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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Science Health & Science News From the Associated Press


National Weather Service cancels its union contract

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 21:53:17 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what could be the first major labor showdown of the Trump administration, the National Weather Service announced it will cancel its contract with the union representing about 3,800 of its meteorologists and other workers. An outside expert, University of California labor law professor David Rosenfeld, called it "a shot across the bow of the union." Charlotte Garden, a labor law professor at Seattle University, said in an email of the government's move: "That is weird."

Review: Amazon meal kits offer easy dinners — for a price

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 21:38:19 UT

Amazon meal kits offer easy dinners — for a price SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon's new ready-to-eat meal package is the perfect recipe for someone who doesn't have enough time to shop and cook, yet has a healthy appetite and a need for balanced meals. The meal kit was the size of a loaf of bread, but it came in a heavy bag that resembled a large paper grocery bag. Inside was a silver insulated bag, nestled inside a cardboard frame, and six ice packs. All I needed were a few pots and pans, a knife and some vegetable oil. Everything else was provided, including some sesame oil in a tiny container to saute my veggies. Once done, I arranged the noodles, edamame and salmon on plates and sprinkled each with asparagus, mushrooms, scallions and sesame seeds. Amazon offers free delivery for orders over $40, but you lose freshness if you buy multiple meals at once. AmazonFresh also has light bulbs and laundry soap. [...] knowing I needed a few groceries and dinner, I went on AmazonFresh early Friday and was able to secure an evening delivery.

House unveils plan to fix VA's budget gap as deadline looms

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 20:38:43 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee unveiled a disputed plan Friday to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to shift $2 billion from other programs to cover a sudden budget shortfall that could threaten medical care for thousands of patients in the coming weeks. The proposal by the House Veterans Affairs Committee would provide a six-month funding fix to the department's Choice program, which offers veterans federally paid medical care outside the VA and is a priority of President Donald Trump. The House plan comes after days of closed-door negotiations in which veterans' groups opposed taking money from VA programs to fill Choice's budget gap, describing it as an unacceptable step toward privatizing the department. Under the plan, the reduced pensions would affect veterans in nursing homes who are covered by Medicaid, while veterans would continue to pay fees for housing loans guaranteed by the VA. House Veterans Affairs Chairman Phil Roe of Tennessee and Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, the panel's top Democrat, pledged to revisit in the coming months the issue of providing additional investment in the VA, such as boosting recruitment and hiring of VA staff.

Veterans hospital under investigation adds interim leaders

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:38:35 UT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire's only veterans hospital has appointed two more interim leaders as whistleblower doctors continue to call for a third-party investigation into substandard treatment and conditions. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin removed hospital Director Danielle Ocker and Chief of Staff James Schlosser and ordered a review of the Manchester VA Medical Center this week after the Boston Globe reported on physician complaints that the facility is endangering patients. Andrea Amodeo-Vickery, who represents 11 doctors and workers who filed a whistleblower complaint, said two of the physicians met with investigators on Thursday and were not impressed. In interviews with the Globe, Ocker and Schlosser acknowledged significant cuts in services, but said the hospital was addressing the shortcomings and patient safety hadn't been compromised.

UN, aid group: Cholera in Yemen to worsen in rainy season

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:31:29 UT

CAIRO (AP) — The U.N. health agency and an international aid organization warned on Friday that Yemen's cholera epidemic, the world's worst since Haiti's 2010 outbreak, is likely to worsen in the rainy season. "Cholera has spread unchecked in a country already on its knees after two years of war and which is teetering on the brink of famine," said Nigel Timmins, Oxfam's humanitarian director who has just returned from a fact finding mission to Yemen. The U.N. health agency said children under age 15 account for 41 percent of all suspected cases and people over age 60 account for a third of deaths. Haq said WHO and its partners are working to reduce the spread of cholera by scaling up access to clean water and sanitation, setting up treatment centers, training health workers and working with communities on prevention.

Audi to update 850,000 cars as diesel recalls widen

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:30:27 UT

BERLIN (AP) — German automaker Audi says it will fit up to 850,000 diesel cars with new software to improve their emissions performance, following a similar move by rival Daimler as the auto industry tries to get ahead of public controversy over the technology. Separately, five German automakers — Mercedes-Benz, Opel and Volkswagen and its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche — last year agreed to recall a total of 630,000 diesel vehicles in Europe after it was found that real-world emissions often exceeded EU emissions standards. There have been calls for bans on diesels in several German cities due to concerns about pollution levels, while the government in the large southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has said it would reject such demands if automakers came up with a way to adjust older vehicles to reduce emissions levels. Diesels have lower emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases blamed by scientists for global warming. Stock prices of automakers fell Friday after a report in Der Spiegel magazine that they had colluded for years on holding down the cost of diesel technology and that information about the meetings had been given to German anti-trust authorities.