Do Genetics Determine Tendency Toward Alcohol Blackouts

An innovative study involving more than three thousand adult twins from Australia investigated the contributions of genetic and environmental factors to blacking and passing out after drinking. Twins are a vital resource for health research, including alcohol studies. By comparing the frequency of an outcome ─such as blackout ─among identical twins (who share a commonality of all genes) and fraternal twins (who share only half of their genes but similar environmental aspects), researchers can better understand the roles of genetic and environmental factors in influencing the outcome.


The participants in this study were between 27 and 40 years old. All had completed a computer-assisted telephone interview, answering questions on a variety of drinking behaviors and consequences – including their experience of blackouts, passing out, and intoxication. An essential part of the statistical evaluation was to control for how often participants became intoxicated – while the frequency of heavy drinking would affect the likelihood of blacking and passing out, the researchers wanted to look beyond individual differences in drinking habits to understand susceptibility.


Fifty-three percent of the participants reported having had at least one alcohol-induced blackout in their life; a similar proportion (56%) related passing out from alcohol. Although blacking out and passing out are strongly associated with each other. People who experience blackouts are more likely than others to have passed out after drinking, and vice versa ─their causes were different. The findings showed that after accounting for frequency of intoxication, susceptibility to blackout among men and women depends in part on the individual’s genetic make-up. However, genetic factors are less influential regarding the tendency to pass out. Here, environmental influences ─particularly ‘nonshared’ environmental factors that can differ between twins ─have a more significant role, especially in women. These influences might include social and cultural norms around alcohol use, the drinking context, and the type of alcohol consumed.


The Australian study is one of very few to investigate the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to people’s liability for alcohol-induced blacking and passing out. The results suggest that interventions should target possible harmful environmental influences. Women, particularly, are advised to avoid drinking game participation, mixing drinks and taking shots. The research results will aid future investigations and may help to reduce the negative consequences of heavy drinking

Suzy Tamasy

Creative Designer Making a Crucial Difference

Canadian fashion designer Suzy Tamasy is the founder SuzyQJewels & Frugal Divas. Seven years ago, this energetic idealist launched an exceptional initiative. Tamasy’s goal was – and still is – to alter the way our society encourages, honors, and invests in female entrepreneurs.  

I was remarkably fortunate to have the chance to interview Suzy; I am awestruck and deeply affected by the path that led Tamasy to found SuzyQJewels & Frugal Divas.

I began our conversation with something I assumed to be a straightforward question:

“Define fashion.”

The candor of Tamasy’s answer took me by complete surprise! Suzy revealed that she grew up in an abusive home – an experience that continually shapes the unwavering altruism of SuzyQJewels & Frugal Divas’ business model.

Tamasy studied  Pension Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario and is committed to sharing her expertise in managing money. By sharing business tips, Suzy assists other women in expanding other opportunities for growth in their lives. Tamasy provides everyday living tips on entertainment, home décor, and recycling innovations to help save our planet. Her passion is fashion and being an appearance stylist, and her goal is to assist to stop contributing to our landfill by recycling your clothing and giving back to the community

SuzyQJewels & Frugal Divas donates a portion of its sales to five different women’s shelters across the Toronto area. Ten percent of each total purchase is placed in a trust fund and evenly distributed among the shelters.

The organizations SuzyQJewels & Frugal Divas support enable women and children to leave abusive relationships by providing support and shelter while progressing toward a safer life. Tamasy’s organization helps ensure both the positive publicity and financial relief required to provide necessary free shelter, therapy, and counseling across Toronto. (In adherence to  privacy policies furthermore protect women’s safety, the names of some of the women’s shelters Suzy’s company works with are confidential.)

Launching her business part-time with pop-up shops in beauty salons,  Suzy’s first designs were handmade jewelry items made from recycled materials. For five years, Tamasy worked out of a home office. As her organization continues to grow, Suzy is crafting a “mini-empire.” In addition to the services and products on, a virtual consignment shop on Facebook now offers a new SuzyQJewels & Frugal Divas clothing line.

How Free Trade Reduces Global Poverty: Facts You Need to Know

A sharp increase in the number of developing countries participating in trade corresponds with an equally dramatic decline in extreme global poverty. Developing countries now comprise 48 percent of world trade. This statistic reflects a nearly 1.5 percent increase since 2000. The number of individuals subsisting in extreme poverty has halved since 1990 to fewer than one billion people. Free trade reduces global poverty by accelerating the quantity and quality of employment opportunities in developing countries by stimulating economic growth. Moreover, it encourages increases in productivity.

Indonesia’s Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati indicates Indonesia will apply to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the future. According to Indrawati, global trade tariffs will not hurt Indonesia now but could in future. “The direction is towards the (TPP), but we have to address a lot of structural issues. That is why the Indonesian government is paying attention to connectivity, human capital and reform to the ease of doing business,” Indrawati says.


So, if free trade reduces global poverty, why do governments protect specific industries at the expense of the rest of the economy? Some enterprises have built up enormous political influence over time, including by making large donations to political parties and campaigns. Specific industries wield wildly successful Public Relations machines that convince the public to support measures to protect them, personally, and to oppose projects that might expose them to foreign competition.


After the United States abandoned plans to join the TPP trade agreement, 11 other countries decided to revive it and signed a revised version in March. Now participating are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.


Indrawati says Indonesia’s trade focus in future will not focus solely on TPP nations. “I think we are going to make sure that Indonesia focuses on non-traditional markets. We are going to look at central Asia as well as India and Africa.” The Finance Minister fears the anti-trade movement sweeping several areas of the world will hinder global efforts to propel millions out of poverty.


Data from Indonesia’s Statistics Agency (BPS) indicates Indonesia’s absolute poverty increased from 27.76 million in September 2016 to 27.77 million people in March 2017. In contrast, Indonesia’s relative poverty figure fell from 10.70 percent of the population in September 2016 to 10.64 percent in March 2017. Rising absolute poverty accompanied by declining relative poverty results from Indonesia’s growing population. The country’s population presently numbers about 261 million people.


The Indonesian economy expanded at a solid pace in the third quarter of 2017. Commodity tailwinds and increased domestic and external demand propelled this growth according to the World Bank’s December 2017 Indonesia Economic Quarterly. Indonesia’s gross domestic product growth increased from 5.0 percent between the second quarter of 2017 to 5.1 percent in the third quarter. Investment growth jumped to its highest level in more than four years and foreign direct investment recorded the most significant net inflow in more than seven years. Export and import volumes had not experienced double-digit gains since 2012.


The World Bank noted in a previous report that, “sustained long-term poverty reduction depends on stimulating economic growth, which in turn depends on trade policy reform.” They concluded that, consistently, free trade reduces global poverty.


Free trade and reducing trade costs are imperative to producing gains for the poor. A range of coordinated policies helps maximize the benefits of openness for the poor, particularly programs relating to human and physical resources, access to finance, governance and organizations or macroeconomic security.  Innovative policy frameworks that improve consultation with the poor, and target their needs more carefully could help reduce poverty. To achieve this will require dedicated cooperation across sectors, a cooperative effort across government departments and offices and encourage a broader range of stakeholders to work together effectively.


According to Tim Worstall of “Forbes” magazine, “if you’re pro-poor, then you really should be vehemently pro-free trade and globalization. Those are the two things that have led to the most significant reduction in poverty in our history. Therefore, they have been the two most effective instruments for reducing poverty in history.”


Analyzing statistics from 92 countries over a 40-year period, economists David Dollar and Aart Kraay found that “growth-enhancing policies and institutions, including openness to international trade, low inflation, moderate size of government, financial development, and strong property rights and the rule of law.” The income of the poor rises to the same degree that it increases the revenue of the other economic groups. Pro-growth policies enable conditions for low-income families to increase both production and income.


According to the Brooking Institution, worldwide economic growth is the result of the rise of globalization, the expansion of capitalism and the improving quality of economic governance. Collectively these factors have permitted the developing world to begin uniting on the subject of advanced economy incomes after centuries of division. The poor countries that demonstrate the most significant success today are those who engage with the global economy, allowing market prices to balance supply and demand and to allocate scarce resources, and pursuing sensible and strategic economic policies to spur investment, trade and job creation. This effective combination allows the present to differ from the trend of flat growth and intractable poverty of the past.


Urban Peak Colorado Springs


UPCS-logo-1-400x300YOU are the spark that ignites the potential in youth to exit homelessness and lead self-determined, fulfilled lives. Lives like the one Hayden has built for himself.

Hayden, now 28, who from age 18 to 21 relied on Urban Peak when his grandparents asked him to leave home after coming out, telling him that he was “an abomination.”

You can read Hayden’s Spark Interview by clicking here. YOU are the spark that ignites the potential in youth to exit homelessness and lead self-determined, fulfilled lives. Lives like the one Hayden has built for himself.

Support the READ Act

Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development

The Problem: Currently, 59 million primary school-aged children globally do not attend school while 250 million do not have access to quality education. Gender discrimination in school contributes to the illiteracy of over 500 million women in adulthood as well. These issues, along with frequent global conflict and attacks upon schools, undermine the benefits of education.

The Solution: The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act or READ Act is a bipartisan initiative that will further advance quality basic education for all, while protecting U.S. national security interests by:

• Leveraging United States capabilities through technical assistance, training and research.

• Designating a Senior Coordinator of United States International Basic Education Assistance to promote basic education within USAID to organize the national and international response.

• Improving the quality of education by supporting educational goals in developing countries, replicating successful education interventions and measuring learning outcomes in students especially for girls and young women.

• Amending previous goals of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 in order to develop a coordinated, sustainable and aid-effective plan to promote universal basic education, with assistance priority to underserved, marginalized and conflict-afflicted populations.

The implementation of this bill would also promote and contribute to an overall increase in economic growth for underdeveloped countries, improve democratic institutions of government, encourage empowerment for women and young girls and likely decrease extremism in politically vulnerable underdeveloped countries. The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 24, 2017. About The Borgen Project The Borgen Project believes that the leaders of the most powerful nation on earth should be doing more to address global poverty. It is an innovative, national campaign that is working to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy.

National American University : Under Pressure

I will never again work for a proprietary (for-profit) university or college.

This is just one reason


What follows  is just a snippet of a US Senate Report that describes the life of an “Admissions Representative” at NAU.  It’s from 2012, but I doubt much has changed.


“One of NAU’s recruiting handbooks produced to the committee instructed recruiters check for leads “at a minimum every 15 minutes [emphasis in original].”   Once a recruiter took responsibility for a lead, he or she had to call the lead three times the day the lead was discovered, another time the next day, and another time the same week until the lead answered or called back. Recruiters were instructed to send an introductory email on the first day, probe for information via email on the second day, and establish office hours via email sometime during the first week.

A training manual for new admissions representatives stated that representatives were “expected to devote a minimum of four hours per day to telephone contact work (setting appointments, follow-up, etc.).”

Once NAU recruiters made a phone call, they were instructed to “create a sense of urgency and initiate the follow-up.”

Recruiters can create a sense of urgency if they ask questions such as, “Tell me what your life would be like if you let another 5 years go by without getting your degree.”

Recruiters were also instructed to “counter at least 5 objections.”  If cost was the objection, recruiters should respond with, “We are talking about an investment in your future, not a cost.”

Recruiters were also instructed not to give out complete program costs and instead give only a credit hour rate.  If lack of interest was the objection, recruiters should respond with, “What is it your not interested in [sic]? Is it increasing your income, financial investments, increasing your knowledge, etc.? Let’s spend some time having you visit the school and determine where your interests may lie.”

Recruiters were instructed that when countering these objections and providing information about NAU they should “give buyers enough information, and no more, about your solution and how it will benefit them, to convince them that they are justified in buying.”   The training manual stated:

We must remember that if giving out the information over the phone worked, we would all just do that! Here is what we also need to be reminded of: “Information does not sell, people do AND people do not buy features, they buy benefits.” So, the first step to telephone success is to convince ourselves our prospects are calling for help and guidance NOT information. So, let’s respond to their “cry for help” by enticing them to come in and see the benefits of an education! [emphasis in original].

The training manual continued, “The best information piece is one that gives NO detailed information and answers NO questions” [emphasis in original]. Instead, the goal of a phone conversation is to “set up a face-to-face interview.”

Recruiters were pushed hard to have a positive first phone call with a prospective student because “it usually costs a university approximately $150 to generate each lead.”  “If we let the receptionist take a message and tell the prospect someone will get back to them, the likelihood of them going on and calling another school increases greatly.”

The training manual for new admissions representatives noted, “It is important to remember that every business must include good customer service!”

 The university suggested finding additional leads at places such as “Hair Salons,” “Ethnic Celebrations or Centers,” and “Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, etc.—any stores that may have people that need to get an education.”

The business focus in for-profit colleges’ recruiting practices may lead to pressure on recruiters to admit students who should not be attending the school. For example, the Associate Director of NAU’s Wichita campus noted that she would be watching several students carefully before issuing refunds because she was concerned they enrolled “to get money & what usually happens is once they receive their FA refund they stop attending classes.”

That pressure may also have led recruiters to lie about the school’s degree offerings. In one instance, a recruiter told a prospective student the school had an excellent medical assisting program and got the student to enroll.  After being confused about getting placed in accounting, the student discovered the campus did not yet have approval for the medical assisting program and that the student was instead placed in the school’s healthcare management program. In a letter to the school, the student wrote that the admissions representative “lied to me in order to get my business” and that many students had the same thing happen.  In its response to the student complaint, NAU said the student was informed the campus did not yet have a medical assisting program before enrolling and “could have declined” the academic dean’s suggestion to take accounting. NAU did not refund the student’s money.”


After a few months, I couldn’t live with the guilt that comes with being a part of that kind of scheme.  For profits prey on single parents, low income families, the military, adult learners.

I do give NAU credit for one thing.  They set me on the path I try to follow today.  I am determined to enhance the educational experience of nontraditional studens and create programs and services that provide an enhanced school experience. No student should work and sacrifice that only results in high debt and a near-worthless degree.



National American University, National American University Online Admissions Coordinator Manual (NAU0014290, at NAU0014450).

National American University, 2008, New Admissions Representative Training Manual (NAU0014515, at NAU0014520)