Watch A Lava Flow Quietly Eat Away At A Hawaiian Forest

Breakouts of lava have been slowly consuming sections of forest on the rural southeast corner of Hawaii’s Big Island for several months.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been continuously erupting for more than 33 years. It claimed one home and threatened a small community in 2014.

But because the flow isn’t currently staring down any populated areas, the lava is pretty much out of sight and out of mind.

It’s only when geologists hike out to the flow fields, or when helicopters take to the skies, that we get a peek at the fiery, destructive action taking place.

And from a bird’s eye view, it’s completely mesmerizing.

In footage recorded in late April, lobes of molten rock are shown eating away at the edges of a forest, burning trees and other vegetation.

The flow fields are also seen giving off plumes of steam, which happens after rain falls on them, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Janet Babb. Even though the lava appears dark, suggesting it has cooled, it can still be dangerously hot.

Though this process happens slowly, it’s an impressive example of how unstoppable nature can be. And the ever-advancing flow field is just one act in Kilauea’s incredible performance.

The footage also shows red-hot outbreaks oozing through lava fields, and a vigorously spattering lava vent. And if that’s not enough excitement, there’s a pond of lava bubbling nearby.

Though it’s business as usual for most residents on the Big Island, the burning vegetation can cause trouble in certain conditions.

It “can be problematic if the wind blows the smoke toward residential areas,” Babb told The Huffington Post. “How much of a problem it creates depends on how much smoke there is, which way it is being blown, how sensitive people in its path are to the smoke.”

So, if you’re sensitive to smoke, steer clear of this newly barren forest:

A small lobe of lava cuts through the forest in this USGS photo taken on March 25.

If you want to follow Kilauea’s activity more closely, check out USGS daily updates here.

Watch the full video below:

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The House Just Passed Opioid Legislation, But There’s Still A Fight Ahead

WASHINGTON — In the modern era of Congress, it’s a rare day when lawmakers vote on legislation actually intended to go to the president’s desk. It’s an even rarer occasion when that legislation is meant to help individuals battling opioid addiction — as is the case with the bills the House passed on Wednesday and the raft of legislation it’s expected to pass in the next few days.

As with most things in Congress, though, this is not an entirely cheery story.

Lawmakers will pat themselves on the back and issue self-congratulatory press releases this week. And there is, in fact, some reason to celebrate. Republicans and Democrats have managed to find some consensus on an important issue. But there’s concern from lawmakers, the White House and recovery advocates that the measures are just scratching the surface on addiction treatment.

The House bills come in response to the Senate’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which passed the upper chamber by a 94-1 vote two months ago. CARA co-author Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been haranguing his House GOP colleagues ever since, insisting that they take up the Senate legislation, which was the result of three years of bipartisan, bicameral work. The House instead took up a smattering of its own bills, and largely dropped the focus on treatment and recovery, instead emphasizing prevention and law enforcement aspects.

“I think that’s a fair criticism,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), whose three bills addressing the epidemic are expected to become part of the final package. “I’m hopeful that if we can pass this package of bills… that we’ll be able to combine that with the Senate version that has more of a focus on treatment.”

But recovery groups warn that by making the process more complicated — a conference committee must now be convened, which takes precious time to create; it must then meet and negotiate the differences between the Senate and House legislation; then each chamber must take up and pass the new packages — Congress could easily run out of time. Meanwhile, more than 100 people are dying every day of overdoses.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said that the process could move “pretty quick” now that the House has nearly finished its work. “I imagine most of it will be pre-conferenced before they meet,” he said. “[McConnell] has made clear that he wants this done quickly.”

Portman expressed a similar sentiment Wednesday. “I’m confident that at the end of the day we’ll be able to get together and have one comprehensive package go to the president for his signature and begin to help in our communities around the country,” he said on MSNBC.

The House is taking up 18 bills this week that try, in various ways, to address the country’s epidemic of opioid addiction, from legislation that would help pregnant mothers battling heroin dependency to bills that would crack down on excessive opioid prescriptions. Perhaps most importantly, some of the legislation is aimed at improving what is a thoroughly broken treatment system, with many addicts stuffed into programs that rely on faith-based or 12-step programs, eschewing evidence-based approaches such as medication-assisted treatment.

The assorted House and Senate bills try to nudge the system toward a MAT-based approach. One bill would increase access to such medications by lifting the cap on the number of patients a doctor can treat, and allowing physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe them as well.

Republicans have dubbed Tuesday through Friday “Opioid Week,” and GOP leadership — eager to discuss something that isn’t their party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump — devoted its weekly press conference on Wednesday to talking about the legislation.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged that most reporters were likely at the press conference to discuss his upcoming meeting with Trump on Thursday, but Ryan said he wanted to talk instead about a meeting he’d had that week with the family of Jason Simcakoski.

Simcakoski was a Marine who died of a prescription opioid overdose while under the supervision — “or the appearance of it,” Ryan said — of a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.

Ryan charged that Simcakoski’s death was the result of mistreatment and loose VA guidelines on the prescription of opioids. Thanks to legislation the House passed Tuesday night — the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE ACT — those sorts of deaths would be rarer, he said. (The bill requires the VA to come up with new patient guidelines for prescribing opioids, with the aim of restricting those drugs.)

The House is taking up 12 more of those opioid bills on Wednesday, and is expected to continue passing measures dealing with those issues until Friday. Rep. Clark’s legislation to make the overdose reversal drug naloxone easier to get, a bill to create an advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review opioids more stringently before they’re approved — these are all among the topics to be addressed.

House lawmakers contend that their legislation, as a whole, does more to combat opioid addiction than the Senate version.

That might depend, however, on your perspective, and on what you think Congress should be doing about the opioid crisis.

In some cases, the House bills appear to be several steps behind what states are already doing, or seem like they could be potentially harmful. Kentucky and other states have already passed protections for first responders and loved ones who administer naloxone to overdose victims.

Another bill would establish a pilot grant program for prescribing naloxone to people at risk for an opioid overdose. Many states have already put in place programs to allow residents to receive naloxone without a prescription at all. In fact, Baltimore’s health commissioner issued a blanket naloxone prescription for the entire city last year and has suggested that the medication should be in every medicine cabinet.

One bill would authorize the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study the capacity of the U.S. treatment system — though the system’s capacity, or lack thereof, is already well-understood. The bill would require the GAO to complete its work within two years.

Portman, for his part, has suggested the House legislation is still lacking. “More than 70 anti-drug groups have publicly expressed concern that these House bills omit critical initiatives focused on treatment and recovery that are part of CARA,” he wrote Tuesday in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer.

“I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the House soon — but that agreement must be comprehensive,” Portman added. “I will insist on it.”

Others have greeted the House bills with more enthusiasm. Dr. Kelly Clark, president-elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, praised the House action and noted that although some bills were catching up to individual states, the goal was to widen the scope of the response to the crisis.

“It’s a historic day for addiction medicine that the House has recognized the emergency that is the opioid epidemic,” she told The Huffington Post. “ASAM is very grateful to the champions who have been out in the front on these issues.”

Dr. Clark was especially pleased that a bill expanding access to buprenorphine was expected to clear a legislative hurdle. “There are too many people being doomed to waiting lists because physicians are at their limit,” she said.

But Dr. Yngvild Olsen, medical director at the Institutes for Behavior Resources Inc. in Baltimore, saw the bills as not going far enough.

“At a time when opioid-related deaths continue to increase, bold action is needed in Congress to fund the comprehensive effort that is needed to deal with this epidemic,” Olsen said in an email. “That includes education, prevention, naloxone for overdose reversal, and expanding access to treatment with buprenorphine by raising the cap for physicians and permanently allowing trained nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to prescribe buprenorphine.”

The plan is for the House to combine its 18 opioid bills into one, then go into a rare conference with the Senate to work out the differences. “We intend to put a bill on the president’s desk fast,” Ryan said Wednesday.

But the administration has expressed concern that “without the resources necessary to prevent opioid addiction and increase access to treatment and recovery services, [these bills] would do little to help the thousands of Americans struggling with addiction.”

The White House pointed out this week that it asked Congress in February for $1.1 billion in new funding to combat opioid addiction. The administration further noted that 28,647 people died in 2014 as a result of opioid pain medication and heroin, and that in 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioids, with four out of five heroin users starting with the abuse of prescription opioids.

“These trends will not change by simply authorizing new grant programs, studies and reports,” the administration said.

The White House continued that it looks forward to working with Congress to secure funding to address opioid abuse. But it doesn’t exactly sound impressed by everything the House has come up with.

Of course, this could be an opening gambit for Congress. Getting lawmakers to agree on anything is no small achievement. The House legislation could ultimately evolve into something that more closely resembles the Senate version as far as treatment provisions, and the Senate could add many of the House provisions to its own comprehensive legislation.

The federal budget is filled with pots of money, which Republicans say can be made available for the new legislation if and when it all passes. But there’s wide agreement that the funding doesn’t add up to the $1.1 billion the White House says is needed. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said on Wednesday that lawmakers not only need to pass the bills — they also have to provide the funding.

“If we don’t do that, all the speeches that we give this week will amount to empty rhetoric,” he said.

For more news on the opioid epidemic and the response to it, sign up here to receive Ryan Grim’s newsletter in your inbox.

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Prominent Fisheries Scientist Under Fire For Seafood Industry Funding

A prominent fisheries scientist who has challenged the need for marine conservation is under investigation by his university after the environmental group Greenpeace accused him of failing to reveal seafood industry funding.

Ray Hilborn, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, received at least $3.56 million over 12 years from fishing and seafood industry groups for research and private consulting, according to documents cited by Greenpeace. The group submitted a complaint to the University of Washington on Wednesday, asking it to investigate whether Hilborn adequately disclosed industry backing and whether the funding is a conflict of interest.

Greenpeace said Hilborn’s research shows he is a “denier of overfishing.”

“The seafood industry has given millions of dollars to Ray Hilborn in an attempt to undermine the broad scientific consensus that poor fisheries management has resulted in depleted fish populations and damaged ecosystems,” Greenpeace USA Oceans campaign director John Hocevar said in a statement. He said readers of Hilborn’s work “should at the very least know that corporate interests are underwriting his commentary.”

University of Washington spokesman Norman G. Arkans said the school takes the accusations “very seriously” and would investigate whether Hilborn had breached policies.

Hilborn, 68, whose research has earned multiple awards — including the 2016 International Fisheries Science Prize — told HuffPost he “absolutely rejects” the criticism. He said Greenpeace targeted him because his work doesn’t fit the narrative that all marine ecosystems need conservation to prevent overfishing.

“Greenpeace is unable to attack the science I and my collaborators do; science that threatens their repeated assertions that overfishing is universal and that the oceans are being emptied,” Hilborn wrote on his blog.

Ron Wurzer via Getty Images
A studyon salmon populations is one of the papers that Greenpeace has taken issue with.

The $3.56 million that Hilborn received from industry groups from 2003 to 2015 is just 22 percent of all the funding the scientist brought to the university, according to the Seattle Times.

Hilborn’s funding sources included companies like Trident Seafoods and Peter Pan Seafoods, as well as the industry group National Fisheries Institute. In some of his scientific papers, Hilborn failed to disclose industry funding, Greenpeace alleged.

Hilborn acknowledged receiving the $3.56 million in funding, but said the figure includes money from Alaskan community groups that depend on fishing.

Pascal Rossignol / Reuters
Greenpeace bills trawling as a damaging fishing practice that is depleting fish stores.

Greenpeace cited is a 2006 paper published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences on the orange roughy in New Zealand, which said the fish population needed no changes in fishery management. Hilborn failed to disclose $58,000 in funding from the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council around the time of the study, Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace also pointed to a 2007 article in the journal Ecosystems, which said current fishing management was working in some places, but not in others. Hilborn should have disclosed in that paper that he was receiving funding from Trident, Peter Pan, the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, Greenpeace said.

Hilborn argued in his blog post that if he had to disclose every group that contributed to his research on every paper, the list would be “as long as some of the papers.” He said he acknowledges funders of research that is the main subject of each paper.

Industry funding, he said, helps support student and staff salaries, and pays for field expenses.

Hilborn said more of his funding has come from environmental foundations than from industry, including the Society for Conservation Biology, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund.

“I am a vocal advocate for where marine conservation has worked, and identifying where it is not working,” Hilborn said.

“In fact, it is in the financial interest of fishing communities and industries to find solutions that are sustainable and provide for healthy stocks into the future,” he wrote on his blog. “And funding from these groups should be considered part of an inclusive, transparent and honest research process.”

Hilborn’s work challenging the claims that marine ecosystems are being depleted by overfishing has drawn the scorn of conservation groups and other scientists for years.

“The major threat to sustainable jobs, food, recreational opportunity and revenue from U.S. marine fisheries is no longer overfishing, but underfishing,” Hilborn wrote in a 2013 testimony submitted to Congress.

Industry funding of scientific research has stirred significant debate in recent years. A 2015 New York Times report exposed scientists backed by Coke for downplaying the link between soda and obesity.

But as public funding for science declines, researchers are turning to industry and other groups for financial support. Some scientific journals, including some that have published Hilborn’s papers, have created or toughened policies for disclosure of that funding.

Handout . / Reuters
Sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

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The personal SOS messages the BBC used to send – BBC News

Image caption Lord Reith was involved in the creation of the SOS messages

When somebody is critically ill, people pick up their mobile phones and let their relatives know. But in 1923 the BBC started broadcasting directly to individuals letting them know their loved ones were “dangerously ill”. These SOS messages lasted for 70 years.

In 1954 my grandfather found out his father was dying through a BBC SOS message. He didn’t hear it himself, but a man at the building site he was working on in the East Riding of Yorkshire, did. “Please head to Dublin where your father is dangerously ill,” it instructed.

It’s remarkable that the message even made it. It was heard by somebody who deduced it was him even though they only knew him by his nickname, Joe.

My grandfather had left his home in Ireland almost seven years before, and the relationship between him and his father had broken down.

Image caption My great-grandfather, the subject of an SOS

Despite this, on hearing he was the subject of an SOS, he headed straight to Dublin, trusting that the short message was correct. It was – but he was too late to see his father again before he died.

The impact of that 30-second message was life-changing, both for him and the rest of the family. He re-connected with his mother and secured for my family our link with the Emerald Isle.

Image caption My grandfather (left) with his mother (centre) and my father (bottom left) on their first trip to Ireland after the SOS

I tried to find that message in the BBC’s archives, without success. But I listened to many others. They are a snapshot of some of the most intense, personal moments in people’s lives.

They’re very short, and clinical. “Will Mr and Mrs Little, last heard of eight months ago in the Birmingham area, head to Leeds General Infirmary where Mrs Little’s mother is dangerously ill,” for example. Listening to them leaves more questions than answers – did the subject make it there in time? What happened afterwards? How had they lost contact with their family in the first place?

These questions were never going to be answered. John Reith, the BBC’s first director-general was personally involved in the creation of the SOS messages and was clear that they were a public service and not entertainment.

The words were never sensationalised, a few facts such as names, addresses, car registrations, caravan descriptions and phone numbers.

The first SOS message played out in March 1923, a 30-second appeal to help find a missing six-year-old boy. Listeners got in touch, and the boy was found safe and well.

Media captionAn SOS message

This success encouraged the BBC to keep producing them, and an eclectic mixture of “emergencies” followed – a Pelican escaping at St James’ Park, and a callout for a wet nurse for twins born at a hospital in Norfolk in 1937.

Another message to a bird-lover urged him to contact a Birmingham pet shop after buying parrots there because the seller had subsequently died from what was believed to be Psittacosis or “parrot fever”.

By the 1930s they were part of the radio furniture and decisions had to be made on how to stem the flow of messages. The BBC arranged to have research done to find out which SOS messages were working.

The results were in by 1931. For missing persons about 45 out of 190 were successful, but for illness the success rate was higher at about a half. The BBC stopped broadcasting appeals for missing persons.

Jack Thompson remembers hearing his name on an SOS message and says it was terrifying to suddenly have the presenter talking directly to you, especially after the news bulletin had focused on serious world news stories.

He was on a camping trip with his wife and three sons in the early 70s and was enjoying “whatever food it is you eat on camping trips” when they heard the radio message: “Will the Thompson family, believed to be travelling somewhere in Surrey contact Chesterfield Hospital as Mrs Thompson’s mother is dangerously ill.” The words are burnt into his memory.

“We just weren’t expecting it to be for us,” 84-year-old Jack says. “It put us into a bit of a panic and, of course, at that time we didn’t have any phone numbers to call apart from the hospital so it was stressful as they couldn’t give us much information.”

They were a long way from Chesterfield but headed straight to the hospital. Jack remembers the journey vividly, his wife was scared for the whole way having been startled at the broadcast, and having no details about her mother’s situation. After a long car journey they arrived in time to see Mrs Thompson, who recovered slightly but died soon after. The SOS message had given them the chance to spend time with her at the end.

While the Thompson family heard the message themselves, often the subjects would be informed by complete strangers – a neighbour down the road, a manager at a hotel they were staying at, somebody recognising a car registration plate.

Media captionLinda Miller told her SOS story to the BBC’s Eddie Mair Getty Images

It seems unbelievable that a stranger would recognise a car registration plate from a 30-second clip but this is exactly what happened to Linda Miller. She told her story to the BBC’s Eddie Mair for a Radio 4 documentary in 2011.

Linda was six when she became very ill with suspected osteomyelitis, inflammation of the bone. She was staying with her aunt while her parents were on holiday in London.

An SOS message went out but they didn’t hear it. Remarkably a stranger had, and knocked on their car window to alert them to the fact their daughter was ill in a hospital in Sunderland. He had heard the message and recognised their registration plate.

Miller’s parents rushed to Sunderland. She recovered and was fine, but the stranger kept in touch sending letters to find out how she was.

A stranger, knocking on a car window to alert parents to the news their daughter was ill. It seems as though the BBC’s 1931 year book summed up the SOS messages perfectly when it wrote that they show the “inherent kindliness of human nature”.

It is not known when the messages ended, but it was at some point during the 90s. Mobile phones made them redundant, but for those who were directly affected by the SOS messages, my family included, they had a huge impact that lives on today.

Follow Kathleen Hawkins on Twitter @kat_b_hawkins

For more from the BBC’s archives visit Rewind on Facebook and Twitter

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Whatever You Do, Don’t Try To Outrun This Stampede Of Hungry Lambs

Seven little lambs wearing colorful coats were recently filmed kicking up dust as they hoofed it to get their breakfast at an animal sanctuary in Tasmania.

“The Breakfast stampede……..whatever you do don’t get in their way,” FreeHearts Animal Sanctuary posted to Facebook with the adorable video Thursday.

The babies frantically race toward the person holding the camera in anticipation of milk but find only four bottles readily available.

“Only enough room for four!” a woman is heard telling them as she tries to wrestle them off one another with a laugh. “Where are your bottles?”

Once three more bottles appear, all seven tails are seen happily spinning around like pinwheels as they feast on their morning milk.


According to the sanctuary’s Facebook page, they currently care for more than 80 animals, including cats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep and cows.

“We will provide these animals with a loving permanent home where they are free to live in peace and as nature intended,” their page reads. “We rescue and transport injured and orphaned wildlife to a dedicated wildlife carer where the animal will be rehabilitated and re-released wherever possible.”

To see more photos of adorable baby sheep — even a pair wearing diapers — check out the sanctuary’s Facebook page.

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Macklemore joins Obama to discuss opioid epidemic

Washington (CNN)Award-winning hip-hop artist Macklemore joined President Barack Obama in his weekly address to talk about opioid abuse in the U.S.

“Addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley, it often starts in a medicine cabinet,” Obama said in the video, which was posted Saturday morning.
In the video, the President discusses the steps his administration has made to try and curb the country’s opioid abuse epidemic, including working with local law enforcement and citing a provision in Obamacare that requires health care coverage include treatment.
Obama also called on Congress to increase funding for drug treatment.
Macklemore described the problem as personal, explaining that he battled addiction and lost a friend who overdosed on pain relievers. Macklemore said he is now looking to help others facing similar challenges.
“If I hadn’t gotten the help I needed when I needed, I definitely would not be here today,” Macklemore said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids — including prescription pain relievers and heroin — were responsible for 28,000 fatal overdoses in 2014. The CDC has classified the problem as an epidemic.

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The struggle against Internet overload is real

Since the dawn of civilization, roughly 12,000 B.C., to 2003 A.D., only 5 exabytes (5,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) of data has been created. Now, with the rise of the Internets influence in our daily lives, we produce this amount of data every two days.

We live in a world where so much data is being created, and where most people are connected to this constant stream of data via their phone and/or computer that not only does it become all consuming, but also almost unavoidable. Frankly, when people are looking for an escape from the Internet, they usually search the Internet for answers.

And while the Internet remains a value-neutral enterprise, the speed of its expansion should be the greatest cause of concern for the average person. The sheer speed and natural invasiveness of the Internet makes it nearly inescapable. Human beings on average spend more than 8 hours (490 minutes to be exact) a day on the Internet. That is more than the amount of recommended sleep and more than half of our waking day, and it is expected that we will spend even more time in the coming years. As we consume more, we naturally feel a yearning desire to escape more. But we are also increasingly less equipped to do so because of our growing dependence on the Internet.

The philosopher Alain de Botton describes the paralyzing expanses of the Internet as overwhelming and asphyxiating.

Frankly, when people are looking for an escape from the Internet, they usually search the Internet for answers.

Author and journalist Nicholas Carr reminds, warns and encourages us that our brains are elastic and can easily adapt to its surroundings, yet adaptivity does not necessarily mean positive changes. The brain is also a value-neutral enterprise. It can adapt to become more forgetful and have a shorter attention span, if the information it receives inclines it to act that way. There is no inherent moral compass in your brain that makes it naturally more predisposed to organize itself in a positive manner. It merely seeks to find the most efficient method for addressing the tasks it confronts. If that task is digesting large sums of information from your computer and/or phone, your brain will allocate more resources here and less resources towards analyzing and remembering the information, or towards interacting with the rest of the world.

In Carrs book, The Shallows: How The Internet Is Changing Our Brains, he writes: Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

The constant bombardment of new data is making it harder to take that deep dive into a long story, and as a result people are becoming less contemplative and analytical. The focus has shifted towards increasing the brains ability to consume so to keep up with the unceasing rapidity of data production on the Web. A persons fear of being left behind because he failed to consume enough data may start to outweigh the need to understand exactly why you are consuming this data in the first place.

Every minute of the day, Facebook users share 2.5 million pieces of content, Twitter users tweet 300,000 times, YouTube users upload 72 hours of video, and 200 million emails are sent.

It is easy to get lost within this sea of data, but the modern Internet-based ocean is more like a galaxial sized body of water that is ever-expanding and most of its contents are unknown.

And while the size, scope and ever expanding nature of the Internet may make it seem overwhelming, the value-neutrality of the Internet, and our brains, can actually chart a sensible path or equilibrium through the chaos. Value-neutrality means that it is not inherently positive or negative. It is what you make of it and what you make it into. There is no inherent benefit towards reading 10 articles instead of reading one article.

For example,, a new social media startup, only allows its users to post one item a day. It provides a decluttered and organically curated iteration of the Internet, and many of the posts emphasize long-form storytelling. also produces an email newsletter that presents the top five posts of the dayan additional decluttering.

Arguably, you could describe them as the anti-Facebook, but not the anti-Internet. It just focuses of the quiet, secluded, solitudinous segment of cyberspace that encourages devoting yourself to one thing at a time and not being afraid to turn off your computer every now and then.

Taking a break from the constant bombardment of data is a necessary step to prevent our brains from becoming adapted primarily to cyberspace instead of the physical world.

The sense of being overwhelmed by the frenetic, regenerative and ever-expanding interconnected web of cyber data is actually a welcomed breath ofor gasping forfresh air to stave off drowning within the galaxial sea of the Internet. Taking a break from the constant bombardment of data is a necessary step to prevent our brains from becoming adapted primarily to cyberspace instead of the physical world.

Sure, the anxiety of falling behind and missing something may consume you as you focus on reading a book, taking a walk, or simply staring into space, but that anxiety only stems from a false assumption that you could actually keep up with something that is far greater than most people had imagined.

The Internet is unavoidable and it plays a vital role in our day-to-day, but we have more control than we probably imagined over how we choose to let the Internet govern our lives.

Barrett Holmes Pitner is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and columnist who focuses mostly on race, culture, and politics, but also loves to dabble in sports, entertainment and business. His work has appeared in The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, National Journal, the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @BarrettPitner or visit his website

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21 ways to live a longer, fuller life

When we’re young, we all believe we’re going to live forever. But as we age, most of us realize that’s not the case. What’s more, it becomes clear that the choices we make can have an impact on how long we live. While there are no guarantees or methods that can tell you how many calendars you’ll buy (despite what actuaries say), there are many simple benchmarks that can help predict if you’ll live longer than most. Here are 21 of the most important reasons why you’ll probably live longer than your peerstry not to rub it in.

You got married

Congratulations! We may be a little late on the wedding gift, but we figure that just the fact that you got hitched is reward enough since you’ll be living longer as a result. A 2013 study by Duke University Medical Center published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine revealed that being married reduces the risk of premature death in midlife. The study looked at 4,802 people and those that were married through their middle decade were less likely to have an untimely demise. Researchers surmised that the act of having a partner to lean on and work with through any challenges faced in midlife make that era of life much easier to deal with.

You don’t stress

In a 2015 study, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered that women who are under chronic stress have lower levels of klotho, a hormone that promotes brain and body health and regulates the aging process. Researchers believe low levels of klotho may be linked to an increased risk of accelerated disease development. Additionally, a 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that risk of heart attack and stroke increase 20% when a person suffers from chronic stress.
Your best bet to ward off high levels of the hormone is to try to lower your stress levels. If simple, do-it-yourself techniques like meditation or yoga aren’t helping, you should consult your doctor.

You look young

Ever have one of those days that you just know you look good? How about a lot of them? Research published in the British Medical Journal discovered that looking young as you age directly correlates with living longer. The 2009 study looked at 1,826 twins and found that the twin who looked older died earlier than their younger-looking counterpart. If the disparity in their appearance was large, the older-looking twin was even more likely to die earlier than if the difference was smaller. What does this mean for you? Looking young and healthy is a great determining factor to living a longer life, so make efforts to look and feel healthy and, ultimately, you’ll live longer as a result.

You’re not alone

You may take your friends and family for granted sometimes, but the truth is they’re a big reason you’re going to live a long, healthy life. Researchers at Brigham Young University discovered that social isolation and loneliness can be as life threatening as obesity. The study, published in 2015 in Perspectives on Psychological Science, indicates that feelings of being alone impact on people of all ages and can be a precursor to premature deatheven in individuals under 65. The study authors believed that their findings ultimately prove that more positive psychology means better overall healthemotionally and physically.

You’ve traded white bread for whole grains

Wheat, barley, ryewhole grains like these deliver essential nutrients that have life-lengthening benefits. Among those nutrients are polyphenols. A 2013 study sponsored in part by the United States National Institute on Aging and published in the Journal of Nutrition found that older adults who had the highest concentrations of polyphenols in their urine (and thus the diets richest in these micronutrients) had a 30% reduced mortality compared to those with less. Additionally, a 2015 study with more than 360,000 participants and published in BMC Medicine revealed that higher consumption of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and other causes.

You know the value of a short run

Even if you have never trained for a marathon and don’t exactly live in the gym, you may outlive the folks that do just because you jog. The ideal amount of running a person should strive for when it comes to living a long life is 60 to 144 minutes weekly, split into three jogs, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The 12-year study tracked 1,098 healthy people and found that making this simple commitment was more effective than running for lengthier, more intense periods. “People overestimate how much time they need to devote to physical fitness in order to live a long, healthy life,” says Michael Seril, a National Strength and Conditioning Association and American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer based in Whittier, Calif.

You are a social butterfly

If a Netflix binge sounds more appealing than a night out, you won’t like this one. Researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered that your social life is a great indicator of how long you’ll live. The 2010 meta-analysis published in PloS One indicates that social isolation is a detriment to our health. In fact, people who have a healthy social life are 50% more likely to outlive the local hermit. For a little perspective, these findings mean that social isolation is comparable with other mortality risk factors like smoking and alcoholism, and exceed the risks associated with obesity and physical inactivity.

You aren’t apple-shaped

Having a big belly can almost double your mortality riskeven if your body mass index falls within the “healthy” range, according to a 2008 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, which looked at more than 350,000 people in Europe, found that having greater than a 47.2-inch waist for men and a 39.4-inch waist for women doubled the risk of premature death compared with people who had smaller waists.

You have a sense of a higher purpose

This may sound like a trick question, but do you feel like your life has meaning? Think carefullyyour answer might dictate how long you live. According to research published in Lancet, people who believe their lives have more purpose live longer than those who don’t feel a clear sense of meaning in life. The study looked at nearly 9,000 people and ranked them according to four categories on a range of personal wellbeing from highest to lowest. The results were intriguing: People who felt they had more meaningful lives outlived their peers who did not. People in the lowest category in the study had a 29% mortality rate in an eight-year span while those with the highest sense of purpose had only a 9% mortality rate. If you figure you’re not in that latter category, bring some meaning into your life: Volunteer, get a pet, start a project, or find that special something that makes feel like you’re making a difference.

You’re a conscientious person

People who’ve lived to 100 tend to have the same personality traits in common: They’re conscientious, extraverted, and open, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Age. Researchers speculate that conscientious people are more self-disciplined when it comes to diet and exercise and less likely to smoke and drink. Meanwhile, an extraverted personality is associated with optimism, which translates to lower stress levels.

Your grandparents lived until they were very old

How long did your grandparents live? Chances are that if they lived well into their golden years, you have a very good chance of living long too. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Science and updated later in PloS One, healthy aging can be based on two important factors: Genetics and environment. The original study looked at 1,055 centenarians (people who lived past 100 years) and 1,267 controls and found that they could predict long life with almost 60 to 85% accuracy. How? Apparently genetic markers and variants help dictate longevity in spite of environmental factors. While the study does not say if these genes can be passed down, it does lend some credence to the idea that if your grandparents lived a long life, it may be in your blood to do so as well.

You aren’t obese

Obese people who have a BMI of 35 or higher have a 29% increased risk of death over normal-weight individuals, according to a 2013 review of more than 100 studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This report also made headlines for a shocking revelation: people who are overweight (but not obese) may live longer than normal-weight individuals. Still, this news doesn’t give you permission to pack on extra pounds. Being overweight still increases your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

You drink alcohol (but just a little bit)

Averaging more than one alcoholic drink a day for women and two for men increases risk of cancer, liver disease, and heart diseasebut having just a little bit of booze each day may actually extend your life. One Dutch study found that having slightly less than one daily serving of wine, beer, or spirits was associated with a 36% lower risk of all causes of death and a 34% lower risk of cardiovascular death. Similarly, a Spanish study of 15,500 men and nearly 26,000 women found that long-term moderate drinking decreased risk of heart disease, especially in men.

You get the right amount of sleep

According to research from the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and the American Cancer Society, it seems the sweet spot for sleepand living a longer life as a resultis to get about seven hours of shut eye every night. The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 1.1 million adults between 30 and 102 years old over a six-year period and found that people who slept for eight hours or more each night or less than four hours died earlier than those that slept somewhere in between. Shockingly, even people who slept only five hours each night on average lived longer than the folks who snoozed for eight or more. The best survival rates found in the study were for subjects who averaged seven hours each night. The lesson: Get yourself up to seven hours and you’ll be your best every morningand have a lot more mornings to look forward to in the process.

You eat fish

A seafood-rich diet supplies you with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which might help lengthen your life. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at more than 2,600 adults and those who had the highest omega-3 blood levels reduced their overall risk of death by 27%, and even had a 35% lesser chance of dying from heart-related issues. “Aim to eat about 7 ounces of fish on a weekly basis for greater overall health,” suggests Chicago-based dietitian Jenny Westerkamp, RD.

You lift weights

Go ahead and flex those muscles! Lifting weights strengthens your body with lean muscle mass, which not only helps you look better, but also live longer. In a University of California, Los Angeles study of 3,659 adults, people who had the most lean muscle mass were the least likely to die prematurely. “Working out doesn’t stop when you get older,” Seril says. “Staying in shape is a lifelong commitment and retaining muscle mass as you age will keep you alive a lot longer than people who skip the gym as they age.”

You had a child later in life

Maybe you were a late bloomer, or maybe love hit you a little later in life than you had planned. If you gave birth to a child after the age of 33, chances are you’ll live longer than your friends who had their last child by age 29. A 2014 study published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society looked at 551 families and found that women who gave birth later in life lived longer. In fact, women who gave birth after age 40 were four times more likely to outlive those who delivered a decade earlier.

You took care of those cataracts

According to research published in the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, taking care of your peepers reduces your risk of mortality by a whopping 40%. Head researcher of the study, Jie Jin Wang, PhD, believes that the link between living longer and cataract surgery is likely attributed to better mobility, improved physical and emotional well-being, overall optimism, and greater confidence living after besting visual impairment.

Your dad was a little older

If your dad was the oldest on the block, you should call him up and thank him for waiting so long to bring you into the world. Having an older father is a good indicator that you’ll outlive your peers, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. What does this really mean for you? If your dad reproduced when he was older, that means his life and environment were more favorable than his ancestors, which is a good precursor to your ability to live longer. Why? Simply put: If his life was better, yours will very likely be even better than his!

You never smoked

One of the main reasons you’ll be outliving most of your best friends is simple: You don’t smoke. According to the CDC, people who never got into the habit of smoking live about 10 years longer than their tobacco-loving counterparts. But if you did partake in some puffing when you were younger, you’ll still outlive the diehard, never-quit smokers if you ditched the habit before you hit your midlife crisis. Why? Because your risk of dying of smoke-related disease decreases by 90% just by quitting before age 40, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

You’re spiritual

Measuring the power of prayer has long been a point of contention for many in the scientific community. But in a 2011 study published in the Journal of Religion & Health, researchers looked at more than 92,000 women, including smokers, drinkers, and women who exercised (and those who didn’t). Regardless of unhealthy or healthy habits, the study found that people who attended one religious service each week were less likely to be depressed than those who did not. Since depression can impact longevity, such attendance might help. And a 1998 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that elderly community residents who regularly attended church services lived longer than those who did not partake.
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Air pollution rising at an ‘alarming rate’ in world’s cities

Outdoor pollution has risen 8% in five years with fast-growing cities in the developing world worst affected, WHO data shows

Outdoor air pollution has grown 8% globally in the past five years, with billions of people around the world now exposed to dangerous air, according to new data from more than 3,000 cities compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

3,000 cities on WHO report

While all regions are affected, fast-growing cities in the Middle East, south-east Asia and the western Pacific are the most impacted with many showing pollution levels at five to 10 times above WHO recommended levels.

Bar chart of cities by region

According to the new WHO database, levels of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s) are highest in India, which has 16 of the worlds 30 most polluted cities.

China, which has been plagued by air pollution, has improved its air quality since 2011 and now has only five cities in the top 30. Nine other countries, including Pakistan and Iran, have one city each in the worst 30.

China and India PM 2.5

For the larger, but slightly less dangerous PM10 particles, India has eight cities in the worlds top 30. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan each have two cities in the top 10. The true figure for the growth in global air pollution is likely to be worse because only a handful of African cities monitor their levels.

Africa and Asia PM 10

The most polluted city in the world, according to the WHO data, is Onitsha, a fast-growing port and transit city in south-eastern Nigeria that recorded levels of nearly 600 micrograms per cubic metre of PM10s – around 20 times the WHO recommended level.

Air pollution levels were generally much lower for cities in developed countries with Sydney, New York and London registering 17, 16 and 22 micrograms per cubic metre for PM10s respectively. However, the data only includes measurements for particulates and does not include forms of air pollution such as NO2 and ozone.

We have a public health emergency in many countries. Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health. Its dramatic, one of the biggest problems we are facing globally, with terrible future costs to society, said Dr Maria Neira, director of public health at the WHO in Geneva.

The cost for countries is enormous. Air pollution affects economies and peoples quality of life. It leads to major chronic diseases and to people ultimately dying, she said.

The new data, drawn from city and academic records, shows a rapid deterioration in air quality as low-income cities grow unchecked and populations become unable to escape clouds of smog and soot from transport, industry, construction sites, farming and wood-burning in homes.

Outdoor air pollution causes more than 3m deaths a year – more than malaria and HIV/Aids – and is now the biggest single killer in the world. The toll is expected to double as urban populations increase and car numbers approach 2bn by 2050.

Air pollutants such as sulphates, nitrates and black carbon penetrate deep into the lungs and into the cardiovascular system, posing the greatest risks to human health, says the UN.

As urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them. When dirty air blankets our cities the most vulnerable urban populations – the youngest, oldest and poorest – are the most impacted, said Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director general.

Encouragingly, there is evidence from the WHO data that many cities are addressing air pollution. More than half of the monitored cities in high-income countries and more than one-third of those in low- and middle-income countries reduced their air pollution levels by more than 5% in five years. Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, has banned large diesel cars from going into the city centre.

Measures taken by cities include reducing industrial smokestack emissions, increasing the use of renewable power sources like solar and wind, and prioritising rapid transit, walking and cycling networks in cities. Many cities are also committed to reducing reducing car traffic and diesel vehicles in particular.

The UNs third outdoor air pollution database suggests the cleanest cities in the world are generally small, wealthy and situated far from industrial centres. Muonio in Finland, a town above the Arctic circle, has the worlds purest recorded urban air, recording just 2 micrograms per cubic metre of PM2.5 pollution and 4 micrograms per cubic metre of PM10s. It is closely followed by Norman Wells in Canada, Campisbalos in Spain and Converse County, Wyoming in the US.

Search database

Of 52 UK towns and cities included in the UN database, Port Talbot in south Wales, a hub for the UK steel industry, is the most polluted, ahead of London, Glasgow, Southampton and Leeds. The cleanest UK city in the WHO list is Inverness, followed by Bournemouth, Newcastle and Sunderland.

The most polluted city in Australia, according to the data, is Geraldton, a major seaport on the west coast, north of Perth. The most polluted city in the United States is the inland city of Visalia-Porterville in California.

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organisation limits. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted; 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%, said the WHO.

It is crucial for city and national governments to make urban air quality a health and development priority, said Dr Carlos Dora, co-ordinator of the WHOs Interventions for Healthy Environment programme. When air quality improves, health costs from air pollution related diseases shrink, worker productivity expands and life expectancy grows. Reducing air pollution also brings an added climate bonus, which can become a part of countries commitments to the climate treaty.

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