Breathe Out. The Battle Between Bacteria and Antibiotics. Global Gentrification.


“A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement” – Jess C. Scott

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” – Winston S. Churchill


The Battle Between Bacteria and Antibiotics, and How Humans Are Helping Bacteria: Today, drug-resistant infections kill more than half a million people annually. Left unchecked, it is estimated such infections could kill millions by 2050. A panel of experts determined that only about 13% of people complaining of a sore throat should get antibiotics, but doctors were prescribing them to 59% of their patients. Authors of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences call for a “radical rethinking of policies to reduce antibiotic consumption” and advocate for “major investments to boost hygiene, sanitation, and vaccinations in countries where antibiotic use is rocketing.”


A Citizenship Census Question Divides Americans: The US Commerce Department will restore a question on its 2020 census that hasn’t been used in almost 70 years. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday the Justice Department requested that the census ask who is a citizen in order to help determine possible violations of the Voting Rights Act. Critics pushed back immediately, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who said his state would sue the Trump administration over its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. And Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) said she would introduce legislation to stop the question from being included.

NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang explained the importance of obtaining accurate population numbers: “All census numbers are used to reapportion seats in Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, and also these numbers have an impact on how billions of dollars are distributed around the country … from the federal level all the way down to the local level of how school districts figure out how to divide up resources. So this could have a really big impact if immigrants are not participating in the census in 2020.”


– A 25-year-old self-radicalized British supporter of the Islamic State, working as a teacher in a small, private Islamic school in east London, tried grooming 110 children to become an “army” of jihadists and carry out deadly attacks across London. Umar Haque showed beheading videos to the children and made them role-play attacking police officers. The 25 years in jail he received is nothing compared to the lifetime of nightmares his victims will suffer. (Reuters)

– A fire that began on an upper floor of a packed leisure center in Kemerovo, Siberia on Sunday has killed 64 people, including 41 children. Dozens are still missing. Investigators said the fire alarm system had been turned off, and exits were blocked. Four people have been charged, and a guard from a private security firm was detained. (BBC)

– NATO will expel seven Russian diplomats, joining the 26 nations already responding to what was alleged to be a Kremlin-ordered poisoning attack of a former Russian spy on British soil.  (BBC)

– Canada’s merit-based immigration system has been praised as a role model for favoring applicants with education, work experience, and language proficiency. Unfortunately, any employer needing blue-color or lower-skilled workers is going begging, laments Calgary-area pig farmer Ray Price. He can’t find enough non-professional employees to expand his pork products business. (WSJ)

– John Paul Stevens was on the Supreme Court in 2008 when justices in the majority overturned long-settled precedent to rule in favor of an individual’s right to bear arms. Now retired, Stevens makes a compelling and heartfelt argument in The New York Times for overturning the Second Amendment. (NYT)


Global Gentrification: It’s a phenomenon as old as mankind; newcomers move in and spruce up the place, dislodging less well-heeled inhabitants who must then move farther out. Whether covering cave floors with mammoth hides or renovating rundown buildings in sleepy towns outside London and Paris, gentrification happens. It’s bad news, good news. Rents rise with refurbishing, pricing many out of the market, but enticing deeper pockets to create jobs and upgrade amenities. It’s happening everywhere. When what once was an affordable, neighboring locale becomes gentrified, and the local infrastructure doesn’t keep up with a rising population and more expensive trends, many people find their only choice is to move farther away, resulting in longer commutes or even job losses.

Just consider the lovely town of Bordeaux, a port city in southwestern France, heart of the wine-growing country. The lifestyle was slower-paced and affordable, but when a new high speed train began operating last summer, connecting Bordeaux with the capital in about two hours, wealthy Parisians began moving in en masse. Now Bordeaux is one of France’s most expensive cities for older apartments, and lower-priced replacement housing isn’t being built. One young woman who was forced to move to a village 26 km away, losing her job in the process, summed it up: “I see Bordeaux changing and not for the better. The population keeps increasing, but not the infrastructure. The traffic is a nightmare and the rents have gone wild. It’s such a shame because this city was so nice to live in before.”


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– Every few years a new diet fad strikes: Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, etc … don’t waste your time on them. Here’s what researchers know about dieting: Use the one that sticks, and “eating fruits and vegetables and consuming less processed food is generally recommended no matter which diet you try.” Talk about boring but sound advice. (NYT)

– Speaking of dieting, where does the fat go when one loses it? Perhaps it turns into muscle or leaves the body via the colon? Well, turns out the “correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat. If you lose 10 pounds of fat, precisely 8.4 pounds comes out through your lungs and the remaining 1.6 pounds turns into water. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled.” (CNN)

– Over the past few years one of the most discussed topics in human health has been the “human microbiome: why our microbes could be key to our health.” And how a “plethora of conditions, from obesity to anxiety, appear to be linked to the microbes inside us.” (The Guardian)

– Growing up, parents, teachers, and even kids would throw around the term ADHD like it was candy. In the United States, “at least 9 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5 percent. How has the epidemic of ADHD—firmly established in the U.S.—almost completely passed over children in France?” The United States can and should learn from the French on this issue. (Psychology Today)

– Speaking of children, why is is that we have childhood amnesia where “people’s memories stretch no farther than age three and a half. Everything before then is a dark abyss?” (Nautilus)

– Arizona’s governor says Uber cannot run its self-driving vehicle tests in the state after one of Uber’s vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian. Is this the first death directly caused by a robot? Or perhaps a better question is: How many more deaths might be caused by artificial intelligence and robots? (BBC)


The greatest security threat to the United States might not be Russian hackers, a more muscular China, or terrorists. As Politico reported last month, “fat, unhealthy Americans threaten Trump’s defense surge: Nearly three-quarters of Americans age 17 to 24 are ineligible for the military due to obesity, other health problems, criminal backgrounds, or lack of education.” Maybe this will be the real reason we end up using robots in war: There are just too few able-bodied Americans for the next war. And if one party decides to use robots, then the other side will asymmetrically resort to hacking/cyberwarfare.

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