Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher acquitted of murder in ISIS fighter case

A decorated Navy SEAL was found not guilty of murder and attempted murder Tuesday by a military jury in San Diego.

Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 40, was accused of fatally stabbing a young wounded ISIS fighter, posing for a picture with the corpse and shooting two civilians from a sniper’s perch in Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher was found guilty on the charge involving the photo with the corpse.

After the verdict was read, Gallagher, his wife and the whole defense team stood up and began hugging. Gallagher and his wife Andrea, who was crying, touched foreheads and held each other’s faces.

Gallagher’s sentencing for wrongful posing for photos with a human casualty is scheduled for later on Tuesday, but his attorneys expect Gallagher will be freed afterwards.

“We have a sentencing to do, but the maximum sentence of what they’re about to sentence him on is much less than the time that they’ve already had him in the brig,” defense attorney Tim Parlatore said after Tuesday’s verdict. “So he is going home.”

The jury of five Marines and two sailors — one of whom is a SEAL — had to decide if the boy was stabbed to death, or died from wounds sustained during an airstrike with Gallagher’s being falsely accused by disgruntled subordinates. The jury began deliberations Monday in the court-martial at Naval Base San Diego.

Seven SEALs have testified during the trial over the past two weeks hat Gallagher abruptly stabbed the teen prisoner on May 3, 2017, just after he and other medics treated the boy.

Two of them said they witnessed Gallagher, a 19-year-veteran, stab the teen. But one of them, Special Operator Corey Scott, who is also a medic, said he was the person who killed the boy when he plugged his breathing tube with his thumb in an act of mercy. The admission stunned the courtroom.

June 20, 201901:39

Most of the SEALs, including Scott, were granted immunity to protect them from being prosecuted for what they said on the stand.

An Iraqi general testified that Gallagher did not stab the boy, and Marine Staff Sgt. Giorgio Kirylo said that he didn’t see any stab wounds on the young ISIS fighter when he moved the corpse to take a “cool guy trophy” photo with it.

On Monday in closing arguments for the prosecution, Navy Cmdr. Jeff Pietrzyk told the jury that while the detained Islamic fighter was not a sympathetic figure, he was under the control of the U.S. military, which meant he was no longer a lawful target.

Pietrzyk also said that text messages sent by Gallagher prove his guilt. One message said: “I’ve got a cool story for you when I get back. I’ve got my knife skills on.” Another text stated: “Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife.”

Pietrzyk then showed a photo of Gallagher holding up the dead prisoner’s head by the hair. “The government’s evidence in this case is Chief Gallagher’s words, Chief Gallagher’s pictures, Chief Gallagher’s SEALs,” Pietrzyk said, according to The Associated Press.

Gallagher’s lawyers said the text was just an example of dark combat humor.

Parlatore said Monday that Scott’s surprise testimony about blocking the airway tube happened because prosecutors never asked the right questions because they were so fixated on prosecuting Gallagher.

He said that there was no body, no forensics, no science and no case against Gallagher. He said much of what was communicated in texts was just bravado.

“This is case is not about murder, it’s about mutiny,” Parlatore said, telling jurors that the SEALs who testified against Gallagher lied because they didn’t like his demanding leadership.

SEAL sniper Dalton Tolbert testified that he does not remember who started a group chat called “The Sewing Circle,” but the purpose of it was to connect with others who were disturbed by what they saw while deployed with Gallagher, and decide how to handle it.

“I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS. I see an issue with that,” Tolbert wrote in one of the texts.

Gallagher was released from custody in May after the military judge cited interference by prosecutors.

After Scott’s testimony, Gallagher’s wife Andrea Gallagher, said that she always knew her husband was not guilty, and that “I just felt so relieved that at least one of these individuals had a, you know, conscience check.”

Prosecutors said at the time that the credibility of a witness was for the jury to decide.

Shanshan Dong contributed.

Airport Facial Recognition, How Abusers Exploit Basic Apps, and More News

Stalkers have ways of tracking you even without fancy malware, airport facial recognition is becoming more common, and WIRED has some advice on how to take the very best fireworks photos. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.

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Opting out of facial recognition at the airport isn’t easy.

Flying this weekend? In at least 17 airports—if you’re flying airlines that include Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines, and others—you may be asked to submit to a facial recognition scan in lieu of passport scanners before boarding. The Department of Homeland Security reports that the facial recognition program being deployed in airports will be able to scan 97 percent of commercial air passengers departing the US by 2023. Don’t want your face to be part of the surveillance state database? You can still opt out by finding an airline representative and getting your passport scanned instead.

The simple way Apple and Google let domestic abusers stalk victims.

You know to be careful of malware when downloading new apps, but the apps needed to track you are already installed on your phone. Researchers have found that location-sharing features on popular apps like Apples’ Find My Friends and Google Maps can easily be abused, allowing anyone with physical access to your phone to track you without your knowledge.

Cocktail Conversation

After Ivanka Trump’s appearance at the G20 Summit in Japan this weekend, the internet is ablaze with Photoshopped images of Ivanka pasted into other images of historical impact under the hashtag #UnwantedIvanka. The thing is, it’s her father who is copy-pasting her into historical moments she would typically not be involved in. Twitter is just joining in on the fun.

WIRED Recommends: How to take the best fireworks photos

You know your social feeds are about to explode with fireworks shots, but there are a few simple and easy ways to make sure yours stand out in the crowd. From cheap apps to handy gadgets and hacks, here’s how to make your fireworks photos better than the rest.

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This jellyfish robot is much more than just a good swimmer.

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U.S. women beat England 2-1, punch ticket to World Cup championship match

Alex Morgan celebrated her 30th birthday on Tuesday by scoring a decisive goal and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stopped a late penalty kick in a 2-1 United States victory over England in the Women’s World Cup semifinal in Lyon, France.

The American win sends them to Sunday’s championship match, also in Lyon, against the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal match between the Netherlands and Sweden.

England will play the loser of that contest on Saturday in Nice for third place.

The United States barely held on, as Naeher made the save of the tournament by stopping England’s Stephanie Houghton on a spot kick in the 84th minute.

“Alyssa Naeher … obviously, like, she saved our ass,” Morgan told Fox viewers moments after the match. “Sorry, excuse that, but she saved outs butts today.”

The underdog English appeared to tie it in the 67th minute when their star Ellen White got past defender Abby Dahlkemper and fired a shot past Naeher. But video review showed White was offside, wiping out the equalizer.

Instead it was Morgan, a native of Diamond Bar, California, who would be the match’s heroine. The captain headed home Lindsay Horan’s pass in the 31st minute, breaking a 1-1 tie.

Horan got the ball from Christen Press, who moments earlier skillfully chested down a high pass along the sideline to maintain possession.

Press, who started place of injured Megan Rapinoe, had given the United States a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when she headed home a well-struck cross from Kelly O’Hara.

The goal was made possible by Tobin Heath’s big run and dummy pass to Rose Lavelle — who let the ball roll by her, taking the attention of two English defenders. That non-touch by Lavelle opened up O’Hara to feed Press, a 30-year-old from Palos Verdes Estates, California.

Press’ header barely cleared the fingertips of England’s backup goalkeeper, the 5-foot-8 Carly Telford.

England’s top keeper, American-born and -raised Karen Bardsley, was injured and unable to play. The 6-foot-tall Bardsley hurt her hamstring in the Lioness’ last game against Norway.

England’s top gun, White, responded minutes after Press’ opening tally when she flicked home a heavy pass from Beth Mead in the 19th minute.

The Lionesses came into Tuesday’s match as 2-to-1 betting underdog to the United States, currently the world’s top ranked team.

In the seven previous Women’s World Cup tournaments, the United States has won three championships, finished second once and taken home third place three times.

The American women have been in top form by ignoring — if not thriving off — a host of off-the-pitch dramas that could have early brought down lesser sides.

Last week, Rapinoe touched off an online storm when she said in a videotaped interview, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House” if the U.S. wins the World Cup.

That prompted President Donald Trump to chastise Rapinoe via Twitter for allegedly disrespecting the country. But teammates and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., were quick to defend and embrace the veteran U.S. star.

And before the Americans ever landed on French soil, they made waves by filing a federal lawsuit against their own soccer federation.

They accused the United States Soccer Federation of carrying on “institutionalized gender discrimination” that’s reflected in their pay, medical care, travel arrangements and overall workload.

The plaintiffs have agreed to mediation.

Biden, Harris in virtual tie after dramatic shift in black support, poll shows

Sen. Kamala Harris of California has catapulted into a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — and she’smade significant inroads with black voters following her widely praised debate performance last week, a new national poll released Tuesday showed.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters showed Biden with 22 percent support and Harris with 20 percent — a double-digit jump for her since the university’s previous poll last month.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont were in third and fourth place in the poll, with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, was in fifth, with 4 percent support.

No other candidate got more than 3 percent in the poll.

Biden’s 2 percentage point lead over Harris was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

“Round 1 of the Democratic debates puts Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden on two different trajectories, as support for Harris surges but continues to slip for Biden,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in a statement. “Biden’s once-commanding lead has evaporated,” she added.

The poll, conducted June 28 to July 1, also showed that Harris had caught up with Biden in receiving support from black Democratic voters — a bloc with which Biden has done well.

In the latest poll, Biden’s support among black Democratic voters shrunk to 31 percent from 48 percent in the June poll. Harris, on the other hand, saw her support among black Democratic voters grow to 27 percent, from 11 percent in the June poll. The June poll numbers on African American voters were provided to NBC by Quinnipiac.

The poll suggests a substantial upswing for Harris and a notable decline for the former vice president. In the Quinnipiac’s poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters last month, Biden received the support of 30 percent of the respondents, while Sanders had 19 percent, Warren had 15 percent and Buttigieg had 8 percent.

Harris had 7 percent support.

June 28, 201904:38

Respondents, however, still overwhelmingly said they felt that Biden was the candidate in the crowded field who had the best chance of beating President Donald Trumpalthough Biden’s support in that category, shrunk, too. According to the poll, 42 percent said Biden had the best chance to win the 2020 general election versus Trump — a substantial decline from the 56 percent of respondents who said so in Quinnipiac’s poll in April, that last time that particular question was asked.

Harris came in a distant second in the latest pollwith 14 percent — an increase from the 2 percent who said in the April poll that she had the best chance to beat Trump.

Sanders came in third in the latest poll with 13 percent, and no other candidate reached double digits.

Quinnipiac’s latest poll is one of several released since last week’s first Democratic presidential debate — an event in which Biden faced an intense grilling from Harris over his record on race — that shows a boost for Harris, while Biden’s lead over the field was found to be shrinking.

The Quinnipiac poll found that respondents paid attention to the debates, with 40 percent saying they watched most of the debates, and another 40 percent saying they paid close attention to news stories about the debates.

A CNN poll released Monday showed Biden with 22 percent support and Harris with 17 percent — a 10 percentage point drop for Biden, and a nine percentage point increase for Harris, since CNN’s last poll in May. Its latest poll showed Warren with 15 percent support, Sanders with 14 percent support and Buttigieg with 4 percent.

During the second night of the debate, Biden was forced to defend his record on desegregation in the 1970s during a tense exchange with Harris, the only black candidate on the stage that night.

“It was hurtful,” Harris said about hearing Biden speak of his work with segregationist senators decades ago. She told the story of a little girl who was in an early wave of children bused to integrate schools in California, ending the anecdote with these words: “That little girl was me.”

She went on to press Biden to apologize for his past opposition to busing to integrate schools, which he declined to do — before awkwardly cutting himself off when he exhausted his allotted time by saying: “My time’s up. I’m sorry.”

Ahead of the debate, Biden had come under harsh criticism for boasting about his ability to form working relationships in past decades with segregationist Democratic Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

About 1,700 jobs at risk after coal company, affiliate, file for bankruptcy

July 2 (UPI) — About 1,700 coal mine jobs across four states are at risk after a major coal company and its affiliate filed for bankruptcy.

West Virginia-based companies Revelation Energy and its affiliate Blackjewel, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday in the Southern District of West Virginia, court documents show.

The companies have about 1,100 employees in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia coal mines. They also employ about 600 workers at two coal mines in Wyoming. They cited at least $500 million in liabilities and inability to make July payroll in the filing.

The mayor of Cumberland, Ky., Charles Raleigh said he heard from two Revelation coal miners that the company shut down its mines near Cumberland for at least two weeks and perhaps longer, affecting an estimated 200 to 300 employees.

“It’s devastating for the community,” Raleigh said. “It’s a sad situation. I hate it for the miners.”

In an affidavit filed Monday, owner Jeff Hoops said the company has been struggling financially since 2012 with stricter regulatory oversight and more competition from natural gas and renewable energy.

“The entire industry either has gone through, or is currently going through, a period of financial distress and reorganization,” Hoops wrote.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration ranked Revelation Energy LLC/Blackjewel LLC the sixth largest coal producer in the country in 2017.

Despite financial struggles, the company has grown significantly in Kentucky in recent years as permits ballooned from 88 permits on about 88,000 acres to 240 permits on more than 331,000 acres, a U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement report shows.

Still, between 2017 and 2018, the company faced 134 notices of non-compliance with federal rules, including 259 violations of standard reclamation and environmental rules in Kentucky.

Two weeks ago another major coal company, Cambrian Coal, which oversees mining operations in Kentucky and Virginia also filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Cambrian said in a statement that it expects its mining operations to continue through the bankruptcy.

It similarly blamed its bankruptcy on increased regulatory oversight and changing market demands.

Coal production has dropped dramatically in eastern Kentucky from producing 68 million tons of coal in 2011 to 17 million tons last year, a Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet report shows. Annual employment was reduced from over 13,000 jobs to fewer than 4,000 over the same period.

200 businesses sign brief to extend job discrimination laws to LGBTQ people

July 2 (UPI) — More than 200 U.S. and international companies signed an amicus brief Tuesday calling on the Supreme Court to include sexual orientation and gender identity in federal civil rights law.

The 206 businesses, which collectively employ more than 7 million employees and comprise more than $5 trillion in revenue, stated that excluding sexual orientation and gender identity from the United States’ job discrimination laws “would undermine the nation’s business interests.”

“These businesses — which range across a wide variety of industries (and some of which are even competitors — share a common interest in equality because they know that ending discrimination in the workplace is good for business, employees and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

Among the companies that signed the bill are Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Bayer, Bank of America, Best Buy, Domino’s, Facebook, GM, Google, Hilton, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Mariott, Macy’s, Morgan Stanley and Nike.

Several LGBTQ rights groups filed the brief, which states LGBTQ people should be granted the equal opportunity to “earn a living, excel in their professions and provide for their families free from fear of unequal treatment.”

The brief was filed ahead of three civil rights cases the Supreme Court will hear upon returning in October.

The cases involve a New York skydiving instructor and a Georgia county government employee who said they were fired for being gay and a Michigan transgender woman who said she was fired from the funeral home where she worked after transitioning.

Lower courts ruled in favor of two of the cases, but ruled against the Georgia man, prompting a Supreme Court review.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion, but doesn’t include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Some states have passed their own laws prohibiting such discrimination, but 26 states allow businesses to fire a person solely due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the LGBTQ employees, such discrimination will become illegal under civil rights law.

Let Your Kids See You Doing What You Love

Photo: Getty Images

I love me some Mo Willems, so when Mo Willems gives me parenting advice, I take Mo Willems’ parenting advice. (If you don’t know who Mo Willems is, please go check out his wonderfully quirky Pigeon book series for kids, plus Knuffle Bunny, which is an all-time fave in my house.)

Willems was interviewed by Rachel Martin on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning and in addition to being as delightful as one would expect—on new challenges, he said, “I get to be really, really terrified in all kinds of new different ways”—he also had an important tip for parents who want to encourage their kid’s creative side: Let them see you being creative.

There is this day that happens in almost everybody’s life where they realize they’re not going to be a professional basketball player and they’re not going to be a professional cartoonist. And it’s a heartbreaking day, but kids still play basketball. And that’s because Dad is still playing basketball. If Dad was still drawing, kids would still be drawing. …

I think sometimes the greatest thing you can say to a kid if a kid says, “Hey Mom, will you do this for me?” or “Make me a sandwich,” or something — say, “Not now, I’m drawing.”

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It makes sense. If we want our kids to have good manners, we say “please” and “thank you.” If we want them to get off their screens, we put our phones down. If we want them to have empathy, we show ‘em how it’s done.

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On a rainy evening out recently, my husband pulled his car up to the entrance of the restaurant so our son and I didn’t have to run through the rain. “That’s so nice,” my son said, as he unbuckled his seatbelt. “You’ve inspired me! I’m going to do that for my wife and kids one day.”

They really are taking every cue from the adults in their lives, for better or worse, on how to live. And if you don’t believe me or Mo Willems, you cannot possibly argue with Mister Rogers:

So if you want to encourage your kid’s creativity, pull out that paper and pencil and start sketching.

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Prolonged pregnancies linked to greater risk of stillbirth

The longer a pregnancy continues past term, the higher the risk of stillbirth, according to a new study that analyzed 15 million pregnancies.

The highest risk of stillbirth occurred when pregnancies went beyond 41 weeks — then the odds rose by 87 percent, the British researchers said.

They stressed, however, that women who are 41 weeks’ pregnant should not be alarmed. That’s because the absolute risk of stillbirth is still very low — equivalent to one additional stillbirth for every 1,449 pregnancies, compared to delivering at 40 weeks.

The new study “is the largest study of its kind, and finally provides precise estimates of potential risks of stillbirth,” said study author Shakila Thangaratinam, from Queen Mary University in London.

“Now that we understand the extent to which stillbirth risks increase with each week of pregnancy, we should be incorporating this information in all discussions around delivery plans in pregnant women at term,” Thangaratinam suggested. “So, this is all about helping women make informed decisions on timing of delivery.”

The researchers also unearthed an unexpected finding.

“We were surprised to see how much poorer pregnancy outcomes were for black women — they were up to twice more likely to experience stillbirth than white women,” Thangaratinam added in a university news release. “Health care professionals need to take these added risks into account when developing care plans for these women.”

Of the roughly 3,000 stillbirths that occur in the United Kingdom each year, one-third appeared healthy at 37 weeks’ gestation, prior to their deaths, according to the researchers.

For the study, the investigators analyzed data on over 15 million pregnancies and nearly 18,000 stillbirths. The risk of stillbirth increased from 0.1 per 1,000 pregnancies at 37 weeks to 3.2 per 1,000 at 42 weeks.

Another jump in risk occurred between weeks 40 and 41, when the risk of stillbirth rose 64 percent. And it jumped by 87 percent between weeks 41 and 42, the findings showed.

“Prolonged pregnancy is a known risk factor for stillbirth and women are routinely offered induction of labor after 41 weeks’ gestation,” Thangaratinam explained. “This recommendation is based on evidence of increased stillbirth risk beyond 41 weeks. However, one in three women with a stillbirth at term loses her baby before this period. The magnitude of this risk is not routinely communicated due to a previous lack of robust evidence.”

Two U.S. obstetricians who weren’t involved in the study said the findings aren’t surprising, but neither should they cause undue alarm for pregnant women at or slightly beyond term.

“The important point to take away from this study is that there is a small increased risk of stillbirth, but the overall risk is still very small,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Dr. Mitchell Kramer directs obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y. He said that the data on a heightened risk to black women who carry past term is new and “certainly requires more study.”

But for all women, “studies like this let patients know the importance of delivering no later than 41 weeks,” Kramer said. He added that “induction of labor is safe and can decrease the likelihood of a catastrophic occurrence like stillbirth.”

The findings were published July 2 in the journal PLOS Medicine.

More information

The March of Dimes has more on stillbirth.

Copyright 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Suspected U.S. spies ‘due to be’ sentenced to death, Iran says

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for several individuals accused of spying for the United States, Iran’s spokesman for the judiciary announced Tuesday.

Suspected U.S. spies affiliated with the Iranian military are due to be sentenced to death because of the “severity of their crimes,” Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on state television.

Two other suspects who are also accused of spying for Washington but were not affiliated with the military have received “long” jail sentences, he added.

NBC News could not independently confirm the reports and the CIA said it had no comment. A State Department spokesperson said, “We cannot comment on matters of intelligence.”

The announcement comes as tensions between Tehran and Washington continue to simmer. Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported Monday that the country had breached the limit on the amount of enriched uranium it is permitted to hold under the 2015 nuclear deal. President Donald Trump, who pulled out of the nuclear deal last year, responded to Tehran’s decision Monday saying Iran was “playing with fire.”

Esmaili did not elaborate on when the suspected spies had been arrested or on how many there are in custody. Iran said last year that it had arrested “tens of spies” in state bodies, many of whom were dual nationals, according to Reuters.

In June, Tehran said it had executed a former contract employee of the defense ministry aerospace body on charges of spying for the CIA, according to Iran’s state-run MEHR News.

Esmaili added that Iranian intelligence services had identified U.S. spies operating around the globe and had informed its allies of suspected spies in their territories.

“One example is China who upon receiving the information from us arrested and executed the spies,” he added. NBC News reached out to the Chinese foreign ministry but did not immediately receive a response.

This is not the first time Iran has made such claims. In April, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said Iran had identified 290 CIA agents across different countries, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV.

Last year, Yahoo reported that from around 2009 to 2013, the U.S. intelligence community experienced intelligence failures originating in Iran that resulted in more than two dozen sources dying in China. NBC News could not independently confirm this report.

In February, a former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence agent who defected to Iran was charged with spying for the regime, revealing the identity of a U.S. intelligence officer and helping target her former colleagues, according to the Justice Department.

Arouzi reported from Tehran, Smith reported from London.

Abigail Williams , Dan De Luce, Ken Dilanian and Eric Baculinao contributed.

Gene mutation in brain development may be clue to autism

Mutations of a certain gene may contribute to autism by interfering with normal brain development, a new study suggests.

The gene, which is mutated in some people with autism, affects cells that set up the framework for the organization of a fetus’s developing cortex, according to the study published in Neuron.

Those cells, called radial glia, can be viewed like the framing timbers of a house under construction. If the house’s framing is off, then the rest of the construction will be affected.

“Each of the radial glia divide and make neurons and serve as the guide for where those neurons go,” said study coauthor Eva Anton, a professor at the University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center. “They enable the organization of neurons in the brain that underlies functional circuits.”

Disruption of this early organization, “may be one of the contributors causing some of the brain malformations associated with autism,” Anton said.

June 17, 201902:05

While previous research identified defects in the brains of people with autism through MRIs and autopsies, scientists haven’t fully figured out what mechanisms might explain how those malformations developed. Risk factors for autism are not entirely known, but causes may include a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors, including children who are born to older parents, research suggests.

Understanding how autism develops would help researchers who are looking for treatments and might also lead to ways to diagnose the condition earlier. About 1 in 40 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum, according to the latest government estimates.

Looking for an explanation for the observed abnormalities, Anton and his colleagues ran experiments in mice that were engineered to have mutations in a gene that is also found in human beings, called Memo1.

The cerebral cortex, which in humans is responsible for higher brain functions such as speech, perception, long-term memory and judgment, is the outer layer of the brain.

Memo1 mutations are associated with autism and epilepsy. This image shows a radial glial cell and its neuronal progeny, from control (green) and Memo1 deficient (purple) cortices.Pasko Rakic / Yale University

Normally, as the cortex is developing, brain cells called radial glia appear at the bottom of the structure in a regularly spaced pattern. The glia sprout fibers that grow from the bottom to the top of the cortex and they also create the nerve cells that will eventually populate this part of the brain. Once new nerve cells are born, they use the fibers to climb to the spots in the cortex where they are destined to reside.

When everything works correctly, the end result is six highly organized distinct layers of nerve cells.

When the Memo1 gene was mutated, the radial glia, instead of growing single fibers that went from the bottom to the top of the cortex, sprouted extra fibers that went willy-nilly in a variety of directions. That led to nerve cells sometimes ending up in the wrong place and layers that were disorganized.

While this mutation isn’t found in all people with autism, studying its effects “tells you where in development things might have gone wrong and could have led to brain malformations that could trigger autism,” Anton said. “Patients with mutations in Memo1 tend to have autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities and some have epilepsy.”

When does autism develop?

The new study shows how the mutation of a gene that has been linked to autism can lead to localized defects in the brain, said Dr. Nenad Sestan, a brain development specialist and a professor of neuroscience at the Yale University School of Medicine.

“These radial glia are the stem cells of the brain,” Sestan, who was not involved in the new study, said. “They create all the neurons in the cortex and guide them to their final destination.”

Genetic studies have focused on hundreds of genes that could be involved in the development of autism, said Alex Kolodkin, an expert in neural development and the Charles J. Homcy and Simeon G. Margolis professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “And a significant fraction end up as being involved,” he said.

The issue, he said, is now figuring out how to link the genes known to be associated with autism to the defects in brain wiring.

The research also “suggests that some of the disruptions that may contribute to autism could be happening earlier than we thought — in the first three months of fetal development,” Sestan said.

If You Want to Feel Happier, Don’t Bother Faking a Smile

Photo: Nathan Dumlao (Unsplash)

For some reason, certain people feel it is their obligation to tell others—usually women—to smile. Clearly, this is problematic for many reasons, but as someone on the receiving end of those comments pretty frequently, I especially hate when people attempt to use science to try and convince me to put on a happy face.

The exchange usually goes something like this:

Random intrusive person: Hey, you should smile!

Me: No, thank you.

RIP: If you don’t feel like smiling that’s even more of a reason to do it! Did you know that just by smiling—even if you’re faking it—it’ll make you feel happier?

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Me: [Some combination of side eye or a serious eye roll.]

Smiling science

These aggressive smile-pushers are usually unwittingly referring to a 1988 study which found that people who were forced to smile (by way of holding a pen between their teeth) thought that cartoons were funnier than did those who had to hold a pen between their lips (making their face appear sour or pouty). We won’t even get into the limitations of that study or the many subsequent research projects replicating it, but needless to say, somehow this idea that forcing yourself to smile would make you happier caught on.

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So this morning, when I read the results of a study that looked into 50 years of data on this subject—including more than 300 experiments—I smiled for real. After conducting that meta-analysis, the researchers found that if smiling does, in fact, make you happier, it’s only by a little bit. Specifically, their findings suggest that if 100 people smiled—and everything else among them was equal—only seven might expect to feel happier.

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One possible explanation for the studies that did find a correlation between smiling and happiness is that there are different types of smiles, Paula Niedenthal Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who was not involved in the research told NPR. There are sarcastic smiles, smirks, grins and pure happiness-inspired beams, and they all can indicate different emotions, she explained.

The other major finding of the new study is that while smiling (if you’re feeling it) is fine, forcing yourself to smile can actually have a negative impact on how you feel. In fact, another recent study found that people working in the service industry who have to plaster on a fake smile at work have a greater risk of drinking heavily when they get off their shift.

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Things that have a better chance of boosting your happiness

Unlike forcing yourself to smile, there are strategies that will actually help boost your happiness. These include spending time outside, living near a library, spending money to reclaim your time, practicing gratitude, exercising, sleeping well and several other methods far more effective than fake smiling. You can also try the 4Cs: connecting with others, contributing to society, coping with setbacks and cooking healthy food for yourself.

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The bottom line is, manipulating the muscles in your face probably won’t make you happy, and please, please stop telling other people to smile.

Average cost of air ambulance trip to hospital rose to nearly $40,000

An air ambulance might be your only chance to survive a medical emergency — but a new study reports it’s going to cost you.

The median charge of an air ambulance trip was $39,000 in 2016, about 60 percent more than the $24,000 charged just four years earlier, researchers found.

That amount is “more than half of the household income for the average American family in 2016,” said lead researcher Ge Bai. She is an associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

It’s also much more than the median $10,000 it typically costs the company to conduct a helicopter air ambulance flight, said the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).

Why then the big hike in price when a patient or insurer is presented with the bill?

The new research found that helicopter air ambulances tend to charge fees that are five times the base Medicare reimbursement rate, and mileage rates that are seven times the Medicare rate.

Meanwhile, ambulances that use planes or jets charged initial fees that are four times higher and mileage rates nearly 10 times higher than the Medicare rates.

It’s much cheaper to head to the ER by road — in comparison, ground ambulances charged fees that are 1.5 to three times higher than the Medicare rate, the researchers reported.

It can happen to you

Needing air ambulance transport might sound like a rare event that couldn’t happen to you, but more than 85 million Americans live in rural locales where a helicopter is their only chance of reaching a trauma center within an hour or less, according to the AAMS.

This is a prime example of “surprise billing,” since most of these air ambulances are not covered in-network by a person’s insurance, said Shawn Gremminger, senior director of federal relations at Families USA, a health consumer advocacy group.

“Surprise billing is one of those things that has been recognized by at least some consumer advocates that there’s a real problem here,” said Gremminger, who noted that such surprises usually spring up in a hospital’s emergency services, where a life is on the line and the options are limited.

In one recent case, 35-year-old radiologist Dr. Naveed Khan rolled an ATV while scooting along the Red River in Texas, according to Kaiser Health News. His left arm was mangled, and the hospital at Wichita Falls decided he needed immediate helicopter transport to a trauma center in Fort Worth if there was any chance of saving the arm.

The 108-mile flight cost $56,000, Kaiser Health News reported. Khan’s insurer paid about $12,000 of that, leaving him on the hook for the remaining $44,000.

Industry blames high charges on underpayment by Medicare, Medicaid

The AAMS says that underpayment by federal insurance programs dictates the higher prices charged to private insurance.

“The median cost of a helicopter air ambulance flight is $10,200,” the AAMS said in a statement. “On average, Medicare pays $5,900 per transport, Medicaid pays $3,500 per transport, and the average uninsured patient pays $350 per transport.”

“Because of the vast underpayments by Medicare and Medicaid, and in order to preserve the ability of air medical services to provide access to critical levels of health care for millions of Americans, rates are raised to cover the losses incurred by providing services to Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients,” the AAMS continued. “More than 70 percent of helicopter air ambulance patients are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or are uninsured.”

Khan told Kaiser Health News he was frustrated to learn that the price charged to him was far more than the actual cost of his flight.

“It’s unfair,” he said. “It’s random, it’s arbitrary. It’s whatever price they want to set. And to put that onto a person who’s already been through what I’ve been through, I hate to say it, but it’s cruel.”

Bai and her colleagues performed their cost analysis using Medicare data.

The investigators found that helicopters provided about 85 percent of air ambulance trips for Medicare patients in 2016.

The median charge ratio for helicopter transport — the charge divided by the rate Medicare pays — increased 55 percent between 2012 and 2016, while the median charge ratio increased 46 percent for airplane transport.

Reasons for soaring costs are murky

One problem is that no one is sure what’s behind the prices charged by the transport services, Bai said.

“They are not required to justify their charge,” Bai said of air ambulance providers. “Their charge is purely within their discretion. There are no regulatory forces to say you have to charge based on your cost.”

The AAMS said that the “first step in any solution to helicopter air ambulance sustainability is cost transparency.”

“Without knowing the costs for providing the service, how can government insurance programs like Medicare or Medicaid hope to provide adequate reimbursement for their beneficiaries?” the association said. “A formal cost reporting structure should be put in place, followed by Medicare rebasing their rates on the actual costs of providing lifesaving emergency medical care.”

The U.S. Senate also is considering a law, the Lower Health Care Costs Act, that would essentially ban surprise bills, Gremminger said.

“If the air ambulance is not in your network, they would not be able to bill the patient directly,” Gremminger said. “They could bill your insurer, and that insurer would have to pay the average in-network rate for air ambulance services in that geographical area.”

The new study was published July 1 in the journal Health Affairs.

More information

The Association of Air Medical Services has more about air ambulance transport costs.

Copyright 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

What to Do If Your Mac Won’t Update to Windows 10 Version 1903

It’s much, much easier to run Windows on a Mac than macOS on a Windows machine, but that doesn’t mean that this crazy hybrid environment is always going to be perfect. Microsoft recently released a bulletin that explains why you might be encountering some issues if you’re trying to update to the latest version of Windows 10 (1903) on a Boot Camp version of the operating system.

The short answer? Your Mac is really old. As Microsoft describes:

“Mac devices prior to 2012 or newer Mac devices with the older Apple Boot Camp or Windows Support Software drivers have a compatibilty [sic] hold in place and are unable to update to Windows 10, version 1903. Specifically, devices with MacHALDriver.sys dated September 24, 2011 01:57:09 or older in Windows\system32\drivers are affected.”

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You’ll know you’re experiencing this issue when you go to update Windows 10 and you see a notification that looks like this:

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To fix this, you have a handful of options. First, you’ll want to make sure that you’re running the latest version of macOS, which includes updates to Boot Camp. (If you’re not on macOS Mojave, it might be time to try giving that a shot. Or, if you’re daring, you can even try jumping up to macOS Catalina.) After that, consider reinstalling the Windows support software that comes with Boot Camp.

If that doesn’t fix the issue—and I suspect it won’t, given all the chatter I’ve seen about this problem so far—you might be able to get away with a clean installation of Windows 10 version 1903. Use Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool to build a new .ISO, and see if you can reinstall a new Boot Camp version of Windows that way. (You will, of course, want to back up all of your files before going down this route, as you’ll want to install a clean version of Windows 10.)

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Even then, this step might cause more issues than anything else.

Instead, what I recommend trying is grabbing an updated Mac HAL Driver—machaldriver.sys—from an unofficial source (mirror), booting Windows 10 into safe mode, and overwriting the old file with this new one. You’ll find the old machaldriver.sys in c:\Windows\System32\, and replacing it might require you to rename the original file to something like machaldriver.bak. You’ll then need to restart your system, wait for Windows 10 to boot up, and then copy the new file into your \System32\ directory.

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Otherwise, you can wait until late July for Microsoft to fix this issue, but that’s no fun. Replacing the .SYS file in question should get you going and allow you to use Windows 10 version 1903 without issue.

Terry Crews Just Confirmed ‘White Chicks 2’ Is Happening

Not every comedy is created equal and not all of them have what it takes to reach instant classic-level success, but White Chicks was definitely one of those comedies. It’s hard to believe but this past June marked the 15th anniversary of the iconic film, but it definitely does not feel like it’s already been 15 years since Marlon and Shawn Wayans played disgraced FBI agents forced to work undercover as ditzy rich white girls in order to protect two heiresses and restore their reputation. To this very day it’s impossible to hear A Thousand Miles without picturing Terry Crews singing along in his convertible.

During last weekend’s episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Terry Crews answered the question that’s been on everyone’s mind since White Chicks first premiered: will there be a sequel?

AND, FOLKS, IT SOUNDS LIKE IT’S A GO.


“You know what, I actually got with Shawn, and he was like man we doing it, we getting it going. I’ve stayed in shape just for that movie,” Crews says. “I’ve been working out for 15 years so we could do ‘White Chicks 2,’ y’all.”



And, because one can never watch this scene too many times, enjoy Terry Crews singing A Thousand Miles

Nationwide protests demand closure of migrant detention centers

July 2 (UPI) — Protesters across the United States on Tuesday called for an end to migrant detention centers, voicing outrage over reports of inhumane conditions.

Social justice organizations including MoveOn, United We Dream, American Friends Service Committee and Families Belong Together organized the protests against President Donald Trump‘s zero-tolerance policy leading to separation of families and detention of children.

MoveOn encouraged protesters to gather outside various U.S. senators’ and representatives’ offices to demand they close the detention facilities. More than 180 demonstrations were planned across the United States with the social media hashtag #CloseTheCamps. Other protest demands included withholding funds for detaining and deporting migrants and reuniting families, a MoveOn statement said.

Crowds gathered from San Francisco to Vermont, Florida to New York City.

Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier, a pediatrician who visited a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention center in Clint, Texas, submitted a court declaration likening the conditions to “torture facilities.” Migrant children are sleeping on concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day, with no access to soap or basic hygiene, she said.

The Trump administration argued in court that children in U.S. custody did not need basic hygiene products like toothbrushes and soap. Department of Justice lawyers claimed that forcing children to sleep on concrete floors in crowded cells met safety requirements.

Sevier, who interviewed 39 children, said there were “extreme cold temperatures,” “no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water or adequate food.”

“All 39 detainees had no access to hand-washing during their entire time in custody, including no hand-washing after bathroom use,” Sevier said.

“It’s not okay to let this go on for a minute longer while thousands of children and families are suffering,” Emma Einhorn, the campaign director for MoveOn, told Newsweek. “We’re calling on every member of Congress to use every power and every tool in their toolbox in order to make sure that we get relief to these families right now.”

“Horrifically, these conditions aren’t an accident,” MoveOn said. “They are the byproduct of an intentional strategy by the Trump administration to terrorize immigrant communities and criminalize immigration – – from imprisoning children in inhumane conditions to threatening widespread raids to break up families to covering up reports of immigrants dying in U.S. custody and abuses by ICE,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and CBP agents.

On Monday, Propublica published a report that roughly 9,500 current and former CBP members including a supervisor were part of a 3-year-old Facebook group that joked about deaths of migrants with apparent disregard for lives, and posted other derogatory, racist, xenophobic and sexist images and remarks.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who previously compared the facilities to concentration camps, also visited detention centers in Texas Monday. She tweeted that the mistreatment went beyond the kids to everyone.

“Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water and had told them to drink out of the toilets,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Monday. “This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.”

When asked about the inappropriate behavior, CBP superiors said “officers are under stress and act out sometimes,” she tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez was a among several lawmakers, reporters, doctors and lawyers who have visited the facilities and reported unsanitary conditions, lack of food, clothing, mattresses and sick people being denied medical care.

In sworn affidavits for a lawsuit, children recounted being separated from parents or guardians and being crowded in cells they called cages.

Hubble, Spitzer telescopes conduct chemical survey of mid-size exoplanet

July 2 (UPI) — For the first time, scientists, with the help of a pair of NASA space telescopes, have identified the chemical signature of the atmosphere surrounding a mid-sized exoplanet.

In size, mass and composition, Gliese 3470 b is like a cross between Earth and Neptune — a rocky core surrounded by a thick layer of gas. The exoplanet weighs 12.6 Earth masses. Neptune by comparison, weighs 17 Earth masses.

Mid-sized planets like Gliese 3470 b are common in other planetary systems, but are absent in our own solar system. Despite their ubiquity, researchers have been unable to confirm the chemical composition of a mini-Neptune exoplanet.

By characterizing the makeup of Gliese 3470 b’s atmosphere, scientists may be able to determine how medium-sized planets form.

“This is a big discovery from the planet-formation perspective. The planet orbits very close to the star and is far less massive than Jupiter — 318 times Earth’s mass — but has managed to accrete the primordial hydrogen/helium atmosphere that is largely ‘unpolluted’ by heavier elements,” Björn Benneke, researcher at the University of Montreal in Canada, said in a news release. “We don’t have anything like this in the solar system, and that’s what makes it striking.”

Using NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, scientists successfully measured changes in the spectral signature of the host star’s light as the planet passed across. By observing which wavelengths were absorbed as the planet made its transits, scientists confirmed the dominance of hydrogen and helium in the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

“For the first time we have a spectroscopic signature of such a world,” said Benneke. “We expected an atmosphere strongly enriched in heavier elements like oxygen and carbon, which are forming abundant water vapor and methane gas, similar to what we see on Neptune. Instead, we found an atmosphere that is so poor in heavy elements that its composition resembles the hydrogen/helium-rich composition of the sun.”

Unlike large planets like hot Jupiters, which scientists estimate form far away and then migrate closer to their host stars, researchers suggest Gliese 3470 b was formed close to its red dwarf sun.

Benneke estimates the alien world started as a rocky core and slowly accreted gas from the protoplanetary disk to form its atmosphere.

“We’re seeing an object that was able to accrete hydrogen from the protoplanetary disk but didn’t run away to become a hot Jupiter,” said Benneke. “This is an intriguing regime.”

It’s possible the disk of gas and dust dispersed before the sub-Neptune could get any bigger.

“The planet got stuck being a sub-Neptune,” said Benneke.

Have Your Kid Use Allowance for Needs As Well As Wants

Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill (Getty Images)

Many of us can remember the first time we used our money—our very own money—to purchase something we’ve been pining for. Maybe it was a Sharp boombox or a pair of roller skates or a see-through phone. We saved up our allowance and all those $2 bills that Aunt Tess would slip into her birthday cards and exchanged it for something we cherished. And it was great. “What a joy it is to be part of the spending population!” we thought.

For kids, this continues to be a necessary rite of passage, a way for them to feel the pride that can come with ownership. But why stop the lesson there? As parents, if we really want to teach our children the value of money, we should have them use some of their allowance for needs, not just wants. April Lewis-Parks, a mom and the director of education for Consolidated Credit, shares this advice with NBC News:

When deciding how much allowance to give, you’ll want to be sure that everyone understands what the allowance must cover. Is it school lunches? Snacks? Computer games? Extracurricular activities? For older children, you may want to add clothing or other bigger ticket items to the list. Always write it down initially so there are no misunderstandings later.

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This, of course, is less exciting than simply drawing a giant money meter with picture of an Airzooka blaster at the top. But it’s important. When kids must pay for a few necessities, they’re forced to make some hard decisions.

Say if a tween really wants that LEGO Harry Potter set, but they must also, well, eat lunch, they might decide to make their own sandwiches instead of buying school cafeteria lunches for a few weeks. (In your agreement, you might add in a disclaimer that they can’t just go without eating.) It’s a way for you to talk to them about budgeting, and in the process, let them learn some tough lessons. Sure, it’s a bummer that they must miss out on the baseball team outing because they’ve spent all their money on video games, but perhaps they’ll use that experience to make different choices next time.

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Choosing “needs” for your kid is a little tricky. You probably don’t want to include items that could lead to hefty consequences if they don’t have them—an SAT study guide or clean underwear, for instance. But you might include the day’s wifi passcode or birthday gifts for their friends. You should discuss needs versus wants and how to determine what falls into each category. Your definition of a need is probably a whole lot different than what they’ll hear in ads and from friends.

The point is to show them them that spending isn’t always “fun,” but there are ways to get creative so they’ll eventually have some money for the things they truly want.

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African American teens say they were handcuffed, attacked by K-9 at Alabama mall

The attorney for a group of five African Americans plans to file a lawsuit after the youths said they were racially profiled, handcuffed and one bitten by a dog while shopping at a mall in Mobile, Alabama.

Attorney L. Chris Stewart said at a news conference Monday that the youths, who range in age from 15 to 20, were at The Shoppes at Bel Air late last month to buy clothes for the Fourth of July holiday when they were approached by a mall security K-9 officer.

Stewart said the officer, who is employed by the security company Allied Universal, got out of his car with his hand on his gun and immediately went “into attack mode.”

The officer shoved “the boys against the wall” and handcuffed them as officers with the Mobile Police Department arrived to provide backup, Stewart said.

Allied Universal said in a statement that its security officer and an officer with the Mobile Police Department were responding to a report of “a fight in progress at the mall’s entrance.”

“We assisted the Mobile police officer in helping to detain an individual who was uncooperative and physically resisted police orders,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Stewart said the group was playing around and chasing each other “like every other teenager” does.

According to Stewart, when Cameron Robinson, 16, accused officers of racial profiling, the mall security officer grabbed him by the neck and slammed him on his head. The officer then let his K-9 out of the car and the dog attacked Robinson, biting him on the arm. Stewart said the teen also suffered a head injury from being slammed.

“The Mall at Bel Air tried to kill five young boys mentally, and one physically,” Stewart told reporters.

Attorney Justin Miller, who is also representing the teens, compared the use of the K-9 to when police officers used dogs to attack African Americans during the Civil Rights era.

“You have kids here with dogs being sicced on them like it’s 1957,” Miller said. “It’s ridiculous that this is still happening in 2019 in Mobile, Alabama. It’s ridiculous that it’s happening anywhere, but it’s definitely ridiculous to be happening in a mall in Mobile, Alabama.”

Robinson said he spent two days in the hospital.

“What scared me the most was when he forced me to the ground aggressively and let the dog out at me,” he said at Monday’s news conference.

A spokesperson for the police department told NBC News on Tuesday that they are conducting an investigation into the use of force because the mall security officer used his K-9. They will also review the mall’s security policy and procedures.

Robinson was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana after officers found weed in his pocket, the spokesperson said. Nathaniel Henderson, 20, who was chaperoning the group, was charged with disorderly conduct.

The other teenagers involved were released to their parents with petitions forthcoming, the spokesperson said.

Stewart said he wants the charges dropped and wants the mall security officer fired. In addition, Stewart said he wants the mall to discontinue its use of K-9 patrols. He plans on filing the lawsuit in state court this week.

“It’s outrageous that a mall would hire an attack dog to patrol a mall,” Stewart said.

A spokesperson for the mall did not immediately return a request for comment. According to the local media outlet Siouxland Proud, the mall added a K-9 officer in November 2018.

Are Hospitals Really More Dangerous in July?

July 1 marks the beginning of a new academic year at teaching hospitals. That means it’s the date when newly minted doctors begin their first jobs, and some people (often including hospital staff) will swear it’s the worst time to seek medical care.

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But the reality is more complex. Weekends and holidays are also riskier times for patients, and there’s a big ol’ holiday right in the first week of July (in the US, anyway). July also falls in the middle of summer, when people are driving more, pursuing outdoor activities, and subject to overheating. Mortality rates are higher in many hospitals in July, but doctor turnover isn’t necessarily responsible.

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The good news is that plenty of studies have looked for a “July effect” and failed to find it, for example in trauma patients and people undergoing cancer surgery and spinal surgery.

Since hospitals are aware of the potential for more errors in July, many give their new residents extra training and make sure that they have plenty of supervision when they’re new to the job. It’s also worth mentioning that new doctors aren’t stepping into a hospital for the first time; they’ve already spent plenty of time working in hospitals while in medical school, learning on the job.

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So, what does this mean for you and me? First, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the care that you or your loved one receives, and ask lots of questions to be sure that you understand what’s going on and why. The nurses caring for you will be the same ones who were there in June, and you can talk to them as well. 

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The July effect, if it exists, specifically applies to teaching hospitals—but one doctor who has studied the effect notes that “the quality of care people receive in teaching hospitals is generally better, so even if there is a decrease, you can still expect to receive great care.”

What Your Birth Order Says About You

Take this with a large grain of salt but Zulkey presents to us some witty analyses and generalizations of what personalities people might develop depending on the order in which they were born.

Of course, people’s personalities are built from a variety of factors though it may be influenced by one’s environment. Still, if you’ve been around for quite some time, you start to observe and realize certain similarities in such situations.

I’m an only child and I’ve heard a lot of stereotypes about it as well. I haven’t heard the one given on the list so it’s an interesting perspective.

(Image credit: Erdenebayar/Pixabay)

Cities in Comparison: The Extent of Urban Expansion Around the Globe

Many cities around the world are rapidly going through changes especially with urban developments. Keeping track of all that could be taxing and very challenging to do. Fortunately, the website Atlas of Urban Expansion has compiled data and statistics on 200 cities which they present in an interactive map.

This analysis examined the size of cities, their population densities and the proportion of built-up and open spaces in each city. The individual results page for each of the analyzed 200 global cities provides a fascinating insight into the urban composition of cities around the globe.

If you select to view an individual city’s results page you can view a number of maps and graphs visualizing the city’s population and its composition.

-via Google Maps Mania

(Image credit: Atlas of Urban Expansion)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Breaks Its Own Orbit Record in New Mission Phase

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was launched in order to collect sample data from the asteroid Bennu. It was launched on September 8, 2016 and on December 3, 2018, it had reached Bennu. In the course of the mission, the spacecraft was able to break the record for the closest orbit of a planetary body by a spacecraft.

The maneuver began the mission’s new phase, known as Orbital B, and placed the spacecraft in an orbit 680 meters (2,231 feet) above the surface of asteroid Bennu. The previous record—also set by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft—was approximately 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) above the surface.

Upon arrival at Bennu, the team observed particles ejecting into space from the asteroid’s surface. To better understand why this is occurring, the first two weeks of Orbital B will be devoted to observing these events by taking frequent images of the asteroid’s horizon.

The mission timeline will last until September 24, 2023 with the return of the spacecraft carrying the sample back to Earth.

(Image credit: NASA)

Study Says Period Pain Disrupts Productivity, Confirms What We Already Know

We know the menstrual cycle is part of a woman’s daily life so women are expected to just deal with it as they go their usual routine at work or school. Sure, some women have a higher pain tolerance than others but this study says it’s more disruptive than we think.

“Menstruation-related symptoms cause a great deal of lost productivity, and presenteeism is a bigger contributor to this than absenteeism,” the research paper said.

“There is an urgent need for more focus on the impact of these symptoms, especially in women aged under 21 years, for discussions of treatment options with women of all ages and, ideally, more flexibility for women who work or go to school.”

The biggest issue here is that though it’s natural for women, it doesn’t mean that they should just buckle up and endure the pain especially when it’s too unbearable. Employers should consider the situations women experience if they want them to be more productive and fulfilled at work.

(Image credit: Erol Ahmed/Unsplash)

Scientists are Trying To Understand Humor

This made me think hard, I admit. What makes a statement, an act, or even a meme a joke? Sometimes, we just seem to know and find it amusing, hence the laughter.

Psychologist, neuroscientist, and philosophers are trying to figure out which aspects of a joke or a situation makes them funny.

There are various theories, for example, a theory proposes that people find amusement in the misfortunes of others.

Perhaps the oldest theory of humor, which dates back to Plato and other ancient Greek philosophers, posits that people find humor in, and laugh at, earlier versions of themselves and the misfortunes of others because of feeling superior.

They also thought that laughter may have evolved to improve societal connections.

There are a lot of theories discussed, however, there are still unanswered questions such as:

Why does our appreciation of humor and enjoyment change depending on our mood or other situational conditions?”

The question of what humor is may be answered years from now. There are more theories explained in the article over at Scientific American.

Image: Wikimedia Commons