CNN – President Trump is expected to meet with his top national security advisers on Friday to review a US-Taliban peace plan that could end America’s longest running war — but could also trigger a surrender for the US and a betrayal of the Afghan government, critics say.
Trump is expected to meet at his Bedminster golf resort with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, according to two sources familiar with the planning. Several defense officials tell CNN that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford are expected to be present.
The major topic will be Afghanistan and the plan that Taliban negotiator, Zalmay Khalilizad, has been working on for months to end the conflict there, according to two sources familiar with the planning.
The peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan — from about 15,000 troops to 8,000 or 9,000 troops — and enshrine official commitments by the Taliban to counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, according to the multiple sources familiar with the plan.
AP – With a push from President Donald Trump, Israel on Thursday barred two Muslim-American congresswomen from entering the country for a visit, an extraordinary step bringing the longtime U.S. ally into Trump’s domestic fight against political rivals at home.
The U.S. president is essentially relying on Israel to retaliate against two freshman lawmakers, Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who are both outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. They are also part of the “squad” of liberal newcomers — all women of color — whom Trump has labeled the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for reelection.
It’s a glaring departure from the tradition of American politicians leaving domestic disputes at the water’s edge.
For Israel, the willingness to side so pointedly with Trump marks a deeper foray into America’s bitterly polarized politics and risks its relationship with Congress. Blocking the visits of two lawmakers appears to be unprecedented.
Israel announced the ban shortly after Trump tweeted that “it would show great weakness” if the two were allowed to visit. Asked later if he had spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, “I did talk to people over there,” but he declined to say to whom.
Hong Kong Activist Leader Calls For a Run on the Bank – Chen Haotian asks citizens to withdraw cash deposits to target Chinese banks.
Infowars – Prominent Hong Kong pro-independence political activist Chen Haotian has called for a run on Chinese banks, asking that everyone withdraw their money on the same day.
Haotian is a founding member and the convenor of the Hong Kong National Party.
Arguing that large scale protests have only led to injuries and escalating police brutality, Haotian believes another method could be used to severely undermine China’s influence – a good old fashioned run on the bank.
He suggested that another method could be used, namely, impacting the financial system,” reports China Press.
“He called on Friday (August 16) that Hong Kong citizens take out all bank deposits. The primary goal is Chinese banks, but he said other banks should also be targeted, otherwise Chinese banks can borrow money from other banks to solve problems.”
Hong Kong has been rocked by weeks of violent protests by pro-independence campaigners. Earlier this week, riot police stormed Hong Kong International Airport to clear them out.
Tens of Thousands of Chinese Troops Mass Inside Sports Stadium Near Hong Kong Border – Preparing for invasion?
Infowars – Tens of thousands of China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) troops are massing inside a sports center just a few kilometers away from Hong Kong.
“The Shenzhen Bay Sports Center was packed with thousands of members of China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) — the armed forces’ unit dedicated to crushing internal unrest — practising drills on Thursday morning,” reports the Financial Times.
“There are tens of thousands of troops inside but they aren’t letting us inside to clean, I’ve only been able to sneak a peek,” said a worker at the stadium.
According to the FT, despite authorities demanding PAP troops be sealed off from the outside world, “the sounds of boots stomping and thousands of personnel roaring” is echoing throughout the stadium.
The whole area has been turned into a “military restricted zone” and reporters are being asked to leave.
Beijing started massing troops in Shenzhen last week as a show of force to intimidate protesters in Hong Kong.
Infowars – Former FBI official turned MSNBC analyst Frank Figliuzzi, who sees Hitler in everything Trump does, stated on a live broadcast this week that Trump supporters are a lot like terrorists rallying around a figurehead.
The former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI, was discussing racism (shocker) with MSNBC host Chris Jansing, when the pair suggested that it would be a good idea for Democrats to keep accusing Trump supporters of being racist.
“I think one of the things, Frank Figliuzzi, is that this president has always, from anyone who was around him, Anthony Scaramucci knows this as well as anybody else, demanded this blind loyalty, right? ‘I say it, it must be so. Or even if you don’t think it’s so, you don’t criticize me for it.’”
And Figliuzzi responded:
“Well, this is why it’s so important to look through the lens of radicalization when you look at this president and then apply counterradicalization techniques. Because you’re right, attacking his followers is going to be counterproductive. He demands that loyalty, and they are loyal. So if you call Trump followers racist en masse, they simply coalesce around each other and become even more defensive and protective of the leader, just as they would in, say, a terrorist organization …”
That was enough to get the attention of Fox News analyst Dan Bongino, who said “I can’t believe this guy is still allowed on the air.”
“MSNBC is willing to put complete lunatics on the air who will say absolutely anything at any time, as long as it makes Trump look bad,” he added.
RT – It appears most Americans don’t believe the official narrative on the death of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein after a poll found that more people believe the financier died as a result of murder rather than suicide.
Gateway Pundit – Epstein was the highest profile prisoner in the US prison system.
On Tuesday the autopsy revealed Epstein suffered broken bones in his neck common in homicide by strangulation.
Since his death we have learned a number of things that make you question this man’s death.
Here is a Complete List of Inconsistencies in Prison Policy Surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s Death:
** Epstein said he was considering cooperating in “naming names” in his international sex ring
** He was found unconscious in his prison cell just three weeks earlier
** Two days prior to his death documents released for the first time implicated several top Democrats in his pedo sex ring
** He was taken off suicide watch after a failed attempt just two weeks earlier
** He was in isolation (unusual for a suicidal individual)
** The cameras malfunctioned — There is no video
** Even Mexico had video of El Chapo’s escape from prison
** Then later we hear the cameras showed the guards did not do rounds? Which is it?
** The prison guards had worked several extra shifts last week
** One prison guard on his floor was not even a certified guard
** The prison guards “forgot” to check on Epstein
** The prison guards slept through their shift
** The guards did not check Epstein for several hours
** There were reports of screaming the morning Epstein died
** The MCC had not seen a successful suicide in 40 years
** Epstein said he was the victim of attempted murder three weeks ago
** Epstein’s former roommate is facing mass murder charges
** Epstein had dirt on numerous globalist elites
** Epstein was not given paper sheets
** Epstein had sheets in his cell to hang himself
** Epstein was not suicidal according to medical professionals
** Epstein told his lawyers on Friday, a day before his death, “See you Sunday.”
** Epstein’s former roommate heard nothing
** Epstein reportedly had to get on his knees to hang himself from his bed
** Epstein autopsy showed broken bones in neck common in strangulation deaths
This prison obviously suffered a breakdown in official policy.
And now the liberal media and Marco Rubio believe you are a conspiracy theorist for questioning Epstein’s death.
Activist Post – On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to show just how rife for abuse these red flags laws are by calling for Chris Cuomo to be stripped of his Second Amendment rights using “Red Flag” laws.
“Would Chris Cuomo be given a Red Flag for his recent rant?” Trump wrote. “Filthy language and a total loss of control. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any weapon. He’s nuts!”
In the days following the tragic shootings in Dayton and El Paso, politicians have been working over time to use these tragedies to take away your right to self-defense. Democrats and Republicans alike have joined forces to pass sweeping regulations that could serve as a death blow to the Second Amendment. Despite his rhetoric claiming he protects the gun rights of Americans, president Donald Trump has become a cheerleader for these rights-violating red flag laws. This week, he proved just how dangerous such laws would be—and, in typical Trump fashion, he did it with just one tweet.
During a speech in April, Trump claimed that the “left is coming for your guns,” and he’s correct. But so is the right, and so is Trump.
What Trump’s speech to the NRA in April proved is the incredibly short memory of his support base. Have they all forgotten that Trump made one of the most damning attacks on the Second Amendment of any president yet?
In case you are one of those folks, in February of 2018, after the tragic shooting in Parkland, FL, President Donald Trump took to national television to betray his oath to the Constitution and his supporters and famously said, “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
Showing that he has no problem sticking to his flip flopping nature on gun rights, not only has Trump ramped up federal gun control enforcement, but he has unilaterally implemented federal gun control in the form of a bump stock ban. And now he’s doing the same with red flag laws.
But it’s not just bump stocks and due process that Trump wants. Last year, The Washington Post published a piece alluding to the fact that Trump will likely go further than bump stocks.
“In private, he has indicated that he might do more, telling advisers and friends in recent days that he is determined to push for some sort of gun-control legislation, according to people familiar with the conversations,” the Post reported.
And now he is.
In just the first six months after the shooting in Parkland and the president’s statement on removing due process, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recorded a whopping 55 new gun control measures in 26 states. That number is now far greater as states pass “red flag” gun laws to literally do what Trump advocated for in Feb. 2018. They are taking the guns first and seeking due process second.
In fact, there are now 18 states who have implemented these laws and the federal government is pushing to do it on a national scale.
Citizens who are targeted by these laws will be deemed guilty first and only after their guns are taken, will they have a chance to defend themselves in court. This is de facto removal of due process.
As Reuters reports, under the legislation, a family member or law enforcement officer could petition a judge to seize firearms from a person they think is a threat to themselves or others. The judge could then hold a hearing without the targeted person being present and grant a temporary order for 14 days.
Under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, due process clauses are in place to act as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the government outside the sanction of law.
In spite of what officials and the media claim, when a person is stripped of their constitutional rights, albeit temporarily, without being given the chance to make their own case based on what can be entirely arbitrary accusations, this is the removal of due process. It doesn’t work, and it is rife for abuse as there is no way to stop an estranged spouse from calling police repeatedly and telling them their ex is threatening to cause harm to others.
Anyone, any time, now has the ability to claim someone else is a threat and have police take their guns. One does not need to delve into the multiple ‘what if’ scenarios to see what sort of ominous implications arise from such a practice. And because of Trump, we don’t need a “what if,” as he’s already done it.
Daily Caller – The New York Times takes a lot of heat from the right for just existing.
But this week things turned majorly introspective at a newsroom meeting in which a staffer told his coworkers that they all need to remember that they’re not part of the left-wing movement.
That they even needed a reminder on this matter speaks volumes.
The meeting came after Manhattan’s paper of record caught hell when editors ran — and then changed — a headline that put President Trump in a favorable light. The headline changed after the Twitterverse descended on the NYT like an angry swarm of bees.
“Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism,” last Monday’s headline read after Trump delivered a speech denouncing white supremacy after the recent spate of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso killed 30 people.
Lefty Joan Walsh, a CNN contributor and longtime editor at The Nation, dramatically dropped her subscription. If you lose Joan Walsh you know you’re in trouble (eye roll). (RELATED: Lefties Are Hitting Back At NYT Over Trump Headline)
In the next edition, the NYT changed the headline to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”
CNN media writer Oliver Darcy wrote about a newsroom town hall that happened at the behest of Executive Editor Dean Baquet last Friday.
Stating the obvious, one staffer said, “There are a lot of people that think The Times is too liberal, and when you start throwing words like that around, people will accuse us of editorializing.”
Warren speaks to crowd of hundreds in Franconia – Democratic presidential candidate faces questions about Michael Brown tweet
WMUR – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren campaigned Wednesday in Franconia as she continues to climb in the New Hampshire polls.
Warren spoke to a crowd of more than 700 voters at a scenic farm in Franconia.
“You all have an extraordinary opportunity and responsibility in a primary here in New Hampshire,” she said.
The U.S. senator from Massachusetts faced questions from back home, where the Yarmouth, Massachusetts, Police Department described as “reckless” her tweet about the five-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, who was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in a controversial officer-involved shooting.
Warren said the police “murdered” Brown.
“What matters was a man was shot, an unarmed man, in the middle of the street, by police officers and left to die,” she said. “And I think that’s where our focus should be.”
Voters said they have been drawn to Warren’s detailed plans to address the nation’s problems. Her gun violence plan would fund $100 million in research and impose a 30 percent tax on guns and a 50 percent tax on ammunition.
Intense: Armed Citizen Holds Gas Station Assailant At Gunpoint – Excellent use of the Second Amendment caught on tape
Infowars – Surveillance video out of Wenatchee, Washington shows a man assault a female gas station clerk, throwing a bottle at her and dragging her by the hair before an armed citizen pulls up and draws his gun on the attacker.
The incident took place Thursday, August 8 at a 76 gas station in the middle of the afternoon.
Footage shows the clerk talking with the suspect, who snatched an item out of her hand, began throwing items at her and dragged her by the hair.
The clerk later told police the assailant appeared to be intoxicated and that he was angry because she refused to sell him alcohol.
Jesse Altizer, the citizen who came to the rescue, pulled into the parking lot of the store accompanied by his two children.
Upon entering the parking lot, Altizer saw the attacker hitting the store clerk, and when the suspect approached Altizer’s vehicle, he sprang into action.
Altizer ran around the back of his truck with his handgun drawn and forced the assailant to the ground where he waited until police arrived three minutes later.
“We can’t do our work without the help of citizens like him,” said Capt. Edgar Reinfeld of the Wenatchee Police Department.
The suspect was booked on suspicion of robbery and charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, and the gas station clerk was not seriously injured.
Activist Post – The California Supreme Court just rejected the government’s attempt to require a youth probationer, as a condition of release, to submit to random searches of his electronic devices and social media accounts. The trial court had imposed the condition because the judge believed teenagers “typically will brag” about drug use on the Internet—even though there was no evidence that the minor in this case, Ricardo P., had ever used any electronic devices in connection with any drugs or illegal activity, let alone ever previously bragged about drug use online.
EFF and the ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case back in 2016, warning that the search condition imposed here was highly invasive, unconstitutional, and in violation of the California Supreme Court’s own standard for probation conditions—which requires that search conditions be “reasonably related to future criminality.” We also warned of the far-reaching privacy implications of allowing courts to impose such broad electronic search conditions. We’re pleased that the California Supreme Court heeded our warnings and recognized the substantial burden this “sweeping probation condition” imposed on Ricardo’s privacy.
The court recognized that the probation condition would give Ricardo’s probation officers “full access, day or night, not only to his social media accounts but also to the contents of his e-mails, text messages, and search histories, all photographs and videos stored on his devices, as well as any other data accessible using electronic devices, which could include anything from banking information to private health or financial information to dating profiles.” And by allowing remote access to Ricardo’s online accounts, the condition would potentially allow his probation officers to monitor his communications in real time.
Washington Post – The growing odds of a recession before the 2020 election threaten to crush President Donald Trump’s hopes of a second term.
Though still uncertain, such a scenario would be a political gift to Democrats, who have avoided talking about the nearly full employment, record stocks and low inflation so far in the Trump presidency.
Instead, the candidates have highlighted rising income inequality and untenable costs of health care and college to argue that the working class isn’t feeling the boom.
But this week, fears of a broader downturn arose. The S&P 500 sank almost 3% on Wednesday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 800 points in its worst rout of the year, sparked when the 10-year Treasury rate slid below the two-year for the first time since 2007, a harbinger of a possible downturn.
Michael Snyder – All of a sudden, it seems like the mainstream media just can’t stop talking about “the coming recession”. If you go to Google News and type in the word “recession”, you will literally get dozens of articles from the last couple of days with “recession” in the headline. And of course it is true that there are signs of global economic trouble all around us, and I have been documenting them on my website all throughout 2019. So we don’t want to criticize the mainstream media when they actually decide to tell the truth, because a recession is definitely coming, but could it be possible that there is also a hidden political agenda at work? The economy is generally regarded to be one of the bright spots for President Trump, and political operatives on the left clearly understand that a major economic downturn now would spell almost certain doom for Trump’s chances of winning the 2020 election. And when mainstream reporters talk about the possibility of a recession as we approach the next election, many of them almost seem gleeful as they describe how it could hurt Trump politically. Ultimately, when things start to really get bad it is inevitable that the mainstream media will place the blame directly at the feet of Trump. It is easy to imagine a narrative along the lines of “Trump’s handling of the economy has plunged the nation into a recession” being relentlessly pounded into the heads of American voters over the next year. And if the end result is Trump being voted out of office, more than 90 percent of those that work for the big news companies will be just fine with that.
Michael Snyder – If that headline sounds really bad to you, that is because the situation that we are facing is really bad. Over the past few months, I have written article after article about the unprecedented crisis that U.S. farmers are facing this year. In those articles, I have always said that “millions” of acres of farmland did not get planted this year, because I knew that we did not have a final number yet. Well, now we do, and it is extremely troubling. Of course there are some people out there that do not even believe that we are facing a crisis, and a few have even accused me of overstating the severity of the problems that U.S. farmers are currently dealing with. Sadly, things are not as bad as I thought – the truth is that they are even worse. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, crops were not planted on 19.4 million acres of U.S. farmland this year. The following comes directly from the official website of the USDA…
Agricultural producers reported they were not able to plant crops on more than 19.4 million acres in 2019, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) began releasing the report in 2007 and 17.49 million acres more than reported at this time last year.
So this is the largest number that the USDA has ever reported for a single year, and it is nearly 17.5 million acres greater than last year’s final tally of less than 2 million acres.
Infowars – Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s virtue signalling trip on a $4 million dollar yacht to lecture Americans about climate change will be more harmful to the environment than if she had flown via aircraft.
Thunberg and her team set sail on the Malizia II for a voyage that will take 2 weeks to reach New York.
The mode of transport was deliberately chosen so Thunberg could relentlessly virtue signal about the evils of air travel.
But the entire trip is a complete farce.
As the German newspaper Taz points out, the yacht trip means more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere than if just Greta and her father had traveled by air because six members of her team have to fly back to Germany from New York.
“The sailing trip triggers at least six climate-damaging air travel across the Atlantic. If Thunberg had flown with her father, only two would have been necessary to come to New York,” reports Taz.
Indeed, a single flight from New York to Hamburg releases 1,800 kilograms of carbon dioxide, which equates to more than three quarters of what each person is entitled to a year if global warming is to be halted at 2 degrees.
Accuweather – After record-breaking hailstones fell from the skies over Colorado earlier this week, a powerful thunderstorm unleashed significant amounts of hail in Michigan on Wednesday. In this case, it was the accumulation of hail, not the mass of individual stones, that captured onlookers’ attention.
In some places, as much as 18 inches of hail accumulated.
Mother of All Google Whistleblowers Exposes Global Criminal Plan to Control All Information – So much for “Don’t Be Evil”
Infowars – Zach Vorhies, one of the most essential Google whistleblower to date, exposes the company’s plan to control the world’s flow of information.
The former Senior Software Engineer breaks down in detail how the company engages in nefarious behavior, including manipulating search results based on their left-wing political agenda.
Vorhies explains how Google hires third parties to create email accounts with one letter or number altered from the email of a well-known person, which then send out spam messages that catch the attention of the AI system and causes the original account to be taken down.
“Google tells them the account’s down for ‘suspicious activity,’ and then they have no way of having any recourse because google is hiding their information,” he said.
Continuing, Vorhies stated, “I’ve never seen Google really address this problem, the exploit, as far as I know, still exists.”
Ultimately, Google is avoiding responsibility, he reveals, by using third parties to terminate accounts.
National Geographic – Most people who’ve been jabbed by a needle know the drill: First the pierce, then the sharp, searing pain and an urge to pull away, or at least wince. While the exact circuitry behind this nearly universal reaction is not fully understood, scientists may have just found an important piece of the puzzle: a previously unknown sensory organ inside the skin.
Dubbed the nociceptive glio-neural complex, this structure is not quite like the typical picture of a complex organ like the heart or the spleen. Instead, it’s a simple organ made up of a network of cells called glial cells, which are already known to surround and support the body’s nerve cells. In this case, the glial cells form a mesh-like structure between the skin’s outer and inner layers, with filament-like protrusions that extend into the skin’s outer layer.
As the study team reports today in the journal Science, this humble organ seems to play a key role in the perception of mechanical pain—discomfort caused by pressure, pricking, and other impacts to the skin. Until now, individual cells called nociceptive fibers were thought to be the main starting points for this kind of pain.
“We have been thinking for probably a hundred years that pain is started from nerves in the skin,” says study coauthor Patrik Ernfors, a molecular neurobiologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. “But what we show now is that pain can also be started in these glial cells.”
Activist Post – Not content with monitoring almost everything you do online, Facebook now wants to read your mind as well. The social media giant recently announced a breakthrough in its plan to create a device that reads people’s brainwaves to allow them to type just by thinking. And Elon Musk wants to go even further. One of the Tesla boss’s other companies, Neuralink, is developing a brain implant to connect people’s minds directly to a computer.
Musk admits that he takes inspiration from science fiction, and that he wants to make sure humans can “keep up” with artificial intelligence. He seems to have missed the part of sci-fi that acts as a warning for the implications of technology.
These mind-reading systems could affect our privacy, security, identity, equality and personal safety. Do we really want all that left to companies with philosophies such as that of Facebook’s former mantra, “move fast and break things”?
Though they sound futuristic, the technologies needed to make brainwave-reading devices are not that dissimilar to the standard MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography) neuroscience tools used in hospitals all over the world. You can already buy a kit to control a drone with your mind, so using one to type out words is, in some ways, not that much of a leap. The advance will likely be due to the use of machine learning to sift through huge quantities of data collected from our brains and find the patterns in neuron activity that link thoughts to specific words.
A brain implant is likely to take a lot longer to develop, and it’s important to separate out the actual achievements of Neuralink from media hype and promotion. But Neuralink has made simultaneous improvements in materials for electrodes and robot-assisted surgery to implant them, packaging the technology neatly so it can be read via USB.
Facebook and Neuralink’s plans may build on established medical practice. But when companies are collecting thoughts directly from our brains, the ethical issues are very different.
Any system that could collect data directly from our brains has clear privacy risks. Privacy is about consent. But it is very difficult to give proper consent if someone is tapping directly into our thoughts. Silicon Valley companies (and governments) already surreptitiously gather as much data on us as they can and use it in ways we’d rather they didn’t. How sure can we be that our random and personal thoughts won’t be captured and studied alongside the instructions we want to give the technology?
Mercola – Woodworm is a perennial and herbaceous plant that may help suppress malaria. It may also provide beneficial effects against various health conditions such as Lyme disease, lymphoma, leukemia, liver disease, depression, Crohn’s disease, IgA nephropathy, lead exposure and osteoarthritis.
Aside from being the key ingredient in absinthe, a popular liqueur during the 19th century, this plant is also a great addition to gardens and may be used for natural pain relief, insect repellent and antiparasite.
Thujone, a ketone found in wormwood essential oil, may exhibit neurotoxic effects if threshold concentrations are exceeded.
Natural News – A team of researchers from Wonkwang University in South Korea looked at the effect of the self-heal herb (Prunella vulgaris) on improving the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease. The research team published their findings in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.
Taken together, the research team concluded that self-heal herb may be used as a potential treatment for kidney diseases, such as diabetic nephropathy.
Why Some Doctors Purposely Misdiagnose Patients – Hundreds of people say a Michigan doctor falsely diagnosed them with epilepsy. He wouldn’t be the first to lie to patients about how sick they are.
The Atlantic – The headaches started when Mariah Martinez was 10 years old. It was 2003, and she was living in Dearborn, Michigan, with her mother and two sisters. Whenever a headache struck, she would want to put her head down, stay in the dark, and be alone.
Martinez saw her primary-care physician, who referred her to Yasser Awaad, a pediatric neurologist at a hospital that was then known as Oakwood Healthcare. Right away, Martinez told me, Awaad ordered an electroencephalogram, or EEG, a test that uses electrodes to detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
After performing two EEGs a week apart, Awaad, according to court documents, told Martinez’s mother that her daughter had what are called atypical partial absence seizures. Rather than full-body convulsions, absence seizures are those in which a person stares off into space, blinks, or makes small, repetitive motions. Martinez was confused by the diagnosis; she didn’t know what epilepsy was. Awaad, she said, told her that headaches or staring spells could be signs she was having a seizure, or had just had one. So each time she caught herself daydreaming, she thought, Oh my God, I had a seizure!
Awaad put Martinez on the anti-seizure medication Lamictal. Several months later, her headaches had gotten even worse, and Awaad increased her dose, court documents say. Over the next four years, Martinez underwent 10 more EEGs under the care of Awaad. He told her that most of them were abnormal. Eventually, Martinez was taking a high dose of 400 milligrams of Lamictal daily. The medication made her tired and withdrawn, to the point where she didn’t feel like herself. But she continued taking it, thinking it was good for her health.
Four years after she first saw Awaad, Martinez went to see another doctor, Brian Woodruff, because Awaad had left his practice. Woodruff performed his own EEG, and the result was so surprising, Martinez’s mother didn’t believe it at first. It was completely normal. “I have come to the determination she never had seizures,” Woodruff would later testify in court. What’s more, he said, “You don’t get headaches like this with absence epilepsy.” In fact, Lamictal can cause headaches.
More than a decade later, Martinez is one of hundreds of patients who have accused Awaad of intentionally misreading their EEGs and misdiagnosing them with epilepsy in childhood, all to increase his pay. In June, Martinez’s case became the first to go to trial in Michigan. The case shines a light on the grim world of health-care fraud—specifically, the growing number of doctors who are accused of performing unnecessary procedures, sometimes for their own personal gain.
The Atlantic – Lyme Disease was discovered in Connecticut in the mid-1970s. Today it is a major, and growing, health threat, whose reach extends well beyond its initial East Coast locus. Reported cases increased almost fivefold from 1992 to 2017, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that annual incidences have risen to more than 300,000, and may even range above 400,000. Step into parks in coastal Maine or Paris, and you’ll see ominous signs in black and red type warning of the presence of ticks causing Lyme disease. In the summer in the eastern United States, many parents I know cover their children from head to toe—never mind the heat—for a hike in the woods or a jaunt to a grassy playground. On a recent trip to my brother’s new country house in Vermont, a few weeks before his partner woke up one morning with a dramatic bull’s-eye rash, I chased my toddler sons around, spraying them so often with tick repellent that they thought we were playing a special outdoor game.
By now, just about everyone knows someone who’s been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and most of us know to look for the telltale rash (often described as a bull’s-eye, many Lyme rashes are solid-colored lesions) and to ask for a prompt dose of antibiotics. For most of those who get swiftly diagnosed and treated, that will be the end of the story. But lots of Americans have also heard secondhand reports of people who stayed sick after that course of antibiotics. And lots know of cases in which no rash appeared and a diagnosis came late, when damage had already been wrought. Plenty of others, upon discovering an attached deer tick, have encountered doctors who balk at prescribing antibiotics to treat a possible Lyme infection, wary of overdiagnosis.
The degree of alarm and confusion about such a long-standing public-health issue is extraordinary. The consequences can’t be overestimated, now that Lyme disease has become an almost “unparalleled threat to regular American life,” as Bennett Nemser, a former Columbia University epidemiologist who manages the Cohen Lyme and Tickborne Disease Initiative at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, characterized it to me. “Really anyone—regardless of age, gender, political interest, affluence—can touch a piece of grass and get a tick on them.”
Even as changes in the climate and in land use are causing a dramatic rise in Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, the American medical establishment remains entrenched in a struggle over who can be said to have Lyme disease and whether it can become chronic—and if so, why. The standoff has impeded research that could help break the logjam and clarify how a wily bacterium, and the co-infections that can come with it, can affect human bodies. After 40 years in the public-health spotlight, Lyme disease still can’t be prevented by a vaccine; eludes reliable testing; and continues to pit patients against doctors, and researchers against one another. When I got my inconclusive diagnosis, I knew better than to dream of a quick cure. But I didn’t know how extreme the roller coaster of uncertainty would be.