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November 12, 2022 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



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Fighting food poisoning: Sweeping poultry changes proposed (AP)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday proposed sweeping changes in the way chicken and turkey meat is processed that are intended to reduce illnesses from food contamination but could require meat companies to make extensive changes to their operations.

There's a spike in respiratory illness among children — and it's not just COVID (NPR)

Sick kids are crowding emergency rooms in various parts of the country, and some pediatric hospitals say they are running out of beds. But this uptick in illness has largely been due to viruses other than the coronavirus, like RSV, enteroviruses and rhinovirus.

Filthy floodwaters from Hurricane Ian drove wave of flesh-eating infections (Ars Technica)

In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian, some of Florida's hardest-hit areas are facing a new threat—a wave of flesh-eating bacterial infections that can crest in sewage-contaminated floodwaters….  This year, Lee County tallied 29 infections—27 identified in the aftermath of the hurricane—as well as four deaths. For comparison, Lee County recorded just five cases and one death in 2021, and zero cases in 2020. Florida overall has recorded 65 cases and 11 deaths in 2022, including those from Lee County. The state total is nearly double the totals from the past two years.

Iraqi minister admits gas flaring cancer link  (BBC)

Iraqi Environment Minister Jassem al-Falahi has acknowledged that pollution from oil production is the main reason for increases in local cancer rates.  His comments came after a BBC Arabic investigation revealed that communities living close to oil fields near Basra are at elevated risk of leukaemia.  These communities suspect gas flaring - the "wasteful" burning of gas released in oil drilling - is to blame.

NEJM colonoscopy study's findings questioned by U.S. physicians (NPR)

The American Cancer Society has weighed in on the study, too, also pointing to the high number of participants who didn't get the procedure. "It's hard to know the value of a screening test when the majority of people in the study didn't get it done," says Dr. William Dahut, Chief Scientific Officer at ACS. He highlights the 31% reduction in risk among those who were screened.

The World Health Organization releases list of deadly fungi  (NPR)

The World Health Organization, in response to the rising threat of invasive fungal disease, released a list of priority fungal pathogens on Oct. 25 – and the most dangerous ones might surprise you. They're all microscopic fungi, some of which have the potential to kill.


FTX investigating a possible $473 million hack (CNN)

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which filed for bankruptcy Friday, is investigating whether crypto assets were stolen and has moved all its digital assets offline, it said Saturday. The assets could be worth more than $400 million, said crypto risk management firm Elliptic. In a tweet early Saturday, FTX general counsel Ryne Miller said the company “initiated precautionary steps” and moved all its digital assets to cold storage, meaning the crypto wallet is no longer connected to the internet. This follows the announcement Friday that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

FTX crypto exchange, billions of dollars low and under DOJ scrutiny, seeks bankruptcy (NPR)

Embattled cryptocurrency exchange FTX, short billions of dollars, is seeking bankruptcy protection following its collapse this week.  FTX and its CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried are under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to determine whether any criminal activity or securities offenses were committed…The investigation is centering on the possibility that the firm may have used customers' deposits to fund bets at Bankman-Fried's hedge fund, Alameda Research.

Meta confirms 11,000 layoffs, amounting to 13% of its workforce (Tech Crunch)

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp’s parent company Meta has confirmed a huge round of layoffs, amounting to 13% of its workforce.  The news comes as companies from across the technological spectrum have announced huge swathes of redundancies in recent months, with Twitter laying off some half of its 7,500 workforce in the wake of Elon Musk’s arrival at the helm, while Stripe last week revealed plans to cut its headcount by 14%.

Elon Musk named sole director of Twitter, dissolves board (The Hill)

Elon Musk has been named sole director of Twitter, dissolving the board in place before he completed his $44 billion acquisition of the company, the social media platform said in a securities filing on Monday. 

Mars Rover tech helps unravel an art mystery (NPR)

The pandemic gave researchers at the National Gallery of Art an opportunity to closely examine paintings by Johannes Vermeer. They discovered one was painted by someone else.

Musk’s Twitter Roils With Hate Speech as Trolls Test New Limits (Bloomberg News)

Hateful and racist rhetoric swelled on the network as some politicians rejoiced. ‘Free speech. Liberal tears.’

Pro-Russian hackers take credit for cyberattacks on U.S. airport websites  (NPR)

A pro-Russian hacker group is taking credit for temporarily taking down several U.S. airport websites on Monday, though there appeared to be no impact on flight operations.  The cyberattacks claimed by Killnet impacted the websites for Los Angeles International, Chicago O'Hare, and Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, among others.  The group posted a list of airports on Telegram, urging hackers to participate in what's known as a DDoS attack — a distributed denial-of-service caused when a computer network is flooded by simultaneous data transmissions.

Climate change: Can an enormous seaweed farm help curb it?  (BBC)

Imagine a huge seaweed farm the size of Croatia floating in the South Atlantic between Africa and South America.  Spinning in a natural ocean eddy, it sucks a billion tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere every year and sinks it to the ocean floor out of harm's way.  Far-fetched? Maybe. But a British businessman plans to have this up and running by 2026.

They made a material that doesn't exist on Earth. That's only the start of the story.  (NPR)

Two teams of scientists…recently announced that they managed to manufacture, in a lab, a material that does not exist naturally on Earth. It — until now — has only been found in meteorites.  …the material…is a combination of…nickel and iron, which were cooled over millions of years as meteors tumbled through space. That process created a unique compound with a particular set of characteristics that make it ideal for use in the high-end permanent magnets that are an essential component of a vast range of advanced machines, from electric vehicles to space shuttle turbines… If synthetic tetrataenite works in industrial applications, it could make green energy technologies significantly cheaper. It could also roil the market in rare earths, currently dominated by China



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