SMC professor’s post on Coney Barrett nomination goes viral

first_imgSaint Mary’s history professor Bill Svelmoe wrote a guide on Facebook on Sept. 27 for how he thinks Democrats should handle the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. As of Thursday, that Facebook post has been shared almost 50,000 times. It was tweeted out by Vanity Fair writer Joe Hagan, causing it to gain more attention.Svelmoe said he was confounded by the attention it got. “When you sit down to type out a Facebook post on a Sunday afternoon, you don’t think about it going viral. You are just writing for your friends,” Svelmoe said.A week after he showed John Sebastian’s Woodstock set in his post-1960s history class, Sebastian’s wife posted Svelmoe’s writing, a moment he said was an especially “big deal.” He contributed some of the attention to the false relationship between him and Notre Dame. Some commentators confused him for a Notre Dame professor, something he understands but also corrects.“I am trying to tell people, ‘No, I am not Notre Dame. I am Saint Mary’s; we are different,’” he said. Within the week, some of the circumstances around the post have already changed, with COVID-19 spreading through the White House. Regardless, Svelmoe said he stands by the main message of the post that Democrats should use the confirmation hearing strategically to win the election.Now that many members of Congress are becoming infected with COVID-19, maybe there might still be a way to block the confirmation hearing, he said.Svelmoe advises strategists to use the hearings to the Democrats’ advantage.“Don’t use the hearings to be something to fire up Trump’s base; use the hearings to fire up the Democratic base,” he said. “If you go after her religion … that is just going to fire up the Republicans’ base.” He specifies in the post that the hearings are not just a way to ensure Coney Barrett is an appropriate nominee for the Supreme Court, but also a way to rehash Trump’s presidency on national television for free. “Use [the confirmation hearings] to litigate the Trump administration, to go back through — what I think is the most corrupt — administration in our history and to go step-by-step through everything from the Emoluments Clause to the Hatch Act to the connection to Russia to his taxes … and have [Coney Barrett] respond to that,” he said. “That is something that would fire up the Democratic base, something I would like to see and it is something that would remind people of all this corruption in the Trump administration.”Coney Barrett’s nomination has come under attack because of her connections with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian congregation in the South Bend area. Svelmoe received his Ph.D. from Notre Dame specializing in the religious history of America and believes that pursuing this line of questioning will only be harmful to the Democratic cause and urges people to stop calling People of Praise a cult. He said that women criticizing his stance is understandable.“I tried to tell those folks, look I understand that I feel your pain,” he said. “I grew up in these kinds of groups. I understand these kinds of groups, and I understand the pain that it causes women who have come out of them, but my point is let’s just not call it a cult, and let’s not focus on that in the hearings. If you want to focus on that somewhere else, then fine.” When asked about the historic precedent for Catholics in the courts, Svelmoe highlighted the fact that a majority of the current justices are Catholic. In fact, six sitting members of the Supreme Court were raised Roman Catholic. Five are practicing with the other two are Jewish. Despite this, Svelmoe still sees the concerns around Coney Barrett’s religion as legitimate, just not the best path of questioning during the confirmation hearings. “I understand people’s concerns,” he said. “Your religion is going to trump your reason, or you are going to be taking orders from some religious figure about how to vote on things. It is completely legitimate for any human being in any position of government to be guided by their religion. You just can’t separate that. That is who we are. That is what the confirmation is supposed to be about — you look at it and you say is she a good jurist or is she not.” He separates the legitimate concerns over religious influence from the less legitimate involving conspiracies around religious people taking direct orders from religious leaders.“There is doctrine and then there is how these things actually work on a human level,” Svelmoe said. “That’s not to say that there aren’t groups that are oppressive and use these doctrines to oppress women.” He understands people’s anxiety over the role her religion plays in her decision making and sees it as something worth bringing up in the confirmation hearings, just not as something Democrats should grill her on, especially if they are not well researched.  Svelmoe wondered about the legacy her conservatism would have on the perception of Catholics across the country. “The problem for Catholics is ‘Do you want a Catholic who is already seen with suspicion on this issue; do you want her casting a deciding vote that ends gay marriage or that ends Roe v. Wade? Do you really want that?’” Svelmoe said. “Just [imagine] the outrage and the fury that would cause in the country. If she does get on and then starts being a key member in all these decisions, I’m not sure if that’s the type of notoriety Notre Dame, or Catholics in general, should long for.”Coney Barrett’s conservatism offers a strong juxtaposition to the last time Notre Dame was on the national political stage with Fr. Ted Hesburgh, an idea Svelmoe expanded on when asked.“Hesburgh was marching in Civil Rights [and] was finding ways to negotiate protests on campus in regards to the Vietnam War in what really seems like a really smart reasonable way,” he said. “You’re going from this image of real wisdom to [University President Fr. John] Jenkins sitting in the Rose Garden without a mask and [Amy Coney Barrett] standing there without a mask, standing next to Donald Trump without a mask, all her children without a mask, sitting next to Melania Trump without a mask.”Svelmoe’s post presented one way to effectively evaluate Amy Coney Barrett’s jurisprudence and ability to reason with law, and the internet responded with overwhelming support. At first, Svelmoe felt the need to respond to everybody who reached out through comments and messages.“There is no way I can begin to respond to it all. It all goes by so fast,” he said. “When it blew up it just overwhelmed my page, and it became impossible to respond to everybody.”Svelmoe said he has enjoyed the conversation around the subject with people he would have never otherwise spoken to. “I enjoy engaging with thoughtful responses,” Svelmoe said. “I think liberals, maybe just human beings in general are hungry for a space where there can be these really interesting conversations.” Not all responses have been positive along with the encouragement came trolls, accusations and justified criticism. While ignoring the unjustified criticism, Svlemoe has also enjoyed engaging with legitimate criticism. “People have made very good thoughts and criticism of that post and other posts before it, and that’s great,” he said. “Spend your time engaging with people who are engaging thoughtfully and don’t worry about the trolls.” Svelmoe said he has enjoyed the conversations that have come from the post, but he’s growing tired of the attention. “You don’t write something like that expecting it to go viral, and somehow there is just something in the Zeitgeist that it hits and it explodes,” he said. “When you look back on it you might have written something differently if you had known that it would get all those extra eyes on it. I hope that I am at minute 14 of my 15 minutes [of fame].”Tags: Amy Coney Barrett, Bill Svelmoe, supreme court nominationlast_img read more

FRIDAY 4 pm UPDATE: Eyewall of category 2 Hurricane Delta moving onshore

first_imgThe eyewall of category 2 Hurricane Delta is moving onshore in Cameron and western Vermilion Parish, the National Weather Service announced at a 4 p.m. Friday update.“So be prepared for hurricane force winds from Cameron-Vermilion Parishes, inland through Jeff Davis, Acadia, Allen, and Evangeline Parishes,” Warning Coordination Meteorologist Roger Erickson said.“By the time this storm is near Alexandria it should be a tropical storm later this evening.”As of 4 p.m. Friday, the storm was 55 miles from Port Arthur. Sabine Pass is showing around 2 to 3 feet, while St. Mary Parish is seeing around one foot.Rain totals so far have been 3 to 7 inches, and rain continues across much of the region.Flash flood warnings are in place along the I-10 corridor of Southeast Texas and southwest and south central Louisiana, and this will likely need to be extended further inland to the US 190 corridor this evening. Shear has been disrupting Delta as it approached the Cameron coast. Cooler water temperatures near shore have also helped it weaken a little bit.Winds around 50 mph have been reported in Mid-County and Port Arthur.Storm surge is now increasing rapidly at the coast.Cameron is reporting over 5 feet of water above ground, and southern Vermilion Parish is seeing over 6 feet.last_img read more


first_imgMoves are stressful for everyone — including the family pet. Pets can sense stress and a change in routine can be difficult for them. If possible, keep your pets in a quiet, secure area while movers pack up or unload your belongings. Movers will have your door open while they move boxes and furniture, and a pet may slip out the door undetected. Make sure you keep a collar with an ID tag on your pet at all times. Ensure the tag has your current phone number on it. It is also a good idea to microchip your pets. Remember to keep the microchip’s contact information up-to-date. If your pet escapes during any part of your move, you want the animal shelter that scans the chip to be able to contact you.Your pet may face many outside dangers in Georgia, such as alligators, armadillos, bats, bears, beavers, coyotes, rats, raccoons, foxes and more. Keep your dog on a short leash in wooded areas, especially if it starts sniffing or pawing the ground. Avoid allowing your dog to walk around or swim in unknown waters.The area also is home to parasites, including fleas, ticks and ear mites. Outdoor pets can bring these pests into the home, posing a risk to humans since they can transmit disease through their bites. Limiting and supervising your pet’s outdoor activities can help it avoid these dangers.Animal ServicesGeorgia Wildlife Resources DivisionRanger Hotline 800-241-4113www.georgiawildlife.orgThe Wildlife Resources Division is one of six divisions of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This division is tasked with conserving, enhancing and promoting the state’s wildlife resources, including game and nongame animals, fish and protected plants. Visit the division’s website for information on hunting, fishing and state wildlife.Houston County Animal Control200 Carl Vinson ParkwayWarner Robins, GA 31088 Houston County Animal Control strives to protect the health and safety of its residents, ensure humane treatment of animals, and promote responsible pet ownership through the enforcement of all state laws and county ordinances. Animal control officers are responsible for investigating animal cruelty, animal nuisance complaints and animal bites as mandated by Georgia law.Humane Society of Houston County810 Carl Vinson ParkwayCenterville, GA 31028 478-599-0211www.humanesocietyhoco.orgThe Humane Society of Houston County serves the Houston County area, including Warner Robins, Perry, Centerville, Bonaire and Kathleen. For information on pet adoption, visit the society’s website.Perry Animal ServicesAnimal Control 478-542-2000Animal Shelter 478-988-2888/338-0199 Perry Police Department’s Animal Control Section manages and protects Perry’s animal population.The Perry Animal Shelter is behind Perry’s maintenance facility at the intersection of Ball Street and Tucker Road, next to Tolleson Lumber Co. The shelter provides lost and found information, animal care education and pet adoption services.Warner Robins Animal Services208 Stalnaker Ave.Warner Robins, GA 31088 Animal Control Division enforces laws and city ordinances pertaining to animal control and care, provides housing and care for impounded animals, finds homes for adoptable animals, educates the public on responsible pet ownership and humanely euthanizes unwanted animals. The facility is licensed and regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. For more information on pet adoption, visit the animal control website.Pets for Patriotshttps://petsforpatriots.orgPets for Patriots’ vision is to end animal homelessness in the United States while giving our military veterans and their families the greatest “thank you” of all: the extraordinary love of a companion pet. It makes this happen through its nationwide shelter and veterinary networks, military and veteran organizations, and a public that values the lives of both the vulnerable and heroic among us.To learn more about adopting a pet, visit ServicesVeterinary services in Houston County are plentiful; see the Military Buyer’s Guide to connect with local providers. Another source for finding a veterinarian is the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association website at read more

New income guidelines released for free and reduced-price meals

first_img3 $ Twice Per Month 1 $ Every Two Weeks 1,354 4 1,985 16,237 $ Twice Per Month 50,713 $ Yearly 7 $ Every Two Weeks 1,635 31,284 221 445 3,289 6,015 3,091 6,696 1,156 963 7 8,177 1,395 158Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Children who are eligible for reduced-price meals will receive breakfast and lunch at no additional charge through state support of school nutrition programs.Application forms will be sent to all households with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out the application and return it to the school or program. Additional copies are available at the principal’s office in each school. The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. For School Food Authority (SFA) officials to determine eligibility, households receiving 3SquaresVT (food stamp benefits) or Reach Up (TANF) must list the children’s names, a 3SquaresVT or Reach Up case number, and the signature of an adult household member. All children in households with any household member receiving benefits under assistance programs are eligible for free meals. Children in Other Source Categorically Eligible (i.e., children categorized as homeless, migrant, runaway, Head Start, Even Start and foster children, if known) are also eligible for free meals.If you do not list A 3SquaresVT or a Reach Up Number, then the application must have the children’s names, total household members, the amount of income each member received last month, the signature of an adult household member, and the last four digits of the adult’s social security number (or the mark the box if he or she does not have one). Foster children also categorically qualify for free meals/milk, regardless of the child’s income. If you have foster children living with you and wish to apply for such meals or milk for them, please complete the application as instructed. Under the provisions of the policy, the approving official will review applications and determine eligibility.Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, the determining official(s), as designated by the sponsor/agency, shall review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the eligibility ruling may discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. Parents may also make a formal request for an appeal hearing of the decision and may do so orally or in writing with the school’s hearing official. Parents or guardians should contact their child(ren)’s school(s) for specific information regarding the name of the determining official and/or hearing official for a specific school or district.If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the levels shown above.Direct CertificationAny member of a household currently certified to receive 3SquaresVT and/or Reach Up benefits will be notified of the enrolled children’s eligibility and that the enrolled children will be provided free benefits unless the household notifies the SFA that it chooses to decline benefits. If 3SquaresVT or Reach Up households are not notified by their school of their eligibility, they will need to submit an application to receive benefits.A list of schools and child and adult day care programs participating in Child Nutrition Programs is available upon request.For more information about school meals programs, eligibility or complaint procedures, please contact: Rosie Krueger, State Director of Child Nutrition Programs. (802) 479-1246 or sends e-mail). Non-Discrimination StatementIn accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: is external), and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or(3) email: sends e-mail).Source: Vermont Agency of Education 10.1.2019 4,652 2,667 644 39,461 1,926 8 2,462 1,509 2,326 63,992 1,086 111Reduced Price Meals Income Eligibility GuidelinesHousehold Size 1,874 1,231 2,172 313 4,705 39,221 $ Weekly 1,951 865 423 Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Agency of Education Child Nutrition Programs announced today its policy for free or reduced-price meals for children served under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), the NSLP Afterschool Snack Service, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The income guidelines are effective from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. The following household size and income guidelines will be used to determine eligibility:Free Meals Income Eligibility GuidelinesHousehold Size 479 3,008 2,790 33,475 27,729 2 755 4 2,147 1,833 2,776 1,074 $ Yearly 1,388 5 1,518 1,645 44,967 625 23,107 1,288 $ Monthly 1,204 240 1,304 1 3,748 3 1,730 $ Monthly 889 682 759 21,983 56,459 917 For each additional household member add 47,638 916 3,970 55,815 For each additional household member add 602 976 3,269 $ Weekly 6 677 6 846 5 4,227 2,607 72,169 8 1,067 315 2,353 80,346 2,311 3,348 2 534 1,832 5,333 2,114 341 1,546 5,746last_img read more

Nominations sought for Goldin Award

first_imgNominations sought for Goldin Award Nominations sought for Goldin Award The Executive Council of the Criminal Law Section of The Florida Bar is seeking nominations of deserving candidates to receive the Selig I. Goldin Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding contribution to Florida’s criminal justice system.The council will make its selection at the Bar’s Midyear Meeting in January, and present the award at the section’s luncheon at the Bar’s Annual Meeting in June.Nominations must be submitted by November 30, and include the name of the candidate, a description of their contribution to the criminal justice system, a biographical sketch or resume, and the candidate’s contact information. Send the nomination H. Scott Fingerhut, 2400 South Dixie Highway, Second Floor, Miami 33133-3100, Fax (305) 854-8782 or e-mail: or November 15, 2006 Regular Newslast_img read more

Final flight to Columbus caps road schedule

first_imgThe two teams did battle last weekend and came out with a split. Buckeyes star forward Natalie Spooner, one of the top goal-scorers in the conference, found the net three times and accounted for six of her teamâÄôs points.âÄúWhenever sheâÄôs on the ice, youâÄôve got to be aware of her and her whereabouts,âÄù Gillanders said. âÄúIf she gets the puck, sheâÄôs going to get chances. ItâÄôs better if you always know where she is so you can shut her down.âÄùThe Gophers swept Ohio State earlier in the year, and with more stellar play as of late, they have virtually locked up the No. 2 seed. The only way Minnesota could drop a place in the standings is if it lost the rest of its games and North Dakota won out.The Gophers have suffered just one loss since Dec. 10 and will be looking for their third straight sweep.Despite all that, theyâÄôre still trailing No. 1 Wisconsin by six points, and the Badgers have a date with conference cellar dweller St. Cloud State this weekend.Gophers forward Stephanie Anderson credited the teamâÄôs success to its improved chemistry and said that Minnesota players âÄúare always doing something together off the ice.âÄùThis weekend, theyâÄôll be back on the ice, and Frost expects their opponent to put up a better fight this time around.âÄúTheyâÄôre a very tough beat at home. âĦ TheyâÄôve improved throughout the year,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs going to be very tough there.âÄùFrost has made a habit this season of talking up bad teams before laying the hurt on them. Final flight to Columbus caps road scheduleMinnesota swept the Buckeyes earlier in the season. Samuel GordonFebruary 9, 2012Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrint Earlier in the season, the Gophers womenâÄôs hockey team had trouble finding consistency on the road in WCHA play. Minnesota, which is undefeated at home, split road series with Wisconsin, Bemidji State, North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth.But after picking up sweeps at Minnesota State and St. Cloud State in successive weekends, the No. 2 Gophers have found harmony away from home. ThatâÄôs something theyâÄôll hope to take to Columbus when they square off with Ohio State in their final road series of the season.âÄúThis past weekend I thought we played really well and hard and consistent for 120 minutes of hockey,âÄù head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúThatâÄôs something weâÄôve struggled with just on the road.âÄùFrost also expressed a degree of relief in the conclusion of the road schedule.âÄúI think the biggest thing is that itâÄôs showing that itâÄôs the end of the year. WeâÄôre in an important time, needing to continue to win some hockey games,âÄù he said. âÄúIf all goes well in the playoffs, weâÄôre going to be on the road anyways.âÄùUnlike the last two weekends, however, Minnesota (24-4-2, 18-4-2 WCHA) will have to fly âÄî for just the second time this season âÄî 760 miles to Ohio StateâÄôs campus.âÄúSometimes it takes a lot of energy out of your body when youâÄôre taking a lot of time to fly to places,âÄù defender Baylee Gillanders said. âÄúWeâÄôre flying out Thursday so then we can get our legs ready for FridayâÄôs game.âÄùThen, theyâÄôll tango with the Buckeyes, who are fighting for playoff positioning in the WCHA Tournament.Ohio StateâÄôs 38 points (15-11-4, 12-11-1 WCHA) have it tied for fourth in the conference with Minnesota-Duluth.last_img read more

Study: Higher estrogen levels linked to increased alcohol sensitivity in brain’s ‘reward center’

first_imgShare Share on Twitter The reward center of the brain is much more attuned to the pleasurable effects of alcohol when estrogen levels are elevated, an effect that may underlie the development of addiction in women, according to a study on mice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.Led by Amy Lasek, assistant professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, researchers found that neurons in a region of the brain called the ventral tegmental area, or VTA (also known as the “reward center”), fired most rapidly in response to alcohol when their estrogen levels were high. This response, according to their findings published online in the journal PLOS ONE, is mediated through receptors on dopamine-emitting neurons in the VTA.“When estrogen levels are higher, alcohol is much more rewarding,” said Lasek, who is the corresponding author on the paper and a researcher in the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics. “Women may be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol or more likely to overindulge during certain stages of their cycle when estrogen levels are higher, or may be more likely to seek out alcohol during those stages.” Email LinkedIncenter_img Share on Facebook Pinterest Studies indicate that gender differences in psychiatric disorders, including addiction, are influenced by estrogen, one of the primary female sex hormones. Women are more likely to exhibit greater escalation of abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and are more prone to relapse in response to stress and anxiety.The VTA helps evaluate whether something is valuable or good. When neurons in this area of the brain are stimulated, they release dopamine — a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of wellness — and, in large doses, euphoria. When something good is encountered — for example, chocolate — the neurons in the VTA fire more rapidly, enforcing reward circuitry that encodes the idea that chocolate is enjoyable and something to be sought out. Over time, the VTA neurons fire more quickly at the sight, or even thought of, chocolate, explained Lasek. In addiction, VTA neurons are tuned into drugs of abuse, and fire more quickly in relation to consuming or even thinking about drugs, driving the person to seek them out — often at the expense of their own health, family, friends and jobs.Many animal studies have shown that alcohol increases the firing of dopamine-sensitive neurons in the VTA, but little is known about exactly why this occurs.Lasek and her colleagues examined the relationship between estrogen, alcohol and the VTA in female mice. They used naturally cycling mice that were allowed to go through their normal estrous cycles, akin to the menstrual cycle in women.Mice were evaluated to determine when they entered diestrus — the phase in the estrous cycle when estrogen levels are close to their peak.“In mice in diestrus, estrogen levels increase to about 10 times higher than they are in estrus, the phase in which ovulation occurs and estrogen levels drop,” Lasek said.VTAs were taken from mice in both estrus and diestrus and kept alive in special chambers. Electrodes recorded the activity of individual dopamine-sensitive neurons in the VTA. Next, the researchers added alcohol to the chamber. Activity increased twice as much in neurons from mice in diestrus compared to the response of neurons from mice in estrus.Lasek and her colleagues then blocked estrogen receptors on dopamine-sensitive neurons in VTA in mice in estrus and diestrus. With the blocker present, the response to alcohol in neurons from mice in diestrus was significantly lower compared with neurons where estrogen receptors remained functional. The estrogen receptor blocker reduced the alcohol response to levels seen in mice in estrus. The responses to alcohol in neurons from mice in estrus were unaffected by the estrogen receptor blocker.“The increased reward response to alcohol we see when estrogen levels are high is mediated through receptors for estrogen in the VTA,” said Mark Brodie, professor of physiology and biophysics in the UIC College of Medicine and a co-author on the paper.Lasek believes that the increased sensitivity to alcohol in the VTA when estrogen levels peak may play a significant role in the development of addiction in women.“We already know that binge drinking can lead to lasting changes in the brain, and in women, those changes may be faster and more significant due to the interaction we see between alcohol, the VTA and estrogen,” Lasek said. “Binge drinking can increase the risk of developing alcoholism, so women need to be careful about how much alcohol they drink. They should be aware that they may sometimes inadvertently over-consume alcohol because the area of the brain involved in alcohol reward is responding very strongly.”last_img read more

Health officials, experts reject ‘false pandemic’ charges

first_imgJan 13, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Leading public health officials and experts have sharply rejected charges from some European officials that pharmaceutical companies used exaggerated claims about the H1N1 pandemic threat to scare governments into buying unnecessary stockpiles of vaccines.The Council of Europe, an organization of 47 nations, said yesterday that the charges will be on the agenda when its Parliamentary Assembly meets in Strasbourg, France, later this month. The assembly’s Social Affairs Committee has asked for a debate on the theme “False pandemics: a threat to health,” according to a statement on the council’s Web site.The charges, detailed in a proposed resolution, come as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other countries are scaling back their vaccine orders. Weak demand for the vaccine in the face of declining flu activity and the need for just one dose have left many countries with surpluses, though public health officials warn that another wave of infections could come this winter.Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician and politician who chairs the Council of Europe’s health committee, was quoted in the British media as saying the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) pandemic declaration last June triggered vaccine contracts with governments and that companies reap financial benefits without taking any risks. He told the London Daily Mail that the pandemic H1N1 virus was “a mild flu and a false pandemic.”In the Council of Europe resolution, Wodarg and 13 others charge that pharmaceutical companies have made countries “squander tight health care resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions of healthy people to the risk of unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.” The group asked the council to investigate the claims.The WHO has said it would review its pandemic response after the pandemic is over and would field questions related to the proposed Council of Europe resolution at its executive board meeting on Jan 18, according to media reports.European officials dismiss chargesThe proposal has drawn quick and sharp responses from top public health officials. Dr David Salisbury, head of the United Kingdom’s immunization program, told the London-based Guardian newspaper that though England is in discussions about what to do with its pandemic vaccine surplus, the government must keep a stockpile in case another wave of infections occurs. “If there were a UK resurgence during 2010, we would look very foolish if we had disposed of a valuable stockpile,” he told the paper.In a House of Commons session yesterday, British Health Secretary Andy Burnham faced similar criticism from other lawmakers and defended the government’s pandemic preparedness actions, the Press Association reported. “I would make no apology for making all the necessary preparations to keep the public safe through that. I think we have come through the pandemic because of the strength of the plans and the preparations that this Government put in place,” he said.Also yesterday, Australia’s chief medical officer, Dr Jim Bishop, called Wodarg’s claims “historically and medically inaccurate,” according to NewsCore, an Australian news service. He said the WHO’s pandemic declaration was based on cases and deaths in Mexico and the United States and not on pharmaceutical company influence. He also disputed Wodarg’s claims that the vaccine was rushed, asserting that Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration thoroughly assessed the pandemic vaccine.US experts reactDr Gregory Poland, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn., told CIDRAP News that though he has no knowledge of interactions drug companies might have had with governments in Europe, Wodarg’s claims are “preposterous.””The idea that pharmaceutical companies made official agencies squander their resources is ludicrous,” he said.”Vaccine stockpiles are like insurance policies,” he said. “You’re talking about the health and welfare of entire nations.”However, Poland said he’s not surprised by the criticism. Poland said those involved in pandemic planning expect that no matter what they do, some groups will criticize their actions. “Authorities are obligated to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.Global health officials know that one small mutation in the virus could have turned a relatively mild first pandemic wave into a much more lethal second wave, Poland said, calling the notion that governments have wasted their preparedness resources an unfair criticism. Wodarg’s comments “imply a profound lack of insight into public health emergency planning,” he said.Poland said world governments guarantee purchases of pandemic vaccine as a public service that supports flu vaccine production, which is generally not profitable for manufacturers.A similar backlash if the United States has a big surplus is unlikely, because events like Hurricane Katrina have caused Americans to expect their government to be prepared, he said. Though pockets of antivaccine sentiment exist in the United States, negative perceptions about vaccines might be greater in Europe because of often sensationalized media reports about now-disproven claims of a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, Poland saidPoland also rejected claims that the WHO was unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies in declaring a pandemic. He said the WHO takes steps to prevent groups from influencing policy decisions and consults with a pharmaceutical company consortium on manufacturing issues, but not on scientific matters related to the virus and illness.Criticisms called irresponsibleAnother US infectious disease expert, Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, called the claims of a pharmaceutical industry conspiracy irresponsible and said a third wave of H1N1 cases could quickly soak up any vaccine surpluses.”It’s absolutely irresponsible and plain nonsense,” said Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News.”Unfortunately, it’s very easy to make charges like this, which not only undermine the overall ability to respond in the future, but also give the public the sense that public health intentionally exaggerates these potential situations for resources,” he said.”I worry that if these companies end up taking a major economic hit or are brought before a court of public opinion that they’d have every reason to be reluctant in the future to put resources forward for a pandemic vaccine,” Osterholm added.He likened the criticisms to complaining after a category 3 hurricane about having spent the money to build levees for a category 5 event. “I’d much rather be in that position than the other way around,” he said.”We’ve not written the final obit on this pandemic yet,” Osterholm added. “I think many of these officials [who are criticizing the response now] would be questioned if we had a severe third wave. I guarantee that if we have a severe third wave, there won’t be a drop of vaccine left.”Another US disease expert, Walter R. Dowdle, MD, a former deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), declined to comment on the European response to the pandemic, but voiced strong support for the US response. The American approach has generally paralleled that of Western European countries.”I feel the US did a highly credible job in making early vaccine production and purchasing decisions, assessing and reassessing needs, adjusting high risk definitions, and modifying vaccine recommendations, all as knowledge of the novel H1N1 continued to emerge,” said Dowdle, who is director of the Malarone Donation Program and a consultant to the World Health Organization on its polio eradication initiative.”The fact that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine began to arrive as virus transmission began to decline, as in 1957 and 1968, speaks to the shortcomings of outmoded pandemic vaccine production methodology, not the public health decision making process, he said.On Dec 3 the WHO issued a statement in response to concerns aired in the media about its advisory body’s ties to pharmaceutical industry experts. It said its ties to the companies have many legitimate reasons, including improving global access to medications, vaccines, and diagnostic supplies, all of which can mitigate the impact of a pandemic.The agency said numerous safeguards are in place to prevent conflicts of interest. For example, the WHO said external experts who advise the WHO are required to declare financial interests that could influence their advice. It added that procedures are in place for identifying and investigating potential conflicts of interest.The WHO added that the criticisms are understandable but unfounded. It said public perceptions have been influenced by previous planning for a more lethal H5N1 pandemic threat. “Adjusting public perceptions to suit a far less lethal virus has been problematic,” the agency said. “Given the discrepancy between what was expected and what has happened, a search for ulterior motives on the part of WHO and its scientific advisers is understandable, though without justification.”See also:Proposed Council of Europe resolutionDec 3 WHO statement on advisory bodies in responding to the influenza pandemic about upcoming Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly meetinglast_img read more

Warning: Scammers Impersonating DEA Employees

first_imgDEA News:WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Drug Enforcement Administration urges its DEA-registered practitioners and members of the public to be cautious of telephone calls by scammers posing as DEA employees attempting to defraud and extort victims. The schemers call the victims, spoofing DEA phone numbers in order to appear legitimate, and threaten arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities unless victims pay a “fine” over the phone, via wire transfer or through a gift card.The reported scam tactics continually change but often share many of the same characteristics. Callers use fake names and badge numbers or names of well-known DEA officials and may:use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim;threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and, in the case of medical practitioners, revocation of their DEA numbers;demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or, in some instances, in the form of untraceable gift cards taken over the phone;falsify the number on caller ID to appear as a legitimate DEA phone number;will often ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth;reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers when calling a medical practitioner. They also might claim that patients are making accusations against that practitioner.It is critical to note that DEA personnel do not contact practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment; will not request any personal or sensitive information over the phone; and will only notify people of a legitimate investigation or legal action via official letter or in-person.Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law.The best deterrence against these bad actors is awareness and caution. Anyone receiving this type of call from a person purporting to be with DEA should report that contact using our online form or by calling 877-792-2873. DEA registrants can submit the information through “Extortion Scam Online Reporting” posted on the DEA Diversion Control Division’s website, these scam calls will help DEA stop, find, and arrest the criminals engaged in this fraud. Anyone with urgent concerns can call their local DEA field division. For contact information for DEA field divisions, visit read more

Afai Holds Safety Training for Its Staff

first_img[mappress]Press Release, November 28, 2013 In order to strengthen the staff’s safety consciousness, implement the work process unimpededly and achieve the entire coverage of the company’s safety work management, Afai Southern shipbuilding engaged Mr. Liu Weixian, the safety engineer of CIC Boluomiao Shipyard to carry out the post safety training for a total of 85 members of its staff.There were eight topics explained during the training:Accident type:  example analysis of types of accidents was provided such as in case of a fire disaster, hoisting and electric shock etc. detailed measures on how to prevent these kinds of accidents were explained. Special attention should be put on that: the workers wear labor protection supplies regularly; the workers of special occupation have special work licenses;  vigilance according to the industry characteristics is ensured.Laws and Regulations: the training mainly expounded on all the rights and obligations in the 《Safety Production Law》, increased the law knowledge, especially with respect to workers’ legal rights.Work at height: when working  at height workers must wear safety guard devices regularly; the construction site must keep “every hole with its cover”, “every edge with its railing”, “every hole without its cover or railing must have a safety net” and “ entrance of elevator must have door interlock” etc. safety measures.Strengthening of the system and regulations on approval before launching work exposed to high temperatures was also stressed; where the rules and system on preventing fires and explosions should be strictly implemented.Refining of the safety inspection of electrical equipment, increasing checks of electrical equipment in the rainy season, and especially paying attention to the low-pressure electrical shock accidents of welding machines due to humidity.Enhancing the special work management of hoisting machinery; requiring work with the qualified licenses by training and examination; only allowing one commander during work process; learning correct fastening methods, all to ensure work safety.Learning the harm of occupational diseases and prevention measures; preventing the occupational disease by two phases of pre-post and ongoing post to reduce the probability of hazard occurrence.Studying of emergency plan, followed by analysis of six special situations, to improve the action and emergency consciousness in the special situations so as to reduce potential loss.During  the meeting, Mr. Liu Weixian answered various questions put forward by the staff in detail. The staff expressed their satisfaction with what they have learned, saying that they intend to apply in their daily work many practical prevention pieces of advice.last_img read more