Cover for No Agenda Show 1557: Stern & Wrinkled
May 21st, 2023 • 3h 10m

1557: Stern & Wrinkled


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

Build the Wall
About – The Area Documentary Film
All you have to do it watch The Area
About – The Area Documentary Film (
Buy out a poor neighborhood which has low prices and they cannot afford a home anywhere else.
Meanwhile, the new owner has valuable property.
Spun up over Trans issues
Everything is political
American Medi Model is opposition and strife
Big Pharma is orchestrating - Just like COVID
Parents are afraid to be cast out of their communities - that is very scary
Queer ideology is driving this, the outcasts - like punk and anarchists, only turbo charged with social media
Take charge of your inputs:
Andrew Sullivan Substack Exerpt
The core belief of critical queer theorists is that homosexuality is not a part of human nature because there is no such thing as human nature; and that everything is socially constructed, even the body. Because heterosexuality is the overwhelming norm, and homosexuality the exception, and because society is nothing but a complex of oppression, homosexuals are defined by their rejection of heteronormativity. To be queer is inherently to exist on the margins; to be odd, peculiar, weird, queer, hated, oppressed, and in revolt and rebellion. To be queer is to be dedicated to subversion, to mock conventions, to deconstruct language, to dismantle the human body, to defy “nature” and, above all, to liberate humankind from the prison of gender.
To be homosexual, in contrast, is merely to be attracted to the same sex, and gays and lesbians run the gamut of tastes, politics, backgrounds and religions. Some are conservative, some radical, some indifferent. Some gays are queers. But most aren’t. And queers now run what was once the gay rights movement. (For a longer, piercing reflection on the takeover, read historian Jamie Kirchick’s new essay in Liberties. For a discussion of the homophobia of the new queer activism, see Ben Appel’s excellent essay in Spiked.)
Then the queers upped the ante and did something we gays never did: they targeted children. If they could get into kids’ minds, bodies and souls from the very beginning of their lives, they could abolish the sex binary from the ground up. And so they got a pliant, woke educational establishment to re-program children from the very start, telling toddlers that any single one of them could be living in the wrong body, before they could even spell.
Kindergartners were told to pick a pronoun, and thereby a sex, as soon as they arrived. Endless kiddie books reiterated the queer theory mantra about gender: “You can be a girl or a boy or both or neither or something else entirely!” And if the sex the child chose did not match their physical body, they were told they could just change it — and change it back if needed — no questions asked. Fun! If a boy said he was a girl, or vice-versa, it was in fact unethical to ask any further questions. From now on, he was a girl. Parents? A problem to be overcome.
Democrat Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh Full Context
A Friday morning session in the unicameral Nebraska legislature devolved into chaos after one Democratic lawmaker began shouting her support for transgender people amid a debate on a bill to ban sex change procedures for minors in the state.
The bill, which was ultimately approved by lawmakers and sent to Republican Gov. Jim Pillen's desk to become law, bans sex change procedures for minors, as well as abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
In voicing her disapproval to the measure Friday morning, state Democrat Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh slapped the lectern and repeatedly shouted: "Transgender people belong here, we need trans people, we love trans people."
"You matter. You matter and I am fighting for you. I will not stop," exclaimed Cavanaugh, who displays she/her pronouns in her Twitter bio. "I will not stop today, I will not stop tomorrow. You are loved. You matter. You belong here."
Cavanaugh's shouting during the legislative session lasted for just under a minute.
Cavanaugh also railed against conservatives who voted for the hybrid bill — which includes protections for unborn children — and warned that people, medical professionals and businesses will leave the state over it.
"Your children are posting things on social media, your children are calling you, colleagues," Cavanaugh said. "You have to live with your vote.… You have to live with the role that you play in history in the making today. You have to live with the fact that you vote to take away people's rights. You have to live with that. The rest of us have to live with the implications of that, but you have to live with that."
"If you didn't sleep after Tuesday night, reflect on that. You don't have to vote for this," she added, just shortly before she called those who support the measure "weak."
Cavanaugh also claimed that those who supported the measure "allowed" themselves to be "bought by the governor."
Republican lawmakers wrangled just enough votes to end a filibuster and pass a bill with both measures. Gov. Pillen, who pushed for the bill and met with various lawmakers to shore up support, has promised to sign it into law.
The 12-week abortion provision in the measure has exceptions for rape and incest. The bill wouldn’t allow transgender people under 19 years old to undergo gender surgery, with a few exceptions.
The state’s chief medical officer — a political appointee who is currently an ear, nose and throat doctor — would set rules for puberty blockers and hormone therapies for transgender minors in the state. There will be some exceptions for minors who were already receiving treatment before the ban was enacted.
Several Republicans voiced approval for the measure during the debate, including state Sen. Steve Erdman, who drew inconsistences in the arguments made by Democrats.
"Saying abortion is health care is like saying being raped is lovemaking," Erdman said at one point.
Friday's debate was briefly stopped when protesters in a chamber balcony stood and yelled obscenities at conservative lawmakers while throwing what appeared to be bloody tampons onto the floor. As lawmakers began voting, chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!" could be heard coming from outside the chamber.
At least six people were arrested at the Nebraska state Capitol building after lawmakers passed the bill.
At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning transgender procedures, hormones and therapies for minors, and proposals are pending before the governors of Texas and Missouri. Medical groups and advocates claim such restrictions are further marginalizing transgender youth and threatening their health.
North Carolina also passed a 12-week abortion law this week, among a slew of restrictions enacted in states after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion. Fourteen states now have laws that restrict abortion throughout pregnancy.
Nebraska currently restricts abortion after 20 weeks and is one of multiple states that has recently passed abortion and transgender laws.
Last month, a proposed six-week abortion limit failed to advance.
TSA trans scanner policy BOTG
Good afternoon. I was hesitant to reach out as I know you love tsa. I figured you and buzzkill would enjoy this.
Specifically see the part about requesting the gender you've convinced yourself you are (my words). They are beginning to roll out training on this and will allow males who think they are women request a female to pat them down and vice versa. Not sure how this is legal, but as a married man, I will be refusing to pat down women. Not that I expect that to happen often, I figured women are going to get the brunt of this bs. If it becomes a mandatory thing I'll wait to get fired and get a lawyer. When I get the training I let you guys know if there is anything good. Anonymous of course.
Big Pharma
Drug shortages reach 'public health emergency levels', doctors say | Daily Mail Online
Experts warn that a small pool of manufacturers coupled with low prices for generic drugs and factory closures is driving the trend, alongside sudden spikes in demand.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Biden Administration has quietly put together a team to alleviate the shortage, considering plans including tax breaks for manufacturers.
Drug Shortages Near an All-Time High, Leading to Rationing - The New York Times
The scarcity of generic forms of chemotherapy to treat lung, breast, bladder and ovarian cancers has only heightened concerns.
Officials have been debating possible measures like tax incentives for generic drugmakers and greater transparency around generic drug quality. The current incentives favor drugmakers with the lowest prices, which includes those that might cut corners — leading to disruptive plant shutdowns if the F.D.A. demands a fix. (Some shortages, like those of weight-loss drugs, are the result of sky-high demand, while others have been attributed to overprescribing, including for antibiotics, or a lack of investment in potential alternatives.)
The F.D.A., which employs a team of about 10 people who do the day-to-day work of mitigating and reporting drug shortages, has said it is seeking authority from Congress to get additional information about the drug manufacturing and supply chain.
But the agency has also expressed its concerns to the White House about severe financial strain in the generic drug industry — an economic problem that F.D.A. officials say they are not suited to address.
Dr. Robert Califf, the F.D.A. commissioner, highlighted the agency’s views during recent appearances before Congress, saying officials can only plug so many holes.
“We have got to fix the core economics if we’re going to get this situation fixed,” Dr. Califf told a House panel on May 11.
Great Reset
What Are “15-Minute Cities” and Why Are Conspiracy Theorists Worried About Them? | Teen Vogue
Why are conspiracy theorists pushing misinformation about the 15-minute city?
But like many progressive ideas these days, even the 15-minute cities model has been commandeered by conspiracy theorists. In the United Kingdom, they argue that the movement is a way to force people to stay in a certain area, rid them of their physical autonomy, and fine them if they try to leave their mandated zone. It’s a far leap from how experts define the 15-minute cities model, but it’s caught on among far-right protesters — roughly 2,000 of them descended on Oxford after the city attempted to limit peak-hour car traffic in central areas. Moreno dismisses the conspiracy theories as “totally insane.” The professor himself has been a target of conspiracy theorists, who have sent him death threats and even deemed him a member of an international world order set on domination.
But conspiracy theorists are not the biggest obstacle to the widespread adoption of 15-minute cities. The challenge, according to Patel, is really convincing a capitalist society to invest in something that may take years or decades to pay off. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. “We have the ability to change and make lasting impacts for our community,” he says, “if only we are able to step out of our comfort zone.”
Climate Change
Ukraine vs Russia
Big Tech
Deep State
Prime Time Takedown
Forget Fancy Cars'--This $14.25 Million Texas Home Has Space to Park Your Helicopter - WSJ
Sun, 21 May 2023 16:45
The roughly 25-acre property in Decatur includes a hangar and helipad
In Texas, a newly renovated estate with a helicopter hangar and helipad is asking $14.25 million.
The roughly 25-acre property is located in the small city of Decatur, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth, according to listing agent Melody Taylor of Coldwell Banker Realty.
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In Texas, a newly renovated estate with a helicopter hangar and helipad is asking $14.25 million.
The roughly 25-acre property is located in the small city of Decatur, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth, according to listing agent Melody Taylor of Coldwell Banker Realty.
The sellers are Texas-based builders Bradina and Michael Benson, who spent millions renovating the property. The estate includes a roughly 9,600-square-foot main house with five bedrooms, plus a pool house and a guest villa with a fitness center.
The Bensons bought the first nine acres of the property in 2019, then bought the adjacent 16 acres. Bradina Benson didn't disclose how much they paid to buy the estate, but said they spent around four years and millions of dollars renovating it. ''It was a Texas-size flip,'' she said.
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The buildings sit atop a ridge that overlooks a private ravine and national grasslands, according to Bradina Benson. ''I'm from Texas, and I've never seen views like this in the Decatur and Fort Worth areas,'' Taylor said.
The buildings were already there when they bought the property, Bradina Benson said, but they needed a lot of work. They transformed the main house, which was built in 2017 with some Mediterranean influences, into a ''Spanish castle'' with large arched windows and a hand-painted, Spanish-tile staircase. A roughly 1,200-square-foot primary suite has a bathroom overlooking the grasslands. There are also two balconies; one of them, with a fireplace and retractable awnings, spans about 1,300 square feet.
The Bensons also renovated the pool house, which has two bedrooms and a loft. The one-bedroom guest villa has a fitness center below it with a private patio.
There are an array of amenities on the grounds, including the helipad and roughly 5,000-square-foot hangar, which doubles as a barn and has an air-conditioned office. ''The helipad was in our sight because it is a choice of travel here in North Texas for so many,'' Bradina Benson said. The property also has a sports court and a driving range.
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With a solar farm and a well with a 5,000-gallon holding tank, ''the property can be completely off-grid if the new owner chooses,'' Bradina Benson said. During the state's major power outage in 2021, the property didn't lose power, she said.
Though the Bensons have another residence in Texas, they lived at the Decatur property during the renovation, she said.
The Bensons' property will be the most expensive home for sale in Decatur, which has a rural, small-town feel, Taylor said. Ranch-size properties in the Decatur and Fort Worth areas with homes over 3,000 square feet typically sell for upwards of $2 million, according to Taylor.
Write to Libertina Brandt at
NASA Picks Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin for Artemis Moon Mission - The New York Times
Sun, 21 May 2023 16:44
After losing out to SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' rocket company will get a chance to carry astronauts to the moon's surface on a mission scheduled for 2029.
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An artist's impression of the moon lander that Blue Origin and other companies will build for NASA's astronaut mission to visit the moon's surface no earlier than 2029. Credit... Blue Origin On their second try, Jeff Bezos and his rocket company have won a contract to take NASA astronauts to the moon.
NASA announced on Friday that it had awarded a contract to Mr. Bezos' company, Blue Origin, to provide a lunar lander for a moon mission that is scheduled to launch in 2029. NASA agreed to pay $3.4 billion for the 50-foot-tall spacecraft, which is named Blue Moon and can transport four astronauts to the moon's surface.
The mission, Artemis V, is another critical piece of NASA's Artemis program to send astronauts back to the moon as part of an effort to explore its south pole region. Astronauts are to land on the moon in a vehicle built by SpaceX for the Artemis III and IV missions.
John Couluris, Blue Origin's vice president for lunar transportation, said that the company was contributing ''well north'' of the price of the NASA contract amount to the development effort and that it, not NASA, would absorb any cost overruns. In the past, some members of Congress have complained about providing taxpayer money to Blue Origin, given Mr. Bezos' wealth.
''We want more competition,'' Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, said during the announcement on Friday at NASA's headquarters in Washington. ''It means that you have reliability. You have backups.''
Lisa Watson-Morgan, the manager for the human landing system program at NASA, said the second lander ''also helps us with a more diversified industrial base, and that will help us advance innovation in the future.''
The winning of the contract could start a promising rebound year for Blue Origin after a number of delays and setbacks '-- including the failure of one of its New Shepard vehicles, which travel to space but not to orbit, during a launch last September that carried experiments but no passengers. Blue Origin has identified the cause and hopes to resume New Shepard flights involving both space tourists and scientific cargo later this year.
And some hardware manufactured by Blue Origin might finally be used on an orbital mission in the coming months. The company built engines for the booster stage of the Vulcan rocket being developed by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of the aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Blue Origin might also provide some public glimpses of New Glenn, a much larger rocket that is to launch payloads to orbit.
For the lunar lander contract, Blue Origin, in collaboration with other aerospace companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, beat a second team led by Dynetics, a defense company based in Huntsville, Ala.
''The feeling is absolutely fantastic,'' Mr. Couluris said. ''This is Step 1, though. We have a lot to do before we successfully land and return astronauts.''
The Blue Moon lander is designed to fit within the 23-foot-wide diameter of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket, and will weigh more than 45 metric tons when filled with propellants.
For Artemis V, the lander will first dock at Gateway, a small outpost in orbit around the moon. Four astronauts will travel to Gateway in another spacecraft, NASA's Orion capsule. Then they will transfer to the Blue Moon lander for a stay near the lunar south pole lasting about a week.
After their visit to the moon, the lander will blast off and return to Gateway, and the Orion capsule will take all four astronauts back to Earth. The same lander could be used for several missions.
A second Blue Origin spacecraft will be needed to transport liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen from Earth to lunar orbit to refill the propellant tanks of the Blue Moon. Transfer of propellants in the near-weightless environment of space, especially ultracold liquid hydrogen, is tricky and has not yet been demonstrated on a large scale.
Mr. Couluris said Blue Origin would conduct an uncrewed demonstration flight of the lander in 2028, a year before it is to be used for astronauts.
''We fully expect to meet the NASA schedule,'' Mr. Couluris said.
Mr. Couluris said the lunar lander could also be configured to carry 30 metric tons of cargo instead of passengers, ''to form the foundation of habitats and other permanent infrastructure'' on the moon's surface.
The Artemis V mission was the second bid by Mr. Bezos' company to land on the moon. In 2021, Blue Origin and Dynetics were disappointed when NASA awarded SpaceX a fixed $2.9 billion contract to build a variation of its giant Starship vehicle that would land astronauts on the moon for the first time in more than half a century.
The two companies protested the decision, especially because NASA officials originally aimed to award two contracts.
That would have paralleled successful efforts by NASA that turned over to private companies the transportation of cargo and crew to the International Space Station. But NASA officials said at the time that there was not enough money in their budget for a second lander. SpaceX's $2.9 billion bid was the lowest bid by far. Blue Origin's proposed design had a price tag of $6 billion, and the one offered by Dynetics was even more expensive.
The federal Government Accountability Office rejected the protests of the two companies. Blue Origin then sued in federal court and again lost.
Last September, after winning a larger budget from Congress, NASA announced a competition for a second lunar lander. Dynetics and Blue Origin decided to compete again, though there was some shuffling of the companies participating in the efforts. Northrop Grumman, which was part of Blue Origin's original proposal, switched to the Dynetics team.
Blue Origin added to its team Boeing; Astrobotic, a small Pittsburgh company that is developing robotic lunar landers; and Honeybee Robotics, a space technology company that Blue Origin bought last year.
The design of the spacecraft also changed, adding in-space propellant transfer.
But it will not reach the moon for a while.
SpaceX's initial $2.9 billion contract was to provide the lander for the first moon landing during Artemis III, which is currently scheduled for late 2025 but is likely to slip to 2026 or later. In November, NASA exercised a $1.15 billion option in that contract for SpaceX to provide a lander for Artemis IV as well, a mission that is scheduled for 2028.
After Artemis V, NASA will be able to choose between the SpaceX and Blue Origin designs for later missions.
Eventually, companies and people outside of NASA could also buy Blue Moon rides. ''We do have a number of entities that are interested,'' Mr. Couluris said.
Here's what we know about upcoming vaccines and antibodies against RSV
Sun, 21 May 2023 16:19
Finally, researchers may have ways to combat a deadly respiratory illness.
The disease is not the flu or COVID-19, but respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
The virus was first identified in 1957 in Baltimore, but it has probably been around for millennia, says Jim Boonyaratanakornkit, a virologist and transplant immunologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. ''It's always been a plague for the very young and the very old,'' he says.
In Europe, people age 60 and older may soon get some protection against the virus. An advisory committee recommended April 26 that a vaccine against RSV made by the pharmaceutical giant GSK should be approved for use. That decision will go to the European Commission for final approval.
No RSV vaccine has been approved in the United States. And there are no specific antiviral medications to combat RSV, and only one preventive treatment '-- a monoclonal antibody '-- is reserved for a small number of babies at high risk of severe disease. But that could soon change. Several companies now have clinical trial data suggesting that their various vaccine candidates or lab-made monoclonal antibodies can protect against RSV's worst consequences.
Those treatments are geared, in part, toward the youngest children. People of all ages can contract the virus, but it tends to hit the youngest the hardest. In 2019, RSV caused an estimated 33 million infections worldwide in children ages 5 and younger. About 3.6 million children were hospitalized and more than 100,000 died, researchers reported last year in the Lancet. Their calculations revealed that RSV causes 1 in every 28 deaths of children 28-days- to 6-months-old.
''This is why we should care,'' Penny Heaton of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson, said April 4 at the World Vaccine Congress, held in Washington D.C. Vaccines and antibodies might be able to prevent some of those deaths. ''This is the amazing impact that '... RSV vaccines [and] monoclonal antibodies '... can have on the health of children globally.''
But it's not just the 5-and-under crowd who will benefit. Their grandparents, great-grandparents and other older adults could soon get RSV shots. That could mean an easing of the burden of RSV in the two groups hit hardest by the virus.
Two companies '-- GSK, formerly GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer '-- are close to getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their RSV vaccines. Moderna isn't far behind with an mRNA-based RSV vaccine. Meanwhile, Danish company Bavarian Nordic expects results from a clinical trial soon for its vaccine, and several other companies also have RSV vaccines in the works.
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Other companies are developing monoclonal antibodies to give to babies and infants as preventives against RSV. Those lab-made antibodies aren't vaccines, but a dose given before the start of RSV season may temporarily protect vulnerable babies from becoming very sick if they get infected.
There are so many options on the horizon that Janssen decided to bow out. ''As we looked across our portfolio, and we looked across the RSV landscape,'' Heaton said, ''we have made the decision to discontinue our RSV program,'' and to stop a late-stage clinical trial. The company also announced the decision in March, saying it wanted to focus on unmet medical needs. RSV, it seems, may soon no longer fit that bill.
For now, the virus is still very much a problem. Usually, RSV season starts in October and peaks in December or January '-- at least in the United States. It generally ends in April.
The virus almost vanished in the winter of 2020''21. In that first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, RSV-positive PCR tests never rose above 3 percent '-- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's threshold for an epidemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, RSV positivity rates peaked each season at about 13 to 16 percent. RSV's disappearance was thanks mostly to precautions, including social distancing and mask-wearing, put in place against COVID-19.
But the virus rebounded, appearing in the summer of 2021, researchers report April 7 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That year RSV season shifted, starting in May. It hit its zenith in July and ended in January 2022.
The 2022''23 RSV season shifted closer to the prepandemic pattern but was still early. The 2022 season started in June and peaked in November with a positivity rate of 19 percent. The season ended sometime between December and February, depending on which part of the country you live in. This latest RSV season hit kids hard, overwhelming children's hospitals in some places.
No one knows when the next RSV season will begin. But some of the vaccines and treatments in development could be ready for deployment this fall, potentially reducing the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths from the infections.
Here's a breakdown of the vaccine and treatment candidates.
What is in the vaccines?Three companies '-- Pfizer, GSK and Moderna '-- have based their vaccines on one of RSV's proteins. That protein, called the F protein, sits on the virus's outer membrane and helps it fuse to human cells. The F protein is a shapeshifter. Before fusion, it looks like a rounded knob. After fusion, it resembles a needle or pointy tower.
RSV uses its F protein to break into cells. Researchers discovered a decade ago that the F protein has a knobby shape (illustrated at left) before the virus fuses with a cell. After fusion, the protein takes on a pointier shape (right). Jason McLellanA decade ago, researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health figured out that locking the protein into its prefusion knob state causes the immune system to react more strongly than to the virus' shapeshifting form. All three companies use some version of the F protein locked in the prefusion state in their vaccines. Pfizer described the nitty-gritty details of making this stabilized F protein April 6 in Science Translational Medicine.
Pfizer and GSK's vaccines contain the protein itself. Moderna's candidate, like its COVID-19 vaccine, is an mRNA vaccine that tells the body to produce the protein.
Bavarian Nordic is taking a different approach. The company makes a vaccine that works against both smallpox and mpox, formerly called monkeypox (SN: 12/12/22). That vaccine is live vaccinia virus, a pox virus that has been engineered so that it can't replicate well in the body. Many vaccines, including those against flu, measles and chicken pox are also such live attenuated, or weakened, viruses.
For its RSV vaccine, Bavarian Nordic engineered the vaccinia virus to make five of RSV's proteins, including the F protein. At the World Vaccine Congress, one person asked whether such a hybrid virus might give protection against RSV, mpox and smallpox. But the company has no data yet to suggest the vaccine would protect against all three, Peter Costa, Bavarian Nordic's U.S. medical affairs regional lead, said April 5 during a session in which multiple companies presented data on RSV vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
Another company, Codagenix, is working with the RSV virus itself, tinkering with its genetic instruction book to make the virus unable to cause disease. For its vaccine, the company's researchers introduced more than 1,000 mutations in one gene to slow replication of the virus, says Jeffrey Fu, the company's chief business officer. Those mutations change the virus's RNA but don't alter the amino acids in its proteins.
''We're able to design viruses '... that look identical or nearly identical to the real virus,'' Fu told me. Because the virus replicates slowly, it doesn't cause disease but stimulates an immune reaction. The vaccine will be given as nose drops, unlike the other vaccines, which are given as shots.
Codagenix plans to start testing its vaccine's safety at a low dose in healthy 5-year-olds this spring. If safe, the company wants to gradually increase the dose as well as begin testing the vaccine candidate in younger children, working down to 6-month-olds.
Pfizer's vaccine is being tested for its ability to protect newborns, babies and older adults. The rest of the companies' vaccines are for use in older adults.
How well do the RSV vaccines work in newborns and babies?Only Pfizer is testing a vaccine to protect newborns. And it doesn't give shots to babies. Instead, the company gave its vaccine candidate to more than 7,300 healthy pregnant women age 49 or younger. The idea is that the mother will produce antibodies against RSV that will transfer through the placenta to the baby. Those antibodies would give babies temporary protection against the virus in the especially vulnerable first six months of life.
Most children get infected with RSV by the time they are 2 years old. The disease may be just a coldlike illness for many kids, with a runny nose, decrease in appetite and a cough. But wheezing or difficulty breathing can also occur, and very young infants might pause breathing for more than 10 seconds. RSV can also lead to more severe illnesses including bronchitis and pneumonia.
Pfizer's strategy to protect babies from these consequences of RSV seems to have worked. In the 90 days after birth, six infants born to moms who got the vaccine had severe RSV lung infections requiring medical attention. In the placebo group, 33 babies had severe lung infections. That's a vaccine efficacy of 81.8 percent, researchers report April 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Over time, that vaccine efficacy slipped a bit as mothers' antibodies wore out. Within six months after birth, 19 babies of mothers in the vaccine group and 62 infants of mothers in the placebo group developed severe lung infections, a vaccine efficacy of about 69 percent.
The vaccine didn't meet statistical criteria for preventing less-severe lung infections, but there were about half the number of such infections in babies whose mothers got the vaccine compared with babies whose mothers got a placebo. Within 90 days after birth, 24 infants in the vaccinated-mom group and 56 in the placebo group got lung infections. That's roughly 57 percent efficacy. That efficacy against less-severe lung infections also slipped slightly, to 51 percent, within 180 days of birth.
The vaccine kept babies out of the hospital too. In the first 90 days of life, the vaccine's efficacy was almost 68 percent at preventing hospitalization, falling to about 57 percent efficacy within 180 days of birth.
Like the COVID vaccines and most vaccines for respiratory illnesses, the vaccine wasn't great at preventing infection (SN: 5/29/22). The vaccine's efficacy against any RSV illness requiring medical attention was about 39 percent in the first three months of life and 38 percent in the six months after birth.
As for safety, there weren't side effects beyond what researchers expected; some pain at the injection site, some muscle aches. ''This was a maternal trial, so obviously moms were tired [and] had headaches. You can see that from the placebo numbers,'' Barbara Pahud, the clinical lead for Pfizer's ongoing study, said at the vaccine congress. No serious safety concerns caused by the vaccine appeared during the trial in either mothers or babies.
Pfizer is continuing to follow the children and will have two years' worth of data to present ahead of an FDA meeting to discuss the vaccine's approval in August, she said.
Protecting babiesGiving an RSV vaccine to pregnant women helped protect those women's infants from severe RSV lung infections that required medical attention. Antibodies transferred from the vaccinated mothers were most effective in the first 90 days after birth. The vaccine's efficacy was 81 percent in that period. As babies' bodies broke down the antibodies, the vaccine's efficacy waned a bit, but was still more than 69 percent effective six months after birth.
Cases of severe RSV in babies of vaccinated people vs. a placebo group B. Kampmann et al/NEJM 2023 B. Kampmann et al/NEJM 2023Codagenix has data from lab animal studies suggesting its vaccine can trigger the production of protective antibodies. But its trial in children is just getting started, and there are no results to report yet.
Do monoclonal antibodies help protect newborns and babies?Giving monoclonal antibodies to newborns and babies might help against RSV too. Like antibodies passed from mothers to babies, lab-made antibodies targeted against the virus's F protein are showing some signs of success at protecting infants against RSV.
One monoclonal antibody, palivizumab, was approved by the FDA in 1998. But that antibody is used only for babies at the highest risk of severe illness from RSV. That includes babies born prematurely, those with a chronic lung condition called bronchopulmonary dysplasia and infants with certain heart conditions. That's only a fraction of the babies born in the United States each year. And palivizumab isn't available in most of the low- and middle-income countries where the virus is the biggest problem, Codagenix's Fu says.
What's more, palivizumab doesn't last long. Vulnerable babies need an injection every month during RSV season. And at more than $1,800 per dose, the medication is expensive.
Some companies have been working on more potent, longer-lasting monoclonal antibodies for use in babies and infants. Sanofi and AstraZeneca teamed up to make one called nirsevimab. That antibody was approved for use in the European Union and the United Kingdom in November. It is being considered for approval in the United States.
In a clinical trial, about 2,000 newborns got an injection of nirsevimab and about 1,000 babies got a placebo. Through 150 days after getting the shot, the antibody's efficacy against hospitalization was 76.8 percent, researchers report April 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Merck also has a long-lasting monoclonal antibody being tested in clinical trials. Results from those studies aren't yet available.
Do the vaccines protect older people?Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are perhaps the population that people worry most about when it comes to RSV, but the virus hits older people hard too.
In the United States alone, between 60,000 and 160,000 older adults are hospitalized with RSV each year, and 6,000 to 10,000 die, the CDC estimates.In 2019, an estimated 5.2 million people ages 60 or older caught RSV in high-income countries, researchers reported last year in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. Of the 5.2 million cases, 470,000 people landed in the hospital, with about 33,000 of those dying, the researchers estimate. The study looked only at high-income countries, including the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan and some European countries. But if the kid data are any indication, the death rate for older folks may have been much higher had people in low- and middle-income countries been included.
''This is a relatively unrecognized infection in adult populations,'' Edward Walsh, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said April 5 at the World Vaccine Congress.
Walsh was one of the lead researchers testing Pfizer's vaccine for older adults. He and colleagues conducted a large trial involving more than 34,000 people ages 60 and older in Argentina, Canada, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United States. Half got Pfizer's vaccine candidate, and half got a placebo.
The trial started in August 2021. Though RSV reemerged to infect a lot of children that year, it didn't come back in prepandemic numbers in older adults, especially not in the over-60 crowd, Walsh said. ''They continued to stay away from grandchildren, stay away from crowds and wear masks,'' preventing transmission.
Walsh told me later that he and colleagues found only 16 percent of prepandemic numbers of infections in older adults in the Rochester area during the study period. With such low numbers of infections, ''we were very nervous that [the trial] wasn't going to show us anything.''
The Rochester area was just one of 240 sites in the study. With the information collected from each site, the researchers had enough data to calculate the vaccine's efficacy. The researchers considered different levels of severity based on whether the virus infected the lungs and how many symptoms, such as cough, wheezing or shortness of breath, that participants reported.
In the placebo group, 14 participants developed lung infections with three or more symptoms. Only two participants who got the vaccine developed that level of illness for an efficacy of 85.7 percent, Walsh and colleagues report April 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Against RSV lung infections with two or more symptoms, the vaccine had an efficacy of 66.7 percent, with 33 cases in the placebo group and 11 in the vaccine group.
Those efficacy numbers are lower but similar to those reported by GSK on February 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine. But results from the vaccine trials are not directly comparable because they were conducted in different countries and used different measurements.
GSK tested its vaccine on about 25,000 participants age 60 and over from 17 countries across five continents. In the trial, seven people who got the company's vaccine and 40 who got a placebo developed RSV lung infections with two or more symptoms lasting at least 24 hours. That is an efficacy of 82.6 percent. The European Medicines Agency's committee for human medicines recommended the vaccine for approval on the strength of those data.
Moderna hasn't yet published results from its vaccine trial in a scientific or medical journal, but it issued a press release in January with the numbers. The company gave its vaccine or a placebo to about 37,000 adults ages 60 and older in 22 countries. Only nine people in the vaccine group got lung infections with two or more symptoms compared with 55 in the placebo group, for a vaccine efficacy of 83.7 percent.
Bavarian Nordic gave healthy 18- to 50-year-olds a shot of vaccine or placebo and then purposely gave them RSV in a human challenge trial (SN: 2/18/21). The vaccine prevented symptomatic infections with 79 percent efficacy, the company reported in a press release in 2021. But that was among healthy younger adults who have less risk of severe complications than elderly people do.
Bavarian Nordic also conducted a clinical trial in the United States and Germany of 20,000 people age 60 and older. Results of the study should be available later this year, Costa said.
Without masking and social distancing, RSV probably isn't going to disappear again. As for the new vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, they probably won't stop RSV's spread. But they may at least protect the most vulnerable among us against the virus's worst effects.
American Hair Loss Association - About Us
Sun, 21 May 2023 16:16
The American Hair Loss Association is the only national 501(c)(3), nonprofit, consumer organization dedicated to educating the public, healthcare professionals, mainstream media and legislators about the emotionally devastating disease of hair loss (alopecia).Committed to the prevention and treatment of hair loss, the AHLA is dedicated to supporting research that will ultimately treat and cure those who suffer from this silent epidemic.
The AHLA recognizes that hair loss of any kind is a serious, life altering disorder and understands just how crippling this disease of the spirit can be to many who suffer with it.
While the American Hair Loss Association is aware of many ethical practitioners and treatment providers in this field, we also recognize the vulnerability of the hair loss sufferer. For this reason, the AHLA has been created in part to act as an advocate for, and to protect all those with this disease from questionable hair loss practitioners and treatment marketers.
The American Hair Loss Association provides educational resources to dermatologists and to all healthcare professionals interested in treating and educating hair loss sufferers. .
Through various activities, the AHLA aims to:
* Promote professional and public awareness of hair loss and the disease's impact on people's lives.
* Encourage the advancement of scientific research in the field of hair loss and all alopecia disorders.
* Assist individuals with hair loss in finding appropriate treatment and developing self-help skills.
* Eliminate the stigma surrounding hair loss, and to legitimize this disease in the eyes of society.
The American Hair Loss Association is the authoritative source of information for people with hair loss and for the health care professionals who care for them. The AHLA is an active and prominent educator in the field of hair loss and all alopecia disorders.
About '' The Area Documentary Film
Sun, 21 May 2023 15:15
The NeighborhoodInside the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago is a small middle-class community surrounded by railroad tracks. ''The area'' was a destination for many Black Americans arriving from the South during the Great Migration of the mid-20th century. Homes, wealth, and memories have been handed down from generation to generation.
Despite decades of redlining, divestment, and the 2007 foreclosure crisis, nearly half of families own their homes outright '-- but the expansion of the nearby freight yard threatens the community and all it has built.
The neighborhood's location on Chicago's South Side.The Film When the train company representatives told Deborah Payne that her South Side Chicago neighborhood would be demolished to build a freight yard, she vowed to be ''the last house standing.'' A thirty-year resident of the Englewood community, she had raised generations of neighborhood children alongside her own, forging deep friendships and traditions in this Black American community surrounded by the tracks.
THE AREA is the five-year odyssey of her neighborhood, where more than 400 Black American families are being displaced by a multi-billion dollar freight company. As their community is literally being torn apart, residents maintain friendships and traditions while fighting for the respect they deserve. Through their experiences, the film weaves an all-too-real story about the disproportionate harm that structural racism has done to Black communities, while illustrating the hope and promise neighbors find in one another as they fight for their home.
Poster by Damon LocksThe Team
Gay Professor Placed on Suspension Following Distribution of Controversial Chocolate Bars
Sun, 21 May 2023 15:12
David Richardson, a tenured history professor at Madera Community College in California, is said to have brought gendered chocolate bars to a campus open house on 29 April. The bars were labeled with he/him and she/her pronouns.
He/him bars contained nuts, while she/her bars were nutless. These chocolate bars belonged to Jeremy's Chocolate, a brand created by Jeremy Boreing, co-CEO of the conservative news outlet The Daily Wire. The creation of this brand was in response to Hershey's running a trans-inclusive ad campaign for International Women's Day 2023.
Suspended without noticeAlthough no immediate response was reported at the event, the following Monday, the professor was handed a notice of administrative leave by a uniformed police officer.
As a result of the suspension, the professor has been denied access to his university email account and is prohibited from entering the campus premises. Furthermore, Richardson asserts that he has not received any communication from the university during this period.
Read also: Binder Controversy: LGBTQ Groups are Providing Binders to Minors Girls Without Parental Consent
(C) Provided by Everyday Chirp Credits: DepositPhotos The professor's responseRichardson told Fox News, ''I'm under investigation for allegedly creating a hostile work environment based on gender.'' He further expressed his belief that the university administration has sought a pretext to dismiss him due to his dissenting stance on neo pronouns and related matters.
He added, ''It seems like everything we do now revolves around this ideology, and the elimination of diverse viewpoints is taking place.''
The professor compared the university's diversity and inclusion criteria, which aim to foster an accepting and safe environment for LGBTQ+ individuals, to the ''Red Scare'' of the 1950s.
He likened it to being compelled to take loyalty oaths. He drew parallels to the period of the late 1940s and early 1950s, where individuals were targeted and purged if they did not demonstrate complete commitment to a particular ideology. Richardson expressed concerns about potentially finding himself in a similar situation.
Read also: These Celebrities All Proudly Support Their LGBTQ Children!
More from Everyday Chirp Discrimination Allegations Emerge as Former Restaurant's Boss Reportedly Seeks 'Non-Gay' Manager, Reveals Court Proceedings Man Cancels Vacation When Wife Spends Her Share of Money on Ex and Son '' Was He Wrong? Husband Accuses Woman Of Pushing Daughter Towards Devil Worship Because She Bought Her An Emo Dress. '' Was She A Bad Mom?
Why long COVID could be a ticking time bomb for public health |
Sun, 21 May 2023 14:23
The 1918 influenza pandemic, commonly referred to as the Spanish Flu, infected approximately one-third (500 million) of the world's population (then 1.8 billion) and killed an estimated 50 million. With such a high mortality rate, even among young and healthy individuals, this acute infectious disease took its toll, erasing from existence nearly 3% of all people on Earth. But the damage did not stop there: across the globe, survivors of the initial viral infection reported "long flu" symptoms '-- profound fatigue, brain fog, depression, tremors, sleeplessness, and a litany of neurological disorders.
While the initial pandemic forced governments to organize a response to the sudden crisis, an epidemic of chronic illness may not raise alarms that spur us into immediate action.
This "long flu," an echo of sorts of the Spanish Flu epidemic itself, has its parallel in long COVID today '-- a similar cluster of symptoms that persist in those who were previously infected with COVID-19. And the similarities suggest that what we think of as long COVID is not necessarily a novel condition, but merely one more instance of the medical aftermath that accompanies certain infections.
The medical establishment calls this condition post-acute infection syndrome (PAIS). Back in 1918, these mysteriously persistent long flu symptoms wreaked havoc on human health and local economies. For example, many claim that debilitating lethargy caused by this post-viral syndrome led to the "famine of corms" in the region that is Tanzania today, as farmers lacked the energy to plant, harvest, and shear months after getting sick.
Around the same time, cases of a new brain-attacking disease called encephalitis lethargica started to emerge, affecting up to one million people worldwide. The cause of encephalitis lethargica remains one of the largest medical mysteries of the 20th century, though some scientists contend that the Spanish Flu may have been the trigger. The condition was colloquially known as "sleeping sickness," as those infected developed extreme fatigue, neurocognitive impairments, psychiatric illness, and movement disorders. A subset of these individuals fell into a semi-comatose state that lasted for decades. About one-third of encephalitis lethargica patients eventually died from respiratory failure caused by neurological dysfunction, while many survivors continued to suffer from ongoing Parkinson's-disease-like (neurocognitive) symptoms.
In 1969, as chronicled in his book "Awakenings," the neurologist Oliver Sacks discovered that temporary remission of these chronic symptoms, coined post-encephalitic parkinsonism, could be achieved through the use of the Parkinson's drug L-DOPA. Like with Parkinson's disease itself, the benefits of the drug wore off over time, but the finding indicated that encephalitis lethargica impacted the substantia nigra (the part of the brain that helps control movement).
We now have a plethora of information suggesting that COVID-19 is the latest addition to the list of infections spawning post-acute infection syndrome.
Although the medical community has long known that acute infectious diseases are not always entirely self-limiting, chronic sequelae (meaning the secondary symptoms that appear after an infection) receive little attention, remain under-researched, and continue to be misdiagnosed and overlooked by doctors. According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, post-acute infection syndrome is associated with a number of infections, including Epstein Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, Lyme disease, Q fever, West Nile virus, Dengue fever, and the aforementioned influenza. Often presenting well after the initial infection, post-acute infection syndrome manifests as a complex and variable disorder, typically entailing severe fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, confused sensory perception, and neurocognitive abnormalities.
Despite the growing pool of data from patients suffering from post-acute infection syndrome, a comprehensive explanation of the biological mechanisms by which the syndrome's symptoms arise has yet to be established. This lack of scientific understanding creates an untold degree of hardship for those dealing with severe and chronic sequelae of infections. Worse, when doctors cannot find a biological explanation for reported symptoms, patients are often left with little recourse and the feeling that their doctor believes the cause of their suffering is rooted in mental illness.
Years into our current pandemic, we now have a plethora of information suggesting that COVID-19 is the latest addition to the list of infections spawning post-acute infection syndrome; that is, "long COVID." Multinational surveys have been conducted, with thousands upon thousands of adult participants reporting that recovery from an initial COVID infection took more than 35 weeks. Some of these studies highlight the fact that new ailments are reported 6-12 months after an initial COVID infection, which most commonly include fatigue, post-exertional malaise, and cognitive dysfunction.
According to the CDC, in June 2022, almost one in five American adults who had COVID-19 still had long COVID. This statistic seems to be borne out by my anecdotal experience; I have met with and spoken to many people around the world who have lost their sense of smell, had to take medical leave, been fired from work, seen a drop in their focus during school, experienced overwhelming exhaustion and migraines, or become depressed after being infected with COVID. My home state's newspapers recently shared the sad medical saga of a man, Charlie Vallee, whom I grew up with in Vermont. After only mild respiratory symptoms during his initial bout of COVID-19, Vallee went on to develop such severe long COVID symptoms, including brain fog, that he left his job as an intelligence officer in D.C. and tragically took his own life. His family has set up a foundation to fund long COVID research in the hopes of one day understanding how this pernicious form of post-acute infection syndrome can cause an otherwise happy and healthy individual to die by suicide.
In other words, long COVID is affecting more people than we likely know. And it eerily parallels other post-acute infection syndrome scenarios throughout history, including those potentially linked to epidemics of parkinsonism. Hence, the threat of long COVID could lead to a future public health catastrophe, much as the "long" effects of the Spanish Flu did a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical and medical community are not approaching long COVID with the same fervor that they had for COVID-19. As a result, there is a real danger that a broad-scale investigation into the origin of long COVID is postponed or neglected by funding agencies and the medical establishment.
While the initial pandemic forced governments to organize a response to the sudden crisis, an epidemic of chronic illness may not raise alarms that spur us into immediate action. Like climate change, a gradually-evolving threat, especially one perceived to be far away, is much harder to address. But the threat here is not that far off, as emerging science reveals '-- which is why it is of grave importance that we push for an explanatory theory of long COVID (and post-acute infection syndrome) that can fully account for the totality of symptoms observed after an initial infection with SARS-CoV-2 despite no clinical findings of active infection.
The science behind long COVID
Multiple studies published in the journal Nature Communications (one published last year and one published in February of this year) explain how COVID-19 has the ability to trigger the aggregation of proteins within the human body. The research suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can cause normal proteins to abnormally misfold. These misfolded proteins are known as "amyloids," which are toxic to cells when they build up.
Specifically, amyloids occur when proteins misfold into twisted clumps and form long fibers, hindering cellular function. These so-called clumps can start stacking excessively, creating harmful deposits in the body '-- sort of like cholesterol in the bloodstream but at the cellular level. When misfolding of a protein named "alpha-synuclein" in the nervous system occurs, the amyloid buildup this causes in a neuron can lead to the formation of what is known as a "Lewy body," which is resistant to breakdown and clearance. Think of it as plaque buildup in the nervous system. Lewy bodies spread as pieces of these amyloids break away and seed the formation of new Lewy bodies in neighboring neurons.
The scariest thing about this? Misfolded alpha-synuclein is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia, multiple system atrophy, and pure autonomic failure '-- all neurodegenerative diseases collectively known as synucleinopathies. And what can cause alpha-synuclein misfolding? Genetic mutations, exposure to certain toxins, and infections. COVID-19 may be one such infection '-- and that means long COVID symptoms may be a reflection of a developing neurological disorder.
Alarmingly, two studies published by the Mayo Clinic and the Medical University Innsbruck corroborate the findings in the Nature articles, recording signs of dream-enactment sleep disorder among one-third of patients after being infected with COVID-19. Over 80% of patients with dream-enactment sleep disorder go on to develop a Parkinson's-like disease within two decades.
So we need to ask the question: is the recent rise of dream-enactment sleep disorder after COVID related to neurodegeneration? Preliminary research from Stanford University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that this may be the case, as disease-causing clumps of alpha-synuclein have been discovered in some long COVID patients.
So how does all of this connect? Basically, if dream-enactment sleep disorder is more common in those who have had COVID, and the vast majority of those who suffer from this kind of sleep disorder ultimately develop neurological diseases like Parkinson's, then COVID-19 could lead to an explosion of these diseases in the coming years.
This is not mere speculation; animal models further substantiate these claims. For example, a study of macaques demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 induces Lewy body formation (a feature of Parkinson's disease), even after an asymptomatic infection. And, whether or not COVID is determined to be a direct cause of Parkinson's, it could also accelerate the disease course in patients who are predisposed. This was exemplified by a study performed by infecting mice with COVID-19, which found that the virus made the brain more susceptible to toxic compounds known to cause Parkinson's disease. The lead researcher on this study, Richard Smeyne, PhD, who serves as Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Thomas Jefferson University and Director of the Jefferson Comprehensive Movement Disorder Center reviewed this article before publication, affirming what has been outlined and reiterating his study's findings: "Should the predicted risk from SARS-CoV-2 manifest, the diverse consequences would represent a substantial burden on patients, families, and society."
Dr. Smeyne elaborated on the seriousness of these findings, telling Salon, "Our studies in mice predict a 30-50% increase in Parkinson's risk for those moderately to severely infected with the Alpha variant. While on an individual basis this only changes a person's risk from 2% to 3% for developing Parkinson's, over the whole of the population we would expect to see millions more develop Parkinon's disease than would have if not for their COVID infection."
"We still have to examine if the newer strains of SARS-CoV-2 also have the potential to increase the risk for Parkinson's disease."
A prominent theory for explaining Parkinson's disease, put forth by Heiko Braak, a German doctor who studies Parkinson's, aligns well with all these long COVID findings. It states that Parkinson's is caused by a pathogen affecting either the nasal cavity or digestive system, thereby first initiating protein misfolding in the peripheral nervous system before spreading into the brain later on (sometimes decades later). This is why the onset of Parkinson's often entails autonomic dysfunction '-- which means involuntary processes like heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, etc. are compromised. As autonomic dysfunction is a common symptom of long COVID, it is thus possible that the post-acute infection syndrome mechanism responsible for long COVID progresses to the central nervous system over time and could eventually present as Parkinson's disease or a similar disorder.
In other words, while long COVID is not caused by the lingering viral remnants of COVID-19 per se, the initial infection could be precipitating amyloid buildup and Lewy body formation. If this is so, long COVID would mimic a chronic or slowly-evolving infection caused by the virus, similar to other post-acute infection syndrome cases, with the symptoms fluctuating and emerging unpredictably as the amyloids slowly spread throughout the nervous system.
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Braak's hypothesis was based on autopsy data, which indicated a distinct pattern of aggregated alpha-synuclein in those who died from/with Parkinson's disease. However, according to Dr. Smeyne, "As of yet, there is no good non-invasive marker for alpha-synuclein aggregation in living patients, which is why The Michael J. Fox Foundation is offering a $2 million prize to any person or group that successfully develops such a marker."
The way forward
To investigate these claims, larger studies need to evaluate patients with long COVID for markers of Parkinson's-like diseases, such as misfolded alpha-synuclein. A clinical trial is currently underway to do just that '-- so that the history of post-encephalitic parkinsonism in the years following the Spanish Flu does not repeat itself. Considering the mounting evidence, it is crucial that we address the long COVID public health emergency promptly, to provide answers to those suffering from long COVID and prevent a potential increase in "post-COVID parkinsonism."
When asked about his outlook for the future, Dr. Smeyne said, "We are entering a period where we will have to learn to live with COVID being present as a fact of life. This means we still have to examine if the newer strains of SARS-CoV-2 also have the potential to increase the risk for Parkinson's disease and whether vaccination against this virus can reduce the increased Parkinson's risk, as has been shown following vaccination against influenza. Once we determine the answers to these questions, we can begin to look at other ways to interfere with the process."
Salon then asked what it will take to definitively prove whether COVID-19 can trigger a Parkinson's-like disease and whether long COVID is in fact the early stages of such a disease. Dr. Smeyne responded, "My best guess is we will need anywhere from five to ten years from the initial outbreak to see any statistically measurable effect."
Encouragingly, Dr. Smeyne went on to say, "One bright spot in these observations is that there is a considerable period, often about a decade, between viral exposure and the development of a neurological disease like Parkinson's. And there are currently scientists devoting their lives' efforts to find ways to solve this problem '-- the lag between exposure and disease gives me hope that we will find a way to stop the progression from infection to disease in its tracks."
There have been more than 760 million globally documented cases of COVID-19, with the real number of cases, including asymptomatic cases, presumably much higher. More than 750 million have survived, but, as reported, long COVID is occurring in 20-30% of these cases, meaning that hundreds of millions of people could be at higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease or other neurodegenerative issues later in life. If it comes to pass, the public health resources required to help will be astronomical. It behooves us to study long COVID now, lest we end up in such a crisis.
The Netherlands canceled a deal to sell 40 F-16 fighter jets to a private company
Sun, 21 May 2023 13:04
The deal between the Netherlands and Draken International for the sale of 40 F-16 fighters has been cancelled.
According to recent news, the Dutch government has decided to cancel the sale of 40 F-16 fighters to the American private company Draken International. The details that led to this decision have not yet been made public.
This decision is of particular interest, especially in light of the statements made by the Dutch government just a few days ago, on May 9, about the possibility of transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. The government claimed that it was actively negotiating with its allies on the issue.
The transfer of such a number of military aircraft to Ukraine would satisfy Kyiv's requests. However, it may well be only about finding a new buyer for old fighters.
Earlier it became known that if Ukraine really decides to supply Western fighters, then we will talk about the F-16AM version, and it was these aircraft that the Netherlands intended to sell to the private company Draken International.
New post-Brexit border controls on food imports 'will stop cheese and meat coming into the country' | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 21 May 2023 13:01
Britain faces cheese blockade: New post-Brexit border controls on food imports will stop cheese and meat coming into the country, industry leaders warnFury over rules that a vet must sign off on all imports of 'medium risk' foodBy Tom Pyman
Published: 04:42 EDT, 20 May 2023 | Updated: 04:42 EDT, 20 May 2023
Britain now faces a 'cheese blockade' as industry leaders warn new post-Brexit border controls on food imports will stop certain items coming into the country.
Business chiefs have voiced concerns over the red tape which means a vet must sign off on all imports of 'medium risk' food, including unpasteurised cheese, and both fresh and frozen meat.
After delaying the move four times, the government finally announced it would introduce safety checks on goods heading to Britain from Europe last month.
Ministers claimed the controls - legally required under the trade deal with the EU signed in 2020 - would 'minimise burdens'.
But certain industry figures warn that the checks will still make it more difficult to bring some goods into the UK.
Business chiefs have voiced concerns over the red tape which means a vet must sign off on all imports of 'medium risk' food, including unpasteurised cheese, and both fresh and frozen meat
Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, told the Telegraph: 'We're going to see EU-based cheese and meat suppliers finding on November 1 that they can't fulfil their Christmas orders.
'It's going to come as a massive shock to the system, and there will be paralysis as a result while everything has to reset.'
Mr Brennan added that some goods may not be available at all initially and will be sold at a much higher price when they are finally on the shop shelves.
He said the need for veterinary checks was 'a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem'.
EU countries applied the full range of checks to goods from Britain immediately after Brexit, but UK ministers have delayed reciprocating several times - most recently to try and protect families already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
The Government says its new model will prevent delays at the border by reducing the need for physical checks for many types of goods.
It added that under the new model, investigations of animal and plant products would still be thorough enough to protect against diseases like African swine fever and Xylella, while also making it as easy as possible for businesses to import.
Health certificates for animal and plant products crossing from Europe could be introduced by October 31, the draft plans state, with further measures planned at two further milestones throughout 2024.
Ministers are encouraging businesses to prepare for the new regime ahead of the Halloween start date.
$209bn a year is what fossil fuel firms owe in climate reparations. We want that paid | Andr(C) Wright | The Guardian
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:59
T he truth is out, and it lays bare big oil's plunder of the environment for commercial greed. Academics now estimate that the 21 top fossil fuel behemoths are liable for an estimated US$209bn annual reparation bill arising from their exploitation.
But what's more scandalous is that the governments and private investors that have set off an existential timebomb may not be held accountable, despite compelling evidence that they were complicit in the turbocharged, steroidal race for industrial expansion and dominance.
For centuries now, Caribbeans of African descent have seen their demands for reparations arising from transatlantic chattel slavery blunted by former European colonial states on the basis that too much time has passed to establish social justice. However, that claim cannot be advanced in the face of an unfolding climate change apocalypse.
Earlier this week, the United Nations secretary general, Ant"nio Guterres, visited Jamaica and rehashed his lament that developed states had failed to fulfil their pledge of $100bn in climate mitigation financing. But the fact that he took that same line in 2022 and 2021 is proof, to us, of the impotence of his secretary generalship. That places the burden on vulnerable developing states to lobby more vigorously as a bloc.
In conversation with me this week, Johnny Brice±o, the prime minister of Belize, insisted that that major fossil fuel producers ''have a moral and legal responsibility to the rest of countries suffering from climate change'', citing sea-level rise, more frequent and destructive hurricanes, warming waters and eroding coastlines as clear evidence of the dire consequences.
The effects across the Caribbean are clear and irrefutable. The climate emergency is not merely an academic argument posited by tree-huggers; it is having sweeping socioeconomic impacts on people's quality of life. Along Jamaica's south coast, leisure seekers and vendors at popular beaches such as Hellshire in the east and Alligator Pond farther west have seen the coastline recede by up to 30m over two or three decades. Besides spells of extreme heat, the island has been in the throes of a months-long drought that has had severe implications for water supply and caused agricultural prices to spiral.
Brice±o believes that it would be logistically easier to extract climate justice through a special state-imposed tax in major developed countries that have fostered the greenhouse gas-emitting industries which have left a scorched-earth trail of destruction. And he is confident that corporate firms have the budgets to bear that cost.
But the nub of the problem is who pays, and who will collect?
There are several key issues that complicate the matter of climate reparations. Will the major fossil fuel producers based in the US and Europe yield to moral persuasion or other arm-twisting overtures? We cannot say. Those deep pockets, slicked with oil and cash, have for decades influenced government policy and will deploy the muscle of lobbyists to delay, or deny, a day of reckoning.
Will oil and gas producers in the Middle East and Russia view any climate reparations policy that affects their companies as western geopolitical mischief? Armed with data and balance sheets, big oil will also argue that economic development in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia could not have been achieved without environmental consequences, and that the world is a net beneficiary of those investments.
Even so, despite the difficulties and the apparent persuasiveness of those arguments, global powers must be pressed to take action now to right historical wrongs.
Big oil's appetite for expansion, with new horizons emerging in states such as Guyana, means that its unchecked march may trample the safeguards necessary to maintain environmental harmony.
According to the Climate Accountability Institute, the global fossil fuel industry could be responsible for $23tn in lost GDP from climate impacts cumulatively by 2050. But Caribbean governments could also help themselves by imposing a reparation tax on major global oil, gas and coal investors operating in their territories. It can be done. It must be done. Failing to make polluters and despoilers pay their due would be a historic moral failure.
Andr(C) Wright is a former news and opinion editor at the Jamaica Gleaner
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Erroneous claim '15-minute cities' mimics 'Hunger Games' | Fact check
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:58
The claim: UN and World Economic Forum want 15-minute cities to restrict movement, assign people 'tasks'A May 14 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows a map of the U.S. divided into 13 districts next to a photo of Katniss Everdeen, a fictional character from "The Hunger Games" series.
"13 districts explained," reads text overlaid on the post. "The UN and the WEF want people sectioned off and categorized like cattle on a farm because they want to control every aspect of our life and monitor every bit of 'carbon' we use to help 'global warming.'"
The user ties this to the "15-minute city" concept in the post's caption.
"Just like the 15 Minute cities today will restrict people from leaving their zone of living, and people will be giving tasks to support the NWO (New World Order) society, and you will probably own nothing and not be happy," it reads.
The post was liked over 800 times in two days.
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Our rating: FalseThe 15-minute city concept does not restrict the movement of citizens or assign them jobs, experts told USA TODAY. Neither the United Nations nor the World Economic Forum has the power to mandate that cities adopt this urban planning strategy, nor have they supported movement restrictions.
'15-minute cities' plan does not restrict movement or assign people 'tasks'The "15-minute city" concept was created by Carlos Moreno, a professor at the University of Paris 1 Panth(C)on-Sorbonne. It has nothing to do with restricting the movement of citizens.
"The 15-minute city concept does not propose any limitations on residents' freedom to travel outside their city," Moreno told USA TODAY in an email.
Instead, the goal is for all essential services '' like grocery stores, schools, healthcare facilities, parks and cultural amenities '' to be within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from citizens' homes.
"While the focus is on enhancing the local environment, it does not imply that residents would be discouraged or prohibited from leaving their city," Moreno said.
Fact check: False claim '15 minute cities' lock down residents
The concept does not suggest that residents would be "sectioned off" and assigned tasks like in "The Hunger Games" franchise, as the post asserts. The map of the 13 districts in the post is based on the book series, not anything proposed by Moreno, the World Economic Forum or the U.N.
"Rather than assigning specific jobs or tasks to residents, the concept encourages a diverse and inclusive labor market," Moreno said. "It aims to create opportunities for a variety of employment options within the local community."
The model promotes sustainability by reducing the need for long commutes, Moreno said, but it would not include monitoring or tracking individuals' carbon use.
"Monitoring carbon use on an individual level would require extensive tracking and data collection, which may raise privacy concerns and is not a core aspect of the 15-minute city concept," he said. "The focus of the 15-minute city is primarily on improving accessibility, promoting local amenities, and enhancing quality of life for residents within a compact urban environment, while also considering sustainability principles."
Cities around the world have adopted this concept, and there is no evidence any have restricted the movement of residents or implemented carbon tracking.
UN and WEF do not support sectioning off citiesBoth the U.N. and the World Economic Forum told USA TODAY they would not support restricting the movement of citizens.
"This goes against basic human rights, and the U.N. would not endorse this," said Florencia Soto Ni±o-Martinez, a spokesperson for the U.N.
Trevor Chueu, a spokesperson for the World Economic Forum, said the organization does not support the "sectioning off" any part of a city "for any reason."
Fact check: False claim '15-minute cities' plan will confine residents
Neither organization has the power to command cities to adopt the "15-minute city" idea.
''While the concept has been discussed in various climate forums because it can help cities reduce their emissions, the U.N. cannot mandate cities to adopt this concept,'' Soto Ni±o-Martinez previously said in an email. ''Each country and each city are free to decide how they want to make themselves more sustainable.''
USA TODAY previously debunked an array of claims that mischaracterize the nature of "15-minute city" plans, including one that they are "climate change lockdowns" and another that the Ohio trail derailment was purposefully done to push the idea.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Our fact-check sources:Carlos Moreno, May 15-17, Email exchange with USA TODAYTrevor Chueu, May 15-16, Email exchange with USA TODAYFlorencia Soto Ni±o-Martinez-Mart, May 15, Email exchange with USA TODAYBustle, Nov. 9, 2015, What Do All The Districts Do In 'The Hunger Games'? A Breakdown Of Panem's 13 Different PartsU.N., Feb. 26, 2021, The 15 Minute CityTED Talk, Oct. 2020, Carlos Moreno: The 15-minute cityUSA TODAY, April 10, Fact check: False claim '15 minute cities' lock down residentsThank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or e-newspaper here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
What Are ''15-Minute Cities'' and Why Are Conspiracy Theorists Worried About Them? | Teen Vogue
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:58
Since 2020, Paris has been putting the 15-minute city theory into practice. This has resulted in changes that seem small but have a big impact, like opening schoolyards to the public on the weekends, banning cars on streets near schools, and building on an existing network of bike lanes and cycling routes.
But in America, a country where the car largely reigns supreme, is this feasible? Moreno doesn't deny that inherent difficulty but says the time has come to accept a lifestyle change for the future of our climate and the planet. He pointed to Amsterdam as a city that changed its car culture significantly. There, car use grew after World War II, which, soon enough, led to an increase in deaths. In 1971, more than 400 children died in traffic accidents in The Netherlands, according to The Guardian. Citizen protests and bicycle demonstrations proved effective and eventually, the country became one of the most bike-friendly places around the globe with 22,000 miles of bicycle paths. In Amsterdam, 36% of all trips taken are by bicycle, based on 2015 data.
''In America, you are concerned as well with heat waves, with the rising of the sea, with pollution,'' Moreno says. ''It is mandatory for the American people to change lifestyles.''
San Francisco strategic advisor Dan Luscher was called back to urbanism in 2019 after studying to be a civil engineer and then working in alternative energy and tech. He started The 15-Minute City Project shortly after as a way to write and blog about urbanism and what he sees as an important development in the space. It wasn't so much that the concept was new. Luscher points as precedent to garden cities in England at the turn of the 20th century and the New Urbanism movement of the 1980s and 1990s. ''There's a long lineage,'' he says. ''But this particular framing of the issue has gotten a lot of attention because it's very intuitive and it resonates with a lot of people.''
The COVID-19 pandemic was a flashpoint in the United States for what cities could be like without cars, Luscher says. In the first two months of the pandemic, miles traveled in a vehicle decreased in some US cities by as much as 75.5 to 88.9%, according to data from the Brookings Institution, published in May 2020. ''It sort of opened our eyes when cars stopped driving briefly during initial lockdowns in the US and Europe,'' Luscher says. ''How much space do we give to cars and what can we do with that space?''
Much like what's happening in Paris, working toward 15-minute cities starts with small policy and regulatory changes, like changing zoning to allow for multifamily homes, eliminating subsidized free parking, and reducing some of the governmental constraints that have prevented us from making cities better connected, Luscher says. He points to Los Angeles's Livable Communities Initiative as a constructive effort. The group is working to increase walkability and get more flexible zoning approved on major corridors. ''They have the right strategy in not doing it top-down, but bottom-up,'' he says because residents can take action to make their city better rather than waiting for a broader government program to institute mandates. ''If they are able to succeed then you can say, 'Well, they've done it in LA.' No other big city has an excuse at that point.''
What do climate activists think about 15-minute cities?Given that our very future is threatened, could these small changes actually make enough of a difference? Twenty-year-old Alice Dubois, cofounder of Fridays for Future France, is optimistic. The political science student at Sciences Po's campus in Nancy, France, started the French chapter of Greta Thunberg's climate strike movement as a way to energize youth around climate during the pandemic. Dubois and her seven friends and cofounders felt that striking was an ''easy way to have a first step'' in climate activism.
Semaglutide drug: Teenagers with obesity should be offered 'transformative' weight loss injection, say experts | The Independent
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:54
Stay ahead of the trend in fashion and beyond with our free weekly Lifestyle Edit newsletterStay ahead of the trend in fashion and beyond with our free weekly Lifestyle Edit newsletter
Teenagers should be offered a ''transformative'' anti-obesity treatment to help them lose weight, experts have said.
Academics said that the weight loss injection semaglutide could help adolescents with obesity to shed pounds after a new study found an average weight loss of 40 pounds (18 kilos).
Teens living with obesity were offered the semaglutide drug for more than a year in a new clinical trial.
The study, published at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin and the journal Obesity, found that 45 per cent of teens using the appetite suppressant drug were no longer classed as obese 68 weeks after starting treatment.
This is compared to 12 per cent in a group who were taking ''dummy'' drugs '' also known as placebos.
Some 19.5 per cent dropped down into the ''overweight'' category and a quarter (25.4 per cent) were able to reduce their BMI into the ''normal'' weight category, the conference heard.
The average reduction in body weight with semaglutide '' sold under the brand name Wegovy '' compared to placebo was about 40 pounds (18 kilos), researchers said.
Many do very well with this medication though, and it can be life-changing for them
Dr Aaron Kelly, University of Minnesota
The authors of the paper conclude that ''semaglutide represents an efficacious treatment option for adolescents with obesity''.
But presenting the study, Dr Aaron Kelly, from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, USA, said that it should be taken as part of a package of measures to help teens living with the condition.
He said that the earlier the treatment starts ''the better'' to prevent further weight gain.
But he said that treatment should be taken long-term, as would be expected with other chronic conditions.
Dr Kelly told reporters that there were side effects '' mostly of nausea and vomiting '' but these were ''transient'' and most dissipated over time.
If you engage in treatment that's effective, you'll see an effect but if you take that treatment away '' it's like a rubber band, it's going to come right back to where it started
Dr Aaron Kelly
''There's a whole spectrum of outcomes when you use anti-obesity medications '' some do really really well, some don't do as well,'' he said.
''Many do very well with this medication though, and it can be life-changing for them.
''Being a research scientist nothing brings me more pleasure than hearing the stories from the adolescents who have been struggling their entire life to manage their weight and haven't been able to '' it's not about trying hard or not, they all try hard '' this gives them a tool to help take control of their weight.
''And that's transformational for many teenagers.''
He added: ''I believe that health care providers should offer that as part of the comprehensive treatment approach '' it's not just one thing, it's lifestyle therapy '' which was included in this trial; it's the use of anti-obesity medications and, for some, metabolic and bariatric surgery.
''A question I get asked a lot is, 'Is this going to solve the obesity problem? Should we just give it to everybody?' No, it's not going to solve the obesity problem, but it's an important piece to the puzzle at helping to solve it especially for those who already have obesity.''
Dr Kelly said that coming off the drugs would lead to weight coming back, adding: ''Let's use high blood pressure as an example, medications are commonly used and prescribed to treat high blood pressure.
''And when they have prescribed, the intent of the health care provider '' if (the drug is) tolerated and continues to be effective '' effectively that person would stay on that medication, probably for the rest of their life. Obesity is exactly the same thing.
''If you engage in treatment that's effective, you'll see an effect but if you take that treatment away '' it's like a rubber band, it's going to come right back to where it started.''
On when treatment should commence among teens, he added: ''If obesity surfaces in childhood, it probably represents one of the most aggressive forms of obesity that we know of.
''If you are a child or adolescent with obesity, you are highly likely to carry that obesity and excess adiposity into adulthood. You don't just snap out of it.
''My centre comes of the approach that the earlier the better.
''And, and if medically eligible, the use of medications early is probably going to (give) the best outcomes over time because if you allow the disease to progress and the pounds to to add on over time, it gets harder and harder to draw that back.
''And so conceptually, I think it makes sense to intervene early and not allow that to happen, and that probably gives the child the best shot at living a long, healthy, happy life.''
Meanwhile, another study presented at the conference found that people who have shed weight may be at risk of ''psychological scarring''.
The paper, led by academics at the University of Liverpool, found that people who have had obesity, even if they have lost weight, could be at risk.
Weightloss jab can halve obesity rates in teenagers
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:53
Teenagers should be given weightloss jabs after research found that they can halve obesity rates, scientists have said.
Obese adolescents aged 12 to 18 were given the drug semaglutide on a weekly basis for 16 months in a US trial, along with lifestyle counselling.
The study of 134 teenagers found the drug reduced weight to a level below that of obesity in nearly 50 per cent of cases.
Researchers said the result was ''historically unprecedented'', achieving results previously only seen with surgery.
They said the jabs should be made available on the NHS for all obese teenagers '' saying it was ''the earlier the better'' when it came to starting such treatment.
The scientists also said that those given the weekly jabs might need to stay on them for life to avoid putting the weight back on.
At the end of the 16 months, 45 per cent of participants experienced a reduction in BMI below the clinical cut-off point for obesity, along with 12 per cent of participants in the placebo arm. Both groups received lifestyle counselling.
The average weight dropped over the trial period was from 17 stone to 14 stone.
Almost three in four of those given the weekly jabs saw a significant enough change in weight to shift them to a new weight category '' such as moving from the most severe obesity class to a lesser stage.
Earlier this year, the NHS recommended the rollout of weightloss jabs for adults, backing Wegovy for tens of thousands of obese people.
Health officials hope that a bidding war between different types of drugs could push down the prices for treatments, making them available for millions of obese adults in Britain.
But the idea of prescribing jabs to teenagers is far more controversial.
'It can be life-changing'Dr Aaron Kelly, the lead author of the study from the University of Minnesota Medical School, said semaglutide should be available on the NHS for all teenagers with obesity ''as part of a comprehensive treatment approach'', including lifestyle advice.
''Semaglutide is transformative for many children who are able to get access. It can be life-changing,'' he said.
''Nothing brings me more pleasure than hearing the stories from adolescents who have been struggling their entire life to manage their weight of it.
''This gives them a tool to help take control of their weight, it's transformational for many teenagers.''
Presenting the findings at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin, Dr Kelly said teens would probably need to stay on the drug for life.
''Obesity is a chronic disease. So chronic diseases require chronic treatments... you have to stay on that medication probably for the rest of your life,'' he said.
''If you take that treatment away, it's like a rubber band, the weight goes right back to where it started.''
'The earlier the better'He added: ''If you are a child or adolescent with obesity, you are highly likely to carry that obesity into adulthood, you don't just snap out. So the earlier the better [for treatment].
''If medically eligible, the use of medications early is probably going to present best outcomes. If you allow the disease to progress and the pounds to add on over time, it gets harder and harder to draw that back.
''It makes sense to intervene early and not allow that to happen. And that probably gives the child the best shot.''
Manufacturer Novo Nordisk said it was evaluating the evidence in order to support a future submission to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) for ''managing overweight and obesity in young people aged 12 to 17''.
'Really vulnerable group'Dr Simon Cork, senior lecturer in physiology at Anglia Ruskin University, said: ''There probably is merit in looking at the NHS offering it to this age group.
''I think we need to do more studies to test that it is safe in this population, and I suspect it would be then yes, I think we will be seeing the Nice guidelines shift.
''People misunderstand what the physiology of obesity is, which is a lifelong condition. It's incredibly difficult for people to lose weight and to lose weight sustainably.
''What this drug does is help to change the body's response to weight loss such that it's more sustainable.''
Dr Stephen Lawrence, associate clinical professor at Warwick University Medical School, said it would be ''wonderful'' to see the jabs quickly rolled out for teenagers.
''I have seen children who are morbidly obese and it's so difficult for them and for their parents, it really impacts their confidence,'' he said.
''They are a really vulnerable group. They are running an exceedingly high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.''
Obesity drug brings heart health benefit alongside weight loss, study says | Reuters
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:52
DUBLIN, May 19 (Reuters) - Taking Novo Nordisk's (NOVOb.CO) new obesity drug may help reduce the risk of heart disease as well as boosting weight loss, according to new research from the United States.
After a year of taking semaglutide, marketed as Wegovy, patients' risk of suffering from conditions like a heart attack or a stroke over the next ten years dropped to 6.3% from 7.6% when measured by a commonly used calculator, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found.
The results, which were presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin, are among the first indication that the weight loss induced by the new GLP-1 agonist drugs like Wegovy also brings heart health benefits '' something scientists expected, but do not yet have much comprehensive data to prove.
The study was only done among 93 patients, and the researchers said that more and larger studies were needed to see if the risk reduction score actually meant less illness and death long-term.
Novo is expected to release results from its 5-year SELECT trial looking into the health impact of its injectable drug, particularly around heart disease, later this year. Investors, governments and insurers alike are keenly watching the data.
''It is extremely important, because we know obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,'' Dr Andres Acosta, one of the researchers, told Reuters.
''So the question is, with medications that are 15% [average weight loss], can we really start improving cardiovascular risk and say people are dying less?''
The risk was calculated using the American College of Cardiology's calculator, based on data including blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The team assessed the risk before the patients '' mainly white women, with a mean BMI of 39.8, but no history of heart disease '' started the drug as well as after one year of taking it.
The research was peer reviewed by the congress organisers, the European Association for the Study of Obesity, but the full paper is not yet available. The study was not funded by Novo.
Reporting by Jennifer Rigby, Editing by Louise Heavens
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Jennifer RigbyThomson Reuters
Jen reports on health issues affecting people around the world, from malaria to malnutrition. Part of the Health & Pharma team, recent notable pieces include an investigation into healthcare for young transgender people in the UK as well as stories on the rise in measles after COVID hit routine vaccination, as well as efforts to prevent the next pandemic. She previously worked at the Telegraph newspaper and Channel 4 News in the UK, as well as freelance in Myanmar and the Czech Republic.
British women are increasingly turning to Danish sperm banks | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:51
British women are turning to Denmark hoping for 'Viking babies' as the UK suffers a nationwide shortage of sperm donors.
In Denmark sperm banks are booming and many students can earn more than £400 a month from donating regularly.
In the more open-minded Danish society there is less taboo attached to sperm donation than in the UK and many donors are similarly relaxed about the prospect of their offspring making contact once they become adults.
The European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen is just one of the companies sending sperm to the UK, or to Danish clinics which British women attend for fertility treatment.
In 2020 over half of all donated sperm used in Britain came from overseas '' 27 per cent from America and 21 per cent from Denmark.
It means an increasing number of sperm-donor babies born in the UK can boast Viking blood.
Single mother Holly Ryan, from Brighton, with her children Johan, eight, and Silke, four, who were conceived using sperm donations from Denmark
Holly's children, Johan and Silke. Holly had always loved Denmark, so it seemed natural for her to head to Copenhagen when she decided it was time to have a child
Sperm donor Peder Thomsen, 30, who was donating three times a week while a student, says he has 'no idea' how many children he has fathered. He is not the father of Holly's children
Containers holding donor sperm at the European Sperm Bank, ready to be transported
A chair in a private room next to a TV where pornography can be viewed by sperm donors
The HQ of the European Sperm Bank is housed in a bright converted warehouse in central Copenhagen. Every working day, samples frozen in liquid nitrogen are brought there from donation points across the city on a 'sperm bike' '' an eye-catching vehicle which, like its precious cargo, has a long tail.
The donors, many of whom attend three times a week, walk past a full-size stuffed polar bear, symbolically 'guarding' the frozen sperm, and are welcomed at the reception with a plastic sample cup and a virtual reality (VR) headset. They then make their way to one of five 'donor rooms'.
Locking the door turns a green light in the foyer to red, signalling that the room is occupied. On his TV screen the donor can choose from a selection of pornography channels before getting down to business.
The VR headsets were pioneered by rival sperm bank Cryos International, which claims that research has shown that the better the donor's 'experience', the higher the quality of the sperm.
Customers, whether single women or couples, can log in to the website and choose their donor at leisure. They are provided with a photograph of the donor as a child, often an audio file of his voice talking about himself, and a run-down of his physical qualities such as eye and hair colour, height, weight and educational level.
About 70 per cent of donors are 'ID released' which means that their offspring will be allowed to make contact with them after reaching the age of 18. In Denmark donors can choose to remain anonymous, but under UK law, that is not possible.
In recent years a global proliferation of DNA registries has meant that even anonymous donors may eventually be contacted, which has been cited as one reason why British men are reluctant to come forward and donate, but their Danish counterparts seem less worried about that.
Peder Thomsen, 30, admits he has 'no idea' how many children he has fathered in his years of donating sperm.
He began as a student in Denmark's second city, Aarhus, visiting Cryos International, the world's biggest sperm bank, three times a week while studying marketing.
'I had a very close relative who couldn't conceive. But she finally did, and I saw that awesome bond between her and her kid. I thought if I can help in any way with that, which, of course I could through donations, that's going to be an easy win, right?
Holly's son Johan and his sister Silke
Holly, a lesbian, first travelled to Denmark aged 19 and said: 'I'd always wanted children as far back as I can remember'
Holly's children Johan and Silke were conceived from the same sperm donor
Bettina Hannibal Agershov is who is the head lab technician at the European Sperm Bank
A VR headset on a chair in one of the private rooms where sperm donations are carried out
Sperm doners are given a plastic sample cup and a virtual reality (VR) headset upon arrival
'It's a win-win. So that's what got me into in the first place.
'The money was handy too as a student, but that wasn't my main motivator.'
He's quite relaxed about the prospect of one of his biological children knocking on his door one day '' and even welcomes it.
'Actually, it's probably going to happen someday with all these DNA registries. I feel pretty calm about it. I'd even say I'm looking forward to it in a sense.
'It's something you kind of forget about, then I wonder what these kids look like? So they're out there somewhere and if they suddenly show up it's just going to be an interesting addition to my life.'
Julie Paulli Budtz, director of brand and communications at the European Sperm Bank
European Sperm Bank chief executive Annemette Arndal-Lauritzen at the London clinic
Pornography is provided in private rooms at the centre where men can donate their sperm
Peder, who works for one of Denmark's biggest banks in Copenhagen, is in a relationship with a woman who has two children from a previous relationship, and doesn't plan to have any children of his own.
'In my current situation it's not something we're likely to do, but I feel good about having helped other people, wherever they are. When I first started donating, I'd say there was a bit of a taboo about it, but after a year or so, I didn't feel that so much, and I'm always happy to discuss it.'
In Brighton, single mother Holly Ryan, 45, has always had a love affair with Denmark, so it seemed natural for her to head to Copenhagen when she decided it was time to have a child.
'I'd always wanted children as far back as I can remember,' she said. Her own background was unusual '' her father brought her and her brother up after her mother left home.
Holly, a lesbian, first travelled to Denmark aged 19.
'I remember saying to my friends, "I'm going to Copenhagen", they would say, "where's that?" It wasn't until series like The Killing and Borgen came along that it was placed more firmly on the map.
The donors walk past a full-size stuffed polar bear, symbolically 'guarding' the frozen sperm
European Sperm Bank head lab technician Bettina Hannibal Agershov with the donations
Sperm donors make their way to one of five 'donor rooms' at the centre in Copenhagen
A room where tests take place at the European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen, Denmark
'I adore everything about Denmark and their quality of life feels superior to ours '' there's an openness and fresh thinking about the Danes which I really value.'
In her early 30s, she travelled to Copenhagen and decided to choose a donor from the European Sperm Bank and have the fertility treatment at the Stork Klinik in the city.
'It can be a daunting and surreal process, so you interrogate the descriptions of the donors, hear their voice file talking about their attitude to life or whatever and see a photo of them as a child.
'The clinic and ESB have a strong vetting procedure with donors and obviously want to maximise positive results; they felt cheerleading in every regard.'
She tried five times with one donor's sperm, but failed to conceive and the Stork Klinik suggested she try a different donor because sometimes, despite a high sperm count on the part of a man and a very fertile woman, it can be a simple DNA compatibility issue.
She admitted becoming 'obsessive' about getting pregnant, saying: 'You enter it with a heart-soaring optimism that this is definitely going to happen. In my case I hoped the universe would have my back as I'd lost both my parents from cancer in close succession and felt I had the smarts and strength to do parenthood solo.'
Containers holding sperm are kept cool to be transported from the European Sperm Bank
Students can earn more than £400 a month from donating regularly to sperm banks
The European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen, Denmark
On her sixth trip, she tried the new donor, who sounded on his voice file like 'her kind of person'.
She added: 'It's a bit like viewing a house for the first time or your first date, you look for the nuances that you can relate to or which just instinctively feel right in your bones.
'It was his approach to living that I felt most enthused and comforted by: he was very much like my Dad, putting across the idea that we're here for a very limited time and you should honour every day for what it brings and don't fixate on what others are doing '' find your own path.'
The sixth attempt with the new donor proved to be successful. That was eight years ago and Holly's son Johan, who she calls a 'strident little Viking', was then joined four years later by his sister Silke, who was also conceived from the same sperm donor '' though it did take six more attempts for a second pregnancy to develop.
Holly, who is company director of a TV and film agency, estimates that each trip to Denmark cost her around £1,000 to £1,200, but points out that fertility treatment there costs around a third of the price in the UK. 'I've gathered from friends that the clinics in Denmark are more serene and nurturing spaces than their UK counterparts. Stork Klinik evokes a sophisticated calm from the moment you walk in, and that psychological element is important in conceiving.
'It just feels like everything's delicately designed to make you feel more relaxed.'
Holly has been completely open with her children about their origins and says there have been no issues with awkward questions from classmates.
'Both Johan and Silke know they were conceived from a Danish sperm donor. We regularly salute their heritage, holiday there repeatedly and when they're older I would of course encourage them to get in contact with their biological father.
In the more open-minded Danish society there is less taboo attached to sperm donation than in the UK
Nicki Bille, head of cryologistics at the European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen
European Sperm Bank staff show how donations are tested and prepared before being sent
'I'd also love to meet him because he's been the bridge to me becoming the version of me that I always wanted and he's gifted me the happiest moments of my life, of which there have been many. The constellation of my family is a beautiful shape in my mind.'
Julie Paulli Budtz, director of brand and communications at the European Sperm Bank, told MailOnline: 'In the past, the recipients and later the children didn't get any information about the donor, but now we give a full description of him, his interests and his family.
'We believe a lot of that information will actually give them so much comfort that perhaps they won't need to reach out to the donor because they have a good picture of who they are, and what he is like as a person.'
Denmark has been a leading player in the fertility industry for more than 20 years, which created a need for more donors.
Julie added: 'It became part of the culture and I think Denmark is a bit more open-minded and liberal than some other countries. Young people here have been seeing ads for donors to come forward and there are a lot of children who were from donated sperm or eggs, so it all becomes seen as normal. '
Potential donors are rigorously checked for any medical problems or genetic abnormalities and advised about the possible implications for themselves, she said.
'DNA registers have presented an entirely new situation for the donors and we make them aware of that and the implications.
'It's a natural part of our screening process, which takes between three and six months, depending on the donor.
Guidance on using the VR headsets to watch pornography at the European Sperm Bank
Private rooms where sperm donors donate their sperm at the European Sperm Bank
A sign in the private rooms for sperm donation at the European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen
'We need to make sure that they understand the implication of what it takes to be a sperm donor, it's not something that the donor can reverse - if his donations have already been sent out, we can't do anything about it. So it's a commitment for life.'
All around the sperm bank, their slogan, 'Give Life' is repeated on literature and notices.
European Sperm Bank's instructions for using VR goggles at centre The European Sperm Bank issues these instructions for sperm donors using VR goggles to watch pornography at its facility:
How to use VR goggles
Just like reality use around 15 min
Follow these steps one by one to get the best experience
1) Put on the glasses
2) Hold the 'turn on' button until the screen starts lighting up (button placed on top)
3) Take the controller in your hand
4) Use the button at your index finger (trigger) to select the video of your perference
5) To rearrange your view, hold the Oculus button until your view has changed to your preferred view
6) Once you have selected a video, you can skip through the video swiping left (back) or right (forward)
7) When you are ready, lift the goggles and aim for the cup
8) When you are done, leave cup and your headset in the reception
Please inform the reception staff if the controller has run out of power
To navigate between straight and gay porn sites, press 'websites'
In 2018 the company opened a branch in London to encourage British donors to come forward - though recently someone stole the London 'sperm bike' and is presumably peddling the distinctive two-wheeler around the capital's streets. The sperm bank would like it back.
European Sperm Bank follows the national pregnancy limits and on average a donor helps 25 families across different countries.
'In total, the company has helped conceive more than 50,000 children over 20 years, and it makes us proud, added Julie. The company has about 700 donors on its books.
Some of the latest new arrivals are shown on a pin board. One mother was so pleased she named her daughter after a member of the staff.
Once the sperm has been handed over to the lab, the sperm cells are separated from the seminal fluid in a centrifuge, as only the sperm cells are needed.
Placed on an electro-microscope, millions of sperm cells can be seen furiously swimming around on the screen under the watchful eye of Bettina Hannibal Agershov, head lab technician.
'Sperm cells start dying from the minute they leave the man's body, why it is important to get the sample frozen as fast as possible' she said.
Sperm 'straws' are then packaged in liquid nitrogen tanks at minus 196C before being sent out to fertility clinics all around the world.
In Aarhus, a university city three hours' drive from Copenhagen, the world's biggest sperm bank, Cryos International, has brought more than 70,000 babies into the world since it was founded 35 years ago by pioneer Ole Schou. It has outposts in the US as well as Europe.
Chief communications officer Martin Lassen told MailOnline: 'It's important for a sperm bank to have a diversified base of donors and we're proud of that.
'The reason Denmark is so popular is that it was the founder of Cryos who started all this, and many other firms have followed. It's also something we're very used to as a nation. Many Danes are also giving blood and maybe there's something in the culture - there are places where sperm donation would not be something that's seen positively.
'It's just a way of helping others that people like to do and the legislation makes it possible.'
Drug Shortages Near an All-Time High, Leading to Rationing - The New York Times
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:47
A worrisome scarcity of cancer drugs has heightened concerns about the troubled generic drug industry. Congress and the White House are seeking ways to address widespread supply problems.
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Ryan Dwars, at home in Iowa City with his wife, Brooke, had to race to find a scarce chemotherapy drug when he did not make the priority list. ''The light at the end of the tunnel was within sight,'' he said. Credit... Rachel Mummey for The New York Times Published May 17, 2023 Updated May 18, 2023
Thousands of patients are facing delays in getting treatments for cancer and other life-threatening diseases, with drug shortages in the United States approaching record levels.
Hospitals are scouring shelves for supplies of a drug that reverses lead poisoning and for a sterile fluid needed to stop the heart for bypass surgery. Some antibiotics are still scarce following the winter flu season when doctors and patients frantically chased medicines for ailments like strep throat. Even children's Tylenol was hard to find.
Hundreds of drugs are on the list of medications in short supply in the United States, as officials grapple with an opaque and sometimes interrupted supply chain, quality and financial issues that are leading to manufacturing shutdowns.
The shortages are so acute that they are commanding the attention of the White House and Congress, which are examining the underlying causes of the faltering generic drug market, which accounts for about 90 percent of domestic prescriptions.
The Biden administration has assembled a team to find long-term solutions for shoring up the pharmaceutical supply chain, at a time when the United States remains heavily reliant on medicines and drug ingredients from India and China. And in recent weeks, generic drug makers, supply-chain experts and patient advocates have appeared before lawmakers to discuss the problems.
The scarcity of generic forms of chemotherapy to treat lung, breast, bladder and ovarian cancers has only heightened concerns.
''This is, in my opinion, a public health emergency,'' said Dr. Amanda Fader, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a president-elect of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, ''because of the breadth of the individuals it affects and the number of chemotherapy agents that are in shortage right now.''
The American Cancer Society last week warned that delays caused by the shortages could result in worse outcomes for patients.
''If these drugs are not available, people are going to get inferior care,'' Dr. William Dahut, the society's chief medical officer, said. ''That's the bottom line. These aren't third- or fourth-line drugs where there are multiple other agents around. These are used up front for people you are trying to cure.''
Ryan Dwars beat pancreatic cancer in 2021, but late last year a scan showed cancerous spots on his liver. Mr. Dwars, 39 and a father of two young children, had hoped to receive his final four doses of chemotherapy in April.
Then his doctor delivered stunning news: He didn't make the cut of those given priority for the treatment.
''The light at the end of the tunnel was within sight,'' Mr. Dwars, a special education teacher in Iowa City, said. ''It made it even worse to be so close '-- and now this.''
Laura Bray, who founded a nonprofit called Angels for Change, works as a liaison among patients, health systems and drug companies to ''micro-source,'' as she calls it, hard-to-find medications.
Image Dr. Robert Califf, the F.D.A. commissioner, said the agency had prevented a number of drug shortages. ''Our employees can only plug a certain number of holes in a system which has got real problems,'' he said. Credit... Julia Nikhinson/Reuters ''Will we have the resolve and sense of urgency to fix this?'' asked Ms. Bray, an adjunct business professor who has been providing information to the White House and Congress. ''It's possible. It can be done. It happens in other supply chains. But we have to focus on it and we have to think about ending it '-- instead of mitigating it. I think the jury's out on that.''
For Mr. Dwars, Ms. Bray contacted a maker of cisplatin, the chemo drug he needed and arranged for a supply to be sent within days and for others at his hospital. Some in states around the country have not been as fortunate, encountering frightening gaps between treatments.
The White House team working on the broader issue of longstanding drug supply breakdowns includes national security, economic and health officials, according to James McKinney, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration. Bloomberg reported earlier on the White House involvement.
Officials have been debating possible measures like tax incentives for generic drugmakers and greater transparency around generic drug quality. The current incentives favor drugmakers with the lowest prices, which includes those that might cut corners '-- leading to disruptive plant shutdowns if the F.D.A. demands a fix. (Some shortages, like those of weight-loss drugs, are the result of sky-high demand, while others have been attributed to overprescribing, including for antibiotics, or a lack of investment in potential alternatives.)
The F.D.A., which employs a team of about 10 people who do the day-to-day work of mitigating and reporting drug shortages, has said it is seeking authority from Congress to get additional information about the drug manufacturing and supply chain.
But the agency has also expressed its concerns to the White House about severe financial strain in the generic drug industry '-- an economic problem that F.D.A. officials say they are not suited to address.
Dr. Robert Califf, the F.D.A. commissioner, highlighted the agency's views during recent appearances before Congress, saying officials can only plug so many holes.
''We have got to fix the core economics if we're going to get this situation fixed,'' Dr. Califf told a House panel on May 11.
David Gaugh, the interim chief executive of the Association for Accessible Medicines, which represents generic drugmakers, recalled warning F.D.A. officials in an April meeting that the recent bankruptcy and shutdown of Akorn Pharmaceuticals would likely be followed by others.
''Shortages are on the rise. We've all seen that,'' Mr. Gaugh said in an interview. ''And it is likely going to get worse, not better, very soon.''
Mr. Gaugh cited data underscoring pressure facing the generic industry. Although the number of generic drugmakers has increased, a review by IQVIA, a health care analytics company, showed that the market has consolidated such that three buyers account for about 90 percent of generic drug purchases. The intermediaries are combined major drug distributors and retail chains, like Red Oak Sourcing, which includes CVS Health and Cardinal Health and ClarusONE, which includes Walmart and McKesson. Walgreens also has distribution agreements with AmerisourceBergen. The companies did not reply to requests for comment.
The competition for the contracts with those intermediaries pits U.S. manufacturers against those in India, where labor costs are far lower. When a generic drug company can't get a contract for a medication, it tends to stop making it and might see already-slim profits shrink.
''The opportunity to get it wrong is much narrower if you're a generic manufacturer,'' Mr. Gaugh said.
Hospital pharmacists and supply-chain experts were stunned in February by the abrupt shutdown of Akorn, whose products were then recalled since there was no staff remaining to address potential quality concerns.
That added ''insult to injury,'' said Eric Tichy, a supply chain division chair at the Mayo Clinic and the board chairman of the End Drug Shortages Alliance.
Akorn made roughly 100 medications, including cylinders of albuterol that children's hospitals had relied on to ease their breathing difficulties. And it was the only company that made an antidote to lead poisoning, Dr. Tichy said.
''Health is so foundational to our country functioning well,'' Dr. Tichy said. ''And then we have a domestic manufacturer that just goes under and there's not a lot of action.''
Image A respiratory therapist held a nebulizer with albuterol, one of the drugs manufactured by the shuttered pharmaceutical company Akorn, at a hospital in New Orleans. Credit... Erin Schaff/The New York Times Four Senate bills with bipartisan sponsorship could help get generic drugs to market more quickly by addressing tactics or loopholes that cause delays. During a House hearing on the shortages Thursday, Anthony Sardella, a business research adviser at Washington University in St. Louis, said generic drug prices had fallen by about 50 percent since 2016.
''But there is a high cost to low prices,'' Mr. Sardella said, noting that they may lead to cost cutting that can result in quality problems.
A recent case in point was Intas Pharmaceuticals, a company in India that makes three key chemotherapy drugs that are difficult to find: methotrexate, carboplatin and cisplatin, the drug Mr. Dwars needed. Intas temporarily suspended manufacturing of the drugs after the F.D.A. found serious quality-control violations.
During an unannounced visit to the Intas plant, F.D.A. inspectors discovered a ''truck full of" hundreds of plastic bags filled with torn and shredded documents, according to a report issued in December. One quality-control worker poured acid on torn records and stuffed them in a garbage bag, the report said.
F.D.A. inspectors pieced papers together and found quality control records for products bound for the United States, the report said. The agency cited a raft of other problems as well.
To ease the supply disruption, the U.S. distributor for Intas, Accord Pharmaceuticals, said a handful of lots were tested by a third party, certified and released to the U.S. market. The treatments arranged by Ms. Bray that reached patients in Iowa were among them.
The companies were working with the F.D.A. to restart manufacturing for U.S. customers, a statement from Accord said, adding that it found the shredding to be an ''isolated incident.''
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology sent out a nationwide survey in recent weeks. In response, doctors in 35 states said they had little to no supply of key chemotherapy drugs, even at large cancer centers and teaching hospitals.
Dr. Patrick Timmins, a partner of Women's Cancer Care Associates in Albany, N.Y., said his practice ran out of some chemotherapy drugs on May 9, but still has 25 patients who need them.
''Our patients are in a war, and what we're doing is we're taking their weapons away,'' Dr. Timmins said. ''It's completely ridiculous that we can't figure out a way, at least in the short run, to get our patients treated, and in the long run to solve these recurring problems.''
When Ms. Bray met with White House staff members in late April, she said that she recommended creating an exchange, to get drugs where they were needed most, and increasing the production of small-batch medicines, often referred to as compounding.
Dr. Kevin Schulman, a professor at Stanford Medicine who has studied the generic drug industry, said he had urged the White House team to examine how much power the intermediary companies have in contracting with generic drug makers. He said they demand rock-bottom prices, but unlike a customer-facing company like Apple that contracts with suppliers worldwide, the drug intermediaries face no accountability when shortages arise.
Dr. Schulman said he had recommended expanded government contracting with the nonprofit Civica, which sells generic drugs at slightly inflated prices, which can help generic makers run a stable business.
''The intermediaries are driving people out of the market,'' Dr. Schulman said. ''I think it's a market problem and we need market-level solutions.''
Audio produced by Kate Winslett.
Drug shortages reach 'public health emergency levels', doctors say | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 21 May 2023 12:46
Drug shortages across the US have reached 'emergency' levels, with cancer, heart disease and transplant patients facing a lottery to get hold of lifesaving meds.
Up to 300 drugs are currently in shortage nationwide, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which is a five-year high.
They include everything from chemotherapy and antibiotics to a sterile fluid used to stop the heart in bypass operations and an antidote to lead poisoning.
Experts warn that a small pool of manufacturers coupled with low prices for generic drugs and factory closures is driving the trend, alongside sudden spikes in demand.
Supply chains are also yet to recover from the Covid pandemic, while the US remains heavily reliant on imports of medicines from China and India. The country also faced flare ups of strep throat and other normally benign illnesses this year, sending demand for common drugs soaring.
The above graph shows the number of drugs currently in shortage according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Patients affected by the crisis include Ryan Dwars, 39, from Iowa (left) and James Loxley from Rhode Island. Mr Dwars was told that a chemotherapy drug he needed for cancer spots on his liver was not available while Mr Loxley struggled to get hold of a drug that stops his body rejecting a transplanted kidney from his father
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Biden Administration has quietly put together a team to alleviate the shortage, considering plans including tax breaks for manufacturers.
Raising the alarm, Dr Amanda Fader, a gynecologist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, told the New York Times the situation was an emergency.
'This is, in my opinion, a public health emergency,' she said, 'because of the breadth of the individuals it affects and the number of chemotherapy agents that are in shortage right now.'
Dr William Dahut, the chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, added his voice to calls for action.
He said: 'If these drugs [chemotherapy] are not available, people are going to get inferior care.
'That's the bottom line. These aren't third- or fourth-line drugs where there are multiple other agents around.
'These are used up front for people you are trying to cure.'
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently lists more than 150 drugs as being in shortage on its website.
But the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which monitors shortages nationwide, says there are 301 drugs that doctors are currently struggling to get hold of.
The shortage is leaving hospitals with little option but to ration front-line treatments and only offer them to the most severely ill patients.
Among those affected is 39-year-old pancreatic cancer patient Ryan Dwars, who lives in Iowa and has a son and daughter.
His cancer initially went into remission, but late last year he was told that scans had picked up cancerous spots on his liver.
The father-of-two had been set to receive his final four doses of chemotherapy in April, but his doctor canceled the care '-- saying he was not a priority patient.
He told the New York Times: 'The light at the end of the tunnel was within sight. It made it even worse to be so close '-- and now this.'
He was eventually linked up with the drugs he needed via the non-profit Angels for Change, which works to get drugs in shortage to patients, but others have not been so lucky.
Others affected include James Loxley in Rhode Island who received a kidney transplant from his father 26 years ago.
He needs to take the drug cyclosporine, sold under the brand name Neoral, every day to prevent his body rejecting the organ.
Mr Loxley told WPRI that receiving the drug made him 'able to live life to the full with that transplant', but that now there was a shortage he was struggling to get hold of the drug '-- putting his life in danger.
After contacting his senator, he was able to secure an emergency supply and it is possible that others have also not been so lucky.
There were problems sourcing the drug until late February, pharmacies say, but they add that there may still be delays in getting the drug to patients.
The US drug market is vulnerable because of few domestic manufacturers while also needing to be heavily reliant on imports from other countries, particularly India and China.
The domestic manufacturing industry struggles because of the low price of generic drugs, which has dropped 50 percent since 2016, and lower manufacturing costs overseas.
Generic drugs are versions of more expensive brand-name drugs that are cheaper for companies to make, but bring in less profit.
The US is facing a shortage of a specific type of albuterol used in nebulizer machines (stock image above of albuterol and part of a nebulizer machine)
This shows the number of drugs in shortage by year since January 2001. There have been 47 reports so far in 2023, the ASHP said
The pressure led to Illinois-based generics manufacturer Akorn Pharmaceuticals filing for bankruptcy in March, closing all its factories and laying off 900 workers.
The company had made roughly 100 medications including cylinders of albuterol for children with asthma and breathing difficulties. It was also the only company in the US to make an antidote to lead poisoning, according to Dr Eric Tichy, a supply chain chair at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
There have also been problems with supplies of medications coming from abroad, particularly for chemotherapy drugs.
Late last year the FDA halted India-based Intas Pharmaceuticals from supplying the US with three chemotherapy drugs: methotrexate, carboplatin and cisplatin.
The move was made after investigators found a truck full of hundreds of plastic bags filled with torn and shredded documents during an inspection.
One worker even poured acid onto the forms, they added.
The decision, however, has sparked major shortages of the drugs in the US that patients need to treat cancers.
The problem has got to the point where now the White House and Congress are examining the causes of the crisis.
Plans being considered include offering tax incentives to produce generic drugs and setting up an agency to monitor drug supplies from overseas for the US, reports Bloomberg.
Austin doctors who treated trans kids leaving clinic amid Paxton probe | The Texas Tribune
Sat, 20 May 2023 23:01
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Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin has stopped providing transition-related care to transgender teenagers, according to several parents who were told they would need to find new providers.
Dell Children's said in a statement Saturday that while its adolescent medicine clinic remains open, ''the physicians who previously staffed the clinic will be departing.''
Parents said they were told about the doctors' departures just hours after Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into ''potentially illegal'' activity at Dell Children's. The investigation seems to be in response to a video report from the conservative Project Veritas, a far-right activist group that engages in deceptive practices to do hidden camera-style investigations.
The video allegedly shows a Dell Children's social worker saying the Austin-based hospital provides certain gender-affirming treatment for patients ''as young as eight, nine'' and sometimes after only one consultation.
In response to the video, Dell Children's released a statement on April 28 that says it does not provide hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery to children, and the hospital system was looking into the allegations.
This investigation comes as the Texas Legislature looks poised to bar trans minors from receiving puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Those already receiving these treatments would also have to be ''weaned off'' of them, which some trans Texans and their parents have called forced detransitioning. The ban would take effect on September 1, if Senate Bill 14 becomes law.
Gender-affirming care is an umbrella term for the treatment of gender dysphoria, the discomfort that comes when one's gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care ranges from social transitioning '-- using different pronouns or dressing differently '-- to puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgical interventions. Surgeries are not commonly performed on trans minors, especially those on sex organs.
News of the staffing changes at Dell Children's left parents scrambling. One mother, who agreed to speak with The Texas Tribune only if her name isn't used because she fears for her family's safety, said her 12-year-old daughter received her first puberty blocker shot earlier this year, after over a year of medical monitoring and tests.
Her child is due for another shot later this month, but last Friday got the call that her doctor had left Dell Children's and the appointment was canceled.
''It happened so quickly,'' the mother said. ''I was under the impression that we still had this appointment and that we at least had that one guaranteed shot.''
Following the call, the clinic sent her a list of resources, including out-of-state providers, according to a message reviewed by the Tribune. Since then, she has been trying to figure out how to get her daughter, who is about to turn 13, her next round of medication.
She's heard many of the closest places are already booked up for months, and she's grappling with the financial impact of routinely traveling outside of Texas.
''The last couple days have been going through the feelings of not wanting to leave a home and a community and schools that we love,'' she said Sunday. ''But then how much stress would be lifted and what a relief it would be to be in a place where this wasn't a question '-- that part, I think, can't be underestimated.''
It is already extremely difficult to get transition-related care in Texas. Providers are few and far between, and often have long waitlists. Several families told the Tribune they waited months to be seen at Dell Children's.
Another Austin-area mom, who spoke with the Tribune on condition of anonymity because she also fears for her family's safety, said her trans daughter has presented as a girl ever since she was a young child. After years of therapy and social transitioning, her daughter eventually got on puberty blockers under the guidance of the doctors at Dell Children's.
''She was thrilled,'' the mom said. ''Things like, when she would get recognized for a girl at the store in the checkout line, her face would just light up.''
Her daughter formed a close relationship with the doctors. They were the first ones to notice that she was struggling with an eating disorder, which the mom says even her pediatrician had missed.
''These kids develop relationships with these doctors that they trust and that's ripped away from them,'' she said. ''We're left with a child with an eating disorder that no one is watching.''
In the days since she got the news, the mom has called several out-of-state clinics, eventually finding one that would put them on a nine- to 12-month waitlist for care.
As of now, gender-affirming care remains legal in Texas, which is why these mothers say they can't understand Dell Children's decision to part ways with their providers. A similar clinic, The GENder Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support (GENECIS) program, which is housed at Children's Medical Center in Dallas and is run jointly by UT Southwestern Medical Center, shut down last November after a political pressure campaign. The clinic began accepting patients again after the program director filed a lawsuit and a judge granted an injunction.
Many parents of trans kids who have the resources are throwing in the towel on Texas. Nichole, who also asked that her name not be used out of fear for her family's saftey, hasn't gotten the call yet from Dell Children's about whether her child's June appointment is canceled, but she's proactively looking for a new pediatric endocrinologist.
When she first learned her 11-year-old identifies as nonbinary, meaning neither male or female, Nichole said she had ''a lot of learning to do.'' Their first appointment at Dell Children's was the education the family was desperately looking for.
''That first appointment we just had conversations about what gender-affirming care is, really broadly, and what medical interventions we could consider and the implications of that,'' she said. ''It feels radical, honestly, to have a doctor's undivided attention, just to answer questions, but that's what it was.''
She said the providers made sure her child had a voice in the conversation, while still respecting the role of the parents in any medical decisions. They didn't feel pressured into any particular course of action and their next appointment was going to be a very similar open-ended learning format, Nichole said.
''To me, it felt like what medical care ought to be,'' she said.
Since she heard the news about Dell Children's, she's been calling around to other states, and found a potential provider in New Mexico. This doctor used to work in Arkansas, but relocated as that state cracked down on gender-affirming care for minors.
For Nichole, the most important thing is making sure her child doesn't have to worry about any of this '-- interruption to their health care, the cost, the burden.
''My kid's job is to be a kid,'' she said.
Disclosure: Dell and UT Southwestern Medical Center have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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(2) The Queers Versus The Homosexuals - by Andrew Sullivan
Sat, 20 May 2023 20:21
We are in a new era. And the erasure of gay men and lesbians is intensifying. A queer activist at the 13th Annual Trans Day of Action. (Erik McGregor via Getty Images)Keep reading with a 7-day free trialSubscribe to The Weekly Dish to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.
Next Steps for Neeva - Neeva
Sat, 20 May 2023 17:49
We started Neeva with the mission to take search back to its users. Having worked on search and search ads for over a decade, we sincerely believed that there was space for a model of search that put user and not advertiser interests first'--a private, ads-free experience.
Building search engines is hard. It is even harder to do with a tiny team of 50 people who are up against entrenched organizations with endless resources. We overcame these obstacles and built a search stack from the ground up, running a crawl that fetched petabytes of information from the web and used that to power an independent search stack.
In early 2022, the upcoming impact of generative AI and LLMs became clear to us. We embarked on an ambitious effort to seamlessly blend LLMs into our search stack. We rallied the Neeva team around the vision to create an answer engine. We are proud of being the first search engine to provide cited, real-time AI answers to a majority of queries early this year.
But throughout this journey, we've discovered that it is one thing to build a search engine, and an entirely different thing to convince regular users of the need to switch to a better choice. From the unnecessary friction required to change default search settings, to the challenges in helping people understand the difference between a search engine and a browser, acquiring users has been really hard. Contrary to popular belief, convincing users to pay for a better experience was actually a less difficult problem compared to getting them to try a new search engine in the first place.
These headwinds, combined with the different economic environment, have made it clear that there is no longer a path towards creating a sustainable business in consumer search. As a result, over the next few weeks, we will be shutting down and our consumer search product, and shifting to a new area of focus.
If you have a paid subscription to Neeva Premium, you will receive a refund for the unused portion of your subscription. We have more information for you in our FAQ. As part of the shutdown, we are deleting all user data. Apple iOS subscribers, please go to to request your refund as soon as possible.
Neeva has a passionate community of customers and users who have supported us over the past few years. They have tried out early previews of our features, given us thoughtful feedback, and given us the love and encouragement that every young team needs. We are truly grateful to our community, and we are truly sorry that we aren't able to continue to provide the search engine that you want and deserve.
What's next for Neeva
Over the past year, we've seen the clear, pressing need to use LLMs effectively, inexpensively, safely, and responsibly. Many of the techniques we have pioneered with small models, size reduction, latency reduction, and inexpensive deployment are the elements that enterprises really want, and need, today. We are actively exploring how we can apply our search and LLM expertise in these settings, and we will provide updates on the future of our work and our team in the next few weeks.
We want to thank the Neeva team for the time, effort and dedication to build Neeva. It has been an honor and privilege to take on this challenge with all of you and we could not have chosen a better set of friends and colleagues to be on this journey.
Story of homeless veterans displaced by migrants was false
Sat, 20 May 2023 17:25
A claim that veterans were ousted from Hudson Valley lodging as a result of NYC's migrant surge was a tall taleMay 18, 2023Updated: May 19, 2023 7:55 p.m.
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1 of 5 The Crossroads Hotel in Orange Lake, a hamlet in the town of Newburgh, where asylum-seekers were to be sent from New York City on May 11. A story perpetuated by the Maybrook-based YIT Foundation, which said that unhoused vets it was working with were displaced by asylum seekers New York City sent to the hotel has turned out to be false.
Courtney Dudley / Special to the Times Union Show More Show Less 2 of 5 A bus carrying 30 migrants sent by New York City Mayor Eric Adams arrives at the Crossroads Hotel in the town of Newburgh on Thursday, May 11. A story perpetuated by the Maybrook-based YIT Foundation, which said that unhoused vets it was working with were displaced by asylum seekers New York City sent to the hotel has turned out to be false.
Lana Bellamy / Times Union Show More Show Less 3 of 5 4 of 5 Sharon Toney-Finch, pictured here on the floor of the New York Assembly on Tuesday, was honored by state lawmakers two days before her claims about unhoused veterans being displaced by asylum-seekers at an Orange County hotel unraveled.
New York State Assembly Show More Show Less 5 of 5 UPDATE: On Friday, three men currently staying at a homeless shelter said they were among a group of 15 recruited to portray homeless veterans displaced from upstate hotels by incoming migrants.
UPDATE: On Friday, New York's attorney general's office said it is looking into claims that veterans were displaced by migrants.
NEWBURGH '-- Over the past week, a sensational story has torn through local and national media: A local nonprofit said homeless veterans under its care had been kicked out of upstate hotels to make room for migrants bused from New York City. But the story has fallen apart over the past 48 hours, culminating Thursday evening with state Assemblyman Brian Maher, R-Walden, who had been advocating for the veterans in national media and in the state Legislature, denouncing it as false in a call with the Times Union.
Maher said he was ''devastated and disheartened'' after a conversation with the CEO of the nonprofit earlier in the day revealed that the story wasn't true. He is calling for the organization to be investigated by the state attorney general's office and the Orange County district attorney.
''This is something I believe hurt a lot of people,'' Maher said.
The story began to unravel Wednesday when Mid Hudson News reported that the manager of the Newburgh hotel that had purportedly displaced veterans had no dealings with the nonprofit. By Friday, the state attorney general's office was examining the story.
According to Maher's account, he was taken for a ride. Sharon Toney-Finch, the CEO of the nonprofit, is a respected person in the community with a track record of helping veterans, he said. At a Wingate hotel in Fishkill, Maher spoke with two people claiming to be veterans who were displaced from the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, which has received 110 migrants sent by New York City; he spoke to a purported driver who transported the displaced vets; and he assembled care packages and solicited donations after the nonprofit asked for his help.
Maher shared the names and phone numbers of the purported veterans and the driver with the Times Union. On Friday, one of the purported veterans told a reporter that he had been recruited to take part in a scheme designed to perpetuate Toney-Finch's story.
But it wasn't until after Maher waited three hours outside a local bank for Toney-Finch to provide evidence that she had paid for veterans' rooms at the Crossroads that the reality of the situation became clear to him.
A GOP source in the state Assembly provided the Times Union with an image of a copy of what they initially said was Toney-Finch's credit card as well as what was purported to be a receipt showing a payment with that credit card on April 12 for $37,800 to Crossroads Hotel. That was also sent to Maher as proof the hotel rooms had been booked and paid for by the foundation.
A screenshot of an invoice that purports to show Toney-Finch used a YIT Foundation card to pay for rooms at the Crossroads Hotel.
ProvidedBut the lawmaker wanted further proof of the receipt after concerns arose that the screenshot invoice had been digitally manipulated. So Maher asked Toney-Finch to meet him at the bank to gather financial statements. She didn't show. Maher said that as he realized Toney-Finch had made up the story, he called her and pressed her on why she would do that. He said she just kept repeating that she was trying to help the veterans and appeared to unravel emotionally.
But according to Maher, ''She alluded to the fact that, 'Maybe it's not exactly how I said it was.'''
Maher said that's when he told Toney-Finch he had ''no choice but to report this,'' adding that he would refer the matter to local prosecutors and the state attorney general's office.
''If this is something that you're saying you're doing and spending money on and it's not happening, what else is happening?'' he said, recounting their conversation.
About two hours later, Maher said he got on the phone with Toney-Finch again.
''It was my final conversation with Sharon,'' he said, his voice slightly choking up. ''It was very emotional. And I said to her: 'I was trying to help. '... We just wanted to help you, and I'm sorry that I couldn't help you more.'''
Multiple attempts by the Times Union to speak with Toney-Finch earlier in the week were unsuccessful. On Friday afternoon, she sent a text message to a Times Union reporter denying that she had recruited homeless people to pose as veterans.
Asked why so many people would lie about it, she wrote: ''I have to figure that out.''
Offers to help rebuffed or ignoredThe story of the displaced veterans, which was first published by the New York Post on Friday night, cites two sources. The first is Toney-Finch, CEO of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, or YIT, an Orange County nonprofit formed to raise awareness of premature births and to help homeless and low-income military service veterans who need living assistance, according to its website.
Toney-Finch is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and has said that she was awarded a Purple Heart and suffers from a traumatic brain injury. She claimed YIT paid for lodging for 20 veterans in Newburgh and Wallkill, who were two weeks into a month-long stay when they were allegedly evicted, forcing her to scramble to find alternative shelter for them.
Records provided by the U.S. Army on Thursday confirm that Toney-Finch, 43, served in the Army from 2006 to 2015 as a specialist, including two one-year deployments to Iraq beginning in March 2007 and October 2009. Her nearly 20 military awards include an Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Commendation Medal, according to Army records. She is also in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
The second source for the Post story is Maher, a Navy reservist who represents the 101st District. Maher had previously volunteered with and donated to YIT. In the past week, he introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would bar hotels from displacing veterans to accept migrants sent by New York City, and he appeared on Fox News to discuss the situation and call for donations. On Tuesday, he proudly introduced Toney-Finch at a legislative session in Albany, where she was also honored as a ''2023 woman of distinction'' by state Sen. Rob Rolison, R-Poughkeepsie.
According to Toney-Finch's account to the Post, 15 veterans had been evicted from the Crossroads Hotel and another five were forced out of two hotels in Wallkill.
Initial media reports quote her saying that all 20 displaced veterans had been sent to a hotel in Fishkill. That's also what she told Andrew O'Grady, the CEO of Mental Health America of Dutchess County, which assists veterans through its Vet2Vet program.
O'Grady said he and his staff had two ''coordination meetings'' with Toney-Finch to plan temporary housing and services for the purportedly displaced veterans. When he spoke about his experience with the Times Union on Wednesday, he wanted to make clear that he respected Toney-Finch and the mission of her foundation, which he has worked with in the past.
Usually, the foundation would provide his team names and contact information for vets in need and MHA would ''pick up the ball from there and work on getting them housing,'' O'Grady said. If they need short-term housing, his organization works to find them long-term housing; if they have long-term housing in Dutchess County, his team still connects to make sure the vets know where to turn if they ever need anything, he said.
''This situation was completely different,'' O'Grady said.
When he asked Toney-Finch for names and contact information for the veterans, he said she didn't outright refuse him, but never got around to handing them over. He felt rebuffed. O'Grady was told they were staying at a Wingate by Windham in Fishkill, a hotel MHA has previously used to temporarily shelter veterans.
When he inquired further as days passed, Toney-Finch told him the veterans were now being housed ''somewhere in Connecticut,'' O'Grady said, adding: ''We stand and stood ready to help any veterans in Dutchess County, but we have not been able to confirm that the veterans are in Dutchess County and have not been able to obtain any names of the veterans.''
The general manager of the Fishkill Wingate told the Times Union on Wednesday that no veterans from the Crossroads were being sheltered there. Toney-Finch had contacted him several times, he said, but he didn't have room.
''This is insane,'' he said.
The federal Veterans Administration had also reached out to Toney-Finch to assist, but those offers were rebuffed, according to a statement sent Thursday to the Times Union. The VA's requests for identification and contact information for the veterans '-- which would allow the agency to verify the veterans' service history and benefits eligibility and to provide independent follow-up care '-- were declined by YIT.
''At this time, VA has not been able to verify key aspects of this situation as reported by the New York Post,'' the statement reads.
The day after the Post story broke, U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan's office also contacted YIT saying it had arranged 500 rooms across the region that could take any veterans who needed housing. Ryan is a West Point graduate who has made veterans' issues a key part of his platform and whose congressional district includes Newburgh. But his office did not receive a response from YIT, a spokesman confirmed.
The story also didn't make sense to other Orange County nonprofit leaders who regularly work together to assist unhoused people.
Chris Molinelli, the executive director of HONOR '-- an emergency housing shelter in Middletown '-- and president of the Orange County Continuum of Care, said members of his organization were shocked to hear there were any unhoused veterans living in Orange County, let alone 20 living in the Crossroads Hotel.
The Continuum of Care reached out to YIT to offer assistance, but Molinelli said their help wasn't accepted.
''We (HONOR) touch the lives of veterans,'' Molinelli said. ''It's not our specialty, per se, but I think our friends who do that every day weren't aware of it either. That's what makes you scratch your head a little bit.''
Michele McKeon, chief operating officer for the Regional Economic Action Program in Middletown and a Continuum of Care leader, said RECAP reached out to Toney-Finch multiple times, offering more than $30,000 in housing subsidies, clothing, food and case management services.
None of those offers were accepted.
Damage done to the CrossroadsThe general manager of the Crossroads Hotel declined to be interviewed when a reporter visited the hotel on Wednesday and Thursday. But an attorney for the hotel told a state Supreme Court justice that the story was a lie, based on conversations with his client.
In a letter to Justice Sandra Sciortino dated May 17, Todd Solloway wrote that there ''are not now, and never were, any group of veterans at the hotel and certainly none were kicked out to make way for migrant asylum seekers.''
''My client and their staff are receiving serious threats '-- including death threats '-- from all over the county as a result of his false accusation,'' Solloway wrote. ''And, this morning, the staff at the Hotel were forced to call 911 to seek protection against someone who was menacing the staff at the hotel, claiming he was looking for the veterans.''
Maher said he plans to personally apologize to the Crossroads Hotel staff about what has happened.
''I do believe, based on this specific issue, there were some employees there that probably had a much harder day at work than they needed to,'' he said.
Two days before he confronted Toney-Finch, Maher had honored her at the state Capitol and recounted for his fellow lawmakers how her son weighed one pound at birth and died at seven months of age.
''Sharon created this foundation to help other (premature) babies and their families with costs, transportation to hospitals and so many other things that she just didn't have the support for when she was in the military,'' Maher said in the Assembly chamber. ''She has created this foundation which also now creates opportunities for homeless veterans and those that are in need who have served our country.''
Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, speaker pro tempore, extended the courtesies of the chamber to Toney-Finch, who appeared nervous as the lawmakers around her applauded.
''We welcome you here to the New York state Assembly,'' Aubry said. ''Thank you for the work that you're doing in your respective communities and that you have turned, in some cases, tragedy into helping others. We appreciate that. We salute you and applaud you for that. Please know that you always have a friend here in Albany.''
New York City Bill Outlaws Discrimination Against Fat People | The Daily Caller
Sat, 20 May 2023 15:03
A New York City bill that passed Thursday would outlaw discrimination against fat people.
The legislation passed in a 44-5 vote by the City Council Thursday makes it illegal to factor physical characteristics like height and weight into hiring practices, housing or in public accommodation, according to The Hill.
In NYC, we pride ourselves on our diversity.
I am so honored to stand with @NAAFAofficial and @RWDSU this morning to protect all workers, tenants, and NYers facing appearance-based discrimination.
Together, we'll build an inclusive world that celebrates our differences.
'-- Council Member Shaun Abreu (@CMShaunAbreu) February 28, 2023
The appearance-based characteristics are now among the legal list of protected identifiers, among other categories like race, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin.
City Council Member Shaun Abreu of NYC Council District 7 introduced the bill, partnered with the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, according to ABC7NY.
''The law is designed to help those where weight has nothing to do with the essential job functions of a role,'' Abreu said. ''Just like any other protected category, like race or gender or age, this will be a new protected category and a claim that you can bring before the Commission on Human Rights.''
Activist Victoria Abraham, a self-proclaimed 'Fat Fab Feminist,' supports the legislation and testified to the city council earlier this year, according to Daily Mail.
''In most places in the United States, you can get fired for being fat and have no protection at all, which is crazy because this is a very fat country,'' Abraham said. (RELATED: Feeling Blue: ABC Children's Show Censored For Fat-Shaming)
The 22-year-old NYU graduate has a degree in public policy and 120,000 followers on social media.
Obesity rates in the United States are increasing. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to Harvard School of Public Health. Obesity is defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Those with a BMI of 25 or higher are overweight.
However, come councilmen criticized the bill, according to The New York Times.
''I'm overweight, but I'm not a victim,'' councilman Joseph Borelli said. ''No one should feel bad for me except my struggling shirt buttons.''
Democrat New York City Mayor Eric Adams is set to sign the bill into law this month.
New York City will join cities seeking to impose weight discrimination laws like Washington D.C.; San Francisco, Calif.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; and Urbana, Ill.
NATO reaches back to Cold War past with first major defense plans | Reuters
Sat, 20 May 2023 14:20
[1/6] The Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer listens during an interview in Tallinn, Estonia September 16, 2022. REUTERS/Janis Laizans/File Photo
NATO braces for 'conflict that can present itself at any time'Plans will require better readiness and improved logisticsLeaders expected to take decision at Vilnius summit in JulyBRUSSELS, May 18 (Reuters) - NATO will step back to the future at its Vilnius summit in July, with leaders set to approve thousands of pages of secret military plans that will detail for the first time since the Cold War how the alliance would respond to a Russian attack.
The move signifies a fundamental shift - NATO had seen no need to draw up large-scale defence plans for decades, as it fought smaller wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and felt certain post-Soviet Russia no longer posed an existential threat.
But with Europe's bloodiest war since 1945 raging just beyond its borders in Ukraine, the alliance is now warning that it must have all planning in place well before a conflict with a peer adversary such as Moscow might erupt.
"The fundamental difference between crisis management and collective defence is this: It is not we but our adversary who determines the timeline," said Admiral Rob Bauer, one of NATO's top military officials. "We have to prepare for the fact that conflict can present itself at any time."
By outlining what it calls its regional plans, NATO will also give nations guidance on how to upgrade their forces and logistics.
"Allies will know exactly what forces and capabilities are needed, including where, what and how to deploy," said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg about the highly classified documents that will, as in the Cold War, assign certain troops to the defence of certain regions.
This formalises a process triggered by Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, which prompted Western allies for the first time to deploy combat troops to the east, with Britain, Canada and Germany each taking the lead in one of the Baltic states.
NOT A COLD WAR RE-RUNBut while many features resemble NATO's military line-up before 1990, some crucial factors have changed for an alliance that has since then expanded some 1,000 km (600 miles) to the east and grown from around a dozen to 31 members.
Finland's accession last month has alone doubled NATO's border with Russia to some 2,500 km, forcing a more flexible approach to deployments than in the past, when Germany was seen as the main battlezone.
Also, the alliance is no longer preparing to fight a large-scale nuclear war against Moscow and its allies - most of whom are now NATO members - said Ian Hope, historian at NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
"We don't envision the type of war that the Cold War was, where allied forces ... would be hit simultaneous with large-scale Warsaw Pact attacks," he said, pointing rather to regionalised conflicts that needed to be contained by quick force deployments.
At the same time, the internet, drones, hypersonic weapons and a rapid flow of information present new challenges.
"The good news is that we talk about the transparency of the battlefield. With all the satellites, with all the intel we're able to see a maturing crisis," said Lieutenant General Hubert Cottereau, SHAPE's Vice Chief of Staff. "For Ukraine, we had all the indicators quite in advance."
This transparency is one of the reasons why NATO, contrary to the Baltic states' demands, does not see any immediate need to ramp up troop numbers in the east.
"The more troops you are massing up on the border, it's like having a hammer. At some point, you want to find a nail," warned Cottereau. "If the Russians are massing troops on the border that will make us nervous, if we are massing troops on the border that will make them nervous."
CHALLENGESStill, it will be a huge task to drastically improve readiness. NATO agreed in 2022 to put 300,000 troops on high alert, up from 40,000 in the past.
Shortcomings in the alliance's capacity to produce sufficient weapons and ammunition have been highlighted by the struggle to keep pace with Ukraine's demands, and NATO must also upgrade the long-neglected logistics needed to quickly deploy troops via rail or road.
The need to finance the implementation of the regional plans is one of the reasons why Stoltenberg has called upon leaders to raise the alliance's military spending target, another topic that will be discussed in Vilnius.
NATO officials estimate it will take a few years for the plans to be fully implemented, though they stress that the alliance can head into battle immediately if required.
"We are ready to fight tonight. You know, you are never sufficiently ready. Never," said Cottereau. "We have to be able to fight tonight if necessary, with what we have."
Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Additional reporting by Andrew Gray; Editing by Alex Richardson
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
National Pork Board says ''clock is ticking'' if African swine fever reaches U.S. | The Voice of LaSalle County since 1952!
Sat, 20 May 2023 14:14
By Mark Dorenkamp May 19, 2023 | 12:50 PM
The National Pork Board warns the impact of a domestic outbreak of African swine fever could be catastrophic to U.S. pig farmers.
Director of swine health Dr. Patrick Webb says a recent 10-year analysis estimates the pork and beef industries would lose nearly $80 million and the workforce could see job losses of 60,000 if ASF is discovered in the U.S. hog herd.
''If we have a confirmed case of African swine fever, the clock is ticking.
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Bud Light maker loses LGBTQ+ score for caving to trans backlash
Sat, 20 May 2023 14:13
The nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy group is taking action against Anheuser-Busch over its handling of the conservative backlash to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, accusing the multinational beer company of caving to political pressure.
In a May 9 letter shared exclusively with USA TODAY, the Human Rights Campaign informed the Bud Light maker that it has suspended its Corporate Equality Index score '' a tool that scores companies on their policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees.
Companies that receive a 100 score on the index's four criteria '' protections from workplace discrimination, inclusive benefits, inclusive culture inside and outside the workplace and responsible citizenship '' receive a ''Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality'' seal of approval from the Human Rights Campaign.
Anheuser-Busch, which had a score of 100, has 90 days to respond or the organization will consider docking its score, the Human Rights Campaign told the company in the letter.
Anheuser-Busch did not respond to requests for comment on the Human Rights Campaign's letter but said it has an employee resource group that supports LGBTQIA+ employees. "Our ERGs are intended to be a safe space for those who identify with a given community and those who wish to be allies," the company said in an email.
The trouble began last month when Mulvaney posted a video to her Instagram account promoting a Bud Light March Madness contest. The video featured a photo of a promotional Bud Light tallboy with Mulvaney's face on it.
What followed was a torrent of criticism from the political right, with conservatives calling for boycotts of Bud Light and Kid Rock releasing a video in which he destroyed cases of Bud Light with an assault weapon.
As sales slumped, Anheuser-Busch put two of its executives on leave and issued a statement from its CEO Brendan Whitworth: ''We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over beer.''
Do boycotts work?Bud light sales, Dylan Mulvaney's beer ad and whether boycotts actually work
Whitworth's statement prompted a backlash from the LGBTQ community and its allies.
Eric Bloem, HRC's senior director, programs and corporate advocacy, said Anheuser-Busch backtracking on support for the LGBTQ community in the face of anti-trans and hate-filled rhetoric sends the message to employees, shareholders and customers that it does not stand up for the values of diversity, equity and inclusion it espouses.
Mulvaney, who was targeted by anti-trans abuse, posted about the experience on Instagram: "I think it's okay to be frustrated with someone and confused, but what I'm really struggling with is the need to dehumanize and to be cruel."
''Anheuser-Busch had a key moment to really stand up and demonstrate the importance of their values of diversity, equity and inclusion and their response really fell short,'' Bloem said.
Openly gay in the boardroom:Why so few LGBTQ executives lead America's largest companies
Bloem said Anheuser-Busch has not responded to inquiries from the Human Rights Campaign. He hopes the ultimatum from the Human Rights Campaign will jump-start a conversation.
This is not the first time the Human Rights Campaign has suspended a company's Corporate Equality Index score. It suspended Netflix's score in connection with that company's handling of Dave Chappelle's transphobic remarks in a 2021 stand-up special ''The Closer.''
The Bud Light incident comes at a critical moment for LGBTQ rights.
Hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ people '' particularly transgender people '' have been introduced by Republican lawmakers in statehouses across the country, seeking to regulate what bathrooms they can use, what medical care they can receive and what sports teams they can play on.
Increasingly corporations are engaging in these social debates, setting up clashes with prominent figures like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who went to war with Disney over its criticism of a state law limiting the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in public classrooms.
Disney vs. DeSantisDisney CEO Bob Iger escalates war of words with Ron DeSantis. Who's winning the Florida feud?
By and large, corporations are listening to their employees and customers '' and with good reason, Bloem says.
An unprecedented number of Americans identify as LGBTQ '' especially younger generations '' and an even larger number support LGBTQ rights, a powerful consumer segment that no company can or should ignore, Bloem said.
''As we look at those pressures on businesses, it all comes back down to understanding that the LGBTQ+ community is part of the fabric of our society,'' he said. ''This is not the first time a business has been tested for supporting the LGBTQ+ community. What remains true is that businesses that do stand up for the community in meaningful ways and really live up to their values of allyship succeed.''
State Department Offers Counseling To Misgendered Employees Triggered By Email Pronoun Debacle
Sat, 20 May 2023 14:12
'I deeply regret the confusion and distress this mistake caused our workforce'
Secretary of State Antony Blinken / ReutersThe State Department will offer counseling to any employee "who feels hurt or upset" by a system-wide email glitch that temporarily assigned random and often incorrect gender pronouns to staff.
The State Department is offering free therapy to "any employee who feels hurt or upset as a result of this unfortunate mistake," according to an internal email that went out to employees on Friday. Many State Department employees were "triggered" on Thursday, when emails from colleagues suddenly began to include random pronouns, like, "She/her/hers" and "He/Him/His" in the "from" line.
The pronouns were randomly assigned, with men being given female pronouns and vice versa, due to a "pronoun glitch" in the department's system, the Washington Free Beacon first reported.
Those upset by the misgendering are encouraged to contact the State Department's Employee Consultation Service "to speak to a professional counselor."
"I want to stress that the intent behind making this feature available is to make our systems more inclusive and provide employees with options'--not to make decisions for them," Kelly E. Fletcher, the State Department's chief information officer, wrote in the email. "I recognize that this error had the opposite effect, and again, I am very sorry."
Fletcher informed staffers that the State Department is "testing a new feature that will provide users with the option to include their preferred pronouns in their Global Address List profile."
"During the test," she wrote, "the feature inadvertently went live, and a large number of employees had randomly assigned pronouns added to their profiles."
In the future, employees will have the choice to pick their preferred pronouns.
"I deeply regret the confusion and distress this mistake caused our workforce," Fletcher wrote.
The system-wide glitch is not expected to be completely fixed until Saturday.
State Department employees expressed shock and confusion by Thursday's pronoun incident, with one source telling the Free Beacon, "This is distracting from the work that we are actually supposed to be doing. A lot of people here have been triggered today."
Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee raised the issue during the department's daily briefing, calling the mishap "ridiculous."
"This is not an optional thing," Lee said. "But the problem is that a lot of them or at least some of them so far, as I've been able to tell, are wrong! They're giving the wrong pronouns! So men are being identified as women and women as men. It's ridiculous."
Published under: Antony Blinken , State Department , Transgender
Ukraine Chief Justice, Who Was A Guest at SCOTUS Last Month, Charged With Accepting $1.8 Million Bribe
Sat, 20 May 2023 14:08
When the Supreme Court hosts foreign dignitaries, the Chief Justice will often recognize those guests and extend a welcome on behalf of the Court. (Dignitaries are usually seated in the first row of the public section, right behind the "bar."). I attended oral argument on April 24. At the outset of the session, Chief Justice Roberts announced that the Chief Justice of the Ukraine Supreme Court was in attendance, and welcomed him to the Court. At the time, I was honored by the jurist's presence. It is difficult to fathom how to manage a justice system while your country is at war. (Our country had mixed results with war on the homefront, see Merryman and McCardle). And despite all of the difficulties back home, he still found the time to come to the United States. I hoped his visit would provide some support for the rule of law back in Ukraine. Chief Justice Roberts then moved onto bar admissions, and I filed the Ukrainian Chief Justice's visit in my memory banks.
This evening, the NY Times reported that Chief Justice Vsevolod Knyazev was arrested on charges of accepting a bribe.
The chief of Ukraine's Supreme Court was formally arrested Thursday, as prosecutors indicated in a second day of hearings that a high-level corruption case was expanding to include a wider circle of judges.
Prosecutors also accused a lawyer of acting as an intermediary in paying a bribe to the chief justice, and said that at least three other judges of the court had been found holding thousands of dollars in currency marked by investigators.
The chief justice, Vsevolod Knyazev, was apprehended just after midnight Tuesday by officers of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, who searched his home and office in simultaneous raids and said they found large sums of cash in U.S. currency.
In videos of court hearings Wednesday and Thursday, posted on the High Anti-Corruption Court's YouTube channel, Mr. Knyazev appeared in the courtroom wearing a bright blue sweater and flanked by his lawyers. The High Council of Justice on Thursday lifted his immunity from prosecution, opening the way for his formal arrest.
Mr. Knyazev has been charged with graft in a public office, and accused of accepting a bribe of $1.8 million to influence a case in favor of a Ukrainian oligarch, Kostyantyn Zhevago. A prosecutor said Mr. Knyazev had sent a message to the lawyer in early May to split the money into at least 14 separate bags, and later sent a message saying he had passed the money to other judges.
The Anti-Corruption Court's prosecutor, Oleksandr Omelchenko, told the court that officers had tracked the payment of the first tranche of the bribe on May 3, and raided Mr. Knyazev's home half an hour after a second tranche was handed over on Monday evening.
The anti-corruption bureau had infiltrated the group making the bribe and marked the notes used in the payment. Officers discovered $1.8 million in cash at Mr. Knyazev's home and office, but the prosecutor said that not all the bribe money, totaling $2.7 million, had been recovered.
Barely a week after Knyazev was greeted so warmly by Chief Justice Roberts, he was soliciting a bribe, to be divided into 14 separate bags.
There is concern that this incident would tarnish the perception of the Ukrainian judiciary:
The case has shocked and dismayed members of Ukraine's judiciary. Two Supreme Court judges in interviews lamented the damage to the reputation of the court and the judiciary. They said they worked through the night and most of Tuesday to prepare a ballot in which 140 of the 142 Supreme Court judges voted to remove Mr. Knyazev from his post. The two judges spoke on condition of anonymity, because of their position as members of the court.
Knyazev also met with Attorney General Garland on his trip.
I'm sure readers will try to make some smarmy connection between Knyazev and the United States Supreme Court's legitimacy. I won't. I am grateful that our federal judges have integrity and honesty, and these sorts of allegations would be unthinkable.
Indiana Jones 5 De-Ages Harrison Ford -- But It Doesn't Work - Variety
Sat, 20 May 2023 14:08
Here's a fun fact that Hollywood actors hate to admit'... people get older.
In a reaction to the natural progression of life, Hollywood has engaged in de-aging effects for older actors to play younger versions of their characters, whether in franchises or standalone films '-- such as Robert DeNiro in ''The Irishman,'' Samuel L. Jackson in ''Captain Marvel'' and most recently, Harrison Ford in ''Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.''
Like most new technology that comes into the industry, it takes some getting used to. However, with more than two dozen high-profile experiments thus far, the misfires greatly outweigh the successes. De-aging effects in Hollywood still need to be fine-tuned, and Hollywood should only use them once we can perfect the technique.
A primary concern is that while these effects are visually impressive, they fall short of replicating the natural appearance of a younger self. In addition, it can affect how viewers react to the film, as they become distracted by the uncanny effects that lack the subtle nuances and authenticity that create human expressions.
James Mangold's take on the famous archeologist received a tepid response following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where critics and attendees were divided on this fifth installment of the franchise. But hardcore Indy fans may find redemption in this final chapter of Ford's beloved hero, following the insufferable ''Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'' (2008).
For the first 25 minutes, encompassing a large action set piece featuring the professor fighting Nazis on a high-speed train during World War II, Ford is digitally transformed back to his prime, which began with Steven Spielberg's 1981 classic ''Raiders of the Lost Ark.'' After a bag is removed from the actor's head, digitized eyes fail to harness the realism of a young Indiana, instead emulating what looks like a video game story break in between gameplay before the user takes over the character to take on the next mission or quest.
While the action beats and movements are impressive, the effects in the scene only work because, for most of it, it's shrouded in darkness, featuring both Ford and co-star Toby Jones (not de-aged?) running on the rooftops of the train ducking and dodging the worst-aiming soldiers depicted in modern cinema.
With de-aging effects that have been deemed successful '-- such as 2019's ''Gemini Man'' with Will Smith as an assassin who is hunted by a younger, cloned version of himself or Alfred Molina with his welcomed return as Doc Ock in 2021's ''Spider-Man: No Way Home'' '-- the practice offers a false impression that Hollywood has ''nailed it.'' But in actuality, some attempts are less distracting because they're used in subtle and smart ways throughout their execution.
''The Irishman'' (C)Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection
It can be argued there is such a thing as being ''too old to be de-aged.'' For example, despite the fact that it nabbed an Oscar nomination for best visual effects, one of the main criticisms of Martin Scorsese's 2019 gangster flick ''The Irishman'' is that, despite the valiant effort to make its three main leads '-- DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci '-- look decades younger, when the actors are playing those characters in that specific period, they still maneuver as people in their senior years. Such physical limitations imposed by the technology can restrict the actor's range of facial expressions and body language, mostly due to the extensive digital manipulation that must take place.
What happened to the good ol' days of casting different actors to portray characters at various stages of their life? Do we no longer see the value of what Judi Dench and Kate Winslet brought to 2001's ''Iris'' or Winslet and Gloria Stuart in ''Titanic?''
Following today's trends, Marlon Brando would have been de-aged to play the Corleone patriarch in ''The Godfather Part II,'' depriving the world of Robert DeNiro's Oscar-winning turn. Even River Phoenix brilliantly portrayed a young Indiana Jones in ''The Last Crusade.''
The harsh truth is there is a fundamental difference, which can be recognized by the naked eye, between how someone in their 20s and 30s navigates the world versus someone in their 70s and 80s.
That could explain why Mads Mikkelsen, 57, who plays the villainous J¼rgen Voller, has no trouble transitioning from his 1939 to his 1969 self.
Hindsight and time always allow perspective and reflection. So even though David Fincher's ''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'' won the Oscar for visual effects in 2010, it may not have been the best idea to retrofit Brad Pitt's face on the body of a young child who looks like an old man, but then have a real-life baby at the end, which logically doesn't precisely track.
Interestingly, we've seen the technology used heavily in older male actors and seldom with women. Michelle Pfeiffer from ''Ant-Man and the Wasp'' and Sean Young from ''Blade Runner 2049'' are a few of the sole examples. What will the reception be when a prominent A-lister like Helen Mirren or Julia Roberts takes on a leading role that attempts to use them? Will it be received similarly or taken more harshly?
Are the effects why ''Dial of Destiny'' doesn't work for its detractors? Not exactly.
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in ''Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.'' Jonathan Olley / Lucasfilm Ltd.
It's unapologetic about who it's catering to'... its adoring fans. Like any franchise hero who lacks superhero powers, the narrative and action beats defy physics and logic, such as every character able to scale a rock wall with no gear or survive a missile explosion in a compound (which is still not as bad as surviving a nuke by way of a refrigerator in ''Crystal Skull''). All those fantastical feats are ironic since Indy is an avid supporter of ''science.''
In addition, much of the film feels like a 1969 template of ''Grand Theft Auto,'' and also possibly sets a record for the number of times people are kidnapped and rescued in a 142-minute movie.
While ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' found its way to nine Oscar noms and five wins, ''Dial of Destiny'' seems unlikely to follow in its predecessor's footsteps. Last year, two blockbuster sequels entered the best picture lineup '-- 20th Century Studios' ''Avatar: The Way of Water'' and Paramount's ''Top Gun: Maverick'' '-- with the latter also debuting at Cannes. There are often two roads that lead to recognition for the Academy's top prize '-- record-breaking box office and/or love from the artisan branches.
I found myself being hypnotized by the nostalgia of it all and was utterly charmed by the performances of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (even though her character lacks likability) and newcomer Ethann Isidore (maybe he can win his own Oscar in 30 years time?)
It's unclear if ''Indy'' will be able to travel either of those two roads, at least based on these early reactions.
Alight Digital Wallet | Earned Wage Access | Alight
Sat, 20 May 2023 13:51
Alight Digital Wallet brings together Earned Wage Access (EWA) and a digital and physical Pay Card to offer financial wellness for your employees.
Facilitate financial flexibility In the era of the employee, your benefits must do much more to retain and attract talent. With Alight Digital Wallet you can reduce the financial stress of waiting for payday. We can also provide a secure and simple place to pay your people, via Pay Cards.
Here's the challenge
Finding and retaining talent is a struggle The war for talent and the great resignation are big business challenges to overcome. As employers, it's time to step up your game with desirable benefits to ensure that you attract the right talent and retain your best employees.
Here's how we solve it
Enhance financial wellbeing Giving your employees the opportunity to get paid 365 days a year, as well as a safe place to have the funds deposited is a low-cost way to enhance your benefits package.
Of employees believe Earned Wage Access is a more attractive benefit than additional paid time-off
Of employees say they would work harder and stay longer at a company that offers on-demand pay
Of employees agree financial stress distracts them from their work
Of employees want their employer to help cover unexpected expenses with EWA, short-term loans, or other financial assistance
How it works Alight Digital Wallet is made up of two elements that put your employee's financial wellbeing at the top of the priority list.
Earned Wage Access (EWA) Earned Wage Access gives your employees access to their earnings as soon as they've earned them.
Powered by a simple and intuitive app, employees can see the wages they've accrued, input how much they need to withdraw and select where they want the funds deposited to '' a bank account or a physical or virtual debit card.
Pay Card Pay Card brings financial freedom to your employees by providing a physical and digital pay card to receive their wages.
The company delivered Pay Card removes the need for credit checks, avoids costly check deposit fees and allows your employees to make online payments, as well as track spending through an intuitive app experience. *
Alight Digital Wallet benefits you and your workforce
For employers
Be the place everyone wants to work
Improve hiring and retention with a competitive benefit Give your employees financial flexibility at low-to-no-cost Reduce employee financial stress Seamlessly integrate with existing systems For employees
Gain autonomy over your finances
Instant access to their accrued wages whenever and wherever they want An easy-to-use app makes withdrawing their wages simple Choose whether to deposit to a bank account or virtual or digital card Leverage budgeting tools that help to manage money No credit checks or deposit fees to fund your account Compliance is covered with all local regulations adhered to
Accessibility for everyone with no need for credit checks
Minimal disruption to cash flow with coverage of advance funding
A purpose-built app makes for a simple and intuitive user experience
Financial health benefits such as wellness content, rewards and cashback are included
Employers can define earnings access parameters according to company policy
What is Earned Wage Access (EWA)? Earned Wage Access gives employees access to their earned wages or salary ahead of payday. The process takes place on an app that shows the earned wages available to the employee and allows them to withdraw accrued pay instantly. Employees can decide to have the funds disbursed to physical or virtual card or deposited into their bank account.
What is Pay Card? Pay Card is a company-issued card which can be electronically loaded with employees' wages or salaries. Employees who receive their paycheck in this way can withdraw and spend money on the card as if they were using a debit card without the need for a traditional bank account.
How do employees request and receive their earned wages? Using the app, employees can view their available wages, select how much they want to access and then choose where to deposit this using either an existing bank account or the Alight Debit Card. Once selected, the funds are then immediately available, and the available balance is updated.
Is Earned Wage Access a loan? No. Earned Wage Access only gives access to the money earned during the current payroll cycle. It is the employee's earned pay, and Alight simply enables access to it before the next regular payroll.
* Pay Cards are issued by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license by Mastercard. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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Prosecutors looking into false reports of veterans displaced by migrants - POLITICO
Sat, 20 May 2023 13:22
''For us not to confirm where they were kicked out of or removed from, that was YIT's fault,'' she said
The situation also ensnared the local Assemblymember Brian Maher (R-Orange County) who railed against the alleged displacement of veterans after he said he believed Toney-Finch's story that he said was backed up by hotel receipts she showed him from people who stayed at the Crossroads Hotel. But he told the Times Union in Albany on Thursday that he was tricked, saying he was ''devastated and disheartened.''
A spokesperson for Attorney General Tish James said the office is aware of the situation and is ''looking into it'' but cautioned that doesn't mean a formal investigation has been opened.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office also warned against any rush to judgment on any potential illegalities.
''As a matter of policy we do not normally comment on the existence or non-existence of investigations where no charges have been publicly filed,'' the office said in a statement. ''However, lying, without more, does not itself constitute criminal conduct, particularly absent any allegations of financial impropriety.''
The Mid Hudson News and the Times Union uncovered another twist Friday. Both reported that it appears homeless men from a nearby shelter were recruited by Toney-Finch to act as veterans that had been displaced from the Newburgh hotel.
Toney-Finch told POLITICO that the reports were ''a total lie.''
Elected officials on both sides of the aisle criticized attempts to claim veterans were displaced as a way to smear migrants who were sent there by Mayor Eric Adams as New York City has been inundated with asylum-seekers.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday called the mistruths ''deeply troubling.''
''These individuals were sent there with a legal contract between the city of New York and a hotel owner. They are allowed to contract that way,'' she told reporters in Buffalo when asked about the reports. ''And if people want to fabricate stories to undermine the whole process, I think it's reprehensible.''
Netherlands two cows per field limit incenses farmers
Sat, 20 May 2023 13:19
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Gay Professor Placed on Suspension Following Distribution of Controversial Chocolate Bars
Sat, 20 May 2023 13:02
David Richardson, a tenured history professor at Madera Community College in California, is said to have brought gendered chocolate bars to a campus open house on 29 April. The bars were labeled with he/him and she/her pronouns.
He/him bars contained nuts, while she/her bars were nutless. These chocolate bars belonged to Jeremy's Chocolate, a brand created by Jeremy Boreing, co-CEO of the conservative news outlet The Daily Wire. The creation of this brand was in response to Hershey's running a trans-inclusive ad campaign for International Women's Day 2023.
Suspended without noticeAlthough no immediate response was reported at the event, the following Monday, the professor was handed a notice of administrative leave by a uniformed police officer.
As a result of the suspension, the professor has been denied access to his university email account and is prohibited from entering the campus premises. Furthermore, Richardson asserts that he has not received any communication from the university during this period.
Read also: Binder Controversy: LGBTQ Groups are Providing Binders to Minors Girls Without Parental Consent
(C) Provided by Everyday Chirp Credits: DepositPhotos The professor's responseRichardson told Fox News, ''I'm under investigation for allegedly creating a hostile work environment based on gender.'' He further expressed his belief that the university administration has sought a pretext to dismiss him due to his dissenting stance on neo pronouns and related matters.
He added, ''It seems like everything we do now revolves around this ideology, and the elimination of diverse viewpoints is taking place.''
The professor compared the university's diversity and inclusion criteria, which aim to foster an accepting and safe environment for LGBTQ+ individuals, to the ''Red Scare'' of the 1950s.
He likened it to being compelled to take loyalty oaths. He drew parallels to the period of the late 1940s and early 1950s, where individuals were targeted and purged if they did not demonstrate complete commitment to a particular ideology. Richardson expressed concerns about potentially finding himself in a similar situation.
Read also: These Celebrities All Proudly Support Their LGBTQ Children!
More from Everyday Chirp Discrimination Allegations Emerge as Former Restaurant's Boss Reportedly Seeks 'Non-Gay' Manager, Reveals Court Proceedings Man Cancels Vacation When Wife Spends Her Share of Money on Ex and Son '' Was He Wrong? Husband Accuses Woman Of Pushing Daughter Towards Devil Worship Because She Bought Her An Emo Dress. '' Was She A Bad Mom?
12ft | Netherlands two cows per field limit incenses farmers
Sat, 20 May 2023 12:56
Removing Paywall
PlebRap Playlist |
Fri, 19 May 2023 15:35
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Economic Devastation: African Swine Fever Outbreak in U.S. Would Cost $79.5 Billion | Pork Business
Fri, 19 May 2023 15:01
Research has shown the impact of an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak on the U.S. pork and beef industries would be economically devastating. A recent analysis shows it would be even more devastating now with high input costs.
In a study led by Dermot Hayes, an economist with Iowa State University, analysis shows an ASF outbreak would result in a $79.5 billion impact on the pork and beef industries and directly impact 60,000 industry workers with job loss. Pork prices would drop between 50% and 60% and would stay low for three years before recovering. Read the full study here.
''As you might imagine, the results are awful,'' Hayes says. ''We export almost 30% of our pork. That would back up into the domestic market immediately and flood the domestic market with inexpensive product. Some of the variety meats would simply be tanked and not used because they would otherwise have gone to China.'' He points out that industry losses in the first couple of years would be due to low prices, prices could even fall by more than 50% for live hogs. ''If the industry couldn't get ASF under control, those revenue losses would continue. But instead of it being low prices, there would be fewer producers, fewer integrated producers, fewer finishers, and we'd have to downsize the industry by either 25% or so of the net exports that we currently do,'' Hayes says. For the first couple of years, the result of ASF would be financial disaster. For the next eight to 10 years, if the U.S. cannot get ASF under control, it would require downsizing the industry, he adds.
A Critical Message for the Pork Industry Since 2018 when China reported ASF in their swine herd, the National Pork Board and producers across the country have accelerated current efforts to prepare, respond and recover from a foreign animal disease like African swine fever.
Joel Nerem, DVM, chief veterinary officer with Pipestone, says there is no question the impact ASF or any foreign animal disease would have on the U.S. pork industry. ''Producers need to be prepared to respond '' and that means everyone,'' Nerem says. ''We need to be prepared to respond and respond quickly because it's in our national interest, as well as in the individual interest of every producer, to be able to respond quickly to a foreign animal disease because of the implications that it has.'' The first step that he advises his customers to do is to create a Secure Pork Supply plan with an enhanced biosecurity plan for every location that a producer has pigs. Secondly, producers need to have 30 days of movement data at their fingertips that's recorded and ready to share with state animal health officials or anybody else that's responding to a foreign animal disease incursion. Patrick Webb, DVM, assistant chief veterinarian with National Pork Board, encourages producers to use AgView, a free opt-in database and dashboard technology that provides the ability for producers to securely share location and movement data with their state animal health officials so they can rapidly determine where disease is and isn't. ''As it relates to that movement data, we view AgView as a tremendous resource for producers to record and store their data, particularly if they don't already have that data stored in another format,'' Nerem says. ''We believe that AgView provides a great common platform for this data in a very standardized way for state and local health officials to receive it.'' Information and data are power, Webb says. The biggest gap he sees right now as it relates to preparedness and being able to regionalize to get producers back into business quicker, is the ability to share data in a way that it makes sense to a state animal health official and allows them to make risk-based decisions. ''Traceability is a necessity for the U.S. pork industry,'' Nerem says. ''It's table stakes, and we've got to get there. We ultimately need to get to a next generation of traceability. We need traceability that is real time and accurate. I think the U.S. pork industry of the future has a real opportunity if we have world-class traceability, because it puts us in a position as the supplier of choice for pork worldwide and isn't simply a response to a threat of a foreign animal disease.''
New Features in AgView AgView continues to improve with producer feedback, Webb notes. From the new opt-in feature that allows producers to opt in to sharing their data in real time with their state animal health official, ''This allows us to get in front of the eight-ball, so to speak,'' Webb says. ''Producers can securely share locations and movements with the state animal health official in peacetime, as opposed to wartime. This is an advantage in preparedness across the industry.'' They also improved the product to allow tracking of feed movements, rendering and carcass disposal movements and the movement of animals through harvest channels between markets. ''These improvements have been adding more day-to-day value back for the producer. We want to do that because we want to keep data current in there,'' Webb says. With all the added stress on pork producers right now, Webb says the most important thing he wants producers to know is that the Pork Checkoff is listening and cares about them.
Don't Let Up on Preparedness It is front of mind for all producers that these are not great markets to be in, Nerem explains. ''That's tough because they're thinking about immediate survivability. A foreign animal disease may seem way off in the distance, but it doesn't change the fact that this risk is still here and ongoing,'' Nerem says. ''On the other side of these markets, the threat of foreign animal disease will be there as well. We need to continue to prepare for it.'' On the bright side, Hayes notes exports are up tremendously for the first three months of this year, reflecting the very low prices in the U.S. ''Exports are offsetting what could even be a bigger price issue. The reason we had the price issue was that we have slightly lower mortality in the herd than we had a year ago, so we have had more pigs coming to market,'' Hayes explains. ''Retailers have been slow to pass along those lower prices at retail to consumers. But that will happen eventually, it's a competitive sector. Then, that will bring an end to this current crisis.'' Editor's Note: Producers are invited to stop by the National Pork Board's booth, V341, at World Pork Expo where they will be demonstrating and sharing AgView throughout the event. More from Farm Journal's PORK:
ASF Outbreak in the U.S. Would Cost Billions, Researchers Say
US wants to 'freeze' Ukraine conflict '' Politico '-- RT Russia & Former Soviet Union
Fri, 19 May 2023 13:57
Officials believe that a division much like that in Korea would cost Washington less money and political capital, the outlet claims
The administration of US President Joe Biden is reportedly considering 'freezing' the conflict in Ukraine for the foreseeable future, instead of pushing for the country's victory, according to sources cited by Politico on Thursday.
Three serving and one former US official told the outlet that a long-term low-intensity stand-off was currently being discussed in the White House.
The former official compared the possible scenario to how the Korean War of the early 1950s ended in an armistice. There was no formal peace agreement, with both Pyongyang and Seoul claim sovereignty over the entire Korean Peninsula and a demilitarized zone separating the two parts.
''A Korea-style stoppage is certainly something that's been discussed by experts and analysts in and out of government,'' the source said. ''It's plausible, because neither side would need to recognize any new borders and the only thing that would have to be agreed is to stop shooting along a set line.''
The benefits for the US would be that a frozen conflict would be less costly for Western nations and draw less public attention, and consequently less pressure to assist Kiev, the outlet explained.
Ukraine would still be allied with Washington and continue switching its military to NATO standards, as it seeks to join the bloc someday.
The 'Korean scenario' for Ukraine drew media attention in January, after Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of the country's national security council, claimed in an interview that Moscow had sent a top official to European capitals to promote it.
The Kremlin denied the reports and claimed Danilov may have mistaken a Ukrainian politician surnamed Kazak for his namesake in the Russian government, whom he identified as the messenger.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, argued that Danilov's words were meant for ''domestic consumption,'' so that the Ukrainian government could measure the public reaction to it. The Russian official mused that ''being split is the best-case scenario,'' for Kiev, under the circumstances.
Moscow called NATO's expansion in Europe and its creeping takeover of Ukraine without its formal accession as one of the key reasons for sending troops against its neighbor. The conflict, Russia has maintained, is part of a US proxy war against it, in which Ukrainians serve as cannon fodder.
The Hidden Dangers of Goose Droppings '' Goodbye Geese
Fri, 19 May 2023 13:49
One of the biggest downsides to a Canada Goose presence in your neighborhood is the gross, unsightly fecal matter they leave all over walkways. In problem areas, people often have to dance around to avoid stepping in poop! While its definitely disgusting, there's also a hidden danger tied to goose dropping: dangerous diseases and bacteria like E Coli, Salmonella, Histoplasmosis, Campylobacter, Coccidia, and Giardia.
High concentrations of birds can render beaches and parks completely unusable. This article from Detroit Free Press highlights how Canada Goose and Seagull droppings have been a big factor in E Coli beach-front closures at Lake St. Clair. The New York Post wrote an article called ''America's Greatest threat may be Canada Goose Poop''.
Canada Geese, on average, drop between 1 to 1.5 pounds of feces every day! Hosting a population of 20 birds would be the same as having someone spread 20-30 lbs of bacteria contaminated biohazard on your lawn every day. Most people aren't aware, but these birds can present a real threat to humans and pets alike.
Bacteria found in Goose PoopE ColiHarmless strains of E Coli already play an integral role in the human gut biome. However, harmful strains of the bacteria are most commonly associated with food contamination and food poisoning symptoms in their hosts, such as vomiting and diarrhea . Worse still, there are several virulent strains that cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, neonatal meningitis, and Crohn's disease. One strain (E. coli 0157:H7) is known to produce the Shiga Toxin, which is classified as a bioterrorism agent by the National Institute of Health. In Children and the elderly, the Shiga Toxin can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which can result in kidney failure and even death if not treated immediately.
E Coli is typically treated by assessing dehydration and replacing fluid and electrolytes. A course of antibiotics has been shown to shorten the course of illness and the duration of harmful E Coli bacteria in the gut and intestines. E Coli contamination is far too common and takes a heavy toll on any individual, but could prove debilitating or deadly to children and seniors.
SalmonellaSalmonella causes Salmonellosis, which has results in diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, usually within 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually last from between 4 to 7 days, and most people recuperate without any treatment. However, in some cases diarrhea may be severe enough to require hospitalization. In such cases, the infection could spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then move to other areas of the body. Failure to treat such an aggressive infection with antibiotics could result in death.
Though most cases of Salmonella infections resolve themselves without long term consequence, it may take months for bowel habits return to normal. A small number of patients develop reactive arthritis in their joints, which can become chronic. These people may also develop eye irritations and pain when urinating.
CampylobacterWhile less dangerous and dramatic that E Coli and Salmonella, a Campylobacter can result in diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal cramps, and fever. It is considered the most common cause of diarrhea illness in the United States. Most people recover from Campylobacteriosis within a week but some infections can have longer term consequences. It's estimated that between 5%-20% of people with an infection develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for a limited period of time, while 1%-%5 can develop arthritis.
HistoplasmosisUnlike most of the bacteria based infections above, Histoplasmosis is caused by fungal spores. Symptoms of Histoplasmosis include: Fever, Cough, Fatigue, Chills, Headaches, Chest Pain, and Body Ache. The fungal spores are often found in bird an bat feces, and infect humans after they've been inhaled. Histoplasmosis symptoms show after 3-17 days of infection. Symptoms last a few weeks to a month and are generally acute. However, in people with weak immune systems, it is possible for histoplasmosis to develop into a persistent lung infection that could eventually spread into other parts of the body and the central nervous system.
CoccidiaCoccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection commonly found in pets that is caused by single celled organisms (protozoa) called coccidia. Adult dogs often aren't affected by coccidiosis even when they carry coccidia. But in puppies and debilitated adult dogs, coccidia can cause severe, watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. The most common coccidia is found only in dogs, but less common types are potentially infectious to humans.
GiardiaGiardia is a microscopic parasite that causes a diarrheal illness know as giardiasis. Common symptoms include: Diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, nausea/vomiting, and dehydration. Other, less common symptoms include: itchy skin, hives, swelling in the eyes and joints. Symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks, or longer. Sometimes, symptoms appear to resolve themselves, only to come back several days or weeks later. In some cases, people and animals infected with Giardia don't show any symptoms. In children, severe giardiasis might delay physical and mental growth, slow development, and cause malnutrition.
Goose Droppings put Families at RiskChildrenChildren are at great risk from goose droppings for two big reasons.
Their immune systems are not fully developed: Children are at much greater risk from common diseases and conditions because their bodies have not fully developed. An E Coli or Salmonella infection will knockout even a strong healthy adult, but in children the effects are severe enough to threaten organ failure and even death. Combatting a debilitating disease at a young age can also have serious developmental consequences. Children will put anything in their mouth: A young child left unsupervised for even a split second might pick up and deposit goose droppings in their mouth. This turns every walk in the park or play session in the back yard into a potential biohazard if goose droppings are present. SeniorsSeniors have a much harder time shrugging off common illnesses than their juniors. Luckily years of life experience and wisdom usually results in caution, limiting the risk of a serious infection (unlike children). However, if an infection gets a chance to take hold, the results can be devastating. A population of Canada Geese residing at a senior living community could dramatically increase this risk.
PetsMost healthy pets have a robust immune system. However, pets (especially dogs) enjoy exploring the world through their tongues. If you've ever taken your dog to a park with a goose population, you've more than likely had to stop your dog from quickly devouring goose droppings. Dogs can easily acquire Coccidia and Giardia from this nasty habit. Dogs might also drink water contaminated by goose droppings, magnifying that risk. Always keep you dogs on a leash to prevent them from snacking on unsanitary things, and make sure you provide them with fresh water when they are thirsty.
Senators Contend Anheuser-Busch Was Marketing To Minors With Dylan Mulvaney Push | The Daily Wire
Fri, 19 May 2023 13:02
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called on the Beer Institute, a trade association that represents producers of the beverage, to examine whether Anheuser-Busch improperly marketed to minors through a recent promotion between Bud Light and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Bud Light garnered widespread controversy after the brand nodded toward Mulvaney, a man who claims to be a woman, by sending him a beer can emblazoned with his likeness. Cruz and Blackburn requested that the Beer Institute's Code Compliance Review Board open an investigation to determine whether Anheuser-Busch broke the trade association's marketing guidelines by soliciting a spokesperson with a large following among minors.
''We believe that Anheuser-Busch's clear failure to exercise appropriate due diligence when selecting online influencers for its marketing efforts warrants detailed oversight by Congress,'' the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Brendan Whitworth, who serves as both chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch and chairman of the Beer Institute.
The letter noted that Mulvaney has some 10.8 million followers on TikTok and 1.8 million followers on Instagram. Beyond the ''Days of Girlhood'' series that made the influencer a sensation, Mulvaney has videos in which he shopped for Barbie dolls in a Target store, dressed as a small child, and handed out merchandise to teenage girls at a mall.
''An objective survey of Dylan Mulvaney's content clearly presents a faux, pre-pubescent girl persona that is created and presented to specifically appeal to young viewers,'' the letter said.
Cruz and Blackburn referenced market research data noting that Instagram is an ''ideal platform'' for companies seeking to reach users between 16 and 24 years of age, while the majority of account owners on TikTok are between 13 and 24 years of age.
The lawmakers compared the Bud Light and Mulvaney partnership to the ''discredited and now illegal marketing campaigns of cigarette manufacturers that used youth-favored advertising tools such as 'Joe Camel' in an attempt to develop early brand loyalty with children who were legally prohibited from smoking cigarettes.'' They likewise cited comments from Alissa Heinerscheid, the former vice president of marketing for Bud Light who has since taken a leave of absence from Anheuser-Busch, who said that ''if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand there will be no future for Bud Light.''
Guidelines from the Beer Institute state that companies should only seek to advertise on digital media platforms where at least roughly three-quarters of users are ''adults of legal drinking age.''
The letter from Cruz and Blackburn, both of whom are members of the Senate Commerce Committee, occurs as previous consumers of Bud Light take their business elsewhere. Market data indicate that weekly sales for Bud Light have continued to decline by nearly 25% relative to the same periods last year several weeks after the initial backlash, even as other Anheuser-Busch brands which took hits could be starting to recover from the controversy.
Executives for Anheuser-Busch have downplayed the extent of the partnership and hired veteran Republican lobbyists in various efforts to win back conservatives who once consumed the brew. The company meanwhile seems to have offended those on both ends of the political spectrum: leftists and owners of gay bars across the country threatened to launch additional boycotts after the firm backed away from Mulvaney.
Ford's "Redefining Tough" Commercial Features LGBT-Colored Truck | ZeroHedge
Fri, 19 May 2023 13:01
Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,
Ford Motor Company has found itself ensnared in a potential controversy after Twitter users highlighted an ad that features a rainbow colored vehicle as part of a campaign called 'redefining tough'.
The commercial shows two Ford Raptor pick-up trucks racing through desert terrain.
Both are covered with sand at the start of the ad as they begin to compete against each other.
Pride knows no bounds @Ford
'-- Caroline (@carolinecwilder) May 17, 2023It is then revealed that one of the trucks has been painted with the LGBT rainbow flag, including the transgender baby blue and pink colors, before it races ahead of the other truck.
The end of the commercial shows the words 'REDIFINING TOUGH' as the 'TOUGH' part of the text also flashes with LGBT colors.
Apparently, the colors of a movement that seeks to normalize the sexual mutilation of children is now considered ''tough'' by Ford.
Although the commercial was actually produced by the European division of Ford and is over 10 months old, the clip only just caught the attention of Twitter users and has over a million views on the platform.
I looked it up. It's real. It's the European division. Very disappointing.
'-- Mr Reagan 🇺🇸 (@MrReaganUSA) May 17, 2023Twitter users weren't too impressed with the commercial.
'-- Stonetoss Comics (@stone_toss) May 18, 2023Pure Bud Light energy.
'-- Jeremy Carl (@jeremycarl4) May 17, 2023If I was gay, this would make me straight.
'-- Salty Cracker (@SaltyCracker9) May 17, 2023Dodge TRX is my choice.
'-- Warrior (@Cjcoop22) May 17, 2023Another user drew attention to the license plate shown on the 'gay' vehicle.
They can't be serious?
'-- Jack Montgomery (@JackBMontgomery) May 17, 2023However, following the extremely successful boycott of Bud Light following its partnership with transgender celebrity Dylan Mulvaney, Ford may experience some unexpected blowback.
It will be interesting to see how many big companies align themselves with the LGBT movement in anticipation of 'Pride Month' in June given the damage done to Anheuser-Busch in recent weeks.
One company that may regret its decision is Adidas, which just launched a ''Pride 2023'' ad campaign which features a a man wearing a women's one-piece bathing suit.
Male models wearing bras and women's swimsuits for ''Pride Month''?!?!I AM DONE WITH ADIDAS!!!
'-- Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) May 17, 2023It isn't known whether the model in question identifies as transgender, although the bulge in his crotch area clearly suggests that he's a man.
''The new line by South African designer Rich Mnisi, dubbed 'Let Love Be Your Legacy' and released ahead of Pride Month in June, is 'a celebration of self-expression, imagination and the unwavering belief that love unites,'' according to Adidas' official website.
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TSA Pilot-Tests Controversial Facial Recognition Technology At These 16 Airports | ZeroHedge
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:55
The next time you find yourself at airport security, prepare to look directly into a camera. The Transportation Security Administration is quietly testing controversial facial recognition technology at airports nationwide.
AP News said 16 airports, including Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall and Reagan National near Washington, as well as ones in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Gulfport-Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi, have installed kiosks with cameras (at some TSA checkpoints) that allow passengers to insert their government-issued ID and look into a camera as facial recognition technology asses if the ID and person match.
Here's what to expect at airports utilizing this new technology:
Travelers put their driver's license into a slot that reads the card or place their passport photo against a card reader. Then they look at a camera on a screen about the size of an iPad, which captures their image and compares it to their ID. The technology is both checking to make sure the people at the airport match the ID they present and that the identification is in fact real. A TSA officer is still there and signs off on the screening. -AP
"What we are trying to do with this is aid the officers to actually determine that you are who you say who you are," said Jason Lim, identity management capabilities manager, during a recent demonstration of the technology to reporters at BWI.
TSA said the pilot test is voluntary, and passengers can opt out. The facial recognition technology has raised concerns among critics, like five senators (four Democrats and an Independent) who sent a letter in February to the TSA requesting the pilot test be halted immediately.
"Increasing biometric surveillance of Americans by the government represents a risk to civil liberties and privacy rights," the senators said.
The letter continued:
"We are concerned about the safety and security of Americans' biometric data in the hands of authorized private corporations or unauthorized bad actors.
"As government agencies grow their database of identifying images, increasingly large databases will prove more and more enticing targets for hackers and cybercriminals."
Meg Foster, a justice fellow at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, is concerned that even though the TSA says it's not storing biometric data, it collects, "What if that changes in the future?"
Jeramie Scott, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that even though the TSA facial recognition kiosks are being tested, it could be only a matter of time before it becomes a more permanent fixture at checkpoints.
Despite the US being a first-world country, it has third-world protections for its people. There's an increasing number of government agencies that want your biometric data. Even the IRS wants your face.
Non-binary ex-Biden official Sam Brinton arrested for yet another baggage theft | Fox News
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:54
Sam Brinton, the embattled former senior Department of Energy (DOE) official, was arrested as a "fugitive from justice" by Maryland police late Wednesday.
According to county records reviewed by Fox News Digital, Brinton was taken into custody in Rockville. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Police, which is the lead law enforcement agency for both Washington, D.C., area airports, said the arrest was related to the theft of airport luggage, the third such criminal case involving Brinton.
"Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police executed a search warrant May 17 in Montgomery County, Maryland, in connection with allegations of stolen property in luggage from Reagan National Airport that was brought to the department's attention in February 2023," James Johnson, a spokesperson for the MWAA, told Fox News Digital in an email.
"With the assistance of Montgomery County Police, Samuel Otis Brinton, age 35, of Rockville, Maryland, was taken into custody Wednesday pending charges of Grand Larceny," Johnson said.
Sam Brinton attends a 2019 event in Beverly Hills, California. (Tasia Wells/Getty Images for The Trevor Project)
In an interview Thursday with The Daily Wire, which first reported the arrest, a witness who claimed to be Brinton's neighbor said Brinton was arrested about an hour after four unmarked police cars arrived.
"Montgomery County Police assisted in the arrest of Sam Brinton," Shiera Goff, a Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson, told Fox News Digital. "The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police are lead on this."
"Brinton was arrested at approximately 10 p.m. last night in their home on College Parkway," Goff added. "They are being held in the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit on a no-bond status as they await an extradition hearing. That's all of the information we have on our end."
The arrest comes a month after Brinton '-- who made headlines last year after being appointed to the position that oversees nuclear waste policy at the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy as a non-binary gender-fluid person '-- escaped jail time in two separate cases in Minnesota and Nevada involving luggage thefts.
Police charged Brinton in October with stealing a traveler's baggage worth a total of $2,325 from the luggage carousel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport after flying in from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16.
Brinton's official government portrait. (Department of Energy)
And in early December, Las Vegas prosecutors charged Brinton with grand larceny of an item valued between $1,200 and $5,000. Police accused Brinton of stealing a suitcase with a total estimated worth of $3,670 on July 6 at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. The bag contained jewelry valued at $1,700, clothing worth $850 and makeup valued at $500.
Brinton faced up to 15 years total for the two alleged thefts. However, in both cases, the presiding judges ruled jail time wasn't necessary.
In addition, a female Tanzanian fashion designer based in Houston accused Brinton in February of wearing her custom designs that were packed in a luggage she reported missing in 2018. Houston police referred that case to the FBI.
The DOE on Dec. 12 announced that Brinton had departed the agency but wouldn't comment on the reason for the departure.
Thomas Catenacci is a politics writer for Fox News Digital.
Former Agent Says FBI Took Away His Pay, Left 'Family Homeless' After He Blew Whistle On 'Illegal' Activity | The Daily Caller
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:52
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Garret O'Boyle said his family became homeless after he reported ''illegal activity'' in the agency, according to a report from the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government released on Thursday.
O'Boyle disclosed possible illegal actions to his Supervisory Special Agent, and the FBI subsequently reassigned him to a different department that forced him to relocate his family across the country, according to the report. Upon arrival on his first day, the FBI placed O'Boyle on ''unpaid, indefinite suspension, effectively rendering his 'family homeless''' and depriving them of personal belongings, ''including his young children's clothing,'' which the FBI kept in storage, according to the report.
O'Boyle and other FBI whistleblowers each detailed instances of retaliatory actions they have dealt with after making protected disclosures regarding what they sincerely believed to be misconduct, according to the report. (RELATED: 'They Want To Be In Charge': Sen. Josh Hawley Calls For 'Top To Bottom Housecleaning' At FBI)
A common thread among their accounts is that the FBI infringed upon federal whistleblower protection statutes and exploited the security clearance evaluation process ''to hamstring the brave agents who exercise their right to make protected disclosures to Congress or who dared to question agency leadership.''
WASHINGTON, DC '' FEBRUARY 09: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) (C) talks with fellow Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee (L-R) Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) during their first hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on February 09, 2023 in Washington, DC. This was the first hearing of the new subcommittee, created by a sharply divided Congress to scrutinize what Republican members have charged is an effort by the federal government to target and silence conservatives. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
O'Boyle served the U.S. Army as an infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan for a year each, according to his testimony in the report. He received the Combat Infantryman Badge.
The report alleged that the whistleblower testimony reveals ''that the FBI's partisan leadership is currently engaging in a 'purge' of agents who hold conservative beliefs.''
The whistleblower disclosures and Special Counsel John Durham's report show ''that the FBI has become politically weaponized,'' according to the report.
One of the whistleblowers said the FBI is currently ''cancerous'' and has ''let itself become enveloped in this politicization and weaponization.''
The FBI classified ''every single January 6th case . . . as a domestic terrorism case,'' according to O'Boyle, despite hundreds of them being resolved as ''petty crimes'' like ''trespassing and disorderly conduct.''
''[T]he FBI holds [the January 6th investigation] up as the biggest investigation that it's ever had,'' he testified. ''So if you're categorizing all of them as domestic terrorism cases, yeah, they would double.''
''The FBI's mission is to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people,'' the FBI told the Daily Caller News Foundation. ''The FBI has not and will not retaliate against individuals who make protected whistleblower disclosures.''
All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter's byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact
National security experts: War in Ukraine is an 'unmitigated disaster' - Responsible Statecraft
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:20
An open letter calling for a swift diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine was published on Tuesday in the New York Times. The letter's 14 signatories consisted mostly of former U.S. military officers and other national security officials, including Jack Matlock, Washington's former ambassador to the Soviet Union; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former diplomat; Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps officer and State Department official; and Ret. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff.
Many are longtime critics of U.S. foreign policy and post-9/11 war policies.
The letter calls the war an ''unmitigated disaster'' and cautions that ''future devastation could be exponentially greater as nuclear powers creep ever closer toward open war.''
While condemning Vladimir Putin's ''criminal invasion and occupation,'' the letter, which notes the serial invasions of Russia by foreign adversaries, encourages readers to understand the war ''through Russia's eyes.''
''In diplomacy, one must attempt to see with strategic empathy, seeking to understand one's adversaries,'' according to the letter. ''This is not weakness: it is wisdom.''
''Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO's armed forces on Russian borders were intolerable '' just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the U.S. now, or as Soviet missiles in Cuba were in 1962,'' the letter reads. ''Russia further singled out NATO expansion into Ukraine as especially provocative.''
The missive, which appeared on page 5 of the Times' print edition, lays out the history of warnings by key U.S. national security officials, politicians, and others about the dangers of NATO expansion in the late 1990s, and again in 2008 when then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia and current CIA director William Burns cautioned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice against pushing for NATO membership for Ukraine.
Accompanying the text is a timeline of the deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West that begins in 1990, when Secretary of State James Baker assured Russia that NATO would not expand eastwards, until Russia's invasion in February of last year.
''NATO expansion, in sum, is a key feature of a militarized U.S. foreign policy characterized by unilateralism featuring regime change and preemptive wars,'' according to the letter, which suggests that Washington's ''failed wars'' in Iraq and Afghanistan have been two of the results.
President Joe Biden has vowed that Washington will continue to aid Kyiv ''as long as it takes.'' The letter's signers fear that this is a recipe for escalation that could result in catastrophe.
''As Dan Ellsberg has warned courageously and unceasingly, we '-- the world '-- are at the nuclear brink again, perhaps closer to the edge than ever before. It only requires one step to go over and then our steps end forever,'' Wilkerson said in the statement released by the Eisenhower Media Network, which funded the full-page advertisement. ''If that's not sufficient reason for a return to diplomacy, our extinction is at hand; the timing is all that is in question.''
To date, the United States has sent $37 billion worth of military aid to Kyiv. High-level discussions with officials in Moscow have been rare, and a number of other entities, including China, Brazil, and the Pope, have taken on the mantle of pushing for a diplomatic solution.
What Washington's role will look like going forward is more uncertain, with recent reporting as well as revelations from Pentagon leaks suggesting that the administration will continue supporting Ukraine through the anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces before possibly reassessing, although officials have disputed that narrative.
The letter, entitled ''The U.S. Should Be a Force for Peace in the World,'' urges the Biden administration to pivot towards pursuing a negotiated solution to end the war ''speedily.''
''This reality is not entirely of our own making, yet it may well be our undoing,'' the letter concludes, ''unless we dedicate ourselves to forging a diplomatic settlement that stops the killing and defuses tensions.''
Russia-Ukraine War: The U.S. Should Be a Force for Peace - Eisenhower Media Network
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:18
The Russia-Ukraine War has been an unmitigated disaster. Hundreds of thousands have been killed or wounded. Millions have been displaced. Environmental and economic destruction have been incalculable. Future devastation could be exponentially greater as nuclear powers creep ever closer toward open war.
We deplore the violence, war crimes, indiscriminate missile strikes, terrorism, and other atrocities that are part of this war. The solution to this shocking violence is not more weapons or more war, with their guarantee of further death and destruction.
As Americans and national security experts, we urge President Biden and Congress to use their full power to end the Russia-Ukraine War speedily through diplomacy, especially given the grave dangers of military escalation that could spiral out of control.
Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy made an observation that is crucial for our survival today. ''Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy''or of a collective death-wish for the world.''
The immediate cause of this disastrous war in Ukraine is Russia's invasion. Yet the plans and actions to expand NATO to Russia's borders served to provoke Russian fears. And Russian leaders made this point for 30 years. A failure of diplomacy led to war. Now diplomacy is urgently needed to end the Russia-Ukraine War before it destroys Ukraine and endangers humanity.
The Potential for PeaceRussia's current geopolitical anxiety is informed by memories of invasion from Charles XII, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler. U.S. troops were among an Allied invasion force that intervened unsuccessfully against the winning side in Russia's post-World War I civil war. Russia sees NATO enlargement and presence on its borders as a direct threat; the U.S. and NATO see only prudent preparedness. In diplomacy, one must attempt to see with strategic empathy, seeking to understand one's adversaries. This is not weakness: it is wisdom.
We reject the idea that diplomats, seeking peace, must choose sides, in this case either Russia or Ukraine. In favoring diplomacy we choose the side of sanity. Of humanity. Of peace.
We consider President Biden's promise to back Ukraine ''as long as it takes'' to be a license to pursue ill-defined and ultimately unachievable goals. It could prove as catastrophic as President Putin's decision last year to launch his criminal invasion and occupation. We cannot and will not endorse the strategy of fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.
We advocate for a meaningful and genuine commitment to diplomacy, specifically an immediate ceasefire and negotiations without any disqualifying or prohibitive preconditions. Deliberate provocations delivered the Russia-Ukraine War. In the same manner, deliberate diplomacy can end it.
U.S. Actions and Russia's Invasion of UkraineAs the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended, U.S. and Western European leaders assured Soviet and then Russian leaders that NATO would not expand toward Russia's borders. ''There would be no extension of'...NATO one inch to the east,'' U.S. Secretary of State James Baker told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990. Similar assurances from other U.S. leaders as well as from British, German and French leaders throughout the 1990s confirm this.
Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO's armed forces on Russian borders were intolerable '' just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the U.S. now, or as Soviet missiles in Cuba were in 1962. Russia further singled out NATO expansion into Ukraine as especially provocative.
Seeing the War Through Russia's EyesOur attempt at understanding the Russian perspective on their war does not endorse the invasion and occupation, nor does it imply the Russians had no other option but this war.
Yet, just as Russia had other options, so too did the U.S. and NATO leading up to this moment.
The Russians made their red lines clear. In Georgia and Syria, they proved they would use force to defend those lines. In 2014, their immediate seizure of Crimea and their support of Donbas separatists demonstrated they were serious in their commitment to defending their interests. Why this was not understood by U.S. and NATO leadership is unclear; incompetence, arrogance, cynicism, or a treacherous mixture of all three are likely contributing factors.
Again, even as the Cold War ended, U.S. diplomats, generals and politicians were warning of the dangers of expanding NATO to Russia's borders and of maliciously interfering in Russia's sphere of influence. Former Cabinet officials Robert Gates and William Perry issued these warnings, as did venerated diplomats George Kennan, Jack Matlock and Henry Kissinger. In 1997, fifty senior U.S. foreign policy experts wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton advising him not to expand NATO, calling it ''a policy error of historic proportions.'' President Clinton chose to ignore these warnings.
Most important to our understanding of the hubris and Machiavellian calculation in U.S. decision-making surrounding the Russia-Ukraine War is the dismissal of the warnings issued by Williams Burns, the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In a cable to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008, while serving as Ambassador to Russia, Burns wrote of NATO expansion and Ukrainian membership:
''Ukraine and Georgia's NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.''
Why did the U.S. persist in expanding NATO despite such warnings? Profit from weapons sales was a major factor. Facing opposition to NATO expansion, a group of neoconservatives and top executives of U.S. weapons manufacturers formed the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Between 1996 and 1998, the largest arms manufacturers spent $51 million ($94 million today) on lobbying and millions more on campaign contributions. With this largesse, NATO expansion quickly became a done deal, after which U.S. weapons manufacturers sold billions of dollars of weapons to the new NATO members.
So far, the U.S. has sent $30 billion worth of military gear and weapons to Ukraine, with total aid to Ukraine exceeding $100 billion. War, it's been said, is a racket, one that is highly profitable for a select few.
NATO expansion, in sum, is a key feature of a militarized U.S. foreign policy characterized by unilateralism featuring regime change and preemptive wars. Failed wars, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, have produced slaughter and further confrontation, a harsh reality of America's own making. The Russia-Ukraine War has opened a new arena of confrontation and slaughter. This reality is not entirely of our own making, yet it may well be our undoing, unless we dedicate ourselves to forging a diplomatic settlement that stops the killing and defuses tensions.
Let's make America a force for peace in the world.
Read more
SIGNERSDennis Fritz, Director, Eisenhower Media Network; Command Chief Master Sergeant, US Air Force (retired)Matthew Hoh, Associate Director, Eisenhower Media Network; Former Marine Corps officer, and State and Defense official.William J. Astore, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force (retired)Karen Kwiatkowski, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force (retired)Dennis Laich, Major General, US Army (retired)Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., 1987-91; author of Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War EndedTodd E. Pierce, Major, Judge Advocate, U.S. Army (retired)Coleen Rowley, Special Agent, FBI (retired)Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor at Columbia UniversityChristian Sorensen, Former Arabic linguist, US Air ForceChuck Spinney, Retired Engineer/Analyst, Office of Secretary of DefenseWinslow Wheeler, National security adviser to four Republican and Democratic USLawrence B. Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (retired)Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (retired) and former US diplomat
TIMELINE1990 '' U.S. assures Russia that NATO will not expand towards its border '''...there would be no extension of'...NATO one inch to the east,'' says US Secretary of State James Baker.
1996 '' U.S. weapons manufacturers form the Committee to Expand NATO, spending over $51 million lobbying Congress.
1997 '' 50 foreign policy experts including former senators, retired military officers and diplomats sign an open letter stating NATO expansion to be ''a policy error of historic proportions.''
1999 '' NATO admits Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to NATO. U.S. and NATO bomb Russia's ally, Serbia.
2001 '' U.S. unilaterally withdraws from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
2004 '' Seven more Eastern European nations join NATO. NATO troops are now directly on Russia's border.
2004 '' Russia's parliament passed a resolution denouncing NATO's expansion. Putin responded by saying that Russia would ''build our defense and security policy correspondingly.''
2008 '' NATO leaders announced plans to bring Ukraine and Georgia, also on Russia's borders, into NATO.
2009 '' U.S. announced plans to put missile systems into Poland and Romania.
2014 '' Legally elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled violence to Moscow. Russia views ouster as a coup by U.S. and NATO nations.
2016 '' U.S. begins troop buildup in Europe.
2019 '' U.S. unilaterally withdraws from Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.
2020 '' U.S. unilaterally withdraws from Open Skies Treaty.
2021 '' Russia submits negotiation proposals while sending more forces to the border with Ukraine. U.S. and NATO officials reject the Russian proposals immediately.
Feb 24, 2022 '' Russia invades Ukraine, starting the Russia-Ukraine War.
This ad reflects the views of the signers. Paid for by Eisenhower Media Network, a project of People Power Initiatives.
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VIDEO - (20) Chief Nerd on Twitter: "JUST IN '' Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla Says the Growing Mistrust in Vaccines From Figures Like Robert F. Kennedy Jr is an 'Assault on Science' "We are living in a situation that I never thought we would live...After the
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VIDEO - GOP 'living in its own universe' with reactions to Durham report
Sun, 21 May 2023 14:00
In ''Monty Python and the Holy Grail,'' there's a scene in which villagers decide they want to burn a suspected witch, and John Cleese's character offers proof of her evil ways: ''She turned me into a newt.'' When the woman makes clear that she's not a witch, and everyone notices that Cleese's character is clearly not a newt, he says sheepishly, ''I got better.''
Enraged villagers, indifferent to the evidence, exclaim moments later, ''Burn her anyway!''
This scene came to mind this week, as Republicans responded to former special counsel John Durham's report on the FBI investigation into Donald Trump's Russia scandal. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, for example, wrote in a tweet last night, ''I've never been a reactive 'lock 'em up' type. But this Durham report is a lock 'em up moment.''
No, not for those living in reality. Durham's findings were obviously underwhelming and broke no new ground. An analysis from The New York Times' Charlie Savage explained today that the probe ''ended with a whimper'' and failed entirely to live up to the hype. Savage added, ''[Durham] charged no high-level F.B.I. or intelligence official with a crime and acknowledged in a footnote that Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign did nothing prosecutable, either.''
What's more, when Durham tried to prosecute some peripheral figures, his cases failed spectacularly.
In other words, Durham looked for ways to prosecute Republicans' perceived enemies, but he and his team couldn't come up with anything. This, according to members of Congress such as Crenshaw, should be seen as proof that Republicans' perceived enemies deserve to be prosecuted.
Or put another way, we're watching the ''Burn her anyway!'' approach unfold in real life.
A separate New York Times report added that the GOP's partisan reactions to Durham's findings are on track to become ''Exhibit A in how the American right seems to be living in its own universe '-- and how Mr. Trump still dictates the parameters of that separate reality.''
It'd be effectively impossible to chronicle every misguided Republican response to the report that too many of them failed to actually read, but highlighted an especially offensive reaction from controversial Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Speaking to Newsmax, Tuberville said he ''can't even talk about it it's so bad.'' Speaking on ''John Bachman Now,'' Tuberville said, ''If people don't go to jail for this, the American people should just stand up and say, 'Listen, enough's enough, let's don't have elections anymore.'''
That really is what he said '-- out loud, on camera, to a national broadcast audience.
After several years of effort, Durham couldn't find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but Alabama's far-right senior senator wants unnamed people to ''go to jail'' anyway. If that doesn't happen, the GOP senator believes the American electorate should be prepared to abandon elections altogether.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but hysterical reactions like these are utterly bonkers. Durham was tasked with uncovering criminal misconduct, and he just didn't find anything. That's not a matter of opinion; it's simply the only good-faith assessment a fair observer can draw from the prosecutor's written report.
If there were nefarious actors in law enforcement who deserved to ''go to jail,'' the special counsel would've said so. He didn't.
If Republicans want to argue that some FBI leaders were hasty about launching a specific kind of investigation, we can certainly have that conversation. If the argument is that the bureau got sloppy at times, there's some evidence to bolster the point, but this was already well documented by Inspector General Michael Horowitz's findings in 2019, and the bureau implemented institutional changes soon after.
If GOP members of Congress seriously believe the findings represent ''a lock 'em up moment'' that should lead the public to weigh an abandonment of democracy, I'd only ask them one brief follow-up question: Did you actually read Durham's findings, or are you just going along with what Donald Trump and the Republican base expects to hear?
Steve Benen Steve Benen is a producer for "The Rachel Maddow Show," the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He's also the bestselling author of "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics."
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VIDEO - Nebraska senator flips out debating ban on sex change surgeries for minors, screams 'we need trans people' | Fox News
Sat, 20 May 2023 20:29
A Friday morning session in the unicameral Nebraska legislature devolved into chaos after one Democratic lawmaker began shouting her support for transgender people amid a debate on a bill to ban sex change procedures for minors in the state.
The bill, which was ultimately approved by lawmakers and sent to Republican Gov. Jim Pillen's desk to become law, bans sex change procedures for minors, as well as abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
In voicing her disapproval to the measure Friday morning, state Democrat Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh slapped the lectern and repeatedly shouted: "Transgender people belong here, we need trans people, we love trans people."
"You matter. You matter and I am fighting for you. I will not stop," exclaimed Cavanaugh, who displays she/her pronouns in her Twitter bio. "I will not stop today, I will not stop tomorrow. You are loved. You matter. You belong here."
Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh shouts during a Friday legislative session amid a debate on a bill to ban sex change surgeries fro transgender mninors in the state. (Nebraska Public Media)
Cavanaugh's shouting during the legislative session lasted for just under a minute.
Cavanaugh also railed against conservatives who voted for the hybrid bill '-- which includes protections for unborn children '-- and warned that people, medical professionals and businesses will leave the state over it.
"Your children are posting things on social media, your children are calling you, colleagues," Cavanaugh said. "You have to live with your vote.'... You have to live with the role that you play in history in the making today. You have to live with the fact that you vote to take away people's rights. You have to live with that. The rest of us have to live with the implications of that, but you have to live with that."
"If you didn't sleep after Tuesday night, reflect on that. You don't have to vote for this," she added, just shortly before she called those who support the measure "weak."
Cavanaugh also claimed that those who supported the measure "allowed" themselves to be "bought by the governor."
Republican lawmakers wrangled just enough votes to end a filibuster and pass a bill with both measures. Gov. Pillen, who pushed for the bill and met with various lawmakers to shore up support, has promised to sign it into law.
Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh stands among her supporters just after a vote in which the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill to ban abortion at 12 weeks and sex change surgeries for minors on May 19, 2023 in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Margery Beck)
The 12-week abortion ban in the measure has exceptions for rape and incest. The bill wouldn't allow transgender people under 19 years old to undergo gender surgery, with a few exceptions.
The state's chief medical officer '-- a political appointee who is currently an ear, nose and throat doctor '-- would set rules for puberty blockers and hormone therapies for transgender minors in the state. There will be some exceptions for minors who were already receiving treatment before the ban was enacted.
Several Republicans voiced approval for the measure during the debate, including state Sen. Steve Erdman, who drew inconsistences in the arguments made by Democrats.
"Saying abortion is healthcare is like saying being raped is lovemaking," Erdman said at one point.
Friday's debate was briefly stopped when protesters in a chamber balcony stood and yelled obscenities at conservative lawmakers while throwing what appeared to be bloody tampons onto the floor. As lawmakers began voting, chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!" could be heard coming from outside the chamber.
At least six people were arrested at the Nebraska state capitol building after lawmakers passed the bill.
(Nebraska capitol security camera)
At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning transgender procedures, hormones and therapies for minors, and proposals are pending before the governors of Texas and Missouri. Medical groups and advocates claim such restrictions are further marginalizing transgender youth and threatening their health.
North Carolina also passed a 12-week abortion ban this week, among a slew of restrictions enacted in states after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion. Fourteen states now have bans throughout pregnancy.
Nebraska currently bans abortion around 20 weeks and is one of multiple states that has recently passed abortion and transgender laws.
Last month, a proposed six-week ban failed to advance.
Fox News' Brie Stimson and The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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VIDEO - Russell & RFK Jr | FAUCI, CIA Secrets & Running For President - #128 - Stay Free With Russell Brand
Sat, 20 May 2023 13:21
Russell's big conversation this week is with presidential candidate in 2024, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Together, they delve into some of the most controversial topics of our time, including the assassination of JFK, the true nature of the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. Whether you're a political junkie or simply interested in learning more about the issues shaping our world, this conversation is a must-listen!
Watch the full conversation over on LOCALS >
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VIDEO - Why Depression is Hitting Record Levels in US | Vantage with Palki Sharma - YouTube
Fri, 19 May 2023 13:11
VIDEO - Supreme Court ruling continues to protect Google, Facebook and Twitter
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:52
The Supreme Court declined to address the legal liability shield that protects tech platforms from being held responsible for their users' posts, the court said in an unsigned opinion Thursday.
The decision leaves in place, for now, a broad liability shield that protects companies like Twitter, Meta's Facebook and Instagram as well as Google's YouTube from being held liable for their users' speech on their platforms.
The court's decisions in these cases will serve as a big sigh of relief for tech platforms for now, but many members of Congress are still itching to reform the legal liability shield.
In the case, Gonzalez v. Google, the court said it would "decline to address the application" of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that protects platforms from their users' speech and also allows the services to moderate or remove users' posts. The court said it made that decision because the complaint "appears to state little, if any, plausible claim for relief."
The Supreme Court will send the case back to a lower court to reconsider in light of its decision on a separate but similar case, Twitter v. Taamneh.
In that case, the family of an American victim of a terrorist attack sought to hold Twitter accountable under anti-terrorism law for allegedly aiding and abetting the attack by failing to take enough action against terrorist content on its platform. In a decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court ruled that such a claim could not be brought under that statute.
"As alleged by plaintiffs, defendants designed virtual platforms and knowingly failed to do 'enough' to remove ISIS-affiliated users and ISIS related content'--out of hundreds of millions of users worldwide and an immense ocean of content'--from their platforms," Thomas wrote in the court's unanimous opinion.
"Yet, plaintiffs have failed to allege that defendants intentionally provided any substantial aid to the Reina attack or otherwise consciously participated in the Reina attack'--much less that defendants so pervasively and systemically assisted ISIS as to render them liable for every ISIS attack," he added, referring to the nightclub in Istanbul where the terrorist attack took place.
Many lawmakers see Section 230 as an unnecessary protection for a massive industry, though its proponents say the law also protects smaller players from costly lawsuits, since it helps to dismiss cases about users' speech at an earlier stage. Still, lawmakers remain divided on the form such changes should take, meaning there are still massive hurdles to getting it done.
"This decision leaving Section 230 untouched is an unambiguous victory for online speech and content moderation," Jess Miers, legal counsel for Meta and Google-backed Chamber of Progress, said in a statement. "While the Court might once have had an appetite for reinterpreting decades of Internet law, it was clear from oral arguments that changing Section 230's interpretation would create more issues than it would solve. Ultimately, the Court made the right decision. Section 230 has made possible the Internet as we know it."
"This is a huge win for free speech on the internet," Chris Marchese, litigation center director for NetChoice, a group whose members include Google, Meta, Twitter and TikTok, said in a statement. "The Court was asked to undermine Section 230'--and declined."
WATCH: The messy business of content moderation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
VIDEO - 'The FBI Will Crush You': Whistleblower Tells Fellow Agents Not To Come Forward With Allegations Of Wrongdoing | The Daily Caller
Fri, 19 May 2023 12:48
An FBI whistleblower said Thursday that he would not encourage other agents to come forward with allegations of wrongdoing, saying that their lives would be destroyed if they do so.
''I would tell them first to pray about it, long and hard,'' FBI agent Garret O'Boyle said in response to a question about how he would advise a fellow agent who might want to disclose wrongdoing. ''And I would tell them I could take it to Congress for them, or I could put them in touch with Congress. But I would advise them not to do it.''
O'Boyle had previously testified to the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government that an indefinite FBI suspension left him and his family temporarily homeless. The FBI held his personal belongings and refused to release them as he and his family moved from Kansas to Virginia, he said. O'Boyle has alleged that the bureau improperly inflated case metrics, and that it targeted anti-abortion groups.
''So you would legitimately try to protect one of your colleagues from doing what you have done?'' Republican North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong clarified.
''Absolutely,'' O'Boyle responded. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: 'It's Time To Clean House': Former Senior FBI Agents Blast Politicization Of The Bureau)
.@RepMikeJohnson: ''I am grateful to you men for your willingness to stand forward and take the arrows as you have, even from members of Congress over here'...trying to disparage you. It's disgusting!''
The gallery erupts into applause
'-- Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 18, 2023
''And how do you think that solves being able to shine light on corruption, weaponization, any kind of misconduct that exists with the American people?'' Armstrong asked.
''It doesn't solve it. But the FBI will crush you. This government will crush you, and your family, if you try to expose the truth about thing that they are doing that are wrong. We are all examples of that,'' O'Boyle answered, while gesturing to the two other agents who testified to the committee.

Clips & Documents

All Clips
[Central] Bank of Canada pitching CBDC.mp3
ABC - Martha Raddatz - Air Force leadership repeatedly warned Jack Teixeira about accessing classified intelligence.mp3
ABC GMA3 - anchor Dr Jen Ashton - ozempic hair loss warning (1min49sec).mp3
ABC GMA3 - anchor Dr Jen Ashton - pregnant mother RSV vaccine trials (1min41sec).mp3
ABC WNT - anchor Terry Moran - biden backs F-16s for ukraine (2min6sec).mp3
Accounting error means Pentagon can send an additional $3 billion in weapons to Ukraine.mp3
Border crises UPDATE npr.mp3
Bullcrap exodus report PBS.mp3
CBS - James Brown - Elizabeth Palmer John Kirby - Biden backs plan to train Ukrainian fighter pilots.mp3
CBS - James Brown - Roxana Saberi - CDC warns of potential MPOX resurgence [1].mp3
CBS - James Brown - Roxana Saberi - CDC warns of potential MPOX resurgence [2].mp3
CBS Mornings - anchor Anne-Marie Green - disney scraps plans for $1B complex (39sec).mp3
CBS Mornings - anchor Nikole Killion (1) concerns over senator feinsteins health (1min47sec).mp3
CBS Mornings - anchor Nikole Killion (2) questions raised -pelosis daughter (40sec).mp3
CBS Mornings - anchor Nikole Killion (3) why are there questions raised (1min14sec).mp3
China World Police 3.mp3
China World Police New 2.mp3
China World Police New PBS.mp3
Climate Justice and reparations 1 KQED.mp3
Climate Justice and reparations 2.mp3
Climate Justice and reparations 3.mp3
Climate Justice and reparations 4.mp3
Climate Justice and reparations 5 WTF.mp3
DW Bahkmut taken report -1- only a few streets uh uh uh uh.mp3
DW Bahkmut taken report -2- what does it change - nothing - symbolic only.mp3
F24 Report of F16 announcement -1- Many Many Months - Military Lecturer from Univ Portsmouth Oxford.mp3
F24 Report of F16 announcement -12- What will realistically change and which country delivers them.mp3
G7 report 2.mp3
G7 report 3 F16.mp3
G7 report intro.mp3
Griner back NPR.mp3
Griner back sub clip NPR.mp3
ISO Thank You.mp3
Israli protests of what.mp3
Linda Sanchez vs Whistleblower.mp3
Maddow - GOP ‘living in its own universe’ with reactions to Durham report.mp3
Matt Lee to State Spox on automatic pronouns in DoS emails - GLITCH.mp3
Musk CNBC - Allen Texas White Supremacy and Bellingcat - SOLIDIFIES White Supremacy.mp3
NBC - Jake Ward - Tiktok users file lawsuit to halt Montana ban.mp3
NBC - Janis Mackey Frayer - Russia relying on China more to survive [1].mp3
NBC - Janis Mackey Frayer - Russia relying on China more to survive [2].mp3
NBC - Laura Jarrett - Deutsche Bank pays 75 million settelement in Jeffrey Epstein case.mp3
NBC - Thomas Llamas - Kristen Welker - US and allies to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters.mp3
NBC Today - Garrett Haake - Dianne Feinstein developed Ramsay-Hunt and Encephalitis from Shingles.mp3
Nebraska senator flips out debating ban on sex change surgeries for minors, screams 'we need trans people -Full Context [SPELL].mp3
notes on default GT.mp3
notes on default USUAL PBS.mp3
NPR Up First - Syrias President Bashar al-Assad arrives in Jeddah to attend the Arab League summit [1].mp3
NPR Up First - Syrias President Bashar al-Assad arrives in Jeddah to attend the Arab League summit [2].mp3
NPR Up First -Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives - Syrias President Bashar al-Assad arrives in Jeddah to attend the Arab League summit [3].mp3
Pakistani Update.mp3
Reuters interview Albert Bourla Pfizer CEO - Growing Mistrust in Vaccines From Figures Like Robert F. Kennedy Jr is an 'Assault on Science'.mp3
Robert F Kennedy Jr Keynote at Bitcoin 2023.mp3
Snow melt in CA weird reporter.mp3
SuperCut Volodymyr Zelenskyys Charm Offensive.mp3
The great AI jobs bloodbath' begins in the UK, as BT announces thousands of cuts-F24.mp3
The scarred women experiment.mp3
TikTok-Two LGBTQ Proponents will make all students Gay.mp3
TOCK TRANS NON Teacher.mp3
Toxic 'forever chemicals' are turning up in Canadians' blood samples.mp3
Trans Joe Biden Deep Fake Bud Lite.mp3
UKRAINE Bakmut BS npr.mp3
Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Arab League summit.mp3
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