New FDA rules bring smoking changes


According to CNN, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that vaping in high school students has gone up by 80 percent among high school students, and 50 percent in middle schoolers. This has been a hard issue to deal with for the FDA as it wants to have products that get adults to quit smoking cigarettes, but not at the cost of having kids get addicted to nicotine, which shows a correlation of smoking later in life.

CNN uses a shocking statistic in this article, claiming that 3.6 million kids in high school and million are regular vapers. These regulations come after news broke that they were investigating JUUL labs for marketing their vapes to kids.

The new regulations would make it so that flavored vapes would only be able to be purchased in age restricted retail locations like smoke and vape shops instead of gas stations. This would prevent kids from being able to walk into a gas station or convenient store and get flavored nicotine products from retailers that don’t care much about age restrictions.

CNN could have done a better job with one aspect of the story. The head of the FDA said that he wants to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. He believes that these are the way kids get into smoking cigarettes. However, they then go onto say that menthol cigarettes are smoked by one in five African-Americans and then do not come back to visit the remarks on the children.

What the FDA is doing must be done to prevent kids from the dangers of being addicted to nicotine.

FDA imposes new sanctions on e-cigs


After it was all over, the news that the FDA was going to impose sanctions on JUUL and other electronic cigarette producers, the government agency is looking to take things one step further. Its goal is to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers because of the massive spike that we’ve seen in the past few years.

Now, instead of just going after JUUL and other popular devices, the agency “plans to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes in retail stores and gas stations around the country, in an effort to reduce the popularity of vaping among young people.”

The issue I have with this, which is what I had an issue with when they were going after JUUL, is that these are products that really do help people quit smoking. And since compared to smoking, they are 95 percent less harmful, they can save a lot of lives for adult smokers.

In my opinion, this is going to do more harm than good. It is going to hurt vape shop owners and instead of condemning the product they should be condemning the people who sell the products to minors without identification.

This was an article by Sheila Kaplan of The New York Times and she did a wonderful job of staying non-biased and giving the facts of the story, even though it’s an issue that can get people worked up.

Emotions could cause heart failure


Heart disease is among the leading killers in our nation and claims the lives of over 600,000 people every year. This is due to a host of factors including physical, dietary, and lifestyle factors (such as smoking). This has been well documented, but now, there is a new theory that emotional pain can cause heart related death, according to an article from The New York Times, written by Anahad O’Connor.

The article discusses a new book called “Heart: A History.” The author of the book has studied the heart his whole life and believes that people need to focus on how the emotional heart reacts with the biological heart.

The article is somewhat directionless as the majority of the article discusses the history of medical procedures relating to the heart and how technological advances have made surviving with heart disease more manageable. However, the point that I believe the article is trying to make is the connection between emotional pain and how it relates to heart failure and disease

It lists mostly anecdotal evidence without much scientific backing. It attempts to reference a study done in 1948, which is incredibly outdated considering new scientific studies have been done since then. Stress is definitely a factor that goes into heart disease but is it the most important?

The article gives no evidence to support that claim and seems to be focused more on promoting the new book than it is making a point. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this article, like many articles with insufficient evidence, is that the topic needs to be studied more.

Probiotics benefits may be questionable


It can be argued that the most important shift in health in recent years is the focus on gut health and the microbiome. For years, probiotics, basically live bacteria that heals the gut, have been in the news and they have flooded the health and wellness market with supplements.

The New York Times published an article in its health section called, “The Problem with Probiotics” written by Aaron Carroll. It caught my attention because I have my finger on the pulse of the health industry and the latest trends. The article made some good points, but it is also very misleading.

The article says that probiotics have some benefits but because of its loose regulation on the market, there are potential harms in taking them. My issue with this is that it plays down the scientifically proven benefits of taking probiotic rich foods.

Carroll writes, “Probiotics have the potential to improve health, including by displacing potentially harmful bugs. The trouble is that the proven benefits involve a very small number of conditions…” This is incorrect and the evidence that they cite is just a drop in the bucket of studies done on this that show the opposite.

There are health risks, but the way that Carroll describes this risk is confusing. He says that in 2014 a probiotic supplement possibly killed an infant. This single citation reduces the validity of the article because it was not proven.

The other thing that was frustrating was that Carroll makes no distinction until the end of the article between probiotic supplements and probiotic rich foods like kimchi and sauerkraut which have been proven to be very good for one’s health.

This article makes very good points but its points are plagued by blurry information and bad sources.

Times shows how to delete Facebook


It is no secret that social media have taken over as the premier way to absorb content in today’s world. Specifically, Instagram and Facebook have become the modern-day radio and television. However, because of recent issues with data breaches and studies coming out that show the negative effects of social media, many people are saying goodbye to these platforms.

Brian X. Chen, a writer for The New York Times gives us a look at exactly how to do that, and why its not as easy as just deleting the apps off your phone.

What’s great and refreshing about this article, is that it cuts out all the unnecessary commentary about the pros and cons of social media. It just shows the readers how to cut these platforms out of their lives and the things they need to be concerned about.

For example, he shows that temporarily suspending his Facebook account revealed that using other apps on his phone became much more of an issue. He had created accounts with his Facebook account, which can be linked to a variety of other apps. He realized he could no longer promote products on his Instagram and had to recreate a lot of account like Pinterest for example.

This article shows how these platforms have dug deeply embedded roots in our lives and why it’s so hard to break away from them.

The step-by-step guide is very helpful and tells the reader how to keep their data safe while making the process as simple as possible.

Mushrooms could cure depression


“Magic mushrooms” are frequently considered to be a staple of counterculture because of their mind-altering potential. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine believe that it could be a huge breakthrough in the fight to combat mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

In an article for The New York Times, Laura M. Holson reports on the effort to get psilocybin, which is the psychedelic element in hallucinogenic mushrooms, changed from a schedule I drug to a schedule IV drug, a process that goes through the Federal Drug Administration. A schedule I drug is one that has no medical value, while a schedule IV drug does have medical value, like sleeping pills, which is the example Holson uses in her article.

This article did a good job trying to buckle down the key talking points on an issue that can be confusing and very controversial for a lot of people. Of course, there is more to this issue that can be discussed. One of the things that I wish Holson did a better job of explaining was how exactly that this drug can help cure anxiety and depression. The reason is that it gives the user a chance to introspectively evaluate their life in a very deep and meaningful way, which she does not mention.

The other thing I wish she wrote more about is how the research is done and how they exactly monitor the results. Do they see an increase in serotonin afterwards, or something along that line?

Overall, Holson did a very good job discussing a subject that I am sure will be discussed much more in the future.

Opioid bill passes in Congress


This country has had an opioid problem that has reached the level of an epidemic. In 2017 there were 72,000 deaths from drug overdoses, while 50,000 of those came from opioids. After years of attempting to address this issue, the U.S. House and Senate have finally compromised on a bill which aims to help those with addiction, as well as stop opioids from being on the streets.

Abby Goodnough from The New York Times wrote an article about this new bill, titled, “In Rare Bipartisan Accord, House and Senate Reach Compromise on Opioid Bill.” In the article, she describes the main elements of the bill and how it is supposed to help people.

What she did a wonderful job of was that she got quotes from a third-party addiction specialist who broke down what will work and not work about the bill. The reason this is so important to do, especially on a subject like this, is that there is so much that goes into this bill that normal people don’t understand. The specialist goes into detail about what she thinks will not work.

The one thing that is not addressed enough is the section titled “alternative to opioids.” This seems like something that should really be focused on, but is the shortest section of the article. she also listed alternative, smaller packaging as an option, which it is not.

I specifically like how the article relates this bill to the AIDS bill that passed in the 1990s, because that was incredibly successful.

This was a quality article, especially because she took a political hot button issue and focused it more on the bill itself.

NFL’s Vontae Davis retires at halftime


In 2018, most people realize that football can take an extreme toll on your body and brain, especially as for professionals. Players have become far more aware of the long-term consequences and therefore have been retiring earlier.

However, Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis took that to another level when he retired at halftime on Sunday, in the midst of their NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Matt Stevens and Jason M. Bailey wrote an article about this for The New York Times. They usually have very good insight in their articles and this one was no different. What was great about this article is that it addressed the massive scrutiny that Davis faced because of his actions. He is the only player to ever have retired in this manner and fans on social media and journalists for sports outlets alike laid into him for quitting on his teammates. Yet, the article points out why the decision shouldn’t be so heavily criticized

The article features a picture of Davis’ official statement to the press where he says that he “felt off” and didn’t feel like he should be out there any more, even though he was not injured. The article mentions other cases of people who were not injured that decided to retire early to prevent long-term health issues. Two examples that they use are Chris Borland, who retired after his rookie year, and John Urschel, a former Ravens offensive lineman who pursued his Ph.D. in higher mathematics.

So, the question is, should Davis had at least stuck it out until the end of the game? Probably, for his teammates, if nothing else. However, Davis has had three concussions in his NFL career (the article goes into this as well) and by going back out there and basically ‘feeling out of it’, he risks receiving another concussion which surely would do more long term damage.

FDA’s new target: JUUL use


The JUUL is an electronic cigarette that has become increasingly popular with high school and college students since its release in 2015. Now, the Federal Drug Administration is putting its foot down when it comes to teenage vaping.

Sheila Kaplan and Jan Hoffman of The New York Times wrote a fantastic piece, titled, “F.D.A. Targets Vaping, Alarmed by Teenage Use,” about the FDA’s actions as well as the possible consequences for JUUL and other electronic cigarette companies.

Hoffman and Kaplan make the FDA’s main concern very clear. They are worried that these companied, specifically JUUL, are advertising and purposely selling their product to teenagers. The concern there is obviously that teenagers who have never smoked before will become addicted to nicotine via using these sleek devices. The FDA referred to this as the modern-day version of the Joe Camel advertisements.

The article also took quotes from the spokeswoman for JUUL. They said that they will work with the FDA and comply with them to keep their products out of the hands of teenagers.

While news reporters did a great job portraying both sides of the argument (pro and anti-government regulation) they failed to do one thing. They did not list statistics for how many adults, over the age of 18, have used devices like these to quit smoking, and how that population will be affected. The talk of regulation has been a concern in the vaping community and it would have added another element to the article to voice the concerns of people who have used JUUL and other companies to quit their cigarette addictions.

This is a big issue and one that is very obvious, especially if you walk around a high school or college campus. This article now has put this issue out in to the open for the general public to discuss and debate.

Kaepernick news causes more tension


Nike recently announced that Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, would be the face of its new advertising campaign. This has blown up on social media and caused withdrawn support for the company due to his decision to kneel during the national anthem at NFL games.

Out of all the national news media coverage it has received, I chose to look at the article that CNN published, titled, “Nike’s support for Colin Kaepernick protest has some destroying their shoes” written by James Masters and Gianluca Mezzofiore. As CNN is a liberal news media outlet, I wanted to see if they could look at this issue objectively, as this has become a liberal vs conservative debate. They tried (sort of), but ultimately failed.

CNN decided to choose three clips of men from Twitter who did not give their opinion on the matter, but rather just showed video clips of them burning their gear. One of the videos was a high school student who was laughing and playing the national anthem in the background. At no point in this story, did the reporters get someone who fully describes their point of view towards the company, and on the matter as a whole.

If they had done further research, they would have found that people are not solely upset that Nike is affiliating themselves with a former athlete, who many believe disrespected the flag and the military by kneeling. What a lot of people are upset about, is the slogan. The slogan says, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

It is referring to the fact that Kaepernick is no longer an NFL quarterback due to his decision to kneel during the anthem. However, Kaepernick has had multiple job offers in other professional areas since 2016, and many believe that he has not been signed to a team because of his poor quarterback performance. He is currently suing many NFL owners, accusing them of conspiring to keep him off a professional roster.

Additionally, Kaepernick is set to make millions with his Nike deal, possibly more than he would have made in the NFL, which causes people to question the legitimacy of the ad campaign and his willingness to “sacrifice everything.”

CNN could have made its point more efficiently if it chose its content to show the ideas on the other side of the debate, rather than three videos of people who are a terrible generalization of the people who are offended by this move by Nike. CNN kept the information at the surface level and added additional tensions between the general public by not trying to understand and present both sides of the argument.

The liberal side has a very good reason for supporting Kaepernick as he highlights racial injustice in America; an issue that there is no hiding from and needs to be worked on by all Americans. However, by pointing fingers, and showing a poor depiction of the opposing argument, they throw away any possibility of a meaningful conversation between both the left and the right.