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How Los Angeles is Taking On Cybercriminals

As the world becomes more connected people are vulnerable of being victims of cybercriminals. Police departments, hospitals, universities and businesses everywhere are also at risk. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee shows how the city of Los Angeles is fighting this problem, by sharing and pooling critical information about cyberattacks.




CDC: Superbug Infections Rising, but Deaths Falling

Drug-resistant “superbug” infections have been called a developing nightmare that make conquered germs once again untreatable.So there’s some surprising news in a federal report released Wednesday: U.S. superbug deaths appear to be going down.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated about 36,000 Americans died from drug-resistant infections in 2017. That’s down 18% from 2013.Officials credit an intense effort in hospitals to control the spread of particularly dangerous infections.But while deaths are going down, the report says infections overall increased nationally. And while superbugs mainly have been considered a hospital problem, they are appearing much more often elsewhere.
 




Initiative Aims to Expand Diabetes Treatment

On the eve of World Diabetes Day, November 14, the World Health Organization is launching a new initiative it believes will allow greater access to life-saving insulin at lower prices for a greater number of people suffering from diabetes.  More than 420 million people globally suffer from diabetes and are in need of insulin to stay alive.  Diabetes, a disease that once mainly affected rich countries, is now most prevalent in low-and-middle-income countries.  Millions Left Behind as Diabetes Drives Surge in Insulin Demand

        A global diabetes epidemic is fueling record demand for insulin but tens of millions will not get the injections they need unless there is a dramatic improvement in access and affordability, a new study concluded on Wednesday.Diabetes -- which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart problems, neuropathic pain and amputations -- now affects 9 percent of all adults worldwide, up from 5 percent in 1980. 

There is an ample supply of insulin on the world market.   But the medication is costly and unaffordable for most people in developing countries.  The World Health Organization says it believes its first-ever insulin prequalification program will make the life-saving treatment widely available to poor people at dramatically lower prices.The prequalification program is a tool for assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of a medicine.  Emer Cooke, director of regulation of medicines and other health technologies at the WHO, says anyone who buys a WHO prequalified medication can be sure that the product is safe and effective.“We hope that by increasing the number of quality suppliers of insulin there will be a broader price range to cater for less-resourced health systems,” said Cooke.  “We are also confident that competition will bring prices down.  That way countries will have a greater choice of products that are more affordable.”Study: Too Little Sleep Doubles Mortality in Those With Heart, Diabetes Risks

        People with a common cluster of symptoms that puts them at increased risk of heart disease and diabetes are two times as likely to die as people without those risk factors if they get less than six hours of sleep per night.

That was the finding of a new study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine and reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

So-called metabolic syndrome is marked by elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and excess…
Three manufacturers control most of the global market for insulin.  They set prices that are prohibitive for many people and countries.  In the United States, the average price for a month’s supply of insulin is around $450.In the lead-up to this launch, the World Health Organization collected data from 24 countries in four regions of the world.  In some countries, the data show a month’s supply of insulin could cost between 15 and 22 percent of a worker’s take home pay.  Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death.  It can lead to costly and debilitating complications, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputations.Overweight and obesity, as well as physical inactivity are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes.  The disease is treatable with insulin and often preventable with a change of lifestyle that involves better diet and more exercise.




Privacy, Consumer Groups Seek to Block Google-Fitbit Deal

Nine privacy, social justice and consumer groups are calling for the U.S. government to block Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, citing antitrust and privacy concerns.They say in a Wednesday letter to the Federal Trade Commission that the deal would consolidate Google’s dominance over internet services like search, advertising and smartphone operating systems.They also worry it’ll add to Google’s store of consumer data. Health information is of particular concern. Google has hired health care executives, hinting at a health-data business to come.Politicians and regulators have been scrutinizing Google and other Silicon Valley companies for how they use customer data and leverage their size to thwart competitors.Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
 




Greta Thunberg Hitches Low-carbon Ride Across Atlantic

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg left North America on a return trip across the Atlantic on Wednesday, hitching a renewable-energy ride with an Australian family aboard their 48-foot (15-meter) catamaran.Thunberg tweeted that they set sail from Virginia after the family answered her urgent appeal for a ride back to Europe, where she hopes to arrive in time for the United Nations climate meeting that was moved to Madrid in early December. They left shortly before 8 a.m. She encouraged followers to track their journey online.Their boat, named La Vagabonde, leaves little to no carbon footprint, using solar panels and hydro-generators for power. It also has a toilet, unlike the boat on which she sailed from the United Kingdom to New York in August. That one had only a bucket.“There are countless people around the world who don’t have access to a toilet,” she said about the upgrade. “It’s not that important. But it’s nice to have.”Thunberg spoke with The Associated Press Tuesday inside the tight confines of the boat’s cabin as it was docked in Hampton, near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.The boat’s owners are Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu, an Australian couple who travel the world with their 11-month-old baby, Lenny. The family, which has a large online following, responded to Thunberg’s call on social media for a carbon-free ride to Europe. An expert sailor, Nikki Henderson, also is coming along.The trip could take two to four weeks, in conditions that could be challenging. November is considered offseason for sailing across the Atlantic. As Thunberg spoke Tuesday, the temperature had dipped into the 30s, with sleet turning to light snow.But the 16-year-old, who refuses to fly because of the carbon price of plane travel, didn’t seem bothered.“I’m looking forward to it, just to be able to get away and recap everything and to just be disconnected,” she said.Thunberg’s nearly three-month trip through North America included her impassioned speech before the United Nations. She joined in climate strike rallies and protests from California to Colorado to North Carolina.Thunberg has become a symbol of a growing movement of young climate activists after leading weekly school strikes in Sweden that inspired similar actions in about 100 cities worldwide.She’s also drawn criticism from conservative commentators in the U.S. as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin. But she brushed off the criticism Tuesday, saying that yes, she IS too young to be doing this.“It should be the adults who take that responsibility,” Thunberg said. “But it feels like the adults and the people in power today are not.”When she looks back on her time in the U.S. and Canada, Thunberg said, the things that stick out the most include a glacier in Canada’s Jasper National Park that is destined to disappear “no matter what we do.”A visit to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, where there have been protests over a pipeline, also left an impact.“I was actually quite surprised to see how bad the indigenous people have been treated,” she said. “They are the ones who are being impacted often the most and first by the climate and ecological crisis. And they are also the ones who are at the front line trying to fight it.”She also was surprised at how much she was recognized.“There are always people who come up to me and ask for selfies and so on,” she said. “So, that really gives you an idea of how big the climate movement has reached.”




Toxic Herbicides to be Outlawed in Thailand Dec. 1

Thailand’s ban of three toxic farm chemicals comes amid mixed reactions from workers and lawmakers. The National Hazardous Substances Committee voted to put herbicides glyphosate and paraquat and insecticide chlorpyrifos in the category of banned chemicals starting Dec. 1, but it remains unclear what the farmers will use to replace these commonly used chemicals. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.




Michigan Teen Who Vaped Received Double Lung Transplant

A Michigan teenager was the recipient of what could be the first double lung transplant on a person whose lungs were severely damaged from vaping, health officials said Tuesday.Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit described to reporters Tuesday the procedure that saved the 17-year-old’s life and pleaded for the public to understand the dangers of vaping.The teen was admitted in early September to a Detroit-area hospital with what appeared to be pneumonia. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and taken Oct. 3 to Henry Ford Hospital where the transplant was performed Oct. 15. The double lung transplant is believed to be the first performed on a patient due to vaping.Doctors found an “enormous amount of inflammation and scarring” on the teen’s lungs, said Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford. “This is an evil I haven’t faced before. The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that — and tell your children to think of that.”Health officials declined to release the teen’s name and said he is expected to recover. They also did not specify what the teen vaped or how long he vaped.A photo of a patient being transported is displayed while medical staff at Henry Ford Hospital answer questions during a news conference in Detroit, Nov. 12, 2019.”We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real!” his family said in a statement released by the hospital. “Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades.””Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year old athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted.”The boy had his 17th birthday after initially being admitted to the hospital.More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teenagers and young adults, and at least 40 people have died.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week announced a breakthrough into the cause of a vaping illness outbreak, identifying the chemical compound vitamin E acetate as a “very strong culprit” after finding it in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients. Vitamin E acetate previously was found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many who got sick and only recently has been used as a vaping fluid thickener.Many who got sick said they had vaped liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana, with many saying they received them from friends or bought them on the black market.E-cigarettes and other vaping devices heat a liquid into an inhalable vapor. Most products contained nicotine, but THC vaping has been growing more common.FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019.Henry Ford doctors did not say Tuesday what the lung transplant recipient vaped. They did say that he was critically ill when he arrived at Henry Ford where he was placed Oct. 8 on an organ transplant waiting list. His lung damage due to vaping was so severe and he was so close to death that the teen immediately was placed at the top of the transplant waiting list, they said.”Vaping-related injuries are all too common these days. Our adolescents are faced with a crisis,” said Dr. Lisa Allenspach, pulmonologist and the medical director of Henry Ford’s Lung Transplant Program. “We are just beginning to see the enormous health consequence jeopardizing the youth in our country … these vaping products should not be used in any fashion.”The 17-year-old’s case does not open any new ethical considerations about transplants for people how who irreparably damage their own lungs by vaping, Nemeh told The Associated Press.”It won’t change what we do on a routine basis. We will still evaluate every patient as an individual patient,” he said. “We hope sharing this patient’s story prevents anyone else from experiencing a vaping injury that would require a transplant.”Nemeh added that lung transplants have been considered for ex-smokers who have quit and demonstrated that they quit smoking, but transplants are not routinely done for people over the age of 70.
“Children do receive priority over an adult for a transplant from a pediatric donor,” he said. “The United Network for Organ Sharing creates the rules and then offers the organs to recipients who are a match. We don’t decide who gets an offer.” 




Teen Climate Activist Leaving US, Setting Sail for Spain

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg will leave North America and begin her return trip across the Atlantic on Wednesday aboard a 48-foot (15-meter) catamaran sailboat whose passengers include an 11-month-old baby.The boat leaves little to no carbon footprint, boasting solar panels and a hydro-generators for power. It also has a toilet, unlike the boat on which she sailed from the United Kingdom to New York in August. That one only had a bucket.”There are countless people around the world who don’t have access to a toilet,” she said about the upgrade. “It’s not that important. But it’s nice to have.”Thunberg spoke Tuesday inside the tight confines of the catamaran, named La Vagabonde, as it was docked in Hampton, Virginia, near the Chesapeake Bay’s mouth. She’s hitching a ride to Spain in hopes of attending a United Nations climate meeting in Madrid in early December.The owners of the boat are Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu, an Australian couple who have an 11-month-old son named Lenny. The family, which has a large online following, responded to Thunberg’s call on social media for a carbon-free ride to Europe. An expert sailor, Nikki Henderson, is also coming along.   The trip could take two to four weeks, and November is considered offseason for sailing across the Atlantic. As Thunberg spoke Tuesday, the temperature had dipped into the 30s as sleet turned into light snow.But the 16-year-old, who refuses to fly because of the carbon price of plane travel, didn’t seem bothered.”I’m looking forward to it, just to be able to get away and recap everything and to just be disconnected,” she said.  Thunberg just finished a nearly three-month trip through North America, where she gave an impassioned speech before the United Nations and took part in climate strike rallies and protests from California to Colorado to North Carolina.   Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunber, 16, sits on the side among other youth climate activists at a news conference about the Green New Deal hosted by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019.She’s become a symbol of a growing movement of young climate activists after leading weekly school strikes in Sweden that inspired similar actions in about 100 cities worldwide.She’s also drawn criticism from conservative commentators in the U.S. as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin. But she brushed off the criticism during her round of back-to-back interviews in the catamaran on Tuesday, saying that yes, she is too young to be doing this.”It should be the adults who take that responsibility,” Thunberg said. “But it feels like the adults and the people in power today are not.”When she looks back on her time in the U.S. and Canada, Thunberg said the things that stick out the most include a glacier in Canada’s Jasper National Park that is destined to disappear “no matter what we do.”Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg testifies at a Climate Crisis Committee joint hearing on “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis,” on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 18, 2019.A visit to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, where there have been protests over a pipeline, also left an impact.”I was actually quite surprised to see how bad the indigenous people have been treated,” she said. “They are the ones who are being impacted often the most and first by the climate and ecological crisis. And they are also the ones who are at the front line trying to fight it.”She also was surprised at how much she was recognized.”There are always people who come up to me and ask for selfies and so on,” she said. “So, that really gives you an idea of how big the climate movement has reached.”