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In the News 05.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 05.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@_hollyt
In the News 05.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@alaa_oth
In the News 05.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@_hollyt

The Science Is In: Exercise Won’t Help You Lose Much Weight

We’ve been conditioned to think of exercise as a key ingredient — perhaps the most important ingredient — of any weight loss effort.

You know the drill: Join the gym on January 1 if you want to reach your New Year’s weight loss goal.

But in truth, the evidence has been accumulating for years that exercise, while great for health, isn’t actually all that important for weight loss.

To learn more about why, I read through more than 60 studies (including high-quality, systematic reviews of all the best-available research) on exercise and weight loss for a recent installment of Show Me the Evidence. Here’s a quick summary of what I learned.

One very underappreciated fact about exercise is that even when you work out, the extra calories you burn only account for a small part of your total energy expenditure.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox




Why Do We Need to Sleep?

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TSUKUBA, JapanOutside the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, the heavy fragrance of sweet Osmanthus trees fills the air, and big golden spiders string their webs among the bushes. Two men in hard hats next to the main doors mutter quietly as they measure a space and apply adhesive to the slate-colored wall. The building is so new that they are still putting up the signs.

The institute is five years old, its building still younger, but already it has attracted some 120 researchers from fields as diverse as pulmonology and chemistry and countries ranging from Switzerland to China. An hour north of Tokyo at the University of Tsukuba, with funding from the Japanese government and other sources, the institute’s director, Masashi Yanagisawa, has created a place to study the basic biology of sleep, rather than, as is more common, the causes and treatment of sleep problems in people. Full of rooms of gleaming equipment, quiet chambers where mice slumber, and a series of airy work spaces united by a spiraling staircase, it’s a place where tremendous resources are focused on the question of why, exactly, living things sleep.

Ask researchers this question, and listen as, like clockwork, a sense of awe and frustration creeps into their voices. In a way, it’s startling how universal sleep is: In the midst of the hurried scramble for survival, across eons of bloodshed and death and flight, uncountable millions of living things have laid themselves down for a nice, long bout of unconsciousness. This hardly seems conducive to living to fight another day. “It’s crazy, but there you are,” says Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen of the University of Helsinki, a leading sleep biologist. That such a risky habit is so common, and so persistent, suggests that whatever is happening is of the utmost importance. Whatever sleep gives to the sleeper is worth tempting death over and over again, for a lifetime.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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Introducing the Rue de Rivoli
Pink Suede Penny Loafer 
at Belgrave Crescent

Why Berlin Doesn’t Work

IN EARLY December Berlin’s local papers reported what might sound like good news: the city’s budget was expected to be in surplus by nearly €1.5bn at the end of 2017, a new record. That means plenty of extra cash for repayment of the capital’s enormous debt and sorely needed investment in its infrastructure. But the tone of the coverage was less than celebratory. One report pointed out that the authorities had been failing to spend their budget for years, with essential projects such as house-building and road repairs running far behind schedule: they were unlikely to do anything more useful with the new money. Why is the capital of Europe’s most successful economy so dysfunctional?

Poverty is part of the explanation. Take London out of Britain, and the average Briton is made 11.1% poorer. Do the same to Paris, and the average Frenchman loses out on 14.8%. Imagine Germany without Berlin, and GDP per person rises by 0.2%, leaving everyone else in the country better off. This is due to structural changes in the German economy. Before the second world war Berlin was an industrial hub. But when the victorious allies divided the city, many firms moved their offices and factories to West Germany. After unification, they had little reason to move back, having spent decades re-establishing themselves elsewhere. Instead Berlin attracted bohemians, lured by low rents and large numbers of abandoned factories and warehouses that made ideal artists’ studios or rave venues. These new, hip residents earned little and paid little tax. For years, the city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy; austerity, not investment, was the order of the day.

Read the rest of this article at: The Economist

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My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror

I was sitting in the nearly empty restaurant of the Westin Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, getting ready for a showdown with the federal government that I had been trying to avoid for more than seven years. The Obama administration was demanding that I reveal the confidential sources I had relied on for a chapter about a botched CIA operation in my 2006 book, “State of War.” I had also written about the CIA operation for the New York Times, but the paper’s editors had suppressed the story at the government’s request. It wasn’t the only time they had done so.

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A Marketplace of Secrets
 

Bundled against the freezing wind, my lawyers and I were about to reach the courthouse door when two news photographers launched into a perp-walk shoot. As a reporter, I had witnessed this classic scene dozens of times, watching in bemusement from the sidelines while frenetic photographers and TV crews did their business. I never thought I would be the perp, facing those whirring cameras.

As I walked past the photographers into the courthouse that morning in January 2015, I saw a group of reporters, some of whom I knew personally. They were here to cover my case, and now they were waiting and watching me. I felt isolated and alone.

My lawyers and I took over a cramped conference room just outside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, where we waited for her to begin the pretrial hearing that would determine my fate. My lawyers had been working with me on this case for so many years that they now felt more like friends. We often engaged in gallows humor about what it was going to be like for me once I went to jail. But they had used all their skills to make sure that didn’t happen and had even managed to keep me out of a courtroom and away from any questioning by federal prosecutors.

Until now.

My case was part of a broader crackdown on reporters and whistleblowers that had begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued far more aggressively under the Obama administration, which had already prosecuted more leak cases than all previous administrations combined. Obama officials seemed determined to use criminal leak investigations to limit reporting on national security. But the crackdown on leaks only applied to low-level dissenters; top officials caught up in leak investigations, like former CIA Director David Petraeus, were still treated with kid gloves.

Read the rest of this article at: The Intercept

Why Birds Matter, and Are Worth Protecting

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For most of my life, I didn’t pay attention to birds. Only in my 40s did I become a person whose heart lifts whenever he hears a grosbeak singing or a towhee calling and who hurries out to see a golden plover that’s been reported in the neighborhood, just because it’s a beautiful bird, with truly golden plumage, and has flown all the way from Alaska. When someone asks me why birds are so important to me, all I can do is sigh and shake my head, as if I’ve been asked to explain why I love my brothers. And yet the question is a fair one, worth considering in the centennial year of America’s Migratory Bird Treaty Act: Why do birds matter?

My answer might begin with the vast scale of the avian domain. If you could see every bird in the world, you’d see the whole world. Things with feathers can be found in every corner of every ocean and in land habitats so bleak that they’re habitats for nothing else. Gray gulls raise their chicks in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth.

Emperor penguins incubate their eggs in Antarctica in winter. Goshawks nest in the Berlin cemetery where Marlene Dietrich is buried, sparrows in Manhattan traffic lights, swifts in sea caves, vultures on Himalayan cliffs, chaffinches in Chernobyl. The only forms of life more widely distributed than birds are microscopic.

To survive in so many different habitats, the world’s 10,000 or so bird species have evolved into a spectacular diversity of forms. They range in size from the ostrich, which can reach nine feet in height and is widespread in Africa, to the aptly named bee hummingbird, found only in Cuba. Their bills can be massive (pelicans, toucans), tiny (weebills), or as long as the rest of their body (sword-billed hummingbirds). Some birds—the painted bunting in Texas, Gould’s sunbird in South Asia, the rainbow lorikeet in Australia—are gaudier than any flower. Others come in one of the nearly infinite shades of brown that tax the vocabulary of avian taxonomists: rufous, fulvous, ferruginous, bran-colored, foxy.

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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