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Your bottled water is probably contaminated with tiny plastic particles, health experts say

That water bottle you just purchased is likely contaminated with microplastic particles, according to a new investigation from researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia and journalism organization Orb Media.

>> Read more trending news 

Through an analysis of 259 water bottles from 11 brands sold across nine countries, including the United States, scientists found 93 percent were contaminated with an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter of water. That’s twice the amount of contamination typically found in tap water.

Major brand names such as Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino were among the water bottles tested.

>> Related: Do you need 8 glasses of water per day? 6 myths and truths about drinking water

"In this study, 65 percent of the particles we found were actually fragments and not fibers," lead researcher Sherri Mason told AFP.

According to the research, the plastic debris found in the water bottles included polypropylene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate, which is used to make bottle caps. The particles are likely a result of the industrial bottling and plastic packaging process.

But the effects of these chemicals on human health, scientists say, are still unclear. 

“As much as 90% of ingested plastic could pass through a human body, but some of it may end up lodged in the gut, or traveling through the lymphatic system, according to research by the European Food Safety Authority,” Time reported.

>> Related: Considering the water diet? Here’s what you need to know 

Previous research has linked synthetic chemicals often found in plastic to “certain kinds of cancer to lower sperm count to increases in conditions like ADHD and autism,” Mason said, prompting calls for further studies on the possible health implications of plastics pollution.

Limited edition Crystal Ball Frappuccino in Starbucks’ future

Remember the limited edition, pink-and-blue, cotton-candy-colored Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks?

Its colors, which changed with the twirl of a straw, made it an instant hit on Instagram. It was followed by the Dragon Frappuccino, sparked by creative baristas who were out of ingredients to make the elusive Unicorn, and the Zombie Frappuccino around Halloween.

>> Read more trending news 

Starbucks may be at it again. 

According to shops and workers, a new creation, known as the Crystal Ball Frappuccino, will be available on Thursday, March 22, and will only be on the menu for four days, or as long as supplies last, according to Business Insider.

Teen Vogue reported that like the Unicorn Frap, Starbuck’s latest creation will also be optimized to make a stir on Instagram. Though the look and taste is not yet known, Business Insider reported the cream-based drink will utilize peach flavors.

According to baristas who couldn’t wait to experiment and post their photos to Instagram, the Crystal Ball Frappucino appears to include marbled turquoise hues with whipped cream and a crunchy, crystal-like topping.

No matter what the flavor, the look is sure to be eye-catching.

Whether another social media whirlwind is in Starbucks’ future has yet to be revealed.

Want to lose weight? Give your breakfast an energy boost, study says

Changing up your breakfast menu to include more high-energy foods may help you lose weight, improve your diabetes and decrease the need for insulin.

>> Read more trending news

That’s according to new research from Israel recently published in the medical journal the Endocrine Society. Scientists followed 11 women and 18 men with obesity and Type 2 diabetes for three months.

During the study, the participants were randomly assigned to consume one of two weight-loss diets. Each diet contained the same daily calorie intake.

>> Related: Is a slice of pizza for breakfast healthier than a bowl of cereal?

Participants in the first group (Bdiet) ate three meals: a large breakfast, medium-sized lunch and small dinner. Those in the second group (6Mdiet) consumed six small meals evenly spaced throughout the day, a diet often recommended for traditional diabetes management and weight loss.

Researchers examined participants’ overall glucose levels for 14 days at baseline, during the first two weeks on a diet and at the end of the study.

After three months, they found that participants in the Bdiet group lost 11 pounds. Those in the 6Mdiet group actually averaged a 3-pound gain after three months.

>> On The truth about the Quick Weight Loss program

Researchers also noted that members of the Bdiet group needed significantly less insulin and had significantly fewer carbohydrate cravings compared to the 6Mdiet group.

Additionally, just two weeks into the study, the scientists noticed a significant reduction of overall glycemia on the Bdiet when participants had nearly the same weight as at baseline. This suggested that “a diet with adequate meal timing and frequency has a pivotal role in glucose control and weight loss,” lead study author Daniela Jakubowicz, a professor of medicine at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, said in a news release.

>> Related: These are the best diets for 2018

"This study shows that, in obese insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients, a diet with three meals per day, consisting of a big breakfast, average lunch and small dinner, had many rapid and positive effects compared to the traditional diet with six small meals evenly distributed throughout the day: better weight loss, less hunger and better diabetes control while using less insulin," Jakubowicz said.

"The hour of the day — when you eat and how frequently you eat — is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat," she added. "Our body metabolism changes throughout the day. A slice of bread consumed at breakfast leads to a lower glucose response and is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening."

>> On The questions you were too afraid to ask about healthy eating

In 2016, Jakubowicz and her team of researchers also concluded that a large whey protein breakfast may help people manage Type 2 diabetes.

“The whey protein diet significantly suppresses the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin.’ A whey protein drink is easily prepared and provides the advantages of a high-protein breakfast on weight loss, reduction of hunger, glucose spikes and HbA1c,” Jakubowicz said.

Other items to include in a high-energy breakfast, according to Harvard Health: high-fiber, whole-grain cereals and breads, steel-cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt or salmon. 

Austin bombings Q&A: What are the distinctive traits of a serial bomber?

What would make a person create a bomb, set it to go off then deliver it to a victim?

A variety of things, according to a forensic psychiatrist who has studied some of the worst killers society has ever seen. 

According to Dr. Michael Welner, a leading forensic psychiatrist and chairman of The Forensic Panel, a person (almost always a male) who would set a bomb to kill someone is interested in “spectacle through destruction,” hoping that news cameras are rolling following the explosion.

>> Read more trending news

Welner is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is the developer of the Depravity Standard ( ), which delineates traits of the worst of murderers. The Forensic Panel is a practice that works on complex homicides around the United States.

We asked Welner to explain the influences behind what may drive a serial bomber and the traits most common to bombers. 

Q: Are there traits common to serial bombers?

A: Male, detail-oriented, motivated by spectacle through destruction as opposed to merely destructiveness. He takes pride in abilities and planning, is socially isolated and quiet, and feels himself as unsuccessful in intimacy. He has a keen awareness of media and its tendencies in reporting.

>>Austin package bombings: Friends remember victims Draylen Mason, Anthony House

Q: Have you seen anything in the coverage of these bombings that would be helpful in identifying the bomber?

A: The most important aspect of coverage is to enlist the community to be vigilant and to watch their communities, film with their smart phones to capture the out-of-the-ordinary, and to report what is suspicious. Serial violent offenders are often identified by tips from people who spotted something or someone who does not add up. 

Also, the more vigilant a community is to catching such a perpetrator, the harder it is for such an offender to attack without being identified. And the serial bomber does not want to be caught. It is best to keep the focus on the initiatives and collectiveness of a community to work together.

<<Police confirm trip wire used in fourth bomb that injured 2

Q: A different bomb trigger – a tripwire – was used in the bombing on Sunday night. The first three attacks involved suspicious packages left on doorsteps. The bomb in the package that exploded Sunday was left on the side of a road. Would a bomber “stick to his script” and not change the way he delivered bombs, or would you be concerned that there was a “copycat: bomber who put the latest bomb by the side of the road?

A: Both are possibilities. … Historically, a serial bomber with a passion and training in explosives will be able to shift methods to take advantage of materials available and opportunities to offend without being caught. 

Q: Police said the bomber is trying to “send a message.” Do serial bombers want to send a message generally, or are they only interested in destruction and murder?

A: Bombers create a spectacle to draw attention. They may be motivated to draw attention to themselves and their power to hold a community in fear, or may attach to a cause to draw attention to it. The key point is that a spectacle killer is destructively motivated even before the crimes begin, but attaches to a cause that he thinks justifies violence.

Q: The first victims were African American and Hispanic. Do you think the bomber is targeting only those groups? Is that something a serial bomber generally does, or are victims randomly chosen? 

A: Those who have chosen to bomb, pick targets for their own reasons. The rationale may or may not make sense to the rest of us. But it makes sense to them. If ethnicities are targeted, it may be driven by a desire to instigate violent race conflict, as Joseph Paul Franklin (a serial killer who, in addition to murdering several people, also shot and wounded businessman Vernon Jordan and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt) told me he intended when I interviewed him. Likewise, since spectacle murderers are attempting to manipulate the media as much as anything, the bomber and whomever is assisting him may be attempting to manipulate a news cycle by staging violence that inflames racial divisions, or what some call a “false flag.” 

How vulnerable is the U.S. power grid to a cyberattack? 5 things to know

When the Trump administration announced new and tougher sanctions on Russia last week, officials also said the sanctions were, in part, punishment for attempted Russian cyberattacks on critical U.S. infrastructure, including the United States’ power grid.

>> Read more trending news 

Over the past several years, hackers have targeted a Vermont utility, power grids in Ukraine and Ireland, a nuclear power plant in the U.S. and U.S. energy companies, according to news reports.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported Monday that it was hacked.

>> Related: Researchers: Hackers develop highly customizable cyberweapon aimed at electric grids

The U.S. electrical grid is highly complex with some 3,300 utility companies that work together to deliver power through 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The nation also has 55,000 electrical substations and 5.5 million miles of distribution lines that power millions of homes and businesses, according to a report last year.

Just how vulnerable is the U.S. to a cyberattack on its critical infrastructure, like the power grid?

>> Related: The 2017 Russian sanctions bill: What does it do; what is Russia’s response; will Trump sign it?

In April of 2017, the Council on Foreign Relations released a report on the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid. Because of the importance of electricity to the smooth functioning of society and because of the critical nature of power to the 16 sectors of the U.S economy that make up what’s considered critical infrastructure, a significant attack on the grid could cause serious damage in the U.S., if it were to happen. “Any of the system’s principal elements – power generation, transmission or distribution – could be targeted for a cyberattack,” the agency said.

 Here are 5 things to know:

1- The U.S. power grid has long been considered a target for a major cyberattack; however “carrying out a cyberattack that successfully disrupts grid operations would be extremely difficult, but not impossible,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ report.

 2- The U.S. power grid was built for “reliability and safety” and is fairly easy to defend. During winter weather or a hurricane for example, U.S. power crews are good at anticipating problems and can generally move away from computers to manual operations, cyber security expert Robert M. Lee said in an interview with Scientific American magazine.

>> Related: Hackers target European businesses, banks, services in new cyberattacks

3- Because of computer technology and the growing interconnectedness of the digital landscape, and because returning to manual operations is growing more difficult, Lee said that there is cause for concern. “Our adversaries are getting much more aggressive. They’re learning a lot about our industrial systems, not just from a computer technology standpoint but from an industrial engineering standpoint, thinking about how to disrupt or maybe even destroy equipment. That’s where you start reaching some particularly alarming scenarios,” Lee told Scientific American.

4- The director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, in testimony before Congress in 2014, said that China and a few other countries likely had the capability to shut down the U.S. power grid. “Rapid digitization combined with low levels of investment in cybersecurity and a weak regulatory regime suggest that the U.S. power system is as vulnerable - if not more vulnerable - to a cyberattack as systems in other parts of the world,” officials with the Council on Foreign Relations said.

>> Related: Homeland Security investigating after massive cyber attacks take down sites across the internet

5- A cyberattack on the U.S. electric grid could cause power losses in large parts of the United States that could last days or up to several weeks in some places, and it would cause a substantial economic impact, the Council on Foreign Relations reported. The report found the U.S. needs to work to put in place measures to prevent a cyberattack on the power grid, and to find ways to lessen the potentially catastrophic impact should one occur.


Woman’s $12,000 bee sting bill shows how high emergency room costs have climbed

How can a two-hour treatment for a bee sting end up costing a patient $12,000? Prices can soar when the patient goes through a barrage of tests and insurance doesn’t cover the bill, but Sylvia Rosas’ case is shining a light on the cost of health care in the country.

It all started with a simple bee sting in her yard in Florida. Rosas had allergic reactions to stings in the past, but didn’t have an EpiPen, so she went to the emergency room, CNN Money reported. Several doctors looked at her sting and ordered blood tests and an EKG to ensure she wouldn’t have a reaction. The visit, which took less than two hours, happened to be at an out-of-network hospital, so her insurance wouldn’t cover it. Rosas had to pay the bill out of pocket.

Now, she’s second-guessing when she needs to see a doctor so she won’t wind up with the bill later.

>> Read more trending news 

Rick Brown found himself in a similar financial situation, CNN Money reported.

He twisted his ankle. After trying to treat it at home to no avail, he went to his local emergency room, on his own crutches, and was seen by a physician assistant. Brown had an X-ray done on him and was given a splint and a prescription, with a suggestion to see a specialist for the fracture. 

He was billed $2,600 for the ER visit. Then, he received a separate bill for $5,700 from the doctor’s office. Insurance paid half of the ER bill, but denied the doctor’s charges because the person who saw him was out-of-network.

Brown said that if he would have known that the bill wouldn’t be covered, he would have waited a few days longer to see someone else.

Officials with the Health Care Cost Institute say ER visits cost an average of $1,917 in 2016. That’s more than 31 percent higher than it did four years before.

The amount billed by the hospital usually covers the facility fee and some tests and services, CNN Money reported. But it usually doesn’t include the cost patients incur for actually seeing a doctor, which is usually billed separately.

The big question is: Why does it cost so much?

Emergency rooms are seeing more patients, and those patients have severe medical problems.

People with cuts and fevers will more likely go to urgent care locations. Patients with chest pain and those suffering from asthma attacks are seen in emergency rooms, and those conditions are more expensive to treat, CNN Money reported.

Emergency rooms also have access to expensive equipment, like CT scans and MRIs.

So where does that leave patients who need care, but don’t want to gamble with their finances?

First, experts told CNN Money that patients don’t need to sign paperwork with the ER that promises to pay in full just to be seen. Federal law says ERs have to screen and stabilize anyone who comes in.

Second, if you’re stuck with a bill, speak with the health care providers. Prices can be negotiable, CNN Money reported. A professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University found that hospitals mark up some services as much as 340 percent more than Medicare allowances.

“Prices are highly fluctuant and often negotiable,” Martin Makary told CNN Money. “As with new cars, people are not expected to pay the sticker price.” 

Man accused of making SXSW bomb threat vowed to 'watch everyone die,' affidavit says

A man accused of threatening to bomb The Roots’ show during South by Southwest last weekend told a producer via email that he would “watch everyone die,” according to court documents.

>> Read more trending news

Trevor Weldon Ingram, 26, faces a charge of a making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

An arrest affidavit made public on Monday said the producer called police after receiving two emails from a Gmail account belonging to “t9ingram” just after 3 p.m. Saturday.

The first email said, “(Expletive) u I’m gonna pant a bomb and watch everyone die,” misspelling the word “plant.”

The second email said only “BOMB,” the affidavit said.

Austin police sent its bomb squad out to the Fair Market Venue, where the concert was scheduled, and used bomb-sniffing dogs to sweep the area. Neither Austin police dogs or Travis County Sheriff’s Office dogs found any sign of an explosive device.

>> Related: Man held in SXSW threat ruled out as bomb suspect, police say

Still, event promoters canceled the event, saying it was done out of an abundance of caution.

Investigators searched the Texas Department of Public Safety’s driver’s license database and identified Ingram as the suspect.

>> Related: The Roots' SXSW show canceled after bomb threat; man arrested

He was the registered account holder of the Gmail account and had already been investigated by Austin police in February for making threats against eBay employees from the same email address, according to authorities.

The threats began on Feb. 16 and included messages like “I hope you die in a horrible car crash,” “(Expletive) you. You will die slow,” and “I have 10k on everyone’s head in the Austin office,” the affidavit said.

Austin bombings: What we know about the bomber’s habits

Police and federal agents continue to investigate the four bomb explosions in Austin this month that killed two people and wounded four others.At a press conference Monday, after the fourth bomb exploded injuring two men, law enforcement authorities asked the bomber to contact them and let them know what message he is trying to send, assuring him that they are “listening.”

>> Read more trending news

The bombings began March 2 when a package exploded on the front porch of the home of Anthony Stephan House, 39, killing him. The second attack happened March 12 when a bomb in a package was taken into the home of Draylen Mason, 17. The package exploded, killing Mason, and injuring his mother.

>>Austin package bombings: Friends remember victims Draylen Mason, Anthony House

The third bomb exploded when a 75-year-old Hispanic woman picked up a package on her front porch. She was seriously injured.On Sunday, two men were hurt when a bomb went offapparently after one of the two hit a tripwire attached to the explosive device.

>>For investigators, a race to decode hidden message in Austin bombings 

Authorities are operating under the assumption that the bombs were made by the same person.

Here is what we know about the Austin bomber’s habits: 

  • Prior to the explosion Sunday, the three bombs were left in packages at homes.
  • Sunday’s bomb was tripwire-activated.
  • Sunday’s bomb was in a different geographical area than the other three bombs.
  • The victims of the first three bombings were African-American and Hispanic. Sunday night’s victims were white.
  • Fred Burton, a security and terrorism analyst at Austin-based Stratfor, told the Austin American-Statesman that he believes it is the same person doing the bombing. He may have changed bombing locations and methods to throw investigators off, Burton said.
  • Common household items were used to construct the first three bombs, the American-Statesman reported. 

Photos: Official state dogs

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