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Talking Points: politicians' work ethic, stingy Canucks and bad snacks

Boys of the Christian faith decorate a Christmas tree on the roof of their family home in Islamabad



Paying political figures too-generous salaries could have a negative impact on their work ethic. As reported by The Guardian, a new study attempted to ascertain the connection between how much politicians are paid and the effort they put into their jobs. Political science professors Naci Mocan and Duha Altindag compared the effects of pay raises and decreases on elected members of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2011. They concluded that those MEPs who had received a raise actually attended fewer meetings, while those whose pay was cut attended more.


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When it comes to charitable giving, Canada is moving in the wrong direction. The Montreal Gazette reports on a study that shows fewer Canadians are giving to charity and those who do are donating less. The study from the Fraser Institute found that the "extent of charitable giving fell in virtually every Canadian jurisdiction" between 2001 and 2011 according to tax figures. Only Newfoundland and Labrador saw an upswing in people giving money to registered charities, with a minuscule increase of 0.3 per cent. Prince Edward Island, Ontario and New Brunswick saw the biggest dip in donations (down 5 per cent on average), and Canadians are cheapskates compared with Americans: In 2011, the average Canadian donation was $1,519 a year, while the average U.S. donation was $4,596.


Be careful with the treats this holiday season: They could damage your memory. The Herald Sun in Melbourne reports on a study linking sugar consumption with irreversible memory loss. Researchers at the University of New South Wales fed rats different nutritional regimens, including a "cafeteria diet" of fatty foods, cakes, biscuits and sugar-water. The rats that ate the unhealthy diet showed inflammation of the hippocampal region of the brain, the area associated with spatial memory. In fact, the negative memory changes occurred even before the test subjects showed signs of gaining weight. Perhaps worst of all: "Our preliminary data also suggests the damage is not reversed when the rats are switched back to a healthy diet," said study author Margaret Morris.


Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.

Calvin Coolidge, former U.S. president (1872-1933)

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