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May 20, 2023 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


Marijuana harms development in first trimester of pregnancy, study finds (CNN)

If you are pregnant and use any form of cannabis product, consider stopping. That’s the takeaway from a new study that found a significant health impact of marijuana use on fetal development as early as the beginning of pregnancy.

WHO declares end to Covid global health emergency (NBC)

Covid is no longer a global public health emergency, the World Health Organization said Friday. The WHO issued the declaration more than three years ago, on Jan. 30, 2020.

Putting radiation to the test to heal irregular heartbeat (AP)

Doctors are zapping the heart with radiation normally reserved for cancer, a bid to better treat people with life-threatening irregular heartbeats who’ve exhausted other options.  While it’s highly experimental, surprising early research suggests it may reprogram misfiring heart cells to control heartbeats more like younger, healthier cells do…researchers are about to begin the first rigorous study to prove if a quick, one-time dose to fight this irregular heartbeat really works well enough — and is safe enough — for more patients…who relapsed after standard care.

FDA advisers narrowly back first gene therapy for muscular dystrophy  (NPR)

In a split vote, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the agency approve the first gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common form of the genetic illness….  The question before the panel was whether the benefits for the treatment outweigh the risks.  While the FDA is not bound by the recommendations of its outside advisers, it usually follows them. The agency is expected to decide by the end of May.

Gold Medal Flour Linked to Salmonella Outbreak Is Recalled: More than a dozen people have become ill, and most reported eating raw dough or batter (Consumer Reports)

General Mills has recalled 5- and 10-pound bags of its Gold Medal unbleached flour and 2- and 5-pound bags of its Gold Medal bleached flour for possible salmonella contamination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said May 1 that this flour is linked to an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella infantis first announced March 30.


The Hidden iPhone Setting Thieves Use to Lock People Out of Apple Accounts  (Wall Street Journal)

Important information about how to keep iPhone thieves from being able to lock you out of your phone/Apple account.

Twitter changes stoke, Russian, Chinese propaganda surges (AP)

Twitter accounts operated by authoritarian governments in Russia, China and Iran are benefiting from recent changes at the social media company, researchers said Monday, making it easier for them to attract new followers and broadcast propaganda and disinformation to a larger audience. The platform is no longer labeling state-controlled media and propaganda agencies, and will no longer prohibit their content from being automatically promoted or recommended to users.

This company adopted AI. Here's what happened to its human workers (NPR) 

…AI caused a group of workers to become much more productive. Backed by AI, these workers were able to accomplish much more in less time, with greater customer satisfaction to boot. At the same time, however, the study also shines a spotlight on just how powerful AI is, how disruptive it might be, and suggests that this new, astonishing technology could have economic effects that change the shape of income inequality going forward.

SpaceX Starship launch under FAA investigation after raining potentially hazardous debris on homes and beaches (Space)

SpaceX's Starship has been grounded by the U.S. government following claims that the rocket's explosive first launch spread plumes of potentially hazardous debris over homes and the habitats of endangered animals.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — the U.S. civil aviation regulator — has stopped SpaceX from conducting any further launches until it has concluded a "mishap investigation" into Starship's April 20 test launch.

People are arguing in court that real images are deepfakes (NPR)

The liar's dividend is a term coined by law professors Bobby Chesney and Danielle Citron in a 2018 paper laying out the challenges deepfakes present to privacy, democracy, and national security. The idea is, as people become more aware of how easy it is to fake audio and video, bad actors can weaponize that skepticism.  "Put simply: a skeptical public will be primed to doubt the authenticity of real audio and video evidence," Chesney and Citron wrote.

Supreme Court shields Twitter from liability for terror-related content and leaves Section 230 untouched (CNN)

The Supreme Court handed Silicon Valley a massive victory on Thursday as it protected online platforms from two lawsuits that legal experts had warned could have upended the internet.  The twin decisions preserve social media companies' ability to avoid lawsuits stemming from terrorist-related content -- and are a defeat for tech industry critics who say platforms are unaccountable.

Can politicians catch up with AI? (NPR)

Experts are warning that artificial intelligence is developing far more rapidly than regulators can keep up with. Is there any chance of picking up that slack?… It seems like everyone involved in the conversation wants to curb the tech. The question is how.





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