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Study: Teen Drinking Increases Risk of Liver Disease

MONDAY, Jan. 22, 2018 -- Men who started drinking in their teens are at increased risk for liver disease, Swedish researchers report.

"Our study showed that how much you drink in your late teens can predict the risk of developing cirrhosis later in life," said lead investigator Dr. Hannes Hagstrom, with the Center for Digestive Diseases and Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. 

The finding comes from an analysis of data on more than 49,000 men in Sweden who entered military service in 1969-1970, when they were 18 to 20 years old.

Over the next 39 years, 383 of the men developed cirrhosis and other types of severe liver disease. Some developed liver failure or died from liver disease.

Drinking during the late teen years was associated with an increased risk for liver disease. The association was mostly seen in young men who drank two drinks a day or more, the researchers found.

The study was published Jan. 22 in the Journal of Hepatology.

The findings indicate that guidelines for safe levels of alcohol consumption by men may need to be reconsidered, the researchers said.

Current U.S. guidelines recommend no more than two drinks a day for men. The Swedish researchers said some countries recommend no more than three drinks a day for men to avoid alcoholic liver disease.

"However, what can be considered a safe cutoff in men is less clear," Hagstrom said in a journal news release.


Senate Strikes Deal to End Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. senators struck a deal on Monday to lift a three-day government shutdown and try to end a fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s Republicans over immigration and border security. 

Legislation to renew federal funding to the government cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate and was expected soon to pass votes in the Senate and House of Representatives, allowing government to re-open through Feb 8. 

Tens of thousands of federal workers had begun closing down operations for lack of funding on Monday, the first weekday since the shutdown, but essential services such as security and defense operations had continued. 

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he had come to an arrangement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep the government open for the next few weeks after the Republican promised to let a bill on immigration reach the Senate floor. 

The U.S. government cannot fully operate without funding bills that are voted in Congress regularly. Washington has been hampered by frequent threats of a shutdown in recent years as the two parties fight over spending, immigration and other issues. The last U.S. government shutdown was in 2013. 

This shutdown, which began on the Friday’s first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration as president, undercut his self-crafted image as a dealmaker who would repair the broken culture in Washington. 

It had forced Trump to cancel a planned weekend trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and created uncertainty around his scheduled trip this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

In negotiations over the shutdown, Democrats had insisted that legislation to keep the government running include protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.” 

Republicans in turn said they would not negotiate on immigration until Democrats gave them the votes needed to reopen the government.


Federal Workers Brace for Impact of Shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of federal workers began shutting down operations on Monday with the U.S. government closed, as a bipartisan group of senators tried to negotiate a deal just hours before the full Senate planned another vote to restore funding. 

As government employees prepared for the first weekday since the shutdown began at midnight Friday, U.S. senators were to vote at midday on a funding bill to get the lights back on in Washington and across the government until early February. 

Support for the bill was uncertain after Republicans and Democrats spent the weekend trying to strike a deal, only to go home for the night short of an agreement. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell late Sunday rescheduled an overnight vote on a measure to fund government operations through Feb. 8, for noon today. 

At the U.S. Capitol, a group of bipartisan senators met on Monday morning in search of a deal but came out disagreeing on whether progress was made. 

“We’re in a pretty good space right now,” Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said as she left the meeting. But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said senators remained in a stalemate. 

White House legislative director Marc Short told the Fox Business Network he did not believe the Senate would get the 60 votes needed to move on funding legislation that would reopen government. 

“I think that that pressure is building, but I‘m not sure we’ll quite get to 60 today,” he said. 

President Donald Trump continued blaming Democrats for the funding lapse, citing their demand that protections for young illegal immigrants be included in any deal. 

“The Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for non-citizens. Not good,” the Republican president said on Twitter. 

Democrats have accused Trump of backing out of a number of deals after pressure from immigration hard-liners. The president has not appeared in public since the shutdown began. 

Federal employees received notices on Saturday about whether they were exempt from the shutdown, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said. Depending on their schedules, some were told to stay home or to go to work for up to four hours on Monday to shut their operation, then go home. None will get paid.


Senate Fails to Negotiate Deal to End Shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. government shutdown will enter its third day on Monday as Senate negotiators failed to reach a deal late on Sunday on Democrats’ demand for legislation protecting “Dreamers,” young people brought to the country illegally as children. 

The Senate set a vote for 12 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Monday on advancing a measure that would provide temporary government funding through Feb. 8 and allow thousands of federal employees to return to work. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also offered an olive branch to Democrats when he pledged in remarks on the Senate floor to bring immigration legislation to a floor debate in early February if the issue had not been dealt with by then. 

Slideshow (10 Images)

“It would be my intention to proceed to legislation that would address DACA, border security and related issues,” McConnell said, adding: “It is also my intention take up legislation on increased defense spending, disaster relief and other important matters” then. 

It was not clear whether enough Democrats would vote on Monday to advance the temporary spending bill and end the government shutdown. 

Funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight on Friday, and was not renewed amid a dispute between President Donald Trump and Democrats over the politically acrimonious issue of immigration. 

Refusing to support another short-term government funding extension last week, Democrats demanded that the Republican president live up to an earlier agreement to protect Dreamers from deportation.


The State: S.C. Among Most Expensive Places to Attend College


Senate Fails to Avert Federal Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction.

Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.

Congress scheduled an unusual Saturday session to begin considering a three-week version of the short-term spending measure - and to broadcast that they were at work as the shutdown commences. It seemed likely each side would try forcing votes aimed at making the other party look culpable for shuttering federal agencies.

Since the closure began at the start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans. But any damage could build quickly if the closure is prolonged. And it comes with no shortage of embarrassment for the president and political risk for both parties, as they wager that voters will punish the other at the ballot box in November.

Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.


Duke Recalls Chicken Salad in S.C., 5 Other States

The USDA announced that Duke Sandwich Productions has issued a recall for its ready-to-eat chicken salad products due to misbranding. According to the USDA, the company is recalling 743 pounds of the product.

The products were packaged with two different names, the USDA said. The company packaged chicken salad in a pimento cheese container with a label that said "chicken salad" on it, the USDA stated.

The USDA said the recalled items were produced on Dec. 27, 2017 and had a sell-by date of Jan. 31, 2018. 

According to the USDA, 12 oz. plastic cups containing a "Duke SANDWICH COMPANY CHICKEN SALAD" label on the lid are subject to the recall. The products were sold in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. 

The USDA said there have not been any confirmed reports of reactions or illnesses from the consumption of the product. 


Amazon Prime to Increase Pricing 18 Percent

Amazon is increasing the monthly price option for Prime from $10.99 to $12.99 as it continues to expand the reach and benefits of the popular fast-shipping program.

Amazon said the price increase does not affect the annual membership option, which will remain at $99. With the price increase, the monthly option will now equal slightly less than $156 for a year. Amazon has been investing heavily in Prime, bringing it to new markets and creating additional benefits and original content. Those moves, plus regular increases in fees from shipping partners, are among the factors contributing to the price increase.

Amazon says it has no preference on the annual versus monthly option. However, offering a monthly service with no contract or guarantee carries with it a cost to manage and volatility that isn’t present with the more dependable annual option.

The increase begins today for new members, and existing monthly Prime subscribers will see the cost jump after Feb. 18.

Prime membership for students, discounted at half the monthly cost after a six-month trial, rises to $6.49 under the new pricing structure. The standalone Prime Video subscription of $8.99 per month and a discounted program for people on government assistance will stay at current prices.

The introduction of a monthly Prime subscription and the standalone Prime Video option in April 2016 gave Amazon a comparable offering to streaming rival Netflix. Today’s move shows Amazon is still tinkering with the monthly option to find the right formula.

Amazon said Prime has grown from 20 million eligible items a few years ago to more than 100 million today. One-day and same-day delivery is now available in more than 8,000 markets.

Earlier this month, Amazon said it shipped 5 billion Prime items in 2017. To ship all those items and fill all those orders, Amazon upped its global footprint of distribution centers by 30 percent last year. In the U.S. alone, more than 6,000 trucks and 32 Amazon Air planes traversed the roads and skies, packed with Amazon packages.


Lancet: Adolescence Now Lasts from 10 to 24

Young people continuing their education for longer, as well as delayed marriage and parenthood, has pushed back popular perceptions of when adulthood begins.

Changing the definition is vital to ensure laws stay appropriate, they write in an opinion piece in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. 

But another expert warns doing so risks "further infantilising young people".

When puberty begins 

Puberty is considered to start when the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus starts releasing a hormone that activates the body's pituitary and gonadal glands.

This used to happen around the age of 14 but has dropped with improved health and nutrition in much of the developed world to around the age of 10.

As a consequence, in industrialised countries such as the UK the average age for a girl's first menstruation has dropped by four years in the past 150 years.

Half of all females now have their period by 12 or 13 years of age.

When the body stops developing

There are also biological arguments for why the definition of adolescence should be extended, including that the body continues to develop.

For example, the brain continues to mature beyond the age of 20, working faster and more efficiently.

And many people's wisdom teeth don't come through until the age of 25.

Delaying life's milestones

Young people are also getting married and having children later. 

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average age for a man to enter their first marriage in 2013 was 32.5 years and 30.6 years for women across England and Wales. This represented an increase of almost eight years since 1973.

Lead author Prof Susan Sawyer, director of the centre for adolescent health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, writes: "Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later."

She says delayed partnering, parenting and economic independence means the "semi-dependency" that characterises adolescence has expanded. 

Social policy

This social change, she says, needs to inform policy, such as by extending youth support services until the age of 25.

"Age definitions are always arbitrary", she writes, but "our current definition of adolescence is overly restricted". 

"The ages of 10-24 years are a better fit with the development of adolescents nowadays."

Prof Russell Viner, president-elect of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, said: "In the UK, the average age for leaving home is now around 25 years for both men and women." 

He supports extending the definition to cover adolescence up until the age of 24 and says a number of UK services already take this into account.

He said: "Statutory provision in England in terms of social care for care leavers and children with special educational needs now goes up to 24 years," as does provision of services for people with cystic fibrosis.

'Infantilising young people'

But Dr Jan Macvarish, a parenting sociologist at the University of Kent, says there is a danger in extending our concept of adolescence.

"Older children and young people are shaped far more significantly by society's expectations of them than by their intrinsic biological growth," she said.

"There is nothing inevitably infantilising about spending your early 20s in higher education or experimenting in the world of work."

And we should not risk "pathologising their desire for independence".

"Society should maintain the highest possible expectations of the next generation," Dr Macvarish said.

Prof Viner disagrees with Dr Macvarish's criticism and says broadening adolescence can be seen as "empowering young people by recognising their differences". 

"As long as we do this from a position of recognising young people's strengths and the potential of their development, rather than being focused on the problems of the adolescent period."


Time Running Out to Avert Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Racing against a midnight deadline, the U.S. Congress will try on Friday to send President Donald Trump legislation to keep the government operating and avoid federal agency shutdowns that would otherwise begin on Saturday. 

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol building is lit at dusk ahead of planned votes on tax reform in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The House of Representatives voted 230-197 on Thursday night for a bill to extend expiring funding through Feb. 16. 

But with tempers frayed and Republicans and Democrats deeply divided over immigration legislation that has found its way into the government funding fight, the bill appeared to be on the verge of collapse in the Senate. 

In an early morning tweet on Friday hours ahead of the deadline, Trump accused Democrats of holding up the measure over immigration. 

“Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming?” Trump, who is scheduled to leave Washington later on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend at his Florida resort. 

Republicans control the Senate but need at least nine Democrats to reach the 60 votes needed to pass a spending bill. In addition to strong Democratic opposition, at least three Republican senators have said they will not back the continuing resolution in its current form. 

Without a replenishment of funds, federal agencies ranging from the Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services and State Department to the Pentagon and Justice Department would have to curtail some activities and furlough workers.


Nine Deaths from Flu Reported in S.C. in Past Week

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - State health officials say nine people have died from the flu in South Carolina in the past week.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said the deaths during the second of January mean that two dozen people have died from influenza this season, which started in October.

DHEC said most of the victims were at least 65 years old. No children have died from the flue this season.

State officials say nearly 500 people were hospitalized in South Carolina between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13. Nearly 1,300 people have been hospitalized with flu since October.

Many hospitals have restricted visitors because of the flu.


Panel Supports Lower Drunken Driving Threshold

A prestigious scientific panel is recommending states significantly lower their drunken driving threshold. It says 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths a year are "entirely preventable."

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is throwing its weight behind lowering the blood-alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05 in a government-commissioned report.

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 report also recommends states significantly increase their alcohol taxes and make alcohol less conveniently available, including reducing the hours and days alcohol is sold in stores, bars and restaurants. It also calls for cracking down on sales to people under 21 or who are already intoxicated to discourage binge drinking.


S.C. Regulators Concerned about Large Farms' Water Use

Environmental officials in South Carolina are worried about how much water large farms are using.

The State newspaper reported the Department of Health and Environmental Control is looking to limit the amount of water that is removed from groundwater tables in Lexington and six other counties.

There has been a drop of 5 feet (1.5 meters) to 10 feet (3 meters) in groundwater levels in Lexington County since 2001.

State regulators say their plan to oversee major withdrawals could protect drinking water supplies for thousands of South Carolinians. Public water systems in a number of communities rely on groundwater.

Some Lexington County farmers are worried. They question how much the county's groundwater levels are in jeopardy. Farmer Howard Rawl says he sees no need for worry anytime soon.

Information from: The State,