Trumps pro-coal agenda is a blow for clean air efforts at Texas’ Big Bend park

For decades the national parks stunning vistas have been compromised by poor air quality, and prospects of improvement were derailed by Trump Tuesday

Big Bend national park is Texas at its most cinematic, with soaring, jagged forest peaks looming over vast desert lowlands, at once haughty and humble, prickly and pretty. It is also among the most remote places in the state.

Even from Alpine, the town of 6,000 that is the main gateway to the park, it is more than an hours drive to one of the entrances.

So far from anywhere, it might seem an unlikely location to be scarred by air pollution. Yet for decades its stunning vistas have been compromised by poor air quality that Texas, working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is supposed to address.

But environmental advocates fear that the Trump administrations pro-coal agenda will derail the prospects of improvement, at least in the short term. Tuesdays announcement that the EPA plans to abandon the 2015 Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions came less than two weeks after the agency revealed a revised plan to combat regional haze in Texas and Oklahoma that critics say will do little to cut pollution.

Chrissy Mann, Austin-based senior campaign representative with the Sierra Clubs Beyond Coal campaign, said: Taken in combination with the Clean Power Plan, what were seeing is an attempt from this administration and this EPA to dig in their pockets and find whatever kind of tricks they think are going to stick to provide a lifeline to the coal industry across the country and here in Texas. Its disappointing.

Texas is part of a multi-state coalition that sued to stop the Clean Power Plan, which was placed on hold by the US supreme court last year.

Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a statement: Its gratifying that our lawsuit against Obama-era federal overreach was a catalyst for repeal of the plan. We look forward to working with the administration to craft a new strategy that will protect the environment without hurting jobs and the economy.

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The Perseid meteor shower at the Texas Bend in Big Bend national park in August 2016. Photograph: Jason Weingart / Barcroft Images

A back-and-forth between the EPA and Texas over regional haze has been in motion since 1999, when the agency launched a concerted effort to deal with the problem, bidding to improve the air quality in Big Bend national park, Guadalupe Mountains national park and in Oklahoma, the home state of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

In 2009, the state enforcer, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, issued a plan that would restore natural visibility to Big Bend by the year 2155. That was rejected as inadequate by the EPA in 2014.

The EPA wanted Texas to cut 230,000 tons of sulphur dioxide emissions per year to improve visibility and reduce the risk of worsening respiratory diseases and heart disease and damaging soil, water, fish and wildlife.

Two years later, finding Texas relied on an analysis that obscured the benefits of potentially cost-effective controls, the EPA replaced parts of Texass emissions plan, calling for plant upgrades and a target of natural visibility by 2064.

Texas sued the agency and won a stay of implementation in a federal appeals court. The state argued that it is making reasonable progress and, along with industry representatives, claimed that enacting the structural improvements notably fitting some electricity plants with sulphur dioxide scrubbers would cost $2bn and be a backdoor way of forcing the closure of coal-fired power plants. That, it said, might put the state at risk of power shortages and increased prices for consumers.

Last December, in the sunset days of the Obama administration, the EPA proposed another scheme that would also have required older plants to upgrade their technology.

But in August this year, Pruitts EPA asked a federal court for more time until the end of 2018 to come up with a way forward. When the judge refused, on 29 September the EPA unveiled a path that is much more palatable for Texas and the power companies: one that wouldnt require retrofitting, instead claiming to achieve comparable results with an intrastate cap-and-trade programme. That would give polluters allowances within an overall emissions budget that can be used or traded in a marketplace.

Such programmes can be effective, but Mann, of the Sierra Club, contends that the cap is too high so will not provide any incentive for meaningful reductions. Its not very aggressive. In other words, the amount of pollution that coal plants in Texas are allowed to produce is actually higher than our emissions from last year from the same coal plants, taken all together, Mann said.

The National Park Service and EPA carried out a study in 1999 to understand what causes haze in Big Bend, which is worse in the warmer months. It found that sulphate particles formed from sulphur dioxide sources such as coal power plants and refineries were a key cause.

Researchers discovered that substantial amounts of sulphate particulates came not only from Texas and Mexico, but the distant eastern US. When air flows from the east, production in Americas coal heartlands has an effect on Big Bends scenery.

Even if Trumps efforts to boost coal collide with economic reality and market forces spur more growth in renewable energy, any delays in transitioning to cleaner energy and reduced emissions prolong the haze problem.

Air quality has not improved and ozone has seen a slight deterioration over the past decade, according to Jeffery Bennett, physical sciences program coordinator at the park. Nitrogen deposition has not changed and remains a significant concern. Desert landscapes are especially sensitive to nitrogen, he wrote in an email in July.

Mercury is an emerging concern, he added, based on levels found in fish; it is unclear whether this is because of atmospheric deposition or the legacy of nearby abandoned mercury mines.

The park faces Mexico and since Donald Trump entered the White House it has attracted attention as a particularly unsuitable place to build a wall.

Still, in a few years, tourists might find that while Trump might have failed to wall off the Big Bend from Mexico, the view is blocked all the same. If youre standing here in Panther Junction and not able to see the Sierra del Carmen thats 20 miles away, because of the sulphates and other pollutions that blew in, youre missing a big part of why this became a park, Jennette Jurado, the parks public information officer, said earlier this year at the main visitor centre.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/11/trumps-pro-coal-agenda-is-a-blow-for-clean-air-efforts-at-texas-big-bend-park

Opioid overdoses shorten US life expectancy by 2.5 months

(CNN)Opioid drugs — including both legally prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin or illicit fentanyl — are not only killing Americans, but also shortening their overall life spans. Opioids take about 2.5 months off our lives, according to a new analysis published in the medical journal JAMA.

In 2015, American life expectancy dropped for the first time since 1993. Public health officials have hypothesized that opioids reduced life expectancy for non-Hispanic white people in the United States from 2000 to 2014. Researchers have now quantified how much opioids are shortening US life spans.
The researchers noted that the number of opioid overdose deaths are likely underestimated because of gaps in how death certificates are completed.
    From 2000 to 2015, death rates due to heart disease, diabetes and other key causes declined, adding 2.25 years to US life expectancy. But increases in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, suicide and other causes offset some of those gains. On average, Americans can now expect to live 78.8 years, according to data from 2015, the most recent data available. That’s a statistically significant drop of 0.1 year, about a month, from the previous year.

    Women can still expect to live longer than men — 81.2 years vs. 76.3 years — but both of those estimates were lower in 2015 than they were in 2014.
    Life expectancy at age 65 remained the same in 2015. Once you’ve reached that age, you can expect to live another 19.4 years. Again, women fare slightly better: 20.6 years vs. 18 years for men.

    Drug overdose deaths reach new highs

    Drug overdose deaths are expected to continue to reach new record highs. The CDC expects drug overdose deaths to top 64,000 in 2016 when the numbers are finalized — that’s more than the number of American troops lost during the Vietnam War. Most of these overdoses involved an opioid. Since 1999, the number of opioid-related drug deaths has more than quadrupled.
    While prescription opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone were considered to be driving factors in the increasing rates of overdose in the early part of the 2000s, heroin and illicit fentanyl have become the drivers for opioid overdose deaths in recent years. In fact, the number of overdose deaths related to fentanyl is expected to more than double, from an estimated 9,945 in 2016 to 20,145 in 2017, the CDC says. For the first time, fentanyl will be the leading cause of opioid overdose.

    ‘It’s a national emergency’

    On the heels of the release of a draft report of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, over the summer, President Donald Trump said “The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency.
    “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” he added. “It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”
    Yet, five weeks have passed since Trump’s statement, and the White House has yet to make any sort of formal announcement of a national emergency.
    In addition, this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who chairs the drug addiction commission, posted a letter on the White House’s website requesting an additional four weeks for the commission to complete its final report. “In the interest of submitting … sound recommendations, our research and policy development are still in progress,” wrote Christie. “Accordingly, and pursuant to the Executive Order establishing the Commission, we are seeking an additional four weeks to finalize our work.”

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Many public health officials point to the over-prescribing of narcotic painkillers as one of the roots of the opioid overdose epidemic. Last year, the CDC issued new prescribing guidelines for using opioids to treat chronic pain. According to a recent government report, the No. 1 reason that people misuse prescription drugs is to manage pain. In an attempt to help deal with the pain issue, the Trump administration is partnering with private pharmaceutical companies to help fast-track non-opioid, non-addictive pain relief alternatives.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/19/health/opioids-life-expectancy-study/index.html

    The True Danger Of Hurricane Season Is Much More Long-Term

    Greetings from the apocalypse! I’m writing from the Summer of 2017, when wildfires have made Idaho and California smell like the Devil’s Vegan Barbecue, the sun is the color of a fresh period stain, and the Gulf Coast is aligned with the first teat of a four-boobied hurribeast.

    whnt.com

    In a moment when it feels blasphemous to send anything but prayers, goodwill, money, awareness, donations, and time to everyone suffering from Harvey and the triplets of evil following it, there’s another story that needs to be told about these hurricanes:

    There is no upside, silver lining, or good news coming.

    More hurricanes, floods, and fires are on their way, and no one, not even the Americans in the Middle, are immune to what future natural disasters will do to this country. Not even Texas. Actually, let’s start with Texas.

    4

    Texas Explains Why We’re Never Ready For Hurricanes

    I’m from South Texas, where the school year doesn’t feel real until you’ve had a Meet the Teacher night and a hurricane warning, sometimes on the same day. In my fuzzy childhood memories, hurricanes were exciting moments at the end of summer when you got to fill up your bathtub with a reckless amount of water and pray for a day off from school.

    Which explains why hurricane parties are a thing, and why you can find all of your hurricane party decorating needs on Pinterest. No other natural disaster comes with such a slow build and a festive atmosphere. And when hurricane season is built into your seasonal routine — my little sister was named after a hurricane that hit Texas 19 years before she was born — you just roll with them as best you can.

    So I wasn’t surprised that most of my friends, family, and childhood friends’ families didn’t evacuate when they knew Harvey was coming. It is very hard to get on a bus going to a place you don’t know for a thing that may or may not ever come. And Houston? Forget it. If you thought Houston should have been 100 percent evacuated, you’ve probably never been there. During Hurricane Rita, there were 100 deaths in Texas, 60 of which were related to Houston’s disastrous attempt to evacuate three million residents all at once.

    I also wasn’t surprised that Texans went nuts helping each other out once the waters started rising. Not because Texans are uniquely neighborly compared to other humans in distress, but because we’re uniquely good at self-publicity. It’s kind of our thing. That said, if you have South Texas friends on your Facebook timeline like I do, you know there were convoys of volunteers ready with food and water before Harvey was even done with its dirty business. Behind every dramatic rescue moment that went viral, there were thousands that no one saw, and for every tone-deaf Joel Osteen, there were hundreds of churches (and synagogues, and mosques!) mobilizing to provide immediate relief. I said there wasn’t a silver lining to Harvey, but that’s actually not true; after a summer of awful news, the storm reminded us that people are good.

    The problem is that being good in dangerous moments isn’t going fix next season’s weather. And this season’s hurricane victims are only facing the beginning of their problems.

    3

    The Next Round Of Rescues Won’t Have Viral Videos

    Here’s what’s coming: Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans doctors reported a three-fold increase in heart attack victims. The stress from the flooding, multiple relocations, and disruptions in medical care are still messing with the bodies of the people who survived the storm. In the next few months, we should expect to see people contracting gastrointestinal problems from wading in standing water (I mean, we won’t literally see their diarrhea, but you get it). People with chronic issues like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma will suffer from disruptions in their medical care, which will lead to more hospital visits and deaths. It’s probably worth noting that Texas and the rest of the Gulf Coast aren’t in good shape to begin with, health-wise.

    Wait! It gets worse! I haven’t even talked about the mosquitoes yet! The West Nile virus was completely wiped out of the population in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. A year later, West Nile cases doubled. This map shows the Texas counties that identified cases of West Nile virus back in May, before hurricane season started:

    Texas Health and Human Services

    Nine counties in Texas have already started asking pregnant women to get the Zika test, because as you probably remember, Zika means joint pain, rashes, and fever for adults, but severe brain damage, microcephaly, and even death for unborn children.

    Wait, it gets even worse! Texas slashed Planned Parenthood funding in 2011, and abortions have been on the rise in the state ever since. What does that mean for pregnant women wading through mosquito-infested waters or working on cleaning up the debris outside their house right now? Hopefully nothing. Hopefully we never see Zika again, and these pregnant women deliver healthy babies who have happy lives ahead of them. Hopefully Texas women who aren’t pregnant today will have plenty of access to contraceptives in the next few months, because the mosquitoes might last until Christmas this year. There’s just some more bad news from Katrina that we have to cover, though:

    Katrina’s kids never quite recovered from the storm, either.

    Experts say that we’ll never know how many Louisiana children lost a year or more of school after Katrina. They know that Louisiana has one of the country’s highest rates of young adults who aren’t in school and aren’t at work — not because the kids who suffered through the storm just quit school then and there and committed to the hobo lifestyle, but because the average Katrina student moved seven times after the storm. Seven moves would do a number on any student, even the rich ones who are moving because their parents are moving up the corporate ladder or the tough military kids who move because the government makes them. Combine seven moves with a traumatizing childhood event, separation from extended family and communities, economic hardship, and the struggle to rebuild a life in a place where most of your friends and family are suffering through the same problems you are, and yeah, it’s no wonder Katrina’s students didn’t have a great graduation rate.

    And not finishing school a is big deal, because …

    2

    We Like To Help Drowning People, But We Suck At Helping Poor People

    At the end of the day, bad things happen to everyone, but bad things happen extra hard to poor people. Sickness, natural disasters, layoffs, and addiction can obviously hit anyone at any financial level, but the most vulnerable among us have the hardest time recovering, if they recover at all. In other words, when you’re poor, a flood can lead to a series of setbacks that have decades of consequences. It’s called the Bad Break Test, and America is failing it.

    One researcher put the Bad Break Test this way:

    “In societies that function well, there are various safety nets in place to prevent a bad break from leading to a tailspin for particularly vulnerable victims. Compared to many other rich nations, the U.S. is not such a society — all too often, when vulnerable Americans encounter a bad break, there’s nothing underneath them to stop their slide. Instead, devastation follows, sometimes in the form of bankruptcy and addiction and death.”

    For example, America’s opioid crisis didn’t happen in a vacuum, and it certainly didn’t happen because of Mexicans. Some economists call the increase in overdoses, alcohol poisoning, and suicides “deaths of despair.” Americans are killing themselves over their economic prospects. There comes a point at which people stop trying to break out of their hopelessness and just start numbing themselves to death.

    What does the Bad Break Test have to do with hurricanes? 22 percent of Houston’s residents live under the poverty line. Yes, Texans are #TexasStrong and #TexasProud and will rebuild, but let’s not kid ourselves over who will bear the brunt of this storm and every storm to come: poor people who don’t have savings, insurance, or a Plan B or C or D to rely on when everything they own is destroyed. They’re already living in their Plan D, and Plan D is underwater or covered in mold.

    How do we cope with the millions of coastal Americans who have decades of hurricane seasons to come? The ones who are forced to leave already have a name, by the way: “climate refugees.” One Louisiana town has been granted 48 million federal dollars to just get out before the Gulf swallows them. The entire town is the first community in the world to get federal money to rebuild somewhere else before their island is washed away, and they’re struggling with figuring out how to do it. Even though we’re only talking about 60 people, they haven’t figured out how to move, and aren’t totally sure they even want to go.

    And that’s why we should all be worried. Humans are great at handling danger when it’s at the door, but not when it’s a hundred miles or a year away.

    1

    Americans Are Good Heroes But Terrible Planners

    Real talk: The American states that will need the most help tackling flooding and extreme weather in the coming years also voted to keep the government out of their lives in the 2016 election. The fierce independence and self-reliance that Texas is so proud of is exactly what will doom them. Houston didn’t just flood because of a lot of rain; it flooded because it let people build neighborhoods in known flood zones. Why? Because the only reason white people live in Texas in the first place is that Anglos wanted space. Every time people try to build something in Texas, no one has the guts to tell them “No.”

    Footnote: The previous statement is not true. Mexico had the guts to tell people to stop building houses in Texas.

    Extra footnote: There are lots of conservationists and environmentalists in Texas. They’re just not in charge.

    It’s going to take a lot of tax dollars, research, government oversight, discipline, and humility to keep the Atlantic Ocean from swallowing our coasts, and our red states aren’t up for the challenge yet. We listen to our weathermen when the storms are a few days away, but not our scientists and engineers when they tell us that planning for disasters takes years and money. The thing is, Texas has a TON of money. We don’t even have to reinvent the wheel to save lives; we can study how a little bitty country like the Netherlands tackled their own flood monster and lived to tell the tale. If it were up to me, I’d pay close attention to any country that landed on “FLOODPLAIN COUNTRY” as its official name.

    You can find more from Kristi deep in the heart of Twitter.

    You can help someone in need by donating to the Victoria Food Bank.

    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/hurricanes-wreak-havoc-far-longer-than-you-realize/

    Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise

    (CNN)Take a movement break every 30 minutes, say experts. No matter how much you exercise, sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death, a new study published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine found.

    There’s a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause, researchers said, based on a study of nearly 8,000 adults. As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death.
    The positive news: People who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death.
      Sit less, move more” is what the American Heart Association encourages all of us to do. But this simplistic guideline doesn’t quite cut it, said Keith Diaz, lead author of the new study and an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine.
      “This would be like telling someone to just ‘exercise’ without telling them how,” Diaz wrote in an email.
      Exercise guidelines are precise, he explained. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week, plus muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week.
      “We need similar guidelines for sitting,” said Diaz.
      “We think a more specific guideline could read something like, ‘For every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting, stand up and move/walk for five minutes at brisk pace to reduce the health risks from sitting,’ ” he said, adding the study “puts us a step closer to such guidelines,” but more research is needed to verify the findings.

      Aging means more sitting

      To understand the relationship between sedentary behavior and early death, Diaz and his colleagues at Columbia, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and other institutions turned to the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) project, a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
      “The REGARDS study was originally designed to examine why blacks (and particularly blacks in the Southern US) have a greater risk for stroke than whites,” said Diaz. He and his co-researchers tracked for an average of four years 7,985 black and white adult participants, age 45 or older, who had signed on to participate in the REGARDS project.
      To measure sedentary time for these adults, the research team used hip-mounted accelerometers. During the study period, the team recorded 340 total deaths considered “all-cause mortality” — any death, regardless of cause.
      Analyzing the data, the team found that sedentary behavior, on average, accounted for about 12.3 hours of an average 16-hour waking day.
      “As we age, and our physical and mental function declines, we become more and more sedentary,” wrote Diaz.
      Previous studies of adults have found daily sitting time to average just nine to 10 hours per day. The higher average in his own study is likely “due to the fact we studied a middle- and older-aged population,” Diaz wrote. “It could also be partly due to the fact that we used an activity monitor to track sedentary time rather than using self-report.”
      Measuring duration, the researchers clocked participants sitting, on average, for 11.4 minutes at a stretch.
      As total sedentary time increased, so did early death by any cause, the results indicated. And the same was true for longer sitting stretches. Overall then, participants’ risk of death grew in tandem with total sitting time and sitting stretch duration — no matter their age, sex, race, body mass index or exercise habits.
      “We found that there wasn’t a threshold or cutoff where one’s risk for death dramatically increased,” said Diaz, explaining that risk of death increased with more sitting. “To give you a specific number, those who sat for more than 13 hours per day had a 2-fold (or 200%) greater risk of death compared to those who sat for less than about 11 hours per day.”
      “Bout duration is a little trickier,” said Diaz. Still, he said, the study results indicate that those who frequently sat in stretches less than 30 minutes had a 55% lower risk of death compared to people who usually sat for more than 30 minutes at a stretch.
      Finally, people who frequently sat for more than 90 minutes at a stretch had a nearly two-fold greater risk of death than those who almost always sat for less than 90 minutes at a stretch, he said.

      Underlying reasons ‘unclear’

      How sedentary behavior impacts our health in negative ways is “unclear and complex,” wrote Dr. David A. Alter, an associate professor at the University of Toronto in Ontario, in an editorial published with the study. Alter, who did not contribute to Diaz’ research, said some scientists theorize that more sitting leads to reductions in insulin sensitivity, while others believe net calorie expenditures decline as sitting increases.
      The study was not designed to reveal why sitting increases the risk of early death, noted Alter, who described the study as “methodologically rigorous,” and its findings “robust.”
      Arguably, he said, the study’s most important contribution involved disentangling two sedentary behaviors: total daily sedentary time and uninterrupted sedentary bout duration.
      “Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day,” noted Alter. “Conversely, in those whose daily sedentary volumes were low, uninterrupted bout lengths had little if any associated effects on mortality.”
      By teasing out these two threads, the findings show excessive sitting is bad and even worse if it is accumulated in lengthy, uninterrupted bouts throughout the day, noted Alter.
      Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York said, “The more we sit the worse it is. The longer the duration of sitting, the more negative the impact on our cardiovascular health.”
      Steinbaum, who was not involved in the study, said moving around every 30 minutes is recommended.
      “The first time we do this, the positive effects are immediate,” she said. “We need to pay more attention to moving.”

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      Asked if, say, a standing desk might be helpful for those who work desk jobs, Diaz said “there is limited evidence to suggest that standing is a healthier alternative to sitting.”
      “So if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods, the best suggestion I can make is to take a movement break every half hour,” said Diaz. “Our findings suggest this one behavior change could reduce your risk of death.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/health/sitting-increases-risk-of-death-study/index.html

      A 14-year-old founder built Swiipe, the Tinder of news apps

      Swipe right.
      Image: Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

      The news has been so awful for so long, who wouldn’t want to swipe left? 

      Swiipe is an iOS news app—from a 14-year-old founder in Ireland, no less—that lets users evaluate the news exactly as they would a profile on Bumble. Users see stories from 52 news sources and swipe left on stories they don’t want to read, swipe right to save an article for later, or tap the screen to read a story now. 

      It’s sort of strange to “swipe left” on a piece of news, but swiping doesn’t imply that you don’t like the news—just that you don’t really want to read about it. 

      “If you use Tinder, you might be used to it. But my age group might not be used to it,” founder Alex Goodison said. 

      Goodison always wanted to pay closer attention to everything going on in the world, but it was hard with school and extracurriculars. He looked for a way in, but Flipboard, Medium, and even Snapchat Discover all came up short. 

      “I would like to read the news more often, but I never found a certain app that had me coming back,” Goodison said. 

      Swipe right on Swiipe.

      Image: swiipe

      That was one reason he started building the Tinder-inspired news app. Instead of relying on push alerts or scrolling through endless top stories, users interact with and make a decision about the news of the day. On Product Hunt, Goodison described his app as “a different take on viewing the headlines by a 14-year-old 📰.” 

      “When people get given a whole long list of text they’re not as intrigued,” he said. “My idea is to make it more fun and interactive for the person to make them read the news again.”  

      Goodison built the app during his 13-week summer vacation in Ireland. He just started the Irish equivalent of ninth grade, and he’s set to graduate from his secondary school in Cork County in 2021. 

      He started to get interested in tech because of his father, who works as a developer for a mortgage company in Dublin. In his free time, Goodison taught himself to code through free tutorials on YouTube and a few paid courses from Udemy. He could have taken some computer classes through his school, but instead he chose the enterprise competition, or business, track. 

      Alex Goodison, right, at Ireland’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

      Image: alex goodison

      Swiipe is the fifth app he’s built, following a revision tool for national exams in Ireland, an app to locate defibrillators nationwide, a tennis scoring app, and a currency converter. 

      Those projects all stemmed from his own personal interests; heart disease ran in Goodison’s family, he likes tennis, and he needed a tool to study for his own exams. He wanted to build a news app, though, because of the specific coding skills it involved. This time, too, he wanted his app to appeal to people anywhere in the world, not just in Ireland. 

      Goodison rushed to finish his self-assigned summer project before school started up at the end of August. He uploaded the app to the App Store, where it sat quietly with barely a dozen downloads, short of Goodison’s goal of 100. Then he got on the homepage of Product Hunt, and suddenly Swiipe had been downloaded almost 1,300 times. 

      It’s not a ton of downloads—but it’s definitely a lot for a summer project. The app itself is appealing to users, like Goodison, who hadn’t found the news app that was quite right for them. 

      “People have contacted me and said this is now their daily news app,” he said. 

      Goodison has a few updates in the works—more choices for news sources, subscribing to stories by keyword instead of just publisher—and ideas for monetization and a social component. He can’t work full time on Swiipe now that school has started, but he still plans to work on the app—and other projects—on the weekends. 

      As for Goodison, he plans to move to the United States after graduating to pursue a career in tech, and he’s not too enthusiastic about taking the time to go to college. 

      “For the job I want to do, university isn’t famously attended,” he said. 

      First, there are this year’s exams—and his first app to really take off. 

      “There are big exams at the end of the year. I didn’t expect Swiipe to do this well,” he said. “I still have to do a lot of studying.” 

      Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/13/swiipe-tinder-news-app/

      George Michael’s new single gave Nile Rodgers ‘mixed feelings’ – BBC News

      Media playback is unsupported on your device

      Media captionChris Evans introduces the world premiere of George Michael’s first posthumous single

      Producer Nile Rodgers has admitted to feeling “uncertainty” about working on George Michael’s new single.

      Fantasy, a remix of a 1980s outtake, premiered on Radio 2 on Thursday.

      Rodgers’ confession came in response to a fan who expressed “mixed feelings” over the song’s release, eight months after Michael’s death.

      “You SHOULD have mixed feelings,” he said on Twitter. “No one’s heart was dragged through emotional ambiguity more than mine.”

      Rodgers said he approached the remix with “tears, uncertainty, happiness & #LOVE”.

      Fantasy sounds vastly different to the version that was released as a b-side in 1990, and later as a bonus track on 2011’s deluxe version of the Faith album.

      The tinny 80s production of the original has been completely overhauled in favour of a slinky funk groove, featuring Rodgers’ choppy guitar rhythms and championing Michael’s soulful harmonies.

      On first listen, it appears some of the vocals are alternate takes to the previously released version.

      But while it is refreshing to hear Michael’s voice on the radio again, the track still feels more like an offcut than an undiscovered gem.

      The decision to create a new “hook” from speeded-up samples of the star’s vocals also feels like a rare mis-step for Rodgers, whose production credits include Madonna, David Bowie and Duran Duran.

      “Fantasy was originally meant to be on Listen Without Prejudice and was intended to be one of the singles from the album, but somehow it got lost in the ether,” Michael’s manager David Austin told Radio 2’s Chris Evans in a letter, which the broadcaster read out on his breakfast show.

      While working on a reissue of Listen Without Prejudice before his death, he revisited the song and decided it could become a single.

      “George phoned up Nile Rodgers, his good pal, in early 2016 because the two of them have always spoken the same musical language, and Nile has reworked the record.”

      News of the single emerged on Wednesday as Michael’s sisters Melanie and Yioda posted an update on his official website, saying they will carry on his musical legacy “exactly as Yog would have wanted”.

      Fans embraced the track, and many tweeted about “listening with tears” in their eyes.

      Image copyright Getty Images

      But some were less enthusiastic, saying the track sounded “unfinished“.

      Michael, who rose to fame in band Wham!, died last year from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver.

      His body was found by his partner, hairdresser Fadi Fawaz, at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day.

      During his career, Michael enjoyed seven number ones on the UK singles charts, including Careless Whisper, A Different Corner, Jesus To a Child and Fast Love.

      The 53-year-old had 23 top 10 hits, including Faith, Father Figure, Outside and You Have Been Loved.

      The Fantasy remix will feature on a deluxe version of Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 / MTV Unplugged, which is set for release on 20 October.

      Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41179586

      George Michael: New song by late star to get first play – BBC News

      Image copyright Reuters
      Image caption George Michael died on Christmas Day last year

      A previously unheard George Michael track is to receive its first play, eight months after the singer’s death.

      The track, to be aired on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday morning, is thought to be a remix of previously-released track Fantasy from the 1987 album Faith.

      Producer Nile Rodgers, who had been working with Michael shortly before he died, said he hopes the song will make fans proud.

      It will premiere on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show at 8.10am, Radio 2 said.

      ‘Tear-filled journey’

      The late star’s publicist confirmed the news, saying Sony Music was “proudly” presenting the new single.

      News of the single came as his sisters Melanie and Yioda posted an update on his official website, saying they will carry on his musical legacy “exactly as Yog would have wanted”.

      Image copyright Reuters
      Image caption Nile Rodgers has been tweeting about his collaboration with George Michael

      Musician and producer Nile Rodgers has been tweeting about the possible release of the track for the last few weeks.

      He said it had been a “long heartfelt, tear-filled journey”, adding: “I hope we’ll make the fans proud of the amount of love we put into it.”

      Rodgers tweeted shortly after the news about the track broke on Wednesday afternoon.

      Michael, who rose to fame in band Wham!, died aged 53 from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver.

      His body was found by his partner, hairdresser Fadi Fawaz, at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day.

      During his career, Michael enjoyed seven number ones on the UK singles charts, including Careless Whisper, A Different Corner, Jesus To a Child and Fast Love.

      He had 23 top 10 hits, including Faith, Father Figure, Outside and You Have Been Loved.


      Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41180491

      People with normal BMIs may still be ‘overfat’ according to doctors

      Its not the number on the scale that should worry you: its your potbelly.

      Even people who arent considered overweight can still be labeled overfat, a new term highlighted in a recent Frontiers in Public Health report.

      For years, doctors have been classifying people as obese based on their body mass index, which is determined by weight and height. But as many as half of patients with normal BMIs might still be overfat, meaning they have excess body fat thats detrimental to their health especially when its in the abdominal region.

      You might be overfat if the circumference of your belly is larger than your hip circumference, the report states.

      According to the research, being overfat is riskier than being merely overweight, because abdominal fat can lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease and inflammation.

      A whopping 76 percent of the worlds population is overfat, according to the report. And that should be a huge wake-up call, says Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian on the Upper East Side.

      We know that 11 cancers are related to obesity and 50 illnesses are a direct result of an increase in body fat, says Aronne, who isnt connected to the report. So this is an obvious target for chronic disease management.

      Even dropping just 5 percent of your body weight will significantly reduce your risk of developing complications like diabetes, Aronne says.

      But he says the best way to lose troubling belly fat is to cut back on sugar and starches, since those are prime culprits in stimulating insulin production, which can lead to more fat storage. Focus instead on consuming mostly vegetables and proteins.

      Aronne also says that changing the order in which you consume foods for instance, eating carbohydrates after protein and vegetables, instead of the other way around can help your body metabolize food better.

      And its best to adopt lifestyle habits that lower stress and thus the hormone cortisol, which promotes fat storage in our abdomens as well, Aronne says.

      This article originally appeared in the New York Post.

      Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/08/15/people-with-normal-bmis-may-still-be-overfat-according-to-doctors.html

      Eve Walkers story is a cautionary tale about keeping family health secrets.

      When Eve Walker was 12, she lost her sister Louise to a devastating tragedy.

      Eve looked up to 16-year-old Louise. “She was so beautiful and so popular. But we fought like cats and dogs,” Eve laughs. One night, Louise left the house to go to a party. Next thing Eve remembers, her parents were screaming.

      “They rushed out the door,” she says. “When my parents came back, they told us that my sister had died.” Devastated, the Walkers grieved silently — never explaining to Eve what, exactly, had happened to Louise.

      Flash-forward nearly 16 years to when Eve started having odd, unexplainable symptoms — tiredness, tingling — that left her feeling unsettled. Because her parents had never explained the cause of Louise’s death, it didn’t occur to Eve that her symptoms might be related.

      All photos courtesy of Eve Walker.

      As her symptoms continued to increase, Eve thought them odd but not enough to be concerned. She ignored them — until she couldn’t.

      It started with having a hard time climbing stairs and inclines. Her breath became labored even though she was perfectly fit. She felt strange and fatigued.

      One day, her legs seemed to stop working. “I could barely pick them up. They felt like steel,” she says.

      Her symptoms persisted, and Eve persisted in ignoring them.

      Then one night it all came together. “I felt like something bit me on my leg,” she says. “It was a pain that shot up my leg and my arm and I remember feeling it in my face and my jaw.” That’s when all of her symptoms — the shortness of breath, the heaviness in her limbs, the tingling pain in her body — suddenly clicked.

      She called a neighbor and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

      Luckily, Eve made it to the hospital in time to get help — and to learn what had been causing her strange symptoms for so long.

      “They told me I’d had a heart attack, and they told me I had heart disease,” Eve says. She learned that she had been living with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes the heart muscle abnormally thick and makes it difficult for the body to pump blood.

      She started on medication, became more careful with her diet, avoided placing a strain on her body with rigorous exercise, and committed to keeping the doctor’s appointments necessary to making sure she wasn’t in danger of a cardiac event. Ultimately, she had a defibrillator put in that would restart her heart automatically should anything happen.

      It was around that time that a doctor also had her finally look into her family history.

      “It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I learned my sister died of heart disease,” Eve says.

      Had she known all along what had happened to Louise, Eve might have been able to get checked for her own symptoms earlier and avoided the narrow miss of her heart attack entirely. As it stands, she’s lucky to be here today.

      Though she wishes she’d known about her family’s secret, Eve understands why her parents didn’t share it. “I didn’t blame them,” she says. “I mean, they lost a child. Maybe it was just too painful to talk about. Maybe they didn’t have the right words.”

      Now, Eve dedicates her time to making sure others know the dangers of not looking into your family’s past.

      She’s a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” initiative, which is working to help end heart disease and strokes among women. And she’s already seen her work pay off firsthand.

      “One of the women was with us as an advocate because her mother died of a heart attack,” Eve says. One evening, when the group found out that the woman herself had not been checked for her own heart health, Eve urged her to do so. “Sure enough, she had some sort of heart disease and needed to get on medication immediately.”

      For many families and individuals, looking into potentially dangerous health history can be scary, so it’s avoided. But Eve says it’s better to just bite the bullet. Know your four health numbers — your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and Body Mass Index (BMI) — and get regular check-ups, especially if you’re feeling strange. Don’t put off seeing a doctor.

      “You’ve got to face it to fix it,” Eve says. “That’s the bottom line!”

      Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.

      Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/eve-walkers-health-story-is-a-cautionary-tale-about-keeping-family-secrets

      Body Smart: Can a week of wearables improve your health?

      (CNN)I’ve hit 10,000 steps! My Fitbit is vibrating and digital fireworks are shooting across the tiny screen on my wrist. The only problem is I haven’t even arrived at my office yet.

      I hit the gym before I go to work, and think heck, if I’ve already logged that many steps, why not kick back and chillax the rest of the day? This is the first sign that something is awry on my quest to find out if wearable technology, or wearables, can actually make us healthier.
      To find out if that’s true, I’m strapping three wearables in particular to my body for a week-long experiment.

        Motivation to move

        On top of my Fitbit, I’m also putting the “brain sensing” meditation headband Muse on my head five minutes a day.
        I’m also trying out the CheckMe health monitor, a small device which can check for more things than I ever care to know I may have. Among its capabilities is its role as a sleep monitor, thermometer and even an electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor.
        To get some real perspective on all this, I enlisted the help of a medical professional. Given my routine includes a morning workout, the first thing I want to know is whether I can take the elevator instead of the stairs for the rest of the day, now that I’ve hit my 10,000 steps … even if it is only 11 a.m.
        “I think there is negative reassurance,” Dr. Ellie Cannon, a general practitioner in the UK, tells me about these devices. “You’ve done your 10,000 steps and that will make you think ‘OK, great, I’m going to have a donut for breakfast,’ and it’s that sort of reassurance that is actually not particularly positive.”
        Nevertheless, Cannon and the other medical professionals I speak to are cautiously optimistic about wearables.
        Even with some studies contradicting how effective they are, obesity is a global epidemic, so doctors are generally keen for people to try anything reasonable to help us get off the couch.
        A recent study found that more than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of it.
        “There is no doubt about it that we need to move more,” Cannon says. “So anything that gets us moving, gets us counting steps, tells us to stand up and sit down, I think is going to be good,” said Cannon.
        Guess I’ll keep taking the stairs.

        Calming your brain — by reading it

        Next, I strap the Muse to my head which, from the outset, was the device I was most skeptical about. I have a hard time believing this headband can really read my brain waves.
        The device claims to guide you through meditation by reading your brain activity. It connects to your phone via an app while you meditate and changes sounds being played, such as wind or waves, based on how calm or active your brain is. Sounds are made louder and more harsh when your mind is not clear, or calm.
        I push start, roll my eyes and start thinking about everything I need to get done.
        The waves start crashing with intensity! OK, OK. I’ll try and focus on not focusing on anything!
        Surprisingly I start letting go and the waves stop crashing.
        Over the week, I find this to be the most rewarding of all the wearables I test. I have no idea if it’s a placebo effect or not, but in the end I stop caring about that.
        Just taking the five minutes to meditate with this device each day is starting to become a relaxing pattern. Or maybe I just like the sounds of nature. Either way, I am more relaxed.

        A digital check-up

        I’m the most intimidated by the large CheckMe monitor I now carry around with me. It seems like it can check me for nearly everything a nurse would screen me for before the doctor comes in the room for my annual check-up.
        Right now, it says my temperature is fine and my pulse is normal. But it does so much, including checking blood pressure and oxygen levels, that I get the sense it might be better for someone who has serious medical concerns.
        I’m mostly overwhelmed by all the data this device gives me. Some of the heart data it gives while doing my ECG even makes my mom nervous, making her insist I go to the doctor — a real one.
        “People need to be aware that the data isn’t necessarily 100% accurate and not something that you need to be diagnosing yourself from,” Cannon reassures me. “I don’t think it can be interchangeable with me taking your pulse or me taking your blood pressure, but I think they can be a useful way for you to empower your own exercise regime,” she says.
        After all that, with so many capabilities to check for so many potential problems, I may keep CheckMe in mind if I ever have serious health issues.

        The challenge to stay inspired

        For now, I have stopped wearing my Fitbit. In the end, it’s just too much hassle keep both it and my phone charged.
        And even though the “brain sensing” Muse is the device that most surpassed my expectations, I haven’t used it after my week of experimentation.

        See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

        In the end, the best wearable I’ve found are my pants. When they stop fitting, it will give me an alert I need to boost my activity levels and weight loss regimen.
        But for others, the more technological route may indeed the best source source of inspiration.
        “They really make it easier for people to work out and that’s ultimately what we want,” said Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “[We want] people to find ways to incorporate working out and exercise into their daily lifestyle and routine so it becomes habit.”
        While some devices suggest seeing a doctor before using them, Narula believes this is not necessary for everyone.
        “If you’re beginning a low to more moderate exercise and you’re a relatively healthy person, then you don’t really need to see a doctor and have a stress test,” she said. “If you have a heart disease or history of other risk factors and you’re planning to do a moderate or vigorous exercise, then see your doctor for an evaluation first.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/14/health/wearable-technology-improving-health-burke/index.html