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SMART TOILET

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Don’t go to the doctor. Go to the bathroom.

Human urine is a treasury of health data. It can offer clues to more than 600 illnesses and health conditions; testify to a person’s exercise habits, sleep patterns, and other issues; and spot changes quickly to flag danger signs.

But how to capture those sudden hints of illness?

Leave it to scientists at the University of Wisconsin. They’ve designed a toilet with a built-in portable mass spectrometer that can grab urine samples and test them automatically to spot chemical signatures of health changes.

MAKING PLASTIC FROM GARBAGE

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UBQ Materials, an Israeli start-up, is claiming a revolutionary process that turns household garbage – rotting fruit, cereal boxes, plastics, old bones – into new plastic ready for manufacturers to use.

The proprietary process heats the waste to about 750°F and breaks down organic materials. Fibers in the organics blend with the plastic to strengthen the result, which emerges as long strands that can be pelletized and then colored to customers’ orders. 

The company claims that its process, developed over ten years, produces less carbon that making virgin plastic.

NEW SCIENCE CAN GROW BIGGER, BETTER CROPS

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At the University of Sheffield, plant biologists have looked into what they call “the beating heart” of photosynthesis – the process by which plants live and grow. 

The researchers deciphered the workings of a protein that manages the electrical current flowing between two components of chlorophyll which convert sunlight to energy.

The breakthrough makes it possible for scientists to genetically “redesign” photosynthesis by amping up this electrical protein, making crop plants both hardier and more productive.

DEAF, BLIND, AND OUT OF THEIR MIND

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The Population Reference Bureau predicts that aging Baby Boomers could cause a 75 percent increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care, from 1.3 million in 2010 to an estimated 2.3 million in 2030. 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report this year revealing that reported incidents of resident abuse increased from 430 in 2013 to 875 in 2017. Underreporting is a problem in the field, and federal oversight is lacking.

READY TO EXPLODE: WILL ADOLESCENTS GET OFF THEIR ASSES?

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that the vast majority of children in aged 11-17 do not meet even the most minimal requirements of physical activity.

The organizations findings were recently published in the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet.  The study includes data from 1.6 million children.

Much of the problem is the addiction to video games, a subject of a previous study by the WHO that now lists “Gaming Disorder” as an official “disease.”

PAINTING THE TOWN GREEN: CITIES 2.0

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About 60 percent of homebuyers who have money for a down payment and can find an affordable house seek the old-fashioned neighborhoods with a new twist: walkable with no cars.

A new $140 million development named “Tempe,” a 1,000-person rental community in Arizona, allows scooters and bikes, but cars will be banned outright. 

The renter lease terms forbids cars to be parked within the community or even in surroundings areas. Spaces previously allocated to parking spots will be designated for retail or communal spaces or rideshare pick-up zones.

HOMELESS AND HELPLESS

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As we noted in the 12 November issue of the Trends Journal, first-time homebuyers’ median age is 33, the oldest in records since 1981. 

Median ages of all homebuyers rose from 31 years in 1981 to 47 years today. 

Those who could find an affordable house in 2018 had a typical income of $93,200, but, as noted above, with 44 percent of all workers age 18 to 64 having a $17,950 median annual income, living in a car or on the street is the only affordable option.

DEEP IN DEBT, GETTING POORER

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While Americans are earning less, they’re going deeper into debt.

According to the latest Brookings Institution study, despite a “record low” 3.6 percent unemployment rate, 44 percent of all workers age 18 to 64, or roughly 53 million Americans, have a mere $17,950 median annual income and a median hourly wage of $10.22. 

The average household income for these low-wage workers is $30,000 for a family of three and $36,000 for a family of four.

LEBANON: NO SOLUTION NOW… OR LATER?

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The protests of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, who have been taking to the streets for the past five weeks had transcended sectarian divisions. The general public were united in their primary focus on fighting against government corruption/ruling establishment and demanding a share of the wealth, as unemployment soars, poverty increases, and living conditions deteriorate.

But now that’s changed. Supporters of Hezbollah, the Shia political party and fighting force aligned with Iran, began attacking protesters last Sunday.

PERU: WAVES OF STRIKES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

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Peru has been experiencing worker strikes for most of this year.  But now the number and energy behind the strikes are picking up.

Following the trends in Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Chile, the flames of discontent have spread to Peru.

Last week, some 100,000 healthcare workers went on strike demanding more pay and more resources for hospitals they claim are understaffed and lack necessary medicines and supplies to effectively treat patients.

Teachers have also called for walkouts to protest more funding of the educational budget and pay raises.