Medicare for All activist with ALS Ady Barkan on why he advocates: ‘It gives me a reason to get up every day’

(ABC News) Health care activist Ady Barkan is seen here with “Nightline” co-anchor Juju Chang during an interview for “Nightline.” (NEW YORK) — Every day, Ady Barkan hopes that what little time he has left to live will count for something.

“Fighting for justice gives me purpose,” Barkan told Nightline. “It gives me a reason to get up every day. I much prefer to focus on the struggle for our democracy than to focus on ALS.”

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) has already robbed Barkan of his ability to walk, talk and even eat on his own. But the deadly disease has also transformed him into one of the most influential voices supporting “Medicare for All,” making him a kingmaker for Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Barkan’s story is so moving that Elizabeth Warren spoke about him and his family during the second Democratic debate.

“Every month he has about $9,000 in medical bills [that] his insurance company won’t cover… His wife Rachael is on the phone for hours and hours…begging the insurance company, ‘Please cover what the doctor says he needs,’” she said. “The basic profit model of an insurance company is: Take in as much money as you can in premiums and pay out as little as possible in health care coverage. That is not working for Americans across this country.”

But Barkan’s fame started out with a fluke. On his flight home after being arrested for protesting the 2017 GOP tax reform bill, he bumped into then Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and pleaded with him to vote against the bill, which was all caught on video.

“You can save my life, please,” Barkan implored the Republican senator. “Please remember this conversation.”

The two shook hands and Flake remarked, “You’re very up on everything, aren’t you?”

“My life depends on it,” Barkan responded.

Flake ultimately voted in favor of the bill, but his and Barkan’s interaction quickly went viral, changing the nature of Barkan’s advocacy from then on.

Since his ALS diagnosis at age 32, Barkan has grown physically weaker, but his political voice has grown even stronger.

“Health care is not treated as a human right in the United States of America,” he told the Democratic Rules committee in a congressional hearing this past April. “This fact is outrageous.”

He’s spearheaded protests on Capitol Hill since 2017, where he has chased down opposing politicians. He even toured the country pushing his progressive agenda.

With one social media post, Barkan raised nearly $4 million to oust Republican Senator Susan Collins.

“Medicare for All means that we get high quality comprehensive health care through Medicare, with no copays or deductibles or premiums,” he explained.

“Republicans and Democrats, tens of millions of people don’t have health insurance,” he said. “Millions more have to fight with their insurance company every day when those companies try to deny coverage for necessary care. Ten years ago, Medicare for All was a fringe idea and now it enjoys the support of a majority of the American people.”

At 35 years old, Barkan is now essentially paralyzed from the neck down and he uses his eyes to communicate, picking letters one by one. Because of this, Nightline sent him questions in advance so he’d have time to respond.

“Everything about ALS is terrible,” he said. “My body became weaker and weaker. I lost the ability to run and then to walk fast and then to walk at all. I typed with one hand and then I couldn’t type at all. The worst symptom of all is losing the ability to speak. And together, all of that adds up to a radically limited ability to be the father I want to be.”

“One hundred times every day, I despair at my inability to tickle and chase [my son] Carl, to help him build towers and train tracks, to read stories and tell jokes, to comfort him in the middle of the night and to scold him when he dumps his dinner plate for the fifth night in a row. That’s the hardest part of ALS,” he said.

Barkan said he has also been forced to confront his own mortality.

“That is why I am not shy about death,” he said. “I really just want my life and death to mean something.”

His wife Rachael King fully embraces his life’s mission despite knowing that it’s taking a toll on his failing body and reducing the amount of time — his most precious commodity — that he has left with his family.

“When he got back from the tour last summer, his voice was noticeably worse,” she said. “There was sort of this feeling of, like, ‘Oh, we kind of lost that time when we could have been speaking more.’ But, you know, I think overall, it’s given him so much strength to try to find some sort of meaning in what, at first, just seemed like this random horrible thing that happened to us.”

It was just three years ago when the college sweethearts welcomed their baby boy Carl. Both their careers were hitting their stride — after Yale Law School, Barkan was fighting for low-income workers’ rights and King was teaching English at UC Santa Barbara.

“I really clearly remember one morning thinking to myself, ‘How could life get any better than this?’ I mean, we were just so happy,” she said.

That all changed when “Ady had been having some pain and weakness in his left hand and he thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome,” King said. “He had been rocking Carl a lot in his left arm… So he thought that’s what was contributing to his pain.”

The doctor diagnosed him with motor neuron disease, which is “sort of the precursor to ALS,” King explained.

“It felt suddenly like we were wondering if Ady would see Carl go to kindergarten,” she said. “Will Carl ever remember Ady? And you’re told, you know, it’s a prognosis of three to four years.”

King said that at first, “he couldn’t see any meaning in it. It felt like everything had been taken away.”

To make matters worse, the young couple soon discovered their insurance company was denying coverage for necessary medical care, such as the ventilator that helped him breathe.

“All of the confusing paperwork we get from the health insurance company and having to parse that and figuring out what they’re saying — spending time appealing,” she said. “For us, that’s a little bit easier because Ady can put something on Twitter and put pressure on the health care company but other people aren’t able to do that.”

King said the family pays $9,000 a month out of pocket for home health care “just to help Ady be able to kind of be part of everyone’s lives [and] to get up and get dressed.”

Much of these medical costs are paid through GoFundMe donations.

“It’s not, as Ady has said, a substitute for a functional health care system,” she said. “And you shouldn’t get care based on how sympathetic you are.”

Barkan admitted that early on he felt lost and overwhelmed by all of it.

“Three weeks after my diagnosis, we were dealt another huge blow when America elected a racist, sexist [person] to the presidency,” he said. “As he and the Republicans did more and more to undermine our democracy and our social fabric, I decided I had to throw myself into the fight.”

His first battle played out on social media with the viral video of Flake, dubbed “#FlakesOnAPlane,” which gave him a powerful platform. Liz Jaff, who recorded the interaction, had only met Ady moments before the in-flight moment.

“What we saw on the plane was a human interaction. I mean, everybody on the plane was crying at the end of it,” Jaff said. “When Ady lands from Santa Barbara, we [were] at over a million views on this video, which is…I mean, insane.”

Jaff, an Obama staffer-turned-political-consultant, became his impromptu new partner in crime.

“I basically stopped doing any other work I was doing and sat down with him and said, ‘We have something here. You are a messenger. What do you want to do?’ And he said, ‘I think we should start a Super PAC. We should do it for the little people,’” Jaff said.

They named their super PAC “Be a Hero,” and though it, they raised more than a $1 million to support Democrats across the country who were running in the 2018 midterm elections.

“We cut ads. They were run in 100 districts,” Jaff said. “We won every single race [that] we ran our ads in. We flipped a bunch.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even thanked Barkan for helping win back the house for Democrats, telling him that “nobody’s been a stronger messenger than you, our hero.”

Jaff also responded to criticism that the team is exploiting Barkan’s disease for political gain.

“If the only way that we’re going to force people to talk about these issues is with somebody [like] Ady, that he has to be this sick for people to pay attention, then we need to do it.”

“To pretend it’s not [shrewd calculation] is crazy,” she added. “It is a political strategy, every step of the way.”

Barkan said definitively: “This is not exploitation.”

“I would [do] anything to be anonymous again. I would give anything to just be a happy father and husband,” he said. “We have to be able to tell our human stories if we want our democracy to be responsive to us as individual human beings.”

Those personal stories are front and center in his new show, Uncovered: Health Care Conversations with Ady Barkan.

Only 2020 Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support Medicare for All, yet all the major Democratic candidates except for former Vice President Biden have agreed to sit down with Ady.

These conversations help turn tedious policy debate into a shared human experience.

“Kamala Harris is so strong. She broke down when she talked about her mother and the loss of her mother, and the entire team is breaking down,” Jaff said. “Elizabeth Warren, [who] similarly doesn’t get emotional all the time, also broke down. Cory Booker, Julian Castro, the candidate[s] suddenly realize that these are the people that they are protecting when they want to run for president. You want to remind them of that.”

Barkan said he was inspired to create the show after being “frustrated” by the first presidential debates.

“Health care is the number one issue on people’s minds. And yet, the conversation that the country saw in those first couple of debates was little more than a bunch of shouted 30 second soundbites,” he said. “I thought people deserved better, so these conversations are a way to go beyond talking points and press candidates to get specific and personal about how they see the health care crisis in this country.”

Barkan’s crusade has a sense of urgency; just two days after his interview with Nightline, he was rushed to the emergency room and admitted into the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“I don’t think everybody out there can be as strong as this,” said Jaff. “I see him suffer through …these things, really pushing it, when he’s desperate to speak more, when he’s desperate to say more, like, that’s what a hero does. They just put themselves on the line.”

“I think he can keep fighting for as long as he wants to,” King added. “You know, I think ALS is a really hard disease to live with and he needs a lot of support and we need a lot of support. But with that kind of structure, you know, I think you can keep going and have a meaningful life.”

Barkan details that meaningful life in his new book, Eyes to the Wind, which is part political manifesto and part personal memoir. For Barkan, his best chapter still lies ahead — him and King will soon be welcoming another baby into the family.

“I’m super jazzed. It’s going to be great. Our lives are so crazy now with the toddler and with ALS. Another baby will be a piece of cake,” Barkan laughed. “Honestly, Rachael carries 95% of the childcare duties. So I am worried about how she will manage. But I will do what I can to organize support for her.”

The couple’s daughter is due in November, but in his fragile state, election day in November 2020 is far from guaranteed.

“It’s so hard to think about Ady not being here… I can so vividly picture what our life would be like if Ady didn’t have ALS,” King said.

“At the end of the day, I want to be remembered as someone who tried to live up to the privilege conferred on me by the circumstance of my birth as someone who fought to make the world a little more fair and just for all,” Barkan said. “And most of all, I just want Carl and his sister to be proud of me.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pope Francis calls it an ‘honor’ to be criticized by Conservative Catholics

WORLD NEWS Pope Francis calls it an 'honor' to be criticized by Conservative Catholics  https://linewsradio.com/pope-francis-calls-it-an-honor-to-be-criticized-by-conservative-catholics/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

DorSteffen/iStock(NEW YORK) — Pope Francis acknowledged growing criticism of him from the conservative right-wing of the United State Catholic Church on Wednesday, while speaking with reporters aboard the papal plane.

While headed to Mozambique, the Pope was given a copy of a newly-released book about his critics, called How America Wants to Change the Pope by author Nicholas Seneze, who covers the Vatican for French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

He called it “an honor if the Americans attack me.”

Those comments were clarified by papal spokesman Matteo Bruni, who said that “in an informal context the Pope wanted to say that he always considers it an honor to be criticized, especially when it comes from authoritative voices, and in this case from an important nation.”

Pope Francis also remarked on the devastation in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian, saying “I would like to invite you all to give prayers for the victims of the hurricane in the Bahamas.”

“The poor people without blame have lost their homes, have lost everything, even their lives.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 04 Sep 2019

Facebook alters policies to combat vaccine misinformation

(Photo Courtesy: Facebook) An example of how Facebook will try to combat vaccine misinformation.(NEW YORK) — By Dr. Sejal Parekh

Facebook has revealed a renewed strategy to combat the anti-vaccine movement and get scientific evidence in front of people when it comes to being inoculated.

The social media giant’s previous efforts focused on tamping exposure to misinformation, but Facebook and Instagram will now start posting educational units about vaccines on “vaccine-related searches on Facebook, Facebook Groups and Pages that discuss vaccines, and Invitations to join Facebook Groups that discuss vaccines.”

“[If] people search for vaccination information they will be encouraged to see information from the CDC in the US and WHO in the rest of the world,” the company said in a statement to ABC News.

The decision is a continuation of efforts to address growing sentiments against getting vaccines. In March, the American Academy of Pediatrics called on popular social media companies, like Pinterest and Facebook, to limit vaccine misinformation on their platforms.

In March, Facebook implemented new policies to de-rank accounts spreading vaccine information in their search results.

Pinterest recognized the “data void” about vaccine safety on their platform, and in August 2019 implemented prioritization of “authoritative pins” from reputable health organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, in searches about vaccines. While Pinterest claimed that promoting anti-vaccine misinformation has been against their community guidelines since 2017, the company recognizes that “there’s a greater distribution of vaccine misinformation than information. In short, anti-vaccine content is contagious.”

The AAP’s initial statement came amidst concerning data from the WHO and CDC regarding the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

The WHO lists vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health for 2019, and recently stripped several European countries of their “measles-free” status. Updated CDC estimates show a three-fold increase in new cases of measles diagnosed in 2019, compared to 2018. More measles cases have been diagnosed in 2019 than any year in the last decade.

This rise is despite a “very safe and effective” measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, per the CDC. “Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.”

While more than 98% of U.S. children are vaccinated, pockets of unvaccinated children are increasingly susceptible to vaccine preventable diseases and put the rest of the community in danger, too.

“Lots of parents just have questions [about vaccine safety]”, said Dr. Marsha Spitzer, the immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3, in an interview with ABC News. “A lot of them tend to be first-time parents or parents of younger children.”

However, anti-vaccine propaganda on social media preys on the concerns of well-meaning parents.

“Pediatricians are working in our clinics and our communities, talking with families one-on-one about how important vaccines are to protect their children’s health. But it’s no longer enough,” said AAP President Dr. Kyle Yasuda in his letter to social media companies. In a statement Wednesday, the CDC said, “We know that parents often turn to social media to access health information and connect with other parents, and it can be difficult to determine what is accurate and who the credible sources of information are.”

The CDC and the WHO both praised Facebook in statements released Wednesday.

“Combatting vaccine myths and misinformation is a shared responsibility and we applaud these efforts,” the CDC said.

“[The WHO] welcomes today’s firm commitment by Facebook to ensure that users find facts about vaccines across Instagram, Facebook Search, Groups, Pages and forums where people seek out information and advice,” the WHO said.

“Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users — to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health. It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach” WHO continued, adding the hashtag #healthforall.

Sejal Parekh, MD, is a pediatrician in San Diego. She currently writes for ABC News’ Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

CDC to provide more than $300 million in funds to fight drug overdoses and deaths

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(ATLANTA) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide $301 million in funds to states and jurisdictions hoping to help stop drug overdoses and deaths.

In a press release, the agency says the programs that money is going to fund will “yield information crucial to a better understanding of why, and among whom, overdoses and deaths are taking place.” That information will then be used to “enhance prevention and response efforts around the country.”

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar credits President Trump and his administration for “the first drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades.”

Still, Azar says, “we are still far from declaring victory.”

The $301 million will go to fund work in 47 states, the District of Columbia, two territories, and 16 counties and cities.

Part of the effort involves working to “strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, [improving] state-local integration, [establishing] links to care and better [supporting] health care providers and health systems.”

The data that comes out of this work will provide “predictive data” that is “essential” to fighting overdose deaths, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield says.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson loses vote on early election

WORLD NEWS British Prime Minister Boris Johnson loses vote on early election  https://linewsradio.com/british-prime-minister-boris-johnson-loses-vote-on-early-election/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

melis82/iStock(LONDON) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to gain enough parliamentary support to hold an early national election on October 15.

SEE FOOTAGE FROM THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

The vote came after Parliament voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit in defiance of Johnson, who had said that a general election was the only way out of the country’s deepening political crisis.

298 MPs voted in favor of an early election, with 56 voting against. But to hold a so-called snap election, Johnson needed the support of two-thirds of the 650 legislators in the House of Commons — or 434 affirmative votes.

Much of the opposition Labour Party chose to abstain from the vote, hoping for legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit prior to the national election.

Lawmakers previously voted 327 to 299 in favor of a law that will force the prime minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 if he has not agreed a deal with EU leaders — a deal that remains unlikely to pass through Parliament. In response, Johnson, who had promised to leave the EU with or without a deal, said that “there must now be an election on Tuesday 15 October.”

The vote to block “no-deal” was the second defeat for Johnson’s embattled government in two days, after several members of his own Conservative Party voted against him to bring forward the legislation voted on Wednesday. The political turmoil saw 21 Conservative members of Parliament expelled from the party, including Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill.

The government’s loss of the crucial vote, dubbed a “showdown” by the British media, is a major blow to the Johnson government’s plans of leaving the EU by the end of October.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to request an extension to the previous Brexit deadline of March 31, and subsequently resigned after the deal she had negotiated with EU leaders was voted down three times by lawmakers earlier this year.

Johnson’s Conservative Party lost their majority in Parliament Tuesday vote after lawmaker Phillip Lee defected to the Liberal Democrat Party, which advocates a second referendum and remaining in the EU. In dramatic scenes, Lee “crossed the floor,” physically leaving the Conservative Party to join the opposition on the other side of the chamber.

Johnson has repeatedly said he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, although they were willing to leave without one “do or die.”

The Johnson government’s highly controversial move to suspend Parliament during the crucial Brexit period appears to have united opposition to Johnson’s Brexit plans. Critics of a no-deal Brexit have long warned that it would have a disastrous impact on the British economy. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly called for a general election.

Johnson, who helped lead the push to exit the EU in a national referendum three years ago, took over from May in July.

He has been an ally of President Donald Trump, and the two met just a couple weeks ago at the G-7 summit. Trump supported Johnson in comments on Wednesday, saying, “Boris is a friend of mine. And he’s going at it. There’s no question about it. I watched him this morning. He’s in there fighting.”

“Boris knows how to win,” he added. “Don’t worry about him.”

Johnson has appointed a government of mainly Brexit supporters, which has positioned the Conservatives as the party of Brexit in the event of an election.

A general election would likely be chaotic and extremely bitter, and there are no guarantees it would transform the parliamentary arithmetic in favor or against advocates of a no-deal Brexit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 04 Sep 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says election is needed after lawmakers rule out no-deal Brexit

WORLD NEWS British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says election is needed after lawmakers rule out no-deal Brexit  https://linewsradio.com/british-prime-minister-boris-johnson-says-election-is-needed-after-lawmakers-rule-out-no-deal-brexit/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

melis82/iStock(LONDON) —  The U.K. Parliament has voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit in defiance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who now says a general election is the only way out of the country’s deepening political crisis.

Lawmakers voted 327 to 299 in favor of a law that will force the prime minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 if he has not agreed a deal with EU leaders — a deal that remains unlikely to pass through Parliament. In response, Johnson, who has promised to leave the EU with or without a deal, said that “there must now be an election on Tuesday 15 October,” although this will require the consent of two-thirds of Parliamentary lawmakers in order to happen.

The vote to block “no-deal” was the second defeat for Johnson’s embattled government in two days, after several members of his own Conservative Party voted against him to bring forward the legislation voted on Wednesday. The political turmoil saw 21 Conservative members of Parliament expelled from the party, including Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill.

Johnson has now said he will table a motion to have a general election, to be voted on in Parliament soon. If it passes by a two-third majority, a general election will be held to elect new members of Parliament.

The government’s loss of the crucial vote, dubbed a “showdown” by the British media, is a major blow to the Johnson government’s plans of leaving the EU by the end of October.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to request an extension to the previous Brexit deadline of March 31, and subsequently resigned after the deal she had negotiated with EU leaders was voted down three times by lawmakers earlier this year.

Johnson’s Conservative Party lost their majority in Parliament Tuesday vote after lawmaker Phillip Lee defected to the Liberal Democrat Party, which advocates a second referendum and remaining in the EU. In dramatic scenes, Lee “crossed the floor,” physically leaving the Conservative Party to join the opposition on the other side of the chamber.

Johnson has repeatedly said he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, although they were willing to leave without one “do or die.”

If Parliament agrees to a general election, the scheduled date would be Oct. 15, a day after Parliament is scheduled to return from the historic suspension the Queen approved last week.

Under that schedule, the newly elected government would have less than three weeks to determine the way out of the Brexit conundrum that has dominated British politics for the past three years.

The Johnson government’s highly controversial move to suspend Parliament during the crucial Brexit period appears to have united opposition to Johnson’s Brexit plans. Critics of a no-deal Brexit have long warned that it would have a disastrous impact on the British economy. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly called for a general election.

However, it is unclear whether Parliament and the Labour Party will agree to the prime minister’s plans, as some lawmakers would prefer an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline to be confirmed before campaigning begins.

Johnson, who helped lead the push to exit the EU in a national referendum three years ago, took over from May in July.

He has been an ally of President Donald Trump, and the two met just a couple weeks ago at the G-7 summit. Trump supported Johnson in comments on Wednesday, saying, “Boris is a friend of mine. And he’s going at it. There’s no question about it. I watched him this morning. He’s in there fighting.”

“Boris knows how to win,” he added. “Don’t worry about him.”

Johnson has appointed a government of mainly Brexit supporters, which has positioned the Conservatives as the party of Brexit in the event of an election.

A general election would likely be chaotic and extremely bitter, and there are no guarantees it would transform the parliamentary arithmetic in favor or against advocates of a no-deal Brexit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 04 Sep 2019

Johns Hopkins University announces new center for psychedelic research

UmerPK/iStock(BALTIMORE) — Johns Hopkins University is launching a new center for psychedelic research that will use psychedelic drugs to study the mind and therapies for diseases like addiction.

Dr. Roland Griffiths, a professor in the department of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who will spearhead the new research center, told ABC News that the establishment of the new center is “an opportunity to bring this research we’ve been conducting with psychedelics for more than 20 years to the next level.”

Much of Griffiths’ early work with psychedelics at Johns Hopkins has focused on psilocybin, the chemical found in so-called magic mushrooms.

“We’re exploring a variety of health effects of psilocybin in healthy volunteers to investigate the underlying neurology,” Griffiths said.

The center received $17 million in funding by a group of private donors, which Griffiths said has the potential “to move psychedelic research forward and the potential for a quantum leap that pulls potential for so much promise in understanding the mind, brain and behavior.”

“Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients,” Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a statement. “Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”

The center will provide support for a team of six faculty neuroscientists, experimental psychologists and clinicians with expertise in psychedelic science, as well as five postdoctoral scientists, according to Johns Hopkins.

Associate professor of psychiatry Matthew Johnson, the new associate director of the psychedelic research center, said he’s eager to do more work and “capture more ‘Aha’ moments.”

“On a 10 point scale I’m at 100. I’m as excited as you can be about something in my professional career,” Johnson said. “It’s something Roland [and others] have worked on for over a decade and now we have a high level of support.”

He added that the center is going to look at opioid addiction, as well as the combination of alcoholism and depression, and find evidence to treat both, in addition to looking at the brain mechanisms to discover “how psychedelics can treat addiction and the nature of that.”

“The addiction angle is really fascinating,” Johnson continued, adding that they will dig deeper into research on how LSD can be used to treat alcoholism and explore other successful studies using psilocybin.

Johnson also said he hopes to uncover “the big picture role that the drug use is playing in one’s life,” with respect to the side effects and issues that are “quintessentially common” among users.

Previously, Johns Hopkins psychedelic research group became the first to achieve “regulatory approval in the U.S. to re-initiate research with psychedelics in healthy volunteers who had never used a psychedelic,” according to a university press release. “Their 2006 publication on the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin sparked a renewal of psychedelic research worldwide.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Antonio Brown reacts to $54,000 in fines from Oakland Raiders

Sports News Antonio Brown reacts to $54,000 in fines from Oakland Raiders https://linewsradio.com/antonio-brown-reacts-to-54000-in-fines-from-oakland-raiders/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/sports-news/

Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is ready to make opposing defensive backs pay up this season, according to his latest post on social media.

Brown posted a letter from team general manager Mike Mayock on Wednesday, which informed the All-Pro that he was being fined $13,950 for missing a team walk-through on August 22. Brown was with the team in Winnipeg that day for a preseason game.

The letter also mentions $40,000 in previous fines for missing training camp on August 18, and that he could face additional fines for missing any more mandatory team activities.

In an Instagram story, Brown wrote “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now Devil is a lie. Everyone got to pay this year so we clear.”

Oakland acquired Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March for multiple draft picks. Brown missed the beginning of training camp with frostbite on his feet from a cryotherapy accident. He then sat out while a dispute with the NFL was ongoing over permission to wear his preferred type of helmet.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 04 Sep 2019

Hong Kong’s embattled leader withdraws bill that sparked months of unrest

WORLD NEWS Hong Kong's embattled leader withdraws bill that sparked months of unrest  https://linewsradio.com/hong-kongs-embattled-leader-withdraws-bill-that-sparked-months-of-unrest/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

LewisTsePuiLung/iStock(HONG KONG) — Almost three months into Hong Kong’s worst political crisis since its return to Chinese control, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam agreed to formally withdraw the extradition bill that drove millions of people to the streets in protest some 13 weeks ago.

In a pre-taped televised address, a weary-looking Lam addressed the city from behind a desk and said the government will formally withdraw the bill “to fully allay public concerns.”

“Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people,” Lam said it her video statement. “We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times.”

While Lam suspended work on the bill, which would have allowed suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China, days after massive crowds of mostly young people held their first demonstration, the measure was never fully taken off the table and its withdrawal has remained a key demand of the protests.

But as the summer of discontent drew on in one of the world’s financial capitals, which returned to Chinese control in 1997 after 156 years of British rule, the focus of the protests broadened into what has become known as the “Five Demands.” Those include a call for direct elections, amnesty for protestors and an independent inquiry into alleged police misconduct.

Chants of “Five Demands, Not One Less” have filled the streets every weekend since June, and appear in graffiti and posters plastered all over the city.

Protesters regularly flood the city center and earlier this summer shut down the city’s busy international airport for two days. The demonstrations have been largely peaceful — and protesters make a point of dispatching teams to clean up after every action — though they have become increasingly tense as they have gone and grown more disruptive.

While the bill’s withdrawal might once have seemed like a major concession earlier in the summer, after weeks of violence, arrests and threatening rhetoric from Beijing about direct intervention by its People’s Liberation Army, it has lately been seen as merely the most politically feasible move. Even Lam’s pro-Beijing allies in Hong Kong have said it was time to withdraw the bill.

On the streets of Hong Kong, Lam’s announcement was seen as, too little, too late.

“If we accept what the government offers now and give up the fight for the Five Demands, our comrades who have sacrificed their lives for the movement would never forgive us,” a frontline protestor ABC News calls ‘Citizen X’ said Wednesday.

Citizen X, a male student who insists on anonymity, was likely referencing the at least seven deaths by suicide, hundreds of injured and over a thousand fellow protestors arrested since the protests began in June.

“Answering to only one demand is meaningless,” he said. “Five Demands, Not One Less!”

Late on Wednesday, two masked protestors held a press conference in front of the Hong Kong’s legislative building that protestors stormed two months ago and where the “Five Demands” were first announced.

“Applying a Band-Aid months later on to rotting flesh simply will not cut it,” one of the masked protestors said.

“If [Lam] wants to listen to what to listen to what Hong Kong people want, she only needs to go down to protest sites,” said the other. “Protesters are not difficult to reach. On weekends, we’re out on the streets.”

“Only when all five of our demands are met will we stop our fight,” he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 04 Sep 2019

Michigan becomes 1st state to ban flavored e-cigarettes

diego_cervo/iStock(LANSING, Mich.) — Michigan on Wednesday became the first state in the country to ban flavored e-cigarettes, as concerns continue to grow over the potential dangers of vaping.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the decision after her chief medical executive found that vaping among young people “constitutes a public health emergency,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Whitmer lambasted companies selling vaping products by “using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe.”

“That ends today,” she said in a statement.

Flavored nicotine vaping products — which include tastes akin to apple juice, bubble gum and Nerds candy — will be banned in retail stores and online in the state. Any marketing of the products that include the words “clean,” “safe,” and “healthy” have also been banned.

Whitmer also ordered the state’s Department of Transportation to enforce an existing statute to prohibit the advertising of vapor products on billboards.

“Governor Whitmer has taken bold and appropriate action in response to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use,” Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement.

The ban comes after nearly 100 possible cases of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping were reported in 14 states from late June to mid August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services was reviewing six cases involving respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarettes and vaping.

“The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we want Michiganders to be aware using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” Sarah Lyon-Callo, the state epidemiologist, said in August.

The CDC noted that more information is needed to determine exactly what is causing the illnesses. In all of the cases across the nation, it does not appear that there is an infectious disease involved.

Vaping among high school students increased by 78 percent from 2017 to 2018, and rose by 48 percent among middle school students during that same time period, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA believes the sharp increase stems from the use of USB-flash-drive-like e-cigarettes, including the JUUL product, which have become majorly popular among young people.

More than 3.6 million kids reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, according to the FDA.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

12