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Night owls die young in a world scheduled for early birds

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The researchers looked at surveys of more than 400,000 people taking part in a large British study of genes and health. As part of a detailed questionnaire, they were asked whether they tended to be night owls or morning larks.

There wasn’t much difference among people who fell in the middle. But there was a notable difference between the two extremes, said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We found that the night owls had a 10 percent increased risk of dying over about a six and a half year period. And that was even after we took into account things like existing health problems,” Knutson told NBC News.

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It’s not a lack of sleep — both groups got about the same amount, Knutson and her colleague Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey, reported in the journal Chronobiology International.

“I think the problem arises because a night owl is trying to live in a morning lark world,” Knutson said. “If the body is expecting you to do something at a certain time like sleep or eat and you’re doing it at the quote ‘wrong’ time, then your body’s physiology may not be working as well.”

Researchers know the body clock is important. Three scientists who study the body’s internal clock won the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year. Their work, done over decades, helps explain how life adapts to the 24-hour cycle of day, and also how diseases such as cancer arise in the cells.

Studies indicate that switches to and from daylight savings time can raise the immediate risk of death over the following days, and others show the health risks of shift work.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, says shift work probably causes cancer. It’s linked with breast cancer and other types of cancers, as well as diabetes and sleep disruption.

Those studies support the idea that working against the body’s natural inclination can be hazardous to your health.

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Knutson and Von Schantz looked at how people answered the early bird question. “Approximately, 27 percent identified as definite morning types, 35 percent as moderate morning types, 28 percent as moderate evening types and 9 percent as definite evening types,” they wrote.

It was the 9 percent of people who said they were “definite” evening types who had the 10 percent increase risk of dying from something over the next six or so years.

“Neither of the two intermediate groups was associated with increased risk of all cause mortality,” they added.

There could be many reasons. People who stay up later eat fattier foods, drink more alcohol and are more likely to use recreational drugs. They have more exposure to artificial light, as well.

“Greater eveningness has also been associated with depression and mood disorders, particularly in those 50 years or older,” the researchers added.

But the stress of trying to live against their natures could be at fault, they proposed.

“The health of evening types could be compromised by misalignment between their endogenous biological clocks and the timing of social activities (e.g. work or meals), termed circadian misalignment,” they wrote.

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What can people do?

“You can’t just suddenly go to bed three hours earlier tonight because it won’t work,” Knutson said.

Confirmed night owls must make sure to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, she said.

But society should also recognize that some people have a genetic tendency to sleep later.

“If we can recognize these chronotypes are, in part, genetically determined and not just a character flaw, jobs and work hours could have more flexibility for owls,” Knutson said.

“This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored,” von Schantz added.

“We should discuss allowing evening types to start and finish work later, where practical. And we need more research about how we can help evening types cope with the higher effort of keeping their body clock in synchrony with sun time.”

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China’s president Xi Jinping says the world must co-operate on climate change | World News

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China’s president has said the world needs to work together to balance economic development and the destruction of the natural world.

It comes just a week after Xi Jinping promised China – the world’s worst polluter and an economic super power – would be carbon neutral by 2060.

In another landmark speech, he told the UN biodiversity summit: “At present there exists an acceleration of the global extinction of species.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is pictured in his pre-recorded UN address
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It was the president’s second recent pre-recorded UN address

“The loss of biodiversity and degradation of the ecosystem pose a major risk to human survival and development.

“It falls to all of us to act together. We need to respect nature, follow its laws and protect it. We need to find a way for man and nature to live in harmony and balance and coordinate economic development and ecological protection.”

It came as a new study by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London collated the findings of 210 scientists from 42 countries.

They estimated forty per cent of plant species are at risk of extinction, hundreds of medicinal plants are threatened and only a tiny fraction of plants are being used for food and fuel.

Professor Phil Stevenson told Sky News: “The attention that is being drawn to biodiversity loss at high levels around the world I think is a really positive thing.

“This report will provide those decision makers, and also individuals at home, with new information and more information on making better decisions about conserving the diversity of plants and funghi.”

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It seems hard to re-imagine China as a champion of climate change and biodiversity given the environmental devastation caused by its break-neck speed of economic transformation. So has China really turned over a new leaf?

Isabel Hilton, CEO of China Dialogue, said: “On the analogy of the prodigal son, isn’t it better that China has got to the point of understanding how damaging its previous policies were, and is now exerting leadership in a number of ways.”

It’s easy to make promises but the world will be watching to see whether those with the power actually make a difference on biodiversity and climate change.

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US presidential debate: ‘A wild ride’ for Pennsylvania viewers | World News

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Much of America stayed at home to watch the big debate.

“The home schooling’s keeping them in,” explained Mike McCloskey, owner of the Railroad Street Bar & Grill in Linfield, Pennsylvania. “Teaching kids in the morning is even harder after a hard night.”









First US presidential debate – highlights

It didn’t prevent a sprinkling of the politically-attuned gathering in this self-styled “upbeat hub for brews,” by the Norfolk Southern rail line that runs freight through their swing state.

In the United States, they say if you don’t win Pennsylvania, you don’t win the country.

After an hour and a half of watching the debate, the verdict in Linfield favoured Donald Trump, albeit not unanimously.

Colleen Dougherty said Mr Trump 'owned' the debate
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Colleen Dougherty said Mr Trump ‘owned’ the debate
John Lappin said Mr Trump 'is a leader of our country. It really isn't much more difficult than that'
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John Lappin said Mr Trump ‘is a leader of our country. It really isn’t much more difficult than that’

Colleen Dougherty told Sky News: “I think that Donald Trump owned this. I don’t think that Joe Biden really had anything to really bring to the table. I was really hoping that he would. And we didn’t really have anything.”

John Lappin saw Mr Trump as the victor. He said: “One came with a piece of paper in front of them that can only read from that. The other one is a leader of our country. It really isn’t much more difficult than that.

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Others didn’t declare a clear winner, but did see a loser – the voting public.

Meredith Warren said: “This is terrible, all around. This is very upsetting to watch, but this is the best representation for our country right now. I think they’re both little kids going back and forth to each other. They didn’t answer any questions.”

Meredith Warren called it 'terrible, all around' and 'very upsetting to watch'
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Meredith Warren called it ‘terrible, all around’ and ‘very upsetting to watch’
Watching the presidential debate in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania is seen by many as an election bellwether

Mr McCloskey added: “It was a wild ride, it went right, it went left. There was a lot going on, there was a lot of interruption.

“Right now, watching that, I would feel really bad for the American people. Because there was no order. It was all over the place. And I understand why people look at us as a laughing stock. I don’t believe anybody won that debate.”

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Democratic Republic of Congo: More than 50 women allege abuse by Ebola aid workers | UK News

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More than 50 women have alleged that they have been sexually abused or exploited in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Ebola aid workers who said they were from some of the world’s top humanitarian organisations.

The allegations centre around the town of Beni, one of the epicentres of the country’s 10th and most deadly Ebola outbreak which started in 2018.

In an interview, 51 women recounted multiple incidents of abuse and claimed the men who exploited them identified themselves as being with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, World Vision, medical charity Alima and the UN’s migration agency, IOM.

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. File pic
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The Ebola outbreak badly affected eastern areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. File pic

The allegations follow a joint investigation by The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The majority of women said they were plied with drinks, others ambushed in offices and hospitals, and some locked in rooms by men who promised jobs or threatened to fire them if they did not comply.

“So many women were affected by this,” said one 44-year-old woman, who explained that to get a job she had to have sex with a man who said he was a WHO worker.

She and the other women spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

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“I can’t think of someone who worked in the response who didn’t have to offer something,” she added.

Some women were cooks, cleaners and community outreach workers hired on short-term contracts, earning $50 to $100 (£40 to £80) a month – more than twice the normal wage.

At least two women said they became pregnant and others said the abuse occurred as recently as March.

The number and similarity of many of the accounts from women in the eastern city of Beni suggest the practice was widespread, with three organisations vowing to investigate the accusations.

UN secretary-general António Guterres called for the allegations to be “investigated fully”.

The WHO said it was investigating the allegations, affirming that it had a “zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse”.

“The actions allegedly perpetrated by individuals identifying themselves as working for WHO are unacceptable and will be robustly investigated,” it said in a statement.

“The betrayal of people in the communities we serve is reprehensible and we do not tolerate such behaviour in any of our staff, contractors or partners.

“Anyone identified as being involved will be held to account and face serious consequences, including immediate dismissal.”

Following the allegations against WHO, a Foreign Office spokesperson, said: “Sexual exploitation and abuse are completely abhorrent. We regularly assess all of our partners against the highest safeguarding standards and expect thorough investigations whenever allegations are made.

“The World Health Organisation has confirmed it is urgently investigating these allegations. We will scrutinise their findings closely.”

Spokespeople for IOM, MSF, UNICEF and DRC’s health ministry told both agencies in mid-September they did not know about the accusations before they were presented to them and several said they would need more information to take action.

Oxfam said it does “everything in our power to prevent misconduct and to investigate and act on allegations when they arise, including supporting survivors”.

Meanwhile, an Alima spokesperson said that after investigations earlier this year, two employees were dismissed for sexual harassment and that they had launched a new investigation after the recent reporting.

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