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    Polar bears at the North Carolina Zoo got to enjoy the blanket of snow that covered the park Wednesday. >> Read more trending news Nikita, 11, and Anana, 18, were fed whole fish as a special snow day treat, the zoo said.  The zoo was closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday because of the heavy snowfall.
  • Nestle Japan on Thursday unveiled a new, pink KitKat set to be sold ahead of Valentine’s Day in a handful of stores in Japan and South Korea and online. >> Read more trending news Dubbed the KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby, the chocolate is made using ruby cacao beans that give the treat a naturally pink color. The beans also give the chocolate “a fruity flavor reminiscent of berries,” according to Nestle Japan. The pink chocolate variety was debuted in September by Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut. It was touted as an alternative to the traditional chocolate varieties of white, milk and dark chocolates. The new KitKat flavor was created by chef Yasumasa Takagi, the owner of Tokyo’s Le Patissier Takagi. In a news release, he said his creation “allows you to enjoy the characteristic fruity fragrance and subtle acidity of the ruby cacao to the fullest.” The flavors “have never been experienced before,” Takagi said. The KitKat bars will be sold at KitKat Chocolatory stores in Japan and South Korea starting Friday. Chocolate fans in the U.S. and other countries can purchase the chocolate online. Nestle Japan employees said 5,000 bars of the chocolate will be available for sale from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25. Each bar costs ¥400, or $3.60. The variety will also be part of the KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Valentine’s Assortment, alongside bars of KitKat Sublime’s Bitter, Milk and White flavors for ¥1,800, or $16.20. A larger assortment also includes the KitKat Sublime Matcha and Raw flavors as well for ¥2,400, or $21.60. The boxes of assorted chocolates will go on sale starting Feb. 1. 
  • A Montreal man was able to briefly dupe police with his creation after a snowstorm Monday. KMSP reported that Simon Laprise created a sports car out of snow in a snow removal zone. The sculpture, which he posted photos of on Facebook, looked like a real car that had been parked during a snowstorm and was covered in powder. >> Read more trending news  Laprise, a 33-year-old machinist and artist, modeled the car after the DeLorean DMC-12, famously featured in the “Back to the Future” movies, KMSP reported. The final detail that made it so life-like was the Laprise’s incorporation of an actual windshield, which he found across the street. Once he completed his duplicate, Laprise hid out of view and waited for the police. A police car soon drove up to investigate the car in a snow removal zone. The officer soon realized the car was made entirely of snow. Laprise got a “ticket” with a note that read, “You made our night hahahahaha :)” By the next morning, snowplows had removed the sculpture from the snow removal zone.
  • Haitians living in the U.S. under the temporary protection status will get to keep working in the country -- for now. >> Read more trending news The status, which was granted to Haitians who immigrated to the U.S. after the devastating 2010 earthquake, was extended to July 2019, but the employment authorization documents were not. The work authorizations were set to expire this week, but starting Thursday, workers will be able to re-register their paperwork, officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said. Officials will automatically extend the validity of the documents for Haitians with TPS for 180 days, through July 21. Wilna Destin had no idea what would have happened to her and her husband if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hadn't announced the extension.  'Yeah, it's really a relief for us,' Destin said. 'Everything is good for now. For now, but yeah.' The extension was good news for immigrants, but also for companies like Rosen Hotels and Resorts, which rely on the Haitian refugees who make up a large part of the workforce. The company operates numerous hotels in Orlando, and without the Haitian workers, president Harris Rosen said that they wouldn't be able to operate. 'A third of our associates are from Haiti, and without them, we could cease to exist,' Rosen said. 'We need them so desperately.' About 50,000 Haitian refugees live in the United States, and if their temporary protected status isn't extended again in July 2019, all will have to leave at some point. Rosen didn't understand why the Trump administration would cause so many people to be forced from the country, and vowed to push back. 'They're working,' Rosen said. 'We love them. Why disrupt their lives? 'We are fighting, fighting to make sure that TPE is going to be extended.' Disney union leaders reiterated Rosen's stance, saying they will be fighting for the hundreds of Haitian refugees currently working for the company. 'If we don't fight, then 2019 is going to be the same thing, the same worry,' Destin said. 'So that's why we have to fight and to make it permanent.
  • The following story contains some graphic details. Seattle police found 63-year-old Jennifer Ayers dead in her Lake City home Monday. The suspect in her death, Michael Giordano, 23, was wheeled into court to face a judge Wednesday afternoon.  >> Read more trending news Prosecutors charged the suspect with aggravated first-degree murder, and say the crime also included robbery, burglary, arson and rape. “The facts here are extremely violent and disturbing,” the prosecutor told the judge.  Prosecuting documents detailed what happened in the horrific final moments of Ayers’ life.  The documents say someone by the initials of R.H. on 36th Avenue Northeast in Lake City called 911 after seeing Giordano in the street with blood on his hands, and seeing him throw credit cards into the street and bushes.  The documents say when officers went inside they found the house had been ransacked and was filled with smoke. They also saw 'a significant amount of blood,' the documents reveal.  Officers found Ayers lying on the floor, partly on fire, with her hands tied behind her back with what appeared to be Xbox controller cords. “The officers immediately dragged the woman out of the house and into the backyard. Once clear of the smoke, officers were able to see the woman’s hands were bound behind her back, she was only partially clothed, a large knife handle was sticking out of her right buttock, and her inner thighs and crotch had been severely burned away. She was clearly deceased,” the documents read. Documents say the victim's throat was slashed.  “In addition to suffering a multitude of stab wounds throughout her body, the victim had extremely large lacerations on her neck. There was writing on the walls inside the home and it appeared to be written in blood. In the immediate area of the fire where the victim’s body was found burning, detectives found a red plastic gasoline can,” the documents read.  In court, the prosecutor said Giordano was a stranger to Ayers.  KIRO7 talked with a friend of Ayers' before learning the details of the crimes. Thom Head says he and Ayers were “two peas in a pod” and walked their dogs together every day for 20 years.  “I was absolutely stunned that it was Jen. And it was tough. Because I thought about all of her neighbors and her poor little dog and her son,” Head said, his voice breaking.  He and her neighbors describe Ayers as someone always helping others.  “She would bend over backwards for her neighbors,” Head said. “She was so smart, on top of it, very well-informed, knew everything that was going on.”  He said he can’t help thinking about her final moments.  “Jen was a very small person, she was 4 feet 11 inches tall in her high heels so she probably had a tough time trying to defend herself,” Head said.  The prosecuting documents say Giordano at first told investigators he had been mugged and had killed a man in self-defense. The documents say, “However, Giordano eventually admitted that those were lies he created to distract police from his real crime.”  “Giordano admitted to detectives that he picked the victim at random, based primarily on the cars parked outside her residence. He admitted that he snuck in through an unlocked door, tied the victim up with cords, stabbed her multiple times in an attempt to induce her to tell him where her valuables were located, forcibly raped her and eventually killed her.  “He also explained that he used gasoline and intentionally set the victim’s crotch on fire to destroy evidence of the rape,” the documents said.  “Additionally, Giordano admitted that the writings on the victim’s wall with blood was done by him with the specific intention of misleading police into believing that the killer was someone with satanic beliefs,” the documents continued. In court Wednesday, Giordano looked into the KIRO7 cameras and mouthed “(Expletive) you,” and later smiled and mouthed “bye” to the camera as he was wheeled out of court.  A judge set his bail at $10 million.  GRAPHIC WARNING: The documents embedded in the tweet below contain graphic details.
  • Amazon is the talk of the town for metro areas across North America, since the company just announced it has whittled the list of cities that could be home to its second headquarters down to 20. The cities, which include New York, Nashville, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, are vying for the massive $5 billion project, known as HQ2, that could bring about 50,000 highly paid tech and corporate jobs to one community.  >> Read more trending news  Since the public contest began in September with 238 cities competing, the Amazon team has shared few details about how the finalist cities would be chosen. Amazon did announce, however, that the top cities would be able to provide an initial 500,000 square feet of space − in an urban or suburban area − with access to major highways, airports, public transit and “a robust technology workforce,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Related: Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters “Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals,” Holly Sullivan, an executive with Amazon Public Policy, said in a statement. “Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.” Related: 5 things to know about Amazon With the possibility of HQ2 coming to metropoles scattered across the U.S., thousands of eager job seekers are already contemplating their next career move, and hoping that move is headed toward Amazon. Pulling from Amazon’s current job listings in web services, corporate, Amazon Alexa and other device teams, these are some of the highest- and lowest-paying positions at Amazon. Pay estimates are provided by Paysa.com, an online career and hiring site that uses artificial intelligence and real-world salary insights. The following salaries are estimates, which include salary and benefits. Best-paying Amazon jobs: Principal Business Development Manager - Average: $529,000 This position requires 10+ years experience at the director level of working in security intelligence software for technology companies. The role would be involved in the strategic business development plan for the company and work with existing security intelligence products, field organizations and business development. Principal Software Development Engineer - Average: $414,000 The principal engineer will be the technical lead for the Amazon Devices team. The engineer will also design and select appropriate imaging and sensing systems. The position requires at least a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, five years of experience leading junior engineers and 10 years of software engineering experience. Prinicipal Technical Program Manager - Average: $290,000 The principal technical program manager will lead the technical strategy and program management of Elastic Block Storage-specific services and products that will revolutionize industries across the globe. The position requires 10 years of experience in system software/hardware product development, including technical program leadership of computer system, storage devices, etc. Global Leader of Sales Strategy - Average: $233,000 This role will focus on developing and driving strategy, analytics and data management to optimize the rapid growth of Amazon’s cloud business. A bachelor’s degree is required as well as 15+ years of experience in both enterprise technology sales and sales operation. Worst-paying Amazon jobs: Healthcare & Life Sciences Solutions Architect - Average: $73,000  This position is slated for an experienced IT consultant with technical expertise in a specialty area and ability to travel internationally as needed to support customers. The individual will assist in sales of infrastructure engagements and coach Amazon Web Services field sales, presales, training and support teams. At least 15 years of relevant experience in information technology is required for this position. Inside Sales Representative - Average: $69,000 The inside sales representative creates the first impression for prospective customers through business development activities, follow-ups on their inquiries and from the company’s marketing programs. Experience with technology sales is required. Head of Media - Amazon Channels - Average: $56,000 This role is responsible for leading, managing and growing a team of media professionals, as well as managing media agencies and other partners in order to achieve the company’s marketing and media objectives. The person should have at least eight years of experience in media strategy. Head of Social Media - Average: $54,000 Amazon seeks an experienced, strategic and highly creative individual to lead its global social media marketing efforts. The perfect candidate will have more than 10 years of experience in social media marketing. Content Writer - Average: $47,000 The ideal candidate will have experience in results-driven technical content writing. Requirements include knowledge of search engine optimization and experience managing multiple content management systems.
  • Police in Texas used social media to offer a helping hand to a man who was trying to get off work as roads across the region began to ice over earlier this week. >> Read more trending news Police posted a warning on their Facebook page at 6:37 a.m. Tuesday telling citizens that all city offices would be closed. They urged area residents to stay inside and do their best to keep warm. One man needed more help and turned to the Seguin Police Department. Justin Garcia, who is listed on Facebook as a resident of San Marcos, asked police for a note for work. >> Photos: Snow blankets the South Deputy Chief Bruce Ure delivered: “Dear Justin’s Boss,” Ure wrote, “The roads are bad and are going to get worse. Much worse. Please let him stay home, warm and safe and enjoy some Hulu or some cool shows on Netflix. And, he needs a raise. He rocks. Respectfully ~ Deputy Chief Ure.” Garcia left a comment on the police Facebook page the next day, saying he had gotten the day off. 
  • Dolly Parton has yet another accomplishment to add to her already legendary list: two world records. Billboard reported the singer and songwriter holds Guinness World Records for the most decades with a Top 20 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, with six decades, and most hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart by a female artist, with 107 hits. >> Read more trending news  Parton has Top 20 Billboard hits across six consecutive decades, starting with 1967’s “Something Fishy” and ending with a 2016 version of her 1974 song, “Jolene” with Pentatonix. That same 2016 song set the record for her 107th Hot Country Songs chart entry. Her first was “Dumb Blonde” in 1967. “To receive these two Guinness World Records is so great,” Parton said in a statement. Joining so many wonderful singers and songwriters who have been honoured this way feels so special to me. You never know when you start out with your work how it’s going to turn out, but to have these two world records makes me feel very humbled and blessed!” Parton’s six-decade run puts her in the company of George Jones, the only other country artist who spent more than five decades on the Hot Country Songs chart. Speaking to Guinness World Records about her songwriting process, Parton said it comes from her own experiences. “I’ve always just written from my heart,” she said. “I try not to dwell on just trying to be commercial and what's a radio hit or whatever. Usually when an idea hits me, it comes from my heart, but I still try to be alert and to be aware and to try to be as up-to-date as I can be, and evidently I’m doing alright after all these decades.”
  • The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government up and running. While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill. “I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. I'I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.” >>Read more trending news What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect: First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay. Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government. What is a continuing resolution? A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year. CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16. Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:Air travel Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.Federal court For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.Food safety The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.Health Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.International travel  You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.Loans  The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. The mail You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.Military Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.National parks All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.School lunches, SNAP and WIC School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.Science The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.Social Security Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. Veterans services Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.Sources: The Associated Press; Politico; the Congressional Research Service   
  • Consuming too much salt can be dangerous for your health. It can cause your blood pressure and cholesterol to skyrocket, but it might also cause memory loss, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York recently conducted an experiment, published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, to determine if salt was linked with memory loss. To do so, the researchers observed mice, which were split into two groups. One group was given food containing 4 percent salt, and the other was fed food with 8 percent salt. The amounts represented an “8- to 16-fold increase in salt compared to a normal mouse diet” and was comparable to a high-salt diet for humans, scientists noted.  >> On AJC.com: These 5 'healthy' foods may have more salt than you think After eight weeks, they examined the animals using magnetic resonance imaging, which captured photos of the anatomy and physiology of the brain.  They discovered the high-salt diet reduced resting blood flow to the brain, causing dementia. They saw a 28 percent decrease in the blood flow in cortex and a 25 percent decrease in the hippocampus, which are two areas of the brain associated with learning and memory.  Analysts also administered a recognition test, and the mice that consumed more salt performed significantly worse, compared to the mice on a regular diet. Mice with salty diets spent less time building nests and gathering materials. This was the case even for mice that had healthy blood pressure levels.  >> Related: These are the best diets for 2018 “We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” senior author Costantino Iadecola said in a statement. “This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to hypertension.” Why is that? The researchers discovered that the high-salt diet prompted an immune response in the gut, which increased a protein called interleukin 17. Its job is to regulate immune and inflammatory responses. But high levels of interleukin 17 can cause a reduction in the production of nitric oxide, which affects brain functions.  >> On AJC.com: Here’s what we always get wrong about salt Luckily, the scientists revealed they were able to reverse the immune signals by discontinuing the high-salt diets and prescribing drugs to lower the interleukin 17 levels. Scientists now hope to continue their investigations by further exploring interleukin 17 and other ailments associated with it. They said their findings may be able to “benefit people with diseases and conditions associated with elevated IL-17 levels, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases.”

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Amazon is the talk of the town for metro areas across North America, since the company just announced it has whittled the list of cities that could be home to its second headquarters down to 20. The cities, which include New York, Nashville, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, are vying for the massive $5 billion project, known as HQ2, that could bring about 50,000 highly paid tech and corporate jobs to one community.  >> Read more trending news  Since the public contest began in September with 238 cities competing, the Amazon team has shared few details about how the finalist cities would be chosen. Amazon did announce, however, that the top cities would be able to provide an initial 500,000 square feet of space − in an urban or suburban area − with access to major highways, airports, public transit and “a robust technology workforce,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Related: Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters “Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals,” Holly Sullivan, an executive with Amazon Public Policy, said in a statement. “Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.” Related: 5 things to know about Amazon With the possibility of HQ2 coming to metropoles scattered across the U.S., thousands of eager job seekers are already contemplating their next career move, and hoping that move is headed toward Amazon. Pulling from Amazon’s current job listings in web services, corporate, Amazon Alexa and other device teams, these are some of the highest- and lowest-paying positions at Amazon. Pay estimates are provided by Paysa.com, an online career and hiring site that uses artificial intelligence and real-world salary insights. The following salaries are estimates, which include salary and benefits. Best-paying Amazon jobs: Principal Business Development Manager - Average: $529,000 This position requires 10+ years experience at the director level of working in security intelligence software for technology companies. The role would be involved in the strategic business development plan for the company and work with existing security intelligence products, field organizations and business development. Principal Software Development Engineer - Average: $414,000 The principal engineer will be the technical lead for the Amazon Devices team. The engineer will also design and select appropriate imaging and sensing systems. The position requires at least a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, five years of experience leading junior engineers and 10 years of software engineering experience. Prinicipal Technical Program Manager - Average: $290,000 The principal technical program manager will lead the technical strategy and program management of Elastic Block Storage-specific services and products that will revolutionize industries across the globe. The position requires 10 years of experience in system software/hardware product development, including technical program leadership of computer system, storage devices, etc. Global Leader of Sales Strategy - Average: $233,000 This role will focus on developing and driving strategy, analytics and data management to optimize the rapid growth of Amazon’s cloud business. A bachelor’s degree is required as well as 15+ years of experience in both enterprise technology sales and sales operation. Worst-paying Amazon jobs: Healthcare & Life Sciences Solutions Architect - Average: $73,000  This position is slated for an experienced IT consultant with technical expertise in a specialty area and ability to travel internationally as needed to support customers. The individual will assist in sales of infrastructure engagements and coach Amazon Web Services field sales, presales, training and support teams. At least 15 years of relevant experience in information technology is required for this position. Inside Sales Representative - Average: $69,000 The inside sales representative creates the first impression for prospective customers through business development activities, follow-ups on their inquiries and from the company’s marketing programs. Experience with technology sales is required. Head of Media - Amazon Channels - Average: $56,000 This role is responsible for leading, managing and growing a team of media professionals, as well as managing media agencies and other partners in order to achieve the company’s marketing and media objectives. The person should have at least eight years of experience in media strategy. Head of Social Media - Average: $54,000 Amazon seeks an experienced, strategic and highly creative individual to lead its global social media marketing efforts. The perfect candidate will have more than 10 years of experience in social media marketing. Content Writer - Average: $47,000 The ideal candidate will have experience in results-driven technical content writing. Requirements include knowledge of search engine optimization and experience managing multiple content management systems.
  • Disappointment is being expressed by a local elected leader after learning that Orlando did not make the cut as Amazon whittled down the candidates for its second North American Headquarters to just 20 sites. Most of those still in play are in the northeast U.S., but Miami and Atlanta are still in consideration.  'We are a creative city that thinks big and are committed to continuing to pursue headquarter operations and nurture our homegrown technology and innovation companies,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.   “While we are obviously disappointed our region wasn’t selected for the next round for the H2Q project by Amazon, we are proud of the proposal our community presented and the assets our region offers.   We are confident that because of our region’s culture of collaboration, our strong business environment and our investments in quality of life amenities, there are great economic opportunities on the horizon.' We have reached out to the CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership for comment as well.
  • Consuming too much salt can be dangerous for your health. It can cause your blood pressure and cholesterol to skyrocket, but it might also cause memory loss, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York recently conducted an experiment, published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, to determine if salt was linked with memory loss. To do so, the researchers observed mice, which were split into two groups. One group was given food containing 4 percent salt, and the other was fed food with 8 percent salt. The amounts represented an “8- to 16-fold increase in salt compared to a normal mouse diet” and was comparable to a high-salt diet for humans, scientists noted.  >> On AJC.com: These 5 'healthy' foods may have more salt than you think After eight weeks, they examined the animals using magnetic resonance imaging, which captured photos of the anatomy and physiology of the brain.  They discovered the high-salt diet reduced resting blood flow to the brain, causing dementia. They saw a 28 percent decrease in the blood flow in cortex and a 25 percent decrease in the hippocampus, which are two areas of the brain associated with learning and memory.  Analysts also administered a recognition test, and the mice that consumed more salt performed significantly worse, compared to the mice on a regular diet. Mice with salty diets spent less time building nests and gathering materials. This was the case even for mice that had healthy blood pressure levels.  >> Related: These are the best diets for 2018 “We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” senior author Costantino Iadecola said in a statement. “This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to hypertension.” Why is that? The researchers discovered that the high-salt diet prompted an immune response in the gut, which increased a protein called interleukin 17. Its job is to regulate immune and inflammatory responses. But high levels of interleukin 17 can cause a reduction in the production of nitric oxide, which affects brain functions.  >> On AJC.com: Here’s what we always get wrong about salt Luckily, the scientists revealed they were able to reverse the immune signals by discontinuing the high-salt diets and prescribing drugs to lower the interleukin 17 levels. Scientists now hope to continue their investigations by further exploring interleukin 17 and other ailments associated with it. They said their findings may be able to “benefit people with diseases and conditions associated with elevated IL-17 levels, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases.”
  • An elderly Louisiana man whose home had no heat was found dead Wednesday morning, and his wife was hospitalized, after temperatures dropped into the teens overnight.  Paul Maker, 84, of New Roads, was found lying on the floor of his home by sheriff’s deputies, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Both Maker and his wife were disabled and wheelchair-bound. The house had no heat, and the couple was afraid to run their space heaters because of the fire hazard, law enforcement officials said. Deputies went to their home Wednesday morning after a neighbor who often checked on the Makers called 911 to request a welfare check.   “He was in the house with his wife, and they were deathly afraid of running their space heaters overnight,” Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres told the newspaper. “This is just a sad situation.” The couple’s children live in New Orleans and, upon learning of their father’s death and their mother’s hospitalization, could not travel the more than 100 miles to New Roads because most roads in south Louisiana were shut down due to the weather. “I tried to call them all day yesterday to check on them and never got an answer,” Wanda Curly, the couple’s daughter, told the Advocate. “I knew the weather was bad, and I knew they couldn’t do a lot for themselves.” The temperature in the house was about 20 degrees when deputies got there, Pointe Coupee Chief Deputy Coroner Joe Gannon said. Maker died of hypothermia.  Gannon said he believes Maker’s wife would have succumbed to the cold if the couple’s neighbor had not sought help. “She would have been next, I think,” Gannon said.  Maker’s wife told deputies that she heard her husband fall in their living room around midnight, but could not check on him because she could not get out of bed on her own, the newspaper reported.  Curly said her parents moved to New Roads after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She and her siblings tried in vain to get them to relocate to New Orleans over the years, but the couple, who were together for more than 60 years, valued their independence.  She said her mother would have to move to the city under this week’s tragic circumstances. “She doesn’t have a choice now,” Curly said. “She can’t stay there by herself.”
  • A man is facing a capital murder charge after Starkville police accused him of shooting and killing a woman described as his “on-again, off-again” girlfriend at a Mississippi Walmart where she worked as an optometrist, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Walmart in Starkville. Police Chief Frank Nichols said a man fired several shots after walking into the store and confronting a woman, identified as Walmart Vision Center employee Shauna Witt, 42, the Starkville Daily News reported. No other injuries were reported. Witt was taken to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries, police said. Police said they confronted a man at the scene of the shooting and detained him after a brief struggle. The man, identified as William Thomas “Tommy” Chisholm, was arrested and charged with capital murder. Investigators believe the shooting was the result of a domestic situation. According to witnesses, Chisholm and Witt were in an on-again, off-again dating relationship. After the shooting, Justin Blaylock, who said he knew Witt for nearly two decades, described her as “a generous, kind soul,” the Daily News reported. “She will be greatly missed by all,” he said. “(She was) just a genuine friend that cared at all times and was willing to lend a hand at any time.” At the time of the killing, police said, Chisholm was out on felony bond for an incident related to the victim. Police continue to investigate the shooting. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.