December 5, 2017

Weight loss might be more effective in achieving remission for Type 2 diabetes than traditional medical treatments, scientists have found. A new paper published in the medical journal The Lancet chronicles a three-year study of patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes, the version of the disease that manifests in adulthood, and found that 86 percent of participants who lost a certain amount of weight achieved remission from the disease, BBC reports.

Specifically, that 86 percent of patients came from the pool of study participants who lost 33 or more pounds. By comparison, just 4 percent of patients who used traditional treatment methods achieved remission, BBC reports. In total, nearly half of all participants who used a weight-loss treatment plan saw their diabetes enter remission.

The weight loss treatment required participants to stop taking medication and instead eat low-calorie liquid meals for three to five months, after which they would go on a diet approved by a dietician. Weight loss reduces fat buildup around the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood glucose levels, which the researchers found allowed diabetics to produce more insulin, thus lowering their blood sugar levels.

Patients who lost large amounts of weight had the highest rates of remission — the 86 percent mentioned above — but 34 percent of participants who lost between 11 and 22 pounds also achieved remission, as well as more than half of the patients who lost between 22 and 33 pounds. Doctors did warn, however, that the disease could return if patients do not manage their weight. Read the full study at The Lancet. Kelly O'Meara Morales

November 7, 2017
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Lin-Manuel Miranda brought some hope to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, announcing that the Hispanic Federation has awarded $100,000 each to seven nonprofit organizations on the island trying to rebuild after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September.

The Hamilton creator, whose family hails from Puerto Rico, said the Amanece/Road to Recovery Fund will support organizations that provide social services, help the environment, and more, NBC News reports. The Hispanic Federation is a nonprofit launched by Miranda's father, Luis Miranda, and the group will ultimately donate $2.5 million to help a total of 25 organizations.

"I'm going to continue speaking up and helping Puerto Rico," Lin-Manuel Miranda said in a press conference. "I want you to know we are here en las buenas y en las malas, during the good and the bad. There are so many people around the world thinking about this island." Catherine Garcia

October 17, 2017
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Philando Castile would often reach into his own pocket to pay for student lunches when the children didn't have enough money to cover the cost, and in remembrance of the nutrition services supervisor, a memorial fund has been set up that aims to wipe out all student lunch debt in Minnesota.

Philando Feeds the Children was set up by a local college professor, with the goal of raising $5,000 to take care of the lunch debt of children in the St. Paul area. By Tuesday night, $77,000 had been raised, and the goal had been increased to $100,000 to try to pay every debt in the state. In 2016, Castile was shot and killed by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in an incident that was captured on tape and sparked protests.

Castile worked at J.J. Hill Montessori School, and on Friday, his mother, Valerie, dropped off the first check to cover lunch debt. "This project means the world to me," she told the Star Tribune. Stacy Koppen, director of nutrition services at St. Paul Public Schools, said it costs on average $400 a year for one student's lunch, and Philando Feeds the Children will make it easier for parents who don't make a lot of money, but also don't qualify for free or reduced meals. "This fund really speaks to exactly who Philando Castile was as a passionate school nutrition leader," Koppen told NBC News. Catherine Garcia

September 24, 2017
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The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday reported an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a potential dam failure threatening a region with 70,000 residents already grappling with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But the damaged dam continued to hold as of Sunday morning, and evacuees began to return to their homes.

While the dam on Lake Guajataca remains compromised and a flash flood warning is in effect through Sunday afternoon, this is welcome respite for Puerto Ricans facing "apocalyptic" post-hurricane conditions. Aid is beginning to arrive to the island territory, where most Puerto Ricans remain without power and 95 percent of cell phone service sites are down.

Currently a Category 2 storm, Maria is expected to dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean later this week. Bonnie Kristian

July 26, 2017
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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has been released from the hospital, roughly six weeks after being shot in the hip during an attack on a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise was discharged Tuesday, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday, after making "excellent process in his recovery."

MedStar said in its Wednesday statement that Scalise's injury was initially "life-threatening." The congressman is "in good spirits" and will now undergo a "period of intensive inpatient rehabilitation," the hospital said.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chief deputy whip, has been serving as House majority whip in Scalise's absence. Kimberly Alters

May 13, 2017
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A massive ransomware cyberattack created using leaked NSA code infected more than 75,000 computers in 99 countries this weekend, but the attack has been halted — for now, at least — by a 22-year-old cybersecurity researcher who lives with his parents in England.

The unnamed researcher, who wants to remain anonymous for safety purposes, was poking around the attack's code when he accidentally found its kill switch. "I was out having lunch with a friend and got back about 3 p.m. and saw an influx of news articles," he said in an interview with The Guardian. "I had a bit of a look into that and then I found a sample of the malware behind it, and saw that it was connecting out to a specific domain, which was not registered. So I picked it up not knowing what it did at the time."

Registering the domain cost just $10.69. Once the ransomware detected the domain was live, it shut down. Still, the researcher notes, the hackers are unlikely to let their digital crime spree end so easily. "This is not over," he said. "The attackers will realize how we stopped it, they'll change the code and then they'll start again." Bonnie Kristian

April 21, 2017
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Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker arrested in Cairo in May 2014, arrived in the U.S. on a government plane Thursday night along with her Egyptian husband, Mohamed Hassanein. Both of them had been detained by the Egyptian government for three years on child abuse and human trafficking charges widely dismissed as fabricated. President Trump had quietly worked for Hijazi's release, senior administration officials told The Washington Post and The New York Times, getting assurances that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would secure her release before Trump hosted Sisi at the White House earlier this month.

On Sunday, a court in Cairo suddenly dismissed all charges against Hijazi, Hassanein, and four aid workers for the charity the couple had set up to help Cairo street children. Former President Barack Obama's administration had pushed for the release of Hijazi, a U.S. citizen, but Obama had also barred Sisi from the White House because he had taken power in a 2013 coup, cracked down on all dissent, and was accused of other human rights abuses. Trump, on the other hand, praised Sisi during his White House visit.

White House officials call Hijazi's release a triumph of Trump's discreet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, and a senior administration official told The Washington Post there was no quid pro quo offered for the acquittals. Hijazi and her husband are expected to meet with Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner at the White House on Friday. Peter Weber

October 6, 2016
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The latest Labor Department report released Thursday revealed U.S. jobless claims fell to nearly their lowest level since 1973. In the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 249,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, down 5,000 from the previous week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the number would rise to 257,000.

Only once in the last four decades have there been fewer filings; in April of this year, jobless claims hit 248,000, the lowest mark since 1973. Thursday's report marked the 83rd consecutive week that first-time jobless claims have remained below 300,000, which, Reuters reported, "is seen as indicative of a strong labor market."

In more good news, Thursday's report also revealed that continued jobless claims are dropping off. In the week that ended Sept. 24, continued claims fell 6,000 from the previous week to 2.06 million, the lowest level since 2000.

The promising unemployment numbers arrived just a day ahead of the September jobs report, due out Friday. The economists polled by Reuters predicted the unemployment rate would hold steady; as Reuters explained, "job growth has been slowing, but is still well above the threshold needed to absorb new entrants into the labor market." Becca Stanek

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