Hermaphrochickens

Chickens don’t follow the mammalian model in the way that gender is assigned to them before birth according to discoveries by scientists at the University of Edinburgh.

"Chicken sex doesn’t work like ours. No, not that sex — but the process by which an embryo becomes a recognizably male or female animal. Unlike mammals, it’s not hormones that dictate a chicken’s sex. It’s a fundamental property of the cells themselves. But this only became apparent when biologists investigated several odd chickens that were half male and half female, as if a line were drawn down the center of their bodies. ‘We assumed this was caused by one side of the body having some kind of sex chromosome anomaly,’ said Michael Clinton, a University of Edinburgh developmental biologist and co-author of the study, described March 10 in Nature. ‘But when we looked at them closely, they were composed of entirely normal cells. We realized that birds don’t follow the mammalian model.’ In mammals, there are two types of sex-determining chromosomes, X and Y. Each cell in an embryo has a pair of chromosomes, either XX or XY, but the cells are otherwise identical. Then, early in development, in response to some environmental cue, a group of cells that will someday become ovaries or testes start to produce hormones that cause other cells to develop in male- or female-specific ways. It’s the hormones that matter: Exposed to lots of testosterone and deprived of estrogen, cells with female chromosomes will form masculine tissues, and vice versa."

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
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Elizabeth Warren's plan to forgive student loan debt could lead to an economic boom

A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?

Photo credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
  • The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
  • The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
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Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
  • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
  • Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
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Supreme Court to hear 3 cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

(Photo by Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
  • The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
  • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
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