Warning: This post contains potential spoilers for The Bachelor Season 22, Episode 4.
The fourth week of 2018 is already a big one for the nation—a government shutdown, the second annual Women's March and, of course, the next round of eliminations on ABC's The Bachelor.
Monday night's episode of the reality dating show may be the best (read: worst) yet. We're down to 15 women competing for a marriage proposal from Arie Luyendyk Jr., a former professional racecar driver. This week, the ladies are in survival mode—literally. The producers forced them to complete a "survival training" in the woods for this week's group date. According to a promo clip, "surviving" means eating worms.
Another promo hinted at an epic showdown with this season's youngest contestant. Fans have long been suspicious of Bekah M., who was the only cast member to leave her age out of her official ABC bio. A bit of social media stalking revealed Bekah is likely 22 years old, while Luyendyk is 36.
Apparently, the show kept her age quiet for a dramatic, sexy reveal. "Wait, do you know how old I am?" Bekah demands in the episode clip, to Luyendyk's shocked reaction. ABC unfortunately dubbed this reveal "The Bekah-ning."
So will that 14-year age difference be enough for Luyendyk to send Bekah home?
Warning: Stop reading now if you want don't want The Bachelor Season 22 Episode 4 spoilers.
There are rumors out there, thanks to Bachelor fansite Reality Steve, which reports on spoilers in advance. As The Bachelor films months before it airs, leaks do happen. Reality Steve is often—though not always—accurate in his predictions.
Despite the age gap, Luyendyk does not send Bekah home, Reality Steve claimed. Instead, he gives her a rose after their one-on-one date in a hot tub. The other one-on-one date goes to Seinne, the 27-year-old real estate manager. The two reportedly had a nice time parasailing in Zephyr Cove, and Seinne gets a rose at the end of the night.
So if Reality Steve is correct, there are two eliminations at the rose ceremony: Caroline, the 26-year-old realtor from Massachusetts, and Brittany T., the 30-year-old tech recruiter from South Carolina. But a total of three women go home this week. Maquel, the 23-year-old photographer from Utah, chooses to leave voluntarily after learning that her grandfather died.
And so we are one week closer to one lucky lady receiving a tentative proposal from a man they've known for less than six months. Stay tuned!
Leaves from the kratom tree, which grows in Southeast Asia and is distantly related to coffee plants, have been touted as a potential treatment for opioid withdrawal, among other conditions. However, drugs made from these leaves carry "deadly risks," Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Kratom has a particular compound, called mitragynine, which binds to the same receptors as opioids like heroin, Chemical & Engineering News reported. Adherents believe it has therapeutic potential, particularly because the drug works on those same receptors.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the American Kratom Association—yes, it exists—has lobbied to have kratom recognized as "a safe alternative to legal and illegal opioids." (A representative from the association could not be reached on Tuesday.) STAT reporter Eric Boodman even found a kratom vending machine in a sub shop in Arizona.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) nearly made it a Schedule 1 drug in 2016, which would have put it in the same category as heroin, marijuana and LSD, but ultimately scrapped the plan.
In this photo illustration, capsules of the herbal supplement kratom are seen on May 10, 2016, in Miami. The herbal supplement is a psychoactive drug derived from the leaves of the kratom plant and it's been reported that people are using the supplement to get high and some states are banning it. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
However, the FDA is not convinced that kratom belongs in unregulated hands. "The FDA knows people are using kratom to treat conditions like pain, anxiety and depression, which are serious medical conditions that require proper diagnosis and oversight from a licensed health care provider," Gottlieb stated in a press release. "We also know that this substance is being actively marketed and distributed for these purposes. Importantly, evidence shows that kratom has similar effects to narcotics like opioids, and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and in some cases, death." Some studies back up this claim; a paper published in January 2016 suggested that kratom might be addictive itself, based on experiments done with mice and rats.)
Specifically, Gottlieb noted, poison control centers received ten times more calls about kratom in 2015 than they did in 2010. Thirty-six people died after taking products that had kratom in them. Some products have dangerous substances other than kratom in them, including opioids. "The use of kratom is also associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms," Gottlieb noted.
"Given all these considerations, we must ask ourselves whether the use of kratom—for recreation, pain or other reasons—could expand the opioid epidemic. Alternatively, if proponents are right and kratom can be used to help treat opioid addiction, patients deserve to have clear, reliable evidence of these benefits," he said.
The Food and Drug Administration approved a groundbreaking gene therapy to treat a rare form of blindness Wednesday. The drug, Luxturna, is intended to treat a genetic form of blindness called retinal blindness that affects about 1,000 to 2,000 people in the United States. The price of the treatment—widely speculated to be $1 million—will not be announced until early January, according to a spokesperson.
"It really is a trailblazer for using gene delivery," Stephen Rose tells Newsweek. Rose is the chief scientific officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which funded some of the preliminary research on the therapy. (The treatment, first developed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has been licensed to Spark Therapeutics.)
"Now there's a map that shows how you do it, what needs to be done, what the FDA and other regulatory groups are going to be looking for," he said. "It provides that proof of concept and proof of principle in humans that it's doable."
An eye is seen August 11, 2005 in Sydney, Australia. Ian Waldie/Getty Images
Gene therapy can be defined, broadly, as treatments using genes in some way. Genes can cause or contribute to myriad diseases, either because they are expressed or because they are not. (Expressed, generally, means that the genes are used to create proteins, which can then do stuff within a cell or outside of it.)
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb referred to this year as "an inflection point in medicine and health" during a press conference on Tuesday.
Luxturna's approval could even open the door to approvals of other gene-based therapies, Rose said, including gene editing tools like CRISPR. Gene editing would create a permanent change in the genetic code of a cell. In Luxturna's case, the treatment is based on putting in extra copies of a gene into retinal cells.
The copies are delivered through a virus that's injected underneath a patient's retina. From those copies of the gene, called RPE-65, cells' own machinery can create more of the protein that they're missing. In this case, that protein is crucial to retinal cells' surival and ability to send signals to the brain. Because Luxturna doesn't permanently modify the DNA sequence of cells, that means that if the cell eventually breaks down those spare copies of the gene, then the cells will wind up right back where they started—with not enough protein being made.
When asked if the experience of Luxturna's approval might influence the FDA's approach to a future gene editing-based therapy, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said that each approval has helped the agency understand what exactly needs to be evaluated. That includes the way treatments are manufactured and the monitoring that's done after patients are treated. "I think this is helping the agency develop increasing amount of knowledge that will help us," he said. "Obviously every new product will have new aspects and new challenges to it."
According to a press release from the University of Pennsylvania, 41 patients in the United States have been treated with the therapy so far. “It has been amazing watching them grow up,” said Bennett. “It’s like they are an extended part of our family," Dr. Jean Bennett, one of the leaders of the research behind the therapy said in a press release.
In the future, Luxturna will be offered at a few centers across the country.
A performing elephant, famous for his appearances in movies and commercials, recently trampled and gored his handler to death in Thailand.
Phlai Ekasit, a 32-year-old elephant who has spent most of his life in the entertainment industry, has turned on his handler. An English-language Thai news site called Khaosod English reported that the unprompted, yet enraged Asian elephant turned toward his handler, grabbed him with his trunk, and trampled and gored the man with his feet and tusks.
According to Agence France-Presse, witnesses at Chiang Mai Zoo said elephant handler Somsak Riangngern had just unchained the animal so that Ekasit could drink and bathe. Other handlers insist that Ekasit had never been violent, and that Somsak hadn’t agitated the elephant in any way that day.
An elephant in the Thai tourism industry. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
There are two possible reasons that the elephant might have decided to attack his handler. One reason is that he was in musth, similar to the “rut” in deer. Like many mammals, male elephants become agitated and aggressive when their testosterone levels rise and they are ready to mate. Bull elephants will seek out female elephants and become more aggressive, advertising their fertility with loud noises and strong smells. You can easily tell if an elephant is in musth because he’ll secrete a fluid from either side of his head.
Animal welfare groups like PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, suggest another motivation, or at least a compounding factor in Ekasit’s violent behavior. The day Ekasit killed Somsak didn’t appear to include direct harm or harassment to the elephant, but PETA Asia suggests that the stress caused by life restricted to the confines of zoos and circuses might have caused Ekasit to attack. “Is it any wonder that some of these gentle giants eventually become fed up of being chained while living in small enclosures a fraction of the size of their natural habitats and fight back?” PETA wrote in a statement following the incident.
Thailand is notorious for its elephant tourism, where foreigners pay to see, pet or ride on elephants. The global animal welfare group World Animal Protection published a report in July stating that 77 percent of the nearly 3,000 elephants that they surveyed in the Asian tourism industry were kept in “severely cruel” conditions.
The zoo, where Ekasit was under contract to stay until April, issued an apology to Somsak’s family, according to the Khaosod English article. The article also states Somsak’s wife was there and witnessed the death.
Lin-Manuel Miranda's new benefit single, "Almost Like Praying," is finally available to stream on Spotify and to purchase on iTunes for $1.29. All proceeds will go to the Hispanic Federation's Hurricane Relief Fund to support Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
In addition to Miranda's own vocals, the track features a number of high-profile Latino guest stars, including Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Rubén Blades, Luis Fonsi, Rita Moreno and Gina Rodriguez. The lyrics to the song are a list of the 78 towns and cities in Puerto Rico, where Miranda was born.
Atlantic Records released a behind-the-scenes music video on Friday featuring the many stars in the recording booth.
Musical theater fans will likely recognize the opening lines of the song: "Say it soft, and it's almost like praying." The Hamilton creator confirmed to People on Wednesday that "Almost Like Praying" is indeed a remake of West Side Story's "Maria." It is, of course, also the name of the hurricane that caused the destruction and despair in Puerto Rico.
"Maria" was first published in 1956, with music by the show's composer, Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Like Miranda's take on the tune, the song itself is quite simple: The lead character Tony is in love with a girl named Maria and so sings her name over and over. He says "Maria" 27 times throughout the song in the show's orginal lyrics.
"Maria" was made popular by Jimmy Bryant, who sang the voice of Tony in the 1961 West Side Story film, though the role was played on screen by Richard Beymer. Beymer is best remembered wandering wide-eyed around the set in rose-tinted lighting, as he reflects on the beautiful woman he'd just met.
In the story, Maria Nunez is a Puerto Rican immigrant, while Tony Wyzek is the leader of a white gang in New York City. Like Romeo and Juliet, the Shakespearean couple on which Tony and Maria are based, they are star-crossed lovers from feuding families and friends. In the Oscar-winning film adaptation, Maria is played by Natalie Wood, a white actress. Marni Nixon, who also was white, voiced Maria's songs in the film.
Miranda has been a West Side Story fanatic for some time. He played Bernardo in his sixth-grade show and directed a production in his senior year. He later translated the 2009 Broadway revival of the show.
Miranda also honored the musical's legacy with his first Tony-award winning hit, In the Heights, in which he cast Latino actors.