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Knee Arthritis, Huge Increase in US

While weight and age are both factors in knee arthritis, researchers believe there must be something more in the modern lifestyle to account for the huge increase in the past few generations. According to official figures, the prevalence of the condition has more than doubled since the 1940s. Discovering the cause of the arthritis increase can have a bold impact on the quality of life of many people, in addition to saving money in terms of healthcare and disability costs.

…the technological revolution has halted our mobility and therefore could have a knock on effect to how our muscles and bones develop – thus, helping to contribute to an increase in knee arthritis.

According to Science Mag, paleoanthropologists Ian Wallace and Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University, along with their team, examined 2,600 skeletons that had been saved for research and teaching purposes.

The Harvard team arranged the skeletons from middle-aged to elderly people into three groups. Group one consisted of 1,600 skeletons belonging to people who died between 1905 and 1940. The second group had 819 skeletons from people who died between 1976 and 2015. Finally, the third group had 176 skeletons from Native Americans who died between 300 and 6,000 years ago.

Researchers found that age and weight played an important role in the increase in knee arthritis numbers, but there was also a mystery factor that cannot be accounted for. Even after the data was corrected for the growth in waistlines and lengthened life spans, there was a mysterious third element found that is yet to be determined which plays a part in people’s aching knees.

“This is really important work,” Louis DeFrate, a biochemist at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, told Science Mag. “Knee arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability,” he added, and the findings may help researchers better understand why more people are developing the condition.

Discovering the Cause of Knee Arthritis

According to leading research, nearly 20% of people over 45-years-old in the United States suffer from knee osteoarthritis, where joint cartilage breaks down. There are more and more elderly people developing the condition and research and testing is underway to help pinpoint the cause of the condition, and to help find a cure.

x ray view of knee bones

“Scientists have long suspected that the number has risen in recent generations. Because most Americans are living significantly longer than their grandparents, researchers have speculated that the graying population could be one culprit. Another joint-straining suspect is obesity, which now affects more than one-third of adults in the United States, up from 13% in the early 1960s,” Science mag writes.

The researchers found that the mystery element could be related to inactivity. The onset of the technological revolution has halted our mobility and therefore could have a knock on effect to how our muscles and bones develop – thus, helping to contribute to an increase in knee arthritis. Wallace says that his team is currently testing this very hypothesis by using guinea pigs as test subjects, and the long-distance Tarahumara runners of Mexico.

Researchers say that once they conduct further tests, and can determine an exact cause of the condition, they can publish their findings which will hopefully help bring an end to the arthritis epidemic in America.

Disney to Pull Content from Netflix

Netflix has been around for 20 years in the entertainment industry. It delivers video-on-demand and streaming media in various forms, primarily online, but they still have a legacy DVD rental service. At this time, Netflix has become the de facto leader when it comes to streaming services. But now, a much bigger player wants to do the same. Disney removing content from Netflix is a head start for this competition.

Iger said, “We felt that having control of a platform we’ve been very impressed with after buying 33% of it a year ago would give us control of our destiny.”

Walt Disney Company hardly needs introduction, there is scarcely anyone alive who hasn’t heard of their theme parks or movies. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, Disney is a multinational entertainment and mass media corporation, it is one of the largest producers of content and media-driven products in the world. Disney is not only the home of Mickey Mouse and the Little Mermaid, it is also the parent corp of ESPN and dozens of other properties.

The $167 billion titan announced that at the beginning of 2019, it will start streaming not just television shows and films, but sports coverage as well.

In September 2016, Netflix started streaming Disney exclusives from their subsidiaries, such as Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel. Abruptly, Disney decided to take a different route. The action sparked a shock in the media industry. This may be the beginning of a battle for control of content and pricing. Disney took a bold action, which will have impact throughout the industry.

According to Robert Iger, the Chief Executive of Walt Disney Company, “Disney had a good relationship with Netflix, but decided to exercise an option to move its content off the platform. Movies to be removed include Disney as well as Pixar’s titles.”

Iger said they might continue to license Star Wars and Marvel to services like Netflix.

The growth of Netflix has been fast, creating a large following of 103.95 million subscribers. The Los Angeles Times claims that the streaming giant appeals to younger audiences who are turning away from the traditional cable media and other digital platforms. Netflix growth has spurred upheaval and led to fears of dominance, such as happened to the publishing industry under the onslaught of Amazon, which now exerts strong control over pricing and contracts.

In fear of losing control over pricing and subject matter of content, Disney chose to part with Netflix. The continuous popularity of the streaming giant threatens the Disney business model. Disney is particularly well-positioned to make a bid to protect sovereignty over content, as they have long experience in broadcast and distribution. Delivery of content is not necessarily their primary business, but it is not uncharted territory either.

But profit is certainly the primary driver for Disney’s sudden move. The company had weak third-quarter earnings, at $2.37 billion, down by 9%.

Streaming sports like Major League Baseball games and other 10,000 sporting events will also attract people to subscribe to Disney’s new streaming platform. The service of ESPN, which has been a long profit engine for Disney, is expected to be available.

Disney vs. Netflix


The decision of Disney to remove its films from Netflix is not the only problem that the company is facing right now. Netflix is burning through cash at an astounding rate and needs continuous cash infusions just to keep operating. They have high debts, and while they have become the consumer go-to for cheap streaming services, it has been called an insult to the film industry and is making enemies of high-quality content providers almost as quickly as it gains new customers.

It raises the question of the long-term viability of Netflix.

Ted Sarandos, the Chief of Content for Netflix, stated that “Netflix knew there would be fallout from studios like Disney and Fox, who began pulling its shows from the service earlier this year.”

Sarandos knew the split was in the offing and began to invest heavily in original content back in 2015. Netflix is prepared to spend $5 billion on original movies and series this year. Original content can shield them from the departure of Disney and other major studios.

Netflix Original Content

Netflix has a line-up of shows and series that may give the company staying power. Many of them are targeted to niche markets, while others have had wide appeal.


  • Master of None
  • BoJack Horseman
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Dear White People
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Lady Dynamite
  • Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
  • Stranger Things
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return
  • Narcos
  • Easy
  • One Day at a Time
  • The OA
  • Jessica Jones
  • Ozark
  • Girlboss
  • GLOW
  • House of Cards
  • Bloodline
  • Love
  • W/Bob & David
  • The Get Down
  • The Characters
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • 13 Reasons Why
  • Sense8
  • Friends From College
  • Haters Back Off!
  • Santa Clarita Diet
  • The Ranch
  • Luke Cage
  • Marco Polo
  • The Crown
  • Daredevil
  • Gypsy
  • Flaked
  • Hemlock Grove
  • Fuller House
  • F Is for Family

Disney Streaming Strategy

Unlike Disney that is just starting the streaming service, there are other media companies that have already sailed their way into streaming different shows. Showtime, Starz, CBS, HBO and even the Tennis Channel has their own digital channels.


Disney has been more reliant on its legacy cable channels for distribution. But they have a relationship with BAMtech, a streaming company that is essentially owned by MLB Advanced Media.

Disney will purchase majority ownership of BAMTech for $1.58 billion, giving them chops in the streaming service industry. Iger said, “We felt that having control of a platform we’ve been very impressed with after buying 33% of it a year ago would give us control of our destiny.”

Either because of profit loss or the sudden change of traditional media, one thing is for sure, that Disney intends to be a leader in a diversified media landscape. The company will directly cater to both cable and internet services, and avoid the trap of becoming subservient to streaming services like Netflix. This will allow Disney to continue to focus on high quality content that has been its hallmark over almost a century.

It’s a bold move for Disney, but the time to do it is now.



LAPD Drone Program Draws Public Debate Yet Still On Operation

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) drone program has once again proposed to use as a technology via a one-year pilot program, despite public objections.

Back in 2014, a pair of drones donated to the LAPD drone program was stored away to an unknown fate due to several protests. Citizens of Los Angeles, many of whom were already concerned about aggressive police tactics, were concerned about using drones for surveillance.

Beck said that he wants public feedback and approval first before flying them, stating, “I will not sacrifice public support for a piece of police equipment.”

Seattle police experienced similar criticism when they attempted to use drone devices. Then-Mayor Mike McGinn pulled the plug on the program before it had the chance to begin officially. Recently, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department also faced backlash after using a drone to help deputies oversee hostage crises, arson scenes, and bomb threats; activists and a majority of the civilian oversight body criticized this their use, despite the department’s promise to not use drones to monitor or track residents.

Elsewhere across the country, law enforcement welcomed the idea of drones as a valuable technology that could monitor armed suspects, find missing hikers, and other unmanned duties that would protect citizens and enhance officers’ safety.

Over 350 public safety departments nationwide have already acquired drones. However, privacy advocates and police critics condemn the use of what they believe to be inappropriate – and potentially illegal – surveillance devices, with the possibility of military-grade, weaponized drones flying over the civilian population.

This fear of police militarization prompted public protests from about three dozen activists last month, denouncing drone use before LAPD drone program had the chance to put their proposal formally to the Police Commission. “Drone-free LAPD!” they chanted. “No drones L.A.!”

If the Police Commission approves the LAPD drone program, measuring a foot long by 7½ inches tall, such devices may help gather vital information without putting officers at risk. This may include hostage situations, bomb scares, shootings, standoffs with barricaded suspects, and the like. Drones are a useful technology in events like this, and why, despite the protests, the Commission will probably approve their use in a limited scope of activities.

Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala stated the LAPD would create strict criteria before flying the drones, and each rule requires approval from a high-ranking department official, in addition to written reports and documentation.

When revisiting potential drone use, Girmala said the LAPD was cautious about it, as they did not want to risk the public’s trust for something that is “already controversial in our community.” She explained that if approved, drone use “had to be very methodical and … thoughtful.”

Public Safety and Drones

Public Safety and Drones
Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, said that it’s often how a department acts and explains drone use to the public that widely affects how residents react to them. According to him, many other agencies have successfully adopted the technology without much public reaction.

He explained that the word “drone” alone creates an implication, as people have associated it with the thought that military drones are being used by the police – a sensitive topic in the United States where the separation of powers prevents the military operations upon citizens.

The National Conference of State Legislatures revealed that at least 18 states adopted rules requiring law enforcement agencies to acquire warrants before drone usage, especially for surveillance or search purposes. The California Legislature created a similar proposal, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it in 2014.

Some states’ actions, however, have only added to the mistrust of drones. In 2015, North Dakota became the first state to legalize police drones, ones that had devices like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas. Connecticut attempted a similar bill that would make weaponized drones legal for police but eventually decided against it.

Girmala addressed these worries, assuring that LAPD drone program will not be weaponized at all and that officers require a search warrant signed by a judge whenever necessary. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck backed this after the commission meeting, stating that these drones are essential “just another set of eyes.”

LAPD reportedly received two Draganflyer X6 drones from Seattle police – the ones they had to get rid of when they received major criticisms from concerned Seattleites. Even so, Beck said that he wants public feedback and approval first before flying them. “I will not sacrifice public support for a piece of police equipment,” he said at the time.

After years of being kept locked in the LAPD inspector general’s office, the drones in question were destroyed earlier this week as they were obsolete and therefore are not what the department is thinking of using. Also, she said the LAPD still has not looked at specific models they want to test in the pilot program.

Girmala had told the Police Commission that SWAT officers would use the drones, to which many opponents present reacted negatively to. Jamie Garcia, a Stop LAPD Spying Coalition member, wanted to “drop the idea” and stated that they would “fight it to the very end.”

Activists have publicly renounced the LAPD drone program gives fear to people by being observed, it is alarming to many residents who felt targeted by the police.

Melanie Ochoa, an American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California attorney, said that drones “represent a significant threat to privacy [and] … should only be approved after a robust public discussion.”

The LAPD has been pioneers when it comes to public safety, becoming the forerunners in equipment (helicopters) and tactics (SWAT). With this in mind, overseeing and taking care of a city just shy of 500 square miles, the use of drones is, in theory, an efficient way to access and respond to crime reports without limiting themselves to going on foot and via patrol cars. Aerial access is fast, automated, and – to an extent – unmanned.

This heated discussion caused the union to give out a bold statement. “It’s time for the conspiracy theorists and professional protesters to stop obstructing every effort we make to keep Angelenos safe,” they said. Girmala tried to reassure that the pro-drone LAPD understands and respect citizens’ concerns. “I believe … that time will prove that we are as careful and respectful of peoples’ rights as humanly possible,” she affirmed.