In brief: Budget director choice confirmed by Senate
Washington – The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve President Barack Obama’s nominee for top White House budget expert, bringing a woman into a top post in an administration that critics say has been dominated by men.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell was confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget by a vote of 96-0, a bipartisan vote of support by a Senate that has objected to other White House nominations.
Burwell worked as deputy director of the budget office from 1998 to 2001. She then worked for a decade at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including as chief operating officer. She most recently headed the Walmart Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Seven arrested for smuggling fish bladders
San Diego – Seven people have been charged with smuggling bladders from an endangered fish in what authorities said Wednesday may be a growing international practice in which the bladders are sold for up to $20,000 each to be used in a highly desired soup.
U.S. border inspectors in Calexico have seized 529 bladders from totoaba fish since February that they believe were destined for China.
Just as shark fins are coveted for use in a different soup, the totoaba is desired for its dried bladders. The organs are said to improve skin, blood circulation and fertility.
Study: Binge drinking may cause heart damage
Step away from the beer pong table! College binge drinking may leave you with more than just embarrassing memories and excruciating hangovers.
In a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that four years of heavy drinking between the ages of 18 and 25 may be enough to permanently increase a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.
Researchers at the University of Illinois recruited 38 nonsmoking young adults and split them into two groups: alcohol abstainers and binge drinkers. To be considered a binge drinker, participants had to have consumed five or more servings of alcohol in two hours, at least six times a month, for about four years.
Study authors then used ultrasound imaging to examine the blood vessels in the participants’ arms when they were given nitroglycerin – a blood vessel dilator – and after blood flow was restricted and then allowed to run free.
What they found was that abstainers’ blood vessels were more elastic and had a greater ability to dilate than did the vessels of the binge drinkers. This diminished vascular function could be an early indicator of blood vessel damage and atherosclerosis.