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Monday
May212018

Study: 30 Minutes Exercise 4-5 Days a Week Best for Heart

It's common knowledge that exercise keeps hearts healthy, but now scientists believe they have pinpointed the exact amount of time we need to spend working out in order to look after our tickers. 

As we grow older, our arteries can stiffen and make us prone to heart disease, especially if we are inactive. The researchers based in Texas therefore wanted to understand how much exercise an individual needs to perform in order to prevent their heart and blood vessels from aging. 

Building on previous research which shows that exercise cuts the risk of heart disease, the researchers found that varying amounts of exercise affect arteries of varying sizes differently.

Exercising for 30 minutes two to three days per week was found to keep the middle-sized arteries, which supply the head and neck, from aging. But the larger arteries, which send blood to the chest and abdomen, benefit from the same amount of exercise four to five days per week.

The researchers made their findings by carrying out a cross-sectional analysis of 102 people aged 60 years old and over, who were grouped into four categories: sedentary (defined as less than two 30-minute exercise sessions per week for the past 25 years); casual  (two to three sessions); committed exercisers (four to five sessions) and master athletes, (six to seven). The team then logged levels of stiffness in their arteries.

Casual exercise was found to be enough to keep the middle sized arteries youthful, but those who completed four to five sessions a week had younger-seeming large central arteries. 

The authors acknowledged the results of their study may have been limited by participants being categorized according to their exercise levels rather than factors such as the type of exercise, demographic data and lifestyle choices which also play a large role in development of cardiovascular disease.

The study could be used to create exercise programs designed to protect heart health, the scientists argued, while further research could reveal whether exercise can reverse heart aging. 

Researchers from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the John Peter Smith Health Network, and the Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center collaborated on the research published in The Journal of Physiology.

Benjamin Levine, one of the authors of the study at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas, said in a statement: "This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels." He said that previous studies have shown that waiting until the age of 70 to reverse heart aging is too late. 

"It is difficult to change cardiovascular structure even with a year of training," he said. “Our current work is focussing on two years of training in middle aged men and women, with and without risk factors for heart diseases, to see if we can reverse the aging of a heart and blood vessels by using the right amount of exercise at the right time." 

Sunday
May202018

House GOP Shocked Over Killing of Farm Bill

House Republicans are at each other’s throats after the Freedom Caucus delivered a shock to party leaders on Friday by killing a key GOP bill over an unrelated simmering feud over immigration.

Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team were sure the group of three dozen rabble-rousers would cave. The partisan farm bill, after all, includes historic new work requirements for food stamp beneficiaries that conservatives have demanded for years. Plus, President Donald Trump leaned in, tweeting his support for the bill Thursday night to up the pressure on the far right.

But Ryan’s team sorely miscalculated. In an embarrassing show of weakness, the bill went down on the floor after a last-minute leadership scramble to flip votes.

Almost immediately, Republicans pointed fingers at each other. Freedom Caucus members said GOP leaders brought the matter on themselves by failing to pass a conservative immigration solution for Dreamers sooner. GOP leaders blamed the conservatives for upending a core Trump priority.

And some Republicans even blamed Ryan, arguing they’re stuck with an outgoing speaker who couldn’t get the job done.

“Obviously the House Freedom Caucus is to blame, but this is the problem when you have a lame duck speaker who announces he’s leaving eight months in advance,” said one senior Republican source. “He can make calls to members to urge them to vote for something, but who will care?”

Ryan’s office put the blame on the Freedom Caucus. The group had been demanding a vote on a sharply conservative immigration bill, and Ryan’s team late Thursday offered such a vote — but not until June, incensing members of the caucus.

“This is all the more disappointing because we offered the votes these members were looking for, but they still chose to take the bill down,” said Doug Andres, a Ryan spokesman.

Full Story Here

Sunday
May202018

Starbucks to Allow Non-customers to Sit in Store, Use Restrooms

Starbucks has told its employees to allow all guests to use store facilities, including restrooms, regardless of their spending.

The move comes a month after the coffee giant found itself accused of discriminatory practices, after a store manager in Philadelphia called the police on two black men who asked to use the bathroom without purchasing anything and then refused to leave. 

The new policy was announced on Saturday in a company-wide letter that stated: “Any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”

Previously, Starbucks employees had been free to exercise judgment about nonpaying guests. The company said the new policy would apply to its more than 8,000 company-operated US cafes. It would issue different guidelines for its international stores, it said.

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom but we’re going to make the right decision 100% of the time and give people the key,” Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz told attendees of a corporate responsibility conference in Washington, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The Philadelphia store involved in the 12 April incident had signs informing visitors that the bathrooms were for paying customers only. After the police were called on Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, the men were arrested and spent hours in jail.

They were not charged and later reached settlements that included a nominal financial sum and “a commitment to continued listening and dialogue between the parties as a means toward developing specific actions and opportunities”.

“I want to thank Donte and Rashon for their willingness to reconcile,” said Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson, announcing the settlement. “Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be.” 

The chain plans to close its company-operated stores next Sunday afternoon, to give employees anti-bias training. In 2015, Starbucks initiated a program to encourage employees to discuss race with customers. The directive was quickly dropped. 

Under the new policy, customers will be able to stay in stores unless they’re “behaving in a disruptive manner”. The company has yet to offer guidelines on what constitutes disruptive behaviour or what procedures managers and baristas should follow. 

Starbucks employees should call 911 if a situation presents an immediate danger or threat to employee or customer safety, the company said.

Sunday
May202018

Haley Twitter Account Raises Protocol Concerns

Ever since she took over as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley’s personal Twitter account has been an object of fascination for the diplomatic set. 

On the @nikkihaley handle, the rising Republican star posts pictures of her dearest friends and showers love on her dog, Bentley. But she also denounces Russian actions in Syria and chides U.N. nations for voting against the United States. 

And then there are the many music recommendations. “It’s a Journey kind of morning. @JourneyOfficial#DontStopBelievin #LifeIsBetterWithMusic,” Haley wrote Thursday. 

The juxtaposition of silly and serious has produced eye-rolling among U.N. diplomats. But analysts and former U.S. officials say Haley’s Twitter account — which she has used for nearly a decade — is indicative of another problem: Some U.S. diplomats are flouting State Department rules barring the use of personal social media accounts to make official statements. 

Those rules were devised in part so that the State Department, and not any individual, reaps the long-term benefits of an enhanced social media following. That may seem quaint given that all U.S. diplomats report to a president who still uses his personal Twitter account.

But Donald Trump isn’t covered by the State Department rules. And social media is an important tool in public diplomacy, in which sites like Twitter and Facebook are part of a growing diplomatic virtual infrastructure that communicates U.S. views abroad.

The issue also spotlights the hotly debated questions of how much social media followers are worth and what it means to earn them. Former officials say that the State Department is unfairly deprived when prominent diplomats leave office and take with them followers acquired through their government service.

Haley has long been considered a potential presidential candidate. Since her confirmation as ambassador in January 2017, Haley has seen her Twitter following increase more than eightfold, to 1.6 million. That's more than four times as many as the U.S. Mission to the United Nations' office Twitter handle, @USUN.

"Taxpayer dollars shouldn't be used to fund someone's social media stardom for political or business purposes," said Brett Bruen, a former diplomat who helped craft the State Department guidelines. "It doesn't take a savvy political mind to identify that Haley is trying to attract American voters for 2024." 

A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations disputed that that Haley is using her personal account for political reasons — but didn’t directly respond when POLITICO presented nearly two dozen examples of recent Haley tweets that appear to violate the department’s rules.

Other U.S. diplomats, such as Richard Grenell, the new ambassador to Germany, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also have tested the limits by using personal accounts in what appears to be an official capacity.

After Trump announced he was quitting the Iran nuclear deal earlier this month, Grenell — who has been criticized for making acidic statements on Twitter in the past — used his personal account to demand that German companies doing business in Iran “wind down operations immediately.”

Saturday
May192018

MUSC Rescinds Cosby Honorary Degree

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - One of South Carolina's chief medical schools is taking back the honorary degree it awarded Bill Cosby nearly two decades ago.

The Medical University of South Carolina rescinded the Doctor of Humane Letters degree extended to the comedian in 1999. Multiple media organizations report MUSC's trustees voted Friday to retract the honor due to Cosby's sexual assault conviction last month.

Jurors in Pennsylvania convicted Cosby last month of drugging and molesting a Temple University employee at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Dozens of other women have accused the actor of drugging and assaulting them.

Many U.S. colleges and universities had revoked honorary degrees from Cosby even before his conviction. Since then, Yale, Johns Hopkins, University of Cincinnati, and Colby College in Maine have changed their minds about honoring Cosby.

Saturday
May192018

S.C. Workers, Teachers Attend Rally for High Wages

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Teachers, state employees and supporters are agitating for a raise at the Statehouse.

A few hundred people gathered Saturday at the Capitol in Columbia to demand a pay increase from state legislators. Their call for action included demanding increased funding for schools and higher teacher salaries.

The State newspaper reports one of the teachers attending the rally was Newberry County elementary school teacher Kayla Lawson. The 24-year-old says she's holding down four jobs beyond teaching full time. 

Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com

Saturday
May192018

Judge Avoids Ruling on S.C. Heritage Act

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A judge has ruled a city in South Carolina can change the listing of names of soldiers killed in World War I on a private monument so they are no longer listed as "colored" or "white."

But Circuit Judge Frank Addy's ruling Friday avoided a decision on whether South Carolina's Heritage Act is constitutional. The law prevents changes on public monuments honoring the Confederacy and other historical events and figures without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

Addy decided since the American Legion was a private organization, it could change the monument that stands on public land in downtown Greenwood. His ruling indicated public monuments on public land are different.

Addy wrote he made his decision with full respect for the laudable objectives of the Heritage Act.

Friday
May182018

Anderson County Jobless Rate Drops to 2.6 Percent in April

Anderson County's unemployment rate dropped to 2.6 percent in April, down from 3.8 percent in March.

Of the 89,045 member workforce in the county, 86,719 were employed while 2,326 remain jobless.

The statewide jobless rate dropped to 4.2 percent in April, down from 4.4 in March.

"The good news continues for Anderson County," said Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns. "And as low as this number is, we know there are 3,000 additional jobs yet to come online in Anderson County. There are good jobs available right now for anyone looking for work."

Burns was referencing new announced new jobs coming via Arhtrex, the TTI expansion and the 148 jobs open now at the earth mover Michelin plant. Other companies in the county are also in the planning stages of announcements concerning expansion as well.

The number of individuals working across the state inched upward in April by 318 people to a record level of 2,225,570. Unemployment decreased in April by 4,157 to a level of 97,922, resulting in the state’s labor force declining by 3,839 to 2,323,492.

Nationally, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent from March’s rate of 4.1 percent. Similar to the state, driving the national rate lower was a decline in the labor force as fewer people looked for work.

Friday
May182018

S.C. Teachers, State Employees Campaign for Better Pay

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina teachers and state employees plan to gather this weekend to launch a campaign advocating for competitive pay and better benefits.

The South Carolina Education Association and the South Carolina State Employees Association will host a rally and mobilization news conference Saturday morning on the north lawn of the Statehouse.

Organizers say they want to send a message to lawmakers that there is a major problem with low wages in the state that needs immediate attention, and organizers have the support of more than 20 organizations that also plan to attend.

The state's budget plan for next fiscal year has yet to be finalized but lawmakers from the House and the Senate are proposing a pay raise for teachers, but disagree on the amount.

Thursday
May172018

Study: 51M Households in U.S. Struggling to Reach Middle Class

The economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle class life.

Nearly 51 million households don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a studyreleased Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That's 43% of households in the United States. 

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE -- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what's needed "to survive in the modern economy." 

"Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem," said Stephanie Hoopes, the project's director. 

California, New Mexico and Hawaii have the largest share of struggling families, at 49% each. North Dakota has the lowest at 32%. 

Many of these folks are the nation's child care workers, home health aides, office assistants and store clerks, who work low-paying jobs and have little savings, the study noted. Some 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour. 

The study also drilled down to the county level. 

For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000. This would require an hourly wage of $42.46. But in Washington State, only 14% of jobs pay more than $40 an hour.

Thursday
May172018

Anderson County Gets Excellent Moody Credit Rating

Anderson County has received high marks from Moody's credit rating services. 

The county received an Aa2 General Obligation rating. The "High-grade/High Quality Rating" rating allows Anderson County to negotiate lower interest rates for general obligation bonds.

"We are very pleased," said Anderson County Finance Manager Rita Davis. "For a county our size it's about the highest rating you can get."

Davis said that while some larger counties could have slightly higher ratings, it is beause of their huge tax base. She said as Anderson continued to grow, there is a good chance the county can move into an Aa1 rating.

Thursday
May172018

Weather Forecast Calls Off Saturday Airshow Events

Anderson County and the organizers of the Bill and Jo Trent Anderson Regional Airshow announced today that that the public airshow events scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled due to weather-related concerns.

“Right now, we’re looking at a 60 to 70 percent chance of thunderstorms on Saturday and an above-average lightning intensity level for Saturday during the scheduled airshow time” said Steve Newton, Governmental Affairs Director for the Anderson County Administrator’s Office.  “We thought it best to provide the public with as much advance notice as possible, so they can plan to attend the events scheduled for Sunday.” 

Currently, all Sunday airshow activities are scheduled to go forward. 

“Right now weather conditions look favorable, so we’re optimistic”, said Newton.

“We are hoping for good weather conditions on Sunday”, said Butch Jones, Airshow Committee Chair.  “We really want to put on a great show in honor of our friend Bill Trent”.

Those interested in attending the Sunday performance can visit www.andersonairshow.com for updates. 

The Bill and Jo Trent Anderson Regional Airshow is a free-to-the public event offered as a gift to the Anderson community.  The airshow is organized by local volunteers and made possible by donations from the Trent family, Anderson County, and other sponsors.

Thursday
May172018

U.S. Birthday Rate Falls to Record Low in 2017

The number of babies being born in the United States continues to fall, with the birth rate reaching a new record low in 2017, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, about 3.8 million babies were born in the U.S., which is 2 percent lower than the number born in 2016, and the lowest recorded number of births in 30 years, according to the report.

What's more, there were about 60 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, which is 3 percent lower than the rate in 2016, and the lowest recorded rate since the government started tracking birth rates in 1909. [7 Baby Myths Debunked]

The decline in the U.S. birth rate from 2016 to 2017 was the largest single-year drop since 2010, the researchers wrote in the report, which was published today (May 17).

The teen birth rate fell 7 percent from 2016 to 2017, to a rate of 19 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. In addition, birth rates generally declined for women under 40, reaching record lows among women in their 20s, the report authors found.

Part of the reason for the decline in U.S. birth rates may be that people are in a general state of economic uncertainty, said Karen Benjamin Guzzo, associate director of the Center for Family & Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Even though the Great Recession technically ended in 2009, people may still feel uneasy about their economic situation; they may be employed but working part time, or going to school and working, or trying to pay off student loans, Guzzo said.

"People feel just really uncertain about the future," Guzzo told Live Science. "And that generally does not bode well for having kids."

In addition, young adults may feel like they haven't met all the milestones they feel they need to reach before having a kid, such as getting a college degree, having a stable income and getting married. "It takes longer to feel like you're a grown-up," Guzzo said.

One age group — women in their early 40s — did see an increase in their birth rate in 2017, the report found. This may be because this age group doesn't have a lot more time to wait to have kids. "They can't put it off for the future," Guzzo said.

Guzzo noted that the new report looked at overall births but didn't examine "birth order" — that is, whether the births were a woman's first, second or third child, and so on. So it's unclear from the current report whether women are having fewer kids overall (firstborns) or having smaller families; previous data suggested that the latter may be the case, Guzzo said. The CDC will examine birth-order data for 2017 in a follow-up report.