While You Were Sleeping for May 2016 | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

According to a report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in April, less than 3 percent of Americans live a healthy lifestyle. The authors of the study define a "healthy lifestyle" as one that involves exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, a diet score in the top 40 percent of the Healthy Eating Index, a body fat percentage under 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women, and not smoking. The study used data from a group of 4,745 people who participated in the 2003 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The participants wore accelerometers to track their physical activity for one week and also recorded their food intake over the course of 24 hours. The results: 71.5 percent of the adults were nonsmokers; 46.5 percent achieved at least 150 minutes of exercise; 37.9 percent consumed a healthy diet; 9.6 percent had "a normal body-fat percentage." Only 2.7 percent of the participants met all four health criteria.

Source: Atlantic

Global military spending amounted to nearly $1.7 trillion in 2015. In a study conducted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States, the top spender, spent $596 billion in 2015. China spent $215 billion, and Saudi Arabia spent $87.2 billion. Venezuela and Angola decreased their military spending by 64 and 40 percent, respectively. Asia's spending increased by 5.4 percent in 2015, mostly due to China's economic and military growth and increasing fear from neighbors like Vietnam and the Philippines. According to Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of SIPRI's military expenditure project, "Spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world; on the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fueled surge in military spending of the past decade."

Source: Washington Post

The Knesset Finance Committee has capped the total compensation for executives at banks and insurance companies in Israel at 2.5 million shekels, or $640,000 per year. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon had asked the committee to approve the proposal to reduce the high wages, calling it "a moral and ethical failure." The highest-paid worker at this bank cannot earn more than 44 times the lowest-paid worker. According to the 2015 financial reports released by Israel's five biggest banks, the average total compensation for a CEO at the banks was 5.85 million shekels, or roughly $1,550,000. (US bank CEO total compensation runs from $9.5 million to $19.3 million.) Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni said, "This will finally end the outrageous salaries. This is a first step toward fixing social inequality. Times have changed, and from this point, we'll examine imposing salary caps on all publicly-held companies."

Sources: Haaretz, American Banker, Guardian

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13. The George Mason University in Virginia renamed its law school the Antonin Scalia School of Law (ASSoL) in his honor shortly thereafter. In late March, after realizing the acronym blunder, the university released a statement to students and alumni, indicating that changing the school's name to the Antonin Scalia Law School would be more suitable than the initial name that "caused some acronym controversy on social media."

Source: BBC News

In early April, the US Treasury Department announced new guidelines for companies looking to move outside of the country in search of lower tax rates. The new regulations seek to limit internal corporate borrowing that shifts profits out of the United States. The department intends to make these "tax inversions" less appealing for large firms. Along with the proposed bills to make it more difficult for US companies to invert, President Obama has proposed measures to reform corporate taxes. Last November, the New York-based Pfizer company made a deal with the Ireland-based Allergan in an attempt to move its core offices overseas for tax purposes. Due to the tightening of US regulations, their $160 billion merger agreement was terminated. Charles Schumer (D-NY) stated, "The only way to slam the door on inversions for good is to pass tough, strong legislation and reform our tax laws."

Source: Times Union, Reuters

The global negligence of treating mental illnesses results in $925 billion per year lost in economic productivity. According to the World Health Organization, 12 billion working days—or 50 million years—will be lost to anxiety and depression each year through 2030. The WHO states that governments only spend 3 percent of their health budgets on battling mental illness. The cost of increasing counseling and antidepressant medication over the next 15 years is estimated to be $147 billion. The investment would create a 5 percent increase in the labor force—a $399 billion increase—and it would also result in $310 billion in health returns. The study, published in April in Lancet Psychiatry, stated that every dollar invested in improving mental health treatment options means a $4 return in better health and the ability to work.

Source: Guardian

Voters don't choose the GOP nominee—it is an illusion created by the media, according to Curly Haughland, a member of the Republican National Committee's Rules Committee. The delegates' votes are what determine the party's nominee. In a recent interview with CNBC, Haughland was asked what the point of the primaries is if the party can disregard voters, to which he replied, "That's a very good question." He continued, stating that the party can block Trump at the convention even if he accrues the requisite delegates through the primaries (1,237), to "win" the nomination.

Source: The Hill

A 2008 study done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory revealed that 664 gigawatts of energy could be generated from solar panels. A current report released by the same group reveals that if all suitable roofs were covered in solar panels, 1,118 gigawatts of solar energy would be generated. This amounts to nearly half of the power used by Americans every year. The new statistic only accounts for rooftop panels—not including ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems, which would increase the amount of potential solar energy. The increase is attributed to a greater number of estimated suitable rooftops, better methods of calculating PV systems, and improved module performance. If module efficiency continues to increase, which seems likely, the overall energy production would rise by 25 percent.

Source: Good

A new scientific study confirms Freddy Mercury had an incomparable singing voice. A group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers examined the Queen singer's vocals and published a report in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology in April. The team invited professional rock zinger Daniel Zangger-Borch in to imitate Mercury's voice. They found that Mercury most likely used subharmonics when singing. This style of singing employs the ventricular folds that vibrate along with the vocal folds—a style that is common for Tuvan throat singers but difficult for most people to perform. Mercury's vocal chords were also found to vibrate at a fast rate: The average vibrato ranges from 5.4 Hz to 6.9 Hz; Mercury's vibrato was 7.04 Hz.

Source: Consequence of Sound

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