Newsworthy – Dec 6th, 2019

Birds are getting smaller, using an oral contraceptive might shrink your hypothalamus, the Trump administration wants to put tariffs on French cheese and champagne.

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

Science and Environment

  • Scientists installed underwater speakers in dead or dying coral which played sounds typical of healthy reefs over the course of 6 months. Wildlife soon flocked back creating new communities.

    – ZME Science
  • North American songbirds are shrinking. Scientists who have measured tens of thousands of birds of dozens of species over the past 40 years say the pattern is clear—and that it is likely associated with rising temperatures.

    Warm-blooded animals are generally larger in cold climates and smaller in warm climates. As bodies have shrunk, wings have gradually lengthened, which may help offset the loss of mass to allow efficient flying on long migrations.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • 36.5% of the world’s plant species are very rare and are facing extinction due to climate change.

    – ZME Science

Health and Society

  • A recent study has shown that consumers’ poor hygiene practices when it comes to using make-up, especially beauty blenders, yields to bacteria such as E.coli – which is linked with faecal contamination – breeding on the products tested.

    – ZME Science
  • A new study has found that women who used oral contraceptives had a smaller hypothalamus — a small but crucial part of the brain responsible for regulating hormones. Damage to the hypothalamus is known to affect sex drive, mood, heart rate, and sleep cycles. A smaller hypothalamus doesn’t necessarily mean that it is damaged in any way, though.

    Doctors have known for years that oral contraceptives can drastically alter a woman’s behavioral patterns, including the way they manage emotions, mood, learning, sex, attraction, and stress, among other things.

    Researchers also found a correlation between a smaller hypothalamic volume and more frequent bouts of anger and depressive symptoms.

    – ZME Science
  • The abortion rate for U.S. women ages 15 to 44 continued to decline in new data this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Teens are having less sex and better access to effective and long-lasting forms of contraception.

    – Washington Post
  • A new MRI-guided ultrasound treatment can destroy prostate cancer. The treatment does not require an incision and could also be used to treat benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

    – ZME Science
  • A new statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was dedicated in Montgomery, Alabama’s capital city, yesterday — the 64th anniversary of her historic refusal to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man.

    – AP
  • The death of local news in America is routinely cited as one of the country’s biggest threats to democracy. With fewer opportunities in local journalism and less job security at the local level, finding talent to fill local newsrooms has become a central focus.

    In one of the largest single-day hiring announcements for local journalism, nonprofit Report for America said that it’s on pace to place 250 journalists in 164 local newsrooms in 2020.

    – Axios

Business and Economics

  • Gum makers are pitching new reasons to chew. They are mixing components from vitamins to candy into their recipes to give customers more incentives to pick up a pack. Trouble sleeping? There is a gum for that. Other new chewing gums purport to boost energy, alleviate headaches and stimulate weight loss.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • Uber disclosed yesterday that its U.S. users reported nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault during 2017 and 2018.

    – Axios
  • Credit unions’ assets have grown at nearly twice the pace of banks’ over the past decade, and the cooperatives are buying small banks in record numbers.

    Credit unions are owned by members and are designed to return their profits in the form of lower borrowing costs and higher deposit rates. They are exempt from paying federal income taxes, and are using their newfound heft to compete aggressively for business.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • The Trump administration has proposed tariffs of up to 100% against $2.4 billion of French imports, including Champagne and cheese, to punish France for a new digital-services tax that hits U.S. technology companies.

    – The Wall Street Journal

Government and Politics

  • U.S. federal officials are considering requiring that all travelers — including American citizens — be photographed as they enter or leave the country.

    – AP
  • A new 1,800-mile pipeline is set to begin delivering Russian natural gas to China today. The channel is a feat of energy infrastructure—and political engineering.

    The Power of Siberia pipeline is a physical bond signaling a new era of cooperation between two powers that have separately challenged the U.S. Beijing and Moscow are expanding an economic and strategic partnership touching global politics, trade and energy markets.

    – The Wall Street Journal

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