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  • ABC News(LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.) -- Sam Antar was all smiles when he was offered a full-time, paid position as a "granologist" at Luv Michael, a healthy snack business."I like to put the ingredients together," Antar, 22, told ABC News. "I love making new friends."Based in Long Island City, Luv Michael's mission is to provide meaningful employment for young adults with autism.The business was started by Lisa Liberatore and husband, Dimitri Kessaris, for their son, Michael, who has autism and also loves to cook. Luv Michael now employs six workers and sells granola in more than 60 stores on the East Coast."Teamwork is pivotal in the Luv Michael program," said Sarah Kull, the company's curriculum coordinator. "We all motivate each other. We collaborate. We share ideas. Someone's having a hard day, we support them.""There's no discouraging," she added.Volunteers work for three consecutive weeks so staff can gauge their commitment, interest and skill set. After that period, and if all goes well, Luv Michael offers the volunteer a full-time, paid job."I can't begin to tell you the impression and the feeling that we have in the room when they're offered the job," Liberatore said.Antar's mother, Deborah Ehrlich-Antar, was present as he accepted his job offer.She told ABC News that her family was incredibly thankful for the work opportunity and that finding Luv Michael had been a "miracle.""For any child with autism, after high school and after services from the Board of Education end, each child is in a very different place, a place where they're not quite sure what programs they're going to be involved in and what they're going to do every day," Ehrlich-Antar said. "It's extremely difficult and it's a time of uncertainty and great concern."Ehrlich-Antar said Luv Michael's staff understand that people with autism need a place to thrive, be productive and feel good about what they're doing.Antar told ABC News that after working at Luv Michael, he'd like to move on and become a chef."I'm learning a lot at Luv Michael," he said. "I love baking and cooking."
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  • Carlo de Jesus(NEW YORK) -- Imagine unlocking your cellphone with a drop of sweat?Dr. Jan Halámek, a biochemist and assistant professor at the University of Albany, and his team are studying that very concept. Halámek believes there is a better way to secure electronic devices, and facial recognition is not one of them.Halámek’s approach relies on amino acids found in skin secretions. A phone, for example, will be able to identify what compounds are in its owner’s unique sweat, Halámek told ABC News.The amino acids and their compounds will ideally be able to unlock a device through “obvious connection of metabolized and fluctuating levels,” he explained.“The device will sense them, and say ‘that’s my owner,’” said Halámek. He said his lab has tested the method successfully.Those metabolizing levels change depending on factors like eating and exercising, he said. “We are unique and we metabolize. It’s a dynamic process, but metabolized levels change.”To build a profile, the device would first have a “monitoring period” in which it would continuously measure its owner’s sweat levels at various times of the day, according to a press release on the science.Halámek's lab is still working on how often the phone would need to recalibrate to stay up to date.“I’m asked a lot, ‘what if people steal my sweat,’” Halámek said. “The answer is that it would work, but not for long. The sweat will begin to decompose and will not stay stable.”That's one of the reasons why Halámek believes a biochemical approach to cybersecurity would be the most effective.“Metabolization is not constant. It is not a Social Security number,” he said.To break into a phone, one would have to know exactly what the metabolizing levels are at that point in time.His team is submitting proposals for funding to get this research in the hands of smartphone makers.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider whether a California requirement for pregnancy centers in that state to provide information about publicly funded abortion and contraceptive services violates free-speech rights.The petitioners, which say they are "life-affirming pregnancy centers", argue that California’s Reproductive FACT ACT, “Forces licensed pro-life medical centers to post notices informing women how to contact the State at a particular phone number for information on how to obtain state-funded abortions, directly contradicting the centers’ pro-life message.” And that petitioners argue is a violation of the First Amendment, both its protections of speech and of free exercise.The pro-life groups opposed to the FACT ACT, suggest they were “targeted” based on their religious viewpoint. In court documents, the petitioners argue, “The State of California forces licensed centers to communicate the government’s message about state-funded abortions to everyone who walks in the door. The State, rather than using countless alternative ways to communicate its message, including its own powerful voice, instead compels only licensed facilities that help women consider alternatives to abortion to express the government’s message regarding how to obtain abortions paid for by the State."Attorneys representing California in court documents argue, “Some 700,000 California women become pregnant each year, and over half of those pregnancies are unintended. The Act addresses two problems that pregnant Californians can face. “First, many women cannot afford medical care on their own, and are unaware of the public programs that are available to them.”According to court documents, California’s attorneys said that the state legislature was trying to provide as much information as possible,“The state Legislature concluded the most effective way to ensure that women quickly obtain the information and services they need” is to require licensed health care facilities that are unable to immediately enroll patients into state-funded programs to advise each patient at the time of her visit that the programs exist and give information on how they may be accessed.”The case represents the Supreme Court's first major grant in an abortion-related case since the addition of its newest member, Justice Neil Gorsuch, said Kate Shaw, an ABC News Supreme Court contributor who also teaches at Cardozo Law School.The case could have broader implications, she said."This case raises important First Amendment questions, and, depending on how the Court answers them, it could potentially impact the status of other state laws that regulate abortion — both those designed to facilitate access to abortion, and those designed to thwart it," Shaw said.The U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the California law. Both the 4th and 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have struck down similar laws.
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  • Keira Miller(NORCROSS, Ga.) -- In lieu of the traditional ringing of the bell, Josh Libman recently celebrated the upcoming end of his cancer treatment with tubas, drums, flutes, saxophones and pom-poms, all courtesy of the efforts of registered nurse Alane Levy.Libman, 32, of Norcross, Georgia, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer this summer and in July his left lower leg had to be amputated. That surgery was followed by rounds of grueling chemotherapy, requiring him to stay in the hospital for days.Levy learned of his plight this summer, when she came across Libman's story in a Jewish mothers Facebook group."I reached out to the family and said, 'This is who I am and this is what I do and I would like to take care of Josh and the family through this entire process. Instead of writing a check, I'll give myself,'" said Levy, who cares for people in their homes post-surgery.Levy said she was with the family since before Libman's amputation and had even stayed with him in the hospital."It has been my honor to be part of their family and to take care of them," she said.With Libman nearing an end to treatment, Levy said, she wanted him to be able to ring a bell, a tradition for cancer patients ending treatment in hospitals across the nation. Libman has one round of chemotherapy and a surgery left.Levy, however, said that Libman was on a floor with sickle-cell anemia patients and there was no bell."I just wanted him to have that memory," she said.So Levy improvised, big time. She reached out to the band leader at Norcross High School, Libman's old high school, and asked for help.On Thursday, the entire band -- all 150 students -- marched down Libman's street and appeared in front of his home to play. In the front, band members carried a poster with a message for Libman: "You are loved.""We believe!" the band members chanted as Libman stood by. "We believe that Josh will win! We believe that Josh will win!"Levy had prepared Libman for the band's arrival, telling him to grab his jacket, a hat and his crutches, but even she was not ready for the celebration that was in store. Levy had only expected about 50 students to show up."They were the best, most beautiful bell I could've ever thought of," she said. "Josh was so excited. I was so excited. And, I couldn't think of anything better to do."
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The new recommendations on blood pressure from the American Heart Association (AHA) will significantly increase the number of Americans diagnosed with hypertension, particularly in younger age groups.The number of adult women under 45 with the diagnosis will double, while the number of adult men under 45 will triple. The number of Americans that are recommended medical treatment will only increase slightly.The AHA recommends “lifestyle modification” as a first line treatment. However, it is not always clear to patients which lifestyle modifications are the most effective. The below descriptions summarize which lifestyle modifications are recommended by the AHA, based on the latest available research.Diet changesThe single intervention with the greatest documented effect on blood pressure is the “DASH” diet, a well-studied diet that encourages fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and discourages foods high in saturated and total fats. Research shows that this diet can lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) by approximately 11 mmHg. In addition, the guidelines recommend low-sodium diets (goal less than 1,500 mg per day, with the best effects seen at less than 1,000 mg per day), and diets rich in potassium (dried apricots, avocado, salmon, green leafy veggies and bananas). Low sodium and high potassium diets can lower systolic blood pressure by approximately 4-6 mmHg.Weight lossLosing weight improves health and well being in many capacities, but exactly how much to lose may be different for everyone. For those over 5 feet tall, an “ideal body weight” can actually be calculated mathematically. These numbers will change based on how tall you are, and the calculations are different for men and women. Formulating an individualized numerical goal in this way can help people reach a healthy body mass index.A normal, healthy BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 may be a good long-term goal, but in order to get there most physicians recommend losing 1 kilogram (or about 2.2 lbs.) at a time. The average American can expect a 1 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure for every 1 kilogram reduction in body weight.ExerciseAerobic exercise yields the most benefit in lowering blood pressure. What constitutes enough? The experts say 90-150 minutes per week with heart rates up to 65-75 percent of one's heart rate. For strength training, the AHA recommends dynamic and isometric resistance exercises.Dynamic exercise is any exercise that involves joint movement, such as bicep curls, tricep dips or squats.Isometric exercise is typically done against immovable objects and includes planks, wall-sits and boat pose.Experts say weight training should be done three times per week and benefits are usually seen after 8-10 weeks of practicing.All of the above activities were seen to benefit people with hypertension with studies indicating a decrease of systolic blood pressures of approximately 4-8 mmHg.Alcohol consumptionFor drinkers, limiting the amount of alcohol consumed has a beneficial impact on blood pressure. Studies find that drinking in moderation lowers systolic blood pressure by up to 4 mmHg. For men, AHA recommends drinking less than or up to two drinks daily, and for women only up to one drink daily. In fact, decreasing alcohol intake even proved to reduce blood pressure in patients who had not been diagnosed with hypertension yet.Consult with a health care professionalWhile the above recommendations can change blood pressure for a large share of those with hypertension, there are still millions of Americans for whom lifestyle modifications are not enough. Consult with your health care professional to see which intervention, medication or otherwise, is right for you.
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