Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[Full Circle: How One Man Turned His Recovery Into A Business]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:30:00 -0600
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Nick Albaugh had a tough time fitting in growing up. After battling drug addiction and spending time in jail, he went to rehab. Now, he's opened his own recovery center to try to help others in his community.

Get a deeper understanding of the stories that matter with Newsy's "The Why" — weekdays 7-9 p.m. ET. 

SEE MORE: Full Circle: How One Man Survived Addiction To Help Others

<![CDATA[Drug Advertisement Spending Continues To Skyrocket]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:44:00 -0600
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Prescription ads bombard your television screen, telling you they can take away your pain.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you're the one asking your doctor for a prescription when they're the ones who diagnose you?

The short answer: It's all about the cash.

Drugs ads are extremely lucrative.

While most other industries have flat-lined their spending, this kind of ad space is only growing.

Since 2012,media analyst Kantar Media says spending is up 64 percent.

The medication advertised is a brand, meaning it's expensive. Some can cost hundreds of dollars for a month or two months' supply, when typically a doctor may have just prescribed the generic instead. 

SEE MORE: Do Anti-Drug Ad Campaigns Really Work?

It hasn't always been this way.

In fact, before 1997, the FDA heavily regulated these ads, and almost none existed.

Pharma reps instead went straight to doctors to sell their medications. But now, according to Kantar, pharma is the seventh-largest ad category in America, racking up $6.4 billion in growth.

The FDA does review advertisements, but not necessarily before they hit the airwaves. 

This means millions of eyeballs could see these commercials before the FDA decides whether they should stay on the air.

The U.S. is pretty much alone on this. Direct-to-consumer drug ads are illegal everywhere else except New Zealand. 

And this space is only evolving. Since the late '90s, most ads have appealed to common ailments like arthritis. Now, ads are being directed to niche markets.

The American Medical Association called for a complete ban of these advertisements in 2015, saying in part, "Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate."

Get a deeper understanding of the stories that matter with Newsy's "The Why" — weekdays 7-9 p.m. ET. 

<![CDATA[We're Lighting Up Earth At An Alarming Rate]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:51:00 -0600
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LED technology has made lighting more energy- and cost-efficient, and cities like Detroit and Chicago have spent millions to light up previously dark areas. The switch is happening all over the world, but a new study shows how that could be a problem.

Scientists are increasingly worried about light pollution. Today, 40 percent of Americans live in places so bright their eyes never adjust to seeing in the dark. That can throw off circadian rhythms, which increases the risk of sleep disorders and cancer, and can even slow the healing of wounds

SEE MORE: Wounds Can Heal Faster Depending On When The Injury Happened

To study the effects of cheaper lighting, researchers used satellites with infrared sensors to detect how much light a country emits. They found Earth's artificially lit outdoor areas grew by about 2 percent per year from 2012 to 2016. 

The study's authors noticed that globally, lit areas grew at about the same pace as GDP. Continents with developing countries, like Africa, South America and Asia, accounted for the biggest increases in light coverage.

The brightest countries in the world, like the U.S. and Spain, didn't see big changes in their radiance, but most others did. Only 16 countries saw lighting decreases during the study, and some of those countries, like Yemen and Syria, were at war during that time.

<![CDATA[The FCC Plans To Roll Back Net Neutrality Rules]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 14:31:00 -0600
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The Federal Communications Commission recently announced its plan to eliminate net neutrality.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to roll back rules established in 2015 under former President Barack Obama. They essentially force internet providers to treat all web content fairly by outlawing things like paid prioritization and blocking web traffic.

The proposed plan would remove strict government oversight and simply require ISPs to inform the public about their practices. But critics say the plan would give ISPs control over what their consumers can and can't see, and for what price.

SEE MORE: Robots May Have Answered The FCC's Call For Net Neutrality Comments

The announcement split the tech world. Companies, like Verizon, welcomed the change, while others, like Google, expressed disappointment.

But net neutrality isn't dead yet. While the changes are expected to pass a final Dec. 14 vote, neutrality supporters could take the FCC to court to keep current regulations.

<![CDATA[Debriefing 'Revolt': Media Shouldn't Ignore Religion]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:06:00 -0600
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More than 75 percent of Americans consider themselves religious, but if you follow most mainstream American news outlets, you would get the sense that the country is agnostic.

SEE MORE: Revolt: The Kingdom And The Power

In this debrief after the fifth episode of Newsy's series "Revolt," reporter Zach Toombs and producer Kate Grumke talk about why it's time for American media to stop ignoring faith in their reporting.

<![CDATA[NASA Says This Asteroid Is A First For More Than One Reason]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:59:00 -0600
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For the first time, scientists have discovered an interstellar object — and its cigar-like shape is puzzling scientists. 

Nicknamed 'Oumuamua, the asteroid could be 10 times longer than it is wide. NASA notes it's never seen an asteroid like it.

Paul Chodas from NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies said, "This object is simply a piece of another solar system that was expelled, and it has been traveling through interstellar space hundreds of millions of years — billions of years — we don't know." 

But besides novelty, the long and thin shape could give scientists clues as to how different solar systems formed. 

Time is ticking, though. The asteroid is already on its way out of our solar system, and it's rapidly fading from our view. 

SEE MORE: A New NASA Time Lapse Shows 20 Years Of Life On Earth

Between orbiting and ground-based telescopes, NASA expects scientists have a little less than a month to get as much data as they can. 

<![CDATA[Turkey Poop Might One Day Power Your Home]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:56:00 -0600
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While you enjoy that Thanksgiving turkey, one group of scientists has plans for its poop.

According to a new study, excrement from turkeys, chickens and other poultry could be converted to solid biomass fuel for heat and electricity. There's supposedly enough poop from agricultural poultry out there to replace about 10 percent of energy from coal.

Other biofuel research is looking at growing crops for energy production. But the scientists said this might strain our land, water and fertilizer resources. Bird excrement, on the other hand, is more readily available.

SEE MORE: This Bird Is Once Again At The Center Of An Oil-Drilling Debate

This isn't the first time we've looked to poop for renewable energy. Engineers want to fuel cars and buses with it. Feces is even powering entire cities.

But this new study is the first of its kind. Livestock biofuel is often associated with other animals, like cows. The researchers said they need to do larger-scale tests to really determine how much we can power with poo.

<![CDATA[Revolt: The Kingdom And The Power]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 19:06:00 -0600
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Evangelical Christians might be the most powerful voting block in America. They're also far less likely than the general public to believe in human-caused climate change. In this report, we talk with faith leaders, theologians, scientists and other evangelicals rallying around climate change — often on opposing sides of the issue.

Our series "Revolt" explores climate and energy issues in a fresh context focused on Middle America. This is the last of six episodes.

SEE MORE: Revolt: Bigger In Texas

Full source list and bibliography:

- "One in four American adults calls themself an evangelical Christian. That's more than 64 million people." - Pew Research Center

- "Evangelicals are much less likely than the general public to think human activity is to blame for a changing climate." - Pew Research Center

- "In 2016, evangelicals chose Trump over Clinton by a 4-to-1 margin." - Pew Research Center

- "Money and resources do flow from companies like ExxonMobil and the oil and gas billionaire Koch brothers, to think tanks and politicians that reject the mainstream science of climate change. … A very small amount of that also goes to the Cornwall Alliance." - The GuardianDeSmog BlogExxonSecretsSplinter

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

Katharine Hayhoe

The Cornwall Alliance

<![CDATA[Earthquakes Could Get Worse In 2018 Due To Earth's Slowing Rotation]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:14:00 -0600
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Every so often, Earth's rotation slows down or speeds up by a few microseconds. While the changes don't affect us directly, some scientists think recent slowdowns could be a sign of big earthquakes to come. 

In a new study, researchers looked at every earthquake since 1900 that registered a magnitude of 7 or larger and saw an uptick in the number of big quakes about every 32 years. They also noticed an unusual pattern: Earth's rotation would slow about five years before every cluster of earthquakes.

The scientists can't explain for sure how the slower rotations led to more severe earthquakes yet. They suggest the small changes between Earth's crust and liquid core might be the culprit.

SEE MORE: Swarms Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Are Nothing To Worry About

But considering Earth's most recent slowing period started more than four years ago, researchers say 2018 is ripe for severe earthquakes.

It's unclear just how many more there'll be, but one of the study's authors told The Guardian, "We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018." That's more than three times the number of significant magnitude 7 or higher earthquakes so far in 2017.

<![CDATA[Scientists Throw Cold Water On Mars Water Finding]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:50:00 -0600
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Scientists have some bad news about life on Mars. That flowing water on the planet's surface might actually be drifting sand.

In 2015, NASA reported it had found evidence that liquid water still flows on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected dark streaks on the Martian surface, suggesting the presence of flowing water. The finding had huge implications for the search for extraterrestrial life.

Now, dreams of meeting our alien neighbors are slightly dashed.

SEE MORE: How We Could Make Mars A Livable Planet

Further examination of the dark streaks found them to be most likely caused by grains of sand and dust cascading downhill on Mars' uneven terrain.

This doesn't mean Mars is waterless. The planet still has huge deposits of frozen water at its poles and most likely below its surface. But as of now, there's no evidence of liquid water on Mars.

<![CDATA[Keystone XL Pipeline Gets The Green Light From Nebraska Regulators]]> Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:17:00 -0600
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Regulators in Nebraska approved TransCanada Corporation's plan to run the Keystone XL pipeline route through the state — but with a caveat.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission announced its decision Monday. The five-person commission rejected TransCanada's preferred route and gave the OK to an alternative route that meets up with the existing pipeline farther north.

The commission wrote, "It is in the public interest for the pipelines to be in closer proximity to each other." The approval also notes the alternative route would have less impact on threatened and endangered species. 

Two commissioners voted against approval. 

One of them cited the effect on residents along the alternative route, noting, "These landowners will now have their land taken by [TransCanada] and they may not even be aware that they were in the path of the approved route."

Getting the commission's seal of approval was the last major regulatory roadblock facing the controversial project, which has been delayed for years.

SEE MORE: The Dakota Access Pipeline's Developer Is Suing Environmental Groups

The announcement comes just a few days after at least 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the existing Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.

Critics argue that leak is even more proof that the proposed pipeline is dangerous. 

But environmental concerns fall under federal jurisdiction, so the state commission wasn't allowed to consider pipeline safety or the risk of spills.

President Barack Obama rejected the project in 2015 due to environmental concerns. But President Donald Trump reversed that decision earlier this year and approved a federal permit for the pipeline.

<![CDATA[Trump Pauses The Decision On Importing African Elephant Trophies]]> Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:36:00 -0600
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Trophies from legally hunted elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia won't be allowed into the U.S. — at least, not yet.

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday evening that he would put the decision on hold while he reviews conservation facts. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Wednesday it would reverse an Obama-era ban on importing elephant hunting trophies from the two African countries.

The department said the move was designed to help conservation. In a statement, it said allowing sport hunting as part of regulated program could be an incentive for local governments to put money toward species preservation.

SEE MORE: Tigers Are Returning To A Country Where They Were Once Extinct

The decision was applauded by some hunting and gun rights groups but met with outrage from animal rights advocates.

The pause on certain elephant trophy imports comes around the same time as another controversial Fish and Wildlife decision: ABC News reports the service began issuing permits to import trophies from African lions hunted in Zambia and Zimbabwe last month.

FWS started protecting African and Indian lions under the Endangered Species Act in 2016 due to declines in population — they've reportedly dwindled by 43 percent in the last 20 years.

But ABC says the Trump administration decided to issue permits after determining that regulated hunting would help preserve the endangered species.

<![CDATA[A New NASA Time Lapse Shows 20 Years Of Life On Earth]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:59:00 -0600
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20 years ago, NASA started launching satellites that could keep a constant eye on life on Earth. To celebrate the anniversary, the space agency combined data from dozens of Earth-facing satellites to create a time lapse of the entire planet changing in real time. 

These satellites have given scientists a much clearer understanding of how ecological systems shift over time across the planet. Before we had all these eyes in the sky, observations were less frequent and therefore less precise.

SEE MORE: NASA Has A Better Idea How Humans, Weather Shift The Carbon Cycle

Now, scientists can see how Earth "breathes" like a living thing as the years go by. Deserts around the globe expand as ice covers shrink, then decline as snow cover comes back. 

And tracking the Earth in real time has led to all sorts of interesting discoveries, such as subtle changes in the timing of our seasons. Satellites helped NASA discover that springtime is starting earlier than it used to, while autumn is coming much later.

<![CDATA[Having A Canine Companion Could Help You Live A Longer, Healthier Life]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:59:00 -0600
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Yet another reason to love man's best friend: Having a canine companion around the house could help you live a longer, healthier life.

A new study published Friday found dog owners generally had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who didn't own a canine. Researchers concluded that after tracking more than 3.4 million people in Sweden over 12 years.

And that risk was significantly lower for puppy parents living by themselves. Those who lived alone with a dog reduced their risk of death by a third and had an 11 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

SEE MORE: This Federal Agency Will Soon Allow Dogs At Work

The study's senior author told CNN these results could suggest that taking care of a furry friend pushes people to stay active and live healthier. After all, Fido isn't going to take himself for walks.

Another explanation for the findings could be how a dog might affect its owner's microbiome, aka the bacteria that live in your gut.

Previous studies suggest growing up with a pup could also help relieve allergies and asthma in kids. And researchers think all the dirt and slobber dogs bring into the house could boost adults' immune systems, too.

<![CDATA[Researchers Are Trying To Talk To Extraterrestrials Using Music]]> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:29:00 -0600
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Researchers recently sent musical messages into space in hopes of reaching intelligent extraterrestrial life. But don't hold your breath for a quick response.

The experimental messages were sent in October to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Barcelona's Sónar Festival. The festival touts having the most "innovative, radical and committed music of the planet." 

The announcement was made public Thursday.

Sónar, along with partners METI International and the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia, transmitted 18 pieces of music from Norway toward Luyten's Star.

The transmissions consisted of a greeting, basic information about Earth, a tutorial to understand the message, the music, and a farewell. 

SEE MORE: If Aliens Exist, How Would They Find Earth?

Those behind the project recognize that calling out to extraterrestrial life is likely a long shot. If a response ever does come, they say we won't get it for at least 25 years.

The first transmissions included music from artists close to the festival. Come April 2018, a second round of transmissions will be sent and will include three pieces of music submitted by members of the public.

<![CDATA[Canada And The UK Form International Alliance To Fight Against Coal]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 21:13:00 -0600
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The U.K. and Canada just formed a global alliance to fight ... coal.

More than 20 countries, states and provinces around the world joined the two alliance leaders Thursday in committing themselves to do away with unabated coal power by 2030.

Unabated coal is just the technical term for coal burned without a carbon capture system in place. Scientists say its continued use is a major roadblock to reaching international climate change goals.

By extension abated coal is what you get when power plants capture the carbon produced by burning coal and, in some cases, bury it back underground. Those types of systems haven't gained much ground at the commercial level yet.

The alliance has a tough road ahead, though. China, the U.S., Japan and India — some of the world's largest users of coal — chose not to sign on to the plan.

Last year, most of those countries saw a drop in coal use, but it looks like China, the U.S. and India have bumped their consumption back up this year. 

SEE MORE: Revolt: Coal River Mountain

And at least some of the nations that joined the pact don't actually use coal for energy production anyway.

But the alliance thinks it can grow its ranks by 50 or more members by the time the United Nations holds another round of climate change talks next year.

The U.K. minister for climate change and industry says the U.K. is proof that you don't have to sacrifice economic growth when cutting coal. Since 1990, its economy has grown by 67 percent while coal emissions were cut by 42 percent.

Getting other nations to join the alliance might not be a super tough sell. Coal consumption seems to be in decline worldwide and renewable energy is a rapidly growing industry.

<![CDATA[Keystone Pipeline Temporarily Shut Off After South Dakota Oil Leak]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 18:35:00 -0600
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At least 210,000 gallons of tar sand oil leaked from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.

TransCanada — the company that owns the pipeline — says it noticed the leak Thursday morning and has shut down the pipeline system.

The leak comes at a bad time for TransCanada. Nebraska's Public Service Commission is set to vote on construction permits for the Keystone XL pipeline soon.

Keystone XL is an extension of the Keystone pipeline. It would extend the pipeline all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Compared with other pipeline spills in recent years, 210,000 gallons is pretty large. Last year, TransCanada shut down the same pipeline for a week after nearly 17,000 gallons spilled out in South Dakota.

SEE MORE: This Sponge Could Be Key For Cleaning Oil Spills

But this spill is certainly not the largest one to happen recently. In 2010, over 800,000 gallons of oil poured out of a pipeline in Michigan into the Kalamazoo River. 

TransCanada didn't say how long it thought the cleanup would take. But tar sand can be uniquely challenging to clean up compared with normal crude oil.

<![CDATA[Debriefing 'Revolt': Will Utility Companies Join Clean Energy Push?]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 17:50:00 -0600
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Most Americans get their electricity from corporate utilities. Now, the rise of renewable energy has divided utility companies, with some buying in to wind and solar and others lobbying against it.

SEE MORE: Revolt: Bigger In Texas

In this debrief after the fifth episode of Newsy's series "Revolt," reporter Zach Toombs and producer Kate Grumke talk about how utility companies can boost clean energy in states across the country.

<![CDATA[Something Else, Not Gluten, Might Be Making Some People Sick]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:19:00 -0600
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As of 2017, over 3 million Americans follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons. But some researchers think people's sensitivity issues aren't always with gluten — they could be linked to fructan.

Fructans are naturally occurring carbohydrates common to American diets; wheat and onions make up about 95 percent of all fructans we eat. And while fructan and gluten have been linked to gastrointestinal problems in the past, the prevalence of celiac disease hasn't grown. But interest in gluten-free diets has.

So researchers wanted to see if people who thought they were gluten-intolerant were actually fructan-intolerant. Each week, they assigned participants a blind diet that was one of these: gluten, fructan or placebo. People then said how they felt before moving to the next diet.

SEE MORE: The Vatican Says Gluten-Free Communion Wafers Don't Count

When researchers compared the records, they found only about 1 in 5 people said they felt the worst on the gluten diet, while about 2 in 5 said they felt the worst on the fructan diet.

So many claiming to have gluten sensitivities might be focusing on the wrong thing. But gluten-free diets aren't without risks. Previous studies have also linked them to increased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

<![CDATA[Texas Leads The Country In Wind Energy]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:44:00 -0600
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The small town of Sweetwater, Texas, is known for two things: its annual rattlesnake roundup and having 4 of the 11 largest wind farms in the world.

In fact, if Texas were its own country, it would be No. 4 worldwide for wind energy production.

"This is the center of the wind industry in the United States," said Cliff Etheredge, a local wind and cotton farmer. "We have this wind corridor comes off this Chihuahua Desert in the south, comes right up the panhandle, right on up to Canada."

SEE MORE: Revolt: Bigger In Texas

Texas produces the most wind energy in the U.S. — more than the next three states combined.

"So we have available transmission lines, we had pretty good wind, and then we had landowners who were already used to dealing with agriculture and oil and gas, and so we just found some people that could also mix in wind with that," said Ken Becker, executive director of Sweetwater Economic Development.

Etheredge said a focus on wind has helped some in the community. 

"Having this steady income has put a few smiles on some farmers' faces," he said, "or at least erased some frowns. Maybe it's done some of that."

<![CDATA[Scientists Don't Know Where All This Extra Antimatter Came From]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:33:00 -0600
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When it comes to unraveling the mysteries of space, it takes giant experiments to find the smallest clues. Case in point: To locate where extra antimatter hanging out around Earth comes from, one group built a telescope out of 15 million gallons of water.

The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory searches for signs of positrons, which are like electrons but with an opposite charge. When these particles collide, they give off bursts of radiation that telescopes measure as tiny flashes of light.

In 2008, scientists found more positrons than expected above Earth's atmosphere. One explanation says these particles might have traveled across space to Earth from collapsed stars known as pulsars, which launch electrons, positrons and other matter with a ton of force.

SEE MORE: Scientists Don't Actually Know Why Anything Exists

But a new study using the water observatory might have ruled out the pulsars. Researchers say the most likely candidates are in the middle of clouds of dust and gas that keep most positrons from reaching Earth.

These positrons could also come from some interaction with dark matter. We can't detect it on its own, but we're still sure it's all around us because we can see its gravity working on the rest of the cosmos. Researchers can't say whether ruling out pulsars makes the dark matter explanation any more likely, but it could be another small step toward making direct measurements.

A water-based telescope might not be able to help narrow that search down, but other giant experiments might. Earlier this year, a super-cold dark matter detector buried under the mountains in Italy started its first trial runs.

<![CDATA[The US Will Allow Imports Of Elephant Trophies From Zimbabwe, Zambia]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 09:59:00 -0600
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Trophies from elephants legally hunted in two African countries can now be brought back to the U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed to several media outlets Wednesday that an Obama-era ban on elephant-hunting trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia will be reversed.

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the African elephant population plummeted from at least 3 million in the early part of the 20th century to about 415,000 today.

SEE MORE: As Habitats Shrink, There Is Such A Thing As Too Many Elephants

But the Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement that hunting African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia could help conservation efforts by "providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation."

The decision was cheered by some hunting and gun rights organizations, including trophy-hunting advocacy group Safari Club International.

But animal rights advocates like the Humane Society of the United States slammed the move as jarring and absurd.

Someone wishing to bring back an elephant trophy must apply for a permit. The policy applies to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe between Jan. 21, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018. The same goes for elephants hunted in Zambia from 2016 to 2018. 

<![CDATA[Secretary Zinke Questions His Department's Loyalty]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 19:12:00 -0600
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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is at odds with his own department about loyalty to the Trump administration. Since taking over the department, Zinke has restructured many of the senior positions. A handful of career officials have resigned over these changes. 

Get a deeper understanding of the stories that matter with Newsy's "The Why" — weekdays 7-9 p.m. ET. 

SEE MORE: Zinke's Mix Of Fundraisers, Government Work Raises New Ethics Concerns

<![CDATA[Chimps Can Spread The Alert About Danger Just Like Humans Do]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 14:43:00 -0600
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Scientists used to think only humans could alert others about a serious problem — like using a fire alarm or yelling, "fire." But with the help of some fake snakes, we've found chimpanzees can also signal danger.

Researchers hid fake snakes near wild chimps to see what happened when the animals saw the danger. In a third of the cases, chimps that found one would look from the snake to their friends and back to signal where the threat was.

Researchers also tested if chimps changed warnings based on the severity of a threat. In a separate experiment, hidden speakers near groups of the animals would play recorded chimpanzee calls that either signaled a chimp knew about the snake or it didn't.

SEE MORE: Only 72 Of Nearly 600 Lab Chimpanzees Have Been Moved To Sanctuaries

If chimps found a snake after hearing fake calls that implied there was no threat, they used active body language and "alert hoos" to show members where the new danger was.

Although the animals can signal danger, it doesn't always mean they'll tell every chimp nearby. Researchers noted in the experiment, chimps signaled to members of their group they knew, not to strangers.

<![CDATA[New Planetary Discovery Is An Important Step For Finding Another Earth]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:23:00 -0600
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The European Southern Observatory has just discovered the second-closest temperate planet to our solar system, and it might have a better chance of hosting life than the closest exoplanet. 

Hold up — temperate planet? Exoplanet? What does this all mean? 

Space agencies across the globe are basically looking for another Earth. An exoplanet is simply a planet that orbits a star that's not our sun. 

The "temperate" part relates to, you guessed it, temperature. Earth's in an ideal position to have liquid water: close enough to — but far enough from — the sun. Scientists are looking for planets whose relationships with their own stars give similar conditions. 

With that out of the way, let's get back to the latest discovery. 

It's known as Ross 128 b, and it's just 11 light-years from Earth. This exoplanet revolves around an inactive red dwarf star — which is important for that temperature part. 

SEE MORE: Uber's Flying Taxi Service Faces Many Hurdles, Even With NASA's Help

Red dwarfs are among the coolest stars in the universe. Scientists say Ross 128 b's surface temperature could be a lot like Earth's. 

They're not sure yet if the exoplanet holds liquid water, but here's why its proximity to our planet is good news. 

After finding an exoplanet, scientists need to test its atmosphere, but the ESO's Extremely Large Telescope will only be able to do those kinds of tests for the closest exoplanets. 

<![CDATA[FDA Warns About 'Deadly Risks' Of Taking Kratom For Opioid Addiction]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:07:00 -0600
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Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia, and Americans are increasingly using it to treat pain, anxiety, depression and the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

But the Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about the "deadly risks" linked to taking the substance.

In a public health advisory released Tuesday, the FDA commissioner said kratom has similar effects to narcotics like opioids. But it also carries similar risks — like abuse, addiction and even death.

The FDA says it's aware of 36 deaths linked to kratom, as well as a tenfold increase in calls to U.S. poison control centers about the substance between 2010 and 2015.

SEE MORE: Do Anti-Drug Ad Campaigns Really Work?

The FDA's warning comes a little over a year after the Drug Enforcement Administration backtracked on its plans to move kratom to the Schedule 1 drug list. That list includes substances with a high potential for abuse and no proven medical use.

Kratom is already a controlled substance in more than a dozen countries around the world, and it's banned in several states in the U.S. Still, proponents argue it could have potential medical benefits that should be studied.

When the DEA announced plans to outlaw it, more than 50 U.S. representatives wrote a letter criticizing the decision. One researcher even called it a "disservice to science."

For now, the FDA treats kratom as an unapproved drug, and the agency has taken action against dietary substances that have it.

<![CDATA[You Could Have High Blood Pressure Under These New Guidelines]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 09:55:00 -0600
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Millions more Americans now have high blood pressure, according to new guidelines released by heart experts. But you might not need to run to the pharmacy just yet.

The guidelines, which the American Heart Association and other groups put together, move the goal line for blood pressure control from 140 over 90 to 130 over 80.

That might not seem like a big difference on paper. But it means nearly half of U.S. adults could now be diagnosed with high blood pressure — rather than about a third.

The authors behind the guidelines say they're designed to motivate people to get their blood pressure under control sooner rather than later.

SEE MORE: Millions Of Americans Aren't Taking Their Blood Pressure Meds Properly

After all, high blood pressure is linked to heart disease and strokes — the two leading causes of death around the world.

But some experts say the change doesn't necessarily mean more Americans need to be taking blood pressure medication.

The chief medical adviser for Consumer Reports says exercise and a heart-healthy diet can make a big difference for people above the 120 over 80 range, but "it's also crucial not to rush to medication."

And according to a recent report published in the medical journal JAMA, blood pressure lowering treatment might not reduce death or cardiovascular disease in individuals whose baseline systolic blood pressure is under 140.

<![CDATA[Revolt: Bigger In Texas]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 19:00:00 -0600
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If Texas were its own country, it would be the world's No. 4 producer of wind energy. Clean energy in the Lone Star State and across conservative Middle America is on the rise, but it's running up against a powerful fossil fuel lobby that stretches from West Texas to Washington, D.C.

Our series "Revolt" explores climate and energy issues in a fresh context focused on Middle America. This is the fifth of six episodes that debut weekly.

SEE MORE: Revolt: A Tale Of Two Tribes

Full source list and bibliography:

- "If (Texas) really were its own country, it would be the world's number four producer of wind energy." - NPR

- Sweetwater, Texas, has four of the 11 largest wind farms in the world. - The Guardian 

- Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas are the top states for wind energy production. - U.S. Energy Information Administration

- "A Trump administration plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry would reward nuclear and coal-fired power plants for adding reliability to the nation's power grid." - ReutersNPRThe Washington Post

- "As a nonpartisan policy expert, Tyson Slocum has explained energy policy to everyone from Stephen Colbert to the U.S. Congress." - Comedy CentralU.S. House of Representatives

- "What we're seeing right now is the cheapest sources of new energy are renewables led by wind and solar, and natural gas. Nuclear and coal no longer can produce electricity the cheapest." - Lazard's levelized cost of energy analysis

- "Executives at oil and gas companies have paid big money to groups and campaigns for Trump's head of the EPAhis secretary of the interior and to Energy Secretary Rick Perry."

- "And after running ExxonMobil for 11 years, Trump's secretary of state got a huge retirement payout." - PBS Newshour

- "Trump himself removed limits on corporate donations and got millions from fossil fuel companies for his inauguration." - Center for Public Integrity

- "Overall, the industry pumped tens of millions into the last election cycle, most of it for Republicans." - Center for Responsive Politics

- "The congressional district that runs from San Antonio to Austin has more solar jobs than anywhere else in Texas." - The Solar Foundation

- "If you look at pure job creation per dollar, the green energy economy employs so many people already." - U.S. Department of Energy

<![CDATA[More Than 15,000 Scientists Have Issued A Warning To Humanity]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:38:00 -0600
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More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries say unless humans change their behavior, the planet will become inhospitable.

The warning commemorates a similar 1992 declaration from the Union of Concerned Scientists. At the time, 1,500 scientists said they were worried how climate change and population growth, as well as losing ozone, fisheries, and biodiversity, could hurt the planet.

Fast-forward, and researchers wanted to see if humans heeded the warning 25 years later, so they collected global data on variables from the original letter.

SEE MORE: Scientists Can't Agree If We're Really In A Mass Extinction

Unfortunately, the findings confirmed things haven't gotten much better. There have been dramatic increases in human populationannual surface temperaturescarbon dioxide emissions and ocean dead zones. Fisheries' total yields have declined strongly since 1996. Freshwater biodiversity decreased about 80 percent, while diversity in the oceans and on land both fell about a third.

Of all of the issues the 1992 report highlighted, only one is looking better. The hole in the ozone over the Antarctic is its smallest since 1988, but some researchers think unregulated substances are still in our atmosphere, making permanent repair difficult.

<![CDATA[Bill Gates Wants To Find A Cure For Alzheimer's]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:42:00 -0600
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Bill Gates wants to help find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

To do that, the Microsoft co-founder invested $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund.

"We basically don't have a treatment for it," Gates said in a video post. "But I'm hopeful. We have much better tools. We have more scientists. We need a lot of ideas here to give us the highest chance that will lead to an Alzheimer's cure."

Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. The Alzheimer's Association says more than 5 million Americans are living with the progressive disease, which impairs memory and cognitive function.

SEE MORE: Bill Gates Thinks Robots Should Pay Taxes Like The Rest Of Us

While there are currently treatments available for certain symptoms of Alzheimer's, there's no overall cure for the disease. 

CNN notes this is the first-known time Gates has donated money toward research into a noncommunicable disease.

Gates made this $50 million investment himself — not through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has focused more on infectious diseases like malaria and HIV.

<![CDATA[CDC: Drinking Water Contaminated By Algal Toxins Made People Sick]]> Fri, 10 Nov 2017 14:58:00 -0600
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For the first time in reported history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed algal toxins in municipal drinking water made people sick.

The CDC said two separate outbreaks in Ohio could be traced back to drinking water from Lake Erie. In one of those incidents, 110 people got sick, and 400,000 people were forced to avoid drinking tap water.

Harmful algal blooms often happen when fertilizer runoff enters warm, still bodies of water. Scientists think the warming climate might be making the problem worse, but the CDC says it's too early to know for sure.

SEE MORE: Florida's Waters Are Dripping With Disgusting Algae, And It Smells

In the meantime, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have deployed a few new tools to help track bloom growth. A new weather satellite can detect much smaller algal blooms than before.

And underwater, NOAA launched robotic laboratories at the bottom of Lake Erie to test toxin levels. They can deliver results about six times faster than humans.

<![CDATA[Ripple Effect: Water Reuse Policy]]> Fri, 10 Nov 2017 12:38:00 -0600
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Experts on climate change and governmental policy as well as a water industry expert discuss how population growth and extreme weather events from climate change are affecting water sustainability and distribution across the globe as well as how governments at the local level can help solve problems with actions like education, incentives and mandates.

<![CDATA[All Those Bugs In Your Home Are Picky About Its Interior]]> Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:04:00 -0600
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Dropping temperatures likely mean more bugs in your home. But the kind of insect intruders you'll see depends on the interior of your abode.

In a new study, a team of researchers surveyed 50 homes to see what factors influence which bugs you might find inside.

They found most bugs prefer large, open, carpeted rooms on the ground floor. Common areas, like living rooms, host more diversity than kitchens and bathrooms, as well as rooms with more windows and doors to the outside.

SEE MORE: There's Nothing Itsy Bitsy About The Number Of Bugs Spiders Eat

Not surprisingly, spiders, mites and millipedes like to hang out in the basement where it's dark and damp. Pantry moths prefer the kitchen. Ants and cockroaches like the spaciousness of the entire home and can be found in any room.

The research is part of a larger effort spanning seven continents to study how insects thrive  in such close quarters with humans. For instance, the project found the average home has 30 species of bug in it.

The good news is human behavior was found to have a minimal role in determining the type of bugs in a house. That means, even the cleanest among us won't have a say in which bugs wander inside — but cleaning will help lower the overall number, so you should probably still tidy up.

<![CDATA[Henry Red Cloud Brings Solar Energy To Tribal Lands]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:16:00 -0600
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Henry Red Cloud is creating a grass roots solar movement for native peoples.

"As natives, we embrace renewable energy," he said. "It's in our language, our song, our dance, our ceremonies. Renewable energy can help families to have lights for the first time and then have running water — all of the necessities that we take, if we do have it, we take for granted."

SEE MORE: Revolt: A Tale Of Two Tribes

He and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center train students how to capture and use solar energy. Those students then take that solar know-how back to their reservations and their homes nationwide.

"We've been operating since 2006, so 11 years with pretty close to 1,000 students coming through our program, and 42 of the greater northern plain tribes," Red Cloud said.

On the Pine Ridge Reservation, where Red Cloud lives, about half of the residents live in poverty. Utility bills are often as high as $600 each month.

"We're gonna learn this new way of honoring that old way and then becoming sustainable," he said, "starting to create our own economies, creating a small business, putting some people to work."

<![CDATA[The Head Of The EPA Is Waging War On The Agency From Inside]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 19:47:00 -0600
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SEE MORE: EPA Administrator Pruitt To End Obama's Clean Power Plan

Before Scott Pruitt ran the Environmental Protection Agency, he railed against it — the former Oklahoma attorney general sued the agency 14 times before taking over as its administrator. Now, he's working to make huge changes to the agency from within.

Get a deeper understanding of the stories that matter with Newsy's "The Why" — weekdays 7-9 p.m. ET. 

<![CDATA[Ripple Effect: Digital Water]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 15:00:00 -0600
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Big Data is spilling over into the world of water, and technology is being used to address many of the problems of our aging water infrastructure. Those in the water industry talk about how they’re now using predictive analytic software and analytic tools to monitor water usage in order to predict problems before they happen rather than fixing them after the fact and ultimately save billions of gallons of water each day.

<![CDATA[WHO To Farmers: Stop Giving So Many Antibiotics To Healthy Animals]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:49:00 -0600
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The World Health Organization is pushing back on antibiotic use in food-producing animals.

In some countries, farmers routinely give medically important antibiotics to healthy animals "to promote growth and prevent disease." The WHO wants that to stop.

The reason? To make sure antibiotics keep working for humans. 

SEE MORE: These Genetically Modified Cows Don't Need Antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance is a rising global threat, and health professionals are running out of ways to treat certain diseases.

The WHO recommends healthy animals only get antibiotics if other animals in their flock or herd have been diagnosed with a disease. It also recommends disease prevention measures like improving hygiene and the use of vaccination.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already limits the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth in animals. In a statement, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said the WHO guidelines "erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion."

Still, the USDA said the industry does need to work on developing alternative therapies for disease prevention.

<![CDATA[Wounds Can Heal Faster Depending On When The Injury Happened]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 13:59:00 -0600
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Our circadian rhythm, which regulates our heart rate and makes us tired, can also influence how well a wound heals — depending on the time of day the injury happened.

Disruption of this natural cycle is linked to sicknesses like cancerdiabetes, obesity and heart attacks. But researchers wanted to know how individual cells used the circadian clock to boost certain functions, like healing from a wound.

They found fibroblasts, the most common cells in connective tissue, worked faster to close open wounds during the active part of the circadian cycle, or when people were awake. When the cell hit its resting phase of the cycle — when people slept — wounds closed a lot slower.

SEE MORE: American Scientists Win Nobel Prize For 'Biological Clock' Research

Open wounds weren't the only injury that healed more quickly during the day. When researchers looked at historical data from the International Burn Injury Database, they found burn wounds sustained at night took about 60 percent longer to heal than daytime burns.

The study's authors said the new information might be useful for patients who are going to have surgery. If they can reset their cellular clocks before the procedure, they might recover more quickly.

<![CDATA[Plane In Roy Halladay Crash Marketed For 'Non-Pilots' And Low Flying]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 13:45:00 -0600
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The Icon A5 isn't your typical airplane. The so-called "sports car with wings" is small and easy to fly. But in the wake of the recent crash involving retired baseball pitcher Roy Halladay, experts say marketing a plane for "non-pilots" and low-altitude flying is a recipe for disaster.

The A5 is an amphibious sport plane, meaning it can take off and land from the ground or water. To fly it, pilots only need a sport-pilot license, which requires less than half the amount of flight hours as a traditional pilot license.

But some aviation experts think pilots with such little flying time shouldn't fly aircraft at low altitude — even if planes are designed for that purpose. Low-altitude flying is especially difficult and typically involves extensive training beyond certification for a pilot license.

SEE MORE: Pilotless Planes Could Save Billions — If People Are Willing To Get On

The National Transportation Safety Board hasn't determined the exact cause of Halladay's crash, but low flying was found to be a primary factor in another A5 crash that happened earlier this year. The incident killed Icon A5 designer Jon Murray Karkow and another company official. Karkow entered a canyon while flying too low and struck a canyon wall.

Icon released a new set of low-altitude flying guidelines after that crash, but the company also said pilots are ultimately responsible for their own safety when operating the aircraft. Icon even requires anyone buying an A5 to sign away their rights to sue the company in the event of an accident.

Icon has released a statement expressing its condolences to Halladay's family. It is also supporting the ongoing NTSB investigation.

<![CDATA[Air Pollution In New Delhi Reaches Dangerous Levels]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 10:21:00 -0600
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Pollution levels in New Delhi have reached a dangerous high.

The Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency Tuesday after air quality readings soared off the charts.

According to the U.S. Embassy in India, the air quality index in the capital city peaked at 1,010 on Wednesday. For reference, that number far exceeds the good and moderate air quality numbers, which range from 0 to 100.

Officials warned residents to avoid any outdoor activities. And schools throughout the city will be closed for the rest of the week.

SEE MORE: Pollution Could Be Killing More People Than Smoking, War Or Hunger

Air quality in New Delhi typically takes a turn for the worse around this time of year, when cooler air traps pollutants near the ground and prevents them from dispersing into the atmosphere.

Last November, the city experienced record-breaking pollution levels that forced schools to close and drastically reduced visibility.

New Delhi has taken steps to make pollution control a priority, like tightening vehicle emissions standards and enforcing higher penalties for burning garbage.

But critics argue the government must enact more long-term solutions to get the air quality problem under control, including an improved public transportation system and a ban on dirty industry fuel.

<![CDATA[Could China Be The New Global Leader On Climate Change Reform?]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 19:00:00 -0600
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China’s air pollution is unlike anything most Americans know. On bad days, it looks less like smog and more like fog, completely masking buildings from just a few hundred feet away.

"In the night, you would only see the light, not the building," said Huang Wei, a campaigner for Greenpeace in Beijing.

Air pollution is part of daily life in Beijing. Checking the air quality is like checking the weather.

The air quality index, or AQI, measures the concentration of pollutants. For our purposes, it's not important to understand how it works — what is important is an AQI above 150 is considered unhealthy. Anything above 250 is considered hazardous.

Wei is something of an expert on bad air quality in Beijing and what makes it that way.

She said six pollutants are measured: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon oxide, ozone, PM 2.5 and PM 10.

It gets a little scientific, but the people who know how this works are worried about one of these chemicals in particular: PM 2.5.

SEE MORE: In The US, Minorities Are Exposed To More Air Pollution

"PM" stands for particulate matter. The 2.5 is its diameter, 2.5 micrometers. A piece of human hair typically has a diameter of about 75 micrometers. That's how small these things are.

It's what's measured when you see headlines about health warnings in Beijing because of air pollution.

"The standard for pm 2.5 is 35 micrograms per cubic meter, and Beijing's yearly average last year was 73," Wei said. "PM2.5 is the major air pollutant in China. And it is very small and very light. Its surface is very big so that heavy metals and other harmful organisms could cling to the particles. And because it's light, it lingers longer in the air, increasing the chance of humans inhaling them. And because it's very small, it could penetrate deep into your lungs. And that could, at worst case, cause cancer and heart attack."

It's for that reason that Beijing has a so-called "red alarm." The system warns residents about going outside because the air quality is that bad. Schools close, and car traffic is restricted beyond what's normal.

Beijing is the capital of the country the European Commission says puts more CO2 into the atmosphere than any other. Accounts conflict on whether China is actually the world's worst polluter. It depends how you read the numbers.

But what can't be disputed is that air pollution in China is very, very bad.

"There was a really bad episode in 2012 after which the government at the very top level, they've declared a war against air pollution," Wei said.

In October 2013, the government came out with the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Action Plan — a fancy name for new standards.

The government wanted to reduce emissions, control coal use and clean up the air.

But a year and a half later, a top Chinese political leader said he was disappointed the  government wasn't getting the country where it needed to be.

"Eighty percent of the factories haven't reached the right standard," Wei said.

China's government and organizations like Greenpeace aren't necessarily having trouble changing things in the big cities, but change outside the urban jungles is a different story.

SEE MORE: China's Air Pollution Might Be Causing Its Residents To Die Early

"The law requires cities that haven't reached the air-quality standard to draw up a road map and deadline towards reaching the standard. But now only six cities have done that," Wei said.

Six out of more than 200, according to Wei.

"I believe there is no practical difficulty in drawing up a plan," Wei said. "The only problem is willingness."

Besides health concerns and the global spotlight on climate change, if China is looking for another reason to up the ante on fighting air pollution, U.S. President Donald Trump might have just given it one.

"Immediately after Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement, China and the European Union has announced, collectively, that they would stay to support the Paris," Wei said.

As arguably the world's biggest polluter, China is well-poised to make itself a leader of climate change reform.

"Air pollution and carbon emission are two syndromes of the same illness: that China’s economy is heavily reliant on heavy industry, and China’s energy structure is heavily relying on coal," Wei said.

In fact, China is the world's single biggest coal consumer. China burns almost half of the world's consumed coal annually, according the U.S. Department of Energy.

But reducing coal consumption isn't straightforward for China. There are concerns the country's eco-friendly pursuits could slow one of the world's leading economies, and despite the country trying to harness renewable energy, some of the huge wind and solar farms it built sit unused. That's mostly because China's energy grids aren't built to carry energy from rural farms.

As China tries to wean itself off of coal, it looks to other methods to fuel necessities like transportation.

There's evidence of that in the cities, but in reality, the motivations for climate-friendly transport are mixed. Along a street outside a popular Beijing park you can see a budding form of eco-transportation: electric bikes.

Tianran He has been a resident of Beijing for years and has seen the city's transportation habits morph.

"In China there's — it's not as image-conscious as it is in the U.S. when you drive an electric vehicle. You know, maybe if you drive a Prius, you're kind of an environmentally-friendly hippie. Here, people drive electric vehicles out of necessity," he said, citing the city's crowded streets. Electric bikes offer Beijing residents a cleaner, and sometimes quicker, way to get around.

And it doesn't hurt that electric bikes don't spew pollution.

Even as China's government works the numbers and the policy on paper, people in the street are doing their part, even if it’s mostly out of convenience.

Electric bikes and bike-share services, both popular in Beijing, are part of an equation that adds to wind and solar farms, cleaner factories and plans for China's smaller cities. It all seems to be a game plan for a potential new phase of global leadership.

<![CDATA[Debriefing 'Revolt': Why Native American Tribes Need Capital]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 18:27:00 -0600
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On the High Plains, one tribe says it hopes to build a new economy on clean energy, while another doubles down on coal.

SEE MORE: Revolt: A Tale Of Two Tribes

In this debrief after the fourth episode of Newsy's series "Revolt," reporter Zach Toombs and producer Kate Grumke explore some of the obstacles to economic growth that native tribes on the High Plains face.

<![CDATA[The US Is Now The Only Country Not On Board With The Paris Accord]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 11:41:00 -0600
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Syria is signing on to the Paris climate agreement — which means the U.S. is now the only country not on board. 

Outlets report Syria made the announcement at United Nations climate talks on Tuesday.

Syria's announcement comes shortly after Nicaragua, another initial Paris agreement holdout, handed over documents solidifying the country's place in the pact. 

Initially, Nicaragua said it wouldn't sign because it didn't think the pact went far enough to combat climate change. Then, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said in September the country would sign in solidarity with those most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters.

Outlets report Syria didn't take part in the initial climate talks due in large part to sanctions imposed on the Syrian government.

SEE MORE: A New Climate Report Has Some Worried About The White House's Response

In June, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement. He claimed among other things the accord was "negotiated badly" and that it undermines U.S. competitiveness. 

The agreement says no country can officially leave until 2020, and members aren't even supposed to announce plans to withdraw until November 2019.

A U.S. diplomat at the climate talks reportedly said the country's position hasn't changed, but the U.S. will continue participating in climate change discussions.

<![CDATA[Buying Cannabis-Based CBD Medicines Online Is A Gamble]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 10:09:00 -0600
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The demand for cannabis-based medical products is growing — specifically cannabidiol, or CBD. But discrepancies in federal and state laws have led to consumer confusion and a lack of regulation and oversight. Some health professionals say that's a public health concern.

Researchers recently found most online products that contain CBD don't actually have the amount indicated. Almost half had more CBD than labeled, while about a quarter had less.

The medical community is split on how safe CBD is. Studies have shown positive results in controlled doses, and there are no known fatal overdoses linked to CBD. But it can also cause side effects, like dry mouth and low blood pressure, and some products have even been found to aggravate illnesses.

SEE MORE: Cannabis Chemical Could Help Children With Severe Epilepsy Disorder

Lack of regulation has also led to "fake" CBD products. In states where patients can't legally get medical marijuana, companies advertise CBD items that can ship anywhere in the U.S. But that's because those products are actually made from hemp, which doesn't have a high enough concentration of CBD for even a small therapeutic effect.

But regardless of product, the Food and Drug Administration continues to warn against using medical marijuana and says any untested drug could have "unpredictable and unintended consequences."

<![CDATA[NASA Thinks You Can Come Up With A Cooler Name Than (486958) 2014 MU69]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 08:17:00 -0600
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NASA wants your help naming a flyby target, because (486958) 2014 MU69 is just not going to cut it. 

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is zooming toward the outer edge of our solar system, and on New Year's Day 2019, it'll fly past MU69. 

NASA isn't totally sure what MU69 is. It could be a pair of frozen bodies orbiting each other; a single body; or even a system of objects. So NASA might need a nickname with options.

SEE MORE: Spending Too Much Time In Space Could Literally Mess With Your Brain

Eight names are already being considered. Contenders include Año Nuevo (New Year), because the flyby will be on the first day of 2019; and Peanut because of the possible shape of MU69. And if it's multiple objects, the others could be named after other nuts, like Almond or Cashew. But as of Tuesday morning, the suggestion leading the pack was Mjölnir — Thor's hammer. 

NASA is accepting nickname submissions and votes until Dec. 1. After the space agency looks at the top choices and picks its favorite, it will announce the winner in January 2018. 

<![CDATA[Revolt: A Tale Of Two Tribes]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 19:00:00 -0600
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Two Native American tribes, one with a burgeoning solar industry and another almost totally reliant on coal, search for their own kind of tribal sovereignty.

Our series "Revolt" explores these issues in a fresh context, focused on Middle America. This is the fourth of six episodes that debut weekly.

SEE MORE: Revolt: Coal River Mountain

Full source list and bibliography:

"About a third of U.S. coal reserves west of the Mississippi are on tribal lands." - Property and Environment Research Center

- "South Dakota's Pine Ridge reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation, has one of the poorest counties in the U.S." - U.S. Census Bureau

- "A lack of infrastructure means sky-high electric and utility bills." - Al Jazeera America

Learn more about Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center.

- "My great great grandfather signed a treaty back in 1868." - PBS  

- "Tribes don't have representation in Congress — or even full ownership of their land. But they do have their own government, law enforcement, court system and tax jurisdiction." - National Congress of American Indians

- "About 1 in 3 Crow tribe members live in poverty." - U.S. Census Bureau

- "With coal revenues down, in early 2017 the Crow government had to lay off 1,000 of its 1,300 employees." - The New York TimesBillings Gazette

Learn more about Thunder Valley Community Development Corp. and its regenerative community.

<![CDATA[Lawmakers May Soon OK Drilling In The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:26:00 -0600
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After a four-decade legal battle, the government might OK drilling for oil in one of the Arctic Circle's most diverse wildlife areas.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest refuges in the United States; it's about the size of South Carolina. Forty percent of its land is designated as wilderness, meaning it's legally protected from development.

But politicians have long fought over whether to lease part of the refuge for drilling. Area 1002 likely sits on billions of barrels of oil, and Republicans say it could fetch a hefty price. But Democrats say the area is "critical habitat" for local wildlife — too important for drilling.

And the Fish and Wildlife Service recently reversed its stance on protecting the refuge from commercial development. Without that protection, the Republican-held Senate could approve development under "budget reconciliation," which requires only a majority vote and can't be filibustered.

SEE MORE: New Executive Order Could Lead To Increased Offshore Drilling

Although unlocking Area 1002 could be easier than ever, it's unclear if drilling would be as profitable as Republicans say. The Congressional Budget Office said about 10 years ago it could make up to $5 billion from the refuge's oil, but the price of oil has dropped considerably since then.

<![CDATA[Ripple Effect: Resource Recovery]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 08:13:00 -0600
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Worldwide problems involving water conservation and energy use can be solved through smart and innovative partnerships. People involved in such innovative partnerships around the world talk about solutions like a U.S. wastewater plant selling water to a waste-to-energy plant or a symbiotic system in Denmark where waste from one industry is used for the benefit of another.

<![CDATA[Spending Too Much Time In Space Could Literally Mess With Your Brain]]> Sat, 04 Nov 2017 15:34:00 -0500
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Space can really mess with an astronaut's body — and apparently it can change the structure of their brain, too.

A NASA-backed study looked at how long-term and short-term space travel affects the brain. Particularly, how changes in brain structure from spaceflight might contribute to certain symptoms astronauts experience.

MRI scans showed the brains of most astronauts in the study who went on longer flights had noticeable changes — like shifting upward and changes in structure. Those changes happened less frequently after shorter trips.

But space can mess with the body in other ways, too. Early results from NASA's Twins Study found space travel changes the way genes are expressed.

Extended space stays can also temporarily make astronauts taller, cause them to lose bone mass if they don't exercise and may even alter their immune systems.

SEE MORE: How To 'Listen' To The Eerie Sounds Of Space

NASA does what it can to learn about potential adverse effects of space travel, like conducting bed rest studies to see how the body adapts to weightlessness.

The results from the recent brain structure study may aid NASA in figuring out why many astronauts experience poorer vision after time in space.

At the very least, NASA says the observed changes show more research needs to be done — especially since the agency wants to send a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.

<![CDATA[A New Climate Report Has Some Worried About The White House's Response]]> Sat, 04 Nov 2017 10:16:00 -0500
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The U.S. Global Change Research Program's recently published Climate Science Special Report concludes global warming is "extremely likely" driven by human activity — specifically, humanity's greenhouse gas emissions.

That doesn't really go along with some past statements and actions by the Trump administration, and many are worried about the White House's response.

The report is mandated by law and produced by scientists from 13 federal agencies. Many experts consider it one of the most comprehensive reports on climate science, and some worried the administration would suppress or dismiss it.

SEE MORE: Does Trump Believe In Climate Change? White House Won't Say

On Friday, the White House did seem to downplay the report's significance when a spokesman said in a statement: "The climate has changed and is always changing ... the magnitude of future climate change depends significantly on 'remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to [greenhouse gas] emissions.'"

The spokesman added that President Donald Trump "supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate." That sounds a little familiar.

"What the American people deserve is a debate ... transparent discussion about this issue,"  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said during a June press briefing

Pruitt and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry later proposed discussing climate change from a "red team, blue team" approach. That process involves a back-and-forth dialogue of critiques between two teams of scientists, and some believe that would help the public better understand both the certainties and uncertainties of climate change.

But climate science is already heavily reviewed and tested, and the scientific community has come to a consensus on the basics of it. Some say a "red team, blue team" exercise put forth by the Trump administration would undervalue that consensus and give credit to climate change deniers.

<![CDATA[Laika The Canine Cosmonaut First Orbited Earth 60 Years Ago]]> Fri, 03 Nov 2017 15:55:00 -0500
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On Nov. 3, 1957, a stray dog named Laika became the first animal to both enter space and orbit Earth.

But Laika's heroic story is tragic. During the Space Race, the Soviet Union sent dogs into suborbital space to test if they'd survive in weightlessness. Later, they wanted to see if canines could survive orbiting Earth.

SEE MORE: Iditarod Sled Dog Doping Prompted New Rules For The Race

Eventually, a scout from the Russian space program found Laika on the streets of Moscow. She was resourceful, photogenic and could pee without raising a leg — perfect for a cramped spacecraft.

Laika's journey was relatively successful. She was never meant to make it back but did orbit Earth four to nine times before her spacecraft overheated. Her flight proved living beings could survive the G-forces of a rocket launch and an entry into orbit.

Laika became world-famous, but animal rights activists were outraged and said the mission was cruel. Project scientists later said Soviet officials lied about aspects of her trip, like the time of death and the cause.

<![CDATA[Treating Diseases With Young People's Blood??]]> Fri, 03 Nov 2017 13:24:00 -0500
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Curing diseases and turning back the clock on our bodies might be as simple as infusing ourselves with "young blood."

The idea of using the blood of a young person to treat chronic illnesses and aging dates back 150 years. At that time, researchers experimented with a technique called parabiosis — stitching together two organisms so they share a circulatory system and blood.

Early studies used parabiosis to treat a range of illnesses, from cancer to obesity to heart failure and, yes, even getting old. There were some positive results. But animal test subjects frequently died, and parabiosis fell out of favor in the 1970s.

Recently, there's been renewed interest in the research. Modern-day transfusion methods can pass blood from one organism to another without sewing them together — meaning scientists could start testing the idea of young blood on humans.

SEE MORE: A Stem Cell Breakthrough Could Solve The Blood Donor Problem

One team of researchers recently had the first clinical trial with humans. They found not only was the procedure safe, but an infusion of young blood also made it easier for people with dementia to do everyday tasks.

But this was just one trial with only 18 participants, and other studies have shown drastically different results. Some found the rejuvenating effect of young blood isn't enough to counter the degenerative aspects of old blood. Opponents argue there's not enough solid evidence that the transfusions work.

But that hasn't stopped some people from trying to capitalize on the idea. Private companies like Ambrosia will inject anyone over 35 with young blood — for $8,000 a dose.

That poses a whole other series of red flags. Future studies may find the transfusions to be carcinogenic. In the meantime, young blood might become a commodity, spurring the emergence of a black market or exploiting current practices that are legal, like donating plasma.

<![CDATA[Humanity's Code: Medicine Gets Personal]]> Fri, 03 Nov 2017 11:46:00 -0500
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Humanity's Code. Sponsored by: Cincinnati Children's

The human genome is vastly complex. So we use metaphors to help describe it in ways that are easier to understand: A blueprint. A recipe. A computer program or The Holy Grail. But when it comes to how our genes really work, none of those descriptions are accurate. 

So to me, all of these metaphors share the same shortcoming: they render the genes as the commander in chief. That is, genes determine the outcome. And genes surely play an important role, but they are not what's calling the shots. The way biology works is that it's always, always an interaction, an interaction between many parts. Genes are one of those parts.

So, rather than looking to DNA as a source of absolute answers, we can use the data from our own individual genomes as guideposts to help make better decisions for medical care.

What does a patient want to know when they're first diagnosed with a disease, and they're thinking about a therapeutic option? They want to know. "What's going to happen to me?" Right? What if I take a drug A versus drug B?

And the data is staggering how many people a year actually die in the hospital from unintended side effects of medicine? It is at times the fourth leading cause of death in the hospital.

Much like a fingerprint, your DNA is unique to you. And many of the differences within your genes can give an idea of how your own body, organs and cells might react to different medications.

Often trying to find that medication is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And what genetics does, is that it actually removes some of that hay, which makes finding the needle easier. It doesn't actually tell you which medication will work. It actually tells you which medications are less likely to work.

So, in 2006, AssureX Health was formed, driven by patented technology invented by Cincinnati Children's and the Mayo Clinic. This technology uses the data from genetic markers to help determine the right medications for patients.

Sometimes, based on their experience, doctors can get it right. About half the times a patient begins to get better on the medication that's selected. But the other half of the time, the patient doesn't.

When you walk into a doctor's office there may be five, ten, in our case, fifty-five different medications a doctor could choose from. And they don't know which medication is most appropriate for you, or which one you should avoid that might cause adverse events.

And it can be very difficult for the patient and the clinician.

And it takes the sort of "well let's try this" guess work out of it, and gives us a really firm basis for therapeutic decisions.

When it comes to our health, doctors can use the data to get better at managing the potential of you having an adverse reaction to a medication.

How can we use our DNA to help? Picking medications is a great place to start, because we know about the medications and we know what pathways they stimulate and we know how they get broken down by the body. So we know what genes to look at. So it's a low hanging fruit, but it's a fruit that's going to impact millions and millions of patients right away.

Now, the way doctors make decisions when prescribing medicine is changing, thanks to our own personal genetic information.

So a patient in their doctor's office can perform their own cheek swab. We then process that DNA and within 36 hours, we present that information in a very simple way. Green, yellow, red. Medications in the green category are most genetically appropriate for that patient. Red medications are the opposite, and yellow medications are in the middle.

The doctor can pick one of these green or yellow medications, pick the right dose and phone it into the pharmacy. So on Monday, you came in the doctor's office. By Wednesday, you'll have a precision prescription for you.

What has really propelled it has been the technology for gene sequencing that now has reduced the cost. It is a technology that is, within the grasp of many insurers and insurance companies.

Precision medicine tests like this have shown that patients are more than twice as likely to respond positively to a medication they take the first time, compared to those who don't take the test at all. 

And so when we give a genetic result, it's not a perfect result. It says something is less likely to work, or something is more likely to work. You know often times we look at things like cancer and what we die of, what's more important to me, is what we live with every single day, for the 50 to 80 to 90 years that we hope to live for.

These simple, low-cost tests have already helped over half a million patients.

The key is to recognize again, that this is the start of a discussion. And if you're seeing a psychiatrist, or you're seeing a family practice doctor, or you're seeing an internist, ask the question:  "Am I on a drug where there's a genetic contribution?" If you're getting success and your life is good, you don't have to ask the question. But if you're not getting success, and you're going drug after drug, and you're just having side-effects, or not getting success with the medicine, it empowers you try and look for another reason on why am I not getting success with my medicines?

So we have a long way to go, but doctors are starting to realize now, that this is becoming the new standard of care.

Remember, drugs fail. People don't fail.

Dosing medicine accurately is already difficult for adults. So what happens when the patient is too young to talk? Now, this innovative work is giving babies a voice. Precision medicine can now help pre-term babies in need of intensive care by giving doctors a guide for more accurate dosing of pain medications.

So I think from a clinical standpoint, the biggest challenge is there is no one-size-fits-all for each baby. And in a very complex system, you having an extra tool really helps individualize dosing for that baby.

And so instead of a reactive system—we're very reactive in medicine—we can make a proactive system because once you see that the patient is deteriorating, or something is changing, you can anticipate. If you can anticipate, you can intervene before the bad stuff happens. I think this type of technology will improve our ability to truly do precision dosing, individualized precision dosing.

Doing what we can to take care of our sickest and most vulnerable patients in the hospital, really helping their families, and then getting these babies home to them, to their parents and families is really our biggest priority.

Right now, precision medicine already shows great promise to positively affect our health, from the moment of birth through end of life. And far into the future, scientists will continue to find even more ways to transform medicine by mining ever deeper into Humanity's Code.

<![CDATA[The Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Just Did Something It Hasn't In Decades]]> Fri, 03 Nov 2017 10:23:00 -0500
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The hole in Earth's ozone over Antarctica is the smallest we've seen since 1988 — but don't get too excited.

NASA says the shrinkage is due mostly to an unstable and warmer Antarctic vortex. These conditions help fend off certain cloud formations in the lower stratosphere that can deplete the ozone.

Those clouds, called polar stratospheric cloud formations, can be persistent, and they're a first step that can lead to chemical reactions that destroy ozone.

But scientists say the hole's smaller size isn't a sign of "rapid healing." The hole expands and shrinks naturally, depending on weather and atmospheric conditions.

The Antarctic hole reached its peak size for 2017 in September, covering an area over twice the size of the U.S.

SEE MORE: Al Gore Has A Lot To Say About Rural America And Climate Change

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes decades of research shows human-produced chemicals are responsible for the observed ozone layer depletions.

The chemicals come from things like aerosols and refrigeration devices and destroy ozone over time. But now, those chemicals are regulated.

Some experts think in about 50 years, it will recover to the size it was when it was first detected in the '80s.

<![CDATA[Following Misconduct Allegations, Kevin Spacey Is Seeking Treatment]]> Thu, 02 Nov 2017 20:27:00 -0500
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Following a string of sexual misconduct allegations, actor Kevin Spacey is reportedly seeking treatment. But, what exactly does that entail?

According to advocacy group Stop It Now!, treatment for sex offenders can include therapy, group therapy, polygraph tests and medication. Experts say the goal of treatment is to help offenders take responsibility for their actions, as well as prevent future abuses

It's not clear what sort of treatment Spacey will undergo, or whether that treatment will be geared toward sexual abusers.

SEE MORE: Corey Feldman Launches Campaign To Expose Alleged Hollywood Pedophilia

Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged misconduct opened the floodgates for more accusations, is currently undergoing treatment. Having completed a one-week outpatient program last month, the film mogul is reportedly staying on for another month

That treatment may not have gone well at some points, but his psychologist reports: "There were things that triggered [Weinstein's] anger and our job was to help him recognize where it was coming from and how to control it."

Some psychology experts are doubting the effectiveness of therapy for accused sexual abusers like Weinstein or Spacey. One told NBC, "I am not sure when being a selfish, misogynistic jerk became a medical disorder."

<![CDATA[We Shouldn't Turn Our Clocks Back If We Want To Save Energy]]> Thu, 02 Nov 2017 17:06:00 -0500
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It's a popular belief that daylight saving time is in place to give farmers a few more hours of daylight for work, but it's actually related to energy use.

Daylight saving time first drew global attention when Germany started using it in 1916. At the time, the country was two years into World War I and needed to conserve fuel used for artificial lighting for war efforts. Other countries involved in the conflict soon followed suit.

SEE MORE: Why Do Some States Get To Opt Out Of Daylight Saving Time?

The U.S.' early policies were optional, but it made daylight saving time mandatory during World War II. It became optional again when the war ended, but many states continued to follow the time change because they thought it saved money.

But it's not clear if those policies do that. When Indiana adopted daylight saving time as a statewide policy in 2006, researchers found that while household demand for lighting decreased, heating and cooling costs went up by an estimated $9 million per year.

It also has another costly trade-off — an increase in carbon pollution. When the days are longer, people spend more time away from home, often driving from place to place. In fact, the Chamber of Commerce, which represents stores that sell more than 80 percent of all gasoline in the country, is one of the biggest lobbyists of daylight saving time.

It's unclear if the U.S. will ever move away from the practice, but until it does, it'll prove costly. One study found that the simple act of switching time on clocks costs the U.S. about $860 million per change.

<![CDATA[Ripple Effect: Water Reuse]]> Thu, 02 Nov 2017 11:23:00 -0500
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Our energy demands, population growth and living standards have a significant impact on water use around the world and often in ways that are unseen. With a focus on a wastewater plant in a high industrial area near Philadelphia, experts discuss how water reuse can not only make more efficient use of water but also be profitable business in industries such as energy, manufacturing and agriculture.

<![CDATA[The New Mars Rover Has More Cameras Than Any Before It]]> Thu, 02 Nov 2017 11:03:00 -0500
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NASA's 2020 Mars rover will have more "eyes" than any rover before it.

NASA unveiled a detailed design for its newest rover, and it'll have 23 cameras. To put that in perspective, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers each have 10 cameras, and the Curiosity has 17.

But it's not just about the number of cameras — many are better quality.

The new rover's engineering cameras will be able to take 20-megapixel color images. That's far more detailed than the 1-megapixel black and white images captured by the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity engineering cameras.

Some of the new rover cameras will also have improved 3-D imaging capabilities.

SEE MORE: NASA Finds Space Travel Changes The Way Genes Are Expressed

Of course, the updated hardware comes with some challenges. Better imaging means there's more data to transmit through space.

Luckily, NASA says rover cameras have gotten better at compression.

The 2020 Mars rover is expected to launch in July or August of that year. The rover will look for habitable areas and signs of past microbial life and test oxygen in the atmosphere.

<![CDATA[Scientists Found A Secret Chamber In The Great Pyramid]]> Thu, 02 Nov 2017 07:02:00 -0500
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While trying to uncover how ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, a team of scientists found a hidden chamber in Khufu's Great Pyramid.

The monument is one of the world's oldest and largest marvels, but not everyone agrees how it was constructed. Some researchers argue we might figure that out if we look at its internal structure.

To get a better look inside, one team used the combined forces of two schools of thought: archaeology and particle physics.

The researchers imaged the pyramid using muons — those are particles produced when cosmic rays and Earth's atmosphere react. Muons have special properties that penetrate stone, which lets the team distinguish cavities in the pyramid from solid formations — like how X-rays image bones.

SEE MORE: Mummy DNA Might Help End A Decades-Old Debate

This interdisciplinary collaboration let the team discover a previously unknown void in the pyramid almost 100 feet long, similar to the pyramid's Grand Gallery.

The researchers suspect the new chamber might actually be one of several and was hidden on purpose when the pyramid was constructed. But the team can't physically get to the void right now.

And some questions remain — for example, about the chamber's exact structure and how it was used. Further studies could reveal more details about the void and might finally uncover how the Great Pyramid was built.

<![CDATA[The White House Now Has A Plan To Fight The Opioid Crisis]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 19:13:00 -0500
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The White House's commission on tackling drug addiction and the opioid crisis unveiled its final report, and it's full of new recommendations for the administration.

The report doesn't tackle the issue of new funding for the crisis — instead, it recommends existing federal money be turned into block grants to give local authorities more leeway in how that money is spent.

SEE MORE: Getting A Fix: Tackling New Synthetic Drugs

One major focus is on managing prescription opioids. The commission called for more education for patients and doctors on the risks of opioids, as well as crackdowns on doctor incentives to prescribe opioids.

The report also recommends removing treatment barriers for opioid abusers and promoting the use of special drug courts, which channel addicts convicted of crimes into treatment programs rather than jail.

President Trump previously declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. That move helped the government redirect some funds to fighting the crisis but stopped short of unlocking federal disaster funds.

<![CDATA[When Terror Attacks Become 'Part Of Life,' Many Can Succumb To Fatigue]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 17:05:00 -0500
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The deadly terrorist attack in Manhattan has prompted many shocked and devastated reactions. But the attack didn't seem to cause as much panic and fear as previous attacks: one New Yorker told Time that terror attacks were "a part of life."

That might reflect a changing public attitude toward terrorism. Despite the horrific nature of the Manhattan attack, terrorism may not inspire as strong a reaction in some people as it once did.

SEE MORE: New Yorkers Celebrate Halloween Despite Deadly Terror Attack

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, 75 percent of Americans surveyed agreed that "occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be part of life in the future."

Some experts refer to this phenomenon, the tuning out and acceptance of near-regular tragedies, as "terrorism fatigue."

Last summer, an expert told USA Today people with terrorism fatigue "have trouble connecting with yet more victims, and they, to a large extent, tune it out. They become cold."

And that numbness might spread into politics — a former head of the National Counterterrorism Center told the Senate in 2013 that terrorism fatigue could lead to "political finger pointing" and "bureaucratic sluggishness" when responding to threats.

That testimony gave two possible solutions to terrorism fatigue: public discussions about terrorism and continuous vigilance.

<![CDATA[A Brief Explainer On Obamacare Enrollment For 2018]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 14:04:00 -0500
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It's time to start shopping for health insurance again. 

Open enrollment for Obamacare 2018 plans began Nov. 1. The last day to sign up is Dec. 15, meaning this year's sign-up period is shorter than previous years. 

The District of Columbia as well as some states that run their own exchanges — such as California, Minnesota and New York — have longer enrollment periods that run as late as Jan. 31. 

Open enrollment is your big chance to sign up for health insurance or change your current plan. 

Since Republican lawmakers have been unsuccessful thus far at repealing the Affordable Care Act, people who don't sign up for an insurance plan could still face a tax penalty.

SEE MORE: Some Americans Are Super Confused About The Status Of Obamacare

Back in October, the Internal Revenue Service said it was preparing to enforce the unpopular individual mandate for the 2018 filing season. 

According to a recent Department of Health and Human Services report, 80 percent of Obamacare enrollees will be able to find plans for $75 or less a month because of subsidies for the 2018 plan year. 

For the 2017 plan year, only 71 percent of enrollees were able to find plans just as cheap. 

If you already have an Obamacare insurance plan and you skip enrollment, you'll be automatically re-enrolled in that same plan for 2018 if it's still available.

<![CDATA[Humanity's Code: New Horizons in Medicine]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 14:03:00 -0500
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Humanity's Code. Sponsored by: Cincinnati Children's 

Big breakthroughs take time. Long before any cures are found, decades of research are often needed to simply understand a disease. Now, more than any other point in history, researchers are poised to make major breakthroughs in genomic medicine. 

The more we learn, the less we know. The horizon is forever receding, but nevertheless the information that we do gather can be very helpful and while I see many tragedies I also see amazing success stories. 

Genomics is a single word but it encompasses so many aspects of what medicine is trying to do to help people. That genome, which is one genome, is hardwired, is being used countless different ways all through development, all through life, and every moment that we're exposed to our environment. But when you think about medicine generally, like conquering diabetes, the development of early vaccines for polio, you never go from your first swing at the bat to a home run. You hit a lot of singles and doubles, and for a lot of genetic diseases right now I think we're getting a pretty good batting average, but we're not power hitters yet. 

Today, gene editing technology is helping advance discoveries in medicine — discoveries out of reach just five years ago. These tools are helping unlock new paths for research and, ultimately, cures for disease.

In addition to the revolution in stem cell technology there's also been tremendous advances in genome editing so the ability to first of all sequence all of our genomes and understand where potential mutations might be, but also using new technology called CRISPR/CAS9

CRISPR/Cas-9 technology allows researchers to quickly and accurately produce genetically modified mice. These mice can then be used to learn how genetic diseases affect the body and how those genes react to new types of medicine.

The nice thing about CRISPR is that it is so easy. Now we understand the CRISPR more. There are new versions of the CRISPR coming out constantly, so I'm sure we'll be getting better and better in the future to the point we can use it safely in patients. It's all new all the time. Every week we're doing something different. So it's cool cause I feel like I get to learn a lot of new techniques and we're always just coming up with a new approach to a different problem.  

Driven by the CRISPR revolution, this lab's work in genetic engineering will positively affect the future health of children around the world. 

Probably cystic fibrosis is the best example, there are more than perhaps 2000 mutations in one gene. Simply removing a base pair on a child's cell that would totally restore his cystic fibrosis turning him into a child that doesn't have to go to the hospital 3 times a year would be a God send. It would be a wonderful thing for that family and that patient. So this gives us an optimism that we never could have conceived of 20 years ago. 

Now, this gene-editing technology is helping scientists understand and treat disease in human organs in ways we could only imagine a few decades ago.

You know here at the children's hospital unfortunately we see alot patients that come through with congenital defects of organ development and in order to understand the genetics behind how that occurs we need to understand how organs form in the first place. So I think one of the most exciting early discovery projects here is our Organoid Center. We call them organs in a dish, because they're very small maybe one to 10 millimeters in size but they do everything. 

Starting with tissue in a lab dish, scientists are learning how to coax small numbers of human stem cells into forming complex, three-dimensional tissues that mimic the functions of entire organs. 

Each of these are about a couple millimeters in diameter and it's human intestinal tissue that's been grown from stem cells. And this takes about a month to grow these. They didn't set out to try to generate these organoids. They were trying to just see if they could make human intestinal tissue in sort of a layer on the dish and then those cells innately tried to self organize and made these little spheroids and organoids and that's the thing that just blows your mind. To cure that child by genetically engineering from a single cell to form a liver, or a kidney, or stomach, or an intestine, and now that's within our grasp. So you wait 40 years for these new horizons and sometimes you're very fortunate to get to see them come into view within the span of just one career. 

Today, growing organoids in a dish can help scientists safely test new drugs without having to rely as much on animals. Someday, this groundbreaking work may also allow researchers to grow full-sized replacement tissues that could reduce or even eliminate the need for organ transplant waiting lists.

I think it's still important to keep an eye on the long term view that the basic research we might not understand what the use is immediately, in the long term some of the serendipitous discoveries are the most important ones. Discovery is a bit of a high, and you just go from one discovery to the next, one discovery leads to another question and ultimately just trying to follow that line of questioning. 

The future we can predict will be filled with medical discoveries that will not only teach us about who we are as individuals but also what we all have in common within humanity's code.

It is humanity's code, but its a code that fortunately we don't understand that well yet and probably never will so we'll always have the mystery of what it means to be human and I think of the code as reminding us both of what we know and what we don't know and bringing us together around that.


<![CDATA[US Officials Accuse More Drugmakers Of Overcharging For Certain Drugs]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 12:11:00 -0500
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Officials in multiple states are looking to expand a lawsuit that accuses pharmaceutical companies of conspiring to overcharge for certain drugs.

Attorneys general in 45 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico filed a motion in federal court Tuesday to add 12 more generic drugmakers to the suit. 

The motion also looks to expand the complaint to cover a total of 15 drugs, up from two when the suit was originally filed back in December.

Officials say the companies worked together to reduce market competition and keep drug costs high. They're also accused of collectively agreeing to raise prices for some medications.

SEE MORE: A New Report Fuels Rumors Of Amazon's Venture Into Prescription Drugs

EpiPen maker Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals are among the 18 pharmaceutical companies named in the new motion.

Several of those drugmakers have denied the accusations against them.

Mylan said in a statement it "found no evidence of price fixing on the part of Mylan or its employees."

And Teva told USA Today via email it "denies these allegations and will continue to defend itself vigorously in court."

It's unclear when the court will decide if the lawsuit can be expanded.

<![CDATA[How To 'Listen' To The Eerie Sounds Of Space]]> Tue, 31 Oct 2017 15:02:00 -0500
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Sound can't travel in the vacuum of outer space, but we can still detect haunting noises out there.

In space, electromagnetic waves are everywhere. Instruments on our probes and telescopes can capture and process some of this radio data into audible — and eerie — sound.

With a little tweaking, we can listen to Jupiter's magnetic field interact with solar wind. We can "hear" the sunpassing comets or even pulsars 1,000 light-years from Earth.

But could we ever hear any audible cosmic sounds with our own ears? For starters, we'd need a medium thick enough to carry vibrations in wavelengths humans can hear: in other words, an atmosphere.

SEE MORE: Juno's First Results Show Us Jupiter Is One Seriously Angry Giant

Mars' atmosphere can carry sound, but it's about 100 times less dense than Earth's, so loud noises travel only a few hundred feet. And future astronauts won't take their helmets off to listen; that atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and deadly cold.

But soon, we'll have the chance to record and maybe listen to whatever is out there. The Mars 2020 lander is slated to carry a pair of regular acoustic microphones.

<![CDATA[Climate Change Might Make Effects Of Major Volcanic Eruptions Worse]]> Tue, 31 Oct 2017 08:12:00 -0500
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Climate change is predicted to make many natural disasters worse, but you probably didn't expect volcanoes to be on that list.

During major eruptions, released gases like sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, can effect temperatures worldwide, like the famous "year without a summer" in 1816.

But a recent study found as the planet warms, the impacts of those eruptions could get a lot worse, disrupting global temperatures and precipitation for years after.

SEE MORE: A Volcano In Bali Could Erupt For The First Time Since 1963

The sulfur dioxide an erupting volcano releases can create a cooling effect by shading Earth's surface from sunlight. The study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that oceans, which usually buffer the planet against the worst of these effects, will become less effective as they heat up.

That means if the "year without a summer" eruption happened in the later half of this century, it could mean a much bigger dip in global temperatures. That cooling wouldn't be enough to make up for the effects of climate change, as some past studies have suggested, but the sudden drop could lead to a drastic reduction in global rainfall.

Scientists caution they have yet to figure out the exact magnitude of all this, saying they need better models to see how large these volcanic effects could be.

<![CDATA[Al Gore Has A Lot To Say About Rural America And Climate Change]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 19:00:00 -0500
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Newsy traveled across Middle America for our series "Revolt." Many people want to talk about clean energy and climate change, but one person's name can get kind of divisive out here: Al Gore. 

He does a lot of international work these days but also has a lot to say about climate change in Middle America. You just have to ask him, and we recently did.

SEE MORE: Revolt: When It Rains

<![CDATA[How Strong Is The Link Between Acetaminophen Use And ADHD?]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:49:00 -0500
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Acetaminophen is one of the most widely used medicines during pregnancy, but a new study suggests expectant moms may want to use it sparingly. Taking the drug for more than a month during pregnancy could double the risk of their child developing ADHD. 

The latest research is the most recent in a series of studies linking prenatal acetaminophen exposure to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But medical experts say none of the findings are very conclusive. 

SEE MORE: Study Finds Possible Link Between Tylenol And ADHD

Many previous studies associating ADHD with acetaminophen use had huge holes in their methodologies. Some research didn't measure how much acetaminophen expectant mothers took, for example. It just noted whether they were using it.

And this new research shows there could be cases where small doses of acetaminophen actually benefit fetal development. Women decreased their risk of having a child with ADHD when they took acetaminophen for less than eight days during pregnancy.

Because the research is so inconsistent, the Food and Drug Administration says it can't recommend one way or the other whether pregnant women should use the drug. But it does say that pregnant women are OK taking a pain reliever every now and then, since pain that's not treated during pregnancy can cause more long-term problems.

<![CDATA[Humanity's Code: Power Of Numbers]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:00:00 -0500
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Sponsored by: Cincinnati Children's

One of the most stunning displays in the natural world is a murmuration. Seen up close, the movements of starlings appear chaotic and disjointed. But step back and you see beautiful order — form and function. Patterns emerge from the noise. Individual members act as one. So is the case with the human genome. 

"The beauty of humans is that we're complex," says Dr. Tracy Glauser, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and co-director of the Genetic Pharmacology Service at Cincinnati Children's. "No one person is the same as any other, and that is really reflected when you're trying to do science. Although we say we're studying a disease, we're really studying individual people within a disease." 

Dr. Philip Reilly, venture partner at Third Rock Ventures, says, "It would be a lie to say that genetics is not complicated. It is, but we're beginning to find areas where we know enough that we can find situations where we can take action to avert or ameliorate disease." 

SEE MORE: Humanity's Code: New Horizons in Medicine

DNA's four key building blocks (A, C, T and G for short) are found in every cell of our bodies. The information within those building blocks plays a key role in the orchestration of life's processes in ways medical science is only just beginning to understand.

"The most challenging data right now, in terms of its size, is genomic data," Dr. Peter White, director of biomedical informatics at Cincinnati Children's, says. "That genomic data at its essence is just four letters, but each person has 3 billion of these letters. When you spread that out, it's a lot of data, and it overwhelms us, so we need better ways to use that information to find more insights."

Collecting and analyzing all of this genetic data is known as biomedical informatics.

"You hear of methods like machine learning and artificial intelligence. The new buzzword now is deep learning," White says. "These are all computer science techniques that can look at different types of data and find patterns and associations that make sense. We're kind of reducing the complexity of the problem." 

Making sense of all of this data requires massive amounts of computing power and creative ways of looking at it. Billions of data points are translated into visual tools such as network association diagrams and heatmaps. From these tools, overlaps and patterns begin to emerge, which help direct researchers to key discoveries. 

"The data that is generated is so huge, it's difficult for any individual group to keep up-to-date," Dr. Anil Goud Jegga of Cincinnati Children's Division of Biomedical Informatics says. "Here, for example, is an elliptical known as a gene. These are the different functions, or what they do in the body. So others are using it; not just us from India, China, U.K. but everywhere." 

Thanks to a number of advances in technology, pooling this data will help forge new paths of discovery related to the genetic causes of disease.

"It's really quite amazing. The improvements in the communication industry have really propelled science forward," says Dr. Margaret Hostetter, director of the Children's Hospital Research Foundation and chief medical officer at Cincinnati Children’s Collaboration. "it's the name of the game." 

"Throughout the world, to really see the genomic variability and understand its impact on disease, requires larger groups of patients working with larger groups of researchers getting larger data sets together," Glauser says.

One path to discovery these researchers are taking relies on the power of numbers.

"Many of the diseases we see at children's hospitals are very rare, so we don't have enough patients to really study them very effectively," White says. 

"If there are 7,000 or 8,000 or 9,000 or 10,000 rare genetic disorders that only affect 50 or 100 children each year, how are we going to help those children? We need a new model," Reilly says.

Sequencing and analyzing the genomes of large populations requires unprecedented collaboration, so leaders from the nation's top children's hospitals formed a completely new kind of partnership.

"It became very obvious that one institution would never have enough children in any one particular disease to really understand the genetics of a disease or genetic therapies for a disease," Glauser says. "Therefore, a couple of years ago, Boston Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Cincinnati Children's decided to try to pool their efforts together and create what we call the Genomics Research and Innovation Network." 

GRIN's three participating hospitals are focused on sharing their genetic data sets to help accelerate new medical discoveries. 

"GRIN represents this incredible effort to break down the barriers across three institutions that are working toward the same goals under the same mission: to improve the health of children at a much greater pace," Dr. Kenneth Mandl, director of the computational health informatics program at Boston Children's Hospital, says. 

"And we've gotten researchers across these different places to start working with each other and they're sharing data in ways we've never really seen before. It's really been terrific," White says. 

"We believe the GRIN network will help to set standards by which we'll be able to involve patients and their families in genomic research, be able to conduct large-scale research, set the standards for how genomic research could be conducted across the country and eventually be scalable to many other children's hospitals around the country," Glauser says. 

"Our vision: Can we share all the data that we have across thousands of rare disorders that we see?" White says. 

These partnerships will help drive new discoveries for genomic medicine. More importantly, GRIN will help move discoveries forward at an unprecedented rate.

"How can we take the health care system and use it to learn and accelerate discoveries, accelerate care improvements, make lives better for all of our patients?" Mandl says.

"It always starts with the patient. It always should come back to the patient," Glauser says.

"Patients are really participants; they're co-producing solutions with us," White says.

"So these efficiencies, and these alignments, create a resource unique in pediatrics," Mandl says.

This work will help doctors diagnose and treat conditions earlier in childhood and even use an individual's genes to more accurately prescribe medicine. Ultimately, we can improve the lives of children through the power of numbers found deep within humanity's code.

"That's what we as pediatricians want to see," Hostetter says. "We want to see those incredible turns of events so that children are living longer and healthier lives. They're our most important citizens." 

<![CDATA[Carbon Dioxide Levels In The Atmosphere Hit A Record High In 2016]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 14:39:00 -0500
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A United Nations agency says the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere shot up to its highest level in 800,000 years.

According to a new report from the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, CO2 concentrations hit 403.3 parts per million last year. That's up from 400 parts per million in 2015.

And while that might not seem like a big increase, the organization says 2016's jump was 50 percent greater than the average yearly increase over the last decade.

SEE MORE: EPA Chief Says Carbon Dioxide Doesn't Cause Climate Change

The report cites a combination of "human activities and a strong El Niño event" as reasons for the surge.

And the WMO's secretary general warned in a statement, "Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century."

Warnings like this aren't anything new. But environmental leaders are hoping to come up with some solutions soon.

The U.N.'s annual climate meeting will take place in Germany next month. During the meeting, officials will reportedly work on guidelines for the Paris climate agreement, which aims to prevent global temperatures from rising and reduce global emissions.

<![CDATA[These Real-Life 'Mad Scientists' Are Straight Out Of Science Fiction]]> Mon, 30 Oct 2017 14:36:00 -0500
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Mad scientists and their eerie labs are staples of sci-fi horror — but they're not always pure fiction. Several real scientists have conducted experiments and proposed some wacky ideas worthy of their own fantastic stories.

For some researchers, like Vladimir Demikhov and Charles Claude, two heads are better than one — literally. They performed head transplants, most famously creating two-headed dogs.

Others were fascinated with reanimating the dead — or at least making them seem alive. Like Giovanni Aldini, who had a traveling show, where he electrocuted corpses to the delight of his spectators. And Sergei Bryukhonenko reanimated a dog head with his heart-lung machine.

SEE MORE: People May Have Believed In Vampires Due To Misunderstanding Medicine

Some out-there ideas have their roots in harder science. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell claims to have communicated with his research team on Earth using ESP while he was in space. He later retired from NASA and founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which sponsors research in the nature of consciousness.

And a whole slew of scientists believe in some sort of "greater being." Nikola Tesla claimed to have contacted aliens. And Michael Persinger invented a helmet to "see God" — or, at least feel his presence.

But despite their oddities, each of these researchers made significant advancements in their fields. And while science fiction might inspire new research, let's hope it's for the greater good.

<![CDATA[Puerto Rico Has Cremated 911 Bodies Since Hurricane Maria]]> Sat, 28 Oct 2017 11:20:00 -0500
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We may never know how many people died as a result of Hurricane Maria — and that's partly because it isn't clear what it means to die "as a result of" a hurricane, and not simply "after" it.

On Friday, the Puerto Rican government told news outlets it authorized 911 cremations following the storm. Officially, the deaths were due to "natural causes." But those bodies reportedly weren't examined by government medical examiners, and causes of death were determined by reviewing records.

"Natural causes" or "natural deaths" can include heart attacks or lack of oxygen. Whether or not a death is hurricane-related may actually be mostly up to whomever writes the report, and officials reportedly lack guidance or criteria on defining hurricane-related deaths.

SEE MORE: Why Some Want A US Energy Firm's Puerto Rico Contract Scrutinized

A disaster recovery expert told The Washington Post, "There's a lot of gray involved in how you will attribute any specific death during this time period."

As of Friday, Maria's official death toll in Puerto Rico was at 51. Causes of death reportedly include heart attacks, lack of oxygen, infection and suicide.

<![CDATA[What Would A CVS-Aetna Merger Do For Consumers? Experts Aren't Sure]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 20:48:00 -0500
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CVS Health is reportedly in talks to buy Aetna for more than $66 billion — but it's not yet clear what that partnership would mean for consumers and patients.

If the deal goes through, an analyst told USA Today Aetna participants could see lower copays if they shopped with CVS. Other experts say the partnership could encourage lower costs for prescription drugs or even patient care

That's assuming CVS passes the savings from its newfound negotiating power onto consumers, which isn't guaranteed. It's also likely the two companies would just pocket their newfound wealth. 

SEE MORE: A New Report Fuels Rumors Of Amazon's Venture Into Prescription Drugs

At the very least, CVS' possible merger with Aetna is in line with its apparent expansion beyond retail pharmacy

Over the past decade, CVS acquired pharmacy benefits manager Caremark and nursing home operator Omnicare, as well as Target's pharmacies and clinics.

Many say the possible CVS-Aetna partnership could compete with another major health care player: UnitedHealth Group. That company comprises the country's largest health insurer, as well as its own pharmacy benefits manager, OptumRx.

<![CDATA[Trump Reportedly Plans To Shrink 2 Utah Monuments]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 16:53:00 -0500
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President Trump is reportedly moving forward with a plan to shrink the borders of two national monuments in Utah.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said Trump told him in a phone call that he would announce reductions to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments when he visits the state in December.

Former President Obama established the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears monument last year during his last weeks in office. 

SEE MORE: 10 National Monuments Could Be Losing Certain Important Protections

But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke later recommended shrinking the monuments' borders after he completed a national monument review ordered by the White House.

Trump's decision could prompt a legal challenge — while the White House can definitely establish monuments, it's not clear whether it has the power to alter or remove them.

<![CDATA[A Pharmaceutical Company Is Accused Of Starting An Opioid Scheme]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 16:31:00 -0500
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As President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency Thursday, Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor was indicted on fraud, racketeering and other federal charges for distributing opioids.

Prosecutors said the company was leading a "nationwide conspiracy" to profit from illegal distribution of its fentanyl-based product.

"These Insys executives allegedly fueled the opioid epidemic by paying doctors to needlessly prescribe an extremely dangerous and addictive form of fentanyl," said Phillip Coyne, special agent in charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Corporate executives intent on illegally driving up profits need to be aware they are now squarely in the sights of law enforcement."

SEE MORE: Sessions Creates Unit To Go After Doctors, Pharmacies Pushing Opioids

The drug is called Subsys, an under-the-tongue fentanyl product, which is FDA-approved for cancer patients who suffer severe pain despite already taking painkillers. Insys Therapeutics is accused of bribing doctors to prescribe it to patients who didn't need the powerful narcotic.

Cases against pharmaceutical companies for their part in the opioid crisis are more common, with states, cities and counties suing major companies for knowingly marketing addictive drugs with overdose risks.

Investigators said they'll continue to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for the opioid crisis, just as they would "the cartels or a street-level drug dealer."

<![CDATA[Measles Deaths Fell Below 100,000 For The First Time In 2016]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 16:18:00 -0500
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There's some good news and there's some bad news when it comes to the worldwide fight against measles.

The good news is in 2016, deaths from the disease fell below 100,000 worldwide, which is an 84 percent drop from the number of deaths in 2000.

One major success story is the U.K., which was declared measles-free in September for the first time.

And the World Health Organization estimates it's saved 20.4 million lives with its vaccination campaigns. But there's still potential for backsliding.

Since 2009, the organization has only been able to get the first of two required doses of the vaccine to around 85 percent of at-risk children. That coverage needs to be at 95 percent to stop the spread of the disease.

The WHO warns some of that progress could be reversed as polio is eradicated, since many of the countries with higher rates of measles deaths rely on the infrastructure in place that's meant to fight polio.

SEE MORE: 5 Percent Fewer Measles Vaccinations Could Mean Triple The Infections

And there's another factor: anti-vaccination activists. This year, Minnesota faced the largest outbreak of measles in years, at least in part because of anti-vaccine sentiments.

Starting in 2008, anti-vaccine groups targeted Somali parents in Minnesota who were concerned about the high rates of autism in children in the community. 

There's no evidence vaccines cause autism, and while vaccines can cause side effects in some people, they're generally considered safe.

The WHO hopes to eliminate the disease in at least five regions of the world by 2020.

<![CDATA[A New Report Fuels Rumors Of Amazon's Venture Into Prescription Drugs]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 07:06:00 -0500
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After tackling fashionfood and television, Amazon seems to be homing in on another market: prescription drugs.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Amazon has received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least 12 states. An expert told the paper the news "strengthens our conviction on [Amazon's] likely entry into the drug supply chain," but it's not yet clear how.

The pharmacy licenses vary by state, which could make the idea of selling prescription drugs a little complicated. But some people still speculate Amazon could partner with existing wholesale pharmacy companies or even install pharmacies in its newly acquired Whole Foods grocery stores.

SEE MORE: Amazon Wants To Enter Your Home When You're Not There

Amazon says these are just "rumors and speculation," but the reports already caused the stock prices for both CVS and Walgreens to drop.

On the same day as the Post-Dispatch's report, the Wall Street Journal reported that CVS Health made a proposal to buy Aetna for up to around $66 billion. 

<![CDATA[The Pope Calls Space And Gets Deep With Astronauts]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 20:41:00 -0500
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Pope Francis got deep with the International Space Station crew on Thursday. They had around 20 minutes of philosophical conversation about love, joy and our place in the world. 

The pope said the six astronauts had the rare opportunity to see the planet "from the eyes of God," and that, "Astronomy makes us think about the universe's boundless horizons and prompts questions such as 'where do we come from, where are we going?'"

SEE MORE: Pope Francis Goes Off-Script At Easter Mass, Addressing World Conflict

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli told the pope, "Our aim here is to spread knowledge, [but] the more we learn, the more we realize we do not know."

The only other pope to do a virtual visit was Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. He asked the crew how being in space affected their views on the universe, humanity and praised them for their courage.

Francis has a history of melding science with his faith; the pontiff is an outspoken proponent of the scientific predictions on climate change.

<![CDATA[Why The Opioid Crisis Wasn't Declared A National Emergency]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 16:52:00 -0500
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On Thursday, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.  

The move is somewhat out of line for the administration. In August, the Chris Christie-led Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis told Trump that he should declare a national emergency. The president said he planned to follow the recommendation, but he has since changed course.

There are key differences between declaring a crisis a public health emergency versus a national emergency — mainly money. A public health emergency allows federal agencies to redistribute existing resources to fight the crisis. One plan lets states shift federal funds used for HIV programs to opioid addiction programs.

SEE MORE: Walgreens Will Stock Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone Nationwide

But experts worry that the Public Health Emergency Fund won't be able to provide enough money to solve the problem. There's only $57,000 left in the fund, which is microscopic compared with how much opioid substance abuse treatment costs the U.S. — at least $28 billion a year.

The money problem may have been less of a factor if Trump had declared the crisis a national emergency. In that scenario, the U.S. would've used money from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to combat opioid addiction. But officials said they didn't think it was appropriate to reallocate money for natural disasters to a much longer-term problem. 

The declaration also waived some rules so federal agencies can better control the crisis as Congress and the president figure out funding. One of those changes will allow opioid addiction patients in hard-to-reach locations to consult with doctors via telemedicine in lieu of an actual appointment.

<![CDATA[New Gene Mutations For Breast Cancer Discovered]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:53:00 -0500
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When it comes to breast cancer, the best-known genetic risk factors are the BRCA gene mutations. But they're far from the only ones.

major worldwide study found 72 new genetic risk factors for breast cancer, bringing the total number known to 180. 

And some of those new gene variants are common: while some are carried by only 1 in 100 women, others are carried in more than half of all women.

The findings are important in assessing a woman's risk of breast cancer, which is made up of both genetic and environmental factors.

"These findings add significantly to our understanding of the inherited basis of breast cancer. As well as identifying new genetic variants, we have also confirmed many that we had previously suspected. There are some clear patterns in the genetic variants that should help us understand why some women are predisposed to breast cancer, and which genes and mechanisms are involved," professor Doug Easton, one of the study's lead investigators, said. 

Experts say predicting genetic risk factors can ultimately improve early detection and prevention of the disease for both the general population and those with BRCA mutations. The group with the greater risk, for example, may benefit from undergoing more intense screenings at a younger age.

SEE MORE: Study: Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Down 39 Percent

It's also helping scientists understand why some women are more likely to develop breast cancer than others.  

According to the American Cancer Society, women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer. It's the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.  

<![CDATA[Trump Declares Opioid Crisis A 'Public Health Emergency']]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:26:00 -0500
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On Thursday, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a "public health emergency" — a step that doesn't quite go as far as declaring it a national emergency.

"For too long, we have allowed drugs to ravage American homes, cities and towns. We owe it to our children and to our country to do everything in our power to address this national shame and human tragedy," Trump said.

The declaration lets states shift certain funds toward opioid addiction and gives rural residents easier access to prescription treatment. But it doesn't open up the same federal funding that declaring a national emergency would have. 

This doesn't necessarily mean the Trump administration thinks drug abuse is a minor issue. The reason for not calling a national emergency may have more to do with where funding would come from. 

SEE MORE: Walgreens Will Stock Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone Nationwide

If Trump had called the crisis a national emergency, money would've been moved from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's funds — but CNN notes a senior administration official said FEMA's money should go to disaster relief, not health crises. 

Trump said Thursday that he's still planning to take more actions to help individual states.

"A number of states have reached out to us asking for relief, and you should expect to see approvals that will unlock treatment for people in need. And those approvals will come very, very fast, not like in the past," Trump said. 

Still, Trump's public health emergency may prove controversial, since he previously said he would declare a national emergency.

<![CDATA[This Masked Dinosaur Was An Expert At Camouflage]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:05:00 -0500
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Using preserved skin and feathers, scientists have lifted the mask of a 130-million-year-old dinosaur to uncover its sophisticated camouflage technique.

Researchers recently reconstructed the color pattern of the sinosauropteryx, a dinosaur that once roamed present-day China.

SEE MORE: Before Birds Could Fly, Dinosaurs Had To Learn To Hop

The scientists found this small, feathered dinosaur had a bandit mask-like stripe across its eyes, similar to raccoons. It also had a striped tail and a type of camouflage known as countershading. Animals appear darker on top and lighter underneath to avoid detection by predators and prey.

These findings show that even after millions of years, animals like dolphins, squirrels and penguins still use the same color patterns and camouflage techniques as their ancient ancestors.

<![CDATA[This West Virginia Company Trains Coal Miners To Install Solar Panels]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:00:00 -0500
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In West Virginia, Coalfield Development Corp. trains coal miners in a new trade: installing solar panels.

"Basically it's like, what's next?" said Luke Huffman, property manager for Coalfield Development's new training facility. "Coal is running to an end here where we're just starting to take the top of mountains, and we're starting to just tear them down. So we've got to find renewable energy. I want the best thing in the world for all the coal miners, but what happens to them when the coal runs out? We've got to make sure they're trained. And solar work out perfect, is the way we look at it."

SEE MORE: Revolt: Coal River Mountain

Coal has dominated the region's economy for a century. But the booming solar industry now employs even more Americans than coal. And it's making gains, even in coal country.

"It's just the cold hard truth that we have to move from coal to something else, not move completely away from it," Huffman said. "We can work side by side with coal the whole time. But we have to make sure that everyone's trained and everyone understands that it's here and it's the next step."

Once this new training facility is built, Rewire Appalachia said it hopes to expand its program across the region.

<![CDATA[Some Americans Are Super Confused About The Status Of Obamacare]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 20:16:00 -0500
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Some Americans really don't know what's going on with Obamacare. 

According to a Morning Consult poll of almost 2,000 registered voters, about 24 percent said they thought Obamacare had been partially repealed. Fifteen percent thought it had been fully repealed or repealed and replaced.

To clarify, Obamacare hasn't been repealed or replaced. Attempts to do so have failed — several times. 

The most recent attempt died last month when Sen. John McCain said he wouldn't support Republicans' last-ditch effort to pass a repeal bill without the help of Democrats. 

SEE MORE: Schumer Says The Bipartisan Health Care Deal Has The Votes To Pass

The general public isn't alone: Insurance companies are also pretty confused over the current and future status of Obamacare.   

The Trump administration announced this month it would stop paying Obamacare'cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs. Those payments subsidize insurance plans bought by lower-income Americans.

Here's where the confusion arises. Without those subsidies, insurance companies will either have to drastically raise their premiums or drop out of the marketplace. 

That same week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the secretary of labor to work on expanding access to cheaper Obamacare alternatives, which could, in turn, drive people out of the marketplace. 

The enrollment period for Obamacare starts next month. It will probably remain unclear how much of an effect the changes will have until then. 

<![CDATA[Cape Coral Is A Perfect Florida Getaway. One Bad Storm Could Ruin It.]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 19:48:00 -0500
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"They sold it on a lot of lies and eventually the lies came true," Michael Grunwald of Politico told Newsy recently. 

Cape Coral, Florida, is picturesque: part paradise and part ticking time bomb. People were lured to the "waterfront wonderland" with visions of a slice of heaven with 400 miles of canals that were man made but not exactly well made. 

"It was incredibly badly planned. It was basically just a giant subdivision with hardly any space for businesses, no water and sewer infrastructure ... and it was built just a few feet above sea level — so incredibly vulnerable to hurricanes," Grunwald said.

Since the '60s, Cape Coral has grown from fewer than 200 people to around 180,000 now. And it's still largely residential, and every big storm sends concerns it could be wiped off the map because of how it was built. 

"Those 400 miles of canal were an assault on the environment. They really ravaged the surface water. They are really exposed to storm surge. During Hurricane Irma, there was a worry they would have 15 feet of surge — that would put most of Cape Coral under water," Grunwald said.

And rising sea levels worldwide are adding to the dire future outlook of the cape. But there's no planning for sea level rise and none for infrasturcture.

"The problems are coming more intense and more frequently. It's something they are not dealing with at all anywhere in Southwest Florida. It's a very Republican area, and it's sort of verboten to talk about climate change," Grunwald said. 

SEE MORE: Revolt: When It Rains

But the residents (and future residents) seem to know they're in a danger zone but don't seem too concerned at all. 

"In January when every is shivering in Cleveland, Buffalo and Boston, Cape Coral is a pretty attractive place to be. Despite all of its economic and environmental problems, people are going to keep coming. It's really a question of how they can accommodate them, how can they have better land use planning and can they overcome the original sins of the city," Grunwald said. 

<![CDATA[Walgreens Will Stock Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone Nationwide]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 16:07:00 -0500
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A drugstore chain is joining the fight against the opioid epidemic, making an opioid overdose reversal drug available without a prescription in all of its stores. 

Walgreens announced it will carry Narcan in all of its more than 8,000 pharmacies across the U.S.

Narcan nasal spray, a form of the drug naloxone, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015.

When administered, it can quickly counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. overdose deaths involving opioids quadrupled between 1999 to 2015.

SEE MORE: One Ohio Sheriff Says His Deputies Won't Carry Anti-Overdose Drug

The FDA said in 2016 it was working to make the drug more widely available.

Some schools and law enforcement agencies keep naloxone on hand, but programs vary by state.

Narcan is also available without a prescription at most CVS pharmacies in 41 states and at Rite Aid in 25 states.

<![CDATA[Autonomous Tech Is Popular In Cars, But Do People Know How To Use It?]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 14:06:00 -0500
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The autonomous age hit cars fast. Sixty percent of new vehicles come with some autonomy, and automated braking is expected to be standard in cars by 2022. But as the features get more popular, there's some concern that people won't understand what their cars can and can't do.

Some experts call this "autonomous ambiguity." They say that in the short term, ignoring or disabling autonomous tools — or worse, assuming they provide safety benefits when they really don't —  could result in an uptick of crashes. 

Part of that ambiguity stems from dealerships not conveying how these tools work. One Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that while about one-third of salespeople could provide "thorough" explanations of how autonomous technologies worked, another quarter of salespeople gave "poor" explanations.

It's unclear if people understand what certain tools actually do — like automated braking. Some systems will completely stop a car to avoid a collision, but others might only reduce a car's speed to make a crash less severe. One AAA survey found that two-thirds of Americans "familiar with the technology" thought any car with autonomous braking could "avoid crashes without driver intervention."

SEE MORE: Domino's Will Deliver Pizza With Autonomous Cars

Drivers might also turn off automated features, knowingly or unknowingly. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety surveyed the autonomous tools in Honda vehicles when they were brought in for service and found only one-third of the cars had their lane departure warning systems turned on.

And even though the tech keeps us safe, some drivers say it can get on their nerves like a back seat driver. Some of the drivers in the IIHS study admitted to turning off lane departure warning systems because they were annoying or because they were going off when they shouldn't — like when the car went around curves.

And at this time, there's no legislation that sets nationwide standards for autonomous cars. However, Congress is currently working to pass the first federal law to govern self-driving cars.

<![CDATA[NASA Finds Space Travel Changes The Way Genes Are Expressed]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 12:02:00 -0500
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Early results from NASA's Twins Study show space travel changes the way genes are expressed. 

The space agency knows if it wants to send astronauts deeper into space, it needs to have a better idea of what will happen to their bodies. 

That's why NASA has been studying the identical Kelly twins — Scott, who spent nearly a year in space in 2015 and 2016, and Mark, whose body served as a comparison on Earth.  

We should note all twin studies are correlational — and Mark Kelly is a former astronaut with flight experience himself — but a NASA principal investigator said, "this study represents one of the most comprehensive views of human biology." 

Scientists have been comparing biological samples since Scott Kelly returned to Earth in March 2016, and they've found genomes are one of the many things that seem to change in space. 

Principal investigator Chris Mason said: "We really see an explosion, like fireworks taking off, as soon as the human body gets into space. We've seen thousands and thousands of genes change how they are turned on and turned off. This happens as soon as an astronaut gets into space, and some of the activity persists temporarily upon return to Earth." 

SEE MORE: NASA Has A Better Idea How Humans, Weather Shift The Carbon Cycle

Early results seem to show these genes are activated and shut down through a process called methylation. 

In a way, NASA's just previewing its findings, with the final results of the study expected to come next year. 

Besides the Kellys' genomes, NASA scientists have been comparing chromosomal cap length, bone formation, cognition and more.  

<![CDATA[Einstein Gave These Instead Of A Tip. Now They're Worth $1.8 Million]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 07:50:00 -0500
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Albert Einstein's theory on life and a little pep talk could have been yours — if you had $1.8 million. 

An Israeli auction house just sold two handwritten notes from the world's most famous physicist. One note's translation reads, "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness." The other says, "Where there's a will there's a way." 

If the notes look kind of plain, that's just part of the fascinating backstory. 

SEE MORE: Nobel Prize Awarded For Historic Detection Of Gravitational Waves

According to the auction house, Einstein was traveling through Japan in 1922. A messenger delivered something to his hotel room and, without a tip to give, Einstein handed the man the notes.

He told the messenger to hold on to those pages, as they could end up being worth much more than a normal tip. 

Considering Einstein had just won the Nobel Prize, that humble brag sort of makes sense. 

But even today, the auction house didn't expect those notes to be that valuable. Before bids started, each note's estimated worth was between $4,000 and $8,000. Combined, the two sold for $1.8 million. 

<![CDATA[A Holdout Just Joined The Paris Climate Agreement]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 14:04:00 -0500
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It's official: Nicaragua is part of the Paris climate agreement.

Local media report Nicaragua's government handed over documents to the United Nations, solidifying the country's place.

This leaves only the U.S. and Syria not on board. President Donald Trump said in June the U.S. would leave the agreement.

Initially Nicaragua said it didn't sign because it didn't think the pact went far enough to combat climate change.

SEE MORE: US Tells UN It's Leaving Paris Agreement But Will Go To Meetings

But Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said in September the country would sign in solidarity with countries most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters.

Officials haven't said exactly how Nicaragua will contribute. Some environmentalists have suggested the country focus on climate adaptation rather than mitigation.

That's because Nicaragua isn't a huge emitter of greenhouse gases — it's not even in the top 20 emitters of CO2, according to the Global Carbon Atlas.

<![CDATA[Debriefing 'Revolt': How We Filmed Mountaintop Removal]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 13:29:00 -0500
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Researchers say mountaintop removal sites are pushing toxic material into water and air for surrounding communities in West Virginia. But to see one of these sites up close, you have to get a little creative. 

SEE MORE: Revolt: Coal River Mountain

In this debrief after the second episode of Newsy's series "Revolt," reporter Zach Toombs and videographer Kevin Clancy talk about how they captured scenes of mountaintop removal from the ground and air. 

<![CDATA[Federal Watchdog Thinks Climate Change's Economic Costs Will Skyrocket]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:52:00 -0500
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The Government Accountability Office sees climate change as a key issue and asked the Trump administration to take action.

The federal watchdog released a report to the public Tuesday detailing the rising costs of climate change.

It noted over the last decade, the federal government spent more than $350 billion because of "extreme weather and fire events."

That figure includes "$205 billion for domestic disaster response and relief; $90 billion for crop and flood insurance; $34 billion for wildland fire management; and $28 billion for maintenance and repairs to federal facilities and federally managed lands, infrastructure, and waterways."

And the GAO says climate change will likely cause these costs to increase.

It points to an assessment that found the federal government's recurring costs could jump "$12 billion to $35 billion per year" by 2050.

The GAO says its audit isn't absolutely precise and argued it's more of a first step to address climate change damages. The question is what President Donald Trump might do with the information.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Will Create More Refugees And Mass Migration

So far, the administration disbanded a federal climate change advisory panel, proposed ending the "Clean Power Plan" and said it plans to leave the Paris Agreement.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the administration was invited to give its own views in the GAO's report but declined.

<![CDATA[London Fights Pollution By Charging Drivers Of Older, Polluting Cars]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 21:09:00 -0500
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London's latest attempt to improve air quality targets aging and polluting cars.

It's called the "Toxicity Charge" or "T-Charge," and it means diesel and gas cars registered before 2006 that fail to meet emission standards will be taxed 10 pounds, or about $13, a day.

The T-Charge zone covers the same area as the Congestion Charging zone, which already comes with a fee. So drivers with non-compliant cars traveling through trafficky parts of London will now face a daily fee of around 21 pounds, or $28.

SEE MORE: Part Of London Passed Its Annual Pollution Level For 2017 — In 5 Days

Critics of the fee say it penalizes low-income drivers who cannot afford to buy new cars.

And some are skeptical the T-Charge will do much at all: Only around 9,000 vehicles are expected to be affected by the fee each day — less than 10 percent of the city's drivers.

Still, others don't think the measure goes far enough and are pushing for the mayor to ban diesel-fueled cars and expand the area in which the T-Charge is enforced.

London's mayor seems to agree — he said he'll "continue to do everything in [his] power to help protect the health of Londoners and clean our filthy air."

The T-Charge is just one step in the city's $1.1 billion project to improve air quality. London plans to replace it with an even higher fee within the next couple years.

A 2015 study found that London's air pollution accounts for anywhere from around 3,500 to nearly 9,500 premature deaths each year.

Earlier this year, the U.K. announced its plans to ban the sale of all diesel cars by 2040. Several other European cities have also made plans to ditch diesel cars.

<![CDATA[Revolt: Coal River Mountain]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 20:00:00 -0500
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An explosive form of coal mining could have deadly consequences for West Virginia, where neighbor is pitted against neighbor and economic opportunity is weighed against clean air and water.

Our new series "Revolt" explores these issues in a new context that's focused on Middle America. This is the third of six episodes that debut weekly.

SEE MORE: Revolt: Blue-Collar Wind

Full source list and bibliography:

"Only 1 percent of U.S. coal comes from mountaintop removal." — The Washington Post

- "But these sites take up 10 percent of the land in central Appalachia." — Duke University

- Maria Gunnoe is an activist and the winner of the Goldman Prize and Wallenberg Medal. — The Goldman PrizeThe Wallenberg Legacy 

- "More than two dozen peer-reviewed studies have found a human health impact from mountaintop removal mining." — WV Public BroadcastingAl Jazeera America

- "In an area with mountaintop removal, one study showed the odds of reporting cancer were twice as high compared to a non-mining area in West Virginia." — Journal of Community Health (full version here)

- "Another study showed newborns were especially at risk. Rates of heart defects in newborns were 181% higher in areas with mountaintop removal." — researcher testimony to the U.S. House of RepresentativesEnvironmental Research journal (full version here)

- "Altogether, researchers estimate 1,460 excess deaths in mountaintop removal areas every year." — U.S. House of Representatives testimony

- Lung cells exposed to chemicals released by mountaintop removal developed cancer and tumors. — Environmental Science and Technology

- A survey found poorer health conditions self-reported in areas near mountaintop removal sites. — American Journal of Public Health

- A geographical analysis finds higher rates of cancer mortality in areas near coal mining sites. — Geospatial Health

- "The industry has aggressively countered these health claims through its own channels, even funding a research center at Virginia Tech University." — Trib Total Media

- "This new study, begun in 2016, is funded by the federal government and staffed by a panel of experts."— National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine

- "Coal executives ... have donated heavily to [Donald Trump's] party and his campaigns. — Vice NewsOpen Secrets

- "For decades, the amount of coal produced in the U.S. has remained relatively stable, but coal companies employ less than half the workers they did in 1980." — The Brookings Institution

- "A report from the Charleston Gazette-Mail shows the [National Academies] study is actually being singled out while other studies are allowed to continue." — Charleston Gazette-Mail

Editor's note: After publication, Coal River Mountain Watch reached out to emphasize its focus on the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act, proposed to Congress, which aims to halt mountaintop removal by creating a moratorium on new or expanded permits until a definitive federal health study concludes that the practice does not pose a threat to residents' health. 

<![CDATA[EPA Administrator Pruitt To End Obama's Clean Power Plan]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 19:19:00 -0500
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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will end former President Obama's Clean Power Plan. This move rolls back another one of Obama's signature achievements. Pruitt says the plan was unnecessarily harmful to small businesses across the country.

Get a deeper understanding of the stories that matter with Newsy's "The Why" — weekdays 7-9 p.m. ET. 

SEE MORE: EPA Moves To Overturn Another Obama-Era Environmental Protection

<![CDATA[How To Save The Most Endangered Marine Mammal In The World]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 18:06:00 -0500
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The Mexican government is in the middle of a $100 million effort to save the most endangered marine mammal in the world — a porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California called the vaquita. There are less than 30 of them left in the wild, and scientists only captured the first live one recently. 

The capture was part of a plan to temporarily move the porpoises to ocean sanctuaries while conservationists try to remove dangerous fishing nets from their natural habitat.

But first they have to find the mammals. This can be tough, and not just because there are so few of them. Scientists go out to look for them on boats, but if winds get as strong as 9 miles per hour, it's hard to see past the sea's surface.

SEE MORE: For Florida's Endangered Wildlife, Hurricanes Come With The Territory

They also use acoustic monitoring systems to listen for vaquitas' calls. When researchers combined both methods, they were able to spot several of the rare mammals. 

But keeping them healthy for translocation is a whole other issue. Marine biologists said in the end, they weren't able to move the vaquita calf they captured because it was showing signs of stress. 

The plan is only in its second week, so biologists are focused on locating and rescuing as many vaquitas as they can. From there, they'll determine whether it's appropriate to house vaquitas in ocean pens, or if they'll need to build more long-term housing.

<![CDATA[The WHO Takes Back Robert Mugabe's Goodwill Ambassador Appointment]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 10:02:00 -0500
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After a wave of criticism, the World Health Organization took back its latest "goodwill ambassador" appointment.

That title was given to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. He's headed Zimbabwe's government since 1980. For years, he's been under international sanctions for human rights violations and eroding the nation's democratic process.

Part of Mugabe's infamy both inside Africa and out stems from his effort to redistribute farmland owned and operated by white Zimbabweans — the descendants of European colonizers. However, Mugabe's effort backfired as those farms — once the nation's economic backbone — saw a dramatic decline that contributed to a food shortage and helped tank Zimbabwe's economy.

In response to Mugabe's appointment, nearly 30 health organizations signed a joint statement saying they were "shocked and deeply concerned to hear of this appointment, given President Mugabe's long track record of human rights violations and undermining the dignity of human beings."

Mugabe's political opponents were quick to point out Zimbabwe's health system is in shambles. Mugabe himself, who is in his 90s, travels abroad to receive medical care.

The WHO director general said Mugabe was chosen due to Zimbabwe's prioritizing universal health coverage and health promotion in domestic policy. But he acknowledged the backlash on Twitter, and by Sunday he'd rescinded the appointment. 

SEE MORE: Kenya's Opposition Leader Calls For More Protests, Drops Out Of Race

The role of goodwill ambassador is mostly symbolic. Ambassadors attract public attention and funding to combat global issues.

Mugabe's appointment would have put focus on noncommunicable diseases, or NCDs, in Africa — diseases that can't be transmitted and that are not caused by infectious agents. According to the WHO, NCDs account for 70 percent of all deaths worldwide.

<![CDATA[People May Have Believed In Vampires Due To Misunderstanding Medicine]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:23:00 -0500
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Countries around the world have their own myths about vampires, but scientists say one thing many of the stories have in common is that they may have been based on real diseases. 

For instance, many Europeans started believing in vampires while one of the largest recorded rabies epidemics raged across Europe. Researchers say that at the time, people thought supernatural creatures and dogs were mortal enemies. They thought vampires would turn into dogs so they could kill the real dogs guarding a village and then hunt the humans inside.

And as more dogs and humans got bit by rabid animals, people noticed that both species showed similar symptoms. So people assumed the sickness came from vampire dogs.

Some diseases can cause the physical changes that we associate with classic vampires. Researchers point to pellagra and porphyria, diseases that can cause people to develop rashes and burn when exposed to sunlight or oral inflammation that can make teeth appear sharper.

SEE MORE: How Do Isaac Asimov's Laws Of Robotics Hold Up 75 Years Later?

When it comes to why people thought vampires drank blood, some researchers have linked it to tuberculosis outbreaks in 18th century New England. It accounted for a quarter of all deaths. If someone in your family contracted the disease, chances were they'd spread it to their family before they died.

As families started dying, remaining members would exhume the corpse of the original contractor to see if there was "fresh" blood in their heart. If there was, families believed the corpse was staying "alive" by draining the blood from other relatives. In reality, tuberculosis causes the chest to fill with blood that stays there after someone dies.

To keep vampires from "coming back," some villages shoved stones in corpses' mouths, while others simply decapitated them. In New England, they frequently burned vampire hearts and inhaled the smoke, thinking it could cure them of vampirism. 

<![CDATA[FDA Approves Another Gene Immunotherapy Treatment For Cancer]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:00:00 -0500
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the second gene immunotherapy treatment for cancer in two months.

The new therapy, called Yescarta, is geared toward adult patients with certain aggressive types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In August, the FDA cleared the first gene therapy for leukemia to hit the market, clinically tested on mostly children and teens.

Medical experts herald the emerging immunotherapy as a breakthrough in treating cancer and possibly other types of diseases.

"Today marks another milestone in the development of a whole new scientific paradigm for the treatment of serious diseases," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. "In just several decades, gene therapy has gone from being a promising concept to a practical solution to deadly and largely untreatable forms of cancer."

Gene therapy works by taking cells from the patient's body and genetically modifying them to attack cancerous cells. The altered cells are then reintroduced into the patient.

The treatment is only authorized for patients who've unsuccessfully undergone at least two other alternative treatments.

SEE MORE: Most Cancer-Causing Mutations Might Just Be Bad Luck

Although the complete remission rate in clinical trials for Yescarta was 51 percent, the FDA does warn there could be severe side effects and is requiring the manufacturer to conduct further studies on patients.

And it's expensive, with a U.S. list price of $373,000.

Still, as one immunotherapy expert puts it, FDA approval of Yescarta will likely save thousands of lives in the next few years.

<![CDATA[Pollution Could Be Killing More People Than Smoking, War Or Hunger]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:40:00 -0500
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According to new research, environmental pollution is killing more people around the world than smoking, war or malnutrition.

A report in The Lancet says exposure to polluted air, water and soil caused an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015.

To put that in perspective, that's three times the number of deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. And it's 15 times the death toll from war or other forms of violence.

SEE MORE: Study: Pollution's Effects On Lifespan May Start In The Womb

The report says pollution caused 16 percent of deaths worldwide in 2015 and that the vast majority of those deaths occurred in low- or middle-income countries.

One of the report's authors told NPR that's likely because many of those nations are "galloping ahead with industrialization without paying attention to the consequences."

Still, some areas, like New Delhi, have taken steps to make pollution control a priority, like tightening vehicle emissions standards and enforcing higher penalties for burning garbage.