5 Things to Talk About Today

Sacha Strebe
  • Scientists confirm that living near trees is good for your health. In a new paper published Thursday, a team of researchers presented a compelling case for why urban neighborhoods filled with trees are better for your physical health. The study goes beyond the cognitive and psychological benefits of nature scenery, and evaluates how much being surrounded by trees in a neighborhood enhances your health. The research team studied some 530,000 public, urban trees in the city of Toronto, and health records for over 30,000 Toronto residents. — Washington Post
     
  • Thousands watch as the Confederate flag is lowered from its 30-foot flagpole in South Carolina. The Dixie flag has been a powerful symbol of slavery and the Old South that has roiled emotions in South Carolina for decades. In a brief ceremony, a seven-man South Carolina Highway Patrol Honor Guard, including two African-Americans, slowly lowered the banner from its perch alongside a Confederate memorial near the capitol. According to reports, the crowd chanted "take it down!" — USA Today
     
  • The U.K. government is drafting a Snoopers Charter that could see WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat banned. In the aftermath of the Paris shootings, Prime Minister David Cameron hinted at a crackdown that would implement new surveillance powers and the banning of services like Snapchat if they didn't comply. The potential ban has caused a public outcry on social media. "In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremes, with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally that we cannot read?" Cameron said in January. — Huffington Post
     
  • The FDA has strengthened its warning about painkillers, saying they raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. People are being advised to think carefully when taking these drugs, including over-the-counter and prescription varieties. The warning has been raised from "they might cause risk of heart attack or stroke" to "they do cause increased risk of heart attack and stroke." Some of the studies have shown a clear pattern of increased risk. — Today
     
  • Wearable tech can now pick up on your emotional state. It was only a matter of time before wearables moved from physical to mental health. Jonathan Palley of San Francisco has developed the next wave, called Spire, which tracks physical activity and state of mind by detecting users' breathing patterns. The small stone clips onto your pants or bra and syncs with a phone app. Another watch-like mindfulness device, called Being, also tracks mood, using a sensor that measures heart rate variability and blood pressure. — US News

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