Newsworthy – Nov 8th, 2019

Russian engineers have developed impact-proof concrete, Apple wants to help California’s housing and affordability crisis, climate change is affecting centuries old French wineries.

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

Science and Environment

  • Russian researchers have used a non-invasive technique that visualizes the brain activity of a person, recreating surprisingly accurate moving images of what our eyes actually see.

    The method could someday be employed in cognitive disorder treatment or post-stroke rehabilitation devices that are controlled by a patient’s thoughts.

    From ZME Science
  • More resistant and partly done from waste, engineers at the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) in Russia have developed a brand-new concrete, suitable for the construction of military and civil defense structures, load-carrying structures of nuclear power plants, or even for buildings in the Arctic.

    This impact-proof concrete can resist not only shell hits but also tsunami waves. Moreover, it has seismic stability.

    From ZME Science
  • Forensic techniques have long been used to help identify criminals and ensure the safety of food. Now the tools are being adapted for use in tree sleuthing, with some victories for conservationists.

    Rosewood is the most trafficked wildlife product in the world based on market value — more than elephant ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales combined. More than one-third of illegally traded plants and animals seized between 2005 and 2014 were rosewood, according to the World Wildlife Seizures database.

    From Science News Magazine
  • Air pollution in India’s capital surged to its worst levels in years, covering the city in a thick smog.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • In France, climate change is already affecting one of the country’s most emblematic industries — winemaking. French vintners say heat, drought and erratic weather are altering the landscape and their centuries-old way of working.

    One example is higher alcohol levels that come from increased sugar in the grapes because of more sun and heat.

    In a sign of how serious the situation has become, this past July the French wine governing body, the INAO, approved the use of seven new grapes for certain categories of Bordeaux wines.

    From NPR

Health and Society

  • A human “liver chip”, liver cells grown on a membrane along with several types of supporting cells, mimics a real live and can help better predict drug toxicity or safety.

    Rats, dogs and other animals are often used to test whether drugs are toxic to humans before the drugs are given to people. But a previous study found that the animal tests correctly identified only 71 percent of drug toxicities.

    From Science News Magazine
  • A survey of more than 24,000 Canadians found that for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), medicating with cannabis reduced the likelihood of experiencing severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

    From ZME Science
  • Having sugary drinks can affect your body in more than one way: in addition to having a lot of sugar, they also disrupt the liver’s ability to burn fat.

    When joined together, sugar and fat can have an even worse effect than they do separately.

    From ZME Science
  • Any amount of running is linked to a significantly lower risk of death from any cause, a new metastudy on the subject reports. If more people took up running, the authors add, we could see substantial improvements in population health and longevity.

    From ZME Science
  • Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have been exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, according to an investigation by journalists from nine universities and 10 media organizations.

    From AP
  • College Board, the nonprofit that owns the SAT, sells test-takers’ names and personal information to schools, which they use to invite applications, even from test-takers whose scores are well below those of most students the school admits.

    More applicants means a higher rejection rate, amplifying the perceived exclusivity.

    From The Wall Street Journal

Business and Economics

  • Data from the Investment Company Institute shows that even though the stock market has risen by nearly 25% this year, investors have been net sellers of stocks, pulling $100 billion out of equity funds.

    They’ve moved more than $3.5 trillion into money market funds, which are essentially savings accounts; it’s the highest level since 2009.

    From Axios
  • Saudi Arabia is set to push for deeper OPEC production cuts, seeking to boost the price of oil ahead of Saudi Aramco’s IPO.

    At a December OPEC meeting, the Saudis are expected to back continuing a pact to cut collective production by 1.2 million barrels a day, and press producers that haven’t respected the agreement.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • The FCC formally approved the merger of T-Mobile US with smaller rival Sprint. A lawsuit brought by a group of state attorneys general who say the deal would drive up phone-service prices is set for court Dec. 9.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • For five Fridays, Microsoft Japan closed its doors, and employees enjoyed a paid vacation day. The result? Not only did the company save money, but overall employee productivity increased by 40%.

    From ZME Science
  • Apple unveiled a $2.5 billion plan to help alleviate California’s housing availability and affordability crisis.

    Many teachers and emergency workers can’t afford to live in the Bay Area communities they serve. “Super-commutes” of 90 minutes or more, often from distant counties, have become a grim regional phenomenon.

    From Axios

Government and Politics

  • The Army is targeting young people with a new multimillion-dollar advertising campaign designed to help recruit more than 130,000 people over the next year with promises of jobs everywhere from bio labs to cyber and culinary arts.

    From Bloomberg
  • Firefighters made progress over the weekend in controlling destructive fires that have engulfed the state. Separately, President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding to assist the state in fighting wildfires.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Germany’s latest report on the state of the reunification of East and West after the fall of the Berlin wall claims that 57% of East Germans feel like second-class citizens and only 38% consider reunification a success.

    From The Wall Street Journal

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