World and Nation

Shorts (left)

NFL Study of Dementia Has Flaws, Health Experts Say

The NFL and its doctors have consistently dismissed independent studies showing unusual cognitive decline in former players. They insist that a long-term study by the league’s committee on concussions, expected to be published in several years, will be the authoritative analysis.

But that study is fraught with statistical, systemic and conflict-of-interest problems that make it inappropriate to examine the issue, according to many experts in epidemiology, dementia and health policy who assessed the study’s design.

Another voice belonged to a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which will hold a hearing on football brain injuries Wednesday. “Hey, why don’t we let tobacco companies determine whether smoking is bad for your health or not?” said Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, D-Calif., a member of the Judiciary Committee. “It’s a very appropriate metaphor.”

For Delphi Pensioners, The Union Label Helps

Bruce Gump and his neighbors feared for their retirement checks when the federal government took over the pension plans at Delphi, the big auto parts maker where they once worked.

But four months later, Gump finds himself in a far more perilous condition than his neighbors.

On his street, he is the only Delphi worker whose pension benefits may be cut. His neighbors all belong to unions and have received a lifeline in an unprecedented deal related to the government-supervised bankruptcy of General Motors, the onetime parent of Delphi. (GM spun off the parts division as a separate company 10 years ago.)

Gump and some 21,000 other salaried workers and retirees are furious that their roughly 46,000 union co-workers at Delphi have had their benefits restored, apparently with government largesse, and they have not.

“I’m being thrown out with yesterday’s trash,” he said.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which insures pension plans, caps the amount of benefits it will pay, using a formula based on age and the type of benefits an employee earned. But in a side arrangement, GM is agreeing to pay special supplements, called top-ups, so that Delphi’s union retirees get everything they were promised.

A Hypnotizing Hunt Leaves Russians Bewildered

Earlier this month, a sodden and unshaven man emerged from the woods near the southern Russian village of Goryachy Klyuch, telling rescuers he spent three nights perched in trees to get away from jackals.

A similar tale came from the taiga near Bratsk, in Siberia, where a 22-year-old man wandered for five days, covering himself with pine boughs at night to ward off frostbite. Eleven time zones to the west, near the Baltic Sea, a search and rescue team found an elderly couple in a swamp where they had spent the night, the wife in what officials described as “a state of panic.”

It happens every mushroom season. Russians are passionate about gathering mushrooms, an ancient pastime they call the “quiet hunt,” and routinely become so hypnotized that they get hopelessly lost. Regional search-and-rescue teams fan out on foot or in helicopters, occasionally enlisting tracking dogsor parachute jumpers, and newspapers retell their stories with gusto.