These 19 states are cracking down on fake service dogs

Chris Slavin was in an elevator a couple years ago with Earle, her yellow lab service dog, sitting calmly beside her wheelchair. The elevator doors opened and in walked a woman holding a purse. In the purse was a teacup poodle the color of apricots. The doors closed just as the poodle spotted Earle. That’s when the trouble started. In an instant, the poodle leaped from the purse, flung himself at Earle, and clamped his teeth into the bigger dog’s snout, leaving Earle bleeding onto the elevator floor. “As soon as this occurred the woman said the poodle was a service dog,” said Slavin, who has a severe spinal injury… Read More

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Neutron star collision offers new source of gravitational waves

Gravitational waves are back. And this time, they’re not traveling alone. In the first four detections of these astronomical phenomena, gravitational waves emanated from merging binary black holes—a source that puts off no light. On Monday, astronomers from LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, and the Virgo detector in Italy announced that they discovered a collision of neutron stars that released both a stream of gravitational waves and a flash of light. This finding backs decades-old theories, including one by Albert Einstein that gravitational waves travel at the speed of light. “We’re starting to see the whole universe in front of our eyes.” “It’s a privilege to discover that neutron… Read More

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Birth control loophole opens for employers under new federal regulation

Few people were surprised last week when the Trump administration issued a rule to make it easier for some religious employers to opt out of offering no-cost prescription birth control to their female employees under the Affordable Care Act. But a separate regulation issued at the same time raised eyebrows. It creates a new exemption from the requirement that most employers offer contraceptive coverage. This one is for “non-religious organizations with sincerely held moral convictions inconsistent with providing coverage for some or all contraceptive services.” So what’s the difference between religious beliefs and moral convictions? “Theoretically, it would be someone who says ‘I don’t have a belief in God,’ but… Read More

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We may soon have our first $1 million drug. Who will pay for it? And how?

Gene therapy has the potential to be a one-shot treatment that could reverse blindness, restore blood-clotting function to hemophiliacs, or even cure rare diseases outright. But what kind of price tag comes with that promise — and who will pay for it? The question is no longer academic: On Thursday, Spark Therapeutics won unanimous support from a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel for its gene therapy drug, Luxturna. It seems likely to win FDA approval in the coming months. But the cost will be hefty: Analysts estimate that Luxturna, which has been shown to restore vision in children with an inherited form of blindness, could cost $1 million per… Read More

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Can you be hacked by the world around you?

You’ve probably been told it’s dangerous to open unexpected attachment files in your email – just like you shouldn’t open suspicious packages in your mailbox. But have you been warned against scanning unknown QR codes or just taking a picture with your phone? New research suggests that cyberattackers could exploit cameras and sensors in phones and other devices. As someone who researches 3-D modeling, including assessing 3-D printed objects to be sure they meet quality standards, I’m aware of being vulnerable to methods of storing malicious computer code in the physical world. Our group’s work is in the laboratory, and has not yet encountered malware hidden in 3-D printing instructions… Read More

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An old-school pharmacy hand-delivers drugs to Congress, a little-known perk for the powerful

WASHINGTON — If House Speaker Paul Ryan comes down with the flu this winter, he and his security detail won’t be screeching off toward the closest CVS for his Tamiflu. Instead, he can just walk downstairs and pick up the pills, part of a little-known perk open to every member of Congress, from Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell down to the newest freshman Democrat. Nearly every day for at least two decades pharmaceutical drugs have been brought by the carload to the Capitol — an arrangement so under the radar that even pharmacy lobbyists who regularly pitch Congress on their industry aren’t aware of it. The deliveries arrive at… Read More

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