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Moo-nuficent: France’s biggest celebrity is this gorgeous cow

February 26, 2020

“Her name could not be more appropriate,” says the website for the 2020 Paris International Agricultural Show: Idéale, a superb, sturdy six-year-old Charolais, has been selected to represent her breed and get top billing as this year’s mascot at the exhibition, which runs from February 22 through March 1.

The annual convention brings together farmers from all over France to celebrate the country’s rich bounty of agricultural products, from its wine and cheeses to its produce, its livestock; and, according to The New Yorker, its hot-tub vendors.

Every year, New York Magazine’s “The Cut” reports, the event chooses a bovine mascot that best embodies the wonders and opulence of the event, and whose picture gets plastered around the streets and subways of Paris. First, the breed is selected by the organizing committee. Then the president of the breeding organization for the winning breed chooses a specific cow as mascot. And this year, it’s Idéale. Idéale!

Idéale hails from Monts du Beaujolais in western France. She has, according to the show, “everything going for her.” Specifically, she has “a short head, a broad muzzle with nice sharp teeth, fine crescent-shaped horns which curve perfectly around towards her eyes (referred to as cabettes), a wide and muscular back, thick haunches, etc.”

In addition to her gorgeous sharp teeth and thick haunches, she has a sweet personality. She’s described as docile, maternal, and “she cannot hide her pleasure when being stroked.”

Last year’s mascot, Imminence, was a five-year-old Bleue du Nord, who also was a delightful ambassador, we’re sure. But who can compare to Idéale, really?

Research contact: @NYMagazine

Brooks Brothers joins with White House Historical Association to offer Presidential Collection

February 26, 2020

The White House Historical Association—a nonprofit founded in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy with a mission to protect, preserve, and provide public access to the rich history of America’s Executive Mansion—has just announced a first-ever collaboration with Brooks Brothers and a new collection of menswear accessories online and in  stores beginning February 25.

The exclusive Presidential Collection features the Truman Presidential Seal on a pocket square; as well as a selection of red, blue and navy ties; a red double-sided bow tie; a blue double-sided bow tie; and a navy bow tie. All items are 100% silk and are made in the United States. The cost from $55 to $89.50.

The Truman Presidential Seal was established in 1945 when President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9646 which officially defined the Presidential Coat of Arms and Seal for the first time. An eagle’s head—which originally faced right toward a bundle of 13 arrows held in its talons—was turned to face left toward the olive branch it held, symbolizing peace.

Brooks Brothers, established in 1818, is America’s oldest retail brand and has had the unique distinction of serving 40 American Presidents since its founding.

Items in this collection can be purchased online at shop.whitehousehistory.org; or at the White House Visitor Center at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.; or the White House History Shop at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.—both in Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association will continue its partnership with Brooks Brothers with additional exclusive collections introduced later this year.

Earlier this month, on February 17, the White House Historical Association announced the availability of the Official 2020 White House Christmas Ornament, commemorating President John F. Kennedy.

Research contact: @WhiteHouseHstry

Trump politicizes Supremes: Instructs Sotomayor, Ginsburg to recuse themselves from ‘his’ cases

February 26, 2020

President Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying both should recuse themselves from cases involving him or his administration, Politico reported.

His comments at a press conference in India — and previous tweets to the same effect —came after Sotomayor criticized the court’s conservative majority for granting a number of the administration’s emergency stay requests.

Most recently, on February 21, the Supreme Court had unveiled a 5-4 decision to allow the Trump Administration to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on a “wealth test,” claiming that low-income immigrants were likely to become a “public charge” and use social programs such as food stamps or Medicaid, Rolling Stone reported.

In her dissenting comments on the case (Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, et. al, v. Cook County, Illinois, et. al.) Justice Sotomayor said the administration has too quickly gone to the Supreme Court to appeal unfavorable decisions made by lower courts, and that by taking the cases, the Supreme Court is “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the president.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” Sotomayor wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”

“It is hard to say what is more troubling,” she added. “That the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.”

“Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others,” Sotomayor wrote in the sharp opinion.

As he always does, the president clapped right back:  “She’s trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way, and that’s so inappropriate,” Trump said of Sotomayor to reporters.

The president also criticized Ginsburg for her comments during his 2016 campaign, when she called Trump a “faker” who “has no consistency about him” and “really has an ego” to CNN and told The New York Times that “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president.”

Trump at the time called on Ginsburg to resign, and she later apologized.

Trump’s call for the two justices to recuse themselves comes as the Supreme Court prepares next month to tackle several issues directly involving the president, Politico noted. On March 31, the court will hear back-to-back oral arguments on cases that ask whether the president must comply with congressional subpoenas for his financial records and whether he is immune from state criminal investigations while serving in the White House.

Research contact: @politico

In victory for ‘Me Too,’ Harvey Weinstein found guilty as sexual predator; remanded to custody

February 25, 2020

Harvey Weinstein—formerly a large and in-charge Hollywood film producer—was found guilty on two counts on Monday morning, February 24, in his New York sexual assault trial.

Specifically, the jury convicted Weinstein of two of the five charges against him: a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape, according to a report by The Hill. The 67-year-old former movie mogul has denied any wrongdoing, saying all of his sexual encounters were consensual—however, he did not testify on his own behalf.

The verdict brings to a close the high-profile New York case—during which prosecutors had characterized him as a “sexual predator” and a serial “rapist.” Indeed, during her opening arguments last month, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast said that evidence in Weinstein’s case would show he was “not just a titan of Hollywood but a rapist.”

Jurors heard emotional testimony, including from actress Annabella Sciorrawho told the court that Weinstein raped her after shoving his way into her Manhattan apartment. “I was trying to get him off me,” Sciorra testified. “I was punching him, kicking him.”

According to The Hill, another witness who accused the former film executive of rape became so emotional during an hours-long cross-examination by Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno that she was dismissed for the day by the judge.

The sexual assault allegations, first brought against Weinstein in 2017—followed by a flurry of public accusations of sexual misconduct against many in the entertainment industry— helped to spur the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and to shine a spotlight on systemic sexual harassment.

In total, The Hill notes, more than 80 women—including actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and Gwyneth Paltrow—have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape.

Last year, Weinstein reportedly reached a $44 million settlement with some of his accusers.

Weinstein was remanded to custody by New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke pending sentencing on Wednesday, March 11. Rotunno made an unsuccessful last-ditch plea to keep her client free on bail due, in part, to his ill health and pain as a result of an auto accident last summer, but the judge did not grant the request.

The erstwhile Miramax titan could face up to 25 years in prison, with a minimum of four years.

What’s more, the legal peril isn’t over for Weinstein, who has also been indicted for alleged sexual misconduct in Los Angeles.

Research contact: @thehill

Brands see big potential in ‘nighttime nutrition’

February 25, 2020

Late-night snacks are being legitimized and “healthified” by snack brands, in hopes of creating a new and profitable niche in the industry, Food Business News reports.

A small but growing number of products designed for pre-bedtime snacking are entering the market. They’re healthier than traditional late-night fare—and offer the added benefit of promoting sleep and relaxation.

Among them is Nightfood of Tarrytown, New York, which launched a “sleep friendly” ice cream line last year. Available in a variety of flavors—including Full Moon Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate, and Cherry Eclipse—the products contain more fiber and protein (and, yes, fewer calories) than traditional ice cream. Ingredients like magnesium and glycine promote relaxation; while ingredients that may disrupt sleep, such as excess sugar, fat and caffeine, are reduced or eliminated.

“Just being delicious isn’t enough these days,” Sean Folkson, CEO at Nightfood, told Food Business News. “Neither is just being different. You need to be different, but in a way that actually matters to the consumer.”

Folkson learned that the hard way: Nightfood ice cream wasn’t the company’s first functional late-night snack—but it looks like the company’s first successful entrant in the niche. It launched a sleep-promoting nutrition bar in 2015. The brand struggled to generate consumer excitement around the product, but, Folkson said its modest results led to an important insight: When it comes to late-night snacking, consumers aren’t searching for better-for-you products like nutrition bars. They’re reaching for more indulgent items like potato chips, cookies, ice cream or candy.

“I now understand that providing night snackers with nighttime nutrition bars is like giving an eight-year old a pet rock,” he told the business publication. “Interesting, but not exciting or life-changing. On the other hand, providing night snackers with nighttime ice cream is like giving that eight-year old a puppy.”

And other companies—among them, Nestle-backed Goodnight and Milwaukee-based Good Source Foods, also are jumping on the bandwagon.

Goodnight launched last year through Foundry Foods, an internal incubator from Nestle USA. Available in milk and dark chocolate varieties, the brand’s before-bed bites contain L-Theanine, magnesium and casein protein, which interact with metabolic processes related to sleep regulation.

“(Goodnight) is confirming our beliefs that people are looking for a natural remedy for something they normally take in supplement form such as melatonin,” Doug Munk, director of New Business Ventures for Nestle USA told Food Business News. “We are also finding people are looking to replace some of their junk foods before they go to sleep with something that is a little better.”

The company currently is gearing up to launch updated “Goodnight 2.0” products following last year’s successful test run.

Good Source Foods uses dried cherries, which contain melatonin, and lavender, which is known for its calming effects, to make its Evening Calm variety of chocolate clusters. Designed to promote sleep and relaxation, the chocolates also contain turmeric, honey, oats, and walnuts.

Nightfood, Goodnight and Good Source Foods are some of the handful of brands tapping into nighttime nutrition, which Mintel called “one of the most compelling and category changing trends” in its annual Food and Drink Trends report. More than 80% of consumers snack regularly before bed, Mintel said.

There may be a biological component driving consumers to the kitchen at night. Appetite tends to peak in the evening, when cravings for sweet and salty foods are strongest. Willpower weakens throughout the day, so the later it gets, the easier it is to reach for the cookie jar or bag of candy.

At the same time, interest in better-for-you snacks is at an all-time high. As many as 80% of consumers seek healthier snacks that pack an added functional benefit.

“Scientific research over the last several years has helped us more clearly understand why people snack the way they do at night,” said Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and adviser to Nightfood. “It seems we’re biologically hard-wired to default to sweets, salts, and fats as it gets later in the day.”

This may explain why more than 50% of consumers report dissatisfaction with their own night snacking behavior, despite spending an estimated $1 billion per week on snacks consumed between dinner and bed.

“More than half of that money … is being spent in a dissatisfied way, by people that want something better,” Folkson said.  “That speaks to, not only the size of the opportunity, but the immediacy and the motivation on behalf of the consumer, which is really powerful stuff.”

Research contact: @FoodBusiness

Is the fix in? Bloomberg purportedly is plotting a brokered convention strategy

February 25, 2020

Will Democrats actually nominate the candidate they support? Not only is the Kremlin attempting to reshape results via a not-so-stealthy influence campaign; but now, Politico reports, the fix may be in at the convention.

Indeed, the news outlet alleges, despite his bad showing at the Nevada debate last week—and his promise to fund the campaign of whomever the Democratic party chooses as its candidate—Mike Bloomberg is privately lobbying Democratic Party.

Purportedly, Bloomberg is sweet-talking officials and donors allied with his moderate opponents to flip their allegiance to him —and block Bernie Sanders—in the event of a brokered national convention.

The effort, largely executed by Bloomberg’s senior state-level advisers in recent weeks, Politico says, attempts to prime Bloomberg for a second-ballot contest at the Democratic National Convention in July by poaching supporters of Joe Biden and other moderate Democrats, according to two Democratic strategists familiar with the talks and unaffiliated with Bloomberg.

The outreach has involved meetings and telephone calls with supporters of Biden and Pete Buttigieg—as well as uncommitted DNC members—in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, according to one of the strategists who participated in meetings and calls.

With Sanders’ emergence as the frontrunner in the presidential primary, Democrats in those states have recently raised the prospect that the Democratic Socialist could be a top-of-the-ticket liability, Politico reports.

“There’s a whole operation going on, which is genius,” one of the strategists, who is unaffiliated with any campaign told the news outlet. “And it’s going to help them win on the second ballot … They’re telling them that’s their strategy.”

However, such a political play could bring havoc to the convention—raising the prospect of party insiders delivering the nomination to a billionaire over a progressive populist.

“Look, I think if the election were today, Bernie Sanders would [have] … the delegate lead,” longtime Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday night. “In part that is because the moderate lane of the party is split, and … many of the candidates are going to split that vote. Now, that may change between now and Super Tuesday, but I think if the election were today, that would be the result.”

He called Bloomberg “the best-positioned candidate to take on Bernie Sanders.”

Responding to a question at the debate on Wednesday about whether the person with the most delegates should be the nominee, Bloomberg said, “Whatever the rules of the Democratic Party are, they should be followed.”

Asked if that meant the convention should “work its will,” Bloomberg replied, “Yes.”

Research contact: @politico

Do you have an addictive personality, or just a healthy enthusiasm?

February 24, 2020

Some people cannot stop tweeting; others stream endless episodes of a favorite TV series, drink gallons of coffee each week; bet on competitive sports;  cover themselves with tattoos, jockey for position on video games, or visit tanning salons. While they may not be taking opioids, they still might be “addicted.”

But is there such a thing as an addictive personality? The informal answer is yes, according to the American Addiction Centers—one of the largest networks of rehab facilities nationwide.

Indeed, the rehabilitation experts describe “addictive personality” as an informal term that links particular personality traits to a higher risk of addiction or other problematic behaviors—such as drug abuse, cigarette smoking, gambling, or even constant social media use—according to a report by MindyBodyGreen 

“The term is used colloquially to refer to people who have tendencies that appear to lead to addiction-like behaviors,” says George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

“Addictive personality” is a term often used in association with alcoholism, but you can also feel addicted to other things, like certain activities, people, foods, or physical objects. According to J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, behaviors like gambling, frequent social media use, or even video gaming can also be addictive.

“For people who are addicted to these behaviors—and even those who just derive intense enjoyment from them—engaging in these behaviors can result in the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is the final common pathway of basically every drug of abuse,” Dr. Boyd told MindyBodyGreen.

He also notes that you can even be addicted to another person in a dating relationship because of this neurochemical response. That said, an unhealthy addiction is very different from healthy enthusiasm.

“Being addicted to something means it has taken over your life and that you are sacrificing important things in your life in service of the addiction,” says Boyd. Koob describes addiction similarly as “being stuck in a cycle in which a person binges on a substance, feels discomfort when the substance wears off, and is preoccupied with procuring and using the substance again.” (And again, this doesn’t apply only to physical substances—it can also be behaviors or experiences.)

On the flip side, “enthusiasm means that you might love something and even that you might look forward to it much of the time, but you are not and will not compromise basic important elements in your life,” Boyd says. 

Some experts believe that the term “addicted” is used too loosely to explain behaviors that are closer to enthusiasm, so Boyd uses exercise as an example of this distinction: An enthusiastic exerciser will look forward to workouts but probably won’t work out when they’re sick, he says. An exercise “addict,” on the other hand, might continue exercising even when they have the flu, despite adverse outcomes. 

“There are definitely individuals who are prone to become addicted in various ways,” Boyd says, noting that addiction is often a combination of both genetics and the environment. “Some of this is based on personal history, but much of it is determined by having a family history of addiction.”

According to MindBodyGreen, people who are at a higher-than-average risk for addiction may have some of the following markers:

  • A close family member with an addiction. Boyd says individuals born to parents who have an addiction are more likely to become addicted themselves, and lots of research backs this up. Overall, it appears that genetic heritability affects addiction by between 40% and 70%—but Koob is careful to note that this genetic component comes from many different pathways, and the likelihood of developing an addiction is due to both the environment and your genetics.
  • An OCD diagnosis. Several other disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, are more likely to co-occur with addiction.
  • Impulsive tendencies and trouble self-regulating. A study about video game addiction found that impulsive people might be more prone to developing an addiction.
  • Low self-esteem. For certain people, low self-esteem also appears to be associated with a higher risk for developing an addiction, according to the study about video gamers.
  • ADHD. A sibling study conducted in 1997 found certain people with ADHD may be more likely to develop substance use disorders, and more recent studies have found that ADHD and substance use disorders tend to co-occur in the same patients.
  • Social anxiety. People who feel lonely and anxious during social events are more likely to develop problematic internet use tendencies, according to a 2007 study. This may be because scrolling the internet can feel soothing in the moment, which helps to reduce overall feelings of anxiety or discomfort.
  • A traumatic history. Koob says people who have a history of abuse or trauma may be more likely to initiate substance abuse in order to reduce their discomfort.

Again, Koob is careful to note, “While there are tendencies that increase the risk of a substance use disorder, they don’t comprise a specific personality type, such as an addictive personality.”

Research contact: @mindbodygreen

 

The best thing since sliced bread: Washington State’s Bread Lab reinvents the whole-wheat loaf

February 24, 2020

Peek into people’s kitchens (particularly those with kids), and you’ll likely find sandwich bread. Simple and straightforward, this is an everyday kind of bread. There are scads of recipes for sandwich bread—perfect for everything from PB&Js to chicken salad to toast for breakfast.

But because sandwich bread is such a wildly popular pantry staple, there are also countless versions in any grocery store that are far from wholesome. Often, packaged sandwich breads are full of additives and preservatives. Food manufacturers add these ingredients to prolong shelf life, make the bread cheaper to produce, and promote a softer, more Wonder Bread-like texture to appeal to young eaters.

Now, a group of bakers allied with Washington State University’s Bread Lab—among them, “America’s first flour company,” King Arthur Flour, founded in Norwich, Vermont, in 1790– are on a mission to change all of that by creating the ultimate wholesome, nutritious, great-tasting sandwich bread, in a whole-wheat version.

The Bread Lab works to breed and develop varieties of grains to benefits farmers, processors, and end-users, while also enhancing access to affordable and nutritious food for all. And last year, at a meeting of bakers, millers, and teachers at the Bread Lab, the talk turned to sandwich bread. More specifically, could the lab revolutionize the current offerings?

And the bakers at King Arthur signed on to the challenge. Along with the 38 other Bread Lab members, they formed the Bread Lab Collective and. together, they came up with the concept of Just Bread: a pure and simple whole wheat sandwich bread that would appeal to everyone, from kids to adults. 

Among the criteria that members set for the new type of bread were that it should:

  • Be baked in a tin and sliced;
  • Contain no more than seven ingredients;
  • Contain no non-foods;
  • Be at least 60% who wheat-preferably, 100%;
  • Be priced under $6/loaf;
  • Return 10 cents from every loaf sold to the Bread Lab to support further research on other whole-grain products.

Today, King Arthur Flour has expanded to offer a baking school, a café, and a variety of flours and breads at its Vermont headquarters—as well as at outlets nationwide.

Jeff Yankellow, one of King Arthur’s resident bread experts, created the first version of the Just Bread recipe and other bakers followed with their own iterations.

According to a story on King Arthur’s blog, “Our vision is to spread the availability of Just Bread as widely as possible. Right now, you can buy Just Bread from a select group of bakeries and markets across the country, from Montana to Louisiana to Pennsylvania. You can find the list here.”

King Arthur sells between 350 to 450 loaves per week at our bakery in Norwich, Vermont. We also bake 10 loaves daily to donate to the Upper Valley Haven, a local food pantry.

But not everyone lives close enough to one of these bakeries! So the company has brought Jeff’s original Just Bread recipe online, so you can easily make it at home.

Research contact: @kingarthurflour

The Russians are coming: Lawmakers learn that the Kremlin is tampering with 2020 primaries and election

February 24, 2020

We knew it all along: Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia has mounted a U.S. campaign to get President Donald Trump re-elected. Now, the president is angry and alarmed—not by the Kremlin’s meddling—but by the very real possibility that Democrats may use the information against him, The New York Times reports.

The day after the February 13 briefing to Congress, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of National Intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said.

According to the Times, Trump was particularly irritated that Representative Adam Schiff (D- California), who recently served as the impeachment manager in the Senate, was at the briefing.

During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, the president’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that he had been “tough on Russia” and that he had strengthened European security.

Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying the conclusions could have been delivered in a less pointed manner or left out entirely, to avoid angering Republicans. The intelligence official who delivered the briefing, Shelby Pierson, served as an aide to Maguire and has a reputation for speaking bluntly.

Although intelligence officials have previously told lawmakers that Russia’s interference campaign was continuing, the Times said that last week’s briefing included what appeared to be new information– that Russia intended to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries as well as the general election.

On Wednesday, the president announced that he was replacing Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and an aggressively vocal Trump supporter. And while some current and former officials speculated that the briefing might have played a role in that move, two administration officials said the timing was coincidental.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its election security office declined to comment to the Times. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Research contact: @nytimes

Bite me: Colorado study finds snake venoms hold promise for curing cancers

February 20, 2020

While the “snake oil salesmen” of the past were peddling fraudulent cures, they actually might have been on the right track: According to a team of scientists at the University of Northern Colorado, snake venom may be the remedy for cancer, Denver’s CBS News affiliate reports.

Dr. Stephen Mackessy, a professor at UNC’s School of Biology told CBS4 that, from rattlesnakes to vipers, studies by his students have shown that snake venoms can attack human cancer cells in unique ways.

 “These are compounds that have evolved to kill other animals, and kill things … in general, wreak havoc with living systems,” Mackessy told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “It turns out they are actually a very logical place to look for therapeutics.”

Snake venoms have been used since the 1950s to treat conditions such as high blood pressure in millions of people worldwide. However, Mackessy told the news outlet, his lab is one of the first to research the possible uses of venom compounds to battle various forms of cancer.

“When you think about looking for a therapeutic drug, you don’t turn first to something like a venom or toxin as a source,” Mackessy said.

He noted that  one of  his Ph.D. candidates, Tanner Harvey, has specifically been researching viper venoms—some of which originate in habitats as close to UNC as southern Arizona. Each venom, in different doses, reacts to cancers in distinctive ways.

“[One viper venom] … kills breast cancer really quickly at low doses. And, it kills colon cancer at low doses. But, it doesn’t kill melanoma,” Tanner Harvey told CBS4.

However, other venoms strongly react to melanoma.

Killing the cancer with venom isn’t hard. It’s not killing the patient at the same time that’s the challenge. The team at UNC said their challenge is finding which compounds can be combined with other remedies to kill cancer efficiently, while preserving other life-dependent cells.

“[Finding the proper doses and mixes] is just like panning for gold,” Harvey said.

The study is still in preliminary phases. Once the team believes it has a solid answer to which venom compounds are safe to battle cancer with, the research would press on to one day potentially meet clinical studies.

And, while Mackessy’s team is working toward the goal of curing cancers, another takeaway from their research that both Mackessy and Harvey hope for is that it will encourage the public to stop senselessly killing snakes simply out of fear.

“You never really know what is going to come from a natural source, even something like a rattlesnake,” Mackessy said. “It may be, in fact, that these dangerous animals house in their venom something that one day may be lifesaving for you, or your family members.”

Research contact: @CBSNews