Sunday Reading – 07/31/2022


The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

These California Counties Have the Worst Commutes – Workers who have been reluctant to return to the office most often cite commuting as their number one sticking point. The average American spent 26.6 minutes on a one-way trip to or from the office in 2019. That’s 53 minutes a day. There are only so many podcasts that can ease the pain of that statistic.

Of course, people in some places have it much worse than others. California is notorious for its traffic. The average one-way commute in California is over 29 minutes long!

Stacker recently compiled a list of California counties with the longest commute times. The information is based on U.S. Census Bureau Data from 2019. 

CALIFORNIA COUNTIES WITH THE WORST COMMUTES

1. Contra Costa County

-Average commute time: 38.7 minutes

-#33 longest among all counties nationwide

2. Calaveras County

-Average commute time: 38.3 minutes

-#38 longest among all counties nationwide

3. San Benito County

-Average commute time: 35.7 minutes

-#81 longest among all counties nationwide. Read More > at California County News

The Covid Virus Keeps Evolving. Why Haven’t Vaccines? – ON MARCH 16, 2020, the first volunteer received a shot of Moderna’s then-experimental Covid-19 vaccine, just 63 days after the company had generated a genetic blueprint of the new virus. But Moderna’s rival beat it to the marketplace: Pfizer’s Covid vaccine would be authorized for use in the United States less than a year later, a record-breaking achievement. Previously, the fastest a vaccine had ever been developed was for mumps—which took about four years.

The speed at which both companies were able to deliver their vaccines can be credited to mRNA technology. Instead of using the virus itself to spur an immune response, as older vaccines do, scientists instead spur it using a programmable piece of genetic code called mRNA. The mRNA tells the body to make a version of the coronavirus’s distinct spike protein, so it can make antibodies to neutralize that spike. The mRNA is quickly broken down, but the memory of the spike protein lingers in the immune system, so it’s ready to launch an attack if it encounters it again.

The promise of mRNA technology was its adaptability. Vaccine makers touted its plug-and-play nature. If the virus mutated to evade current vaccines, scientists could simply swap in a new piece of mRNA to match the new version of the virus. But today, despite waves of variants including DeltaOmicron, and the latest threats—Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5—the Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots still target the original virus that was identified in late 2019. Why haven’t variant-specific boosters arrived sooner?

While the currently available vaccines have greatly reduced death and hospitalization due to Covid-19, “their effectiveness does appear to wane with time,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, during a June 28 VRBPAC meeting. Initial booster shots helped restore some protection against severe disease, but their effectiveness also seems to fade.

…While the process of updating an mRNA booster goes rather quickly, testing and manufacturing it at scale takes longer. Variant-specific vaccines still need to go through animal and human testing to make sure they’re safe and generate an immune response. The FDA has said that vaccine makers can bypass large trials for updated Covid vaccines and instead test them in smaller groups of volunteers, similar to what’s done for the annual flu vaccine. Then, companies need to study volunteers’ blood to compare the immune response generated by the modified booster to the one generated by the original vaccine. The whole process from start to finish takes Moderna about six months, says Miller. Read More > at Wired

California Siphons Financial Benefits from Some Foster Youth – California county child welfare agencies regularly reimburse themselves for caring for foster youth by applying for and taking the children’s Social Security benefits — money that advocates say should instead be going to the children.

Some children in foster care have disabilities and are from low-income families, qualifying them for a Social Security program called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. Others are like Tanner, eligible for survivor benefits because one or both of their parents died.

The state does not track how much money is withheld from these children, who make up a fraction of California’s 55,000 foster kids.

Advocates say taking the money hurts young people who are most in need of financial support, while it covers only a drop in the bucket of California’s child welfare system, which consumes nearly $5 billion in federal, state and local funds a year.

State and county child welfare officials say they’re using the money as intended – to provide for foster children as if they were their parents.

Federal dollars only pay for foster care for some children whose families meet strict poverty criteria, and states and counties must pay the full costs for other kids in their custody.

The Social Security benefits, when they’re available, are viewed as an offset of those costs. Read More > at Governing

Richer people left San Francisco in the pandemic. And they took billions of dollars with them – The average income of people who moved out of San Francisco surged during the early part of the pandemic, as more wealthy, white-collar workers, many of whom could work remotely, left the city.

From 2019 and 2020, the number of people listed on a tax return in San Francisco fell by 39,202, a drop of 4.5%, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. Residents who left made an average of about $138,000 per year in 2019, up 67% from the prior year, when departing residents had an average annual income of around $82,000. San Francisco’s net out-migration, which is the number of people on filings who moved out subtracted by the number of people who moved in, nearly tripled in one year.

The agency cited data from tax returns received between 2019 and mid-July 2021. Separate Census data showed a 6.3% population drop in San Francisco between July 2020 and 2021, the largest in the country.

The total income in 2019 of people who had left the city by the time they filed their 2020 returns was about $10.6 billion, which compares to $3.8 billion for those that came to the city. A net loss of almost $6.9 billion. The net loss in the previous year was also negative, but much less at $2.6 billion, according to the IRS.

Ted Egan, San Francisco’s chief economist, said the flood of high-income residents leaving will not have a direct hit on municipal coffers, as the city doesn’t collect a personal income tax. Voters also repealed the remnants of a payroll tax in 2020.

But fewer people living in the city means less business for local shops and directly contributed to the plunge in sales tax revenue from $165 million in 2019 to $88 million in 2020. City officials don’t expect sales tax revenue to recover to pre-pandemic levels until the fiscal year starting in July 2025. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Bananas may improve heart health, especially for women – It may sound bananas, but new research shows eating this potassium-rich food can improve heart health.

Avocados and salmon also are high in potassium, helping counteract the negative effects of salt in the diet and lowering blood pressure, researchers said. Other potassium-rich foods include a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, dairy products and fish.

Every 1-gram increase in daily potassium was associated with a 2.4 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure for these women. No link between potassium and blood pressure was found in men.

Participants were followed a median of 19.5 years (meaning half were followed longer, half for a shorter time). During that time, 55% of participants were hospitalized or died due to heart disease.

After adjusting for such factors as age, sex, body mass index, use of tobacco, alcohol and lipid-lowering drugs, diabetes and prior heart attack or stroke, researchers found that people with the highest potassium intake had a 13% lower risk of heart-related problems compared to those with the lowest intake. Read More > at UPI

Most Americans Think Government Is Corrupt, a Third Say Armed Revolution ‘May Be Necessary’ Soon – A new poll from the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics finds a majority of Americans think the government is corrupt and stacked against them.

To probably no one’s surprise, 73 percent of poll respondents who identify as “strong Republican” respondents agreed with the statement that the government is “corrupt and rigged against everyday people like me.” But Republicans are far from alone in this sentiment. Fifty-one percent of “very liberal” voters agreed with the same statement.

Overall, 56 percent of survey respondents said that the government is corrupt. This included 66 percent of all Republican respondents, 63 percent of independents, and 46 percent of Democrats.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters found that a significant number of people expect that extreme measures may be necessary to protect against government overreach. 28 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “it may be necessary at some point soon for citizens to take up arms against the government.” Thirty-six percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents, and 20 percent of Democrats agreed. 

While some have portrayed this as a sign of increasing polarization or extremism, I think it’s the kind of poll question that makes for dramatic results but doesn’t really tell us much. Agreeing that armed revolution “may” (or may not!) be necessary at some unspecified point in the future doesn’t mean you think it’s terribly likely to be necessary.

One interesting finding is that people across the board believed that their political opponents might agree with them if they were better informed. Asked about “people who you disagree with on political issues,” half said that “the root of the problem” is that these people “are misinformed because of where they get their information.” Fifty-one percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Democrats, and 37 percent of independents believed this. Read More > at Reason

California leads the nation in data breaches – A new report from Forbes Advisor shows California led the nation in data breaches between 2017-2021, with 325,291 victims losing more than $3.7 billion.

Forbes used FBI data from the federal agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center to determine how many Americans were impacted during the five-year period, which type of breach was the most common and which resulted in the highest financial loss.

The most expensive breach for Golden State residents came from compromised email accounts, which cost 14,925 victims more than $1.18 billion. That was followed by 12,205 victims duped by online romance schemes at a cost of $516.2 million.

Other ripoffs came in the form of investment scams (5,270 victims lost nearly $440 million), real estate fraud (11,365 victims lost $176.4 million) and personal data theft (31,742 victims lost $163.4 million).

Texas weathered the second-biggest financial loss in the Forbes report with 179,217 people impacted by data breaches at a total cost of more than $1.8 billion. New York was next (141,170 victims lost $1.77 billion), followed by Florida (198,830 victims lost $1.72 billion) and Ohio (64,926 victims lost $776.8 million) to round out the top five. Read More > at The Press-Enterprise

Ranchers Are Selling Off Their Cattle in Unprecedented Numbers Due to the Drought, and That Has Enormous Implications for 2023 – Thanks to the horrific drought which is absolutely devastating ranching in the Southwest, ranchers are now in “panic mode” and are selling off their cattle at an unprecedented rate.  In fact, some are choosing to sell off their entire herds because they feel like they don’t have any other options.  In recent days, seemingly endless lines of trailers waiting to drop off cattle for auction have gone viral all over social media.  Everybody is talking about how they have never seen anything like this before, and if the drought in the Southwest persists the lines could soon get even longer.  In the short-term, this is going to help to stabilize meat prices.  But in the long-term the size of the U.S. cattle herd will steadily become much smaller, and that has very serious implications for our ability to feed ourselves in 2023 and beyond.

North Texas has become the epicenter for this rapidly growing crisis.  Thanks to the drought, there simply is not enough grass and not enough water, and so many ranchers have been forced to make some really tough decisions

For many of these ranchers, it is imperative that they get something for their animals while they still can.

According to the USDA, the vast majority of the pasture and range land in the region is now in either “poor” or “very poor” condition

Normally, many cattle ranchers would feed hay to their cattle under such circumstances, but the price of hay has absolutely skyrocketed over the past year

So now even if you can find hay for sale it is usually so expensive that it is simply not economical.  Without any other options that make sense, some cattle ranchers in Texas have actually decided to go ahead and sell their entire herds.

The good news is that a flood of beef is coming into the supply chain right now.

And that will certainly help keep short-term prices stable.

But what will we do next year and beyond? Read More > at America First Report

Your brain “wakes up” more than 100 times each night. That’s normal — and maybe good – It’s common for humans to bemoan a night of fragmented sleep and prize one that’s completely uninterrupted, but a new study conducted on mice — which share basic sleep mechanisms with us — suggests that brief, repeated “wake-ups” during sleep are completely normal, and may actually augur well for one’s memory. The research was recently published in Nature Neuroscience.

Sleep is a complex neurological process characterized by shifting brain patterns, fluids flushing in and out of the skull, and a drop in body temperature, all with the apparent aim of restoring the brain as its waking functions are disabled.

In this process, the hormone norepinephrine appears to play a significant role, even though it’s released at lower levels during sleep compared to when we’re awake. Observing the brains of mice as the critters slept, scientists from the University of Copenhagen watched norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) levels rise and fall in a steady, oscillatory pattern, and noticed that this rhythm coincided with frequent, fleeting spurts of arousal in the brain.

“We have learned that noradrenaline causes you to wake up more than 100 times a night,” co-first author Celia Kjærby, an assistant professor from the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, said in a statement.

“Neurologically, you do wake up, because your brain activity during these very brief moments is the same as when you are awake. But the moment is so brief that the sleeper will not notice,” PhD student Mie Andersen, the other co-first author of the study, added.

Furthermore, the researchers noticed that when norepinephrine’s oscillation had a greater amplitude — meaning a larger disparity between peak levels of the hormone and the lowest levels — it led to more complete awakenings but also increased the frequency of sleep spindlesbrain wave patterns experienced during sleep associated with learning and memory processing.

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“You could say that the short awakenings reset the brain so that it is ready to store memory when you dive back into sleep,” Maiken Nedergaard, a Professor of Glial Cell Biology at the University of Copenhagen, speculated.

Indeed, when the researchers artificially reduced the amplitude of norepinephrine’s oscillation in mice’s sleeping brains, either through genetic engineering or pharmaceuticals, they found that the mice performed worse on memory tests compared to unaltered controls. Read More > at Big Think

Inside The Corrupt World Of Alzheimer’s Science (And What Its Failure Means For All ‘Settled Science’) – An international cabal of scientists who believe in their own righteousness. Scientific journals, conferences, and grants that suppress dissent. Tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer, Big Pharma and venture capital money. Decades of research — and precious little to show for it all.

I’m not describing Covid, global warming, or any other highly politicized scientific debate. I’m talking about Alzheimer’s research. The implications for the rest of science, policy, and education, however, are deep and troubling.

…All that is to say we care about Alzheimer’s like we care about cancer, heart disease, and others that have touched us personally. Did you know, however, that despite being officially diagnosed over a century ago; despite all the grants, institutes, and money poured into it; and despite Americans’ personal interest in solving it, we haven’t discovered a single cure?

Ever since Dr. Alois Alzheimer first identified the disease that now bears his name, we’ve taken an interest in the plaque deposits found in the brains of deceased patients. Follow-up research into the disease was slow to pick up, however, only gaining serious interest in the 1970s, when Congress established the National Institute on Aging (attached to the National Institutes of Health), and then gaining speed in the 1980s with private institutes joining the fray.

The main driver of these plaques was finally discovered in 1984 and identified as Amyloid beta. The discovery was electric, and quickly gained adherents.

Three years after, in 1987, STAT News reports, a new study further discovered “mutations in a gene called APP that increases amyloid levels and causes Alzheimer’s in middle age, supporting the then-emerging orthodoxy.”

By 1991, Science magazine reports, many scientists considered the amyloid thesis settled fact. Even serious studies casting doubt on the hypothesis were largely disregarded, including a 1991 study that found that, “although the brains of elderly Alzheimer’s patients had amyloid plaques, so did the brains of people the same age who died with no signs of dementia.”

At the same time, scientists began to wonder if Amyloid was the cause of the disease, or merely a sign of the damage the actual cause was doing to the brain; the difference between, say, a terminal disease and the tombstone left behind after it’s taken its toll.

The science, however, was settled, and alternative hypotheses would no longer be considered.

“In more than two dozen interviews,” a 2019 STAT News expose revealed, “scientists whose ideas fell outside the dogma recounted how, for decades, believers in the dominant hypothesis suppressed research on alternative ideas: They influenced what studies got published in top journals, which scientists got funded, who got tenure, and who got speaking slots at reputation-buffing scientific conferences.”

Straying outside the dogma would get you marked as a “traitor,” one prominent scientist explained, and could cost the heretic published articles, prominent posts, grant money for research, and speaking slots at prestigious conferences.

The 100-year anniversary of Dr. Alzheimer’s discovery might have been the year for skeptics to have their say, pointing out that despite decades of research and money, no cure yet existed. But that very year, Science reports, “a breathtaking Nature paper entered the breach.”

The study built on existing amyloid theories but discovered what its author called “the first substance ever identified in brain tissue in Alzheimer’s research that has been shown to cause memory impairment.”

It went off like a bomb, reinvigorating a dogma that had been showing signs of age after decades of failure. Over the next 15 years, the 2006 study would be cited in more than 2,000 other scholarly works.

Then in 2022, it would be exposed as seemingly fraudulent by a host of credible scientific investigators.

Fraudulent, as in, literally using falsified images to make its case. The “substance,” it turns out, might not even exist. Read More > in The Federalist

Proposed Delta tunnel enters next phase – The latest chapter in California’s decades-long water wars was released Wednesday, in the form of a 3,000-page report outlining the potential environmental impacts of Newsom’s proposal to overhaul the state’s massive water management system via a 45-mile underground tunnel that would allow more water to be funneled south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta. But, as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports, the plan is far from final: It has yet to receive a price tag, though a 2020 cost estimate for an alternate tunnel path clocked in at just under $16 billion. And, if eventually approved, the project likely wouldn’t be completed until 2040 at the earliest. In the meantime, Californians have until Oct. 27 to submit public comments on the report, which has already faced pushback from environmental advocates who say it will harm endangered fish.

The news comes as Californians have water — or the lack thereof — on the mind. A whopping 68% of Californians — and 77% of likely voters — say the supply of water is a big problem in their part of the state, up from 63% and 69% last year, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey released late Wednesday night. The same percentage of adults, 68%, say state and local governments aren’t doing enough to address California’s drought, even as 45% say they personally have done a lot to reduce water use.

When it comes to likely voters, 59% told the institute they approve of Newsom’s handling of the environment, and nearly 9 in 10 said candidates’ stance on the environment will help determine their votes in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Delta tunnel: Salmon at risk from massive water project, state report says – California’s water agency today released a long-awaited environmental report outlining the details and impacts of a controversial proposal to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and pump more water south.

In the report, state officials said the tunnel project could harm endangered and threatened species, including the Delta smeltwinter-run chinook salmon and steelhead trout. To offset the “potentially significant impacts” on the rare fish, the Department of Water Resources says thousands of acres of other wetlands would have to be restored — which critics say is a slow and inefficient way to provide new habitat.

The draft environmental impact report is a major step in planning a tunnel that would fundamentally reshape California’s massive water management system. 

The report outlines the proposed path of a 45-mile tunnel that would pipe water from the Sacramento River, bypassing the Delta, and funnel it into Bethany Reservoir, the “first stop” on a state aqueduct that funnels water south. 

The goal of the project, which has been planned in various forms since the 1960s, is to shore up water supplies against environmental catastrophes such as earthquakes and the weather whiplash and sea level rise of climate change, according to California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.

Water agencies that can eventually sign on to receive the tunnel project’s water stretch from the Bay Area and Central Coast to the Central Valley and Southern California. Read More > at CalMatters

Moving sea otters up the Northern California and Oregon coast — and maybe into San Francisco Bay — is feasible, federal government concludes – Relocating sea otters to places in Northern California and Oregon where they haven’t lived for generations, including possibly using helicopter rides to move a few dozen from the Monterey Bay area into San Francisco Bay, is feasible and could help expand populations of the endangered marine mammals.

But there are sensitive economic issues that have to be worked out first, chief among them how it might affect commercial fishermen who catch species such as Dungeness crab that sea otters also like to eat.

That was the conclusion Wednesday from a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The 200-page study, required by Congress, provided momentum to the growing idea among many marine biologists and environmentalists that the best way to help restore endangered sea otters is to spread their numbers out over a wider area across the West Coast.

The report does not give approval to relocating otters, most of which currently live in California between Santa Cruz and Morro Bay. More study would be needed, Fish and Wildlife Service officials said, to choose the best locations and learn exactly how otters would impact local fishing economies, including crab, clams, abalone and other shellfish.

Some areas that have been considered are San Francisco Bay, the Sonoma Coast and Drake’s Estero Lagoon in Marin County.

The idea is to expand otters’ genetic diversity and reduce the risk of one big event like an oil spill wiping out a large chunk of the sea otter population by moving small numbers so they can re-establish populations. Read More > in The Mercury News

Californians and other Americans are flooding Mexico City. Some locals want them to go home – Mexico has long been the top foreign travel destination for Americans, its bountiful beaches and picturesque pueblos luring tens of millions of U.S. visitors annually. But in recent years, a growing number of tourists and remote workers — hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Silicon Valley and points in between — have flooded the nation’s capital and left a scent of new-wave imperialism.

The influx, which has accelerated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and is likely to continue as inflation rises, is transforming some of the city’s most treasured neighborhoods into expat enclaves.

In leafy, walkable quarters such as Roma, Condesa, Centro and Juarez, rents are soaring as Americans and other foreigners snap up houses and landlords trade long-term renters for travelers willing to pay more on Airbnb. Taquerias, corner stores and fondas — small, family-run lunch spots — are being replaced by Pilates studios, co-working spaces and sleek cafes advertising oat-milk lattes and avocado toast.

And English — well, it’s everywhere: ringing out at supermarkets, natural wine bars and fitness classes in the park.

At Lardo, a Mediterranean restaurant where, on any given night, three-quarters of the tables are filled with foreigners, a Mexican man in a well-cut suit recently took a seat at the bar, gazed at the English-language menu before him and sighed as he handed it back: “A menu in Spanish, please.”

Some chilangos, as locals are known, are fed up.

Recently, expletive-laced posters appeared around town.

“New to the city? Working remotely?” they read in English. “You’re a f—ing plague and the locals f—ing hate you. Leave.” Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

CNN Exclusive: FBI investigation determined Chinese-made Huawei equipment could disrupt US nuclear arsenal communications – On paper, it looked like a fantastic deal. In 2017, the Chinese government was offering to spend $100 million to build an ornate Chinese garden at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. Complete with temples, pavilions and a 70-foot white pagoda, the project thrilled local officials, who hoped it would attract thousands of tourists every year.      

But when US counterintelligence officials began digging into the details, they found numerous red flags. The pagoda, they noted, would have been strategically placed on one of the highest points in Washington DC, just two miles from the US Capitol, a perfect spot for signals intelligence collection, multiple sources familiar with the episode told CNN.  

Also alarming was that Chinese officials wanted to build the pagoda with materials shipped to the US in diplomatic pouches, which US Customs officials are barred from examining, the sources said.    

Federal officials quietly killed the project before construction was underway.    The Wall Street Journal first reported about the security concerns in 2018.      

The canceled garden is part of a frenzy of counterintelligence activity by the FBI and other federal agencies focused on what career US security officials say has been a dramatic escalation of Chinese espionage on US soil over the past decade.        

Since at least 2017, federal officials have investigated Chinese land purchases near critical infrastructure, shut down a high-profile regional consulate believed by the US government to be a hotbed of Chinese spies and stonewalled what they saw as clear efforts to plant listening devices near sensitive military and government facilities.    

Among the most alarming things the FBI uncovered pertains to Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cell towers near US military bases in the rural Midwest. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the FBI determined the equipment was capable of capturing and disrupting highly restricted Defense Department communications, including those used by US Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons. Read More > at CNN

55% of America’s Top Startups Were Founded by Immigrants. Why Won’t Congress Let in More? – Immigrants are 80 percent more likely than native-born Americans to found a firm, according to a study released this May by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But more than that, a report released this week by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) indicates that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for starting high-value companies.

According to the NFAP, a nonprofit that researches trade and immigration, immigrants have started 319 of 582, or 55 percent, of America’s privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more. Over two-thirds of the 582 companies “were founded or cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants,” notes the NFAP. For comparison, approximately 14 percent of America’s population is foreign-born.

Together, the immigrant-founded companies are valued at $1.2 trillion and employ 859 people on average. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has the largest valuation at $125 billion, employing 12,000 workers; Gopuff, a food delivery service valued at $15 billion, has 15,000 employees; Stripe, a payment platform valued at $95 billion, employs 7,000; and Instacart, a grocery delivery service valued at $39 billion, has 3,000 workers.

Lawmakers have introduced a number of measures this year meant to bring more entrepreneurial and highly educated immigrants to the United States, but many of these have been included in—and eventually stripped from—larger bills. The House-passed America COMPETES Act contained provisions that would’ve established nonimmigrant visa programs for “entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in a start-up entity” and “essential employees of a start-up entity,” but they didn’t make it into the narrower Senate competition bill. More recently, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D–Calif.) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would’ve streamlined green cards for immigrants with doctoral degrees in STEM fields. But it wasn’t included in the House-passed NDAA. Prospects for meaningful immigration reform now look slim, especially with the midterms coming up. Read More > at Reason

Deaths from heart failure rise among young Americans – A growing number of younger American adults are dying of heart failure, with Black Americans being the hardest-hit, a new study finds.

Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart muscle cannot pump blood as well as it should, leading to symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness and swelling in the legs. The condition is treatable, but it can prove deadly if it progresses to a severe stage.

While heart failure is usually diagnosed in older people, it can strike young adults — particularly if they have risk factors like obesity and diabetes.

In the new study, researchers found that heart failure deaths among Americans younger than 45 have been on the rise since 2012. That was after years of remaining stable or, at times, dipping.

There was also a clear racial disparity: Young Black adults consistently had a threefold higher death rate than both white and Hispanic Americans their age.

Experts said the reasons for the rising heart failure toll are unclear, but increasing rates of obesity and diabetes could be at work.

As for the racial disparity, they called it worrying, but not unexpected. It’s well known that heart failure disproportionately affects Black Americans.

The study also found wide variation among states. The Southeast had some of the highest heart failure death rates, reaching eight deaths per 100,000 in Mississippi. That compared with rates under two per 100,000 in all Northeastern states. Read More > at UPI

Hershey warns ‘trick-or-treat’ supply chain may cause candy shortage – Trick-or-treaters on the hunt for Kit Kats, Twizzlers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups might be in for a disappointment, or rather the people who like to hand them out might.

Hershey warned Thursday that it might not be able to meet demand for its signature candies at Halloween and over the holiday season because of a scarcity of raw ingredients and capacity challenges. It’s the latest kink in the global supply chains that got mangled during the coronavirus pandemic and now must absorb the logistical fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The war has made some ingredients scarce, and the efforts of European nations to isolate Moscow by restricting its oil and gas imports will affect Germany’s energy market, where the Pennsylvania-based company said it sources equipment and supplies.

Hershey said it began producing Halloween candy and chocolate in the spring. But because its everyday and seasonal products use the same production lines, the company was forced to recalibrate. When asked why the company had not shifted to an “all-hands-on-deck” operation to produce as much seasonal candy as possible, chief executive Michele Buck said it opted to prioritize the more immediate need of replenishing store shelves now. Read More > in The Washington Post

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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