Was BuzzFeed Right to Publish Accusations Against Donald Trump? – Room for Debate

Thanks to BuzzFeed the Untouchable Story Is Open to Discussion


BuzzFeed did the right thing when it chose to publish the dossier of unverified allegations about Donald Trump’s supposed entanglements with Russia. Some experts on media ethics were quick to argue otherwise this morning.

This kind of second-guessing generally proceeds from the underlying premise that journalistic ethics is some set of straightforward rules about right and wrong, which, when dutifully followed, will reliably produce good journalism. This is a deeply useless approach. Any decision to publish any piece of reporting involves balancing competing principles and coming to a conclusion that fits the subject matter, the broader context and the publication’s own mission and appetite for risk.

Whether the ultimate scandal turns out to be about Trump’s alleged conduct, his relations with Russia, his feud with the intelligence services or some combination, follow-up reporting will help the public sort through the dossier’s claims.

This case, in particular, is a good reminder of the fact that the flip side of deciding to publish something is deciding not to publish something. But journalists are rarely called to account for their errors of omission. Multiple news organizations reportedly had their hands on the Russia dossier for weeks, and before yesterday, even as the circle of public officials who deemed it a serious concern kept widening, none of those media outlets could figure out how to share it.

Now the untouchable story has become a matter of open discussion, whether the ultimate scandal turns out to be about Trump’s alleged conduct, his relations with Russia, his feud with the intelligence services or some combination of all of those. Follow-up reporting is helping the public sort through the dossier’s claims. BuzzFeed’s decision was the key to all of this.

Judgments about what and how and why to publish vary from publication to publication, and that variation is healthy and productive. What CNN and BuzzFeed executed last night was a classic high-low interaction: CNN reported that the dossier existed and that it was of great public importance; BuzzFeed produced the dossier. CNN’s vagueness was redeemed by BuzzFeed’s specificity, and BuzzFeed’s risk-taking was justified by CNN’s testimony about the ultimate news value.

Sometimes the transaction simply goes from low to high: A less respectable outlet publishes a story, and the subject of the story responds, and the subject’s response becomes a fact in the world that is safe for judicious publications to discuss in the open. Thus this morning’s Times was liberated to discuss “sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump,” or, more precisely, reports of memos describing those sex videos.

However the process unfolds, we know more today than we did yesterday, and tomorrow we will know more still. BuzzFeed’s rhetoric about “publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds” was maybe a little pious, but those of us at the former Gawker Media learned a painful lesson last year about what can happen when journalists talk about their mission less than piously.

Journalism is a rude business and we live in rude times. Blind appeals to principle won’t make things any nicer, but they could make things worse.

BuzzFeed Let Trump Cast a Shadow of Doubt on All Reporting


By publishing an unverified report alleging the Russians have compromising information on President-elect Donald J. Trump, BuzzFeed made it less likely that truth will be journalists’ only goal and less likely that when the truth surfaces, the public will believe it.

In his news conference on Wednesday morning, Trump conflated the work of BuzzFeed and CNN, although they were very different forms of reporting. He started by complimenting all the newsrooms that did not post the document, criticizing those who did without initially naming them, and suggesting that the reason for keeping it out of public view is because it is “fake news.”

Had BuzzFeed taken a different approach, the story today would be that intelligence officials were seriously concerned about the report.

To the untrained eye, it looked like he was making friends with the media by patting them on the back for doing the right thing by ignoring that ludicrous rumor that the Russians have a sex tape.

Here’s what really happened: BuzzFeed posted the dossier, noting that it was unverified and even highly problematic, about two hours after CNN began informing its viewers that the report existed, who had seen it and what the possible implications were to Trump’s ability to run the country.

Those are two distinct acts, with BuzzFeed merely showing its cards to the public, and CNN trying to build context and meaning through reporting and analysis.

But by lumping the two newsrooms together, Trump was able to cast the shadow of doubt on all the reporting that journalists are doing on the dossier. Now, anyone who might have been genuinely curious about the truth has reason to stop listening. If you hate Trump, you automatically assume it’s true. And if you love him, you assume this is one more example of unfair reporting.

Had BuzzFeed taken a different approach, the story today would be that senior intelligence officials were concerned enough about the report to brief the outgoing and incoming president. The follow-up stories would address how America’s senior most leaders were responding.

Instead, BuzzFeed said it wanted to give its readers the opportunity to decide for themselves. So now we’re all engaged in a charade of Spy Kids, trying to determine if the information is likely true or false. Yet average citizens don’t have the tools to sort through these claims.

But the most damaging result of BuzzFeed’s unfortunate decision is Trump’s newfound weapon to dismiss all journalists who criticize him as unfair and unethical. In painting the entire news media as a caricature of BuzzFeed, he undermines the efficacy of solid reporting and legitimate criticism. The president-elect is doing his best to diminish the role of journalism in our democracy. He doesn’t need any help.

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Cervical procedure to prevent cancer is causing complications

S. Nicole Lane shared her story with HealthLine.com.

Five months ago, I received a phone call from my OB-GYN informing me I had abnormal cells on my cervix and that a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) would be necessary to remove the cells and prevent cervical cancer.

I had gone in for a regular Pap, like I do every year, and was told that I needed a biopsy. When my results came back, my doctor told me they would need to use a low-voltage electrical current —  a LEEP — to remove the abnormal cells from my cervix.


The term “abnormal cells” originally shook me. I assumed these cells would eventually turn into cervical cancer, so I agreed to what I thought was a harmless and necessary procedure.

After the procedure was performed I began experiencing complicated symptoms — an infection, weakness, and pelvic pain — all of which challenged my recovery time.

I also became depressed. I felt an overwhelming numbness — not in my body, but in my mood and livelihood. Some days I struggled to even get out of bed.

Concerned, I Googled my symptoms and discovered several forums and personal blog postswhere women detailed a variety of complications. On the other hand, more detailed medical information was hard to find.

I continued digging and was shocked to learn that many “abnormal cells” may never lead to cancer. Instead, these so-called “abnormal” cells are similar to moles on your body and having them removed isn’t always necessary.

Cervical cancer is relatively rare, compared to other cancers. Approximately 0.6 percent of people will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in their lifetime.

I began reaching out to other women who were experiencing similar symptoms to my own following a LEEP and I discovered many others who had been affected in different ways.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Harrowing crisis sparks woman to action

AMBRIDGE, Pa. (AP) – Fingertips of her index and middle fingers rhythmically compress his tiny chest.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”

Her baby, just several days shy of 9 months, isn’t breathing. He’s in cardiac arrest.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive.”

Color drains from plump, rosy cheeks. Lips turn blue. Tiny body goes limp.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”

Bridget Rohm is scared. Tears spill from her eyes. Though frantic, she focuses.

Now’s not the time to panic. Every second counts.

“Mama Bear” instinct kicks in.

She presses hard, fast on her baby’s chest.

The Ambridge mom’s thankful she took an infant CPR class.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”


The repetitive drum loop of “Stayin’ Alive” – the Bee Gees’ classic song from “Saturday Night Fever” – pulses at 103 beats per minute, close to the 100 chest compressions per minute recommended by the American Heart Association when performing CPR.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”

It plays over and over and over in her head.


‘Something was seriously wrong’

Clutter everywhere in the small apartment. Cheerful trappings of a newborn. Cuddly teddy bears. Plush elephants. Stuffed dogs. Storybooks. Colorful mobile spinning above a baby swing.

And something else. Jarring, actually.

An IV pole. Two fluid bags and a stethoscope hang from it. Snakelike, plastic tubing, too. One delivers constant oxygen. Another meds, nutrition and fluids pumped to a gastrostomy tube, also called a G-tube, directly into little Rycker Rohm-Deceder’s stomach. A monitor assesses oxygen saturation and heart rate.

This isn’t what Rohm, 26, imagined for her son, her first child.

She knew she was having a boy. Named him Rycker – a strong name, one she chose having watched a documentary series on TV’s A&E; network – before he was born.

Rycker would grow up to be strong, independent, successful.

“I mapped out his life for him,” Rohm said, while he was still in her womb. “I was all prepared to have a typical baby.”

A sonogram at 22 weeks confirmed her plan for “a healthy, baby boy,” she said.

Two weeks later, however, a fetal anatomy scan, a more detailed ultrasound to measure growth and development – face, brain, skull, spine, heart, limbs – revealed anomalies.

Lying on an ultrasound table, Rohm thought the scan was taking longer than it should. The technician commented that Rycker’s limbs were short, but Rohm thought nothing of it. She and fiancé Jeff Deceder aren’t statuesque.

Were there heart ailments in her family?

Rohm’s parents both died of heart attacks; she had a heart murmur.

“Why is she asking me this?” Rohm wondered.

A doctor wanted a closer look at Rycker’s heart. A fetal echocardiogram was scheduled a few weeks later.

Rohm asked for results.

“We’ll talk about it in the office,” the physician said.

“I knew at that point something was seriously wrong,” Rohm said.

In that room, walls closed in.

The diagnosis: Rycker had two holes between left and right heart chambers; valves controlling blood flow also weren’t developed. The fancy name, Rohm said, is atrioventricular septal defect. Each year, about 2,000 babies – 1 in 2,120 – are born with AVSD, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rycker would need open-heart surgery, possibly immediately after birth.

But that wasn’t all.

He also has pulmonary hypertension – high blood pressure in arteries in his lungs and right side of the heart.

And it appeared Rycker had aortic coarctation, a narrowing of the large blood vessel branching off the heart, which would cause it to pump harder to force blood through the body.

The final blow: Meet with a genetic counselor.

Heart defects like Rycker’s often are common in babies with trisomy 21, abnormal cell division involving chromosome 21 more commonly known as Down syndrome.

Forty percent of all children with Down syndrome have congenital heart disease; of those, 40 percent have AVSD, according to secondscount.org.

A sample of Rohm’s amniotic fluid – fluid surrounding the fetus in the uterus – confirmed what the genetic counselor suspected.

“I remember her calling,” Rohm said. “‘I’m sorry. Your son has trisomy 21.’”

Immediately, Rohm asked if she had done something to cause it, but was told “it was completely random.”

Emotions overwhelmed her – “probably some a mother shouldn’t have. I grieved the child that I was planning for; the one that I had imagined; the one that would grow up to be independent,” she said.

Now, she feels “silly” for thinking such.

Having immersed herself in the Down syndrome community, she’s seen so many children “grow up to be independent, get married, have jobs, graduate from high school, graduate from college, have their own businesses so I’m not as worried anymore.”


A difficult labor

July 19, Rohm was scheduled for induced labor at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh. Blood flow from umbilical cord to placenta was abnormal.

Labor was difficult – 12 hours.

Rohm planned to deliver naturally; it was not to be.

Contractions, now a minute apart, caused Rycker’s heart rate to decelerate with each one. Doctors were concerned for both mother and baby.

At 6:20 a.m., “everything got crazy,” Rohm said. “Tons of doctors came rushing in.”

Deceder remembered personnel “dragging her bed away, dressing me in a hospital gown, running us down the hall.”

Rohm received an epidural and within 4 minutes, Rycker was delivered via cesarean section.

“They brought him by her for 2 seconds,” Deceder said, before whisking him away to the neonatal intensive care unit. His heart rate kept dropping.

Within two hours, the 4-pound-9-ounce baby was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC where he spent the next 16 days.

“I saw him right before they transported him – about 5 to 10 minutes. He was hooked up to all kinds of machines. I could barely see him. I did touch his hand,” Rohm said.

The good news: The aortic narrowing wasn’t as bad as initially thought, Rohm said. But Rycker would still need to have open-heart surgery to repair those holes.

The plan was to let him grow a few months.

“The bigger he got the better the surgery would go,” Deceder said.

Surgery happened Jan. 9. About a month later, another surgery to insert a G-tube with Nissen (anti-reflux procedure).

“He was having trouble taking a bottle,” Rohm said, because of a swollen airway and thus not getting enough to eat. And he was also at risk for aspirating.

Parents hope within a few years, the G-tube can be reversed.


‘In God’s hands’

Rycker awakened from a nap around 3 p.m. April 9. He fussed.

Rohm tried giving him a bottle, but he cried – cried uncontrollably.

“That’s unlike him,” Rohm said. “He’s a very happy baby. He never gets like that. I knew something’s wrong.”

She picked him up. Tried to console him.

“He turned blue. His whole body. His face, his lips, his legs, his feet – everything. I remember him looking up at me with the blackest eyes. The only way I can think to describe it is like the devil was in him. His eyes were big and black and he looked scared.”

Rycker wasn’t breathing. His body went limp in his mother’s arms.

She nudged his chest. No response.

“I went into Mama Bear action,” Rohm said. “I put him on the floor and started doing compressions. I felt like I did them forever.”

Within two or three minutes, she estimated, Rycker wailed.

“It was the best sound. I never thought I’d be so happy to hear a baby wailing.”

Rohm called 911; called Deceder.

Rycker’s legs were still blue and he wasn’t fully alert, she said.

Police arrived first; then an ambulance crew.

His heart rate was low; lower half of his body limp.

Rycker, transported to Children’s Hospital, was admitted for four days.

Doctors attributed the episode to “pulmonary hypertension crisis,” Rohm said.

Heart and lungs work together to deliver oxygenated blood to the heart; return oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs. Pulmonary blood pressure is the pressure exerted to pump blood from the heart through lung arteries. High pulmonary pressure causes the heart to work harder.

Vessels leading to Rycker’s lungs aren’t fully developed, Deceder said, causing pressure to build up in the right side of the heart.

“They just seized up and closed up because the pressure was too high, which stopped his lungs, which stopped his heart,” he said.

Rycker’s pulmonary pressure is about the highest pediatric cardiologists at Children’s have seen, Deceder said.

The condition is being treated with medication, but if it doesn’t improve, Rycker may need a heart-lung transplant, something the couple doesn’t want to consider.

“The survival rate is too low,” Rohm said. “We just keep praying and put it in God’s hands.”


‘So much joy’

Rohm picks up her little bundle dressed in a red T-shirt. She wears one, too, part of the couple’s “I Wear Red for Rycker” awareness campaign.

“You are my sunshine, you are my sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray,” she coos.

And he is.

It wasn’t random, Rohm said, that her son was born with Down syndrome.

“God chose me to be Rycker’s mommy and chose me to help educate others to be a voice, not just for Rycker, but all those with Down syndrome and heart defects.”

Deceder agreed.

“He was meant to be ours.”

While acknowledging that caring for a child like Rycker is “the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” Deceder and Rohm know they aren’t alone. They’re surrounded by a supportive and loving community that stretches around the globe.

Two months after Rycker’s birth, Rohm started blogging: “Rycker: The Ups and Downs.”

“At first, it was a way, I guess, to update my family, really tell our story, his diagnosis story and everything. I had no idea it would have grown to be as big as it is.”

Deceder pulls a stack of get-well and e-cards – he estimates at 1,000 – from “Greece, Germany, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, Brazil, all over,” Rohm said, including the United States. And gifts, too. A crocheted, red blanket, stuffed toys, a “God Bless Rycker’s Heart” plaque.

“Total strangers,” she said.

The couple calls them “Rycker’s Heart Heroes” and to honor them, created a non-profit foundation to give back.

Rycker’s Heart Heroes Foundation gives support to and raises awareness for families affected by congenital heart disease by providing care packages to families during a hospital stay, Rohm said.

Part of the foundation also includes the Rycker Roo Project that supplies mamaRoos to pediatric cardiac intensive care units at Children’s Hospital, and soon to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, which reached out to the couple.

Postoperatively, Rycker was in a lot of pain and discomfort.

“We tried everything,” Rohm said. “Holding him, patting him, rocking him. Nothing worked.”

Nothing, except a mamaRoo, an infant seat with gentle up-and-down and side-to-side motions designed by 4moms, a consumer technology company headquartered in Pittsburgh.

“In 10 minutes, he fell right to sleep,” Rohm said.

Monetary donations will help buy new mamaRoos for hospitals, but the couple also seeks gently used mamaRoos from families whose children have outgrown them to give to other families with children affected by CHD.

Rohm said a seat costs around $250.

“A lot of families, after a hospital stay, can’t afford that,” she said.

So far, 10 new and used seats have been donated through the foundation, Rohm said.

When 4moms heard about the project, the company wanted to help, Rohm said. And so, every mamaRoo purchased for the Rycker Roo Project through the company’s website will receive a 30 percent discount.

Monetary donations can be made at ryckersheartheroes.org.

The couple plans a benefit spaghetti dinner from noon to 6 p.m. June 10 in the social hall of Good Samaritan Parish on Glenwood Avenue in Ambridge.

And Rohm advocates that all parents learn CPR.

Rycker is a blessing, Rohm said, who has “taught me so much.”

She called him “just perfect.”

“Look at him,” Deceder said, smiling at his son.

“So much joy. This is him all the time. We were blessed. He laughs all the time. He smiles with his infectious smile all the time. Those two hang out all the time. Just happy.”





Information from: Altoona Mirror, //www.altoonamirror.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Iowa governor signs ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion ban into law

(Reuters) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law on Friday a bill outlawing abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which often occurs at six weeks and before a woman even realizes she is pregnant, and Reynolds acknowledged the likelihood of a court challenge.

The annual March for Life concludes at the U.S. Supreme Court where it is met by pro-choice counter-protesters in Washington January 27, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

The measure, which Iowa’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed on Wednesday, is the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States.

“I understand and I anticipate that this will likely be challenged in court, and that courts may even put a hold on the law until it reaches the Supreme Court,” Reynolds, also a Republican, said at Friday’s bill-signing, surrounded by children.

“However, this is bigger than just a law,” she added. “This is about life. I’m not going to back down from who I am or what I believe in.”

Chants from protesters were audible in the room where Reynolds signed the bill, in a ceremony that was broadcast live.

State senators who backed the measure said earlier this week that they were aiming to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

Abortion opponents hoping to land the issue back in front of the nation’s top court believe the 5-4 conservative majority could sharply curtail abortion access or ban it outright.

At a rally in Des Moines outside the Capitol on Friday before Reynolds signed the bill, officials of Planned Parenthood, the women’s healthcare group and backer of abortion rights, said they would file a lawsuit to block the law.

“I am here to tell Governor Reynolds, We will see you in court,” Suzanna de Baca, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told demonstrators. “We will challenge this law with absolutely everything we have on behalf of our patients, on behalf of your rights, because Iowa will not go back.”

Iowa is just the latest battleground in the fight over access to abortions.

Mississippi’s Republican governor in March signed into law a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks with some exceptions, sparking an immediate court challenge by abortion rights advocates.

A similar court challenge is under way in Kentucky, which in April enacted a ban on a common abortion procedure from the 11th week of pregnancy.

The Iowa law requires any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an abdominal ultrasound to screen for a fetal heartbeat. If one is detected, healthcare providers are barred from performing an abortion.

Among the few exceptions are if the woman was raped or a victim of incest and has reported that to authorities.

The bill would ban most abortions in the state and was passed in the final days of the Iowa legislative session.

(Restriction on later abortion by U.S. state tmsnrt.rs/28YEvwZ)

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Legendary Free Climber Alex Honnold On How To Control Fear

At 5.32am on 3rd June 2017, Alex Honnold began his pioneering ascent of El Capitan, a stark 900m turret of slippery granite in California’s Yosemite National Park. To give you a sense of scale, the towering Shard in London is the tallest building in the UK – and El Capitan is almost three times higher. But unlike other climbers clinging precariously to the wall that day, Honnold had no ropes, harnesses or safety protection. As the world’s leading practitioner of “free soloing” – an exhilaratingly pure but risk-laced type of climbing that involves ascending big walls without ropes, he was equipped only with a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of chalk.

After three hours and 56 minutes of physically gruelling and technically challenging manoeuvres up narrow cracks and fissures – sometimes balancing on ledges the width of matchboxes, at other times hanging only by his fingers above the immense void, and knowing every second that any mistake would lead to his death – Honnold hauled his body over the summit. He had become the first climber in history to climb “El Cap” without ropes – an achievement so groundbreaking that fellow climber Tommy Caldwell called it rock climbing’s equivalent of the Moon landings. National Geographic magazine described it simply as “the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport”.

Honnold, 32, who started climbing aged 11 in his local gym in Sacramento, had already earned a legendary reputation in the climbing community for his daring rope-free ascents, notably of Moonlight Buttress in Utah in 2008 and of the Triple Crown in Yosemite in 2012. However, his eye-catching ascent of El Cap earned him global recognition, wowing non-climbers and climbers alike.

What most intrigues people about Honnold isn’t just the physical fitness and technical skillset required to perform such astonishing climbs, but also the mental control and psychological preparation that makes those feats possible. How does he master fear, doubt and anxiety to excel in such high-pressure, life-or-death situations? And can his system work for the rest of us? We sat down with the man himself to discuss the surprisingly humble and human techniques behind his superhuman psychology.

What were the unique challenges you faced during your free solo ascent of El Capitan?

The main difficulty of El Cap – and there are a lot of difficulties – is the sheer size of it. I climbed it in four hours, which is the fastest it has ever been climbed but it is still not that fast. With four hours of continuous climbing, the fitness component is a challenge. But the first 300m are at quite a low angle, like a slab, which means you have your weight on your feet and there are no real handholds so it is really technical. It feels slippery and unsafe, so one of the main mental blocks was just that you feel like you could slip at any moment. Up higher, the part that was most physically difficult was where you have to pull [yourself up] really hard. So you have this combination of the insecure character of the climb, the difficulty of the climb and the size of the climb. There are a lot of different aspects to get your head around.

What is the emotional appeal of climbing without ropes, given its obvious dangers?

There are a lot of factors. The purity is a big part. The simplicity. The fact you don’t need a partner. I think when I first started to climb I didn’t know other climbers so part of it was just being too afraid to ask someone to belay me and going and doing stuff by myself instead. But definitely the challenge is part of it. There is the feeling of mastery and of working towards something that is really difficult. It is about perfecting your craft. And sometimes it is just more fun because you can cover more ground more quickly.

This climb was the pinnacle of your career. What does it represent to you?

Big solo climbs are what I am most proud of and after El Cap everything else pales in comparison. I loved doing the Fitz Roy route [a complete traverse of Patagonia’s Fitz Roy massif in 2014] with Tommy Caldwell. That is one of the things I am most proud of. I have done a couple of other big climbs in Patagonia which are pretty meaningful to me because they involved big days in the mountains. But I think I have always found soloing the most beautiful experience and El Cap has always been the impossible climb.

Photograph: Theadore Hesser

To free climb you need strong fingers, forearms and legs, a solid core, and immense flexibility and endurance. How did you prepare physically for the climb?

“Before this climb I was doing hiking and running because I knew in order to practise this route I would need to hike to the top over and over again so I needed good fitness. Now I am trying to focus less on that and more on difficult climbing instead. I want my legs to be smaller because I don’t need to hike up there all day. So my training fluctuates according to my goals. But the physical side is fairly straightforward. You have to be able to climb the route without falling, so first of all you have to be strong and fit enough to not get too tired when you work on it.

You were hanging off a 900m wall of rock without ropes. The big question is: how do you control your fear?

I’m not trying to control the fear exactly. I try to prepare to the point where I’m not feeling afraid because if I was going to feel a lot of fear I wouldn’t go up there. In some ways fear indicates either a lack of preparation or that something has gone wrong. Even something unexpected happening that you haven’t foreseen is a lack of preparation to some extent.

It is not as if I take something very scary and suppress that fear and just do it anyway. I take something scary and I identify the reasons it is scary. I think through which ones are rational and which ones are not, I work through those things, and eventually I do it when it doesn’t feel scary any more.

What did your mental preparations involve?

There was a lot to it. The mental side is in both believing that it is possible and actually knowing how to do it, which means memorising all the sequences and practising, rehearsing and spending a lot of time up there.

How did you ensure you didn’t suffer any nerves or doubts during the climb?

I spent a lot of time considering variations to make sure there was no easier way to do it, partly so that when I got to a challenging section I wouldn’t be wondering in the back of my mind that maybe there was some better way go out on the right or something. I wanted to be 100% committed to what I was doing when I was up there so there was no possibility of hesitation or doubt. That isn’t super-obvious – you might not think that would be a part of my preparation. But it was important to close all those other doors so once I was on that path I knew that was the only path and there were no questions.

How do you react to unexpected scenarios during a climb?

I wouldn’t say I have a process but I deal with those things on a case-by-case situation. The underlying theme is always to rationally evaluate the situation because feeling fear is just a physiological response where there are a lot of things happening in your body. Your vision narrows, your pulse quickens and other things happen. But just because you are experiencing fear it doesn’t change the reality of the situation. It doesn’t mean you are more or less likely to fall off. It just means you think you are about to fall off. Sometimes that means you are in real danger and sometimes it doesn’t.

Being able to use that rational part of your brain, take a step back and evaluate what is going on and make the right decisions, that is the thing. That is a process which gets better with practice. And I have had a lot of practice now.

What was your mindset on the day of the climb?

The climb went more smoothly than I could have hoped for. It was perfect. It was almost like I had over-prepared and I could just show up and feel amazing. But I was still nervous in the morning, or maybe more excited? It’s hard to say exactly. I imagine it is similar to how any other athlete feels when they go into a big day. Going into the Olympics I am sure people are nervous and excited. They know they are prepared so they are excited for the moment.

I was sort of just on autopilot. I just did exactly what I was supposed to do. I did all my preparation on time in terms of packing my backpack and other things. I pre-made my breakfast so I just rolled out of bed, put on my clothes, ate my breakfast and I just went. There wasn’t any room to go off track.

Last year you volunteered for a MRI scan at the Medical University of South Carolina. The scientists discovered that your brain doesn’t react to fear in the same way as other people. What did you make of that discovery?

To some extent it doesn’t matter because I know who I am and I know what I like to do, so it doesn’t matter what somebody tells me about my brain. I know me. I am still me. I am still the same person. I think it was an interesting evaluation but the results are still ambiguous. You can take what you want from it. What I took from it was that I probably started slightly less susceptible to fear than the average person but then I deadened my response to it over time. Other people might look at the same results and they might say they mean I am a freak. But I just don’t think I am naturally like that. I think it comes from years of practice.

Do you find your approach of breaking down fear into rational and controllable components helps you in other areas of your life?

Yeah, I mean a rational evaluation of risk is helpful in all parts of life. For example, I enjoy a rollercoaster. It is fun. It is not scary at all. It is not risky at all. The only risk in a rollercoaster is if something goes wrong, if the rollercoaster breaks and you go flying out on the track, and that is not likely at all. So there is nothing to worry about. It makes sense to look at all life that way and keep risks in the right perspective.

You keep a journal. Does that help with your mental preparation too?

I have two journals going at any time. I have a climbing journal which I have formatted in the same way since 2005. Every single climb or outdoor activity goes into that journal. Then I have another journal which is more for training, lifestyle, to-do lists, goals and random things like keeping track of my diet and my day-to-day calisthenics and supplemental training. That journal is much more varied. I sometimes go a couple of months without writing in that, but my climbing journal has been maintained meticulously since 2005.

People around the world were amazed by your climbs. But what amazes you?

I still love watching climbing movies and reading climbing magazines and I am definitely inspired by other climbers – although personally I’m more inspired by feats of strength. When I see people do things in training, I’m like, “I can’t believe you can do a pull-up with your pinkie finger from that little hold! That is so crazy!” But that’s because the physical side has always been hard for me. I’m not naturally strong in the way some people are and maybe that is why people appreciate [my achievements], because the mental side doesn’t come easily to a lot of people. But I just want to see feats of strength. I can’t believe what people can do. It is crazy.

You’ve already taken climbing to a whole new level. What’s next?

There are a handful of climbs I want to do and tons of locations I would like to go to. I want to go climbing in areas I have never been so that means plenty of adventure travel. I am going to Antarctica this winter so that should be quite the life experience. It will be the seventh continent I have climbed in so it should be fun. But there are still plenty of things to do. It’s only been a few months since El Cap. By this time next year I will have a whole list planned again.

The North Face climber Alex Honnold is a part of the global Walls Are Meant For Climbing campaign, aimed at increasing the accessibility of the sport and bringing the climbing community together. Check out @thenorthfaceuk on Instagram.

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How To Have More Energy

1. Eat eggs for breakfast

Rushing out with no time for anything more complicated than a cereal bar? It’s worth getting up a little earlier, because making and eating the right breakfast will have you firing on all cylinders. Eggs are ideal – a study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that men who ate eggs for breakfast experienced higher energy levels throughout the day than those who ate bagels. 

2. Drink water

Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue, and it’s one of the most easily avoided. Just keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip on it regularly. Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you if necessary. You may feel like you’re desperate for caffeine, but its energising effects are short-term – and usually followed by a crash.

3. Snack smarter

If you feel sluggish it’s probably because your blood sugar levels have hit rock bottom. Rather than automatically grabbing a doughnut or other sugary treat for a quick fix, snack on something that’s high in fibre like an apple – it will fill you up and stop you feeling hungry, whereas a sugar spike won’t last and just leads to another craving before long.

4. Train during the day

Been leaving your training till the evening because you’re worried a lunchtime workout will leave you yawning through the afternoon? In fact you’ll be more alert and productive, according to the Academy Of Management Review, whose data indicates that exercising during lunch can reverse any fatigue caused by the morning’s work.

5. Have a low-carb lunch

Sometimes it’s all you can do to resist curling up for a nap after lunch. This energy crash is caused by consuming loads of carbohydrates so, to stay awake all afternoon, keep lunchtime carbs to a minimum. Lean protein will fill you up for longer and help avoid a crash. Ideally, add some spice because spicy food fires up your metabolism to make you more alert, according to the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.

6. Get some sunshine

One thing that can make you feel low and lethargic is a lack of vitamin D. Although some foods contain this nutrient (oily fish, eggs and meat are the best sources) it’s hard to get a decent dose from diet alone. Your body makes vitamin D but only if your skin is exposed to sunlight, so take a walk outside for at least 15 minutes twice a day to kick-start its production. Even better, go for a run.

7. Listen to music

If you notice you’re beginning to feel tired, fire up Spotify or turn on your favourite radio station. Research has shown that music heightens motivation and stimulates interest because comprehending a tune synchronises both left and right hemispheres of the brain, which instantly makes you feel more alert.

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Exercise and shivering trigger same fat-burning effect, study show

Researchers from Joslin Diabetes Center have found that a fat-burning hormone increases in our bloodstream when we exercise or are exposed to the cold.

The research builds on work that the Center completed last year. Both studies examined the release of lipokine (fat-controlling hormones) from brown fat, which is how mammals (including humans) burn fat when exposed to cold. Both studies showed that levels of one particular lipokine, with the easy-to-remember name of 12,13-diHOM, increased in both exercise and the cold.

“12,13-diHOME really stood out quite dramatically,” says Laurie Goodyear Ph.D., senior author of the study published in Cell Metabolism and Head of Joslin’s Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism.

“We found it very striking that when we then analysed lipokines in exercise, the same lipokine that increased with cold also increased with exercise,”

The study was carried out in mice which gained positive results. The Joslin researchers also measured lipokines levels before exercise, immediately after and then three hours later in 27 male volunteers. Then another set of volunteers, this time an even split of six men and six women, were tested. In all tests, the researchers found that lipokine levels generally climbed during exercise.

“It seems to be the first example of a hormone released from brown fat that might regulate some of the metabolic effects of exercise,” Goodyear notes.

Researchers from around the world have been hunting for a way to reduce fat retention by increasing brown fat activity. “Most of our data suggests that exercise doesn’t ramp up the energy expenditure of brown fat, but here, exercise is clearly having an effect on brown fat,” she says

“The more knowledge we have about exercise and how it works, the better we can understand how to combat metabolic disease.”

While we’re on the topic, make sure you check out the truth about diet vs. exercise and the best types of exercises for fat loss.

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Strawberry Oat Pockets Recipe – Health

Animal crackers. Cheese Doodles. Frosted Flakes. The snacks of our youth will always have a soft spot in our hearts. The additives they contain? Not so much. So we set out to recreate one of our favorite childhood breakfasts–Pop-Tarts–using better-for-you ingredients but without skimping on flavor. The result? These seriously good strawberry oat pockets that add a hint of sweetness to even the busiest of mornings.

Unlike store-bought alternatives, these pockets contain whole-food ingredients like rolled oats, whole-wheat flour, milk, strawberry preserves, butter, coconut sugar, and an egg. The oats add satiating fiber to the pockets while the strawberry preserves lend a natural sweetness (just make sure you opt for a spread that isn’t sky-high in added sugar!).

RELATED: 5 Superfood Snack Recipes You Can Make at Home

Making your own pockets may sound tricky, but it’s actually simple. After making your dough and cutting it into rectangles, just spread a bit of jam on half of the rectangles, top with another rectangle, and lightly press around the edges with a fork to seal. Once you’ve assembled your pockets, brush each with an egg finish and sprinkle a few oats on top before popping the bars in the oven for 20 minutes. They should come out lightly browned on top and warm and gooey on the inside.

Best of all, each pocket only contains 8 grams of sugar and provides 4 grams of protein for less than 175 calories. Pop one in your purse for an afternoon snack or enjoy it with a cup of plain Greek yogurt for a protein- and probiotic-rich morning meal. Finally, you can have your (healthier) Pop-Tart, and eat it too.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Step 2

Combine flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 cup of the oats in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until oats are coarsely ground, 2 or 3 times. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 times. With motor running, add milk, and process until mixture forms a ball, about 15 seconds. Turn dough out onto a work surface, and divide into 2 equal portions. Flatten each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Step 3

Working with 1 dough rectangle at a time, roll between 2 pieces of parchment into a larger 12-by-8-inch rectangle (about 1 /8-inch thick). Cut larger rectangle into 12 (6-by-4- inch) rectangles. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons spreadable fruit on 6 of the small rectangles; brush edges with some of the beaten egg. Carefully top each with another small rectangle, lightly pressing around edges with the tines of a fork to seal in jam. Repeat with remaining 1/2-inch-thick rectangle and jam. Brush tops with remaining beaten egg; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oats.

Step 4

Place bars on prepared baking sheet, and bake until lightly browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

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Drug epidemic ensnares 25-year-old pill for nerve pain

The story line sounds familiar: a popular pain drug becomes a new way to get high as prescribing by doctors soars.

But the latest drug raising red flags is not part of the opioid family at the center of the nation’s drug epidemic. It’s a 25-year-old generic pill long seen as a low risk way to treat seizures, nerve pain and other ailments.

The drug, called gabapentin, is one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S., ranking ninth over the last year, according to prescription tracker GoodRx. Researchers attribute the recent surge to tighter restrictions on opioid painkillers, which have left doctors searching for alternatives for their patients.

Those same forces are changing the drugs that Americans abuse, according to experts.

“We’re basically squeezing people into other drugs because the prescription opioids are becoming a lot harder to get,” said Dr. Richard Dart, who tracks drug abuse through a national data network owned by the state of Colorado.

While prescriptions for opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin have been falling since 2012, health regulators have seen increased overdoses with unexpected medications, including the over-the-counter diarrhea drug Imodium.

The Food and Drug Administration is now studying patterns of prescribing and illicit use of gabapentin and will soon share its findings, said Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“One of the lessons from this whole opioid crisis is that we probably were too slow to act where we saw problems emerging and we waited for more definitive conclusions,” Gottlieb said. “I don’t want to be sitting here five or 10 years from now lamenting that we didn’t take more aggressive action.”

Many doctors aren’t aware of gabapentin’s potential for abuse, particularly among those with a history of misusing drugs, said Rachel Vickers Smith of the University of Louisville.

People tracked in her research describe gabapentin as a “cheap high” that is almost “always available.” They report mixing the drug with opioids, marijuana and cocaine to enhance the high, with effects ranging from “increased energy” to a “mellow” numbness.

Medical journal articles estimate that between 15 and 25 percent of opioid abusers also use gabapentin. And emerging research suggests combining gabapentin and opioids heightens the overdose risks.

Gabapentin, on the market since 1993, has long been considered nonaddictive and is not tracked as closely as riskier drugs like opioids. But calls to U.S. poison control centers show a stark rise in abuse and overdoses.

The abuse rate increased nearly 400 percent between 2006 and 2015, according to poison center data analyzed by the RADARS research group within the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, a state-owned health system. The group’s work is funded by drugmakers and government agencies, though they don’t participate in the analysis or publication of the data.

In some parts of the U.S., the rise in gabapentin abuse has led to new restrictions and surveillance.

Last year, Kentucky became the first state to classify the drug as a “scheduled substance,” placing it among other high-risk medicines subject to extra restrictions and tracking. Gabapentin was detected in a third of fatal overdose cases analyzed by Kentucky medical examiners in 2016. Now, only health professionals registered with the federal government can prescribe the drug and patients are limited to five refills.

Ohio, Minnesota, West Virginia and several other states have begun tracking gabapentin through their prescription databases. Ohio took that step after gabapentin became the most dispensed drug in the state. State surveys of drug users also indicated it was “extremely easy to get” with a street price around $1.50 per capsule.

Alyssa Peckham, a researcher at Midwestern University in Arizona, believes a more comprehensive federal response is needed, including possibly reclassifying it nationwide. Like others, Peckham says gabapentin is not dangerous on its own, but can be when combined with opioids and other drugs that suppress breathing.

Still, there is little consensus about the next steps, or even the scope of the problem.

Michael Polydefkis, a neurologist at John Hopkins University who primarily treats seniors with nerve pain, says he has never seen patients deliberately misuse gabapentin.

And given recent restrictions on opioids by hospitals, insurers and government authorities, many physicians are wary of limiting any other medicines that can help treat pain. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s prescribing guidelines endorse gabapentin as a good choice for nerve pain.

But there are questions about how much is being prescribed for proven uses — and to what extent patients are benefiting. A recent review of research by the Cochrane Group confirmed gabapentin’s benefits for several forms of nerve pain, but found little evidence of its effectiveness for more common muscle and joint pain.

Historically, the vast majority of prescriptions have been for uses not OK’d by the FDA as safe or effective.

“This drug was kind of unusual in that it was prescribed as a kind of miracle pill that could be used for anything,” said Dr. Joseph Ross, a researcher at Yale University’s school of medicine.

In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association, he called for new studies of gabapentin’s real-world use.

The freewheeling prescribing dates to years of aggressive marketing by the drug’s original manufacturer, Warner-Lambert. The company pleaded guilty and agreed to pay more than $430 million in 2004 to settle charges that it promoted gabapentin for a slew of unapproved uses, including migraines, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder and Lou Gehrig’s disease. While doctors are free to prescribe drugs for any use, drugmakers can only market their products for those uses approved by the FDA.

Warner-Lambert was bought in 2000 by Pfizer, which continues to sell gabapentin under its original brand-name Neurontin. Pfizer also sells a similar drug named Lyrica, a blockbuster medication approved for fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain and several other uses. Unlike gabapentin, Lyrica is a scheduled substance under federal law, in part due to reports of euphoria and other side effects suggesting “abuse potential.”

With tighter restrictions and a lone manufacturer, Lyrica has not seen the same problems as gabapentin.

“Pfizer recognizes the importance of preventing the misuse and abuse of our medicines and will continue working with regulatory authorities and health officials to monitor the safety of these medicines,” the company said in a statement.


Matthew Perrone can be followed on Twitter: @ AP—FDAwriter


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Asparagus five ways – The Denver Post

The other day, I was reading in Pliny the Elder’s “The Natural History” (yeah, I know …). What caught my attention was what he wrote about the asparagus of Ravenna, Italy, and how large it was — “when highly manured, weighing three pounds” — in contradistinction to how we might seek out pencil-thin stalks for our cooking.

And none “highly manured.”

What is it with this wondrous harbinger of spring that we have prized it for millennia and eat it so ravenously?

It’s botanical name, asparagus officinalis, suggests one reason: In ancient days, the “officina” was the storehouse of a monastery where the monks kept medicines. “Eat your asparagus,” meant “Take your meds.”

It costs a lot, even when abundant, as it is in this season, because it is difficult to cultivate. It grows in and on mounds of soil that are not productive for two years. It then enjoys solid growth for another two years, and then flags in output for a final two years. In other words, an asparagus farmer works about half time for nothing. It’s like selling Christmas trees. (Plus, it must be hand-harvested.)

Germans, Belgians, and many French enjoy it white, rather than green, achieved by disallowing the shoots to see sunlight out of their mounds. I remember once downing an entire plateful of “spargal” — its German name — steamed and slathered with no more than salt and drawn butter, and afterward burping (happily) for hours.

Asparagus is commonly eaten cooked, but especially the tender tips may be eaten raw. I lightly peel the bottom half of green or purple asparagus stems — I don’t care how thick or thin they are; all of them — before cooking.

Here are five mini-recipes for preparing asparagus. One element that I always find works well with asparagus is something tart or acidic — lemon juice, for example — as a foil to its native bitterness.

In parchment paper packets with salmon: Make a sealed packet with parchment paper or aluminum foil of a filet of salmon, a quarter bunch of asparagus, a few strips of white of leek, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, grinds of black pepper, a pinch of kosher salt, and sprinklings of any fresh green herb of your liking (dill, thyme, flat leaf parsley, etc.). Bake on a sheet in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Put the packet on a plate for serving; the aromas on opening are nearly the best part.

In a risotto: Make a standard risotto, using vegetable stock. A couple of minutes before it is finished, for every cup of rice with which you started, add 1 pound of asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces. Then finish, stirring, with the zest of a small lemon, its juice, 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, and 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

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