Posts made in November 2019

Seniors let it all hang out to show their ‘rude health’ in nude 2020 calendar

November 21, 2019

You are only as old as you feel—and the Elders Voice charity in Kensal Green, London, is showcasing the health and vitality of local seniors in a 2020 calendar with a difference.

Indeed, according a November 19 report by the UK’s Daily Star, the nonprofit—which helps pensioners to stay safe, secure, and independent in their own homes for as long as possible—asked senior models for next year’s calendar to pose naked to break the stigma attached to growing old.

Richard Downes (pictured above dancing with his spouse) decided to get involved in the production of the calendar after his wife, Jean Bayliss, persuaded him to take part.

He told the news outlet, “I only really did it because my wife asked me to. She persuaded me it would be fun, and it would probably be the only time I ever did it. It helped that we have both had a long-term relationship with Elders Voice and feel supportive of the organization.

“Other people may have been more concerned to say, ‘Aye! This is me, I’m 63 and this is how good I look and how great my life is.’

Downes added, “I don’t think anyone was snubbing their nose to the idea of the body beautiful and how we may be excluded from that imagery but maybe some of us were challenging that idea and saying look we’re here, we’re fit, we’re in rude health.

Downes and Bayliss also support the need for nudity:  “There is certainly a wide gap being presented in the media between the well-to-do elderly and the lonely, isolated, pathetic bag of bones with nobody to look out for them. I think as a group we responded to that binary choice quite well and put ourselves forward as individuals, warts ‘n’ all.

“It was easy to pose in the nude both on my own and with others,” Downes told the Daily Star. “We were having a fun day and were supportive of each other. Though, having said that, it’s a bit surprising that it was so easy. I guess I have grown accustomed to my body and have less hang-ups now than when I was a gawky gangly kid.”

Ten people, ranging in age from 45 to 84, took part in the photo shoot.

In Rude Health is available to buy from eBay for £15.00 (US$19.40), including postage to a UK address. The charity says that all funds raised from the sales of the calendars will “help us to continue to offer our Older People’s Activity and Exercise Programme and Dementia Care.”

Research contact: @Elders_Voice

A new kind of ‘Goop’: Marie Kondo’s new website sells highly curated items that ‘spark joy’

November 21, 2019

Just as actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, sells curated—and expensive—items in a “shop of clean beauty, fashion, and home”  (think: Luxe Brass Fire Extinguisher for $250), now decluttering expert Marie Kondo is producing a lifestyle platform that offers pricey products that will “spark joy” (think: cement live edge bowl for $145).

In her best-selling book and popular Netflix series, both entitled, Tidying Up With Marie Kondothe Japanese organizing consultant advises clients to clean up their homes (and, by extension, their lives) by decluttering and getting rid of excess junk so that they can be happier and healthier overall.

But isn’t buying new stuff at an online store just a way to clutter up again? It seems counter-intuitive.

“The shop came about because I always like to share how I tidy every day, and in the process of doing that, I always ask myself, ‘Well, why do we tidy in the first place?’ The answer is to live a life that sparks joy,” Kondo told Fortune Magazine in a recent interview.

Kondo explained that she received a lot of queries and feedback from fans about the products she uses  on an everyday basis, and this is meant to be reflected in the catalog of items.

“When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising,” is just one of the Kondo quotes serving as taglines for the collection.

The collection will launch with approximately 150 items, ranging in price from $10 to $300, applying to various situations that one might encounter around the home and organized by activity—dinner parties, bathing routines, aromatherapy, and purification rituals. Kondo helps illustrate the concept of a purification ritual with a tuning fork ($50)—among her favorite products included in the collection—which she uses to purify the air in her home

Among Kondo’s other favorite items are incense and a donabe (a $150 Japanese clay pot described by Bon Appetit  magazine as a “one-pot wonder”), which she uses on a daily basis. As Kondo explains, it’s one of the oldest types of cooking vessels in Japan; and in the wintertime, it’s Japanese tradition to have a “donabe party,” at which hosts have their friends and family over, make a big pot with vegetables and tofu, and share it over conversation.

Each item was chosen for its ability to enhance the owner’s daily rituals and inspire a joyful lifestyle. They come from brands deemed to specialize in simple, elegant design across categories, including kitchenware, decor, bath essentials, and aromatherapy. And of course, there are be tidying products, including trays, shelves, and baskets.

“They are ‘tidy chic’ because even your dustpan should spark joy,” notes a spokesperson for the brand.

Arguably, it may seem counterintuitive that the next step for KonMari is encouraging followers to go out and buy more stuff, especially given the fervor to start spring cleaning in midwinter earlier this year.

“That’s something we carefully considered, of course,” Kondo replies. “For me, the emphasis is not on trying to throw out as much as possible but to choose what sparks joy for you. The ultimate goal with my method is for people to really hone their sensitivity to what sparks joy for them so they can make a considered, cautious purchase.”

In regards to how this should work, Kondo advises that you first finish tidying. Once you’ve done that, you might then consider looking at the shop. “It’s not my intention at all to encourage you to buy something that is redundant to you,” Kondo explains.

The collection will went live online on Monday, November 18, via KonMari.com, with new products expected to be added monthly.

Kondo offers a closing piece of advice: “I know it’s an odd thing for a founder to say—they’re lovely products—but don’t overbuy! Tidy first, and then consider the products.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Sondland: ‘Everyone was in the loop’ and ‘followed Trump’s orders,’ pressed for a ‘quid pro quo’

November 21, 2019

The team on the ground in Ukraine was following President Donald Trump’s orders, Ambassador Gordon Sondland said in no uncertain terms in his dramatic testimony in the impeachment inquiry on November 20. And those orders included working with the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to extract a quid pro quo from the new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Specifically, the United States would provide a meeting with Trump in the White House and close to $400 million in military aid in exchange for a public announcement by Zelensky on CNN that Ukraine would investigate the 2016 election, the energy company Burisma; and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, along with his son Hunter.

Indeed, Ambassador Gordon said in his opening statement, obtained by The New York Times, that the first thing his interlocutors should know is that, “Secretary [of Energy Rick] Perry, Ambassador [Kurt] Volker, and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.”

“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani, “Sondland noted. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that, if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders.”

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ ” Sondland said in sworn testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the European Union—described by The Washington Post as “a longtime Republican donor who gave $1 million to the presidential inaugural committee and was confirmed by the Republican Senate”—gave the House Intelligence Committee an account of the president’s culpability in leveraging the power of the Oval Office for his own political gain.

According to the Post’s report, Democrats said Sondland’s testimony pulled back the curtain on the extent of the Ukraine pressure campaign—implicating not just the president but Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

“We now can see the veneer has been torn away,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters during a break in the testimony, arguing that the situation as described by Sondland “goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”

“I think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry,” he added.

Sondland said “there was no secret” about the work within a much larger circle of Trump’s Cabinet. Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said

Digging a deeper hole for the secretary of state to climb out of, Sondland said that Pompeo was involved at several points, including the key point of withholding security assistance—and that he “was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing.”

The ambassador said that he was never privy to the White House meetings where the aid was frozen—but that he became convinced it was being held up as leverage and thought that was inappropriate, the Post said.

“In the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, I came to the conclusion that the aid, like the White House visit, was jeopardized,” Sondland said. “My belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention” to launch the investigations Trump wanted, “then the hold on military aid would be lifted.”

Following the testimony, in brief remarks to reporters outside the White House, Trump distanced himself from Sondland, saying, “This is not a man I know well.” He noted that Sondland testified that the president had denied to him there was a quid pro quo.

“That means it’s all over,” Trump said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Taking the ‘lawn’ view: Scientists look to grass as next vegan protein source

November 20, 2019

Why bring salad to a picnic?  Soon, grass—not marijuana; but the lawn and turf type—may be used as a source of vegan protein, according to a group of researchers from Technical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute and Aarhus University in Denmark.

While the fibrous nature of grass is difficult to digest and metabolize by humans, the researchers have developed a method to distill protein powder from grass matter, particularly ryegrass, according to a report by Veg News.

The resulting powder has a similar amino acid profile to soy, eggs, and whey—and can be used in a variety of applications once the researchers further reduce its naturally bitter flavor.

“The ambition is that research from the National Food Institute can make the utilization of grass profitable. It must be able to compete with cheap products such as soy. It should be cheap to buy, offer good functionality in foods, and it must be tasty,” Peter Ruhdal Jense, professor at DTU’s National Food Institute, told Foodnavigator during a November 13 interview.

 “The idea,” Jense said, “is that we will eat many products based on grass. In particular, the market seems to be big among young consumers who, fortunately, pay great attention to the environment and sustainability.”

Commercialization of grass protein depends on the approval of the European Union of the novel ingredient as safe for human consumption, a process that the scientists plan to support with further research. “In that way, the Institute contributes to us moving closer to a radical change in our eating habits—away from animal proteins that have an adverse impact on the environment and towards more sustainable alternatives,” Jensen said.

Research contact: @VegNews

Double take: Winklevoss brothers buy a startup founded by identical twins

November 20, 2019

They are best-known for losing the Facebook concept—which they had named ConnectU—to the ambitious Mark Zuckerberg when they all attended Harvard University. And for winning $65 million in a suit against Zuckerberg in 2008.

But now the Winklevoss twins—Tyler and Cameron, age 38—have become crypto entrepreneurs. And Bloomberg reported on November 19 that they have made their first-ever acquisition, from a duo of entrepreneurs to whom they bear a strong resemblance.

Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, 25, are also identical twins, Bloomberg says. While the Winklevoss brothers rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the other twins rowed in high school. That said, the Cock Fosters weren’t involved in the birthing of the social network Facebook.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Tyler Winklevoss told the financial news outlet in a phone interview. “There are so many great parallels, it was just the right fit.”

The two sets of twins came together over their belief in the future of so-called nifties. A niftie may be a cat from the CryptoKitties game, in which players breed the digital felines, or a token representing ownership in art, stamps, and comic books—an asset that is being kept track of via a blockchain digital ledger and is tradeable.

To buy such collectibles, people typically have to open digital currency wallets, buy cryptocurrency on an exchange—a process that can take hours and can be confusing.

The Cock Fosters’ Nifty Gateway, which the Winklevosses’ Gemini Trust bought for an undisclosed sum, lets anyone pay for nifties with a credit card, via a streamlined experience similar to checking out through Amazon.

The company currently lets people buy nifties from Open Sea marketplace and CryptoKitties and Gods Unchained games.

It doesn’t disclose its customer numbers or payment volume. But Duncan Cock Foster forecasts that nifties could one day attract as many as one billion collectors, Bloomberg reports. The Winklevosses expect that the market for nifties will be as big as the collectibles, art, and gaming markets combined.

 “We believe in this future where all your assets will be on a blockchain and you may want to buy, sell and store them, and Nifty fits that vision,” Tyler Winklevoss said.

While initially Gemini, with more than 220 employees, and Nifty, with three workers, will continue to operate as stand-alone companies, that could change, and some of Nifty’s features could make way into Gemini services.

Duncan now owns about 300 nifties; and his brother, 100. While most people currently don’t even know what the word means, the two sets of twins hope that will change.

“All great companies, all great ideas there’s a period where you see a truth and many other people don’t, and you have to have that conviction,” Tyler Winklevoss said.

Research contact: @business

Lt. Colonel Vindman testifies: ‘I did this out of a sense of duty’

November 20, 2019

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman—the principal White House adviser on Ukraine to the national security staff and the to the president—said in his opening statement in the impeachment inquiry on November 19 that he “was concerned” as he personally listened to President Donald Trump phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

As he sat in the Situation Room along with White House colleagues and heard firsthand the conversation between the two leaders, Vindman told the House Intelligence Committee, “…what I heard was improper.”

He clarified, “It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent. It was also clear that, if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support; undermine U.S. national security; and advance Russia’s strategic objectives in the region.”

He said he never expected to testify about the president’s words and actions, but he did so out of a “sense of duty.”

Indeed, according to a report by NBC News—which obtained a copy of the opening statement and posted it—Vindman’s account is significant because Republicans have attempted to paint previous witnesses as unreliable given their second- or third-hand knowledge about the pressure campaign. Vindman said that he witnessed EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland ask Ukrainian officials to open the investigation in order to get the aid — a meeting then-national security adviser John Bolton cut short. He also said that the July 25 call was “inappropriate” and he reported his concerns immediately

What’s more, he noted, he continued to support the foreign policy objectives of the administration, even after he reported his concerns—both on July 10 about Ambassador Sondland’s message detailing what was expected from Ukraine in return for the nearly $400 million in military aid—and on July 25 about the president’s dialog with Zelensky.

“When I reported my concerns,” Lt. Colonel Vindman said, “my only thought was to act property and to carry out duty. Following each of my reports [to National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg, who placed the transcript of the phone call on a classified server]… I immediately returned to work to advance the President’s and our country’s foreign policy objectives. I focused on what I have done throughout my career, promoting America’s national security interests.”

NBC News reported that Vindman —whose loyalty to the United States has come under attack from some in conservative media—excoriated the “reprehensible” and “cowardly” attacks on career foreign service officers and others who have appeared or were expected to do so, saying they do this work out of patriotism and not partisanship.

In a powerful close, Vindman thanked his father for deciding to emigrate to America from Ukraine, saying his testimony was proof it was the right decision. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” he said looking into the camera directly at his dad.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Study debunks ‘standard operating procedures’ for blocked arteries

November 19, 2019

The findings of a large federal study on the efficacy of cardiac bypass surgeries and stents—led by NYU Langone Health with collaboration from 15 other leading U.S. and Canadian hospitals—call into question the medical care provided to tens of thousands of heart disease patients with blocked coronary arteries, scientists reported at a meeting of the American Heart Association on November 16.

The purpose of the ISCHEMIA trial was to determine the best management strategy for higher-risk patients with stable ischemic heart disease (also known as hardening of the arteries). The study involved over 5,000 participants.

Among the researchers’ key findings: Drug therapy, alone, may save lives just as effectively as bypass or stenting procedures. Stenting and bypass procedures, however, did help some patients with intractable chest pain, called angina.

“You would think that if you fix the blockage the patient will feel better or do better,” Dr. Alice Jacobs, director of Cath Lab and Interventional Cardiology at Boston University, told The New York Times after the results were released.. The study, she added, “certainly will challenge our clinical thinking.”

This is far from the first study to suggest that stents and bypass are overused. But, the Times reports, previous results have not deterred doctors, who have called earlier research on the subject inconclusive and the design of the trials flawed.

Previous studies did not adequately control for risk factors, like LDL cholesterol, that might have affected outcomes, Dr. Elliott Antman, a senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston told the news outlet in an interview. Nor did those trials include today’s improved stents, which secrete drugs intended to prevent opened arteries from closing again.

With its size and rigorous design, the new study, called Ischemia, was intended to settle questions about the benefits of stents and bypass.

“This is an extraordinarily important trial,” Dr. Glenn Levine, director of Cardiac Care at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told The New York Times.

The results will be incorporated into treatment guidelines, added Dr. Levine, who sits on the guidelines committee of the American Heart Association.\

However, there may be a catch: The conventional wisdom among cardiologists is that the sort of medical therapy that patients got in Ischemia is just not feasible in the real world, said Dr. William E. Boden, scientific director of the Clinical Trials Network at VA Boston Healthcare System, who was a member of the study’s leadership committee.

Doctors often say that making sure patients adhere to the therapy is “too demanding, and we don’t have time for it,” he said.

But getting a stent does not obviate the need for medical therapy, Dr. Boden told the Times. Since patients with stents need an additional anti-clotting drug, they actually wind up taking more medication than patients who are treated with drugs alone.

About one-third of stent patients develop chest pain again within 30 days to six months and end up with receiving another stent, Dr. Boden added.

“We have to finally get past the whining about how hard optimal medical therapy is and begin in earnest to educate our patients as to what works and is effective and what isn’t,” Dr. Boden said.

Research source: @nytimes

Cosmetic changes: Kylie Jenner sells $600 million stake in beauty business to Coty

November 19, 2019

Kylie Jenner will continue to give “lip service” to her line of lip kits, makeup, and skincare essentials—however veteran beauty brand Coty announced  on November 18 that it will pay $600 million for a controlling stake in Kylie Cosmetics—wagering that the reality star’s brand can revive a tanking  beauty business based on CoverGirl, MaxFactor, and Rimmel.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the fragrance and cosmetics company plans to buy 51% of Kylie Cosmetics, valuing it at $1.2 billion. Jenner, the youngest of the five Kardashian-Jenner sisters, founded the brand in 2015. She will remain the public face of the brand.

Known for nude lip liners and lipsticks, Kylie Cosmetics this spring added a skincare line.The retailer, Ulta Beauty,  last year started carrying the makeup at its more than 1,100 stores nationwide.

Kylie Cosmetics is on track for roughly $200 million in sales this year, Coty said. It is part of a wave of fledgling cosmetics lines–including Glossier and Fenty—that are capitalizing on celebrity founders and social media-driven marketing.

“This is where the growth of the market is,” Coty Finance Chief Pierre-André Terisse said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. The brand is attractive both for its skincare business and online presence, he said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Repudiate or remove? 70% of Americans say Trump’s demands to Ukraine were ‘wrong’

November 19, 2019

A majority of Americans think they have Donald Trump’s number—and that’s not good news for the president. An overwhelming 70% of Americans believe that he was “wrong” to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, an ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted November 16-17 has found.

A slim majority of Americans,(51%) believe Trump’s actions were both wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office. But only 21% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely.

In addition to the 51%, another 19% think that Trump’s actions were wrong, but that, at worst, he should either be impeached by the House and not removed from office. The survey also finds that 25% of Americans think that Trump did nothing wrong.

Still,about one-third (32%) say they made up their minds about impeaching the president before the news broke about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The poll asked Americans how closely they were following the first week of public impeachment hearings in the House, their assessments of Trump’s actions; and whether those actions warranted impeachment and removal from office. The survey also asked Americans when they decided on the matter.

ABC News notes that House Democrats are investigating whether the administration withheld nearly $400 million in aid and promised a White House summit between the two leaders in exchange for an investigation into the president’s political rival, Biden, and his son, for his place on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Overall, the poll found, 58% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely or somewhat closely (21% and 37%, respectively); and 21% say they made up their minds about impeachment after the first week of public hearings. Among those who said this, 60% think that Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Of those following the House impeachment hearings very closely, 67% think Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office.

Among Democrats, 41% say they made up their minds about impeachment before Trump’s actions related to Ukraine became public. And 41% of those who support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office say they made up their minds before the matter came to light.

The unfolding political drama between congressional Democrats and the White House reveals a polarized populace, with Democrats more united in their belief that Trump should be impeached and convicted than Republicans are in their belief that the president has committed no wrongdoing: 85% and 65%, respectively.

Research contact: @ABCNews

Wanted: 10,000 dogs for the largest-ever study on canine aging

November 18, 2019

Every dog has his day—but they simply don’t get enough of them as far as we’re concerned. Most of our beloved pooches only live for about 11 years, according to the American Kennel Club.

But now, a group of researchers is hoping to lengthen the life expectancy of canines, as well as their overall quality of life, CNN reports.

Teams from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), are being funded by the National Institute of Aging, a division the National Institutes of Health.

The study promises to be the largest-ever study on aging in dogs, according to the cable news outlet—and it may have implications for humans, too. .

“Dogs truly are science’s best friends,” the research team told CNN in a joint statement. “Though they age more rapidly than humans, they get the same diseases of aging, have a rich genetic makeup, and share our environment.”

“By studying aging in dogs,” they said, “we can more quickly expand our knowledge of aging not just in dogs but also in humans.” They added that the team is optimistic that its findings could lead to better

Dogs from all 50 states—and of all ages, sizes, and breeds—may apply with the help of their owners. The researchers will even consider dogs with chronic illnesses, because they are hoping to include as much genetic diversity as possible.

Applications to the project are officially open. Owners can visit the Dog Aging Project’s website to nominate their pooches. The submission process takes less than ten minutes, and generally consists of questions about your pet that will help the researchers to determine whether he or she is the right fit.

Have more questions? Here’s a helpful FAQs.

Research contact: @CNN