August 15, 2014

Bioengineers are working on a new way for women to protect themselves from HIV, using electrically spun fabric and microbicides.

Close to 84 percent of women diagnosed with HIV are infected via heterosexual sex, NPR reports. Right now, the only contraception that works and is controlled by the woman is a female condom, which can be difficult to use and not too easy to find. Knowing this, Cameron Ball and Kim Woodrow of the University of Washington in Seattle decided to try something new.

Researchers have long been trying to perfect creams using microbicides, or anti-HIV drugs. They can be messy and absorb very slowly, meaning they need to be used at least 20 minutes before intercourse. But a new fabric that is electrically spun could deliver high concentrations of microbicides to vaginal tissue faster, in just 6 minutes.

The fabric is made from a polymer using nanotechnology, and has been approved by the FDA. It’s also flexible and could go into a tampon applicator — but the designers want to hear from their customer base on how they would like to use it. "It's a matter of giving women enough choices and options of what products are available and how they are used," Ball tells NPR. "So you meet the needs of as many women as possible."

The fabric will soon be tested using rabbits and monkeys, and then human testing will start. Ball expects to see the product ready for mass use in 10 years. Catherine Garcia

3:39 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Friday, Donald Trump threatened fellow GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz with a lawsuit over Cruz's eligibility to run for president:

Though Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, has maintained that he is a natural-born citizen and thus eligible to run for office, the constitutionality of his presidential run has been challenged — particularly by Trump.

However, Trump had previously promised that he would not sue Cruz over the issue. "I'm not bringing a lawsuit," Trump said at a January Republican presidential debate. "I promise." Becca Stanek

3:21 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

Meals on a yacht or private jet were such cheerless affairs before the Hemisphere Marine Blue Collection ($78) came along. The new porcelain set, produced by silver retailer Michael C. Fina and based on a classic pattern by the house of Jean-Louis Coquet, brightens such repasts with its splashes of "jaunty" blue, said Michalene Busico at RobbReport. More than that, though, the set is thinner and lighter than traditional china, and features stabler bases plus more generous rims for catching spills. If you're waiting on delivery of a yacht, don't rule out using the set at a summer home. The Week Staff

3:14 p.m. ET

While there is a lot of money and research that goes into the study of relationships, a certain amount of mystery remains about why people tend to cling to the memory of their first love. Speaking to a number of psychologists who study relationships and romance, The Washington Post floated several theories as to why we still can't get over that certain someone, no matter how many years go by. Below, a selection of some experts' most illuminating quotes. Jeva Lange

It was sort of scary, and that makes it memorable.

"Your first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences. Presumably there'd be more arousal and excitement, especially if it's somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary — you're afraid you'll be rejected, you're afraid you won't live up to their expectations, afraid they won't live up to yours. Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time." -Art Aron, State University of New York at Stony Brook psychology professor

It was when we learned what love is.

"I [...] think it becomes, to some degree, a template. It becomes what we measure everything else against.”

-Jefferson Singer, Connecticut College psychologist

"Together you decide what love is."

-Nancy Kalish, California State University at Sacramento psychology professor

We experience a 'memory bump.'

"[People between 15 and 26] recall more memories, and they tend to be more positive memories... [And] we have more opportunity to rehearse it and replay it, rethink it, reimagine it, re-experience it." -Singer

We like who were were then.

"I think it's not just about the other person. It's about who we were at that time. We're relishing the image of ourselves. They give us license to be the person we were once again — young and vibrant and beautiful." -Singer

3:03 p.m. ET

Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, sat down for a historic meeting early Friday afternoon at José Martí International Airport in Havana. The meeting between the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox and Western factions of Christianity marks the first such meeting in history and is a symbolic step in repairing relations between the two factions that split nearly 1,000 years ago.

The leaders are expected to have a conversation and then sign a joint declaration, which will likely focus on their shared concerns over Christian refugees in Syria and Iraq. Becca Stanek

2:14 p.m. ET

Donald Trump has pledged that his presidency would resume waterboarding "or worse" — orders that top CIA officials say would cause heavy resistance from the agency.

"I certainly think many of those who were connected to the [enhanced interrogation techniques] program over its six years' span — and hundreds are still there — would resign or retire rather than having to go down that perilous road again," former CIA lawyer John Rizzo told Newsweek.

While many have debated the extent to which waterboarding is effective (not to mention if such measures violate the Geneva Convention's prohibitions on torture), Trump has insisted that, "It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn't work." Trump has gone as far as to admit that even if it doesn't work, terrorist suspects "deserve it anyway, for what they're doing."

"I pity the poor SOB who is President Trump's CIA director and gets the order to do interrogation techniques 'worse' than waterboarding, not to mention the CIA general counsel or Justice Department attorney general who has the legal issue dropped in his or her lap," Rizzo said.

One of the CIA's former chiefs, General Michael Hayden, put it in clearer terms in the ABC documentary The Spymasters: "If some future president is going to decide to waterboard," Hayden said, "he'd better bring his own bucket, because he's going to have to do it himself." Jeva Lange

1:46 p.m. ET

The Washington City Council has approved a plan to pay convicted felons not to commit crimes. Up to 200 people a year deemed "at risk" of breaking the law would be placed in behavioral therapy, and if they avoided jail time they would get cash stipends of up to $9,000 annually. That amount "pales in comparison" with the costs of victimization and incarceration, the bill's sponsor said. The Week Staff

1:33 p.m. ET
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The Tax Policy Center (TPC) released its take on Marco Rubio's tax plan on Thursday. They concluded it would overwhelmingly benefits top earners the most, largely because it greatly reduces taxes on wealth income. And maybe eliminates them entirely — it's unclear.

Which brings up another point the analysis highlights: details matter.

For instance, Rubio's plan makes heavy use of tax credits, which allow filers to eliminate a set amount of their final tax liability. But what if the tax credit eliminates all of their tax liability, and there's still some of the credit left over? If the credit is refundable, the filer gets the remainder back from the government. If it's not, they don't.

How refundability would work has massive implications for who Rubio's tax plan would help the most. The TPC said Rubio's people didn't provide them the necessary details, so they went with assumptions based on the Rubio campaign's assertion that "our reforms would not create payments for new, non-working filers." Here are their results, in terms of the percent change in people's after tax income. ("Lowest quintile" means the bottom fifth of workers, "second quintile" means the second-lowest fight, and so on.)

(Graph courtesy of the Tax Policy Center.)

TPC found the plan would also massively reduce government revenue. Since Rubio has promised both a balanced budget and an increase in military spending, this implies enormous reductions in spending elsewhere. Jeff Spross

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