Apple, Microsoft, PayPal join legal fight for transgender rights

— Silicon Valley is drawing a line in the sand on transgender rights.

Several big tech companies are joining a legal brief supporting transgender rights ahead of a Supreme Court case on the issue next month. The case may decide whether schools can prevent transgender students from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

Apple, Yelp and lending startup Affirm are signing on to an amicus brief spearheaded by Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT organization, according to reps for the companies.

Microsoft, PayPal, IBM, Salesforce and Box are also signing on, according to a source familiar with the brief. More may sign on, as the deadline to join is 8 p.m. ET, according to the source.

The brief is expected to be filed by March 2, according to Christina Ra, a spokeswoman for Affirm.

Axios was first to report the news.

The legal move comes just days after the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools.

Microsoft, Google, Twitter and others were quick to criticize the policy change.

“We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals,” Apple said in a statement Thursday about the policy change. “We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”

Many of these companies also pushed back against Trump’s travel ban last month by signing on to an amicus brief. The transgender issue could turn into the second high-profile clash with tech in the opening days of the new administration.

The tech industry also pushed back against a controversial North Carolina law last year that banned transgender individuals from using public bathrooms for the gender with which they identify. However, that outspokenness took place under the Obama administration, which also opposed the bathroom law.

Tech companies continue to face pressure from progressive employees and customers to push back against Trump’s most controversial policies. But they must now balance that with the need to work with the administration on key issues like tax reform and regulations.

Flu virus shifting east, hitting older adults hardest

— Flu activity decreased slightly but remained at high levels across the United States during the week ending February 18, according to a report based on preliminary data issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most states saw widespread illness, with cases reported in all counties. In Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Hawaii, Utah and the District of Columbia, only regional, local or sporadic activity was reported during the week.

“The center of the country and over toward the east is being hit harder right now, for sure,” said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the influenza division of the National Center for Immunization & Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. She added that the data showed the Northwest being “hit pretty hard” earlier, but now, numbers are coming down.

“Not to say they couldn’t have a second peak, but they look like they’re a little farther along in their outbreak than the rest of the country,” Brammer said.

What is unusual about this season is who has been ending up in the hospital.

A total of 9,444 flu-associated hospitalizations have been reported, and, unexpectedly, the second-highest percentage of people hospitalized is in the 50- to 64-year-old group. The highest proportion has been among the 65 and older group.

In past seasons with the same predominant flu strain, “the highest rate was in the 65 or older (group), and the second highest rate was in zero to 4-year-olds,” Brammer said. She added that officials aren’t sure why middle-age adults are hit hard this year and whether that outcome will hold as final data come in.

This year, the hospitalization rate among those 65 and older was about 155 per 100,000 people; about 33 per 100,000 adults 50 to 64; and about 21 per 100,000 children up to age 4.

Deaths due to flu

A total of 34 children have died of flu-related causes this season, and an additional 1,565 death certificates list flu as the cause of death. These mortality rates are not unusual compared with recent seasons, according to Brammer.

The interim report bases estimates on data from collaborating laboratories across the nation and its territories.

“It’s such a common illness, and there’s so many cases, it would be difficult to count,” Brammer said. “But probably less than half of the people who get flu actually go to a health care provider, and a lot that do don’t get tested.”

The number of deaths, which is based on death certificate reports, is also an estimate. “It’s not 100% complete data yet,” she said, adding that a lot of deaths caused by influenza may not even list it on the certificate. The death numbers, then, are “a huge underestimation,” she said.

Washington state, as of Friday, had 221 lab-confirmed deaths from flu this season, according to David G. Johnson, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Health. Last year at this point, only 68 people had died, while in the 2014-15 season — widely considered a difficult one — 157 people had died by this time.

“It looks like we are over the worst of it, but the only thing we can count on is that the flu is unpredictable,” Johnson said. “It’s typical to see a slight spike in the spring.”

The predominant virus strain this season is influenza A (H3N2); the estimated effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing illness caused by that strain was 43%, according to a report issued by the CDC. The vaccine’s estimated effectiveness against the influenza B virus was 73%. That amounts to overall protection provided by the flu vaccine of 48%, according to the CDC.

During the 2015-16 season, vaccine effectiveness was 47%, but it was just 19% during the 2014-15 season, according to the CDC.

Even though it seems like there’s still a lot of sickness, “the vaccine does prevent a significant amount of illness and severe illness,” said Brammer. With flu season continuing, she said, people could still benefit from a flu shot if they haven’t already got one.

Viruses and the hero vaccines that kill them

Viruses, including the various strains of flu, exist in the space between living and non-living. Though they contain genetic material, they cannot reproduce or sustain themselves on their own, and so they require a host. After gaining control of the molecular machinery of a host cell, the virus rapidly begins to duplicate itself, destroying its host cell.

The genes within a virus express a protein or antigen, which the immune system recognizes and produces antibodies to destroy. Daily, our immune systems fight off countless familiar or weak antigens, but when an unfamiliar and strong invader appears, the ramp-up process of producing antibodies may take longer than ideal, and so we become sick.

A vaccine, then, helps the body rehearse for the moment when a virus appears. After being presented with a killed or weakened viral antigen, the immune system is stimulated into creating antibodies that will be able to recognize and kill the actual virus when it appears.

One possible reason for this year’s 48% vaccine effectiveness rate is that the predominant H3N2 virus might change more frequently than some other flu strains between the time the vaccine is chosen in February and the actual influenza season, according to Brendan Flannery, lead investigator for the US Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network.

Another possible reason is “the H3N2 virus, which is grown in eggs, may acquire some adaptation to eggs that may change it,” he said.

Today, the most common way companies manufacture flu vaccines is through an egg-based process.

Making vaccines

The CDC estimated that between 157 million and 168 million doses of injectable vaccine were manufactured for the 2016-17 season, a vast majority egg-based.

Egg-based vaccine manufacturing, which has been in use for more than 70 years, can produce either an inactivated (killed) vaccine, the basis for most flu shots, or a live attenuated (or weakened) vaccine, the basis for the nasal spray form of the vaccine. FluMist was not recommended by a CDC advisory committee for the current season, though the product was available upon request.

“It used to be really that egg-based vaccines were really the only vaccines that were out there in terms of options,” said Dr. Matthew Zahn, chairman of the Infectious Disease Society of America’s public health committee.

The egg-based process begins with the candidate virus strains, chosen by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Flu vaccine manufacturers inject these strains into fertilized hen eggs, where they incubate for several days to allow the viruses to replicate. Next, the virus-containing fluid is harvested from the eggs. For the flu shot, the viruses are inactivated (killed), the antigen is purified, and a sterile vaccine is produced. For a flu mist, the cultivated virus strains are weakened, not killed, and the production process is slightly different.

“A virus that grows in the lung doesn’t want to necessarily grow in a chicken embryo, so they need to really genetically modify that virus to grow in a chicken egg,” said Dr. Manon Cox, president and CEO of Protein Sciences, a vaccine company.

The H3N2 virus, in particular, does not seem to grow well in eggs, said Cox, and so it must be modified the most. This means the resulting vaccine doesn’t induce antibodies in your immune system that are capable of “neutralizing the viruses that are circulating in nature.”

According to Zahn, “In addition to production issues, it’s just hard to produce that much vaccine that quickly with an egg-based process.”

Another process for creating a vaccine is cell-based, which grow viruses in animal cells before following a similar production process.

“There are now licensed, recommended non-egg-based vaccines. They haven’t taken over a huge part of the market, but they’re a good thing, because it gives us a lot more opportunities to develop vaccine quickly and with a lot of different methods,” Zahn said.

One such company is Cox’s Protein Sciences, which makes a flu vaccine, FDA-approved for adults 18 years and older, that does not use the influenza virus or eggs in its production process. Other companies, including Moderna Therapeutics Inc. are also exploring new technologies to create vaccines.

“Looking forward to the next pandemic event, those different options all may be useful,” Zahn said. “So we’ve been very pleased that that’s happening.”

HBCU Round-up: SWAC Men’s Basketball Recaps – Feb. 27

Prairie View A&M 77, Alabama State 58

Box Score

Montgomery, Ala. – Tevin Bellinger scored 20 points and Zachary Hamilton added 17 points and eight rebounds as the Panthers (11-19, 8-8 SWAC) won on the road at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.

Ja’Donta Blakley scored 13 points, doled out eight assists and had five rebounds and three steals while Troy Thompson chipped in with a dozen points as PVAMU shot 53 percent from the floor.

Rodney Simeon had 14 points to lead the Hornets (8-20, 6-10 SWAC).

Jackson State 62, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 51

Box Score

Pine Bluff, Ark. – Paris Collins had 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals as the Tigers (12-17, 8-8 SWAC) picked up the road victory at H.O. Clemmons Arena.

Derek Roscoe provided 13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal while Yettra Specks added 13 points.

JSU took an 11-point lead into halftime and traded baskets evenly in the second half while holding UAPB to 32 percent field goal shooting as a team.

Devin Berry had 10 points, four rebounds and one steal in 18 minutes of action for the Golden Lions (7-24, 6-11 SWAC).

Texas Southern 74, Alabama A&M 64

Box Score

Huntsville, Ala. – Demontrae Jefferson scored 23 points on 6-of-9 field goal shooting including 9-of-9 from the free throw as TSU (18-11, 14-2 SWAC) picked up the road victory.

Zach Lofton had 15 points and Kevin Scott added 13 points for the Tigers, who now lead Alcorn State (idle tonight) by one game for the right to be the SWAC’s No. 1 seed in tournament play.

Quinterian McConico made a lay up to cut the Tigers’ lead to 59-55 with 9:00 left in the second half, but that’s as close as Alabama A&M would come as TSU went on a defining 11-4 run to go up 11 with 3:03 remaining.

During the run, Scott connected on a 3-pointer, Lofton hit a pair of lay ups, Marvin Jones came up with a dunk and Jefferson scored inside.

De’Ederick Petty scored 18 points and McConico had 17 points for host the Bulldogs (2-25, 2-14 SWAC).

Mississippi Valley State 84, Grambling State 80

Box Score

Itta Bena, Miss. – Ta’Jay Henry made the go-ahead layup with 2:25 remaining as the Delta Devils outscored the Tigers 9-5 down the stretch to pick up back-to-back victories.

Marcus Romain led with 24 points and six rebounds and Isaac Williams shot 9-of-13 from the floor to score 20 points for the host Delta Devils (6-24, 6-11 SWAC), who shot a stifling 61 percent from the field as a team.

Avery Ugba shot 9-of-13 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line to score 25 points to go with 12 rebounds and Remond Brown added 15 points, six rebounds and two steals for the Tigers (13-16, 8-8 SWAC).

HBCU Round-up: SWAC Women’s Basketball Recaps: Feb. 27

Jackson State 80, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 56

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Derica Wiggins led the Jackson State to its second straight victory by beating the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lady Lions 80-56 in Southwestern Athletic Conference action Monday night at the H.O. Clemmons Arena.

Wiggins came off the bench to lead all scorers with 26 points on an efficient 9-19 shooting from the field. She also went 7-8 from the free throw line to go along with recording four steals. Kierra Adams posted a double-double as she finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. She went 8-13 from the field.

JSU never trailed in the first half. By the six minute mark the Lady Tigers led 13-5 and increased its lead to 22-12 by the end of the first quarter. The Lady Tigers 37-17 by the 4:19 mark in the second quarter, and JSU was able to cruise the rest of the way for the victory., keeping their slim postseason hopes alive as current 8-seed Mississippi Valley lost to Grambling earlier.

JSU (10-16, 4-12) held a 41-19 halftime advantage. Adams and Wiggins combined to score 25 first half points, going a combined 10-16 from the field. Adams also had nine first half rebounds.

Niya Head led UAPB (12-16, 9-8) with 13 points.

Courtesy: Jackson State Sports Information

Grambling State 82, Mississippi Valley State 51

ITTA BENA, Miss. – Shakyla Hill notched another double-double as Grambling State downed Mississippi Valley State 82-51 to inch closer to clinching the SWAC regular season championship.

Hill scored 11 points and grabbed 11 boards as Grambling State (15-12, 13-3 SWAC) pulled away on the strength of a dominant second half of play. Up 31-26 at the half, the Lady Tigers outscored MVSU (9-19, 6-11 SWAC) 51- 25 in the second half, including a 10-2 run to open the third quarter. GSU led by double-digits the rest of the way, pushing its lead to as many as 34 down the stretch.

Hill also dished out four assists and nabbed four steals. Jazmine Boyd and Jazmine Torian each scored 12 points for Grambling. Ashley Beals posted a double-double for MVSU with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Kristy Parker added 12 points.

Texas Southern 53, Alabama A&M 39

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Kaitlyn Palmer led a balanced scoring attack as Texas Southern bested Alabama A&M 53-39 Monday night and clinched a top-4 seed in the SWAC Tournament.

Palmer led all players with 19 points on 8-10 shooting (3-3 from three-point range), as Texas Southern (18-9, 12-4 SWAC) used a hot start to propel itself past Alabama A&M (2-23, 0-16 SWAC). The Lady Tigers were led by Palmer, who scored 14 in the first half as AAMU struggled from the field, shooting 8-of-30.

Ebony Johnson made a lay-up for AAMU early in the third to cut it to six, but that was as close as AAMU got, as TSU increased its advantage by as many as 16 at one point.

Joyce Kennerson scored 11 for TSU, and Shamiya Broks and Artravia Ford each scored 10. Jameica Cobb led AAMU with 12 points.

Alabama State 74, Prairie View A&M 61

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Behind a career-best 35 points from Britney Wright, Alabama State assured itself a top-4 seed in defeated Prairie View A&M 74-61 Monday night.

Wright also grabbed 13 boards for Alabama State (12-14, 11-5 SWAC), who battled Prairie View A&M (11-17, 6-10 SWAC) battled throughout the first half until the Lady Hornets were able to pull away early in the second half. Wright came out of the locker room for the Lady Hornets and scored the first seven points of the half to put Alabama State up by seven at 47-40; however, Prairie View A&M fought back to within a point at 47-46 with 5:36 to play in the third quarter.

The Lady Hornets closed out the third quarter on a 10-2 run over the final five minutes, holding Prairie View A&M without a field goal during the run. The run was extended to 14-3 in the fourth quarter as Alabama State extended the lead to 61-49 with 8:19 to play in the game. Prairie View A&M was able to pull within eight at 68-60 with 2:27 to play, but a pair of seniors – Wright and Damya Toney – scored six consecutive points to push the lead to 73-60 with just 38 seconds to play.

Alabama State finished the night shooting 45.9 (28-of-61) percent from the floor and 26.3 (5-of-19) percent from beyond the arc, while shooting 76.5 (13-of-17) percent from the free throw line. group.

Alexus Parker led Prairie View A&M with 25 points in the loss.

Courtesy: Alabama State Athletic Strategic Communications

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Derica W

Higgins led the Jackson State women’s basketball team to its second straight victory by beating the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lady Lions 80-56 in Southwestern Athletic Conference action Monday night at the H.O. Clemmons Arena.

Wiggins came off the bench to lead all scorers with 26 points on an efficient 9-19 shooting from the field. She also went 7-8 from the free throw line to go along with recording four steals. Kierra Adams posted a double-double as she finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. She went 8-13 from the field.

JSU never trailed in the first half. By the six minute mark the Lady Tigers led 13-5 and increased its lead to 22-12 by the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Tigers 37-17 by the 4:19 mark in the second quarter.

​ JSU was able to cruise the rest of the way for the victory.​

JSU (10-16, 4-12) held a 41-19 halftime advantage. Adams and Wiggins combined to score 25 first half points, going a combined 10-16 from the field. Adams also had nine first half rebounds.

Orioles exec: Trump needs to apologize before he throws out the first pitch

— Throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game is a tradition for U.S. presidents.

But an executive from the Baltimore Orioles is not eager to welcome President Trump.

Team VP John Angelos says he doesn’t want Trump to throw out the first pitch unless Trump apologizes for all of the offensive comments he’s made.

Angelos made the comments Thursday during a call with the BmoreOpinionated Podcast, a weekly series that covers Baltimore sports.

“You don’t say those things about women, you don’t say those things about different ethnic groups, different national origins, people who are disabled, all of that — and if you do say them, you’re a big enough person to withdraw them and apologize,” Angelos said.

“To have somebody that’s the leader of the country say things that are demeaning to different groups is incredibly debilitating to the country.”

Whether or not Trump gets an invite is up to the team’s owners but Peter Angelos, John’s father, happens to be the majority stakeholder.

Of course, presidents appear at stadiums all over the country, but the capital’s proximity to both Camden Yards, the home of the Orioles, and Nationals Park, where the Washington Nationals play, make them both frequent stops for the leader of the free world.

The Nationals did not respond when asked whether they plan to invite Trump to throw the first pitch this season.

Trump has had some practice on the mound. He threw out the first pitch in August 2006 at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, in July 2000 at a White Sox game at Wrigley Field and during spring training in March 2004.

When podcast host Jason La Canfora asked Angelos whether he’d like to see fans boo Trump at Camden Yards, Angelos didn’t exactly demur.

“I appreciate your comments but I don’t think that’s enough,” Angelos said. He added that leaders need to speak up, and commended athletes like Misty Copeland, Steph Curry and Colin Kaepernick for doing so.

“They need to stand up and not normalize and not legitimize and not whitewash that kind of conduct,” he said. “I wouldn’t accept that from a Democrat or a Republican or somebody from outer space.”

Angelos said that demeaning comments are dangerous because they can “embolden and radicalize” people.

“Racial biases and all these things are forms of psychological imbalance,” Angelos said.

While Angelos said he isn’t a Democrat or a Republican, he and the team he’s a part of have a history of making a statement.

Since 2015, the Orioles have played “This Land Is Your Land” during the seventh-inning stretch at Friday home games to honor their diverse community.

Angelos and team manager Buck Showalter, also spoke out during the Baltimore protests over Freddie Gray, who died from injuries he sustained while in police custody.

When the team closed Camden Yards during the protests, Angelos tweeted that “inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”

HBCU Round-Up: MEAC Announces Weekly Women’s Basketball Honors

Howard redshirt senior Te’Shya Heslip was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the conference office announced today. Coppin State’s Chance Graham earned Rookie of the Week honors, while Bethune-Cookman senior Kailyn Williams was named Defensive Player of the Week.

Heslip (G, 5-5, r-Sr., Dumfries, Va.) averaged 22.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game for the Bison. She was a combined 18-for-28 (.643) from the floor in wins over North Carolina Central and Norfolk State, and she scored a season-high 30 points on 11-for-18 shooting against the Spartans. Heslip also dished out six assists in each game, while also adding six rebounds and three steals against Norfolk State.

Graham (C, 6-3, Fr., Upper Marlboro, Md.) recorded her fourth double-double of the season, with 12 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Savannah State. She was 5-for-6 (.833) from the floor and added a steal on the defensive side of the ball.

Williams (C, 6-4 Sr., New Orleans, La.) averaged 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game in a pair of wins for the Lady Wildcats. She grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds in a win over Norfolk State to go along with six blocks, before adding nine boards and two blocks against North Carolina Central.

Other Top Performers

Kanesha Battle (B-CU) grabbed six rebounds against North Carolina Central.

Kendra Cooper (B-CU) averaged 13.5 points per game, including 14 against Norfolk State.

Genesis Lucas (CSU) scored 17 points and dished out seven assists, while also grabbing four steals, in a win over Savannah State.

Keena Samuels (CSU) scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had six assists against Savannah State.

Alicia McCray (FAMU) had 11 points and 13 rebounds, to go along with six blocks, in a win over Hampton.

Shakerrya Morrison (FAMU) recorded a double-double against Hampton with 11 points and 14 rebounds, while also grabbing 11 boards against South Carolina State.

Monnazjea Finney-Smith (HAM) averaged 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Lady Pirates, including 16 points and nine boards at Florida A&M.

Jayla Myles (HOW) grabbed 13 rebounds and had seven blocks against North Carolina Central.

Alexus Hicks (MDES) averaged 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, including 15 points and eight boards against North Carolina A&T State.

Moengaroa Subritzky (MDES) had double-doubles in both games this past week, including a 16-point, 11-rebound effort against Delaware State.

Alexus Lessears (NCAT) had 19 points and 14 rebounds against Savannah State, while also grabbing 13 rebounds against Maryland Eastern Shore.

Kayla Roberts (NSU) grabbed 13 rebounds against Bethune-Cookman, before recording 16 points and nine boards against Howard.

Gabrielle Swinson (NSU) scored 16 points at Bethune-Cookman.

Tiyonda Davis (SSU) grabbed nine rebounds and had two blocks against Coppin State.

Kenyata Hendrix (SSU) dropped 25 points at North Carolina A&T State, while also scoring 20 points against Coppin State.

Long-term stress might make you fat, study says

— Could constant stress be making you fat?

To find out, English researchers compared stress levels and body weight of more than 2,500 men and women over age 54 who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Obesity, looked at the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in locks of hair gathered from participants.

“We found levels of cortisol in the hair to be positively and significantly correlated to larger waist circumference and higher body mass index or BMI,” said lead author Sarah Jackson, a research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London.”These results provide consistent evidence that chronic stress is associated with higher levels of obesity.”

Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands that is released into the bloodstream in times of stress. In addition to suppressing inflammation and regulating blood pressure, cortisol helps maintain steady supplies of blood sugar and gives an energy boost to handle emergencies.

“It’s providing glucose to the brain, keeping things going during a stressful event,” Jackson said. “It also plays a huge role in metabolism, body composition and the accumulation of body fat.”

The release of cortisol, she says, is triggered by receptors that are densely located in visceral fat tissue, the type that surrounds our organs, which may explain its association with weight gain and loss.

Cortisol is usually tested via blood, urine or saliva, but that captures only a snapshot in time.

“Cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day depending on time of day, what you eat, sudden stressful situations, even illness,” Jackson said. “That why blood, urine and saliva tests are not good measures for long-term stress.”

Studies have shown that cortisol levels can also be detected in hair follicles. The new research harvested a 2-centimeter lock from each participant. That amount of hair correlates to two months of growth, said Jackson, providing a look at the levels of cortisol over that period of time.

The results suggest that “chronic high-level cortisol exposure may play a role in the maintenance of obesity,” but Jackson adds that because the study was not longitudinal, researchers could not establish a true cause and effect.

Susan Fried, a professor and director of translational adipose biology and obesity at the Diabetes Metabolism Obesity Institute, said the results are consistent with research associating high cortisol levels and obesity. However, she agreed that there is no evidence of causation.

“As indicated in the paper, measurements of hair cortisol reflect exposure over the past several months,” Fried, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email. “But the obesity in the people studied likely developed many years earlier. Thus, these high hair cortisol values may simply reflect social or biological stress associated with being obese.

“It is possible, for example, that the social stigma that people with obesity often endure may cause mental stress and hence high cortisol levels.

It is also possible that stress over the past few months may also be due to medical conditions caused by obesity, for example it may be difficult and painful for people with obesity to walk.”

The researchers will “continue to weigh and measure our study participants every four years to determine the ways stress affects body mass over time,” Jackson said.

In the meantime, she suggests that people under chronic stress look to ways other than eating to ease their tensions, such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness.

“There’s a lot of evidence that cortisol influences appetite and even our preference for high-calorie comfort foods,” Jackson said. “So I know that’s tough. But it’s best to look for better ways to manage stress and avoid using food as a crutch.”

Trump to meet with health insurers at the White House Monday

— President Trump has repeatedly vowed to replace Obamacare with something better.

Now, he’ll have the chance to talk to some of the nation’s leading health insurers about how to do that.

Health insurers are meeting with the president on Monday, and Obamacare is expected to be at the top of the agenda. Among the attendees will be Humana CEO Bruce Broussard, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s CEO Brad Wilson and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an industry group that represents 36 independent insurers.

The president and insurers will have a lot to discuss. Trump’s first executive order directed federal agencies to start rolling back Obamacare. And he has promised to unveil a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with more affordable coverage, though he has left many in the dark about the details — including Congressional Republicans.

Trump has also vowed that the transition to the new Republican plan will be a smooth one that will not yank coverage from those who currently have it through Obamacare. He can only fulfill that pledge if the insurers play along.

Insurers, however, have grown increasingly jittery amid Trump’s sweeping pronouncements and the infighting on Capitol Hill that has slowed the drive to repeal the law. Most recently, the nation’s governors have entered the fray, with some Republican state leaders lobbying hard to keep Medicaid expansion. They will meet with the president early Monday morning to press their case.

Humana has already said it is dropping out of the individual market completely in 2018. At least three other carriers — Aetna, Anthem and Molina Healthcare — have said they are weighing whether to participate in the Obamacare exchanges next year. This could prompt even more insurers to withdraw and those that remain to hike premiums.

They will likely look to Trump to ease their concerns.

His administration so far has sent them mixed signals. His Health & Human Services Department has answered some of the industry’s concerns in a proposed rule it issued earlier this month. The rule would provide insurers with greater flexibility in how much their policies would pay in each tier of coverage on the Obamacare exchanges, make it harder for people to sign up outside of open enrollment periods and give carriers more time to have their 2018 plans approved by state and federal regulators.

However, at the same time, the Internal Revenue Service quietly reversed a decision to start rejecting tax returns that fail to indicate whether filers had health insurance, received an exemption or paid the penalty for not having coverage. While this has always been key to enforcing Obamacare’s individual mandate, the IRS had been processing returns without this information.

The IRS attributed the reversal to Trump’s executive order that directed agencies to reduce the potential financial burden on Americans. However, it noted in a statement that the individual mandate is still in effect.

Any weakening of the individual mandate is sure to strike fear into the hearts of insurers. They depend on the mandate to bring in young and healthy participants to balance out older and sicker enrollees, which Obamacare requires them to cover.

Insurers have a long list of suggestions for the Trump administration and lawmakers on how to first stabilize Obamacare and then revamp the individual market. They will have the opportunity to present them to the president firsthand on Monday.

Viola Davis ends award season hot streak with Oscar win

— Viola Davis’s award season hot streak just ended with a bang.

The “Fences” star picked up the award for best-supporting actress at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday. She was the favorite to win going into Hollywood’s biggest night.

Davis, who beat out the likes of Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) and Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), gave an emotional speech that honored the acting profession and playwright August Wilson.

“There’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered — one place — and that’s the graveyard,” she said. “People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies.”

She added: “Exhume those stories — the stories of people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist — and thank God I did — because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.”

Davis adds her Oscar statue to a mantel that already includes a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

With her Oscar nomination back in January, Davis became the first black actress to score three Academy Award nominations.

“Doubt” (2008) and “The Help” (2012) were her others.

This is her first win.

Davis began to tear up when she paid tribute to her parents, saying, “I’m so thankful that God chose you to bring my into this world.”

After Davis’ emotional win, host Jimmy Kimmel joked that Davis “just got nominated for an Emmy for that speech.”

What young conservatives think of the media in the age of Trump

— NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The speakers at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference struck the same anti-media tone that has defined President Trump’s first month in office.

But young conservatives listening to those same speeches have a more nuanced — even sympathetic — view.

Some even admitted they got their news from the sources the White House regularly maligns.

“I know Trump says ‘the failing New York Times,’ but they’re credible,” said Cody Leach, a student at the University of Alabama who sported the ubiquitous Make America Great Again cap and a tie autographed by Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Conversations with a dozen students who attended this week’s conference revealed the breadth of their news consumption. While many spoke fondly of conservative outlets like Fox News, Breitbart and The Blaze, they also signaled a desire to seek out sources that may challenge their beliefs. And that includes Trump’s favorite media punching bags.

Leach, like Trump, said he’s “not a fan of the mainstream media.” But the 18-year-old political science major’s reasons were different from what you might expect from the president.

He said mainstream news outlets are so slanted against conservatism that it has given rise to alternative media, “which gives these fringe elements and certain movements power.”

Leach said he was wary of clicky but dubious outlets like Occupy Democrats on the left and the Conservative Tribune on the right that pop up on his Facebook feed.

“It’s clickbait journalism,” he said. “It’s 21st century yellow journalism.”

Nevertheless, Leach does watch CNN, and he said he’s a fan of Anderson Cooper. He also watches Fox News and MSNBC, and reads The Wall Street Journal. And after some initial skepticism, he warmed up to Breitbart, the right-wing outlet where top White House adviser Steve Bannon previously served as chairman.

“Breitbart is interesting,” Leach said. “I wasn’t always a fan of them, but I came around because, like I said, if the mainstream media won’t give us facts, we have to find our facts somewhere else.”

Every year, young conservative activists make the pilgrimage to CPAC for speeches, workshops and revelry. The cavernous, glimmering convention center here has been teeming since Wednesday with fresh-faced teenagers and twentysomethings decked out in Republican regalia. A conference organizer said 55% of last year’s attendees were students.

Polling data has shown that young people maintain an eclectic media diet, a trend driven in part by social media. In a 2015 study by the American Press Institute, almost nine in 10 millennials said they often encountered “diverse opinions,” with three-quarters saying they investigated perspectives that differed from their own.

Coleman Theodore, a 19-year-old student at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, said he watches CNN and Fox News, and reads both Breitbart and BuzzFeed.

“When it comes to the mainstream media, I don’t see at it as something like fake news,” said Coleman, who wore a bow tie and a “Big Government Sucks” pin on his lapel. “I see it as a good chance to get your source from both sides.”

Alexa Archambault, a 19-year-old student at the University of Buffalo, echoed that sentiment.

“A lot of people think of the mainstream media as CNN and The New York Times, and I think it definitely does have a liberal bias to it,” she said. “But I think that Fox News is also considered the mainstream media, so you do have an alternative point of view. I think that’s healthy and a good thing to have.”

“I try and stay on both sides of the aisle,” Archambault added. “I watch Fox, I read The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. And I do watch CNN.”

She spoke shortly before Trump addressed the conference on Friday, a speech in which he once again maligned much of the press as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”

Archambault said she believes Trump’s attacks on the media are designed to excite “people who have felt like they don’t have a voice.” But she also took issue with the “fake news” charge.

“I think the term ‘fake news,’ it started as one thing and it’s evolved into something else,” Archambault said. “A lot of people say something is ‘fake news’ when they don’t agree with it, and I don’t agree with that.”