US Women’s Hockey Team Beats Canada 3-2 for Gold at Pyeongchang Olympics

Twenty years after winning the first Olympic gold medal in women’s ice hockey in Nagano, Japan, the United States defeated its archnemesis, Canada, in a 3-2 shootout Thursday in the gold medal game at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the go-ahead goal in the sixth round of the shootout with a dazzling move against Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados, then watched as teammate and goalie Maddie Rooney stopped Meghan Agosta to snap Canada’s streak of four straight Olympic gold medals, as well as its 24-game Olympic winning streak. Thursday’s final was the first shootout in a women’s gold medal game, which has been dominated by the North American squads.

Finland won the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over the Russia on Wednesday.

The U.S. victory came 38 years to the day when the U.S. men’s team upset the Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York, in the “Miracle on Ice” game.

​On the slopes

In Alpine skiing, Sweden’s Andre Myhrer was the surprise gold medalist in the men’s slalom, finishing 0.34 seconds ahead of silver medalist Ramon Zenhaeusern of Switzerland. The 35-year-old Myhrer became the oldest man to win Olympic gold in the slalom after the favorites, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, failed to complete their first runs. Austria’s Michael Matt, whose brother Mario won gold in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, took the bronze medal.

Twenty-four-year-old Michelle Giffin of Switzerland took the gold medal in the women’s combined, with Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States finishing nearly a second behind to win the silver medal, and compatriot Wendy Holdener taking home the bronze. American Lindsey Vonn, the leader in the downhill section, failed the finish the slalom portion in her final Winter Olympics.

Elsewhere, American freestyle skier David Wise won his second consecutive gold medal in the men’s half-pipe event, his score of 97.20 edging out compatriot Alex Ferreira, who took the silver. Sixteen-year-old Nico Porteous of New Zealand won the bronze.

Austrian snowboarder Anna Gasser won the gold medal in the Olympic debut of the women’s Big Air snowboarding event, with American Jamie Anderson, who won gold last week in the slopestyle, coming in second. Another 16-year-old New Zealander, Zoi Sadowski Synnott, took home the bronze medal.

Doping violation

Away from the ice rinks and ski slopes, Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky has been stripped of his bronze medal after admitting to a doping violation. Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium after winning the mixed doubles bronze with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

Meldonium is a drug designed for people with heart problems and some believe it can help athletes increase stamina. It was banned in sports in 2016.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova was suspended for 15 months after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in 2016.

Russia’s national team was banned from Pyeongchang over a major doping scandal dating back to the Sochi Games, but 168 Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under the neutral Olympic Athletes from Russian banner. The latest incident could keep the Russians from being reinstated and marching under the national flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

From: MeNeedIt

Black Panther Offers a Bridge for African Americans to Connect with Their African Roots

African-American moviegoers flocked into theaters across the country to watch the latest installment in Marvel’s cinematic universe, “Black Panther.” The film, featuring an African prince who becomes a superhero after his father’s death, shattered box office expectations, earning $242 million in its first four days. For many in the black community, the film has become an affirmation of pride in their African roots. Jesusemen Oni reports.

From: MeNeedIt

US Companies Urged to Issue ‘Clearer’ Cyber Risk Disclosures

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday updated guidance to public companies on how and when they should disclose cybersecurity risks and breaches, including potential weaknesses that have not yet been targeted by hackers.

The guidance also said company executives must not trade in a firm’s securities while possessing nonpublic information on cybersecurity attacks. The SEC encouraged companies to consider adopting specific policies restricting executive trading in shares while a hack is being investigated and before it is disclosed.

The SEC, in unanimously approving the additional guidance, said it would promote “clearer and more robust disclosure” by companies facing cybersecurity issues, according to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, a Republican.

Democrats on the commission reluctantly supported the guidance, describing it as a paltry step taken in the wake of a raft of high-profile hacks at major companies that exposed millions of Americans’ personal information. They called for much more rigorous rule-making to police disclosure around cybersecurity issues, or requiring certain cybersecurity policies at public companies.

Commissioner Robert Jackson said the new document “essentially reiterates years-old staff-level views on this issue,” and pointed to analysis from the White House Council of Economic Advisers that finds companies frequently under-report cybersecurity events to investors.

The SEC first issued guidance in 2011 on cybersecurity disclosures.

“It may provide investors a false sense of comfort that we, at the Commission, have done something more than we have,” Commissioner Kara Stein, another Democrat, said in a statement. Significant breaches have included those at Equifax Inc. consumer credit reporting agency, and at the SEC itself.

The agency announced in September its corporate filing system, known as EDGAR, was breached by hackers in 2016 and may have been used for insider trading. The matter is under review.

The new guidance will mean that corporations disclose more information about cyberattacks and risks and take steps to ensure no insider trading can occur around those events, said several attorneys who advise businesses on the subject.

“This essentially creates a mandatory new disclosure category — cybersecurity risks and incidents,” said Spencer Feldman, an attorney with Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP.

Craig A. Newman, a partner with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, said the SEC guidance “makes clear that it doesn’t want a repeat of the Equifax situation.”

From: MeNeedIt

Cigars, Pipes Tied to Same Risks as Cigarettes

Cigarettes are not the only type of tobacco products that can lead to premature death or fatalities from smoking-related cancers, a U.S. study confirms.

While people who exclusively smoke cigarettes have twice the risk of premature death from all causes compared to people who avoid tobacco altogether, exclusive cigar smokers have a 20 percent higher risk of early death, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine.

When it comes to fatalities from specific cancers that have been tied to tobacco use, cigarette smokers have four times the risk of people who never used tobacco, but cigar smokers are 61 percent more likely to die of these cancers and pipe users have 58 percent higher odds.

“We knew exclusive users of cigars and pipes were at greater risk of disease than people who do not use tobacco,” said lead study author Carol Christensen of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. “However, this study provides information that reflects today’s patterns of tobacco use.”

These data “underscore the importance of complete quitting,” Christensen said by email.

For the study, researchers examined nationally representative survey data, collected starting in 1985, from 357,420 participants who were followed through 2011. 

Overall, 203,071 people, or about 57 percent, never used tobacco at all. Another 57,251 participants were current daily cigarette smokers, while 9,414 said they had a less frequent habit and 77,773 were former cigarette smokers.

In addition, 531 people were current daily cigar smokers, while 608 individuals used cigars less frequently and 2,398 had quit.

For pipes, 1,099 participants had a current daily habit, while 78 people used pipes less often and 5,237 had quit.

During the study period, 51,150 people died of all causes.

With a daily cigarette, cigar or pipe habit, people had an elevated risk of death from tobacco-related cancers including malignancies of the bladder, esophagus, larynx, lung, mouth and throat, and pancreas.

Nondaily users

Even with a nondaily cigarette habit, people were more than six times more likely to die of lung cancer than individuals who never used tobacco. They also had more than seven times the risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, more than four times the odds of death from oral cancers, and 43 percent higher odds of death from a circulatory system disorder.

Current cigar smokers had more than three times the odds of dying of lung cancer, and for current pipe smokers the risk was 51 percent higher, compared with never-smokers.

The results were limited, however, by the relatively small numbers of cigar and pipe smokers in the sample, the authors noted.

Another limitation was that survey questions about tobacco use changed over time and didn’t determine how often nondaily smokers might have used cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

Even so, the results suggest that doctors may need to broaden how they discuss smoking with patients to make sure people understand they’re at risk even when they don’t have a daily habit, said Dr. Michael Ong of the University of California-Los Angeles and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare


“Patients often do not associate occasional use of cigar or pipes with health risks, but this study shows that current, particularly daily, cigar use is associated with increased overall risk of death,” Ong, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

Doctors also need to broaden their message about smoking and cigarettes to include other tobacco products that are becoming more popular, said Judith Prochaska, a researcher at Stanford University in California who wasn’t involved in the study.

Traditionally, doctors have asked just whether people smoked cigarettes, but they should instead be questioning patients more broadly about tobacco use, Prochaska said by email.

“The tobacco landscape has been changing dramatically,” Prochaska added. “While cigarettes remain the primary tobacco product used, cigars, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, hookah, and even pipe tobacco have seen gains in use, while cigarette use in the U.S. has been declining.”

From: MeNeedIt

Chef Jose Andres Writing Book on Hurricane Maria Relief Work

Award-winning chef Jose Andres is working on a book about his efforts to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Ecco told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it has acquired We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time. The book is scheduled for Sept. 11 and is co-written by Richard Wolffe. A portion of proceeds will be given to the Chef Relief Network of Andres’ nonprofit World Central Kitchen. We Fed an Island will be released through Anthony Bourdain’s imprint at Ecco.

Andres says he wanted to provide the “inside story” of the relief work by himself and World Central Kitchen last fall.

From: MeNeedIt

European Space Probe Prepares to Sniff Martian Atmosphere

A European space probe has swung into position around Mars in preparation to analyze its atmosphere for possible signs of life.

The European Space Agency said Wednesday its Trace Gas Orbiter successfully performed a delicate maneuver known as aerobraking that involved dipping into the red planet’s upper atmosphere to slow the probe.

The agency says the orbiter will start looking for trace gases such as methane, which can result from biological or geological activity, in April. It will also search for ice that could help future Mars landings.

A NASA-made radio on board will also help relay signals from U.S. rovers on the surface back to Earth.

Europe plans to land its own rover on Mars in 2021. A European test lander crashed on the surface of Mars in 2016.

From: MeNeedIt

US Panel Recommends New Adult Vaccine Against Hepatitis B

A federal advisory panel is recommending a new vaccine against hepatitis B.


The vaccine called Heplisav-B was licensed in November and is the first new hepatitis B vaccine in 25 years.


Hepatitis B vaccines have been in childhood shots for decades. The new vaccine is for adults.


The hepatitis B virus can damage the liver and is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Cases have been rising, a trend linked to the heroin and opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, researchers found older vaccines falter in diabetics and older adults.


The new vaccine uses an additive that boosts the body’s immune response. It is two shots given over one month.


The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the vaccine Wednesday in Atlanta. The government usually adopts its recommendations.



From: MeNeedIt

Bollywood Menstruation Movie Sparks Conversation on Taboo Subject

Drafting a menstrual hygiene program to be taught in schools in India’s western Maharashtra state posed a challenge: How to train teachers to become comfortable talking about a subject that is never openly spoken about, even inside homes, and has long been surrounded by taboos.

“It is a very inhibiting environment,” said Bharathy Tahiliani in Mumbai, who helped design the teaching modules for the program spearheaded by United Nations Children’s Agency. “It puts a lot of fears in the hearts and minds of girls.”

Now a Bollywood film, Padman, dubbed the world’s first feature film to address the subject of menstruation, could make it easier to confront the stigma that surrounds the hushed topic. Winning accolades and a huge audience since it opened this month, the movie has helped catapult words such as sanitary napkins and periods into newspaper articles, television debates and social media.

Starring a top hero, Akshay Kumar, the film is based on the true-life story of a social entrepreneur in South India who set out on a mission to make low-cost sanitary napkins after he discovers his wife uses rags. 

In one scene, Padman shows him cycling around a village wearing a sanitary napkin he has made and using animal blood to test if it leaked. It also depicts the horror in the small town as he openly talks about menstruation. 

Dozens of Bollywood actors and actresses have joined in to spread the message: In a country where shopkeepers discreetly pack sanitary napkins in black plastic bags under the counter so that they are not visible, they have tweeted photos of themselves holding up sanitary pads.

“It is fantastic,” the overjoyed film director, R. Balki, told VOA after witnessing the reaction of some viewers. “There were men with their wives and they were coming out of the theater and talking about just not the film, they were talking about a pad as if it is an everyday conversation. Just to make that come out in the open is a big, big deal.”

Social activists say the buzz generated by the movie could help efforts to tackle the issue of menstrual hygiene and sanitation in villages, slums and other low-income communities.

Targeting myths, taboos

In India, as in several countries, the myths and taboos about menstruation are many: Women cannot visit temples, take part in religious ceremonies or prepare food. The greater challenge is that an estimated 20 percent of adolescent girls drop out of school after puberty, and unhygienic practices lead to infections.

Pointing out that this reinforces gender inequalities, Tahiliani said education is the key to correcting misconceptions. But she said that for a very long time, “who owns the subject” was itself a challenge, with few willing to wade into a hyper-sensitive topic. That has been slowly changing in recent years, and several states like Maharashtra are implementing menstrual hygiene programs in schools and communities, often in partnership with voluntary groups.

One of them, the Center for Advocacy and Research, has been helping set up adolescent forums in slums and low-income areas in cities like Delhi and Kolkata to create awareness.

A member of a forum in the eastern city of Kolkata, 20-year-old Rehana Khatun said she was hesitant to attend programs on menstrual awareness when she was young. “People used to discourage us,” she said. “Why do you go there? They teach you dirty things.” Now, she is on the frontlines of those going around schools and communities to talk about it. “Young girls should not get scared the way I did, I thought I had some illness,” she recalled about the onset of puberty.

Another volunteer, Mohini Khatun, hopes the conversation that Padman has generated will bring the subject out of the closet, especially within families.

“Our adolescent group will go and watch it,” she said. “It is essential that our mothers and fathers should also go.”

Into rural India and beyond

However, while the movie is helping generate discussions in cities and towns, it remains to be seen whether it will do the same in rural India.

The makers of Padman say they are trying to take the film to tens of thousands of villages across the country. “The problem is there are lots of places where there are no theaters. We are trying to tie up with various foundations to screen this film in lots of villages free of cost,” said director Balki.

And although Bollywood movies are a rage in several Asian countries, it is uncertain how this film will fare outside India, where similar sensitivities exist. The challenge will not be easy. Already Pakistan’s censor board has banned the film, saying that the movie is about a taboo subject and releasing it would go against culture and tradition.

From: MeNeedIt

Vice President Brings Advisory Group to Kennedy Space Center

Vice President Mike Pence has brought a newly revived advisory group to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center for a rundown on how best to get Americans back to the moon, a half-century after NASA’s Apollo heydays.

Pence convened the meeting Wednesday morning inside the building where NASA once prepped pieces of the International Space Station.

This is the second meeting of the National Space Council. Pence, its chairman, named a group of candidates to advise the council that includes Buzz Aldrin and other former astronauts and aerospace industry leaders.

Wednesday’s meeting focuses on the Trump administration’s plan to return astronauts to the moon and get them to Mars and “worlds beyond.”

Pence toured Kennedy last summer just as the space council was being re-established after two decades.

From: MeNeedIt