Drunken driving blood-alcohol threshold should be lowered, scientific panel says

A prestigious scientific panel is recommending that states significantly lower their drunken driving thresholds as part of a blueprint to eliminate the “entirely preventable” 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in the United States each year.

The U.S. government-commissioned, 489-page report by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released Wednesday throws the weight of the scientific body behind lowering the blood-alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05. All states have 0.08 thresholds. A Utah law passed last year that lowers the state’s threshold to 0.05 doesn’t go into effect until Dec. 30.

The amount of alcohol required to reach 0.05 would depend on several factors, including the person’s size and whether the person has recently eaten. A 150-pound man might be over the 0.05 limit after two beers, while a 120-pound woman could exceed it after a single drink, according to the American Beverage Institute, a national restaurant group.

The panel also recommended that states significantly increase alcohol taxes and make alcohol less conveniently available, including reducing the hours and days alcohol is sold in stores, bars and restaurants. Research suggests a doubling of alcohol taxes could lead to an 11 percent reduction in traffic crash deaths, the report said.

It also calls for cracking down on sales to people under 21 or who are already intoxicated to discourage binge drinking, and putting limits on alcohol marketing while funding anti-alcohol campaigns similar to those against smoking.

All the proposals are likely to draw fierce opposition from the alcohol and restaurant industries. The beverage institute took out full-page newspaper ads opposing Utah’s new law that featured a fake mugshot under a large headline reading, “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation.”

But the academies’ report points out that “alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on U.S. roads,” accounting for 28 percent of traffic deaths. Each day, 29 people in the U.S. die in alcohol-related crashes and many more are injured. Forty percent of those killed are people other than the drunken driver.

Rural areas are disproportionately affected. In 2015, 48 percent of drunken driving fatalities occurred in rural areas.

The report says many strategies have been effective to prevent drunken driving, but “a coordinated multilevel approach across multiple sectors will be required to accelerate change.”

“The problem isn’t intractable,” the report said.

From the early 1980s to the early 2000s, there was significant progress as the result of an increase in the drinking age to 21, decreases in the blood-alcohol threshold, and other measures, the report said. But since then, progress has stagnated and recently has begun to reverse.

Action to address drunken driving can’t wait for the advent of self-driving cars immune to the lures of a cold beer or a fine wine — it will take too long for autonomous vehicles to replace all the human-driven machines on the road, said the panel’s chairman, Steven Teutsch, a senior fellow for health policy and economics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“In the meantime, we have 10,000 people a year dying and we ought to do something about it,” he said.

The report cites studies that show the United States lags behind other high-income countries in preventing drunken driving fatalities. More than 100 countries have adopted the 0.05 threshold lower. In Europe, the share of traffic deaths attributable to drunken driving was reduced by more than half within 10 years after the standard was dropped, the National Transportation Safety Board said in 2013. The safety board has also recommended the 0.05 threshold.

Alcoholic beverages have changed significantly over the past 25 years. “They are more affordable, of far greater variety, and more widely advertised and promoted than in earlier periods,” the report said. The lack of consistency in serving sizes and the combination of alcohol with caffeine and energy drinks make it harder for drinkers to estimate their level of impairment.

The report was commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which asked the academies to determine which strategies for reducing drunken driving have been proven effective.

Shredded coconut causes widespread salmonella outbreak

A salmonella outbreak that affected nine states has been linked to a batch of shredded coconut that is minimally treated and typically safe to consume raw.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that shredded coconut was the cause of a widespread salmonella outbreak affecting nine states. A staple health food of many plant-based and nutritious diets, shredded coconut is minimally processed and safe to consume raw. However, the particular batch of shredded coconut that was recalled on January 3 contained traces of salmonella contamination.

“Evershing International Trading Company is recalling Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut, 16 oz., because they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella,” the CDC reported in a recall notice. Salmonella infection can be fatal, especially for young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems; however, no deaths have been reported. Twenty-five people have fallen ill and six have been hospitalized due to the infection.

Investigations were aided by several victims’ reports that they had consumed an Asian-style dessert drink at various restaurants in the weeks prior to their illness. These drinks may have contained servings of the coconut in question — one Boston restaurant was confirmed to have included the ingredient in a drink.

The coconut product was distributed in Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington, California, and Oklahoma with redistribution to Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Florida, and Texas. Consumers and restaurants in all of those states should return all sizes of Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut to the place of purchase to receive a full refund.

Customers are also free to contact Evershing International Trading Company at 408-975-9660 with any questions or concerns.

At this stage, the product has been fully recalled, so it’s probably safe to eat coconut at restaurants. The food may be hard to avoid, since it’s such a popular ingredient to add texture and flavor. Did you know some restaurants even put it on pizza?

Wreck of Dutch warship found buried beneath coral

Sea-life-encrusted cannons from an 18th-century Dutch frigate

Divers in the blue waters around the Yucatán Peninsula have discovered three historic treasures: a sunken lighthouse and the remains of an 18th-century Dutch warship and a 19th-century British steamer, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

The battered wrecks were found near the coastal town of Sisal, Mexico, a modern beach destination that was once a bustling port in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The shipwrecks were laden with artifacts, including cannons, cutlery and porcelain, said archaeologist Helena Barba Meinecke, head of the INAH’s underwater archaeology of the Yucatán Peninsula. [Mayday! 17 Mysterious Shipwrecks You Can See on Google Earth]

The Dutch warship — dubbed the “Madagascar Cannons,” because its cannons were found near the Madagascar reef, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Sisal — is partly buried under 6 inches (15 centimeters) of coral.

“We recorded in drawing, photography and video a total of 12 iron cannons whose dimensions — 2.5 meters long by almost half a meter in diameter [8 feet by nearly 2 feet] — bear a resemblance to the artillery of the Dutch war frigates that sailed the West Indies in the 18th century,” Barba Meinecke said.

The crew might have thrown four of these cannons overboard in an attempt to save the ship from sinking, she added.

About 60 feet (19 m) southeast of these cannons, archaeologists found another eight cannons and eight cannonballs, as well as ceramic fragments. It appears that these artifacts sunk at once, indicating that this was the spot where the Dutch warship met its untimely end, Barba Meinecke said.

The wreck is mentioned in a 1722 letter from Antonio de Cortaire, the governor of the Yucatán, in which he ordered a review of lookouts on the northern coast of the territory after learning that two Dutch warships carrying contraband merchandise had sunk in February of that year. In the note, he said that treacherous “north winds” were likely to blame and that the Dutch and English crews had been rescued and taken to Sisal.

However, it’s unclear which of the two warships researchers have uncovered. INAH archaeologists are now examining the ship’s contents in an effort to crack the puzzle, Barba Meinecke said.

The second shipwreck — a Mississippi-style steamboat from the United Kingdom — was nicknamed Vapor Adalio, in honor of the grandfather of Juan Diego Esquivel, a local fisherman who showed the wreck to archaeologists. The steamer, which was likely built between 1807 and 1870, wrecked on the Scorpion Reef (known as “Arrecife Alacranes” in Spanish) in the 1800s, the archaeologists said.

Within the ship’s remains, archaeologists found signs of everyday life aboard the steamer: eight eating utensils.

Diego Esquivel also led archaeologists to the wrecked lighthouse, located about 2 miles (3.7 km) from Sisal. The structure, which was built in the late 19th century, stood 26 feet tall (8 m) and served as a lookout point. However, it likely crumbled into the gulf after a tropical storm hit the region, the archaeologists said.

Ancient ‘Two Brothers’ mummy mystery solved thanks to high-tech DNA test

The 'Two Brothers' mummies (The University of Manchester).

Experts at the University of Manchester in the U.K. have solved a 4,000-year-old mystery about a pair of mummies dubbed the ‘Two Brothers.’

By harnessing ‘next-generation’ DNA sequencing technology, scientists discovered that the mummies at the Manchester Museum are, in fact, half-brothers. The mummies of Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh were discovered in 1907 and date back to around 1800 B.C.

However, Egyptologists have long debated the origins of the two men and questioned whether they were related at all.

DNA DISCOVERY UNRAVELS THE MYSTERY OF EARLY GREEK CIVILIZATIONS

The pair were found at a joint burial site at Deir Rifeh, 250 miles south of Cairo. When they were excavated, archaeologists noted inscriptions on their coffins indicating they were sons of an unnamed local governor. The inscriptions also suggested that the men had mothers with the same name, Khnum-aa.

ManchesterMummies2

The ‘Two Brothers’ mummies (The University of Manchester).  (David Gennard)

When the tomb’s contents were shipped to Manchester in 1908, however, archaeologists concluded that the mummies’ different skeletal morphologies were different, suggesting that a family relationship was absent. Based on the evidence of contemporary inscriptions, it was also proposed that one of the Brothers was adopted.

DNA extracted from the mummies’ teeth in 2015, which was revealed this week, has finally resolved the puzzle. Both men belonged to mitochondrial haplotype M1a1, which suggests a maternal genetic relationship. Their Y chromosome sequences were less complete but showed variations between the two mummies, which indicates that they had different fathers, and were thus very likely to have been half-brothers, according to scientists.

“It was a long and exhausting journey to the results but we are finally here, said Dr. Konstantina Drosou, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester who conducted the DNA sequencing, in a statement. “I am very grateful we were able to add a small but very important piece to the big history puzzle and I am sure the brothers would be very proud of us. These moments are what make us believe in ancient DNA.”

ManchesterMummies3

Dr. Konstantina Drosou, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Dr. Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum (The University of Manchester)  (David Gennard)

“Our reconstructions will always be speculative to some extent but to be able to link these two men in this way is an exciting first,” added Dr. Campbell Price, curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum.

The results of the study are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

TROVE OF STATUES DEPICTING LIONESS GODDESS DISCOVERED IN EGYPT

A number of other projects have harnessed DNA analysis to gain insight into the ancient world. DNA research, for example, is shedding new light on the mysterious ancient Minoan civilization on the island of Crete and their counterparts on the Greek mainland, the Mycenaeans.

In 2016, analysis of the first DNA obtained from an ancient Phoenician revealed that the man had European ancestry, much to scientists’ surprise.

Sleep apnea treatment uses ‘snake-like’ surgical robot

A new robotic surgery helps those suffering from sleep apnea. The robot is designed to navigate the body's natural twists and turns so tissue can be removed or repaired safely and efficiently.

Anthony Rinando, who was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in his teenage years, had to wait almost two decades to get a good night’s sleep.

“I tried everything. Snoring strips, sleeping with a tennis ball behind your back… I tried using different pillows,” Rinando, a 31-year-old New Yorker, told Fox News.

Sleep apnea is not just a snorer’s disorder, but a serious and sometimes fatal condition. It’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow while you sleep.

It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and the airway narrows or closes as one breathes in.

“This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood,” Mayo Clinic explains in its website. “Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.”

Studies show having sleep apnea for four or five years can raise a person’s risk of death by 30 percent.

“I would sleep and I would almost choke for air,” Rinando said.

Like many Americans, Rinando knew he had to do something and didn’t feel comfortable wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, a common treatment that uses a hose and mask or nosepiece to deliver steady air pressure while you sleep.

Rinando’s next plan of action was to go in for nasal surgery to remove his tonsils, but the operation was unsuccessful.

“The doctor told me, ‘I couldn’t remove your tonsils because they were just too large. If I was going to remove them, there was a chance that you could bleed out and I couldn’t get to it’,” he said.

After his failed surgery, Rinando was referred to Dr. Yosef Krespi, a surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York who performs surgery using a Flex Robotic System to treat cases of sleep apnea.

The robot is designed to navigate the body’s natural twists and turns so tissue can be removed or repaired safely and efficiently. High definition cameras on the robotic equipment can give surgeons a look into the throat with high definition cameras and magnification.

“The robotic equipment can go in multiple directions and is much more effective than the surgeon’s hand,” Krespi told Fox News. “The robot itself is no bigger than my thumb and that gets into the oral cavity in an appropriate position and it’s flexible, similar to a snake.”

Flex robotic surgery is covered by most insurances and is also FDA-cleared for head and neck and colorectal cases.

Krespi said the procedure does carry minor bleeding and anesthesia risks, but believes the surgery is minimally invasive under robot guidance.

“There is less blood loss, smaller incisions or no incisions, and so the recovery is much easier. The need for pain medication post-operatively is less,” he explained.

According to Krespi, most patients can also be sent home the same day of the operation.

Rinando said his recovery was painful for a few weeks but that now he can sleep peacefully.

“I can breathe much better. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be able to breathe like I am now,” Rinando said. “I don’t snore. I don’t wake up. Months down the road now, I feel like [I’m] a totally different person.”

Duchess Kate, the quick-change artist, shows how to swap work wear for workout gear

It was a two-outfit day for Duchess Kate.

If Duchess Kate were a Spice Girl, she would normally be Posh. But on Wednesday, she was both Posh and Sporty.

For her first engagement of the day, she wore an red Lena dress coat from Boden ($330) over a peach dress, bare legs and brown heels to open the Mittal Children’s Medical Center at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and visit with kids, including four-year-old patient Rafael Chana.

She also stopped to admire the sparkly silver sneakers on one little girl.

Later in the day, Kate changed into some sneakers of her own — $190 Nike Air VaporMax ones to be exact, along with Monreal London tuxedo track pants ($255) and a white warm-up top, to check on the progress of the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative at Bond Primary School, south of London. (The longtime tennis fan took over as royal patron for Wimbledon’s host organization, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, in 2016.)

After ‘monkey hoodie’ scandal, H&M hires diversity leader

AP BRITAIN H&M I GBR

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Swedish fashion retailer H&M says it has appointed a diversity leader following the outcry over its ad that showed a black child dressed in a hoodie with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

H&M first announced the appointment Tuesday on its Facebook page. In an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday, the retailer said Global Manager for Employee Relations Annie Wu, a company veteran, would be the new global leader for diversity and inclusiveness.

The retailer said on Facebook that it’s “commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness is genuine, therefore we have appointed a global leader, in this area, to drive our work forward.”

The image of the boy modeling the sweatshirt appeared online earlier this month and prompted accusations that H&M was racist, or at least oblivious.

The Stockholm-based company reiterated in its Facebook announcement that “the recent incident was entirely unintentional” but “demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand.”

NBA star LeBron James and rapper Diddy were among those who had responded with outrage to the ad. American rappers The Weeknd and G-Eazy cancelled partnerships with H&M. In South Africa, there were protests at some H&M stores. The response has been more muted in Europe.

The case highlights how important it has become for multinationals to consider the different cultural views and sensitivities in their sales markets. That’s especially true as social media makes it possible for an ad posted in one country to be shared and viewed around the world.

Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Ferrero for about $2.8 billion

635636685741131072-AX153-3224-9

Nestle is selling its U.S. confectionery business to Italian chocolate and candy maker Ferrero for an estimated $2.8 billion, the company said Tuesday.

Nestle’s American sweet treats include Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Raisinets, Nips, Skinny Cow and Laffy Taffy.

Nestle’s 2016 U.S. confectionery sales were about $900 million and represent about 3% of U.S. Nestle Group’s sales, according to the Swiss company.

“This move allows Nestle to invest and innovate across a range of categories where we see strong future growth and hold leadership positions, such as pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition,” CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement.

Nestle is the world’s largest food company, according to the 2017 Forbes Global 2000.

Ferrero, which today is headquartered in Luxembourg, is best known for its Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but the company also owns favorites Nutella and Tic Tacs.

This acquisition will make Ferrero the third-largest chocolate confectionery in the world, according to London-based market research company Euromonitor International.

“We are very excited about the acquisition of Nestle’s U.S. confectionery business, which has an outstanding portfolio of iconic brands with rich histories and tremendous awareness,” Giovanni Ferrero, executive chairman of the Ferrero Group, said in a statement.

Raphael Moreau, senior food and nutrition analyst at Euromonitor International, said this acquisition will help Ferrero achieve its strategic goal of boosting its presence in the US.

Ferrero bought Fannie May Confections Brands from 1-800-FLOWERS in May for $115 million and in October announced plans to buy Ferrara Candy Co. — best known for Brach’s, Trolli and Lemonheads — from private equity firm L Catterton for an undisclosed amount.

The sale of Nestle’s U.S. candy business doesn’t include the company’s global chocolate brand KitKat or the Toll House baking line.

The sale of Nestle’s U.S. candy business doesn’t include the Toll House baking line or Kit Kat. While Kit Kat is Nestle’s global brand, Hershey owns the rights in the U.S.

Nestle — which also owns Purina, Coffee-Mate, Gerber and Stouffer’s — has been scooping up companies and shifting away from its confectionery roots. In September, Nestle acquired a majority interest in Oakland-based high-end specialty coffee roaster and retailer Blue Bottle Coffee for an undisclosed amount, and last month it announced plans to buy privately-held Atrium Innovations, a nutritional health products maker based in Quebec, for $2.3 billion.

The U.S. candy business sale is expected to be completed near the end of the first quarter, Nestle said.

We all know Hershey’s new bar is chocolate-free, but that’s far from the most confusing thing about it. Buzz60’s Nathan Rousseau Smith (@fantasticmrnate) has more. Buzz60

Both companies have long and storied histories in the European sweets world. Nestle began selling chocolate in 1904, and Ferrero was founded as a family business, originally a pastry shop, in 1946.

Man’s energy drink addiction led to his suicide, father claims

Justin Bartholomew drank around 15 energy drinks a day, which his father believes contributed to his suicide at the age of 25.

A father in the U.K. is claiming his son’s energy drink “addiction” led to his suicide at the age of 25.

Keiron Bartholomew told The Mirror his son Justin would drink at least 15 cans of energy drink a day, which he believes contributed to his death in August.

“His brother Daniel would look in the back of the van and see piles and piles of empty energy drink cans. We’d clear them out and the next day there would be more again,” Bartholomew told the Mirror.

 

Justin Bartholomew2

Justin told his dad trying to give up energy drinks was like trying to quit smoking.  (Facebook)

When his dad told him he should wean himself off the drinks, Justin told him he couldn’t stop and that it was like trying to quit smoking.

Justin struggled with anxiety and depression, and had previously tried to take his own life after the breakup of his marriage. However, his father believes his son’s unhealthy energy drink habit only made his mental health problems worse.

“It’s a double-edged sword – energy drinks are bad for you because of the sugar and the caffeine,” Bartholomew told the Mirror. “But, also, if you are drinking these drinks and you have depression, it is a lethal combination.”

A 12-ounce can of Red Bull contains 37 grams of sugar and 111 milligrams of caffeine, about the same amount as a double espresso.

A woman claimed her husband's obsession with energy drinks caused a brain hemorrhage that cost him part of his skull. What are the health risks of energy drinks?

Justin’s side effects from the energy drinks were scary, including heart palpitations and sleepless nights, the Mirror reports. He would shake and break out in sweats. At one point, a doctor told him he had the heart rate of an 80-year-old man.

Due to their potential health risks, Bartholomew told the Mirror he supports banning the sale of energy drinks to anyone under 16 years old. “I also believe that a total ban should be considered.”

His son’s case is being heard in Parliament this week.

Chick-fil-A boots breast-feeding mom for nursing her baby girl

North Dakota law allows women to breastfeed in public since 2009.

A mother from Fargo, N. D. says she was kicked out of a Chick-fil-A over the weekend after she started breast-feeding her infant daughter.

“The owner came to our table where I was showing no more than the upper portion of my breast, barely more than what was visible in my shirt and asked me to cover,” Macy Hornung wrote on her Facebook page.

“I tried to explain that I couldn’t, because my baby refuses to be covered and she started harping about the children and men who can see my indecency and I need to cover,” she went on.

“I said they could practice the simple art of looking away and tried to cite North Dakota breastfeeding laws. She told me if I chose not to cover, then she would have to ask me to leave, so I told her my review would reflect my experience and I would be relaying the experience in every local mommy group.”

WOMAN PHOTOGRAPHED BREAST-FEEDING SON AT DISNEYLAND GOES VIRAL

Following the social media post, the fast-food chain apologized for the awkward moment. Owner/operator Kimberly Flamm released an official statement that read:

“My goal is to provide a warm and welcoming environment for all of my guests and I sincerely apologize for the way I handled this situation.”

BREAST-FEEDING MOTHER KICKED OUT OF FLORIDA RESTAURANT

The state’s legislature passed a law in 2009 giving a woman the right to “breast-feed her child in any location, public or private, where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be.”