Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

Open and shut casements: Is it healthier to sleep with the window cracked?

November 28, 2018

Do you crack the window at night, believing that a little fresh air will promote a good night’s sleep? You could be right.

One recent study—conducted jointly by the Eindhoven University of Technology and Utretch University of Applied Sciences, both in the Netherlands— tested 17 patients across five nights and found those who slept with the window open experienced a better rest. The reason? A lower level of carbon dioxide in the room.

But do the breezes and ambient sounds coming from the outside create ideal conditions for restorative rest? Douglas Kirsch, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the medical director of Sleep Medicine at Atrium Health, recently told The Wall Street Journal, ““If you think about sleep evolutionarily, it makes sense that humans would prefer a physical environment that is cool and dark, like a cave.”

Kirsch generally recommends that people sleep in a room that is 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and very dark. “We wake up frequently for brief periods in the night, and if there is light, we are more likely to stay up, than [to] roll over and go back to sleep,” he says.

When it comes to fresh air in the bedroom, Dr. Kirsch says that there is limited science to suggest that it improves sleep, but its impact likely depends, in part, on the external environment. A 2016 study, conducted by the Technical University of Denmark, tested how the air quality in dorm rooms impacted sleep and next-day performance. The students said that their performance was much better when the carbon dioxide was lower, thanks to an open window or the use of a fan. However, Kirsch told the journal that only the participants’ movements and their self-reported, perceived sleep quality and mental state were measured. A larger study with sensitive technical equipment would have given more quantitative results.

Indeed, Kirsch believes, if the weather is right and a bedroom window is available to open, that can be great for circulation of air, pleasant sounds of nature stirring in the morning and sunlight at dawn to align with one’s circadian rhythms.

However, in the dead of winter, in the height of summer, or in an urban setting, he says, “The draft is just not comfortable: The outdoor air will change your body temperature too much or the loud noises may disrupt sleep. Those with allergies may also be better off leaving the windows closed when the pollen count is high, especially in spring.”

He believes an alternative way to achieve a cozy sleep setting year-round is to allow for some air circulation through an open door or a fan. “There is zero scientific data that I know of, but the reason people may like fans or windows open could be the pleasant feeling of the movement of air, the cooling effect or the white noise,” Kirsch told the business news outlet.

This may explain why in certain cultures, people sleep with the bedroom window open no matter the season. “At some basic level, there is a sense of peacefulness that comes from feeling integrated with nature, which can benefit sleep,” he says. “Unless, of course, it’s freezing or there are mosquitoes or ambulance sirens to disturb you.” The comforting thought of being near nature may also explain why popular white-noise machines include settings with the sounds of birds chirping, waterfalls, and rain.

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Turn off that tap: Why your dishwasher cleans better when the plates aren’t pre-rinsed

November 26, 2018

Back away from the sink. Experts are telling us to stop rinsing our plates before putting them in the dishwasher—among them, Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

You always should scrape off food scraps before you stack your plates, bowls, and utensils in the machine, but that’s the only step your dishwasher can’t handle—and in fact it washes less efficiently if you rinse, Prevention magazine discovered when Senior Web Editor Lauren Piro interviewed Forte just before Thanksgiving.

Here’s why you need to take a more hands-off approach:

  • Your dishes need to be dirty in order for the dishwasher detergent to do its job. The makers of the dish detergent Cascade discourage customers from pre-washing or rinsing dishes—because it actually inhibits the cleaner from working. Why? Because the enzymes in the detergent need something to latch onto—and that’s the food remnants on the plate. In other words, Prevention warns, your precious detergent just might rinse away before it has time to do anything if your dishes are gunk-free.
  • You won’t get your dishes any cleaner if you rinse or hand-wash them before you put them in the machine. Modern dishwashers are more efficient than ever before. They have advanced sprayer technology and sensors that detect just how dirty your dishes are, Forte told the magazine. What’s more, dishes get any cleaner than your hard-working dishwasher, alone.
  • Pre-rinsing at the sink wastes water and energy. You waste 6,000 gallons per year if you insist on pre-rinsing, Consumer Reports advises. The average modern dishwasher uses just 3 to 5 gallons of water per load, but even the most productive power washers will use at least 8 gallons when they do it by hand. “Regular” hand-washers (those of us who are more relaxed) typically use around 27 gallons of water—and twice the amount of electricity per load.

So when might you consider a pre-rinse—if ever? When you are not going to run the dishwasher right away. But even then, you should let your dishwasher do the heavy-lifting, so you don’t waste water and energy.”Simply load them in the dishwasher and run a ‘rinse only’ cycle,” advise Forte and Prevention.

And if you argue with your spouse about pre-rinsing, you are not alone. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, more than 40% of Americans fight about loading the dishwasher—with 61% of them arguing over whether to pre-rinse dishes. Some 39% of those who argue say they disagree on whether knives should point up or down (the answer is down, for safety reasons, and 30% differ on whether plastic containers must go on the top rack (in many dishwashers, it just doesn’t matter).

Research contact: @hellolaurenpiro

Forgot to pack a warm coat? Try the airport vending machine

November 15, 2018

If you are traveling by air, don’t worry about packing lightly. There’s almost no limit to what you can buy at the airport now, if you find you have forgotten an important item or need something unexpectedly.

Zara Harding had a nagging concern as she walked to her gate after an airport layover last June,” she told The Wall Street Journal for a November 14 story.  She had run out of time to buy a coat for the glacier hike in Washington’s Cascade Mountains she was heading to and was “worrying about being cold in the snow.”

But to her surprise and delight, she found her solution right there at Hollywood Burbank Airport. “Lo and behold,” she says, “a Uniqlo brand vending machine appeared in my path.”

Harding, 39, a group fitness instructor from Northern California, told the business news outlet that she paid $69.90 for an ultra-light down jacket made by the Japanese casual clothing retailer.

Indeed, according to the Journal, the retailer started rolling out vending machines in August 2017 at airports and shopping malls near New York, Houston, Oakland, and seven other U.S. cities—selling basic, travel-friendly attire to customers with no time to browse through the racks or wait on a line.

Although Uniqlo won’t comment on its sales, San Francisco International Airport officials told the New York-based newspaper that the machine there brings in a whopping $10,000 a month.

And according to the Journal, Uniqlo is in the forefront an exponentially expanding number of companies that are using vending machine to sell everything from apparel to makeup, to electronics and high-end foods at hubs nationwide.

The machines can be stationed in unused corners of an airport and make sales around the clock. Some new machines have touch screens and robotic suction arms to deliver expensive products.

“There’s only so many stores you can fit in an airport,” Elias Bizannes, CEO of San Francisco-based ZoomSystems said in an interview. The company operates machines for Uniqlo, as well as Best Buy, Benefit Cosmetics, Nespresso, and Proactiv.

Sarah Skwire, a senior fellow at a think tank in Indiana was on her way to Washington, D.C., when she got a text message that she needed her own makeup for a filming, the Journal reports. At Indianapolis International Airport, she found one of the pink, 59 bus-shaped Benefit machines that are parked at 37 U.S. and Canadian airports.

Before, she says, “I would make sarcastic remarks: Who’s going to blow $40 on Benefit while waiting for a plane, from a vending machine?”

This time, Skwire, 47, bought a travel makeup kit to get herself camera-ready. A few months later, she was back at a Benefit machine after a compact of pressed powder came apart in her bag during a security screening. “I went from a skeptic to a minor enthusiast.”

At some airports, vending machines offer local flavor. Ted Drewes, a St. Louis frozen-custard institution, has been selling $6 “concretes”—custard so thick you can turn it upside down without spilling—from machines at St. Louis Lambert International Airport since mid-2015. Travelers bought 15,000 concretes in the machines’ first year and sales climbed 25% the next year, according to Las Vegas-based AVendCo, which operates the four frozen-custard machines.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, a vending machine operated by Arcadia Publishing sells books on the history of local neighborhoods for about $20.

What’s next? Maybe food or other supplies for all of those companion animals that are catching flights with their owners?

Research contact: @alyrose

Now you see it … Alibaba’s Jack Ma rescinds promise to create 1 million U.S. jobs

September 21, 2018

Chinese technology tycoon Jack Ma is recanting on his pledge to create one million U.S. jobs—citing the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies as his rationale, according to a September 20 report by The Wall Street Journal.

The executive chairman of Alibaba has been reevaluating his professional goals recently, having announced earlier this month that he would step down from his leadership position at the e-commerce company he founded in 1999 and hand over the reins to current CEO Daniel Zhang within the next year. .

Ma made the pledge, the Journal said, when he met with then-President-elect Trump in January 2017—saying  that the China-U.S. relationship should be “more friendly,” and that the jobs would be created by supporting more sales by America’s  small businesses on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.

In an interview with China’s state news agency Xinhua published on September 19, Ma said his commitment was contingent on good relations between the two nations.

“The current situation has already destroyed the original premise and there’s no way we could meet it,” he said, according to the Journal. “Trade is not a weapon. It can’t be used for war. It should be used as a tool to promote peace.”

In recent months, Mr. Ma has become increasingly critical of the Trump administration’s trade-related moves against China. When contacted by The Wall Street Journal, an Alibaba spokesperson declined to comment beyond Ma’s remarks to Xinhua.

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Volkswagen ‘totals’ its Beetle, ceasing production of iconic vehicle

September 17, 2018

It had all of the appeal of a 1998 Furby toy, but a much longer lifespan. Volkswagen’s Beetle is ending an 80-year global run as one of the most visually engaging and best-selling vehicles of all time.

Produced as Volkswagen AG’s first-ever model in 1938 in Wolfsburg, Germany, the Beetle endured because it was a well-built, affordable compact car that—with its unique shape and youthful spirit—sparked the imagination of buyers worldwide. Since then, 22.7 million Beetles have hit the road—and like their insect “cousins,” have flourished in nearly every ecosystem worldwide.

For many Americans, the Beetle was the ultimate “hippie car” of the Baby Boomer generation—paving the way for an influx of economical foreign models in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to a September 13 report by The Wall Street Journal, VW’s decision marks the second time the car will disappear from American showrooms. Production of the original Beetle ended in 1979, but a more-modern version of the car that was larger and had more creature comforts debuted in 1997. The newer model has been produced in Puebla, Mexico, since 1999.

U.S. sales of the Beetle stopped in 1979 and resumed with the “New Beetle” in 1998. The revamped Beetle, which featured a quirky dashboard flower vase and front-mounted engine, was replaced by a more muscular-looking version in 2011. But neither redesign caught on like the original among its Baby Boomer fans or younger generations of car buyers.

Even though the United States is the vehicle’s biggest market today, VW sold only 15,000 Beetles nationwide last year, the business news outlet said. That is less than 5% of the 339,700 cars the company sold in the States. in 2017.

Company officials said the move comes as VW focuses on other models and its electric-car lineup, but left the door open for a return of its best-known nameplate. “There are no immediate plans to replace it,” Hinrich J. Woebcken, the head of VW’s American operations, told the Journal.

.The German automaker said it would stop building the compact next year at a factory in Mexico, the last plant in the world to make the car.

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Mueller rejects Manafort plea deal before second trial

August 29, 2018

President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort tried to make a deal with the Special Counsel ahead of his second trial in Washington, D.C., but the talks fell apart, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

Manafort’s defense team reportedly held plea discussions with prosecutors last week— hoping to help their client “flip” before he was held accountable for helping Russia interfere in the 2016 elections—but the talks stalled over objections raised by Robert Mueller.

The Journal was unable to determine the nature of those objections, and representatives for Manafort and Mueller declined to comment for the report.

Manafort is facing a second set of charges in D.C. related to his work for a Russia–backed political party in Ukraine, as well as his offer of reports on the campaign to a wealthy Russian to whom he owed money. He is being accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, among other charges.

The former Trump associate was convicted by in an Alexandria, Virginia-based federal jury trial on eight felony counts in the first legal victory for Mueller’s team. The jury found Manafort guilty on five charges of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. They deadlocked on the other 10 of 18 counts, with one juror holding out.

According to Politico, Mueller’s team in recent days has shortened its estimate of the length of Manafort’s upcoming trial, which is scheduled to start on September 17. The special counsel’s prosecutors wrote it could be completed in around two, rather than three, weeks.

Research contact: @aviswanatha

Following in the steps of Richard Nixon, Trump releases an enemies list

August 17, 2018

President Richard Nixon had his “enemies list”—released as a confidential memorandum on August 16, 1971. And now, 41 years later, nearly to the day, President Donald Trump has distributed a statement with a similar list of his own—revoking the security clearances of those who have spoken out against him, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported on Wednesday night.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at a White House briefing on August 15 that the POTUS had revoked the security clearance of John Brennan, the former C.I.A. director under President Barack Obama, as well as the clearances of several other detractors.

Citing what he called Brennan’s “erratic” behavior and “increasingly frenzied commentary,” Trump said that Brennan had abused his access to the United States’ secrets “to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations.”

In the same statement, the president listed others whose clearances had been cancelled as a result of their negative assessments of Trump administration policies and actions. The others on the list include: former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates; former F.B.I. Director James Comey; former F.B.I. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former F.B.I. Counterintelligence Agent Peter Strzok

The New York Times characterized the move as “a striking act of retaliation against an outspoken critic.” adding that the president threatened to do the same to other former national security officials who have antagonized him.

As the Times noted, the statement came only a few weeks after Sanders warned that Trump was considering revoking the clearances of Brennan and others whom he believed had politicized and inappropriately profited from their access to confidential information.

“It was the latest assault by a president who has routinely questioned the loyalties of national security officials and dismissed some of their findings-particularly the conclusion that Moscow intervened in the 2016 election — as attacks against him, the news outlet reported..

In an interview later Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal, the president argued that his list of potential targets for having security clearances revoked was not confined to his political opponents, saying that he “would put a Republican on, too, if I thought they were incompetent or crazy.”

The revocation of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance also appeared to be a way to change the subject from damaging accusations in a tell-all book, Unhinged, by Omarosa Manigault Newman,  who had appeared on Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, and who had worked in the White House until last December. Manigault Newman now claims that Mr. Trump used a slur to disparage African-Americans and is in a state of mental decline.

Trump’s decision drew a swift response from Brennan. “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” Brennan wrote on Twitter, adding that he would not relent. “It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.”

As of August 16, the president’s approval rating remained at 39%, according to the Gallup poll.

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