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"The money the Clinton Foundation took from from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state ""is clearly illegal. … The Constitution says you can’t take this stuff."
April 26, 2015
"Gingrich said the Clinton Foundation ""took money from from foreign governments while (Hillary Clinton) was secretary of state. It is clearly illegal. … The Constitution says you can’t take this stuff."" A clause in the Constitution does prohibit U.S. officials such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from receiving gifts, or emoluments, from foreign governments. But the gifts in this case were donations from foreign governments that went to the Clinton Foundation, not Hillary Clinton. She was not part of the foundation her husband founded while she was secretary of state. Does that violate the Constitution? Some libertarian-minded constitutional law experts say it very well could. Others are skeptical. What’s clear is there is room for ambiguity, and the donations are anything but ""clearly illegal."" The reality is this a hazy part of U.S. constitutional law.
Katie Sanders
"Hillary Clinton is in the political crosshairs as the author of a new book alleges improper financial ties between her public and personal life. At issue in conservative author Peter Schweizer’s forthcoming book Clinton Cash are donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation during the four years she served as secretary of state. George Stephanopoulos used an interview with Schweizer on ABC This Week to point out what other nonpartisan journalists have found: There is no ""smoking gun"" showing that donations to the foundation influenced her foreign policy decisions. Still, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the donations are ""clearly illegal"" under federal law. In his view, a donation by a foreign government to the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was secretary of state is the same as money sent directly to her, he said, even though she did not join the foundation’s board until she left her post. ""The Constitution of the United States says you cannot take money from foreign governments without explicit permission of the Congress. They wrote that in there because they knew the danger of corrupting our system by foreign money is enormous,"" Gingrich said. ""You had a sitting secretary of state whose husband radically increased his speech fees, you have a whole series of dots on the wall now where people gave millions of dollars — oh, by the way, they happen to get taken care of by the State Department."" He continued, ""My point is they took money from foreign governments while she was secretary of State. That is clearly illegal."" PunditFact wanted to know if a criminal case against Clinton is that open and shut. Is what happened ""clearly illegal""? A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation certainly disagreed, calling Gingrich’s accusation ""a baseless leap"" because Clinton was not part of her husband’s foundation while serving as a senator or secretary of state. We did not hear from Gingrich by our deadline. Foundation basics Former President Clinton started the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2001, the year after Hillary Clinton won her first term as a New York senator. The foundation works with non-governmental organizations, the private sector and governments around the world on health, anti-poverty, HIV/AIDS and climate change initiatives. Spokesman Craig Minassian said it’s reasonable for the foundation to accept money from foreign governments because of the global scope of its programs, and the donations are usually in the form of tailored grants for specific missions. Hillary Clinton was not part of her husband’s foundation while she was a senator or secretary of state. Her appointment to the latter post required Senate confirmation and came with an agreement between the White House and Clinton Foundation that the foundation would be more transparent about its donors. According to the 2008 memorandum of understanding, the foundation would release information behind new donations and could continue to collect donations from countries with which it had existing relationships or running grant programs. If countries with existing contributions significantly stepped up their contributions, or if a new foreign government wanted to donate, the State Department would have to approve. Clinton took an active role in fundraising when she left the State Department and the foundation became the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013. But she left the board when she announced her run for the presidency in April 2015. The Emoluments Clause So how does Gingrich come up with the claim that Clinton Foundation donations are ""clearly illegal"" and unconstitutional? The answer is something known as the Emoluments Clause. A few conservative websites have made similar arguments in recent days, including the Federalist blog. The Emoluments Clause, found in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, reads in part: ""No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."" The framers came up with this clause to prevent the government and leaders from granting or receiving titles of nobility and to keep leaders free of external influence. (An emolument, per Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is ""the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites."") Lest you think the law is no longer relevant, the Pentagon ethics office in 2013 warned employees the ""little known provision"" applies to all federal employees and military retirees. There’s no mention of spouses in the memo. J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, said interpretation of the clause has evolved since its adoption at the Constitutional Convention, when the primary concern was about overseas diplomats not seeking gifts from foreign powers they were dealing with. The Defense Department memo, in his view, goes beyond what the framers envisioned for the part of the memo dealing with gifts. ""I think that, aside from the unambiguous parts, the burden would be on those invoking the clause to show actual causality that would be in violation of the clause,"" Pham said. Expert discussion We asked seven different constitutional law experts on whether the Clinton Foundation foreign donations were ""clearly illegal"" and a violation of the Emoluments Clause. We did not reach a consensus with their responses, though a majority thought the layers of separation between the foundation and Hillary Clinton work against Gingrich. The American system often distinguishes between public officers and private foundations, ""even if real life tends to blur some of those distinctions,"" said American University law professor Steve Vladeck. Vladeck added that the Emoluments Clause has never been enforced. ""I very much doubt that the first case in its history would be because a foreign government made charitable donations to a private foundation controlled by a government employee’s relative,"" he said. ""Gingrich may think that giving money to the Clinton Foundation and giving money to then-Secretary Clinton are the same thing. Unfortunately for him, for purposes of federal regulations, statutes, and the Constitution, they’re formally — and, thus, legally — distinct."" Robert Delahunty, a University of St. Thomas constitutional law professor who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 1989 to 2003, also called Gingrich’s link between Clinton and the foreign governments’ gifts to the Clinton Foundation as ""implausible, and in any case I don’t think we have the facts to support it."" ""The truth is that we establish corporate bodies like the Clinton Foundation because the law endows these entities with a separate and distinct legal personhood,"" Delahunty said. John Harrison, University of Virginia law professor and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel from 1990 to 1993, pointed to the Foreign Gifts Act, 5 U.S.C. 7432, which sets rules for how the Emoluments Clause should work in practice. The statute spells out the minimal value for acceptable gifts, and says it applies to spouses of the individuals covered, but ""it doesn’t say anything about receipt of foreign gifts by other entities such as the Clinton Foundation."" ""I don’t know whether there’s any other provision of federal law that would treat a foreign gift to the foundation as having made to either of the Clintons personally,"" Harrison said, who added that agencies have their own supplemental rules for this section, and he did not know if the State Department addressed this. Other experts on the libertarian side of the scale thought Gingrich was more right in his assertion. Clinton violates the clause because of its intentionally broad phrasing about gifts of ""any kind whatever,"" which would cover indirect gifts via the foundation, said Dave Kopel, a constitutional law professor at Denver University and research director at the libertarian Independence Institute. Kopel also brought up bribery statutes, which would require that a gift had some influence in Clinton’s decision while secretary of state. Delahunty thought Kopel’s reasoning would have ""strange consequences,"" such as whether a state-owned airline flying Bill Clinton to a conference of former heads of state counted as a gift to Hillary Clinton. Our ruling Gingrich said the Clinton Foundation ""took money from from foreign governments while (Hillary Clinton) was secretary of state. It is clearly illegal. … The Constitution says you can’t take this stuff."" A clause in the Constitution does prohibit U.S. officials such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from receiving gifts, or emoluments, from foreign governments. But the gifts in this case were donations from foreign governments that went to the Clinton Foundation, not Hillary Clinton. She was not part of the foundation her husband founded while she was secretary of state. Does that violate the Constitution? Some libertarian-minded constitutional law experts say it very well could. Others are skeptical. What’s clear is there is room for ambiguity, and the donations are anything but ""clearly illegal."" The reality is this a hazy part of U.S. constitutional law.,,,,,,,,
Foreign Policy, PunditFact, Newt Gingrich,
Annual Mammograms May Have More False-Positives
October 18, 2011
This article reports on the results of a study of nearly 170,000 women who had screening mammograms beginning between age 40-59. The study found that over ten years of screening mammograms, over half of the women will experience a false-positive recall for additional mammography. In addition, 7%-9% of the women will have a biopsy for a suspicious lump which is not cancerous. Both of those percentages decrease if the woman is screened every other year rather than every year. Even with biennial mammography, 41% of women will experience a recall over 10 years of mammography. The study’s Principal Investigator emphasized that “in most cases, a recall doesn’t mean you have cancer.”  She hoped this knowledge would reduce the anxiety of women who are recalled. The story never explained the size of the decrease in the number of false positives between annual (61.3%) and biennial screening (41.6%). Our first two reviewers were a researcher who specializes in health decisions and a breast cancer survivor trained in evidence by the Natiional Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD. This study is valuable because it helps to quantify and compare the harms of annual and biennial screening, specifically the number of false positives and the number of unnecessary biopsies. Prior to this study, estimates of false positive screening mammography rates varied widely. The critical question is whether you can do less frequent screening, subject women to fewer harms and get similar results in terms of detection of “early stage” cancer. This study’s data seems to suggest that answer is yes.
While the financial costs of screening mammography & false-positive recalls & biopsies were not included in the study, readers would benefit from being reminded that recall mammography & biopsies increase patient financial costs. This article leads with valuable information for all women over age 40 by stating “Getting screening mammograms every two years instead of annually reduces the chance of a false alarm, a new study shows.”  Unfortunately the writer doesn’t quantify or elaborate adequately on that reduction. Instead, the writer later focuses on how women undergoing screening mammography shouldn’t be anxious if they experience a recall because over half of women who have screening mammograms for 10 years will be recalled. Readers would have been better served if the writer had emphasized the significant reduction in both recall mammograms & false-positive biopsies in women who are screened every two years rather than annually. Part of the continuing controversy over screening mammography focuses on annual versus biennial screening. Because this study showed a significant reduction in the percentage of those recalled & needing biopsies among women who are screened every other year, with no statistically significant increase in late-stage diagnosis of breast cancer, the article should have emphasized those important findings. The piece states that the researchers noted that “…false positive recalls may cause inconvenience & anxiety and biopsies can cause pain and scarring.” This article fails to include several important facts about the study. 1) This is a prospective cohort study of women screened between 1994-2006. 2) Most of the mammograms were film rather than digital. 3) Few women underwent screening for the entire 10 year period. 4) Screening mammography recall rates are influenced by the skill of the radiologists who read the mammograms. There was no disease mongering. No independent experts were quoted. The story did an adequate job comparing – at a very high level – annual screening versus biennial screening. Screening mammography is widely available throughout the United States. The study did not examine a new procedure. There’s no evidence that the story relied solely on a news release.
Screening,WebMD,women's health
SBRT Offers Prostate Cancer Patients High Cancer Control and Low Toxicity in Fewer Treatments
September 28, 2016
This news release describes five-year outcomes for 309 men with early-stage prostate cancer who received stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which delivers targeted doses of radiation cheaper and faster than the prevailing radiation therapy treatment for prostate cancer. The study measured the rates of severe injury to surrounding tissues and disease-free survival. The news release said it’s the first large, multi-institutional study of this technology in prostate cancer with long-term follow-up, involving patients at 21 community, regional, and academic hospitals across the U.S. The release does a good job of quantifying the evidence but could have helped readers better understand the implications of the data by giving cost and safety comparisons with other radiation treatment, and by discussing limitations related to using a historical control group (rather than a contemporaneous control group) which introduces potential for bias. The release is based on a study presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual conference. The study abstract can be found on page 4 of this document. Prostate cancer is a commonly diagnosed condition in men that is associated with aging. Many patients don’t realize that prostate cancer is not a uniformly fatal disease. For men with low risk disease, active surveillance without treatment is a viable option. Even for men with higher risk disease where treatment is warranted, one needs to follow patients for 10-15 years to identify a survival benefit from treatment. This is useful context to keep in mind when examining this new study of patients with low and intermediate risk prostate cancer. The results present a rosy picture of SBRT, in terms of both benefits and harms. However, without a contemporaneous control group, such as those receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or even active surveillance, one cannot be sure that these favorable results are due to the treatment itself or the patients who were selected for treatment. Comparing results of individuals who are likely to live a long time with their disease to those treated at some point in the past is rife with problems and such studies, called case series, are deemed to be low on the ladder of scientific rigor. Even the low rate of complications, while very reassuring, still would benefit from a comparison to patients treated with other forms of radiation at the same time period.
Mary Chris Jaklevic,Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH,Kathlyn Stone
The news release quotes lead researcher Robert Meier, MD, saying previous studies have shown SBRT to be “a cost-effective and faster alternative to IMRT” but does not provide any detail as to the specific costs of either procedure. In fact, the difference is substantial. A 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined Medicare claims data showed a mean treatment cost of $13,645 for SBRT versus $21,023 for IMRT. And a 2012 study in the Journal of Oncology Practice concluded that SRBT has “great potential cost savings” for the health care system, with an average cost of $22,152 versus $35,431 for IMRT. One could also consider the cost of side effects as well as need for future treatments. The news release gives a lot of data. It states that 97 percent of patients were free from prostate cancer progression after five years, exceeding a historical control of 93 percent. It also says that fewer than 2 percent of patients experienced severe toxicities in their gastrointestinal, reproductive, and urinary systems, and no patients reported life-threatening or fatal toxicity. However, the news release does not attempt to say how these rates compare with other treatment options, which would help readers put the data in perspective. There are important caveats left out in the description of findings that are discussed under the evidence criterion. The news release states that between half and two-thirds of patients experienced low, “usually temporary” rates of toxicities. It also notes that “fewer than 2 percent of patients experienced severe toxicities in their gastrointestinal, reproductive, and urinary systems, and no patients reported life-threatening or fatal toxicity.” A few more details here would be helpful. For example, how many patients experienced a decline in urinary or sexual function, and for what period of time? And what are other potential risks of radiation therapy? The real question is how do these harms compare to other treatments? That was not assessed in this study. The news release gives some details to help readers understand how the study was conducted. However, it neglects to include several key points. First, the patients enrolled are from a very low risk population in terms of measuring benefit. The statement that these results compare favorably to historical controls at 5 years misses the point that the risk of death for this patient population isn’t seen until 10-15 years at the earliest. Second, without a contemporaneous comparison group, it should be stated that these results are subject to misinterpretation — both in terms of benefits, which are likely to be equally good with almost any other treatment (and some would argue active surveillance without treatment), and harms. Finally, it isn’t clear who this population represents. If these are younger men in their 50s and 60s, side effects are important but the long-term efficacy (beyond 5 years) is critical. If the men are over 70, one can argue whether they needed to treat the low risk group at all. In summary, this is a case series with no contemporaneous comparison group among a population with low risk prostate cancer where 5 year follow-up is inadequate to say that the treatment was successful in preventing progressive disease. The release could have included some cautions that the lead researcher discussed in a published paper in 2015. For example, he states that more radiation effects on adjacent organs might be observed after longer follow-up, and “firm conclusions about the efficacy and toxicity of SBRT relative to more conventional approaches await scrutiny by prospective randomized trials.” The news release does not commit mongering. However, as noted above, the patients enrolled in the trial were a very low risk population and one could argue that some of these patients may not have needed treatment at all. The news release does not say how the study was funded or whether any of the investigators have conflicts of interest. In papers on the topic published in 2015, the researchers declared no conflicts of interest. Some of the men in the study had a low-risk form of prostate cancer, which might have made them eligible for active surveillance rather than surgery. That option is not discussed in the news release. As mentioned in the quantifying benefits section, the news release does mention that this type of radiotherapy was compared with standard radiotherapy, although it was not directly studied. The news release states that patients in the trial were treated at 21 academic, regional, and community medical centers, which suggests that SRBT is widely available. The release claims novelty with this statement: “Our study is the first to contribute multi-center data that support the use of SBRT as front-line therapy for men with prostate cancer.” But it also states that SRBT for prostate cancer has been studied at other institutions, and that the procedure has become a standard of care for some lung cancer cases. It does not claim that this is a novel procedure. The news release does not contain any unjustifiable or sensational language. But as noted above, the favorable results in terms of benefit are not surprising and attributing them to the treatment could be viewed as unjustified.,
Association/Society news release,Cancer
Study: Vaccine for Breast, Ovarian Cancer Has Potential
November 8, 2011
While the story does many things well, the overall framing of the story is that the vaccine “shows promise,” when the evidence actually points in the other direction. Because only one patient in the study remains cancer free and because that patient may very well have benefited from an earlier cancer vaccine and other complicating factors, we question the decision to write this story in the first place. Right now, there more than 10,000 cancer-related clinical trials recruiting patients. Cancer has foiled scientists repeatedly with treatments that initially seemed promising in the laboratory or in a very small group of people and later proved unworkable on a larger scale. It’s a difficult task — but a crucial one — for reporters to ask tough questions of the evidence and a wide range of sources before deciding whether one of these thousands of experimental treatment options merits coverage.
The story does discuss costs, but the framing is problematic. The story, based on a conversation with one source, the study’s lead investigator, says, “It’s difficult at this point to predict costs. However, he expects costs will not approach those for Provenge, the pricey treatment vaccine for prostate cancer approved by the FDA in 2010. Provenge costs $93,000 for the one-month, three-dose treatment. Medicare covers it.” This tells readers that, no matter what the drug costs, Medicare likely will cover it. We appreciate the effort to bring cost information into the story, but this type of information is misleading. The story does explain that only one patient remains cancer free following the study. It then details how for most of the patients cancer continued to progress after 2 months. It says that the median overall survival in both the breast cancer and ovarian cancer patients was less than 16 months. But the story is framed in such a way to highlight the one potentially positive outcome of the study and to downplay the negative. We read more sooner about the one patient who may have responded well to the vaccine than we do about the 25 other patients who did not. The story mentions side effects in a satisfactory way. Technically, the story provides readers with much of the information they would need to assess the validity of the study, but it comes out in bits and pieces. For example, we only find out near the end of the story that “The woman, who remains disease-free, had a previous treatment with a different treatment vaccine. ‘That might have primed her immune system,’ Gulley speculates. She also had only one regimen of chemotherapy, perhaps keeping her immune system stronger.” This casts much doubt on the study’s design, and it would have been nice to have seen some outside expertise brought in to either discuss those design problems or to torpedo the story altogether. Again, the story deserves high marks for being very specific in the lead and throughout the story. It says, that the vaccine is “for breast and ovarian cancer that has spread to other parts of the body” in the lead and later details the particular circumstances of the study cohort. It says, “The patients had already undergone a variety of treatments but the cancer was progressing. Twenty one of the 26 had undergone three or more chemotherapy regimens.” This is the root of the story’s main shortcoming. Almost all of the information in the story comes from one source: Dr. James Gulley, who oversaw the study. Gulley is quite enthusiastic about this vaccine, despite the evidence, and the story needed more perspectives to put this vaccine into a broader context. At the very end, there are a few comments from Dr. Vincent K. Tuohy, who also is working on a breast cancer vaccine. Because of his competing research, he seems to have a conflict, but even putting that aside, his comments were not used to their best effect. There was no comparison in the story to existing alternatives. The median survival, for example, is presented without the context of how long these patients might have lived had they been undergoing standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments. We give high marks to the story for saying right in the lead that the findings are from “a preliminary study in 26 patients.” That tells readers both that the findings need to be interpreted with caution and that the treatment is not available to most people. The concept of vaccines for breast/ovarian cancer is indeed novel, and the story acknowledges that other vaccines are being studied. The story does not rely on a news release.
Cancer,WebMD,women's health
Some appendicitis cases may not require ’emergency’ surgery
September 20, 2010
We really don’t understand why only a handful of mainstream news organizations reported this story. (At least in what we found.) The most common emergency surgery in the world. Rushing to emergency surgery may not carry any benefit. Waiting a few hours may be safer and less expensive. Why is that not a story? We applaud USA Today for finding time and space – and clearly it didn’t need to free up much space to do a good job telling the story. The story explains that as many as 300,000 appendectomies are done each year in the US. That figure alone explains why this is an important study to report.
"Although the story didn’t cite the cost of appendectomy – emergency or urgent surgery – and we wish it had, we nonetheless will give it a satisfactory score because it at least cited what the editorial writer wrote, ""A secondary benefit is the savings to the hospital generated by minimizing staff and anesthesiologist presence late in the evening and during the wee hours of the morning."" As with our harms score above, although the story didn’t give absolute numbers, in this case we think it was sufficient for it to report that ""The scientists found no significant difference among the groups in the patients’ condition 30 days after surgery or in the length of their operation or hospital stay."" Although the story didn’t give absolute numbers, in this case we think it was sufficient for it to report that ""The scientists found no significant difference among the groups in the patients’ condition 30 days after surgery or in the length of their operation or hospital stay."" Despite running less than 300 words, this story did an adequate job in explaining the quality of the evidence, including pointing out limitations. No disease-mongering here. The story meets the bare minimum requirement for this criterion in that it at least cited what an editorial stated. The focus of the story was on a study comparing emergency appendectomy with surgery done up to 12 hours later or beyond. This is the whole focus of the story – and one we applaud – when it begins:  ""Appendectomy is the most common emergency surgery in the world, but it doesn’t have to be."" There were no claims made about the novelty of this research, and we may have wished for a bit more context on this. Nonetheless, the potential for guiding future care decisions was made clear. Not applicable. Given that the story only pulled excerpts from the journal article and the accompanying editorial, and didn’t include any fresh quotes from interviews, we can’t be sure of the extent to which it may have been influenced by a news release."
Britain to reveal trial criteria for coronavirus antibody tests.
April 7, 2020
British regulators will this week reveal approval criteria for firms offering new coronavirus antibody tests, touted by governments in Britain and elsewhere as critical to easing nationwide lockdowns without helping the virus to spread.
Alistair Smout
Antibody tests show whether whether people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and developed immunity - potentially allowing them to return to their places of work. The British government has provisionally ordered 17.5 million of them, but health minister Matt Hancock has said some of those already being trialled work poorly, and that one test even missed three out of four cases. Brigette Bard, chief executive of the diagnostics firm BioSure, said that her firm’s at-home test could not get as far as a formal trial as she had received no details of the approval criteria. “How they fail tests when there is no specification, I literally have no idea. We have been begging to be told what to do. We have a test ready to submit,” she said. “We need to get our test approved, and they’re not giving us an option of how to get it approved.” BioSure has been producing an at-home HIV test since 2015, and Bard met Prime Minister Boris Johnson in March to discuss her COVID-19 test. At-home tests, in this case of blood obtained by pricking a finger, are designed to be read by the person taking the test, whereas others need results to be read in a lab. Bard said laboratory trials were producing good data, but that the firm needed to know what size and scope of trial and what accuracy level would be accepted by regulators. Doris-Ann Williams, chief executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostic Association, said that clarity would be coming soon. “There will be specifications released for tests this week by MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) which will help companies understand the technical performance expected for their kits,” she said in an email. The MHRA itself said it was developing the specifications but declined to give a timeline. Once criteria were established, Bard said the trials would take one or two weeks, and then BioSure could begin production, subject to approval, with the aim of making 1 million tests a month. “If our test fails the validation, then it’s not fit to go to market,” she said. “I’m happy to go through whatever validation they want us to go through.”
Health News
Angioplasty through the wrist backed by new study
August 18, 2008
This is a good piece of reporting about a recent study comparing two different insertion sites to obtain access for angioplasty. While not providing any insight about the specific circumstances when there may be medical reasons to chose one access site over another, the story did a nice job of informing readers that there might actually be a choice when having an angioplasty. It provided information that a reader could use to have a conversation with a doctor about the decision. However – the story should have included some insight about the strength of the observation obtained from the current study. As it was not a controlled study – so it did not evaluate the two procedures in a controlled environment – any predictions are tentative and require further examination. Overall, though, this was a balanced, clear and concise story about an approach that might be a safer alternative to the dominant way of doing an angioplasty. The story included an independent expert to comment on the study. And it reported absolute rates as well as relative rates so the reader can really get a sense of the safety of the new procedure.
The story did not provide cost estimates for either approach; the story did mention that the through-the-wrist approach was associated with shorter hospital stays (and therefore reduced costs.) There was no discussion in the story about whether there are different costs associated with the procedure itself. The story explained that the through-the-wrist approach was associated with lower risk of bleeding and shorter hospitalizations but should have included a caveat explanation about the strength of research and that the results of the study reported on require follow-up investigation. The story mentioned risk of bleeding at the site of catheter insertion as a possible harm of treatment which was greater for those who had a the catheter inserted in the leg. To its credit, the story provided absolute risk information, i.e. pointing out the 60% reduction in bleeding was the difference between 2 and 1% of patients having this complication. The story did not mention whether there were any particular side effects or harms associated with catheter insertion at the wrist. The story explained that the study was an analysis of information contained within a national registry. But it should have explained that this is the weakest type of study from which to draw a clinical conclusion (such as this procedure is safer or as safe as the alternative). Thus the statement in the story ‘both methods were equally effective’ should have been more tentative. The underlying weakness of the study, that it is not a controlled trial, may mean that the patients who had the wrist approach had something else about them that helped to reduce risk and that the researchers may not have been able to take into consideration. The story did not engage in overt disease mongering. The story included interview material from one clinician who was not associated with the study reported on. The quality of the piece would have been improved if it had included input from physicians who might have explained some of the reasons why not all interventional cardiologists use the wrist approach. The story did an adequate job of reporting about a recent study comparing two approaches to angioplasty. The story indicated that the angioplasty using access through the wrist as opposed to a leg, was used much less frequently.vThe story explained that extra training is required in order to use this procedure and many doctors are not trained in this technique. This would contribute to the procedure’s limited availability. The story did a good job of explaining that neither of the two approaches compared were new and that the point of the study was to determine how the two sites compare in terms of their use. The story does not appear to rely exclusively on a press release.
U.S. says results encouraging for healthcare delivery reforms.
January 30, 2014
The Obama administration on Thursday reported what it called encouraging results from efforts to reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of care for more than 5 million Medicare beneficiaries under Obamacare
David Morgan
As part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, the efforts center around more than 360 accountable care organizations (ACOs), which are networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers specially organized to help move Medicare away from traditional fee-for-service medicine. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said preliminary data show that the ACOs produced $380 million in savings vis-a-vis traditional Medicare in 2012 by giving doctors and other healthcare providers the incentive to focus on improved outcomes for patients instead of fees from tests and services. Medicare, the $575 billion government healthcare system for 51 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries, faces growing financial pressures as a result of America’s aging population. A mainstay, the trust fund that pays for hospitalization, is expected to be exhausted in 2026. Deficit hawks view Medicare as a future driver of the federal debt and have called for major systemic reforms. But the Obama administration has pursued gradual changes including the reform of care delivery systems. So-called fee-for-service medicine is widely viewed as a cause of rising healthcare costs, because it calls for paying healthcare providers for tests and services that are sometimes unnecessary. Obamacare seeks to tackle costs by exploring ACOs and other new healthcare business models intended to find savings that do not jeopardize care. A main goal is to generate savings large enough to be shared between Medicare and providers. But some experts are skeptical, saying significant cost reductions could be hard to maintain over time. But CMS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, runs two different ACO programs. In its largest, 54 of 114 ACO networks achieved lower than expected expenditures. But only 29 saw savings big enough to share with providers. All told, the program produced $128 million in net savings for Medicare’s trust funds. “Overall, the ACO program’s a net saver to the Medicare program,” CMS principal deputy administrator Jon Blum told reporters in a conference call. “It’s giving us great confidence that this is the right course for the Medicare program and we are confident that it will continue to show quality improvement and cost savings.” Officials said the ACOs also achieved a wide range of quality goals. But CMS released no quality statistics. Thursday’s government release drew some cautious optimism from the healthcare industry. “Today’s report reflects important steps. More work is needed to modernize our antiquated Medicare payment system and base payment on evidence-based quality measures and proven patient outcomes,” said Dr. John Noseworthy, chief executive of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which is not part of the government’s program. “As results of the team-based care models are analyzed, those most effective in driving down health care costs without compromising safety and quality should become part of the healthcare system,” he said.
Health News
Latest trial in J&J talc litigations gets under way in California.
January 8, 2019
A California jury on Monday heard opening statements in the latest trial over allegations that Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) talc-based products, including the company’s baby powder, were contaminated with asbestos and cause cancer.
Tina Bellon
The lawsuit brought by Terry Leavitt in Alameda Superior Court in Oakland is the first of over a dozen J&J talc cases scheduled for trial in 2019. The company is facing some 11,700 lawsuits over the safety of talc in its products. Leavitt’s lawyer, Joseph Satterley, accused J&J in his opening statement of knowingly selling a dangerous product, according to an online broadcast by Courtroom View Network. “The evidence will show that J&J knew about the asbestos risk and they continued to sell the product, giving consumers no opportunity to protect themselves,” he said. A lawyer for co-defendant Imerys Talc America, a unit of French Imerys SA (IMTP.PA), told the jury the evidence would show there is no asbestos in its talc and that Leavitt’s disease was not caused by its product. A lawyer for J&J will make his opening remarks on Tuesday. “Our talc is safe and does not contain asbestos. For decades, Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder has repeatedly been tested and been found not to contain asbestos,” the company said in response to a request for comment on Monday. J&J and Imerys have argued in court that decades of studies have shown their products to be safe and asbestos-free. Leavitt’s is the first talc case to go to trial since Reuters on Dec. 14 published a special report detailing internal J&J documents showing talc in the company’s raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from the 1970s into the early 2000s. The report prompted a stock selloff on fears of J&J’s liability. Shares on Monday closed at $127.01, 14 percent below their Dec. 13 value. While earlier talc lawsuits alleged talc itself causes ovarian cancer, plaintiffs’ lawyers have more recently focused on arguing that asbestos contamination in talc caused mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Leavitt’s case is being tried by the same team of lawyers, including Satterley, who in April 2018 won a $117 million award by a New Jersey jury for a man who blamed his mesothelioma on J&J’s cosmetic talc. That verdict is under appeal. In 11 cases so far alleging asbestos contamination in talc, three resulted in wins for plaintiffs, awarding damages as high as $4.69 billion in a July 2018 multi-plaintiff ovarian cancer verdict. J&J won three other cases and another five ended in hung juries. J&J has appealed all of the plaintiff verdicts, and the company said it is confident the verdicts would be overturned on appeal. Leavitt was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. She was born in the Philippines and claims she was exposed to J&J cosmetic talc that originated from South Korea mines during the first two years of her life before her parents moved back to the United States in 1968, Satterley said on Monday. He said testing of Asian talc samples from the 1960s and 1970s by his own expert would show Korean-mined talc tested positive for asbestos fibers, as has talc from U.S. sources. J&J in court filings in the Leavitt case said that fibers found in the Korean talc or any of its other cosmetic talc could not be classified as asbestos and referred to them as non-asbestos forms that its experts say are harmless. Geologically, some asbestos can occur as “non-asbestiform” rocks. Both forms often occur together and in talc deposits. The company in its Monday statement did not specifically address the allegations surrounding the South Korean mine.,
Health News
Poor test results for heart drugs
March 31, 2008
"The story reports no additional cardiovascular protection with the cholesterol lowering drug ezetimibe (Zetia) alone, or in combination with the statin simvastatin (trade name Zocor). The report is unfortunately yet another example of an attempt to explain a very complicated story in a short TV chat. The study design, patient population, methodology and support for the surrogate endpoint are absent from the discussion. So, the context of ""failure"" is totally lost on the audience. This failure to provide any context is especially unfortunate because the report was accompanied by two excellent editorials. The editorial by Brown and Taylor in the NEJM highlights the study design, patient cohort studied and puts the results into an objective context. This report does little to inform its listeners and a wonderful opportunity was lost in the process. The story does not note the cost of a typical statin regimen, Zetia or the combination treatment, Vytorin. This is an important oversight as many people who are prescribed these medications take them for life. The story does mention that these new drugs ""raked in 5 billion dollars last year"". The failure of the combination product to be better than simvastatin alone has significant financial implications. Simvastatin (the generic name for Merck’s Zocor) is available for about $1.25 a day. Vytorin costs about $3.35 a day. Most clinicians assumed that the combined product was an advantage if you could not get a patient to a LDL goal with just the statin alone or side effects with the simvastatin prevented an adequate dose. The price for the combination is less than the cost of the components. Also, stating that taking more statins is the answer is incomplete at best. Lifestyle changes along with other drugs may be options as well. Interestingly however, this study raises questions about the simple notion that lowering total cholesterol, and LDL are important to lowering cardiovascular risk. People who are not able to lower their cholesterol enough with statins alone (or cannot tolerate the dose of statins needed to lower it) may wish to discuss with their doctor whether other medications (i.e., rather than ezetimibe) may be appropriate. These include niacin, fibrates, and bile acid resins. When added to statins, they can effectively lower cardiovascular risk. There are no interviews with the study authors or with practicing clinicians. The story reported on data presented at a recent American College of Cardiology Meeting, so there were several thousand cardiologists and other specialists available who could have been interviewed for clinical perspective on the results of this study."
"The story does not note the cost of a typical statin regimen, Zetia or the combination treatment, Vytorin. This is an important oversight as many people who are prescribed these medications take them for life. The story does mention that these new drugs ""raked in 5 billion dollars last year"". The failure of the combination product to be better than simvastatin alone has significant financial implications. Simvastatin (the generic name for Merck’s Zocor) is available for about $1.25 a day. Vytorin costs about $3.35 a day. Most clinicians assumed that the combined product was an advantage if you could not get a patient to an LDL goal with just the statin alone or side effects with the simvastatin prevented an adequate dose. The price for the combination is less than the cost of the components. The story provides no quantitative data and no information on the number needed to treat to show benefit (i.e. prevention of a heart attack or stroke through lowered LDLs) in one patient with the newer medications, with traditional statins or with combination treatment. The story says that there are no real dangers to continuing the drugs Zetia and Vytorin based on the lower drop-out rate and reported side effects in the study. The comments from both parties cast an extraordinarily negative shadow on the study drug and on the company sponsors. Without an appropriate description of the study design, the results cannot be fairly discussed to the public. While the primary endpoint was not obtained with the combination, it did lower LDL and inflammatory markers in excess of that achieved with simvastatin alone. Suggesting the drug did not ""work"" is a bit of a mis-statement. The story encourages patients to keep taking these drugs. The story also does not mention the potential harm of taking statins long-term, especially in high does. Some of these harms are very rare, however, they include: muscle pain and kidney or liver problems. The story provides no real discussion of the data presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting and published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine. And the story didn’t assess the quality of the evidence. The study followed people (average age mid-40s) who had an inherited condition (called familial hypercholesterolemia) that is associated with very high cholesterol levels and greatly increased risk of early coronary artery disease. Many of them had been taking statins and other cholesterol-lowering medicines for years. All were randomly assigned to take either a statin (simvastatin, trade name Zocor) alone or a statin combined with another cholesterol-lowering medication, ezetimibe. The study was designed to find out if the combination of the two drugs could slow the growth of plaque in carotid arteries supplying the brain more than the statin alone. Plaque in these arteries is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. The two drugs together were more effective at lowering cholesterol than simvastatin alone, but adding ezetimibe did not change plaque measurements in the carotid arteries. The story does mention that lowering cholesterol may have other benefits, but we are not sure how those translate to fewer cardiovascular events or increased survival from these events. No overt disease-mongering. There are no interviews with the study authors or with practicing clinicians. The story reported on data presented at a recent American College of Cardiology Meeting, so there were several thousand cardiologists and other specialists available who could have been interviewed for clinical perspective on the results of this study. There was also no mention of the two accompanying editorials in the NEJM. The editorial by Brown and Tayor nicely identifies the issues related to the study and helps put the results into perspective. Unfortunately, this editorial was ignored by both parties involved in the story. Stating that taking more statins is the answer is incomplete at best. Lifestyle changes along with other drugs may be options as well. Interestingly however, this study raises questions about the simple notion that lowering total cholesterol, and LDL are important to lowering cardiovascular risk. People who are not able to lower their cholesterol enough with statins alone (or cannot tolerate the dose of statins needed to lower it) may wish to discuss with their doctor whether other medications (i.e., rather than ezetimibe) may be appropriate. These include niacin, fibrates, and bile acid resins. When added to statins, they can effectively lower cardiovascular risk. It’s clear from the story that the drugs in question are still available to patients, though they should not be considered first-line therapy. The story focuses on new information that there is little to no benefit of newer cholestrol-lowering medications on the prevention of arterial plaque, which translate to little benefit for prevention of heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular-related death. We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release. No researcher or cardiologist is interviewed. Quantified data from the American College of Cardiology presentation or from the New England Journal of Medicine article are not directly cited."
Opossums kill thousands of ticks each week, inhibiting the spread of Lyme Disease to humans.
March 22, 2016
What's true: Some data indicate opossums eat thousands of deer ticks per season, reducing the number that can go on to spread Lyme Disease to humans. What's false: How much of an impact opossums' eating ticks has on Lyme Disease infection rates is indeterminate.
Kim LaCapria
On 18 March 2016, an image of an opossum was uploaded to Imgur with overlaid text reading as follows: Given the frequently absurd nature of “amazing facts” memes, many viewers were rightly skeptical of the claim attached to that photograph. The image provided no citations to substantiate the information it presented, and the notion that opossums were a possible tool in the epidemiological battle against Lyme disease seemed implausible to some. As it turned out, there is at least some truth to the opossum-as-tick-slayer rumors. On 18 April 2014, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and NewsTimes published an article that focused on the role of opossums in the spread of Lyme disease with respect to their role in the ecosystem: [N]ow ecologists have learned something else about opossums. They’re a sort of magnet when it comes to riding the world of black-legged ticks, which spread Lyme disease. “Don’t hit opossums if they’ve playing dead in the road,” said Richard Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Ostfeld is forest ecologist and an expert on the environmental elements of infectious diseases like Lyme disease. Several years ago, scientists … tested six species — white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds — by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks … [O]f the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks — much more so that any of the others. [A]mong other opossum traits, there is this: They groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it … Extrapolating from their findings, Ostfeld said, the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks … Some ticks end up getting their blood meal from the possum. But more than 90 percent of them ended up being groomed away and swallowed. “They’re net destroyers of ticks,” Ostfeld said. Ostfeld had previously discouraged disruption of opossum populations for this reason. In July 2012, he said in a podcast: Because many ticks try to feed on opossums and few of them survive the experience. Opossums are extraordinarily good groomers it turns out — we never would have thought that ahead of time — but they kill the vast majority — more than 95% percent of the ticks that try to feed on them. So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health. Ostfeld was also named as one author of a September 2009 study in Proceedings of the Royal Society which examined animal kingdom hosts “as ecological traps for the vector of Lyme disease” and asserted that: By subjecting field-caught hosts to parasitism by larval blacklegged ticks, we found that some host species (e.g. opossums, squirrels) that are abundantly parasitized in nature kill 83–96% of the ticks that attempt to attach and feed, while other species are more permissive of tick feeding. [T]he vast majority (96.5%) of larval ticks that encounter an opossum and attempt to feed are apparently consumed. Working backwards, [we calculate that] during any given week in the larval activity peak, each opossum must host more than 5500 larval ticks to produce 199 that successfully feed. By this logic, during the larval peak, each mouse encounters approximately 50 larval ticks per week, almost half of which feed to repletion and become nymphs. As far as “amazing facts” images go, the opossum/Lyme disease one was very well researched, with numbers that matched up with what ecologists have learned about opossums, deer ticks, and the spread of Lyme disease in recent years (although those studies surmised opossums kill approximately 5,000 ticks per season, not per week).,,,,,
Critter Country, lyme disease, opossum
Democrats hoping to flip House not just trash-talking Trump.
Democrats hoping to flip enough seats to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives say they aren’t putting all their eggs in the anti-Trump basket.
Steve Leblanc
Those candidates include Lauren Underwood, a 31-year-old registered nurse from Illinois and part of the Democrats’ master plan to regain control of the House. While Underwood is no fan of President Donald Trump, she said her No. 1 concern — and the top concern of the voters she hopes to will send her to Washington — is access to health care. Attacking the Republican president hard just isn’t necessarily a winning play in Illinois’ 14th congressional district, said Underwood, who served as an adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services under Democratic President Barack Obama. “I don’t talk about him that much. He has a higher approval rating than my congressman does, so we talk about our congressman,” said Underwood, who’s hoping to oust incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in a district that narrowly backed Trump two years ago. Other Democrats aiming to flip House seats say they’re also trying to zero in on policy more than the president. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has its hopes pinned on 50-plus candidates looking to upend enough seats — 23 — to wrest control of the chamber from the GOP for the first time in eight years. Republicans have their own plan to retain control, but Democrats are banking they have more than just both momentum and history on their side. U.S. Rep. Denny Heck is helping lead the effort to flip the House. The Washington Democrat said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can assist candidates with a range of tasks — from tapping into a national donor base to aiding with the basic mechanics of building a campaign. But he warned that trash-talking Trump will get a candidate only so far. “What candidates ought to be doing is talking about that crowded freeway that they need to get additional funds to widen or additional funds to provide mass transit for, or that lake that is becoming polluted and they need the EPA to step up,” Heck said. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is also on the “Red to Blue” list. Mucarsel-Powell, who came from Ecuador as an immigrant with her mother, said Florida’s 26th Congressional District — the state’s southernmost district — is one of the most vulnerable for Republicans in the country. She pointed to a 16-point win by Hillary Clinton there in 2016. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. While Mucarsel-Powell doesn’t shy away from talking about Trump, she says she’s more focused on the struggles of local residents. “They don’t have access to health care. They don’t have good quality education,” she said, adding that tens of thousands depend on the Obama 2010 health care law that Republicans have worked to undo. Talk of a Democratic blue wave is overblown, according to Matt Gorman, communication director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He said the committee — which has its own “Young Guns” program — is raising impressive sums and has battle-tested incumbents who know they’re going to be targets. Gorman said the NRCC is also urging candidates to run on local issues and not focus on the latest headlines on cable new or Twitter. He said polling shows the party is in better shape than many assume. “This is going to be a fight and certainly we’re going to work like we’re 10 points down as we do every day, but for the bedwetters out there who are claiming that all hope is loss I would encourage them to actually look at the data,” he said. “It’s simple math.” Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark, who is also heading up the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” initiative, said many candidates she’s been working with are more eager to dig into what’s on the minds of voters than taking swipes at Trump. “They’re not concerned with talking about Donald Trump as much as they are about talking about how people in their communities want their children to have job opportunities in the communities that they grew up in,” Clark said. While defeating Trump may galvanize the Democratic faithful, the party is still fumbling for a wider unifying message, according to Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor and former political media consultant. And Democrats may have trouble finding issues, local or not, for voters to latch onto in November. “The problem is that unemployment is low, economic confidence is relatively high, so to tell people you’ve never had it so bad when compared to eight years ago they’ve got it pretty good, that’s sort of also a tough road to hoe,” he said. “The Democrats may have history on the side. The question is A, will they blow it? And B, is Trump such an anomaly that history is being rewritten?” Roxane Pirayesh, a 32-year-old from Sacramento, California, who works for an education nonprofit, said in the end, the pitch from Democrats has to be more than just an anti-Trump drumbeat — and she’s not sure everyone’s gotten the message. “I think that’s probably the biggest flaw coming out of the Democratic Party,” she said.
Access to health care, Health, Politics, North America, Donald Trump, Barack Obama
Hoodies riddled with faux bullet holes bearing the names of schools involved in massacres (including Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas) are available for purchase.
September 17, 2019
Are ‘School Shooting Hoodies’ With Faux Bullet Holes Real?
Kim LaCapria
In September 2019 a Facebook user shared the following screenshots (archived here) of a since-deleted tweet, depicting three hoodies (Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Sandy Hook) and a comment — “Ok, this is a NEED”:A link to the original tweet returned an error message, indicating that the September 13 2019 tweet had been deleted. In remaining tweets, the user explained their originally expressed interest in the items:I don’t see how this would be supporting mass shootings or anything. I definitely feel for those effected 🤕of course I know that [the students were victims of mass shootings in schools]. It’s posed to be “shedding light on gun violence in America”. I think it’s pretty creativeScreenshots circulating in September 2019 did not illustrate the first controversy over a fashion statement involving school shootings. In September 2015, Urban Outfitters created a viral outcry after briefly retailing a Kent State hoodie designed to appear stained with blood:Urban Outfitters is in hot water after selling a faux-vintage Kent State sweatshirt that featured what looked like fake blood stains. To many, the piece appears to be a reference to the May 4, 1970 shootings at the college, in which four unarmed students were killed by Ohio National Guardsmen during a Vietnam War protest.The tweet appeared to show three of four hoodies modeled by streetwear brand Bstroy in September 16 2019 Instagram posts, among several less controversial items in a recently-introduced Spring 2020 collection. Four schools referenced in four separate items were Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas:Bstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja Casting: @aamo_castingA post shared by Bstroy ( on Sep 15, 2019 at 10:58am PDTBstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja Casting: @aamo_castingA post shared by Bstroy ( on Sep 15, 2019 at 10:58am PDTBstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja Casting: @aamo_castingA post shared by Bstroy ( on Sep 15, 2019 at 10:59am PDTBstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja Casting: @aamo_castingA post shared by Bstroy ( on Sep 15, 2019 at 11:00am PDTHoodies with artificial bullet holes are not an entirely new concept. In season two of Netflix’s Luke Cage, fictional fans of the bulletproof protagonist began wearing Carhartt sweatshirts riddled with fabricated bullet holes as a tribute to Cage. Cage, in turn, laments their “cosplay.”On September 11 2019, the New York Times Style column profiled Bstroy, but the hoodies did not appear to have been discussed. A New York-based fashion consultant tweeted about the school shooting hoodies, objecting to them:Putting bullet holes in school sweaters isn’t shining light on an issue. It’s being provocative for the sake of being provocative. And that’s not very provocative. It’s not artistic. It lacks refinement. It lacks intelligence. It lacks design skill. It is lazy at best.— B/G (@bibbygregory) September 14, 2019Each post identified the pieces as belonging to Season 5, Spring/Summer 2020, and were simply labeled “SAMSARA.” Bstroy founder Brick Owens shared an image of a statement on Instagram, reading:Sometimes life can be painfully ironic. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you considered to be a safe, controlled environment, like school. We are reminded all the time of life’s fragility, shortness, and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential. it is this push and pull that creates the circular motion that is the cycle of life. Nirvana is the goal we hope to reach through meditation and healthy practices that counter our destructive habits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana.As the posts indicated and @brickowens reiterated, samsara is a Buddhist/Hindu concept holding that humanity is bound to a grueling and painful cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Enlightenment, or nirvana, represents an escape from the tiresome cycle of samsara.The hoodies shown on Instagram appeared to be authentic, appearing at a Bstroy SS 2020 fashion show in September 2019. The origin of the images shared in the since-deleted tweet was unclear, since they did not match the Instagram runway images. The sweatshirts were real in concept, but they were created by a small brand and unlikely to be available widely even if produced in larger number. One of Bstroy’s two designers published a statement obliquely referencing the four sweatshirts (Virginia Tech, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas), and their purported inspiration in the mystical concepts of samsara and nirvana.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Fact Checks, Viral Content
Cancer Activist Sounds Alarm For Early Testing For Genetic Marker
June 17, 2009
Fails to present the nuances associated with testing for BRCA gene mutations. Focusing on a patient advocate who encourages genetic testing in those with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer may have helped narrative flow, but it may not have been representative of women’s experiences. While the risks associated with developing cancer with and without a BRCA1 gene mutation were accurately presented, the story would have been vastly improved had it included:  information on cost and insurance coverage associated with BRCA testing; clarification on what constitutes a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer; information on the potential psychological and social harms associated with genetic testing; all the options (not just prophylactic surgery) for preventing cancer in high-risk patients; commentary from experts in the field, as well as from other women who underwent BRCA testing.
There is no discussion of cost in this story. According to the National Cancer Institute, genetic testing for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars and insurance does not always provide coverage. The story provides information regarding the relative and absolute risks associated with developing breast and ovarian cancer in patients with and without a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. For additional perspective, it would have been useful for the reader to know how many breast cancers are associated with BRCA gene mutations in the general population. While the story underscores how BRCA testing can lead to preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing cancer, it only mentions prophylactic surgery and not the less invasive options. There is no discussion of the emotional or social ramifications associated with receiving genetic testing results. Even receiving a negative result could lead to feelings of guilt, especially if other family members have tested positive. The story also fails to mention that undergoing prophylactic surgery to remove the ovaries, uterus and breast tissue can have serious effects on a woman’s health and quality of life. This story does not include a discussion regarding sensitivity or specificity of BRCA testing. The reliability of these tests, including information on false negative and false positive results, would be beneficial. Without providing a clear discussion on what constitutes a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer, readers who are not necessarily candidates for genetic testing may incur undue worry. It would have also been useful for the reader to know that only a very small number of breast cancers are associated with BRCA gene mutations. This story only provides commentary from one patient. Perspective from a genetic counselor and/or oncologist would have added value to this story, as would interviews with women who received a negative result and those who received a positive result, but dealt with the information differently. This story only discusses prophylactic surgery as an option for patients who test positive for mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Increased cancer surveillance, risk reduction behaviors, and chemoprevention should have also been presented as options. Genetic counseling services are not widely available in some geographic areas; however, this is not mentioned in the story. The story does not suggest that genetic testing for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is a novel test; however, information on how long it has been available would have been useful. There does not appear to be a press release associated with this story.
At the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011, so (prosecutors) looked at this scourge (opioid deaths) and they let it go by.
August 9, 2017
"Trump said ""at the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011, so (prosecutors) looked at this surge and they let it go by."" Trump made the statement in the context of rising opioid overdose deaths. An analysis of data shows that federal drug charges overall declined 23 percent between 2011 and 2016. But that data doesn’t tell us anything about opioid cases specifically. Where Trump misses the mark is his suggestion that the drop in prosecutions is to blame for the opioid epidemic, which started before Obama’s tenure and then grew worse during his presidency. Obama could have done more earlier to address the epidemic, experts said, but there is no evidence that his strategy on federal drug prosecutions led to a spike in opioid overdose deaths."
Amy Sherman
"President Donald Trump took a swipe at former President Barack Obama as he renewed his pledge to tackle the opioid epidemic, which claims the lives of tens of thousands of people a year. Trump said that opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999, speaking after a briefing on the issue. But while deaths soared, Trump said overall drug prosecutions declined in recent years -- a trend Trump vowed to reverse. ""We're going to be bringing them up and bringing them up rapidly,"" he said Aug. 8. ""At the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer than in 2011. So they looked at this scourge, and they let it go by, and we're not letting it go by."" We found that Trump is correct that federal drug prosecutions declined from 2011 to 2016 under Obama, but he lacks evidence to prove that’s the culprit for the opioid overdose crisis. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the record. The Justice Department filed drug charges against 24,638 defendants in 2016, down 23 percent from 2011, according to the Pew Research Center, which analyzed federal data. The data reflects felonies and some serious misdemeanors. But that’s overall drug prosecutions, not just prosecutions related to opioids. And it only includes federal prosecutions -- the vast majority of criminal prosecutions are in state courts. We found that the drop was due to some of the specific actions the Obama administration took to stop the prosecution of low-level offenders. Pew noted that in 2013, then-Attorney General Eric Holder directed federal prosecutors to ensure that each case they brought served ""a substantial federal interest."" Holder mandated that certain low-level nonviolent drug offenders, with no ties to gangs or cartels, would no longer face mandatory minimum sentences. He called for more treatment and alternatives to prison. Also in 2013, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memorandum to federal attorneys related to prioritizing marijuana prosecutions. He directed attorneys to focus on cartels or other criminal organizations and the use of violence to distribute the drug. Federal marijuana prosecutions fell to 5,158 in 2016, down 39 percent from five years earlier, Pew found. Trump implied that lack of prosecutions likely led to a worsening of the opioid crisis. But experts we contacted had a different view. ""No serious analyst would argue that federal prosecutions have consequences for opioid overdoses,"" said University of Maryland criminology professor Peter Reuter. ""The drivers of that increase are the arrival of fentanyl, since about 2012, and the overprescription of opioids before it. There has been some decline in heroin retail prices. But no prior effort against high-level distributors and traffickers has ever had sustained success at the retail level."" Some drug experts including Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, have criticized Obama for taking too long to address the crisis, but not because of a lack of prosecutions. ""Obama deserves blame for neglecting the epidemic and failing to ensure a coordinated federal response,"" Kolodny said. ""I can think of several areas where it's fair to criticize him. The decline in federal drug prosecutions is not one of them."" Trump has a point that the Obama administration was slow to respond to the opioid crisis, said Jon Caulkins, a Carnegie Mellon professor and expert on drug policy. ""Anyone looking at the basic death stats knew we had a problem by 2000,"" Caulkins said. ""So this is a national disgrace, and Obama was in power for eight of the more recent years, and if ‘the buck stops on the president’s desk’ then it’s fair to put some blame there."" A September 2016 report from the Obama administration’s Justice Department found that prosecutors could help combat the epidemic by prioritizing prosecution of heroin distributors and of medical professionals who improperly prescribe opioids. The report also stated that federal prosecution had ""lagged,"" and more prosecutors were needed. The report noted, however, that investigations ""can be difficult when the victim is deceased and the source of the drugs is not immediately obvious."" Trump said ""at the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011, so (prosecutors) looked at this surge and they let it go by."" Trump made the statement in the context of rising opioid overdose deaths. An analysis of data shows that federal drug charges overall declined 23 percent between 2011 and 2016. But that data doesn’t tell us anything about opioid cases specifically. Where Trump misses the mark is his suggestion that the drop in prosecutions is to blame for the opioid epidemic, which started before Obama’s tenure and then grew worse during his presidency. Obama could have done more earlier to address the epidemic, experts said, but there is no evidence that his strategy on federal drug prosecutions led to a spike in opioid overdose deaths.",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Drugs, Crime, Florida, Donald Trump,
The train carrying GOP members of Congress to a West Virginia retreat crashed due to a Deep State plot.
Sites like YourNewsWire, Gateway Pundit and InfoWars have made it a habitual practice to cynically exploit tragedies and spread false information about them for their own purposes.
Bethania Palma
On 31 January 2018, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat struck a garbage truck that was on the tracks at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia, killing one person. The tragic loss of life did not give even brief pause, however, to conspiracy trolls who made it their latest fodder. Although there is no evidence the collision was anything more than a horrific accident, disreputable web sites like, YourNewsWire and latched on, reporting with no evidence that the incident was the result of a nefarious “Deep State” plot to either scare Republicans into falling in line or assassinate them, depending on which crank web site or social media feed one happened to be looking at. For example, InfoWars asked: Was [sic] the safety signals for the train carrying GOP leaders outside Charlottesville, Va., hacked to ensure the train would crash – or was the incident completely accidental? Was the Deep State trying to send a message to globalist Republicans to get back in line – to jump off the Trump train – after the president’s unifying message during the State of the Union? Of course, the train crash might have been a complete accident, but nevertheless here’s some of the weird circumstances surrounding it so far. This is demonstrably false, as WVIR reporter Matt Talhelm, who was at the scene reported, the arms of the crossing guard appeared functional and were down when the accident occurred: Now that the #train has pulled away headed to #Charlottesville @Amtrak station, I can confirm the track crossing IS signalized with the arms DOWN. — Matt Talhelm (@MattTalhelm) January 31, 2018 YourNewsWire tried to link the accident to a raging controversy over a memo containing classified information compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) about surveillance. Republicans, including U.S. President Donald Trump, are clashing with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over making the memo public. (Trump, and since his election increasingly Republicans, have placed themselves at odds with the U.S. intelligence community.) YourNewsWire reported: The timing could not be more auspicious. Trump aide’s [sic] have been warning that the Deep State could attempt a False Flag this week, as they desperately try to distract from the release of the FISA Abuse memo. Less than twelve hours after President Trump was caught on a hot mic telling a colleague that the memo would “100%” be released, the Deep State killing machine whirred into life and attempted to cause mass carnage on the Amtrak rails. Remarkably, these sites claimed to have this highly sensitive trove of (conflicting, unsourced, unattributed) information hours before the lead investigative agency on the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board, had made any public comments about the collision. Disreputable sites and conspiratorial social media users alike pushed the idea that the Deep State, a pejorative term for an alleged amorphous amalgam of U.S. intelligence agencies and illuminati operatives, plotted against Republican members of Congress in the wake of a relatively uneventful State of the Union address delivered by President Trump one day earlier. They claimed that U.S. spies and secret power brokers feared the address would rally the country behind Trump. Worth noting: None of the GOP members of Congress on the train were seriously hurt. According to witnesses, including lawmakers who were on board the train headed to a retreat in West Virginia, the train hit a garbage truck that was on the tracks. Images posted to social media show the damaged locomotive on the tracks and the obliterated remains of the truck. BREAKING: White House: 1 death and 1 serious injury after crash involving a train with GOP lawmakers and a truck, but “there are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff.” — NBC News (@NBCNews) January 31, 2018 Although the identity of the deceased person has not been released, Rep. Marshall Rogers (R-Kansas), who is a medical doctor, got out of the train and performed CPR on the garbage truck driver, according to posts written by his wife Laina on his official Twitter feed. The University of Virginia Health System reported that six people had been transported to UVA Medical Center, one in critical condition. Per a statement sent out by Amtrak, accidents at grade-level rail crossings are common: This is an opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of exercising caution around railroad rights-of-way. Amtrak continues to work closely with Operation Lifesaver to communicate the dangers of grade crossings. Each year, about 2,000 people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide. Although the exact cause of the accident isn’t known, there’s no evidence to support claims being made by notoriously unreliable web sites that there was any foul play, let alone a massive Deep State conspiracy to harm Republican legislators. These sites have misled readers numerous times before. Their modus operandi appears to involve seizing on the early moments of American tragedies to publish unvetted claims and outright lies during the time when real journalists are still working to report and verify facts. In the past YourNewsWire, for instance, posted a viral story that falsely reported that a second gunman had opened fire on a music festival crowd during the 1 October 2017 mass shooting. Gateway Pundit named the wrong person as the Las Vegas shooter. InfoWars helped spread false information about the identity of a man accused of starting recent California wildfires.
Politics, deep state, gateway pundit, infowars
Sex tech from women-led startups pops up at CES gadget show.
Sex tech is gracing the CES gadget show in Las Vegas this week, a year after organizers took fire for revoking an innovation award to a sex device company led by a female founder.
Rachel Lerman
CES is allowing space for sex tech companies as a one-year trial. At the show, such companies were scattered throughout the health and wellness section, near startups pitching fitness trackers and infrared saunas. Lora DiCarlo, a startup that pushed for changes after organizers revoked its award, showed off its Osé robotic “personal massager.” It’s one of a dozen companies at the show focused on vibrators, lube dispensers and other sex tech products. Founders of these startups say their products are about empowerment and wellness for women, something they say has often been overlooked in tech. The historically male-dominated tech trade show has received criticism in past years for having an all-male lineup of speakers and for previously allowing scantily clad “booth babes,” fostering a “boys’ club” reputation. Besides allowing sex tech, CES organizers brought in an official “equality partner,” The Female Quotient, to help ensure gender diversity. The Female Quotient, which trains companies in equality practices, will hold a conference for women during the four-day show, which opened Tuesday. “It’s been a process,” said Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on CES. It’s been a longer process for many sex tech companies to convince investors that they are part of a growing trend that has enough customers. Much of the push has come from the startups’ female founders and from younger consumers who talk more openly about sexuality. As with other technologies, some exhibitors including Lora DiCarlo had prominent booths at CES, while others such as the wearable vibrator company Crave were tucked away. Crave’s exhibit included a camper with a “Build-a-Vibe-Workshop,” where attendees could get an engraved vibrator to wear around their neck. Sex tech has existed in some form for decades. But the gates really began to open in 2016, said Andrea Barrica, founder of sex education site That year, several other “fem tech” companies made progress in areas such as menstruation and menopause. Those paved the way for sex tech to grow and get investors interested. “Larger institutions are starting to take note, all the way from VC firms to large Fortune 100 companies,” said Barrica, who recently published the book “Sextech Revolution: The Future of Sexual Wellness.” Large institutions like CES had no choice but to look at sex tech, she said. The journey hasn’t been easy. Sex tech founders, many of them women, recount being turned down by dozens of investors. They faced decency arguments and entrenched corporate standards that equated them with porn. But investors are becoming more receptive, said Cindy Gallop, a former advertising executive turned sex tech entrepreneur and founder of the website MakeLoveNotPorn. “It’s entirely because of our refusal to allow the business world to put us down,” she said. Founders insist that their devices — ranging from vibrators to lube dispensers to accessories — have effects outside the bedroom. “Sexual health and wellness is health and wellness,” said Lora DiCarlo, CEO and founder of the company of the same name. “It does way more than just pleasure. It’s immediately connected to stress relief, to better sleep, to empowerment and confidence.” DiCarlo’s $290 Osé device has gotten $3 million worth of advance sales, bolstered in part by the attention it received after CES organizers overturned a decision by an independent panel of judges to give the vibrator a prestigious Innovation Honoree Award in the robotics and drone category. The organizers, CTA, told the company it reserved the right to rescind awards for devices deemed “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.” DiCarlo and other female founders pushed back for banning them but allowing humanoid sex robots meant to serve men the previous year. Following criticism, CES organizers ultimately reinstated the award and apologized. A few months later, the show announced policy changes such as a dress code to prevent skimpy outfits and new “Innovation for All” sessions with senior diversity officials. Osé began shipping to customers this month. DiCarlo said the company is planning to introduce new devices, including less expensive options. Sex tech companies still face major barriers to growth. Polly Rodriguez, CEO of sexual wellness company Unbound, said the company is profitable and customers are more open about buying products than they once were. But she said she still faces roadblocks advertising on social media, and many traditional investors snub the company. “Things are better, but there’s just still this genuine fear of female sexuality more broadly within the institutional side of technology,” she said. And while Gallop offered to speak at CES, conference organizers declined, saying sex tech was not a part of its conference programming. ___ AP Business Writer Joseph Pisani contributed to this report. ___ AP’s CES coverage:
Technology, Consumer Electronics Show, General News, Business, Consumer electronics, Lifestyle, Health, Fires, Las Vegas, U.S. News
Waxed apples cause cancer.
May 3, 2016
"What's true: Apples are commonly coated with food-grade wax to extend their shelf lives. What's false: Waxed apples aren't ""known carcinogens""; the use of wax on apples isn't a secret."
Kim LaCapria
In April 2016, the web site MetaSpoon published a blog post (titled: “He Pours Boiling Water On An Apple From The Grocery Store. Watch What Appears On The Skin… GROSS!”) which held that the wax used to preserve fruits are riddled with pesticides: Apples are so healthy and delicious, it really is no wonder that they’re such a popular snack. All you have to do is give them a quick wash and pack them, right? After watching this video, maybe not. Apparently, many producers will coat their apples with wax to help preserve the fruit. This is particularly true for apples found at grocery stores. Some experts say that wax is harmless, as it’s not digested by our system. But others argue that the real danger lies in the pesticide residue that the wax may have trapped in. Next time you buy apples, it might be worth finding out just how much wax coating there is. Want to get rid of the wax? Try scrubbing your apples in a bath of warm water, lemon juice, and baking soda! The post linked to a January 2016 YouTube video, during which a person uses boiling water to remove the wax from apples. That person claimed waxed apples cause cancer: Be Careful when eating apples. Please don’t eat the skin of the apples because it’s coated with wax. Check before you eat many of the fruits. Wax is being used for preservation purposes and cold storage. You might be surprised especially apples from USA and other parts are more than one year old, though it would look fresh. Becox wax is coated, preventing bacteria to enter. So it does not get dry. Please Eat Apples after removing the wax. In the clip, the individual gave no information to substantiate the claim. He also noted that the apples “changed color” when exposed to boiling water, a procedure familiar to many viewers, and which is most commonly described as “cooking.” (Apples are not the only fruits that darken in color when exposed to direct and sustained heat.) The clip’s initial fallacy hinged on the implication that wax on apples was a little-known secret. However, according to the Food and Drug Administration, waxed produce is widely, openly available and safe [PDF]: Many vegetables and fruits make their own natural waxy coating. After harvest, fresh produce may be washed to clean off dirt and soil — but such washing also removes the natural wax. Therefore, waxes are applied to some produce to replace the natural waxes that are lost. Wax coatings help retain moisture to maintain quality from farm to table … Waxes also help inhibit mold growth, protect produce from bruising, prevent other physical damage and disease, and enhance appearance[.] The Produce Marketing Association (an international trade group) reiterated the FDA’s explanation of waxed apples and other produce items. The PMA also explained that the substances used are always subject to strict FDA scrutiny, and are safe to eat even when whitened due to exposure to extreme temperatures. That document outlined guidelines for use of wax on produce in general: Many fresh fruits and vegetables make their own natural waxy coating to help retain moisture. Extensive washing at the packinghouse removes this natural wax, so waxes are applied to some produce items to replace the natural ones that are lost. Each piece of waxed produce only has a drop or two of wax. Waxes may be mixed with water or other wetting agents to ensure they are applied thinly and evenly. Waxes help retain the fruit’s or vegetable’s moisture during shipping and marketing. Waxes also help to inhibit mold growth, to protect fruits and vegetables from bruising, to prevent other physical damage and disease, and to enhance appearance. By protecting against moisture loss, wax coatings help fresh fruits and vegetables maintain wholesomeness and freshness. Waxing does not improve the quality of any inferior fruit or vegetables; rather, waxing — along with proper handling — contributes to maintaining a healthful product … Commodities that may have coatings applied include apples, avocados, bell peppers, cantaloupes, cucumbers, eggplants, grapefruits, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, parsnips, passion fruit, peaches, pineapples, pumpkins, rutabagas, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, and yucca. However, they are not always waxed. Waxes by themselves do not control decay; rather, they may be combined with some chemicals to prevent the growth of mold. The safety and use of these substances are strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Coatings used on fruits and vegetables must meet the food additive regulations of the FDA. Extensive research by governmental and scientific authorities has shown that approved waxes are safe to eat. Waxes are indigestible, which means they go through the body without breaking down or being absorbed. FDA requires wax labeling for fresh fruits and vegetables that have been treated with postharvest wax or resin coatings. Consumers will see signs in produce departments that read: “Coated with food-grade vegetable-, petroleum-, beeswax-, and/or shellac-based wax or resin, to maintain freshness” followed by a list of the commodity (-ies) coated with these waxes or resins). In today’s marketplace, none of these coatings is animal-based, and they all come from natural sources. Packaged fresh fruits and vegetables that have information on the label (such as the product name, weight or brand) must also be labeled for wax or resin coatings by the packer, repacker, or shipper. The topic also was addressed by food safety experts at Best Food Facts. According to their analysis, not only do apples often produce their own wax (dependent on crop variables), but that an apple’s natural wax contained a component that inhibits (not encourages) cancer cell growth: Remember, apples are alive even after they are picked and will continue to live, provided they have the sufficient resources and an acceptable environment. The waxy coating produced by the apple and found on its skin protects it. The waxy coating can appear milky sometimes, but if you rub it gently, you can actually get it to it shine. The natural wax on the fruit of the apple contains about fifty individual components belonging to at least half a dozen chemical groups. The major cyclic component of apple fruit wax is called ursolic acid and is highly water-repellent. Research has shown that ursolic acid is capable of inhibiting various types of cancer cells and can serve as a starting material for synthesis of more potent bioactive compounds such as antitumor agents. Apples weren’t always coated with additional wax, as they often are harvested with a natural coating of wax. However, all wax used on apples is subject to FDA guidelines for food safe additives, and none of the “waxed apples cause cancer” claims we found included a single known carcinogen commonly used in the process. Waxing apples is widely deemed both a safe and often natural occurrence, and the use of wax to coat apples is neither a secret nor credible health risk. While there are some credible concerns about harmful pesticides caught in the wax used to coat apples and other fruits and vegetables, there are easy ways to avoid or minimize the risk of ingesting them. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, a collaborative effort between Oregon State University and the Environmental Protection Agency, most pesticide residues can be removed by rinsing fruits with water or scrubbing them with a soft brush. More information about what pesticides are in the food supply and how to avoid them can be found in this March 2015 report. However, the overall risks of pesticide residue are quite low, even with conventionally grown produce, and since the Food Quality Protection Act was passed in 1996, very tightly regulated in the United States. However, wax on an apple is not a visual representation of trapped pesticides, nor is it an indication that any chemicals or toxic substances are present.
Medical, apples, food warnings, metaspoon
Viral image Says BBC prematurely reported “Ghislaine Maxwell moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.”
July 6, 2020
The BBC did not publish an article dated July 11, 2020, about Ghislaine Maxwell moving to intensive care because of COVID-19 symptoms.
Ciara O'Rourke
"Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on July 2 on charges she lured girls to be sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein. According to official autopsy results, Epstein killed himself last year in a New York jail cell where he was being held on federal sex trafficking charges, though conspiracy theories allege he was murdered because he had damaging information about powerful people. An image of what looks like a BBC article that’s being shared on Facebook suggests that Maxwell will meet a similar end. ""Ghislaine Maxwell moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen,"" the headline says above an image of Maxwell. The article appears under the BBC’s ""England"" tab. But the dateline is in the future: July 11, 2020. ""Death by executing oh I mean COVID-19 (MY BAD),"" one account commented on the Facebook post. ""The sheep will believe the virus cover up."" The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) This headline does not appear on the BBC’s website. Searching for it more broadly online, we found only a fact-check ruling that the image is a forgery. The wording of the headline is similar to the one on an April 7 BBC story about Britain’s prime minister: ""Coronavirus: Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as symptoms worsen."" Johnson, who was sickened by COVID-19, has since recovered. A story about Maxwell wouldn’t appear in the BBC’s England section because, though she is a British socialite, she was arrested in Bradford, N.H., and indicted in the United States. The acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the charges against Maxwell. When the BBC reported on the charges, the story appeared in its ""US & Canada"" section. On July 3, a self-described satire site posted a story claiming Maxwell had tested positive for COVID-19 in a New Hampshire jail. We found no credible reports that Maxwell has tested positive for the disease.",,,,,
Criminal Justice, Crime, Facebook Fact-checks, Coronavirus, Viral image,
John Faso took money from fossil fuel companies as they tried to take your land by eminent domain for a fracked gas pipeline.
July 18, 2016
Climate activists targeted BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, in London on Monday, demanding that major financial institutions starve fossil fuel companies of the money they need to build new mines, wells and pipelines.
Dan Clark
Extinction Rebellion, which uses civil disobedience to highlight the risks posed by climate change and the accelerating loss of plant and animal species, is midway through a new two-week wave of actions in cities around the world. Activists thronged the financial heart of London on Monday, unfurling banners, addressing passersby by megaphone or blocking streets around locations including BlackRock, the Bank of England, Bank of China and Barclays. At BlackRock, volunteers glued themselves to the doors while others staged a mock dinner party with rolled-up banknotes on their plates. Police said they arrested more than 90 people. The arrestees included Rabbi Jeffrey Newman of the Finchley Reform Synagogue, who was arrested near the Bank of England praying, singing and wearing a prayer shawl for the first day of the Jewish festival Sukkot, Extinction Rebellion said. “The City of London is a preeminent nexus of power in the global system that is killing our world,” said Carolina Rosa, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion. BlackRock declined to comment. Police later ordered a halt to all assembly linked to Extinction Rebellion in London. At Trafalgar Square in the heart of the city, where demonstrators have pitched camp for the past week amid fountains at the base of Nelson’s Column, protesters began removing tents. Police made no immediate move to shut down another main protest camp in the district of Vauxhall. “Officers have begun the process of clearing Trafalgar Square and getting things back to normal,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor. Extinction Rebellion said it had left Trafalgar Square but would continue actions in London and cities around the world. “The Climate and Ecological Emergency isn’t going away and we remain resolute in facing it. We urge the Government and the authorities to join us in doing the same,” the group said in a statement. “This is bigger than all of us.” Extinction Rebellion wants to cause enough disruption to force governments to rapidly cut carbon emissions and reverse the collapse of ecosystems to avert the worst of the devastation scientists project if business as usual continues. Critics say the group is proposing what amounts to the overthrow of capitalism without any clear idea of what would follow, and that the world needs fossil fuels. Extinction Rebellion said that more than 1,400 people had been arrested in London since it launched its latest actions a week ago. A similar number has in total been arrested in 20 cities in countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. While activists have long targeted fossil fuel companies, a growing global climate protest movement is increasingly scrutinizing the role fund managers, banks and insurance companies play in enabling oil and gas extraction. Emily Grossman, a British science broadcaster who has a PhD in molecular biology, who joined the protest outside BlackRock, said that financing fossil fuel projects was undermining the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming. “This is criminal damage that they are doing to our lives and to the lives of our children and it has to stop,” said Grossman, who was later led away by police. Major oil companies have approved $50 billion of projects since last year that run contrary to the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to an analysis published last month by financial think-tank Carbon Tracker. Fossil fuel companies say they need to invest in new projects to meet future demand for energy, particularly in fast-growing regions such as Asia. Climate protesters want to pressure index fund firms such as BlackRock because the sector, which now controls half the U.S. stock mutual fund market, has enormous power to influence companies in which they invest trillions of dollars. The leading U.S. index fund firms, BlackRock, Vanguard Group and State Street Corp, rarely use that clout, a Reuters analysis of their shareholder-voting records found this month.,,,,,,,,,,,,
Environment, Congress, New York, Zephyr Teachout,
Officials alert health care providers of HIV surge.
Massachusetts officials alerted health care providers to test frequently for HIV and to quickly report new infections to the Public Health Department.
Officials discovered that there were 182 intravenous drug users who were affected in Lowell and Lawrence between 2015 and 2019, The Boston Globe reported. The number of cases dropped after the summer of 2018 after a campaign to increase access to treatment. There were six new cases diagnosed in Boston in December 2018 before a similar campaign was launched, and cases dropped down until fall of 2019. “We do seem to see a growing number of very, very vulnerable people with substance use disorder, with injection drug use, in great need for care,” said Dr. Jennifer K. Brody, director of HIV services at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. The state has increased the number of needle exchanges from five in 2015 to 33, in an attempt to provide clean injection supplies and training, the paper reported. Infections among people who inject drugs declined 91% between 2000 and 2014. “What we’re seeing is the need for much more aggressive street outreach,” said Carl Sciortino, vice president of government relations for Fenway Health.
Boston, General News, Public health, Lowell, Massachusetts
The United States Secret Service arrested Alec Baldwin for threatening President Donald Trump at the 2017 Emmy Awards.
September 18, 2017
Other stories that have taken in readers of the site include claims that a Muslim mayor outlawed Christmas in 2017, and that a Muslim federal judge had ruled that two items of sharia law were now considered legal in the United States. Neither story had any truth to them whatsoever.
Dan MacGuill
On 18 September 2017, the satirical web site As American As Apple Pie reported that actor Alec Baldwin had been arrested at the 2017 Emmy Awards for threatening President Donald Trump:  The Secret Service was forced to remove Alec Baldwin from the Emmys in Los Angeles Sunday night after he threatened to “use his influence to get close to Trump and then slit his throat.” Baldwin, whose mic was still hot in the sound booth at the time, put up quite a fight: “Mr Baldwin doesn’t reaslize [sic] the severity of this situation. He voiced a credible threat to the President of the United States. There are consequences for that.” Baldwin is being held for questioning at the federal holding facility at Los Alamada del Ray. We will update this developing story as more information is available. Alec Baldwin did attend the Emmy Awards on 17 September 2017, and won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Trump on Saturday Night Live. However, he did not make any threat against the President and was not arrested. As American As Apple Pie is a satirical, fake news web site which publishes exclusively fake content, and alludes to its own unreliability in this tongue-in-cheek disclaimer: When no one can trust the lying fake news liberal media anymore because they hate us and guns and Harley Davidson and meat and OUR president, As American as Apple Pie is here to be your beacon of something you can kinda rely on sometimes, but not really. God Bless America and Amen.,,,,
Junk News, alec baldwin, as american as apple pie,
Hillary Clinton is (or was) a member of Monsanto's board of directors.
February 8, 2016
But despite the rumor’s proliferation across social media, there’s no truth to the claim that Hillary Clinton sat on Monsanto’s board of directors at any point during her career. Moreover, we found no direct ties between Hillary Clinton and the agribusiness firm in regards to political fundraising. Apart from working with Crawford (whose firm has also provided services for Monsanto), Clinton has no obvious ties to the Monsanto corporation.
Kim LaCapria
"The Walmart chain of retail stores and the Monsanto agrochemical/agricultural biotechnology corporation are two of America’s largest companies, and they’re also two of the businesses mostly frequently invoked in public criticism as supposed exemplars of corporate greed, putting profits and growth far ahead of concern for their employees, suppliers, and customers. Due to this public perception, politicians (especially those in the Democratic or populist camps) risk sowing disaffection among their supporters should they evince any significant business ties (whether it be employment, investment, or campaign donations) to such companies. Hence a recent point of criticism about Democratic presidential candidate has been that she does (or did) sit on the board of directors of both Walmart and Monsanto. It is true that thirty years ago Hillary Clinton began a six-year tenure as a member of Walmart’s board of director, an aspect of her past that Ms. Clinton has largely avoided mentioning on the campaign trail: In 1986, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, had a problem. He was under growing pressure from shareholders — and his wife, Helen — to appoint a woman to the company’s 15-member board of directors. So Mr. Walton turned to a young lawyer who just happened to be married to the governor of Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is based: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Clinton’s six-year tenure as a director of Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest company, remains a little known chapter in her closely scrutinized career. And it is little known for a reason. Mrs. Clinton rarely, if ever, discusses it, leaving her board membership out of her speeches and off her campaign Web site. Fellow board members and company executives, who have not spoken publicly about her role at Wal-Mart, say Mrs. Clinton used her position to champion personal causes, like the need for more women in management and a comprehensive environmental program, despite being Wal-Mart’s only female director, the youngest and arguably the least experienced in business. On other topics, like Wal-Mart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent, they said. Her years on the Wal-Mart board, from 1986 to 1992, gave her an unusual tutorial in the ways of American business — a credential that could serve as an antidote to Republican efforts to portray her as an enemy of free markets and an advocate for big government. But that education came via a company that the Democratic Party &mdashl and its major ally, organized labor — has held up as a model of what is wrong with American business, with both groups accusing it of offering unaffordable health insurance and mistreating its workers. However, since at least October 2014 rumors have claimed that Hillary Clinton once sat (or currently sits) on the board of directors of agribusiness giant Monsanto as well, despite the lack of any evidence documenting such a connection. The repetition of those rumors increased as the primary elections of the 2016 presidential campaign drew nearer: // <! [CDATA[ (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""//;version=v2.3""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); // ]]> Hillary Clinton (not sure if she still is) was a board member for Monsanto, no wonder she is pushing GMO foods. Dig… Posted by Wendy Allan on Sunday, February 7, 2016 // <! [CDATA[ (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""//;version=v2.3""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); // ]]> If you sat on the board of Wal-Mart and Monsanto as well as your husband being responsible for the repealing the Glass Steagall act, then you just might be a friend of Wall Street. Posted by Eric Williams on Friday, February 5, 2016 As evidenced in the examples embedded above, many of those repeating the claim about Hillary Clinton on social media didn’t appear to be familiar with its detail, and dates of Clinton’s purported tenure on Monsanto’s board were never (or rarely) included in iterations of the rumor. Oftentimes social media users who debunked the rumor attributed it to supporters of Bernie Sanders, though we were unable to specifically pin the claim to any source linked with Sanders’ campaign (especially given that versions of it appeared on Twitter in 2012 and 2013, well before either candidate entered the 2016 presidential fray). Nonetheless, many shares of the rumor on social media indeed originated with individuals asserting that Sanders was the preferable candidate for lacking the big business ties that Clinton (supposedly) had courted: // <! [CDATA[ (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""//;version=v2.3""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); // ]]> She is on the board of Monsanto. Why don’t they bring that up each time her face is shown? Posted by Craig Appel on Friday, February 5, 2016 That said, there are some indirect connections between Hillary Clinton and Monsanto that might have inspired such rumors. The Rose Law Firm for whom Hillary Clinton worked in Arkansas from 1977 through the 1980s reportedly handled some business for Monsanto, but we found no evidence that HIllary Clinton herself was involved in such work. She has also spoken supportively of the biotech industry in general (not Monsanto specifically), as she did at the 2014 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) conference in San Diego: Speaking at the BIO 2014 convention in San Diego, Clinton told a luncheon audience that she understood biotech companies face extreme risks in developing new health care products. State support, along with a “national framework” including provisions to help patients who can’t afford biotech therapies, are part of a rational policy, said Clinton. [Clinton] was interviewed by Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. BIO is holding the convention in San Diego for the first time since 2008. Clinton also endorsed the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs in agriculture to improve crops, such as by engineering them for drought resistance. She suggested the biotech industry stress these characteristics instead of focusing on the term GMOs. On GMOs, Clinton said the biotech industry “should continue to try to make the case to those who are skeptical that they may not know what they are eating already, because the question of genetically modified foods or hybrids has gone on for many many years, and there is a big gap between what the facts are and what the perceptions are.” “If you talk about drought-resistant seeds, and I have promoted those all over Africa, by definition they have been engineered to be drought-resistant,” Clinton said. “That’s the beauty of them. Maybe somebody can get their harvest done and not starve, and maybe have something left over to sell.” The Monsanto Company is also listed among the entities who have donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established by former President Bill Clinton to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.” Additionally, some sources have posited that the rumor arose from a connection between the Clinton campaign and Jerry Crawford, an Iowa lawyer and Democratic party leader. Crawford worked on Hillary Clinton´s 2016 campaign in Iowa and is often described as a “Monsanto lobbyist”: The only tie Clinton’s campaign has to the biotech company is campaign adviser Jerry Crawford, who was brought on to help her win Iowa. If you are a presidential candidate, and you want to win in Iowa, you hire lobbyist Jerry Crawford who has a lot of political clout in the state. According to, his lobbying firm has represented Monsanto, as well as the Humane Society. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the fact that Iowa is a major state for agriculture, and a number of seed companies do business with farmers there. Crawford was profiled as a Clinton asset in Iowa in early 2015, but he began working on her Iowa campaign back in 2014. Crawford was also named as Midwest co-chair of the 2008 Clinton campaign [PDF]. It’s possible that Crawford’s lobbying connections were conflated with Hillary Clinton’s, and/or that Clinton’s tenure on Walmart’s board of directors led to a franken-rumor that she also served on the board of Monsanto."
Politics, 2016 presidential campaign, hillary clinton, monsanto
Rhode Island will become just the second state to mandate the vaccine … and the only state to do so by regulatory fiat, without public debate, and without consideration from the elected representatives of the people.
August 23, 2015
"The center says ""Rhode Island will become just the second state to mandate the vaccine … and the only state to do so by regulatory fiat, without public debate, and without consideration from the elected representatives of the people."" The center, in its statement, got two things right and two things wrong. It was right about Rhode Island being the second state and it was right that the requirement was not adopted by ""the elected representatives of the people."" It was wrong when it said the vaccination requirement was imposed ""by fiat"" and ""without public debate."" In 2014, the ACLU sharply criticized the vaccine requirement at the public hearing and debated the proposal in social media and on its website. As for acting by fiat, the regulation was put in place through a process established by law. And comments at a public hearing influenced that process, leading to a decision by the director of health to delay execution of the policy for one year. More recently, the new health director told the public that philosophical objections were enough to qualify for the religious exemption. In other words, parents can pretty much say whatever they want to get exemptions for their children. (If you have a claim you’d like PolitiFact Rhode Island to check, email us at [email protected] And follow us on Twitter: @politifactri.)"
Mark Reynolds
"Rhode Island has issued a controversial vaccination requirement designed to fight HPV, or human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cancer. The requirement, ordered by the Rhode Island Department of Health, took effect Aug. 1. It has drawn fire from a group of critics that included the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, which calls itself a ""free enterprise think tank."" The new policy calls for the vaccination of  all  seventh grade boys and girls before the start of school. The requirement does not apply to students whose doctors cite a medical problem; or to students whose parents object for religious reasons. And the health department defines religious reasons very liberally. Before a series of public information meetings on the vaccination requirement, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity posted this statement on its website: ""Rhode Island will become just the second state to mandate the vaccine … and the only state to do so by regulatory fiat, without public debate, and without consideration from the elected representatives of the people."" We telephoned Mike Stenhouse, the center’s founder and chief executive officer, and asked him for his sources. We didn’t get anything from him right away. So we did our own research and found that Virginia is the only other state to require students to receive immunization for HPV. Virginia’s vaccination requirement, which is only for sixth-grade girls, took effect in 2008 following an act of the legislature. Rhode Island’s policy is the product of a regulatory process that began in 2013 under the leadership of Michael Fine, then the state’s director of the Department of Health. In both states, HPV vaccination policies use the word ""required"" and both have opt-out provisions. In Virginia,  parents have ""sole discretion"" on whether their children receive the vaccination. Stenhouse labels the policies in Virginia and Rhode Island as mandates. But Jason L. Schwartz, an assistant professor at the Yale University School of Public Health, says you can’t call policies with such liberal exemptions mandates. The breadth of Rhode Island’s opt-out provisions may not have been clear to the  public — or to Stenhouse — before a public meeting Aug. 5. That’s when Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the new director of the Department of Health, told parents that their philosophical objections would qualify for the religious exemption spelled out in the regulations. But what about the center’s claim that Rhode Island imposed the requirement by ""regulatory fiat, without public debate, and without consideration from the elected representatives of the people""? And, as the center says later in its policy statement, was the health department’s decision an example of ""regulatory despotism"" that ""bypasses the traditional democratic process""? While it’s true that the General Assembly did not pass a law for the HPV vaccination, existing Rhode Island law gives the health director the power to adopt regulations to protect public health. And, of course, the health director is appointed by, and serves at the pleasure of, the governor. Further, control of health-care policy by the executive branch is common in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for example, makes decisions affecting the health welfare of the country without first getting an act of Congress. ""To say it’s anti-democratic would be a misunderstanding of how we structure our government in the United States,"" says Schwartz, the Yale professor, who co-authored a recent article about state vaccination requirements for the Journal of the American Medical Association. Also it’s not as if the state adopted the regulation in a back room somewhere — even though Stenhouse’s organization on July 30 described the news of the requirement as a ""stunning revelation."" On Dec. 2, 2013, Fine, the former health director, filed a notice of public hearing for Jan. 16, 2014, and also solicited written statements on the issue. In response to criticism, the department delayed the beginning of the program from Aug. 1, 2014, to Aug. 1, 2015, according to a form for the regulation that was filed with the Office of Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea. The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union registered its ardent opposition to the proposed regulation at the hearing and in written comments. On Jan. 27, 2014, the ACLU called on the health department to reconsider the proposal. The ACLU also criticized the requirement on Facebook. That’s seems like debate to us. We tried to get Stenhouse to explain what the center meant by the phrase ""regulatory fiat."" He declined. Instead, he sent us a written statement in which he said the center ""stands by its statement"" and he challenged PolitiFact’s fairness and objectivity. Our ruling The center says ""Rhode Island will become just the second state to mandate the vaccine … and the only state to do so by regulatory fiat, without public debate, and without consideration from the elected representatives of the people."" The center, in its statement, got two things right and two things wrong. It was right about Rhode Island being the second state and it was right that the requirement was not adopted by ""the elected representatives of the people."" It was wrong when it said the vaccination requirement was imposed ""by fiat"" and ""without public debate."" In 2014, the ACLU sharply criticized the vaccine requirement at the public hearing and debated the proposal in social media and on its website. As for acting by fiat, the regulation was put in place through a process established by law. And comments at a public hearing influenced that process, leading to a decision by the director of health to delay execution of the policy for one year. More recently, the new health director told the public that philosophical objections were enough to qualify for the religious exemption. In other words, parents can pretty much say whatever they want to get exemptions for their children. For those reasons, (If you have a claim you’d like PolitiFact Rhode Island to check, email us at [email protected] And follow us on Twitter: @politifactri.)",,,,,,,,,,,
Rhode Island, Health Care, Government Regulation, Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity,
I’ll never go through shoulder surgery again, so here’s what I did
July 7, 2016
This story tells the tale of the writer’s experience using a new therapy for a rotator cuff injury, a procedure called platelet-rich plasma, or PRP. The writer previously had undergone traditional rotator cuff injury surgery and cited a long and difficult recovery, making the allegedly easier procedure and recovery from PRP more appealing. The story is problematic on several fronts, and was concerning enough that we used it to examine the hazards of first-person reporting on health interventions in a separate blog post, “Washington Post’s story on platelet-rich plasma injections highlights drawbacks of first-person health reporting.” In sum, it is a first-person account of one individual’s experience, not an actual report on the efficacy of a new approach to such injuries. Research-wise, it only cites, anecdotally, one tiny pilot study of the procedure and fails to provide any real data on those and other results, including a Cochrane systematic review, which is one of the most authoritative sources of evidence on hand today. It also leans heavily on quotes from the physician treating the writer, and provides no information that would convince readers that his statements are free from conflict. It’s also important to point out a factual error in the story: Injecting lidocaine into the shoulder or another area known as the subacromia bursa numbs up more than just the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff, itself, is not injected. Imagine sitting down over coffee with friends listening to one of them explain their latest medical experience. That’s what this story essentially is — one anecdote. It offers no data on success or failure of the procedure in question. A larger problem lies with the fact that the story ran in the Washington Post, one of the country’s leading newspapers and information source for hundreds of thousands of people, who might understandably assume the information in the story is more valuable than it is. Stories that report on advances in medicine, which interest us all, must have actual facts and data so that readers may evaluate their worth. This story lacks all that.
Earle Holland,James Rickert, MD,Joy Victory
The story attempted to discuss cost by citing the difference in price between shoulder surgery ($13,000) and the PRP treatment ($1,000, in this case for two injections). This is sufficient enough for a Satisfactory rating, but barely. While this does give readers some idea of the possible cost difference in treatments, there is no assurance that the charges in the author’s case are typical for those for the general public. It is simply one single data point which is fairly useless to the public. And, since there is no evidence of benefit or how many shots one might require, cost could be all over the place. The story gives no information on quantified benefits measured in PRP research, and instead focuses only on the author’s experience. The only mention of potential harms in the story comes in this statement:  “The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons — which says PRP ‘holds great promise’ — describes the risk as minimal.”  That’s not acceptable given that there is no explanation of what those risks might be. Readers are left clueless when it comes to questions of potential harms. Simply put, the discussion on the quality of evidence here is at best minimal, just the experience of one patient who happens to be a writer for the Washington Post. The story does cite a “recent pilot study” from a Canadian clinic of just seven rotator cuff injury patients who underwent PRP therapy. It said the study “showed tissue healing in five of seven patients . . . as well as improvements in their pain and function.”  But the story offers no information on how much healing or what degree of pain reduction or function, information readers need to consider a new therapeutic approach. There is no discussion of the growing body of evidence that has yet to show PRP actually improves clinical results. High-quality research, including a Cochrane systematic review, shows no benefit from injecting PRP. As Cochrane’s review noted: “The quality of the evidence is very low, partly because most trials used flawed methods that mean their results may not be reliable….In terms of individual conditions, we were able to pool results from six studies and found no differences in long-term function between those who received PRT during rotator cuff surgery and those who did not.” When it comes to shoulder injuries like rotator cuff tears, the story does not disease monger. However, the author’s claim that a vaccination injection resulted in the shoulder tear was an unusual claim, and one that we’re dubious of. Along with quotes from the author’s physician (who has already posted the story on his website) there are quotes from a researcher who was involved in one small clinical trial on PRP. The inclusion of the researcher just barely squeaks by as sufficient to earn a Satisfactory rating here. However, the story would have been much stronger had the author interviewed an expert who disagrees with these two sources, which wouldn’t be hard to find given the Cochrane review and other systematic reviews that cast a less rosy glow on PRP. The story is basically touting a possible new therapy as an alternative to traditional rotator cuff surgery, but it does a poor job of comparing them in an evidence-based manner. The story explains that platelets are removed from a patient’s blood using a centrifuge, equipment readily available in most practices. It makes the point of advising readers to seek out practitioners who do the procedure frequently. The story suggests that the PRP procedure is becoming more available. The story does not make it clear that PRP is not a new treatment, and that has been studied for many years now, including in rotator cuff tears. This story does not rely on a news release.,,
platelet-rich plasma
CostCo stores will require shoppers to wear masks beginning on May 4, 2020.
May 1, 2020
Is CostCo Requiring Shoppers to Cover Their Faces?
Arturo Garcia
As the CostCo retail chain prepared to implement new requirements for shoppers, a message of support for the policy gained traction among Facebook users.The post is based around a photograph of a sign informing shoppers that members will be required to wear face coverings when shopping at CostCo warehouses starting on Monday, May 4 2020.“Members without face coverings will not be permitted inside the warehouse,” the sign reads:At least one iteration of the lengthy post, attributed to Cherrie Vierra Lonkar, has been shared nearly 1,000 times on the platform. She wrote:Ask yourself why you, a retail shopper deserve a handout from Costco. I mean you’ve eaten $5000 worth of free samples there in your lifetime anyway. We are asking many of our healthcare workers to wear bandanas and t-shirts as masks. You aren’t above it. There are school children all over this country who are sewing masks to give away. If a 7 year old can be a decent person and choose to make the world a little more comfortable or safe, then so can you.This isn’t a Burger King drive-through, and no we can’t have it our way. This disease, infection, pandemic, whatever you wanna call it, doesn’t give a shit about you or me. Doesn’t give a shit about black, white, short, tall, age, gender. It’s not our battle to dictate.The bottom line is, don’t be a dick. Just put a mask on your self centered, mouth breathing face and let the greeter see the smile in our eyes as we head off to buy our cases of bottled water, pool floats, 10 pound bags of Cheetos, bulk items and cheap premixed margaritas. You’ll be fine.However another version, presented as an extended quote without attribution, has been shared more than 4,500 times since being posted on April 29, 2020.CostCo president Craig Jelinek confirmed the new rule in a letter to members posted on the company’s website, saying:Costco employees are required to wear face coverings, and now we are asking that Costco members do so too. We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects not just the wearer, but others too.In short, we believe this is the right thing to do under the current circumstances. Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments. Costco has continued to operate during this crisis as an essential business in all of our communities, and our employees are on the front lines. As part of a community, we believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that Costco members and employees can undertake together.However, the requirement does not extend to children under the age of 2 or to anyone who cannot wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons.Several states and retail chains have shifted safety policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some opting to walk back laws banning the use of non-reusable shopping bags.Comments,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Fact Checks, Viral Content
Brazil cities lurch to lockdowns amid virus crisis red flags.
Faced with overwhelmed hospitals and surging coronavirus deaths, Brazilian state and city governments are lurching forward with mandatory lockdowns against the will of President Jair Bolsonaro, who says job losses are more damaging than COVID-19.
David Biller And Mauricio Savarese
The movements of Brazilians have been completely restricted in fewer than two dozen cities scattered across the vast nation of 211 million — even though Brazil’s death toll stands at more than 12,000, Latin America’s highest. While public health experts are demanding bolder action, most governors and mayors have not imposed mandatory stay-at-home orders. Their apparent reluctance comes amid Bolsonaro’s relentless message for Brazilians to defy regional and local public health efforts to stop the virus’ spread. Stricter lockdowns are needed because Brazilian doctors are now being forced to choose who lives and dies and triage situations could generate social unrest if they increase, said Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s non-profit Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials. “We need to avoid a total disaster,” he said. Lago said mandatory lockdowns across much of the country would help: “It is late in terms of avoiding hospital collapse, but certainly it isn’t too late to avoid a bigger catastrophe.” Brazil had more than 177,000 confirmed cases on Tuesday, with the actual figure believed to be much higher because of limited testing. Many intensive care hospital units are full and cemeteries are increasingly overwhelmed with bodies. Bolsonaro, who called the virus a “little flu,” has insisted for more than a month that governors are stoking economic carnage with voluntary quarantine recommendations and urges Brazilians to go about their everyday. He reiterated criticism of governors Tuesday for ignoring his decree that gyms, barbershops and beauty salons should be treated as essential services. Amid Bolsonaro’s rejection of coronavirus danger, most of the country’s 27 governors have criticized his stances but none have imposed mandatory statewide lockdown measures recommended by experts. Instead, the governors have either applied selective lockdowns in cities or deferred to mayors to make those decisions. Governors had been hoping the virus would not spread in Brazil’s warm climate, but their response is also a reflection of Brazil’s political landscape because the governors depend on mayors to endorse re-election campaigns. Many worry that imposing mandatory lockdowns could hurt local leaders in this year’s municipal election, decreasing support for incumbent governors in their 2022 campaigns, said Thiago de Aragão, director of strategy of the Arko Advice political consultancy. But as the death toll rose from less than 7,000 to more than 10,000 last week, local authorities began adopting stricter anti-virus measures. The riverside community of Tefe in the Amazon region was among the first, with a lockdown decree specifying criminal charges for residents leaving home except for visits to hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets. The mayor imposed it because only about half of Tefe’s 60,000 residents complied with an earlier recommendation by the governor of Amazonas state to take virus precautions. Those who did not comply “think they’re immortal, that they won’t get it,” Tefe Mayor Normando Bessa de Sá said on Facebook. Over the next three days, the governors of the northern and northeastern states of Maranhao, Para and Ceara decreed lockdowns for their capital cities as intensive-care units filled with COVID-19 patients. Despite the new lockdowns, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo still don’t have mandatory stay-at-home-orders at the state or city level — even though they are the hardest hit places in Brazil. Lockdowns “should have been imposed at least three weeks ago, when the epidemic was already increasing, but not at this speed that it is now,” said Margareth Dalcolmo, a respiratory physician and researcher with the widely respected Oswaldo Cruz Foundation biological research group. “I gave that recommendation more than once,” said Dalcolmo, among the experts on a COVID-19 panel that advises Rio’s governor. Rio Gov. Wilson Witzel has decreed non-binding quarantine recommendations and commerce restrictions through the end of May. He pledged to make police available so the state’s 92 mayors can enact lockdowns, instead of imposing them himself. In another example of Brazil’s scattershot local lockdowns, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella on Monday prohibited non-residents from entering 11 neighborhoods and ordered the closure of all businesses except supermarkets and pharmacies in the teeming slums called favelas. “People still haven’t perceived the need to avoid gatherings, stay home,” Crivella complained. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms including fever and cough. The risk of death is greater for the elderly and people with other health problems. The cities of Niteroi and Sao Goncalo near Rio on Monday authorized fines and criminal charges for violating stay-at-home orders. Niteroi police took the temperatures of those entering the city, and put a man and his two dogs inside a police van after he allegedly refused to show documents to justify being out of his home. In Sao Paulo state, Gov. João Doria last month urged but did not require residents to self-quarantine while shutting down schools and most businesses. Nearly 70% of the state’s 44 million people initially complied, but that dropped below 50% in recent weeks, according to cellphone carrier data provided by the state. Doria, a presidential hopeful, saw his popularity increase as he challenged Bolsonaro. But police stopped enforcing his recommendations after Bolsonaro criticized the handcuffing and detention of a middle-aged woman exercising in a park who resisted removal. With noncompliance rising, Doria said last week that “if we need to step up to a lockdown, we will not hesitate.” Sao Paulo’s mayor this week limited vehicles circulating in the city to 50% of the normal flow. Television images showed long lines of people entering crammed buses with standing room only in clear violation of social distancing guidelines. Public health analysts from the Imperial College London, whose COVID-19 research has guided global policymakers, last week called Brazil’s anti-virus efforts “partially successful.” “In the absence of the introduction of further control measures that will more strongly curb transmission, Brazil faces the prospect of an epidemic that will continue to grow exponentially,” they wrote. ___ Savarese reported from Sao Paulo
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, AP Top News, Health, General News, Latin America, Caribbean, International News, Jair Bolsonaro, Virus Outbreak, Public health
Laser Used to Blast Away Cells Causing Irregular Heartbeat
May 27, 2010
Another HealthDay, another story straight from a news release. Which might not be so bad if it only put things in a balanced perspective. Which this one doesn’t, as they often don’t. We also didn’t hear anything about why we don’t jump to conclusions after studies in just 27 people. And why was the pig research thrown in? To make the human findings seem more robust?! ?
"No discussion of costs – a recurring and significant oversight. The claims of ""100% accuracy"" and that ""The investigators found that after just one laser treatment, misfiring ceased in 84 percent of the treated veins, and 90 percent remained inactive three months after treatment"" aren’t put into any meaningful context about what difference this made in patient outcomes. Of course, what can you possibly say about outcomes after just three months? Which is exactly the point of raising this issue at all. No discussion of harms. No discussion of the limitations of drawing conclusions from a study of just 27 people. No explanation of whether destroying misfiring cells with ""100% accuracy"" actually makes a difference in people’s lives and outcomes. No overt disease mongering. However, to say that ""about 2.2 million Americans currently live with an irregular heartbeat condition, known as atrial fibrillation"" in the same breath as describing a study of just 27 people may imply that this very small study has immediate ramifications for all 2.2 million. And it does not. Barely satisfactory. There’s actually no interview – only a rehash of what was published in a journal, restated from a news release. No independent source cited. Again, the comparison of the ""new approach"" with existing approaches is superficial and unhelpful. And there was no comparison of performance or outcomes data. Terribly incomplete on this point. It is never made clear whether the device and approach are still experimental or already in clinical use. The word ""new"" was used five times in the short story. Yet the real novelty of this approach is only scantily and insufficiently described – especially if the implication is that this has relevance for 2.2 million Americans. The story admits it’s based on an American Heart Association news release. There’s no sign of any independent reporting or vetting."
Slovakia's new government to sharply ramp up coronavirus testing.
March 26, 2020
Slovakia aims to sharply increase daily coronavirus testing in the next few weeks by bringing bringing in laboratories as the new government seeks to put a clamp on the coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic, whose team took office this past weekend, said the government would seek in coming days to double testing capacity to as many as 4,000 daily tests. Since the first coronavirus infections surfaced in the central European state of 5.5 million people earlier this month, only around 300 people have been tested daily, he said, and “that is well below our needs” to help detect and isolate cases. Slovakia has reported 226 positive cases out of a total of 4,751 tests so far. The first two patients recovered this week. Neighbouring Czech Republic, with 10.7 million people, has tested 26,698 and reported 1,775 cases as of Thursday. There have been far fewer diagnoses of coronavirus in central Europe so far than in bigger western neighbours like Germany. But the region’s economies have been hard hit due to shutdowns of borders, most shops and restaurants, and an increasing number of business idling or limiting factory output. Slovakia’s parliament approved legislation on Wednesday allowing public health authorities to use data from telecommunications operators to ensure people quarantined due to coronavirus exposure remain isolated.
Health News
The coronavirus is “simply the common cold.”
March 9, 2020
The 2019 coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that produce illnesses ranging from the common cold to more critical diseases such as SARS or MERS. The 2019 coronavirus is a new virus that had not been previously identified. Most cases of the 2019 coronavirus disease have been mild, but it’s been lethal for some people.
Tom Kertscher
"If the current coronavirus were really the same as the common cold, why would it be causing some people to die, stock markets to reel and stadiums to go empty? And yet, claims likening coronavirus to the common cold persist, including in a Facebook post that says: ""The coronavirus: The Democrats are using it to promote fear. The Chinese are using it to control protestors. And all along it’s simply the common cold."" Gesundheit, but we've been here before. The 2019 coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses that includes the common cold, but the two are not the same. This Facebook post is wrong. The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease, officially known as COVID-19, in Wuhan, China, in December, we’ve fact-checked several claims that aim to downplay the severity of the virus and to blame the media, politicians or pharmaceutical companies for drawing attention to it. One such claim came from conservative radio talk show host and recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh, who said the coronavirus is the common cold. Our rating was . As we reported: There are seven types of coronaviruses that can infect humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of those viruses, which are named for their crown-like structure, can cause colds. Most strains of the coronavirus are relatively mild and take the form of respiratory diseases such as the common cold. But more serious strains have emerged over the last two decades, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which spread across the globe in 2003. According to the CDC, the 2019 coronavirus is a ""beta coronavirus"" similar to SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which was first identified in 2012. All three viruses have their origins in bats, and all three can induce symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath — similar to some common colds. More severe cases can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and death, according to the World Health Organization. A CDC fact-sheet describing common human coronaviruses said most people contract some type of coronavirus during their lives and that the more common strains ""usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory-tract illnesses, like the common cold."" But the same fact sheet also knocked down the idea that the 2019 coronavirus was the exact same as the more common strains. ""This information applies to common human coronaviruses and should not be confused with Coronavirus Disease-2019,"" it said. The majority of viruses that cause the common cold are rhinoviruses, according to the CDC. Cases range from mild to moderate in severity, and many adults get two or three colds per year. Children are more likely to get them. In contrast, cases of the coronavirus have ranged from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. Older people and those with preexisting medical conditions are more likely to suffer complications from COVID-19, while children are not. The virus has an estimated 3.4% mortality rate. In short, the 2019 coronavirus is a novel strain that was unknown before December 2019. It is different and can be much more dangerous than the common cold. Despite the differences, prevention for both the 2019 coronavirus and the common cold are relatively similar: wash your hands, avoid touching your face and stay away from people who are sick.",,,,,,,,,,
Public Health, Facebook Fact-checks, Coronavirus, Facebook posts,
Encouraging news about reversing heart disease
March 13, 2006
This is an enthusiastic story about the results of the ASTEROID Trial, which showed that very high doses of Crestor (a statin) caused regression of atherosclerosis as shown on intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) in high risk patients. The story did not make clear that, while these results are intriguing, it is not clear that they will have any clinically meaningful impact on real cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart attack or death, compared to current practice. In fact, the story almost seems to makes leaps beyond what the evidence showed when it said, The study was not big enough to detect changes in the numbers of heart attacks or strokes but evidence suggests that eliminating plaque should lower the risk. There is no explanation of the availability of Crestor. Is it FDA approved? Is it on the market? The story can’t assume that everyone knows. The story also does not place the treatment within the context of other existing therapies. This is important given that the study did not compare the treatment to current practice – regular doses of statins. Although the story is based on trial results, so little information about the design of the trial is presented that the viewer has no basis on which to interpret the strength of the evidence. No harms or side effects are mentioned, which are likely to be significant given the high dose of the drug. No costs are mentioned and only a single source, the study’s lead author, is quoted. The lack of balanced information in this short story makes it very difficult for the viewer to be able to interpret the study results.
The story never mentions costs. Quantitative estimate is provided in relative frame only. The lead author of the study says that 1 to 9% of the plaque was gone, but we have no context for these numbers, nor do we know if this is clinically meaningful. No harms or side effects are mentioned. Although there is mention of a trial, so little information is provided that the viewer cannot evaluate the strength of the evidence. There is no obvious disease mongering. Only a single source, the lead author of the study, is quoted. Although there is mention of diet and exercise, there is no mention of the advantages/disadvantages of high-dose Crestor by comparison. There was also no mention of current practice – use of regular doses of statins. There is no explanation of the availability of Crestor. Is it FDA approved? Is it on the market? The story can’t assume that everyone knows. The story does not explain if the drug is new, old, investigational, or already approved. We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release. But only the lead author is interviewed.
Microwave ovens were banned in the USSR in 1976 to protect its citizens from harmful health effects.
January 17, 2017
The text from his website (which has a significant readership) has been repeated all over the web as fact, despite the truth that no such ban ever took place, and despite the fact that the claim stems from a possibly non-existent man with no apparent scientific credentials who may or may not have worked at the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in the late 1970s.
Alex Kasprak
Microwave ovens are a favorite bugaboo of the natural health set, and claims that they were once banned in various countries, including the Soviet Union, are repeated uncritically on numerous natural health websites espousing their purported dangers. For example, a 24 August 2016 article published on the conspiracy-obsessed website Natural News stated: The electromagnetic field (EMF) produced by common household microwaves is something Russia has taken seriously in the past. After conducting thorough research into the health effects of microwave EMFs, Russia determined in 1976 that microwaves were dangerous to their people. In that year, Russia banned the devices to protect their citizenry. Most (but not all) websites ambiguously state that the ban was lifted sometime during or before perestroika, in an effort to warm relations between the two countries. From a purely historical standpoint, this is a dubious narrative at best. However, there is some historical precedent for the purported relationship between microwaves and the Soviet Union. For at least fifteen years prior to 1976, the Soviets had literally been beaming microwave radiation at the American embassy in Moscow in an effort (by their own account) to prevent the United States from electronically eavesdropping — a fact made public that year, in a 28 February 1976 New York Times report: At least the main outlines of what might be called the Case of the Moscow Microwaves have finally emerged. For at least fifteen years the United States Embassy in Moscow has been systematically irradiated by microwaves generated in equipment installed nearby by Soviet intelligence agencies. The objectives of this bombardment presumably were to eavesdrop on conversations in the embassy and to attempt jamming of electronic monitoring equipment installed in and on the embassy. The United States State Department knew about this irradiation and protested from time to time, but the facts were kept secret from both the American public and most of the people in the embassy complex. This public acknowledgement spurred American research into the biological effects of low dose microwave radiation, and later led to an agreement between the Soviets and Americans to reduce the amount of microwave radiation to which the the embassy was exposed. Coverage of this event brought American concerns about microwave radiation to the forefront for the first time, spawning myriad articles and discussions at the time about a lack of research regarding its safety. The notion that a Russian ban on microwaves would go unreported in major United States newspapers during a time that the Soviets were downplaying the risk of their own intentionally beamed microwave radiation is unlikely, given the perceived hypocrisy it would have engendered. Further, there were in fact a number of different microwaves available in the USSR during this supposed ban. Though they were unaffordable to the average Russian at the time — the first Soviet manufactured microwaves hit the scene in the 1970s. According to an article in the 16 August 2016 issue of Russia’s version of Popular Mechanics about this very myth, at least twenty-three different models were manufactured during this time period. This one, from 1981 (smack dab in the time period of the purported ban), is described by that article’s author as “famous”: The origin of this myth, however, lies over 5000 miles away from Moscow in America’s Pacific Northwest — Portland, Oregon. Every claim made regarding a Russian ban on microwaves stems from an article published in the first (and as far as we can tell, the only) issue of a mysterious publication called the “Journal of Natural Science.” While the article from the “April-June 1998 issue” lists myriad claims about the dangers of microwave radiation, it is published without a single citation. That article also incorrectly asserts that the Nazis invented the microwave oven, and both the Soviets and Americans got their hands on the details after the war for further research: These documents and the experimental microwave equipment was transferred to the U.S. War Department, and classified for reference and scientific investigation. The Soviet Union also retrieved some of the devices, and proceeded to undertake experimentation on a separate basis. The Russians have been the most diligent in their research on the biological effects of microwave ovens, and have outlawed their use, and have also issued an international warning concerning the possible biological and environmental damage that can be caused by the use of this similar-frequency electronic apparatus. The author of this article is listed as “William P. Kopp,” whose biography is included at the end of the article: The original of this forensic research document is to be found in the Archives of the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in Portland, Oregon. The author William Kopp worked there from 1977 to 1979. Already twenty years ago Kopp gathered all documents known so far concerning the scientific proofs about microwaves’ harmful effects on humans. By doing this he got in the way of a powerful lobby and was forced later on to even change his name and to disappear. While it is hard to verify the authenticity of an unsourced document written by someone who claims to have changed his name to disappear from the dangerous microwave lobby, it is possible to ascertain what (at least in the late 1970s) the “Atlantis Rising Educational Center” was all about. Based on a classified ad placed in a January 1979 issue of the magazine Yoga Journal, it appears that this center was an alternative health bookstore selling herbal supplements: The allegation of a Soviet ban on microwave ovens may well have stayed within the walls of the Atlantis Rising Educational Center if not for the misleading promotion of this remarkably questionable document. Perhaps most notably, the claim was repeated by the natural health evangelist Joseph Mercola who parroted the claim almost word for word on his web site, citing this Atlantis Rising “study”: The Nazis are credited with inventing the first microwave-cooking device to provide mobile food support to their troops during their invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II. These first microwave ovens were experimental. After the war, the US War Department was assigned the task of researching the safety of microwave ovens. But it was the Russians who really took the bull by the horns. After the war, the Russians had retrieved some of these microwave ovens and conducted thorough research on their biological effects. Alarmed by what they learned, the Russians banned microwave ovens in 1976, later lifting the ban during Perestroika.
History, food, food science, Microwaves
Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain all died with white Bic lighters in their pockets.
January 2, 2017
Britain should not follow the European Union’s “Museum of Agriculture” and let false concerns over U.S. farming practices get in the way of a post-Brexit trade deal, the U.S. ambassador to London said on Saturday.
Dan Evon
On Thursday, the United States laid out its objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, seeking to entirely eliminate or reduce barriers for U.S. agricultural products and streamline regulatory differences. Opponents of Brexit have argued that such a U.S. accord would open up Britain’s markets to the likes of chlorine-treated chicken and genetically modified crops, while ministers have said the government would not lower food standards to win trade deals. “You have been presented with a false choice: either stick to EU directives, or find yourselves flooded with American food of the lowest quality,” Ambassador Woody Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. “Inflammatory and misleading terms like ‘chlorinated chicken’ and ‘hormone beef’ are deployed to cast American farming in the worst possible light. It is time the myths are called out for what they really are: a smear campaign from people with their own protectionist agenda.” Johnson said American farmers were using all scientific and technological tools to help meet the challenges of a growing global population and the resulting health and environmental pressures that brought. “It is not sustainable for the whole world to follow the EU’s ‘Museum of Agriculture’ approach. We have to look to the future of farming, not just the past,” he said. Johnson said washing chicken was a “public safety no-brainer” and using growth hormones for cattle allowed more meat to be produced at a lower cost to the consumer and environment while being completely safe to eat. “The fact is that farmers in America have the same priorities as farmers in Britain”, he said. “It would be a genuine missed opportunity to buy into the idea that the EU’s traditionalist approach to agriculture is Britain’s only option for a quality and efficient agriculture sector moving forward.” In a separate story on Saturday, the Telegraph reported that Britain would follow all EU food and farming regulations for nine months should it exit the bloc without having secured a withdrawal deal to protect British farming. The newspaper said the move sent a signal that the United Kingdom wanted to stay aligned with European and not U.S. agricultural standards.
Entertainment, 27 club, janis joplin, jim morrison
Schools in Austin Independent School District are teaching children as young as 4 years old that their gender is fluid – that they’re not a boy or a girl and they can choose whichever gender they want.
September 8, 2017
"Hodge said: ""Schools in Austin Independent School District are teaching children as young as 4 years old that their gender is fluid – that they’re not a boy or a girl and they can choose whichever gender they want."" Hodge didn’t deliver proof of Austin students including toddlers getting told that gender is fluid nor did we confirm such instruction. It’s clear otherwise that the district has put energy into teachers understanding that each child comes to terms with gender identity among developmental issues. Teacher training materials include a lesson plan describing gender identity varying along a spectrum."
W. Gardner Selby
"A supporter of basing student access to bathrooms and locker rooms on gender identity at birth declared that as things stand, Austin's schools teach children to choose their genders. Spicewood attorney Glenna Hodge, testifying before the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee, said parents should recognize that without a protective law, their children can’t count on privacy. Hodge went on: ""We also know that schools in Austin Independent School District are teaching children as young as 4 years old that their gender is fluid–that they’re not a boy or a girl and they can choose whichever gender they want."" Asked for examples of schools doing so, Hodge told the panel in July 2017 that Austin’s Kiker and Odom elementary schools trained teachers with ""Welcoming Schools"" materials devised by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. That campaign says it focuses on achieving equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. In each training, Hodge testified, teachers were told to tell children that gender identity is fluid. We asked Hodge how she reached her conclusion about what students are taught. By phone, she said 24 of the Austin district’s 85 elementary schools undertook the training, which she described as clearing the way for students to be taught gender-fluid lessons. ""What are the teachers supposed to do with the training? What’s the point if not to affirm transgenderism?"" Hodge said. A 2017 web post Hodge pointed us to a January 2017 web post by the Southern Baptist Texan, a religious publication. The post, ""Trojan Horse: Austin ‘anti-bullying’ program pushes progressive views on gender, sexual identity,"" says the Welcoming Students material ""is taught to students as young as 4 years old"" and ""affirms same-sex marriage and parenting, gay and lesbian relationships, and transgenderism."" In one module of the teacher training, the post says, ""teachers are asked to answer questions about their preconceived ideas about gender (i.e. gender bias). The lesson states, ‘By embracing the richness of the gender spectrum, teachers and other adults can help broaden children’s understandings of gender in order to help every child feel seen and recognized.’"" The post goes on: ""By Module 5, children are told they can choose their gender identity even if that identity conflicts with biological reality. Questioning the child’s choice of gender is not an option for teachers or students,"" the post says. A teacher’s recollection Hodge also put us in touch with Caryl Ayala, who described herself by phone as a former Odom pre-kindergarten teacher where, she said, the Welcoming Schools training took place in 2015-16. She said she had no recording or notes taken during the training but pointed us to a Concerned Parents of Austin website presenting what appeared to be part of the training presentation. According to one training module, ""What is Gender?,"" presenters were to get teachers to ""recognize that gender expression is a social construct, without meaning other than the meaning we have given it."" School district responses Seeking a full grasp on what teachers were taught and what students are told, we queried the Austin district. By email, a spokeswoman, Tiffany Young, initially conveyed a statement from Peter Price, district director of social and emotional learning, stating that in the 2014-15 through 2016-17 school years, 24 elementary campuses requested and received Welcoming Schools ""professional development,"" which Price described as a ""training for teachers to provide safe, supportive, inclusive environments for students and their families and to create a conversation among adults on campus to examine our language and practices."" In each instance, Price, said, a letter was sent home at the start of the school year and parents were invited to attend a module. Young emailed us an undated letter to parents stating the training focuses on embracing family diversity, ending bullying and avoiding ""gender stereotyping and accepting diverse gender identities."" From the parent letter: ""Pressure to conform to specific gender roles can limit a child’s development by limiting experiences and expectations. We believe it is important to allow all students to reach their full potential and to feel safe expressing their individuality."" So, are students taught that gender is fluid? In a follow-up statement, Price said ""one of the biggest misconceptions about our Welcoming Schools training for teachers is that they turn around after the training and present a curriculum/lessons to students about LGTBQ topics. That does not happen. The training is for adults, so they can be better prepared to welcome all students to our schools and to ensure all students feel safe and valued. There is no curriculum or lessons for the students."" We later connected with Lisa Goodnow, the district’s executive director for academic and social emotional learning, who said by phone that children in pre-kindergarten are taught about health and safety issues, not gender identity. Human sexuality gets taken up in middle and high school, Goodnow said. Goodnow emailed us a document showing topics addressed in the district’s human sexuality curriculum from kindergarten through fifth grade. Human sexuality gets mentioned in third grade, the document says, with puberty discussed in fifth grade; there’s no direct mention of gender identity in the document. When we asked Young about Austin schools doing the Welcoming Schools training in 2017-18, she replied that no schools were doing so but the district was ""looking into creating its own training program in the future for teachers and is taking the next year to develop it."" Documentation At our inquiry, the district also gave access to hundreds of pages of emails and other documents from recent years about the Welcoming Schools trainings and gender-related topics. We didn’t spot material suggesting teachers were telling students that gender is fluid. But documents did show interest among teachers and other staff in helping students come to terms with gender identity issues. Among the documents: --A 2015 paper, ""Beyond the Gender Binary: A Group for Teens,"" suggesting middle and high schools could provide opportunities for students to explore ""the many facets of gender identity and increase feelings of well-being in trans youth."" --A 2015 email from Superintendent Paul Cruz to principals and staff sharing changes in policy adopted by the school board to protect gender identity and expression. The email said: ""Gender identity refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as male, female or another gender. Gender expression refers to the external manifestation of a person’s gender identity, which or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine."" Cruz’s email further said he hoped to see the Welcoming Schools curriculum extended to all campuses. --A 2016 email from a district official to another sharing a CNN story on what it means to be ""gender-fluid."" --A Welcoming Schools packet about using books in grades one through three to look at gender stereotyping. --A list of ""gender identity"" books for students including picture books for students starting in pre-k. ""Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy,"" the list says, follows Tulip ""as he deals with the birthday wishes of all the nine-year-olds in North America. Tulip receives a wish from a child known as David to live as Daniela. He doesn’t know how to help, so he seeks the wise counsel of the Wish Fairy Captain."" Another listed book: ""All I Want to Be is Me,"" is described as giving voice ""to the feelings of children who don’t fit gender stereotypes, and who just want to be free to be themselves. Includes children who are fluid in their gender identity, as well as those that feel their body doesn’t match who they really are,"" the summary says. Human Rights Campaign We also heard back from the Human Rights Campaign about its training materials. By email, spokeswoman Sarah McBride provided responses from Johanna Eager, director of Welcoming Schools, who said: ""We do not say that gender is a choice, but in workshops with educators, Welcoming Schools does reference the research and data which demonstrate that children begin to understand their gender identity as early as the age of four."" We looked over the foundation’s suggested Welcoming Schools lesson plans, noticing that none focus on children in pre-kindergarten and the lesson plan on ""understanding transgender children"" contains no language saying children should be told gender identity is fluid though there’s reference to gender as a spectrum. That particular lesson plan, intended for teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade, lists among goals the expansion of ""students’ perception and understanding of gender"" and also understanding ""what it means to be transgender using developmentally appropriate language for younger students."" The plan also calls for students to read and discuss a nonfiction story, ""I Am Jazz,"" and it says students ""will learn new vocabulary words related to gender."" From the publisher’s summary of the story: ""From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers."" The lesson plan says teachers should understand before reading the book to students ""that gender is a spectrum, not a binary, and that we all express ourselves in many different ways along that spectrum. Each child is an individual with their own unique expression of who they are in the world,"" the plan says. Definitions offered with the lesson plan include: ""GENDER IDENTITY: How you feel — male, female, neither or both. This can be different from the anatomy that you were born with (sex assigned at birth)."" ""TRANSGENDER/TRANS: When your gender identity (how you feel) is different than how your body is (your anatomy). When a person with a boy body feels like a girl inside their heart and brain. Or, when a person with a girl body feels like a boy inside their heart and brain. "" ""GENDER BINARY: The idea that there are two distinct and opposite genders — male and female / boy and girl. This idea is limiting and doesn’t allow for the many ways that children and adults express themselves."" We followed up with Young, who noted by email that the Austin district didn’t adopt the Welcoming Schools curriculum for classroom instruction. Further, she said: ""We are not aware of any elementary school teachers who are teaching gender fluidity."" Our ruling Hodge said: ""Schools in Austin Independent School District are teaching children as young as 4 years old that their gender is fluid – that they’re not a boy or a girl and they can choose whichever gender they want."" Hodge didn’t deliver proof of Austin students including toddlers getting told that gender is fluid nor did we confirm such instruction. It’s clear otherwise that the district has put energy into teachers understanding that each child comes to terms with gender identity among developmental issues. Teacher training materials include a lesson plan describing gender identity varying along a spectrum. – The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.",,,,,,,,,,,,
Education, Texas, Glenna Hodge,
Spiriva as good as Serevent in asthma study
September 19, 2010
Helicopter pilot Mark Law did not hesitate to fly out to New Zealand’s White Island volcano immediately after it erupted to carry survivors to hospital, but after a harrowing week he knows his town’s adventure tourism industry faces an uncertain future.
As the search continues for the final two missing bodies from Monday’s deadly eruption, Law knows it will be challenging for his business, Kahu Helicopters. Some of his seven staff, including three pilots, could lose their jobs. “We’re going to be greatly affected, we’re anticipating probably damn near shutting the doors. It’s going to be devastating, we’ve been operating that part of our business for years,” he said. Law is not alone worrying about his future in Whakatane, a picturesque town of 35,000 of the shore of the Bay of Plenty that is the main access point to the volcanic island. Anne Tolley, the local member of parliament, said the town was shattered by the disaster and its thoughts were with the victims, but hoped that tours would one day restart. “It is iconic and it is certainly is the centerpiece of the town’s tourism. We also have fantastic beaches and walks and the kiwi, but Whakaari, you will have seen all the signs, we are the gateway to Whakaari,” Tolley told Reuters, using the Māori name for the volcano. Daily tours had taken more than 10,000 visitors every year to privately owned island 50km (30 miles) off the coast. Tours to the island were part of Whakatane’s history, and operators had been gearing up for the peak Christmas holiday season before Monday’s disaster, Tolley said. “It’s very difficult coming at probably the busiest time of year for them. It will be devastating.” On Monday, the 48-year-old Law had quickly organized three other pilots to fly out to the island, where they picked up 10 badly burned people and flew them back to Whakatane’s hospital. Law and his team tried to fly back to the island to recover the bodies of those they knew had died, but were “tremendously disappointed” to be stopped by police. After initially being sidelined from police operations, by mid-week Law was sharing his knowledge of the volcano’s terrain and environment with the military squad that on Friday retrieved six of the eight bodies left behind. On the weekend, the search continued for the remaining bodies. “At the end of the day people on the ground generally know and it is important… to weave into the plan the effort of the local people,” Law told Reuters. Shock had ripped through Whakatane at the eruption, with the local hospital overwhelmed as dozens of seriously injured people were delivered from the island. Whakatane’s tourism sector had been growing strongly with the unique marine volcano at its heart, but with the prospect that people may be reluctant to visit the island even if it is reopened, immediate prospects will be challenging. As the recovery mission on Friday played out, Boz Te Moana, 24, and Michael Mika, 28, waited to support their community gathered in the indigenous Māori marae, or meeting ground. The two, who had traveled from their homes further up the Whakatane River, hoped in time tours to the waters around the island would be allowed again but tourists should not step foot on it again, out of respect for the dead, they said. “I don’t know if the mamae or the hurt will ever change, but the environment, it’s up to the town itself to move forward from here in the most positive way,” said Te Moana, using the Māori word for pain.
Massachusetts to help test addiction treatment rating system.
Massachusetts has agreed to participate in a new rating system that is being developed to measure the quality of addiction treatment programs.
State health officials say the rating system will primarily use data from three sources: insurance claims, provider surveys, and consumer experience surveys. The information will be made publicly available to those searching for high-quality addiction treatment, as well as to public and private payers, states, and referral sources. The system is being developed by the national nonprofit organization Shatterproof . The rating system will examine evidence-based specialty addiction treatment providers including residential, outpatient, and intensive outpatient programs that are licensed, certified or approved by states to provide treatment for substance use disorder. If the pilot program is successful, the rating system will be launched nationwide.
Health, Massachusetts, Addiction treatment

Dataset Card for PUBHEALTH

Dataset Summary

PUBHEALTH is a comprehensive dataset for explainable automated fact-checking of public health claims. Each instance in the PUBHEALTH dataset has an associated veracity label (true, false, unproven, mixture). Furthermore each instance in the dataset has an explanation text field. The explanation is a justification for which the claim has been assigned a particular veracity label.

Supported Tasks and Leaderboards

[More Information Needed]


The text in the dataset is in English.

Dataset Structure

Data Instances

The following is an example instance of the PUBHEALTH dataset:

Field Example
claim Expired boxes of cake and pancake mix are dangerously toxic.
explanation What's True: Pancake and cake mixes that contain mold can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. What's False: Pancake and cake mixes that have passed their expiration dates are not inherently dangerous to ordinarily healthy people, and the yeast in packaged baking products does not "over time develops spores."
label mixture
author(s) David Mikkelson
date published April 19, 2006
tags food, allergies, baking, cake
main_text In April 2006, the experience of a 14-year-old who had eaten pancakes made from a mix that had gone moldy was described in the popular newspaper column Dear Abby. The account has since been circulated widely on the Internet as scores of concerned homemakers ponder the safety of the pancake and other baking mixes lurking in their larders [...]
evidence sources [1] Bennett, Allan and Kim Collins. “An Unusual Case of Anaphylaxis: Mold in Pancake Mix.” American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. September 2001 (pp. 292-295). [2] Phillips, Jeanne. “Dear Abby.” 14 April 2006 [syndicated column].

Data Fields

Mentioned above in data instances.

Data Splits

# Instances
train.tsv 9832
dev.tsv 1221
test.tsv 1235
total 12288

Dataset Creation

Curation Rationale

The dataset was created to explore fact-checking of difficult to verify claims i.e., those which require expertise from outside of the journalistics domain, in this case biomedical and public health expertise.

It was also created in response to the lack of fact-checking datasets which provide gold standard natural language explanations for verdicts/labels.

Source Data

Initial Data Collection and Normalization

The dataset was retrieved from the following fact-checking, news reviews and news websites:

Who are the source language producers?

[More Information Needed]


Annotation process

[More Information Needed]

Who are the annotators?

[More Information Needed]

Personal and Sensitive Information

Not to our knowledge, but if it is brought to our attention that we are mistaken we will make the appropriate corrections to the dataset.

Considerations for Using the Data

Social Impact of Dataset

[More Information Needed]

Discussion of Biases

[More Information Needed]

Other Known Limitations

[More Information Needed]

Additional Information

Dataset Curators

The dataset was created by Neema Kotonya, and Francesca Toni, for their research paper "Explainable Automated Fact-Checking for Public Health Claims" presented at EMNLP 2020.

Licensing Information

MIT License

Citation Information

    title = "Explainable Automated Fact-Checking for Public Health Claims",
    author = "Kotonya, Neema  and
      Toni, Francesca",
    booktitle = "Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)",
    month = nov,
    year = "2020",
    address = "Online",
    publisher = "Association for Computational Linguistics",
    url = "",
    pages = "7740--7754",


Thanks to @bhavitvyamalik for adding this dataset.

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