Kiera Butler

Kiera Butler

Senior Editor

A senior editor at Mother Jones, Kiera covers health, food, and the environment. She is the author of the new book Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids—and How Its Lessons Could Change Food and Farming Forever (University of California Press).

 

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I Am Being Followed By an Army of Twitter Lady Bots

| Wed Oct. 22, 2014 2:50 PM EDT

I've been making a real effort to be better at Twitter lately. I've been tweeting more, striking a conversational tone, and trying to "just be myself," like people who know more about Twitter than me told me to. So I was thrilled this week when my follower count zoomed up from 3,030 to 3,066 over the course of just a few days. My efforts must have paid off, I thought.

But then, I looked at my new followers. They all seemed pretty annoying. IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. Check it out:

"Hipster-friendly music practitioner"? "Total travel advocate"? "Beer practitioner"? Ew!

The formula for the handles seems to be: first name, middle initial, last name. And the bio items look like they're generated from a list of bland hobbies and jobs or something. All over the backdrop of some irrelevant stock art.

Here are some of their tweets:

Creepy Twitter lady bots, what do you want from me?

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Drinking a "Medium" Soda Every Day Can Age You As Much As Smoking Does

| Mon Oct. 20, 2014 2:28 PM EDT

Just as soda companies plunk down millions of dollars to defeat local soda-tax ballot measures, researchers have found a link between regular soda consumption and premature aging.

Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Public Health, a study of 5,300 adults compared the cells of people who drink soda every day to those of their non-soda-drinking counterparts. In the soda group, the ends of the chromosomes—known as telomeres—were shorter, a sign of their cells' diminished ability to regenerate. Our telomeres naturally shorten as we age, but scientists have discovered that a few behaviors—including smoking—can shorten them prematurely.

And here's the really interesting part: People who drank a 20-ounce soda every day experienced an additional 4.6 years of telomere aging—the same amount observed in smokers. "The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism," lead author Elissa Epel, a professor of psychiatry at University of California-San Francisco, told Time.

The researchers didn't find the same effect in those who drank diet sodas or 100 percent fruit juice.

People Are Trying to Sell Cinnamon Bark as an Ebola Cure

| Thu Oct. 16, 2014 3:57 PM EDT

Marion Nestle reports that several supplement manufacturers are selling vitamins that promise to prevent or treat Ebola. The claims caught the attention of the FDA, which has issued warning letters to three of the manufacturers: Natural Solutions Foundation, Young Living, and DoTERRA International LLC. The agency lists specific claims it finds worrisome; for example, on a Young Living consultant's website, "Ebola Virus can not live in the presence of cinnamon bark."

Here's a screenshot from Natural Solutions Foundations' website:

An article on the Natural Solutions site talks about "the intentional introduction of Ebola into the United States by what will appear to be ISIS terrorists." It continues, "And it will happen soon, since we know from Dr. Rima's research that Ebola can become an airborne disease in temperate climates, such as North America's coming winter." It urges readers to prepare by stocking up on supplements that contain nanoparticles of silver: "The only protection we have against this new level of tyranny is making sure we do not get sick!!! The best way to do that is to make sure that EVERYONE you can reach has Nano Silver and knows how to use it."

Another supposed natural Ebola cure making the rounds: Vitamin C. Nestle found this gem on an alternative health information site called NaturalHealth365, which claims that a giant dose of vitamin C can cure Ebola (though it doesn't actually sell Vitamin C):

NaturalHealth365

It's not terribly surprising that supplement manufacturers have seized on Ebola. A new Harvard School of Public Health poll has found that 38 percent of Americans (up from 25 percent a few months ago) "are now concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola over the next year." That's quite a market.

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