Gay Politician Shuts Down Homophobic Troll With Hilariously Epic Phone Call

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Thunderstorm In Australia Sparks Thousands Of Asthma Attacks and Kills Four People

A heavy thunderstorm sparked an unlikely series of events in Australia earlier this week, resulting in widespread reports of asthma attacks, overflowing hospitals, and the death of at least four people.

The thunderstorm took place on Monday November 21 over Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. The heavy rainfall is believed to have soaked rye grass pollen, causing them to burst, spreading tiny specks of pollen across the city. The small pieces of pollen then made their way into the respiratory tracts of the local people and provoked asthma attacks, along with other breathing difficulties.

“When rye grass pollen becomes wet through humidity or water, it breaks up into a lot of small pieces and those small pieces can get past the nasal passage into the lungs. Normally rye grass would be trapped in the nasal passage,” Robin Ould, from the Asthma Foundation of Victoria in Australia told AFP.

“When it gets into the lungs, the allergens that are there cause an asthma attack… the small bronchial tubes become inflamed, they fill with mucus and the muscles around them become tight and people can’t exchange their air,” he explained.

As crazy as it seems, thunderstorm asthma is a phenomenon documented in a handful of scientific studies. Although it is rare, Melbourne has had at least three other instances of them in the past few decades due to the high amounts of rye grass found in the farmlands surrounding the city. The phenomenon has also been seen before in the UK, in bothLondon and Birminghamin 1994 and 1983, respectively.

The emergency services received 1,900 emergency phone calls within five hours on Monday evening, with some 8,500 patients heading to hospitals over the following two days. Four people died and, as of today, three patients remain in a critical condition, with nine more in intensive care. The majority of those affected had a history of asthma or hayfever.

This was a health emergency of an unprecedented scale It was like having 150 bombs going off right across a particular part of metropolitan Melbourne,” Victorian state Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/thunderstorm-in-australia-sparks-thousands-of-asthma-attacks-and-kills-four-people/

Plain cigarette packaging could drive 300,000 Britons to quit smoking

Review by research organisation Cochrane suggests impact of UKs ban on branded packs could echo results seen in Australia

Plain cigarette cartons featuring large, graphic health warnings could persuade 300,000 people in the UK to quit smoking if the measure has the effect it had in Australia, scientists say.

Standardised cigarette packaging will be compulsory in the UK from 20 May. A new review from the independent health research organisation Cochrane on the impact of plain packaging around the world has found that it does affect the behaviour of smokers.

In the UK, the tobacco industry has become increasingly innovative in the design of cigarette packets as other controls on sales and advertising have taken hold, according to Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at Kings College London. The tobacco industry has been focusing its efforts on the tobacco packs, she said.

Among those that will be banned are vibrant pink packets, targeted at young women, and gimmicky cartons that slide rather than flip open. The rules that come into force next month require all packs to look alike, with graphic health warnings across 65% of their surface.

The Cochrane reviewers found 51 studies that looked at standardised packaging and its impact on smokers, but only one country had implemented the rule fully at the time. Australia brought in plain packs in 2012.

Analysing the evidence from Australia, the team found a reduction in smoking of 0.5% up to one year after the policy was introduced. According to the Australian government, that translates to 100,000 people no longer smoking. The decline was attributable specifically to plain packaging, after taking into account the continuing drop in the numbers of smokers caused by other tobacco control measures.

Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce of the Cochrane tobacco addiction group at Oxford Universitys Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said: We are not able to say for sure what the impact would be in the UK, but if the same magnitude of decrease was seen in the UK as was observed in Australia, this would translate to roughly 300,000 fewer smokers following the implementation of standardised packaging.

The review found signs that more people were trying to quit smoking as a result of plain cartons, rising from 20.2% before to 26.6% after introduction. There was also evidence that standardised packs were less attractive to those who did not smoke, making it less likely that they would start.

However, the researchers say variations in the way countries are introducing standardised packs may affect the outcomes. Some allow different colours, slightly different carton shapes and the use of descriptive words such as gold or smooth.

Cancer Research UK backs plain packaging. Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK every year, so we support any effective measure which can help reduce this devastating impact. The evidence shows that standardised packaging works and helps to reduce smoking rates, said George Butterworth, the charitys tobacco policy manager.

Its too soon to see the impact in the UK, as the new legislation will only be fully implemented in May, but we hope to see similar positive results as the UK strives towards a day when no child smokes tobacco. Cancer Research UK is continuing to evaluate the impact of standardised packaging in the UK and will share the lessons with other countries who are considering introducing them.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers group Forest, said the idea that plain packaging would have an impact on the number of smokers in the UK was based on hope and anecdotal evidence.

Since plain packaging was introduced in Australia, smoking rates have fallen, but only in line with historical trends, he said. Its grasping at straws to credit plain packaging with the continued reduction in smoking rates, because the most significant anti-smoking measure in recent years in Australia has been a massive increase in tobacco taxation. Like graphic health warnings, the novelty of plain packaging quickly wears off.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/27/plain-cigarette-packaging-could-drive-300000-britons-to-quit-smoking

Justin Bieber Would Like To Inform You That He Did Not Pee His Pants

Newsrooms across the country came to a grinding halt on Thursday when photos ofJustin Biebersporting a curious stain surfaced online. Naturally, the image of the worlds biggest pop star strolling around Los Angeles in soaked sweatpants raised some of the most pressing questions of our time.

Is bladder control like so 2016? Was there a shortage on $400 sweatpants in the San Fernando Valley? Is this some sort of subversive political statement?

Alas, all good rumors must be put to rest. The Purpose singer later set the record straight with a poetic tweet explaining that the stain on his dick area was actually water from some flowers he had in the car.

But the ever so self-aware Bieber has apparently developed a sense of humor about himself and didnt pass up the opportunity to poke fun at the situation. He followed up the tweet with a side-by-side comparison of himself and Billy Madison, perhaps the most famous pee-in-pants-er (the official term) in the world.

You aint cool … unless you pee your pants, he wrote alongside the photo.

You ain't cool unless you pee your pants

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Finally, this long national nightmare is over.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/justin-bieber-wants-you-to-know-he-did-not-pee-his-pants_us_58b04ceee4b060480e071a95?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Thunderstorm asthma: 8 dead in Australia from freak illness

(CNN)A freak illness known as thunderstorm asthma has now killed at least eight people in Australia.

Thousands were hospitalized in Melbourne and other parts of Victoria last Monday with breathing problems due to a rare combination of weather and pollen.
    Eight days later, seven people are still receiving hospital treatment, including one who is in a critical condition, according to the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services.
    Thunderstorm asthma occurs when a storm hits during a period of unusually high pollen and high humidity, causing the grains to break up and disperse, entering people’s lungs and making it hard for them to breathe.

    In a survey by the University of Melbourne, 74% of respondents said they experienced an asthma attack during the storm last week.

    Health emergency

    Though grass pollen is the most common known cause of thunderstorm asthma, attacks can also be triggered by excessive levels of tree pollen and fungal spores in the atmosphere.
    “This will vary by geography,” said Aziz Sheikh, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the University of Edinburgh, adding that pollen from olive trees, for example, was reported in a previous thunderstorm asthma event in Italy in 2010.
    Levels of fungal spores in the atmosphere typically peak during harvest, which can also be drawn up and broken down during large thunderstorms due to the rise in atmospheric pressure, according to Sheikh.
    An official review is currently underway into how Victoria’s state emergency services and health system responded to the thunderstorm asthma emergency.
    An extra 60 ambulances had to be deployed as more than 1,900 calls flooded emergency lines in four hours, or one call every four to five seconds.

    Thousands

    What can be done?

    While thunderstorm asthma has occurred all over the world in different conditions, there are persistent factors, according to Reena Ghildyal, an expert in biomedical sciences at the University of Canberra.
    “There are many common threads in all reports of thunderstorm-related asthma — a high concentration of potentially allergenic material such as that in late spring in Melbourne (pollen grains or fungi), a thunderstorm that sweeps up the allergens, which burst when wet and release very small particles (such as starch granules or fungal spores),” she wrote last week.
    People with pre-existing asthma are particularly at risk of complications from thunderstorm asthma, and should therefore take necessary precautions.
    “Keep updated on local pollen counts and weather forecasts, especially in spring; keep your asthma medication up to date; enjoy the spectacle of the thunderstorm from inside your house; and call (emergency services) if your asthma worsens or you feel any breathing difficulty,” she said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/health/thunderstorm-asthma-australia/index.html

    Avocado Shortage Leads to Cravings for More Avocados

    So, apparently, avocados are in short supply for the betches Down Under. Yes, the land of The Rescuers is experiencing a pretty severe avocado shortage. Why? Too much rain and also all those fires.

    When the avocado crops get hella moist (ugh), theres a higher risk for fungal disease causing rot inside the actual avocado. Think about that one time you bought a shitty avocado without realizing it, cut into that badboy while you were dying for some avocado toast, and witnessed a black mold horror show which totes made you gag. Yah, all of Australia is pretty much dealing with that right now.

    Even before the rain, fire, and whatever else Australia was dealing with, the huge demand for the fruit was keeping farms on their toes. Customers who cant stand NOT to have their avocados right now are paying upwards of $6 FOR FUCKING ONE AVOCADO. Some restaurants are even using frozen avocados which is, like, gross.

    In honor of this horror, heres a recipe for avocado fries. Super bummer, Australia call us when youre avocados grow back.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 firm-ripe avocadoes
    • cup flour
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cps panko bread crumbs
    • 1 tbsp melted butter
    • tsp garlic powder
    • tsp smoked paprika
    • Cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on said sheet. Set aside. Slice the avocado long ways you should get like 20 slices.

    Set up three bowls in the first, place the flour, a bit of salt and a few grinds of pepper. In the middle bowl, beat the eggs. In the last bowl, combine the panko, melted butter, garlic powder, and paprika. Add a bit more salt and pepper to that last bowl, too.

    Dredge each avocado slice in the flour, then the egg, then coat with the panko. Place on the wire rack and spray lightly with cooking spray. Repeat with allllll the slices.

    Bake for like 25 minutes or until the panko is light golden brown. Cool and eat. Yay!

    Read more: http://www.betches.com/avocado-fries-recipe

    People whose ‘brain age’ is older than their real age more likely to die early

    Scientists at Imperial College London used MRI scans and algorithms to produce computer-generated brain age and spot risk of dying young

    Doctors may be able to warn patients if they are at risk of early death by analysing their brains, British scientists have discovered.

    Those whose brains appeared older than their true age were more likely to die early and to be in worse physical and mental health, a study by Imperial College London found.

    The research found a way of predicting someones brain age that could help to spot those at risk of dying young.

    The study, piloted in Scotland, suggests using MRI scans to estimate a persons brain age compared with their real age could also help to spot who might be at increased risk of poor health as they grow older.

    By combining MRI scans with machine learning algorithms, a team of neuroscientists trained computers to predict the age of a persons brain based on their volume of brain tissue.

    When the technique was tested on a group of older adults in Scotland, they found that the greater the difference between the computer-generated brain age and the persons actual age, the higher their risk of poor mental and physical health and the more likely they were to die before they turned 80.

    Those with a brain age older than their real age also had weaker grip, lower lung capacity and slower walking speed.

    Researchers say that if the initial findings could be applied to a screening programme, the technique could be used to inform doctors, showing whether or not a patient had a healthy brain age or was above or below the line, similar to how body mass index (BMI) is used. They could then advise patients to change their lifestyle or start a course of treatment.

    James Cole, a research associate who led the study, said: People use the age of an organ all the time to talk about health. Smokers are said to have lungs that are 20 years older than they should be, you can even answer online questionnaires about exercise and diet and get a heart age. This technique could eventually be like that.

    However, it would need more fine-tuning for accuracy before it could be used in this way, Cole said. At present it has a margin of error of about five years. MRI scans are also currently too expensive to be used as a widespread screening tool but researchers hope that costs will come down in the future.

    In the long run it would be great if we could do this accurately enough so that we could do it at an individual level, he said. However, at the moment, its not sufficiently accurate to be used at that sort of individual level.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/26/people-whose-brain-age-is-older-than-their-real-age-more-likely-to-die-early

    Tad Cummins arrest: Tipster reveals how teacher covered up identity

    Cecilville, California (CNN)Tad Cummins was an intensely sought fugitive, trumpeted from coast to coast as the Tennessee teacher accused of running off with his 15-year-old student.

    But before his capture this week, Cummins and the young woman he called his wife slipped into a remote Northern California community unrecognized. Cummins passed himself off for days as a down-on-his-luck Colorado man who’d just lost his job and home, according to the man who eventually tipped off police.
    Cummins was arrested — and the girl was found safe — Thursday outside a cabin in Cecilville, ending a 39-day hunt for the teen who was reported missing some 1,900 miles away in her hometown south of Nashville.
      Police say the two spent at least one night in the remote cabin — a one room structure that was in the process of being built. It had no electricity or furniture. On Friday, a grill, pots and pans, a bag of rice and boxes of food and empty bottles of soda and water remained in the cabin.
      The former teacher, facing federal and state charges stemming from her disappearance, is in federal custody and is expected to be arraigned in Sacramento on Monday, Siskiyou County prosecutor Kirk Andrus said.
      Elizabeth was reunited Friday with family and friends. She is being evaluated and treated by mental health experts specializing in trauma.
      “She is a little girl in every sense of the word. This was the abduction of an impressionable, little child,” family lawyer S. Jason Whatley said.
      “There is no doubt that she has suffered severe emotional trauma and that her process of recovery is only just beginning.”

      A suspicious couple

      The pair had been in the heavily wooded area 60 miles south of the Oregon line since at least last week, according to Griffin Barry, the man who says he eventually helped police capture Cummins.
      Cummins and the teen arrived at a Cecilville-area gas station last week, apparently on their way to visit a commune, Barry told CNN.
      Cummins, 50, told Barry he was 44, and that the teen was his 22-year-old wife, according to the cabin’s owner.
      “He was like, ‘We’re from Colorado. We had a house fire and lost everything,” Barry told CNN. “He’s like, ‘This is my last $10.”
      Barry said he gave Cummins $40 and paid another $15 to put gas in Cummins’ vehicle.
      The pair went to the commune but returned to the gas station this week, with Cummins explaining they didn’t get along with people at the commune, Barry said.
      Barry said he offered Cummins work — moving rocks to build a wall on the property — and a place to stay: a small cabin for which Barry was the caretaker.
      But Barry and some acquaintances eventually became suspicious, noting that Cummins was driving a vehicle without any license plates, and that Cummins’ companion spoke few words for herself.

      ‘That’s the guy’

      As he discussed the pair with someone a bar Wednesday night, the other person found Cummins’ picture online in an urgent Amber Alert widely distributed by authorities.
      “I said, ‘That’s the guy,'” Barry said.
      He called police Wednesday night. After Barry told them he and Cummins had planned to move more rocks Thursday morning, authorities asked the caretaker to help them capture Cummins.
      At officers’ instructions Thursday morning, Barry drove by the cabin and shouted for Cummins. When Cummins left the cabin, investigators were there to arrest him, the cabin’s owner, Monk O’Hare, told CNN.
      Siskiyou County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Gilley confirmed that his team worked with a neighbor to draw Cummins out of the cabin. Cummins was taken into custody. Elizabeth was walking behind him and was detained.
      “There aren’t words in the English language to describe the level of relief and elation experienced by the Thomas family,” said Whatley. “Now begins another hard chapter, but for now, we celebrate.”

      The disappearance

      Cummins and the girl disappeared March 13 as a police investigation into their relationship was heating up.
      A high school health sciences teacher in the Tennessee town of Culleoka, Cummins had been suspended in February, less than a month after a student reported seeing him and the 15-year-old kissing in a classroom.
      Surveillance video showed the pair at a Walmart in Oklahoma City on March 15. Cummins and the teen also visited a Walmart in the Oklahoma Panhandle city of Guymon on March 16, and he rented a one-bed motel room in Guymon on March 16 and 17, a criminal complaint filed in federal court Thursday alleges.
      After that, the trail appears to have gone cold.

      The complaint alleges Cummins left a note for his wife on March 13 saying he was leaving for a while to “clear his head.” He took out a $4,500 loan and picked up two prescription refills of Cialis, an erectile dysfunction drug, the complaint says. His wife reported that two handguns and some clothes and toiletries were missing from their home.
      After the capture, Cummins was charged with one federal count of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse, said Jack Smith, acting US attorney for Middle District of Tennessee. The charge carries a minimum of 10 years.
      He also faces state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last month.

      ‘Our goal is to seclude (her) with her family’

      Whatley, the attorney for the girl’s family, said her immediate future wasn’t clear.
      “Obviously, our goal is to seclude (her) with her family,” Whatley said. “We have mental health people that are engaged actively in this case that are going to be working with her for her best interests.
      “We are following their recommendations completely, and so we are waiting on further instructions from them.”
      Gilley described her condition as alternating between “stoic” and “emotional,” understandable given the circumstances, he said.
      “It was a very traumatic experience for her. Her mood was very alternating,” he said. “The two obviously have a relationship … her response to us and to law enforcement escalated up and down.”

      Estranged wife speaks out

      Cummins’ estranged wife, Jill Cummins, was “very emotional” when she learned both were found safe, her attorney, Michael Cox, said.
      “She is excited that they were found and nobody was hurt,” Cox said. “She has not spoken to Tad.”
      Jill Cummins had already filed for divorce, saying she felt betrayed by her husband. She had no idea why her husband went to northern California.
      “This is not somewhere they had frequently visited,” her attorney said. “I’m not aware that they had ever been there.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/21/us/tennessee-teacher-kidnapping-suspect-arrested/index.html

      Two-thirds of people in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are obese, UN finds

      Study calls epidemic frightening and finds that overnutrition and sedentary lifestyles are costing countries tens of billions of dollars every year

      More than two-thirds of people living in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are overweight or obese, costing their economies tens of billions of dollars every year, driving rates of disease and straining health services, according to a new UN report.

      While the number of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has halved in the past 25 years, the region is now struggling to combat an obesity epidemic.

      Changing diets, including more processed food that are high in salt, sugar and fat, along with more sedentary lifestyles have triggered a rising tide of obesity, experts say.

      The implications for the future of countries are frightening … undernutrition is declining, but overnutrition is expected to become the largest social and economic burden in the region, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement.

      The report by the WFP and the UNs Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said over the next six decades people being overweight and obese would cost Mexico an estimated $13bn a year, Ecuador $3bn and Chile $1bn.

      Undernutrition, when people do not get enough food, and obesity itself a form of malnutrition are two sides of the same coin, and together they inflict a so-called double burden of disease on people and economies, the report said.

      Undernutrition impairs child growth and brain development, while obesity can led to type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

      We now witness a worrying trend among vulnerable communities with cases of undernourishment and overweight simultaneously within the same families, said Miguel Barreto, WFPs regional director said in a statement.

      Both undernourishment and overweight represent a serious burden for the health of those families, that eventually translates into losses in productivity, and in pressure on the health and education systems in the country where they live.

      According to the World Health Organisation, obesity is an epidemic worldwide, killing 2.8 million adults every year, and obesity-related conditions now cause more deaths than hunger.

      In Latin America, obesity is increasingly affecting the regions poor, particularly women.

      In Mexico, a country that faces one of the worlds most acute obesity crisis, 74% of women are obese or overweight compared with 70% of men, the report said.

      The report urged food companies to play a greater role in combating obesity.

      The food industry has the opportunity to ensure the production, availability and accessibility of healthier food products, it said.

      Governments should also do more to promote exercise and health eating and place greater controls on food labelling.

      The report noted Chiles efforts to combat obesity, including an 18% tax on sugary drinks introduced in 2014 one of the worlds highest along with laws that restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods targeting children.

      In 2014, Mexico also introduced a 10% tax on fizzy drinks, and 2016 research by the British Medical Journal found that the sugar tax led to as much as a 12% reduction in sales during the first year it was implemented.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/25/obesity-epidemic-latin-america-mexico-chile-ecuador-un-report

      Lilly Uses Horny Goat Weed to Fend Off Cialis Royalty Demands

      Eli Lilly & Co. told a federal jury that a German company is trying to take credit for centuries-old Chinese medicine in seeking royalties on the use of its erectile-dysfunction drug Cialis to treat an enlarged prostate.

      Erfindergemeinschaft UroPep GbR, a company founded by researchers from Hannover Medical School, claims it’s entitled to royalties from Lilly’s sale of Cialis based on a patent for prostate treatment. UroPep is seeking $84.3 million, or 12 percent of the $704 million in Cialis sales since 2011 that relate to its use in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as BPH.

      “We offered to give Eli Lilly permission” to use the patented invention, UroPep lawyer John Hughes of Bartlit Beck in Denver told a federal jury in Marshall, Texas. “Their response: silence.”

      Lilly said the patent didn’t cover anything new — and pointed to Chinese home remedies including one known as Horny Goat Weed, which it said is used both for erectile dysfunction and to treat BPH. It’s not the first time Lilly has brought up the herb — it was used to successfully invalidate part of a Pfizer Inc. patent for the rival impotence drug Viagra.

      “UroPep filed a patent with nothing more than an idea,” Lilly lawyer Todd Vare of Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis told the jury. The idea “is well-known and obvious throughout the world.”

      The drug, more commonly prescribed for erectile dysfunction, generated almost $2.5 billion last year, more than 11 percent of the Indianapolis-based company’s revenue. It’s Lilly’s second-biggest seller, behind the insulin Humalog, used to treat diabetes. Hughes told the jury that UroPep was not seeking royalties on any sales of Cialis for impotence.

      The UroPep patent, issued in the U.S. in 2014, is for the use of a class of compounds to treat certain prostate diseases, including BPH. Lilly contends the patent doesn’t cover the specific active ingredient in Cialis, called tadalafil.

      Cialis was approved by U.S. regulators to treat erectile dysfunction in 2008 and in December 2010 Lilly asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to also approve Cialis for treatment of the signs and symptoms of BPH.

      After Lilly got approval, one of the UroPep inventors emailed Lilly to inform it of the then-pending patent application. Lilly didn’t respond to requests for licensing talks, UroPep contends.

      This isn’t the only case in which Lilly is trying to fend off royalty demands from Cialis. The drugmaker is working to invalidate a patent owned by Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute for a method of arresting penile fibrosis.

      Presiding over the trial is Circuit Judge William Bryson, who occasionally handles district court cases but normally sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which handles all patent appeals. While neither Lilly nor UroPep are based in Texas, the case was filed there because the court is the most popular for patent litigation.

      The jury is expected to begin deliberations by Friday.

      The case is Erfindergemeinschaft UroPep GbR v. Eli Lilly & Co., 15cv1202, U.S, District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-17/lilly-uses-horny-goat-weed-to-fend-off-cialis-royalty-demands