Daily Caller – In a shocking development in the hunt to locate those responsible for the massacre of nine U.S. citizens at the hands of suspected cartel gunmen, authorities arrested a Mexican police chief.
Federal authorities arrested Fidel Alejandro Villegas, the police chief of Janos, a small town in the state of Chihuahua, earlier this week, Mexico’s Public Security Ministry announced Friday. Villegas is suspected of not only being involved in local organized crime, but of also having a hand in the killings that took place in November
Military jet fighters conducted “precision defensive strikes” on five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, Jonathan Hoffman, a spokesperson for the Pentagon told Fox News. Two defense officials added that Air Force F-15 jet fighters carried out the strikes.
U.S. Africa Command officials said an initial assessment concluded that two airstrikes killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow, and the third airstrike killed two militants in Caliyoow Barrow.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
USA Today – A man pulled out a shotgun inside a North Texas church on Sunday and opened fire, killing two people, authorities said. It could have been far worse.
Two congregants, both volunteer members of the church’s security team, drew their weapons and confronted the gunman, fatally shooting him and saving an “untold number of lives” at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a town of about 17,000 people near Fort Worth.
Their actions, described as “heroic” by the Texas Department of Public Safety, brought a quick end to an attack that remained under investigation on Sunday night. Authorities have not provided information about a possible motive.
Officials have not released the names of the victims or the gunman, whom FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said had roots in the area but is “relatively transient.”
“This team responded quickly and within six seconds, the shooting was over. Two of the parishioners who were volunteers of the security force drew their weapons and took out the killer immediately, saving untold number of lives,” said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who also hailed the state’s gun laws.
Fox – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blames an “atmosphere of hate” for the recent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in his city and the surrounding areas, but in a Fox News interview, he passed at least some of the blame to the nation’s capital.
De Blasio spoke about the ongoing problem the day after five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s house in nearby Rockland County during a Hanukkah celebration, and at least eight incidents took place in Brooklyn earlier this month.
“We are in a crisis right now,” de Blasio said Sunday afternoon, adding, “What we’re seeing is a growth of anti-Semitism in this country that is profoundly dangerous. It is happening in Europe as well.”
When it comes to his city, however, de Blasio has taken criticism from those who believe he is not doing enough to prevent the violence, or properly recognizing the problem. He was blasted by conservatives earlier this year when he claimed that anti-Semitism was a right-wing threat – even as members of his party such as Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have been hit with accusations of anti-Semitism over their past remarks.
WAMU – Fauquier County is the latest in Virginia to declare it would defy any new gun legislation passed by the state legislature’s incoming Democratic majority.
The county’s board of supervisors voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution designating Fauquier as a “Constitutional County.” Fauquier’s resolution says the county vigorously opposes any measure that “infringes upon the right to keep and bear arms.”
The declaration differs virtually only in name from similar designations among the more than two dozen Virginia counties that have dubbed themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
Legal experts say the proclamations are largely symbolic, and that law enforcement agencies cannot legally refuse to uphold the law. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has said such laws have no “legal effect.”
Breitbart – Columnist and George Mason economics Professor Walter E. Williams is warning Virginia residents about Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) gun registry plan.
Northam has been pushing an all-out ban on AR-15s and similar rifles for some time, but he recently changed the scope of the ban in the face of the growing Second Amendment Sanctuary movement.
On December 10, 2019, Breitbart News reported that Northam changed his position from supporting an across-the-board ban on possession of such weapons to supporting a ban only in a situation where a person refuses to register the firearm with the government. The Virginia Mercury quoted Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky saying, “The governor’s assault weapons ban will include a grandfather clause for individuals who already own assault weapons, with the requirement they register their weapons before the end of a designated grace period.”
On December 27, 2019, Walter E. Williams used a Fox News op-ed to warn Virginians “not to fall for the registration trick.” He said, “Knowing who owns what weapons is the first step to confiscation.”
Daily Wire – A slew of pro-Second Amendment billboards have started to pop up around Virginia raising awareness of the radical anti-gun agenda that Democrats in the state are prepared to impose on law-abiding citizens with the backing of billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
A source sent The Daily Wire a photograph of one of the billboards on Thursday night, which was paid for by the National Rifle Association (NRA) Institute For Legislative Action, and states.
Daily Caller – Former Vice President Joe Biden told reporters again that he would not comply if the Senate issues a subpoena to testify in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
“Do you stand by your earlier statements that you wouldn’t comply if you were subpoenaed to testify in an impeachment trial before the Senate,” a board member asked.
“Correct, and the reason I wouldn’t is because it’s all designed to deal with Trump doing what he’s done his whole life, trying to take the focus off him,” Biden said, calling any suggestions that he do so “a diversion” from Trump.
“Doesn’t that position you as if you’re defying a subpoena, putting yourself above the law?” asked the Register.
Gateway Pundit – Earlier this month a federal judge allowed Georgia to purge 309,000 names from its voter rolls but he also scheduled a second hearing to hear additional arguments.
Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group started by sore loser and 2018 failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, immediately filed an emergency motion to stop the purge.
“Georgians should not lose their right to vote simply because they have not expressed that right in recent elections, and Georgia’s practice of removing voters who have declined to participate in recent elections violates the United States Constitution,” Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a statement.
As Cristina Laila reported earlier this month Stacey Abrams lost the Georgia gubernatorial race by over 55,000 votes, but she refused to concede and blamed racism and voter suppression from a previous voter roll purge for her lack of votes.
On Friday a judge ruled against Fair Fight Action and Stacey Abrams.
Another loss for Stacey.
Breitbart – The nation’s illegal and legal immigration system will help shift 26 congressional seats, primarily from red states, and redistribute them to mostly blue states next year, according to new analysis.
Every year, the United States imports about 1.2 million legal immigrants who largely arrive to reunite with foreign relatives already in the country. This level of annual legal immigration is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who arrive on work visas every year and nearly a million illegal aliens who successfully enter the U.S.
Research by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven Camarota and Karen Zeigler finds that annual illegal and legal immigration to the U.S. will redistribute political power in the form of 26 House seats away from a number of red states and towards massively populated blue states like California and New York.
“To put this number in perspective, changing the party of 21 members of the current Congress would flip the majority in the U.S. House,” Camarota and Zeigler note.
Breitbart – Yale Medicine Professor of Psychiatry Bandy X. Lee claims that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the “right to have [Trump] submit to an involuntary evaluation.”
Professor Lee, of the Yale University School of Medicine, also serves as president of the World Mental Health Coalition. She has been a longstanding and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, providing “translations” of his communications on her Twitter feed.
Lee was also an editor on The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, and is part of a movement demanding that the Judiciary Committee bring a panel of mental health experts to join impeachment proceedings.
“As a coworker, she has the right to have him submit to an involuntary evaluation, but she has not,” Lee told Salon. “Anyone can call 911 to report someone who seems dangerous, and family members are the most typical ones to do so. But so can coworkers, and even passersby on the street.”
KGW NBC – The City of Portland did not include urinals in the remodeled Portland Building.
Urinals, for those who have never been in a men’s bathroom, are porcelain receptors without seats or lids that allow men to quickly relieve themselves.
The total remodel will cost taxpayers $195,000,000. A spokeswoman said she did not have a break out on how much the bathroom work cost.
She also said no one from the city was available to talk about banning the urinals.
In an email to employees last February, Chief Administrative Officer Tom Rinehart wrote:
“We will continue to have gender-specific (male and female) multi-stall restrooms that are readily available to any employee that prefers to use one. But, there will be no urinals in any restroom in the building. This will give us the flexibility we need for any future changes in signage.”
The city has redesigned all the bathrooms to be gender neutral– which means urinals are not even part of the men’s room.
Conservative talk show host Lars Larson first told KGW about the change– he’s outraged.
“I think it’s ridiculous. First of all I know that it already makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Secondly, its gonna take up a lot more space and third–anyone whose ever been to any public event–have you seen the line at the ladies room? Do you see any line at the men’s room?”
He also argues that urinals use far less water than toilets. He’s not alone in that opinion about removing urinals.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous. After all what are they gonna do? Make everything one thing?” Frieda Applegate asked.
Daily News – Ari Behn, a respected Scandinavian author who accused Kevin Spacey of groping him at a Nobel Peace Prize concert, committed suicide.
The 47-year-old former son-in-law of Norway’s King Harald V died Wednesday, confirmed his manager Geir Hakonsund, according to Norway Today.
The manner of suicide was not revealed.
Behn, who was married to Princess Martha Louise of Norway for 15 years, claimed Spacey groped him in 2007.
Western Journal – Indiana is working overtime to abuse civil asset forfeiture seemingly in an effort to pad its budget. Apparently, even the smallest of crimes — such as driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit — can cost the average resident a lot more than he or she expected or thought was possible.
Let’s go over the backstory first. In 2015, Tyson Timbs was charged after he sold illegal drugs to undercover Indiana cops. He was using the money he earned — as is all too common these days — to fuel an opioid addiction.
After his guilty plea, the state filed a lawsuit demanding that his $42,000 Land Rover SUV be confiscated.
The problem, however, is that Timbs’ crimes only carried a maximum fine of $10,000; the vehicle is obviously worth four times that amount.
The private law firm representing the state of Indiana argued to invoke civil asset forfeiture because Timbs drove around with heroin for a short time.
Western Journal – Over the past few years, as the LGBT advocacy crowd has incessantly pushed transgender acceptance on the broader American populace, a rather disheartening result of that movement has come into focus.
“Transgender females” — boys or men who identify as female — have been engaging in and dominating girls’ and women’s sports.
That is a problem that threatens to undermine the very idea of women’s athletics, despite protests to the contrary from LGBT advocates or pandering progressive politicians — and now somebody is seeking to do something to address it.
The Tennessee Star reported that a bill has been proposed in the Tennessee General Assembly that would require student-athletes at elementary and secondary schools to compete in sports against competitors of their own sex at birth, not whatever gender they claim.
That bill is HB 1572, and it was submitted by state Rep. Bruce Griffey. Notably, the legislation places the onus for compliance on the schools and school officials and wields public funding and fines for officials as punishment for non-compliance with the requirement.
The measure reads: “Each elementary and secondary school in this state that receives any type of public funding from this state or a local government, or both, shall require, for an official or unofficial school-sanctioned athletic or sporting event, that each athlete participating in the athletic or sporting event participates with and competes against other athletes based on the athlete’s biological sex as indicated on the athlete’s original birth certificate issued at the time of birth.”
MassResistance – In the beginning, “Drag Queen Story Hour” (DQSH) events in libraries across the country were an easy way for LGBT activists to reach children at a very young age. The goal of the program: to persuade young minds that transgenderism and homosexuality are normal and natural behaviors. It also opened the door for these events (and other LGBT-themed programs) to become regular government-sanctioned activities.
Whatever community pushback there was, the liberals felt they could easily handle the opposition by ignoring or intimidating them.
Then MassResistance entered the battle, and things got much more difficult for the LGBT movement. Across the country we’ve exposed the obscene sexual nature of the “Drag Queens” – and even criminal backgrounds of some of them. And we’ve helped parents organize and strongly confront the public officials behind this outrage.
Local officials and library administrators are now getting the message that parents and citizens are taking charge.
Economy & Business
Opponents of job outsourcing are making a holiday-season appeal to President Trump: Stop U.S. companies from forcing American workers to train the very same cheaper foreign laborers who will soon replace them.
Why it matters: Trump promised voters he’d end abuses of worker visa programs and save U.S. jobs — but as he campaigns for re-election, advocates say he hasn’t done enough.
Driving the news: AT&T is poised to send thousands into the new year hunting for new jobs after assigning them to train their own foreign replacements, according to conversations with current and former workers and documents obtained by Axios.
Many have worked for the company for over a decade. They aren’t being offered severance or early retirement, and may not easily find a comparable job elsewhere with similar pay.
What they’re saying: Sara Blackwell, a Florida-based lawyer who represents Americans displaced by workers on visas or overseas, told Axios: “American workers are tired of waiting for President Trump to do something on this issue.”
The cryptocurrency Bitcoin may be limited by its astronomical electricity consumption. A nearly zero-energy alternative sounds too good to be true, but as School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) Professor Rachid Guerraoui explains, it all comes down to our understanding of what makes transactions secure.
To explain why the system developed in his Distributed Computing Lab (DCL) represents a paradigm shift in how we think about cryptocurrencies – and about digital trust in general – Professor Rachid Guerraoui uses a legal metaphor: all players in this new system are “innocent until proven guilty.”
This is in contrast to the traditional Bitcoin model first described in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, which relies on solving a difficult problem called “consensus” to guarantee the security of transactions. In this model, everyone in a distributed system must agree on the validity of all transactions to prevent malicious players from cheating – for example, by spending the same digital tokens twice (double-spending). In order to prove their honesty and achieve consensus, players must execute complex – and energy-intensive – computing tasks that are then verified by the other players.
But in their new system, Guerraoui and his colleagues flip the assumption that all players are potential cheaters on its head.
“We take a minimalist approach. We realize that players don’t need to reach consensus; they just need to prevent malicious behavior when it manifests,” he explains. “So, we assume everyone is honest, and if players see someone trying to do something wrong, they ignore that player – and only that player.”
Energy & Environment
Business Insider – Something strange has been happening in Eastern Colorado at night.
Since the week of Christmas, giant drones measuring up to 6 feet across have been spotted in the sky at night, sometimes in swarms as large as 30. The Denver Post first reported these mysterious drone sightings in northeastern Colorado on December 23. Since then, sightings have spanned six counties across Colorado and Nebraska.
Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott had no answer for where the drones came from or whom they belonged to but did have a rough grasp on their flying habits. “They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern,” he told The Denver Post. “They fly one square and then they fly another square.”
The drones, estimated to have 6-foot wingspans, have been flying over Phillips and Yuma counties every night for about the past week, Elliott said Monday. Each night, at least 17 drones appear at about 7 o’clock and disappear at about 10 o’clock, staying 200 to 300 feet in the air.
Intelligent Living – If you plant a tree in a square hole, the tree becomes stronger and thrives more than if you planted it in a round hole. So, if you’re on a mission to plant trees and save the planet, then it’s good to keep this tip in mind.
Planting In Round Holes
Usually, when people plant trees, they make a round hole, put the tree inside then fill the hole with lots of rich compost and fertilizer. However, there are a few reasons why planting the tree in a round hole is terrible for the tree’s roots and growth process.
At first, your tree will have great success as the little sapling rapidly grows new roots that spread out into the fertile and fluffy soil. But once the roots hit the poorer and compact ground at the perimeter of the hole, the roots won’t like it, and they will turn and snake along the edge of the border in search of better conditions.
When the roots do this, they create a spiraling action around the edge of the hole, developing a circular root system. You could imagine how this would look if you’ve seen a plant growing in a container. The roots will thicken and harden into a tight ring as they mature, creating a girdle that chokes the plant, and in some cases, resulting in severe stunting or death of your tree.
Planting In Square Holes
The chances of your tree surviving will increase dramatically by merely digging a square hole instead of a round one when you plant the sapling. The roots won’t develop a circular root system because, as systematic planting trials have shown, the roots are not good at growing around corners. When the roots hit the 90-degree angle of a square hole, rather than snaking around to create a spiral, they spread out of the planting hole to colonize the surrounding native soil.
Not only does the tree have a better chance of survival, but the speed of growth will drastically increase, and the tree will become more resistant to environmental challenges, like droughts.
How To Guarantee Your Trees Survival Even More
When you’re planting a tree, before you fill the hole up with rich organic matter and fertilizer, fill it up with the soil that you just dug out. Doing this will reduce the chances of the roots “container effect” behavior. It’s also important to remember to prune out any roots from your square-hole before you plant the sapling. Root pruning triggers the production of compounds that stimulate root growth
Science & Technology
NaturalNews – If you’ve ever visited, worked at, or merely observed a cattle ranch, you probably noticed that the animals had colored tags in their ears that identified their owners and helped to keep tabs on their whereabouts. Well, the same thing is now happening at colleges and universities all across the country as many institutions of “higher learning” are adopting new tracking technologies that monitor student behavior and movement 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Students who are “less academically inclined,” according to a report by The Washington Post, can be tracked in real time to make sure they’re eating enough cafeteria food, attending all of their classes on-time, and getting out of their dorm rooms enough. Students that fail in any of these areas can be flagged for an intervention, as well as assigned a type of “social credit” score that “authority figures” on campus can use to implement changes.
One such system known as SpotterEDU, developed by former college basketball coach Rick Carter, uses a series of Bluetooth “beacons” to “ping” students’ smartphones whenever they enter a lecture hall or classroom. These devices are being installed all across college and university campuses to keep constant tabs on student activity, whether they want to be tracked or not.
“We’re adults,” chided sophomore Robby Pfeifer, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, about this Orwellian new technology. “Do we really need to be tracked?”
“Why is this necessary?” he further asked, pointing to the campus-wide WiFi network at his school that now powers the SpotterEDU app and tracking devices. “How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?”
Some “schools” are now assigning “risk scores” to students and tracking them to supposedly prevent tragedies
Another similar system known as Degree Analytics utilizes a system of “WiFi check-ins” to track some 200,000 students across 19 state universities, private colleges, and other so-called “schools.” Aaron Benz, its developer, says the system ensures that ever student is able to graduate with “a proper environment and perhaps a few nudges along the way.”
But not everyone is convinced, including privacy and surveillance experts who are warning that such technology is merely a backdoor for implementing a type of “mark of the beast” culture in which smartphones – and eventually actual chips in people’s hands and foreheads – are used to track and monitor all students on campus at all times.
Faster cell service may also mean saying goodbye to your accurate three-day forecast.
Buzzfeed- Deciding whether to pack an umbrella for a weekend away is going to get a lot more difficult in the near future. Next-generation “5G” wireless signals — promising faster, stronger cellphone service — are going to disrupt weather satellite forecasts, according to warnings by meteorologists, lawmakers, and federal science agencies.
“We are deeply concerned about the potential for degradation of our nation’s weather forecasts,” said a bipartisan Dec. 10 letter from the House Science Committee, calling for an investigation of a yearlong dispute between the Federal Communications Commission, charged with overseeing cellular signals, and the federal science agencies proclaiming a threat to US weather satellites. “Earth observing satellites are critically important for protecting the lives and property of the American people from severe weather.”
At the heart of the fight are scientific findings that a massive federal auction of airwaves to cellular providers will interfere with weather satellite measurements, wrecking the reliability of the forecasts needed to plant crops, ship goods globally, or simply plan ahead for a trip. Against that, the cellphone industry promises that 5G will be a $565 billion industry by 2034, making its adoption a priority of the Trump administration.
Gardening, Farming & Homesteading
Practical Self Reliance – If you’re heating with wood, there’s always plenty of wood ash to go around. While you may be hard-pressed to think of uses for wood ash in a modern home, historically it was used in many different creative ways. Wood ash was a precious asset, used for food preservation, gardening, pottery, pest control, and even cosmetics.
Long before baking soda was discovered, wood ash based leveners allowed for holiday cookies. Our ancestors wouldn’t have invented soap without wood ash lye…the list goes on.
While some of these uses are merely a historical curiosity, many are still incredibly useful in our modern world. Looking for free garden fertilizer? Natural pest control? Stain and odor removers? Wood ash can do that!
Here are a few (click article link for full 70+ list):
- Garden Fertilizer
- Boost Compost
- Control Pond Algae
- Preventing Plant Frost Damage to Plants
- Prevent Calcium Deficiency in Tomatoes
- Raising Soil pH
- Slug and Snail Repellent
- Protecting Bee Hives from Ants
- Dustbath for Poultry
- Chicken Feed Supplement
GreenMedInfo – Despite a 100% vaccination rate, a Texas school closes early for winter break due to a whooping cough outbreak. Clearly the vaccine is failing to work as advertised.
If ever there was convincing proof that vaccination does not equate to bona fide immunity, it is at St. Theresa Catholic School in Texas…
Reported by FoxNews.com on Dec. 19th, the school experienced an outbreak of whooping cough, causing them to close their doors and start their winter break early.
On Dec. 4th, St. Theresa Catholic School in Memorial Park, reported its first case to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Since then, the outbreak has continued to escalate — and not because of the abuse of religious and medical exemptions, and so-called “anti-vaxxer” parents.
According to the FoxNews report, the school vaccine uptake rate was at 100%:
“Officials with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said that 100 percent of students who attend St. Theresa Catholic School are vaccinated against the illness.”
This was confirmed by the statement to parents sent by the school.
Vaxxter – On December 14th, the Samoan government announced they extended the State of Emergency by two weeks to December 29. This is due to a large number of deaths blamed on measles. Critics believe this “epidemic” is a blueprint for forced mass vaccination campaigns soon to arrive in the United States and across the world.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi extended the date to the end of the year in order to administer vaccinations to the remaining 16,000 persons who have yet to be inoculated. Or as Newsline put it, “most of the work is now concentrated on an aggressive mop-up drive for the estimated 16,000 who are still unvaccinated.”
The most recent report is that the government has vaccinated 95 percent of all “eligible” people in the country, while just a week ago, the government reported the rate to be around 56 percent. There are only 200,000 Samoans but that is still fast when you consider that the national campaign only started on November 26. They mass vaccinated the population in less than a month.
Medical doctors reported that, during the measles outbreak, parents were taking children home from the hospital despite them remaining critically ill and potentially jeopardizing their children’s health. A newly proposed law, expected to be tabled in Parliament, would require all children to be vaccinated in order to attend school.
Des Moines Register – An Iowa state representative is standing by inflammatory comments he made online suggesting that a supporter of required vaccines is a “pharma fascist.”
Rep. Jeff Shipley, R-Fairfield, replied to one of California state Sen. Richard Pan’s tweets about vaccinations Saturday and continued to tweet about the subject Sunday. Shipley first called Pan “a medical rapist” before apologizing for the term and saying that “pharma fascist” or “corporate vaccine whore” would have been more appropriate terms.
“You’re threatening peaceful families with the violence of the state. You’re the violent one… using the FORCE of law to administer injections without consent. You’re a medical rapist,” Shipley replied to Pan on Twitter. “If you back someone in a corner don’t be surprised if they lash out in self-defense.”
Shipley then wrote or retweeted several more statements critical of supporters of vaccine requirements, and followed up with another tweet about Pan, who has written laws limiting parents’ ability to opt out of vaccinating their school-age children and strengthening oversight of medical exemptions from vaccines.
“Basically @DrPanMD accepts gigantic contributions from industry then writes laws guaranteeing massive profits. Perhaps ‘pharma fascist’ or ‘corporate vaccine whore’ would have been more precise. I’m deeply sorry Senator Pan for my previous description of you,” Shipley wrote on Twitter.
GreenMedInfo – Merck has received the FDA’s fast-tracked approval of a live, genetically modified Ebola vaccine which, according to its vaccine insert, can cause a novel new form of Ebola-type infection, resulting in immunosuppression and possible shedding of live virus to others.
On Dec. 20th, 2019, Merck announced it received FDA approval for an Ebola vaccine which contains the virus known as recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus–Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV), and will be marketed under the name ERVEBO.
The rVSV-ZEBOV is a live, replication-competent virus, produced with the same African green monkey derived Vero cell line Merck used to create the Rotateq vaccine targeting rotavirus infections. The Vero cell line has been previously identified to carry at least two surreptitious simian endogenous retroviruses whose significant risks to human health have not yet been formally evaluated.
VSV-ZEBOV is produced through genetic modification, combining the vesicular stomatitis virus (which on its own can cause flu-like illness in humans) in which the gene for native envelope glycoprotein (P03522) is replaced with that from the Ebola virus (P87666), Kikwit 1995 Zaire strain.
In its recent press release, Merck acknowledged that the vaccine may result in the shedding of RNAs from the live virus in the blood, saliva, urine, and fluid from the skin of the vaccinated, and could result in the theoretical transmission of the vaccine virus to others (based on previous RT-PCR testing). The vaccine insert also states:
“ Transmission of vaccine virus is a theoretical possibility. Vaccine virus RNA has been detected in blood, saliva, or urine for up to 14 days after vaccination. The duration of shedding is not known; however, samples taken 28 days after vaccination tested negative. Vaccine virus RNA has been detected in fluid from skin vesicles that appeared after vaccination.”
The clinical studies conducted on the vaccine included safety assessments, noting serious adverse effects which included life-threatening anaphylaxis. Another particularly concerning adverse effect of the ERVEBO vaccine was identified after white blood cell counts were assessed in 697 subjects:
“Decreases in lymphocytes were reported in up to 85% of subjects and decreases in neutrophils were reported in up to 43% of subjects. No associated infections were reported.”
Considering the fact that Ebola virus infection causes the death of lymphocytes1 and neutrophils,2 the vaccine appears to induce the very same type of immunosuppressive effects that are associated with morbidity and mortality from the disease it is attempting to prevent.
For years, we’ve wondered whether a doctor who received a payment linked to a particular drug prescribed more of that drug. With our new analysis, we finally have the answer: yes.
ProPublica – Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs, our ambitious effort to track pharmaceutical company payments to doctors.
When we started, we were thrilled to gain access to what seven drug companies paid physicians for speaking and consulting and to collect payment information in a first-of-its-kind database that allowed everyone to search for their doctors in one place. Now, federal law requires every drug and medical device maker, about 1,700 companies, to release information on their payments.
In the years since its launch, Dollars for Docs has become an essential tool for patients and has been viewed more than 23 million times. But from the very start we were bedeviled by a simple question: Were the drug company payments linked to doctors’ drug choices?
Our analysis gave us the first signs that the drug company payments were linked to prescribing: Some of the top prescribers of expensive, brand-name drugs had financial relationships with the drugs’ makers. This included the beta blocker Bystolic, taken for high blood pressure, and H.P. Acthar Gel, which is approved to treat a variety of ailments.
Matching the Medicare data with payment data was more difficult than we imagined because doctors were identified one way in one database and another way in the other.
In 2016, we had a breakthrough. Working with my ProPublica colleagues Ryann Grochowski Jones and Mike Tigas, we were able to link physician identification numbers in the Medicare prescribing data with those in a federal database of pharma company payments to doctors.
For the first time, we could map a widespread pattern: Doctors who received payments from the pharmaceutical industry prescribed drugs differently than their colleagues who didn’t. And the more money those doctors received, on average, the more brand-name medications they prescribed.
But this analysis didn’t look at specific drugs, it looked at payments overall and the share of a doctor’s prescribing that was for brand-name drugs.
Since then, we’ve worked to look at the connections between drug company money and a doctor’s prescribing habits in a more granular way. For Fresques’ new analysis, she examined the top 50 brand-name drugs prescribed to patients in Medicare Part D for which drug companies made payments to doctors. She found that for 46 of the 50 drugs prescribed in 2016, doctors who received payments related to a specific drug that year wrote more prescriptions for the drug than doctors who didn’t.
In 2016, for example, doctors who received payments related to Myrbetriq, which treats overactive bladder, wrote 64% more prescriptions for the drug than those who did not. For Restasis, used to treat chronic dry eye, doctors who received payments wrote 141% more prescriptions.
“If there are physicians out there that deny that there is a relationship, they are starting to look more and more like climate deniers in the face of the growing evidence,” Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert in pharmaceutical costs and regulation, told Fresques.
Today, we’re not just releasing our analysis, we’re taking steps to make the information useful for consumers. We are updating our Prescriber Checkup tool to let users see whether their doctors received a payment related to any of the top 50 brand-name drugs in Medicare that they also prescribed.
We recognize that doctors have many reasons for prescribing a drug, but now consumers will have the information to ask if compensation or financial relationships are among them.
blogTO – What started out as a small random act of kindness by one person in Toronto turned into a massive heartwarming gesture that evoked the true spirit of the holidays this week.
The Unsheltered Christmas project, started by Toronto resident Lisa Mingay, saw volunteers spending their Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day leaving dozens of blankets, gloves and hats around the city for those experiencing homelessness.
The items were specially wrapped to keep them dry, and each came with a kind note letting people know that if they are cold and in need, they are free to take the package.
“Keep warm and know that you are important,” the note read. “Happy holidays.”
One social media user said they spotted more than 50 of the gifts around their neighbourhood.
Romper – Of the many millennial parenting styles (and there seems to be a new one every day), nostalgia parenting is having its day in the sun. I’m not naive enough to think that every mom was June Cleaver in a fit-and-flare dress, and I definitely think we’ve got it right with current practices involving feeding our kids and keeping them safe. But if we were to lean more toward vintage child-rearing in other aspects, I don’t think that would be such a bad thing. There are actually quite a few things that parents did in the ’50s that millennial parents should consider bringing back, myself included.
And I’m not saying that we should go back to spanking, smoking, blindly conforming to gender roles, and blaming moms for everything while simultaneously requiring them to shoulder the full burden of raising children, either. There are more than a few parenting philosophies I’m glad we’ve, as a culture, left behind. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from parents like my grandma. These common sense ’50s parenting practices might be just what this generation of children needs:
They Paid More Attention To Each Other
In the 1950s, children weren’t the center of the family universe the way they are now. Parents were the most essential pieces of the family unit, and although it wasn’t necessarily equitable (read: at all), the marriage was the central relationship.
They Trusted Their Children
People refer to permissive parenting like it’s a bad thing, but it’s essentially a child-rearing practice rooted in trust. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to send my kid to the store for a carton of eggs, but I probably don’t need to stand so close to her when she goes down the slide.
When parents give their children responsibilities, they send the message that they trust in their abilities to make good decisions. Many of our children walk in such insecurity exactly because of our hyper-vigilance. A little trust goes a long way toward building self-confidence.
They Taught Manners
I can’t tell you how many second and fourth graders I’ve had to teach common courtesies to. Turns out, they’re not all that common. They used to be, though, or at least we’re told they used to be “back in the day” by our parents and grandparents, who are as impacted by nostalgia as the rest of us. Still, I’ve been told a time or two that ’50s kids would never dream of saying, “I want.” No, sir. “I would like…” (not to mention “please” and “thank you”) were the order of the day.
I don’t think it’s old-fashioned or authoritarian to require politeness. Manners are a way of showing respect and help create positive impressions. It was a mountain I was willing to die on, and I now have a daughter who says, “Thank you, Mommy” to anyone who gives her food.
They Kept It Simple
According to family psychologist John Rosemond, 1950s parents gave very conservatively. They didn’t indulge their kids’ whims or inundate them with things. Likewise, they didn’t plan their activities. Children not only learned to be grateful for what they had and take care of it (bike broke? Guess you’ll figure out how to fix it), they also learned how to entertain themselves.
I think we millennial parents need to take a note here. Not only do we not need to replace our kid’s iPad that cracked when they dropped it — maybe they don’t need it in the first place. They might have just as much fun with sticks and boxes if we weren’t constantly plying them with $200.00 pint-size motorized vehicles, Nerf guns, and Barbie dream houses (and not expecting that kind of stuff can only be to the good).
They Made Kids Play Outside
My mom likes to tell about the summers she and her brothers spent at the swimming pool. The kids would walk to the community pool in the morning, swim all morning, come back for lunch, go back and swim all afternoon, and be home for dinner. They rode bicycles, made mud pies, and generally had free reign of the neighborhood.
According to the Child Mind Institute, the average American child spends four to seven minutes a day engaged in unstructured outdoor play. We have to get our kids out from under their screens. Nature is good for kids in so many ways, and when they spend all their time indoors, they miss out on opportunities to build confidence, creativity, and imagination, not to mention physical exercise. Gram wasn’t wrong when she said, “Go outside and play!”
They Had Family Dinners
Sitting down to eat dinner as a family was an expectation rather than a special occasion in most white, middle-class 1950s households. In some homes, children were expected to be seen and not heard, but in my mom’s family dinner was a time to talk about your day. I’m not saying it was a Leave It To Beaver conversation about whose day was more pleasant than whose, but it was an important and valued daily ritual.
In the hustle and bustle of modern millennial life, we tend to sacrifice family dinners for extra-curricular activities, and it’s to our detriment. According The Family Dinner Project, shared mealtimes promote academic success, resilience, and self-esteem.
They Hosted Birthday Parties At Home
Here’s what a 1950s birthday party looked like: a homemade cake, candles, and a rousing game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. That’s it. Nary a Chuck E. Cheese, fondant-covered cake, or photo booth in sight.
As millennials, we can be a little extra (*guilty*). There’s pressure to host birthday parties at locations like bowling alleys, trampoline palaces, and play gyms. My husband and I have decided to go retro and do our kid’s birthdays at home. Still, I answer the call of the Pinterest siren, and I know there’s no way my grandma would have wasted her time making fairy pretzel wands.
They Made Their Kids Do Chores
My mom claims she did dishes, set the table, and made her bed every day by the time she was in first grade. She started cooking, doing laundry, and dusting and vacuuming by the time she was 10 years old. At 13, she did everything Grandma did. Her brothers mowed the lawn and helped maintain the family car. It was gender-stereotypical, yes, but everyone contributed.
According to The Observer, modern day children are required to take on only the most trivial of responsibilities. Kids who do chores are more grounded and likely to develop a caring attitude. So even though letting my 2-year-old toddler “help” results in more work for me for the moment, I don’t want to discourage her. She feeds the kitty, puts dirty laundry in the hamper, and pushes dirt around with a broom. As she gets older, I plan on increasing her responsibilities.
They Didn’t Push Academics
Ask anyone who grew up in the “good old days” if their parents used flashcards with them. I doubt you’ll find even one. To hear them tell it, most of them didn’t know their ABCs prior to starting first grade, and they did just fine.
They Allowed For Failure & Disappointment
Don’t hurt me, but I’m going to go ahead and say that ’50s parent did a better job of preparing their kids for the real world. That’s just my personal opinion, of course, and it’s a pretty difficult belief to back up with facts. But I don’t think parents of the “olden days” spent a significant amount of time attempting to shield their children from the natural consequences of their actions. Likewise, they didn’t think it was such a terrible thing if their kid wasn’t the best at everything. After all, a little humility never hurt anybody.
When we shield our children from consequences, jump to their rescue, and micromanage them, we rob them of the chance to build self-confidence from solving a problem on their own. We become a crutch for our kids. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the mom e-mailing the college professor because my daughter failed her exam.
They Disciplined Each Other’s Children
1950s parents really believed that it “takes a village,” and they were much more involved in their communities than we are now. (Do you know your neighbors? I don’t.) My mom says there was an understanding any mom on the block was allowed to spank you.
They Conveyed Confidence
1950s parents knew who was in charge. They were the “big people,” and they made the “big people” decisions. Honestly, it’s a bit authoritarian for me (the whole “because I said so” thing), but I’m all for authoritative parenting. Kids need to be given choices (within limits) and have a voice, but there are certain things that we decide because we know better (buckling up, for example).
There’s quite a bit of cajoling that goes on in modern parenting, and it makes me uncomfortable. I get it — we don’t want to crush their independent spirits, but I shouldn’t have to beg my kid to throw away her trash. When I ask her to do something, I usually say “thank you” before it’s done because I think it sets the expectation that requests will be complied with.