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United States' Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women's World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Shiffrin wins another World Cup slalom at Killington

Sunday, November 25

KILLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin made a small mistake halfway through her final run and heard a hush from the crowd below.

Only one thing to do — charge even more.

Shiffrin powered through the fog in Killington on Sunday to win her third straight World Cup slalom race at the venue.

The 23-year-old from Colorado overcame her tiny missteps and got stronger near the finish by the urging of the home crowd. Shiffrin finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 43.25 seconds to edge Petra Vlhova of Slovakia by 0.57 seconds. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter finished third.

After crossing the finish line, Shiffrin needed a moment for everything to sink in. Then, she raised her hands and celebrated with the fans, who helped her know how she was faring on every turn of the course through their cheers or groans.

“I could hear the crowd the whole second run, from the start to the finish,” explained Shiffrin, who’s captured two straight overall World Cup titles. “Sometimes they were getting loud and sometimes quieter. I thought: ‘Uh, oh, I’m not fast enough. I have to push harder!’ I was trying to really push the whole way down the course. The crowd takes me down the mountain and they did today.”

This was World Cup slalom win No. 34 for Shiffrin, tying her with Vreni Schneider for second among women in the discipline. The record of 35 is held by Austria’s Marlies Schild, one of Shiffrin’s childhood favorites. Shiffrin still watches video of the way Schild attacks a course.

“I feel like she’s the greatest slalom skier of this generation because she was the first,” Shiffrin said. “She was the first one to completely pioneer a new kind of style of skiing. Some of her runs, it was like she belonged with the men.

“In my heart, Marlies will always have the record.”

Shiffrin’s 45th overall World Cup win capped off quite a weekend at Killington for her. On Saturday, she was fourth in the giant slalom.

The conditions were less than ideal Sunday, given the fog and the drizzle. That didn’t bother her.

“Every year the weather throws something new at us,” Shiffrin said. “That’s ski racing.”

Shiffrin has been a pillar of consistency in the slalom. Over her last 31 World Cup races in the discipline, she’s been on the podium 29 times, including 25 wins.

“If you asked me 10 years ago if I’d be in this position, I’d say never,” Shiffrin said. “It’s incredible.”

Next up for the women’s circuit will be speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta. Lindsey Vonn had been scheduled to make her season debut, but she hurt her knee in a training run and will skip the races. Vonn has 82 World Cup victories, leaving her five away from breaking the record held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden.

Dear EarthTalk: With the onset of global warming, how likely is it that ski resorts and skiing itself might soon become a thing of the past? — Mandy Billings, Provo, UT

Last winter’s low snow year and unseasonably warm temperatures across much of the American West meant a bad year for business for ski resorts, and also left many of us wondering whether skiing would even be possible in the warmer world we’re getting as we continue to pump out greenhouse gases.

“Our recent modeling suggests that under a high emissions scenario, skiing could be very limited to non-existent in parts of the country by the end of this century, particularly in lower elevations—such as the northeast, Midwest and lower mountains around the West,” says Cameron Wobus, lead author on a 2017 study projecting climate change impacts on skiing across the U.S. “Things look better mid-century, so this dire future for skiing isn’t imminent—and things also look much better under a more aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation scenario, so this future also isn’t inevitable.”

According to Wobus’ research, ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest have the most to fear, with predicted losses of 80 percent or more of the ski season. Ski resorts in the Northeast also won’t fare well as we warm. The relatively good news is that the ski resorts in the intermountain west should face “less severe losses” due to their higher elevations.

The ski resorts themselves are doing what they can to try to reduce and offset their own emissions. To wit, Vail Resorts will power its 15 U.S.-based ski resorts with 100 percent wind energy beginning in 2020, and is well on its way to achieving its ambitious 2030 goal of “zero net emissions, zero waste to landfill and zero operating impact on forests and habitat.” Nearby, Aspen Skiing Company is big on solar, donates six figures annually to local non-profits working on climate mitigation and related issues, and lately has focused on firing up its customer base to encourage climate-friendly voting in Congress. Meanwhile, the list of ski resorts now deriving all of their power from on-site renewables (e.g., Berkshire East, Jiminy Peak, Squaw Valley, Wolf Peak, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge) is growing every year.

Coordinating and facilitating much of this activity is the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), a trade group representing over 300 U.S-based ski area owners and operators. NSAA’s Sustainable Slopes initiative, launched in 2000, provides an overarching framework for ski areas on sustainability and enhanced environmental performance. Its Environmental Charter serves as a blueprint and inspiration for ski resorts looking to green their operations.

Another influential player is Protect Our Winters (POW), a non-profit founded in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones to mobilize the outdoor sports community against climate change. Its “Hot Planet/Cool Athletes” program, in which a professional skier or snowboarder leads an all-school assembly through a 45-minute multimedia presentation detailing the science behind climate change, how it’s affecting snow levels and what we can each do to become part of the solution, has been an especially effective way to get young people fired up about solving the climate crisis. The program has reached some 60,000 students since its inception in 2011.

CONTACTS: “Projected climate change impacts on skiing and snowmobiling: A case study of the United States,”; Protect Our Winters,; NSAA Sustainable Slopes,

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. To donate, visit Send questions to:

Hunters Harvest more than 1,100 Wild Turkeys during Ohio’s Fall Season

Hunters harvested 1,117 wild turkeys during Ohio’s 2018 fall wild turkey season. Ohio’s 2018 fall wild turkey hunting season was open in 70 counties from Oct. 13-Nov. 25. This year, 3 counties were open during the fall turkey season for the first time.

The Conversation

Using your phone on a plane is safe – but for now you still can’t make calls

November 16, 2018


Sven Bilén

Professor of Engineering Design, Electrical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Disclosure statement

Sven Bilén is a member of IEEE P1920.1 – Aerial Communications and Networking Standards working group.


Pennsylvania State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

Over the Thanksgiving travel period an estimated 30 million Americans plan to fly to enjoy turkey and all the trimmings with far-flung family and friends. The huge increase in air travelers and ever more full – and oversold – flights have made air travel more trying. But it has gotten better in one aspect that most of us in the smartphone-addicted public appreciate: Cellphone use is no longer completely forbidden on planes.

We used to have to turn our phones off and store them when we flew commercially, but now can keep them on as long as they are in Airplane Mode. Why? What’s changed? Weren’t planes supposed to fall out of the sky should some forgetful flier leave their phone on? And what really would happen if everyone started yakking away during cross-country flights?

Connecting calls via cell towers

First some basics on how cellphone systems work. When you make or receive a call, your phone looks for the closest cell tower to connect to. Each tower services an area (a “cell”) that may be as large as 50 miles in radius over flat terrain, or smaller than a mile in radius in hilly areas or dense urban zones.

As you move from one cell to another, say on your daily commute, your cellphone call gets handed off from one tower to the next. It requires a fair bit of work on the part of the overall system to make these transitions seem seamless to you. There are also built-in expectations about how often these handoffs should happen (not very), the speed of the user (highway speeds at most), and your altitude (somewhere near the ground).

Cellular use on a plane at cruising altitude breaks all three of these expectations. Simply put, calls in the sky may interfere with the proper functioning of this complex system – particularly if a couple hundred passengers all had their cellular radios on – such that users on the ground are affected.

So, for now, the Federal Communications Commission restricts cellular use on airplanes.

But what’s the risk?

That all sounds like a service issue, not a safety one. What would happen if someone kept their phone’s cellular functions on while enjoying the view at 30,000 feet? Likely, nothing. And that’s a good thing, since even when their use was completely banned, people left them on all the time, whether intentionally or not.

But there is a non-neglible risk that using your phone could interfere with critical systems on the plane.

Although most modern phones no longer do this, GSM (2G) phones were notorious for interfering with other electronic systems. Former owners will recall the “buzz” you heard in your stereo or speakerphone when making a call. Now, imagine this buzz being picked up by a sensitive navigation system. You don’t need to be technically minded to understand that might not be good.

Researchers found that electromagnetic emissions from personal electronic devices can interfere with a plane’s systems. Specifically, those in the 800-900 MHz range can interfere with unshielded cockpit instrumentation. This is a particular issue on older aircraft. Newer planes are designed to deal with the huge amount of electronics the flying public takes onto airplanes.

Airplanes are incredibly complex machines, filled with electronics and critical systems required to perform the modern miracle that is flight. The thing about complex systems is that it’s usually impossible to test how safe they are under every conceivable contingency. Given how many new phones come on the market each year, it would be challenging to test how each and every model might interfere with the systems on each aircraft in the commercial fleet worldwide. So airplane manufacturers work to “harden” the critical systems on their planes to make them less susceptible to interference from electronics.

Switch your phone to Airplane Mode

Cellphones used to be just that, a phone. You used it to call and text people. Arguably, the “phone” is now the least used function — think about the time you spend making calls versus everything else you do with it. So frequent fliers chafed at having to put their phone away for hours.

Although the FCC governs the use of cellular phones on planes, the Federal Aviation Administration governs the use of electronic devices on planes. If a device doesn’t interfere with the aircraft’s communication or navigation systems, it can be used on planes. People were using laptops, cameras, video players, tablets, electronic games and so on, so why not smartphones? After all, this single device now performs the functions of all those others. Hence, the FAA ruled they may be used, but only if the cellular radio was switched off. Enter Airplane Mode.

By adding Airplane Mode, device manufacturers have made our lives easier. When you flip on this feature, it turns off your phone’s cellular radio so you can’t make phone calls or text. It also turns off WiFi and Bluetooth, but both of those can be re-enabled and used on planes.

Airlines continue to innovate. Delta, for example, offers free access to certain messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which work over WiFi. But cellular texting, which needs the cellular radio, is still prohibited.

Of course some people still want to be able to make phone calls while in flight. Sadly for those of us in the flying public who don’t want to sit next to someone loudly blabbing away all the way from New York to LA, this day may come. Airlines are experimenting with “picocells,” which are like mini, low-power cell towers within the plane itself. Since this is the closest “tower” a phone on a plane would find, it would not connect to any towers on the ground, eliminating the FCC’s concerns. Your call would be routed like a VoIP call using the plane’s onboard internet provider system.

As for how to keep the rest of us from erupting like Samuel L. Jackson, “Enough is enough! I’ve had it with these [daggone] cell phones on this [daggone] plane!” – perhaps airlines will create “cell-free zones” like the ones in trains and other public places.

The Conversation

Why bigotry is a public health problem

November 21, 2018

Author: Ronald W. Pies is a Friend of The Conversation. Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Lecturer on Bioethics & Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University; and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine, Tufts University

Disclosure statement: Ronald W. Pies does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: Tufts University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

Over a decade ago, I wrote a piece for a psychiatric journal entitled “Is Bigotry a Mental Illness?” At the time, some psychiatrists were advocating making “pathological bigotry” or pathological bias – essentially, bias so extreme it interferes with daily function and reaches near-delusional proportions – an official psychiatric diagnosis. For a variety of medical and scientific reasons, I wound up opposing that position.

In brief, my reasoning was this: Some bigots suffer from mental illness, and some persons with mental illness exhibit bigotry – but that doesn’t mean that bigotry per se is an illness.

Yet in the past few weeks, in light of the hatred and bigotry the nation has witnessed, I have been reconsidering the matter. I’m still not convinced that bigotry is a discrete illness or disease, at least in the medical sense. But I do think there are good reasons to treat bigotry as a public health problem. This means that some of the approaches we take toward controlling the spread of disease may be applicable to pathological bigotry: for example, by promoting self-awareness of bigotry and its adverse health consequences.

In a recent piece in The New York Times, health care writer Kevin Sack referred to the “virulent anti-Semite” who carried out the horrific shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018.

It’s easy to dismiss the term “virulent” as merely metaphorical, but I think the issue is more complicated than that. In biology, “virulence” refers to the degree of pathology, or damage, caused by an organism. It differs from the term “contagious,” which refers to a disease’s communicability. But what if, in an important sense, bigotry is both virulent and contagious – that is, capable of both causing damage and spreading from person to person? Wouldn’t a public health approach to the problem make sense?

The harm to victims and to haters

There is little question among mental health professionals that bigotry can do considerable harm to the targets of the bigotry. What is more surprising is the evidence showing that those who harbor bigotry are also at risk.

For example, research by psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Leitner has found a correlation between explicit racial bias among whites and rates of circulatory disease-related death. Explicit bias refers to consciously held prejudice that is sometimes overtly expressed; implicit bias is subconscious and detected only indirectly.

In effect, Leitner’s data suggest that living in a racially hostile community is related to increased rates of cardiovascular death for both the group targeted by this bias – in this case blacks – as well as the group that harbors the bias.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, Leitner and his colleagues at the University of California Berkeley found that death rates from circulatory disease are more pronounced in communities where whites harbor more explicit racial bias. Both blacks and whites showed increased death rates, but the relationship was stronger for blacks. Although correlation does not prove causation, clinical psychology professor Vickie M. Mays and colleagues at UCLA have hypothesized that the experience of race-based discrimination may set in motion a chain of physiological events, such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate, that eventually increase the risk of death.

It’s unlikely that the adverse effects of discrimination and bigotry are limited to blacks and whites. For example, community health sciences professor Gilbert Gee and colleagues at UCLA have presented data showing that Asian-Americans who report discrimination are at elevated risk for poorer health, especially for mental health problems.

But are hatred and bigotry contagious?

As the adverse health effects of bigotry have been increasingly recognized, awareness has grown that hateful behaviors and their harmful effects can spread. For example, public health specialist Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish and family physician Dr. Neil Arya, in an article titled “Hatred – A Public Health Issue,” argue that “Hatred can be conceptualized as an infectious disease, leading to the spread of violence, fear, and ignorance. Hatred is contagious; it can cross barriers and borders.”

Similarly, communications professor Adam G. Klein has studied the “digital hate culture,” and has concluded that “The speed with which online hate travels is breathtaking.”

As an example, Klein recounted a chain of events in which an anti-Semitic story (“Jews Destroying Their Own Graveyards”) appeared in the Daily Stormer, and was quickly followed by a flurry of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories spread by white supremacist David Duke via his podcast.

Consistent with Klein’s work, the Anti-Defamation League recently released a report titled, “New Hate and Old: The Changing Face of American White Supremacy.” The report found that,

“Despite the alt right’s move into the physical world, the internet remains its main propaganda vehicle. However, alt right internet propaganda involves more than just Twitter and websites. In 2018, podcasting plays a particularly outsized role in spreading alt right messages to the world.”

To be sure, tracking the spread of hatred is not like tracking the spread of, say, food-borne illness or the flu virus. After all, there is no laboratory test for the presence of hatred or bigotry.

Nevertheless, as a psychiatrist, I find the “hatred contagion hypothesis” entirely plausible. In my field, we see a similar phenomenon in so-called “copycat suicides,” whereby a highly publicized (and often glamorized) suicide appears to incite other vulnerable people to imitate the act.

A public health approach

If hatred and bigotry are indeed both harmful and contagious, how might a public health approach deal with this problem? Drs. Abuelaish and Arya suggest several “primary prevention” strategies, including promoting understanding of the adverse health consequences of hatred; developing emotional self-awareness and conflict resolution skills; creating “immunity” against provocative hate speech; and fostering an understanding of mutual respect and human rights.

In principle, these educational efforts could be incorporated into the curricula of elementary and middle schools. Indeed, the Anti-Defamation League already offers K-12 students in-person training and online resources to combat hatred, bullying, and bigotry. In addition, the Anti-Defamation League report urges an action plan that includes:

  • Enacting comprehensive hate crime laws in every state.
  • Improving the federal response to hate crimes.
  • Expanding training for university administrators, faculty and staff.
  • Promoting community resilience programming, aimed at understanding and countering extremist hate.

Bigotry may not be a “disease” in the strict medical sense of that term, akin to conditions like AIDS, coronary artery disease or polio. Yet, like alcoholism and substance use disorders, bigotry lends itself to a “disease model.” Indeed, to call bigotry a kind of disease is to invoke more than a metaphor. It is to assert that bigotry and other forms of hatred are correlated with adverse health consequences; and that hatred and bigotry can spread rapidly via social media, podcasts and similar modes of dissemination.

A public health approach to problems such as smoking has shown demonstrable success; for example, anti-tobacco mass media campaigns were partly responsible for changing the American public’s mind about cigarette smoking. Similarly, a public health approach to bigotry, such as the measures recommended by Abuelaish and Arya, will not eliminate hatred, but may at least mitigate the damage hatred can inflict upon society.

United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) States’ Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) States’ Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) States’ Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports