Posts made in May 2019

Women thrive without children or a spouse, says happiness expert

June 3, 2019

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: Unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population, based on the latest evidence. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading “happiness expert.”

But that’s only true for women; men benefit from a successful marriage and family.

Speaking at the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts in Hay-on Wye in Wales on Saturday, May 25, Paul Dolan, a professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, said that the latest evidence shows that traditional measures of social success—in particular, marriage and child-raising—do not correlate with happiness, The Guardian reports.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: If you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down”, he said. “You take [fewer] risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” he said.

Dolan’s latest book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compared levels of pleasure and misery in unmarried, married, divorced, separated, and widowed individuals.

Despite the benefits of a single, childless lifestyle for women, Dolan said that the existing narrative that marriage and children were signs of success meant that the stigma could lead some single women to feel unhappy.

“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children: ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”

Research contact: @guardian

The top ten candy treats at Sweets & Snacks Expo

June 3, 2019

Millennials are being credited for some of the most talked about trends at Sweets & Snacks Expo, May 21-23 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, The Chicago Tribune’s Louisa Chu reports.

She tells us that the buzziest products at the event—hosted by the National Confectioners Association and formerly known as the Candy Show—generated conversations ranging from multisensorial experiences, to better-for-you shareables, to Millennial pink chocolate.

The winner of the Best in Show Award for Innovation was the Trolli Sour Crunchy Crawlers by Ferrara Candy, made in Bellwood, west of Chicago.  Look for the colorful watermelon and strawberry, orange and raspberry, plus cherry and lemon flavor combinations in stores this December.

 “The Sour Crunchy Crawlers are a take on our traditional Sour Brite Crawlers, but we added a texture differential with the crunchy coating,” said Tessa Porter, director of Research and Development for the company. Translation? They’re crunchy coated candy shells on the outside and gummy on the inside, explained Porter.

Filling out the rest of the top ten, according to the Tribune’s Chu, are the following:

  • Ruby chocolate by Barry Callebaut: This pink chocolate tastes exactly like berries infused into white chocolate, but it’s not. Billed as the new fourth chocolate (after white, milk, and dark), ruby chocolate is made from ruby cocoa beans through processing created by Barry Callebaut of Zurich, Switzerland. It’s been available to professionals for a few years—and is, perhaps, best-known to consumers in the form of Kit Kats made in Asia. The product is launching widely soon.
  • Ketchup with mustard and pickle potato chips by Luke’s Organic: These are crunchy kettle chips with all the flavors of a McDonald’s hamburger. Inspired by Canadian ketchup potato chips, but thoroughly American, this snack was a sleeper hit at the show. Look for it in stores later this month.
  • Smokehouse sausage sticks by Bridgford Foods: These snappy, spicy meat snacks are available in three flavors: original, teriyaki, and hot ‘n’ spicy.
  • Cacao selection chocolate by Ritter Sport: The German chocolate company with a cult following has introduced single-origin chocolate bars, in this case each one made with cacao beans from one specific country: silky smooth dark milk from Ghana, a fine dark from Nicaragua, and an intense dark from Peru. Plus, new to this country, look for the lovely summer seasonal strawberry mousse and a year-round dark chocolate with almond and orange.
  • Extreme BeanBoozled jelly beans by Jelly Belly: Just the “bad” flavors in one box. Now, instead of wondering if you’re getting peach or barf, there’s just the latter; plus booger, canned dog food, dead fish, dirty dishwater, rotten egg, skunk spray, stinky socks, spoiled milk and stink bug.
  • Atomz by Toxic Waste Candy: Are Millennials killing sour candy? The character known as Professor Sauernoggin explained that the small crisp and chewy balls are less extreme than their so-called “hazardously sour” classic candies, packaged in cute little leaking toxic waste barrels. Possibly to appeal to an aging palate?
  • Crunchy Strawberry Pocky by Glico: Pocky fans should prepare for a new flavor this summer with these skinny biscuits dipped in tart and creamy strawberry coating and bits of real strawberry. What seems to be freeze-dried bits of fruit add a nice tart flavor and texture, that is if collectors can bear to open their boxes.
  • Root Beer Float Peeps by Just Born: Ice cream soda in a marshmallow. This flavor was available as a limited edition this Easter, but only at Kroger stores. Next year, you can find it everywhere.
  • Kit Kat Mint + Dark Chocolate Duos: In response to Kit Kat culture—primarily in Japan, where dozens of flavors, including green tea can be found year-round and seasonal flavors like cherry blossom sell out immediately—we’re finally getting one of our own. The pale, mint green cream over dark chocolate layers looks exciting, but tastes familiar.

Research contact: @louisachu

Elizabeth Warren has a plan: She wants to pass a law clarifying that presidents can be indicted

June 3, 2019

Would Special Counsel Robert Mueller have charged President Donald Trump with a crime if Justice Department policy had not prevented him from doing so? On Friday, May 31, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said the answer was “yes,” according to a report by The New York Times.

But Senator Warren—who is among the more than 20 party hopefuls seeking the nomination for president—predictably enough, has a plan for that.

She has proposed legislation aimed at ensuring that “no President is above the law.” Indeed, in a story posted on Medium, she has made her vision clear: “If Donald Trump were anyone other than the president of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted …. Mueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew. He’s referring President Trump for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act.”

Now, Warren has called on Congress to pass a law clarifying that the DOJ can, in fact, indict the president of the United States, while also renewing her call to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Times reports.

“But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime,” she said. “Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I’m president, I’ll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.”

This is not a new stand for Senator Warren, who declared herself in favor of impeachment about a day after the Mueller report was released on April 18. She also was among several candidates who leveled sharp criticism at Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the report’s release, the news outlet noted.

She renewed her criticism of Barr on May 31, saying he had “disgraced himself by acting like Trump’s personal defense attorney” while also pledging to “appoint an Attorney General who will protect the rule of law.”

She reminded Americans, “No matter what he may think, Donald Trump is not a King. No President is. And our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable.”

Research contact: @SenWarren

Postpartum support: It takes a village—or a ‘rubber corset’

May 31, 2019

Recently, a photo surfaced on Jessica Simpson’s Instagram page of the singer—who gave birth to her third child, daughter Birdie May Johnson, a little less than two months ago—relying on a novel “support system,” as she starts to get back into shape.

In the post, Women’s Health reports, Jessica shares a picture of herself hitting the street to exercise wearing black leggings, a black top, and something else that’s apparently not visible onscreen: a corset.

 “Just stretching it out in my rubber corset,” Jess captions the photo, adding, “The joys of postpartum.”

In my what? This looks like something we would read about on Goop!

The rubber corset to which Jessica refers is most likely a type of postpartum or belly wrap—a product that, for generations, women have worn for support after childbirth, according to What To Expect.

Such wraps not only offer new moms the opportunity to look a little more “streamlined” after the birthing experience, but they also serve a medical purpose: to help support the muscles and abdominal organs postpartum, according to What To Expect.

In fact, a study conducted in 2010 and published in Physiotherapy Canada found that postpartum wrapping could help women walk farther and get back on their feet sooner. Another study, published in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, found that some women who wrapped themselves experienced less pain and bleeding after having a C-section.

Postpartum wraps come in all kinds of materials and sizes: As What To Expect notes, they can be made of an elastic material that’s closed with Velcro, or they might be made of latex or other stiff materials, like the one Jess wears in her photo. The amount of compression a wrap provides can vary, too: While some are gentle, others can aggressively cinch the waist, with the purpose of changing its appearance (in Kardashian fashion).

A word to the wise:  Get a thumbs-up from your doctor before wearing any such gear—and to make sure the device is also approved for pregnant women (i.e., not just a standard corset to wear underneath formal wear).

Research contact: @WomensHealthMag

Nearly 70% of law firms plan to increase first-year associate hiring within next 12 months

May 31, 2019

In the Age of Trump, lawyers are hot—and law firms are hiring again. In a survey by Robert Half Legal  released on May 30, fully 68% of lawyers said their firms plan to increase the number of positions available for first-year associates within the next year—more than triple the number of lawyers who cited similar hiring plans in the same survey in 2017.

Of those who said they plan to on-board more associates, 14% plan to increase hiring significantly, while 54% said they plan to increase somewhat, and 27% said they neither plan an increase nor a decrease. Just 1% of respondents indicated that their firms would decrease the number of first-year associates.

Beyond expanding job offers to recent law school graduates, law firms are re-assessing starting salaries for those candidates. Nearly two-thirds (63%) believe their firm should raise first-year remuneration.

“While law firms don’t expect newly minted associates to possess in-depth industry knowledge, they do seek lawyers with advanced tech skills, business acumen, and collaboration abilities,” comments Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Highlighting in-demand attributes on their resumes—along with scholastic accomplishments; and legal experience gleaned through internships, pro bono activities and project work—helps candidates stand out to potential employers.”

Sullivan added that it’s important for applicants to take a strategic approach when researching legal positions. “Aside from responding to online postings, law school graduates can enhance their job search efforts by attending legal conferences, workshops, and events to network and learn of new leads.”

The online survey was developed by Robert Half Legal and conducted by a leading independent research firm. It is based on responses from more than 175 lawyers in the United States and Canada who work full-time at law firms with 20 or more employees.

Research contact: @RobertHalfLegal

Trump: ‘I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected’

May 31, 2019

President Donald Trump veered off from his “No collusion!” tweets on May 30 to refer to Russia President Vladimir Putin’s admitted preference for his candidacy during the 2016 U.S. elections, Vox reports.

The morning after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s media event—at which he resigned from the Department of Justice and took the opportunity to inform Americans that, if he had thought the president was innocent of obstruction, he would have said so—Trump engaged in one of his rambling tweetstorms.

“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” the president tweeted on May 30. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.”

In other words, Vox notes, Trump was saying, “The Kremlin tried to help me win, but I didn’t coordinate with them.”

Just an hour later, however, he told reporters outside the White House that Russia didn’t have anything to do with helping him win, contradicting his own tweet. “I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all,” the president said.

Still, the tweet was the first time that Trump implied that Russia had facilitated his win in 2016. He repeatedly has supported the story that the Kremlin did not aim to sway the election in his favor.

“I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said alongside the Russian leader at their summit in Helsinki last July.

Research contact: @voxdotcom

Too close for comfort? Most Americans prefer a ‘buffer zone” from family, in-laws

May 30, 2019

How close are you to your family—not only emotionally, but physically?  A new survey of 2,000 U.S. adults sponsored by Ally Home has found that, while you can’t choose your family, you can choose how nearby you live to them.

Indeed, consumers across all age demographics say keeping some healthy boundaries between where they live and where parents and in-laws are based makes for a happier family relationship.  

According to the survey respondents, a little distance between families goes a long way. More than half (57%) say there should be at least some driving distance between where their parents and/or in-laws live and their own homes. An even greater percentage of Gen Z (63%) and Millennial respondents (62%) believe some distance is healthy. Specifically, most respondents (27%) homed in on between 15 minutes and 45 minutes as the ideal distance range 

Among the other findings of the survey on preferences in family geography and relationships are the following:

  • Call first before popping in! More than one-third of respondents (37%) agree that family should not live close enough to just “pop in” and say hi. An even greater number of Millennials (42%) say they don’t like unannounced drop-ins.
  • Adults need their own space. Almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) say that, while they love their adult children, they don’t want them living with them. Millennials don’t like how things are trending, either. They worry more than any other age group that, at some point, they will have their adult children, and their parents or in-laws living with them (33% vs. 21% of the general population).
  • My family’s okay, but yours can keep their distance. When asked about their preferences for which family members could live nearby, respondents said my siblings (30%), my adult children (30%), my parents (29%), my in-law parents (25%), or my in-law siblings (24%).

The survey also presented respondents with a number of stress points and asked which ones ranked top when dealing with family. The top five responses included:

  1. Road trip with parents or in-laws, but no radio (52%),
  2. Dealing with a father or father-in-law whose political views oppose your own (40%),
  3. Living within five minutes of parents or in-laws (38%),
  4. Cooking a complicated meal for a mother or mother-in-law (31%), or
  5. Hosting family for the holidays (27%).

The online survey was conducted by Regina Corso Consulting on behalf of Ally Financial between April 17 and April 22.

Research contact: Andrea.Puchalsky@ally.com

Apple snags asthma tracker Tueo for its third healthcare acquisition since 2016

May 30, 2019

In its latest move to edge deeper into the healthcare sector , Apple has snagged Redwood City, California-based digital startup Tueo Health, which helps parents track their children’s asthma symptoms when they are in bed at night using an under-the-mattress sensor that signals a mobile app to report problems, Business Insider reports.

According to the news outlet,  Apple likely was eyeing the digital asthma management company because its product had a good chance of taking off: The global intelligent asthma monitoring market is expected to hit $655 million by 2025—a huge leap from its $20 million valuation in 2017, according to Allied Market Research.

This represents Apple’s third healthcare acquisition since 2016—including Beddit and Gliimpse.

Acquired by Apple in May 2017 and founded in October 2006, Beddit is a Finnish-based technology company that has  developed a device that keeps tabs of users’ movement while they’re asleep. Apple likely tapped sleep tracking a growth pillar given that 45% of US adults in 2017 “could imagine” using a sleep tracker, Business Insider said.

Founded in 2013 and purchased by Apple in August 2016, Gliimpse—which targets patients with chronic conditions—offers a consumer-facing platform to combine a user’s personal health data from labs, hospitals, and pharmacies into one shareable report. Apple bought Gliimpse to help turn the iPhone into a repository for consumers’ medical records, helping Apple move into the health records market, per CNBC.

Apple could use all three of these acquisitions to forge new ties with health organizations that want access to valuable sleep data. For example, If Apple can integrate Tueo Health’s solution into its smartphone-based personal medical records hub Health Records, pediatric-focused firms might want to join the horde of hospitals that’ve been flocking to implement it. The tech could provide a fuller picture of how patients are faring at night, which could steer doctors toward the most effective treatment options, Business Insider reports.

This could be a balm to hospitals that are likely racing to get a handle on asthma, which costs the nation $56 billion annually: Over 8% of children—or 6 million total in the United States suffer from asthma, and that number will likely climb, per the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

Research contact: @businessinsider

Mueller: ‘No confidence’ that Trump didn’t commit obstruction of justice

May 30, 2019

If the House Judiciary Committee wants Robert Mueller to testify about his investigative report in front of live cameras and the American public, the panel will have to subpoena him, the special counsel made clear at a news conference on May 29.

He also made it abundantly clear that the investigative team could not exonerate President Donald Trump of criminal obstruction of justice —but also could not charge him with it under Department of Justice rules.

Appearing at an 11 a.m. media event staged at the DoJ, Mueller announced that he was wrapping up the investigation, closing the Special Counsel’s Office, and resigning from the agency to return to private life.

During his brief statement, Mueller said that he had nothing to add to what had been written in the 448-page report—and confirmed two conclusions of his team’s investigation: First, he said that there was interference by a foreign enemy in the 2016 election, “As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.

“The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber-techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks,” Mueller noted, adding, “ The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. And at the same time as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.”

Second, he addressed obstruction of justice by the Executive Office, commenting, “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

The second volume of the report describes the results and analysis of the special counsel’s obstruction of justice investigation involving the president.

Mueller then went on to confirm what President Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr, and the G.O.P. have denied to date: “As set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

He said that, although the investigative team could not clear Trump of obstruction of justice, they also could not charge him with a federal crime while he is in office. “That is unconstitutional,” Mueller explained.” Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited.”

Indeed, the special counsel said, “Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider … Beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially—it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”

Mueller concluded by saying, “I will … [reiterate] the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple systemic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Research contact: @RepJerryNadler

Scientists link anxiety disorders to seasonal allergies

May 29, 2019

Seasonal allergies to different types of grass or tree pollen are more common in people with anxiety disorders, while patients with depression are more likely to suffer from perennial allergies triggered by animal dander or dust mites. These are the findings of a recent study conducted at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), News-Medical.net reports.

Conversely, food and drug allergies do not seem to be triggered by psychosocial disorders.

The research team—led by Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, director of the University Center for Health Sciences at University Hospital Augsburg (UNIKA-T) and professor of Environmental Medicine at TUM— interviewed over 1,700 people from the Augsburg area of Germany about their allergies. The study respondents answered questions both about their allergies and about their psychological health. The focus here was on depression, generalized anxiety disorders—which affect all aspects of daily life—and acute mental stress.

About one- quarter of those surveyed (27.4%) stated that they suffered from allergies, with 7.7% reporting perennial; 6.1%, seasonal; and 13.6%, other forms of allergic reactions.

The researchers found that people with generalized anxiety disorders also suffered more often from pollen allergies, but not from year-round allergies. Statistically, these were actually less frequent in the group of anxiety sufferers. A possible explanation for this might be that people with persistent allergies develop different coping strategies to deal with stress, which protect them from anxiety disorders.

On the other hand, there was a positive correlation between perennial allergies and depression or depressive episodes.

However, the structure of the study did not allow for clarification of whether allergies increase susceptibility to depression or whether depression itself is a risk factor for allergies. What surprised the research team was the fact that psychological factors had little, if any, influence on the occurrence of food and drug allergies.

Possible mitigating factors that could compromise causal relationships were statistically excluded in this study. These included age, smoking/non-smoking status, gender, and family predispositions (e.g. to allergic asthma).

According to Professor Traidl-Hoffmann, what this study particularly underscores is the importance of devoting sufficient time to patients. This is the only way to complement clinical evaluations with psychosocial aspects to support an integrated therapeutic approach.

The study has been published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology.

Research contact: @TU_Muenchen