sad news
December 5, 2019

A sad milestone was reached this week, with the Ray Pfeifer Foundation reporting that 200 New York City firefighters have now died from "9/11 illness."

The foundation, which provides assistance to 9/11 first responders with medical bills not covered by insurance, said that Dennis Gilhooly, a retired FDNY captain, and Brian Case, a retired firefighter, are the 199th and 200th FDNY deaths related to the attacks on the World Trade Center, CBS News reports.

Toxins were released when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, and more than 50,000 people who were exposed have become sick, CBS News says. Studies have found a high number of deaths from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and brain malignancies among 9/11 first responders and others who were exposed to the dust cloud after the towers fell. Catherine Garcia

December 1, 2018

George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, has died at the age of 94. During his presidency from 1989 to 1993, Bush, a Republican, oversaw a handful of foreign policy decisions that would come to define his legacy. He helped navigate the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, and his even-handed approach to diplomacy is credited for facilitating a peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union. He also routed a group of Iraqi invaders from Kuwait in 1991, which, as The New York Times put it, "brought years of American preoccupation with Iraq."

Bush spent more than 40 years serving the public. He was a World War II Navy pilot, a Texas congressman, a U.N. ambassador, chairman of the Republican National Committee, CIA director, vice president under former President Ronald Reagan, and then president. His eldest son, George W. Bush, became the 43rd U.S. president, and his second son, Jeb Bush, served as governor of Florida.

In his later years, Bush Senior was diagnosed with Parkinson's and was in and out of the hospital for various health problems, including bronchitis and a blood infection. According to the Times, Bush Junior solicited ideas for his eulogy in 2013, but the elder Bush bounced back. "George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for," Bush Junior said in a statement. He died at his Houston home on Friday, Nov. 30.

Bush Senior lived longer than any other U.S. president, CNBC reports. His wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, died just under eight months ago at the age of 92. Jessica Hullinger

April 17, 2018

One person died Tuesday after a Southwest Airlines plane had engine failure and was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

The National Transportation Safety Board said this is the first accidental domestic airline fatality in nine years; in 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo, killing 49 people on board and one person on the ground. The Southwest plane was en route from New York City to Dallas with 144 passengers and five crew members when the engine failed midair. Passenger Matt Tranchin told ABC News he heard a "huge explosion and glass shattering three rows ahead of me," and passenger Cassie Adams said a woman was "sucked out" of a broken window.

Two male passengers were able to pull her back in and then performed CPR, Adams said, with one blocking the window to protect the other passengers. Adams thought "the plane was going down," she added. "It was terrifying. Those men are heroes." Seven people sustained minor injuries, but were not taken to hospitals, officials said. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly called it "a sad day," and commended the flight crew "for their swift action and for safely landing this aircraft." The incident is under investigation. Catherine Garcia

April 15, 2018

Former first lady Barbara Bush, after a "recent series of hospitalizations," has declined any further medical treatment, a family spokesman announced Sunday.

"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others," Jim McGrath tweeted. "She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she's receiving."

Barbara Bush, 92, and former President George H.W. Bush, 93, were married in January 1945. Her husband has a Parkinson's-like disease, and CNN reports she has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure. Catherine Garcia

March 20, 2018

New research suggests that the key to understanding obesity might be hidden in your taste buds.

In a study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology, scientists discovered that mice that were fed a high-fat diet lost about 25 percent of their taste buds in just eight weeks, Science News reported.

Taste buds are clusters of cells on the tongue that help the brain identify flavors, Pacific Standard reported. Although taste buds have a natural life span of about 10 days, in mice with high-fat diets, new taste buds weren't being produced nearly fast enough to replace the old ones as they died off.

This research suggests that obesity might be part of a dangerous, self-fulfilling cycle: Because taste plays a significant role in the amount of satisfaction we get from food, people with a dulled sense of taste may naturally seek out more food to appease their appetites. Robin Dando, one of the co-authors of the study, told Pacific Standard that learning more about this phenomenon could help treat obesity in the future, by changing "how people perceive their foods."

Scientists don't yet fully understand why the obese mice weren't producing enough new taste buds, but per the study, it might have something to do with a molecule called tumor necrosis factor alpha. When the researchers repeated their study with mice that couldn't produce that molecule, the mice who were fed high-fat diets still gained weight, but their taste buds reproduced just like their normally-fed counterparts, Pacific Standard reported.

Read more about the study at Pacific Standard. Shivani Ishwar

January 15, 2018

Dolores O'Riordan, the lead singer of the Irish band The Cranberries, died suddenly in London on Monday, her publicist said. She was 46. O'Riordan was in London for a quick recording session, the publicist said, but did not immediately provide any other details, adding only that "family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time." O'Riordan had bipolar disorder, BBC News reports, as well as ongoing back issues that forced the band to cancel a recent European tour. The Cranberries sold more than 40 million records worldwide. They are best known for their '90s hits, including "Zombie" and "Linger." Jessica Hullinger

January 2, 2017

Chicago saw its biggest spike in homicides in 60 years in 2016, with the citywide total rising to 762 homicides from 485 in 2015, according to figures released by the Chicago Police Department on Sunday. The total for 2016 in the nation's third largest city was greater than those in New York City and Los Angeles combined. The number of shooting incidents in Chicago, which has become a focus in the national debate over handguns and gun control, rose from 2,426 in 2015 to 3,550 last year. Harold Maass

December 20, 2015

During his regular Sunday School lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, former President Jimmy Carter shared the tragic news that his grandson had died.

Carter arrived 25 minutes after his lesson was set to begin, the first time he had ever been tardy. Carter said his grandson, 28-year-old Jeremy Carter, had gone to lie down Saturday evening because he wasn't feeling well, and when his mother checked on him, his heart had stopped, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He died Sunday at the hospital, the cause of death unclear.

Earlier this month, Carter shared good news with Maranatha, telling the congregation that doctors could not find any remaining signs of cancer on his brain. On Sunday, after discussing his grandson and some insights into his death, Carter taught his previously planned lesson. "I'm not surprised," parishioner Jan Williams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's the kind of Christian he is. Everything that happens in life, good or bad, he uses as a teaching experience. He lives his life as a lesson for other people to see." Catherine Garcia

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