November 2, 2017

A jaw-dropping new study published in The Lancet on Thursday is turning everything cardiologists thought they knew about heart stents upside down. Stents — tiny mesh wires used to prop open blocked arteries — are used to prevent heart attacks, or to relieve chest pain that patients experience due to a lack of blood to the heart muscle. According to the study, stents actually do very little — and possibly nothing at all — to prevent that heart pain.

In the study, 200 patients were either given stents or a placebo surgery as if they were receiving a stent, only to not have the mesh actually inserted. All the patients were also put on drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack and to open blood vessels. "When the researchers tested the patients six weeks later, both groups said they had less chest pain, and they did better than before on treadmill tests," The New York Times writes. "But there was no real difference between the patients, the researchers found. Those who got the sham procedure did just as well as those who got stents."

One reason for the baffling results could be that stenting only the largest blockages in the heart does not make a significant difference in a disease that affects the whole muscle. While one artery might be reopened with stents, blockages could obstruct other vessels later.

"All cardiology guidelines should be revised," wrote Dr. David L. Brown of the Washington University School of Medicine and Dr. Rita F. Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of the study. Redberg added that based on her assessment, stents should only be given to people who are actually having heart attacks, especially since the surgery carries risks for patients.

More than 500,000 people around the world are given stents each year to relieve chest pain. Read the report at The New York Times. Jeva Lange


Ian Unger wanted to be able to ride the school bus with his friends, but in order to do so, he either needed an adult assistant or a service dog that could alert him if his blood sugar dropped.

The six-year-old first-grader from Sand Lake, Michigan, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, and his school district said unless he had someone with him who could monitor his blood sugar levels, he couldn't ride the bus. His family decided it would be best to get him a diabetes alert dog, but because of the high price tag — $25,000, after training and fees — they knew it would take a few years to save up enough money.

Unger told his parents he was ready to start earning money for the dog, and began selling lemonade. As summer turned to fall, he switched to pumpkins, which his family grows. "He's quite the little salesman," his mom, Katrina Christensen, told People. "We had hundreds of people in the driveway He helped every single person pick out the right pumpkin. It was the coolest thing to see." Word spread online, and strangers raised $24,890 for Unger's dog (he earned $1,000 from the pumpkins and $110 from lemonade). The dog will take about 10 months to train, and then he'll move in with his new family. Catherine Garcia


A combination of the cold weather and the peculiarities of Fenway Park helped the Red Sox trounce the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Game 1 of the World Series in Boston on Tuesday night. The temperature, which dropped from 53 degrees to the mid-40s as the game went on, was the coldest the Dodgers have played in all year. Andrew Benintendi had four hits and scored three runs for the Dodgers, J.D. Martinez drove in two runs, and pinch hitter Eduardo Nunez nailed a three-run homer. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw took the loss. "We won Game 1 last year and lost the Series, so maybe we'll try it out this way,” Kershaw quipped.

Game 2, on Wednesday in Boston, is expected to be even colder. The Red Sox and Dodgers have not played each other in the World Series since 1916, when Babe Ruth helped Boston win the series, The Associated Press notes. Peter Weber


"With the midterms bearing down on us like an angry buffalo, yesterday the president had an important message," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, indulging in a little wistful sleight of hand. But President Trump had some stuff to say, too. "Our wicked step-president also held a rally yesterday," Colbert joked. "He was in Houston to support Sen. Ted Cruz, so of course he talked about himself."

Specifically, Trump claimed the title "nationalist" for himself. There are lots of historical reasons to avoid adopting that term, but Colbert had a Trump-specific one: "You know why you're not supposed to use that word? Because it's the second half of 'white nationalist.' Chopping off the first word doesn't change what it means in our minds. 'Oh, look, look, I'm a Klux Klan, I have no idea which one!'" Trump also trotted out his definition of "globalism," and Colbert had some questions: "He does realize America is on the globe, right?" he asked, imitating Trump asking people to wake him up "when it's America warming," not the global variety.

"The president did lend a tiny hand at a rally for Ted Cruz," but "that had to be the saddest phone call Ted Cruz ever had to make," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. "I mean, imagine if your neighbor insulted your wife's face, and then you had to ask him to loan you a weed-whacker. That's Ted Cruz's life right now. Look at them — he's bowing his head. It's like the devil making a deal with the devil." To rub it in, Kimmel Live created an unkind new campaign commercial for Cruz.

On Tuesday's Late Night, Seth Meyers turned a Trump press conference into an opportunity to ask his own questions — not all of which are appropriate for work — and get his own answers. Watch below. Peter Weber


For more than three decades, Albert Lexie shined shoes at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Children's Hospital, and every single tip that he received went straight to the kids.

Lexie charged $2 to $5 for a shoeshine, earning about $10,000 annually, and while he could have used those tips, he instead donated them to the hospital. By the time he retired in December 2013, he had given the hospital $202,000, with the money going to the Free Care Fund, which covers medical treatment for kids in the Pittsburgh area who either don't have insurance or are under-insured.

During his time at the hospital, Lexie worked Tuesdays and Thursdays, traveling 90 minutes on three buses to get to there. He died on Oct. 16 at age 76, but because of his selflessness, he won't soon be forgotten. "His kindness and generosity were and continue to be an inspiration for all of us," Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh President Christopher Gessner said in a statement. Catherine Garcia


A fundraiser in Florida featuring President Trump's former strategist Stephen Bannon is now a free event for anyone who wants to attend.

The Hillsborough County Republican Party invited Bannon to speak at its Trump Anniversary Dinner this Friday. It's a fundraiser held in honor of Trump's election two years ago, and the Tampa Bay Times says that initially, it was a pricey affair — $20,000 secured 10 seats at a table with Bannon, while VIP tickets were going for $1,000 each and general admission was $125. Those prices were then slashed last week to $5,000 for the Bannon table, $300 for a VIP ticket, and $50 general admission. Now, all tickets are a steal at $0.00.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the party's vice chairman, Jeff Lukens, sent an email to members saying admission on Friday will be "COMPLIMENTARY TO ALL. We have a donor who will cover our expenses." Lukens did not respond to an email from the paper asking who the donor is and how much they donated. Bannon appears to be having trouble drawing an audience, even in red areas — only 38 people attended the screening of his new documentary Monday night on New York's Staten Island. Catherine Garcia


"The great election-eve middle-class tax cut began not as a factual proposal, but as a false promise," say Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker in The Washington Post. "Yet Washington's bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump's whim."

But "the mystery tax cut is only the latest instance of the federal government scrambling to reverse-engineer policies to meet Trump's sudden public promises — or to search for evidence buttressing his conspiracy theories and falsehoods," the Post adds. "Just this week, Vice President Pence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House all rushed to try to back up Trump's unsupported claim that 'unknown Middle Easterners' were part of a migrant caravan in Central America — only to have the president admit late Tuesday that there was no proof at all."

What the American president says doesn't just steer policy, it makes news. And Trump's flurry of untruths before the midterms has created a dilemma for news organizations. Here are some headlines in major newspapers, tackling Trump's overall campaign mendacity or specific lies:

Los Angeles Times: "Trump tries to spur Republicans to vote with false claims and dystopian warnings of Democratic 'mob' rule"

The Washington Post: "'In the service of whim': Officials scramble to make Trump's false assertions real"

The Associated Press: "'Boogeyman' Trump stokes fears in election closing arguments"

The Daily Beast: "Trump's own team knows his caravan claims are bulls--t"

The New York Times: "Trump and GOP candidates escalate race and fear as election ploys"

Politico: "Trump's mystery tax cut puzzles Washington"

The Wall Street Journal: "GOP latches onto vague Trump tax statement as campaign nears end"

Repetition can distort reality, Daniel Effron, an expert on the psychology of lies at London Business School, tells the Post. "When falsehoods feel familiar, one concern is you don't actually know what's true and what's false." But the truth is out there. Peter Weber

October 23, 2018

The Campbell Soup Company is distancing itself from an mmm, mmm dumb tweet made by the company's vice president of government affairs.

On Monday, Kelly Johnston tweeted a conspiracy theory about George Soros' Open Society Foundation, claiming the organization that works to promote democracy is behind the migrant caravan now traveling through Mexico. He retweeted a photo of the migrants, along with the caption: "See those vans on the right? What you don't see are the troop carriers and the rail cars taking them north. @OpenSociety planned and is executing this, including where they defecate. And they have an army of American immigration lawyers waiting at the border."

Open Society tweeted that "neither Mr. Soros nor Open Society is funding this effort. We are surprised to see a Campbell Soup executive spreading false stories." A spokesperson for Campbell's released a statement Tuesday saying the "opinions Mr. Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views and do not represent the position of Campbell Soup Company." Johnston has since deleted his Twitter account. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads