choice that will set us free in the long run. It’s that freedom of choice that will ensure you don’t waste your life away thinking about stuff you can’t control. You’ll always feel the power of freedom when you control your choices, no matter what life throws at you.

 

Make it a habit of looking inward.

Stoics are obsessed with taking time to look inward. It’s something they advocate above all of their other teachings. They suggest spending time in the morning to ask yourself questions about your life. As you do this, you’ll find the answers to life’s biggest questions become clearer in the context of your own life.

Looking inward helps you find the answers that you knew all along and thought were hidden inside of someone else, or something else. This practice will only work if you’re honest with yourself. Don’t be too brutal on yourself either. Realize that we all start somewhere and it’s where we can go that is the greatest gift we can enjoy.

 

Being paranoid and fearful will destroy you.

The antidote to fear and paranoia is self-control. Learn to control your impulses. If you become fearful that others will sabotage your success and you don’t remain in control over these fearful thoughts, you’ll lose sight of reality. These fearful thoughts will cause you to project your fears onto other people and they’ll give you exactly what you fear.

In simple terms, fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you put out comes right back at you.

 

Anger will not help you.

The Stoics believe that getting angry never gives you anything in return. Anger wastes your precious energy and resources, and provides no tangible benefit. This is why it’s better to practice non-reactivity rather than being pissed off at something you can’t control anyway.

Anger is like a contagious virus that spreads if you let it. Don’t let anger control you. Projecting anger on people can only result in you projecting anger on yourself. That’s why anger is also another self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Everything takes up space.

Seneca wrote many times that even things you get for free have a cost. That cost is space – space in your garage or even space in your mind.

“Learning to live with less will create space in your life for the things that truly matter to you”

The aim of the game is to look at your material possession and be honest with yourself: do you really need that object? If the answer is no, free some space up in your life. What Seneca says here is the reason I have personally given away and sold most of my possessions. I’ve never been happier.

 

Practice poverty.

Especially during prosperous times in your life, the Stoics believe you should practice poverty. This is how you prepare for hardship and become an expert in dealing with the ups and downs of life. Comfort can become a form of slavery because you consistently start to think that someone could take away what you have.

When you’re familiar with what you fear, it no longer controls you. The worst can happen and you go through it with a sense of calmness and ease. People think you’re resilient but actually, you’ve just practiced the hard times as preparation.

Quick tip: try eating a really cheap meal for a whole week every two months. Eat like you have almost no money. This will teach you to not only appreciate the nice meals but to be okay if you ever face poverty and have to live on very little money for a while. I know a few people that do a beans and rice meal for this week of living it rough. Try it!

 

You protect everything you have, why not your mind?

You don’t give away your wallet to a stranger on the street. You don’t hand the keys to your car over to a budding thief. You wouldn’t let your house be demolished by the council without a fight. So why would you hand over the keys to your mind so easily to any stranger who wants them?

You have to become aware of who you are unconsciously giving your mind over to. You need to realize who is influencing you in a negative way without knowing it.

“Your mind can create all the abundance you could ever imagine, so you need to protect it like it’s the only possession you have”

 

Don’t wreck the purpose of your life by trying to impress others.

The Stoics teach that the opinions of people you seek our to impress are not that great themselves. These people you seek to impress have addictions, their own problems, and are no wiser than the next person. The purpose of your life is not to impress people and doing so will have the opposite effect.

Focus on impressing yourself through personal growth and wisdom from people who serve the greater good. Go beyond yourself and avoid the need to seek approval. Take action and seek forgiveness later if you must.

 

Without proper training, you’re a fool.

If you seek to master a skill, then without proper training you will (by default) rely on ignorance, and you’ll act in a way that lacks discipline and requires chance.

“An investor without discipline is not an investor – he’s a gambler” – Ryan Holiday

 

Your mind becomes what you think consistently.

Whether you think mostly negative thoughts or positive thoughts will determine your default response to any situation. The more we practice negative thinking, the more likely we are to see the world as negative.

If we choose to practice nothing, then we also get the same outcome of an influx of negative thoughts. The only wise choice then is to practice seeing the good in everything. Start with being grateful

 

You don’t know everything.

This is a thought that many people secretly have when they claim they want to learn something new. The harsh reality is that many of us walk around as though we know everything. We know nothing of the infinite knowledge there is to acquire.

That sort of humbleness is where all the best learning starts from. Thinking less of yourself is the ultimate power: it’s where you can grow from and serve others. It’s this way of thinking that births leaders.

 

Think of your problems in relation to the sky.

Marcus Aurelius says that the stars wash away the dust of earthly life. This Stoic concept is a way for you to clear your mind of all the troubles you encounter day-to-day. In comparison, your problems are so small compared to the immense size of the universe.

Your problems don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so don’t fool yourself into believing they do. Look at the stars once in a while. Remember how lucky we are even to experience this planet we call Earth.

 

Forget stereotypes and labels: concentrate on character.

Stoics believe your character should be your most prominent feature. Outward traits such as skin color and clothing should be insignificant. Your character is defined by the work you do on yourself each day and the person you become.

Your character is what sells you as a person better than any other external force. Your character is your legacy. Your character is what you want to be known for.

 

Don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something inspirational yourself.

You can sit here all day and listen to me inspire you. You can watch all the inspirational videos that Youtube has to offer. What would be far better is to go out there and inspire people yourself rather than being inspired.

Take the inspiration you’ve gathered in your life and do something with it so you can allow others to create their own inspirational journey. Be the example rather than only listening to the example and saying “One day I’ll do that.”

 

There is never an end to the personal development journey.

You never reach mastery. The student never stops being a student. Even the teacher is still a student at heart. Stoicism is something you apply consistently, and it never ends. You apply it until the day you die and that’s how you gain the infinite wisdom it offers.

“You’ll never drink all the water in the ocean, just like you’ll never learn everything there is to know about Stoic philosophy and that’s fine too”

 

Work is good for you.

Ever heard that when people retire, they are statistically more likely to die within a few years of achieving this milestone in their life? That’s because work gives us a sense of purpose. Work gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Making progress through doing meaningful work feels good.

Too much idle time and the delusion that you can get rich and sit on a beach is what can cause you to feel empty inside. This feeling can cause you to have self-destructive thoughts that lead to an immense focus on one’s selfish desires and need for significance. In other words, work is good.

 

Don’t make life harder than it is. It’s your choice.

Choices are what stoics believe are the way to take a shortcut in life. They believe we can choose whatever we want including happiness, freedom, respect and feelings of being wealthy. The reoccurring theme here again is that we are in control of everything that happens and how we feel.

 

How you handle disaster is everything.

The way you deal with problematic situations is a true test of your character. Character in stoicism is not formed when everything is going right; character is formed when everything is going wrong. Don’t let problems spoil your mindset. Let optimism guide you in all situations.

 

Seek out obstacles.

Obstacles are a way for you to take a challenge that you may not like and use it as a lesson that can help you for the rest of your life. You learn from hardships above all else. Lessons from hardships make you smarter, stronger and better prepared for when adversity strikes again.

 

You have one job and only one job.

The Stoics have a core belief that all of us have only one job on Planet Earth: to be a good human being. If you learned nothing else about stoicism from this blog post, then I’ve succeeded.

Practice being a good human being and you’ll have one hell of a life.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Contrary to media hype, new review says learning a second language won’t protect you from dementia

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GettyImages-490879490.jpg
Neurons with amyloid plaques – a pathological feature of Alzheimer’s disease

By Alex Fradera

Some brains struck by pathology seem to stave off its effects thanks to a “cognitive reserve”: a superior use of mental resources that may be related to the way we use our brains over a lifetime, for instance through high levels of education or, possibly, learning a second language.

Bilingual people certainly seem to use their brains differently. For example, practice at switching languages has been associated with enhanced mental control. It’s even been claimed that being bilingual can stave off dementia by up to four or five years.

If true, this would have serious implications for public policy – learning a second language would be as much a desirable health behaviour as it is an educational or cultural one. But are the brain benefits of bilingualism real? The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has published a systematic review and meta-analysis to establish the strength of the evidence base.

The University College London research team, led by Naaheed Mukadam, surveyed hundreds of papers published up to November 2016, finding fourteen high-quality studies that measured dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment (a more subtle analogue and frequent precursor of dementia) as well as participants’ status as either mono-lingual or bilingual.

Eight of the studies drew their conclusions from patients who had attended clinics complaining of memory problems, and their results were in favour of bilingualism. In one study, the age of diagnosis for amnesic mild cognitive impairment was around four to five years later for bilingual patients compared to monolingual. Another five studies asked when people began noticing their symptoms, and these also found the similar four to five year delay for bilinguals. Two of the eight found no significant effects, but the preponderance of evidence here looks pretty good.

The trouble is, all of these papers were retrospective, and depended on when people decided to show up to a clinic, and/or their accurate dating of when their symptoms began. Complicating matters is the fact that bilingual people from minority ethnic backgrounds are known to seek help later for dementia, on average, probably for social and cultural reasons. Moreover, these studies rarely controlled for education, which tends to be higher for non-minority multi-linguals, and as education itself contributes to cognitive reserve, this may be another confound.

Better controlled studies that identify a sample of people free from dementia and then follow them in the future are easier to interpret. Mukadam’s team identified five such studies. These found that five years after recruitment there were no significant differences between bilingual and monolingual participants in terms of whether they had developed any memory problems or neurological diagnoses. A meta-analysis using the raw diagnosis numbers from each study – a total of just over 5,000 participants – confirmed that bilingualism does not stave off dementia.

But a weak evidence base doesn’t mean an effect isn’t real. Indeed, more recent research from a team of Italian researchers used neuroimaging techniques to make a more systematic case for the benefits of bilingualism, including that it is associated with greater neural connectivity.

This Italian work is too recent to feature in the new review, but it’s notable that it escapes some of the methodological problems discussed above. However, when I brought this to Naaheed Makadem (the lead author of the new review), she raised a few considerations: firstly, that the new neuroimaging study investigated people who were generally lifelong bilinguals, living in a bilingual context (the Italian-German borderlands of Italy), which affords more opportunities for lifelong mode-switching than would be found for cases of adult migration or deciding to pick up a new language; secondly, she points to other potential confounding factors, such as employment and social status (i.e. the apparent neural advantages of bilinguals might be related to their being more likely to be in employment and higher social status).

The multi-lingual mind may have important consequences, but it’s not clear that recommendations to learn a second language later in life will necessarily produce the protections that have been claimed. Makadem’s team conclude their work by suggesting that “public health policy should therefore remove recommendations regarding bilingualism as a strategy to delay dementia and instead concentrate on more generally reducing cognitive inactivity.”

The Relationship of Bilingualism Compared to Monolingualism to the Risk of Cognitive Decline or Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

The impact of bilingualism on brain reserve and metabolic connectivity in Alzheimer’s dementia

Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest

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‘Climate Change Is Making These Facilities Even More Dangerous’

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Janine Jackson interviewed Shaye Wolf about Hurricane Harvey’s toxic aftermath for the September 8, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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Texas petrochemical facility flooded by Hurricane Harvey (photo: US Coast Guard/Patrick Kelley) 

“The South Texas coast where Harvey hit…is just littered with hundreds of fossil fuel and industrial facilities that store large amounts of dangerous chemicals.” (photo: US Coast Guard/Patrick Kelley)

Janine Jackson: The story of devastating weather events like hurricanes is many stories, really. There’s no need to compete; they’re all critical. But there is something about the oil industry spurring climate disruption, lobbying against preventative or preparatory measures, and then adding to its harmful impact with their methods of operation. As Texas continues to reel under the effects of Harvey, it’s been noted that besides massive flooding, some communities were also faced with dangerous chemicals released into the air by refineries and petrochemical plants.

How did that happen, and what can prevent it from happening again? Our next guest has been investigating that. Shaye Wolf is climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity. She joins us now by phone from Oakland. Welcome to CounterSpin, Shaye Wolf.

Shaye Wolf: Thank you for having me.

JJ: Most of us are not scientists, of course, but we do understand that not every multisyllable word is dangerous. So it isn’t just that “chemicals” were released in South Texas; it really matters what those chemicals were. Fill us in on what your analysis found. What were the emissions, and what caused them to be released?

SW: The South Texas coast where Harvey hit, just to kind of set the context, is just littered with hundreds of fossil fuel and industrial facilities that store large amounts of dangerous chemicals. We looked at the amounts of air pollutants that refineries and petrochemical plants in South Texas reported releasing, either during Harvey or after Harvey, into surrounding communities, and it was a staggering amount. Our analysis, which was as of August 31, and the number has only grown—we totaled more than 5-and-a-half million pounds of air pollutants.

Shaye Wolf

Shaye Wolf: “These communities shouldn’t be having to live with this toxic burden.”

And of that, we looked at seven particularly dangerous chemicals that were released to the air, all of which are documented to have serious health impacts, and some that cause cancer. And we totaled almost a million pounds of those seven particularly dangerous chemicals. So those are things like benzene and butadiene, which are carcinogens, cancer-causing chemicals. And we also included sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. Those are chemicals that really cause a lot of respiratory irritation. So you’ve heard reports of people complaining about difficulty breathing, or burning eyes, burning lungs, in the Houston area. And that’s very concerning, because these are communities living in some of the worst air conditions in the country, because of all of these facilities, and then during storms, they get hit with an extra load of toxins. And that’s just not fair; these communities shouldn’t be having to live with this toxic burden.

JJ: What happened at the refineries and plants that caused these chemicals to be released?

SW: Yeah, that’s a really good question. There are several sources. Some of the chemicals were released because of leaks due to storm damage. So there were six facilities that reported that the roofs on their tanks that are holding chemicals failed during the storm, and released toxins onto the roof, and a lot of those escaped into the air. So things like benzene, that carcinogen.

Many of the chemicals came from routine industry practice during storms. When they do quick shutdowns, either before or in some cases during the actual storm—which is dangerous for workers, having to go out and do the shutdown during Harvey—the industry uses flaring and these pressure release valves that release a lot of the toxins to the air. And the problem is that’s allowed. There are pollution-control technologies that should and could be implemented on these facilities to reduce the toxic burden during the shutdown, and then the startup of the plants during storms.

Coverage of chemical fire in Arkema, Texas (CBS Evening News, 9/1/17)

(CBS Evening News, 9/1/17)

JJ: Let me just ask you: The media coverage that we’ve seen on this issue seems to be overwhelmingly focused on one company, on Arkema, where emergency workers had to move things around, and were made ill. But even when those stories were good, and some were, they kind of suggested that this company was an outlier, or maybe even unique. But you seem to be saying that these sorts of problems are really not confined to Arkema.

SW: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, Arkema was very dramatic because of the explosions that were very dangerous. But in our analysis, those 5.5 million pounds of air pollutants — and growing; there are many more now as companies continue to report — that came from 40 facilities, so 40 refineries or petrochemical plants. And there are many more now that are reporting, so it’s a widespread problem.

JJ:  I have read industry officials describe the situation during Harvey as “unprecedented,” and Arkema officials said, “We’ve never experienced anything that would have given us any indication that we could have that much water.” You note, though, that they certainly had ample warning of hurricane risk, so what’s the disconnect there? Are they asking us to accept “unprecedented” as meaning the same thing as “unpredictable”? What’s going on?

SW: I think that statement is a real problem, because we know that the Gulf Coast is very vulnerable to hurricanes and major storms that can cause damage to these petrochemical plants and refineries. And we also know that climate change, climate disruption, is intensifying the power of these storms. So the fossil fuel industry is inherently unsafe to public health and to our climate, and then climate change is just making these facilities even more dangerous, because the damage from storms can be more intense. This is a problem that’s not going to go away; it’s just getting worse as climate disruption increases.

JJ: There seems to be a problem with, also, the status of just access, public access, to information. Matt Dempsey from the Houston Chronicle has spoken about the difficulty he had getting a chemical inventory out of Arkema. And apparently these companies can use the threat of terrorism, of terrorists learning what these chemicals are, as a way to defeat or get around the public’s right to know. How are you able to get what information you can get?

SW: I think you’ve identified a really critical problem, and that is, in its short time in office, the Trump administration has really increased community vulnerability to the pollution from fossil fuel industries during storms like Harvey, and it’s done that in a number of ways. And one way is that there have been several rollbacks of really important public safety protections, right-to-know protections.

And one big mistake that the Trump administration made was to delay the implementation of a chemical safety rule that required companies to make information about the dangerous chemicals at their plants more easily accessible to the public, and also that increased the enforcement of company safety plans in worst-case scenarios like we saw at Arkema. And even though that rule wouldn’t have in itself prevented that explosion in Crosby from happening, it would have given the public and first responders better information about what was going into the air, and what the risks were.

So it is very disturbing and troubling that the Trump administration has delayed the implementation of this right-to-know, really important public safety rule. Our information, from some reporting that chemical companies are doing—the rules have been suspended and relaxed on reporting during and after Harvey, which is a problem, but some companies are reporting. So once again, our numbers are probably a vast underestimate of what’s actually going into the air.

And another thing that was very worrisome is what’s going into the water. We have seen initial reports of companies reporting wastewater outflows and overflows, sometimes onto the ground. One company reported wastewater flowing into San Jacinto River. So these are wastewater from refineries and petrochemical companies. They’re most of the time not reporting how much and what’s in the water, but some companies have reported 100,000 gallons, 350,000 gallons of wastewater flowing out of their facilities. And that’s tremendously disturbing, because as we know, a lot of communities are dealing with homes that have been soaked in flood water, and there could be a problem with dangerous chemicals getting into the flood waters that have soaked their homes and their communities.

JJ: I just saw a story in which an official was saying, yeah, don’t let your children play in the flood water. You know, don’t let them touch it. And if they touch it, then wash them off. It just seems not tenable, really.

SW: It’s very frightening to know that your neighborhood has been soaked in water, and in many places the flood water still surrounding your home, that could be dangerous, not only from the petrochemical facilities and refineries, but also from all of the Superfund sites that have toxic chemicals, that have been flooded. And there’s been a lot of reporting on 13 flooded Superfund sites in the Houston area, Corpus Christi area, that may have damage, where chemicals can be leaking out. And that’s really scary for the communities around those sites. I saw some reporting this morning of globs of mercury washing up in Houston, and they’re not sure where those globs of mercury are coming from, so—

JJ: Wow, wow. You get the sense from media that there is a problem, but that the problem is that these companies didn’t submit to the regulatory system as it currently exists, where the implication is that would have prevented this. A New York Times story talked about how this is going to “bring fresh scrutiny on whether these plants are adequately regulated.” Is it your sense that we have all the necessary rules in place, and they just need to be followed, or they just need to be enforced?

SW: No, I think there’s a multifold problem. And one is that the fossil fuel industry is exempt from the provisions of many of our foundational environmental laws. So just to give you an example, there’s an Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act that required industrial facilities to report big releases of toxins, so that the community can know, and the oil and gas industry is largely exempt from that requirement. So that has to change. The oil and gas industry should not have exemptions from protections provided by environmental laws.

So in some cases, many cases, the rules and regulations aren’t sufficient, need to be stronger, and in other cases, there is not proper enforcement. So we already know that under the Trump administration, there have been tremendous cuts of staffing and funding for environmental protection agencies like the EPA or OSHA. And so we have agencies with the mission of helping protect Americans from toxic pollutants, and their staff and budgets are being cut, and the enforcement then isn’t there.

So we know, for example, during Harvey that a lot of the air quality-monitoring devices were turned off. So during the most intensive part of when pollutants are being put into the air, we don’t have a lot of independent verification of what went into the air, beyond what the chemical companies are self-reporting. And then we need a lot of comprehensive monitoring on the ground of what went into the air, the water, the soil, so we can comprehensively clean up communities. And then we need more prevention in the future, so these things don’t happen again. And it’s worrisome, that is not happening on the level, at the scale that it should be.

Storms  Irma, Jose and Katia

Satellite image from the National Hurricane Center (9/7/17) showing three major storm centers in the wake of Harvey.

JJ: Finally, we still have those talking about the “climate change agenda.” But in large part, media have moved; they acknowledge that human-driven climate disruption is real, and they’re reporting the impacts—in the United States, anyway. But this never-ending call for “fresh scrutiny” makes me nuts. At some point, I guess we have to ask whether a journalist’s job is satisfied by simply narrating destruction, or are they charged with really naming the causes and naming the ways toward solutions?

SW: Yes, and I think that’s really important: setting a different vision, laying out what this really looks like in practice on the ground. And then it has to be, we need to make change on a more rapid scale. We know from all of the hundreds of thousands of scientific studies, and what we’re seeing just with our own eyes, that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to phase out fossil fuels very quickly. And we need to phase in clean energy, from rooftop solar and wind, that creates clean, good jobs, and it protects our climate and protects people and the environment.

And having more recognition of what that looks like in practice, and the absolute need for that—it could not be a more critical point to be talking about, over and over again, because this is our future. This is our present, our present and our future. What’s happening now with the storms, and other climate change-related damage, is unacceptable, it’s just getting worse, and there couldn’t be a more critical issue to be talking about with our friends, with our neighbors, in the media, with our colleagues, all the time.

JJ: We’ve been speaking with Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity. They’re on line at BiologicalDiversity.org. Shaye Wolf, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

SW: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

 

*****

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