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  • Lady Gaga says she has PTSD after being raped at 19

    Lady Gaga (and her mother) spent the Thanksgiving holiday at a shelter for LGBTQ youth in New YorkImage copyrightLADY GAGA / TWITTERImage captionLady Gaga (sitting next to her mother Cynthia) during her visit to New York's homeless centre

    US pop star Lady Gaga says she has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since being raped at the age of 19.

    She revealed her mental illness during a visit to a homeless shelter for young LGBT people last month.

    In a TV interview about the visit, she said: "I suffer from a mental illness - I suffer from PTSD. I've never told anyone that before."

    Lady Gaga, now 30, first spoke publicly about the rape two years ago.

    She has since admitted she blamed herself and did not tell anyone about it for seven years.

    'Deepest secrets'

    Her interview with the Today Show, which was broadcast on NBC on Monday, is the first time she has talked about having PTSD.

    During her visit to the Ali Forney Centre in New York, she told the homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers that her trauma helped her understand others.

    "The kindness that's been shown to me, by doctors as well as my family and my friends, it's really saved my life," the singer said, after bringing presents to the astonished teenagers at the centre.

    "Meditation helps me to calm down," she said, adding that she was struggling with her mental illness "every day".

    Lady Gaga later tweeted: "Today I shared one my deepest secrets w/ the world. Secrets keep you sick w/ shame."

    Tweet from @ladygaga: To the LGBTQs at AliForneyCenter thank you for sharing your stories, traume and pain with me and the world today. Your kindness is contagiousImage copyrightTWITTERImage captionGaga paid tribute to the others she met during her trip to the centre

    A tearful young person from the centre she visited said: "Lady Gaga's act of kindness today was a reminder that love still exists - and that there's still some for me."

    On social media, her fans opened up with their own experiences in response.

    "I remember how your music and your spirit got me through really hard times," one user tweeted back to the singer. "Now I'm 1723 days self-harm free."

    "I have something to tell you. I also suffer from PTSD. This is the first time I say it too. I love you and I admire you so much," another replied.


    What is PTSD?

    Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder which can develop after a very stressful, frightening or distressing event, or a prolonged traumatic experience.

    People naturally feel afraid when in danger, but the legacy of some traumatic events is a change in perception of fear.

    They may feel stressed or frightened in day-to-day life.

    It can be caused by any traumatic event - including military conflict, serious road accidents, natural disasters, sexual assaults, and muggings.

    Sufferers typically tend to re-experience the event in flashbacks, avoid talking about it, have trouble sleeping, or experience a change in mood.


    Lady Gaga is one of the world's most successful contemporary artists, with a string of hits across her first five albums. Her sixth, Joanne, was released in October.

    The star has long been an advocate for the LGBTQ community; campaigning for Hillary Clinton during the election and protesting outside Trump Tower when the results were announced.

    Last week, she gave her backing to gay rights during Donald Trump's presidency, telling the BBC "we are going to do everything that we can to protect the social progress we have made over the last eight years".

    Read more »
  • Gogglebox stars react to Scarlett Moffatt's I'm A Celeb jungle win

    Scarlett Moffatt

    Scarlett Moffatt is the new queen of the jungle and says she felt "dizzy" after finding out she'd won.

    It doesn't come as much of a surprise to some of her co-stars on Channel 4's Gogglebox - the show that made her famous.

    The show's stars have tweeted their support to the 26-year-old following her win over Joel Dommett.

    It's not yet clear if Scarlett and her family will be returning to the show that made them famous.

    Producers have told Newsbeat they've "not had any conversations with Scarlett about leaving or returning to Gogglebox after her stint in the jungle."

    He continued: "Your light-hearted, joyful demeanour makes me (and the rest of the country) feel like we've been lifelong friends! That's been the best thing about watching you in the jungle, getting to know you. Your sofa comments had me in stitches, but the jungle let us see so many new sides to you, each more charming and endearing than the last. The people close to you are lucky to have you in their lives.

    "And I'm so grateful that you shared yourself with the rest of the nation over the last three weeks, it's been a BALL."

    Leon and June described her time in the jungle as "absolutely wonderful".

    Steph and Dom wrote that there was no better woman for the job of queen of the jungle.

    They got the booze out to celebrate.

    And the praise kept coming.

    Her husband Graham agreed.

    The Tappers said it was "well deserved" and the McCormicks posted they were "very happy" for the Moffatt family as did Eve Woerdenweber.

    Read more »
  • Four major cities move to ban diesel vehicles by 2025

    Paris pollutionImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionAir quality in Paris has forced political leaders to take a hard stance on the use of diesel

    The leaders of four major global cities say they will stop the use of all diesel-powered cars and trucks by the middle of the next decade.

    The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens say they are implementing the ban to improve air quality.

    They say they will give incentives for alternative vehicle use and promote walking and cycling.

    The commitments were made in Mexico at a biennial meeting of city leaders.

    The use of diesel in transport has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, as concerns about its impact on air quality have grown. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that around three million deaths every year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution.

    Diesel cars: What's all the fuss about?

    London air quality alerts announced

    Diesel engines contribute to the problem in two key ways - through the production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Very fine soot PM can penetrate the lungs and can contribute to cardiovascular illness and death.

    Nitrogen oxides can help form ground level ozone and this can exacerbate breathing difficulties, even for people without a history of respiratory problems.

    As the evidence has mounted, environmental groups have used the courts to try and enforce clear air standards and regulations. In the UK, campaigners have recently had success in forcing the government to act more quickly.

    Now, mayors from a number of major cities with well known air quality problems have decided to use their authority to clamp down on the use of diesel.


    Analysis

    madridImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionMadrid will ban diesel-powered vehicles from 2025

    By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

    The diesel ban is hugely significant. Carmakers will look at this decision and know it's just a matter of time before other city mayors follow suit.

    The history of vehicle manufacture shows that firms that do not keep up with environmental improvements will fail in a global market. The biggest shapers of automobile design are not carmakers, but rulemakers.

    There is already a rush to improve electric and hydrogen cars and hybrids. That will now become a stampede.

    There is an ironic twist to this. Governments originally promoted diesel vehicles because they produce fewer of the CO2 emissions that are increasing climate change.

    But manufacturers misled governments about their ability to clean up the local pollution effects, so now diesel vehicles are being banned to clean up local air.

    In their place will come electric and hydrogen vehicles, which are perfect for climate policy, if the power comes from renewables. Strange world.

    Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin


    At the C40 meeting of urban leaders in Mexico, the four mayors declared that they would ban all diesel vehicles by 2025 and "commit to doing everything in their power to incentivise the use of electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles".

    "It is no secret that in Mexico City, we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic," said the city's mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera.

    "By expanding alternative transportation options like our Bus Rapid Transport and subway systems, while also investing in cycling infrastructure, we are working to ease congestion in our roadways and our lungs."

    Paris has already taken a series of steps to cut the impact of diesel cars and trucks. Vehicles registered before 1997 have already been banned from entering the city, with restrictions increasing each year until 2020.

    Once every month, the Champs-Élysées is closed to traffic, while very recently a 3km (1.8m) section of the right bank of the Seine river that was once a two-lane motorway, has been pedestrianised.

    "Our city is implementing a bold plan - we will progressively ban the most polluting vehicles from the roads, helping Paris citizens with concrete accompanying measures," said Anne Hidalgo, the city's mayor.

    "Our ambition is clear and we have started to roll it out: we want to ban diesel from our city, following the model of Tokyo, which has already done the same."

    Many of the measures being proposed to cut air pollution have a knock-on benefit of curbing the emissions that exacerbate global warming as well.

    "The quality of the air that we breathe in our cities is directly linked to tackling climate change," said the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena.

    "As we reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated in our cities, our air will become cleaner and our children, our grandparents and our neighbours will be healthier."

    Many of the plans outlined by the mayors meeting in Mexico are already having a positive impact.

    In Barcelona, extra journeys by publicly available bicycles have reduced the CO2 emissions by over 9,000 tonnes - the equivalent of more than 21 million miles driven by an average vehicle.

    Read more »
  • Saturn mission approaches tour finale

    The end phases of the mission should yield new information about Saturn's interiorImage copyrightCASSINI IMAGING TEAM/SSI/JPL/ESA/NASAImage captionThe end phases of the mission should yield new information about Saturn's interior

    The Cassini spacecraft is beginning the end phases of its mission to Saturn.

    Having spent 12 years flying around the ringed planet and its moons at a relatively safe distance, the probe is now about to undertake a series of daredevil manoeuvres.

    These will see the satellite repeatedly dive extremely close to - and through - the rings over the next nine months.

    The manoeuvres will culminate in Cassini dumping itself in the atmosphere of the giant planet.

    This destructive ending is necessary because the spacecraft is running low on fuel.

    Nasa (US space agency), which leads the Cassini mission, needs to make sure that an out-of-control probe cannot at some future date crash into any of Saturn’s moons - in particular, Enceladus and Titan.

    There is a chance these moons harbour life, and however remote the possibility - a colliding satellite could introduce contamination from Earth. This must not be allowed to happen.

    But in the lead up to its safe disposal - set for 15 September next year - Cassini should gather some remarkable science.

    Starting on Wednesday, Cassini will repeatedly climb high above Saturn's north pole before then plunging to a point just outside the F ring (the outer boundary of the main ring system).

    The probe will do 20 such orbits, even sampling some of the particles and gasses associated with the F ring.

    Artwork: Cassini plunging between the rings and the planet's cloudtopsImage copyrightNASAImage captionArtwork: Cassini plunging between the rings and the planet's cloudtops

    Starting on 22 April next year, Cassini will then initiate a series of dives that take it in between the inner edge of the rings and the planet’s atmosphere.

    On occasion, it could pass less than 2,000km above Saturn’s cloud tops.

    As well as returning some spectacular imagery of the rings and moonlets previously seen only from a large distance, these upcoming manoeuvres are designed to permit close-up investigation of Saturn’s interior.

    “One of the big outstanding questions at Saturn, for example, is: we don’t know how long a day is. We have a large error. It’s 10.7 hours plus or minus 0.2 hours,” said magnetic field instrument principal investigator, Prof Michele Dougherty.

    “Come and ask me afterwards but I think what we learn about the internal structure of the planet could be among the great discoveries of mission,” the Imperial College London, UK, scientist told BBC News.

    Interestingly, many of the unknowns at Saturn are similar to the ones also now being pursued by Nasa’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter - fascinating mysteries such as whether there is a solid core at the planet's centre.

    “It’s as if we’re about to do a whole new mission at Saturn - a Juno-type mission at Saturn,” said Prof Dougherty.

    Cassini is a cooperative venture between Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian space agency.

    The probe launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in July 2004.

    Key discoveries have included the determination that Enceladus is spewing water into space from a sub-surface ocean, and that Titan is a strange Earth-like world where lakes and seas are fed by rivers and rain - except that all the liquid is made up of hydrocarbons such as methane.

    Read more »
  • Astronaut eye problems blamed on spinal fluid

    AstronautsImage copyrightNASAImage captionAstronauts Luca Parmitano and Michael Hopkins research vision changes on the International Space Station

    Scientists might have found the root cause of vision problems that affect some astronauts.

    Some spacefarers who stay in orbit for long periods develop blurry vision along with a suite of physical changes.

    Now, a team of researchers says that the syndrome might be related to changes in the clear fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

    The results from a small sample have been presented at a scientific meeting in Chicago, US.

    Over the last decade, flight surgeons and scientists at Nasa have seen a pattern of vision problems in astronauts on long-duration space missions.

    The syndrome, known as visual impairment intracranial pressure (VIIP), has been reported in nearly two-thirds of space explorers after long periods spent aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

    "People initially didn't know what to make of it, and by 2010 there was growing concern as it became apparent that some of the astronauts had severe structural changes that were not fully reversible upon return to Earth," said lead author Noam Alperin, from the University of Miami.

    Confused by space

    In addition to blurry vision, the astronauts exhibited flattening at the back of their eyeballs and inflammation at the head of the optic nerve.

    One idea is that the changes have been largely due to shifts in fluid occupying the body's vascular spaces. This moves towards the upper body when astronauts spend time in space.

    But Prof Alperin has been looking at another potential source of the problems - the cerebrospinal fluid. This helps cushion the brain and spinal cord, and can accommodate the changes when a person moves from a lying to a standing position.

    "In space the system is confused by the lack of the posture-related pressure changes," Prof Alperin explained.

    The team performed high-resolution MRI scans before and shortly after spaceflights for seven long-duration astronauts.

    They compared the results with nine astronauts who flew into orbit for short stints on the space shuttle.

    'Irreversible' damage

    The results showed that long-duration astronauts had significantly greater post-flight increases in the volume of CSF within the bony cavity of the skull that holds the eye, and also in the volume of CSF in the cavities of the brain where the fluid is produced.

    The sample size is small, and the results have not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. But Prof Alperin says the research points to a "primary and direct role of the CSF in the globe deformations seen in astronauts with visual impairment syndrome".

    "If the ocular structural deformations are not identified early, astronauts could suffer irreversible damage," he said, "as the eye globe becomes more flattened, the astronauts become hyperopic, or far-sighted."

    Prof Alperin has received a $600,000 grant from Nasa to study the condition.

    He outlined the findings at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago.

    Read more »
  • Huge glacier retreat triggered in 1940s

    The melting Antarctic glacier that now contributes more to sea-level rise than any other ice stream on the planet began its big decline in the 1940s.

    This is when warm ocean water likely first got under Pine Island Glacier (PIG) to loosen the secure footing it had enjoyed up until that point.

    Researchers figured out the timing by dating the sediments beneath the PIG.

    It puts the glacier’s current changes in their proper historical context, the scientists tell Nature magazine.

    These changes can now be regarded as unprecedented in thousands of years.

    Not only is the glacier going backwards, it is also thinning fast - losing more than 2m in elevation every year.

    Other field studies and computer models suggest a runaway collapse might even be possible. The PIG on its own could add up to 10mm to sea levels over the next couple of decades.

    "This glacier used to be pinned to a ridge and once it moved away from that ridge, it started to retreat rapidly; and without other pinning points it could continue to retreat rapidly inland, contributing significantly to global sea level," Dr James Smith from the British Antarctic Survey told BBC News.

     
    The PIG is a colossal feature that drains a region of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet some two-thirds the size of the UK.

    It is a marine-terminating glacier, which means its front flows off the land and pushes out into the ocean along the seafloor until its mass begins to lift up and float. Eventually, the buoyant section breaks up to form icebergs.

    Currently, the PIG is dumping about 130 billion tonnes of ice in the ocean every year.

    Image copyrightT.STANTONImage captionA hot water drill punched a hole through the overlying ice shelf to give access to the ridge

    Submersible surveys under its floating front - its "ice shelf" - had revealed the contact point with the seabed once draped over a large ridge.

    Having a "grounding line" in such a position would have helped anchor and constrain the whole glacier.

    Some of the earliest satellite imagery indicated the PIG must have broken free completely of this pinning bump in the 1970s, but when exactly it started to disengage was far less certain.

    It could have been many decades previously; several centuries or even millennia ago.

    Now, Dr Smith and colleagues look to have solved this problem.

    They drilled through the ice shelf to sample, analyse and date the muddy sediments that cover the ridge. And their investigation reveals that warm water is likely to have started to melt a cavity in the grounded glacier behind the pinch point in about the mid-1940s.

    One of the reasons they can be sure of the timing is because of where plutonium traces start to appear in the sediment layers.

    This radioisotope is a tell-tale signature for the atomic bomb tests that began in earnest after WWII and which peaked in the 1960s.

    It leaves open the question of why the unpinning of the PIG occurred when it did, but the team point to the strong warming the region would have experienced following a big El Nino event between 1939 and 1942.

    El Ninos are associated with the development of particular wind patterns and warm water movements in the Central Pacific, but the impacts affect weather globally.

    "It's an amazing teleconnection that far-field changes can really have a profound impact on the Antarctic ice sheet," said Dr Smith.

    Significantly, however, El Nino conditions have waxed and waned over the decades since, but the PIG now continues its relentless retreat.

    Dr Anna Hogg from Leeds University, UK, monitors Pine Island Glacier on a daily basis using Europe's Cryosat and Sentinel satellites.

    These spacecraft can measure from orbit the velocity and thickness of the ice stream.

    She commented: "We know from satellite observations that the PIG has sped up and retreated episodically since the late 1970s, so it’s interesting to see that the sediments beneath the glacier record similar periods of variability dating back to the 1940s.

    "This erratic past behaviour suggests that we should not expect these colossal glaciers to respond in a steady way in the future, making continuous monitoring increasingly important."

    Read more »
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