News to know: Street food, jail time and a smart watch app for PTSD


Street food in Pompeii – Researchers just announced that they have excavated a complete street food stand in Pompeii (although they used a fancy word: thermopolium). The colors are still bright, the paintings crisp (at least for artwork over 1950 years old). Researchers found the remains of popular foods that were still in their earthen pots.

On the menu: duck, goat, pig, fish and snails, sometimes combined in a single dish. No word on tacos. They also found ceramic jars, wine flasks and a bronze drinking bowl. And sadly, they also found the remains of two people killed in the Mt. Vesuvius eruption of A.D. 79. The stall was discovered in 2019 and unveiled on Saturday. (NPR, BBC, CNN)



Jail time – A citizen journalist in China, a Hong Kong teenager and a political activist in Saudi Arabia have been jailed by their respective governments. 

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced Zhang Zhan, age 37, and who documented the early days of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison. Zhang Zhan was the first known person to face trial for chronicling China’s outbreak. Ms. Zhang, a former lawyer, had traveled to Wuhan from her home in Shanghai in February. The official charge on which she was convicted was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Ms. Zhang was one of at least four citizen journalists to disappear abruptly from Wuhan after their reporting differed from the official narrative. (New York Times)

Tony Chung, 19, has been ordered to spend four months in prison for “insulting China’s national flag” and unlawful assembly. He was convicted this month for throwing the Chinese flag to the ground during scuffles outside Hong Kong’s legislature in May 2019. While serving his sentence, Chung will be waiting to be tried for secession, which could lead to life imprisonment. (The Guardian)


Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, Loujain-al-Hathloul, a women’s rights activist who advocated for the right to drive, was sentenced to almost six years in prison. The Saudi government has denied that she was arrested for advocating for driving privileges but instead, said it was because she “mounted a campaign to undermine the royal family.” The original charges included meeting British and other European diplomats, as well as applying for a job at the United Nations and having a PDF copy of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). She was also accused of speaking to foreign press agencies and international human rights groups. She was sentenced under Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism law. (The Guardian, New York Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal)



Smartwatch app stops PTSD nightmares – Patrick Skluzacek came home from Iraq in 2007, plagued by nightmares of his time in Fallujah. The dreams were so intense and awful that he was afraid to close his eyes. His marriage fell apart, he lost his house and his job because of the PTSD-induced nightmares. 

His son Tyler was a senior in college when he attended a “hackathon” in 2015 focused on developing apps that could help people with PTSD. Tyler and his team created an app for a smartwatch that would detect the onset of night terrors and then gently vibrate just enough to pull the dreamer out of their deep REM state. The app was purchased by an investor and created a company around it called NightWare. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the app last month to treat PTSD-related nightmares. Way to innovate, Tyler!