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The history and significance of Juneteenth

On C-SPAN‘s Washington Journal, Assistant Professor R. Xach Williams shared the importance of learning about #Juneteenth—the day in 1865 the last remaining enslaved people were informed of the Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom in Galvaston, TX—and learning about the impact of segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, gerrymandering, and more that followed.

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For Republican men, environmental support hinges on partisan identity

Who proposes a bill matters more to Republican men than what it says—at least when it comes to the environment, a recent study found.

In an experiment with 800 adults, researchers used an article describing a hypothetical U.S. Senate bill about funding state programs to reduce water pollution to test partisan preferences, changing only the political affiliation of the proposal’s sponsors.

“While we know that Republicans have a lower level of support for environmental legislation than Democrats, when we take the exact same piece of legislation, if it’s Democrats sponsoring it, Republican support drops tremendously,” said lead author Azdren Coma, a Washington State University sociology doctoral candidate.

Democrats in the study who favored the proposal supported the no matter who proposed it and at higher levels than the Republican participants. Republicans’ support varied, however, dropping about 18% when it was described as being proposed by Senate Democrats as opposed to a group of Republican or bi-partisan senators.

When the researchers looked more closely at that change, they found the drop was primarily driven by gender: with support from Republican men decreasing an average of 24%. The findings were reported in The Sociological Quarterly.

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WSU Insider

The High Life of Breastfeeding

Motherhood is hard. Marijuana can help.

As more states legalize marijuana and THC becomes more available in friendly, edible forms, more parents are using it to numb the anxiety that comes with raising children. For the one in seven women who develop postpartum depression, THC can be a tempting solution. However, unlike alcohol, which is undetectable in breast milk 2-3 hours per drink after it is consumed, recent research on THC in human milk following cannabis use revealed that traces of THC remain in breast milk even 12 hours from consumption with no clear peak point.

Last month, Washington State University led research published in the Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine, where they observed 20 breastfeeding participants who frequently used cannabis, defined as more than 1 time per week. The women were less than 6 months postpartum, feeding their infants breast milk five or more times per day, and were not using any other illicit drugs. Participants shared a baseline milk sample after 12 or more hours from abstaining from cannabis and five milk samples at set intervals over 8-12 hours after initial cannabis use.

The goal of the study was to understand the life cycle of THC concentrations in human milk, as well as to identify possible associations between the THC concentrations and body mass index (BMI), rate of postpartum weight loss, time postpartum, and the frequency, amount and type of cannabis used. After processing the data, the overarching headline reads: It Depends.

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New York Family


How heat affects the mind

Policy and infrastructure changes are urgently needed to protect our mental health from the impact of high temperatures.

Extreme heat days are an inevitable consequence of a warming world, and things are not cooling down. Globally, 2023 was the hottest year on record, and the Met Office—the United Kingdom’s national weather service—predicts that 2024 may be worse. It could even be the first year on record to surpass 1.5°C of warming above the preindustrial era.

The physical consequences of heat, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, are well-known. But heat has psychological consequences as well—consequences ranging from irritability to impulsivity to trouble concentrating. The impacts can put already-vulnerable people in crisis during heat waves but may also lead to general mental health impacts and increased friction within society.

“The way we are headed right now, things are only going to get worse,” said Kim Meidenbauer, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University who studies the effect of heat stress and other environmental factors on cognition and emotion. “If we don’t even understand the scope of the effect heat is having on us, that bodes poorly for our ability to protect people from the negative psychological consequences.”

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Monitor on Psychology



A devil and its cancer

The Tasmanian marsupial devil suffers from tumors that are even contagious. This has already killed off 85 percent of the population.

[The] disappearance of the Tasmanian devil is already changing the ecosystem. With its decline, the population of all those animals that also feed on carcasses and carrion is increasing. For example, the number of giant pouched martens (Dasyurus maculatus) is increasing. The new conditions are even reflected in its genes, said Andrew Storfer, evolutionary geneticist at Washington State University, in the journal “Nature”. He and his team found that genes that control muscle development, for example, were linked to the population density of Tasmanian devils. At least this is very easy to understand: In areas where the marsupial devil has already been killed off, the giant marsupials have to move around far less to find enough food.

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Welt am Sonntag (Germany)