Newsworthy – Nov 1st, 2019

The number of flying insects in Germany are dramatically falling, higher rates of obesity and an aging population are leading to surging deaths from heart failure in the U.S., businesses are offering higher pay and hiring less.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

Science and Environment

  • New research shows it takes your brain 0.1 to 0.3 seconds to recognize a familiar song.

    From ZME Science
  • In 2017, researchers sounded the alarm when they found that the number of flying insects had dramatically fallen in recent times in Germany.

    A new study that analyzed a broad range of species in three protected German areas confirmed these fears, finding that some populations had declined by up to two-thirds in the last decade.

    From ZME Science

Health and Society

  • Exposure to wildfire smoke may alter the immune system for years, new research found, as the tiny particulate matter in the smoke that penetrates into the lungs and into the bloodstream could linger for a long time.

    From ZME Science
  • While researchers struggle to develop a drug to treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease, some doctors are recommending lifestyle changes. In a new study, healthy people who made changes in nutrition and exercise showed cognitive improvements on average. Alzheimer’s disease starts in the brain some 20 to 30 years before symptoms emerge, so intervening early can make a difference.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Deaths in the U.S. from heart failure are surging. The death rate from the chronic, debilitating condition rose 20.7% between 2011 and 2017 and is likely to keep climbing sharply.

    The rapid aging of the population, together with high rates of obesity and diabetes in all ages, are pushing both the rate and number of deaths from heart failure higher.

    An estimated 6.2 million Americans suffer from heart failure, and the American Heart Association predicts that more than 8 million will have the condition by 2030.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • 18% of American kids are now obese, according to new CDC data. So are roughly 40% of adults. And it’s projected to get worse.

    Rising obesity rates now will translate into rising rates of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

    Diabetes roughly doubles your lifetime health care bills, according to the CDC, and costs the U.S. a total of $245 billion per year.

    From Axios
  • Nationwide, a little more than a third of eighth graders are proficient in reading and math. About a third of fourth graders are proficient in reading, while more than 40% of fourth graders are proficient in math.

    From AP

Business and Economics

  • Google owner Alphabet has made an offer to acquire the wearable-device maker Fitbit, though talks are continuing.

    From Reuters
  • Twitter’s move to ban political ads is the latest of several moves by the platform to position itself as an antidote to what critics see as Facebook’s missteps and ethical lapses.

    From Axios
  • Even as the $21 trillion U.S. economy continues growing, and unemployment hovers at a half-century low, factory activity has contracted for two consecutive months, according to the closely watched Institute for Supply Management index.

    From Washington Post
  • Perhaps because of concerns over a weakening economy, businesses are less likely to offer higher pay, even with unemployment at a 50-year low.

    Just one-third of economists said their firms had lifted pay in the past three months, down from more than half a year ago.

    From Axios
  • Just one-fifth of the economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics said their companies have hired additional workers in the past three months. That is down from one-third in July.

    From AP
  • The Fed cut interest rates for the third time this year but signaled it wouldn’t cut further unless the economy slows sharply.

    Interest rates affect the cost of borrowing, so falling interest rates can ripple through the cost of mortgages, the interest earned on savings accounts and more.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Some studies suggest that the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payments have coincided with overall poverty reductions and improvements to child health. But other research suggests a potential downside — giving everyone free money may further widen both the gender and wealth gap.

    The annual giveaway shares the Arctic state’s oil revenues with its residents.

    From Science News Magazine
  • California utility companies are preparing for another week of widespread blackouts amid forecasts of strong, dangerous winds.

    Bankrupt utility giant PG&E said its power lines might have caused two small fires in a San Francisco suburb over the weekend—even as it shut off power to an estimated 2.5 million people to try to prevent such events. Last week, the company said one of its lines malfunctioned shortly before a massive fire—still burning north of San Francisco—broke out.

    Emergency officials anticipate it will take days to contain fires in the south and north of the state.

    From The Wall Street Journal

Government and Politics

  • Demonstrators from Algeria to Iraq are calling for an end to corruption and kleptocracy have defied violent crackdowns and politicians’ appeals to stay home. They are using lessons from the Arab Spring, maintaining a focus on reforms and trying to avoid the pitfalls that turned hopeful uprisings in Syria, Libya and Yemen into civil wars.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Thousands of civil servants, police and teachers in Thailand are being sent to a military camp for intensive training in community service and loyalty to the monarchy.

    From Reuters

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