April 7, 2014

Boulder was recently ranked the country's thinnest city.     Photo: GerardoBrucker/Getty Images

Boulder Ranked Thinnest U.S. City

Huntington, WV, is plumpest

One of the fittest states in the country is also home to three of the thinnest cities.

Boulder, Colorado, has the lowest obesity rate in the United States, at 12.4 percent, according to new data from Gallup. Denver and Fort Collins also ranked in the top 10 thinnest cities. 

Huntington, West Virginia—where nearly two in five people are severely overweight—had the highest obesity rate at 39.5 percent. It’s been one of the most obese communities on the list for the past five years.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People program aimed to reduce obesity to 15 percent in each state. No state and only one city (Boulder) has achieved this goal, Gallup reported.

Nationwide, the U.S. obesity rate rose to 27.1 percent in 2013, the highest since tracking began in 2008.

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Drones gather to socialize and discuss anti-human tactics.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Drone Hits Triathlete

Fell from sky while filming race

A competitor in Australia's Endure Batavia Triathlon became an early casualty in the war between man and machine Sunday when an unmanned aerial vehicle fell from sky and clocked her right in the noggin. Raija Ogden, wife of defending champion Courtney Ogden, was reportedly entering the second lap of her run leg when the remote-controlled helicopter struck her down. 

The drone belonged to local enterprise New Era Photography and Film, which was shooting live footage of the event. Ogden sustained minor head injuries. She was treated on site by paramedics and was in stable condition following the race. The Geraldton Triathlon club has released a statement apologizing to Ogden and vowing to find out what exactly went wrong with the drone. 

New Era owner Warren Abrams believes the drone might have been hacked by an outside party and deliberately flown into human traffic. "We will be conducting a full investigation of what happened," he told reporters. "But it looks as though someone has hacked into our system."

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Activists want "milk moonshine" legalized.     Photo: Getty Images

Raw Milk Movement Gains Traction

But health officials consider ban

The milk you buy at the store does not come straight from the cow—the utter-to-bucket method is long gone. Your milk must be pasteurized, or heated to kill bacteria, before it can be legally sold to you. But across America, people are sipping raw, unpasteurized milk, purchased on the black market, and food activists and other supporters are fighting to legalize it, despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the risk of illnesses among children and adults who drink it.

In fact, the CDC estimates that 1 to 3 percent of Americans are drinking raw milk—even if it is illegal for dairy farmers to sell and transport their product across state lines. A gallon of the black or "gray" market goods can go for $12, often sold through buyer's clubs or local coops. 

So far this legislative session, 40 bills have been introduced in 23 state capitols, all seeking to legalize unpasteurized milk within state borders, the Washington Post reports. 

"The government is not listening to what consumers are asking for," farmer Fallon Morell told the Post. "People are sick and tired of industrialized food."

Health concerns remain a topic of debate. Officials found that in a dozen cases, pathogens from drinking unpasteurized milk can lead to kidney failure, with paralysis occurring in at least two. 

The Post article continues: 

"The CDC, which analyzed more than a decade of outbreak data, said the chance of getting sick as part of an outbreak caused by raw milk is 150 times greater than from pasteurized milk. The agency reported that 796 people in 24 states had become sick after consuming raw milk between 2006 and 2011, the latest years for which complete data are available."

Despite warnings from health officials, activists stand by the belief that pasteurization may kill not only bacteria, but also enzymes and other properties that can cure allergies and asthma. 

Since the FDA's crackdown on Amish farms in Pennsylvania selling raw milk back in 2010, nonprofits such as the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Washington, D.C.-based Weston A. Price Foundation have been spearheading the raw-milk legalization movement. Protesters went so far as to drink raw milk in front of the U.S. Capitol.

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The 1,000-kilogram croc was hunting the waters of Lake Victoria and recently killed a local fisherman.     Photo: Courtesy of Nairaland Forum

One-Ton Crocodile Captured

Beast reportedly ate six humans

An estimated 80-year-old crocodile weighing in at roughly 2,200 pounds was caught in Uganda last month. The Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) was able to capture and relocate the man-eating crocodile using meat on a stick.

"Residents appealed to UWA to hunt the crocodile following the death of a resident," explained a UWA official after catching the croc near the small shore town of Kakira on Lake Victoria. Using just a slab of meat on a hook, UWA officials were able secure and move the crocodile to Murchison Falls National Park in Western Uganda.

The crocodile had reportedly been terrorizing the small village of Kakira and is believed to have eaten at least six people. Fisherman were too afraid to enter the lake and demanded action from the wildlife authority.

The Ugandan crocodile is just 75 kilograms smaller than the largest crocodile ever caught, a 21-foot-long, 2,369-pound beast captured in the Philippines.

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Lunar horizon glow from the Clementine spacecraft.     Photo: NASA

Space Craft to Collect Moon Dust

NASA investigating strange glow

NASA's ground crew maneuvered the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) just two miles above the Apennine Mountains on the bright side of the moon this weekend to collect particles from the mysterious "horizon glow." Apollo 17 astronauts first spotted the lunar horizon glow just before sunrise during their 1972 mission, but it went unexplained.

Two weeks before LADEE's mission expires and ground controllers set an impact trajectory for the dark side of the moon (planned for April 21), NASA scientists sent LADEE to debunk the crystal smog–like glow.

LADEE's star tracker plays the role of Apollo astronaut this time, angled toward the moon's horizon to replicate what they saw—or what they think they saw. Here's their best guess: The sun's ultraviolet rays electrically charge lunar dust particles (LADEE says neon, magnesium, and aluminum), which mass into a cloud just above the moon's surface and catch the morning's first light.

The mission is somewhat of a shot in the dark with NASA scrap metal. "The moon's gravity field is so lumpy and the terrain is so highly variable with crater ridges and valleys that frequent maneuvers are required or the LADEE spacecraft will impact the moon's surface," LADEE project manager Butler Hine told NASA. "Even if we perform all maneuvers perfectly, there's still a chance LADEE could impact the moon sometime before April 21."

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If a new Food and Drug Administration regulation passes, cows might not get their happy hours.     Photo: ChristiLaLiberte/Thinkstock

FDA: No More Wet Hops for Cows

New regs could jack up beer bill

A long-standing relationship between farmers and brewers might be spent.

Rather than pay to dispose of tons of wet hops, brewers often offer spent grains to farmers for use in cow feed. However, the Food and Drug Administration recently proposed regulations that would make this process more expensive by requiring stricter audits, pathogen testing, hops drying, and packaging.

"I don't know what we'd do if a truck weren't able to take it to a farm," said Ben Chambers, quality manager for Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery, in an interview with Politico. "It would probably end up in a landfill."

Larger breweries would need to spend millions of dollars adapting hops disposal processes to meet the standards. The Brewers Association, which represents 2,000 U.S. breweries and many more home brewers, estimates that 80 percent of its members donate spent grains to farmers.

Part of the Obama administration's 2011 food safety reforms, the regulations are meant to protect cattle and consumers, but Chris Thorne, vice president of communications for the Beer Institute, insists that hops donation is already safe.

Apart from using food-grade ingredients, brewers kill lingering bacteria by boiling everything involved.

"This is a practice that's been going on for centuries without any incident or risk to human health," Thorne said.

Although cows' happy hours are under threat, beer lovers will still be able to enjoy a bottle or five if the reforms pass—at a cost. Beef, milk, and alcohol prices are all expected to rise as cattle's spirits deflate.

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