CDC, FDA issue statement on respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarette products

Natalia Vavilina/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are working together to investigate numerous cases of respiratory illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes.

In a statement, CDC Director Robert Redfield and Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless say they were “deeply saddened…to learn of the death of an adult in Illinois who had been hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness following the use of an e-cigarette product.”

The statement notes that there have been 215 possible cases of these diseases reported in 25 states. The most common symptoms include breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain. The onset of those symptoms has been gradual in many cases.

It remains unclear whether the illnesses have a common cause, or if there are different diseases with similar symptoms.

The CDC and FDA say that anyone who uses e-cigarette products should avoid purchasing those products off the street, should not modify the products, and should not use substances in those products that were not intended by the manufacturer. They also recommend that youths, young adults, pregnant women, and adults who don’t already use tobacco products should avoid starting to use them.

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ESPN: Cowboys’ contract talks with Ezekiel Elliott intensifying

Sports News ESPN: Cowboys' contract talks with Ezekiel Elliott intensifying

Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(DALLAS) — Sources tell ESPN that the Dallas Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott are working hard to get a new contract agreed to this weekend.

The contract talks have intensified, ESPN’s Adam Schefter says, just days after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he expected Elliott would likely miss regular season games. Jones also said there was no deadline for negotiations with Elliott, or fellow stars Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.

The Cowboys had previously offered Elliott a deal that would have made him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL — behind Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley.

Elliott has held out amid the contract dispute, but is training in Mexico with Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

The 24-year-old led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his first three seasons.

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Posted On 31 Aug 2019

Scoreboard roundup — 8/30/2019

Sports News Scoreboard roundup -- 8/30/2019

iStock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Friday’s sporting events:

Atlanta 10, Chi White Sox 7

Tampa Bay 4, Cleveland 0
Oakland 8, N-Y Yankees 2
Houston 7, Toronto 4
Minnesota 13, Detroit 5
Texas 6, Seattle 3
Baltimore 14, Kansas City 2
Boston 7, L-A Angels 6  (15 Innings)

Chi Cubs 7, Milwaukee 1
N-Y Mets 11, Philadelphia 5
Washington 7, Miami 6
Pittsburgh 9, Colorado 4
San Francisco 8, San Diego 3
Arizona 5, L-A Dodgers 4
  Cincinnati  at  St. Louis  7:05 p.m. (PPD – Rain)

(19)Wisconsin 49, South Florida 0
(18)Michigan St.  28, Tulsa 7

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Posted On 31 Aug 2019

Despite battle with Congress, Trump administration slow-walking $4 billion in aid, including key funds for Ukraine

WORLD NEWS Despite battle with Congress, Trump administration slow-walking $4 billion in aid, including key funds for Ukraine

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After standing down in a battle with Congress over $4 billion in foreign assistance cuts, the White House is still slow-walking funds for those same programs in a move that threatens their full implementation, according to two sources.

The decision is part of a larger fight over foreign aid between advocates, including senior Republicans and Democrats in Congress and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and fierce critics of it at the White House, led by acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The details of these caps come as the White House also ordered a review of $250 million of Pentagon funds for Ukraine’s military, according to a U.S. official. The Pentagon recommended the aid should continue, but the decision now lies with the White House, the official confirmed.

Last Thursday, President Donald Trump stood down on what’s called a rescission package that would have canceled about $4 billion of funds from the budget for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney once led, had ordered a freeze on those programs and pushed for them to be cut and returned to the Treasury.

The programs come from 10 areas, including global health, assistance to Europe to counter Russia and China, United Nations peacekeeping operations and countering drug trafficking.

Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress demanded that the White House stand down, saying the cuts would harm vital U.S. national security and foreign policies.

While the White House agreed, OMB quietly mandated that the State Department keep in place caps on spending for these programs — allowing the department to spend only 2% of the funds each day.

“Within this daily rate constraint, the State Department and USAID are working diligently to comply with all relevant directives by obligating all specified funds by the end of the fiscal year” on Sept. 30, a State Department spokesperson said.

One source told ABC News there’s concern that given the 2% cap, the department won’t be able to spend all the money in the next month and could therefore lose it, arguing it would be a way of making the original rescission package happen but without formally notifying Congress.

Congress is on recess until Sept. 9, but advocates for U.S. foreign aid hope that lawmakers could enact a mechanism to extend the funding into the next fiscal year and save it.

The continued fight over foreign aid has also hit the Pentagon, where the White House put a hold on $250 million of military assistance to Ukraine. That decision also sparked outrage among lawmakers, who said pulling the funding would undermine the country’s new president and work to help Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Enough is enough. President Trump should stop worrying about disappointing Vladimir Putin and stand up for U.S. national security priorities,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We have a responsibility to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and deter Russia from further aggression.”

The Pentagon has reviewed the funds and concluded that it should continue, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

But the decision now rests with the White House. A State Department official declined to discuss internal deliberations and deferred questions to the White House. OMB did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite the review, officials said the administration’s Ukraine policy hasn’t changed, pointing to National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to Kyiv this week. Bolton met President Volodymyr Zelensky, a television star and comedian elected president in April, and reiterated support for him and Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea and support for militant groups in eastern Ukraine.

The administration has committed more than $1.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine in response to that aggression, including lethal weapons that Trump agreed to provide that his predecessor, President Barack Obama declined to, as well as capabilities to better secure its borders and ensure cooperation with NATO.

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Posted On 31 Aug 2019

‘Freedom of creation is something important for me’: Hong Kong artist describes depicting protests

WORLD NEWS 'Freedom of creation is something important for me': Hong Kong artist describes depicting protests

iStock(HONG KONG) — Amid the clash of police batons and protesters’ rallying cries, at least one Hong Kong artist is laboring to prove the pen indeed is mightier than the sword.

Twenty-five-year-old Kay Wong, who was born in Hong Kong, has documented through her artwork some of the summer’s most critical moments: violent standoffs between police and protesters, an international airport forced to ground its planes and the plight of everyday citizens through it all.

“I think the freedom of creation is something important for me, and I’m afraid that if something happened to the freedom of creation, we’ll just be lost,” said Kay, explaining she refuses to just hide at home while others risk their lives.

For inspiration, Kay said she pours over newspaper photographs or attends rallies throughout the city, walking among the more radical Hong Kongers and taking pictures with her cell phone.

Kay said she believes the police used to protect its citizens.

Perhaps not anymore, though.

“Maybe now, today, lots of people think that the protests [are] changing because they are not peaceful anymore,” Kay said. “But after a few times of peaceful protests, the government and maybe also the police did something bad [to] us, and just so many people just get angry … [so] they try to use [a] different way to fight.”

Still, she said she hopes her artwork helps show in a more personal light a conflict that’s entered its fourth month.

“We,” she said, referring to artists, “just try our very best to do what little part that we can do.”

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Posted On 31 Aug 2019

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had fentanyl, oxycodone in system: Autopsy report

Sports News Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had fentanyl, oxycodone in system: Autopsy report

iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Tyler Skaggs, a Los Angeles Angels pitcher whose body was found in his hotel room, died after a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system led him to choke on his own vomit, according to an autopsy report.

Skaggs’ death was ruled accidental, according to the autopsy report released Friday from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room on the afternoon of July 1, hours before the Angels were set to play the Texas Rangers. That game was postponed.

The Southlake police investigation into Skaggs’ death is ongoing, according to the department.

“We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol,” Skaggs’ family said in a statement on Friday. “That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.”

Without offering evidence, Skaggs’ family alleges that the “circumstances surrounding Tyler’s death” “may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels.”

“We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them,” the family said.

The Los Angeles Angles said in a statement that Skaggs “was and always will be a beloved member of the Angels Family.”

“We are deeply saddened to learn what caused this tragic death,” the team said. “Angels Baseball has provided our full cooperation and assistance to the Southlake Police as they conduct their investigation.”

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Posted On 30 Aug 2019

Inside the history of one of London’s most iconic landmarks: Piccadilly Circus

WORLD NEWS Inside the history of one of London’s most iconic landmarks: Piccadilly Circus

stockinasia/iStock(LONDON) — Very few — if any — of the hundreds of thousands of Londoners who take the London Underground through Piccadilly Circus every day think about what’s beneath their feet. But behind the locked doors is a warren of vacant passages and platforms.

Siddy Holloway is the curator of Hidden London tours for the London Transport Museum. She told ABC News that the most common reaction to this secret side of the capital is “awe.”

The original, defunct Piccadilly Circus, which is the subject of this Hidden London tour, was built in 1906. However, due to the huge volume of passengers that quickly descended on the station, a modern one had to be built in 1928. Now, the iconic tube stop accommodates 40 million passengers every year.

“It’s just beyond the reach of what you can see as a commuter,” Holloway said.

The escalator, an invention that would revolutionize commuter transport in the early 20th century, changed the underground train station forever.

“Many of these first underground stations were all built with lifts, but when the escalator comes into existence in 1911, that means they all want to be fitted with escalators,” Holloway said. “This means you have to completely remodel all stations, and so there’s actually a lot of disused station part. I like to call them forgotten pockets of history.”

The storied station has been a part of many historical London events, including its role in the Blitz during World War II and the rapid expansion of urban transport in the early 1900s. The station’s redesign was called the “Heart of London” because of its classic art deco style during the height of the British Empire.

“People are always very fascinated by wartime in the Second World War and how the tube was used for that,” Holloway said. “Piccadilly Circus was one of the busiest tube shelters in London at the time, with about 7,000 people sheltering here every single night.”

In addition to tours of Hidden London, there will be an exhibition opening on Oct. 11 in the London Transport Museum. An accompanying book, “The Hidden London,” goes on sale Oct 10.

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Posted On 30 Aug 2019

Long periods of hormone replacement therapy increase breast cancer risk, study says

monkeybusinessimages/iStock(NEW YORK) — Described colorfully by some women as a “personal summer,” the intense waves of heat and excessive sweating that come with menopause affect millions of women each year. An estimated 12 million women in Western countries are prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat the symptoms that happen with the decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone associated with menopause.

But a new study from the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer published in The Lancet gives us the best evidence yet that the longer women use HRT, the higher their risk of breast cancer.

“This study is potentially going to change the way I prescribe hormones to my patients,” said Dr. Margaret Polaneczky, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYP-Weill Cornell who was not involved in the current research. While the study confirms long-held beliefs that the use of HRT leads to an increased risk of breast cancer, it distinguishes between different regimens of hormone therapy that are more likely to increase breast cancer risk than others.

Up to this point, data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), the largest and most robust long-term study looking at HRT, have guided doctors’ thinking about the risks and benefits of HRT. This new study deepens our understanding of the size of those risks.

“Women who use HRT for 10 years essentially double the risk of breast cancer caused by HRT than if they only use it for five years,” said Dr. Noah Kauff, an obstetrician and gynecologist and chief of Cancer Genetics at Northwell Health. He was not involved in the study.

The new data shows that the risk for breast cancer begins to increase with as little as one to four years of HRT use. For women taking five years of HRT starting at age 50, one in every 50 users of continuous estrogen-progestogen therapy develops breast cancer over a 20-year period than would have otherwise. Even after stopping HRT, that increased risk can persist for more than 10 years. On the brighter side, use of HRT for less than one year or use of vaginal estrogen creams alone were not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

On average, women use HRT for approximately two to three years, but the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women use the lowest dose of hormones for the shortest period of time to minimize both breast cancer risk and risk of blood clots. Determining what exactly the HRT doses and regimens should be is challenging, and this study gives doctors a bit more guidance.

“What’s new in this study compared to WHI is that it shows certain progestogen regimens might be more linked to breast cancer than others,” said Polaneczky.

Women who take HRT can either take estrogen alone or estrogen in combination with a progestogen. For women who still have their uterus, estrogen causes excess growth of the uterine lining as an unwanted side effect, so they need to take a progestogen to balance out this effect.

But there are different ways to take progestogens and there are different kinds. While some women take it daily with their estrogen, others take “cyclic” progestogen for only several days out of the month.

The study showed that women who take cyclic progestogens have a slightly lower risk of breast cancer compared to women taking progestogens every day. There were no substantial differences in cancer risk between the different types of progestogens used, including progestins and natural progesterone.

“This study has me rethinking going back to cycling progestogens with my patients,” said Polaneczky. She advises that women should be on progestogens for no fewer than 10-12 days per month to avoid the risk of endometrial cancer.

“These are really individualized discussions,” she added. “Many women don’t like progestogens as it is because they can cause mood swings and bloating. I don’t want women to take less and less of their progestogens as a result of this study and then risk getting endometrial cancer.”

In general, more women may prefer natural oral progesterone, which tends to have fewer side effects than the more potent progestins, she explained.

For women who have had their uterus surgically removed, estrogen-only regimens are preferred.

“There used to be controversy about whether estrogen alone increases breast cancer risk. That issue is put to rest in this study,” said Kauff. “Turns out that estrogen-only regimens are still associated with increased cancer risk, although it is less than those on combined HRT.”

Doctors say that women are understandably concerned about the potential for developing breast cancer in association with HRT use. It’s the most common malignancy in Western countries with almost 3 percent of women diagnosed with the disease in their 50s.

“While using HRT may increase your risk for developing breast cancer, it also has important benefits, like reducing osteoporotic fractures and potentially reducing risk of colon cancer,” said Kauff.

Those benefits may level out the risks, since there is no significant difference in death due to all causes in women taking HRT compared to those who are not taking it.

Polaneczky tells her patients that the risk is still minimal. “We know that using HRT increases breast cancer risk by about 1-2 percent over a 20-year period. It’s not a large risk, but I tell them that,” she said.

“If you don’t want the breast cancer risk, then don’t take hormones,” she noted. Instead, Polaneczky encourages her patients who are hesitant about HRT to try other medications first, like certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and gabapentin.

“Cutting out alcohol and exercising more both improve symptoms of menopause and independently reduce breast cancer risk, so there’s a lot that women can do to make lifestyle changes that benefit their health,” she said.

With such a variety of options available with risks and benefits, a serious discussion with your doctor is important as menopause symptoms approach.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Spacesuit redesign means Russian astronauts may have to end pre-flight ritual

WORLD NEWS Spacesuit redesign means Russian astronauts may have to end pre-flight ritual

buradaki/iStock(MOSCOW) — Russian cosmonauts may have to end a decades-old tradition in which they urinate on the wheel of the bus taking them to the launch pad because their new spacesuits include one important modification—no fly.

In 1961, the Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin, the first man to reach space, reportedly asked his bus driver to pull over to allow him to relieve himself before he took off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. Gagarin is said to have urinated on the bus’ rear right tire.

Since then, every crew, including U.S. astronauts, taking off from Baikonur aboard Russia’s Soyuz rockets have done the same, turning it into a pre-flight ritual. Female crews are not obligated to follow the tradition, though many bring vials of their urine to pour on the wheel.

Russia’s space agency, Roscomos, is planning to bring in new suits, which were shown to journalists this week, and a change in the design means future cosmonauts may no longer be able to so boldly go.

“I don’t know how this will happen, we don’t have zippers,” Sergey Pozdnyakov, the director of Zvezda, the company that designed the new suits, told reporters.

Roscomos has commissioned the new “Sokol-M” suits to be worn aboard its Federation spacecraft. Most modern suits contain diapers that allow astronauts to urinate while in space. The older “Sokol-KV2” suits that the “Sokol-M” is intended to replace had a diaper but also had a v-shaped zipper around the crotch, which the new suits do not.

“We have the design specifications. They don’t state that it’s necessary to pee on the wheel,” Pozdnyakov said, according to the state news agency TASS. “The technical specification would have to be added to.”

Pozdnyakov said the company would add zippers if asked.

Currently all crew aboard the International Space Station wear customized versions of the Sokol-KV2 suit since they must travel to the station on Russia’s Soyuz. The Soyuz from Baikonur is the only route to the ISS, though NASA hopes to re-start its own manned launches using SpaceX rockets.

The Soyuz is due to be phased out but is likely to remain in service for at least several more years, as Russia attempts to complete its Federation craft, which has suffered a series of delays since work began on it in 2009.

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Posted On 30 Aug 2019

Coco Gauff to face Naomi Osaka at US Open

Sports News Coco Gauff to face Naomi Osaka at US Open

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — Overnight phenom Coco Gauff will face defending champion Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open this Saturday, setting up the first-ever face-off between the two young stars.

At 15 and 21, Gauff and Osaka’s ages, combined, are less than Serena Williams’ age. As such, the young women represent the upcoming generation of tennis icons, and their meeting in the third round of the tournament is being treated with the respect — and excitement — that it deserves.

The teenage Gauff took the tennis world by storm this summer when she became the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon. In making her first Grand Slam appearance there, Gauff took down her idol, Venus Williams.

From there, she became a media sensation, with a Wimbledon match scheduled at its famed Centre Court, going on to beat Magdaléna Rybáriková and Polona Hercog. Gauff’s sensational Wimebledon run came to an end when Simona Halep — who went on to win the tournament over Serena Williams in the final — beat her in straight sets.

The U.S. Open then granted her a wild card position in the tournament. She went on to beat 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia in the first round and Tímea Babos of Hungary in the second round, both in three sets.

Osaka, meanwhile, is the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player. While the 21-year-old is coming off of disappointing appearances at Wimbledon and the French Open, she started 2019 by winning the Australian Open.

That victory, in turn, came off a heart-wrenching win at the 2018 U.S. Open over Serena Williams that left both women in tears on the podium as the crowd alternately booed and cheered after a passionate argument between Williams and the umpire.

Now returning to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York, Osaka, who was born in Japan and plays as a Japanese athlete, but largely grew up in Long Island, N.Y., and south Florida, has a new coach and a new stated purpose.

“I probably haven’t had fun playing tennis since Australia and I’m finally coming to terms with that while relearning that fun feeling,” she wrote on Instagram last month. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel like I grew up so much as a person in this past year(s) so I’m really excited [to see] what the future looks like on and off the court.”

The third-round match between Osaka and Gauff hasn’t been scheduled yet for Saturday, but given the frenzy around the two, it’s likely to be a big draw.

“We’re both pretty young, but I’m a little bit newer to the game. So I’m just curious to see how my game matches up against her,” Gauff said about Osaka during her post-match interview Thursday, ESPN reported. “Obviously I want to win.”

“When I hear people talking about someone, I want the opportunity to play them just to assess it for myself,” Osaka said of Gauff Thursday, before the younger player won for her third-round spot. “You know what I mean?”

Certainly, fans everywhere know what she means.

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Posted On 30 Aug 2019