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HEALTH

Too much salt may aggravate MS symptoms

A high intake of dietary salt may worsen symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), and increase the risk of further neurological deterioration.

Previous research has found that dietary salt may modify the automimmune response, which is associated with the onset of MS. However, it is not clear if salt plays any direct role in the cause of the disease itself.

MS is an often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts information flow within the brain, and between the brain and body. The cause of MS is still unknown – researchers believe that it may be triggered by unidentified environmental factors in a person who may be genetically predisposed to respond to such factors.

In an observational study published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, researchers analyzed urine and blood samples taken from 70 individuals with the relapsing-remitting type of MS to identify specific levels of salt; vitamin D, with low levels previously linked to the disease; and creatinine, a marker of inflammatory activity.

The participants were tracked over a nine month period where further urine samples were provided, and any changes in salt intake were monitored. A second group was also measured for urinary salt levels, and involved 52 people with the same form of MS.

In both groups, salt intake averaged approximately 4g daily.

After taking into account other factors such as age, gender, smoking, weight and circulating vitamin D, the research indicated that a high level of salt intake was associated with aggravated symptoms of MS.

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Conservationists mark the 100th anniversary of passenger pigeon extinction

On September 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon in the world, Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo; her death cemented the extinction of the passenger pigeon species, whose population numbers were in the billions, and remains a solemn reminder of the impact humans have in their surrounding ecosystem.

The demise of the passenger pigeon was a shocking one. Early colonists documented flocks of pigeons so dense they could blot out the sun. Estimates of the pigeon population were qualified as humanly incalculable (though scientists, in their hubris, estimate a rough population of between 3 – 5 billion pigeons at their peak population.

While migrating across the continent, passenger pigeons “make waste whole forest in a short time, and leave a famine behind them for most other creatures,” noted colonial historian Robert Beverly, in 1722. “They have never been observed to return to the northern countries in the same way they came from thence, but take quite another route, suppose for their better subsistence.”

However, as colonization and the rapid expansion of America swept across the continent, the timber felled restricted food resources, which in turn limited the species’ population growth. Instead of breeding twice a year, pigeons began to reproduce only once annually. To compound the problem, commercial hunting of the passenger pigeon was a popular sport. By the time the population dwindled into the millions, the species was already doomed.

Although one of the most memorable species extinctions and a blemish on the industrialization of America, Martha and her species helped give rise to the modern conservation movement. Besides allotting protected wildlife refuges, imposing hunting restrictions on endangered species, new techniques are becoming commonplace in the fight against extinction:

Genome resource banking allows for scientists to store vast amounts of genetic variations that occur in individuals throughout a species population, which can be utilized to increase biodiversity in small or isolated populations of endangered animals.

Assisted reproduction can overcome the barriers that may pop up when attempting to breed species in captivity. Scientists now are able to monitor cyclic ovarian activity, collect spermotazoa samples, artificially inseminate and produce embryos in vitro, as well as transfer them to the host mother.

Scientists also employ various other techniques to monitor specie population and evaluate its well-being. Camera traps are a successful technique in the wild, especially remote areas. Over the past few years, numerous animals thought to be extinct have been “re-discovered” after the deployment of camera traps (the hairy-nosed otter was rediscovered after 100 years without contact with the human world).

Other non-invasive techniques such as monitoring hormone levels and performing genetic analysis on animals can clue scientists into the health and diversity of an animal population.

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iOS 7 is an improved version of the best mobile operating system

Apple’s iOS essentially revolutionized mobile operating systems and smartphones in general. It has been improved upon numerous times since it was first created. One of the biggest and most important updates to the mobile operating system came in the form of iOS 7.

There are a number of reasons why iOS 7 was a big improvement over previous versions of iOS. One of the most noticeable changes in iOS 7 was the look of the software, offering a completely new palette of colors and a minimalistic approach to the design.

One of the reasons for the new design is the fact that many were not happy about some of the applications that debuted in iOS 6. For example, Apple Maps received an extremely negative response, with many users simply staying with Google Maps despite the fact that Google Maps was no longer the default.

Another big improvement found in iOS 7 comes with the camera app, which now allows users to choose shooting modes on the fly. Not only that, but it also gives users the opportunity to record video at 120 frames per second. The means that users can manipulate video in a way that they never could before on any smartphone operating system.

Multitasking has become much easier on iOS 7. Users can now view screenshots of their open apps in the multitasking dock, rather than just the icon of the app like in previous versions of the software.

While iOS 7 is certainly an improvement over other iOS versions, iOS 8 is potentially just as big of an improvement. iOS 8 will be released to the public alongside the new iPhone 6.

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iPhone 6 leaked in video ahead of release

A video of the upcoming iPhone 6 has reportedly been leaked online. The video shows what is supposedly a prototype of the device charging and even booting up.

While the video certainly could be real, many suggest that it is in fact fake. One reason for this is that the device boots up on iOS 7, rather than Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 8.

This can be shown through the fact that the iTunes logo in the video is blue, rather than orange, as it would be in iOS 8. This, however, does not specifically mean the video is fake, and instead the device could simply be running iOS 7.

The video is one of many that are circling the Internet, building the suspense for Apple’s upcoming device. Apple has sent invitations out for an event on September 9, which is where the tech giant is expected to reveal the new iPhone as well as the company’s first wearable device, the iWatch.

Not only has Apple sent out invitations to the event, but it has also built a three story structure at the location of the event, suggesting that something truly big will take place at the event.

Not only that, but this is the first time in a long time that Apple has held an event at the Flint Center rather than Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco or its own hall at the Apple headquarters.

While we don’t know for sure if the video is real, the design of the device does run in line with previous rumors about the design. Still, we won’t know everything until the iPhone 6 is finally revealed on September 9.

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Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade in wedded bliss

The late summer wedding season is sizzling for celebrity power couples!

While Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie just tied the knot last week, now Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade are officially husband and wife.

People magazine reports the couple exchanged vows in a cozy Miami ceremony with friends and family. John Legend performed for the couple and their guests, and the ceremony was officiated by Essence Atkins and her husband.

The stylish couple did not disappoint. Union walked down the aisle in a Dennis Basso gown, and Wade sported a Dsquared2 suit, his personally designed Wedding Collection from The Tie Bar and a  boutonniére by Floral Fix.

For the reception, the guests were treated to a 1930’s juke joint setting and sipped on Union’s signature Vanilla Puddin’ Chardonnay.

This is the second marriage for the couple. Wade has two children and a nephew that he raises as his own. His two sons helped Wade propose to Union back in December.  In a heartwarming save-the-date video obtained by TMZ, Wades’ sons can be seen holding up signs that read: “Nickie/Will You/Marry Us?”

After she says “Yes,” the couple go in for a big hug with the children in the sweet, video recap. The video went out to all the guests, who were forbidden to use social media at the wedding and reception.

Union was completely surprised when Wade popped the question. Back in January, she told hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan on Live with Kelly and Michael that the engagement was a complete family affair.

“I was completely surprised,” Union told Ripa and Strahan. “Him and the boys planned it completely, as a family … We were just gonna spend the day together, have a little quality time, went to brunch, I (was) clueless.”

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Taylor Swift joins “The Voice” as an adviser

Taylor Swift is heading to The Voice, only not as a performer but as one of the advisers in the reality competition’s seventh season.

The 24-year-old had previously performed on the fourth season of the show, but not she’s back and a source said the show could not be happier with how well she did as an adviser. They said, “Taylor was an absolute pleasure to work with. She had great feedback for all the contestants. She made for an amazing mentor.”

Which team will Swift be helping out? According to usmagazine.com the Country crossover artist will be advising all the contestants. So veteran hosts Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, as well as newcomers Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams will all have a piece of Swift for their respective hopefuls.

Swift joins a long line of artists who have helped give their two cents on the show as advisers. Everyone from 1990’s darling Alanis Morissette to living legends like Cher have come through. Even former American Idol’s have jumped ship to lend a helping hand to The Voice like Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson.

They have all done their best to ensure the contestants do their best on that stage, but how will Swift stack up? Well she has been performing for years now and even though she is still a young artist – she seems to know what she is doing and how to at least make people remain interested in you. Her advice may not be as poignant as say Lionel Richie’s but she will definitely bring her own fresh perspective to the show.

The seventh season of The Voice premieres on NBC on September 22 at 8pm.

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NIH begins early-stage trial to test effectiveness of Ebola virus vaccine

The National Institutes of Health is set to launch a human safety study for an Ebola virus vaccine candidate. The early-stage trial is the first in a series of Accelerated Safety Studies for vaccines for the virus.

The initial stages of human testing of an investigational vaccine designed to prevent the disease will start next week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The initial human-tested vaccine, developed in conjunction by NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline, will test the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to encourage an immune system response among healthy adults. The testing will be held at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

This study is the first of many Phase 1 clinical trials that will monitor the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine as well as an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The trials will be conducted in healthy adults who are not infected with the Ebola virus to determine the vaccine’s safety and whether it produced an immune response.

NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a statement, “There is an urgent need for a protective Ebola vaccine, and it is important to establish that a vaccine is safe and spurs the immune system to react in a way necessary to protect against infection.” He continued, “The NIH is playing a key role in accelerating the development and testing of investigational Ebola vaccines.”

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola virus disease is a severe and frequently fatal illness in humans, with many outbreaks that have a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.

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Report: Mark Wahlberg skipped brother Donnie’s wedding

Donnie Wahlberg and comedian Jenny McCarthy made it official this Labor Day weekend. The couple, who got engaged in April, had an intimate ceremony Saturday with about 80 guests in attendance.

There is no word as to where the wedding took place, only that it was in New York. However, there was one noticeable guest missing: Donnie’s brother, Mark Wahlberg, who is said to be busy in Los Angeles celebrating the birthday of his daughter, E! News reports.

With or without Mark Wahlberg, the affair was full of love and family. Both McCarthy and Wahlberg are full of love for each other and that love no doubt made the wedding a very special moment. Neither star seems to be extremely posh or the type to drag their wedding and plan through he press, so it’s possible there may be very few, if any, images from the wedding that the general public will see.

According to the Boston Herald, McCarthy’s boss on the TV channel Bravo officiated the ceremony. The marriage was second one for both. McCarthy also has a son, Evan, from her prior relationship.

It’s always great to see two people meet and get married. McCarthy and Wahlberg seem to do well together and once they are married they may start their own family if they see fit. If not, their little unit will still thrive.

Congratulations to the happy couple and hopefully they will have many years of happiness, health and success in the future.

 

 

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Joan Rivers on life support, friends are inconsolable

Comedy icon Joan Rivers was put on life support, her friends and family remain by her bedside while Hollywood reacts to the unfortunate news.

Rivers was having a run of the mill throat exam last week when all of a sudden she stopped breathing. She was then rushed to the hospital. It is unclear how long the fashion critic was without oxygen. Her condition jumped all over the place, but now reports are saying she is on life support.

A source said that her daughter, Melissa Rivers, is in denial about the whole situation, “She still thinks everything is going to be OK. She is refusing to admit that a world might exist without her mother in it.” That same source added, “Others that are close to Joan are starting to realize that the outcome they want is very unlikely.”

Other sources told The News that Rivers would not want to continue one with life if she wasn’t 100% and could live “a full and active life….(She) would never want to be a burden on anyone.” So far no decisions have been made on what do to do as far as continuing on with the life support or not.

The comedy world just lost Robin Williams so it comes as a huge shock that another legend would be in such bad shape so soon after. Hollywood is stunned and many famous faces took to Twitter to show their love and support for her from Larry King to Andy Cohen to Lena Dunham creator of ‘Girls’ who was famously attacked by Joan in one of her recent books who tweeted.

“We can’t lose Joan. All love and healing wishes to Her Majesty Joan Rivers- being ripped a new one by you is an honor to be treasured.”

The most heartfelt tweets came from River’s Fashion Police cohosts who knew her more than most.

Kelly Osbourne tweeted, “4 the first time in years I got down on my knees & prayed tonight! I encourage U 2 do the same 4 @Joan_Rivers my grandma! #inconsolable.”

Giuliana Rancic also looked to a higher power, “Praying for @Joan_Rivers and @MelRivers. Even though Joan’s the strongest woman I know, every single prayer counts. I love you, Joan.”

 

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Geology

Sinkhole threat remains at National Corvette Museum

Three of the eight historic Corvettes that plunged into a sinkhole that developed at the National Corvette Museum last February will be restored by the museum with help from General Motors, the maker of Corvette.

“Our goal was to help the National Corvette Museum recover from a terrible natural disaster by restoring all eight cars, ” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development. “However, as the cars were recovered, it became clear that restoration would be impractical because so little was left to repair. And, frankly, there is some historical value in leaving those cars to be viewed as they are.”

Initially, the museum decided to leave the sinkhole undisturbed, as the press the disaster garnered actually brought in a bevy of tourists. However, the costs and aesthetics associated with having a large sinkhole in the middle of a museum soon became too much to bear.

Museum officials have since decided to fill in the hole, yet not buff out all the blemishes left from the incident:

“There has been an outpouring of messages from enthusiasts the world over, asking us not to restore all of the cars,” said Wendell Strode, executive director for the National Corvette Museum. “For Corvette enthusiasts, the damage to the cars is part of their history, and part narrative of the National Corvette Museum. Restoring them all would negate the significance of what happened.”

The Corvettes never stood a chance against the sinkhole, and still cannot be protected: the natural environment of Bowling Green, Kentucky conspires against the iconic American automobiles.

The underlying geology of Kentucky is karst, meaning the landscape is prolific with sinkholes, caves, and springs. Karst topography occurs where a soft, easily dissoluble layer of rock, such as limestome or gypsum, overlays a region with a high water table. The constant interaction between the bedrock and the aquifers results in quick erosion rates, which hollow out cave systems, create sinkholes and form springs.

Kentucky is renowned for its karst landscape- the world’s largest surveyed cave system, Mammoth Cave, has over 350 miles of underground passages. However, the limestone bedrock is susceptible to creating sinkholes after heavy rains, and can even devour entire neighborhoods.