TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: January 2

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Mario Cuomo Dies at 82

Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor whose fiery, eloquent advocacy of liberal policies made him a key figurehead in the Democratic Party for years, died Thursday at age 82. He died just hours after his son was inaugurated to a second term as governor

Medicine Is About to Get Personal

How can Americans get better health care for less money? There’s a quiet experiment going on among primary-care physicians, and the results are intriguing

Weather Hampers AirAsia Recovery

Most families remain in grieving limbo as officials say it may take another week for the wreckage to be found

LeBron James Out With Injuries

The Cleveland Cavaliers said on Thursday that LeBron James will miss two weeks after he was diagnosed with a left knee strain and a lower back strain. James, who turned 30 earlier this week, had missed Cleveland’s last two games

Shanghai Seeks Answers After the New Year’s Eve Disaster

The New Year’s Eve stampede in Shanghai that killed 36 has prompted questions about crowd control in China, as the world’s most populous nation enters a holiday season characterized by massive gatherings

Most Types of Cancer Just ‘Bad Luck,’ Researchers Say

Researchers have found that bad luck plays a major role in determining most types of cancer, rather than genetics or risky lifestyle choices like smoking. In fact, two-thirds of cancers could be explained as biological misfortune

Charred Greek Ferry Towed to Italy Overnight

The charred wreck of a Greek ferry has reached an Italian port after an overnight tow across choppy Adriatic seas, and authorities will soon board it to search for any more bodies from the blaze that killed at least 11 people

Kanye and Sir Paul Team Up on ‘Only One’

Kanye West revealed a collaboration between himself on vocals and legendary Beatle Sir Paul McCartney on the keyboard just in time for the New Year. The track appears to be written from the perspective of Kanye’s late mother Donda

Florida Man Decapitates Mother

A Florida man is charged with first-degree murder after his mother was found decapitated outside their home on New Year’s Eve. Mario Gomez called 911 on Wednesday evening and told dispatchers that his brother Christian had killed their mother and cut off her head

Minimum-Wage Increases Go Into Effect Across the Country

Roughly 3.1 million workers across the United States woke up to a little New Year’s Day present on Jan. 1, when increases in the minimum wage took effect in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Hikes in more states are set to take effect later in the year

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Ties the Knot

The Walk star is officially off the market, having confirmed to PEOPLE that he married his girlfriend Tasha McCauley, the CEO of a robotics company, in a private ceremony at home on Dec. 20. Gordon-Levitt has been mostly mum about the relationship in public

Economist Piketty Declines Big French Award

Economist Thomas Piketty, who wrote Capital in the 21st Century, declined a nomination for France’s Legion of Honor award on Thursday, saying, “I refuse this nomination because I do not think it is the government’s role to decide who is honorable”

 

TIME medicine

Former U.S. Senator to Sell Pot Products

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel CEO pot company
Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel in 2008. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Former Sen. Mike Gravel is getting into the marijuana business

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel is the new CEO of a marijuana-infused edible company called KUSH, a Cannabis Sativa, Inc. subsidiary.

“I’m anxious to assist in bringing this important resource to a broader market in a serious and credible way,” Gravel said in a statement.

According to the company, KUSH will focus on marketing and development for cannabis products for both recreational and medicinal use. This includes a lozenge known as the “Kubby.”

Gravel, who served two senate terms from 1969 to 1981, adamantly opposed the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance signed into law in 1970 by Richard Nixon. He won’t be the only politician getting into the ganja game either. Huffington Post reports that former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is the CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc.

TIME medicine

Maryland Board Revokes Doctor’s Medical License for Involvement in Assisted Suicides

Dr. Lawrence Egbert no longer has his medical license

The Maryland Board of Physicians revoked the medical license of Dr. Lawrence Egbert, a physician well-known for his involvement in assisted suicide, who revealed that he has been present in hundreds of suicides.

This is not the first time Egbert has come under legal scrutiny for his work. The death with dignity advocate formerly led a group called the Final Exit Network, which says it does not actually help individuals commit suicide but provides guidance and information and companionship during the process.

Egbert’s medical license was revoked on Tuesday, ABC News reports, due to his presence in six specific suicides of Maryland residents. Neither doctor-assisted suicide nor death with dignity for terminally ill patients is legal in the state.

Egbert has publicly confirmed that he has been present in many suicides where the device used to end the patients life is often a hood that’s placed over the individual’s head and filled with helium. He told the Washington Post in 2012, “There are some people who like to suffer — that there is a religious gain in suffering. I don’t believe that.”

The Maryland Board of Physicians says Egbert was present during the suicides, rehearsals and held the patients’ hands during the process.

TIME medicine

The Surest Way to Cure Your Hangover

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Getty Images

The holidays. A new year. There’s a lot to celebrate, so don’t ruin it with a hangover or a food coma. Here's how to avoid both

A night of too much booze often comes with a side of queasiness and a pounding headache. We’ve all heard rumors about what helps, from hot sauce to burnt toast to more alcohol, but here’s what doctors say really works as a morning-after remedy.

First, it’s important to recognize what your hungover body is trying to tell you. Alcohol makes you urinate more, and that depletes your body of much-needed fluids. At the same time, impurities in the fermenting alcohol essentially flood your body with toxins, causing those painful side effects.

It’s not always easy in practice, but the best way to avoid that nasty hangover in the first place is to alternate your alcoholic drinks with water.

Too late for that? On the morning after, the very best way to ease your stomach is to drink water. Water will rehydrate you, dilute the toxins that have built up overnight and flush them out.

Eating is also key, whether you want to fight or prevent a hangover. Filling your stomach before you drink, especially with heavier, greasier foods, can line the stomach and slow down the absorption of alcohol. And noshing after a night out, even if it’s last thing you feel like doing, can replenish your body with nutrients so it starts to function better.

READ MORE Should You Eat Whatever You Want For The Holidays?

If you remember, try taking two aspirin before going to bed, and another couple when you wake up. That can ease some of the head pounding that comes from the drop in blood alcohol and being dehydrated from all that drinking.

As for overeating, it’s sometimes inevitable, especially at holiday feasts. Try to cut down on your portions, or at least eat more slowly. That can help your brain and body stay in sync and work together to determine when you’re no longer hungry. Extra points if you load up on high-fiber foods like whole grains, vegetables and nuts; they’ll make you evacuate your bowels more frequently and make you feel less uncomfortable. Just remember not to bring it up during one of those big meals.

TIME health

How the First Successful Kidney Transplant Happened

Dr. Niraj Desai (L) places a kidney into
Dr. Niraj Desai (L) places a kidney into a recipient patient during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital June 26, 2012 in Baltimore Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

Tuesday marks 60 years since the first successful kidney transplant

When Richard Herrick was only 23, he had diagnosed kidney disease and a bleak prognosis for the rest of his life. As TIME summed it up, “Only a surgical miracle could give him hope of lasting relief and near-normal life.”

At the time, organ transplants were rare and temporary. They were meant to help the individual until their own kidney could recover, and the body typically rejected them. But Herrick had an identical twin brother, Ronald, and a courageous medical team at what is now Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who decided to take the risk and transplant Richard with one of Ronald’s kidneys. The surgery took about 5 hours, on Dec. 23, 1954 — exactly 60 years ago.

It worked, and Richard lived for eight more years. One of the lead surgeons, Dr. John Murray, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in organ transplantation.

Today, kidney donors don’t have to be related to the patient, they don’t even have to be alive. According to the National Kidney Foundation, in 2013, 16,896 kidney transplants took place in the U.S., and 11,163 were from deceased donors and 5,733 from living donors.

Read how TIME covered Richard Herrick’s kidney transplant in Jan. 1955: Twin Transplant

TIME medicine

Here’s What Experts Say About the Advice on Dr. Oz and The Doctors

Experts evaluated the advice given on medical talk shows, and the results were surprising

Many Americans get their health advice not from their doctor, but from daytime television. But how good are those recommendations?

Reporting in the BMJ, Canadian researchers analyzed two medical TV talk shows—The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors—and found that only 46% of the recommendations on The Dr. Oz Show and 63% on The Doctors were supported by evidence. 15% of advice given on Oz and 14% of advice on The Doctors contradicted the available published evidence in journals.

“The bottom line message is for people to be really skeptical about the recommendations made on these medical television shows,” says study co-author Christina Korowynk, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta. “They should look for more balanced information to be presented, and understand that they need all of that information in order to make an informed decision.”

They measured 80 major recommendations made on the two shows from January to May 2013 against evidence gleaned from published studies in medical databases. They looked at both consistency—how much the conclusion was supported by the studies—and believability, which included the quality, number and type of study.

On average, Korownyk’s group found that both shows mentioned how the advice might specifically help a person in only about 40% of the recommendations, and they mentioned the amount of benefit, another aspect of useful health advice, in less than 20% of recommendations. (Harms were mentioned in less than 10% of the recommendations, and costs in less than 15%). She says that without such information on how much benefit and harm a particular recommendation might have, it’s hard for people to make informed choices about whether the advice is right for them.

Korownyk and her colleagues aren’t the first to cast doubt on the quality of advice given on the shows. In June a Senate subcommittee heard testimony from Oz on false advertising of weight loss claims and Sen. Claire McCaskill queried the doctor about the statements he made on the show. “I do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show,” he said at the hearing. “We have to simplify complicated information. We have to make the material seem interesting and focus on the ‘wow’ factor.”

Representatives for The Doctors said in a written statement to TIME: “The Doctors was never contacted about the study or the article. Our producers and doctors all do their due diligence to make sure information provided on the show is sound, relevant and timely—often debunking the myriad of medical myths that abound in the media and across the internet.”

Members of The Dr. Oz Show wrote: “The Dr. Oz Show has always endeavored to challenge the so-called conventional wisdom, reveal multiple points of view and question the status quo. The observation that some of the topics discussed on the show may differ from popular opinion or various academic analyses affirms that we are furthering a constructive dialogue about health and wellness.”

Korownyk acknowledges that the exact impact of television health advice isn’t clear, since the study didn’t investigate how many of the recommendations people adopted and whether they had an effect on their health. But the advice is clearly reaching people. “What we’d love to see is a process on these shows where the evidence is reviewed in a critical manner, and presented in a balanced, objective way so the audience can understand,” she says. “As physicians, we are moving toward that, and we’d love to see the broader television personalities doing the same sort of thing.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Independent and third party candidates could break D.C. gridlock — if they can get to Washington.

By Tom Squitieri in the Hill

2. A new software project has surgeons keeping score as a way to improve performance and save lives.

By James Somers in Medium

3. The New American Workforce: In Miami, local business are helping legal immigrants take the final steps to citizenship.

By Wendy Kallergis in Miami Herald

4. Policies exist to avoid the worst results of head injuries in sports. We must follow them to save athletes’ lives.

By Christine Baugh in the Chronicle of Higher Education

5. Sal Khan: Use portfolios instead of transcripts to reflect student achievement.

By Gregory Ferenstein at VentureBeat

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Infectious Disease

Whooping Cough Outbreak Strikes Undervaccinated Michigan County

Grand Traverse County has the state’s highest rates of parents choosing not have their children vaccinated

A major outbreak of whooping cough has struck a Michigan area where many people opted out of vaccinations against the disease.

At a single school in Grand Traverse County, which has the state’s highest rates of parents choosing not have their children vaccinated, there have been 151 confirmed and probable cases of whooping cough, reports local news outlet MLive.com.

“Nobody likes to be the person who says, ‘I told you so,’ but what’s unfolding now is exactly the scenario feared by those worried about the region’s low immunization numbers,” Bradley Goodwin, the president of the Grand Traverse County Medical Society, said.

Cases of whooping cough have been reported at more than 14 school buildings in the area, which has also reported several cases of the highly contagious measles.

Read more at MLive.com

TIME medicine

This New Kind of Stem Cell May Revolutionize How We Treat Diseases

Scientists have created a new type of stem cell that could speed treatments for diseases and make them safer

Ever since Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka found a way to treat skin cells with four genes and reprogram them back to their embryonic state, scientists have been buzzing over the promise of stem cell therapies. Stem cells can be coaxed to become any of the body’s cell types, so they could potentially replace diseased or missing cells in conditions such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s. And Yamanaka’s method also meant that these cells could be made from patients themselves, so they wouldn’t trigger dangerous immune rejections.

Now scientists led by Dr. Andras Nagy at Mount Sinai Hospital Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto report an exciting new advance that could push stem cells even closer to the clinic. In a series of papers in the journals Nature and Nature Communications, the group describes a new class of stem cell, which they called F class, that they generated in the lab.

The F class cells, says Nagy, have a few advantages over the Yamanaka-generated induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. While the iPS cells are created by using viruses to introduce four genes that reprogram the cells, Nagy’s team relied on a technique they developed several years ago using transposons—small pieces of DNA that can insert themselves into different parts of a genome. Unlike viruses, these transposons can be popped out of the genome if they’re no longer needed, and they don’t carry the potential risk of viral infection.

MORE Stem-Cell Research: The Quest Resumes

Nagy’s team found that the transposons were much more reliable vehicles for delivering the reprogramming genes exactly where they were needed to efficiently turn the clock back on the skin cells. What’s more, they could use the common antibiotic doxycycline to turn the four genes on and off; adding doxycycline to the cell culture would trigger the transposons to activate, thus turning on the genes, while removing the antibiotic would turn them off.

In this way, says Nagy, he was able to pump up the efficiency of the reprogramming process. Using the Yamanaka method, it was hit-or-miss whether the viruses would find their proper place in a cell’s genome, and more uncertainty over how effectively it could direct the cell to activate the four reprogramming genes. “F class cells are much more similar [in the culture dish], like monozygotic twins while iPS cells are more like brothers and sisters,” he says.

That consistency is a potential advantage of the transposon method, since any stem cell-based treatment would require a robust population of stem cells which can then be treated with the proper compounds to develop into insulin-making pancreatic cells to treat diabetes, or new nerve cells to replace dying ones in Alzheimer’s, or fresh heart muscle to substitute for scarred tissue after a heart attack.

MORE Stem Cell Miracle? New Therapies May Cure Chronic Conditions like Alzheimer’s

Nagy’s team also described, with the most detail to date, exactly how mature cells like skin cells perform the ultimate molecular feat and become forever young again when exposed to the four genes. They analyzed the changes in the cells’ DNA, the proteins they made, and more. “It’s similar to high definition TV,” he says. “We see things much better with much more detail. We expect that having that high resolution characterization will allow us to better understand what is happening during this process at the molecular level. And obviously that better understanding is going to affect what we can do with these cells to make them better, safer and more efficient in cell-based treatments in the future.”

That may be years away yet, especially since some experts say that transposons may pose their own risk of wreaking DNA havoc on a cell’s genome. But having another type of stem cell that could potentially churn out healthy cells and tissues to replaced diseased ones is a welcome development.

TIME health

Until 2014, This Man Was TIME’s Only Medical Person of the Year

1996: Dr. David Ho TIME

For 2014, the Ebola Fighters have been selected. In 1996, the Man of the Year was AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho

“Some ages are defined by their epidemics,” wrote Philip Elmer-De Witt in TIME’s 1996 Man of the Year issue. The 14th century was the time of the bubonic plague. The 16th brought smallpox to the new world. In the early 20th century, influenza rampaged. “Today,” he wrote back then, “we live in the shadow of AIDS–the terrifyingly modern epidemic that travels by jet and zeros in on the body’s own disease-fighting immune system.”

The idea that a virus or bacterium can change the world — and that the men and women who fight them can too — is no less true now than it was then. On Wednesday, TIME announced that the Ebola Fighters have been named the Person of the Year for 2014.

As TIME’s Editor Nancy Gibbs notes, this year’s Ebola outbreak has brought forward heroes while raising the question of how the world can turn their personal sacrifices into new ways to fight the virus, to respond to epidemics and to care for those who need it most.

And though AIDS and Ebola remain two of the most frightening diseases on earth, looking back at 1996’s Man of the Year cover story can bring at least a little hope that those questions stand a chance of being answered. (There were theoretical medical researchers included in the 1960 Men of the Year issue, honoring U.S. scientists, but their work as doctors was not the focus of the story; Dr. Ho is the only Man of the Year prior to 2014 selected specifically for his work with a disease.) At the time, AIDS was a death sentence — but Ho, by successfully lowering the virus count in patients who received a combination of new and powerful drugs when they’d only just been infected, helped change the way the medical community looked at HIV and AIDS.

Nearly two decades later, though an AIDS vaccine is still not a reality, progress has been substantial. AIDS researchers have found their answers to many of the questions Ebola fighters face today. Treatment protocols are well established (if not applied equally all over the world). Survival is no longer miraculous. It’s possible to prevent transmission. And, just this winter, TIME took a look at the state of AIDS in San Francisco and found that, against what would have once seemed impossible odds, the city has the elimination of the disease in its sights.

Dr. Ho continues to direct the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center; in 2010, TIME profiled him again and found that he was still pioneering new ways of treating the disease. That tireless work by Ho and his colleagues is one of the reasons AIDS is no longer a defining disease of our time — and if he demonstrates that devotion and dedication can make a difference, that’s just one more reason to honor the Ebola fighters.

Read the full story about Dr. David Ho, here in the TIME Vault: Man of the Year, Dr. David Ho

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