Google poised to unveil new Pixel phones, other services
By The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 9
NEW YORK (AP) — Google is expected to introduce two new smartphones Tuesday, part of its continuing push to embed its digital services and Android software more deeply into peoples’ lives.
The new Pixel-branded phones will anchor a product event Tuesday in New York. Google launched its line of high-end phones two years ago to better compete against Apple, Samsung and other device makers. That includes many that rely on free software and apps such as the free Android operating system, which powers most of the world’s mobile devices, as well as Google’s search engine, Google Maps and YouTube.
Google is also likely to roll out several other gadgets, including new version of its “smart” Home speaker, a rumored tablet with a detachable keyboard and an update to its Chromecast streaming device, based on media leaks.
The latest Pixel phones are likely to attract the most attention, even though the first two generations have so far barely made a dent in the market. Google has sold an estimated 7 million Pixels over the past two years, almost imperceptible next to the 3.6 billion phones shipped during that time, according to the research firm International Data Corp.
Google doesn’t disclose its phone shipments, unlike Apple, which has sold about 388 million iPhones since the first Pixel came out in October 2016.
“If you have a Google tattoo on you, then these are the phones for you,” IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said of the Pixel’s limited appeal so far.
Google has been somewhat restrained in its distribution and marketing the Pixel phone, Llamas said, because it doesn’t want to alienate Samsung and hundreds of other device makers who feature Android in their own phones. Because Android highlights Google services, it’s key to Google’s business of selling ads through its search engine and other mobile apps.
The iPhone also features Google’s search engine, but Google may be paying Apple as much as $9 billion annually for that privilege, based on the estimates of Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall.
The new Pixel phones are expected to follow the trend of expanding the phone screen nearly to the edges of the device. Apple, for instance, just released its biggest iPhone yet, the XS Max, which sells for as much as $1,450. Google hasn’t yet discussed prices for its Pixel phones.
Analysts are also expecting Google to add higher resolution and more cameras to the Pixel, whose first two generations attracted rave reviews for its high-quality pictures.
Breast cancer survivors, who lose muscle mass, can benefit from strength training, studies suggest
October 9, 2018
Professor, Exercise Sciences, Florida State University
Assistant Professor, exercise science and physiology, Roanoke College
Lynn Panton’s doctoral student Ashley Artese received funding from the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association for her dissertation work with breast cancer survivors.
Ashley Artese received funding from The American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength Conditioning Association for her dissertation.
Florida State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Breast cancer research has resulted in treatment that has greatly improved survival rates. As a result, there are 3.1 million breast cancer survivors alive in the United States today. The five-year survival rate is about 90 percent. This is great news.
But, survivors are still left to struggle with many adverse side effects from the disease and cancer treatments, which include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal suppression drugs that are used to suppress hormones that may have fueled the breast cancer.
Particularly worrisome side effects are accelerated losses in bone mineral density and muscle mass – with gains in fat mass. These changes can lead to osteoporosis and fractures, as well as lower strength, decreases in physical function, and becoming overweight and obese, which can lead to poorer survival rates.
These side effects can ultimately reduce overall quality of life and increase the risk for chronic disease and disability in breast cancer survivors.
Over the last 10 years, our laboratory has been evaluating the effects of exercise interventions, specifically resistance-type exercise on muscle mass, fat mass, bone mineral density, strength, physical function and quality of life in breast cancer survivors.
Survivors, already tough, get tougher and stronger
One of our first studies found that breast cancer survivors had lower strength, upper-body bone mineral density and physical function compared to women matched for age and weight who had not had cancer. Many of the breast cancer survivors had limited their activity after breast surgery, especially in the upper body, and were never advised to increase upper-body strength after the surgery site or sites had healed.
In our three-month and six-month intervention studies using resistance machines for both the upper body and lower body, we found about a 25 percent improvement in both upper and lower body strength. Physical function and quality of life also improved, with no adverse effects on lymphedema, or swelling that can occur from damage to the lymph nodes, with either the low- or high-intensity resistance training. Even the women who participated in high-intensity resistance training tolerated it well and experienced the added benefit of increasing muscle mass in both the upper and lower body after the three months of training.
In these two studies, women performed three or six months of resistance training on two nonconsecutive days each week. In the studies, the participants performed two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. The exercises included chest press, biceps curl, triceps press down, overhead press, seated row, leg press, leg extension, leg curls, abdominal crunches and lower back hyper-extensions. The amount of weight was increased as the women were able to achieve 10 to 12 repetitions on all sets.
Although we did not find increases in bone mineral density in our six-month training study, the women did not experience any decreases in these measures over the training period. Bone mineral density has been shown to decrease by 1 to 2 percent each year after menopause, and the losses may be higher in the first few years of menopause in healthy women. Therefore, being able to maintain bone mineral density in breast cancer survivors is a positive outcome, especially in the upper body, which is more susceptible to losses due to cancer treatment and disuse.
There are a limited number of studies that have evaluated resistance training on bone mineral density in survivors. Of those studies, only maintenance in bone mineral density has been found.
In studies with healthy premenopausal women, women have been able to achieve an increase in bone mineral density with resistance training. The benefits are best when resistance training is combined with high-impact activities, such as jumping, hopping and plyometrics. Plyometrics are exercises that require one to jump down and jump up in one continuous movement. It involves repeated rapid stretching and contracting of the muscles.
In postmenopausal women and in some breast cancer survivors, most increases in bone mineral density are seen when resistance training is combined with medications that help to build bone.
More benefits on horizon with greater choices of exercise
In our third intervention study, we incorporated high-impact exercises that provided a variety of different loading patterns, since unusual loading patterns have been found to be more beneficial for improving bone mineral density than exercises that provide consistent strain, like that of resistance training.
This study incorporated a six-month circuit of functional resistance training exercises that combined different high-impact exercises to provide women with unusual loading patterns. Exercises included lunges, squats, jumping jacks, burpees, push-ups, dumbell rows, mountain climbers, step-ups, biceps curls, triceps extensions, running in place, high knee lifts and planks. The women progressed to more high-impact versions of these exercises through the six months. The exercise sessions lasted 45 minutes and were completed twice a week.
In this intervention, we used a group exercise format, as many breast cancer survivors report that they prefer to exercise with one other person or in a group setting compared to exercising alone.
We compared this functional impact training program to a program of yin yoga, or a slower-paced yoga in which postures are held for longer periods, that consisted of non-weight-bearing stretching and relaxation postures. We again evaluated the effects on body composition, bone mineral density, strength, physical function and quality of life over the six-month period.
We are currently analyzing the data for this project, but so far, the results look promising. Both the functional impact training and the yin yoga were effective in improving lower-body strength, physical function and quality of life. The functional impact training had the added benefit of improving upper-body strength, which is very important in the breast cancer population. Unfortunately, the functional impact training program was not effective in improving body composition or bone mineral density.
These findings along with previous research highlight how important it is for health care providers to make sure that their patients get involved with some type of exercise that can improve body composition, strength, physical function and ultimately quality of life. There are a number of exercises and programs available for women to choose from. For women who may want to start off with yoga and then progress to more moderate to vigorous activity as they feel better, our studies provide evidence that benefits can be obtained safely from yin yoga and low intensity resistance training.
The studies also suggest that women can achieve greater benefits with higher-intensity resistance training and high-intensity functional training that incorporates intervals of strength and aerobic exercises.
Opinion: PayPal, Tech Companies Have the Right to Free Association
By Michael McGrady
Alex Jones, the controversial right-wing conspiracy theorist, filed a lawsuit on behalf of his holdings company against PayPal. Jones’ suit is a result of PayPal’s business decision to cancel merchant accounts for his Infowars web store.
PayPal’s decision, according to a corporate statement, was a response to “hate and discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions,” perpetrated by Jones and his media properties.
Simply put, PayPal is establishing an institutional standard within its corporate culture and core values in which it seeks to align. Jones, among other figures who have been deplatformed on the grounds of discriminatory political messaging, thus face a multifaceted predicament.
According to the suit brought by Jones and his counsel, PayPal’s actions, in this case, are a violation of the First Amendment. Not to mention, the suit claims discrimination under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, unfair business practices, monopolization of a particular market segment, and failure to act in good faith on the part of PayPal and the company’s working relationship with Jones and his properties.
The sentiment that eludes the suit, based on a sampling of legal experts, is a recognition of PayPal’s right to regulate usage of its platform.
If you apply the principal protections of the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, under settled federal positive law, PayPal, as an interactive computer service broadly defined under this statute, can pursue “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” Berin Szoka of TechFreedom, a tech policy think tank, believes that this standard merits dismissal of this case.
“I’ve read the complaint,” he said. “This will be tossed out on 230 grounds easily.”
Szoka also added that this case could be used as a means, among others, to lobby the right-wing Congress to repeal or amend the current version of Section 230.
This lawsuit also coincides with the Trump administration’s position on potentially using antitrust measures as a means to regulate tech companies. For one, Justice Department officials announced in September that tech companies could violate users’ First Amendment rights for perceived bias against politically conservative viewpoints. Jones ultimately claims this in his suit.
However, CDA Section 230 maintains no standard of required neutrality.
Elliot Harmon of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote: “Online platforms are within their First Amendment rights to moderate their online platforms however they like, and they’re additionally shielded by Section 230 for many types of liability for their users’ speech. It’s not one or the other. It’s both.”
Under this standard, PayPal has the license to cease doing business with Jones. To that point, the claims that tech companies taking stances against particular political messages violates an individual’s constitutional rights to free expression directly conflicts with traditional conceptions of the First Amendment. The right to free speech, free practice of faith, a free press and freedom of association are rights established to protect citizens from government censorship and oppression. In no capacity is an individual like Jones facing government oppression if his company’s merchant accounts on PayPal are closed.
PayPal could have taken a less controversial route as Twitter attempted to do; however, the company remains well within its rights. Free-market theory promotes free association between private individuals and companies. Bringing a case such as this to the courts could potentially present an environment for corporations also to lose their freedom of expression. In this case, PayPal is exercising its right to free association and free speech.
Moreover, since PayPal maintains the intellectual ownership of the platform in question, it ultimately has the final say on who can and cannot use it. Attempting to force the government’s hand in scenarios such as these is counterintuitive and detracts from the concerns of actual government censorship and real violations of free expression.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Michael McGrady, a political consultant, is executive director of McGrady Policy Research and an internationally published libertarian journalist. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: AARP Ads Against Drug Makers Driven by Self-Serving Profit Motive
By Matthew Kandrach
Recent polling suggests that health care is still very much at the forefront of voters’ minds as we head into the homestretch before the midterm elections. For seniors and their families, the cost and affordability of prescription medications remains a chief concern.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Washington’s elite and the special interests they serve have coalesced around a predictable set of messages aimed more at scaring seniors than finding actionable solutions to help them. It’s a cynical ploy, and one that seniors and voters should not mistake for anything but a profit-driven enterprise.
Case in point, a new six-figure ad campaign from Patients for Affordable Drugs Now and AARP that calls on seniors to push back against cartoonish caricatures of “big pharma.” What’s the policy? How does this message benefit seniors? A casual, viewer would be hard pressed to answer those questions amid the dramatic music, flying money and photo-shopped cigars.
Pulling back the curtain reveals this push for what it is; an attempt by the insurance industry to safeguard its profits to the detriment of America’s seniors. The strong desire by the insurance industry to obfuscate and trick seniors to act against their own self-interest cannot be disentangled from these aggressive marketing tactics from AARP and Patients for Affordable Drugs Now. With undeniable ties to the insurance industry, seniors should take this latest advocacy push with a grain of salt.
Through recent litigation AARP was exposed as having made nearly 52 percent of its total operating revenue off commissions for new or renewed policies with its insurance partners. This kind of skimming by AARP was also brought to light in a class action lawsuit in which seniors alleged the “non-profit” AARP, along with its business partner UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, artificially inflated Medicare supplemental health insurance charges for profit. The result? Senior citizens lost millions of dollars.
Washington has known this secret for years. In a 2011 investigative report by Reps. Wally Herger, R-California, and Dave Reichert, R-Washington, titled “Behind the Veil: The AARP America Doesn’t Know,” the authors found an organization run amok and lacking basic scrutiny. Not much has changed in the intervening years. AARP still runs a for-profit insurance arm that subsequently funnels money back into AARP for advocacy campaigns like the one in question. These conflicts of interest are, however, masked by an image of “senior empowerment,” which falls apart when you simply follow the money.
Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, on the other hand, is staffed by many former Obama administration officials responsible for the insurance company sweetheart deals present in the Affordable Care Act, which AARP strongly supported in 2010 over the overwhelming objections of its members.
While it’s easy for bad actors in our health care system to hide behind meaningless platitudes and scare tactics, a closer look reveals little substance to their claims. Without the right incentives in place, carefully balanced marketplaces get corrupted, creating perverse incentives and price distortions that ultimately cost consumers more.
Health care will be a critical issue come November, especially for seniors, but we should turn a skeptical eye toward the messages with a clear industry bent coming from the Washington swamp. Seniors should not be sold snake oil and told it is medicine. Lawmakers, to that end, should also carefully review the facts before taking AARP and Patients for Affordable Drugs Now at their word. Putting patients before profits will always result in pushback from special interests, but this is the vital work that we sent our representatives to Washington to do.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Matthew Kandrach is president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a free-market oriented consumer advocacy organization. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Reprieve for Rosenstein: Trump says he’s not firing official
By ERIC TUCKER and JONATHAN LEMIRE
Tuesday, October 9
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared a reprieve Monday for Rod Rosenstein, saying he has no plans to fire his deputy attorney general whose future has been the source of intense speculation for two weeks.
“I’m not making any changes,” Trump told reporters as he returned to the White House after traveling with Rosenstein to an international police chiefs’ conference in Florida. “We just had a very nice talk. We actually get along.”
The flight provided an opportunity for their most extensive conversation since news reports last month that Rosenstein had discussed the possibilities in early 2017 of secretly recording Trump to expose chaos in the White House and invoking constitutional provisions to have him removed from office.
Those reports triggered an avalanche of speculation about the future of Rosenstein — and also the special counsel’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. The deputy attorney general appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to his special counsel post and closely oversees his work.
Trump said earlier in the day that he had “a very good relationship” with Rosenstein and was eager to speak with him aboard Air Force One on the flight to Florida. They did talk, for about 45 minutes, but not alone, a White House spokesman said. The subjects: violent crime in Chicago, support for local law enforcement, border security, the conference they were flying to and “general DOJ business,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said without elaboration.
“I didn’t know Rod before, but I’ve gotten to know him,” Trump said at the White House earlier.
The Justice Department issued statements meant to deny the reporting, saying Rosenstein never pursued or authorized recording the president and did not believe there was a basis for invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which would involve the Cabinet and vice president agreeing to remove him.
And the remark about secretly recording the president was meant sarcastically, according to a statement the department issued from someone who it said was in the room.
Even so, Rosenstein told White House officials that he was willing to resign and arrived at the White House a week and a half ago with the expectation that he would be fired. He met in person with White House chief of staff John Kelly and spoke by phone with Trump during a tumultuous day that ended with him still in his job.
Rosenstein and Trump had been expected to meet at the White House days later, but that meeting was put off so that the president could focus on the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump had previously said that he would prefer not to fire the Justice Department’s No. 2 official and that Rosenstein had told him he did not say the remarks attributed to him. Advisers had also cautioned Trump against doing anything dramatic in the weeks before the midterm elections next month.
Kelly was present for Monday’s conversation between Rosenstein and Trump, the White House said, as was Rosenstein’s top deputy at the Justice Department, Ed O’Callaghan.
The speculation over Rosenstein’s future concerned Democrats, who feared that a dismissal could lead to Trump curtailing Mueller’s probe. Although Trump has at times criticized his deputy attorney general, he has reserved his sharpest verbal attacks for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017 because of his own earlier involvement with the Trump campaign.
Both men will likely see their futures re-evaluated after the elections, Trump advisers have said.
Besides the meeting with Trump, Rosenstein has also agreed to a private meeting with House Republicans who want to question him about his reported statements on the president.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP and Lemire at http://twitter.com/JonLemire