National / International News

UN begins huge aid drop in Iraq

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:43
The UN says it has begun its largest aid operation for a decade as it attempts to reach half a million people in northern Iraq.

Maribor 1-1 Celtic

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:34
Celtic pick up an away goal as they draw with NK Maribor in the first leg of their Champions League play-off.

VIDEO: How Scotsman pub became St George

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:27
Has the Scottish referendum debate led England to consider its position within the Union?

In Syria, The U.S. Weighs A Range Of Unpalatable Options

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:17

The U.S. could aid moderate rebels. It could bomb militants of the Islamic State. Or it could sit on the sidelines as the war plays out. There are many choices, but none appears promising.

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EPA Wades Into Water Fight With Farmers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:13

The EPA wants to "clarify" the scope of its oversight of water under the Clean Water Act. Big farm groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation call this a power grab that would place every ditch and mud puddle under federal regulation, forcing farmers to get permits for small trenches around the farm.

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Remembering James Foley, A Journalist Who Made His Life In War Zones

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:13

American James Foley, who was executed by Islamist militants, had been working for GlobalPost when he disappeared in 2012. GlobalPost CEO Phil Balboni speaks about about Foley and his work.

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Militants Behead American Journalist, Leveling New Threats At U.S.

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:13

The group known as the Islamic State has fired its first violent salvo against the U.S. The group declared that the beheading is a retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

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In Liberia, An Ebola Quarantine Descends Into Riots

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:13

After the Liberian government ordered a quarantine of one of the poorest neighborhoods in its capital, Monrovia, residents there woke up to find themselves cut off from the rest of the city by security forces. By midday, the neighborhood was in riot.

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Legendary Vermont Bakers May Stop Selling Beloved Sourdough Bread

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:13

The bread that Jules and Helen Rabin have made in their fieldstone oven for four decades has a cult following in central Vermont. But this may be the last summer they sell it at the farmers market.

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Gaza Violence Tests Once-Unshakable Allies U.S. And Israel

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:11

Both sides have traded barbs and criticism over the other's policies. Some believe the public feud stems from a personal animosity between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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VIDEO: Korean plot to dominate global culture

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 12:00
Author Euny Hong talks to the BBC about how South Korea is conquering the world through pop culture.

Beheading suspect 'probably British'

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:54
David Cameron says it looks "increasingly likely" a man thought to have been involved in a US journalist's beheading is British.

People hurt in Longleat train crash

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:50
Two carriages overturn at Longleat Adventure Park, leaving six people injured.

Same-Sex Marriages On Hold In Virginia After Supreme Court Weighs In

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:35

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked an appeals court ruling that would have allowed gay marriages to begin in Virginia tomorrow.

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VIDEO: New dates rewrite Neanderthal story

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:31
Modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe 10 times longer than previously thought, a study suggests.

Texas governor pleads not guilty

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:05
Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry pleads not guilty to charges he abused his power in an attempt to pressure a political adversary to resign.

Man Utd complete £16m Rojo signing

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:03
Manchester United announce the £16m signing of defender Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon on a five-year deal.

Myanmar's young tourism entrepreneurs

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-20 11:01
Myanmar's young tourism bosses confident about the future

Why Vegetables Get Freakish In The Land Of The Midnight Sun

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-20 10:57

Long summer days in Alaska help cabbages, turnips and other vegetables grow to gargantuan sizes. These "giants" are celebrated at the annual state fair, which kicks off on Thursday.

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How can you be sure a medical app actually works?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-20 10:53

Your smartphone will see you now: the wild west of medical apps

If you take a virtual stroll through the iTunes store or Google Play, you will find nearly a hundred thousand health apps – everything from fitness trackers to blood glucose monitors. Out of all these apps, only about 100 have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. Some lawyers are calling for more regulation.

Nathan Cortez went to law school in Silicon Valley. He wears a black Fitbit bracelet and his iPhone is stocked with apps like WebMD. But some apps scare him.

“I’ve got an app that you can use to record your heartbeat or bowel sounds,” he says. “And it spits out a diagnosis. Just the thought you can hold your cell phone up to your chest and receive a serious diagnosis of a heart problem is a little mind blowing.”

Scary diagnoses

Cortez is a law professor at SMU in Dallas. He outlined the potential dangers of medical apps in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. And while Cortez talks about hypothetical dangers, he has real life examples of malfunctioning apps.

For example, a rheumatoid arthritis app created by Pfizer in 2011: “It was basically a calculator,” he says, “trying to calculate a score for how severe your rheumatoid arthritis is.”

And it wasn’t working.

“In that case, you may have seen treatment decisions made based on erroneous calculations.”

The blood glucose app from drug company Sanofi was recalled because it miscalculated insulin doses.

Right now the FDA categorizes apps on three levels of risk. It only has jurisdiction over the riskiest products, and does not even review all of those.

Why? Cortez says it’s mainly politics, and a fear of stifling innovation.

The FDA is sensitive to accusations of over-regulation. This month the agency announced even more exemptions for mobile health products that allow users to track, log, trend, and share data with doctors. New rules clear Apple’s product HealthKit, an app to track everything from blood pressure to lung capacity, from regulation.

The regulatory hurdle 

In the past decade, the FDA has confirmed the medical claims of roughly 100 apps, or .1 percent of what’s out there. One app that has been cleared is called My Vision Track.

MyVision Track App 

MyVision Track

“We believe that a regulatory approved medical app costs you about 10 times as much and takes about 10 times as long as doing one that’s not regulated,” says creator Mike Bartlett, with Richardson-based company Vital Art and Science Inc.

Bartlett had to organize multiple months-long clinical studies to prove that My Vision Track can monitor the progress of retinal diseases such as macular degeneration. But he’s not upset about the expensive, arduous process.

“I would be very cautious about using something that’s unproven,” Bartlett says. “And we know that there are vision tests that absolutely don’t work.”

Regulators walking a fine line

Regulators are walking a fine line between letting snake oil salesmen roam free and discouraging legitimate developers.

Chuck McCoy, head of North Texas Angels Network, says so far he hasn’t heard complaints from investors about too much red tape.

“The FDA over regulates in many areas,” he says, “but if you are going to make clinical claims about a device, there has to be some scientific basis for those claims.”

So far, the FDA has taken a fairly lenient view of the medical app ecosystem, says Dr. Chandra Duggirala, a physician with the San Mateo Medical Center. Last year, he made an experimental device for Type 2 diabetes with promising early results. But he wasn’t able to secure funding that would have brought it to market. Duggirala says the lenient stance could change once people start using medical apps that don’t just track, but also diagnose health conditions.

“So far, not many medical apps are hugely popular in a way that would attract FDA attention," he says. "Once that happens, I’m sure there will be some regulatory hurdles for everybody to cross."

Most entrepreneurs agree the FDA over-regulated medical devices. Now, the question is whether they’re under-regulating mobile medical apps.

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