DAILY DOSE: Super Bowl LVII in sight, NFL’s CTE problems continue to mount.

The National Football League’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy problems just won’t go away. It’s mostly their own fault. The most recent controversy is pretty much an own goal. Per CNN

A group of former NFL players is suing the league’s disability benefit program, commissioner Roger Goodell and the disability board, accusing them of routinely denying disability claims.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the District Court for the District of Maryland, 10 players – including two-time Pro Bowl running back Willis McGahee and Super Bowl XLII champion Jason Alford – said they were “seeking redress for the wrongful denial of benefits, the denial of statutorily mandated full and fair review of benefits denials, violations of plan terms or governing regulations, and breaches of fiduciary duty.”

The lawsuit alleges the accused parties acted in “an overly aggressive and disturbing pattern of erroneous and arbitrary benefits denials, bad faith contract misinterpretations, and other unscrupulous tactics” when it came to withholding disability benefits and a lack of thoroughness when reviewing medical records.

Why not just take care of those former players without the run-around? It’s not like the NFL is a struggling league. http://bit.ly/3IoDQEh

A study released online yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows how little it takes for traumatic brain injuries to cause long lasting cognitive damage. According to the article,

“Experiencing 3 or more mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is linked with poorer cognitive activity decades later, according to an analysis of data from nearly 16 000 older adults. Attention and executive function appear to be more affected than processing speed or working memory, the study found. The results, which were published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, represent “a critical consideration when counseling individuals post-TBI about continuing high-risk activities,” the authors wrote.

In the study, cognitive deficits existed at baseline for people who had experienced a TBI years prior, but the researchers did not observe an acceleration in the decline of their brain function over time. The relationship was also dose-dependent: higher numbers of TBIs were associated with worse performance on cognitive assessments.

“[T]his large-scale study gives the greatest detail to date on a stark finding—the more times you injure your brain in life, the worse your brain function could be as you age,” study author Vanessa Raymont, MBChB, MSc, MRCPsych, said in a statement.”

American football has serious problems that won’t go away unless they shift to playing two-hand touch. http://bit.ly/3Ieulr3

There’s been a decent amount of press coverage of China’s demographic problems, namely their decreasing birth rate. It’s a big concern for Beijing as well, so much so that they are taking increasingly more active roles in trying to fix the problem. Per the BBC,

A senior health official in Beijing has urged China's local leaders to find ways to boost the country's birth rate.

Yang Wenzhuang said officials must take active steps to tackle the detrimental effects of China's long-standing anti-population growth policy.

He also urged officials to "make bold innovations" in tackling the cost of childcare and education.

China reported in January that its population had fallen for the first time in 60 years.

In 2022, there was just 6.77 births per 1,000 people in China, the lowest birth rate on record and down from 7.52 births in the previous year.

The country's strict one-child policy - which was implemented from 1980 to 2015 to respond to runaway population growth - has been blamed for the decline. Families that broke the rules were fined and, in some cases, even lost jobs.

After decades of policy and the increasing cost of living, it will be hard to convince couples to have more children. http://bit.ly/3HQL5TN

The devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria was so big that it has had noticeable geological effects on the landscape. Per The Guardian,

More than 17,000 people are now known to have died after the huge earthquake in Turkey and Syria and the focus right now is on supporting survivors.

But there are wider geological implications to the quake that may have consequences in the longer term slowly coming into focus. In the coastal city of İskenderun, there appears to have been significant subsidence, which has resulted in flooding, while the quake has left many hillsides around the country at a serious risk of landslip. This may result in roads and pipelines having to be rerouted and communities rehomed.

The subsidence in the city of İskenderun can be seen in CNN footage from the afternoon of 7 February – more than 24 hours after the first deadly quake struck. It shows vehicles driving along waterlogged roads, accompanied by reports that the sea had encroached 200 metres inland. Exactly what caused this subsidence is still up for debate.

The power and intensity of earthquakes can be breathtaking. http://bit.ly/3RNzv0m

The recent discovery of stone tools in Kenya has called into question whether Homos were the only species of ancient hominin to use stone tools. Per Science,

“As thunder boomed and dark rain clouds gathered on the last day of the field season in Kenya in 2017, paleoanthropologist Emma Finestone was rushing to record the location of fossils while excavators were hoisting an ancient hippo skeleton out of the ground. “I was worried she would get struck by lightning because she was on top of a hill,” says Tom Plummer, a paleoanthropologist at Queens College who led the excavation at Nyayanga, near Lake Victoria.

Finestone received a shock of a different kind as the hippo was removed. Beneath it, Blasto Onyango, head preparator of the National Museums of Kenya, found a huge hominin molar. It lay intermingled with hammerstones and sharp flakes that Finestone recognized as early Oldowan tools, an ancient technological breakthrough long thought to be a defining hallmark of our genus, Homo. But the molar was from a very different human relative: Paranthropus, known for its huge teeth and crested ape-size skull, not toolmaking skills. “When we found the Paranthropus molar, it got really, really exciting,” says Finestone, of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The tools, dated to about 2.8 million years ago, are the oldest known examples of the Oldowan toolkit. They also hint that Paranthropus, often seen as an also-ran in the story of human evolution, might have made or at least used tools. “I have been skeptical of Paranthropus using stone tools. … But maybe we do have multiple hominins using the Oldowan,” Finestone says. “We know very little about the beginnings of stone tools and the emergence of early Homo,” says paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw of Spain’s National Research Center for Human Evolution (CENIEH), who is not part of this study. This is “why the Nyayanga discovery is important.”

First Neanderthals. Now Paranthropus. Discoveries continue to show how much we actually don’t know about our ancestors and their cousins. https://bit.ly/3lqXhmK

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Let’s be careful out there.

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