Posts tagged with "CNN"

Nine-year-old creates portrait of John Cena using 750 Rubik’s Cubes—and his ‘superpower,’ dyslexia

January 28, 2020

A new video involving WWE superstar and actor John Cena is going viral—but it isn’t of the popular wrestler body-slamming one of his opponents. Rather, it documents how nine-year-old Benjamin Russo built a huge portrait of Cena using 750 Rubik’s Cubes, MSN reports.

The video starts with Benjamin holding up a series of cards, on which he explains that he has the learning disorder, dyslexia, and struggles with reading and writing. “I mix up my words. I get very frustrated and upset, too, sometimes,” he admits, but he also says, “Having dyslexia also means I can do something amazing! Like this…”

Then, Benjamin is shown configuring hundreds of Rubik’s Cubes into specific patterns. After he has arranged all 750 cubes, the patterns come together to reveal an enormous portrait of Cena, himself.

Then, Benjamin lifts up two more cards. They read: “Dyslexia is not my disability. Dyslexia is my superpower.”

The process took five hours, Benjamin’s dad, Louis, told CNN. “My wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘Just how does he do it?’ It’s just incredible to watch,” the proud father said.

Benjamin’s amazing talent even caught the attention of Benjamin’s Rubik’s muse.

“This is the embodiment of #NeverGiveUp,” Cena tweeted. “Benjamin demonstrates courage, perseverance, vulnerability, tremendous strength… and he’s an ARTIST!”

Benjamin’s parents hope his story will shift how people perceive dyslexia.”The general public sees dyslexia basically as flipping words around, flipping letters around, and that’s where it ends,” Louis said. “We never talk about the advantages and the special gifts that many dyslexics have, and Benjamin is not alone. So I think that’s what we’re trying to do is get the positive out there and not so much the negatives.”

Research contact: @MSN

Piggy banks are going ‘extinct, ‘ as kids start using mobile apps for pocket money

January 28, 2020

Those porcelain painted pigs that children have used for hundreds of years to store and accumulate spare change are going the way of the wooly mammoth—and it has nothing to do with climate change.

As the world moves toward a cashless society, pocket money is going digital, CNN reports. To reflect this trend, a flurry of mobile budgeting apps for children has sprung up worldwide: GoHenry, Osper, and Gimi—to name just a few.

GoHenry, for example, is a debit card and app with unique parental controls that is designed to teach young people (ages 6-19) money management skills. Launched in 2012 in collaboration with Mastercard, the GoHenry app and card now boast a community of over 500,000 members in the United States and United Kingdom.

The app is free the first month; then $3.99 per month going forward. To activate it, parents put money in their own accounts; then, transfer it to their children’s cards.

While, thus far, GoHenry has the biggest chunk of the U.S. market, the other apps are fast gaining popularity, as well.

Not yet in the USA—but already boasting 8 million customers in Europe—London-based Revolut, founded in 2015, claims to have a 10,000-person waitlist in on this side of the pond for its services. Currently targeted at adults, Revolut offers a prepaid debit card, fee-free currency exchange, commission-free stock trading, cryptocurrency exchange and peer-to-peer payments.

And, CNN reports, Revolut is set to join the pocket money market with its upcoming launch of Revolut Youth for seven- to 18-year-olds. Parents who are already Revolut customers will be able to add their children to their account as secondary users, each with their own personal debit card. Parents can monitor the child’s account through their existing app, while kids can download their own child-friendly version. Initial testing has begun, with the dedicated app for kids expected to become available in the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2020.

The companies behind the apps argue that in an increasingly cashless society, they can offer a valuable way of teaching young children about money.

Two-thirds of adults globally are financially illiterate, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey, and one in four teenagers is unable to make even simple decisions on everyday spending.

Indeed, the growth of digital banking has affected how parents doll out pocket money, with one in three parents in the United Kingdom doing it digitally, according to a recent report by the financial comparison website Money.co.uk.

As a whole, kids aged 13-19, are estimated to contribute £1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) into the UK economy each year, according to the Teenage Finance Report from financial services providers OneFamily.

“There’s a big opportunity,” Aurélien Guichard, the product owner for Revolut Youth, told CNN Business.

Research contact: @CNN

Fitbit data could help predict flu outbreaks in real time

January 22, 2020

That Fitbit on your wrist could be doing a lot more than tracking the strides you make each day: Researchers at the California-based Scripps Research Translational Institute reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users of Fitbit exercise and activity trackers in five states—and found that they were able to use data like rising heart rates and changes in sleep patterns to predict flu outbreaks in real-time, according to a report by CNN.

Indeed, the scientists were able to calculate the proportion of users falling above set thresholds for average heart rate and sleep duration—and to compare that data to weekly flu rates determined by the Centers for Disease Control—in order to predict flu outbreaks in real time.

The finding shows the potential for the soon-to-be Alphabet-owned brand to predict disease outbreaks —which could open an opportunity to propel Google-sister company Verily’s population health efforts:

With the flu affecting an estimated 35.5 million and driving 490,600 hospitalizations in the US in the 2018-2019 flu season alone, according to the CDC, the ability to predict outbreaks would be welcomed by an already overburdened healthcare system. And the potential savings could be significant: During the 2015-2016 U.S. flu season, an estimated $10.4 billion was spent on direct costs for adult hospitalizations and outpatient visits, according to CNBC.

And should Alphabet get the regulatory go-ahead for its Fitbit purchase, the potential to predict disease outbreaks would be a huge value-add to Verily’s population health efforts.For example, CNN suggests, “We could see Verily integrate health data collected from Fitbit users into its Project Baseline initiative, which is aimed at developing technologies to help researchers architect a map of human health and gain a deeper understanding of prevalent conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.”

However, there are some flies in the proverbial ointment: While promising, the impact of the finding could be lessened due to the limited nature of the data collected — and Alphabet will need to be clear about its data-sharing policies or risk losing more consumer trust if it seeks a partner for future Fitbit endeavors, CNN notes.

What’s more, Fitbit users aren’t necessarily representative of the general population: For example, U.S. consumers who use wearables skew younger and tend to have higher incomes, as eMarketer noted in its Wearables 2019 report, which means there are likely gaps missing in the data collected.

Research contact: @CNN

Carl Bernstein calls out Mitch McConnell with scathing new nickname—now trending on Twitter

January 22, 2020

Move over “Moscow Mitch” and “Grim Reaper.” There’s a new nickname inside the Beltway for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–conferred by none other than Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein—and it has sent social media users into overdrive, according to The Huffington Post.

The famed reporter called McConnell “Midnight Mitch” during a panel discussion on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° on Monday, January 20, based on the tightly compressed schedule that the Majority Leader had set for the imminent Senate impeachment trial over the Ukraine scandal.

Indeed, the HuffPost reports, McConnell has been so obsessed with keeping the facts of the scandal under wraps that he has insisted on just two days of 12-hour testimony on both sides—starting at 1 p.m. each afternoon, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is available to preside.

That would run the trial into the early hours of the morning on four consecutive days. Hence, the moniker, “Midnight Mitch.”

Said Bernstein “[This is],,,the most important moment for the Republican Party since the censure of Joe McCarthy and the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, in which Republicans became great heroes and patriots. Now, we’re looking at ‘Midnight Mitch’ and the so-called world’s greatest deliberative body really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see. That’s what this is about. It’s about preventing information from becoming known and seen by the American public.

Bernstein noted how in the impeachments of former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton there had been “no problem about knowing the truth of the facts.”

But in the impeachment trial of Trump, he said, “we still have a factual problem here because the president and those who work for him and Mitch McConnell have impeded the facts from the beginning.”

Harvard Law School professor and legal scholar Laurence Tribe agreed with Bernstein, chiming in on Twitter, “These aren’t rules for a real trial at all, much less a fair one. They’re rules for a rigged outcome, with #MidnightMitch making sure that as much of the so-called trial as possible takes place in the dark of night.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

As drones swarm the night skies over Colorado and Nebraska, authorities ask, ‘Who’s there?’

January 6, 2020

They come out at night: pinpoints of light swarming in the dark skies. They appear to be drones—flying in formation over rural Colorado and Nebraska. For weeks, they have dominated headlines in local newspapers, fueled intense speculation on social media, and unsettled residents; who have besieged law enforcement with calls, The Washington Post reports.

So far, the aircraft remain a mystery. Officials in multiple counties say they have not been able to determine who is operating them or why. The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating, an agency spokesman told the Post on Thursday, January 2.

In the absence of information, wild theories abound in the small communities where the drones have been spotted, including government surveillance and alien activity. Others offered less-nefarious explanations, suggesting a private company is using them to map or survey land or, perhaps, practicing for drone shows.

But why wouldn’t such businesses have come forward with an explanation by now?

 “There are many theories about what is going on, but at this point, that’s all they are,” Sheriff Todd Combs of Yuma County, Colorado, wrote in a Facebook post. “I think we are all feeling a little bit vulnerable due to the intrusion of our privacy that we enjoy in our rural community, but I don’t have a solution or know of one right now.”

The drones, which The Denver Post estimates to be six feet in wingspan and flying in formations of 17, showed up in mid-December in northeastern Colorado. They emerge nightly around 7 p.m., flying in squares of about 25 miles and staying about 200 feet in the air, the newspaper reported. By about 10 p.m., they’re gone.

Local authorities say the mysterious visitors do not appear to be malicious and may not be breaking any laws. Combs noted in his post that they are operating in airspace controlled by the federal government and, as far as he could tell, abiding with federal regulations.

Yet the unexplained aircraft, buzzing above homes nightly, have still caused alarm — so much so that officials with multiple sheriff’s departments have cautioned residents against shooting them down.

“I have been made aware of several comments about shooting down a drone,” Morgan County, Colorado, Sheriff Dave Martin said in his own Facebook statement. “I ask that you NOT do this as it is a federal crime.”

Wyatt Harmon and his girlfriend, Chelsea Arnold, chased a cluster of drones after they flew over his property in the Colorado county of Washington. The couple tailed them for 15 miles, exceeding 70 mph, according to NBC’s TODAY show, which featured an interview with the two on December 31.

Harmon said during the interview that the aircraft could descend and take off “very fast.” He added,, “It’s kind of just scary. It’s more unnerving than anything.”

According to The Washington Post, now groups devoted to tracking the drones are  popping up on Facebook.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

The ‘Dawn’ of a new day in dish washing

December 18, 2019

Americans are no longer up to their elbows in soapy water—washing a days’ worth, or even a meal’s worth of dishes at one time in the kitchen sink. In fact, according to Procter & Gamble’s market research, fully 61% of us now prefer the “clean-as-you-go” method of dish washing—a change from the habits of the last century, CNN reports.

Indeed, P&G says, its old-fashioned liquid detergent, which debuted in 1972, just isn’t cut out for the job anymore, so it invented a new Dawn dish spray designed for how people are washing their dishes today.

More consumers are washing one or two dishes during “cooking downtime,” instead of letting them pile up and doing one big wash once they’re all done, the company says. But, the old Dawn wasn’t intended to be used that way. Traditional dish soap is designed to combine with water and create suds to help get dishes clean—not to be directly applied to dirty dishes or sponges.

“People are much more time-starved today” and they see the clean-as-you-go method as a “‘life hack,’ Morgan Brashear, a home care senior scientist at P&G, told CNN. “The product they were using wasn’t really keeping up.”

So after five years of research and development, P&G is introducing “Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray,” its first new formulation of dish detergent since Dawn soap in a bottle was released nearly 50 years ago. The new formula, which comes in a spray bottle, doesn’t require water to activate cleaning suds the way traditional dish soap does.

This new bottle of Dawn spray with a nozzle costs about two dollars more than the regular version of Dawn liquid soap. P&G hopes consumers are willing trade up for the higher-priced version because of the convenience of the newer product.

And speaking of market research, washing dishes is consumers’ second least-favorite household chore, behind cleaning the toilet, according to P&G. Between scrubbing, waiting, and scrubbing again, consumers told P&G’s research teams that they were looking for quicker solutions. P&G observed customers doing chores and washing their dishes in their homes or at company offices.

“Their two biggest frustrations with the dish-washing process are the soaking and the scrubbing,” said Brashear. In response, P&G says, the new formula breaks down burnt and baked-on-food without having to use water or soaking the dishes. The company claims it works five times faster than traditional dish soap, reports CNN.

Dawn Powerwash will be available in stores and online beginning in January—coming in fresh, apple, and citrus scents. A 16 oz. starter-kit bottle will retail for $4.99, while refill bottles will go for $3.99.

Research contact: @CNN

Mochi ice cream goes mainstream

December 10, 2019

Walk into any supermarket today and you’ll find what used to be exotic edibles: They are called mochi—and they are small, frozen, bite-size balls of ice cream encased in rice dough.

In just the past three years, this finger food confection has evolved from an exotic niche dessert to a mainstream product, popping up nearly everywhere, including malls, street fairs, and major supermarket chains, CNN reports.

Mochi was invented in the United States nearly three decades ago, and was originally made using ice cream flavors with an Asian flair.

“It’s been around since the 1990s, but mochi ice cream was mostly available in specialty Asian food stores or on menus of Japanese restaurants in flavors like green tea, red bean and mango,” said Russell Barnett, a food industry veteran and chief marketing officer of Los Angeles-based My/Mo Mochi.

To help bring it to the masses, My/Mo created a flavor list most consumers felt instant familiarity with, such as chocolate sundae, S’mores, cookies & cream, strawberry, double chocolate and mint chocolate chip.

“I grew up eating vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. Green tea and red bean weren’t a common part of the flavor profile in most households,” he told CNN.

Barnett recognized the inherent appeal of mochi ice cream to Millennials, a group he calls “a snacking generation.” Mochi is a portion-control snack of about 110 calories per ball, easy to hold and eat on the go. “We just retooled and adjusted it for today’s consumers,” he said.

My/Mo Mochi ice cream (which is gluten-free with some dairy free varieties) is produced at a manufacturing facility in Los Angeles and sold in packages of six, CNN reports. They’re also sold individually in portable freezers that Barnett calls self-serve “ice cream bars.”

Currently, My/Mo Mochi is now available in 20,000 stores nationwide. “We are in Target, Kroger, Walmart and everything in-between,” said Barnett. “We are reaching the masses where they shop.”

Competing mochi ice cream brands include Bubbies, Maeda-En and Mr. Mochi, but the My/Mo Mochi brand has captured close to 90% of market share, according to data from Nielsen. The brand’s sales were $175 million in annual revenue in 2019, according to Barnett.

Research contact: @CNN

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

Hiccupping actually helps babies to develop

November 14, 2019

Most of us don’t know why we get the hiccups. They arrive as unexpected and annoying interludes in our otherwise orderly days—and we use a variety of questionable (and even silly) methods to get rid of them.

However, now scientists at University College London have discovered that hiccups might play a crucial role in our early development—by helping babies to regulate their breathing, MSN reports.

In a study led by Lorenzo Fabrizi, a specialist in Neuroscience, Physiology, and Pharmacology at the university, researchers who monitored 13 newborn babies found that hiccupping triggered a large wave of brain signals that could aid in their development.

Indeed, Fabrizi said in a statement, this brain activity might help babies “to learn how to monitor the breathing muscles,” eventually leading to an ability to control breathing voluntarily.

He added: “When we are born, the circuits which process body sensations are not fully developed, so the establishment of such networks is a crucial developmental milestone for newborns.”

Since the babies involved in the study were pre-term and full-term, ranging from 30 to 42 weeks gestational age, the scientists believe this development could be typical of the final trimester of pregnancy.

According to the researchers, fetuses and newborn infants often hiccup, MSN reported.

The phenomenon is seen as early as nine weeks into pregnancy, and pre-term infants—those born at least three weeks premature—spend approximately 15 minutes hiccupping every day.

The pre-term and full-term newborns involved in the study had electrodes placed on their scalps and sensors on their torsos to monitor for hiccups.

The researchers found that contractions in the babies’ diaphragms produced three brainwaves, and believe that through the third brainwave babies may be able to link the ‘hic’ sound of the hiccup to the physical contraction they feel.

Kimberley Whitehead, the study’s lead author, told CNN: “The muscle contraction of a hiccup is quite big

Most of us don’t know why we get the hiccups. They arrive as unexpected and annoying interludes in our otherwise orderly days—and we use a variety of questionable (and even silly) methods to get rid of them.

However, now scientists at University College London have discovered that hiccups might play a crucial role in our early development—by helping babies to regulate their breathing, MSN reports.

In a study led by Lorenzo Fabrizi, a specialist in Neuroscience, Physiology, and Pharmacology at the university, researchers who monitored 13 newborn babies found that hiccupping triggered a large wave of brain signals that could aid in their development.

Indeed, Fabrizi said in a statement, this brain activity might help babies “to learn how to monitor the breathing muscles,” eventually leading to an ability to control breathing voluntarily.

He added: “When we are born, the circuits which process body sensations are not fully developed, so the establishment of such networks is a crucial developmental milestone for newborns.”

Since the babies involved in the study were pre-term and full-term, ranging from 30 to 42 weeks gestational age, the scientists believe this development could be typical of the final trimester of pregnancy.

According to the researchers, fetuses and newborn infants often hiccup, MSN reported.

The phenomenon is seen as early as nine weeks into pregnancy, and pre-term infants—those born at least three weeks premature—spend approximately 15 minutes hiccupping every day.

The pre-term and full-term newborns involved in the study had electrodes placed on their scalps and sensors on their torsos to monitor for hiccups.

The researchers found that contractions in the babies’ diaphragms produced three brainwaves, and believe that through the third brainwave babies may be able to link the ‘hic’ sound of the hiccup to the physical contraction they feel.

Kimberley Whitehead, the study’s lead author, told CNN: “The muscle contraction of a hiccup is quite bigit’s good for the developing brain because it suddenly gives a big boost of input, which helps the brain cells to all link together for representing that particular body part.”

She added that hiccups have no known advantage for adults, and suggested they could be an example of “a hangover from early periods of our life that persists into later life.”

The same researchers have previously theorized that a baby’s kicks in the womb may help it to create a mental map of its own body.

Their new findings may show the same process occurring internally.

Research contact: @MSNi

Clinton is hinting: Is Tulsi Gabbard being groomed as Russia’s third-party candidate for 2020?

October 23, 2019

RepresentativeTulsi Gabbards clash with 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton suddenly has propelled her struggling 2020 presidential campaign into the spotlight—and not in a good way, CNN reported on October 21.

The heated squabble with Clinton—who said  on October 17 that Gabbard is “the favorite of the Russians” and is being groomed for a third-party run—also has raised doubts about Gabbard’s future in Democratic politics, the cable news outlet said.

The speculative statement from Clinton came during a podcast she was taping with former Obama adviser David Plouffe.

Gabbard, of Hawaii, has remained at single digits in the polls and is staring down an increasingly difficult path to the Democratic Party’s nomination. Back at home, she also faces the most formidable challenge to her House seat since she was elected in 2012, when she enjoyed a majority of the vote, CNN said.

On television, Gabbard has received a significant amount of coverage from Fox News, where she is often praised for her anti-establishment message. She made an appearance on Friday night with host Tucker Carlson to respond to Clinton and made a plea to Carlson’s viewers to support her candidacy.

“I am staying in the Democratic Party, and I’m fighting to take our Democratic Party back, out of the hands of Hillary Clinton and the war-mongering establishment, and put it back into the hands of the people, so our party can truly be a champion for the people,” Gabbard told The Daily Iowan on Friday.

She even turned the Clinton confrontation into a fund-raising opportunity, emailing supporters that “I challenge her” to “face me directly.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whom Gabbard supported in 2016, defended the congresswoman on Monday, writing in a tweet that “it is outrageous for anyone to suggest that Tulsi is a foreign asset.”

Research contact: @CNN